Author Topic: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed  (Read 4406 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline confusedbyinlaws

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 105
    • View Profile
Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« on: July 15, 2013, 07:01:24 PM »
My husband came home last night and said his parents had called him and said they were concerned about "the situation" with me and wondered what could be done to fix it.  He says he just said he didn't know what to do to fix it.  They asked if he thought they should try to contact me and he said "I can't tell you what to do.  Just do what your heart tells you to do. 

A little background:  My relationship with inlaws has been difficult during the nearly 30 years of knowing them.  I was passive and didn't address things and neither did my husband until the anger and resentment built to the point that I could no longer go forward with them.  I did try to address the problems one time about 10-15 years ago by sitting down and telling them the things what were bothering me  but my words had absolutely no impact on them or their behavior but I didn't continue to confront. I tried confronting them again about two years ago with a letter and it was not well received.  They were hurt and angry and blamed the problem entirely on me and never owned up to any of the things I complained about.  After that they moved and I have dropped the ball.  I have made  no effort to call, write or visit and my husband has visited alone.  Apparently during the visits he has made, they talked much about the problem with me and it sounds like he backed me up.  Some time about a year ago they sent a letter apologizing for causing me pain and my MIL said she was working on a couple of the things I complained about in her interactions with others.   I thought there might be some hope until I asked her why she didn't respond like that the first time we talked and that was what hurt me the most  She said she was trained as a teacher that when people said she was wrong to just let it "go floating by"  Then I was mad all over again.  It just reaffirmed what I had always felt from her but never could quite nail down.  She cares very little about how I feel and she still doesn't own up to anything. She asked at that time if we could just move forward.  I told her I wasn't ready and when I was I would let her know.  I had just about concluded that it was best for me to just stay away and now they want to fix the situation.  I just wish I knew what their motives are and if the relationship has a chance of being any better. I have so little confidence in my ability to stand up to them without getting angry and even less confidence that they will behave much differently. I just don't want to set myself up for more pain.  I feel nervous and upset that they might try to contact me and I don't know what to do.   Do I ignore calls... answer the phone?  Maybe just hear what they have to say and not say anything?

Offline luise.volta

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8932
  • Luise Volta
    • View Profile
    • Wise Women Unite
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2013, 07:52:51 PM »
I don't think it works very well most of the time when we tell others what they do that doesn't work for us. Even if they ask and want to resolve an issue. Essentially, they are how they are...which is how they have been for a long time and it works for them. The same is true of us. Not a very encouraging observation, I know. My take is that it's our job to adjust to them as much as we can, not ask them to change...and their job is to do the same. If that doesn't work, then we at least tried and it's time to throw in the towel. Hope I'm wrong...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Offline Lillycache

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 638
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 04:28:12 AM »
This goes back to what I have been talking about of late in this forum.. Things should be handled and addressed immediately as they happen in a nonaccusitory and objective manner and not let to fester for years and years.  Once so much time has passed, and possitions harden, I don't really see any hope for "fixing things".   As in my case... I suppose that my DIL is open to "fixing" things, -judging from her reaction to me at my Ex-husbands wife's wake... but I am not.   I WAS three years ago when it all first "hit the fan"..  Now?  NO.   Too much time has passed and I am not interested in her or her grievances any longer. Apparently your MIL IS interested in you and how you feel though so perhaps and open mind for all parties would be the the way to move forward.   ON the other hand,  I am the wrong person to respond to your post... but after so much time.. and so much hurt and anger,  how just how does that happen?    People are who they are.  If we cannot accept that, then it is best to let sleeping dogs lie IMO.

Offline confusedbyinlaws

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 105
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2013, 08:22:22 AM »
I realize that my approach has not been good and I should have addressed things differently.  But how do you tell someone you feel angry without telling them why.  And how do you tell them why without telling them what they are doing that you are angry about.  I agree that it's not fair to ask someone to change just so that they can get along with me.  I feel like I have been trying to adjust to them and their family culture my entire marriage, but I never was able to.  Funny thing about me is that I don't like being insulted and being told in a round about way that my opinions aren't as good as hers and my feelings aren't important.  That's not tolerable to me.    So if I were to be around her and she says something like "your hair is darker now.  I liked it lighter."  There is nothing wrong with giving her opinion in that way.  But I respond to her by saying " I like it this way."  She can't respect that I have my own opinion about my own appearance and she will say "Oh no.  It looks much better lighter.  This might seem like a small thing to many, but years of this on everything.   Picking me apart and commenting on it and arguing if I disagree. 
How does one adjust to that?  And wouldn't it have been right to point that out to her?  "when you say Oh no after I've expressed my opinion, you give the message that my opinion is less valuable than yours"   If she hadn't been my husband's mother I would have ended the relationship 30 years ago.
 My MIL is interested in me, but I am not sure the reason or the motive and don't feel confident she will ever consider my feelings when we are together.    I agree that we are all who we are and none of us are perfect, but we don't have to put up with things from people.  Here is an example:  When my husband and I were first married he had a habit of going out and having a few beers after work and driving home.  I could have just thought "that's how he is" and adjusted to it, but it was something that I wouldn't tolerate and let him now.  He could have continued being how he was, but chose to consider my feelings,stop because I couldn't tolerate it.  He could have responded like his parents and said "what I am doing is not a problem and if you have a problem with it you can adjust. "  I think he knew he might lose me if he said that and that could have happened.  I didn't ask him and don't feel like I have asked my inlaws to change their personalities.  I was just asking for a little consideration of my feelings.... stop insulting me and telling me my opinion doesn't matter. 
So if my MIL calls or writes, I don't know how to respond.  "You are how you are and I am how I am and it's not a good mix.   It's painful for me and I'm not willing to put myself in that situation right no.  After so many years of pain, I just can't move forward.  And I completely gave up my own power when I was around them.
By the way after our big blow-up I did apologize and owned up to the fact that I should have addressed things as they came up and approached things differently.  I know I am at least half of the problem, but she didn't acknowledge her part of it

Offline luise.volta

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8932
  • Luise Volta
    • View Profile
    • Wise Women Unite
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2013, 08:32:21 AM »
As I read LC's post this morning, I am struck by how we "throw in the towel" or "let sleeping dogs lie." For me, it's learning how to do that without judgment and blame. "I" statements instead of "you" statements...to ourselves at least. "This doesn't feel supportive to me...or...I'm simply done here...or I've given this my best shot." My self-talk has been..."He's gone too far this time...or...They'll never change...or...She's a hopeless case." I want to have that last word and be right when every impasse has two sides. At 86, I question whether I will ever get it right but/and I'm trying to find the place between doormat and prickly pear. I've been both and I no longer want to be either.       
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Offline jdtm

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 329
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2013, 08:52:27 AM »
Quote
For me, it's learning how to do that without judgment and blame.

I think, Luise, that you "hit the nail on the head".  Now, how to criticize on one hand and then accept another's criticism on the other hand is the difficult part.  For me, I have partially been able to do this, and it's sad but ironical, I don't judge or blame when I don't care.  Indifference - umm ... sometimes such a peaceful place to be.  No hatred but then again, no love.  So totally freeing - but then again, no despair but no hope; no pain but no joy.  But, when I'm with my husband's family, this is as good as it gets.  I wonder what they think of me; frankly, I don't care (and I will never tell them what I think of them) ....  And, we "appear" to all get along ....

Offline Pen

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4400
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2013, 11:08:38 AM »
My DIL can be very critical of me. I stress a bit when I know they're coming over (which is a rare occurrence) because I know I'll be criticized for being different than her FOO. I've even been zapped by DIL for my parenting style, as if she were around back then to judge accurately. If it were my MIL treating me that way, I'd tell her take a hike. Unfortunately, if I were to cut off DIL I would lose DS.

If DIL suddenly wanted to fix things, I would try for the sake of DS. It would not be easy for me to forget the hurtful things she's said, though.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline Pooh

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5442
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2013, 11:59:50 AM »
CBI, I think what you referred to is the "trick" we have to learn.  When she commented that she liked your hair lighter, then that is the test if you can just accept that's how she is.  I'm not saying be a door mat or your feelings don't matter, I'm saying take a good look at her statement and ask yourself, "Do I really care if she likes my hair lighter?  Don't I like it better this way?" and then it's easier to form an offhanded remark like, "It does look different darker."  End of it.

That's the trick I am trying to master.  Some people are always going to comment because that is how they are.  They lack tact as my Momma says.  The learning part is me trying to look past the comment and realize that it's only hurtful if I allow it to be.  Should she make the comment? No, she shouldn't, but if you can accept that she is going to and that you really don't care that she does, it makes it about her and not 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 herbalescapes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2013, 07:26:51 PM »
When a problem involves more than one person, it can be nigh on impossible to agree what the problem is, never mind finding an acceptable solution.  It seems like you found a solution that is acceptable to you and DH, but not to your ILs.  Left up to the ILs, the previous status quo was acceptable and too bad that you didn't like it. 

I would guess that your ILs don't like your solution because it makes them feel guilty or they have to face the fact that they weren't the ideal ILs they assumed they were or something like that.  Just remember that it's not your job to make them happy.  I think they have a pretty good deal going.  They get to interact with their DS.  Many DILs would have wanted DH to boycott the ILs, too.  As long as you and DH are on the same page, don't let anyone guilt trip you into getting sucked back into an unhealthy pattern. 

Good luck.

Offline Stilllearning

  • Global Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 454
  • Life.....never exactly what you expected!
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2013, 12:47:25 AM »
Here is the thing I am having a hard time with as a new MIL.  My opinions carry more impact than ever before.  So much so that I should never voice any opinions at all because if my DIL does not agree then I have offended her and she stops speaking to me.  Let's just take a fictitious instance.......

"You should eat more vegetables."

I happen to think that almost everyone should eat more vegetables.  If I make that statement to most anyone except my DIL they will take it as an opinion and either counter it with statements about how many veggies they eat, agree with it or dismiss it depending on their opinion.  If I make the same statement to my DIL I have soooo overstepped my bounds.  She is hurt and sure that I do not like her and I am just such a horrible person for attacking her and her eating habits.  So now when we do finally get together I am so afraid of offending that the conversation is very uncomfortable.  I feel like she is looking for something to hang me on and she is so sensitive that anything I say will be taken in the most horrible way possible. 

We try to get along but do you know how difficult it is to never voice an opinion about anything?  It gets pretty old talking to someone when you are barred from having any dissenting thoughts.  Limits the conversation to things about which you are sure you will agree and quite frankly that makes things rather dull.

It is really sad.  I have a wonderfully talented DIL who is quite intelligent and who I will never get to know because of it.  Oh well.
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown

Offline Lillycache

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 638
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2013, 04:58:31 AM »
Here is the thing I am having a hard time with as a new MIL.  My opinions carry more impact than ever before.  So much so that I should never voice any opinions at all because if my DIL does not agree then I have offended her and she stops speaking to me.  Let's just take a fictitious instance.......

"You should eat more vegetables."

I happen to think that almost everyone should eat more vegetables.  If I make that statement to most anyone except my DIL they will take it as an opinion and either counter it with statements about how many veggies they eat, agree with it or dismiss it depending on their opinion.  If I make the same statement to my DIL I have soooo overstepped my bounds.  She is hurt and sure that I do not like her and I am just such a horrible person for attacking her and her eating habits.  So now when we do finally get together I am so afraid of offending that the conversation is very uncomfortable.  I feel like she is looking for something to hang me on and she is so sensitive that anything I say will be taken in the most horrible way possible. 

We try to get along but do you know how difficult it is to never voice an opinion about anything?  It gets pretty old talking to someone when you are barred from having any dissenting thoughts.  Limits the conversation to things about which you are sure you will agree and quite frankly that makes things rather dull.

It is really sad.  I have a wonderfully talented DIL who is quite intelligent and who I will never get to know because of it.  Oh well.

I know what you are saying.   It's very difficult to measure your every statement and opinion, because you don't know if what you say will be taken wrong or be offensive simply because it's coming out of your mouth.   The relationship gets even more strained  and pretty soon, not worth the effort.   If you cannot relax and be yourself... what's the point?  That's my question.. 

Offline confusedbyinlaws

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 105
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2013, 07:43:54 AM »
Thank you all for your input.  In my MIL's case, I don't really think it is just her giving an opinion.  It's not just saying I like your hair better this way that is so insulting.  It's that she argues when I say my opinion is not the same as hers.  EVERY TIME no matter what it is, my opinion just isn't right if it's not the same as hers.  She examines me physically and comments out loud both good and bad.  It's not just giving an opinion it's scrutiny and criticism and I find it intolerable.  If one's opinion about another person specifically is critical, perhaps it's not the best thing to freely share them.   I probably am hypersensitive to my MIL, but I finally gave my opinion about her and her behavior and she didn't like it either and I realize it wasn't the best way to handle it. 
To me constantly being criticized feels like constantly being hit in the nose and why isn't ok to say I'm tired of being hit in the nose.
Pooh I understand what you are saying and I do believe if my self esteem and opinions of myself had been stronger what she does wouldn't have been so difficult for me. 

Offline herbalescapes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2013, 09:02:58 AM »
There's a difference between expressing an opinion and offering criticism.  Comments on someone else's appearance, lifestyle, religious beliefs, etc. aren't just opinions, they can be criticisms.  I wouldn't take kindly to anyone telling me "You should eat more vegetables."  I'm an adult and I decide how many vegetables I need to eat. If you are not my healthcare provider, don't comment on my dietary habits. The burden isn't on me to ignore unwanted comments/advice/criticisms.  The burden is on all of us to be mindful what we say.   I think we would all give a thumbs down to someone (stranger/MIL/DIL/friend/FOO) telling someone else "You're fat."  Even if the recipient of the comment is fat. 

There's an old adage "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  You can also use the three questions urged for folks to consider before posting on social media: Is it true?  Is it helpful?  Will it affect someone negatively?  There are variations of the three questions.  We all have our own boundaries on what is acceptable for someone to say about us.  Some people don't mind nonstop comments on any and all aspects of their lives.  Some people don't want anything remotely personal said to them.  If you know someone doesn't appreciate personal comments, then you need to keep your opinions to yourself.  Of course, when someone tells us to keep our opinions to ourselves, it's easy to think they are judging our opinions to be worthless and then we get defensive.  This quickly spirals out of control.  If you get stuck with a relative - through blood or marriage - who takes offense by anything beyond "Nice weather we're having" the only thing to do is accept it.  Just talk about the weather.  You can't change someone else.  What happens if you don't keep your opinions to yourself?  It sounds silly, but more than one family has become estranged over such situations.  Was one side being too sensitive?  Was one side being too critical?  Depends on who you ask. 

Offline confusedbyinlaws

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 105
    • View Profile
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2013, 09:35:14 AM »
Thank you Herbalescapes.  I agree with you.  My MIL has called me fat in a roundabout way.  Her insults are often veiled in niceness.  Example:  MIL says I have this beautiful outfit I wore to my reunion and I would love for you to borrow it for your upcoming occasion.  Me:" Thank you but  it probably wouldn't fit me right.  MIL: "It has a big ole elastic waist, it'll fit."  I am only 5-10 lbs overweight and while I realize I'm not my ideal weight I don't consider myself fat and neither does my doctor.  My MIL is tall and thin and I am short but only slightly overweight and I found this very insulting.  This is only one example.  I should have asked her what she meant by that comment.    She would deny that she was insinuating that I'm fat and because she never comes right out and says what she means, it's always deniable.  When she says "oh no and argues when I express my opinion that's different than hers, she gives the message loud and clear that she doesn't respect my opinions.  But if you tell her it seems like she thinks her opinions are more valuable than mine she will deny it. 
And the sad thing is that is that I really don't think she is aware of her own behavior.  I don't think there is any changing the relationship other than me learning to not take her insults personally.  But using the analogy of being punched in the nose, it's often not personal when someone punches you in the nose.  It's probably more about their issues than yours, but I still don't want to stick around for it. 
It's hard to determine in a situation where there is conflict who is most at fault and I don't think there is any point in it.   Maybe I'm too sensitive and maybe she's too critical and probably a bit of both.  But it sure doesn't help when you object to the criticism and someone tells you  that you are being too sensitive and also denies that they were critical.  The point is after someone tells you that something is hurtful to them, if you care about them and if it's not a big sacrifice to you, why wouldn't you at least try to stop. 

Offline luise.volta

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8932
  • Luise Volta
    • View Profile
    • Wise Women Unite
Re: Now they want to fix it and I'm not sure it can be fixed
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2013, 10:53:38 AM »
"The point is after someone tells you that something is hurtful to them, if you care about them and if it's not a big sacrifice to you, why wouldn't you at least try to stop."

Some might try to stop...some might not even hear you...some could think you were too thin-skinned. The list is endless. My take is to not try to make sense of the senseless. "Why" is a place we can get stuck at times...and wishing others were different than they are can be a kind of criticism, too. We can only change one person and when we're focused on the defects of others it may serve to slow down the process. Again, just my take because I have found that's what I do.

 
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama