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My husband and I are fighting

Started by Liz, March 14, 2012, 03:16:08 am

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My in-laws live two thousand miles awhile.  In the past,  we've gotten together  about every 5 years.  About three years ago, we had a serious rift.  They offended me greatly.  I told them how I felt.  My dh tried to intervene.  They don't get it.  They never will get it.  Nothing has changed.  As I could't accept their "business as usual" approach dh and I established some boundaries with them.  They violated the boundaries this past holiday and when dh called them out, all hell broke loose with them.  My fil had a tantrum and said some very nasty things about me. 

The 5 year trip is being planned by sister-in-law.  DH knows I won't go and he is fine with it.  The problem is he wants to take our pre-teen children.  He feels his parents are getting older and wants our kids to meet cousins they have never met.  I feel that this rewards his parents bad behavior as they will be thrilled dh is leaving me behind to attend.

Does anyone have any insight?  I love my dh very much and it is driving a wedge between us.


Sorry, if they can't be civil to *the Mom*, they can't spend time with the kids.  I wouldn't trust the IL's to "not" bad-mouth you to them.  And at that pre-teen age, their ideas are pretty maleable, without even having the maturity to understand that some people are just mean.

If it's really about "the cousins" then change your plans and go see the siblings, as a family.  The IL's don't have to be involved in this kind of meet up.


My take: I am looking at your statement that your ILs offended you greatly. It sounds like the trouble started there. People are the way they are and when we are offended it is often because we are the way we are. In a situation where we're literally stuck with people we didn't necessarily choose, and visa versa, wanting them to be and act differently isn't often a workable plan. Your ILs wanted to move past it because they are still how they are. Your husband sees your point but wants to honor them and he wants your children to honor them. By his doing so, are you feeling dishonored? It sound like your reaction to whatever they did is at the core of the entire thing. We don't need to know what that was. Agreeing with you or not isn't a solution.

In the name of honoring your husband, who continues to honor them...why not let go of being right and be the bigger person? I would suggest you back way up no matter how hard that is and let them know that you overreacted and you're past it. Pull the family back together before you become a role model to your children in a way that won't serve them. Being right is a lonely place. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Liz, I'm sorry you're going through this. Just so I'm clear about it, were your ILs aware of what they'd done? Was it spelled out to them at the time of their bad behavior? If so, and it was something they could change and they continued to do it, I agree w/Scoop.

If OTOH they were not informed in a way they could understand, I might take a different view. In my experience as a DIL and a MIL, we can't stop behavior we aren't aware of. My (former) ILs treated me horribly. It was never discussed or explained to them; perhaps they just weren't aware of what they were doing. As a MIL, my DIL has vaguely stated that she hates us but can't give DS anything we can do to change what bothers her. The result is that we feel awkward and frustrated with the situation; I prefer to see DS w/o DIL because when she's around I'm constantly watching my behavior for...what exactly? When our visits w/DS are limited due to DIL's feelings about us it adds to the pain.

My SM & DF haven't been very loving or supportive of me. It hurts me to spend a lot of time w/them. Rather than cut my DC out of knowing their extended family, I decided to let them forge their own relationships with SM & DF which have been very successful for one and not so much for the other (although she isn't really aware of it, thank goodness.)

My DS's MIL handled things differently w/her ILs and caused a huge rift in their family that coincidently affects DH & I because DIL learned how to treat us by watching her DM cut off her DF's side of the family (who are actually pretty nice people, it turns out.) 

I try to err on the side of love and acceptance, if at all possible. Best wishes to you all.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Thanks for all of your wisdom.  I will be more specific about the offense.  My dad died suddenly and my mil called me 8 weeks later to express her condolences.   When she stated she "wish she could have done more" I responded "you could have called sooner".  She then hung up on me.  I think it took several weeks for my dh to process this.  And he was also grieving my dad.  But when he finally spoke to her about it, she denied it... She said we were disconnected.  But she had never called me back.  Dh asked her to apologize and three weeks later I received a short note with " I am sorry for whatever I did".  I am a big believer specific feedback.  I wrote both ILs notes...using  "feeling" statements.  I never heard from my MIL and my FIL (who is not blameless) wrote back with statements of excuses.  My dh has about 5 conversations with them.  They don't get it and they never will get it. 

We went to marriage counseling.  She encouraged bondaries.  They have never been a part of our lives... So that was easy.  They are not to send me gifts or call the home phone.  When they travel through town, they have to stay at a hotel.  They have driven through twice and met dh for lunch and met dh with the kids for dinner.  They have never asked specifically to see me or a desire to talk to me.  When dh said I would not join them, there response was "ok".

It was working out well until FIL called on christmas.  My dh called him out.... I was called nasty names and my FIL was furious.  Once again my dh went through the specifics...FIL accused me of breaking up the family and he said " I am damned if I do and damned if I don't if I apologize".  So I don't think any apology is coming my way. 

And the cherry on this cupcake....  My FIL is a member of the clergy.

Our kids have no relationship with them... A yearly phone call on their bday.  And my dh has spoken to them about this.  Nothing changed.


Oh, I know that one! Nine days after my eldest son suddenly died of a sleep apnea induced stroke, his widow sent me a letter telling me that I was the wicked witch of the west and had been the worst mother in the world. Nine days! I knew neither of us was up to her declaration of war. Keeping my distance was easy because geographically and socially we didn't cross paths and she wasn't the mother of my grandsons. Five years later it happened. We met on a path at a garden party when my youngest grandson graduation from law school. (She was his step-mom, of course.) We both stopped in our tracks...she actually gasped and I think my heart stopped beating. I just made a call...and opened my arms to her. She hugged me and we started talking. That was it. Are we close, no. Yet, after another five years, we met again at the same grandson's wedding. We were both cordial and I'm glad we didn't cause a rift for others to have to tiptoe around.

Still my take: Look back if you can. What she did was a reflection of who she is...and isn't. Best to have her be that way and not have a script of how she should be. There is no way to faction compassion and kindess into people who don't have those characteristics. You could let her know now that you were fragile and reactive and that you want to let it go. Why keep it just to be right? (And you are, of course.) Isn't the price is too high for everyone involved?
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Luise,  you are a far bigger person than I am.  In my wildest dreams, I could not imagine doing that to my MIL. 

I am sorry for the loss of your son.  : (


I gotta' tell you...it feels really great to get unstuck. We can do the unimaginable sometimes for the good of all...except our own sense of being wronged. To me, that's ego stuff and not very complimentary. Everyone pays the price for our allegiance to that. If we were the only ones our attitudes hurt, it would be different but we are role models for our kids. Tough stuff!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Another thought - when we expect people to treat us a certain way, or decide that we cannot tolerate certain behaviors from them, we need to be very, very sure we follow our own rules. Perhaps there was a loss or other life event on MIL's side that wasn't acknowledged in a timely manner by you or your DH? Liz, I'm not accusing you of anything, just trying to clear things up so you and your DH can get on with it. I witnessed my GM treating my DM horribly & went through a similar freeze-out from my first set of ILs, so I'm not a one-sided, rah-rah MIL cheerleader by any means.

Do you feel a bit as if your DH/DC are abandoning or disrespecting you if they visit DH's FOO? If so, try to move on, IMO...plan something fabulous to do w/friends or your own relatives while they are at the IL-fest. Count your blessings that you don't have to go :)

Please keep posting and reading, and do let us know how things are going. We love getting input from DILs here!
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


I think that if FIL hadn't called LIz nasty names at Christmas, I would have let the sleeping dogs lie.  But I don't believe you should let your kids be around people who will badmouth you to them.  I know for my DD(7), it would hurt her, because her allegiances would be challenged.  On one hand, she would feel bad for me, but on the other hand, she would BELIEVE them.  Things they said would sit in her head and fester and it would come out eventually, during an argument, when it's too late to do 'damage control'.  Liz, you know your kids and how they would react.

Also, these children do not have a relationship with these GP's.  It would 'do no harm' to an existing relationship for them to sit this one out.

Again, if it really is about the cousins, then you can all go and see them, separately from the IL's.


Liz, I think not acknowledging the death of your Father for weeks was very inconsiderate of your MIL.  I also remember we had a MIL here one time that was hurt because her DIL didn't acknowledge the death of her Father.  I also remember that all the advice here was that she needed to let it go.  That although it was the polite thing to do, it shouldn't be an expectation.

I understand your hurt over it.  I do think since you said you only saw them every 5 years that it doesn't sound like you had that close of a relationship to expect a prompt phone call?  I mean that nicely because I have only spoken to my DIL once in almost 3 years.  If I had a death, I totally don't expect her to call, but if a year from now we chanced to meet again, I could so see her saying, "Oh, and sorry to hear about so and so."  Would I feel like you did?  That it would have been nice to hear at the time?  Sure, but if I'm not spending time with her now, it's my fault to expect her to do that.

As far as your current situation, I think there is an assumption that the ILs will speak badly about you to the DC.  Have you had problems with them doing that?  I think if you have had them do that, then I totally understand not wanting them to go and agree with you.  If you haven't, then I am under the opinion that they are his children too and if he is willing to not gripe about you not going, and go himself, then let them go.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


So many good responses... Thank you for giving me things to think about.  Just a few clarifications....  When I married into this family 20 years ago, I was enthusiastic about joining the family.  DH will grade me an a+.  We made an effort to comminicate regularly and visit often.  Then grandkids came along.  They pretended to be interested but really were not.  My last child was a high risk pregnancy and was in the nicu for a week.  No phone call to check in on her.  It was then when I realized how one sided the relationship was. I slowly backed away.  And honestly, it took them about 5 years to notice.  My MIL had a long talk... Cleared the air... And we both agreed to try harder.  Six months later my dad died.  They knew my dad because we took a few joint vacations together.  I found their behavoior disrespectful... Not only to me but their son.  Our family was in crisis and they couldn't call and offer moral support.  When they knew I was upset, they just pretended nothing happened.

And Luise hit the nail on the head... I feel so disrespected that my husband goes with the kids.  It seems to validate their behavior.  I do not think they would bad mouth me... And my kids have figured them out.  The ILs would just pretend like nothing had happened.  And then there would be a glowing description of the party in their Christmas letter... Only addressed to my dh.  Along with an anniversary and valentines day card sent...only addressed to my dh.  And these are the things my kids notice.  In fact one stated, "grandma is really petty".  So I know I should be the bigger person... I just feel like a doormat.  And dh is nothing like them.


Liz, I can empathize with you. I have had some less than positive interactions with my own MIL. Sorry you are going through all of this. I too have fought with my DH over her. I have been so angry at her. We have been married for 32 yrs. I'm so glad we don't live nearby. There have been times when I've felt the way you are describing. Over and over DH has told me that it's not about me, it's about her (her bad behavior), and that she has problems with her other kids' spouses also. We have had to reach some compromises over the years. One is that we set a certain time limit on the amount of time we (mainly me) are willing to spend with her. I also ask him to "be with me" while we are around her. This means he lets her know, through his behavior, that we are a team. If I am feeling really upset with a particualr behavior, I may decide on a particular "password" ahead of time to let him know that I've had enough, and that we need to leave. Also, we decide ahead of time what we are willing to do for her, or not do for her. DH use to accommodate her requests, ie, handyman types of projects. She would have a list of things, and we decided that he would ask her to choose one, and that would be all. At first he had a hard time doing this, but over time he found his voice more and more. It's still an ongoing process, but it works, for the most part. I really think Luise is wise with her comments. I think the two of you could go, limit the time you are with her, and enjoy yourselves. You will be modelling healthy behavior for your children. They seem wise to understand who their MIL is. The main thing here is to let her know that you and your DH are a team. Over time, you will develop your own strategies together. He will appreciate your efforts.

Beth 2011

Hi Liz,

Welcome, I hope you will find the answers that you are looking for here at WWU.  They sure have helped me.  I am sorry that your IL's treated you the way they did after your DF passed.  I know the hardest thing that I ever tried to do with my DIL was for all of us to get together and I told DS I would apologize in order to clear the air so we could move forward.  (I really didn't know why I was going to apologize but I still would have done so.)  DIL refused to get together with us to clear the air because she said she had nothing to apologize about.  That was 2 years ago. I have always felt that it is important that we all know where we come from and to remember where we come from....


Quote from: Liz on March 14, 2012, 03:16:08 amDH knows I won't go and he is fine with it.  The problem is he wants to take our pre-teen children.  He feels his parents are getting older and wants our kids to meet cousins they have never met.  I feel that this rewards his parents bad behavior as they will be thrilled dh is leaving me behind to attend.

Hi Liz, Do the kids want to go?

I would try to be careful that, in your desire not to reward your ILs,  you don't cross over into trying to punish them, and in the process, punish your husband and kids too. They might be able to have a good and meaningful time together. It can't really do any harm, can it?

DH is supporting your desire not to attend. You are ok with him going, I take it. The only issue is the kids' attendance. Why not let them have a say, and if they want to go with Dad, let them. Let staying home be what you do for you and let going be what they do for them.

What you don't want is for the kids to get the message that Mommy doesn't want us to go with Daddy because she's mad at Grammy and Grampa.

And so what if ILs are thrilled you didn't come. You're thrilled to be staying home. Just my one cent.