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Maybe my story will help and maybe some of you can help me

Started by overwhelmed123, January 31, 2011, 01:20:51 pm

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Hi all,

This is my first post here.  I am a DIL, yes one of those evil ones with horns coming out of my head!   ;D  Anyway, I joined because I was looking for a non biased (although are we ever REALLY completely non-biased?) objective opinion about my situation.  Basically, they all hate me and think I'm an evil brainwashing puppet master.  Funny thing is, it didn't start out that way at all.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  When I first came around, they couldn't stop singing my praises and kept telling me how good I was going to be for their family.  Coincidentally, when I stopped always putting their wants first and started focusing a little more on my husband and our own separate life from them, it seems I transformed overnight into a she-devil.  Please keep in mind that doesn't mean I stopped catering to them altogether, I just wasn't comfortable with the pressures I felt always conforming to what they wanted and not what my new family (my H and I) wanted.

Over a year later after all of the events have snowballed, and we haven't seen them or really talked to them since the end of 2009.  There was of course a lot that led up to the cut-off, but in my husband's opinion, it all boils down to control.  He took control of his life away from them and he won't give it back to them, which drives them crazy.  He tried having "meetings" with them where he laid out his boundaries and told them he felt he was being toyed with and manipulated with guilt and he wasn't comfortable with it.  I wasn't present for the first one, but he asked that I attend the second one.  He made so many attempts to be diplomatic and give them a chance to change their behaviors towards them so that they could have a mutually beneficial relationship that was comfortable for all parties.  Well, if anything, his "disloyalty" and "disrespect" made things worse and because of the timing of it all (after he and I became serious), I became the bad guy.

I don't want to bore you with an incredibly long story from day one.  I can tell you that my husband has read several books on emotional blackmail and toxic people and they really hit home with him.  He describes his family to me as extremely enmeshed and it is based off a hierarchy.  Respect only goes up.  Patriach and matriarch are terms used with each other because as "patriarch" of this family, you have a right to interfere or tell other family members whatever hurtful things you want with the excuse, "I'm just giving the facts," or "I'm just telling you how I feel."  I can tell you that in the beginning I tried so hard.  I tried so hard to bond with them so that they would feel more comfortable with this transition in life.  My DH was married before, but in a terrible relationship that was verbally and emotionally abusive (they used to talk bad about her all the time, but now they're friends with her again), and never lived more than 5 minutes away from the rest of his family.  He would ignore the pain in his home life by going to his family of origin's, so he never really "left the nest" until he and I started getting serious.  I knew this.  It was obvious they were dependent on him.  His mother had told him before that he was her only happiness (yes, she is married but obviously not in a good marriage) and often used him as a doormat for all the problems in her personal life.  He was supposed to fix it all.  He later said she treated him like a surrogate spouse.  Again, not anything I told him, something he came to the conclusion of himself after reading about it trying to get to the bottom of why he felt so uncomfortable, and based on what I had observed, I don't think he came to that conclusion hastily.

I remember I used to encourage him to visit his family and stay in touch with them.  He never wanted to.  He always wanted to look for an excuse to skip out on the family function.  We went because I convinced him we should.  I invited my MIL along for things I didn't have to.  Lunch with my mom.  Trying on wedding dresses.  Lunch just the two of us.  I'd keep in contact with her through email at least weekly and talk about what we had been up to, sometimes supplying her with pictures that I thought would make her happy, make her feel less anxious that her son was going out and starting a life of his own.  I thought she'd feel more at east letting go if she saw how happy his life was now.  I started realizing it was never good enough.  We'd see them once a week and it still didn't deter anyone from calling him throughout the week and complaining that they don't see him enough and saying in not so many words that they relied on him for their happiness.   So our visits became less frequent because we didn't feel they were appreciated.  I stopped encouraging him so much to go.  A lot more that I know would take way too long to explain, and probably get confusing.  But it became apparent that it was never good enough as long as we weren't letting them control our lives, making their wants first, and helping us make our life decisions.

His mom has a problem with being a victim.  She's always a victim of something, especially her own problems.  She hates her job but won't try to find another one.  She hates her marriage but always has an excuse for not doing anything about it.  She isn't happy about her weight but won't stick to a diet.  She says she doesn't have any money but blows it on materialistic things and going out to eat.  She's a victim of her own decisions and always wants to blame everyone else.  She's been through 5 counselors in a year timespan and I have to wonder why that is.  The whole family feeds off of other people's misery.  It sounds dramatic, but it's really true.  They're so negative, you can almost feel it when you enter the room.  I'm the complete opposite, always a positive, bright person (I imagine this is why they thought I'd be 'good for their family'), so it's hard for me to understand and I think it affects me more because I have "farther to fall," if you will.   Anyway, my H has dealt with this for a lifetime and he himself has just learned in the last 5 years about accepting responsibility for yourself.  He never really learned that, as he had always been taught it's always someone else's fault and we are all victims of circumstance.   

It appears that everytime he tries to tell them what they have done to hurt him and make him not want to associate with them, they completely dismiss the validity of what he has to say because they've already made up their minds that it's my fault.  Well, really they just dismiss his feelings totally and tell him it didn't happen or it's not true.  That's he's the one with the problem.  He's damning them falsely.  He has told them their specific behaviors that he refuses to tolerate because of the damage it does in his life and they haven't stopped, so he decided to disengage from them.  He tried to explain to them what they did and WHY he disengaged, to give them a chance to make things right, and they refuse to acknowledge or take responsibility (not really a surprise), therefore he doesn't see how he can continue a relationship with them.  It feels like a cycle would just be perpetuated if there is no acknowledgment of the damage they are doing, and he said he isn't prepared to keep exposing himself to more of their disrespect.

Anyway, I'm not really sure what I'm searching for, but we are at a stalemate now.  He tells them he needs them to take responsibility for their behaviors so progress can be made, and they say it's all his problem and his feelings aren't valid.  I'm wondering if they will ever come around.  It does suck being the bad guy, although I can take it.  It just makes me anxious that things haven't been settled.  I can't understand being a parent of an only child and not wanting to do whatever you could to fix the situation when they're basically spelling out for you what they need.  I can't understand being more concerned with looking like a victim instead of swallowing your pride.  I don't know what to do anymore, not that there is anything I can do because it's not even in my control.  I just support my husband because he's my husband and he feels mistreated.  He has a right to that feeling.  But then in the end, it's all my fault anyway.

I also wanted to add that I have been reading this site before I decided to post here.  I sometimes wonder after I've read something how some MILs can be SO "sure" that it's their DIL that is the one behind it all.  Because I'm here to tell you- that mindset in my situation couldn't be farther from the truth, and it's also one of the main contributions to our relationship completely falling apart. I guess my point is that I know if my MIL were to come on this site and post, it would be about how her DIL is the main problem and she just knows her DIL is making the son hate his own family, but it's not really what's going on.  I felt like I should share that with you, and I also thought maybe in talking to you guys, you could offer a helpful perspective.

Thanks!  Sorry this was so long!


Welcome, Overwhelmed!  Glad you made your way here.

I can't believe how similar our stories are.  I don't really have a whole lot of answers.  The most I've been able to do is detach and let DH deal with his FOO on his own.  This is totally not related but it illustrates how I feel at this point.  My brother used to be a really messy guy.  He was living with my other brother.  Other brother kept complaining and getting really annoyed.  Mom had to go over to their apt one day to wait for a repair man and thought she'd help both brothers out and clean brothers room.  She said she opened the door and stared and then told me "I couldn't have done anything with THAT."  Lol, it wasn't just dusting or laundry brother needed done.  The place was NASTY and even if she cleaned it up once, there is no way it was going to stay clean.  The quote has become a long running joke in our family.

So that's kind of my frame of mind and I try to think back to that example.  I'm an unrelated party...I can't do anything with THAT.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Welcome Overwhelmed! There are wonderful women here, MIL's and DIL's, and you'll get more support then you expect from the MIL's , we were all DIL's once. ::)
Sounds like your husband comes from a family with lots of issues, and he hasn't felt comfortable standing up for his needs until he was sure he had someone in his corner. Sounds like you've brought light into his life. ;)
I'd continue to do what you've been doing supporting him, I don't know if I'd go for any more family meetings though, in the end its work he has to do. You haven't caused the change, you've just given him the support to demand it for him-self. that's a message his family needs to hear. The whole mess is out of your control, the trick is learning not to let it control you. {{{hugs}}}.


Thanks to both of you!

Pam- what an analogy!  Thank you for sharing- that really is an accurate way of looking at it!

tryingmybest- I appreciate what you said so much.  It is interesting how much you picked up on about my husband not feeling comfortable standing up for himself until he had someone to support him.  He never had a support system that didn't put their own interests first until me.   If you met him now, you wouldn't BELIEVE the place he was at 4 years ago!  If you had said the word "self-esteem," he would have asked "what's that?"  (Not literally of course, but you know what I mean!) It really is sad when you think about it.  But he feels so much better about himself now.  I agree about the family meeting- that was enough awkwardness to last a lifetime anyhow!  The dilemma is that he doesn't know what else he can do.  It makes him sad that his family is so willing to throw away their relationship with him over control, but he doesn't know that there is anything else he can do that he hasn't already done.  Thank you so much for your comments.  :)


OW - Welcome! This site started out a year and a half ago as: www.MotherInLawsUnite.com

After the first year, the name was changed because we got so many wonderful DILs here and we found that they offered the balance we needed. Anyone can be self-absorbed, neurotic, mean, jealous, etc. It isn't limited to any one group. We have found adult children who fit that bill, as well.

What we focus on is self-love and healing. We didn't set out with that goal in mind...if has just evolved. There are lots of bashing sites. No more are needed. When a member is unkind on this site, she needs to read the Modified Agreement again on the Home Page under Getting Started and decide. We aren't willing to adapt, she has to. Sending love...

You and your DH started a new family unit and you are doing it with integrity by leaving the pathology behind. Good for you!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Welcome OW123. I don't think we catagorize DILs here, evil or otherwise, LOL. I'm sorry you are dealing with such negative, overbearing ILs. They sound like hard cases. It must be unbelievable to you, given your circumstances, that many of us MILs haven't done the things your MIL has done to you and your DH. I hope you can keep an open mind and not be swayed by your horrid situation. Not all MILs are evil, either although some of us hide our horns under gigantic B-52's ("Love Shack ba-by!") hairdos.

Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


February 01, 2011, 06:58:20 am #6 Last Edit: February 01, 2011, 07:34:06 am by overwhelmed123
Thank you so much, luise and Pen.  And Pen- I do know all MILs are not like mine, and I am actually pretty jealous of my friends who were blessed with more adaptable MILs.  Even sometimes I wonder who my own mother loves more- me or my DH.  He's got a great set of ILs (joking, but it's the truth)! They told me often when we were dating that I better not mess this up!  They've never judged and we've got a great relationship with them- it's like we're all just adult friends enjoying each other's company.  Often I think that if it weren't for my own parents, we'd be in a heap of trouble because then we'd REALLY feel like we have no family.  Although, I guess like a lot of girls, I grew up extremely independent and never hesitated to speak my mind, so they don't get all bent out of shape if I tell them something isn't their business.

Someone asked if married adults still have family meetings (I don't remember who it was, it's not there anymore but I don't mind answering)- well, I don't think they do in normal ones.  In this "family," it's what we were reduced to because a one-on-one only resulted in backlash and gossiping by everyone else about what my cruel DH did to his poor mother.  So next time he had something to say, he figured since everyone was going to make it their business, they might as well hear it straight from the horse's mouth.  It wasn't ideal but he wanted to at least try it before saying adios completely.

Anyway, I'm sure as I continue on here, I'll share some of my stories with you guys and I hope to learn more about all of you.  It's weird to feel somewhat comforted by the fact that although you aren't accepted by your OWN MIL, you might be accepted by strangers' MILs.   :D


PS- Pen, I can relate to hiding your horns under your hairdo, but I hide mine under my "bump-it."  ;D (I hope you guys know what those are, otherwise I'm going to sound really weird...)



Welcome overwhelmed!  I am so glad you found this forum and yes, you will find it is mostly MILs in here, but we have some wonderful DILs here too that give us much to think about and solid advice.  And trying was right.  Most of us have been or are DILs too.  It is obvious from reading your story that both you and your DH have tried so hard to maintain that relationship with his family.  Kudos to you for the efforts you guys have made.  Unfortunately, his family is not listening or owning up to their part.  And until they do, it sounds like distance is for the best. 

In answer to your question, some us have experienced first-hand how our DILs have created problems.  I do think many times there are assumptions made that a DIL had a hand in something, and probably didn't.  But there are some of us that truly have a DIL that is acting like your MIL.  We also recognize and blame our DS for their part in not standing up for their family.  You will find that most on here do not generalize a DIL or MIL, but takes each person on their own merit.  I too am jealous of my friends that have a DIL they get along with.

As far as the bump it....I know what it is!  Keep seeing them in the "made for tv" stores.   ;D
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Yes I've seen those.. and the topsy tail... I always wore my hair with a reversed ponytail but never had the brains to market it.. pity.. I missed my chance


Quote from: overwhelmed123 on February 01, 2011, 06:58:20 am
....Even sometimes I wonder who my own mother loves more- me or my DH.  He's got a great set of ILs (joking, but it's the truth)! They told me often when we were dating that I better not mess this up!  They've never judged and we've got a great relationship with them- it's like we're all just adult friends enjoying each other's company.  Often I think that if it weren't for my own parents, we'd be in a heap of trouble because then we'd REALLY feel like we have no family.... 

My DS has wonderful ILs, too. They absolutely dote on him, and he loves being with them. I'm so glad he doesn't have to deal with an awful IL situation. However, they and their daughter dislike us which affects how often we get to see DS & DIL. It's been very difficult and I'm frequently sad about it. DS communicates with me when he can, usually when DIL is out of town. Full disclosure: lately DIL has made an effort to be pleasant around us. We're happy about that, but consider it a small step considering how hurtful she and her FOO have been. IOW, we're not expecting to be skipping hand in hand anytime soon.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


What an awful position to be in, Pen.  Maybe DIL's change is a good sign of things to come...although I know you won't hold your breath.  :)  What a sad thing when even her parents get involved in their relationship with you...that seems so silly to me.  Although, I know my ILs don't like my parents and frequently talk bad about them and compare themselves to my parents- but I think it's mostly because they're jealous.  Still...you don't talk about my mama that way! ;)  (unless of course she's done something to deserve it!)


Quote from: overwhelmed123 on February 01, 2011, 06:59:27 am
PS- Pen, I can relate to hiding your horns under your hairdo, but I hide mine under my "bump-it."  ;D (I hope you guys know what those are, otherwise I'm going to sound really weird...)

I don;t have a clue!