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dil's different upbringing

Started by Kinzey, October 08, 2009, 11:51:33 am

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Ok I have a question for the mother in laws. I'm a new dil and I want to have a good relationship with my husband's parents and I can't get good advice from anyone who is a daughter in law because they are telling me to run away.
My husband and I come from very different backgrounds. We have the same ethnicity and religion and two parent homes but it ends there.  His family is very wealthy and they focus on family togetherness and they have to speak to each other 2 or 3 times a day on the phone and are very insistant they get together for holidays and birthdays. Its great that they love each other but it is very different from how I was raised. My family was lower middle class and we focused on learning independance and breaking away from mom and dad. My parents are very loving and would do anything for their children, but they taught us once you are 18 you need to be an adult and move and start your own life. My husband is very dependant on his family and I'm dependant on myself. His parents give him money all the time and mine say tough luck. They in my opion spoil their children and don't make them do chores. When my husband moved in with me he didn't know how to do laundry, clean the house or cook. Their daughter throws tantrums and always gets her way. My parents had me doing chores all my life and I started doing my own laundry at 12. I see my family a few times a year and he goes back to his all the time and leaves me behind because I have to work. I don't agree with a lot of their ideas because it was not how I was raised. My husband and I get into a lot of fights because I want to rely on him and not his parents. They are very involved in his life and I feel like my privacy in being invaded when he tells them how my life is going and all about my gyno problems. I have endometriosis and it is a very personal issue to me and they are always asking about it in public. They behave differently then my family as well. They are very superior in their attitudes. It comes across as angry when you disagree with them.

The biggest issue is their language. They cuss a lot and they do it in front of me which is a problem because I am a preachers kid where language like that was not acceptable. I can handle it but I'm afraid for when we have kids. I don't want that language around them.
I feel uncomfortable around them and I don't want to make them angry but I need to know from a mil's perspective what to do to improve our relationship. I don't fit in with their family and I don't want to change my personality but just accept our differences and learn to feel like I can be a part of their family but not let them rule our lives.


I'm an MIL....but I'm going to need time to think about this one. This is a mess.  When you have a close family and one of your kids marries someone from a family not close, it rips your heart out.

The other sites are quick to say: "cut them off".   I think that is the most devastating thing a person can do to another person.  Imagine, cutting someone out of your life as though they were dead just for being themselves. 

This family you're dealing with has a lot of sides to look at, though.  I'm sure they know of no other way of thinking or for dealing with life.  You have to think about that before you use your rules on them.  This is the only thing they know and conversely, this is the only way of living you know.

I'm sure others have lots of ideas too.  Hang in there.


Welcome Kinzey.  I know you asked MIL's but I am a DIL with difficult IL's and I just had to respond.

Your IL's sound a lot like my family.  My family really didn't have good boundaries either and neither did I until I realized that I was married to someone now and that I had to take into account his feelings as well.  Before I got married I lived with my mom and my sister, her DH and children lived one street over.  I never thought for one second that I wasn't ever welcome at sister's and BIL's.  I remember thinking of BIL as just an extension of my sister.  Hey, he was apart of the family now!  So I would just walk over to there house w/o calling so I could see their new baby.  And I'd spend a long time over there.  I never thought anything about it.  He was pretty social himself so I don't' know if it bothered him or not.  The only time was when my dad came up to visit and spent like 2 wks with them and BIL finally told sister that dad needed to go home now.

And then when I got married we all ended up living in the same town and my dad lived one street down from us.  He called every day and would come down banging on the door if he couldn't get a hold of us because we were on the internet and the phone was busy.  My sister just insisted that we get another phone line so my family could get a hold of us and then she'd insist that I leave my cell phone on.  My DH is very private and doesn't reveal much info to his own family because they very insecure, petty and critical so he tries to shield us from that.  When they talk on the phone they just talk about the weather, mowing etc.  My family and I talk about everything and DH would get really mad at me for telling things that I shouldn't.  It tool awhile but now I realize that he's right and that I shouldn't' reveal anything he doesn't want me to.  So I would tell your DH that how upsetting that is to you and that you don't want his family knowing about your health problems.  If he respects you then he will respect your privacy.

When my husband moved in with me he didn't know how to do laundry, clean the house or cook.
I also did not know how to do laundry etc.  DH had to teach me how.  I think families like this want very much to keep their children dependent on them either financially or emotionally because then the parents don't have to fear being alone.  I see this in my family and in my IL's so I'm wondering if this is common.  If you try to separate from this family and put down boundaries I'm sure they will fight like crazy to maintain or get back their power.  Your DH will have to be the one to put up boundaries.  There's nothing wrong with getting together and there's nothing wrong with you needing your alone time or space.  Some people are introverts and some are extroverts.  Maybe you can have the best of both worlds.  But you and DH need to talk this out and you need to tell him what your needs are and find out what his needs are and then come up with a compromise.  This compromise should not take into account his family's feelings, it should just be what's best for you and your new family.  That's just the way I see it.  You're not asking him to abandon them just to have a little privacy and maybe not getting together all the time.
His family will just have to understand that he's grown now and developed his own family unit and that your feelings have to be considered now.  It's all about compromise.


October 08, 2009, 09:07:36 pm #3 Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 08:24:10 am by luise.volta
Well, that was spectacular, JSB. As you know, you are a very important member of MILU and we love you dearly.

Just a couple of thoughts pop up: I remember when I married my now-husband. His daughter and SIL lived on the same island...maybe five miles away and they would just walk into the house. Not only not calling in advance but not knocking either! When I told my step-daughter that smoking in our home was off limits, her resentment was very apparent and after I moved the furniture, she came over and dragged it back to where it had been and then sat down. Need I go on? The point was that it was still her mother's home in her mind. The solution? We sold the house, passed on her mother's things to her...bought a motor home and hit the road. When we returned five years later the patterns and habits were broken and all was well.

Another story: When I was young, my parents informed me that I could stay as long as I wanted to after graduating from high school but when I left home and accepted "adult" status, I could not return as a resident ever again. Adulthood wasn't an outfit that I was going to be allowed to put on and take off, because it was not a temporary state. That worked great for me. When my sons hit their late teens...the same rules applied and it worked for them. And when my grandsons got to that time in their lives...they got the same treatment. Now, my great-granddaughter is in college and guess what, the custom continues.

And here's how money has been handled with the same five generations: you borrow what you can pay back, you agree to a plan, you keep your word and if you don't, it's your last loan. Works like a charm.

There are so many ways to look at the same issues. I have met lots of people who felt the way we did things was heartless. We thought it was supportive of both growth and maturity. What seldom works is a split ethic. One parent firmly attached to one belief system and the other just as committed to something else, often the direct opposite...(or apathetic.) And often their families of origin back them up, adding fuel to the fire. On rare occasion it works if children don't appear, but if and when they do, all bets are off.

We are talking partnership here. Someone once told me that marriage was like a business. You have partners, a business plan, assets and liabilities, an inventory, accounts payable and receivable and, hopefully, a manufacturing plant and a product. From that perspective, if the partners can't agree, you have no foundation for a business. It's uniqueness as well as its success is built on agreement.

I am with J2B. What you are up against needs to be identified, addressed and negotiated between you and DH. What we have seen so often on this site is a fight for supremacy and a lot of blame. I think it's very important that you don't become the bad guy...that your husband doesn't follow through in a dependent state and support that concept through inaction and that your in laws are not be blamed, either. Women often come to this site with war already declared, lines firmly drawn and deep wounds clearly festering on all sides.

It looks to me like you need to acknowledge that you are from two different planets. From that incompatible spot you can create a new entity...called "us," "our home," and "our family unit." That's the working premise. Make up a whole new set of ethics and customs and then stick by them. Modify what doesn't work, if you need to, but don't quit or cheat. No one is in charge. No one can order anyone around or call anyone wrong. Pleasing others must of necessity come at the bottom of the list after you have successfully pleased each other in the extremely difficult process of separating from both clans and creating a new one. Then it will be time to do your best to integrate what you have come up with with what your parents on both sides came up with years ago. There is no "right" way and there are endless variations that work but/ have the right to choose your mutual path in life.

At present, you don't speak the same language regarding personal and family dynamics and you have your work cut out for you. Giving up isn't the answer, hard work is. You got together for a reason. Build from there.

P.S. When I left home I could fry eggs, make brownies and iron.  ;D ;D
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Not only not calling in advance but not knocking either!

My solution to that would be just to keep the door locked.  Anytime I watch Everybody Loves Raymond and the MIL and FIL always just walk in their house I always think, "why don't they lock the door?  Then they'd be forced to knock."  DH and I always keep the door locked, mainly for safety reason though.  I think everyone probably does around here because this guy murdered a little girl around here a few years ago.  When she was still considered missing I came home to find the police and other law enforcement searching the land located behind my house.  I'm sure they were searching for her body.  But they found her in the killer's house, which isn't too far from where I live. My mom lives nearby too and she has kept her front door locked ever since they found her body.  He's on death row now.


OMG! How terrible!

We not only don't lock our doors, I haven't the foggiest idea where a key might be.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I wish MILs were not always depicted as intrusive like Raymond's mother.  I wish they would depict just one as a lady who raised a son and loved him and wanted to love his wife.

I had 4 stepmothers, none of whom I lived with.  My brother did and I'm afraid none of the women wanted him. There are wonderful stepmothers out there, I am certain, but I never encountered one personally.   

There are actually people in the world who had perfectly good homes who raised happy sons, did their very best but had a young woman walk into their lives and completely ruin it.  It happened to me.

I am happy to look at both sides of anything but some things I have lived through and know the truth about.

I look back over our lives and wish that 16 years ago I had ignored my DIL.  How dare her do what she has done!  How dare her.  How dare her use her jealousy to ruin our lives! 



I'm thinking about that. There have been times in my life when I reacted to something and wished I had ignored it, too. I have gone into a defensive posture when it only made things worse. It's sometimes hard for me to see silence as an option, when I'm in the middle of it. any of this helping you sort through your radically differing backgrounds and finding a way to approach a degree of solidarity in your marriage?

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I was too shocked and grieved to ignore it at the time.  I've never had anyone in my life treat me like that except my 'no good father'.  Only now can I look back and see that it was jealousy that fueled her behavior.

We tried to placate her and be nicer but she just got worse, saying things like: "what difference does it make that we are in your city and don't call you?" 

(What difference does it make? What? was she raised in a barn?)

I've finally moved from grief to anger.  I had a celebration of sorts and that woman never picked up the phone to call me, even though I always call her. She doesn't pick up the phone but I leave a message and I send gifts.  Son called and put the kids on the phone.

My anger towards her is not good for me. Grief is worse, I think, though.


October 10, 2009, 09:36:18 pm #9 Last Edit: October 11, 2009, 07:39:25 am by luise.volta
I think the trick is to keep moving and not get stuck. When we do, self-pity, judgment and righteousness can take us over and that's when the adversary really wins. Grief and anger are both natural and healthy responses but I honestly believe there is peace beyond them. I don't know what comes after anger. It may be different with each of us. I do grief first, too. Unless fear takes me over. Then I go to apathy after I wear myself out with anger and eventually to acceptance and on to compassion. From there forgiveness is not far behind. Sometimes, now, I can skip some of them and just do A and Z...but not always.

I am wondering if Kinzey is still around. I hope what has come up for each one of us has helped her when looking at their differing backgrounds. She did such a great job of sorting it out and presenting it to us here. Kinzey?
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


All of you have given me a lot to work with and have been helpful. It is very hard to go against how you were raised to thank you vey much for your help.


Thanks for responding, Kinzey. Wishing you the very best. Of course it's hard but it's not impossible! :-)
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama



I feel it may help if your husband ,respectfully, talks to his family about how you feel. That might have helped me in the beginning to better understand my DIL but I didn't know that maybe things that were acceptable to me were not to her. I still don't think I ever did anything to her ( and if I did, it wasn't intentional ) but I don't want to discredit her feelings either. It has gotten so bad with us that I really don't want a relationship with her. I am getting used to how it is now but it still hurts because that was my son and I know I will never be close to him again.

Please don't shut your husbands family out of his life and don't let it fester until it's ugly because he may ,someday, resent you for that. May you find a happy medium with them.


People have different values, lifestyles, comfort levels, needs...why can't we tolerate the differences and just accept people as they are? I don't want to change my DIL's feelings about her family or make her live in a style that is uncomfortable for her, but she acts as if we are a virus that will infect her new life and destroy her dreams and expectations. Her family's values are not ours and vice versa. Yes, I'd prefer my son to not take on their ostentatious, ambitious, snooty ways at the expense of our more relaxed, giving and tolerant beliefs, but that's not our business. She should have the same respect for us.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Pestamen I couldn't agree with you more.  I think its a total different story if a DIL is just being "well you're not like me so I don't want anything to do with you and your family."  That's called intolerance.  But just because a DIL doesn't completely embrace her IL's doesn't mean that she's being this way.  There are people in my own and family and at work that I dont particularly click with.  I'm nice and respectful to them but they may not be my best friend.  When I got married I viewed my new IL's as an extension of my hubby and thought that I was gaining new family members.  His dad would get his tail over his back for minor things and would pout and ignore me but I just figured, oh well he's just sensitive. He'd try to embarrass me by commenting on how he and MIL were paying for my meal on hubby's b-day and he didn't like that, even though we paid for everyone's meal on MIL's mother's day dinner.  But when it unfolded that they weren't just pouty but trying to get my hubby to think bad of me, that's when I drawed the line and said no more!  It took me 10 years to figure out this was going on.  It took me 10 years because I was tolerant of their intolerance of me.  I guess I should have know when they constantly slammed their daughter that they were doing the same to me.  But I guess I was living in La La land.