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when do you draw the line with toxic PIL's ?

(36 Posts)
ShanBrod Wed 08-Jul-09 12:43:07

Im really struggling with if i should cut my PIL out of my life due to their constant strain on my marriage and my emotions since i got married 9 months ago but been together 10 years. I honestly thought i had a good relationship with my MIL(although difficult at times)and had her looking after the children 2 afternoons for 4 hours while i and DH worked(they offered this)so can only think her actions towards me since marrying DH are a jealousy of me or hatredblush

To give some back ground as to why im thinking this way below is a list of things that have really upset me since i got married and has me really wondering if PIL are really needed in my and my childrens life.

1. FIL used to call me fat arse which upset me as it was done in front of others and i once rang MIL to hear him refer to me as "fat arse is on the phone".I had addressed my upset about this especially since my 5 year old started calling me it.

2.We bought our first home and invited both family,grandparents & friends to our housewarming which they didn't attend as "Its not MIL scene hanging with young couples".

3. At our wedding they turned up 50mins late to the reception even though the church & reception next to each other and all guests arrived on time angry They did put in money for the wedding 2k which i was very gratful for but never got us a congratulations card or did any speaches at our wedding.

4.We all went on holiday togethershock with Us,PIL,BIL & SIL after our wedding and two times while following them by car FIL drove off so fast we lost them in traffic and they rang 30mins later to see where we were once they arrived(FIL told us to follow him)
We were angry by this stage so didn't contact them to see what their plans were and we did our own thing, that night we went over to BIL/SIL room to find out that they were all going out for dinner together as PIL/BIL/SIL were leaving the next day and we hadn't even been invited! The next morning they all got up and left without even calling,coming up to our room(same hotel) or sayinfg goodbye to their grandchildren who were expecting to see them before they left.

5.We didn't talk when we got back for 8 weeks due to this as I and DH were so angry with their behaviour that i finally rang and asked what is going on with them and why they did the things to which i coped a mouthful of abuse calling me a greedy who expects DH to do everything around the house,She bagged my parents as not contributing to the wedding money which was untrue as they had given us the same amount i just never told PIL as its none of there business. I take all DH money and thats why he hides it from me(this is from years ago when DH was hiding money in a horse racing account) and just general nasty comments about my relationship,wedding,children and my personal character.

6.After the 8+ weeks of not talking we threw them an olive branch and phoned(FIL answered) and invited them over christmas morning to see the kids to which MIL text back later that they were not coming over but DH & the kids could come over to their house which DH declined.
Then at easter they invited all the family to their house for good friday but not us, when DH rang to ask why FIL told him to Fuck off and hung up on him(lucky i was at work)angry.
FIL then 10 mins later turned up on our door step to apoligised and DH ask him why they were acting so nasty and cold and he felt they just didn't give a shit to which FIL responded thats not the case at all and saying that I am the one with the problem with them.Their excuse for not inviting us to easter was they thought we must of been busy hmm but remembered to invite their other 2 sons.

7.DH turned 30 just before christmas and PIL never even rang or got him anything for his birthday.

I really don't know where to go from here as their behaviour has been a constant upset for me and for the last 9 months caused nothing but constant fighting between I & DH to the point of me wanting to seperate just to escape them, i feel nothing has really been sorted with anything and they just blame me for causing trouble in the family and hating them. I feel they are so sly with DH and different people when they talk to him when im not around that DH sometimes feels sorry for them.
I really don't want these toxic people in my life anymore or our marriage as im sick of being in tears over them and watching my marriage detoriate due to there constant slyness with DH and MIL playing me off against DH, I feel like im fighting his mother for his affection.

Oh this really is a messy........any wise words would be helpful pleasesad

ShanBrod Wed 08-Jul-09 12:49:33

Sorry for the confusion with point 4 after the 30 mins MIL rang us from the restaurant asking where were were to which DH told her he was upset they drove off on us for the second time and that we were lost so going back to our hotel. MIL's excuse was she sisn't know we weren't following behind for the 30 min trip to get there.

TwoHot Wed 08-Jul-09 13:05:02

Try some distence and lower your expectations. They sounds like bullies.

pagwatch Wed 08-Jul-09 13:08:29

We cut all contact with my PIL when my DH finally realised thatthe relationship was detremental to everyone involved - most particularly our eldest, DS1.

DD has never met them, Ds1 still does not want to see them. And from the day we cut contcat life has been much much happier.

I believe that if someones involvment in your life is endlessly stressful and difficult with little or nothing positive to mitigate that, then the relationship should end.

I know you will get people horrified as if blood relationship is sacred but ultimately we put our children first.

ShanBrod Wed 08-Jul-09 13:25:54

Funny thing is those 8 weeks of not talking with them was the happiest I & DH have been in the last 9 months, before our wedding things were still great and we hardly ever fought.
We are trying to distance ourselves as i think DH can actually see they damage they are causing us and to me but its made difficult as DH also works with MIL (MIL does day shift & DH nights)so they sometimes cross paths once a week or so.

charlotte1978 Wed 08-Jul-09 13:30:26

Oh I can relate. My late FIL called me 'common' and my MIL constantly points out that I was raised on a council estate and didn't leave school with any education whilst my husband went to private school and is a Finance Manager.

My PIL's together were toxic so when he died I was, in a word, relived.

Your PIL's are certainly toxic and are VERY jealous of you and your husband. The fact that they are nasty to you shows a great deal of jealously and insecurity.

I would sit down with your DH and ask him to back away from his family for a while. He obviously has been angered in the past by your PIL's so he will understand when you say you are exhausted and fed up.

Just talk as much as you can and try and clear your head. Do not let this assholes affect you. They are lowlives who just want to upset you.


crokky Wed 08-Jul-09 13:34:32

Sounds like they live fairly nearby. Even so, I would suggest the following:

1) Cut yourself off emotionally from them - don't expect birthday cards or suchlike - but continue sending anything you already send to them
2) Do not rise to any rudeness - always be polite
3) Don't go on any more bloody holidays with them shockshock
4) Keep your financial affairs private from them
5) Comments like "fat arse" reflect upon FIL badly - just let him say it, don't rise to it.
6) If you invite them to an event like a housewarming and they don't want to come, BE HAPPY ABOUT IT!! Less time you have to spend it their presence, but you did do them the courtesy of inviting them
7) All the silly behaviour (such as their lateness etc) at your wedding will not be repeated as you are now married - try to forget about this - if you are cut off emotionally from them, it won't matter

To me, it doesn't sound bad enough to cut them off totally yet, although it may do in the future.

HolyGuacamole Wed 08-Jul-09 13:52:37

First of all, make an agreement as soon as is possible with your DH that you are a team and that you will not stoop to arguing with each other about PIL. You both are on the same side and need to support each other and come up with ways of dealing with this. If you are at each others throats, then the PIL have won and why should you let a 3rd party get inside of your marriage? What you are actually doing is making a choice to fight about them, they can only make you argue if you let them.

As soon as you do this, you will notice a difference, honestly.

Then, if you can be bothered because it will open a huge can of worms - you make it clear to PIL that you find this, that and the next thing completely unreasonable. If that is how they want to continue, then you will have no choice but to keep your distance because your family is too important to you to be constantly dealing with their behaviour. Like I say, that will open up a huge fight with them because they don't sound like the type of people who are open to criticism so think very carefully. I did this and a year later, things are just getting to a point where we are all respecting each others boundaries, or rather where MIL is respecting our boundaries and keeping her offensive opinions to herself. For me it has been worth it but I am a person who can't keep my mouth shut and DH and I stuck together 100% from day one.

The other option is just to ignore them and get on with your life. Either way, you make the decision to stop allowing these people to mess with your life.

You need to find a level with your DH, make an agreement on how you are going to deal with it and no matter what, stick together. For example, if a PIL issue arises, make no agreements with them until you and DH have talked it thru and made your decisions together, as a team.

ShanBrod Wed 08-Jul-09 13:53:06

LOL crokky we will NOT be going on any more holidays together everwink

I really think it could be a jealousy thing as MIL in the past i feel is always trying to out do me by buying the same or very simular clothes, shoes,house decorations,house renovation etc.
I have also only ever worked part time since having DD 6 years ago and she always made sly digs about her having to returning to work when her third DS was 6 weeks old and "i wouldn't know what real work was" if i mention im tired after i picked up the kids from her house from work... blah blah blah..... I work 25 hours a week sometimes more and she bitches to DH that i could work more.
FIL has also had 2 affairs on her with different women in the past so i also think shes very insecure and threatened by me for some reason.

MIL is having a birthday soon and im seriously thinking of declining the invite as i really don't want to see her.

ShanBrod Wed 08-Jul-09 13:56:07

And yes the live 2 minutes around the corner and they have been to visit us 3 times here in 2 years. This was another issue DH bought up with them as it was prevously us going over there or the kids would never see them. I will say they are fantastic with the kids its just the comments and overall hatred of me i worry about affecting the kids later on.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 08-Jul-09 14:10:23

Hi ShanBrod

I would agree with the responses written, particularly that of HolyGuacamole. If you do separate they have won. Do not give them the satisfaction; as she has written you need to present a united front to these people.

You seem very nice and have likely come from a family where all this toxic type behaviour crap is unknown to you. This makes it doubly difficult to deal with.

This pair of ILs are toxic to say the very least; they do not play by the "normal" family rules and it is no point trying to get them to play ball. They won't do so. Again these people take no responsibility for their actions but blame others (I note they are pinning blame on you when it is them who is causing the trouble). I am sure as well they are more than happy to give you a laundry list of your own supposed shortcomings (another behaviour that this type are wont to do).

Next thing is that one or both of them may present with some previously unknown health problem. This is done to suck you back in. Just be wary if this happens.

Would suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward and your H reads "Toxic Parents" written by the same author.

Do not attend any such celebrations with regards to these two.

BTW these people as well are more than happy to pass on all their crap to the next generation i.e your children as well. This is something you also need to bear in mind too.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 08-Jul-09 14:11:54

I would also say they are not actually that fantastic with the children either as they are actively disrespecting their Mum and Dad.
They could easily try and poison their own minds against you.

randomtask Wed 08-Jul-09 14:31:41

I totally agree with Crokky.

We've had problems with my MIL although not from her not liking me, just her feeling threatened by me (DH's first wife died, so he and DS moved in with PIL for a couple of years and MIL felt like DS's mum). It's taken a lot of patience and us constantly watching for things to deteriorate again. But, it's much better now. I know that it's not just me she competes with (DS's maternal grandmother bought him a t-shirt last week so MIL bought him two) and thankfully, I know DS just tends to think Nanny's a bit nuts if she goes into 'one of her moods'. But I'm lucky as I know it's not me.

I suspect your MIL's issue is 'women' and possibly the same with your FIL. She's obviously had a crap time and probably suspects women near her DH. Your FIL on the other hand obviously has no respect for her (not just you!).

If your children repeat things that your PIL say, explain to them that their grandparents shouldn't say things like that as it's not very nice and is hurtful. Tell them you'd be disappointed if they ever said anything like that. Then don't let your PIL see your children-tell them you don't want your children growing up with the same opinions.

Try not to cut yourself off from them, just have no expectations and be glad when you don't have to see them.

Definitely the change of attitude by DH and I made things better and now we're almost like a happy family!

ShanBrod Wed 08-Jul-09 14:36:22

That is true ATM i grew up with a single mother who raised me well and how to treat others well so this toxic parents stuff is all new to me as my parents got on well even though divorced and my parents have never character bashed my DH or made me feel hes not good enough for me.
I think what i found the hardest was the lack of acknowledgement even after we but told them they upset us and their actions were selfish & rude, they just deflected the questions or upset as we are over reacting and its me thats just angry and not really DH and so it should just be forgotten .....I really think that because the shoes never been on the other foot they have not experienced the true hurt felt so can't relate to our feelings or show compassion. They are very anti social people when they choose to be.

ScarletBandit Wed 08-Jul-09 14:47:17

Shanbrod, I really hope you and dh can remain strong through this.
I have issues with my MIL who is a very toxic and manipulative lady. Dh can see her for what she is these days, but we have had many rows about her in the past.

She was always my best friend when I was a doormat who ran around after her, but it got to the point where I felt I was continually at her beck and call, so I put a halt to it. I am now one of her least favourite people so I decided I would no longer go to her house, taking my children to sit in such an uncomfortable atmosphere.
She is one of those people who will keep on taking from you, but turn and stab you in the back as soon as you dare to say anything against her beliefs iykwim. She has caused many rows not just between dh and I, but in the wider family with her other children.

Dh does have a small amount of contact with her now and then, but I have to say that my life is so much calmer since I limited my time with her, and dh says he doesn't miss her company either.

It is an unfortunate state to be in, but I think you have to put your own family unit first, and if seeing these people less will enhance your own relationships then that may be the way to go.

Hope you manage to sort things out smile

ShanBrod Wed 08-Jul-09 14:47:48

I've thought about having them round for a chat so we can all get our feelings out on the table but i am worried it will back fire or i'll get upset and cry in front of them showing my weak side and cause more issues between I & DH.

Do you think this is worth a try or should i just keep my dignified silence and distance from them?

castlesintheair Wed 08-Jul-09 15:07:34

I would keep a dignified distance from them. Talking to them will 1. only upset you 2. be pointless as, being toxic, they only see their POV and will not listen to reason.

It's bad enough having to deal with your own toxic parents/siblings, when it comes to dealing with toxic ILs (as I have to), my advice is: walk away.

HolyGuacamole Wed 08-Jul-09 15:52:04

I think that having a chat can work. In my case, having the chat, turned into a 3 month argument with all the nosey family members jumping in with their tuppence etc, lots of denials, playing victim and emotional blackmail. It was a very stressful time but no more stressful than it was when we were putting up with all sorts of behaviour like you and others on here describe. However, now, a year later, there is definitely a mutual respect. If your PILs see that they can't break you down as a couple, they might soften.

I'm not saying you can change them because you can't, that is something you have to accept. I do think that if you are up for the challenge that you can get to a point where you can sit in the same room and be respectful to each other, even if it takes a hell of a lot of toing and froing to get there.

For me it was worth it because I am very slowly building a relationship with MIL and I can really tell that she wants that too, despite our differences. OK, we will never agree on loads of things, we are complete opposites but she is my DHs mother and for that reason it is worth it. It has taken a lot to get to this point.

I'm not saying definitely do the whole chat thing but merely that it can work and it is something worth thinking and talking about with your DH. Explore all avenues, look at all the outcomes and see what works best for you.

TwoHot Wed 08-Jul-09 16:24:24

First of all, make an agreement as soon as is possible with your DH that you are a team and that you will not stoop to arguing with each other about PIL. You both are on the same side and need to support each other and come up with ways of dealing with this.

Fantastic advice HolyG!

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 08-Jul-09 17:00:13


What would you want from a chat?. An apology?. You won't get one of those.

You need to tread carefully here with a chat as these people are not at all reasonable or even amenable to reason. How does your H feel about talking with them, does he think there is any point?. I have some sympathy with him as well as your good self because he's been conditioned to all this.

I don't think your PILs will respond at all well to a chat based on their past behaviours towards you. You must remember that these people operate completely outside the "box" when it comes to the "rules" of families. This is hard for you to comprehend - understandably as you have not fortunately come from a family where all this dysfunctional toxic crap is commonplace. They will likely blame you for it all and give you a laundry list of your own supposed shortcomings. They will certainly not take any responsibility for their actions.

Do read the book I've written of in my previous post. This is a good starting point for you. Would also suggest you post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these relationship pages as you will get good counsel there too.

ShanBrod Thu 09-Jul-09 04:18:49

Thanks everyone who has responded, i can relate to so much that has been said down to the other family members jumping on the band wagonhmm
From having a chat i was hoping they might be able to see the upset caused to me and more so DH in all this after hearing it from HIS mouth rather then being able to blame me as the dreadful DIL who's just trying to cause trouble.Although now im not so sure as in the past DH has weakened and gone along with there dissaprovals of my housecleaning,work etc..just to "keep the peace" as he says between us all which i feel has just added fuel to there fire.DH also in the past has secretly text them,rang them but "forgot" to mention it to me causing a few of our arguements.

I will look into ordering that toxic IL's book as im sure it might give me an understanding of how to handle them LOL.

Miggsie Fri 10-Jul-09 14:10:49

My grandmother was toxic (dads mother).
She slagged my mother off for years, everyone went along with it "to keep the peace".
It was a dire and awful situation.
My grandmother was fine to us kids when we were kids but when we hit puberty all the bile she used to direct at my mum was directed at me and my mum. Everything was because my mother was a bad mother, this included my brother's exzema, me having spots. I slouched apparently and couldn't brush my hair properly.

In the end it caused real issues with my parents as my mother went ballistic one day and started on at my dad that he had never once defended her against his mother and dad saying it was easier to say nothing...horribly, my brother has married a woman who is almost exactly like my grandmother...

I had a really grotty grand parent experience and frankly I'd not even bother trying to be nice to the PIL, they will see it as weakness, and another way of controlling you. If you have a chat, it will all end up your fault, my grandmother could blame my mother for just about everything including my father's car being green...she went around saying "of course, the car is such a horrible colour because miggsies mum wanted that colour." which was a blatant lie.

Please remember that though you are trying to be nice and understand them they are not the slightest bit interested in understanding or being nice to you. They see you as a threat to be managed and belittled at every opportunity.

2rebecca Fri 10-Jul-09 15:28:37

I'd agree re you and husband acting as a couple and lowering expectations and keeping your distance without cutting them off. No more holidays with them, decide what you want to do re Christmas birthdays and don't get wound up if you don't see them.
Some of these things might have been misunderstandings, for instance I wouldn't invite anyone over on xmas morning unless arranged in advance because most people are busy Christmas morning. You do sound as though you expected them to drop everything and visit you just because you had decided that was a convenient time for you.
Inviting husband and kids not you isn't on.
Following people in a car is rarely a good idea, giving everyone a map is more sensible.
Just get on with your life and don't worry if they don't like you. You don't like them, that's OK we don't have to all like each other.
They have to accept you are a couple though, unless you prefer husband visiting them with the kids without you. You don't have to do everything 2 by 2 either if you'd rather not. Just put them to the back of your mind.

prettyfly1 Fri 10-Jul-09 17:45:33

There is one bright spark in this for you - in that you and your dh are backing one another.
I just spent three hours listening to my sister be abused by her mil completely outrageously and her dp refuses point blank to stand up to them.

I think the others advice is good - lower expectations, dont approach them, dont go on hols and just ignore the rejection.

forehead Mon 13-Jul-09 20:25:44

I had a similar problem with my MIL, after years of abuse i decided to cut myself off from her. I have never regretted taking this action.

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