Advanced search

to be cross with my FIL for talking to my local vicar about my and DH's marriage problems without my knowledge?

(26 Posts)
chattyvicar Thu 10-Jul-08 11:22:31

DH and I have had problems for some time.

FIL has recently sent me an-mail, offering his views on our marriage, suggesting that we are heading for divorce and giving us lots of tips on counselling, our "moral" obligations regarding the children etc.

He means well, but from my point of view one of the biggest problems in our marriage has in fact been the over interference of my ILs and my DH's rather childlike dependence on them, eg he will phone up his Dad if a lightbulb needs changing.

Another big issue has been money, as DH is a compulsive spender who has taken us into serious levels of debt repeatedly. He has been like this since a teenager, so his parents are aware of it, but they have chosen to blank it out since he got married and now see all our problems as my fault because I am a stroppy and difficult person.

Anyway, FIL's e-mail ended with his suggestion that we attend a marriage counselling appointment with our local vicar, who FIL "has met" and who will prove an inspiraton to us. FIL lives an hour away from us, is not religious in any way and has never attended our local church except for one Christening 2 years ago. We live in a small village where everyone knows everyone, I see the vicar regularly at our mother and toddler group where he quite enjoys a good chat and even a bit of a gossip...

In his e-mail, FIL provided me with various statistics about divorce including the 8 year trouble spot, the big breakthrough at 10 years when the difficulties recede and there is "light at the end of the tunnel" and the fact that having a 3rd child enormously increases your chances of a divorce. What FIL doesn't know is that I am aware that this is all "straight out of the horses's mouth" of the vicar, who has a bit of an obsession about divorce and gives talks on the subject all the time including a chart which has graphs showing the 8 year trouble spot and the 3rd child danger zone.

Therefore I am pretty sure that FIL has taken it upon himself to have a very personal chat with our local gossip vicar who I will now have the embarrassment of coming across at various village and church events.

AIBU in being pissed off with this?

ZacharyQuack Thu 10-Jul-08 11:32:06


Both your FIL and DH need a good slapping. Are all the men in their family such gossippy interfereing old biddies?

LuLuMacGloo Thu 10-Jul-08 11:33:26

Blimey. Yes- I would be very pissed off. Your FIL might be well intentioned but it really is none of his business.

chuggabopps Thu 10-Jul-08 11:35:25

i am sorry to hear you are having difficulty but to look at it another way- the man is so concerned he has gone out of his way to find someone to offer you help in a way that he himself can't. A vicar is traditionally a confidante, and although may not have relationship experience to draw on of his own, is an external viewpoint that could offer you, and your husband a fresh perspective, whereas the FIL is too close to be able to offer you that. If FIL were doing this to try to split you up for his own purposes then i would say it was interfering, but it seems to come from concern for you both as a couple.

LazyLinePainterJane Thu 10-Jul-08 11:39:14

I assume that your FIL is privy to this information thanks to your DH? Is this a case of your DH needing someone to confide in, or (as I suspect, as you mentioned) just another sign of his dependence on his family?

I would be speaking to FIL, saying that you know DH is rather dependent on them and can't help talking about your marriage to him but you would rather he kept it to himself. It doesn't sound like your DH is going to be telling him to butt out any time soon.

Have you been to relate?

LadyThompson Thu 10-Jul-08 11:41:33

No, you aren't. No wonder your DH is dependent on his folks - his dad is an interfering old twonk. However...he IS a twonk that basically means well, so do try to bear that in mind: even though it's outrageous that he spoke about your personal problems to your own vicar (!!) try not to let your anger get the better of you (hard, I know, cos I'd be fuming) and try to concentrate on the fact that, deep down, he really cares and is clearly desperate to help. I would then do the following three things:

1. Have a quiet word with your FIL and say you are glad he cares, but this is something for you and your DH to sort out, and you are frankly embarrassed that he has gone to your local vicar as he is a little indiscreet.

2. See the Vicar and say you understand that your FIL has approached him, it is very private and it is not something you want to discuss with him or have discussed in the village at large. Be polite but firm.

3. Most to your DH about all this (see if you can get him on side about his dad blabbing to the vicar!) and if you aren't getting anywhere talking about your problems, try to get him to agree to attend formal counselling with you. The whole point of counselling is that it is professional and independent. UNLIKE your sodding local vicar. It is a forum where you can get resentments aired and talked through properly. It is constructive - unlike rowing, and you have also got an adjudicator!

Good luck, and I really feel for you.

Carmenere Thu 10-Jul-08 11:45:40

Hmm this is interesting, my first insticnt was fury, how dare he ect and my second was that why on earth is he still trying to parent your dh as a middle aged man, but the third agrees with Chugga he is (very misguidedly and clumsily) trying to help.
I would probably reply to him saying that you have already spoken to your vicar (technicaly true) and you don't feel that you need spiritual guidence in this matter. And then gently suggest that although you appreciate his concern (I know, I know) that you and dh are adults and that you need breathing space to figure things out yourself.
If he persists in interfering then I would be more forceful.

chattyvicar Thu 10-Jul-08 12:12:05

Thanks everyone. This is actually part of a long line of over involvement and some not so nice interference on his part (for example I've seen some very personal e-mails about me passing between DH and him). He is very much a "blood is thicker than water" type of man, and his actions aren't really thinking of me (it's a bit too complicated to get into here).

The best thing he could do to help us, imo, would actually be to back off and to see less of us and not expect that his default plan every weekend and holiday is to spend it with us. He is actually divorced from my MIL (very acrimoniously), although they are now back together but not fully and with a lot of tension and unresolved issues. I think that their grown up children (DH and his sister) and our children are the glue that holds them together, but it's not helping me and DH.

Another thing he does is to control his children through money. They both regularly get into a financial mess and he bails them out and makes excuses, until the next time.

I just wish he had taken advice from a vicar miles away, or a counsellor, just not someone on our doorstep. I actually do feel like I don't want to step inside the Church again.

justabout Thu 10-Jul-08 12:18:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

branflake81 Thu 10-Jul-08 13:48:31

Actually, I think your FIL is very concerned and has both your best interests at heart. He may not have gone about it in the best way, but I don't believe his email is malicious. I think he sounds very kind hearted and wants to support you both.

girlywhirly Thu 10-Jul-08 14:01:20

Sounds like FIL is over-compensating for his own marital problems by trying to manipulate yours. He could well be concerned on a purely selfish level, that if you and DH do divorce, he will not have as much contact with grandchildren, or a comfortable place to hang out when he feels like it (your home) It suits him to have DH dependent because he can play the doting, bountiful father. Obviously, as a strong woman who he cannot control you are going to seem difficult and stroppy to him.

Try to persuade DH to go to counselling, there are many things you need to discuss, and at least it will be confidential. At least you will be able to air your feelings without a row. You are quite rightly worried about DH lack of financial sense, and maybe a complete stranger may get him to see how this impacts on your marriage, and his relationship with his parents.

If the vicar has divulged any personal information discussed in confidence, as gossip, he is most unprofessional. I would not want to take advice from such a person.

YANBU. Good luck.

staranise Thu 10-Jul-08 14:11:47

YANBU, you poor thing, I would be furious. Your FIL might be well-intentioned but it sounds like he needs to get his own marriage sorted out before meddling in his children's. I really don't believe that parents or PILs are the best people to help with marriage problems as they are inevitably biaised one way or the other and not an objective source of advice.

Sounds like counselling could help you and your DH but go to a professional, not a gossipy vicar who you see socially.

chattyvicar Thu 10-Jul-08 14:16:43

DH and I have already had about 6 counselling sessions. We were able to discuss our money problems and in-laws, and at the end of it the counsellor told him that I was being reasonable and that DH had some "attachment issues" with regard to his birth family. DH didn't want to go back again. We also discussed this with FIL, and he told me that the counsellor's advice did not "suit him"(!!), presumeably because she agreed with me that seeing ILs twice a week and all family holidays was too much.

chattyvicar Thu 10-Jul-08 14:24:28

agree staranise and girlywhirly. FIL and MIL had a very acrimonious divorce and didn't speak for 10 years despite having 2 children together, so hardly a marriage expert imo.

I think they want DH to be like his sister, who is 34, single and never had a boyfriend and no job either. She just lives at home with her mother all day, going shopping and having lunch out. They love spending time with the grandchildren, but just think of me as a bit of a nuisance in the way.

FIL is not at all objective, so I don't think he should be putting his 2 pennies in especially with someone so close to home. It would be like my mother phoning or e-mailing DH with her opinions- she has some very strong ones (in my favour of course) but it wouldn't occur to her in a million years to air them to him.

scanner Thu 10-Jul-08 14:30:04

I'd do some research on the influence of overinvolved pil's and reply to his email with some choice phrases.

CarGirl Thu 10-Jul-08 14:30:43

Perhaps you could ask your dh how he and his Dad would feel if you had told your Mum x y z about him and that you spend all that time with her etc (ie if the tables were reversed) does he have an opinion on that?

Sounds like you're in a very difficult place!

weekendsoon Thu 10-Jul-08 14:36:28

YANB (at all) U. This makes me v angry. Had a similar thing myself with PIL who have repeatedly discussed our marriage problems with dh (ironic on many levels as here too they are the major issue and they have been v unhappily married for decades). They apparently asked him if we were having counselling and instead of politely telling them to mind their own business, he said yes. Maybe not a big deal, but I consider even the fact that we were to be confidential. It made me feel that things we said during sessions would also be passed on, and I decided I couldn't continue going. Actually things have picked up between dh and me of their own accord, but I do sympathise - interfering inlaws are a nightmare.

I agree that you need to speak to dh and get him to pass on some ground rules - this is your issue, no one else's. Good luck.

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Thu 10-Jul-08 14:36:43

I think the problem is your dh really. He needs to set the boundaries.

LadyThompson Thu 10-Jul-08 14:50:28

Oh gosh. Could you persuade your DH to try a different counsellor? (Besides, if second counsellor says same as first, it might hit home a bit with DH!) I'm just really sorry for you. DH needs to pull his socks up and start a) acting his age and b) backing you, but I should think with his upbringing it's always going to be something he is going to find hard. Is he able to compromise AT ALL? Can you start taking baby steps towards getting him to be more independent (a weekend away without them, say?)

chattyvicar Thu 10-Jul-08 15:37:18

yes, I totally agree that the fundamental problem is my DH. It's very difficult- he is a bit of an ostrich.

I like the advice about research and "choice phrases". I can be good at that (having been a lawyer pre-children) so will bombard FIL with psychobabble research findings which amount to "f**k off" in layman's terms.

EffiePerine Thu 10-Jul-08 15:43:23

I'd move. Not to get away from your vicar but to get further away from your FIL. About 100 miles is the mimimum for interfering parents IME.

I would agree with the overcompensating thing too - my sister was outraged to get a long letter from my grandfather on how to bring up her children - he was never around for his own kids (ebing in the forces) and had extramarital affairs, so hardly a moral arbiter. Grrrrr.

girlywhirly Thu 10-Jul-08 16:58:39

I'd start by limiting the visits by PILS and stop going on holiday with them if at all possible. The problem is getting DH to agree to stand up to his father and present a united front with you. Is he afraid of him, do you think, or does he like things the way they are?

chattyvicar Thu 10-Jul-08 18:16:12

DH likes things the way they are. I think ideally he'd move his parents into a granny flat with us or something. As for moving away, that would be lovely but would mean moving away from my mum as well and not really fair on children who are at school.

LadyThompson Thu 10-Jul-08 18:20:42

Well, he may well like things the way they are, but there are two of you in this marriage, not just him...I definitely think a short break away, just the two of you, so you can do some talking but try to remember what you liked about each other in the first place. Cliched, I know, but it sometimes works.

beaniesteve Thu 10-Jul-08 18:45:54

I'd be pissed off but have you thought about going through the email and responding bit by bit and documenting how your husband's immiturity and debt problems have led you to this point?

I mean if your FIL thinks it is fine to lecture you, then surely it's perfectly reasonable for you to be frank with him.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now