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In-Law difficulties

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krislin Posted: Wed, Feb 8 2017 2:07 PM

I feel like this sounds so cliche, but I'm having trouble with my in laws that has been exacerbated now that we have a little one.

The problems started a few weeks before DH and I got married, when my FIL made a totally unsolicited sexual comment to me. He did it while we were alone. I've felt uncomfortable with him ever since. FIL has not been great to DH, and beyond my being disturbed by his comment I couldn't believe how little respect he has for his son (and wife!) to talk to me that way. I worked up the courage to tell DH what his Dad said a few weeks later and DH was not happy. He spoke with his father and told him how inappropriate he was. Fast forward a few years and I was still feeling very uncomfortable with FIL. Everytime he hugged me I figured he was getting some sick pleasure out of it. While DH and MIL were  present I had a conversation with FIL and requested that there would be no physical contact between us until trust had been rebuilt. He was not able to stick to that, so DH had a conversation with him again. We live 9 hours from my in-laws, so I've only seen my FIL once since DH had that conversation and he did not attempt to hug me, put his arm around me, etc.

This was all just a minor problem until DD was born. Before she was born we told all of our family members that we would not be having visitors until the baby was 1 month old. I wanted privacy as we figured everything out those first few weeks. Of course, they were all disappointed, but we figured they would get over it. I even talked to our long time counselor about having the grandparents wait a month to visit and he thought it was an appropriate request. Well, the day after DD was born the in-laws texted us to let us know what time they would be at our house 2 days later. DH spent hours on the phone with them trying to talk them out of the trip. Him and I got in a huge fight, and eventually they wore us down and we said they could come and our mindset was that we'd just get it over with. They came for a weekend and I literally was shaking handing my newborn over to my FIL to hold. About a week after the trip they told DH that they needed to talk to us more often on facetime, so we started doing a video chat with them once a week minimum. A couple weeks after that they got upset that DD wasn't seen on facetime enough. At that point DD was only a month old and we were still completely in a daze. DH was more inclined to do what they wanted and I didn't have the energy to argue with him.

Now, we've basically built up a pattern when DH's parents ask us for something and we do it. They are coming down for a weekend in a week and a half and I'm nervous about the trip already. I feel so uncomfortable with FIL and I wish I didn't have to let him hold my baby. DH and I have talked about this all at length and have basically said that I need to deal with my anger at his parents. But, it's really hard. And I don't know how to stop the cycle of just giving in to their demands. I really hate being "that person" who has in law problems, but I feel really disrespected. And a little let down by my husband, too.

Anyway, thanks for reading my venting. I'm open to suggestions or just hearing that I need to get over my issues, too :)

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gabelle1995 replied on Thu, Feb 9 2017 6:44 AM

I don't have any concrete advice but just wanted to offer support for the situation you're in. It sounds like you already have a counselor and that would be my only suggestion. 

Is this the first grandchild? Perhaps that explains their eagerness to see her. This might put some people's noses out but you and your husband are her parents and your daughter's needs/safety must be your first priority, even if it upsets grandparents. 

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dj rayne replied on Thu, Feb 9 2017 8:15 AM

You just say no. And I say that realizing that that can be the hardest thing in the world and opens the door to changes in your relationship that can have far reaching effect with your spouse. If you haven't read the Boundaries (Cloud and Townsend) see if your library has a copy read it. You can also find it for not much on Amazon as well. I am also going to say trust your gut and protect your child. Understand that whatever you decide will have repercussion. Then act. I've shared some of my story here over the years suffice it to say that I understand and can sympathize. My choices were extreme based on MIL's actions that were abusive on many levels. In some ways I consider myself lucky in that my husband at one point would not put up with his mother's interference though because of our situation she still had more control over our lives than she should have. SIL has always bowed to pressure from her husband and that side. I pray for her children. We each pay a price with every choice made. In the end I hope my choices leave my child unscathed and with an understanding of why I made the choices I did. Because of the abuses I am thankful that my child was a son as it made things easier for me. It would have been harder with a daughter as abuses often repeat with each generation. Where a father (or uncles) abuse a daughter, the daughter then abuses the son that in turn abuses the daughter. This is not a reflection on what I think your situation is just an explanation for mine. You can pm if you would like to know more. Hugs to you. Cross post with Gabelle and I think a talk with your counselor is in order. Use him as a sounding board but stick with your gut if you recieve advice that goes against your gut. On that I speak from experience and my one regret is letting someone talk me into allowing things for sake of family relationships when my gut screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOO...

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Ashmariet2005 replied on Thu, Feb 9 2017 9:23 AM

I felt like crying when I read your post, because your feelings are so evident. I'm so sorry you are dealing with this. Also want to say I agree with DJ 100%. Boundaries are such a difficult thing for people to learn especially when their boundaries with you are so much looser than yours are with theirs. Don't compromise your boundaries for the sake of making someone else happy.

I've had to draw very intense boundaries with both sides (my parents and his parents), but for totally different reasons. One side was for abuse (emotional, verbal physical) while the other side was for over involvement and meddling. My husband disagreed with BOTH and there were some very intense private fights. However, as time has passed, he has come to agree with me on both sides that the boundaries were necessary and that I did the right thing to preserve my happiness and our marriage. He still struggles with the boundaries and enforcing them with his mom, but he backs me up when I ask. When we have our children, I don't see those boundaries going away.

You are obviously a very caring and protective mama bear, and you deserve major kudos for that. Unfortunately there are still a lot of women in this world who are struggling to stand up for their gut feelings and protect their kids. You deserve some praise!

Personally, I wouldn't discuss this much further with my husband. It sounds like you've talked it to death so now it's time to act and just say no like DJ said. And if they still come for their weekend trip, don't hand the baby over. Wear her all the time if you have to. I have a cousin who doesn't trust her MIL and she wears her constantly when with them. She's also one to take the baby instantly if she starts crying. So if you do hand the baby over and want her back for any reason at any moment, take her back. YOU are mom. YOU know what's best.

Good luck, stay strong. I said a pray for you. You're doing the right things!

 

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dj rayne replied on Thu, Feb 9 2017 10:28 AM

At times during unwelcome visits when DC was a baby I had no hesitation about locking myself and child in my room. Your baby your decision. I am not trying to cause discord between you and DH but it can be a result and something that will have to be dealt with and worked through.

Ashmariet2005:

Good luck, stay strong. I said a pray for you. You're doing the right things!

 

Double ditto this.

 

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orangekitty replied on Thu, Feb 9 2017 1:39 PM

Hi krislin,

So sorry you're having such a hard time, I just wanted to second (third? fourth?) the advice that the others have given to just say no. It will certainly be difficult, but is it more difficult than living the rest of your life in this awful pattern? I also don't think you need to have any more discussions with your DH about this as it sounds like he already knows your position and isn't willing to act on it.

I want to encourage you to stop speaking to your in-laws through your DH and have a conversation with them yourself, without your DH there. If it would not be too difficult for you, tell them directly and calmly that you are still uncomfortable because of your FIL's actions (I would spell out exactly what he did again and why it was inappropriate or abusive -- don't be afraid to use accurate and strong language, nobody wins when women sugarcoat abusive actions or speech) and that he will not be touching your daughter anytime soon because of that. Be clear that this is HIS fault, you are simply doing what you have to do because you feel that you and your daughter are unsafe around him. Your first priority is to your daughter, not to your in-laws.

In terms of setting visitation boundaries, could you tell them that from now on they will wait until they are invited to visit? You could say that you will choose a time and setting that is comfortable and convenient for your family, and if they are not available you will suggest another date?

I have a bit of experience with difficult family members because my mom is an extremely challenging person. She has untreated mental health issues and both travel and loneliness destabilize her. Since she lives 14 hours away from any family, this creates a problem. Two years ago my siblings and I got together and decided that regardless of her issues, we were not going to put up with her breakdowns, childish behaviour and emotional craziness while she was in our homes. Best decision we've EVER made. She now toes the line as much as she can when she's with us, makes advance plans to visit like an adult instead of just showing up whenever and/or telling us when she's coming, and she's even developed a degree of introspection, independence and some coping mechanisms that I honestly never thought I'd see in her. It was sooooo hard, because we all feel for her when she's in the midst of a break with reality, but we're just calm and direct and if that fails then we end the conversation or visit until she has time to collect herself. 

Of course we still make some accommodations for her mental health needs, but overall learning when to say no to her has been AMAZING. Anyways, it took me almost 40 years to learn to stand up to my mom and refuse to engage when she's being manipulative or infantile and I wish with all my heart that I'd done it sooner. Don't be like me!

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SoccerGirl replied on Wed, Feb 15 2017 11:31 PM

I am so sorry you are dealing with this! Hug It sounds like your in-laws have some major boundary issues going on.  Somehow they have to learn that no means no.  I second the book 'Boundaries' that DJ recommended.  I read it a year ago and found it to be helpful for situations in my life where I needed more courage to say no.  I think you have just cause to be cautious as your FIL's sexual comment and the manipulation that your ILs have shown to me are red flags.  I think red flags are actually good in that they give us a heads up of the possibility of trouble ahead and an opportunity to be cautious but they are more often than not ignored by people not wanting to offend anyone.  It doesn't mean you are accusing anyone of anything it just means that you are choosing to put safeguards in place to prevent harm to yourself or your child.  I'm sorry that your DH isn't being supportive as having him on board would make things so much easier.  Wishing you all the best. 

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krislin replied on Thu, Feb 16 2017 1:14 PM

Wow, ladies, thank you for all the support!! I had kind of expected that everyone would tell me I was being too uptight!

I've read "Boundaries", but was years ago, before I was married, so I'm sure it would be so helpful to read it again!! I will definitely do that.

To be clear, I don't worry that DD is unsafe with my MIL. I think MIL is pushy, yes, but I think DD is fine with her. So, that is a good thing. It's just FIL I worry about that with. He has such poor judgement. Luckily, DH does understand where I am coming from with that worry and won't let FIL be around the baby without having one of us around.

Whenever people come DH and I do have a plan of how to handle problems. If someone does something I am uncomfortable with I kindly tell that person not to do it, then tell DH what happened later. Minimally, we do a "debrief" every night. Last time the in-laws were here there was were three times someone had to be asked not to do something with the baby and I was actually not in the room for any of them and DH handled it all.

For the most part DH is really supportive, but I think the problems happen when he is preferential to his parents. He really wants to see them, facetime with them frequently, etc, even if they are pushy or out of line. I think all of you who said that there's no point in continuing to talk to him about it were probably right. I told him this past weekend that I would only be part of the facetimes every other weekend. He pushed back and I just said no. Honestly, I think that made more of an impact on him than any of the conversations we've had.

In-laws arrive tomorrow and I'm nervous, but it's just a short trip and I'm feeling empowered to not be pushed around by anyone!

Married 10/2012

Off HBC 1/2014

Baby Girl 5/2016

TTA while exclusively breastfeeding

My charts (sorry - I chart on paper, mainly, so these charts are hardly ever up to date)

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dj rayne replied on Fri, Feb 17 2017 7:42 AM

I think we realized that the concern was FIL. For those of us that responded the issues were the MIL. I will say this though whichever IL it is, typically the other IL will overlook the actions you are trying to avoid or prevent. My FIL never once stopped MIL from sexually abusing her sons even though he was aware of it and even present for some of it. MILs mother allowed abuse of MIL by her (MILs mother) brothers and uncles (MIL mother's uncles). They stand by and let it happen.

It's funny how a firm but simple no often gets through when discussion makes no difference. For me the concern would be what happens if you are out of the room and DH decides he also has to leave the room or they ask for time alone with her. "Go out enjoy some couple time, let us babysit, you need it" DH jumps at the chance and says yes. What do you do then? Trust MIL? I am not saying she wouldn't stop anything but my experience leaves me cautious. In some people's mind overly or obsessively cautious.

Really glad to see that things are working out.

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lava2 replied on Mon, Feb 20 2017 3:46 AM

dj rayne:

 For me the concern would be what happens if you are out of the room and DH decides he also has to leave the room or they ask for time alone with her. 

This. And, it's time now to start thinking about what the future will bring. When will your in-laws ask to take your daughter to the mall or out to eat? Or when they want her to come and stay with them for the weekend? Will your DH think all of this is OK? These are other boundaries you need to agree on now before they come up. 

I am so sorry you're dealing with this. In my marriage it's my parents who are the ones who don't respect boundaries, and it has been difficult for me to enforce them. It has caused much stress and arguments in my relationship with my husband. One really good piece of advice I had from an older friend was to let my husband be the one who says "no" if I can't do it myself. Often, parents will feel it's their right to somewhat disregard what their own kid says, but will listen more closely to the spouse. It's some kind of parental blindness combined with kids who feel beholden to the people who raised them.

What I'm saying is, it might be up to you to be the one who takes charge of the relationship with your in-laws rather than hoping your DH will be up to the task. And that is OK! As someone else mentioned above, your responsibility is to your daughter and the in-laws come second. All the strength to handle that has been with you and was reinforced the moment you had your lovely daughter :D

 

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