Author Topic: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest  (Read 2794 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

foofoo

  • Guest
Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« on: August 22, 2011, 10:54:12 AM »
As some of you may recall, I have a really crappy and virtually non-existent relationship with my in laws because my PILs were ticked that my DH chose to marry outside his culture.  We have been married five years now, and my MIL has yet to speak to me and I'm mean, not even "hello."  If I say hello, she will walk out of the room and give me a nasty look. 

So, anyway, I told my DH a long time ago that I wouldn't visit them at all and I haven't.  I have yet to ever enter his parents house for any reason.  We have seen them a few times at family gatherings at his aunts homes or at weddings, funerals, etc, but I have never gone to their house for any reason and either have my girls, who are now 4 and 2 1/2.  Up until last February, the inlaws did not express any interest in seeing these two grandchildren at all and actually, when my oldest was first born, MIL advised DH not to bring DD4 around.  MIL had a real hangup with having a half white grandchild. 

In February, we learned that we were expecting a baby boy.  That boy is due to be born any day now.  In DH's culture (Vietnamese), a son of a son is a big deal.  DH has one brother and three sisters and it doesn't look like his older brother is going to have a son (he only has a girl).  Now that our new kid is going to be the only son of son, we are getting calls to come visit at least once or twice a week.  We haven't yet gone because the one time we agreed to go, they changed the plans at the last minute.  I feel like I need to agree to go for DH's sake as I know he misses his grandfather and his sisters and he doesn't like visiting without us.  He has visited some without us, but he doesn't like it.

Here's my dilemma, I don't like these people.  I think they are bigots and self-centered egomaniacs.  They have said horrible things about me and my family despite never having even met them and I think they have been incredibly abusive towards my DH over the years.  That being said, they are still his family and he wants to have normal relations with them.  I have told them that we can go down and see them as long as they are civil.  His sisters didn't like this position.  They believe I need to put up with their mother no matter how she behaved (and yes, they have said this in emails to me), but DH agreed to my stipulation that if we went we would leave if anyone wasn't civil.

That being said, it bothers me tremendously that the only reason they are showing any interest in our family is cause of the boy and I have also told DH that they will treat our girls the same way as the boy because anything else will not be acceptable to me.  Pretty much everyone I know has told me that I owe nothing to these people.  However, my DH is really good guy and he puts up with a lot of family time with my side without even a peep of complaint.  So, where do I draw the line?  Do we leave the second their is a rude comment?  If we walk in and they totally ignore the girls and focus on the boy, do we leave then?  Do we wait for some rudeness?  How long do we stay if they are civil?  Thoughts?


Offline Pooh

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5442
    • View Profile
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2011, 11:52:57 AM »
Oh wow!  What a dilemma foofoo.  You want to do something for DH because he has been very good to you, but to have to put yourself out there with people that have treated you with such disdain...tough situation.  I think your questions at the end actually came to mind.  If you really want to try and mend the relationship for DH's sake, then go.  Yes, at the first sign of their rudeness, leave.  Yes, if they ignore your daughters, leave.  It takes both sides to mend a relationship, not just you and DH.

I say if they are being civil and seem to be trying, then stay as long as you feel welcome and are comfortable with to give DH some time to see his grandfather and sisters.  I know that now having a boy is bringing this on, but try to remain positive that maybe it could be the start of a civil relationship with them and they may do all the right things.  I would try to be optomistic about the visit, but set your boundaries.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline Scoop

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
    • View Profile
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2011, 11:55:10 AM »
Foofoo - I think that you are perfectly within your rights to withdraw completely from this family.  However, this could become a bone of contention between you and DH, causing future resentment.

So, my advice would be to slowly let them back in.  Invite them to YOUR house, or to a neutral location (out for supper).  But speak to DH before hand, tell him that you HOPE they will be civil, but you want to be prepared for the worst.  Make him agree that if they don't speak to you, or are rude to you, or to the girls, that you will say some code word like "Blue armadillos" and then he knows it's time to go home immediately.  Tell him, if you're wrong and they're perfectly nice to you, that you will make him a special supper or something.

You know and I know that they won't be able to keep up the pretense for long.  But I think you need to give them one more kick at the can, so that DH can *know*, deep in his heart.

I know you said you're almost due, can you see them BEFORE the baby comes?  Because if you see them after baby, of course they're going to coo over him, and fawn over him more than the older girls.   It almost gives them an excuse.  The alternative would be to see them in a restaurant, without the kids (even the precious baby boy), and SHOW them that if they can't be civil to you, they will not get a chance to know the son of a son.

Sassy

  • Guest
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2011, 01:04:50 PM »
Quote
That being said, they are still his family and he wants to have normal relations with them
With all due respect, it seems evident your DH will need to adjust his expectations, sooner or later.  He may be able to have a relationship with them on some level, but I don't think "normal" (as in loving) is on the menu.

Quote
I feel like I need to agree to go for DH's sake as I know he misses his grandfather and his sisters

Is it possible to visit his grandfathers and his sisters, one at a time, without visiting other ILs?
Does it have to be all of them, all at once?  Does any relationship with the sisters and grandfather depend on first having one with MIL?

Quote
and he doesn't like visiting without us.  He has visited some without us, but he doesn't like it
I wonder what exactly about the visits,  does he not like.  He doesn't like visiting alone.  Does that portend well for a better family visit for him, if you're there, too.  You've said they've been abusive to him over the years.  More notably, they don't try to be on "good behavior" in front of you.  So, I think one of my concerns would be that, subconsciously, DH is hoping that the target for abuse won't be on his back; that if his unaccepted wife and daughters are there, that they will be the targets as well, and he won't have to bear the brunt of all of their rejection.    I would find out more why DH doesn't like going alone, and why he has expectations for improvement.

This is my opinion.  The children need to be protected above all.  The girls are both old enough to walk and talk and understand rejection, criticism, and favoritism.  Don't bring any children into a place where you know there are very serious adult problems still unresolved. 

Since this is something you want to do for DH, perhaps try a visit as a couple first, without the children.  (Also do not bring your son who will be born any day now).   There is adult work to be done first.  It will be easier for you and DH to focus on relationships with his family and on each other, easier to maintain limits, and if it goes south, easier to leave. All without drama, rejection, scenes being inflicted on the children.  If a few visits without the children go well, and you feel it's safe for them, then introduce them to the dynamic.   Because of all you described here, it doesn't seem fair to the children to do it any other way.

It may be an easier meeting if it takes place in public, like meeting for a meal or an activity, rather than go into their home. 


Belle

  • Guest
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2011, 01:06:42 PM »
I'm  totally agreeing with Scoop here...its important that baby boy not be a diversion or an "escape route" for your ILs.  To me, its absolutely awful of these people to want to finally have a relationship with one of your children.  I know it's their "culture," the whole son-of-a-son thing, but really?  I just don't get how they can use that to justify their disdain for you, and lack of involvement in your other children's lives.  I don't believe that a baby boy on the way should give them a free pass to act like nothing's wrong.  Even cultures evolve, and just because its "culture" doesn't mean its right or wrong for your family.  If you don't address it and correct it, you are reinforcing that behavior and mindset. 

Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this way, but seriously...anyone, family or not, who can't be civil to me (at least) can't have access to my children.  Period.  Call that hardcore or whatever, but that's the way it is for me and my house. 
   

foofoo

  • Guest
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2011, 01:10:45 PM »
To answer a few questions, we tried the inviting them over to our house thing and the neutral location thing.  They have refused, which is part of the reason I haven't felt any more obligation to try to make amends.  They claim that in their "culture" (keep in mind, they use this excuse for everything), that the children are supposed to come visit them, not the other way around.  Basically, it is a power thing and it is also an ego thing -- it is important to them to be able to tell their friends that their kids come and visit them.  Additionally, because we live about 2 hours away, they claim it is too far for them to drive and it is too hard on grandfather's health -- which I think is a total crock, but that is just my opinion and I'm jaded.

Before we were married, my in laws used to tell all their friends that DH still lived at home, he just had to stay with friends during the week because his work was too far away.  Of course, he had his own apartment and had been on his own since college, but it is a big cultural thing for your kids to live at home until they are married.  I know its backwards from how must Americans think, but it is what it is.

Belle

  • Guest
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2011, 01:17:24 PM »
If they feel that strongly about you visiting THEM, then I would do it...without the children at first.  Then, like Sassy said, if all goes well introduce the children to it.  I think I'd be perfectly clear in letting them know that the same treatment has to be given to all of your children, and anything less is unacceptable.  Situations like this have to be handled with baby steps, and you have to feel comfortable with it before you immerse the kiddos.  That's what parents do.

So how does your DH feel about all of this? 

foofoo

  • Guest
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2011, 01:22:53 PM »
Quote
That being said, they are still his family and he wants to have normal relations with them
With all due respect, it seems evident your DH will need to adjust his expectations, sooner or later.  He may be able to have a relationship with them on some level, but I don't think "normal" (as in loving) is on the menu.

Quote
I feel like I need to agree to go for DH's sake as I know he misses his grandfather and his sisters

Is it possible to visit his grandfathers and his sisters, one at a time, without visiting other ILs?
Does it have to be all of them, all at once?  Does any relationship with the sisters and grandfather depend on first having one with MIL?

Quote
and he doesn't like visiting without us.  He has visited some without us, but he doesn't like it
I wonder what exactly about the visits,  does he not like.  He doesn't like visiting alone.  Does that portend well for a better family visit for him, if you're there, too.  You've said they've been abusive to him over the years.  More notably, they don't try to be on "good behavior" in front of you.  So, I think one of my concerns would be that, subconsciously, DH is hoping that the target for abuse won't be on his back; that if his unaccepted wife and daughters are there, that they will be the targets as well, and he won't have to bear the brunt of all of their rejection.    I would find out more why DH doesn't like going alone, and why he has expectations for improvement.

This is my opinion.  The children need to be protected above all.  The girls are both old enough to walk and talk and understand rejection, criticism, and favoritism.  Don't bring any children into a place where you know there are very serious adult problems still unresolved. 

Since this is something you want to do for DH, perhaps try a visit as a couple first, without the children.  (Also do not bring your son who will be born any day now).   There is adult work to be done first.  It will be easier for you and DH to focus on relationships with his family and on each other, easier to maintain limits, and if it goes south, easier to leave. All without drama, rejection, scenes being inflicted on the children.  If a few visits without the children go well, and you feel it's safe for them, then introduce them to the dynamic.   Because of all you described here, it doesn't seem fair to the children to do it any other way.

It may be an easier meeting if it takes place in public, like meeting for a meal or an activity, rather than go into their home.

Sassy, my DH isn't like that.  He wouldn't allow us to take the brunt of them for him.  He is just used to it, so it doesn't bother him like it does me.   

The reason he doesn't like visiting alone is kind of multi-faceted but the main reason is that the in laws live more than two hours away, so if he spends a Saturday or a Sunday driving out to see them, that it is a full day that he doesn't get to spend with us.  So, usually he only goes by by himself, when he is in that area for work, which is once every few months.  He works about 50 hours during the week and is working on his masters on the side, so the little time he has to spend with his us is not time that he is willing to spend driving two hours(four hours round trip) to visit his parents. 

Sassy

  • Guest
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2011, 01:35:42 PM »
Quote
Up until last February, the inlaws did not express any interest in seeing these two grandchildren at all

Quote
when my oldest was first born, MIL advised DH not to bring DD4 around.  MIL had a real hangup with having a half white grandchild. 

Quote
Now that our new kid is going to be the only son of son, we are getting calls to come visit at least once or twice a week.

Quote
I have also told DH that they will treat our girls the same way as the boy because anything else will not be acceptable to me.

Does DH feel the same way you do about favoritism?  Is it equally unacceptable to him?

Quote
I have told them that we can go down and see them as long as they are civil.  His sisters didn't like this position.  They believe I need to put up with their mother no matter how she behaved (and yes, they have said this in emails to me), but DH agreed to my stipulation that if we went we would leave if anyone wasn't civil.

I think more clarification is needed if DH agrees to civility as your stipulation because it's his own self-motivated stipulation as well, or if he "agrees" as if it's a concession he's making in a negotiation.  Is he equally as distressed as you are, when he sees his mother mistreating you?  I think that distinction might provide insight as to how much capacity this has to bring resentment into your marriage.  DH should want civility for you, as much as he wants a "normal" family relationship.  My concern would be on some level he expects you agreeing to see MIL for his sake, is you agreeing to be mistreated by MIL, for his sake.   As far as you and your marriage, I see that as the real danger in the waters you are entering.  His attitude about what kind of treatment he thinks you should be willing to tolerate, and much more so what treatment he thinks your daughters "deserve" could change how you see him, from your hero to your zero.

The idea that the rejection DH (and his wife and daughters), has suffered for years is suddenly supposed to evaporate because a child of the correct gender was born to a child of the correct gender, is absolutely suspect.  DH should feel suspicious of it, too.  My fear is that he is so eager to finally win their approval, and present them with his son, that he might become blind to the emotional needs of you and his girls.  You can take care of yourself; you are strong.  If you see DH does it to his young daughters, as their mother, you may not be willing to forgive that of him.


Sassy

  • Guest
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2011, 01:50:32 PM »
Foofoo, I now realize I asked an awful lot of questions.   I didn't mean them for you to "answer" them here.  Just sharing what would be the questions I'd want answers to, or to think about, if I was in this situation.  The things that jump out to me as worth considering, to help you with your decision.   

There's logistics in a 2 hour (four hour round trip) drive.  However, I still think a visit among adults would be more appropriate to test the waters, before considering involving the children in a place where, based on what you know, they're not unlikely to get hurt and/or rejected.

foofoo

  • Guest
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2011, 02:15:06 PM »
Sassy,

DH's blindness to his parents behavior is exactly my concern.  He is pretty much willing to agree to anything I ask to get me to go visit them cause he just wants everything normalized.  So, when I said I gave certain stipulations, I meant I asked him to promise certain things and he agreed.  It wasn't really a negotiation. He just wants everything to go away.  He has no allusions about his parents motives.  He knows them better than I do, but no matter what they do or say, they are still his parents warts and all.

Offline Ruth

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 605
    • View Profile
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2011, 03:25:05 PM »
I am sorry for this stress in your family, dear one.  I have a little experience with this, as I was ostracized and cut off by my MIL almost five years ago.  Fortunately DH and I had no children together so the g/c thing wasn't an issue.  But eventually my husband had to dry his tears and come to accept that that idealized normal family life he wanted with his parents and wife was NOT going to happen.  And we've learned to live with what we have.  He visits, I don't.  I don't know what will happen when eventually a funeral comes up that I just HAVE to attend, I haven't crossed that bridge yet, but this is a real strain on a marriage.  I don't think you can fix it.  DH will have to work out a plan that least harms his family, i.e. wife and children.  I hope you can find a good family counselor to help walk you through this.

Offline Scoop

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
    • View Profile
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2011, 06:37:42 PM »
Hmmm, I would have no patience with these people.  Do they want to see their son and his family or do they want to follow their culture?  Good luck with that, I hope their culture takes care of them when they're old.

Okay, how is it easier for a family with 3 kids (including a baby) to travel?

I would almost want to do it, just to see how they handle the older girls being rambunctious after 2 hours in the car and to see if they dared to show favouritism toward the baby.   I would bring the baby in a sling and give them stink-eye until they spoke to me, making it crystal clear that if they wanted the baby, they would have to go through ME.

I don't know Foofoo.  I hope you don't go visit them until you're 100% sure that your DH will back you.  And even then, make sure you have a set of keys and YOU are ready to leave him there.

Offline Pen

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4400
    • View Profile
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2011, 06:54:54 PM »
My DS married a woman from a culture different than ours. DH & I have shown and interest in DIL's country, food, customs, etc. and I am determined to improve my skills in her language (more or less learn again from square one, lol.) It has helped a little, I think, but we could certainly do much more.

FooFoo, have you shown them that you are interested in their culture? I'm just wondering what your take is on that approach.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline luise.volta

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8962
  • Luise Volta
    • View Profile
    • Wise Women Unite
Re: Hesitant Regarding In Laws New Found Interest
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2011, 07:47:49 PM »
I hate to say this but it sounds like a lost cause to me. You are going to be ready to leave at a moment's notice and she is going to go right on being how she is because she doesn't know how to be any other way.

I'm afraid I would tell my guy that I just can't do it. That I understand his need to stay in touch with them and that's his prerogative but that I will not subject myself and my daughters to further abuse. Let him know the door is always open should they choose to treat you with the respect you deserve, then let it go. It's about them not you, and they are the ones who are going to have to deal with the lines they drawn around themselves that only include your husband and his son but not you and your daughters. To subject yourself and the girls to such role models would be to live a lie. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama