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Help with my in-laws

(25 Posts)
HopefulDIL Sat 11-May-19 07:36:55

I have been married for 11 years and with my husband for a total of 13 years. I have always had a decent relationship with my in-laws. My husband has had a difficult relationship with his parents, which they refuse to acknowledge even though he has tried to discuss it with them. In the beginning he often was annoyed that I was so open with them. But I come from a very open family so it’s still hard for me to be as closed off as he is with them. He didn’t even tell them he was starting chemo, while he was living with them. I showed up to take him to his appointment and they asked why I was there, so that kinda gives you an example of the relationship.
My husband and I both are very uncomfortable with the way his father is with our 2 girls. Neither of us will allow alone time between him and the kids. He has recently retired and in the beginning he text me everyday asking to come over. My husband said he prefers my FIL only come when my husband is there. I am a stay at home mom with a 3 year old and a baby, I feel so awkward coming up with excuses for him not to come. He has slowed his asking to just a couple of times a week. Often when I tell him to come in the early evening, when my husband is home, he declines.
Another issue is that they are always asking for overnights with the kids. We aren’t the kind of parents that have our kids stay other places. My in-laws for a long time assumed this was my “issue” and made very condescending remarks about it. They recently tried to pressure my husband into it and now there is no doubt that we are a united front.
There is no way to put all of the issues/circumstances in one post. I really want a happy and comfortable relationship with my in-laws. I’m happy to have them around frequently. I adore my mother in-law. (I think our relationship has always been complicated on her side, she cried the first we met and told me she felt like she was losing her son.)We see them at least once a week. But I can feel that they are growing colder and resentful of me. It feels like anything they dislike they place on me because they don’t want to admit that their son may not be pleased with everything they do. This has escalated since our daughters came. My MIL is my main focus, I want her to know I love her and value her and would like more of a connection. But I also need to be firm in what we want as a family. I feel like I’m coming up short when I try to keep boundaries and make her feel wanted at the same time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

DoraMarr Sat 11-May-19 07:54:40

I do feel sorry for you. Have you told your husband how you are feeling? It sounds like you have a good relationship with him, regardless of his parents trying to make you sound like the villain. You are absolutely right to limit your father in law’s visits if you are at all concerned about his behaviour.

sodapop Sat 11-May-19 08:46:26

Have you posted about this before HopefulDIL ?
The safety of your children is paramount. I'm not sure what sort of behaviour you are attributing to your father in law but do be careful you are not influenced by the poor relationship between father and son.
As your children become older it will be more difficult to monitor things so you will have to confront the problem. That will be difficult but necessary to protect your children.

TwiceAsNice Sat 11-May-19 08:57:06

Do you know why your husband has such a difficult relationship with his parents? Has he discussed this fully with you? If he has been vague I suggest you have a very robust conversation with him.

If there are concerns around possible inappropriate behaviour from your FIL if he is left alone with the children then he should be supervised at all times, if you are actually worried about some form of abuse I would not allow any contact with my children . Their safety is more important than anything else. I think it’s time to be more honest and forthright all round. Also it’s just me but if your MIL is so off with you why do you crave such a close relationship with her?

MawBroonsback Sat 11-May-19 08:57:34

I wonder how much more lies beneath the surface of your OP. If you have genuine fears of inappropriate behaviour by your FIL then of course you must act - but you also need to share these with your husband.
Regarding your MIL’s “coldness” - is it worth planning an outing with her alone and gently asking wha is wrong?
She may have other issues which are at the root of her current behaviour.

Luckygirl Sat 11-May-19 09:33:30

I want her to know I love her - do you? I can't imagine why? I think you need to be honest with yourself - you are not obliged to love her.

The primary issue here is whether your children are safe. Concentrate on that.

It may be that you cannot have the sort of relationship you wish to have with your in-laws - but that is just how life is.

Safety of children is really all that matters.

silverlining48 Sat 11-May-19 09:40:54

I think I remember a previous post. Clearly things are still problematic. You sound very reasonable and willing, wanting things to work is admirable but please never risk leaving your children with anyone who you feel even slightly uncomfortable about.

Starlady Sat 11-May-19 13:49:14

"My husband has had a difficult relationship with his parents, which they refuse to acknowledge even though he has tried to discuss it with them."

"My husband and I both are very uncomfortable with the way his father is with our 2 girls. Neither of us will allow alone time between him and the kids."

"My husband said he prefers my FIL only come when my husband is there."

It sounds as if there is way more to this than meets the eye. Maybe even more than DH is telling you. It's kind of you to want a better relationship with MIL, etc. But I agree with those who say you need to let go of those goals and focus on protecting your kids. Your and DH's FIRST responsibility is to them, NOT to his parents or anyone else.

Starlady Sat 11-May-19 14:17:45

"I feel so awkward coming up with excuses for him not to come."

So stop. DH needs to tell him that he's not to come over unless he (DH) is there. Hopefully, FIL will then stop asking for these visits. If, foolishly, he continues to text asking for visits, anyway just don't reply.

"I’m happy to have them around frequently. "

Not sure why if you're worried about FIL's behavior with your DDs. You are a lovely DIL though. Your PILs are very lucky.

"I adore my mother in-law. (I think our relationship has always been complicated on her side, she cried the first we met and told me she felt like she was losing her son.)"

She actually TOLD you she "felt like she was losing her son?" I'm sorry, but that sounds like a manipulative tactic to me. If she were just a nervous MIL who has heard bad things about MIL/DIL relationships and was trying to make sure DIL didn't keep her DS away from her, I might brush it off. But I suspect she's more aware of the issues between her/FIL and DH than she lets on and was trying to guilt you into making sure he stayed in touch with them. Since you "adore" her, she must be an amazing woman in many ways. But I'm guessing there are deep issues between her and DH - and that, underneath it all, she knows it.

"We see them at least once a week."

They are very lucky, given the circumstances. That's more than some GPs get even when they have a good relationship with their AC.

"I feel like I’m coming up short when I try to keep boundaries and make her feel wanted at the same time."

Have you tried inviting her for a "girl's day out," etc, just the two of you (DH would stay home with the kids). Would yo feel comfortable doing that? Do you think she'd be interested? If you would both be into doing that, it might reassure her.

Other than that there may not be any way to keep that balance. You MUST focus on your responsibility to your girls. MIL is a grown woman and not your responsibility,; your DDs are defenseless children and ARE your responsibility. Sorry for repeating the word "responsibility" so often here, but it's an important one. It's lovely of you to care about MIL's feelings, but it's your (and DH's) JOB to protect your children. Can't stress that enough.

HopefulDIL Sat 11-May-19 14:38:46

My husband and I do have an excellent relationship and discuss these issues as they arise. He is very frustrated by their comments and actions and confronts them. Since he had a very frank conversation with his mom I think she understands that we have made these decisions together and is less condescending towards me. His father doesn’t care how anyone feels, he just wants what wants and will gaslight and manipulate his way towards getting.

HopefulDIL Sat 11-May-19 14:42:58

Sorry DoraMarr. I thought my reply would tag you if I replied to you comment. My response is above.

HopefulDIL Sat 11-May-19 14:49:12

Sodapop I agree that my children’s safety is most important and will not allow anyone whose behavior towards them makes me uncomfortable around them. To be honest I both dread and hope for confrontation because although it will be awful at the moment I also hope it will make things easier moving forward

Starlady Sat 11-May-19 14:53:57

Oops! Sorry! I see I wrote, "Helpful' when I meant "Hopeful," LOL!

HopefulDIL Sat 11-May-19 15:01:33

I do know the reasons that my husbands relationship is strained with parents. He was/is emotionally abusive and has anger management issues. These seem to calmed down with age and the longer their children have been out of the house.
My mil and I have done things together one in one and we enjoy each other’s company. I guess I’m being unrealistic about what I want out of that relationship. She doesn’t like people getting too close and I have no interest in having superficial relationships. She has opened up to me a few times but I feel she regrets it after because she pulls away for awhile. So I’m probably out of luck there.

HopefulDIL Sat 11-May-19 15:17:09

There is 13, almost 14 years worth “off” behavior with my fil in my experience and 37 with my husband. It’s a lot to post. My daughter was about 6 months old the first time his mother babysat and when I dropped her off my fil was home also and I was expecting him to be at work and I got a huge knot in my stomach. When I got to my car I called my husband and asked him “is there any reason I should not be uncomfortable with your dad and our daughter” he replied “not that I know of, but do not leave her alone with him” that was when I realized that we both had the same reservations and feeling. Albeit they came from different places, for the most part my husband felt that because of his own experiences with his father and I felt that way mainly from the way he interacted with our daughter.

HopefulDIL Sat 11-May-19 15:22:43

You are so right and I needed to hear that. I think for so long I just wanted things to be different with her. I have a lot of sympathy for my mil and was hoping I could somehow be a friend or support for her but that is not the way things will be. I have learned that I have to keep my guard up as my husband had learned too.

HopefulDIL Sat 11-May-19 15:33:03

I haven’t posted on here before, but thank you, I need to hear that our feelings are enough of a reason.

Namsnanny Sat 11-May-19 15:38:46

Hopeful...I think you have answered yourself.
You and h. Seem close and confident in your decisions.
If you have definite proof that fil is dangerous to be with, you should act on it
If not the boundaries you’ve put in place should be upheld indefinitely.
I’m not really sure what gn can offer you.
Best wishes

silverlining48 Sat 11-May-19 15:57:53

Oh sorry hopeful, i just remembered another similar post from a similarly nice dil.
By working together you and your husband will manage the situation. Can’t help wondering if your mil has lost confidence, living with emotional abuse can make people nervous and fearful.
Your feelings are enough to ensure your children remain safe. Good luck.

Starlady Sat 11-May-19 16:05:52

"He was/is emotionally abusive and has anger management issues. "

He is very lucky that DH is in his life at all. There are deep issues there that they need to work out if they can. Has DH been for counseling? He may need help sorting out his feelings about FIL and deciding how to move forward. He may need to distance himself from FIL for a while, but I leave that to a therapist to discuss with him. Unless FIL has had (successful) professional help with his issues, there is absolutely no reason to believe he won't be emotionally abusive, etc. with your DDs.

HopefulDIL Sat 11-May-19 16:22:25

Thank you. You are right. I do think my husband will need to tell his father that he won’t be coming over when he isn’t here.
When I say I’m happy to have them around, what I really mean is I’m fine with my mil being around. Grandkids has changed our relationship in a welcomed way. We have a mutual focus. Their visits are always very short which makes it easy too.
Yes she told me she felt like she was losing her son. We weren’t even dating yet and yes I feel it was manipulative. Now that I know her better I am sure of it.
We have had girls days not many but a few and I might do it again. But as far as improving the relationship I don’t think it helped. She is very aware of the issues with DH and FIL and it makes her uncomfortable that I know about them. She once said to me that if she wasn’t in denial she wouldn’t survive. Appearance is very important to my in-laws and I think The appearance of us all being one happy family is enough for her.
But the most important thing is keeping the kids safe, it’s just hard to have discussions with people who don’t accept reality.

Nonnie Sat 11-May-19 16:45:51

A few things which I don't think have been covered so far:

He has retired and maybe needs something to fill his time and see the GC as a 'purpose'. You haven't made it clear exactly what you are concerned about and said you have a good relationship with your Mil so why haven't you discussed it with her? Surely she could ensure the children are safe? Was his behaviour towards his son brutal because he 'wanted him to be a man'? Is he likely to do the same to girls?

My DiL went rushing after a GC recently because DH hadn't gone quickly enough. I won't leave him alone with the toddler because I don't think he has my instinct for possible danger, not because there is anything he would deliberately do. He is kind but doesn't always anticipate danger.

HopefulDIL Sat 11-May-19 18:05:57

I have talked to my husband several times about seeing a therapist. So far he has been unwilling. I think he feels like since he knows where his issues come from and there are no big issues with our family unit (us and our kids) that there is no point. But I feel like he has never found a comfortable way of dealing with his father and then I think it does have an impact on us and I don’t want him to realize too late that it’s affecting his relationship with our kids.

March Sat 11-May-19 18:13:36

You need to listen to your husband on this one. It sounds like a right mess.

Your husband knows first hand what his Dad is like and he doesn't want him unsupervised around his own child.
That's a bright Red flag right there.
Your MIL is in denial and knows it!

The priority is the safety of those children.

Starlady Sat 11-May-19 18:16:07

I hear you, Hopeful! And I'm hoping DH changes his mind soon.