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Disowning members of family???(16 Posts)
Sorry long post!
Over the past year my DH and I have not really spoken to my IL's.
It has caused a lot of heartache, and I have tried to mediate between my DH and PIL's.
We are expecting our first baby next month too.
I truly believe they are narcissistic parents, and MIL specifically gaslights ALL the time, and after the past year I can understand why my DH has washed his hands of them as this is how they have been all his life.
It has been a series of things that DH and I have felt hurt by their actions, but let it go and moved on until...
Last year we were planning our wedding, PIL told my DH that he was NOT to invite auntie, as they are not speaking to her, if we did invite her, then they would refuse to attend our wedding..this resulted in a big argument where DH said he was inviting who he liked and they could not dictate our wedding day, MIL cried, and FIL told DH to leave their house.
So DH left and refused to speak to them after that.
Over the following months, PIL's attempted to speak to DH, by unanswered phone calls, texts, coming to our house and DH work place. DH did not specifically ignore them but just asked them to leave as he had nothing to say.
There were family parties held by PIL's which we were not invited to, although I'm sure if we had just turned up they would not have turned us away.
My birthday came and I heard nothing from them, DH birthday came and he did not get a birthday card or even a text message.
Wedding came and went, and they did not attend. I think they would have attended had we actually sent them an invite but DH said they already made their choice.
At one point FIL came round to talk to DH, DH was not very responsive but answered FIL questions. I went to speak to FIL and said we were very hurt that they put that demand on us, and it wasn't a very nice thing to do. I really thought I had got through to him.
Next day, we received a text from FIL to ask us to clarify that whilst DH said they were NOT invited to wedding, I allegedly asked would they come if invited? I had not said that!
The text was all about them and at no point was there an apology...so I told FIL that the issue was between DH and them, I was not getting involved anymore.
DH's grandparents live abroad and could not attend our wedding. I sent a letter saying we could understand they could not travel, but we wanted to visit sometime after the wedding and spend some time with them.
After a few days, I received a telephone call from a blocked number, it was FIL (their number is not usually blocked, and I could hear MIL in the background telling FIL what to say). He wanted to know if my DH knew I had sent this letter...I was very confused as to what he was asking and also intimidated. Of course DH knew I'd sent the letter! He said DH was refusing to speak to GPs, which I said no, he was speaking to them and he had spoken to them on the phone two days previously, where GM asked why PIL weren't coming to our wedding, so he told her the reason why and she was very upset. We didn't want to involve GP's as they are very elderly, although there was no way we could conceal that PIL were not invited to wedding.
After this telephone call from FIL, I was very upset, becoming panicky every time I received a text or call in case it was PIL's questioning my activities, so I sent a message telling them this was upsetting me and not to contact me again. I also said, if they wanted to make things up with DH, then they were going the wrong way about it.
Over xmas DH received a letter from GM saying she had given FIL our xmas present and we were to collect it. We heard nothing from FIL about it so we didn't want to just go and collect it, as DH did not want to speak to his parents.
The other week MIL came to see DH, and DH said she seemed sorry and upset. She asked if we would go round, and DH said yes.
I was amazed because previously he would not give them the time of day, but because for the first time she seemed upset about the estrangement we went round the other day.
I was happy to finally think this was going to be resolved, and we may get an apology and we could move on.
Well, how wrong was I?!
The 2 hours we spent there were a waste of time. There was arguing, shouting, and we were just going around in circles.
MIL told us that for her wedding, she had to have someone she didn't want as bridesmaid because thats what GP wanted, they had to have it at a certain place because that's what GP wanted, and she said that they did so for love of their parents, and DH does not love his father because he 'chose' auntie over his feelings!
She asked why were they not invited to our wedding! DH said, 'well you said you would not come if we invited auntie', MIL said that 'you never gave us the chance to come'...DH said 'you cannot make threats like that! I'm your son and you think you can treat me like shit, because that's what happened for your wedding'...
FIL said DH made MIL cry, and she never cries or gets upset like that.
MIL said that auntie has since said lots of nasty things about us, and our wedding day...not sure how she knows what she has said since she doesn't speak to auntie! Apparently she said the way we announced our pregnancy wasn't very nice (we announced at our wedding because we had all our family and friends there and we wanted to tell people in person), I apparently ignored DH cousin, which I didn't we had a few conversations about various things (but it was a very busy day as there were lots of guests to speak to), I bought up the family argument and it was inappropriate...All I said to auntie and her family - nobody else around- that it was unfortunate PIL weren't there and I felt sad it had to be like this but there was only so much you can do.
(They fell out with auntie because she deliberately arranged a couple of parties that apparently she knew IL's could not attend, and they don't feel part of the family ... when we spoke to auntie about this she was surprised, and she has been nothing but nice to us. She even said she would not come to our wedding if thats what we wanted to save arguments, but we said she was invited, and she and her family came from quite a distance, spending money on staying over a couple of nights).
When it became apparent we were not getting an apology, the whole time was spent them trying to justify why they were right and we were wrong, I said we were not getting anywhere, it's not going to be resolved, and in order to move on we all needed to just agree to disagree and put it behind us and look to the future. MIL said 'what future?'
I asked her what she wanted out of this, she said once we left she would discuss it with FIL...I was like, what is there to discuss?! You either want your son back or you don't?
She said DH doesn't care about them, doesn't love them and she's terribly hurt. I said that of course we care about you, otherwise DH would not have agreed to come over to talk...to which point she said he only came to collect his GP's xmas present!
I said if we wanted the present that badly we would have just asked for it at the door and not even come in for a cup of tea! I was just astounded...
Earlier in the pregnancy, I was ill in hospital, we had not directly told PIL we were expecting a baby, I received a voice mail from MIL saying she hoped all was ok.
During this talk, it became apparent they knew early on about the pregnancy from family members, she said she only called me because she thought there was something wrong with the baby, she didn't know it was me that was ill...so if she knew it was me ill she would not have called!
I said on both sides there is hurt feelings, and right and wrong both sides too, I said we need to put it behind us, MIL said she needs to think about it...and it has been almost a week since and we have heard nothing from them.
I feel that I'd rather not have a relationship with them if they are always going to behave in this way (as I mentioned there were other incidences in which we felt they wronged us but did not acknowledge it), but I do feel terribly guilty that somehow it is our fault, and I could have done more to avoid the situation...I guess that is the gaslighting.
I'm torn. Many people have said we have done nothing wrong and they are being unreasonable, others have said family is family and you have to put up the rough with the smooth...Would you put up with it, or would you go along with it?
And our first baby will miss out on having a set of grandparents which I also feel sad about...
..also I want to add that when we went over PIL didn't ask anything about the baby other that was it a boy or a girl?
It does sound like before the wedding they tried to contact you quite a lot to re establish a relationship, but DH declined?
I understand however he wanted to put his footdown, and show he wouldnt be emotionally black mailed, and let his parents know they shouldnt make threats that they will regret.
I don't understand why you would even expect a birthday card in this time when there was no relationship between you, at your DHs choice?
Of course they did not attend the wedding, as you werent talking to them and did not invite them!!
I am not sure what you wanted them to apologise for, for telling you not to invite aunty? or for emotional manipulation?
and mil is right you didnt give them a chance to come to the wedding or to take back what they said? When fil text you to ask about wedding, it is clear that they wanted to come, and it was a bit cruel to not send an invite.''
I think perhaps instead of seeing it as them justifying their behaviour you could see it as differing perceptions due to age/culture etc. and try to understand their pov, I can totally understand why your mil feels unloved.
and you expect mil to worry about your health, when you have made it clear you are not worried about her?
and she has also made it clear she is bothered about the baby, so why would your baby miss out on gps, unless you and dh decide that?
How old are they and how was DHs childhood?
It is very complicated and I have condensed it down...
Yes they did try to contact us, but this was only to say why DH should do as they wanted, or to ask for things they had loaned us back.
When FIL visited the house that time I mentioned, during this meeting we found out this was because GM sent him round because she didn't believe they were not invited, not because he wanted to resolve things.
FIL also told me on that occasion that after not speaking to them, they didn't want to come to our wedding anyway.
The birthday thing, well my birthday was shortly after the argument before things got really bad, I didn't expect anything anyway, but when it was DH birthday, I was very surprised. If they wanted to resume our relationship or to try and resolve matters, I was surprised they didn't send a birthday message to their son.
I do not expect my PIL to worry about my health, but they were implying to GPs that they were trying to make things up with us, when they weren't.
Only until MIL came to see DH the other week did it seem they genuinely wanted to talk about it.
It's not that they didn't want the auntie to be there, its how they went about it, firstly not asking but demanding, and when DH said he wanted to invite auntie, MIL became upset, screaming and crying at him. She said to DH that he had no idea what I had been saying about him behind his back. When he asked her to elaborate she wouldn't.
We have since found out that I had said to MIL about DH being a bit lazy around the house, which I probably did, but this is no secret, I tell everyone including DH he's can do with helping out more. She made it out to be more than it actually was.
You are in a very difficult position and I sympathise.
Dh always had a tough time with his parents who were essentially disinterested in him.
Our situation came to a head when DD was due. After asking them to perhaps show more interest in our DC FIL took umbrage and behaved appallingly -sending a typewritten note to DS1 who was 9 blaming DH for the argument. Loads of drama and sulking. Years went by and they tried to approach DS1 through the school - it got really manipulative.
They eventually made up (sort of) when DHs grandfather died.
Dd met her grandparents on her 9th birthday.
My point is we had nearly a decade of shit because DH never figured what the issue was. Now he has we can move on. The issue was that his parents are not really interested but want to be the most important people in the room whenever we meet. As long as DH just asks about them then everything is fine.
They don't like children but want to meet them occasionally once they are older so as to brag about 'oh yes my grandson plays rugby for x, won y prize 'etc.
You can't really help. This is about your DH figuring out that his parents and he are not on the same page and dealing with that.
Dh finds it easy to meet them twice a year because he is not hurt anymore. He realises it is them. They wouldn't have been interested in him if he had been the most fantastic child in the world. So he can nod and smile and make the right noises.
They are happy. He is happy. The DCs don't care.
So step back. I know you think you are not getting involved but you really are. Things you have done innocently have ramped it up.
Let your DH work it out.
That's what I would do if I had my time again.
Thank you pagwatch it is helpful to hear other people's similar experiences.
I do need to step back and let DH sort it out, I just feel so sad about the whole thing though.
Thank you pagwatch it is helpful to hear other people's similar experiences.
I do need to, and will step back and let DH sort it out, I just feel so sad about the whole thing though.
Thing is, dh's parents may have had a very good reason not to want to be with Auntie? Do you know the full story behind it?
If your dh has "good reasons" to disown his parents, is it not possible that they had their own "good reasons" to disown Auntie?
I haven't read your full op because it is just too long but where I got to it seems to me that dh cut them off immediately after that one disagreement?
Yes mintyy DH did cut them off after this disagreement however there were several thing previous to this that we were upset by their actions and just let them go.
PILs have told us the full story of why they don't like the auntie and its because they don't feel like part of the family after auntie organised two separate family parties for dates my PIL couldn't attend and auntie would not change dates.
So they have their reasons to disown the auntie but still, PIL could not put it to one side for one day for their sons wedding.
Might be important to add that FIL helps run a family business alongside auntie and will attend business meetings with her about twice a year without kicking up a fuss.
Tbh after the further stuff you have posted it seems to be increasingly trivial. The the fight with the auntie sounds ridiculous and childish. There does seem to be a huge amount of sulking and falling out over minor stuff tbh.
It all sounds a bit whiney and you are getting sucked in.
You say 'it is incredibly complicated'. I was assuming there was a back story similar to my DHs with extreme lack of affection and disinterest. It now sounds as if your DHs family -including him- don't have any sensible, rational method of dealing with each other. It's all arguments, silent treatment and 'he said/she said' conversations. It must be bloody exhausting.
Stop feeding the drama. Get DH to deal with it and stop having conversations with them about imagined slights and silly grievances. If people try to talk to you about it just say 'I am a grown woman. I am really not getting involved in fights about who invited whom to which party. It's unspeakably childish'
I think the key question is whether the new baby gets to know his paternal grandparents and vice versa. There are some similar dynamics in my own family and my decision was that I would try and ensure my child had contact with grandparents as long as that contact was essentially positive.
A very small baby won't consciously want to see grandparents. It's only much later they start asking about family members - but there'd have to be some sort of age-appropriate answer when the questions begin. If it is not possible for there to be some sort of polite, non-toxic contact so that grandparents and grandchild may see one another, then I'd say it might be important to think about having say 'godgrandparents' - not necessarily in a religious sense - but warm, reliable older people who will take an interest in the new baby's welfare.
pagwatch a lot of my conversations occurred with PIL last year and have stepped back from it now apart from when the both of us went to PIL's house last week.
I did tell them that we understood they have their issues with auntie (despite that we think its stupid but we accept they don't like her) we said it wasn't about their argument with auntie but our issues between the four of us. It was just the auntie thing that was the last straw for DH - there were other occasions PIL acted in a way that hurt us but we let them go.
Since the meeting a week ago we haven't heard from PIL at all, and the way we left it was in their hands. As MIL said said she needed to discuss it with FIL after we leave.
frau that's sound advice, thank you. I would like my child to have contact with them but it wouldn't be like the same relationship we had before the fall out. Just occasional visits. I certainly don't want to expose my child to any negative people so will have to see how it goes.
I wasn't criticising you Glossy. It is easy to get sucked in and when all around you are getting deeply emotional about things it seems important. It's only if you genuinely take a step back - not just stop contributing but actually withdraw from the emotional whirlwind - do you see what a negative waste of energy it is.
And that may quite reasonably be by withdrawing from a relationship with your PIL if they are the source of the angst.
I remember a couple of my family members were having a late night drama explosion. I wasn't involved but got sucked in through trying to make other sides be reasonable. Suddenly you get involved.
Dh stood up and said 'well this is pointless and childish and I shall go to bed if you will excuse me'
It was pretty funny really. No one wanted to be the next person to say 'but you said y' because the childish thing was just hanging out there
Oh I wasn't taking offence pag, but I see what you mean now, I am emotionally involved, it is hard not to be. I think generally I have let go over the past few weeks but then we were asked to go round to talk and it just disturbed the muddy waters again. That and our first baby is due in a few weeks time.
I do find it difficult to deal with people like that as my own parents are the complete opposite and we have an excellent relationship.
I want to concentrate on those in our family who do love and care about us and have a positive effect in our lives
Yes, it's a shock when you haven't experienced a challenging family dynamic before isn't it.
Good luck with the baby
I sympathise, I really do, we have awful problems with my IL's and it causes a great deal of stress, there have been periods where they have not spoken to us and not seen their grandchildren, but your IL's missed out on seeing their DH get married whilst the rest of the family were all present, that must have been heartbreaking for them even if they were at fault, just something to think about
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