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to want to throttle FIL.

(45 Posts)

This will be long. Best grab a brew if you feel like reading smile

DP's father is, basically, a bit mental and very very difficult. He brought DP up alone which is admirable but the issues he has always had have created major problems. Can only think of giving you a bulletpoint list rather than a long-winded essay.

1. FIL is a bitter, quite nasty man with a huge victim complex. The world is out to get him. Lots of failed ventures (never his fault). Has been sacked from many jobs and had 2 or 3 tribunals (which he's lost).
2. He is estranged from all his 7 siblings. Sees and talks to no-one but DP.
3. He expected DP to move back home after uni and fight all his imaginary battles with him. Instead DP met me and we've been together ever since (11 years).
4. FIL hates me. In fact, he hates all women. He got thrown off his teaching course because he refused to be mentored by a young successful female teacher hmm. He was insufferably rude to me the few time I went home with DP at the start of our relationship. I don't bother with him anymore.
5. He sets DP imaginary deadlines and then spits the dummy when DP fails to meet them. For example, DP sent him a Father's Day card. It arrived the next day instead of on the day. DP wouldn't speak to him. It was an insult apparently.
6. FIL hates my family and hates DP spending time with my family. I can only guess because I have a relatively normal, happy family who love DP and who think the world of DD and see her as much as they can.
7. He has ruined holidays and birthdays by sending bitter, hateful emails to DP about what a bad son he is.
8. When DD was born DP rang his father only to have his father put the phone down on him shock sad. DP then sent an email. All the reply did was insult DD's name hmm.

Consequently DP gave up. DP was really heartbroken. About a year ago they got back in touch and DP has been taking DD back to visit him every few months. He didn't meet his only granddaughter till she was 2 and a half.

So now. It was DP's birthday on Saturday. His cards arrived on Friday. I put them on the hall shelf as we do with all post. FIL rings at 9am Saturday morning and asks if DP got his card. DP wanders to the hall and opens it. FIL goes mad that he hasn't already done this and is doing it on the phone confused.

Last night DP received another hateful, poisonous email accusing him of being a bad son. For the card and also because we're spending this Christmas with my family in Ireland (last one was 3 years ago when DD was 2 months old). He slagged me off a bit too for good measure.

What can I do to help DP? Quite honestly I think he'd be better off without this man in his life. I worry about his possible influence on DD. If I'm brutally honest, I have had thoughts in the past that DP's life would be easier if FIL just dropped dead some day. I know that's a horrible thing to think.

If anyone has made it to the end of this, thank you smile

Any advice would be desperately received.

KenLeeeeeee Wed 28-Nov-12 10:10:58

Wow, I was all set to tell you off for describing him as "a bit mental" but he sounds vile. I would cut someone out of my life for less than this, so the only advice I can think of is to do that.

Katisha Wed 28-Nov-12 10:12:01

Sounds like you need the Susan Forward Toxic Parents book for DH to read. There is also one about toxic in laws.

I think all you can do is support your DP in realising that he doesn't owe this man anything and doesn't have to be manipulated by him. You can't make him see it, though, you can only boost his self esteem and show him how a healthy dynamic should be in a family. Try not to slag off his Dad too much, he knows what he is, it's just so bloody hard to divorce yourself from a parent even if they're an arsehole. We're programmed to love them regardless.

curiousuze Wed 28-Nov-12 10:22:39

It's always dodgy to diagnose over the interwebs but sounds like a personality disorder. Possibly narcissistic. Your poor DP. Think he has to cut off contact and would he consider a couple of sessions with a counsellor? Can be helpful to hear that his dad's behaviour is unacceptable and not his fault from someone not involved. Either way you can't continue to let this abusive (because this is emotional abuse, no argument) man ruin every special occasion for your family, and keep poisoning your partner's happy memories and self confidence. And he will turn on your daughter before long, don't even doubt it.

Seconding the book suggestion too.

Thanks for not shouting at me Ken - was fuming as I was writing this.

Katisha - will order the Toxic Parents one now. Thank you.

Chickens - you're bang on. In the past I have been guilty of slagging him off to DP and this has just caused fights between us. I''m not going to allow FIL to affect our relationship like that.

suze - I agree that it's abuse. It may be sporadic but it's definitely emotional abuse. And NPD has crossed my mind on many occasions.

I might show DP this thread later. He really doesn't know what to do.

blueballoon79 Wed 28-Nov-12 10:25:31

He sounds dreadful. The Toxic Parents book as entioned above would be a very good read for your DP. I really recommend you buying it for him.

Pixieonthemoor Wed 28-Nov-12 10:28:38

How did your dp feel during the last period when contact was cut off? Did he feel a sense of relief? Your FIL sounds horrendous - no wonder his wife got the hell out of there (or was he widowed - I am so sorry). I don't suppose that there is a cat in hells chance of getting him to the GP because it doesn't sound like he is playing with the full deck (depression? MH issues?). Of course he just could be a nasty piece of work. If your dp doesn't want to cut contact, are you able to change the angle you see FIL from? What I mean is, might you be able to make a bit of a joke of the whole thing, eg oh no, here goes bonkers FIL again (eyes rolling, caper about in bonkers fashion). Difficult when the emails are so vicious but it might help to make him laugh a bit and privately thank goodness that he has such a fab dp in you.

WilsonFrickett Wed 28-Nov-12 10:32:40

I would show DP this thread actually. I think if he sees everything written down, it may help him really 'see' just how badly FIL is treating him and his family. I think there's a toxic parents thread in Stately Homes as well, that may be helpful?

It's being going on far too long and has far too negative an impact on DP and our family to just laugh it off Pixie.

There is a snowball's chance in hell of getting him to go to the GP. The man is incapable of following even a normal conversation. When DP rings him I hear DP say hello then he's silent for 5 or 10 minutes as he can't get a word in while FIL rants and raves.

I have to say that the period he wasn't in our lives was peaceful and calm compared to when he is. I think DP would (reluctantly) agree.

MIL left when DP was a toddler. She was very young and quite vulnerable and they got married (wrongly) because she was pregnant. FIL was awarded custody. DP now has a good (if not traditional mother/son) relationship with him Mum.

firemansamisnormansdad Wed 28-Nov-12 10:35:59

Playing devils advocate, it sounds like FIL hates himself, hates his life and has succeeded in driving everyone away who was ever close to him. Apart from DP. So now FIL vents his frustration on DP. We all use our nearest and dearest as punchbags every now and then but the difference is that relationships are made up of good times and bad times: there should be more good times than bad times so that people forgive each other. Your problem is that there seems to be no good time to counter the volley of abuse you're getting. You can either remain patient or try to get the man help (which he will refuse and then accuse you of very bad things). OR you can just cut the man out of your life. If you did that, how would you feel if you received a call saying that he'd died and only been discovered 6 weeks later?

as I said, I'm playing devil's advocate. My own view would be to say what the hell and change your phone number. But that's easier said than done and the man is DP's father after all.


margarethamilton Wed 28-Nov-12 10:44:48

My FIL is a very diluted version of what you describe. It's been very hard for me to see him be so ignorant towards his son. I've slagged his dad off, been furious with him actually. But I've changed tack. Now DD is here, I've let his dad fuck things up all by himself. No calls or contact whilst I was pregnant (despite this being a last chance, ICSI pregnancy following m/c and five years of infertility). Stupid comments over DD's name ("I've had to write it down. I don't get it". It's not an unusual name.) He's seen his DGD twice in 15 weeks. DH pushed for this contact. He turned up with £30 and some baby wipes.

He speaks to none of his family either. SIL dances around trying to get the family together for various occasions but it's a farce. He's ignorant and selfish. BUT I continue to support DH's desire to have contact with him. I support him when his dad fucks it up. The more he sees of my dad and the longer he is a father himself, the more he sees how unacceptable his own father's behaviour is. I think it's all you can do.

Really good luck with this. He sounds horrendous.

Wow Margaret your FIL sounds incredibly similar. Shit isn't it?

I agree with you about becoming a father. DP is such an amazing father. He utterly adores DD and values our wee family above anything else. I do think this makes him see how bizarre his Dad's behaviour is.

Congratulations on your new wee DD btw smile

Pixieonthemoor Wed 28-Nov-12 10:53:11

I am SO sorry Bunny I didn't at all mean to belittle it by suggesting you would be able to laugh it off. I can quite see that it is a heartbreakingly ghastly situation. I was just wondering if the advice that I see so often on MN about not being able to change them but being able to change yr reaction to them might be useful. But I quite see it is not - it has gone on far too long for that.

Your FIL really does sound like he has mental health problems but, since he won't get help and he is having such a terrible effect on your family, I'd say you need to cut him out. I am thrilled to hear that your dp has found a good relationship with his mother - at least he has one parent he can be close to.

Tailtwister Wed 28-Nov-12 10:55:21

It must be horrible for you to see your DH treated so badly OP. I used to have someone like this in my life and tbh the only solution to protect me and my family was to cut contact. People like that don't change and he's going to carry on being nasty and poisonous for as long as your DH allows him.

I don't say this lightly, but having been in a similar position my advice to your DH would be to cut all ties.

Don't apologise Pixie. I wasn't offended smile. Thank you for your advice.

I suppose ultimately he's a lonely man and I should feel a shred of empathy for him. But I truly truly don't.

I've seen him do too much damage. And the frequents insults about me and my family don't exactly help!

Tailtwister I really think you're right about him doing this forever. People like him don't change. For a start, he doesn't think he's in the wrong (another charming character trait: a complete inability to accept culpability).

If I'm honest, I agree with you. But I understand how hard it is for DP to consider cutting him out. As Chickens said, he's his Dad - he's programmed to love him regardless of behaviour.


Gosh how awful for your family - I sympathise. This man sounds very miserable in his entire life. I would find it very hard to deal with this.

You might get a more useful response in Relationships particularly as it's quite sensitive subject matter?

Lavenderhoney Wed 28-Nov-12 11:04:39

He sounds dreadful. Regarding the emails - he is clearly very brave on emails and is letting off steam on them. Can your dh ask him to stop sending if it's. His work address as Companypolicy is no emails not work? If its home emails, tell him you have a new email address which is bunny and x etc and it's joint. Set it up for his mails only. You can read them and ignore them so your dp is not subjected to it. Delete any mails direct to dp.

Woud that help filter the vitriol?

Pilgit Wed 28-Nov-12 11:06:41

My father is similar. Not abusive towards DH (well, dad isn't) but every cliche of long standing alcoholic out there. The wicked stepmother is similarly toxic. It's hard to remain involved or completely cut ourselves off from it as he is my dad. What has helped me is to repeat the mantra 'they choose to live like this.' over and over again.

FannyFifer Wed 28-Nov-12 11:06:54

What would happen if you pulled him up on his behaviour? Have you ever did it?

Not that the above posts aren't useful - grin
It's just that they are very clever on the touchy subjects over there .......

Not a bad idea *Lavender.

Not to drip feed but your post has reminded me. Along with last night's email, he forwarded one that he has written but not sent back in 2009. When things were at their worst.

DP hasn't read it. I can only imagine the vitriol it contains.

Thanks HipHop. Will re-post.

Recovering from flu + irrational anger at FIL = completely forgetting about the existence of Relationships grin

margarethamilton Wed 28-Nov-12 11:12:09

*When DP rings him I hear DP say hello then he's silent for 5 or 10 minutes as he can't get a word in while FIL rants and raves.

MIL left when DP was a toddler.*

Exactly the same, well MIL left a bit later. She was having an affair I can't blame her for. FIL's main topics of 'conversation' are generally:

1. What's your salary?
2. How much tax do you pay?
3. How much is your mortgage? What's your house worth?
4. How much was your car?
5. Have you seen SIL's holiday plans/extension/car/rental properties/new bathroom despite the fact she doesn't work and married man with inheritance and well paid job?

He's an arse. It always really impresses me when people with fucked up parents go on to be brilliant parents themselves. I'm sure that'll be the case with our DHs. It's hard to go through but I think being as supportive as possible, listening and respecting the choices they make is key.

Oh margaret. It's like the Twilight Zone!

DP went from working in Banking to becoming a self-employed I.T. Contractor this year. He's earning 3x his previous salary and is very happy.

FIL still goes on and on and on about going back to his old 'safe' job. Or he suggests completely unrelated career choices in which DP has zero interest confused.

It's almost as is he wants to hold DP back.

Nanny0gg Wed 28-Nov-12 11:19:13

Part of the ongoing problem is probably that you had a DD and not a DS.

There can be no good outcome of this 'relationship' for any of you. You need to help your DH cut ties. Hard but necessary.

Crikey, this is all horribly familiar.


I think you can 'report' the thread and ask them to move the whole thing?

squeakytoy Wed 28-Nov-12 11:25:30

There is one simple and very effective solution.

Cut him off.

Have nothing more to do with him.

You do not need this person involved in your life.

margarethamilton Wed 28-Nov-12 11:28:00

Banking not so safe surely so shows what he knows!

DH is a senior manager in a school where he manages some very difficult behaviour from kids and parents. I work at the same school. I'm biased but he's absolutely brilliant at his job. Everyone agrees. Despite all the socio economic problems the kids face, their behaviour, uniform, manners are impeccable. He's got a great reputation across the city for the work he does. He'll be headhunted for promotion this year I'm sure. As you can tell, I'm immensely proud of him.

FIL couldn't give a shit about his son's achievements. "SIL has two Mercs now you know!" angry

SandyMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 28-Nov-12 12:14:55

Hi there,

At the request of the OP we will shortly be moving this thread to relationships.


WilsonFrickett Wed 28-Nov-12 12:16:40

He kept an unsent email for 3 years?

Your poor DP.

Yep Wilson. That's the type of mentality we're dealing with sad.

Building up the courage to send DP the link to this thread.

curiousuze Wed 28-Nov-12 13:58:04

The more info you post, the more it sounds like your FIL has a personality disorder. My mother had a mild one and so much of your OP is bringing back memories - especially the inability to accept that he's doing well in his career, disregarding evidence that he's successful and making bloody stupid suggestions.

It sounds like your DP isn't ready to cut off all contact at this point, so might be worth considering some rules or boundaries. Can you screen the FIL's calls so that only you answer, or that all his calls go to answer phone at first, so your DP can decide whether he needs to respond or not? Same goes for emails - can DP leave them unread and you could check them for important info, deleting them if they're the usual petty rant?

Might also be useful if DP has a 'script' in his head for when his father phones to shout and rant - something like 'if you continue speaking to me like this I am hanging up [changes subject or hangs up if necessary]/I don't want to discuss this with you let's change the subject to [other subject of mutual interest] '

If he's consistent with this, it might calm your FIL down a bit and cut down on the abusive phonecalls/emails etc. It won't stop him being horrible, but could contain things a bit - after all he doesn't want to lose his punch bag, does he?

One good thing is that his mother already got the eff out of dodge and won't be pressuring your poor DP to keep contact with his dad if he doesn't want to, because ' he's your daaaaaaad! How could you?'

Also if you can remain calm when these things happen and just consistently point out that FIL's behaviour is unacceptable, it might help. It took my husband saying calmly about my mum's behaviour 'you do know that that's not a normal way to treat your child, right? The things she calls you are terrible.' for me to have a lightbulb moment.

Try not to row about it, because your DP will just get defensive, and he's probably had enough of shouting for a lifetime...

HansieMom Wed 28-Nov-12 14:54:16

You could tell FIL that Christmas 2013 will be spent with your DH's mom. Just to see how ballistic a level he can reach. That woman must have gone through hell with FIL. I bet she was devastated when he got custody. How is she with your DD?

As far as I'm aware there was no abuse with MIL. Reading between the lines there was criticism of her parenting and probably control issues but no abuse.

She was young and flighty and not in the best place. Presumably that's why FIL was awarded custody. They haven't spoken since apart from at DP's graduation. Both were warned in advance that no carry-on would be tolerated by DP or me.

MIL is still a bit batty but really lovely with DD and sees her every time DP takes DD back to see his Dad.

curiousuze - Your post is really interesting. Intercepting phone calls is not really an option as FIL will not ring the landline for fear of me answering hmm. He only rings DP's mobile.

Also I don't really want to read his emails before giving them to DP. It feels like an intrusion on my part (even though I'm frequently referred to in them).

I do sometimes just say that I just cannot believe how FIL treats DP and that it is not normal or healthy. I get quite het up. A parent should be there to love and help and listen to you. Not to fuck with your head and treat you as a waste disposal for all their venomous shite angry

I've spoken to DP and he's going to read this thread. He says thank you for the advice smile

EldritchCleavage Wed 28-Nov-12 17:06:54

I can only say that not piling in to criticise FIL is definitely the way to go (not saying you are, by the way).

I found with DH that just being a listener, asking questions or making mild suggestions meant that he thought through things himself, and came to conclusions about PIL without ever feeling I was pushing a particular line. He has now managed to achieve a calmness and detachment re how rubbish and detached FIL is that he would never have attained if I'd got more involved. That and asking him what advice he'd give DS in the same situation.

Also, I would like to say to your DH that even if he did everything his father asked of him and bent over backwards to please, it wouldn't help. His father would almost certainly still be unpleasant and unhappy, and your DH would still be in the wrong. Sadly I suspect that is his true role in his father's life-the scapegoat, the whipping boy, the problem, the only outlet for venting, now everyone else is alienated. No one should have to live like that, it is inhuman to expect it.

Dozer Wed 28-Nov-12 17:36:35

If I were you I'd either be going with your dp and dd when they visit fil, or keeping dd home. To protect her. Your dp might not be able to do this adequately given his upbringing and ongoing acceptance of such shocking treatment.

I would also be getting married or makinglegal arrangements to make you next of kin if dp had an accident, stating who would have dd if you both died, and specifying non contact for fil if that happened. Morbid, but important.

Thanks Eldritch. That's the habit I'm trying to get myself out of. I'm quite Irish fiery anyway and I suppose I get protective and angry when I see the man I love being treated so shabbily.

Also the fact that FIL slags off me and my family doesn't help.

I know that me getting cross doesn't help DP so I'm trying my hardest to be calm and supportive.

Your last paragraph really resonates with me. I suspect it will with DP too.

Dozer There is no need for me to accompany DD. DP is completely capable of making sure DD is ok when they visit FIL. He isn't affected on a daily basis by FIL. He is the smartest, most well-balanced person I know and the best Dad I could ever wish for for my daughter. He would never allow DD to be embroiled in this.

When they go back there is no drama. Trips to the seaside, far too many presents for DD (over compensation much?) and general fun. FIL behaves himself.

It was FIL who re-initiated contact after seeing a news story about a man who died in our city and assuming it was DP confused. Ever since that point the suituation has been in DP's control. FIL knows that if he starts his carry on he would risk never seeing DD again.

I thought that would be enough to make him behave yet here we are sad

CaliforniaLeaving Wed 28-Nov-12 21:14:00

Sounds like a horrible situation.
All you can do is be there for your DP and support him. His parent his choice.
I was quite shocked when my Dh cut off his mother. I hadn't seen her in a while, and he didn't tell me he cut her off until a few months after the fact. I used to work Saturdays and thought he was still taking Ds to see her on weekends. Turns out he did it the day that Ds (age 3 at the time) took notice of how Dh was treated by Grandma, and was upset, he said he didn't want his child poisoned by her behavior the way he and his sisters were.
One day he will decide enough is enough and put an end to all the nonsense. Your DP an adult and a father in his own right and his father needs to treat him as such.

Lavenderhoney Thu 29-Nov-12 07:53:41

Op, if the emails are just rants then set up a rule so they go straight to trash bin and dp can tell his fil - if fil ever mentions emails and no reposes from dp, that he doesn't read them as they are so nasty. It's bad enough with the verbal Critising.

Great idea about a will, and making sure you are the fincancial beneficiary too. Could you get married? That will ensure your fil knows your dp has no plans to leave you. ( I'm sure he doesn't, but it will finalise it in your fils eyes and head)

Plus the resulting ranting at you getting married might mean another complete cut of contact, if he tries to ruin it with rancour.

Xiaoxiong Thu 29-Nov-12 11:12:43

Bunny getting chills reading your post - your FIL and mine sound like two toxic narcissistic peas in a pod.
- estranged from everyone, no friends left (has cut them all off), lives in the middle of nowhere and appears not to interact with anyone on a daily basis except his wife (who is actually really lovely) and DH's teenage brother sporadically in the school hols
- issues with father's day and not enough consideration/time taken to contact him/visit etc
- problems started with DS's name when he was born this time last year
- toxic emails and letters following said problems - which seems now to just have been the trigger for finally showing his true colours towards DH which he never had before, DH never thought he would behave towards him the way he behaved towards everyone else until this happened
- accusations of DH being a bad son, being cold/heartless/cruel etc etc
- storing up issues for years

DH posted on this very board about it last year - you can read it here if you're interested. The thread ends before DH finally cut contact after the difficulties continued. No contact was great as far as I was concerned, though it seemed really tragic that he was not seeing his first and only grandchild for reasons entirely within his own control. But it really destroyed DH, who naturally wants to see the best in his father especially now he is a father himself, and they are back in contact (with of course 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 is trying to let sleeping dogs lie).

It's massively against my better judgement 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 sad

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 WISH to see him given he has not apologized for the monstrous things he said to DH (let alone the stuff about me!) or acknowledged that he has done anything wrong. I did ask DH if I could just disappear while he is here, but he thinks that will just perpetuate the cycle and I should just grin and bear it for the hour or so he is here and talk about the weather. I am DREADING it sad

Xiaoxiong Thu 29-Nov-12 11:22:28

One more thing - I second the advice to get married asap and make cast iron wills stating what will happen with DD if something goes wrong. Also get life insurance policies - we have two, one lump sum which will go to the other if something happens to either of us, and one that will pay for boarding school and university fees for DS if we both get hit by a bus or something.

The thing that finally pushed DH over the edge of cutting contact was when DS was 4 weeks and I was literally deathly ill with a burst appendix in the hospital, FIL was making shitty comments via text about how we had named my parents (15 years younger, comfortably off, huge support network of friends and family and still together) as DS's guardians though we had specified they had to ensure DS had full contact with FIL. That was the last straw at the time for DH - it was clear that FIL was being totally selfish and not thinking in any way about what would be best for DS in those circumstances.

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