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I'm a DIL Hoping to Hear Some Words of Wisdom, please

Started by Riverbreeze, August 25, 2012, 12:18:16 pm

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Hello ladies, I have been reading here and absorbing all morning. I feel safe enough to ask and be receptive to any advice you may have to offer. I am just not sure there is a solution :(

My husband and I are both 40yrs old. We have been married 20 years, together 24. We have teenagers DD18 and DS14, only our youngest still lives at home. DHs parents are both 60,  mine are 66 and 68.

We have been estranged from DH's FOO for well over a year now.

Between Christmas 2010 and New Years 2011 DH and I had a horrible blow out with his parents. Our DD who was 16 at the time, pulled some ridiculous teenage drama (she fully admits this now)and my in laws decided they had to involve themselves. I fully understand they were trying to help but all they managed to do was break my heart and and turn an already bad situation into a full blown catastrophe. They believed they needed to rescue my daughter from me who was supposedly mentally abusing her , neglecting her and ruining her life.When my husband tried to talk to them about what they had done they had nothing but anger and contempt for him. They said horrible, horrible things about me and about him as well when he tried to defend me. I had never in my life experienced the kind of pain that I did when they turned all that venom of me after 20+ years. How could they know me for that long then think me capable of such wretched actions?

About a month later my MIL approached me in a grocery store when I was paying for my purchases.There was a line of people behind me and other strangers all around us...I could tell she was shakey and it had taken a lot of effort for her to come up to me.She said, " We didn't mean no harm"...I looked her straight in the eye and said," Well you sure caused a lot of it"...she went on to say, " We thought were helping  DD".. I said, "Yeah I know what you THOUGHT... but this is not the time or the place to discuss this". Her eyes got all furious and she yelled, "WELL MAYBE NEVER'S THE TIME!!!!" and she started to walk away and I replied to her back," I can agree to that!" I apologized to the people around me and finished up my business in the store.

10minutes later I was walking across a parking lot to go pick up my son when she pulled up behind me in her car and yelled at me, " Do yo have time now?!".. I said," Well this IS better then in the middle of the grocery store but that was a pretty short "never" !"... She then went on to screech some horrible things at me about me never liking anyone in the family and how I didnt even love my 2yr old nephew blah blah blah. I told her she was being ridiculous and I wasn't going to stand here in the rain listening to her rage at me like that. I told her when my DH got home ( he works away) that we could come talk to them then... she told me NO! only DH was allowed to come to her house and talk to them I was not welcome there any longer. I turned and walked away. She yelled at my back that I could find some where else for my DD to spend Wednesday night ( there was an arrangement because DD had a late class on Wed.nights that she would stay with PILs) I said Fine! and kept on walking. That was the last "conversation"

My MIL does have some pretty serious mental and emotional health issues. She had a horrible childhood and I do believe that caused her to develop (undiagnosed) Borderline Personality Disorder. I had seen her fly into other rages in the past over the most minor and ridiculous things so it wasn't shocking to have to see but it was very hurtful none the less. Salt in the still raw wound from a month earlier.

I went home that day and made a HUGE mistake.I fully admit that. What I did was I posted on facebook a post that said " So thankful for DH ,DD, DS ,My Mum and Dad and all my warm and wonderful friends...I love you guys!...you all make dealing with the raving idiots in my life so much easier."

Yes, yes I know it was wrong. I take full ownership of how poorly I reacted to her earlier tirade. I have since learned that anger is a secondary emotion caused by pain... I wish I had known that then...I was thinking clearly enough not to write any names ...but they all knew who I meant.

Of course my SIL saw it and started making her own posts about how wonderful her mother is etc. I understand her looking out for her mom, I just wish she'd never gotten involved because now we are estranged from her and her family as well. In my PILs family you are either with them or against them, you must pick a side when family strife strikes. Between my PILs they have 10siblings, they don't speak to any of them. They have always been the "It's us against the world" type people.

Anyways my PILs and my DH got into another big row about what MIL had said to me and about my bad facebook reaction. Apparently she was telling everyone she had tried to apologize and I would not talk about it. I've been tempted to carry a voice recorder in case another interaction were to ever happen.

A few days later after a seperate incident with a nasty non-related person,I made another mistake and yet again posted on facebook.. I can't remember the exact quote but it was something along the lines of: " I am removing all people from my life who have been bringing negativity into my spirit....so long soul-suckers!"

Well when FIL saw that he hit the roof and DH got another nasty phone call with lots of bashing us, so on and so forth and I was pretty much disowned. DH kept a very little contact with his FOO for a couple months but that died off and they are no contact now. His parents and siblings have nothing to do with us. His mother has called twice demanding to know why he "hates" them .When he says he does not hate them she just screeches at him and hangs up. My MIL is the number one thought police. She will tell you what you are thinking and feeling and that is just that. You can dispute it until you are blue in the face but she "KNOWS"

I poured out my heart to my FIL in a 4 page letter. It went unanswered. He used to be one of my best friends, it broke my heart to find out he considered me a disposable person  :'(   Since DH and I are now removed from the dysfunction of his FOO we can see things a lot more clearly. I don't think either of us will ever be close to FIL even if there is a reconciliation.

I have been frequenting forums about hateful inlaws and about personality disorders. I have learned and grown a LOT from the things I have been reading. But when I ask I always get the same advice.. Cut them off. Stay no contact, they are toxic, disordered people etc.

It's just so sad, we were once a very close family and now my husband is completely cut off from his parents and siblings and their families as well. I don't think I will ever trust them again after the disgusting things that were said about us to our child. I don't care if it was under the guise of helping her, speaking about her parents like that to her and in front of her is beyond reprehensible.

I guess I am wanting to hear from wiser, cooler heads than mine. I realize this is just a small glimpse into a much more complicated story, but from what I have told you here, do you see any chance of us ever reuniting? Since the PIL tried the divide and conquer tactic on us I don't see my DH having a stand alone relationship with them. We are a unit and we want to be respected as such. Will more time eventually heal the wound? I am having an awfully hard time letting go of my anger and pain but it's a slow work in progress.

*sigh* Does anyone have and words of wisdom for me?


Welcome Riverbreeze :)

Please read the highlighted items in the category Open Me First.  We ask all new members to do so in order to get a feel for WWU and how we came about.

As for your question, I think anything is possible.  Reconciliation could happen, but it may not.  I'm glad to see that you've owned up to your part in the situation and to me, that is half the battle.  Now you know that nothing good comes from drama on Facebook!  :)  IMHO, I would block them from Facebook -- not out of malice or spite, but simply because Facebook is supposed to be a fun activity, not cause more drama. 

Hopefully, your in laws will come around.  I think in the mean time maybe you can practice what you want to say in case you're surprised again in public.  It's too bad that your FIL did not answer your letter, but sometimes people need time to process before responding. 

Right now following your husbands lead and letting him guide the relationships might be best?  Space does wonders sometimes.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Thank you for your reply :)

I have done all the  pre-reading and my in laws have all been deleted from my FB for over a year and my security settings are ramped all the way up!

The problem with my husband is that he is an avoider. His family is famous for sweeping things under the rug and he never learned and coping mechanisms.  But I know I can't force or fix these things. Just sucks. I'm really sad for my man.


Riverbreeze - I am sorry you are going through this horrible time. You sound like a very good person who is hurting and wanting to find a way to repair what seems so broken now. I hope in time you may hear from your ils and find a way to bridge what happened so there will be connection which though not perfect may lead to closeness one day again. Many of us here are working on the same hope and find encouragement and support on Louise's site.  Maybe click on Louise's posts and read them - the stories are varied and wide ranging among all the ladies, and I have found reading all the posts from particular people has helped me see how time and perspective has altered how they feel, and see what helped them along the way to healing. There is a lot of wisdom here - hard won wisdom.  Hugs to you.     


Hi Riverbreeze-

I vote that if you want a reconciliation, to go ahead and hold that in your heart.  Take some time off from your DH's family and focus on restoring calm and happiness to your own family and yourself.  I'll bet that at some future point, if you feel like it, you'll get an idea about how to approach them in another way.  You were in touch with them for 20 years so this is a relatively short estrangement, isn't it?

My only advice here right now is to make sure it's this MIL and FIL that you want reconciliation with, not some idealized version of Inlaws.

I love the name you chose.


I'm not even sure I want a reconciliation.Things have been so calm and peaceful. DH quit drinking, he no longer feels the urge to self medicate away his family turmoil. In many ways life has been better since the cut off.

But it also feels wrong to be estranged from family, especially one we were at one time, so close to. But I think you are right Doe, is it really them I want or the ideal of "them"? And this isn't just about me, DH's feelings need to be considered, but he hates confrontations and isn't making any more moves towards them then they are towards him. It's sad.

I never want to step foot in their house again. Not after being told I wasn't welcome and after the horrible things that were said about me there. I don't want to feel uncomfortable in my own home and I've described how she is wiling to behave in public so I'm not even sure where a meeting could take place...deep in the woods or out in the middle of a field I guess!

I don't trust them any more. I don't know how to have a relationship with people I can't trust. I don't know how I would ever allow myself to be vunerable enough around them to ever chance letting them earn back my trust. Or if they even want too. I don't want to give them another chance to reject me.

Both sides of this crazy family situation have far too much pride. It's childish but I do concede I am part of it.

Thank you all for your words and your time. It is gratefully appreciated! *hugs*


I have similar feelings about my DIL.  I dropped some of my boundaries as I tried to welcome her into our family and it backfired.  I don't trust her at all now but as I work on my relationship with my DS, I feel like I should work on the one with her.  Then it just gets yucky.
I feel it's important to learn where my boundaries are, then figure out how to have relationships with the boundaries in place.  Right now, I'd rather have the boundary than any close relationship with her.  If we're going to know each other, it's going to have to be from a respectful distance as far as I'm concerned.


I agree with Doe.  Take time to grieve the idea of kind, supportive in-laws, and then decide where you want to go with the ones you have.

Time and distance may be your best tools for coming to terms with this changed relationship.  You might feel differently in a year, or you may not.  It's possible that they won't be able to have a mutually respectful relationship with you until the kids (and opportunities for interfering in your parenting) have left home.

Take it as it comes, and don't feel pressured to sweep these issues under the rug.


I suggest you and DH go for some counseling.  You need to find out if he really wants a reconciliation or not.  Is he ignoring the situation because he hates confrontation or because he is happier with the current situation? If he's quit drinking and you are both doing better, it's tempting to let things be.  There's no real right or wrong answer on if you should try to reconcile or not.  As long as you and DH stay on the same page and support each other, the extended family issues are not insurmountable no matter how things turn out with those individuals.

Good luck.


I think we would benefit from some counseling as well. I haven't out right asked DH to go, but I do know how he feels about it. He was raised to not air family business outside the home.( Remember my FB post?...yikes...) DH(wrongly) believes counseling is a crock. He's a rugged guy who thinks you just need to pull yourself up by your boot straps, man up and keep on truckin'. He will openly admit to any one that he HATES confrontation and will do almost anything to avoid it.

Our marriage is strong and stable but I still think there are things we as a couple could gain from counseling. Probably even more so individually. He quit drinking all on his own, he didn't go to dry out or rehab, he doesn't attend AA or any other support groups, and he didn't receive any addiction counseling. Any info he has gotten on alcoholism has come directly from me and the things I educated myself on due to his problem. He has not dealt with the feelings (about his family) that were making him self medicate in the first place and I do worry they will resurface. There is a LOT of hurt there, but we don't talk about it :(

Another issue for us and counseling is geographic. We live in a tiny rural area. (The nearest real town is 45mins away which is not TOO far and where PILs live) DH's  work takes him even farther away 10days at a time into very remote locations with just a handful of other "tough" men. Often on his days off I am working. It doesn't make appointments impossible just difficult to schedule. If I could get him to agree to go I suppose we'd find a way.

Part of my concern about a reconciliation is the booze factor. DH's parents both drink a lot. Personality disorders and alcohol can be a very unpleasant combination. My husband was 14yrs old the first time they got him staggering in to walls drunk. Hell for years we were all drinking buddies. I thought my BF(DH) had pretty cool parents when we were teens and could go party at his house. My parents were never that fun! *sigh*

I have heard both my PILs make negative remarks about people who either didn't drink or people who quit drinking. However since DH quit and his other two siblings rarely ever drank, all three of their children are non-drinkers. Maybe they have changed their views on this.

I do know I would want any discussions with them to take place early in the morning before anyone had a chance to get "fortified". The night 1.5yrs ago that all the family "stuff" hit the fan , my drunk MIL called here to talk to my drunk DH to get him to tell me everything I was doing wrong with our daughter.. I myself was half way through a bottle of wine so you can imagine how the rest of THAT evening went....  ???

Sorry for my rambling posts..but it is helping me to write some of this stuff out and categorize it in my mind. I have been writing things down the whole time, through all the turmoil, however as time goes by I am seeing things differently. I am trying to be proactive instead of reactive. Approaching this mess calmly instead of through an angry red veil is still new to me.


Welcome Riverbreeze.  Yuck, what a yucky situation to be in.  I'm very glad you have a DH that is on the same page with you regarding his parents.  That is the key to the situations that make normally make life better when you both can agree they cause you problems.

Now I will go from the other side...Lol.  We took our stepdaughter in, due to major issues with her Mother/SF homelife.  When her stories came out, I was furious with her M/SF and I can tell you, I would have said some nasty stuff to them at the time.  Caused major problems with M/SF because we took her in and laid some laws down with them over her stories.  As the months drug on, well let's just say, SD was as bad as them.  M/SF do have major issues, but so did she.  Did she develop them from them?  Some of them, but not all of them.  I'm saying that to say it's hard not to believe a child/teenager when they tell you stories.  You want to protect them, shield them and fix it for them.  I know you didn't do anything, but MIL/FIL was hearing from her and believing her.  When MIL approached you (wrongly, I will add) and started with "We meant no harm", in her head, that was probably her equivalent to an apology.  There was no excuse for her behavior afterwards, but I would bet that's what she was thinking when she's saying she tried to apologize.

One thing I try to practice now when someone gets upset or angry with me, is to say to myself "How would I feel if someone did that to me?"  I take out the whole, were they wrong or right and just narrow it down to that.  If my answer is that I would be livid/hurt/upset too, then I try to make amends.  I guess it's trying to see it from their viewpoint, even if their viewpoint is wrong in my opinion.  I say that because no matter what your MIL did, no matter how wrong she was, your SIL is defending her Mother.  If I had seen on FB someone saying ugly things about my Mother and family, I would have had the same reaction as she did.  Put yourself in her place, what if someone had said something about your Mother on FB?  That's what I'm learning to do with people.  Now, I can't make them accept my apologies, all I can do is try and alleviate my own conscious.  I know you feel bad about what you wrote on FB out of anger, I'm just talking about how now SIL has cut you guys off too.

That's one of things we learn here.  You can only be responsible for your actions.  You can't control them, make them into who you want or even make them see things your way.  So I loved everyone's answer.  If you ever decide to let go of the anger and hurt, you would have to accept them for who they are, ugliness and all.  If you can't or don't want to deal with the ugliness, then you have to find a way to let go of the anger and hurt for yourself and move on, knowing you made the right decision.  I think your post says it all, things are much better without them.  Now how can you let go of the guilt you are feeling about not being involved with the family?
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


I agree with everything you said Pooh. You summed it up well. I do believe my MIL approaching me in the grocery store was her version of an apology.

I've always understood WHY DHs family had the reactions they did to DDs teenage dramatics.But I was beyond hurt they were so willing to think the worst of me like they did. They raised three teenagers of there own, how could they end up acting more childish then the child who was fleecing them? In the long run they have hurt DD way more than they ever "helped" her. She is broken hearted and guilt ridden over the state of her family. It's a sad way for a young woman to begin her adult life. I've tried explaining to her that as angry as I was with her,people expect teenagers to act like spoiled brats occasionally but the elders in her life should have acted as grown ups and it's NOT her fault that her GPs fell for her dramatics. They should have had faith and common sense that I would never abuse or neglect her nor t would DH ever let me mistreat her. She did learn a valuable lesson but boy was it an expensive one for her, and one she'll likely be paying for the rest of her life. Our DS is also collateral damage in this mess.He's only seen his GPs 2 in 20months.

I completely understand why my SIL dove in to protect her mom. Yes I would have done the same if anyone had alluded to my mother in such a fashion. My mother is a saint and does not pitch shrieking tantrums in public or in private for that matter.I have never in my 40years seen my mother's emotions out of control.. angry yes, upset yes, frustrated yes....but never, never to the appoint of verbally attacking anyone or throwing objects. My MIL has a history of doing such things and everyone knows it. This wasn't the first fit she pitched at me but it was the last. I don't understand why DHs whole family thinks I should have just absorbed her tirade and been "OK" with it. ( For years, I've heard "That's her, that's just the way she is." as if it's OK to act the way she does) It was not OK she treated me nor was my reaction OK.

All I did wrong that day (prior to the FB post) was refuse to discuss a private family matter involving MY CHILD in front of total strangers in a grocery store. No, I shouldn't have taken it to FB, that was my bad and I've fully admitted that. I had warned both FIL and MIL that I would never again take another one of her rages directed at me lying down.I meant that... and I reacted.Poorly. She attacked me in a public place so I returned the favor.Childish yes. And to be 100% honest I was trying to garner support and sympathy after the hurt they had caused me. I darn well did want people to know what kind of crap I had to put up with, I was hurt and angry and I lashed out.I wish I had never gone to FB with it because then they wouldn't have had it to use against me and all the nastiness would have landed in her lap. Lesson learned.

Wow... I just realized, talking to you ladies here has shown me I am not ready to talk to my in laws. I am still too upset and defensive. I can admit what I did wrong but part of me still feels justified in hurting them back after how they hurt me. I think I must have to be over that before I could move forward in a relationship with them. (?)

I do not hate my in laws but I do not like many of the things they say and do.During this cut off with them I have done a TON of reading and writing. I wanted to have my feelings towards them, through the different stages, validated and I have found that down different avenues. One of those roads taught me a LOT about personality disorders. I am not a qualified practitioner but having known MIL for over two decades I feel extremely certain that she suffers from complex personality disorders and that her immediate family members are enmeshed codependents. I know I can't talk to them about my "findings" (even if we were on speaking terms) but it does help me to release some of my animosity towards them. Mental illness does NOT give them the right to mistreat me or anyone else but it explains some of the ridiculous behavior.Wish that made it hurt less   :'(

Thank you all so much for listening to me go on and on. Thank you for your words of wisdom. I am obviously not as far along as some of you are. Not as far a long as I was hoping *I* was either. In the few days I've been visiting this board I've come to realize not enough time has passed yet. Space and time is healing the rawness of the wound but it's not healed enough for me to go picking at the scabs just yet.

I wish there was an easy way to just forgive and move on. I am in a WAY better place then I was a year ago, but I'm still not there yet. *sigh*


Don't you just hate when someone says, "Oh, that's just how SHE/HE is.  We're all used to it."   I do.  Because to me, that is a big part of the entire issue.  As long as people go along with the behavior, to me that is telling the person it's ok to act that way.  Then you get to look like the bad guy because you take a stand against being treated poorly.

You are a lot further than you think simply because you recognize that you aren't.   ;)
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell



The thing is that once someone says truly horrible things about you, you will never forget that.  You will never again open yourself up to them and you will never again desire a close relationship.  At some point, you will simply walk away and move forward.  I don't have a relationship with my inlaws either.  It started with the parents as well.  The background story is different, but the name calling was pretty much the same.  We initially tried to maintain a relationship with DH's siblings, but they always thought and continued to press us, particularly me, to put up with MIL's bad behavior.  So eventually, I stopped wanting to spend time with them either.  It's been almost a year since we saw any of them and I can honestly say, I don't miss them.  My kids are little, so they don't even know them.  It's too bad, but you cannot unsay words once they are spoken.  Nor can the recipient unhear them.  Which means the only hope at reconciliation is honest apologies and the slow rebuilding of relationships.  Unfortunately, some people don't think they should ever have to apologize for anything.


If only I could have simply walked away from my DIL when she mouthed her horrible comments, but that would have meant walking away from DS as well. I, and the rest of my family, would have missed him. So, I pretend DIL never said anything...but I haven't forgotten.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb