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Difficult family dynamic with ILs

(21 Posts)
Cantsleep20 Thu 02-Jul-20 05:46:19


I think I need a bit of help and I don’t know where to turn.

A bit of background...A number of times I’ve been told by my SIL that my husbands family think I’m an outsider and ‘scum’, that I bully and have bewitched him, and talk negatively about me behind our backs. This started just before we got married (as a ‘friendly’ warning) but every couple of years or so there is a reemergence of these accusations. The last time was when I was 5 weeks pregnant. I’m certainly the more vocal of us but we discuss things as a team. Perhaps they really do think that or perhaps that’s been exaggerated by SIL for effect. I find it incredibly hard to deal with and find myself not wishing to see them a great deal.

The first time SIL said these things and I was very upset by them, I confronted the family who made a half concession that they do talk about me like that. Then I asked about SIL’s exact descriptions that had been used which shocked them a little. She pleaded with me not to repeat the things and then she denied ever having said them. Maybe they have been nasty about me but won’t admit it fully so they don’t look bad in front of my husband.

It seems to always happen after a disagreement about the way we do things, or if we ever express that we don’t want to tow the family line (they believe i force my husband to do what I want).

In this COVID 19 world, after a close friends father dying of it, we have different approaches to social distancing - we are adhering very strictly to the rules and that sadly means no cuddles for grandparents and no getting close to other babies/children. They say they have been too, but cue a difficult conversation when we find out that they have not been distancing from other family members (not within their household). Now we are all talking about a holiday together, but we are made nervous by the different approaches (especially as we are trying for another), and they are likely to be on holiday with another family before the holiday with us.

When we say it would be good if everyone could adhere to the distancing rules in the run up to the holiday, it’s met with scoffs and eye rolls. Clearly it’s a way away, things may change and currently it’s not allowed but rather than saying they would try their best, we get told ‘everyone has to do what works for them’ and ‘if you don’t like the risks, you have to make a judgement if you want to come’. This isn’t supposed to be a thread on coronavirus approaches/risk.

I feel like I know this will cause some more behind our backs bitching and I will undoubtedly be blamed for driving a wedge between my husband and family if we deem the risk is too high. My husband isn’t one for confrontation and prefers the least resistance so doesnt stand up for me.

What should we do? And how can I get over these feelings of being bullied and hated? I’m sure the background history affects my feelings of depression, negativity and panic attacks. I feel like I’m being punished for sticking for my principles and I will have to compromise them to be accepted into the family. Will I feel like this forever?


OP’s posts: |
7yo7yo Thu 02-Jul-20 06:08:23

Stop having anything to do with them and do not go on holiday with them.
They are bullies.

SnuggyBuggy Thu 02-Jul-20 06:25:41

I wouldn't go on holiday with them, I mean holidays with other people you actually like can be difficult so why go with people you don't.

Coffeecak3 Thu 02-Jul-20 06:49:09

Go on your own holiday and have a great time.
Remember you’re spending hard earned money, don’t have a holiday that will stress you out.

Lindy2 Thu 02-Jul-20 06:59:04

You say no thanks to the holiday. Do you honestly think you'll enjoy going at all.

Just say that with your baby you have both decided to take a more cautious approach to social distancing and you won't be mixing households just yet. Have a lovely time on holiday in laws and maybe we'll join you next year.

They may moan about you but you say they do that anyway so there's no difference.

We've just had to tell a very good friend that he can't join us on holiday this year as we don't want to mix households. This is someone I really like and would very much like to spend time with in normal circumstances. If you don't even particularly get on it's a no brainer and a very valid reason and chance to reduce contact.

TheGoldenApplesOfTheSun Thu 02-Jul-20 07:02:03

Your husband needs to know how important it is to you that he backs you up actively. They are his relatives and they're being very unpleasant to you, he needs to make it clear to them that he will always look after you and his own family above protecting their feelings/not rocking the boat. I'd have a serious conversation with him about how bullied and upset you are feeling. He needs to step up a bit and enforce that these are just as much his decisions as yours. You are a team.

You can't control how they think and talk about you, which sucks. Maybe they will always be like this. But you can control how much you let them into your lives. It's definitely not unreasonable to restrict that, it doesn't make you a bad person it is based on avoidingtheir bad behaviour towards you. You don't have to put up with it. Like others said, sounds like a holiday with them would be really stressful, maybe it would be best to plan a more relaxed solo break.

Blondebakingmumma Thu 02-Jul-20 07:20:20

Everyone has a right to choice. Your ILs are choosing to act one way. You are now entitled to not go on holiday with them. If they are upset you can point out that they themselves suggested it!

Win win. Life is too short to worry about how people view you.

AgentJohnson Thu 02-Jul-20 07:41:10

There’s no ‘we’ in your story. Sadly you have chosen to stay in a relationship with someone who has your back behind closed doors.

Why would you consider going on holiday with people who have repeatedly expressed their dislike of you?

It sounds like your H is a ‘path of least resistance type’ with you too. Nods his head at every opportunity but not necessarily agreeing.

SoloMummy Thu 02-Jul-20 08:26:37

In fairness to his family, if he has never stated these things that stand out to his family, but you do, they can't really be blamed for thinking that you pull all the strings can they!

And, it's difficult to really get a sense of whether he does agree with your stance or feels has to just go along with it.

In many ways I feel more sorry for him!

The holiday, I'd have never agreed in the current circumstances. However, come July with everything effectively being eased, it sounds as though its permissible.

With regards to them adhering to the rules beforehand, you have to implicitly trust for that. And I'm afraid that even with my own very close family, I know that in comparison to our household that's shielding the others are following rules, but nowheres closely as us.

The fact that you've been seeing them etc, even though you wish to follow the guidelines, can be interpreted as some as though anything can now go and life returns to normal. Whereas not having done this, would have kept you very separately following the guidelines.

The sil. Is she ohs sister or his brother's wife?

She sounds immature tbh and a shit stirrer. But equally, whether it's publically acknowledged or not, most groups of people do this to some extent. It's just to what degree.

I have no doubts my inlaws picked me apart! I have certainly moaned about my inlaws. But sometimes, it's better vented away than to the person and cause all sorts of other issues.

You sound very different to them. You don't sound as though you overly wish to do things as they do. It sounds as though your husband takes the easy route with you who he has to live with, whether he agrees or not.

ElinoristhenewEnid Thu 02-Jul-20 09:02:02

Just remind your dh that when they criticise you they are criticising him, his decisions and taste - he chose to marry you!

Cantsleep20 Thu 02-Jul-20 09:06:55

Thanks @SoloMummy.

I also feel sorry for my H. He’s got the worst deal here. I have told him many times. I think that’s what makes me the most sad. As SIL (bros wife) and the others joke ‘he’s always been the black sheep of the family’. His opinion was always dismissed and he’s always shouted over before I arrived! I’ve said maybe he would rather go back to that without me. It has made me think perhaps we would both be better split up. Which makes me cry. Neither of us really want that.

We have only stuck to within the rules and only seen anyone since it has become permissible to do so. Only outside and always at a distance. They know we’ve been more strict than them I imagine, but we didn’t know they’ve not be strict until MIL recently laid on the guilt trip that she’s allowed to cuddle the other grandkids.

Honestly we are different. But it doesn’t stop us wanting to be an accepted and (particularly for me) respected part of his family.

OP’s posts: |
SeasonFinale Thu 02-Jul-20 09:08:37

I am mystified as to why you would contemplate a holiday with them at any time let alone now.

Just say you are right we have weighed up the risks and have decided its a no thanks but have a great time.

I am in a pretty similar situation with ILs too. Although we make decisions as to what we are doing DH buries his head and lets me be the bad guy to reuse invitations we want to say no to. We have been married 20 years now and it becomes easier to say no and not even care what they think anymore. Life becomes easier when you stop worrying what others think.

Cantsleep20 Thu 02-Jul-20 09:09:05

Thanks @7yo7yo
It harder said than done somehow for us. And I don’t want that to happen for my H. It would be so sad.

OP’s posts: |
Cantsleep20 Thu 02-Jul-20 09:14:22

Thanks @Lindy2
I think perhaps that’s the right way to do it. And I have to get used to the moaning. Easier said than done, knowing a decision will make you the villain for years

OP’s posts: |
Cantsleep20 Thu 02-Jul-20 09:27:11

Thanks @SeasonFinale
Actually it’s already booked. There was much dismay that it would probably get cancelled. But it’s in a months time so things may be different then re COVID. But we’ve put under pressure to say if we are in or not now, so that last instalment can be paid.

You seem to know what it feels like to be the bad guy too. Perhaps it will never change. We are married 5 years and I find it so suffocating still.

OP’s posts: |
Cantsleep20 Thu 02-Jul-20 09:29:18


Thanks - they criticise him all the time. His choice in wife, his hair, his work, make fun of his intellect. I just want to stick up for him even more.

OP’s posts: |
Cantsleep20 Thu 02-Jul-20 09:35:14

Also, my H just loses his voice when there is an opinion to be made around his family. He literally can’t speak. I really encourage his to tell me how he feels and try to get him to assert himself. I’ve even suggested counselling for us/him to make communication better. He says he would tell me (which he does) if a decision was particularly important to him. Just often they are not that important I guess.

OP’s posts: |
SoloMummy Thu 02-Jul-20 12:13:51


Thanks @SeasonFinale
Actually it’s already booked. There was much dismay that it would probably get cancelled. But it’s in a months time so things may be different then re COVID. But we’ve put under pressure to say if we are in or not now, so that last instalment can be paid.

You seem to know what it feels like to be the bad guy too. Perhaps it will never change. We are married 5 years and I find it so suffocating still.

Given its booked, then I don't think that they're being unreasonable to know your intentions though regarding the holiday.

Cantsleep20 Thu 02-Jul-20 13:03:02

It’s not the asking for our intentions - that is very reasonable. It’s the pressure to make a decision in a certain way and the negative backlash if we say we are not coming that I’m struggling to cope with.

OP’s posts: |
Cantsleep20 Thu 02-Jul-20 19:44:21

@SnuggyBuggy thanks - maybe that will be the way forward. But it’s so sad for my husband that it has come to this...

OP’s posts: |
Cherrysoup Thu 02-Jul-20 22:24:27

Bewitched him? Are you from a culture with superstitious beliefs?

I think your dh needs to man up and have your back. It sounds like he is just letting you be thrown to the wolves! Who the hell is your sil to say such things?

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