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I am hating the impact this has on our marriage...

(29 Posts)
shimmerandglow Wed 18-Dec-13 15:03:46

Hi,

Regular, but have name changed as I know a family member is on here.

I've posted several times before about DH's toxic family. Lots of issues, that DH can recognise. His mother is a raging narcissist, his father an enabler etc. MIL has never accepted me into the family (classic case of threatened by a younger woman, 'stealing' her son and her limelight etc).

There have been many problems over the years, but several months ago there was an almighty row where they behaved in an appalling way. DH and I both tell them that unless they change their attitude and behaviour (not to mention apologise for what they did) that they cannot have a relationship with us and our children. They don't apologise and ignore our measured attempts to resolve matters. So we go no contact for several weeks, which has never happened before.

Except now I've discovered that DH has been in touch with them. It was for practical reasons and DH wasn't exactly saying 'all is forgiven, let's move on,' but his emails were friendly in tone. I thought this was a very stupid move - it's reinforcing to them that they can behave as they choose, and DH will eventually 'back down'.

I told DH as much and that, of course, created a row between us. He says, essentially 'I agree that they have been awful, but they are still my parents and I want to try to move on. '

I KNOW he's conditioned by years of their awful attitude. I know he's trying to be the better person. But this has happened SO many times, albeit on more minor levels. I TRULY thought he would stand firm this time.

I can calmly explain how I feel and think, but this is deeply painful for him. He is furious with them, but has faith that eventually 'things will be fine.' Personally I'm not sure. They've done some unforgivable things, and I'm not willing to move on myself. They're not my parents and have behaved hatefully towards me...but if DH is going to allow them back into our lives I'm not sure what to do.

shimmerandglow Wed 18-Dec-13 15:27:38

Anyone? Is everyone out shopping?! grin

I know there are people on here with experience of toxic in-laws and I could really use some advice. My concern is that eventually DH will expect us both to just 'forget' what has happened and 'move on' because they are 'family'. Even though he told them he wouldn't do this, he is wavering!

Obviously, I can't force him to stand his ground here. But it puts our relationship at risk. A lot of it was over unacceptable treatment towards me - stuff I'm not willing to just 'get over' and move on from.

LineRunner Wed 18-Dec-13 15:31:39

That sounds awful to me. Like a betrayal. Is that how you feel?

shimmerandglow Wed 18-Dec-13 15:42:50

Well...not exactly a betrayal. Not yet. We agree with each other about what is/is not acceptable behaviour from them, and he has told his parents what needs to change and that they must apologise.

He was adamant about this - and still says he still is. However, I can feel him wavering because he is so hurt by them, and is so used to playing the dutiful son role.

IF however, he does actually expect me to move on from this without an apology or resolution, then that WILL feel like a betrayal. And I've got no idea how we would go forward with that. I will not see or speak to his parents until they at least attempt to make amends, and would be very uncomfortable allowing them contact with our kids.

PeanutPatty Wed 18-Dec-13 15:43:34

Post on the Stately Homes Thread.

MrsWolowitzYouAMerryChristmas Wed 18-Dec-13 15:45:16

I've had similar with my DH and toxic SIL.

I've now cut all contact with her and DH keeps in contact. There's been times when I've wanted him to be stronger with her and them found out that he's done something minor (ish) like 'liked' a comment of hers on facebook or messaged her. It's caused rows where I've felt that he's always the weaker one and always the one to back down and make contact first even though it is always her that is hurtful and toxic.

Now I let him get on with what he wants to do with regards to her but she has no contact with me and very limited contact with the DC (she lives abroad which helps).

If she ever changed I would love to have a relationship with her but she is so nasty and unkind that it's self-preservation and protecting my family from get toxic ways that encouraged me to cut ties.

It's a very hard thing to do though and it's hard for DH although he understands and supports me in it.

shimmerandglow Wed 18-Dec-13 16:02:04

I might post on stately homes as well Peanut, thanks.

MrsWolowitz - that's interesting and sorry you are in a similar position! Helpful that she lives abroad. What do you do, for example, if she wanted to visit? I am worried about the future - as his parents have pushed me too far this time. Not sure I can welcome them into our house.

I am also wondering how you just let it go when he is in touch with her? If your SIL has been unkind and hurtful towards you, wouldn't you much prefer that DH were non contact?

tinkertaylor1 Wed 18-Dec-13 16:07:57

op is it something they have done to you or your whole family? Does dh feel like he has to make a choice?

I would fully expect dh to stand by his wife though!

shimmerandglow Wed 18-Dec-13 16:13:15

It is what they have done to me and DH, our kids don't know anything about it as yet.

However, MIL twists every difficulty she has with her son to blame me. An angle of 'if you weren't married to her, our relationship would be just perfect.' (DH didn't have any serious relationships before me, at least no-one he introduced to his family).

Within this latest row she was actually lying about me to DH. Things I said and did etc. Really awful behaviour.

I would suggest you also post on the Stately Homes thread.

You and by turn the children do not have to maintain any sort of contact with his family. The problem you have here is that your DH, having had a lifetime of such conditioning at the hands of his toxic family, is mired in what is known as FOG (fear, obligation, guilt). Cutting them off is a decision that is fraught with FOG in his mind, he simply cannot bring himself to do that because he will then have to acknowledge to himself that his own parents are shite. This is total anathema to him currently and he may not ever change his position. He is not strong enough currently to do anything let alone confront them or cut them off. He probably on some level wishes that you could all get along so he could have a quiet life with no aggravation.

Also his parents will never make amends so that notion needs to be removed from your brain as of now. These people do not and never will play by the "normal" rules governing familial relations, they do not work that way. All rules go out the window when it comes to such toxic families. Also it is not possible to have any sort of relationship with a narcissist

I would also suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward to further understand the dynamics here.

shimmerandglow Wed 18-Dec-13 16:47:33

I hear you Attila - you have posted on another thread of mine about this actually. You are a wise lady, and thank you for your advice!

DH is without question in the FOG. I personally don't have any confidence that his parents will ever change, but this is what he hopes for.

However, if he remains in the FOG forever, then how do we cope with that? We have a great marriage apart from this issue. I will feel hurt if he maintains a relationship with people who have been so awful to me in particular. I am also unsure how it would work on a practical level with things like seeing the grandchildren. I know some would argue if they are too toxic for us, they are too toxic for our kids. I have NO concerns about any damaging level of behaviour towards them on a short visit, say. But I know that if DH does maintain a relationship with them, he would want them to see the kids occasionally. (Think maybe twice a year).

shimmerandglow Wed 18-Dec-13 16:49:29

Though one thing, Attila - Dh WAS strong enough to confront them, and did so. It's just now in the aftermath it's becoming horribly clear to him that they simply don't give much of a shit, and it's scaring him I guess.

You and by turn the children do not have to continue any sort of relationship with these awful people because if they are too toxic for you personally to deal with, they are certainly too toxic for your both vulnerable and defenceless children.

You cannot understandably manage her at all (these people are unmanageable), your children will encounter the same problems if they were to see her or her enabler of a H at all. Some grandparents really should not be allowed any access to their grandchildren.

Even a short visit with you present will not prevent her from doing or saying something really awful about you or your children in front of you. It will happen and quickly before your very eyes. Its also painful for a narcissist to interact with the grandchild, mainly because there is no interaction. Its like watching a re-run of a tv show that you've always hated.

Your H will be hoping for the rest of his life for change but that will not happen. That does not stop him from forlornly hoping though. He still wants to move on and I daresay he is being hoovered as well (a common tactic employed by toxic parents). Hoover is a metaphor taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship, gets “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behaviour.

Also if his mother is indeed narcissistic that is even more reason to stay away from such a toxic person. Also women like his mother always but always need a willing enabler to help them, this is a role that her H plays. He should not be let off either because he has markedly failed to protect anyone from her inherent dysfunction.

If he cannot protect his children from his toxic parents, you have to do this.

"Though one thing, Attila - Dh WAS strong enough to confront them, and did so. It's just now in the aftermath it's becoming horribly clear to him that they simply don't give much of a shit, and it's scaring him I guess"

Yep and you will see similar sentiments expressed on the stately homes thread as well. Some men do find it extremely difficult if not nigh on impossible to realise that their parents were and remain toxic to them. They are mired in FOG too.

MrsWolowitzYouAMerryChristmas Wed 18-Dec-13 17:15:10

Yes I would prefer it if DH didn't have any contact with her but ultimately she is his sister and he is an adult who can make his own mind up. I do feel more comfortable with him having contact with her now that he is stronger with her and intolerant of her crap. For example she used to drop snidey remarks about me into conversation with DH and he would tell her not to and she would just smirk but now he totally stamps that out and won't tolerate it at all.

He has a clear line that he will not tolerate her crossing whereas before she would basically get away with murder as everyone just accepted that "was just the way she is".

As far as her visiting goes she won't be coming to our home or seeing the children. If DH wants to go out and meet her he can.

It's sad that things have come to this but I just can't keep letting her hurt us so much.

Joysmum Wed 18-Dec-13 17:15:57

Not the same but I've cut ties with my grandfather and step grandmother but encouraged my mum to continue with contact if she could brush off their negativity.

I could just brush off their negativity but the crux if things for me was that I didn't get enough from the relationship to make it worth keeping in contact.

So, if you don't get any benefit then cut contact but don't be surprised if your husband needs to keep limited contact or takes longer to come to the same conclusions as you have because they've been more important to him than they have to you.

FluffyJumper Wed 18-Dec-13 17:16:28

I don't think you can make someone else go nc with their family.

shimmerandglow Wed 18-Dec-13 17:43:11

I agree Fluffy - I can't force DH to go NC with his parents. I would like him to but I don't see that happening. What I really want to know is how other people cope with toxic in-laws and what strategies they have if their partner does remain in contact with him...

MrsWolowitz, did your DH want their children to see their aunt? How did you come to an agreement on that?

Warbride Wed 18-Dec-13 17:57:09

I have had this with both my and DH parents. Currently not speaking to mine and have not spoken to FIL for years. Both of us have dysfunctional families and I think this is why we are so close as a couple. Neither of us want a toxic life. All I can advise is to go non contact. They will never learn.

MrsWolowitzYouAMerryChristmas Wed 18-Dec-13 18:28:58

He would like them to know her but it's just not going to happen. He understands why and also wants to protect them from her nastiness.

He will sometimes let them chat to her if she skypes but this is very rare as contact between her and DH is sparse. Now she is being challenged on her behaviour she is drawing away from us which suits me just fine.

If she was in the UK visiting and DH really wanted the DC to meet her then I would agree to it as long as she didn't come in my house or be left on her own with them as I don't trust what horrid or damaging things she would say. DH would be on red alert for snideyness and bad behaviour and would be all over it.

He's had to earn that trust from me though uh being firm with her. She's shouted, sworn and abused him and he's never raised his voice or sworn but told her absolutely that her behaviour will not be tolerated anymore and that the DC and me come first always and any sign of nastiness towards us will cost her their relationship.

Stop the amateur psycho babble for starters. His parents. Let him sort it. Wafting words around will just antagonise him.

I just don't deal, dh does. I prefer irritating to toxic. It's more normal. You are painting them out to be monsters which gives the issues power. Diminish them by making them smaller.

How's that for am dram psycho babble? smile

Problem is that he is so trapped within fear, obligation and guilt (three very real states) with regards to his parents he cannot or will not sort it.
If only it was that straightforward.

Calling such people merely irritating as well badly underestimates the power and control such people have over their victims.

shimmerandglow Wed 18-Dec-13 19:20:25

I do see how that can be powerful Minnie...and in e

shimmerandglow Wed 18-Dec-13 19:22:52

Sorry! Was going to say that I can see it's empowering to reduce to them to mere irritants in my mind...

However, it's impossible for DH to do that. And the impact they have on him (and in some ways, our relationship) is poisonous.

MommyBird Wed 18-Dec-13 19:28:33

My DH texts his mom. He will probley see her at some point.

I don't see her. I have nothing to do with her and neither do our DD's.
Just ignore her.

If he wants a relationship with her let him know he can. but you and your children arn't.

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