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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?

Warbride Wed 05-Dec-12 21:27:20

Hi I was in the same situation as you for exactly the same reasons.

I haven't spoken to my fil for 3 years. Originally I would not allow him to have contact with our dd but decided to relent on the condition Dh was with her when fil saw her. I however have nothing to do with him.

If you don't want to see him, your Dh should respect your wishes.

RobotLover68 Wed 05-Dec-12 21:34:53

As the child of a couple of narcissists I would be devestated if my DH left me to it. It has taken 5 years of counselling to get myself to a good place and 17 years before that of him waiting patiently for me to see the light. His unwavering support has encouraged me to go on working on myself so that I can finally distance myself from them. Whilst I know it's hard for you to see the man you love suffer, he is like an alcoholic and will wean himself off his father when he is ready. This may also never happen. It is very hard for others to understand the hold these parents have over us.

Good luck OP - I hope it works out for the best and your DH finds some peace one day

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 21:35:39

Warbride I am so sorry to hear that - was it also because of a name issue? Please me more - did your DH want you there originally and you stood strong? Did it cause more drama, as my DH seems to think will happen?

DH says he respects my wishes, he is just trying to set out his reasons why he wants me there and then I can decide. I'm just not sure what will work best to minimize narcissistic drama - arm's length and letting sleeping dogs lie, or total non contact.

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 21:37:05

Oh Robot sad What kind of support does your DH provide when your parents are actually present? Does he say anything, do anything that helps or doesn't help?

Warbride Wed 05-Dec-12 21:44:24

It was for all sorts of reasons. Things happening over a number of years. Fil is very jealous of me, accused me of taking his son off him. Many many rows over the years, with fil not speaking to us for up to 18 months at a time. Not even to see how his granddaughter is growing up.

Dh had tried to persuade me to let it lie but after years of abuse (verbal) I stood strong and refused. Life is so much nicer without fil in it and Dh and I argue much less. Fil was 90 percent to blame for some of the worst rows between us. Dh and dd see him roughly once a week for a few hours. I never see him. Dh dd go to his place. He does not come to our house. It works for us and Dh respects my wishes because he knows what I have had to put up with over the years.

HilaryClinton Wed 05-Dec-12 21:47:01

Is he still living in France. I hope that my largesse would extend to an hour a year, wallowing in my generosity to the Mad-One

RobotLover68 Wed 05-Dec-12 21:50:43

He's just there OP - he doesn't antagonise and we just get through the visits as best we can as they are few and far between (thank goodness!) please don't feel I am judging you OP but I would be a mess if he wasn't there for me. I'm due a visit in a few weeks and I can only stay calm because I know he won't leave my side. This may make me sound weak to others but its the only way I've been able to cope with any visits. The rest of the time I keep him at arms length and tell him nothing about my life.

My DH knows I'm already getting stressed as I've started briefing him on not being tricked into revealing any details of our life. I know it all sounds really odd but it's my way of getting through. Then my duty will be done for another few months.

I'm really sorry if it's not what you want to hear, but your DH won't stand up to his father until he's ready - I hope you understand I'm trying to give you perspective on how he feels however weird it sounds to you and others.

HollyBerryBush Wed 05-Dec-12 22:00:07

Your Dh has expressed the ned for you to be there. As a partner itis your duty to stand by your partner in his hour of need. As he says a united front. You really should nt need to ask what is right in this situation

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 22:12:40

Hilary he is apparently moving back to the UK - so potentially there could be a lot more visits in our future. If I could rely on it being an hour a year then maybe the decision would be easier but I do fear that what I do now will set the tone for future visits. If I manage to bite my tongue now, I might have to continue doing so again and again because if I managed to do it last time then why not this time, why are you perpetuating the drama just when we all managed to paper over the rift etc etc.

Warbride we are in exactly the same position about 90% of all fights between us have been over contact with FIL. I just wish he was out of our lives entirely. I want to get to where you are now somehow but for DH's pleading, which are a bit similar to Robot's.

Robot I want to hug you and tell you you don't need to put up with this total bullshit - you are worth being decently treated by your own parents and if they can't do it then they don't deserve the chance. My own mother has some tendencies in this direction but has never ever gone this far so luckily it's relatively easy to stand up to her now I have a DS of my own.

I'm afraid FIL will just see us dancing to his tune with no consequences to his actions. He gets to behave like a shit and still do as he pleases, playing at being the pater familias while everyone is frantically sweeping under the carpets...

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 22:19:56

Holly he and DS have already seen FIL once without me. It went fine apparently but this issue didn't arise as I was at work - but he didn't need my support then (in fact he didn't even tell me when it was happening).

I suspect that my presence this time is to signal that I am willing to let bygones be bygones and make nice. I think it will just open us (and more worryingly, DS) up to his bullying again in the future.

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 22:20:28

But I do see your point about supporting my partner which is why I am so conflicted.

Corygal Wed 05-Dec-12 22:29:23

I know it's infuriating, but do the right thing - support your poor wounded DH. He needs all the help he can get.

You all need a civilised solution, so you get to wear the big shoes on this one - be nice, but then don't let yr FIL weasel his way in any further.

Tell your DH what you've told us - I'll be saintly, but on condition the old brute doesn't start thinking he can pop in etc - he's limited to official occasions eg birthdays etc. at most. Being civilised cuts both ways, and yr DH must get this.

Finallygotaroundtoit Wed 05-Dec-12 22:32:25

There is a difference between 'presenting a united front' and being guilted into doing something that you clearly don't want to do.

I think your DH is being unfair on you ( and a bit manipulative - sadly he had a good teacher ). He wants to see his DF, you don't. I think he should respect your wishes,

deste Wed 05-Dec-12 22:36:47

I also think you need to support your DH. Make it clear to your DH that If your FIL says anything you can't promise to not say anything back.

forgetmenots Wed 05-Dec-12 22:38:07

Nope, sorry I think you're entitled to see who you want. You can support your DH and support his decision to see FIL without having to be present. That was the stance I took with my DH and MIL when things became unbearable as I was not going to start interfering directly in his relationship with his mother, that was something he had to work out for himself (he now has no contact either). But I had to politely say 'no, I'm sorry, I don't want to be around this person anymore DH.' I think that's fair enough. Be there for him regardless of what happens next and listen to him. But don't go unless you're prepared to have a relationship with FIL.

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 22:48:17

I'm totting up the responses - interesting there's really no consensus at all, I thought I was going to get pilloried for even considering not being there. I keep pressing F5 to see the balance of responses.

DH is still at work - I think I will make some peppermint hot choc for when he gets in and if he's up to it, talk through his feelings some more.

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Wed 05-Dec-12 22:53:15

It's really difficult for children of those sorts of parents to stand up for themselves. DH has a very emotionally manipulative mother and I think he appreciates me being there when she visits because a) he knows I'll back him up and b) she tends to be on her best behaviour when I'm around.

CleopatrasAsp Wed 05-Dec-12 23:23:17

I am totally against doing things that make you feel uncomfortable and I agree with you that FIL needs to learn that actions have consequences otherwise he will continue in the same vein in perpetuity.

You are already supporting your DH by letting him take DS to see the poisonous old goat. Personally, I wouldn't even be keen on that as I believe dysfunction bleeds from generation to generation until you put a stop to it. I think that the whole thing will end in tears again as people like this never change and continually push boundaries until you have to no option but to cut them off completely. When that happens you can support you DH by just being there for him, you don't have to actively encourage a relationship between him and FIL, just don't get in the way and be there to pick up the pieces when it inevitably all goes to pot.

squeakytoy Wed 05-Dec-12 23:30:20

I would say support your DH and show a united front. The important relationship here is that of you and your husband.

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 23:45:30

I'm really interested by the division of opinion and the strength of feeling on both sides.

DH is home so will bring it up gently and see if I can draw out what support he feels he needs - whether only my physical presence will do or whether being there for him before and afterwards is enough.

kiwigirl42 Thu 06-Dec-12 00:37:20

I wouldn't want him in my house. Can you meet him in a pub or something so you can leave as soon as you want. (My mum is similar tendencies so you have my sympathies)

My FIL has similar tendencies. I have him in the house, deal with him and all that but I am 'allowed' try to bloody stop me to call him on behaviours and pull him up on stuff that is unacceptable. I will support DH but will not lie, even by omission, about the acceptability of his behaviour. Would this work?

ThePoorMansBeckySharp Thu 06-Dec-12 02:32:29

I wouldn't be there.

He has said awful things to you and not apologised. By seeing him, you are tacitly accepting his actions. It's not a meater of supporting your DH, he should be supporting YOU in taking stand against his father's behaviour.

ThePoorMansBeckySharp Thu 06-Dec-12 02:32:47

matter, not meater!

Gingerodgers Thu 06-Dec-12 05:14:39

Please reconsider, it's important for h to say to son he tried hard to maintain a relationship with his father, can u not do the same. IMO, this is bound to be a short lived truce, fil will ruin everything, and then you can support your husband knowing that you both tried, rather than it falling apart with him thinking its because you sabotaged the relationship iykwim. Good luck, by the way, I think your husband sounds great despite having a total prick for a father.

EvenIfYouSeeAPoppy Thu 06-Dec-12 07:51:05

Hmm. I can see both sides of this but I think I'm going to come down in favour of your position, OP.

Without giving too much identifying detail, my parents rejected dh without reason from the very beginning of our relationship and eventually cut me off too when I refused to leave him. After our dc were born I tried to reinstate contact and visited them many times with dh still 'banned'. Very long story short, I have come to the conclusion that I can't do it any more.

OP's dh is IMO still very much in the grip of the hold exerted by narcissistic parents which Robot also speaks of. I honestly don't believe OP should be compelled to be co-dependent in this, against her own feelings. I know that's a hard thing to say, but I do understand that hold, and I understand it very well. It has taken me over a decade to finally extricate myself. I just don't believe the dh's best interests will really be furthered by OP going along with this.

Sorry to talk about you in the third person, OP. i think you need to stick to your strongly held instinct on this. Good luck to you and dh.

Whocansay Thu 06-Dec-12 08:32:29

I would probably want to present a united front with dh - as long as that it is what is. That means when he comes into your home, your rules apply. If he says / does something unacceptable he should be called on it, asked to apologise / explain. If he won't he should be asked to leave.

I think if your husband wants to continue a relationship with him you need to set ground rules now and stick to them - together.

Easier said than done I know. I have a very different situation with my mother and its taken me many years to realise that I don't have to put up with her behaviour. In fact it took me having children. I absolutely will not put them through what I went through. I suddenly realised I didn't have to rationalise / explain / excuse her behaviour anymore.

forgetmenots Thu 06-Dec-12 09:20:39

Agree so much with evenifyouseeapoppy - continually going along can be taken as encouraging the relationship and even enabling. When I still saw my ILs (to 'support' DH) and they were vile to me, DH's first response when I questioned their behaviour was 'it couldn't have been that bad or you wouldn't have come.' hmm

Sometimes people with narc parents need to see how unacceptable this is to the rest of the world, without being forced to act themselves. Good luck OP. I feel so sorry for you and your DH, this is not a pleasant situation.

Unfortunately your DH's decision to resume contact with his narcissist father is one that will come back to bite him on the bum. He has certainly been well trained by his father to put his father's needs first with his own needs dead last. Your DH needs to look far more closely at his own reasons for wanting you to be there when his father arrives. Like many children of such awful (and that is an understatement) parents he is damaged and finds it difficult if not absolutely impossible to stand up at all to his father.

People too will love a crap parent no matter how abusive or rubbish they actually are; they've been conditioned to do so and on another level find it very hard to actually accept that their mother or father has completely and utterly failed them.

(You do not mention his mother in all this, is she still around?).

If your DH wants peace for himself and his family, his only option is to go no contact with his Dad but your DH is not anywhere near ready enough to do that even after his father's last outbursts. He should also consider counselling for his own self too; he could further move forward with the assistance of a good therapist. He could well remain stuck otherwise.

You personally can only encourage him to further distance himself emotionally from his father.

I have provided a link below re adult children of narcissistic parents because I think this sums up your DH very well.

forgetmenots Thu 06-Dec-12 09:47:18

Wise words as ever attila. I hope you know how many people your insight has helped on these boards (including me).

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Thu 06-Dec-12 10:08:31

So much to think about - thank you everyone for sharing your advice and sadly your experiences thanks Interesting that there is still a real division of views!

Attila DH's parents are divorced and there is the bare minimum of discussion between my (wonderful) MIL and FIL to coordinate contact with the youngest teenaged child still living at home. From what I have observed she is counting down the days until youngest child is 18 and she will not have to communicate with him again.

I spoke to DH last night about why he wants me to be physically present. He said it was not so much that he wants my support as the fact that he wants to show his FIL that we are both willing to let bygones be bygones. He thinks this will "draw the poison" and show that we're the ones being the bigger people here, trying to draw the family together, turning the other cheek etc etc.

I put my side to him - self-respect, boundaries, letting a bully walk all over us. He put that straight back to me as pride and self-importance, holding a grudge and perpetuating the drama. It was not a good or productive conversation and we went to bed in silence sad

I'm going to send the link to him and see what he thinks. So much of it rings true, especially the perfectionist tendencies. When DH went NC he had one session with a counselor and felt a lot better, so never made another appointment - but then he still felt he needed to get back in touch with FIL. The messed up thing is FIL is actually a counsellor himself and I think he uses his professional skills to magnify and focus the damage he inflicts on everyone around him.

I had another thought. If I do stay and he might try to give me a Christmas present - I would not, could not accept a gift from him but I don't know how I could say "I can't possibly accept this" without making a scene, which is exactly what DH doesn't want to happen.

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Thu 06-Dec-12 10:15:38

I'm very worried about DH's implication that if I absent myself, I'm holding a grudge. (He said things like "but it was a year ago...can't you just let it go?") My dear grandmother was a lifelong holder of various grudges and vendettas and although I know she personally felt that she was maintaining her integrity and self-respect this way, it did have a very negative effect on the whole family.

forgetmenots Thu 06-Dec-12 10:19:23

OP, that's what I thought your DH might say. In this case then it's not about a united front because the issues of the last have not been dealt with and it would be wrong to say you are ready to let bygones be bygones. He is of course entitled to do that, as are you if you feel it's right. But playing along (in my own sad experience I'm afraid to say) makes you complicit and it also shows FIL that even by extension you are both malleable. That's dangerous.

I'm by no means advocating going 'against' your DH. But he needs to hear that it's not acceptable and that not going is an option. That way when things might will go wrong, he can always have your example and strength to follow. I think you've done very well and whatever you decide make sure there are limits and boundaries - or I fear FIL's hold will only get tighter - it's what these people do best, sadly sad

forgetmenots Thu 06-Dec-12 10:21:26

It's not a grudge if there's no reason to believe the behaviour would change (and that doesn't just mean FIL saying so). It's a grudge if it's over a one off action or series of actions that are unlikely to be repeated. All you're doing is aski to be exempt from further nastiness. That's all. You are entitled to that (as is your DH, but that is a more difficult thing for him to learn).

EvenIfYouSeeAPoppy Thu 06-Dec-12 11:15:30

OP - the thing about being the bigger person was the line I fed myself when I was visiting my parents with my dc in tow and my husband left behind and not even spoken about like some shameful secret. It gave me a boost to know myself on the moral high ground, but forgiveness and reconciliation and turning the other cheek are not modes in wbhich narcissistic people like this operate, or languages they can understand. The long-term emotional cost to him will be too high, and he is effectively asking you to bear part of that cost for him. You have the right and some might say the obligation to refuse to bear that cost.

That FIL is a counsellor is horrifying. I expect that some of this stuff about letting bygones be bygones and 'moving on' has been fed to dh by FIL as the 'healthy', 'emotionally mature' (or whatever) thing to do.

It is possible for your dh to free himself of this. It is an extremely laborious and a painful process and, I believe, barely possible without therapy, which will be an issue in itself for your dh sad

Can you get him Toxic Parents (by Susan Forward, IIRC) for Christmas?

TheProvincialLady Thu 06-Dec-12 11:28:04

I agree that your husband is being manipulative. He wants to present a united front that you are both willing to let bygones be bygones, yet YOU are not willing and why should you be? You don't have to take on your husband's feelings about his father just because he is your husband. You have a right to look after your own emotional well being and to set perfectly reasonable boundaries around the people you are, and are not, willing to have in your life. It's very hard to do this within families and your husband is clearly not ready to begin that process, but you must still look after yourself (and your son).

amillionyears Thu 06-Dec-12 11:30:59

I think Corygals post of 22.29pm is pretty much good.
Your DH seems determined to see your fil come what may. He will need you.

Unfortunatley though, your DH seems to think and hope that relationships between your fil and everyone else have the potential to improve. I dont know how long his hopes will last on that front.

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Thu 06-Dec-12 12:46:19

I guess I can draft DH an email explaining why I am not ready to let bygones be bygones and sending him Attila's link, or at least some relevant extracts.

Maybe we can have a more productive discussion by email because in person I just see the hurt on his face sad

amillionyears Thu 06-Dec-12 12:50:54

Do you think you will be able to forgive your fil?
To see him as an ill person.
You may never know if he is capable of totally controlling himself.

amillionyears Thu 06-Dec-12 12:52:45

I dont mean that even if you were able to forgive him, that that should mean you are still not extremely wary of your fil.

What both amillionyears and EvenIfYouSeeAPoppy wrote earlier.

Not a bit surprised to read that your FIL has an ex wife. Some manipulative people like your FIL do become counsellors as well and create damage that way too (he's the second one I know of who does such work).

re your comment:-
"I spoke to DH last night about why he wants me to be physically present. He said it was not so much that he wants my support as the fact that he wants to show his FIL that we are both willing to let bygones be bygones. He thinks this will "draw the poison" and show that we're the ones being the bigger people here, trying to draw the family together, turning the other cheek etc etc".

He's been certainly well trained by his father hasn't he?.

Unfortunately your DH does not or cannot even begin to comprehend that the above approach would only work if the other side i.e his dad could be at all reasoned with. As his Dad is a narcissist this is a complete impossibility.

I just wonder what it will take for your DH to actually see what is happening in front of him. It is also somewhat manipulative on your H's to assume that you also want bygones to be bygones; he cannot own your feelings like this. Like many people who have abusive parents as parents, he may still think that if he acts "nicer" towards his dad he (FIL) will somehow give him the approval and love that he craves. That will never happen by the way; it will truly be a painful realisation for your DH when that reality dawns. And it may not.

(BTW narcs are really crap gift givers and I doubt very much that if you did receive a present it would be anything that you would actually find at all useful. Any gifts if given should be put into the charity shop).

One generation i.e your H has been profoundly affected, do not let your child suffer the same fate.

Also would second what TheProvincialLady wrote too.

DontmindifIdo Thu 06-Dec-12 12:58:04

Perhaps you need to explain to your DH that while he can just forgive your FIL without needing an apology and is happy to let his father treat him like shit, you're not. I would be there, but say you will make no effort to show you believe bygones to be bygones, if he says anything to you, you will tell him you are still waiting for an apology and you have a very low opinion of him. There is no reason for you to suck up to his man. there is no reason for you to be the 'bigger person', there is no reason for you do this just because your DH wants to and your FIL wants to pretend he didn't behave badly.

Ask your DH why he thinks your FIL doesn't need to apologise to you. Ask him why he thinks that it's ok for you all to pretend it didn't happen so that FIL doesn't have to face up to his unacceptable behaviour. Ask your DH how many more times will he let his father treat him, you and your DS like shit because it's easier for your DH than to make your DH actually call his father on his bad behaviour.

Basically, your DH thinks his life being easier is all that matters, even if that means his wife and child have to be treated badly by his father in order to make that happen. Why should you put up with it?

But yes, be there, make it clear you will speak your mind to your FIL, it sounds like someone should.

EldritchCleavage Thu 06-Dec-12 13:09:56

*He said it was not so much that he wants my support as the fact that he wants to show his FIL that we are both willing to let bygones be bygones. He thinks this will "draw the poison" and show that we're the ones being the bigger people here, trying to draw the family together, turning the other cheek etc etc.

I put my side to him - self-respect, boundaries, letting a bully walk all over us. He put that straight back to me as pride and self-importance, holding a grudge and perpetuating the drama*

Oh dear. In his own eyes, FIL is always the bigger, more important, moral person though surely, because he's a narcissist. A show of good values to a narcissist will have about as much effect as farting into a hurricane, I should imagine. It really isn't self-importance to have some minimum standards regarding how others should treat you. I don't see a bit of pride as a negative either, if it rescues one from doormat status. That your DH is thinking like this serves to demonstrate how far he is from being free or gaining perspective.

I think that in reality, your DH wants you to be quiet and compliant. That leaves FIL free to act as he likes without any boundaries being put in place. If FIL behaves abominably during the visits and you object, it seems probable your DH probably won't back you up. So please don't be present. It puts you in an impossible position and FIL can enjoy playing you against each other, driving a wedge between you or any other mischief he decides to inflict on you.

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Thu 06-Dec-12 14:18:37

Ok I've drafted an email to DH. It's long but I've taken many of all of your comments on board.

Subject: Some Thoughts

I'm sure your heart sank as you read that subject line, but I just wanted to set out clearly what I'm thinking as I find it so hard to put how I'm feeling into words when I know you're feeling wounded. Please remember that it is your father that is hurting you and continues to hurt you as the weeks go by with no apology, no acknowledgement of what happened and no change in his attitude or behaviour. So although it may be very difficult and upsetting to read this email please don't attack me or my feelings as the source of that hurt, but place it squarely where it belongs - on his shoulders.

You are your father's son and you want to love him, to be the bigger person and to give him the example of the father he should be by showing him the father you have become. You are already a better father to DS than he is to you and I love you for it. If you don't believe me just imagine if you could do or say any of what he did and said to DS - of course you couldn't. And in the unlikely event that you ever did say something as a one-off in the heat of the moment, you would apologize and do everything you needed to do to make it right.

Although you feel you are able to have an arm's length relationship with your father without expecting an apology or acknowledgement of all the things he said and did last year, I don't feel the same way. I don't want to be around him if it involves pretending nothing ever happened and nothing changes.

I will support you to the hilt with what you choose to do with respect to your relationship to your father. You already know I have grave misgivings about any contact at all because I want to protect you and DS from future hurt. As far as I'm concerned we've already tried the "let sleeping dogs lie" approach and it failed - remember we met with him and [his wife] last year after all those toxic emails were sent, and somehow we both managed to pretend nothing ever happened. Two weeks later he threw it all back in your face and hurt you all over again. Telling him not to contact you was so hard but I am so proud of you for saying it - I thought at the time and still think it was incredibly brave and is the only healthy solution.

I wish you would consider going back to the counselor and talking about why you feel like you have to allow him to treat you like this with no consequences. You're the best man I know and worth so much more than this. No one should be able to treat you the way your father has and get away with it - he is taking advantage of your kindness, your generosity of spirit, your greatness of heart and your attempt to demonstrate to him how a father should act towards his son. I also wonder if the perfectionism stuff we were talking about a few weeks ago has its roots here - the self-criticism, the continuously impressive over-achievement, the high standards you set for yourself. Some (not all, obviously) of the stuff here resonated a lot with me:

Having read this email, please let me know if you still want me to be there next Friday when he comes. So much

Aethelfleda Thu 06-Dec-12 14:32:35

Good luck xiao, I hope you guys can come to an amicable decision about how to handle this very difficult situation. No easy solutions I'm afraid, but stay constant about how your priority is what's best for your dS and be clear to DH that it's him you married, and that having your own opinions is allowed, even while you support him during this.
(FWIW I'd go quiet on the he'll-bite-you-in-the-bum bit: yes, he provably will, but pointing that out is not going to make DH feel any better. Just be calm and supportive when it happens and don't say y

Aethelfleda Thu 06-Dec-12 14:32:59

...don't say you told him so!)

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Thu 06-Dec-12 14:58:42

Yes good point - I can see how that might not go down too well.

I am even angrier at my FIL for even making it necessary for me to draft this email.

amillionyears I never responded to your point earlier. I think I could forgive but I'm not sure I could reconcile, if that makes sense, unless something changed. I would like to think I could forgive my FIL unilaterally without his apology, but it would take a lot of work. And if I'm truly honest I don't think I could reconcile or have any restoration of our relationship without an apology.

Xiao I have nothing constructive to add about your situation (I'm incredibly lucky to have no experience in this area whatsoever), but that email is beautiful. I know it will upset you DH to read it, but I hope he is able to grasp the wonderful things you say about HIM and hold on to them.

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.

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