Author Topic: long standing inlaw problems  (Read 4102 times)

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Offline confusedbyinlaws

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long standing inlaw problems
« on: February 27, 2013, 07:21:26 PM »
I have been married for 28 years.  When I first met my husband and his parents I thought they seemed like the perfect family.  His parents were both college educated professionals and their two sons were headed in that direction.   They seemed close and did a lot of things together and I never saw any of them get angry.  I grew up in a household full of  people with tempers so I found this refreshing.  His parents seemed so nice and yet I still felt very uncomfortable with them.


After we had been married a few years, my MIL made a point of telling me that she had a terrible relationship with her MIL and she wanted very much not to be like her.  She said that her MIL never loved her so she made a point of telling me that she loved me.  I was touched and I thought she would be like another mother to me.  My relationship with my own mother was not bad, but my parents were not very demonstrative.  However I knew that they loved me. 

My inlaws used to take their two sons, even after they were in college and they would all go camping in their small camper.  When I came along (and I had a young child already), they thought we could also stay in those small quarters with them.  I went along with that because I wanted their approval and I concluded that if I was not comfortable with that it was because of something wrong with me.  There was a week on a houseboat with absolutely no privacy and no escape with inlaws, my husband daughter and I and BIL and his girlfriend.  I could tell BIL’s girlfriend was uncomfortable too and I could not wait to get off that boat.  I told myself then that I would never agree to that again.  When we traveled together we shared hotel rooms too.  Eventually I said no to those kind of things.  My inlaws never express anger, but I could tell FIL was angry when he wanted us all to do something and I declined.  And I remember MIL saying “What’s wrong with DIL?  Why doesn’t she want to stay with us?”   But they got used to the fact that I didn’t like close quarters like that.

My inlaws moved closer to us about 15 years ago and that’s when the problems seemed to become worse.  When we would invite them over for parties or family gatherings they would insist on bringing all this food.  I was passive again and went along with that for awhile and then began to object.  There was an incident where FIL wouldn’t let me serve the bread I had purchased at the bakery for a meal at my own home and he had brought bread and wanted me to serve it instead…. Not in addition to.  I literally pushed him out of the way and put my bread out with his.  It was a territorial thing and it made me mad.  That was sort of a last straw and I decided it was time to sit them down and have a talk.

There were a couple of other issues with my MIL that I was struggling with that I also talked with them about at that time.  The biggest issues I have with my MIL is that she visually examines me and comments out loud about my appearance.  She tries to make it complimentary, but it is often back handed compliments and she also expresses disapproval sometimes about the way I am wearing my hair or whatever.  The other thing is that she tries to hard to compliment me and it comes across as insincere.  Then sometimes she blurts things out that are insulting.  This particular behavior has been very confusing to me.  Which one does she mean.  Well, I know sometimes I blurt things out and it’s usually something I was thinking but didn’t want to say.  I recently read something about a defense mechanism called reaction formation where someone says and behaves the opposite way of how they are feeling because the negative feelings cause them anxiety.  So they over- compensate by behaving and saying just the opposite.  I am beginning to wonder if that was true for my MIL.

So when we sat and had our first talk about 12 years ago, things seemed to go pretty well.  There was no yelling, or ugliness and I felt pretty proud of myself for being about to talk to them about these things without losing my temper.  They seemed to react pretty well.  I addressed the issues of the food and MILs commentary on my appearance.  I didn’t address the over-complimenting and the blurted out insults because I was simply confused by it and didn’t know how to address it with her.  They nodded their heads and said they loved me and wanted to do whatever it took to make things right.    But they didn’t

I had to fight every time to keep them from trying to bring tons of  food when we invited them over and I eventually wouldn’t even let them in the kitchen..  Even recently when we had invited them for dinner they asked if they could bring prime rib.  I did stand firm though even though they kept trying.  When they asked about the prime rib, I said they could bring a salad.  Well they brought an entire salad bar that took them 30 minutes to set up and took up my entire counter top, so there was barely any room to put the main meal.  And there was enough salad bar for an army and it could have been an entire meal in itself. 
I decided after that I would just tell them no don’t bring a thing and I mean it.

MIL continued with the commentary about my appearance, as if I had never said anything to her about it  Why didn’t I continue to confront her about it?  I wish I had.  I wimped out.  I experienced  a lot of anxiety  when confronting them the first time and I thought it didn’t do any good the first time so why put myself through that again.  Bad way to think!

So as time went on over the next several years I became more and more resentful.  Menopause hit, then my mother got cancer, then she died and that changed me.  I just feel like I don’t want to tolerate things like I used to .  One thing I have realized is that I never had to tolerate things that I wasn’t comfortable with and never should have.  I should have taken better care of my own needs.

About 1 ½ years ago I wrote a letter to my MIL addressing her scrutiny and commentary about my appearance again and how uncomfortable it made me.  I also brought up about how she gushes with compliments but then blurts out insults and that when she does that I question her sincerity (with the compliments)  I wrote the letter because I knew I was angry and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to say it all without losing my temper.  My husband and my grown daughter read the letter and thought it was fine to send.  My daughter even said it was a nice letter and compared to how I was feeling it was nice. 

Then inlaws came over to talk and it did not go well.  MIL was crying and saying “You called me insincere and that hurt me to the core”   FIL was defending his wife and turned it all back on me.  You think she compliments you too much and tries to do to much for you, I think you are the one with the problem.  I lost my temper then and they left.  I feel horrible about the way I behaved that day.  My husband just sat there in shock at their reaction and said hardly anything the whole time

After that I sought out the therapist who had helped me when my Mom was dying.  MIL eventually had a session with her in which I apologized for my behavior and tried town my part of it..  She cried through the entire session about how I had hurt her and how she didn’t understand what she had done wrong., that she loved me and meant every compliment.  The session ended up being one to make her feel better, but I didn’t feel better. 

Since then my inlaws have moved to be near their other son and be at a lower altitude for their health. My husband has visited twice without me and from what I hear he spend many hours trying to get them to understand where I was coming from. 

The way I feel now is that I have no desire to spend time with them.  I feel like they are not horrible people, but they have given me the message with their behavior that they don’t care about how I feel.  The first time I told them how I was feeling, they just gave me lip service but continued doing the same things that I had said I wasn’t comfortable with.  The second time they acted like they had never heard any of it before and put all on me as the one with the problem.

After my husband’s first visit, which was almost a year after the confrontation they wrote a letter to me apologizing for causing me pain in the past.  I responded saying the apology surprised me and that they left me with the impression they thought they had done nothing wrong and that I was the one with the problem. MIL responded saying she was working on listening better and practicing not commenting on people’s appearance.  I told her I didn’t understand why they continued to do those things after the first conversation and she said she was trained as a teacher that one someone said she was wrong to let it go floating by.   (seriously!)

I left it this way. I said I appreciated the apology and expressed intent to do things differently, but that there was a lot of water under the bridge and I needed time. 

I still feel very hurt and angry and sad with the realization that this woman who claimed to love me so much really hasn’t shown much consideration for my feelings. 

I feel like I do need to join my husband for a visit to them at some point but not exactly sure what to do at this point.  Right now I am just waiting hoping that my anger will subside and that I will feel strong enough to visit them without giving up my power to them.

Any insight or advice would be appreciated.  And please don’t hesitate to tell me where you think my thinking in this situation is wrong.

Offline Pen

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2013, 10:46:57 PM »
Welcome, Confusedbyinlaws. If you haven't already done so, please take a minute to read the pink-highlighted topics under Open Me First on the home page. We ask this of all new members to make sure everyone understands the site policies and to make sure the site is a good fit.

I'm sorry you've felt uncomfortable with your ILs for so long. 28 years - wow, that's a long time to be unhappy. At this point I don't imagine much is going to change on their side; all you can do is change your reactions to their behavior and your expectations that things will be different.

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

fangle

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 04:38:22 AM »
Hello,
I have asked some people I know about the bringing too much food with them thing over the years.  The answer they gave was that if they brought all the food they felt needed, if they felt needed, they felt comfortable.  This answer was true for them, but I don't know if it is true for your ILs or the general population.  You would still be left with the communication problem which you have tried to fix.  If ILs won't budge, you can't make them.  I am in a sort of similar situation - advice that I have been given is to spend time with those who love me back and take time for me and my family instead of worrying about those who won't change and won't treat me with respect.  It is good advice and has made me feel much better.  You deserve to be treated well.  Surround yourself with people who love you back.  Good Luck! xo

Offline Pooh

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2013, 06:54:13 AM »
Welcome confusedbyinlaws.  That is such a long time to be made to feel that way, bless your heart.  I heard everything you were saying and I applaud you for trying for so long, and still wanting to try.  Many would have thrown in the towel a long time ago.

For me, it would depend on some things if I could move past this and let it go to try again with a visit.  Does MIL treat other people the same way?  From your story, her answer on she was practicing not commenting on people's appearances, sounds like she does it to everyone?  When they go to other family members homes, do they take food?  Not that anything they are doing to you is not hurtful, but I like to look at the entire person as a whole to see if I could let go of some it and just chalk it up to "that is how they do everyone so it's not personal against me".  I also look at the good points versus the bad points.  If they do 20 things right, and 3 things wrong, then I am more willing to work things out because again, I make mistakes and I am 100% positive that I do things that people don't like.  I would hope that someone would talk about me to people going, "Oh she drives me bonkers with her XXXXXX and XXXXXXX but overall, she is a good person".

So not making excuses for them, and also not saying that they don't need to work on what they are doing that makes you feel bad, but are they only doing it to you?
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline confusedbyinlaws

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2013, 07:46:07 AM »
Thanks for the advice and feedback.  I agree with you that I can't make my inlaws change and I am not expecting much change on their end.  And I don't really feel like it's my right to ask people to change.  But I do feel like I have the right not to tolerate certain things that they do.  I have reacted badly to things my inlaws do, taking things personally that were not personal at all, allowing their behavior to affect my self esteem and becoming increasingly resentful over the years and this has hurt me more than it has hurt them. 
Pooh, the answer to your question about whether my inlaws do these things only to me is both yes and no.  MIL does comment on everyone's appearance, especially women, weight, hair clothes etc. incessantly.  It's not personal.  Because of my own insecurities I have reacted more than others.  Other people in the family find it rude an annoying, but don't seem to get so upset about it.  Both inlaws are extremely weight conscious and don't hesitate to comment on people's weight. (Examples: FIL told my son he was getting fat when he returned home from college.  MIL told my mom how nice and trim she was  looking when she was dying of cancer and had lost so much weight for that reason. ) As far as I know no one ever confronted them about this until I did.  Everyone was aware of it and doesn't like it but they just put up with it.  Now MIL says she is working on not doing it, so maybe I've done her a favor.
As far as the food issues, it is about MIL wanting to feel needed as Fangle said was the case with others she knows.  MIL is all about wanting to serve others in that way.  There is nothing wrong with that except when people specifically ask you not to, in my opinion.  When I invite people over for a dinner party to my home, it is a gift that I am giving them and so I do feel like I have the right not to have it taken over by my inlaws.  I tried to explain to my MIL that it's like if I was making a quilt or something to give to someone as a gift and she came along and said "oh I want to help"  and took over and finished it.  Then it would no longer be my gift.  She just looked at me and I don't know if she understood or not.  She is such a nurturer that it seems really hard for her to accept that she can't do it even in my home. 
I have not observed my inlaws doing this to others.  My grown children have had family gatherings and I noticed my inlaws didn't try to take over and didn't over do it with what they did bring, if they were asked to bring a side.  The only other family is my husband's brother's family who live across the country from us and inlaws recently moved near them.  BIL is recently married and I have not visited there since inlaws move there, so I don't know how that is going.  My ex-SIL was very strong willed and didn't allow it.  She was also not well liked by them.  MIL was very nice to her but I heard what was said behind SIL's back.
The hardest thing for me to tolerate with MIL is the excessive complimenting and "niceness" that comes across as disingeniune.  My MIL really wants to and tries to be a nice person.  There is a defense mechanism called reaction formation and I think that is what my MIL does.  It's when someone feels anxious about having bad feelings toward another, so they over compensate by behaving in the opposite manner.  MIL tries really hard to be nice to me, mother me, compliment me etc.  I can see her looking for something nice to say to me.  Occasionally she blurts something very insulting out.  I have come to the conclusion that that is when her true feelings come out.  The complimenting makes me uncomfortable because it is really excessive and it doesn't seem sincere to me and also because I don't have good feelings toward her.  I tried to talk to MIL about this and said "I question your sincerity"  That was a big mistake because she said I called her insincere and that hurt her to the core.  I don't think this is something I will continue to address in the future, because I don't think it will do any good and only hurt her.  I don't even think she is aware that she does this.   I have not noticed MIL doing this to her sons or grandchildren, the way she does with me.
MIL has a listening problem too, but I have noticed that when her sons and grandchildren make requests of her she listens.
Pooh, I have been too sensitive and taken things too personally and this has made it worse for me.  And I have developed a pretty negative attitude toward them too and have dwelled on their bad qualities.  They do have some good points too.  They are not bad people, but even good people have bad feelings toward others.  I am a good person and I certainly have bad feelings toward them.  I think they resent me for not fitting into their family culture and I resent them for trying to impose their family culture on me. 
I am still struggling with how to move forward.  I find it hard to turn my hurt and anger off like a switch and I feel like there is never going to be the resolution that I had hoped for.  The best I think I can do is to make occasional visits with my husband and try to do this without giving up my power to them and without becoming so angry with them. This is how I hope to handle it.
1.Pay attenton to my reactions to them and do a lot of supportive self talk to get me through it. For instance if inlaws say something critical to me, instead of taking it to heart, I will tell myself that that is just their opinion of me and not my opinion of myself.  It might even help to say that out loud so that they can hear.
2. I plan to stay in a nearby inn or motel.  Under the circumstances, I think that would be best at least until we see how things go.  My inlaws will probably object and feel hurt by it, but rather than allow myself to be guilted into something I am not comfortable with I will stand firm on that.  I thought I could explain: "I am an introvert and my down-time is important to me. It's hard for me to be around people 24 hours a day. ( and this would not be a lie) I think it will be a more comfortable and enjoyable visit for me this way.  You want me to be more comfortable and enjoy the time, don't you?" 
3.  If inlaws visit us in the future and try to take over I was thinking I could respond by saying: "I am happy to let you provide food and serve me when I visit you.  Please show me the same consideration and allow me to provide the food and serve you when you are my guests.  "   My husband has told them that for now he doesn't think we should all be under the same roof, so if they come visit they can't stay with us.  That seems harsh to me, but I agree with it. This could change depending on how things go in the future, but for now it's probably a good idea. 
4.  If MIL makes comments about my appearance I think I will just gently remind her what she is doing.
I struggle with assertiveness and this has caused a lot of my problems with my inlaws.  Things would not feel this bad if I had only been honest and upfront with them from the beginning.  It is a new skill and I will probably make some mistakes.  It's hard to find the balance between being passive and going to far to the point of becoming aggressive.  I would be interested in your feedback about how I can be more assertive with them without going too far and please tell me if the way I intend to handle these issues seems to aggressive or not assertive enough.  I hope to be able to address things as they come up rather than waiting until I feel angry. 
Other than that I feel like I will need to detach, lower my expectations and not force myself to spend too much time with them and pay attention to my own needs. 
In case you are wondering where my husband is in all this:  He is not a passive person but he has been quite passive with his parents.  He's been well aware of the problems but like me, he has avoided dealing with them.  However since the big confrontation, he has been completely supportive of me and I think he will have my back.  ( I hope).  He has even told me that I don't ever have to join him for a visit with his parents unless I want to.  Well I don't really want to but I'm not going to feel good about just writing them completely off.  I feel like they would be hurt by that and I feel like we all deserve another chance to do things differently. 

Offline Pen

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2013, 09:16:28 AM »
CBILs, I think you've come up with some good strategies. It's hard to not buy in when people push our insecurity buttons. My SM & DF, as well as my DIL, can turn me into puddles of self-doubt if I let them. It takes planning, firm strategies, and practice to deal with them. Most of the time I do OK, occasionally they zing me (usually when I'm tired or have been lulled into letting down my guard.) A visit with DF & SM is coming up - I'm practicing now (wry smile, say "Oh, SM..." & leave the room), and DH & I have set firm boundaries regarding lodging, transportation and our itinerary. SM has already tried to control our trip!
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline noboundaries

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2013, 10:48:21 AM »
Dear Confused, thank you for posting - I'm sorry for your misery but felt relief that someone else is out there.  My MIL also told me how awful her relationship was with her MIL and we were going to have a great relationship.  I should have known...she wore dark grey to the wedding. 
Been married for 24 years and my horror stories are countless (I'm not listing them because they are hard to speak about).  Year 1 they would never come over although they lived 15 mins away.  Year 2 FIL told his son to choose between his mom and his wife. Husband never told me and just kept walking the fence.  After 3 years and a relocation, I specifically invited them for the holidays on our dime.  3 years after that, FIL did it again.  I apologized and made peace again because it was tearing my husband apart.  2 years after that, did it again.  Made peace AGAIN.  Never put my foot down until I realized my husband will always pick family of origin over our family.  Scene: hospital room where 8 yo just got out of emergency appendectomy.  MIL calls and says grandpa passed, viewing is tomorrow night (12 hour drive).  Husband says sure no problem.  It finally hit me that he will always put their needs above ours. 
Husband and I have had major issues since then that we have been trying to undo all the damage to us that they have caused.  He's had to cut off all contact with them because they won't respect his family.
oh-be warned, letting your husband go visit them without you is not a good idea based on my experience. My FIL/MIL do not recognize that husband has a family, so they were very happy to have him visit "just like in the old days".
My bottom line reminder though, Confused, is that they aren't going to change and you can't expect them to.  All you can do is set boundaries for you and your husband.  If they violate those boundaries, they have consequences.  That's why my husband had to cut off communications: he set boundaries and they continued to ignore them.  Finally had to put his foot down and say that's it.
Good luck and I wish you a good marriage and family.

Offline confusedbyinlaws

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2013, 06:27:36 PM »
Penn, Good luck with your upcoming visit with SM and DF.  I would be interested to hear how it goes and how you handle people who try to control things.  It seems like control is often at the root of these family problems.  Stick to your boundaries. 

No boundaries. It sounds like your inlaw situation is worse than mine an I am sorry.  I am pretty sure my inlaws would not ask my husband to chose between me and them, but if they did I know that he would chose me. It's awful that your FIL said that to him and awful that your husband kept that from you.
 I don't feel threatened by him visiting them on his own.  I think they do enjoy it "like the old days" but I am ok with that as long as they don't expect me to be there every time.  My husband enjoys being with his parents in small intervals and I think it is more relaxing for him without me there because then he is not worrying about how I am feeling.  My mother and my husband had a somewhat strained relationship and we all just accepted that as it was.  But I loved my mother very much and although I would defend my husband to her I didn't force them to spend a lot of time together and they never tried to force a relationship and it worked.  Now that my mom is gone I am so grateful I never had to choose.  I would never make my husband chose either, especially since they are also getting up there in years.  And since all of my feelings have come out, he has really stepped up and defended me to his parents.  It sounds like he is becoming more assertive with them himself and expressed his own anger toward them about things.   In spite of that they all still want to be a family.

Offline Pooh

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2013, 06:05:58 AM »
I too think you have some good strategies in place and I do think we have to pep-talk ourselves before an event in order to get our heads on straight.  I agree with you about boundaries.  Just because someone is how they are, if it's unacceptable to me, I will not go along with it...it just makes it easier for me to not take it "personally" if I can see they are like that to everyone.

I also don't have a problem with anyone visiting another party without the signifigant other.  I actually think it makes things easier for everyone when there is a problem in the family dynamics.  I wish my OS would come visit us without DIL.  Now, the ultimate would be that we could work out our relationship with DIL, but in lieu of that, I would take OS visits only.  DIL doesn't like us and we are not fond of her, and if she was willing to let OS come alone for a visit, I think that we might could have eventually worked through our issues.  I also wouldn't want DIL to come over and be miserable because she felt like she had to.  I do think that depends on if everyone can be adult about it.  Meaning, if OS came over by himself, I wouldn't be dogging DIL to him.  That would be wrong, IMO.  If an MIL/SM/Whoever is doing that, than I can see where DIL wouldn't want OS to come over.  It takes both sides to make singular visits work and I don't think it's fair to any human being to make someone choose.   And that goes either direction.  I wouldn't ever and haven't ever asked OS to choose us over DIL and I wish she hadn't asked him to choose.

Now all that said, the ultimate responsibility still lays with OS.  He made that choice, so it lies with him.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline Pooh

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2013, 06:09:28 AM »
And...welcome noboundaries.  When you get a moment, please read the threads under "Open Me First".  It has the forum rules and such.  Nothing wrong with your post, we just ask all new members to do this to familiarize thereselves with how we work around here.
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: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2013, 07:42:13 AM »
Yes, welcome to the site NB. Your perspective is interesting since your ILs seemed to be so extreme in their desire to manipulate your DH. Personally, I feel the same as Pooh regarding visits w/my DS w/o DIL...tension would be lessened, we could talk about the things that interest us (DIL does not approve of subjects that don't directly involve her) and it would be great to enjoy a pleasant time together again. However, I too would never ask DS to choose between his FOO & his DW.

There are times when we all need to examine our agendas somewhat, IMO. As DILs are we bound & determined to get our DHs away from his family and friends as soon as the ink is dry on the marriage certificate? No matter who our ILs turn out to be? As MILs are we bound & determined to make our DILs miserable, hoping they'll leave? No matter who our precious boys marry? If we have an agenda we can always come up with "valid reasons" to see it through.

I do believe my DIL had plans to get rid of us ASAP. That's what her mom did; it was kind of a family tradition, lol.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline herbalescapes

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2013, 09:36:11 AM »
I think you've come up with some good coping mechanisms - now the hard part is actually using them.  On paper all problems are pretty easy to solve.  Good luck.  Make sure you acknowledge your little victories and don't get too frustrated when you hit some bumps. 

Your inlaws bringing food may be their way of staying important.  A lot of parents panic when their children become adults and fear becoming unnecessary and hence cast aside.  Parents may use gifts - food, money, vacations, babysitting - as a way to stay important in their AC's lives.  Viewing their actions as an expression of their own insecurities rather than a criticism of you may make it easier to deal with.  Still, that is their problem and you are perfectly at liberty to curtail their food bringing.  Don't let them guilt trip you into continuing. 

Your MIL's compliments may be genuine.  It's hard to interpret another's intentions and motivations.  I have a sarcastic streak (shocking, I know) that has often been misunderstood.  I've suggested author Deborah Tannen before.  She's written many books on how converstional styles differ and we often make moral judgements when really someone has a different way of talking.  In some circles, insults are a way of expressing affection. 

Where has your DH been in all this over the past 28 years?  Is it possible you resent him not taking a more active role in solving the situation and transfer that resentment onto your inlaws?  It's easy for married couples to blame outsiders - ILs, coworkers, neighbors, friends - rather than deal with their own disappointments with each other.  It sounds like he's stepping up to bat now, but has he always?

There's nothing wrong with staying at a hotel when visiting family and having family stay at a hotel rather than with you when they visit.  It's wrong to assume someone's request that a hotel be used is proof of personal rejection.  Don't let others make you feel guilty about that situation, either. 

I hope things work out for you.

Offline confusedbyinlaws

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2013, 09:47:02 AM »
I'm so sorry Pooh that your DIL won't let your son visit you.  I can't imagine how painful that would be if one of my kids chose not to continue a relatioinship with me. 

Offline confusedbyinlaws

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2013, 10:17:47 AM »
Herbalescapes,
I am pretty sure the food bringing is about wanting to feel important or needed.  That is understandable, but once I expressed that it wasn't ok they should have respected that.  I was fine with them inviting us over and providing the food in their own home.  I am a MIL too, and in my opinion my children's homes and lives are theirs and we are guests in it.  We need to respect their views on child rearing. We need to respect their homes and we don't get to tell them how they should do things.  If they invite us to dinner and tell they've got it covered and don't want us to bring anything, we respect that.  My kids and their families have feelings too.  Maybe they want to feel important and why would I disregard their wishes just so I can feel important.  And I know that if I acted the way my inlaws have acted, my company may no longer be wanted. 
It is hard to interpret other people's intentions and motivations, but MIL's excessive complimenting of me when she doesn't do that to her own sons, the backhanded compliments, and then blurting out the insults make it all come across as very insincere.  The blurted out insults are not sarcasm and I can usually tell it was something she was thinking but didn't want to say. She was definately not expressing affection.   We all think bad things about people at times and we try to be nice and not say those hurtful things we are thinking, but sometimes we blurt them out.  It's understandable and forgivable but it makes the incessant complimenting come across as very insincere. 
My husband had his head stuck in the sand all these years and avoided addressing the problem, and I did resent him for it.  I have done the same thing  and I resent myself for it.  The big difference is that he understands he has done this.  I am disappointed in both of us.  BUT now we are both stepping up and trying to deal with the issues instead of enduring them like we did before.  I will have to think about this.  I really don't think I am transferring my resentment of him onto my inlaws.  I think that when someone admits to a portion of the blame and tries to remedy the situation, it dissolves a lot of resentment.  My husband has done that, but my inlaws haven't really done that. 

Offline Pooh

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Re: long standing inlaw problems
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2013, 12:25:48 PM »
Thanks.  I hate it too, but it took me a long time to quit blaming DIL solely for it.  I know for a fact it is her wishes, but I still put the blame on him.  He should have stepped up and told her he wasn't giving up his family completely and she didn't have to go, but he was still going to occasionally.  Or at least call.  (it's not just me, it's my entire side of the family they will not have anything to do with). 
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell