Author Topic: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future  (Read 2518 times)

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Offline Rejected

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Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« on: September 25, 2011, 10:45:21 AM »
Just wanted to let you ladies know how things have been going lately. If you don't really remember my story, I'm the one that was trying out the taking my toxic MIL out to dinner once a month. Here is my original post if you want to read it:
http://www.wisewomenunite.com/index.php/topic,1412.0.html

We successfully took her out to eat 2 months in a row and then she traveled around a bit to visit her other kids and the times she was home didn't work with our schedules so we went 2 months without going out to eat. We never committed to going out to eat every month, we'd just tell her "we'll see how things play out next month and let you know." Well, after 2 months in a row that was commitment enough for her because the next two months when she was busy traveling and we were busy with work and other commitments and we didn't go out to eat she threw a fit and said "What ever happened to us going out to eat every month." Ugh!

My DH and I ended up seeing a counselor a few times to help us understand a bit more and to cope a little better with my MIL. We have agreed to continue to take her out once a month (if it works with our schedules) and my DH is going to go to her house once a month to either visit or help her with something. So he'll see her twice a month and I'll see her once a month. This has gone on for 2 months and so far it has worked out well.

This month my DH went to her house 3 times and it was a little too much for him. So he'll stick with 1-2 times a month and just going out to eat. This month she also thanked him for making an effort and for trying and that she has noticed and the relationship with his siblings has improved as well.

Okay now for the advice part...

A few years back one of our nieces celebrated a big moment in her. The ceremony only lasted 30 min. and they live 12 hours away. My DH and I decided not to go because of the traveling & taking off work. Everyone else in the family went and to this day we still hear about it and get grief for not going. Well, another nephew has reached the age to celebrate a big moment in his life. The ceremony again will only last about 30 min. and they also live 12 hours away in another direction. We are happy for him but we just don't think it's worth it to travel and take work off for an event that will only last 30 min. I know we are going to get the same grief & guilt as we did before. This type of ceremony can't be recorded either.
We just get very frustrated because 4 of my DH's siblings live out of state but whenever anything like this happens or family vacations, or holidays they ALL travel like its no big deal. My DH and I absolutely hate traveling plus we can't afford it, but that doesn't stop the comments and bullying.
They all went on a vacation across the country last month and my DH and I didn't want to pay to spend time with my DH's 4 moms and 2 dads (his mom, 3 sisters, and 2 brothers). After telling them all that we wouldn't be going we got bombarded with emails and phone calls. I finally sent an email saying this is a decision that we made together and we ask that they respect our decision and we hope they all have a great time and take lots of pics to share with us...we still got bullied by a few people.
What do we do? How do we handle ourselves in these situations? When we do go it's awkward and unpleasant and when we don't go we get bullied and looked down on. Help please!
"Women are Angels and when someone breaks our wings... we simply continue to fly --- on a broomstick... we are flexible."  ~Anonymous

Offline Pooh

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2011, 11:20:08 AM »
You continue what you are doing rejected.  There is nothing at all wrong with not being able to go because of work and/or finances or frankly, I wouldn't want to travel 24 hrs for a 30 minute ceremy either, even if I didn't have financial/work problems.  It's your decision. Don't let them bully you.  You explained nicely and I wouldn't entertain them continuing on with their words.  Just keep being polite and say, "We have explained and that's all I can do" and move on to other topics.  If they will not move on, then politely tell them you need to get off the phone or don't answer the email.

I am very glad to hear that the MIL situation is better and congratulations on hanging in and to continue to try.  It sounds like it's working!  Slowly, but working!  Woot Woot!
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline Pen

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2011, 01:03:55 PM »
Good job w/MIL, Rejected. Nice compromise; way to stick to your agreement! Sounds like she's handling things better. I'm happy for you & DH.

Regarding the other, I don't know what to say other than try not to get into a discussion about it with the people who are trying to bully you. Politely send regrets, a gift if it's warranted, and let it go. Bullies can only bully when they get a reaction, otherwise it's no fun. If when you do go you get flack, joke about how they're wasting the time they do have with you and redirect the converstation. People love to talk about themselves; ask about their kids or their recent promotion.

This may sound cold & crass, but it recently happened to a friend of mine who also isn't a big family togetherness person:
We who are not wanting to be in the thick of all things family have to realize that we don't deserve to be first in line when the goodies are handed out either. Make sure you are willing to back off when the inheritances are handed out and those who participated are getting the lion's share. DH & I know there's nothing earmarked for us, don't expect anything, and are not willing to kiss up just to get stuff.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline Rejected

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2011, 03:18:37 PM »
Thanks Pooh & Pen! We're definitely a lot happier in our marriage too because there is a lot less stress when everyone is satisfied! I have less drama to deal with, MIL gets to see her DS, my DH gets to see his mom, and all the siblings are getting along better. Yay!!

@Pen - I totally understand what you are saying about the inheritance thing. The only things my DH has inherited so far are the things that belonged to his late dad that was to be passed down at the dad's request, it's all my DH wants and he's got it. My DH and I have talked regarding the things belonging to my MIL and we want nothing. There isn't any sentimental attachments to anything she owns, it was all with his dad. But you are right! So many times people want and want, but aren't willing to kiss up or put forth the effort to earn it. You can't have your cake and eat it too.  :)
"Women are Angels and when someone breaks our wings... we simply continue to fly --- on a broomstick... we are flexible."  ~Anonymous

Doe

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2011, 03:28:22 PM »
A dog trainer showed me how to keep my dogs out of the kitchen - you delineate an imaginary boundary and when they approach it, you put your hand up and say, "stop" or whatever communicates that they are in no way allowed to come past that line. And you keep doing that till your intention overrides theirs.

Of course, I have 2 Scotties who are not easy to train and they are so cute and they wear me down and are all up in my kitchen and under my feet because they know I'll divert some treats to them as I fix meals.

I feel like your family is sort of like my Scotties - they are all over you and up in your business because you haven't set the boundaries strongly enough.

If you are saying you can't stop bullying them, you are saying that their intention is stronger than yours.  Try amping your own intention up.   Maybe try the gradient of just not caring when they try to get you do something they want you to. 

My husband ignores the dogs when they want to share his dinner but I always give them some and it's hard for me to get rid of them because they know that I have weak boundaries.    Maybe they are bullying me... :)


Offline pam1

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2011, 04:16:50 PM »
Good news, Rejected :)

I agree about not getting into a discussion with bullies.  All it does is open the issue for further bullying, no need to justify yourself or give an explanation.  Simply just do it.  Bullies don't get words, they get action.

It struck me when my own MIL announced that they only way to raise children is on guilt -- so she knew all along what she was doing and apparently doesn't see a thing wrong with it.  I think it is probably similar with your in laws, they know what they do, they just don't care enough to change.  So it's up to you to accept or not their behavior.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift

Offline Pen

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2011, 05:13:37 PM »
I don't understand why someone would want to raise their children using guilt. I'm so sorry for your DH, Pam. I would be sad if I thought my AC were motivated by guilt to spend time with me.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline Ruth

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2011, 05:37:33 PM »
No, they are worse than your Scotties, because this is just rude, odious behavior.  Dogs seldom have an agenda or a bitchie attitude, this smacks of big boundary issues in my opinion.  Its none of their business what you do with your time, your money, your life.  I would not respond at all, and act if it had not even been communicated.  I do not do this kind of family thing.  I attend to the ones I'm really close to, but those I don't know from Adam's house cat don't get my time or money.  Its just that simple.  We all have limits on our time and energy.  I wouldn't waste a second of worry on this.

Offline Scoop

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2011, 06:07:30 AM »
Rejected, have you spoken to your DH about this?  Because I have to say that I had to learn from my DH, how to "handle" my MIL.

My MIL does NOT want to be told "No".  If you say "NO" to her, she will ramp up the drama with everything you mentioned.  But, if you tell her "We'll see" or "Maybe", she'll back right down.  And when you DON'T do *whatever*, somehow, it doesn't trouble her as much.  "Oh well, I guess they couldn't make it.  Sigh."

Seriously, her WHOLE family does this to her, and it makes me feel so badly for her, because I know that they're just giving her the "yeah, yeah, whatever".  But, based on her reaction, she prefers to be lied to and put off.

Also, my MIL is a workaholic, so if we don't want to do something, DH will say that he has to work and that's GOSPEL to MIL.  She would never pressure him after that.

So, talk to your DH and see if he has any strategies on how to 'handle' MIL and the family.  Maybe, the "yeah, yeah, whatever" approach is what you need. 

"Oh, we're invited, okay, we'll look into it and let you know."
"DH is having a hard time nailing down vacation days."
"I've got a big project at work that might be ramping up around that time."
"We're waiting for flights to get cheaper."
"Well, the car's been making this funny noise, we're going to bring it in to get checked."
"I'm still working on my boss."
"Well, you never know with us!  We might, we might not!"
"We're still working out the logistics."

Lather. Rinse. REPEAT.


Offline Ruth

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2011, 01:16:52 PM »
Scoop I am wiping tears after that one!  I will copy and paste that to my keepers file. 

Offline herbalescapes

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2011, 11:46:02 AM »
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  Wholeheartedly admit that you deliberately avoided niece's function and the family vacation and you won't be coming to nephew's things out of pure spite.  Really pore it on.  Tell everyone you are just witchy that way.  You hate them all.  Whenever my kids would accuse me of being a mean mother I would just concur.  Yup, that's me: the meanest mother ever.  That's why I had kids; to be mean to them.  Fess up, you married your husband for the SOLE PURPOSE of dissing his relatives.  They are on to you.  Mightas well own up. 

(This works only if you can keep a straight face and deadpan voice.)

Offline pam1

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2011, 02:22:35 PM »
Lol herbalescapes!  Whenever DD tells me I'm the meanest mother in the whole wide world I say "yep, that means I'm doing my job."  I think injecting humor is the way to go, it defuses arguments and can even prove how silly one side is being without having to say a harsh word.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift

Offline Rejected

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2011, 09:19:04 PM »
Haha, Scoop...the trouble is with my MIL we have tried the "we'll see" or "maybe" tactic and she always takes it as a yes, just like with the dinners: Here's a play by play...
MIL: "So do you think we could make going out to eat a monthly thing?"
DH: "We don't want to make any commitments at the moment, we'll see how things go next month and let you know if we can or not."
Out to eat gets skipped due to her traveling and our work
MIL: "Whatever happened to us going out to eat every month?"

I'm definitely going to write down your strategies though! Thank you SO much!

My DH and I have had SO many talks over how to approach his mom. The truth is my DH doesn't really know how to handle his mother. While he lived at home he just did everything to avoid conflict and he would bottle up his anger and then they'd explode & have huge yelling fights on a regular basis. I've asked him not to yell at his mother so he's not sure what to do now. Our counseling sessions have helped a ton and I'm sure my DH will go back a few more times to learn more coping techniques.

Hee hee herbalescapes, thanks for the laugh. I could just see my MIL having a hay day with that! That would be the confession she's been wanting all this time and then she'd be on the phone for the next month to everyone she knows telling them that she was right about me ALL along, haha. I've joked about this too with my DH so many times. My MIL has told my DH a couple of times that I'm controlling, one time she said to him "I'm sure that since Rejected doesn't like ice cream it's not allowed in your house." So when my DH and I are sitting at home together playing games or something and he gets up to get a bowl of ice cream(gasp! yes I keep some in the house for my DH) I always joke and say something like "Where did that ice cream come from? That's not allowed in my house." with a stern look on my face. But in reality I would not have the guts to do that to my MIL. I can daydream about it though and get a good laugh.  ;D

One more question...
Would it be rude if we suggest we go dutch from now on? She has paid all but one time. When we try to pay she gets offended because she wants to treat us as a way of saying thank you, I guess, but she's also the type to order salads because they're cheaper (and it's rude to me to order something more expensive than what the person whose paying ordered) and everyone must drink water.
"Women are Angels and when someone breaks our wings... we simply continue to fly --- on a broomstick... we are flexible."  ~Anonymous

Offline pam1

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2011, 08:37:05 AM »
Not rude at all to go dutch.

DH did similar, I was shocked how rude and nasty he could be to his mother after we married.  That is how they communicated all his life, he would ignore or pacify and give in until he just had enough and then *kaboom* he would let loose on her.

I asked him as well to not do that, it was awful.  It took him a really long time to learn that ignoring and pacifying were his issues, not MILs.  Yes, she was a pain and boundary stomping but he let her and when he let loose on her, he was really mad at himself.  The only way to stop the cycle was to put on his big boy pants and say no the first time.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift

Offline Begonia

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Re: Update on how things are going and need advice for the future
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2011, 03:16:51 PM »
Going Dutch is great.  And I really admire you doing this...but wonder if it's out of love or out of duty?  My own situation clouds my response.

But I really disagree with making up excuses that are, essentially, lies.  People know when we do that and IMO it just breeds more and more resentment.  I am the kind of person that when someone says we are going to do something in two weeks I count on that.  And if someone can't do something then I would hope they call me in advance and say it won't work instead of playing a game with me like my AC have done which leaves me hanging or when they say some lame excuse that somebody has to work---Nah!.  Geepers, I want my AC to want to see me, not out of duty or "have to."  The thought that I am being made a joke of....as in ---which story should we tell mom this time?  feels so not right to me.  Those are some of the reasons why I have stepped back from relationship with my AC.  If I never ask them to do anything then they are never going to have a reason to make up a lame excuse ever again.  (I am obviously very sensitive to this after a recent call from my daughter).  Still have some healing to do.  "We'll see."  seems like a real control tactic to me that I do not bite on anymore. 
Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift (Eleanor Roosevelt)