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How to have this conversation with ILs?(17 Posts)
I've written out a huuuge essay but it just rambled on and on about toxic, neglectful etc etc ILs (classic golden child/scapegoat scenario with DH as the scapegoat, lots of incidents over the years) so I'll be brief and try not to dripfeed but if I do I apologise.
DH has bad anxiety, we suspect possible ASD but we don't know. He needs to tell needy, demanding ILs that we're looking at a move and a new job that will mean not being able to come back for his hobby (I know, the mysterious Mumsnet "hobby", I'm sorry ), not being at their beck and call (he is always the one they demand comes back to do any kind of jobs, even though SIL is only 5 minutes away and we are 2 hours away and have a DD), and them having to actually get off their arses and visit us for once if they want to see DD, instead of demanding that we travel to visit them and drag DD around in the car while we do the rounds and sit there and be bullied by MIL and SIL.
He's been having panic attacks at work about telling them this. They will lay on the guilt trip something rotten, try to convince him that regular visits and the hobby will be possible (it won't, he is aware of this, is totally on-side and determined but very very anxious about it - I'm working on getting him to the GP).
He'll never go NC, I don't think, unless it starts to really badly affect DD or I. His own self confidence is in tatters so he won't go NC if it's for his own good. It's just getting him through this conversation without them either piling on the guilt and making him loathe himself, or shouting and screaming at him and killing his self confidence even more. They are all quite confrontational, huge blazing row kind of people. He is terrified of confrontation.
We both know getting too far away to be at their beck and call will be what he needs and give him a chance to rebuild his confidence and see a GP (they don't believe in anxiety etc so he's never felt able to seek help before), and it's the right career move and family move for us too. Does anyone have any advice for how to broach the subject? Would you do it face to face? (They'd probably kick off if he didn't). Should I be there too?
He is an adult. He has a wife and daughter of his own and they still try to control his life to the extent that he feels he has to have this conversation with them but I want to support him.
You can try the "the broken record". Tell them what you want to tell them. Wait for a response; if it's negative just repeat what you said. Practice beforehand what you might say. Eventually they will get the message because they cant argue with someone who wont escalate with them.
"I'm aware this is not the news you were hoping but it is the best decision for our family. We are moving for DH career"
"I'm sorry this news has upset you. Once we have moved we can work out visitation arrangements. This is the best decision for our family."
Keep dead calm and if all else fails you can leave.
If you have this conversation with his parents then theoretically you are controlling him as well.
Also I would be questioning if he really wants to give up his hobby? Does he do anything else for leisure?
If he's moving house/job I would just ghost them to be honest. If he is wary of things kicking off or doesn't want to have the conversation I wouldn't push him into it- it could lead to resentment later on. Or the family turn it into 'you're poisoning my baby' type of scenario.
I would not have any sort of conversation with them; nothing has really changed here and the two of you will come off far worse in any face to face dealings. He is in no way ready to confront them, he's already having panic attacks and is mired in his own FOG (fear, obligation, guilt). The rule book of dealing with familial relations goes completely out the window when it comes to families of origin like your DHs. Your child would also benefit from not having any contact with his parents either; it does her no good for her to see her parents being so disrespected.
I would encourage him to seek out a therapist and someone who is well versed in the ways of narcissistic family structures. BACP are good and do not charge the earth. The GP will only be able to offer a limited amount of therapy and he could wait a long time for that too. I would also encourage him to read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward, you could read Toxic Inlaws by the same author.
Do post also on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages, there are some useful resources there at the start of that thread.
Are you looking at a move/new job or has a new job been secured?
I'd be sure the move is all in motion and then visit them or take them out to dinner, announcing he has some good news.
Then announce the good news with his new career and how he's been wanting and waiting for such an opportunity, as it means so much to him.
Then say the downside is the location, but "where there's a will, there's a way" and we'll be back as often as possible. [yeah right]
You both just need to demonstrate how fantastic this is for him and your family. It's their choice whether to get on board or not after that.
I'm assuming that some of his family are involved also in the hobby or its very much tied to a location near them, like large sailing lake.
How close are you to moving? I wouldn't be thinking about telling them until you have jobs 100 % sorted and have a some kind of house moving plan. That way their emotional leverage is limited, they can strop all they like but the deal is done.
I would be tempted by a call from your dp first, both of you on the line if possible. I would also wrote down some stock answers, almost the story or script of your move, so when they kick off you don't both get pulled in justifying yourselves.
We have some exciting news, I've been offered this great job, it will really be a good step in my career. It's in ..... but it looks like a nice area. Yes, I will miss Viking Battle Reenactment at the local castle, it's such a shame but as you know jobs have to come first. I will see how I can use my sword twirling skills somewhere else. Yes, i will miss it AND repeat.
I would avoid telling them about ideas and what you are thinking of doing, they will use anything thats not set in stone to talk you both around.
I would avoid giving any negative reasons for moving, they will use that at as fuel. Nothing to do with them as people, family dynamics, husband's mental state, don't like current job or house. It will be aimed at the other of you directly and they will be winding each other up in the background.
Do you have to get property onto the market before job searching? Thats a bit hard to hide.
Don't tell them anything at all.
You will never 'win' and it will cause your DH more stress and anxiety.
Get all your plans in place.
Move. Once you've gone you tell them.
If you tell them before you go he will be 'hoovered' back in in no time.
Don't say anything.
Don't tell them any of your plans.
Carry on as normal.
Once in your new home, text them the details (if you feel you have to) and get on with your lives.
Honestly!!! It's the only way to go.
Has your DH done any reading up on toxic families and narcissistic mothers?
He needs to see the GP and also needs some therapy pretty damn quick.
This link may also prove helpful to you:-
Are they the sort of people who thrive on drama and conflict?Are they very articulate and apt to bring up the past in all situations? Do you feel that whenever or however you tell them, they will kick off and try to destroy your DH?
If yes, then do not tell them until the deed is done. The kick off will be huge but you will only have to hear it once.
It reminds me of Gavin and Stacey!! Grown ups feeling they have to still be appeasing parents and basing choices around them , god forbid I would ever be that way with my son
Why are you worrying about telling them you are thinking you might move?
This way you get a row now, and a row later
Will whatever they have to say now, change your mind? Are you asking for their input? It's got nothing to do with them what you decide to do - you are grown ups. You are not asking for permission.
Tell them when your DH has a job, and you have a moving date.
Sorry I'll try to answer as many questions as possible.
It's me going for the job, not DH. No house to put on the market. I find out today or tomorrow if I have this job, we'll have to move in the next couple of weeks. He's not worried about telling them that we're thinking of moving, he's worried about telling them that we ARE moving, if I get the job. I've got two more interviews lined up in the next couple of weeks that would also involve moves. Regardless we will have moved by September as we want to go to an area with more jobs.
DH will be a SAHD until DD goes to school which is absolutely unthinkable because in their family, the man works and the woman cooks. He was a SAHD last year and they kept asking him when I was going to take over, when he was going to get a job etc.
He enjoys the hobby but has said that DD has to come first, and having a stable career is most important. The hobby (Huldra wasn't far off) is a big family thing. His family own the group, they've done it basically forever, it is their life basically.
He does other things for leisure, which he'll be able to do more of at home and he's looking forwards to it. He hates where he works at the moment and can't wait to leave.
The one benefit is that he is absolutely adamant that we'll never make DD feel this way. The way he's been treated for daring to have a family and make something of his life is horrendous.
I'll suggest to him that we don't tell them until we're moved in and it's done. It would probably cause even bigger drama (they definitely thrive on it and kick off at the first opportunity) but at least we're far enough away from them.
I'll also read some of the links and books you all suggested, thank you.
Tell them when you have moved - they will still make a fuss, but will not be able to change things! My husband always used to do this with his mother, with small and large things, it stopped her making life miserable between deciding on a course of action and actually doing it.
Don't tell them now it's too soon in the process...either tell them once you've moved/day before or once you have secured job and new living accommodation ..
They will drama llama anyway but if you are already there/moved they can't actually do anythink about it and you can turn phones off/no internet etc to just get some peace...
My only caveat to that is if your dh cannot handle the stress of not telling them....as said up thread broken record technique- dw has new job we're moving repeat repeat
no more detail is needed so I would wait until you have definitely accepted a job first
Really good that you're planning to do it whatever, and agree with pps it's helpful to tell them when it's done, otherwise they may manage to get dh into a dynamic of feeling like he has to get their consent. Telling them when it's a done deal gives a lot of unspoken cues about dynamics; you and he are in a strong position and making it very clear it's not negotiable and their feelings won't affect your choices.
A wise MNetter once said on a similar thread a phrase that's always stuck with me - 'handing them a lovely big bucket of drama to splash around in'. If you go to them with all the anxiety and apprehension that will involve and start with 'we have something to tell you
and we know you're going to go nuts' you're handing that bucket right to them. Google Grey Rock. Minimum information, minimum engagement, boring and pleasant. No going to summoned meetings to be roared at, if phonecalls turn difficult 'I can hear you feel very strongly at this, so I think it's best we both take some time to calm down.' and end the call. Their script involves you being the bin they dump their crap in (basic role of any scapegoat child), so it's about refusing to take the script they try to hand you and playing the part they want you to play, and not taking that victim position to their powerful one.
Sorry to hear dh is having such a hard time with anxiety, the suggestions above for counselling sound really good ones.
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