Am I wrong to offer an ultimatum? His family or us?(34 Posts)
My OH comes from a textbook enmeshed family and he absololoutly agrees. They have been awful to me but I don't take it personally as they hate all outsiders. All partners of their children are hated or under their thumb and still hated, all extended family members are conniving, and they literally have no friends.
They are seriously textbook. Someone is always sick. They on the verge of bankruptcy with a household income of around 150k but they guilt us for going on holiday. Gambling, alcohol, medication and drug addiction ALL exist in their house but it is denied and they spend their whole time judging and talking about others!
Anyway, I was NEVER going to be the daughter in-law for them and after years of insults towards me and accusations of me brainwashing their dear son, I decided I would basically stop seeing them except on occasion where it was for the kids. Mine or my OH's nephews.
My daughters birthday party has just passed and they 'couldn't' come. To put it into perspective, their dad has been to our house (less than an hour away) 3 times in 10 years! Once when my daughter was 3 months and my OH and I had a pretty big fall out. I looked outside and the dad had arrived to collect 'his' son and move him back 'home'. He did not check on me or his Granddaughter. Once when my OH and his Brother had a big fall out and I called the dad to come and calm the situation. That ended up in me being blamed for the whole thing and a whole host of accusations against me for using his son, brainwashing his son, trapping his son bla bla bla - I was 21 at the time. And one other time for his son's 30th!
Apparently the reason they couldn't come 'this' time was because the party was on the same day as their 29 year old sons birthday! He spends hardly any time at home and his birthday would have consisted of getting over a hangover, a happy birthday song and cake, potentially a takeaway and him off out again! Its also important to note that my daughters party was in the afternoon and finished at 3pm!
So my OH puts this out there and is told that he has to make more of an effort for his family. 98% of the time he has seen them in the last 10 years it has been his effort. He has dropped fortnightly visits to every 8 or so weeks. He says its a two way thing, and that's the extent of his 'dealing' with the situation.
They also have other grandchildren who visit them almost daily, and as a result, they make a lot of plans that my mine are never invited to be part of. Day trips, holidays etc.
The day after the party was a family event and his dad asks my OH to come over. I don't put any restrictions on them seeing my children but this time I said no!
I'm concerned about the lesson that gives them i.e. Run to people without question that don't make the effort for you, and this time as it was literally the day after my daughters birthday it felt like for once I couldn't let it slide.
My OH said he would still take them which resulted in a near tussle to stop him going through the door with my children.
I'm aware that my problem is him not them. He will eventually say sorry for his behaviour and get re-angry at them. To me he's pathetic and his weakness with his dad in particular makes me genuinely loose love for him. He has no backbone and he typical to an enmeshed family member he is riddled with guilt and fear. After this many years I just can't remain sympathetic with the fact he has been conditioned. He doesn't stand up for me but more importantly he doesn't stand up for our children. And, he's modelling something very wrong in the process.
I have been advised to finally give him an ultimatum. Them or us. And that doesn't mean not see them, but rather stand up to their bullshit and bullying. I have also been advised to stop the children from going to them until they make some effort to come to us and/or include them in their wider family activities.
My reluctance is the fact I know that they wont. This will all become about me (I'm strong enough to take it) and me trying to take him away from his family again. Their actions suggest that they don't give a shit about my children but rather 'their' son but still it feels wrong to stop my children's contact especially as my OH has cousins who they love. His brothers and sisters WILL ALL take the parents side.
One other part of me is also worried about the accusation of 'trying to take him away from his family'. Although I know it's not true, part of their conditioning has also rubbed off on me and has me doubting myself.
I would really appreciate some additional perspective's.
It's a hard one really. It's your OH who needs to change his attitude. Would he be interested in counceling? It can't be pleasant to be made to feel guilty all the time.
What would you do if he refused to pick? I know someone whose partner did that and the person refused to engage (rightly so as the partner was abusive) and it all ended.
I guess counselling is a valid suggestion but if I'm honest, this many years later, I'm not particularly interested in his issues, but rather more concerned with protecting my kids.
I can guide him but I'm no longer prepared to be a support to him throughout this process. Especially since he has no issues fighting me for standing up to them, but still he is yet to say a single word in response to their bullying, attacks or shit behaviour towards the kids.
If he refused to pick I actually think I could end it. Sad I know but I need to see him be a father to his children before being a son to his.
I'd look into moving a good distance away. If you do that, you can re-set all your routines, have a fresh start with minimal contact and put into place fairly rigid contact schedules that you refuse to change.
If moving isn't an option then you need to take a break, a holiday if possible to put some space and time between yourself and his lot. Come home, establish new routines and cultivate a 'don't mess with me', persona.
Its good that you're strong and can weather all the nonsense they're sending your way; but it must be enervating for you. I know I'd get totally pissed off if it was me.
I'd seriously look into moving away....
Can you not try to detach a bit, and let your dh deal with it all? I can't see the material harm to a child in seeing one set of grandparents the day after her birthday. Standard in this house due to divorce.
They sound unpleasant but you can choose not to see them. If dh wants to, it's up to him?
I think you should stop thinking about his family's very existence and leave him to form whatever relationship for him and your children that he wishes to. Tussles at the front door need to stop, that's hideous.
Similar-ish situation with my in-laws for years final straw when ds was seriously ill in hosp and mil and sil were out partying and then didn't contact us...at all. DH called her after ds was finally discharged from hosp 10 days later and he still maintains that's ok but he was gutted that his own mother didn't give a shit.
I'm done now- seriously no parties, Xmas etc they still see the kids occasionally with DH but any effort I used to make getting everyone together finished there and then and I haven't spoken to them since. I would never stop DH seeing his own mum but he is pulling away from them himself because he can see our Dc get treated unfairly- same sort of thing the other gc get taken on hols trips out etc and have done for years- ours nothing.
No advice as such but I'm there too and it's tough but you're doing the right thing setting boundaries for your Dcs xx
Sorry but I agree with Desmond about the tussling at the door. Your kids aren't an object to be gifted to the most deserving person. I'd be glad if DP took DS off for a granny day, what's not to love.
They are not your kids alone. They are also your husband's children. Physical tussles to stop him taking them to see their grandparents is awful, you should both be ashamed of yourselves.
If the children never see their grandparents, they are never going to be included in the events you want them to be part of. There will need to be a bit of give and take - not with your relationship with the GP, but with their relationship.
You are making this all about you, but there are others to consider. You think your husband has issues, but aren't interested in getting him to work them out. What kind of marriage do you feel you're in? It doesn't sound healthy, irrespective of his parents.
I also agree with Desmond
Tusseling to stop your DH taking his children is disgraceful.
Im struggling to work out what they have done so wrong in terms of your kids. there seems a lot of tit for tat.
I'm with you all the way OP. Both you and your OH are undoubtedly regretting the tussle at the front door but these things happen when emotions are running high.
You cannot allow your OH's attitude to his parents to affect you and your children. If you're miserable your DC will sense it. Take a cold look at the whole situation and decide whether or not you want to continue with this relationship as it is. If OH isn't prepared to put you and his DC before his parents and siblings then maybe you need to think about going it alone.
And to all you MNers saying children should see their DGP try to remember that not all DGP are nice and kind. Some are toxic with devious agendas.
Eeks. OP, you don't seem very pleasant either. Both of you need to grow up and learn to live your lives.
part of me is also worried about the accusation of 'trying to take him away from his family'. Although I know it's not true
But if you told him to choose between them and you that would be true.
Personally I think you were in the wrong.
Clearly they are unreasonable and you have (quite reasonably) decided to limit your ow contact with them. However you state yourself that contact for the children was something you agreed to. You can't unilaterally change that - your DH has as much of a right to decide whether the children see his family as you do. You turning it into a near tussle by the door is completely unacceptable.
FWIW, while I agree that they sound like unpleasant unreasonable people, I think you completely over-reacting to this specific incident. They didn't come to your DC's birthday because they had a prior commitment. That's perfectly reasonable. That commitment was their own child's birthday. Again perfectly reasonable.
I understand that this comes in the context of many other incidents but you picked the wrong argument in my opinion.
Thanks for the replies. I wasn't sure about an ultimatum which is why I posted and I do feel that it is somewhat too much.
There is SOOOO much more of a back story with their treatment of me and my children. I have been able to detach quite easily and I'm really not inter about their constant stories and drama so the distance is really a win win.
My issue is the kids.
If he refused to pick I actually think I could end it.
You need to be sure you could. 100% sure and ready if you're contemplating an ultimatum. If he won't pick or picks them, you have to be able to end it. Not use it as a tool to get your own way.
You keep referring to them as "my children". They are not - they are both of your children. If you don't want to see his family that's fine, but you can't demand that he doesn't or not allow the children to.
If you don't want to see them, that's absolutely your choice but you're playing a dangerous game by forcing your husband to choose. If he picks then you absolutely have to know you'd leave or your ultimatum is pointless.
The fight at the door in front of the children should never happen again. Family birthdays are always tricky and if I was invited to two on the same day I'd go with whichever invitation came first. I don't think that particular incident was as dreadful as you're making it out to be.
Sorry posted too soon!
Thanks for the replies. I wasn't sure about an ultimatum which is why I posted and I do feel that it is somewhat too much. An ultimatum wouldn't be asking him to stop seeing them, but rather him stand up to their behaviour when it concerns me or the children. Similarly, my children going there will no longer be an automatic, but rather when they make the effort to come to them and include them in their wider family activities. But as posters have said, knowing that the GP's won't make an effort would be me stopping myDC's relationship with them.
There is SOOOO much more of a back story with their treatment of me and my children. I have been able to detach quite easily and I'm really not interested in their constant bitching, stories and drama so the distance for me is really a win win.
My issue is the kids and the message they get about themselves in that they feel less worthy compared to other family members. Honestly, the excitement they have when they think they are coming and the disappointment is heartbreaking when they don't. One of my OH's nephews came down and they were overjoyed to see him in comparison to all of their other cousins. It's like they almost couldn't believe that he had come to them. They see this cousin a lot as my OH takes them there but it's always them doing the running. It's the idolisation of them I worry about, especially in comparison to all of the other family members that DO make an effort for them. Maybe I'm thing too much and children aren't that receptive......
I understand comments about being more supportive of my OH. Ten years of this crap has lost any sympathy I did have. I really used to make effort with them, even after all the accusations and stories about me. The hardest thing for me to contend with is that things would be said in front of my OH and he wouldn't stand up for me or correct their false allegations. Till this day, rather than engage in conversations about how their treatment of the DC's is unfair, he will argue with me. All the while he has never said a word to them. I can't be in his corner if he'd rather be in theirs. I used to feel sorry for him and still supported him through all of the hurt and the guilt he was made to feel. Now I see him witness their crap towards the children and not do or say anything, I feel like I have to stand up. But maybe I'm over thinking this all.
OP are you me? My story is identical minus the physical violence. They prefer drama and emotional abuse. What ultimately happened was that my husband went to counselling to see how he could continue (or not) to be married to me seeing as i was such a cow (he was heavily influenced by his family). Anyway, the counsellor made him realise that it was his family that were emotionally abusive and were bullies. A year on he is still to go nc and is a wreck as his world has blown apart. Our marriage has never been better
I don't know about an ultimatum. I don't think it's a great idea, because I actually think your DH has been conditioned by his upbringing to avoid conflict with these people - and putting him right in the middle of one without giving him any assistance in shoring up his boundaries might be incredibly stressful and awful for him. The way to deal with a weak boundary in physical reality is not to batter it with a forceful assault. It needs to be supported and made stronger first.
I would suggest counselling instead. My DH came from an enmeshed family where he really was afraid to set any boundaries at all with his parents. He had about 12 sessions of counselling and it was transformative. It helped him to grow so much - he became far more confident in himself, and was able to start to set limits and boundaries on unreasonable behaviour.
This led to some tantrums and angst at the start, which were not at all easy to deal with. However, over the course of years, we have all moved to a much more settled, calm and respectful place. We try to meet them half way on things where we can - and if something isn't possible, we either say no or find a compromise that is more suitable.
It also enabled DH to deal more firmly with conflict at work, which led to rapid promotion. So the counselling has paid for itself hundreds of times over.
You and your kids should go NC as much as possible with them. If your DH chooses to stay enmeshed with them thats his problem, not yours.
He is choosing them over his own kids. I'd say that to him, give it a go for say 6 months then review the situation.
At the same time you should be making plans to protect yourself and leave, as a contingency plan. I think that is what the eventual outcome will be.
We're talking about a child's birthday party here and you resorted to violence over it? There are no excuses for using your children as objects of tug of war at the front door. Seriously.
At the end of the day they are his family and while they may be awful it is not up to you to decide what kind of relationship he chooses to have with them. It is also not up to you to decide that his children cannot have a relationship with them. And where exactly do the children get the idea from that you always go to them and not the other way around? Assuming they are small children it's more than likely that they have got that idea from you and nowhere else.
Stop slagging his family off in front of your children. Stop subjecting your children to being witnesses to domestic violence on your part, Go no contact with his family by all means but only you can choose to do that.
Additionally, if you actually split up He would likely get 50% access at which times he can take his children where he wants including to see his family, so how exactly do you think that giving him an ultimatum is protecting them?
You sound as bad as his family.
WannaBe Just to quote, I said "which resulted in a near tussle to stop him".....
Resulted in violence is slightly over the top!
I have never slagged off his family in front of them.
Where did you get any of this?
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