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In laws!! Advice please!(24 Posts)
Things have come to a head with my in laws after years of strained relationship. My mil and i had a very honest chat where i told her her we feel (like outsiders, like we are not part of their big happy family and like our children always play second fiddle to their cousins) and she told me how she feels (that her other daughter in wonderful and i am not, that she doesnt really know my dh anymore as he left home so long ago (at 24!!) and that we make her feel guilty for having her other grandchildren so much and not bothering with ours!)
Since we had this chat we spoke once on phone when she rang. She was asking how our holiday was etc no mention of our chat. As usual it is all being swept under the carpet whilst nothing changes. Fil complete control freak and will never change or try and meet us half way.
My dh is stressed beyond belief and won't even answer the phone incase it is mil/fil. I just don't know what to do now.
She said so many hurtful personal things which she hasnt even tried to make right.
She left a message on phone tonight and her voice sounds shakey and sad which makes me feel bad but we had our chat she was just horrible.
I feel there is nothing left to say and i am not prepared to carry on like before sweeping it all under the carpet.
Dh just wants to block their number but i almost feel it is cowardly. I feel like saying don't ring anymore unless you are willing to try which she has already said she isn't. She said we should just not see each other if it is causing us such stress! And when i said we wanted to have a better relationship she said 'what do you want me to do??' in a what more could she do kind of way.
It is such a big mess and dc are now feeling the stress with dh saying no one answer the phone etc!!
I would pay attention to your DH. Sounds like he has been at the sharp end of their behavior for a while. I would step back and let your DH take the lead.
This does sound awful. Parents have different relationships with each of their children I suppose.
Did she say why she didn't see your dc as much as the other cousins?
I guess playing devils advocate she IS making effort as she is calling? Maybe her not mentioning chat is because she is trying to move forward more positively?
Dh can't take control. We have had counselling and it didn't help. He can tell other people how he feels but as soon as he speaks with his parents he is a child again. It causes him tremendous stress and as a couple puts pressure on us as I do not want to be his spokesperson.
Dh just wants to block their number because he is afraid he'll answer phone and it will be mil and he will break under the pressure and say things he doesnt mean.
She doesnt see our dc so much as we live further away but when we lived nearby it was no different. When she visits my dc she brings her other gc with her.
She can't possibly expect to move forward positively after all the hurtful things she said. I had hoped having the chat would have actually made her see how hurtful their blatant favouritism is and that she would want to make things better but it wasnt the case at all. What she had to say only confirmed that things are exactly as we had felt they were. For example we always feel they invite us over but when we make the 4 hr drive they treat us like we are just a complete pita and like we are butting in on their cosy happy get together. She actually confirmed this is the case!! It was so hurtful it almost makes me laugh at the outrageousness of it all!
I would write to them explain that you are not happy with what they have said and ask them never to contact you again. This puts you in control of the situation, if they do then contact by telephone block the number. It is a real shame but from what you've said they don't sound like nice people and you don't need your DH to be stressed. Draw a line move on and enjoy being your own little family
My inlaws have favourites. Dh isn't the favourite but he accepts it. There is no point IMO in trying to change that dynamic. Realistically how can you alter it? It's embedded into them.
Similarly our dc do not get the same amount of time and attention as their cousins but we don't really mind. That's just the way it's unfolded.
The key thing is: it's not what they are doing to you, it's what they are not doing for you. Now you can't force folk to do things inc dedicating equal time to your dh and your dc. I'm certain that this imbalance happens in millions of families up and down the country so it's worth letting it lie.
And you know why? Because confronting it puts you where you are today. Feeling awful, anxious and stressed.
I think you have both said your bit and now it's best to move on from it.
Of course some folk here would say go NC but life isn't always that simple.
To be honest I think you need to show your DH a bit more support.
He wants to go NC and you are stopping him? You want the abuse to continue? What is in that for you?
Block them and move on.
You likely come from a family of origin where this type of familial dysfunction is thankfully unknown. Toxic people like your ILs never apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions.
Boundaries here have to be further strengthened by both of you here.
Do not let these people make you feel bad any more. You've both had a bellyful of them over the years and enough is quite enough. Your children have also seen their grandparents overt favouritism towards
You've been more than reasonable here and have tried but unfortunately dysfunctional emotionally unhealthy relatives play by their own rules i.e. theirs so the "normal" ways of dealing with familial relations goes out the window. This was never going to end well at all.
It is NOT your fault they are like this. Their own families of origin did that lot of damage to them.
Block their number from your landline and mobile phones, it is not cowardly to do so (what makes you think that anyway?). Its self preservation as much as anything else, this is your family unit we're talking about. The best way to deal with such people like your ILs is to detach completely and to live well by ignoring them. You would not have tolerated any of this from a friend, family are no different.
Many now adult children of such people are mired in FOG with regards to their parents - fear, obligation and guilt and those three need a lot of time and effort to overcome. Such people seek parental approval without success. Such conditioning at the hands of such people can take a mammoth effort to overcome and some do not manage that.
If counselling is again attempted your DH (and you) need to find a counsellor that has no familial bias about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment.
I would suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" by Susan Forward. He needs to read "Toxic Parents" by the same author as a starting point and see a different counsellor i.e. one who is really skilled in dealing with people who have dysfunctional family of origin.
Similar here. SIL lives next door to PIL, free daily childcare for the cousins, bigger and better Christmas presents, constant referral to their achievements when we mention what our DC have done. We live an hour away.
SIL got her wedding paid for by them..we got nothing.
SIL got £10k towards her house deposit..we got nothing. Etc etc.
I have no real answers but a lot of sympathy.
This is between your husband and his parents, so I wouldn't be writing letters or doing anything that can be raked up later against YOU.
Has he spoken to his sibling/s about this?
Otherwise I'd say it might be best to cultivate a distant and polite relationship - send photos and postcards, then get on with enjoying your own lives.
His parents were not "good" parents and have also not all that surprisingly made out for being lousy grandparent figures as well.
People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles; your DH's role to them is one of scapegoat. They blame him for all their inherent ills. That has also extended to your children who have also seen their cousins similarly favoured.
I would not be sending them anything as of now; no contact is precisely that. There is no communication of any sort from you to them as of now.
Any letters you write will be used against you by them.
Write it all down by all means but for goodness sake do not send it to them!!.
We've been through similar here, and I agree with doing what your DH says - no contact sounds like it's the best course of action for his mental health at the moment. That might change in the future, but for now I think you have to respect his choice.
Stick with your dh. He has live through it all and he wants no contact, support him, I think .
Thanks for all the replies.
Dh wants to block their number. I am happy to do this but part of me would have prefered he say don't ring us, we don't want any contact. Maybe because i have been the one doing the talking recently at dh's request because he can't bring himself to do it. He is almost afraid of them or maybe of confrontation with them.
Dh hasn't spoken to his brother. He feels a bit pissed off with him also because he must see how one sided his parents are. He was always sneaky apparently and dh says he was always blamed for stuff his db did and db got off with it and was believed because he was the favoured one!!
Oops sorry didnt finish what i started about the number being blocked on phone. As i have been doing the talking I would have liked dh to say to them not to contact us just so they can see we are together in this and it is not my doing. They will believe it is all me because they have been able to manipulate dh for so long why would that suddenly change. But i can see why he would rather avoid any contact and i support him completely.
She said we should just not see each other if it is causing us such stress!
There you go: she has given you permission to detach. It may have seemed like an off the cuff remark in the moment but it is perfectly reasonable to take it at face value and do it.
So what if she thinks it's all down to you? Do you really know what she is thinking? Why would you care what someone as mean as this thinks anyway?
It sounds like your dh is already detached from them to a certain extent (although he may still need a lot of time to process/recover from the emotional abuse he suffered at their hands). Imho, while still connected with the emotional abusers, he can only survive; he needs to be disconnected to heal.
Your dc need to know that they do not need to put up with mean behavior from anyone, including family. They are worthy of respect. However they are not in a position to really decide for themselves if you are forcing the relationship to continue (depending on their age - at a certain point they will decide to disconnect from hurtful people at least emotionally if not physically).
Honor your dh's perspective. For his sake and your dc's sake. You tried. But at the end of the day, your dh is right and, imho, the relief will follow your family unit around like a ray if sunshine, not a cloud of stress and sadness.
part of me would have prefered he say don't ring us, we don't want any contact.
I understand. Thing is, he is afraid of confrontation with them, and for him, blocking their number and therefore not being within their reach anymore is probably already huge.
I agree with taking her comment "Maybe we shouldn't be in contact anymore" at face value: it's what your DH wants, she's high-handed enough to have suggested it. Yes, it's not as ideal as an assertive statement of your limits, but for now, it'll do.
I hope your DH is able to keep working on detaching from them emotionally and on facing (and dismantling) his feelings of FOG.
If you are going to stop being in contact with them (and I can understand why) then don't worry about what they think. You know your PIL aren't fair when it comes to you and your husband.
I think your DH is telling you that he really can't cope having contact with them, and I would listen to him.
I think you need to support your DH in whatever way he feels he needs to deal with them.
I have toxic parents.
Your DH is doing the right thing by blocking them.
Let him get on with it.
Don't second guess him. Don't make contact when he has asked you not to.
The last thing he needs is extra stress coming from you. Nothing you do will actually help if they are toxic.
I've been there, right down to the 'cards on the table' conversation. It was cathartic for me, but a complete waste of time. When you are speaking to someone who honestly doesn't see a problem, or chooses not to see a problem, you may as well bang your head off a brick wall.
There will be years and years of family behaviour and dynamics which will have led to this point. For me, it was (still is) a dominant SIL who ruled the family without compassion. The usual... "you know what she's like" meant that everyone else's wishes were secondary and she tried her best to ruin my DH's relationship with his parents. And in the meantime, they all played happy families, while we looked on from a distance being the outsiders.
Whether that is what you are dealing with doesn't matter. I think the principle is the same. We lived at a distance and every time we visited, my SIL felt threatened and did her best to cause disruption - a mix of jealousy, insecurity and downright badness led to our visits being upsetting.
Fast-forward many years... we do not have contact with SIL but have a good relationship with GPs. Take time out, it may or may not heal. The only way we were able to rebuild was to create opportunities for the GPs to have a relationship with the DCs, and no-one else. It took years.
What matters most is your family unit. As the others are saying, focus on your DH and DCs. Forget about being accepted and build your own happiness. Don't throw that away at the expense of trying to make a toxic relationship work. Good luck
she told me how she feels (that her other daughter in wonderful and i am not
I feel like saying don't ring anymore unless you are willing to try which she has already said she isn't. She said we should just not see each other if it is causing us such stress! And when i said we wanted to have a better relationship she said 'what do you want me to do??' in a what more could she do kind of way.
when we make the 4 hr drive they treat us like we are just a complete pita and like we are butting in on their cosy happy get together. She actually confirmed this is the case!!
Why are you bothering?
To be blunt, you're not liked. You're not wanted.
You know this. It's time you faced it.
Your husband wants to block them. It sounds like he knows exactly what he's talking about.
Why are you continuing to try to keep contact with people who don't want very much at all to do with you? Grandparents for your grandchildren? They might be mediocre grandparents (they surely can't be good ones). But it's not worth forcing your husband to keep contact and it's a dead end for you.
Sorry. It's a shit situation. But it's not one that in any possible way you can improve because you've already tried it. Any improvement in the relationship has to be driven by them, now.
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