Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Narcissist FIL - please help

(64 Posts)
XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 21:17:08

DH posted on this board about his FIL - you can read the back story here but in a tiny pistachio shell FIL exploded in a monstrous rage when DS was born this time last year - he objected to our giving DS both of our last names and sent a series of truly awful poisonous emails (eg: he told DH he was "thinking of ways to crush" him but could not because he "loved him too much"). DH got some great advice from you all then thanks The thread ends before DH finally told FIL not to contact us again after the difficulties continued. Lovely SIL also was cut off by FIL when she supposedly took our side by continuing to see us and DS.

No contact was great as far as I was concerned, though it seemed really tragic that FIL was not seeing his first and only grandchild as a result of his own idiotic actions. But it really destroyed DH, who naturally wants to see the best in his father especially now he is a father himself, and he made the first overtures because he wanted to be the bigger person, make the first move etc. He said he also wanted to be able to say to DS when he is older that he truly made every effort to keep in touch with FIL. They are now back in contact, but of course there has been no apology or even any acknowledgement of all the shit he spewed in our direction this time last year - as far as I can tell DH wants to let sleeping dogs lie and has never brought up what happened last year.

It's all massively against my better judgement because our lives were so much better when this man was not in our lives, but I will never stand in the way of DH having a relationship with FIL - but I'm just waiting for him to hurt DH again and the cycle will repeat.

Although I can't do anything about DH I'm still very wary about DS having anything to do with him. He's now met DS once with DH which apparently went fine. However he's supposed to come round again to give DS his first birthday present and I have absolutely no intention of seeing him given he has not apologized for the monstrous things he said to DH (let alone the stuff about me!) or acknowledged that he said any of those things let alone having done anything wrong. I told DH I will just go out while he is here, but he thinks that will just perpetuate the cycle and I should just grin and bear it and talk about the weather, or more likely, ignore him and talk entirely to 1 year old DS. There's also a chance that I won't be able to resist bringing it all up and then all hell really would break loose.

This issue has come up again and again and now its a week away DH is all but begging me to be here in the house when his FIL is here. He says he wants to present a united front and needs the support and it will just cause more drama if I absent myself that morning and any booking of pedicures or going into the office to catch up on work etc will be a transparent ruse not to see FIL.

As far as I'm concerned I owe this man nothing at all and have no interest in allowing him to swan in here as if nothing ever happened and tiptoeing around what happened. I actually think that as he has cut people off left right and centre, it's the only thing he'll understand - that actually I don't want to be around him as a result of his actions. Actions have consequences.

Oh wise women with more experience of dealing with narcissism than I - what do I do?

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Thu 06-Dec-12 15:15:41

Thanks thekat. He is a pretty wonderful human being which is why this situation kills me. He deserves so much better.

amillionyears Thu 06-Dec-12 22:03:57

reconcile - restore friendly relations. Had to look up the definition of that.

Your DH has a blind spot about his dad. Maybe he always will.
It doesnt sound as if it is just hope on his part either. it sounds like he believes that a reconciliation between him and his dad will be possible at some point.

I would still advise you to go, and try and bite your tongue.

I cant see you meeting with fil over and over though. So even if not this time, then at some point your DH will have to accept that you and your fil are not going to get on.

Hope your email was read favourably.

Abitwobblynow Thu 06-Dec-12 22:06:08

I am a daughter of narcs - it is hard to explain how much hold they have (well, not really, they crushed any resistance around the ages of 2 - 5 so you become invisible). When they are around, you become sort of paralysed as you get back into their web. It is hard to explain, you wander into their sphere and it becomes 'normal'.

Please support your H as much as you can. Your FIL is HIS problem not yours and it is up to him to get himself free.

If you insist that he does things your way, well - you are being like his Dad, aren't you? You aren't listening, and you are imposing your truth.

I don't mean that horribly, but your H needs you right now...

DistanceCall Thu 06-Dec-12 23:17:47

If your husband has asked you to stand by his side when facing his father, I think you should do so. However, this does not mean that you will just play nice and let bygones be bygones. Just be polite (i.e. not rude). But no need to be warm or nice or pretend that nothing has happened.

The point here, I think, is that your husband needs your support. And if your father in law throws a fit because you don't roll over and pander to his whims as he thinks he deserves, then surely your husband will see that you have behaved reasonably, and that it's your father in law who cannot have a normal relationship.

EvenIfYouSeeAPoppy Fri 07-Dec-12 07:07:56

DistanceCall and Abitwobbly, I see what you are both saying. However, I think that Xiao's resistance to taking part in this is incredibly valuable, not least as an object lesson for her dh - in how it is possible to respond freely and (not quite the right word) naturally to this kind of terrible behaviour rather than rolling over and colluding in a parallel universe in which the parent can do what he likes and the 'child' has to be the bigger person, i.e. essentially take whatever is thrown at him.

Children of narcissists grow up under an extremely powerful imperative to fall into line, placate and pacify no matter what the cost to themselves. It can be really helpful - in the long term - to see someone not buying into that imperative.

Brycie Fri 07-Dec-12 07:11:48

I would support your husband. I would have a set phrase for when you crosses the line - that is not acceptable behaviour - and se it whenever he is horrible during his visit. But I would definitely support your husband definitely. You owe nothing to your father in law but you do love your husband.

Brycie Fri 07-Dec-12 07:12:59

IN other words go, but do not bite your tongue. Not in a way that puts you in the wrong, but a way that makes it obvious that he is wrong.

Abitwobblynow Fri 07-Dec-12 08:11:54

Yes. Agree a pre-set boundary with H, and then when if he crosses it, announce that it is disrespectful and if he continues you will leave, and then leave.

Do not that this would probably get you disinherited (it did me) so that is a choice too.
Narcissists savagely punish criticism of them. But the only thing they do respond to is consequences that hurt them.

It is a fine balancing line, to protect yourself without getting into power struggles with them, and I haven't quite got there myself yet confused

forgetmenots Fri 07-Dec-12 09:18:34

Completely agree with evenifyouseeapoppy again! - regardless of what happens next, the OP has shown her DH that there isn't just one way, and she hasn't made demands of him whilst doing so. I don't think it even occurred to my DH that he was able to refuse any of my MIL's requests and when I started saying 'I'll support your decision to go but I won't enable you and her by coming', it was a shock to him that I wouldn't do as she asked.

At first this terrified him (he was scared of the punishment wobbly mentioned) but he understood it and later on said it was a revelation that people could say 'no' to her and the world went on turning, her behaviour didn't change that much anyway and I felt better for it.

Even if OP and her DH decide he is not ready to face this on his own, it's important that she made her feelings clear and I think she should continue this in future (with love and respect for her DH,of course)

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Fri 07-Dec-12 09:58:27

Well I sent DH the email above - he was so lovely when I got home, said he really appreciated what I said and he was ok to see his father alone. He then said he would think about what to say to his father about where I was hmm I said there was no reason to lie and if he felt like lying he should think about why and what he's trying to avoid. He also thinks he doesn't need to go back to the counsellor...I'll keep working on that.

He did point out that my mother has said what in his opinion are unforgivable things to me but is still very much part of the family - I said the difference is that a) I stand up to her and call her on her bullshit (and it's not really quite so bad, mostly telling me I'm overweight when I'm really not), and b) she has always come through when it really matters and we really need her support.

I honestly think this is the first time anyone has stood up to FIL's shit. Every other person in and outside the family that he has cut off has tried to make the first move to reconcile and he has rebuffed them. I can't think of anyone else who he wanted to see (because apparently he does really want to see me confused) who refused to see him unless he apologised. Hopefully forgetmenots and poppy are right and this will show DH that his father is just a person - he may have ties of blood and feel a massive sense of obligation but that doesn't mean he has to be a doormat the rest of his life.

amillionyears Fri 07-Dec-12 10:28:45

Glad your DH was happy about the email.

I think your real problem with your DH is that he doesnt see the difference between your mum and his dad.
That your dad is probably narcissistic, and your mum isnt!

Your DH on the other thread talks about his dads probable narcissism and something else, and seems to have read up a bit about it.
But then doesnt seem able, or want to realise the full implications of it.
Not sure that now, however, is the best time to remind him.

Some0ne Fri 07-Dec-12 10:56:42

Sorry, I don't have time to read the whole thread, but for me I think the important point here is that your FIL hasn't apologised. You can't realistically be expected to forgive and forget something for which the man has shown no remorse whatsoever. That's just giving him permission to keep bullying your DH.

If he had apologised and was genuinely sorry then I'd say you were holding a grudge, but as things stand I think you're just protecting your family from further abuse.

forgetmenots Fri 07-Dec-12 11:16:35

xiao I'm so pleased to hear that your DH responded well to your lovely email. The shock of seeing you standing up - not just to FIL, but on his behalf will be difficult - remember he will have watched others enable
FIL and tell him his feelings don't matter, so this is all new. You've done so well, and shown him the love and respect he deserves and needs. Be prepared to be there for him when FIL pulls his next stunt (and possibly blames it on you, btw, for punishment for not coming). Much non-MN love to you both for a happy Christmas.

jingleallthespringy Fri 07-Dec-12 11:21:34

imo your DH is still in the web of his narcissistic father, trying to force his father to plumb some humanity by presenting exemplary 'goodness' to tempt him. It doesn't, and will never, work. There is only one thing that will 'work' and that is for your H to serve his father in entirety - no 'goodness' will prompt an awakening in his father.

Personally, I wouldn't want his father in the house. If DH wants to see his father then he can meet him somewhere else.

You end up bowing so low for a narcissist but it is never good enough, doesn't even begin to reach the mark. They are simply not interested in your humanity and never will be.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now