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Can someone please talk to me about my FIL? (long)

(18 Posts)
fingerbiter Thu 18-Oct-12 10:54:13

Regular who has namechanged just in case for this one. 'D'H and I having counselling for our own issues, but one big area of concern for me is related to his Dad. I've struggled with him for years and don't really know how to handle it.

To avoid drip-feeding, this is the story. On the surface FIL seems a very sweet person, but not blessed with many braincells or social tact and seems to care only about himself. He was raised by a very domineering mother who trained him to do what he's told and as a result he takes no responsibility for his actions (and is treated like a lazy kid by my DH and his family). He and DH's Mum got divorced when he was 11, and FIL raised him (very badly may I add, buying him alcohol from the age of 13 and letting him get away with everything). Their relationship is such that DH acts more like the parent and FIL the child - DH will tell him off or get annoyed and FIL will just grin and shrug and say stuff like "Oops there I go again."

As FIL is incapable of making his own decisions about things, he ALWAYS has to be in a relationship (divorced twice, countless girlfriends and right now he has 2 on the go at once). He also likes to play 'happy families' so every time he gets a new girlfriend, DH & me have to meet up and spend time with them etc until they break up and he moves on to the next one. It made me uncomfortable but I put up with it until DC was born - now both DH and I refuse to see any of these women until he's been with them for a while.

When we got married 3 years ago FIL caused a massive fuss as he wanted to bring his new girlfriend along (we hadn't met her before, they'd been together 3 weeks at the time and they're not together now). We said no. We then got a very nasty letter from DH's Nan (FIL's Mum), and the whole family made it very difficult, backstabbing, sarky comments on the day, the works. FIL refused to smile in any photos on the day. TBH I've never forgiven him as we never got an apology.

FIL is a decorator by trade so whenever we get a room done in our house DH insists we use him, and we have to pay him his going rate. FIL fits us in around his other jobs which is inconvenient, and isn't very good at what he does so I'm usually left not liking his work but being unable to say anything about it. In the past he makes lots of comments to his family, our neighbours and anyone who'll listen about how we 'keep dragging him here to do jobs' (which is rare, last time he came was about 6 months ago and tbh I wouldn't use him at all given the option!). I think he just likes the attention.

DC is nearly 2, and before she was born FIL bought this massive boat (the remote control kind) as our sole baby gift, the thing was huge so I insisted he keep it at his house. He's never offered to babysit DC and when he comes to see us we end up waiting on him hand and foot (with dinner etc) as he won't go home. He's a very selfish person. Before xmas last year FIL kept dropping hints about how he had nowhere to go for xmas so DH invited him to ours for the first time. He turned up on the day with nothing, ate all the food, drank all the drink and went home again. So bloody rude.

Anyway, DH is as annoyed as I am by FIL's behaviour, but refuses point blank to ever say anything, and just shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes. I'm annoyed with DH for expecting us (not just me) to put up with it, in fact he gets angry with me if I complain or make any comment. He expects me just to say nothing and put up with it and play this 'happy families' game. I've managed to distance myself from FIL (DH will usually take DC up to see him) but tbh I can't get him far enough away!

I could go on and on about things he's done down the years. Any advice?

fingerbiter Thu 18-Oct-12 10:56:50

Oh, and DH has always said that when FIL gets old (he's 60) he will come and live with us - as due to his financial mismanagment (no savings, rents, but still manages to have several foreign holidays a year) he won't be able to afford anything else. I think I'd rather hang myself than live with the man.

fiventhree Thu 18-Oct-12 11:19:27

Your DH seems to have some funny ideas if he tells you what will happen in future, rather than sees it as a joint decision.

Your FIL sounds foul- an irresponsible man afraid of women whilst constantly chasing them, who thinks he has redeemed himself and become a hero because he badly and lazily raised his kids in later years.

I think you have a difficult problem, because the real problem is your h and the complex relationship he has with his dad.

You say that your h has parented him, and it seems that way, sort of. But also your h wont stand up to him, and have a man to man conversation with him about his behaviour.

I think the key thing is to set some boundaries with your h about what is reasonable in your lives/house/with your kids, and get to agree that you are both responsible for managing those boundaries, and how.

If thats all too much, maybe counselling for you both?

fiventhree Thu 18-Oct-12 11:22:25

It is the father as victim rather as responsible adult that your FIL likes to play.

I expect he has done it for years, and expects people to pander to it.

Tbh my mother played the female version of the same game. They do that 'oh, arent I awful/incapable act when they have let you down, but they can be vicious when defied, I find.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 18-Oct-12 11:28:16

Toxic crap like this often seeps down the generations with the results being what you see now.

Your DH is also a part of this problem because he is still acting as parent to FIL who is still acting in a childlike state and selfish with it. He knows too that all he has to do is make his son feel a bit sorry for him and son then bends over backwards for him. Your DH ultimately has to cut him loose or he'll be a thorn in your side for the rest of your days.

Why does DH feel this inherent need to parent his Dad now?. He has also been conditioned into accepting such a role and the family also have gone along with the well FILs a twit/incapable of looking after himself. I think your FIL is far more manipulative than anything else. All of this has to be addressed by your DH through counselling.

It goes without saying as well that both of you need clear boundaries with regards to his Dad/your FIL and you need to present a united front with regards to this person. As for FIL moving in with you when he is old, why exactly does your DH think this is a good idea?. When you objected what was his response?.

fingerbiter Thu 18-Oct-12 11:38:40

Thanks for the responses so far. In answer to a few things.

fiventhree DH and I are having couples counselling (there are other issues that I post about under my usual NN) but this is a topic that simply isn't allowed to come up. You're right that FIL wants to be seen to be a hero, but for what exactly I don't know. And you're absolutely right about him playing the victim role! It was the whole wedding incident that made me realise how vicious and manipulative he could be. DH has unfortunately learnt how to play the victim from him as there are times when he does the same.

Attila, agree with you that DH has been conditioned, the rest of his family keep FIL at arm's length most of the time so DH feels a need to be his shoulder as he has no-one else (DH has no siblings and his Mum is estranged). He feels responsible for his Dad and in that respect I feel sorry for him, it can't be easy having a parent who is more child than you are.

As for FIL moving in when he's old, DH's response to my objection was that he 'wouldn't see his Dad in the gutter'. I pointed out that his Dad fritters his money away on booze and holidays, but I think DH still feels responsible for him.

Agree with you both about needing clear boundaries, but what do I do when DH just wants me to keep quiet and let FIL do whatever he wants?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 18-Oct-12 11:51:33

You have to tackle FIL directly I'm afraid. He needs to know that he may be able to pull the wool over other people's eyes but you see him for what he is. When you get the opportunity, therefore, you give him the 'I know your little game old man and I'm not falling for it' speech. Don't complain to your DH or anyone else.... address him directly.

When it comes to your DH also be straight. No more dear old Dad doing the painting your house... it's your house, you're paying, you book the decorator. He is not coming to stay when he retires.... start that conversation very early . DH and everyone else may have been conditioned and they're all going to be up in arms but stand your ground or be steamrollered into it.

MyDonkeysAZombie Thu 18-Oct-12 12:23:12

I think you're on a hiding to nothing trying to change your DH's view of his father so start manning the barricades.

In practical terms how long do you reckon before the issue of FIL moving in beomes a real possibility? If he is always partnered up you may find that he won't really want to move in with you and DH and DC(s). He may well get serious with a girlfriend and move in with her. It's almost worth cultivating the nicer of his girlfriends to get her on side, if that's not too devious.

Do you live in a big enough place to accommodate your FIL as well as you 3?
Do you have older members from your own side of the family who might require somewhere to live? If DH says his dad will live with you eventually, you could say oh yes, if there's room what with my parent/sibling/whoever. Sidestep any prospect of FIL sitting being waited on hand and foot by you by remarking that it'll be great when he can help you all out by doing his share of housework, babysitting etc.

On the bright side, perhaps FIL and his baby gift (!) will remain living separately. In the meantime have a go decorating your home yourself, if and when the need arises, stay civil but don't pander to FIL.

TiAAAAARGHo Thu 18-Oct-12 12:30:50

The answer to "he'll be coming to live with us" is, I'm afraid, "no he ducking won't and if you try it you'll be living with him on your own". You have to put your foot down and make it clear that you are not happy and won't be a doormat.

TiAAAAARGHo Thu 18-Oct-12 12:31:28

* fucking

I'm being censored by autocorrect now!

fiventhree Thu 18-Oct-12 12:59:02

DH and I are having couples counselling (there are other issues that I post about under my usual NN) but this is a topic that simply isn't allowed to come up

Isnt allowed??

There isnt any point in counselling if you arent allowed to raise critical issues. And this is critical, because your h learned how to be a man from his father, as one does.

I think Cogito has pointed to something too, which is that you are not managing your own boundaries. I think you need to speak up and particularly to stand your ground more with your h about what you are prepared to tolerate. Just because your h argues back, it doesnt mean you have lost the debate.

Anyway, fgs, who would look after FIL in practice- I think we all know the answer to that one. Your DH has not noticed that although he should never have been put in a position to parent his own father, that does not mean he should parent you.

Demand equality, and make sure you get it.

(and I very much say this as someone who has complained against a strong man for years, and in practice given in...you can change!)

fiventhree Thu 18-Oct-12 13:00:58

To answer the specific question, I would raise it at counselling, and also tell DH that if what he wants is more important than negotiating a joint agreement, he should tell you now. So you can make alternative plans.

Inertia Thu 18-Oct-12 13:05:22

Your DH is your problem.

Your FIL is a twat, but your DH should be putting your and your children first.

You don't have to use your FIL to decorate. You don't even need to tell him about what you're doing in your house. DH doesn't get to insist. In your position, I'd be telling DH that you've used FIL before, paid full rates, and the work hasn't been up to standard so next time you'll get recommendations and use somebody else. You do not need to defer to your DH.

I'd also be telling DH that if he wants to live with his dad he'd be moving out to do it.

fingerbiter Thu 18-Oct-12 13:54:12

Thanks for all the responses guys, it's appreciated. I get much better advice here than I ever do in RL. smile

I like Cogitos idea of tackling FIL directly. I don't see him much but I'm sure I can get it into conversation when I do. My only concern is that he would run and tell DH (he knows we're having marital issues).

R.e. the decorating, the last two rooms (done in the last 18 months) have been done by me and my Mum, I'm more than capable of doing it and I enjoy it. DH got the hump, I told him we couldn't afford to use his Dad. He has suggested recently about getting FIL to paint the front of the house, I said no. So he does back down, but still goes running to FIL for his 'advice' when it comes to anything paint related.

Zombie - FIL is 60 so not really aiming for retirement yet, but he's self-employed and I know his eyesight is starting to go, plus he doesn't do much work that requires a ladder anymore. It won't be more than a few years that he'll have to hang up his paintbrushes, and he has no pension or other source of income. Practically, we don't have space for him, or anyone else (and I don't really want my parents living with us at any stage either). I did tell DH if he wanted to live with FIL he can do so but I won't be living there.

fiventhree, you're right about boundaries, and the counselling. I am attempting to be more assertive, but as I'm sure you know, it's difficult when you get shouted down. Counselling has become a forum for DH to rant about his needs, and I'm trying to take the focus back.

I'm both pleased (and surprised) that you've all seen through the kind of man FIL is when he seems to have fooled so many people in RL.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 18-Oct-12 14:03:12

"My only concern is that he would run and tell DH (he knows we're having marital issues)."

Don't let that put you off. Say what you need to say, tell the truth and you'll never regret it. I'm not sure how many marriages fail because the DIL told the FIL he was taking the piss but I can't imagine it's all that many.

fingerbiter Thu 18-Oct-12 14:12:47

Thanks Cogito. And tbh, if our marriage does fail it'll be because of more things than me telling FIL what I think of him!

fiventhree Thu 18-Oct-12 14:16:28

Well practice being assertive by saying to the counsellor/in the session that you feel shouted down.

There is a good book on managing boundaries by Cloud and Thompson, and Frank Pittman in masculinity is excellent.

fingerbiter Thu 18-Oct-12 14:38:58

Thanks fiventhree, I will look those up smile

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