To ask how you manage a relationship with in-laws you dislike?(87 Posts)
I didn’t want to use the word ‘hate’, but honestly I’m not far off. We’re going to visit them tomorrow (FIL & step-MIL) and I’m dreading it - my anxiety has been steadily ramping up all week, and honesty I feel sick at the thought of staying there overnight. I’ve posted on here before about how dysfunctional DH’s relationship is with them, but there’s no chance of going no contact, so... how do you manage it when you have to see them?
They are emotionally unavailable, make no effort to contact us or visit us, no effort to build a relationship with DS (which means when we do visit he’s clingy and I’m sure they think I’m a massively overprotective mother ). They have extremely differing views to me, and will often say things that they know I find offensive or upsetting - about killing animals, LGBT+ rights, fucking Brexit, etc. They will often sit in silence which I find uncomfortable, and I live on my nerves when we are there - every time I give myself a talking to, but I still find it so stressful. Help!
DH has also just mentioned that step-SIL will be there, no doubt being her usual judgey, self-righteous self (she hasn’t got kids so of course she know everything about being a parent )
What’s the point of visiting if they are like that and aren’t even fond of their son? What good will come of it? If they make no effort to see you, why does your DP insist on visiting and stressing your DS?
I don’t see the point and would be refusing if I was you,
@HotSauceCommittee we visit to keep the relationship alive I guess- DH would never consider going no contact with his dad, it would break his heart (even though he acknowledges the relationship is dysfunctional). And I would never be the one to say stop seeing them, I don’t think any good would come of that (and it would forever be my fault). I feel like it’s a case of trying to manage it as best we can.
Why are you putting yourself and DS through this? DH is old enough to make up his own mind, and clearly they've done a job on him over the years, if he still wants to see them after all you've said. But I wouldn't be going. What kind of message does this send your son? 'People can be really horrible to you, but you have to suck it up and try to get them to like you'. I don't mean to be nasty: I've had something similar. MIL's DH (not my DH's DF) is a real arsehole. He's a real misogynist and deliberately tries to wind me up with his sexist shit. He's also homophobic and racist. I haven't had to engage with him now for probably 2 years … and it's wonderful. We refuse to go to MIL's house anymore, so she comes here, alone, if she wants to see the DC (we live close by). She's not that interested in them, tbh, but shows her face every 6 weeks or so. I used to get so agitated whenever I had to deal with them, but now it's so much nicer. I really don't understand why so many posters try to force a relationship with people who clearly don't give a damn. You say you're trying to keep the relationship alive: but this is a toxic relationship. Does it matter if they blame you? Who would care, really? I started standing up for my family and if ILs want to blame me, well they can get on with it. Your ILs are treating you all badly because you are allowing them to.
Have a very similar situation with my in-laws. DH isn't ready to go NC, but visits are pretty miserable.
I get through it by plastering a smile on my face, planning frequent escapes and focusing on DD. We go for walks when it gets too much or just make excuses to go out somewhere. MIL gets very upsetting, but frankly, I've grown to not care. She doesn't care about upsetting me or keeping DD safe (they have an old and very snappy dog that takes priority) so I don't care about keeping her happy.
It's hard though, I am also very anxious in the run up to any visit at all. I don't feel that they enrich DDs life in any way so it feels like a wasted weekend to me.
If your DH wants to foster this “relationship”, he needs to do it alone and stop involving you in the stress.
What would happen if you told your DH that you just weren’t visiting them anymore? Would he understand?
Maybe you try looking for good and building on it? Take a completely different tack and be more engaged? Relationships work two ways. Your anxiety and near hatred isn’t going to help. Accept people are allowed different viewpoints. Just say you’ll have have to agree to differ on your views.
Break the negative cycle. Look for positives. Take control and suggest walking to the park to give your son a runaround as he’s been in the car a long time. Bake a cake to take. Suggest your husband and his father go for a pre supper drink at a local pub. Think about what they’d like instead of thinking of yourself and how’ve you feel.
I don’t 🤷♀️
I gave up trying. They’re always going to dislike me and have the opposite view on everything. So I don’t visit and they don’t visit me either. DH sees them with the DC.
No point in spending time with people you dislike.
I totally hear what you’re saying @Piffle11, but honestly I would feel like I was throwing DH to the wolves if I made him go alone! Also, their behaviour has been insidious over the course of 10+ years - there’s never been one single awful thing that is enough for me to say, enough. It’s just the constant drip drip of comments and behaviour. They would be shocked if I said anything, as they wouldn’t see anything wrong with their behaviour (although they have form for falling out with other family members). DH feels there’s no point in saying anything as they will never change.
@CherryPavlova this has been going on for over 10 years, and believe me I have been nothing but sweet as pie to them. I would never even be this open with DH, as I don’t want him to have the additional stress of worrying about me when we’re there (although he knows I don’t particularly like them and find it hard to be there). Also, I’m not sure how helpful it is to suggest someone who is in a negative relationship should be the one responsible for changing it
That's so sad. Then maybe if they're silent, be silent. Get your phone out and appear engrossed in it. Make as little effort as they do - and if you feel something has been said deliberately to wind you up, just look at them vaguely, then smile. As though you weren't listening. It's great for your DH that you have his back: hopefully at some point he will be able to come to terms with how they are and back off. Good luck for tomorrow (and any future visits).
Check out mentally. When you get there, think of your favourite film and run through it from start to finish. It will distract you from the inevitable offensive comments they are going to make. You sound thoughtful, and I don’t mean this in a rude way, sensitive. They probably believe that their opinions are right. It’s their house so they are entitled to that. They probably know they piss you off and are looking to prod you. Don’t take the bait.
Kill them with kindness.
If your DH is the one who wants to keep the relationship alive, then why shouldn't he go alone? I wouldn't bother with people like that.
I’m not sure how helpful it is to suggest someone who is in a negative relationship should be the one responsible for changing it
Well then who is going to change it? FIL and MIL are who they are, not likely to change, your DH won't do anything to change this dynamic and you are going along with it too, so if you keep doing the same things nothing is going to change.
I have been in your position with IL's, the favourite pastime was to call me a loser and failure. And you know they were right, I was the loser tolerating their mistreatment of me in the name of "family harmony", so I just don't go any more and they are shocked I will no longer lie on the floor and allow them to wipe their feet on me like a good little doormat.
This has been going on over 10+ years because you have allowed it to. Put an end to it now. Tell Dh that you are not going and if he wants to go then let him off. Seriously, you are a grown woman. You don't need to put up with this shit and neither does your Dh, but he can decide for himself. You won't be throwing him to the wolves as he can just as easily decide not to go. What's the worst that can happen - you don't see them again - happy days!
So you’ve made the choice to go in order to help dh. The best way is to ‘own’ that choice and stop acting like a victim in it all. I don’t mean it rudely, but just in a way to change your mindset and go in strong.
Suggest a walk, find out about the area and see if there’s anything you want to see. Mention it to in laws.
When they sit in silence, either think of something to say (have a few stock phrases) or make an excuse and leave the room. Think of your excuses beforehand so you’re ready to spring into action.
When you start feeling anxious, pick a colour and find 5 things in that room in that colour. Pick another and do it again until you feel calm or able to leave the room.
@ILiveInSalemsLot I appreciate the advice, there are some really helpful ideas there. The IL’s rarely leave their property, so our suggestions to go out and do something are usually brushed off (with ‘reasons’ they can’t go). Sometimes DH and I go alone and have a day out, and then the visit is rendered even more pointless as we haven’t even spent any time with them! Honestly - and this is terrible to say - but I almost wish they would do/say something bad enough for me to put my foot down, but when it’s constant little things it’s hard to find the point that you say ‘no more’.
At arms length.
We don't visit when FIL is there now. We did this for about 6 months, then we let it slide. We ignore him most of the time. He encourages him to work away from home, so he can "get a little girlfriend" he faux snores when I speak, recently he was very rude to DH too. So DH has finally said we will just avoid him from now on. If he's pulled up on his shit he cries because I'm so horrible and I just upset him. And he dramatically then turns to my husband and tells him how I've never been anything but trouble.
I get where you're coming from, I'd seriously limit it to the smallest period of time you have to be there, ignore the sly digs, don't show them you're annoyed and just tell them how positive your life is every time they say something negative say something really positive you've recently experienced.
Stop being sweet as pie seriously. Call them out on their shitty views. Unless you stop going I can’t think how else this will change tbh.
You put on a performance. And limit the amount of time you spend there. We always stayed in a hotel when we visited, so out of a weekend, we would end up spending 6-8 hours with them - they always seemed quite keen for us to take the DC off swimming etc., although I did feel guilty.
I've subsequently found out how appalling their behaviour was towards their DC (including DH), and I cope with my occasional visits to MIL by treating her with the care and sympathy I would any elderly, sick person, but don't waste any of my emotion on her.
My relationship with them has always been an act - something my DM noticed many years ago. Fortunately they live miles away.
Honestly, I just don't go anymore. I can't be in their presence without feeling massively anxious, intimidated and just want to leave. So I just don't go anymore and avoid all contact. My husband still brings the children to visit which is fine.
Don't go. Let DH go on his own, with or without DC.
It really is as simple as that. Not your circus, not your monkeys.
Some practical suggestions:
- I agree you need to own your decision to visit
- I agree with getting out for walks etc when you’re there - it doesn’t make the visit pointless if you’re not with the PILs every second
- I essentially carry on with my usual routine with the kids eg if PILs are silent I do jigsaws on the floor with the kids - actually I think they quite like watching rather than participating
- Bring a book or whatever so you have something to do if they’re silent in the evening
- Find some uncontroversial topics for conversation eg Eastenders or whatever
- Talk to the kids about racist comments etc - ‘Granny is wrong about that but in the olden days lots of people thought that even though it was wrong’
- Invite PILs to less painful meet ups eg invite them to come to the kids’ gymnastics show or whatever with you - even if they decline you are doing your bit which should help your husband feel he doesn’t have to go for the weekend so often
Good luck you sound like a lovely wife
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