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Joined: Apr 2009
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Moogs Offline OP
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I'm at my breaking point with my in-laws and I need to figure out what to do before it destroys our relationship.

It started when I first met his parents. We had been dating several months and he'd met my parents and got along well with them. He invited my mother and I to a gallery showing of his, and when we were there his parents proceeded to question my Mother about the future for me and their son. They were quite pushy and unreasonable, especially considering we had only been dating a few months. I blew it off as them just being interested in their sons life...

It never stopped. When he started spending nights at my place, or having plans with me on the weekend, his parents would get very upset- jealous even. Though, he was 31 at the time, so we are not talking about someone who was young or lived at home. When we moved in together, it got worse. They would act "hurt" if they were not invited over every week. In fact, when we didn't see them for about four days, they called him and told him that he was spending too much time with me and he should spend more time with his family. That was weird but I again ignored it.

It was when we got engaged that things really went downhill. Despite the fact that his mother and father will boss me around (such as telling me what to do, what to get them, etc, no matter where we are) and are often very rude and out of line with what they say, I have always been very polite and respectful to them, out of love and respect for my husband. When we announced our engagement, they were angry because his younger brother was also engaged and they didn't want us to "steal the spotlight". His younger brother mind you was with the girl 5 years and planning to wait a few more before getting married- we weren't planning to wait a few years as we were in the process of purchasing our first home together. We went ahead with the wedding plans and things became terrible between him and his brother.

We were married in June and his brother did not come to the ceremony- stating that he had to stay home to help his fiance carry in gifts from a party the following day. Right before we got married, his mother cornered him and told him he was making a mistake, and asked if he really loved me, and in a nutshell told him not to do it. Mind you, I have always been very nice to her- AND they have hated every woman he's ever been involved with. CRAZY!!!

When it came time for his brother's Batchelor party, his father actually cornered him and yelled at him for not wanting to go. My husband explained that he wasn't invited, that his brother hadn't come to our wedding ceremony, and that he knew his brother cheats on his finance and didn't want to be there to witness anything that may happen. Still, his father pushed and actually yelled at him until he agreed to go. He went and had a miserable time.

In the meantime, we had put off a reception because his parents insisted we didn't get married, and they made my husband promise to not tell any of the realitives. We didn't get to have the wedding I always dreamed of because they made it completely impossible. Anyhow, once his brother was married, we had our reception after. His brother did not come to his batchelor party and his parents blamed that on me (it's not as though I was going to be there). In fact, the night before his batchelor party, his father cornered me and actually screamed at me for about a half hour. He kept saying that they have "made the boys have a relationship all of these years" and that I ruined it. He kept going on and then told me not to tell my husband that he had spoken to me. Of course I told him- his parents are always asking us to keep secrets from one another and that just isn't healthy in a relationship.

It continued to get worse, if you can believe that. Now that we are married and have a house, his parents continue to refer to it as their sons house, and will not adknoweldge that it is in any part my house. He did not come from money and every cent that went toward that house was from the two of us working hard to save money to buy it. We make the same salary- there is no one person what owns more of the house than the other- and we always treat each other as equals- his parents just wont accept that.

My problem now is this. I have put up with their crap (almost abusive at times) for the entire relationship and I wont do it anymore. I've told my husband I don't want anything to do with them, and that in the future I may be able to be around them in small doses, but I just need a break without them for a few weeks, months, I don't know how long. He feels trapped in the middle. He understands how I feel and seems to agree with me that they are out of line and out of control, but he also grew up with that and it's hard to change the way you see things. Please help... they keep showing up uninvited, in fact, they live 10 minutes away but the first night we spent in our new house, his mother spent the night. Yup. They call him to take out the trash, mow the lawn, go grocery shopping for them, and just about anything thye need- including changing a lightbulb. They are not incapable, just very, very lazy people who are used to having their sons do everything (my husband refers to it as "child labor" he did as a kid). I want to be able to start a life with my husband, especially as we are now planning a family of our own, and I just don't want them to be a part of it unless they change. I don't want our children to be exposed to people who boss us around and call me names and are rude and disrespectful. I don't think that's healthy. I need a way to approach things with my husband and his family to set some boundaries. Is it too late or can we still save his relationship with his family while keeping it out of our relationship??

Any advice is greatly appreciated. I don't know what else to do. I've tried everything and I have a lot of support (family and friends who have witnessed such things), but even my support chain has run out of ideas. I'd appreciate any ideas you have on how to handle this situation.

Joined: Oct 2007
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There is a great little book called The Dance of Anger. It deals with saying no. Great advice.

Aside from that, this is going to be an uphill, slow battle, that you will have to win skirmish by skirmish. You are going to have to be the bad guy for awhile until your H realizes he will not die if he doesn't abide by their wishes. He honestly just cannot SEE that possibility yet, because he's never been allowed to. You can help him reach that point.

The first thing I would do is send his parents a card in which you say something like 'In the interest of our marriage, we are asking that you respect our wishes and no longer drop by our house unannounced.'

Tell your H you are doing it. Tell him to prepare for a big fight. Tell him that if he balks, and goes to stay with his parents to appease them, he can prepare to take all his stuff with him, because you will not tolerate such disrespect to you. Remind him that you love him more than anyone else on earth, but you will NOT live like this any more. Even if it means living without him.

And mean it. I promise you, if you don't stop it now, you'll be divorced with 3 kids in 10 years. And he'll have custody of the kids cos his parents will hire the meanest lawyer in the country to protect 'their' family. I've seen it happen here.

Sorry, but there's no easy answer here except for you being strong enough for the both of you until he grows a pair. He needs you to do this for him.

Oh, and cut out all the talk about 'they made us' or 'they forced us to' - no one forced you to do anything you didn't agree to. Until you realize that and stand up for yourself, you will continue to be controlled by their manipulation just like your H.

Joined: Mar 2009
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Moogs,
Sorry to hear about the conflict with your in-laws. I agree with Catperson. You can't all of sudden throw a bunch of demands at them - you need to go in baby steps - starting with letter that Cat mentioned making one request. Unfortunately you have allowed them to treat you this way for so long - now you have to retrain them. Someone at work recently said something to me to the effect of "when you're given sour grapes, you can turn them into raisens and they will become sweet." You and your H have to agree on the resolution and you both have to back each other up and support each other when the in-laws rebel. If you don't the resolution will fail. For each issue that you both will deal with and come up with a resolution determine what is the worst that can happen and how will you both deal with it. This will also help you come up with the best possible solution to the issue you want to deal with. Deal with one issue at a time.


D-Day #1 Aug/2007.
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My wife and I dealt with the same thing (not to the same extent but similar) and then we have two really good couple friends who also dealt with it. (One sounds VERY similar to your experience). All three of us choose to attempt to resolve the issue in the same way and I think it would work for you guys as well.

Because it is your husbands family, he has to be the one to stand up to them and set boundaries. It is not easy but it is the only thing that worked for me and my friends marriages.

The more that you try to set the boundary the more your in-laws will be angry at you for "tearing up their family." But when your husband is the one who sets the boundary and enforces it as both of your decision they will have to handle the issue differently. Now instead of being mad at you they need to be mad at both of you...which will be hard for your husband at first and should take some pressure off of you.

Your in-laws (and your husband) need to know and act in away that communicates that you guys have formed your own family that your in-laws are not directly part of. They have their family, your parents have their family and you two have your family.

Your husband also will need to put you first as his priorities and be willing to stand up to his parents in defense of you and the decisions you guys make as a couple.

Again, it's not easy but it works.

I had a hard time with it and standing up to my Mom but I'm really glad I did it. Also, our friends whose situation was similar to yours did a complete 180 as soon as her husband stood up to his Mom as well. They actually have a relationship with them and she is getting along with her mother-in-law.

Hang in there!! You're not alone and I can understand your frustration.

Jake
http://holycrapmarriage.blogspot.com

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Moogs Offline OP
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My husband and I have been working on this together, based on some of the suggestions. His brother actually came to spend time with us for the first time. He actually stayed over our house and spent about six hours talking with us and then spending time with my husband (I left them to have some "brother" time). So, things are looking up there.

However, things with his parents have continued to go downhill. My husband's mother called up panicked that her car was stuck in her garage and she needed to get it out so that it could be towed. We go over there and the car is sitting in the driveway. She said that his father was able to get it out (in the 15 minutes it took for us to get over there??) Then it comes out, (the real reason she wanted us to come over)- his Dad tells Chris he needs him to help chop wood in their backyard. My husband said we had plans and had only stopped by because of the "emergency" and we had to go. Step 1.

The following week, his father was out of town and we invited his mother to dinner because she kept complaning about being alone, and my husband felt guilty. No big deal. We tell her dinner will be on the table at 6:00 and that we have to walk the dogs after dinner and do some painting, but she's welcome to join us for dinner and then come with us on the walk or go home, her choice. She showed up for dinner at about 6:30 (dinner was cold). As soon as she arrived she announced that once we were done eating my husband was going with her to help her pick out a new cell phone. She also wanted him to sign up for different cell phone service for her and sign for it because everything is in her husband's name (she wanted my husband to pretend to be his father). He told her he wasn't comfortable doing that, so she called his father and put him on the phone to yell at my husband. Mind you, this is in our house and my husband is 34 years old. I didn't say anything, but how am I supposed to keep my mouth shut? I'm sick of the manipulative "crap"- it has to end. My husband can't take anymore of it and he has told me he doesn't know what to do to stop it or how to handle it.

We also found out that his parents added him and his brother to three of their credit cards as a user but didn't tell either of the brothers about it. His brother was very upset to find this out (we found out because we check our credit reports). We are trying to get his name off the cards, but this is the kind of thing that is just unacceptable. This could affect our future because it can impact our finances if they don't pay, and also if something happens to them my husband will be responsible for the debt. These are the things that add up to make me not want to have a relationship with them. I think the reason they don't respect our relationship is that they don't respect my husband as an individual seperate from them and they don't respect him as an adult either.

This brings me to my last concern. They have no planning. His father has mentioned letting their house forclose because he doesn't want to pay the bank anymore. They have a lot of debt, credit card debt, first and second mortgage, car loan, etc. The problem is, his mother has no income, no retirement, and is not old enough for social security. His father has had two heart attacks and refuses to take care of himself. He is starting to show signs and the doctors have already stated he probably wouldn't make it through a third surgery. It's a terrible thing to think about- but my husband and his brother brought it up the other night. His mother will be left with no money and will have no place to live (the insurance policy wont even cover the debt and she has no income). His brother said she is absolutely not staying with him and his wife- that they are starting their own family and that they can't be responsible for watching her. His mother expects she would come to live with us. We have no room in our house- we only have one bedroom other than ours and we are planning for a baby. Plus, there is no way I would be able to live with his mother, obviously. She already will follow me into the bathroom, or tell me what to do in my own house, I wouldn't be able to handle it. The problem is, my husband has said he wants his parents to plan better because he does not want his mother to live with us either. She has stated though that it's normal for multiple generations to live together in some cultures, so why not ours? His parents feel no need to plan or save money because they expect that their sons will take care of them, so they are racking up debt and just planning that when the money runs out and the house is gone, they, or she, will live with us. When things are so tense with them already, how can my husband tell them that this is not an option and that they need to plan? He told me he wants to talk to them but doesn't know what to say and he asked me if I could mention it on here and see if there is any response.

(yes, I told him about my post and let him read it, along with the responses. I don't keep things from him, so when you respond he'll probably be reading it too. )


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