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Husband and father at each other's throats

(26 Posts)
Isesgirl Tue 13-Nov-12 23:14:41

I have four-year old twins (b/g). I work part-time and my husband works full-time. My parents have the children when we are both at work. My not working is not an option financially but I also enjoy the break and the chance to use my brain a bit and be with other adults.

My husband is a GREAT father. He puts the children to bed every night and does stories and I listen to them squeal with delight and giggle. On a weekend, he gets down on the floor with them and builds and draws and .. you get the picture.

My parents are GREAT grandparents. They teach the children tons, they take them on long walks and to the park, they sit for hours with them reading and writing and playing, they do everything good grandparents should. Occasionally there are differences in how they would do something but if I say we do it "this" way, they adapt and "do it our way".

But for some reason, my husband and dad just seem to constantly be spoiling for a fight. My dad seems to think my husband doesn't do enough, or do it right and my husband resents those implications and in turn, constantly picks at how my dad does things and reads WAAAY too much into everything my dad says, turns it into an attack on him (husband) when it wasn't...

It's just a constant eggshell-walk, just waiting for the next one to happen. Which was tonight. We go to pick them up, lovely scene, dad sitting doing letter-writing with them, everyone happy, just had their tea. We start packing up their stuff, dad says, "Take DS1 to the loo". We ask DS1 if he needs to go, he says no, dad says, "take him anyway". We're like, "Uh.. no, if he says he doesn't want to go, he's good". He doesn't have accidents, takes himself off quite well every time. "Well, when they're here, we take them anyway...." at which point DS1 decides he DOES need a wee and asks me to go with him to choose a sticker for his wall.

We'd barely left the room when I could hear raised voices so I make DS1 do the quickest wee ever and we go back to a simmering room, you know what I mean, it's there, it's going to happen any minute...

Husband starts getting DD1's shoes at the same time as my dad shows me her school book and starts talking to her about the comments in her reading book. Dad doesn't hear husband ask DD1 to come and put her shoes on, husband doesn't hear dad talking to DD1 about her book. Husband mutters about dad distracting DD1 from coming to put her shoes on, dad retorts with, "What are you saying?!" and BAM... off it goes again.

Husband dresses DD1 and slams out to the car yelling as he goes. Dad yells at him and then throws all these accusations at me about how my husband is a bully and has loads of things (he doesn't, his hobby is computer games and he has a good few of those) and I have nothing (mine is reading and last count I had over 300 books, which my dad well knows as he's forever commenting on it!).

I know, I know, it's an argument over absolutely NOTHING. Again. But now there will be this simmering resentment as they pass in doorways and I'll be watching both of them for signs that it's brewing again. My mum wasn't there tonight (another family drama elsewhere!) but other times when she is, she tries to be peacemaker with my dad and I try with my husband.

I'm not stupid, I KNOW families don't always get on like the Christmas movies but is it really asking too much for the two of them to realise that they both love the children more than life itself and to just STOP this senseless headbutting, accept the other's good points and just walk away if things seem to be heating up?! I try to appeal to them to see where they're putting me (AND the children!) - in the middle, torn between two people we all love but it just turns into, "well if HE didn't...." like they're both six or something.

We've had sit-downs, we've done the "writing letters" to try to settle things and peace reigns for a few months and then it begins again. For me, there is fault on both sides (as I opened with).

I'm just at a loss. I want to threaten them BOTH with something that will make them stop and think - but what? I can't (and wouldn't) take the children away from any of them so what else is there?

I don't expect them to be bosom buddies, I just want a dignified peace and a stable environment for my children to be in...

Kewcumber Tue 13-Nov-12 23:21:31

I use my mother for child care so I have some experience...

Why are you both going to pick the children up? Go on your own for a while - they can;t argue if they don;t see each other.

Your Df sounds very interfering - I'd resent those kind of comments from my own mother never mind from an inlaw. It isn't an argument over nothing. Your DF needs ot keep his opinions to himself and your DH needs to wait in the car to hurry the leaving process along.

Isesgirl Tue 13-Nov-12 23:27:30

I don't drive (trust me, I've tried and better tried, it's not happening!). Mostly my parents bring the children back to ours but tonight they were meant to be staying over at my parents' (usual Tuesday night arrangement as I work early Wednesday, means they don't have to be at our house at 6 am) but we had to go and get them to bring them back as something came up with my sister.

Them avoiding each other is practically impossible - and quite frankly, why the hell should that happen? What are they showing the children? That two (alleged) grown adults can't behave themselves when they're in the same room? When I get home from work I want to talk about the day with my parents and the children, what they've done, eaten, any problems blah ... before they go home - am I supposed to either send dad to the car to wait for mum or my husband upstairs until they leave? This is INSANITY!

My dad DOES need to learn to bite his tongue and let us do things our way but my husband also needs to stop having this chip on his shoulder that EVERYTHING my dad says is an attack (it's often not, just how my husband views it). They have both become kinda entrenched in this thing and I don't know how to get them to look over the top of the bunker and realise that the other isn't half as bad as they're painting them in their minds.

Kewcumber Tue 13-Nov-12 23:35:35

But using your own OP Dad yells at him and then throws all these accusations at me about how my husband is a bully and has loads of things (he doesn't, his hobby is computer games and he has a good few of those) and I have nothing (mine is reading and last count I had over 300 books, which my dad well knows as he's forever commenting on it!).

This is NOT "nothing" - I would be absolutely bloody furious if my mum said this to me and yes I would have a chip on my shoulder about it for a while and interpret a lot that is said an attack. It surprises me that you expect your DH to take it.

I don;t see what else you can do but keep them apart.

tell them that if they cannot be civil to each other that you expect them to stay away from each other until they can and that for the forseeable future DH will be waiting in the car until the situation calms down.

Kewcumber Tue 13-Nov-12 23:36:28

why the hell should that happen? - because they can't get along for even short periods it seems.

Kewcumber Tue 13-Nov-12 23:38:19

I stopped doing long hand overs with my mum for a while. Sometimes you don;t need to know what they ate and what they did, you need to get home and everyone needs to chill out.

ecclesvet Tue 13-Nov-12 23:43:11

Frankly your father sounds far more in the wrong than your husband, and you should be siding with him, not looking down on him. I also think that you might not be picking up on genuine attacks from your father - my sister had a very nuanced way of wording an sentence so that we both knew it was an attack, but that an outside observer like a parent or friend would think it was harmless. It hurt a lot to be told to 'rise above it', 'she didn't even say anything' - very marginalising.

Isesgirl Tue 13-Nov-12 23:47:02

Sorry, I thought it was clear that my husband had left the house when my dad said those things in bold. He didn't hear them (and yes I KNOW he didn't, as I could see him sitting in the car).

My husband DOES genuinely misinterpret a LOT of what my dad says, like if dad says, "We've been playing dominoes and DS1 is learning to add the spots on the tiles" my husband will respond with, "Oh, so I'm not teaching him to count then?". It honestly is not ALL my dad, this time perhaps it mostly was but other times it's been my husband over-reacting or misinterpreting like the above.

They've been told time and time again to let it go, to walk away, to behave and the thing is, between these events they can get on really well, have a laugh over things, even agree on politics! But then it starts again...

I suppose I will try to shorten the handover for a while until the dust settles. sigh and then wait for next time...

Please don't think I'm not grateful for your input, I really am, I'm just tired of people I love tearing me and my children in two.

Isesgirl Tue 13-Nov-12 23:49:27

Also, I don't "look down" on EITHER of them.

ecclesvet Tue 13-Nov-12 23:54:39

On similar threads with the genders reversed, wives battling with their MILs have been told that their husband should be automatically siding with them.

I don't think that's necessarily good advice, but I do think you should stop being a neutral adjudicator, and start siding with one consistently (even if it is genuinely 6 vs half-dozen) so the other one feels the negative effects of their behaviour. Your father doesn't care if he pisses off your husband - he already dislikes him - but he will care if he pisses off your husband and you.

Any arguments started between DF and DH result in you, DH, and children bidding an icy goodbye to the grandparents for that day. Any fault on DH's side can be discussed back at home, out of DFs earshot. A few weeks/months of this and DF will be on best behaviour, and the tension will ease.

Kewcumber Tue 13-Nov-12 23:54:43

If your father is prepared to tell you that your DH is a bully and he has everything whilst you have nothing then your DF has a significant problem with him and I suspect it does impinge on his comments - you just don't always see it.

The example of your DF trying to control the situation over your DS going to the toilet is a good example - he's treating you and your DH like you are the children and he is the parent. You might accept that as you are his child (kinda) but I can imagine it winds the hell up out of your DH!

Anyway my main point really was that they may never get on and you can't make them. Just tell then that if they can't get on they will have to stay away form each other and if that means that they both get a little less time with the DT's then thats their choice.

HermioneHatesHoovering Tue 13-Nov-12 23:55:11

It sounds to me like they are both trying to be the "alpha male" in the situation and of course that will lead to clashes, no idea how you fix it though, sorry.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Wed 14-Nov-12 07:49:37

How does your husband deal with perceived criticism from people other than your dad?

On what grounds does your father say your husband is a bully?

WineGoggles Wed 14-Nov-12 08:19:04

"The example of your DF trying to control the situation over your DS going to the toilet is a good example - he's treating you and your DH like you are the children and he is the parent. You might accept that as you are his child (kinda) but I can imagine it winds the hell up out of your DH!"

Exactly. OP, you told your Dad "no, ds does not need the loo" but your dad overruled you. That's not nothing. What are your DH and dad like when they are at yours? Is your dad different i.e. on his best behaviour because he's not on his turf?

MrsBucketxx Wed 14-Nov-12 08:29:46

this could have been written about my dh an df

watches with interest.

HullyEastergully Wed 14-Nov-12 08:34:45

yy you are used to your df dfathering you and let it slide, but it must irritate the fuck out of dh.

saintlyjimjams Wed 14-Nov-12 08:44:55

They're like stags rutting - being all territorial and male.

I would talk to them separately tbh. Your dad has to back off a bit. It isn't fair for him to comment about your husband the way he is, he's not his father. Nor is it ok for him to insist you do something with YOUR children. He does need to see you (and your husband) as adults. I would have a word with your dad (or ask your mother to if it will get a better response), say you're not asking him to like him but he has to stop passing remarks about him all the time. He's the man you have chosen and he has to accept that. If he can't say anything nice he needs to keep quiet.

Then tell your dh your dad is going to be making an effort so he needs to try not to respond to any perceived slight for a while.

Is there any interest they share? My dad and dh can be irritated by each other, but they do both like cricket and seem capable of having conversations with each other about that without falling out.

But it does sound as if some apron strings need to be cut (by them I mean) and that may need you to stand up to your father and tell him you are a grown up and you and your husband need to be treated as such.

WaitingForMe Wed 14-Nov-12 08:46:13

I had a few issues with MIL and it got a lot easier once DH made it clear that he and I were a team. That's not to say we agree 100% but we present a united front to the kids, his ex and his mother.

I think OP should side with her husband in public then discuss/argue in private. Her father is not the alpha male and should be quietly ignored until he accepts it.

Mytimewillcome Wed 14-Nov-12 08:59:55

I agree. If the roles were reversed ie it was a MIL-DIL situation everyone would be saying that you should be siding with your wife. I think you should be siding with your husband and telling your father not to speak to him like that. They are his children not your father's.

I think possibly your father is overstepping boundaries because he is so involved in the childcare. Maybe you could benefit from putting your children a day a week in nursery.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 14-Nov-12 10:08:40

God forbid anything unpleasant should happen to you or the twins but I suspect in a crisis they would both grow up and join forces.

Perhaps in a way they are too much alike didn't they used to say in a sense women marry their fathers? Butting heads together is tiresome and upsetting for you. To ease friction either work at finding common ground or keep them separate for now. Either that or emigrate.

stoney1215 Sun 18-Nov-12 07:24:30

obviously your husband , and your father will never be friends . are they able to be around each other ( family parties , holidays , etc ) without interacting with each other ? if they can , at least you do not have to attend family get togethers without him .

does your husband have a problem with your parents baby sitting your children ? if he does then it is probably a good idea to get a different sitter . if he does not , then he should only pick the kids up if your mother is there , and when it is absolutely necessary for him to do so when they are with your dad .

also you need to be more assertive with both of them . they are both behaving like children and they both need to grow up and they both should be ashamed of themselves for behaving like that around the children . he is your dad . you need to tell him that you will not tolerate his behavior any longer . tell him that if he is not able to transfer your children from him to your husband without incident then you will have to find another sitter . he is your husband . you need to tell him that his behavior is harmful to your kids . if he is unable to pick up the kids from your dad when needed without incident then he needs to find another sitter .

sometimes it is easier to kick water uphill than it is to get 2 men act civil towards each other when they do not like one another . maybe your mother could watch the kids at your house . maybe it would be easier , and better for the kids if you just found another sitter .

tisnottheseasonyet Sun 18-Nov-12 12:25:25

Search for any of the dozens of mother in law threads, and you'll see the response is that the husband needs to pull his finger out and stand up for his wife. This is no different, stop undermining your marriage by pandering to your dad and downplaying his constant criticism.

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Sun 18-Nov-12 12:40:32

I think that if you genuinely want it to stop then you need to make it clear to you father that your husband is the parent and that his wishes are more important than your fathers

Would you really be ok with your mil taking over in matters to do with your children and treating you like a child?

It is lovely that your parents do so much childcare but it is obviously blurring the boundaries. If you let this situation carry on then your DH might get so fed up that he stops to altogether and really I wouldn't blame him if he did

I know it must seem to you that you are the innocent party stuck in the middle, but the reality is that by being neutral you are making things worse. You should be making it clear to everyone including the children that there are only two parents calling the shots in this scenario and they are you and your DH

MmeLindor Sun 18-Nov-12 12:51:27

Threaten your Dad that you will have to look into putting the DC into nursery if he doesn't stop undermining you and your DH's parenting decisions.

scarletforya Sun 18-Nov-12 13:24:14

Your Dad is well out of order. He is turning raising the children into a stupid competition. If there is no truth in any of his assertions about your husband then you need to take him out, sit him down and tell him to back the feck off!

I know your parents mind the children but that doesn't give your Father the right to undermine your husband AND in front of his own children. Maybe your Dad was a dominant type used to getting things his way at home all his life, but he needs to understand these are NOT his children, they are your husbands.

I'm afraid I think you sitting on the fence is giving your Father the tacit go-ahead to shoot his mouth off. I know you said your DH is defensive but frankly I wouldn't blame him. I wouldn't take that shite off anyone.

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