Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Group Therapy: In-Laws

Welcome To Group Therapy:Where we help each other through advice and comments.

"Hey Shelle please keep me anonymous. I've been married for 12 years. My in-laws have made my marriage a living Hell for all 12 of those years. They hate me and have from the very beginning. They are constantly intrusive. I may be part of the problem by not allowing them to boss my wife around and I've encouraged her to be her own person, to tell them no when they try to tell her what to do with ANYTHING from cooking to parenting to dating and marrying me. It has effected our relationship because I never want to do anything that involves them. My wife argues that our children deserve to know their grandparents, and I agree, but I don't have to be there. I'm respectful, because they are her parents, to a point, but I won't allow them to make our decisions. It causes a lot of controversy and we've stayed up many nights 'discussing' them. In fact, on our way to visit them it is guaranteed one of us won't be happy when we get there.

I am wondering what your readers do about their in-laws? Should I bite the bullet and just be respectful of my elders, or should I let it continue to eat at me and our relationship? And how would they suggest going about that?"

***If you have any questions or problems that you would like to have addressed in Group Therapy please email me at blokthoughts@gmail dot com orrealworldvenusmars @ gmail dot com.

Leave your advice in the comments, comment on other comments, and feel free to comment Anonymously.


SciFi Dad said...

For the record (and hopefully Shelle will confirm this) I did not write this post, despite what anyone who reads my blog regularly may think.

Dude, I felt like I was reading something I wrote, except for the 12 years thing (we're only at seven this July). Seriously. Control issues? Check. Complete dislike bordering on outright hate? Check. Conflict between avoiding them and the kids knowing their grandparents? Check.

Not everyone is going to like everyone; I've come to accept this reality no matter how much it sucks. As long as they don't badmouth you to your kids then I think you should let them visit. I don't come for every visit with them, instead trying to reduce my exposure to holidays and family birthdays, and the occasional time when they're at our place when I get home from work.

There isn't much else you can do. You married their daughter; you're a part of their extended family, as they are a part of yours. It sucks, but it's the way life is for both of us.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

LOL! It wasn't SciFi everyone... I will confirm that.

I don't have as much of a problem with my in-laws, but they definitely didn't like me at first, "your not his usual type" - meaning less curves, taller, and a lot blonder!

They complained about everything I did and I just put up with it,because I was taught to be respectful, until I didn't, and then for some reason I became one of their favorites!?

I don't question it, I embrace it, but then I don't know many who don't eventually like me ;) -- but only because I won't leave them alone until they cry mercy and will say about anything to get rid of me! :)

I would say, keeping standing up for yourself, be you... But also, for the sake of making your spouse choose, be as respectful as you possibly can without letting them be completely intrusive.

If you want the HOW to do that part? Forget it--im no help!

Anonymous said...

I was very close to my FIL before he passed away far too young several years ago. My MIL is somewhat reserved, and after 20 years of being married to her favorite son (it's true), there are times when it is hard to read her or where my relationship with her feels awkward. Our kids are both close to her due to vacations together, etc. I guess that is a good thing, since she is relocating within the next month to live 5 minutes away from us.

I love my mother dearly, but there are times when she can push my buttons like no one else. At those times, my husband was always a steadying influence on me. I do feel bad however, that my parents got short shrift from us for many years as we focused on taking care of my MIL's needs. (We live 5-6 hrs away from both).

Once you are married, parents need to back off until their advice is solicited. If they won't do that, then sometimes a bit of distance is not a bad thing if that is possible. I still think it is important to build those relationships as much as possible, and especially to allow your children to know their grandparents. It is their heritage, and part of who they are. You may never have a close relationship, but you can build respect by being respectful, while at the same time being your own person.


DCHY said...

I think the problem stems from the loss of their child that they've known all of that woman's life. You are, in their eyes, the interloper in their lives. That is not your fault. They knew that she would marry someone, but they probably hoped that the husband would not be similar to your nature.

As for visitations, I say "bite the bullet" and supervise your least until you're satisfied that there would not be any further problem from their exposure to your in-laws.

Missty said...

Great topic. My inlaws are wonderful - they don't meddle at all. Almost to the point of they won't even give you their opinion when you ask or need it. My parents - we have no relationship with. They are a nightmare, and that is my choosing. Nor do they even know my children.

Now - I am to become a Mother inlaw in a few short weeks. And I want to be a good one! LOL I hope somehow I can do a good job!!
So I will be reading what other responses show up here, so I know what to do and not do.

As for as the poster - I say keep with what you are doing. Your wife has to see, you are sticking up for her and not letting her be run over by her own parents. She is a big girl now - they need to butt out!

Genevieve said...

If you asked me about my inlaws during most of the years I've been married (and this year will make 27) I would have told you they were great people, always stayed out of our business, came to birthdays with smiles, hugs and gifts, and that the relationship, while not perfect was definitely okay.
WHEW! Ask me today, and I'll tell you that I still have the mental bruises from when my MIL went up one side and down the other after we had an issue come up maybe 2 years ago. She hurled such insulting things at me that she'd obviously been holding on to very tightly for many years. I was completely blindsided. And so was my husband and a good bit of our family and friends. It's not that any of us didn't know she could be like that, but we thought those in the inner circle seemed safe enough. Wrong. The incident broke up the family. It's broken to this day. She offered a half-hearted apology thru my husband but has never called me personally. We have seen each other a couple of times since and it's been cordial. We say hello. I gave her a hug once or twice. If my hubs asks me to pick her up a gift, I will. That's the extent of it. If he visits just them, he might take our son, but I don't go and he doesn't expect me to. Maybe things will change at some point. I would be open to it but it doesn't seem likely.

It's a shame you are in that situation. I would be as respectful as possible when you have to see them. Just some basic niceties... a hello, handshake, how are you type thing. And when you don't have to go ... don't. Unless your wife is willing to confront them about it all then she should give you the space with them you need. The kids should know their kin if it's a positive environment for them to be in.

Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

if they are negatively effecting your marraige, you've got to stand up for yourselves - even if it means hurting feelings or alienating a part of the family... aslong as you and you spouse fully agree on that action. If it is done without the other spouse agreeing or even knowing, you are in for some serious crap. (putting it lightly and talking from experience. my family, not his. )

maybe i should have posted that anonomously. whoops. oh, wait, i did. :)

Margaret said...

Given that they have caused this much drama, for this long, I am inclined to say the kids don't need to be around the grandparents all that much. And maybe if the grandparents want to spend time with the grandkids, then maybe they can start being respectful to the adults in those kids' lives. I certainly wouldn't allow these people into my home. But that's me.

Maybe you can compromise - go to two or three family events a year. Take two vehicles (if it's not that far) and leave after an hour or so.


Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I have been thinking about why my in-laws did a 360 on me. And I think it was when my husband actually had to take a stand for me. They had accused me of something and he had to decide if he would allow that or not.

He didn't, he made it very clear that if they continued to make him choose that they wouldn't see us or their grandchildren.

They are, in fact, the best grandparents around--i have always and will always continue to say that.

But maybe that was the thing that opened their minds to me?

Either way, I am thankful it has changed.. I truly love them now.

So maybe that's it? Your spouse taking a stand on your part?

I'll shut up now :) ... Maybe.

kyooty said...

I have a tendency to take the madagascar Penquins' stance on inlaws. "smile and wave boys, smile and wave". I will complain to hubbie, he will nod and agree, and he will complain to me about my parents tendencies and we just agree that we wont change them we can only change how we deal with these situations. We are the family that we will be stuck (did I say stuck I mean live) with the longest so we try to keep each other happy.
There are times I'll hide out at my family's place vs his family's place. I may or may not depending on my day fill my kids up with Sugar and food coloring before a visit but you didn't read that here... just saying...

kyooty said...

Oh me again, in respect to your current situation. Does your wife ask her parents "do you really think you raised me that badly that I would choose that wrong? or am not capable of making my own decisions?" and then it puts the blame on them for anything you mess up, heheh

See I did this once, I said to my own Mother, "I'm making these decisions based on what you raised me to believe about myself" and we haven't talked about my hubbie quite so much.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Okay Kyooty! LOL--that is perfect "I have a tendency to take the madagascar Penquins' stance on inlaws. 'smile and wave boys, smile and wave'." hehehe

Anonymous said...

I have to say that when I married the second time I had a MIL that HATED me. She is from the back hills (not kidding) and I was black (I date only interacially).

She would never talk to me and the first few years she would not even acknowledge her grandchild. I would purposefully send them 11X14 pics. The envelops were always opened but they were returned in different envelops so I know she saw her grandchild.
Ultimately she came around, right around the time of the divorce and we became great friends. We lost her this year and it was a hard loss.

B'Man said...

You know..."there's nothing like a nice, close knit, loving family... a city far, far away".

My in-laws are about the sweetest people you'll ever meet. They love me to death (and it's killing me! lol - not really) They lived far away for the first 9 1/2 years of our marriage. But now they live in the same city. We get along famously, but still I do keep my distance.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious, cause I did think it was you SciFi. This is a tough one. I do my best to just use the agree to disagree line when it comes to inlaws. I think conflict with IL is almost a given (unless you're super lucky).

I don't have any real advice I guess, just that your situation stinks and I feel for ya.

heelsnstocking said...

I have a terrible relationship with my in-laws ever since his mum asked me exactly whos wedding did i think it was on my wedding day... about 10 years ago we went through a bad patch and we agreed a few weeks apart to think, the in-laws posted the hubby new locks for the doors and then helped him move my stuff out of my house!!!

I allow them to the house under rules. The husband knows Im doing well to tollerate them after all that has been done but i wont prevent my children from seeing their grandparents nor the husband from seeing them. But I do normally work away if they are up or atleast plan to be out late.

tiarastantrums said...

wow - this could be me - but I'm the wife and the in laws are my hubbie's parents. They stink. Literally, I made my husband take an expat position in China to get away from them and his brother and SIL who were ganging up on me! My husband and I had a rough - ROUGH - 2-3 year patch there for awhile b/c of his family. Our relationship is better, but not the same. You know, when things are said, a bit of love does in the relationship and it just does not come back. We have three children now and the in-laws try to be intrusive. I will not allow it at all. I am respectful to their faces, but that is it. I will have nothing to do with them other than the standard monthly visit for the children's sake. The kicker to them was when my 5 year old daughter looked into my MIL's face and asked her why she was mean to me! That was last year, things have been easier since then!


Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I work for a production company that is working on a new television series about families that are struggling with their in-laws. This could be a great opportunity for you and your in-laws to deal with your issues with an expert. If you'd like to talk about this further, I'd be happy to go into more details with you. Please feel free to email me at

Thanks and good luck!