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My parents and DH

(96 Posts)
Madelinehatter Sun 31-Jan-16 06:55:34

I will try and keep this short.

My parents are hard work. DM is controlling but PA and Dad is classic enabler, anything for an easy life. My relationship with them, particularly DM has often been fraught but I 'manage' it now. I live 200 miles away from them and keep contact on my terms. Also they do have their good points and they are my parents and I love them. The issues I have will never be resolved now, they are in their 70s and I have made my peace inside my head. Though they still drive me mad at times.

DH however......he struggles with all of it. He doesn't like they way they have treated me in the past. He gets very annoyed with them when they visit. They take over basically. If he raised it there would be a row. This happened a few years ago when he lost his temper after he was locked out the house because my mum had decided to tidy his keys away. Things were difficult after that and have never really recovered. I know the keys thing is trivial but it was the straw that broke the camels back situation.

We spent Xmas with them on neutral territory. DH didn't enjoy it all. He is quite a negative person at times unfortunately which doesn't help. He always interprets their actions as an attack on him. Sometimes he might be right but not always. Although they love our kids, they didn't really help us out with them over Xmas and it was exhausting, my mum 'rationed' the Xmas dinner by not allowing us to help ourselves ( she always puts it out tbh which I know is controlling), my Dad made a big thing of always sitting at the head of the table.....this pisses DH off. There was other trivial stuff which kind of built up.

I kind of let this stuff ride over me but DH has no reason to I guess. He thinks they treat us like kids and he is right to an extent. The problem is that when they visit DH just withdraws. He just goes out and hardly makes an effort to speak to them. It is so obvious. Makes it embarrassing for me. I just gloss over it and lie to parents, say he has stuff on etc. However DH is still angry about Xmas and I know next time they visit tensions will be high.

So I have controlling parents, a PA mum and a negative DH who borders on the paranoid ( who,e other thread). I find it all exhausting and don't know what to do.

There is no way I could open this up for discussion. My parents are so entrenched and will never acknowledge their faults. When DH tried to have an honest discussion with them it nearly destroyed my family tbh.

Any advice?

ClemFandagoDoesTheTango Sun 31-Jan-16 07:02:12

Didn't want to read and run. Sorry, no advice. But poor you that sounds very difficult. Have someflowersflowers.

Justmuddlingalong Sun 31-Jan-16 07:04:50

How do you feel about him leaving you to it, when they visit?

Duckdeamon Sun 31-Jan-16 07:05:49

Sounds very difficult.

To minimise stress for yourself?

This could be a short-term thing or 15 more years! So I'd consider what contact I wanted (sounds like there're a fair few visits) and what I was / wasn't willing to do for my parents (or surviving parent) in the future.

I would stop spending christmas with them. (It was unrealistic to expect GPs like this to help with the DC btw).

I would visit them alone rather than have them visit you and DH.

I wouldn't cover for your DH with your parents.

Sounds like as well as parent issues you have a difficult (at best) DH.

kittybiscuits Sun 31-Jan-16 07:14:36

You have decided how you want to deal with it. Your husband is the bigger problem, because he's rude and unsupportive. Actually worse that unsupportive. He adds further stress to the situation. Is it unusual for him to behave like this? I would think, in a healthy couple relationship, you would decide together how much contact to have with your parents and agree boundaries and how to manage them together. You sound between a rock and a hard place.

Madelinehatter Sun 31-Jan-16 07:17:18

Thanks for replies.
I prefer DH to leave me to it and I usually visit them alone with DCs. Yes DH isn't the most easy going either tbh. I would prefer him just to 'play along' but can see why he won't. He isn't rude to them just distant. They have upset him in the past and he doesn't forget easily so not a great situation.

The heping with the kids thing.......they always go on about how much they love seeing the kinds and how they want to help me out. Yet at Xmas apart from smile indulgently they didn't offer to put them to bed, babysit so we could go for a drink, take them for a walk, volunteer to play a board game with them. So all this talk of 'giving us a break' is just talk, it irritates me.

I guess I feel stuck, trying to act as a middle man. Keeping DH and them happy and it stresses me out. I can do it if he isn't around but he can't move out when they visit! He would like to! Plus they know he doesn't like them, they must do. I think they feel hurt by this but would never ask themselves what they have done to cause this.

It's a mess tbh.

Madelinehatter Sun 31-Jan-16 07:20:45

What do you think I should be asking DH to do? I agree he needs to be more supportive but don't know in what way? Honestly feel lost with this?what do you think would be reasonable of me to ask DH to do?

I suppose in some ways I need him to paint on a big smile and put up with it. Stop digging over the past and putting a negative spin on everything they do.

mummytime Sun 31-Jan-16 07:22:53

Can you talk to your DH about how you feel?

If not then this is the most fundamental problem.

With your parents, stop listening to what they "say" but act according to what they do. So no more spending Christmas together. Do they live some distance away? Can they stay somewhere else when the visit (or if it's just day visits, then definitely visit when DH isn't there).

SevenOfNineTrue Sun 31-Jan-16 07:23:12

Could you not ask them to take the kids for a walk etc?

Madelinehatter Sun 31-Jan-16 07:27:13

Thanks. I do need to sort out a strategy with DH. You are right, he is as much of a problem as them!

Yes I could ask them to take kids out etc but I was trying to show how for all their talk of helping me out they do very little.

kittybiscuits Sun 31-Jan-16 07:27:28

There you go then! He might or might not be able to do this. You both need to be realistic about what's possible. But you can ask for that and if it's not possible, rethink the arrangements.

I really hope you would not leave your DCs with your parents. I'm hoping you're just wishing they were supportive, model parents.

I picked the relationship I thought I deserved based on how my family treated me. Luckily none of those people are in my life now as they all treated me like crap. Is your husband kind, loving and supportive to you in other ways? X

FrancisdeSales Sun 31-Jan-16 07:31:03

Hi OP I am the DW to my DH whose parents are very much as you describe except they are divorced.

I have 20 years experience of what your DH is going through. To summarize it boils down to two main factors:

A) DH's immediate family love each other but are horrible communicators, there is a lot of passive aggression and guilt tripping of DH.

B) As the in-law I am blamed for anything that they don't like or if DH disagrees with them in anyway - I am always to blame. This enables them to retain the facade of cohesion within their family system as they have a convenient scapegoat

Basically the family dynamic has been in place for decades and the parents will never change and refuse to accept responsibility or ever apologize. Even after all this time they have made no serious effort to get to know me and they want the way they relate to DH to be never changing.

You can really help the situation and your marriage by the following:

A) Acknowledge that the center of gravity for you personally in terms of the priority family is you, DH and your children. Your loyalty should always be with them.

B) Do not allow your parents to undermine you and DH's authority in your own home.

C) Do not make any plans with your parents that will involve DH without discussing it throughly with him and getting his agreement first.

D) Keep contact with them short and sweet and as much as possible let it be on neutral ground - allowing the ability for your DH to take a break when he needs, such as a hotel with your own private room where DH can hide if necessary.

E) Be aware that their controlling behaviour has made you very passive with the ability to minimise their behavior or even deny it's effects. This is a very serious issue in marriage make sure you back DH 100%.

To encourage you, DH and I are very happily married and he has learnt to prevent his parents interference in our lives when not appropriate.

I can see how locking your DH out of his own home would speak volumes to him about what your parents think of him.

Duckdeamon Sun 31-Jan-16 07:32:03

Is it really necessary for them to visit you more than, say, once a year?!

op, that kind of mismatch between words and actions re GC is standard for toxic parents, sadly. you just can't rely on your parents helping. Also not great for toxic GP to be alone with DC too much, so perhaps it's a good thing the're not up for babysitting!

With DH he should not be bitching about your parents' past misdeeds to you, punish you for things to do with them, or be rude to them by being noticeable "distant". If he disagrees with how you manage the situation he should explain why to you and discuss it reasonably.

FrancisdeSales Sun 31-Jan-16 07:34:25

It is also a classic tactic of manipulators and controllers to describe their presence in your life as "help" or helping. This conveys that you cannot cope with life without them.

Penfold007 Sun 31-Jan-16 07:37:52

Your parents and husband sound as bad as each other. Stop bending over backwards and enabling their behaviour.
Don't spend Christmas together, tell them now that you are having a Christmas as a nuclear family this year. Visit them without DH if possible and remember an oblong table has two ends.

ClemFandagoDoesTheTango Sun 31-Jan-16 07:40:23

Have you asked your parents to help out though?
My mum and dad were pretty much the same as yours in that regard until I asked them to have the children when DP and I went away for his birthday for a few days. They said yes straight away and I really think they'd just been waiting to be asked.

As for your DH I'd leave him to it and stop being embarrassed by his way of dealing with them. Doesn't sound like your parents are embarrassed by their own behaviour.

And as for your

SpinyCrevice Sun 31-Jan-16 07:42:34

I'm with your DH I'm afraid. Them turning up and taking over even to the point where your Dad sits in DHs seat at the table is fucking rude as hell. No wonder he's a grumpy sullen misery, I would be too - visit them without DH. You can't fix this if you are not prepared to tell your parents that they are being rude to your DH even if they are not intending to be.

Ledkr Sun 31-Jan-16 07:44:56

My PIL sound just like them and aftersny years of ruined weekends with a head full of simmering resentment, I found a coping strategy which is to just stay out of the way. I use the time to visit friends, go to the pictures or into town etc. I actually enjoy it now.

MudCity Sun 31-Jan-16 07:46:47

Brilliant advice from FrancisdeSales above. Spot on!

FrancisdeSales Sun 31-Jan-16 07:49:58

I have to agree that you are the key to this issue you can't just blame your parents and then blame DH. Allowing your parents to treat your DH like this is out of order. If you feel you can't say anything it shows you are sscared of them and assuming the ostrich position so your DH gets all the worst treatment. He must really love you to put up we all this.

Sgoinneal Sun 31-Jan-16 07:50:18

Just for balance - It's up to you I'm afraid to manage your relationship with parents. Your DH may well not be handling this as you would like, but he's still coming to visit them after years of what you acknowledge is unreasonable behaviour. He has no obligation to them (neither do you, actually, if they do treat you badly but that's a whole other thread).

I think DH not visiting them is completely fair enough and a good solution - you have to stop lying to your parents. It sounds like you are trying very hard to appease them and this is probably how it's always been - but your DH doesn't have to be part of that. If your worry or fear about their reactions is the main issue then the problems with them then it's that you need to look at - a woman posting about their in laws behaving as your parents do would be told she has a DH problem by a lot of posters I'd be one of them because often the dynamics of these relationships are so ingrained that incomers end up being the only ones who challenge them.

Have you read Toxic parents by Susan forward? (Title sounds a bit full-on, but it is very useful). There are also lots of helpful people on the Stately Homes thread. Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble, sleepless night, but hope there's a way you can manage this so both you and DH can be happy with the outcome. thanks

Justmuddlingalong Sun 31-Jan-16 07:50:45

Don't be embarrassed by your DH's strategy. You are not responsible for his behaviour. You have found your way of coping with them and it sounds like he has too. If you're OK with that, continue that way.

Sgoinneal Sun 31-Jan-16 07:51:54

X post with much more succinct and sensible posters above!

MoominPie22 Sun 31-Jan-16 07:52:53

I sympathise with your husband and I don't see why he should have to put on an act just to appease you and your parents. He sounds like the type who can't hide his true feelings, and why should he have to forget the past incidences you describe?
You want him to be more supportive by putting on a facade, thereby enabling your parents appalling behavior further. Why should he have to tolerate their poor treatment just because you have found a way to deal with it? He's not emotionally involved as you are. If I were your husband I'd be pissed off with them too and def wouldn't have anymore Xmases with them after the last debacle!
He sounds like he's got his own mind and won't bow down and accept being controlled and manipulated or play his role in a farce just to please everyone else. And he shouldn't be expected to! He hates them and I'm afraid ur never gonna be able to change that.
If you love your OH then your loyalty should be with him and you should try and empathise with him a bit more. He's seeing the whole situation from a more objective standpoint but you can't cos you're entrenched. You can't remove yourself emotionally.
It sounds miserable and unendurable for him so no wonder he withdraws. I wouldn't put my spouse through such misery and stress, personally. I would also say something to your parents re their lack of input with the kids.
I would have very minimal contact with them and expect your husband to have no contact or input with them tbh. You're never gonna change how he feels and your expectations of your husband are too high imo. Let him deal with his dreadful PIL in his own way. I would dislike them intensely too, in his shoes, and I would really resent being expected to pretend otherwise.

Madelinehatter Sun 31-Jan-16 07:54:04

Thanks. Some great advice. Interesting to hear how others have managed similar situations.

I do need to acknowledge DHs feelings though. Yes he can be an arse at times but they have treated him quite badly at times. In the past they have visited and totally taken over, even bringing the food to cook. The head of the table thing is very trivial but is on the back of this. My Dad just automatically sits in DHS seat when he comes. It does speak volumes tbh.

I need to talk to DH about it. He does always see their actions negatively and sometimes he is wrong. He is entrenched as them tbh.

Parents stay on a local B and B when they visit so that helps.

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