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In laws causing rows(27 Posts)
DP's parents are volatile, controlling, very bigoted, nasty and unfortunately live very nearby. I had no idea about their behaviour prior to moving nearby during an unplanned pregnancy (it was our only real option for various reasons) but soon found out firsthand and DP then told me they had been the same his whole life. I don't want to go into detail in case it is identifying (very wary of the Daily Moan using mumsnet for articles), but everyone who knows how they treated me during pregnancy, including their own close family members, thinks they behaved terribly towards DP and me, particularly his DM who tried to put me off him, tried to insert herself into every aspect of our lives and took to pretending I just didn't exist amongst other things.
I ended up with bad depression because of it whilst pregnant and still have it now well over a year later. DP also ended up depressed and still is. DP wouldn't confront them at the time because he was so stressed and said if he did, no matter how tactful he was, they would explode and he could end up estranged, which he wouldn't want. That is their default reaction to anyone standing up to them: fight, lie, protest innocence, cut them out. I obviously wouldn't want that for DP but he knows I feel he should have stuck up for me and that if they chose to cut us out that is their loss and not for want of us trying.
Eventually, after months of us feeling bullied, DP managed to put in place some boundaries, by texting saying they needed to ring before coming round. Our house (always known to them as DP's house) had become an extension of their house and they were very over involved and wanted to know everything we were doing. We also pushed back so that we saw them every few weeks. They were a bit passive aggressive but it was ok and not a huge fall out. DM is the nucleus of numerous wider family problems and DF knows how overbearing she is, so the message was sent to her and we thought perhaps DF was being something of a voice of reason saying we needed space. This made things bearable but I still have so much resentment towards them and hate that they could make my life absolute hell but now they get to see our lovely baby and act like everything is fine and I have to spend time with people who bullied me and my DP, who is a lovely, warm and kind person.
Recently DP asked his DF for help with a task. I really didn't want him to but he needed it. Since then they obviously feel that everything is hunky dory and are dropping in unannounced again, we have seen lots more of them, his DM is once again sending DP very random messages about everything she is doing i.e "I just made a cup of tea," and once again we feel bombarded. DP doesn't trust them or want to feel responsible for their happiness and still harbours resentment but loves them and wants to keep the peace until we can move further away in a year or two. They are depressed as well and he doesn't want to feel responsible for hurting them when they are down already and obviously bored and lonely. Nor do I! However I can't come to terms with them just getting away with how awful they were, and I feel like a mug every time I see them. They are lonely for reason. I also hate their regular sexist, racist slurs and don't want DC to hear that kind of language.
We have a row after each visit and it is stopping us getting over the depression we both suffer with and enjoying our new family. DP has now agreed that he will say to them next time they drop in unannounced (if he is here) that they need to ring first in case DC is napping, we are busy etc. I don't want to feel like I am responsible if this then turns into a family feud, but I also don't feel like I should put up with it just because I am "easier."
So sorry for the long and slightly vague post. What I would like opinions or advice on is whether I am justified in not wanting unannounced visits, how DP and I can move forward and have a happy family life, and whether I have to just let it go or can find a way of making peace that still doesn't mean having a close relationship or letting them influence my DC too much?
That really is the longest post ever. So sorry!
You are going to have to be strong and consistent. Stop trying to please them as a) you can't and b) they don't care about upsetting you.
You've told them not to visit without calling so don't answer the door to unannounced visits. If they will know you're in as your car is there, put a note on the door saying baby and mother sleeping, please phone after 6pm (or whenever DH will be in).
I think if you get the visits under control that would be a good start.
Fast forward 20 years. Your child tells you they don't want you dropping in to see them without ringing to see if it's ok. How do you feel?
If it's not convenient then don't open the door. If it is, do. You don't have to make a big song and dance about it.
Pottering, I have thought about that but I would just never treat my DC how they treated DP growing up and how they have treated us as a couple. So I hope that DC thinks we are kind, loving parents but I still wouldn't just turn up at their house because they might be busy!
Thanks both of you for responding by the way. I know it is an essay. I was trying to get across that they are pretty damn toxic without giving identifiable examples!
Fast forward 20 years. Your child tells you they don't want you dropping in to see them without ringing to see if it's ok. How do you feel?
So being dishonest by pretending you're not in, is preferable to being up front, how very grown up of you .
You need to be firm and consistent with your expectancies and your dh likewise.
Your home is not an extension of theirs and you need to tell them to call before they want to visit.
This is our main rule as dh hates being taken by surprise. It works really well and we wouldn't open the door to those just dropping by.
All the depression isn't good for a small child, they will pick up on the negativity, so you need to keep them at arm's length so you and dh can begin to heal your wounds from their past treatment.
Be firm but polite and see your mood alter as a result.
Your child tells you they don't want you dropping in to see them without ringing to see if it's ok. How do you feel?
Absolutely fine, thanks. I phone my parents, even if from ten minutes away. They phone us, ditto. I'd expect to phone my children and I'd be pretty pissed off if, once they've moved out
as if that's going to happen soon they showed up without calling ahead, too.
You need to practise saying no to them and setting boundaries - they don't sound a very positive influence and if they are causing this level of unhappiness you need to start preparing to go lower contact with them
Well, my parents live 350miles away so it's not an issue I have! But I would never expect my in laws to ring. And I never said I was pretending not to be in; but if I'm doing bathtime / bedtime / having sex (the only reasons I can think of to stop me immediately opening the door!) I don't stop what I'm doing to answer it, I just ignore it.
You asked for opinions and advice. Here's mine.
You are fully justified in not wanting unannounced visits.
DP and you can only move forward and have a happy family life if you both force his family to stop mistreating you both.
You cannot let it go.They will destroy you. It is wrong to let people mistreat you. Awful for your mental health, as you have already experienced.
Find a way of making peace that doesn't mean having a close relationship or letting them influence the DC too much? Nope. Nope. Nope. That way lies madness.
They will only be happy if they control you. You and DH will only be happy if they don't control you. It really is that simple. Someone will be unhappy. I say the unreasonable people should be the unhappy ones. That's them.
The easiest way to cut them off without a huge ding dong is by moving far far away. I moved country (I wanted to that anyway though).
I don't really feel comfortable just ignoring the door because I find seeing them really anxiety inducing due to everything that has happened and I just want to feel that in my own home I am "safe" for want of a better word. I am amazed that they haven't thought "hang on a minute we were really horrible to our son and his partner and they probably don't really want to see us." But according to the wider family, with whom they have fallen out numerous times, they never ever see that they could have been wrong.
Can you move away?
They sound awful. Why don't you want them to cut you out? Sounds like it would be the perfect solution. I wouldn't want racists around me or my DC.
The longer term plan is to try and move although that would possibly mean being even further away from my parents and extended family as we would still need to be near DP's work. It might be the best option in say a year or two but isn't feasible now. My life would be easier if they cut us out but it would really hurt DP. He thinks they are messed up, narcissistic and destructive but they are his parents and whilst he knows they won't change, he also doesn't want to lose them and obviously he has some happy memories of them as a family. I can empathise with that of course and I wouldn't want him to lose that relationship. I think if he said he needed space that they would possibly hurl a load of abuse at him, guilt trip him, tell him I have broken up their family etc then he would end up losing his cool, telling them everything they have done that has hurt him, then we would have this horrible rift with them living in walking distance. But if we say nothing and just let them see us when they want, swear loads in front of DC, drain us, then I feel like we won't be able to recover and move on. It's so hard!
Also: re DC being around depression; I make sure I play and sing and laugh with them lots and so does DP. I can hide it very well. It is just there.
You need firm boundaries and a good threat hanging over their heads. They don't get to treat your house as though it's an extension of yours. They shouldn't be messaging your DP every five minutes with stupid messages about tea. This is their way of controlling you and making you have to respond-which you don't, of course. You need to be allowed to get on with your loves without worrying that they will drop round. I wouldn't dream of just dropping round. They are rude and controlling.
I have a DD in her 20s and wouldn't dream of just dropping by at her house without texting first. I wouldn't even ring I'd definitely text.
The authority to say what you want to do does come with age. I spent 20 years tiptoeing around my MIL but now say what I need to say. I just couldn't have been so strong before so I do sympathise OP, it is very difficult. Your DH is the one who has to sort this out really.
They sound narcissistic. Please have a read of this blog narcissisticmil.wordpress.com and see if it rings any bells. It's written from the perspective of a daughter in law whose in laws are a nightmare. Also visit the Stately Homes thread, which includes info on in laws. I agree with everybody on this thread except PotteringAlong. Nobody gets to drop in on you without notice if that's not what you want or was agreed on.
You (not DH) need to set your own boundaries, the same ones you would set with anyone else, and enforce them.
If that makes them hate you and stop visiting then that's good for you. DH can still go to visit them. If they are horrible to him because you won't stand for bad behaviour then actually it is good for him to see it.
You can't hang around letting yourself and the DC be abused by them, waiting for him to emerge from the FOG. That's a terrible example for him and the DC. Show him what normal people do.
We have read up on narcissists in the past and his mum in particular ticks so many boxes. Deliberately hurtful, DH is the scapegoat, gaslighting... the lot. DH found it very upsetting reading it all, seeing a counsellor and realising his childhood was not typical of a loving family. The thing is though it is often so subtle and could easily be explained away that DH then feels like he is made to look crazy or mean if he stands up to them.
Yeah they are really good at drip drip drip abuse. Small things that you are made to look crazy about if you protest. That's why they're so damaging. Protect yourself at all costs.
My fear now is that having managed to have boundaries for a while, DP's mum will be all over our family and in our home and our relationship given half a chance. She has no job, no friends, no hobbies and I feel bad about that but that is how she has chosen to live her life. Her family acknowledge she also cannot be around other women due to jealousy. She wants to be a matriarch and have everyone involving her in the minutae of their lives, running around after her, telling her how wonderful she is. When she doesn't get her own way she just huffs and sulks.
I don't want to feel I now have to spend time with her when DP is at work, or that she should have DC alone as I don't like her or trust her. I don't trust her not to try and find out anything she can about our lives in order to gossip or make trouble or just fulfil her matriarch fantasy of being able to be the disseminator of family information. I don't trust her not to lie to DC to manipulate them. Crucially, DP agrees and even her family seem to know my fears aren't unfounded. But I don't know how to make sure that I keep her at a distance without causing a fight that would then upset DP.
If you don't stand up to her/them, they will control your entire lives and those of your children.
She has no job, no friends, no hobbies
Try to remember that you have your whole lives ahead of you and everything that entails - children, family life, fun days, family trips and holidays etc. - while she is getting older and has the most to lose if they cut you out of their lives.
And if that happens, well, so be it, they will end up as very lonely old people.
children, family life, fun days, family trips and holidays etc.
Meant to say - if she cuts you out of their lives she'll be missing out on all that.
I know how devastated I'd be if I were to be cut out of my kids' and grandkids' lives.
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