Dealing with a difficult Father-In-Law - HELP!(105 Posts)
Warning this is a very long post! Sorry!
Im am writing under a different screen name so that I can speak freely here, as I am desperate for some wise advise.
I have a very difficult in law situation. My husband and his siblings were given a very large trust fund when they were 16 by their father when he sold his business. I have been with my husband for 7 years now and have seen my father in law hold this financial gift as a means of emotional blackmail and control over his kids since the day he gave it. Now all the kids are in their early 30s, though they continue to take emotional and verbal abuse because they feel indebted to this man who has given them such a privileged life. In fact my father in law reminds them of this every time they have a dispute, and threatens to take "his money back" even though legally he gave it away to his kids over 15 years ago. I don't know how many times I have told my husband that just because he gave him this money does not give him license to treat people the way he does. My father in law is a classic narcissist: he feels the world revolves around him, he has no empathy for anyones feelings other than his own, and if you have an opinion on anything that is different than his you might as well keep it to yourself because he won't have it. He's arrogant and dismissive and the only people who are still in his life are those that he has helped or is helping financially and they feel indebted to him - he in return feels like he owns them and can treat them however he sees fit. I could spend days sharing the stories of horrible things he has done to his family, its really quite sad and I really don't understand why they are still around. It is hard for me to understand the psychology of those who have this blind love for him and somehow manage to come up with the most ludicrous reasons for defending his every action, no matter how wrong it is.
Anyway, getting to current issue at hand. Things have come to a head with me and my father in law. He has had a proper dressing down with every other member of the family, even the other daughter in laws multiple times over the most petty of things, though it has not yet happened with me until now. A few months ago he told my husband that he decided he didn't want anything to do with me because I didnt give him the attention he deserved whenever we saw them. Apparently he has been keeping a list for a years (talk about passive aggressive). For example, there was one time 2 years back that he had surgery and I didn't ask him how he was feeling; then at our wedding I didn't pay enough attention to him; then 6 months ago when he came to visit us I didn't offer to make him enough teas nor was I up and making him breakfast when he got up in the morning (mind you I had a 3 month old baby) and then the icing on the cake was that I didn't sign his birthday card which my husband sent a few months back. So he called my husband the other day to invite us up for Christmas and has invited me up as well so that we can "bury the hatchet" in his words. I told my husband I would love to go up and have a nice Christmas and forget all this nonsense, etc, but I won't go up if that means he is going to give me one of his dressing downs - which means he will pull me aside in a separate room and have a go at me and tell me everything he doesn't like about me, make me apologise and then agree that I will not act that way going forward. That is his way of burying the hatchet. I would be totally down for having a two way honest adult discussion so that we can work through our differences, but he does not work that way. He doesn't allow anyone else to speak and he will not accept anyone giving him any sort or criticism , in his mind he is without fault. He would go into a blind rage even if I tried in the most gentlest of ways. So anyway, my husband very nicely called him back and thanked him for inviting us up for Christmas but that our only condition was that we wanted a nice Christmas and that no one would get getting a dressing down. My father in law lost it and said that it was necessary for him to be able to move on and that we would not be invited to come up unless he could address issues with me. Then he stuck it to my husband where he knew it would really hurt, and said "son if you don't come up for Christmas then there will be consequences to pay as your relationship with me will be in jeopardy and you will cause problems with your mother and I, so have a word with your wife and make your decision wisely". This is not the first time he has cued the emotional blackmail. So now my husband is distraught over what to do. he was in tears the other night saying that I was making him choose between me and his family and that I should just suck it up and deal with it because he is the one who is paying for our lifestyle (by means of the trust fund he gave my husband over 15 years ago). I'm of course upset over all of this as well, as I hate seeing my husband so upset and don't want to be the cause of him falling out with his father. I just think that boundaries have to be set, I have too mush self respect to let myself go up there and be yelled at so that my father in law can feel better, and then turn around and be able to put on an act for this man for the rest of Christmas. I still have my resentment towards him that will only be exacerbated by the situation. My question is, am I being selfish and unreasonable here? Should I just suck it up and take it just as everyone else does just to keep the peace? Or am I right in wanting to make a point and set boundaries, even if it means that relationships will fall apart?
Sorry for such a long post. I just have no one else to talk to about this and really need some help!
YANBU but until your DH is ready to face it this going to cause problems between the two of you. The way I see it is this, you can go and pretend everything's ok but nothing changes or you can refuse to go but your DH will guilt you into feeling bad.
If it were me I would go stay in a hotel for 2 nights and just attend Christmas.
Your husband can always go alone though.
I would never suck it up. This man is abusive. I would not allow my children to see me being abused.
Dear God, now way on earth should you go and your husband needs to put on his big boy pants and stand up to his father.
I just cannot get my head round this. Your FIL wants to basically bollock you and your husband thinks you are unreasonable because you dont want to go for your dressing down! You need to tell your husband that you will not be attending and he needs to man the fuck up and put you first.
I would be inclined to establish the legal status of the Trust Fund. If it cannot be revoked, your FIL's main weapon would be removed and you would be able to deal with his appalling behaviour with no repercussions.
If he can take back the fund, sadly it sounds as if you will have to decide whether you think keeping the money and lifestyle is worth putting up with all this shit for as long as FIL is around.
So what does your DH's mother have to say about all of this? No way would I go - I would encourage my DH to speak directly to his mother and explain his reasons for not going.
I wouldn't go, but your dh needs to see his father for the cruel, blackmailing bully that he is.
I'm not sure how you can get that through to him.
You refuse to go and keep refusing. Don't offer the option of a 'sensible discussion' because its clear the man is a controlling creep who isn't capable of one. If you show your dh that you can't be controlled, he'll be one step closer to being able to free himself.
You only met DH 7 years' ago yet the money he received from FIL well over a decade ago is dangled over your heads as a kind of threat.
"Suck it up" indeed. His father wants to metaphorically bury the hatchet in you. He believes his so-called gift gives him carte blanche to bully people.
This isn't about you making DH choose. This is about his father telling him to jump and DH asking "How high?"
No way should you go! You are expected to go so he can have a go at you, while you just stand there and take it? And all over money. That is seriously, seriously fucked up.
As for your dh though, if he can't see how fucked up it is ...I'm not sure what to tell you.
So your lifestyle comes from the money your DH's father gave him? You both have to decide whether to put up with FILs PA behaviour for the sake of the money or to pay your own way through life and stand up to him. Your not making DH choose but he does need to man up and make a choice.
Give him the money back, or as much as is left.
His hold over you will be magically reduced and maybe you can salvage your relationship, although I have no idea why you would want to.
I wouldn't budge if I were you over Xmas. If his family want to put up with his bullshit that's up to them, but you don't need to.
Yes, if the money was handed over before you were even part of the family, I'd be telling FIL that he has no hold over you, as you weren't given anything.
Crikey - this makes me mad - I just hate bullies. Especially ones old enough to know better.
Well done for knowing exactly how he was going to treat you if you did go and for your DH tackling this directly.
The problem in these situations is that people like your FIL do not change. No matter what your DH says to him, he is not going to modify how he behaves. So you have to decide with DH how you will behave when /if you are there. I suggest that when he starts on you, just walk away. Leave the house if you have to. And get DH to agree he will not leave you alone with them.
You don't have to participate in this game.
I don't know how much the trust fund is worth, but if this is the price you have to pay, it's not worth it. Free yourselves and move on.
I feel sorry for your dh here. He is in an awful situation. His father is a very difficult man but your husband has decided to accept his behaviour because the alternative is not an option for him.
Now if I was you I would actually go to the dinner and when approached by FiL to have a chat I would actually look right through him and imagine you are in the Seychelles or somewhere similar (and nod) I would do this for my dh. I really would. And in future just take FiL with a pinch of salt.
Also try not to give him much thought. He isn't worth your emotional energy.
Fucking hell he sounds insane, imagine keeping a list of your 'mis-deeds'!
The only way to deal with this sort of person is NC.
I would point out to your DH there is no choosing you are married he made that choice at the alter.
Would the rest of the family be up for some sort of intervention to jointly put across how unacceptable his behaviour is and if he Kent improve he will loose his whole family?
I would go but not stand for the dressing down. When he tries to start having a go at you, listen politely for as long you feel like then calmly walk out the room saying you don't have to be treated like a naughty child etc rtc.
Perhaps get some legal advice on the Trust Fund if it's not clear what the situation is, or you only have your FIL's word on it. Do you have a copy of the paperwork or know which solicitors set it up?
Then at least you know what you options are before you tell him to stick it.
There's no amount of money that will make me take this shit. And I'm assuming this is in the many millions.
Go there for Christmas armed with your own list , you will never win with a person like this but at least you can have your say
As someone who will never give in to emotional blackmail , I would prepare yourself to kiss goodbye to the money
Tell Dh to give the cash remaining in the trust fund back to his father .
Absolutely no way should you go and 'suck up' this appalling behaviour.
His father is making him choose, not you.
The only way i would go is that I would not be left alone with his bullying prick of a father & if there was any attempt to take me aside for a talk we would leave.
In fact if my husband was in tears over such a thing, I'd have to leave them.
Personally I wouldn't go because the tension would be horrible. Different if you had any confidence in DH supporting you.
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