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Relationship with the inlaws (long sorry!)

(19 Posts)
cookiemonster100 Tue 02-Dec-14 09:38:39

Hi all,

My relationship with my inlaws has been getting me down for awhile. I could do with your independent views from yourselves. I am not sure how to move on but I can't really bare the rest of my life dealing with this crap.

Background: hubby has parents & a brother who is married with a LO & one on the way. They all live locally where as we live about 200 miles away. We are married with a little boy.

I feel like my SIL controls everything including PIL. I refuse to be controlled so it can cause tension as I won't play her games. When we have discussed it with PIL before sometimes they say they can't see it, sometimes they admit to letting her have control as it's easier.

There is also a bit of a culture of being going negative, especially when someone has done well for themselves. More so when things are not going well for SIL & we have to be sensitive to their needs. This can be quite draining as we feel we can't be happy when things are going well for us.

I will give some examples to help

1) we recently moved house. While out house purchase was going through SIL & BIL house purchase fell through. We were gutted for them & offered lots of support. However when we moved in, when MIL arrived & we showed her round even though she was making positive noises there was quite a few comments how SIL & BIL are going to be "really jealous". But she kept going on about it all weekend. In the end i get irritated with her & asked her what she wanted me to do about it?!!
Now flip this story on its head. About 8 years ago SIL & BIL bought their current place which was a step up. We were living in a 2 bed flat, & broke due to one of us being made redundant. MIL was really excited about BIL new house & would ring us a lot updating us about their designer taps / wallpaper & we would be positive about it. It did hurt as we were skint & couldn't see our way out. MIL made comments like "oh I just want to see you both settled in your big house like BIL".

2) it was our son 1st birthday in the summer. They all came down & we had a great time. PIL were with us for about 24 hours before BIL & family turn up. When SIL wasn't there PIL were really helpful but soon as they arrived they were needed to help SIL with my nephew. So whilst organising the party, seeing to my guests etc i was asking my family to watch my LO as it took 3 adults to look after my nephew. When it was my nephew birthday they all took lots of photos. At my son birthday they all forgot their cameras & any they did take on their phones were just them. None of hubby, me or our son. Not even one of us cutting the cake.

3) I have asked PIL to babysit a weekend in April. We are going to a wedding where there are no kids. They have agreed. It would require PIL to come & stay with us. I have recently found out SIL has also requested the same weekend for them to babysit. PIL have said they can't do it as they are with us which has caused SIL to have the right hump. I can't shake off the feeling that MIL is going to bail under the pressure and look after my nephew or ask us to travel up 200 miles , leave my son with them, travel 200 miles back for the wedding & then travel back up to pick him up. Which, tbh I would rather miss the wedding than do that. I can't ask my family as they will be at the same wedding.

I feel sad as time goes on, our children & their children are going to pick up on this. There is def favouritism to their kids but I put that down to them being local & being part of their daily lives. My family more than make up for this.

Nothing is ever going to change. We have talked to PIL about this before but no real change has happened. When MIL visits she tends to tell DH how upset his brother is with him over minor stuff. I have started to cut her off & tell her to a) it's nothing to do with her b) if he has a problem he needs to tell DH directly. Usually the first time we know about BIL & SIL issues are when MIL tells us. It makes me think they just sit round together moaning & bitching about us.

Thanks for getting this far!! Your view points would gratefully received.

MonstrousRatbag Tue 02-Dec-14 12:10:19

My first thought is that it would help a lot if your DH were more active about keeping the relationship going with his brother. Don't let it all be mediated through MIL, because she sounds unthinking and a bit tactless. A lot of what you currently perceive as SIL being a problem could actually be MIL's interpretation of things, couldn't it? And if MIL does mention things (can't think why she tells you a lot of this stuff) then probably DH should raise it with his brother if it seems to be a real issue.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 02-Dec-14 12:20:37

What does your H think about his mother's and brother's behaviours?. Is his brother older than he?. It sounds like your DH is the scapegoat for all their inherent ills. I would also think that BILs wife is just the same as your BIL is in terms of personality.

I would completely detach and distance yourselves emotionally from BIL and these favouring parents. PILs allow themselves to be controlled and act as bystanders acting out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. His mother will always defer to her son and his wife over you people. Read up also on triangulation within dysfunctional relationships.

I would arrange alternative childcare if at all possible re this April wedding because I also think his mother is going to bail on you and also perhaps with very short notice. She cannot really be at all relied upon.

Such favouritism like this should not be at all tolerated and should be completely rejected by yourselves. You would not tolerate or have tolerated any of this from a friend, family are no different really.

rumbleinthrjungle Tue 02-Dec-14 12:27:48

It sounds like SiL is quite a needy person and PiL are in the habit of keeping her happy, possibly because it's easier that way than dealing with her in a state, particularly if they live near her. These kind of habits, especially the speech habits of 'everything has to be negative', or 'I have to worry that so and so will be jealous' or 'Let me tell you how you've upset DB this week' can be thoughtless and unintentional and just ingrained social routines, and it may be a case of firmly and cheerfully changing the subject every time one starts rather than engaging with it.

Doesn't make it any less annoying, I know! brew

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 02-Dec-14 12:59:49

We have talked to PIL about this before but no real change has happened.

Perhaps they listened but didn't comprehend. I think you are right in that they possibly feel as they live locally to BIL and his family and you are closer geographically to your family, somehow it all evens out, ie nobody misses out.

On the face of it both brothers are 'good sons', probably never caused PILs a day's worry, have done well and have stable and happy marriages.
The PILs get on well with their two DILs and love their GDCs.

Now SIL might be more demanding personality-wise and feels the need to compete for attention. Worse, for whatever reason thinks they are due more bolstering than DH. Rather a good thing in that case to be 200 miles away!

Do you ever wonder whether MIL trots back home and bores on to BIL and co about DH and his wonderful family?

cookiemonster100 Tue 02-Dec-14 21:40:56

Thanks for all your replies. This is the first chance I have had to reply.

DH feels that as long as he sees his parents, they have a good relationship with our son, he doesn't care about his brother & wife. He tolerates them for the sake of the family but he couldn't really care less.

It's very difficult to talk this stuff through with his family. MIL choses to rally messages back & forth. BIL rants at you, interrupts you when you speak & never answers the questions you pose to him (very much like a politician!). He will only forgive you if you apologise. SIL won't respond back, then goes & tells everyone how she is being bullied. FIL answer to everything is we apologise & everything is back to normal.

I do think MIL plays her role. I think she whips herself up into a frenzy & has a tendency to go on about stuff which in turn doesn't help matters. That's now why we cut her short when she starts to tell us how upset BIL & family are with us because of minor stuff (like when SIL went for a nap in the middle of my son party & we didn't go & check on her - err we were busy seeing to our guests at a party hosted by us!).

We can distance ourselves by not going to visit them but PIL visit us instead however as they get older that isn't going to be viable plus I actually like the area he is from & quite enjoy doing the tourist stuff. However the crap still comes with my PIL as they ring us or tell us when they come to visit.

I just feel sad as out of 4 grandparents only 1 is decent (my dad is no longer around). If we go NC with his parents that would be a great loss for my son so really want to avoid it.

I have been in the family 10 years and still feel like an outsider. I feel this because SIL won't let PIL let me in. This in turn makes DH feel like an outsider. Eg his parents put their house on the market & they rang & told him. They didn't speak to him first, where as BIL helped with choosing estate agents etc.
tough tough tough
Ps thanks for reading my MAMMOTH post! smile

Cameochick11 Tue 02-Dec-14 22:03:49

My PIL overtly favour their other DGD over our 3 kids. She's around the corner, sees them every day, while we are 200 miles away. We asked them for a weekend of child care once, but they couldn't do it because their DD and DGD might need them. DH, like yours, is a peacekeeper, and not bothered about his DSis or DN. It used to make me rant, but in the end, we've come to terms with it, and it doesn't bother me now. They have missed out on having a relationship with our kids, life moves on, and my kids have full and busy lives without trudging for hours to see people who don't value them. It will pass, even though it hurts like hell now xx

cookiemonster100 Tue 02-Dec-14 22:36:48

Thanks Cameo, sorry to hear you have similar issues. It's really tough sad Glad to see someone who is on the other side of it though. Do your inlaws come & visit you? Have your kids picked up on it? Xx

grumpyoldgitagain Tue 02-Dec-14 22:48:45

No advice sorry, but do know how you feel

My PIL always asked us to bring the girls around to them as we live too far away when we needed them looked after (all 10 miles of it)

Now my DW's sister has a DS and needs babysitting they are always going there even though they have to pass our house to do so, and then my MIL denies there is any favouritism

My SIL is needy and manipulative, everything is to suit her and bollocks to anyone else

Probably why we don't really take much notice of her supposedly perfect life and just leave her to it

And yes our girls have picked up on it and questioned it whereas we just ignore them now

Chottie Wed 03-Dec-14 04:48:09

TBH I wouldn't worry too much about your DC only having one GP. What they have never had, they will never miss. It's better to have fewer people who truly care in DCs lives.

In your shoes, I would be just detaching and letting PiLs, SiL and BiL get on with it. If they all live some distance away, isn't that a bonus? You are not responsible for your ILs feelings, so just let it go.

Regarding the wedding, I would reconfirm the arrangements with PiLs and if necessary make alternative arrangements. Could your Mum come and stay with your DCs?

Somethingtodo Wed 03-Dec-14 08:50:10

You will never change this dynamic. Def cut SIL & BIL out of your lives - their behaviour is bullying - and you dont want your children to see their parents bullied. And with PIL if they are being passive or manipulative - both are wrong and agian you and your dc do not need this in your life. Go an enjoy where they live - but just drop in at v short notice for a short visit twice a year. Dont engage or respond to MIL shit stirring on the phone. Is your SIL from the area where your dh and pil live ? - wonder if you are seen as an outsider for that reason eg northerner / southener?

cookiemonster100 Wed 03-Dec-14 19:59:42


My SIL & I are not from the area, but yes I am def seen as an outsider. SIL mum passed away when she was young & sees our MIL as her own mother figure. I think she gets jealous when PIL pay attention to DH when we are up there.

I was thinking today that we are unlikely to spend Xmas together. My kids are never going to spend a Xmas with a set of grandparents. The last time we spent Xmas together was pre kids & my SIL tried to charge us £50/ head excluding booze, but that's another thread. She controlled the whole day & it was so uptight no one enjoyed it. They have never come to is for Xmas.

I also feel my mum faces the largest burden of grandparent help. She does childcare when I work, takes him to nursery, helps us out when we are sick, etc. I know logistically PIL are 200 miles away but it's infuriates me when we do ask for help & are let down. A month ago they stayed with us & they were travelling back on a Tuesday. A group of my friends were meeting for dinner on the Monday night & they were going to babysit. Surprise surprise they had to go back Monday night as SIL had "forgotten" to book the childminder & could they look after my nephew on the Tuesday. As I write this I think I am going to canx PIL & ask someone else for the weekend in April.

If these were friends I would have cut them out ages ago but here I can't. Firstly as I think it will destroy DH but mainly I can't let SIL win & think she has PIL to themselves.

I need to find some tactics to dealing with them instead of going NC. Plus I don't want my kids to see the relationship imbalance as it would break my heart knowing they felt 2nd best to their cousins.

RandomMess Wed 03-Dec-14 20:09:50

Why does it matter if SIL wins? What goes around comes around, when PIL need help then it will be up to BIL & SIL to provide it.

I'd carry on inviting your PIL for weekend visits, never rely on them for anything and accept BIL/SIL are very selfish, insecure and don't care for you and yours.

We're in the same boat - now we've moved I don't think the In-laws will ever visit, they didn't bother when we were 0.5 miles away!!!! I guess I just got over it and don't waste my emotional energy on it. Worst of all I have minimal contact with my parents so our dc have no grandparents as such.

ChristmasJumperWearer Wed 03-Dec-14 20:14:57

I'm going through similar and what I would respond to your last post is:

1) If your DH is bothered about maintaining contact, they are his family, let him deal with them. You can cut communication from you and leave it to him.

2) Your SIL "wins" in the case of going NC, but so do you - no stress or drama in your life from that particular channel. Win/win. That's a result in my book. I don't see that you can "win" anyway, she won't change, so this is the best result you can hope for really.

And yes, find someone else for April.

cookiemonster100 Wed 03-Dec-14 21:54:54

Christmasjumperwearer (fab name btw!) DH does maintain contact with his parents, he speaks to them weekly. I can't see him ever cutting them off. I rarely talk to them on the phone but I hear what they have said via DH.
Because BIL family are so closely intertwined with PIL by default we are impacted if that makes sense eg April babysitting weekend.

I have pulled back from BIL & SIL & only talk to them if it's to do with the kids eg birthday presents etc.
however by pulling back from them plus by DH maintaining the relationship with his parents I feel more left out & in turn am more likely to be let down by PIL in favour of BIL & SIL.

In a weird way do I need to get more involved to make my presence more noticed & my voice heard if that makes sense? Am I a blocker? Am I allowing them to manipulate me?

Thanks everyone for taking the time to read my posts & reply back. angry

Somethingtodo Thu 04-Dec-14 08:09:42

You will never gain ground on this one. You need to accept that - so stop putting your hand in the fire and getting burnt.

We all know for definite that there will be a drama wrt the wedding babysitting arrangements. Make other arrangements now and cancel them.

Do not try to get more involved - you will get hurt AGAIN - your DH should also be selective as to what info he gives PIL and how he responds to their info - ie VAGUE.

Keep calm and carry on -- you dc will not be aware that they are not the fav gc if they dont see it in action. Keep them close and exposed to the love of the GP who does love them. Your dc dont need these dreadful people and more importantly they dont need to see the negative emotional place that they drag there parents to...

Your dc need to see you fulfilled and happy in the positive emotional environment of your own family.

Cameochick11 Thu 04-Dec-14 08:25:12

Morning Cookiemonster. DS1 and 2 really aren't too bothered. DD does feel it a bit, as she knows her cousin gets far more attention etc. my MIL has even bought a pile of gifts for her other DGD while buying precisely nothing for my DD infront of her. That was a dark day!

They don't visit us, no.. Previous efforts to see them more just kinda rubbed our noses in the discrepancy between us all because in our case, it didn't seem as though geography was solely responsible for the way things are. We just keep busy with our own lives, and I leave DH to manage the relationship with them because I'm never going to win.

Just do what feels right for your little family unit. Make your own traditions, and do exactly what you want to do: just think - you won't have to please anyone but yourselves!

KatieKaye Thu 04-Dec-14 08:27:38

HI Cookie

what a frustrating situation you are in!
Sadly, your DHs family favour BIL and SIL - for whatever reason. There is nothing you can do to change that situation, because they've demonstrated this time after time and show no comprehension of the fact even after it has been spoken about.

BIL and SIL both sound like very controlling people and your PIL are allowing them to exercise this control.

You are not going to "win" here in terms of getting equal consideration. And the more you think about it, the more you are going to feel down. It's a huge blow to anyone to realise that they and their family are treated as "less worthy".

I would try to detach myself from the situation and to get to the state of mind where you can rationalise that this is about them - not about you and your family. Keep in minimum contact but don't put up with any of the crap like SIL thinking she should be "checked on" - that is purely a demand to make your DS's birthday about her and should be treated with nothing more than a little laugh - she is not a baby and her own DH was there so what on earth is she going on about?

Yes to putting in place alternative arrangements for April - but do not tell PIL now. If and when they bail out, you can then state quite clearly that given their past track record of favouritism you were certain this was going to happen but wanted to give them one last chance.

try not to worry that your DS has "only" one grandparent who loves him unreservedly because it is so much better than having him gradually realise PIL actively put his cousins ahead of him. It is only your PIL who will suffer, not DS. Concentrate on the positive relationships in your life, put time and effort into those and just let your DH's side of the family slide into the background.

Somethingtodo Thu 04-Dec-14 20:16:16

Well said Katie - I wasted so much time and emotional energy trying to appease difficult in-laws - and the atmosphere is still strained and toxic,

I now wish I had used ever second of that time to be in the company of my loving mother who was lost to cancer at the age of 62 in 6 weeks.....whereas I am left with the toxic alcoholic MIL narc.

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