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DH "what did you do to FIL to make him do that"

(49 Posts)
youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:01:36

Said after a truely awful row at the weekend about my husband's family, a source of conflict between us almost from the beginning.

I have had no contact with my family for 20yrs and for the last 15 yrs my husbands family has been my "surrogate" family if you like, we have spent every xmas with them, holidayed on 4-5 occasions and had a lot of visits and calls even though we have always lived a long way away.

When we stayed at PIL's house in winter, it was always very cold as there was no heating on. Three adults (me, husband MIL) all freezing cold but FIL was always too warm, so no heating, except when he had a cold/flu coming on (you knew he was ill when he put the heating on). One time we had quite a stink as we had a four month old baby and the bedroom was about 10 degrees. MIL said "he never likes to feel too warm"

My FIL had many good qualties but like Jekyll and Hyde he could be domineering (he died 3yrs ago) and quite horrible to me, the comment about what had you done to make him do that came after he was serving a meal to us and said to MIL "you have got lots as you deserve it" and then proceeded to put very little on my plate. I could recount many many examples and I would sit there and wonder what was going on.

we also have BIL (so daughter's husband ) he:

Never says hello to other grandchildren

Does not ask them how they are, how is school, completely ignores them;

Does not ask anybody anything about their lives;

talks about himself, his running, his special diet;

What does everyone do? Humour him - ask him about himself, show an interest even though he shows utter contempt for everyone else.

For DH to admit problems is his family is too much for him. he has always wanted me to see his family as he does, to have the same attitudes and react the same way . I lost count of the number of times I was told of his father "he is old, he will not change, you need to be the bigger person". After pretty much every visit I was told by husband what I had done wrong, what I had said wrong, what I had not said that I should have said and what I had not done that i should have done.

We now have problems with sister and this BIL following a holiday last yr when she shouted and screamed at me and I finally realise they do not want to change, they never did and I am the "problem" in trying to make them change. The accepted the bad parts of FIL and that was that. They accept the bad behaviour of daughter and because she is favourite, also her husband. I am held up to a different standard.

I was welcomed into his family and for that I am grateful but I never saw how powerful the dynamic was between them and finally, finally I am learning to step away, not comment on anything, make no observations about them, how they interact etc and stay on the sidelines.

NoFuchsGiven Fri 20-May-16 08:06:48

I'm sorry but I am quite confused by what you are saying. You said you had a row about your fil at the weekend yet he died 3 years ago?

I think you are right to step back, you can not try and change how a set up family works.

Finola1step Fri 20-May-16 08:10:03

I'm a bit confused too.

youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:12:26

We had a row about other stuff in his family and he brought up how this incident about the food had upset me and I had thought at the time his father was mean to me and then he said "what had you done to make him be like that" .

And it was the final realisation if I needed it that I will always be the one in the wrong when it comes to his family.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Fri 20-May-16 08:12:33

I'm afraid your comments about them not wanting to change have jumped out at me - why should they?

The whole family is happy with their dynamics - you are the only one that isn't. So really you are the problem. It's not your place to change people.

youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:15:22

Maybe you are right - so how would you have handled there being no heating in the house - as one example?

Are you saying a husband should do nothing different when he has a wife and family if his own?

youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:17:49

Is this exactly why so many people have problems with in laws - because when you have a partner and family of your own, everything cannot be exactly the same as it was when you were just a nuclear family with your mom and dad?

HumphreyCobblers Fri 20-May-16 08:20:16

I think the above posters are missing your point slightly OP.

You are entitled to want people to change the way they treat you if they treat you badly. I think you are right, you will never win with your DH and his family as they DO hold you to a different standard - you are there to placate and agree and put up with, they are allowed to be as rude and miserable as they want hmm

Your DH is wrong but getting him to see it will be very tricky. How on earth people can justify behaviour like giving you hardly any food as in any way a reasonable response is staggering and shows how far he has absorbed his unhealthy family dynamic.

NoFuchsGiven Fri 20-May-16 08:23:41

I'm more curious at how you handled the heating incident op.

youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:24:42

Thank you Humphrey.

The point I am trying to make is that I expected (wrongly) that when i met his mom and dad and they are adults, i was 30 my husband was 30. I thought we would all behave like adults. i thought we would all be held to the same standards of behaviour. i thought that if someone did or said something that was not on - they would be told " hey come on, that's not fair" bit it never happened.

Now maybe because I came from a very dysfunctional family and had been out of family life for 10 yrs when I met my husband, I did not understand the dynamics in reasonably normal families.

youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:27:15

I handled it by speaking to my husband and saying this is not on, especially with a baby and something was said to his father and he was very unpleasant for the rest of the visit to me, watching how often the electric heater he gave us was on etc ( they are well off so it was not a question of money)

i ended up feeling very uncomfortable.

BTW my husband frequently got pissed off that the house was so cold at xmas and he would generally come down with a cold - but he would never say anything.

timelytess Fri 20-May-16 08:32:35

After pretty much every visit I was told by husband what I had done wrong, what I had said wrong, what I had not said that I should have said and what I had not done that i should have done
This is emotional abuse. Do not tolerate it.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Fri 20-May-16 08:35:30

OP how your family operates is up to you, of course it is. But how other people's families operate isn't.

How would I have handled the heating? I would have made sure there were lots of blankets and sucked it up. I would also make a point of not visiting often in winter.

You can only change your own behaviour, you can't change the behaviour of others whether you approve of that behaviour or not.

WhatchaMaCalllit Fri 20-May-16 08:35:31

When the house was that cold why didn't you pack up your things and take your baby back to your own house where it would be nice and warm? Remove yourself from the situation. If your DH went with you, his parents would have to see that they were being unreasonable to not have heating on in the house in winter. If he stayed with his parents, well, there you have your answer.

youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:38:48

Unfortunately timely i did. Had i had family of my own I don't think i would have done.

That is why the title of the post is so telling - my husband could not change the dynamic and I was the problem.

Now we have silly, petty stuff with his sister and I have stopped all contact coming through me. It is his family, not mine.

I made a mistake of thinking i could truely be a part of it, i wanted it to compensate for my own family.

Now I must just concentrate hard on the family i have now with my children.

youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:42:26

Milk had we not gone for xmas there would have been row, had I gone to a hotel (we lived too far away) there would have been a row.

Milk you demonstrate precisely what I am trying to get my head around. because I had a highly abusive, controlling father I saw my FILs behaviour as bullying and controlling - but you don't.

For me to tolerate what I saw as completely unreasonable was really really hard, but you are right. i had no right to try to change them.

HumphreyCobblers Fri 20-May-16 08:47:16

I think FIL's behaviour WAS bullying and controlling, how could it not be?

The problem is your DH's refusal to see him at fault and his casting of you as the 'villain' because of your unwillingness to concede the madness. He is so used to towing the line with his family that he cannot see what is actually happening.

It is victim blaming in the extreme to blame YOU for FIL not giving you enough food. Madness.

eddielizzard Fri 20-May-16 08:47:40

sadly i think that is what you have to do. your dh can't change his family dynamic himself. he struggles to even see it for what it is. he can't see that these complex set of rules that he learnt as a child to survive in his family aren't the set of rules that everyone else grew up with and expects you to intrinsically know them and stick to them. even though they're completely unreasonable and fucked up.

you have to take a step back and protect yourself. let him deal with his family. you smile and wave. listen with half an ear. if there's an option not to see them take it. suddenly you're very busy on the weekends.

youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:52:00

He would see fault but he couldn't confront it hence the mantra "he is old, he is not going to change, you need to be the bigger person"

At the time he did not think the food thing had been done deliberatly but i knew is father and when he said "MIL i have given you a big portion because you deserve it" - i knew.

My husband says they thought i was greedy, the food was always fantastic and i would ask for seconds and they made a big thing of grandchildren being greedy as well. But it was never said to your face - never gently pointed out to you or even told straight "please make sure others get enough" if that is how they felt. Always done behind your back.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Fri 20-May-16 08:53:08

It's possible that there is nothing abusive about them - more just "stuck in their ways" and have reacted to you trying to change them. Which came first I doubt anyone really knows.

I don't think you're wrong to feel like you do, but I do think you're wrong about trying to change them, or expecting your DH to try and change them.

When your DH tells you what you did wrong, is it something where he just comes out with it with no prompting (which would be wrong) or is it in response to something you have said or asked.

Eg: (and yes this is extreme and it may be something more subtle in your case) - I couldn't bring myself to be pleasant to a friend of DP's. He did do something which in my eyes was wrong and upset me (to do with someone's ashes). He asked DP in a "what was her problem way?" and DP told him the truth. The friend doesn't want to upset me but needed to know so he didn't do it again. Iyswim.

youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:53:27

Because my family was so dysfunctional, so bad, I thought "normal" families were just not like that, i thought they were "normal" "reasonable" and have seen this family up close for 15 yrs or more.

youkeepitallin Fri 20-May-16 08:56:00

He would tell me almost straight away in the car, i am getting my marks out of ten for this visit, either things they have directly said to him that they did not like or things he knew from a look from them they would not like or things that he knew from knowing them so well that they would not like.

Because everything was behind your back, it was real mind games which for all the bloody awful stuff I experienced as a child, i had never experienced that.

PovertyPain Fri 20-May-16 09:09:48

Holy shit, TwoSugars, you're not quite as sweet as your name suggests!

They sound like a bunch of bullies, OP, and I think you're doing the right thing, staying on the sidelines. Your fil sounds like he was an arse, but of course he will now be up on a pedestal, so there's no point taking to your husband about the past.

You're not the problem. If you have come from a dysfunctional family it can make you more accepting of other people's bad behaviour and I think the desperation to 'belong' has made you ignore the bad behaviour of your husband's family. As you've matured and become more aware, the light has been switched on and you have done the right thing in stepping back.

It sounds like your husband doesn't stick up for you and I wouldn't put up with that nonsense. If you don't like them, then stop the holidays and if your husband wants to kick off, then tell him he is welcome to go with them BY HIMSELF. You can spend time relaxing at home, visiting friends or on your own holiday. I certainly wouldn't be going round to visit someone who treated me the way they treat you.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Fri 20-May-16 09:10:33

Marking you out of ten is wrong and ridiculous. You don't tell someone where they "went wrong" if they don't ask!

Trying to help you have a better relationship with his parents by helping you understand what makes them tick would be fine as long as he accepted it if you didn't want to.

As for mind games - If you have an opinion or thought about someone's behaviour and you say nothing you're "bottling it up and storing up trouble", if you talk to someone else about it you're "back stabbing and bitching" and if you tell them you're just plain "rude"! It all sounds like mind games to me.

(That's a general you - not you personally.)

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Fri 20-May-16 09:13:09

PovertyPain - I would have thought my name indicated a lack of sweetness, sugar needs to be added wink

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