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to not be a good in-law though I have nice in laws...?

(51 Posts)
InWithTheOutlaws Sun 14-Feb-16 02:29:33

Right then. First AIBU. Yikes.

DH left home at 15 after falling out with parent. Kept in touch as adult but rarely. Like maybe visiting for a couple of hours every few years

Been married for 7yrs. When we first married we travelled to see his family, they're in a close by country, not too big a deal to get there, just a few hours. They were nice enough, not much in common but no problems. I often prodded DH to make an effort, but he was clearly not motivated so in time I left it, got busy with life, couldn't be asked if he didn't care, didn't feel he wanted a full on relationship etc. we went across to see them 3 times for a few hour long visits during the last 7 years.

In the meantime we had kids - his family started sending gifts on Christmas and birthdays but DH is lax about acknowledging, never gets in touch, if I nag for a month or two maybe he'll call. He refuses to reciprocate, says he will when he sees them, but obviously we don't really see them so...he's a basically a knob. And it's embarrassing to me but I haven't been able to change it and I view it as his call.

Meanwhile I had a really bad couple of years recently, lost some close friends and relations one after the other, including a young family in a tragic accident while I was in late stages of difficult pregnancy and it all really effected me. Bad timing but DH family at this point decided to send me a snippy messages about my lack of effort etc. and I know IWBU but I snapped a bit. Not at them, just to why does it fall to me? Truthfully I barely know any of them. No matter how I try I can't force DH to suddenly develop a different attitude towards visiting or keeping in touch etc. We've been having problems ourselves (he's emotionally useles, who'd have guessed?) and tbh I'm sick of all the emotional labour falling to me.

Part of me feels awful that I never made more of an effort and now am defensive after having been called out on it and no longer would even want to. And ( I guess the defensive )part of me says fuck it, why the fuck should I? If their own flesh and blood is a twat, then why do I have to step in? I'm barely coping with my own shit in life.

AIBU to refuse to shoulder the emotional labour for a relationship with in laws I hardly know that doesn't seem to exist for DH? Or am I as big a twat as DH and need to suck it up (wo)man up and shoulder the burden of being a friendly in law even though I don't feel like one?

BrideOfWankenstein Sun 14-Feb-16 02:34:53

They are his family, so he should be dealing with them.

MsMims Sun 14-Feb-16 02:39:23


The only person they should be sending snippy messages to is your DH.

Heirhelp Sun 14-Feb-16 02:40:55

I agree, his family makes it his job to have a relationship with them.

If the messages are recent or start again then send a message back to say it is up to your husband to arrange contact and if they have a problem with him not contacting them then they need to speak to him about it. Then copy and paste each time they send this kind of message.

AndSoWeBeatOn Sun 14-Feb-16 02:43:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

toastedbeagle Sun 14-Feb-16 02:54:34

Definitely not your problem! If DH isn't really bothered about contact then they will just have to accept it.

WhereYouLeftIt Sun 14-Feb-16 03:06:36


"DH left home at 15 after falling out with parent." The time for them to try to reconnect with him was in the years immediately following that. Maybe they did and he rebuffed them? Presumably the few visits following your marriage raised their hopes. Regardless, they have a son who doesn't really want to know them. Doesn't matter whether they were bastards or he was a huge twat or a combination, that's the reality now. They can't expect you to control his relationship with them, it's just not possible.

This situation existed before you'd even met him. He'd made his choice, and even though he wasn't an adult when he made it he has stuck by it since.

Is it possible they didn't mean to be snippy at you, but were trying to appeal via yourself as some sort of voice of reason he might listen to? And totally got it wrong?

I would probably write to them politely pointing out that they are unaware of what unsuccessful efforts you have made, and that you have decided to respect your husband's wishes regarding the level of contact between them and yourselves. And that if they wish the relationship they have with their son to improve, they really have to address their desires directly to him, as you have no influence in this matter. Hopefully they will take the hint and stay off your back. And you will be able to dismiss it from your thoughts, as you will have done all that you can.

TwoKettles Sun 14-Feb-16 03:29:27

This resonates with me. My DH has very little relationship with his DPs, which they interpret as my fault. I wonder if it's a generational/older person thing - a DIL is expected to take over from her husband and assume responsibility for contact with in-laws? I don't have time for that shit. I also think they don't dare rock the boat with their DS and risk losing him, so it's much easier to snip at me. In the end, I gave up trying, having had cards and gifts criticised one last time. I tried, I really did, but in the end, I realised you can't build on something which wasn't there in the first place.

BTW, I'm not sure you have the title of your thread the right way round. Your PIL don't seem too nice ................

FlorisApple Sun 14-Feb-16 04:00:34

Totally NBU. In my house, the policy is; I am responsible for the relationship with my family, he is responsible for the one with his. Despite this, I do still get a lot of pressure from his family to take on all the communication/kin work/emotional labour (gifts, sending photos etc.) and it drives me crazy! We live in a different country from them now, and at the moment my DH is working in a different city from me and the kids, but, nevertheless I get pointed messages about arranging Skype calls, with the strong implication that it doesn't matter if DH is not there (well, not even an implication, really, just stated directly.) The thing is, I've come to realise that DH has the relationship he has with them for a reason. It's not just laziness; it's deep-seated patterns from a pretty shit childhood, and it's his right to distance himself from it if he wants to. It becomes slightly more complicated now that we have kids, since I would like for them to maintain a relationship with their grandparents, uncles and aunts, and I don't want to come in the way of that, but I am really trying to resist the social pressure and shame of just not doing that work. I also have the philosophy that relationships work when both parties are making an effort, and they go both ways. His mum, in particular, seems to expect him to always be the one to get in touch, and she complains if he doesn't, but she never bloody calls or visits herself. They are capable of calling him, if they are so keen to speak to him.

RhinestoneCowgirl Sun 14-Feb-16 04:07:04

That sounds very familiar Floris

My DC are primary school age now and are old enough to ring MIL for a chat (which I do encourage them to do as I want them to have a relationship). She doesn't ring us. Whenever MIL makes noises about wanting to see DC more often I always point her in DH's direction.

RubbleBubble00 Sun 14-Feb-16 07:42:37

if they are sending gifts for children then it's appropriate to send thank u note or call pil for children to thank them - if dh won't do this then it's not really too big ask for you to facilitate twice a year.

InWithTheOutlaws Sun 14-Feb-16 07:47:24

Oh wow. I wasnt expecting it to go this way at all! But hurrah! grin

They're nice enough people from what I can see, it would have been good for DH to pick it up, they were so pleased to have him back a little after we got married. But he went his own way in life and doesn't have much in common and just isn't interested - mostly I think it's sheer laziness with a side of stubborn. I do get the feeling everyone would be most pleased if I were to take up the mantle and do all the things between the lot of them. I probably would have too, except I'm just emotionally worn out.

So nah.
Thank you for my YANBU! It feels good!

InWithTheOutlaws Sun 14-Feb-16 07:50:41

You're right Rubble - I've just felt so embarrassed at what I see as a rude lack of reciprocity or gratitude from their son that I think it'd me easy for me to get into a cycle of desperately trying to compensate for his attitude. Will do thank yous on his behalf, but no more.

rainbowstardrops Sun 14-Feb-16 08:00:34

Yanbu at all. I would definitely contact them - either my email or letter and explain that you have previously instigated contact with them on DH's behalf but at the end of the day it's down to him.

If they're generally 'nice' then maybe take control of the thank you phone calls or cards?

Just curious, do they make much of an effort to come and visit you?

Glitterkitten24 Sun 14-Feb-16 08:02:29

I'm in exactly the same boat! For us, DHs relationship with his DPs is good, but his brothers and family all live slightly further away but within an hour radius of us.
DH has very little interest in contacting or visiting his DHs, despite my prompting, and I get the pointed messages about never seeing us blah blah.

It drives me crazy, it's good to hear I'm not alone!!

Katenka Sun 14-Feb-16 08:04:53

I leave sorting out the in laws to dh. Birthdays, Christmas, visiting etc.

It's all up to him. They have never said anything to me. I do make an effort to involve them, like made sure dh knew I was happy for them to come to the hospital after I had the DC etc.

But organising it is all down to him. If they got snippy with me I would tell them to get a grip.


redcaryellowcar Sun 14-Feb-16 08:13:11

I agree with the others, Yanbu. You don't know what has happened to get to this place, in your shoes I would focus on looking after my own family, your husband chose you, he's choosing not to be with his family.
As a pp suggests I probably would write a quick thank you card for presents received.

Muskateersmummy Sun 14-Feb-16 08:14:59

From the other side .... One of my siblings is very elusive. And we have been known to lean on his dw in a hope that we might get some information. It's horrid to feel cut out of a family members life, to not get a thank you or acknowledgment of a gift (especially if coming from abroad you want to know it got there safely for one thing), to not know everything is ok, to feel you have upset that person in some way.

It's hard but the reason they are coming to you is because they feel they may get some where with you. They may actually get a response. My inlaws often comes to me when there is something bothering them about dh, because they know I will a) respond, b) speak to dh to try to improve things.

You anbu, I totally understand the frustration from your side, and the feeling of I'm doing my best but they are your relatives! But I also understand the sadness and isolation from your inlaws side. I would say try to speak to dh, explain that his parents clearly want to know how the family is and would it be ok if you sent them a text to thank them for gifts, to update them on how things are from time to time? It might pave the way to better communication across the board. Or he might open up as to why he doesn't feel the need or want to contact them

InWithTheOutlaws Sun 14-Feb-16 08:15:27

No they don't visit rainbow - but I expect that's because DH would be horrified at the thought and most unwelcoming. In the early years I did suggest that we invite them to stay etc. but was met with a definite no.

InWithTheOutlaws Sun 14-Feb-16 08:20:51

At one point I actually did ask him for his phone, set up the message to say thank you and hand it to him to hit send.....saying fgs just make that much effort at least. He added his two bits and sent but never did it for himself and I got so annoyed at spoon feeding being the only way that it would happen that....grr. Was feeling set up.

Muskateersmummy Sun 14-Feb-16 08:21:35

It wouldn't surprise me (if it's anything like my sibling) they are messaging him, and he isn't replying, or being vague and not telling you. We message my sibling a lot ask to visit to be told "I'll check dates" and then hear nothing again.

I feel for you. flowers

LindyHemming Sun 14-Feb-16 08:32:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Well he cut them out for a reason. Do you know why?

Hassled Sun 14-Feb-16 08:37:48

I've observed with my (very nice) ILs that in their heads I'm much more a full part of their family than I see it, if that makes sense. To me, the ILs are my DH's family - I still see a degree of separation that they don't. Which is nice and all, but means that like you, the assumption is that I have the same level of responsibility towards cards/gifts/thank yous that DH has.

Could that difference in attitude also apply here, do you think? To you, it's your DH's family therefore his problem. To them, they are your family now as well, therefore it's your problem.

Bluetrews25 Sun 14-Feb-16 08:42:27

You are assuming that they are nice. They can't be that great to have produced a child (DH) who had to escape them at 15, who is 'emotionally useless', to quote your OP, and has never really wanted to see them again.
Are you being used as a flying monkey to bring him to heel?......or maybe I'm reading too much into it.
What was his childhood like?
Maybe he is right to be NC / LC?

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