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Techniques for managing difficult relationships with PIL(2 Posts)
DH and I find my PIL (his DP) extremely challenging.
They are completely deaf to any social cues and this makes them very real bullies. They do only what they want all of the time, and they refuse to treat other people as if they might ever have different thoughts/feelings/desires. This is generally not over very large things, but rather a stream of small things that, added together, make their company overwhelming and rather soul-destroying.
To give an example: they have just been staying with us. MIL needed the loo both nights at 5am. However, instead of just doing this quietly, she stood outside our bedroom door and talked at normal volume (which for her is very loud) to the cat who sleeps in the next room, waking both of us up. We were going to an events which necessitated a 7am start - we drove them there (an hour and a half), were out all day with them, and then drove them back at 8pm and then turned around and cooked them a three-course meal. We were quite literally unable to stay awake, so went to bed at 11.30. FIL refused to go to bed until 2am, which is not in itself a problem. What was more challenging was that he insisted on waking us up to ask us whether the house was secure before turning in.
This is just one trivial example - but similar things happen dozens of times every day. If you voice an opinion or desire that doesn't chime with theirs, it's completely ignored. They are passive-aggressive in the extreme and will guilt-trip as often as they can. They are, quite simply, exhausting. I is like being bulldozed physically and psychologically. It doesn't help that we always do whatever they want to do, even though these are the kinds of things we'd never do alone.
We see them for a long weekend 3-4 times a year. They live a long way away and are pushing to see us for holidays more often, and I just can't cope. I find two to three days of their company is my absolute limit. DH is in agreement. However because they don't understand or respond to social cues, they just keep asking us for more time, even though we stone-wall for England on every suggestion. Should we say something point-blank, which will cause huge umbrage and offence, or just keep on keeping on as we are?
Also, if anyone has any suggestions of how to manage the behaviour, I would be really grateful.
I don't think you'll ever change them, but you are allowed to say no. You are allowed to have your own plans. Try it - you'll need you and dh to be absolutely in sync on it, so talk about it beforehand. Rehearse your reactions to their behaviours. Treat them like recalcitrant toddlers. Bulldoze them back.
Let's say you want to go to event x, and they want to go to event y.
Announce beforehand. We are going to event x on Saturday, we'll need to leave about 8
If they try to dick you around (not being ready in time, tripping your plans) you need to breeze through it. " ok, so we need to go at 8 - will you guys be ready? It's no problem at all if you want to do your own thing, but we are going to event x."
You need to be equally as relentless. If they aren't ready, you cheerily wish them goodbye and off you go. When you get back, you've all had a lovely day and you're exhausted. No cooking unless it's simple.
The stuff like talking to the cat at 5am needs sneakier behaviour. For this, you mock dash out of your room in a panic, 'oh mil, you scared the life out of me! I thought there was someone breaking in!' Then you have hushed tone conversations about how it's not normal to be talking to the cat at 5am and has she perhaps considered seeing her GP? You know things like that can be an early sign of dementia...etc etc.
Wake fil up an hour after he goes to bed to double check he locked all the doors next time. You simply couldn't sleep, you see, after he said that.
They sound exhausting. Poor you.
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