How to be more accepting of inlaws

My husband is 6 years older than me and I married him when I was very young. We now have two small children together and have been married for 12 years. His family all have very strong personalities with very strong opinions. They openly share their opinions and criticisms all the time. You never have to guess how they feel about something or for advice because they will openly give it without invitation. My husband is very close with his brother. They have a business together and hobby together etc. He is a constant presence in our lives. We spend every weekend with him and his family.

To speak truthfully, I really do not like him (brother in law). He is very selfish, speaks profanity regularly, bullies his wife and children, always has to have his way (and will pout if he doesn’t) and he is always saying things to me that are inappropriate and crossing the line. He lacks self awareness for how he is and is in denial about how he treats other people. He always justifies his actions and finds ways to blame others for why he behaves the way he does.

I have realized over the years, that in order to keep the peace in my own marriage, I really just need to try and get along the best that I can and walk away when I need to. I have tried to talk with my husband about how I feel, that his brother is not a good influence for our children or a good role model as a husband. He agrees but continues to let his brother bully him and our family.

Early on I realized that I wasn’t only marrying my husband, I was marrying his family. I knew from the beginning what a huge influence they would be on our family so in essence, I feel bad complaining about it. But it has reached a point where I can’t take it anymore. My husband chooses to work with him everyday, he has made the choice for us to spend every weekend with him as well. I’ve oppressed this so much and tried so hard to accept it that I haven’t realized how unhappy I am and worried for my family… until recently, I just blurted it all out and caused a major argument. I think my husband is manipulated by him and I worry that my kids will repeat their uncles crude behavior and have problems at school. I’m not sure what to do as my husband just wants to keep everyone happy and doesn’t seem to stand up for what is right. I feel like my husband would thrive more if he went out on his own, I know we would be happier, but he will never feel this way… ??:(:frowning:

Hi there, how difficult for you! For what it’s worth, if your husband sees his brother during the week, it seems ridiculous (to me) that he then expects his own family to spend all their weekend family time with him, too.

I suspect that in trying to keep the peace and be kind, you have allowed your husband to think that you don’t really mind that much - hence the big row when you actually said what you really felt.

You also have a right to decide what you do in your leisure time, and perhaps you should suggest to your husband that you and the children are planning to do something else one weekend. If he wants to go to his brother’s house, he can do that on his own, surely?

It’s a two-way process, is marriage, and you shouldn’t have to feel anxious about making some requests of your own - maybe I should say ‘demands’, as you don’t need anyone’s permission to do things, you’re an adult woman!

Good luck, I do feel for you. x

There seem to be a lot of boundary issues.

Would you consider speaking to a counselor about these issues, since they are hurting your marriage? If your husband wouldn’t consider marriage counseling, would you consider going to individual counseling to give yourself a chance to vent and to have some support you are lacking?

You should meet with a priest or professional counselor, as your husband is unlikely to accept this directly from you. He will probably see it as you attacking his family. You are very correct to be concerned about the environment your children will grow up in.

You have already done more than most people could about accepting your in laws. You understand how they are and stated it clearly. Your two young children have been entrusted to you to protect and provide examples of holiness. As they grow older it will be very difficult outside of your family to provide these examples, so now is a very, very important time. Your husband cannot see clearly what is going on, but you do. He is not stepping up to bat in protecting his children and providing a loving holy environment for them.

You need to make the big decision of what you will do. I will give an example of what I would do. A serious but loving talk with husband, or a letter depending on listening ability… I would say the next weekends planned activities for the children. They and I will not be able to be with brother in law due to my responsibility as a parent. I hope husband will understand. I will miss him, if he doesn’t join us.

I would follow through with my words each weekend and pray. Certainly something will change.

God bless you!

Are all the in-laws like this, or all they all blunt and he’s the one who has the mean streak? Does this fellow have a larger-than-life generous side, too, or is he just mean as a snake, through and through? Does the family have loud arguments and loud pronouncements of how the arguments are just one side of their loud clan, or are they just strife-ridden and socially aggressive? The answer matters. If they are just strife-ridden and socially aggressive, stay off their radar. If they are just loud–not just sinning loud, but loving loud, celebrating loud, and showing their loyalty loudly–then you’re better off learning to turn up the decibels and speaking up.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Watch how the more assertive family members deal with this BIL, because from your post I’m guessing they don’t take his garbage lying down. I hope that if you think about it, you can think of that one family member who has some class in how he or she speaks and acts, but doesn’t retreat when bullied. Let that person be your guide. You can draw your boundaries in a blunt manner, too, and in your own way. Don’t wait for your husband to do it for you. In blunt families, spunk is valued, and everyone is expected to speak up for herself.

I had someone explain to me that this is what it means to “turn the other cheek.” If someone tries to intimidate you by striking you, the natural things to do are to either hit back or retreat. To turn the other cheek is to say, “I’m not impressed by violence. I act out of love. If I choose to do something for you, I will do it not because you force me, but because love forces me.” (Hence the prescription to go two miles when someone tries to press you into going one–you are showing who is boss, and it is your love for the bully that you serve, not the bully and not your fear of him or your fear of conflict or even your dislike of his “style.”)

Also, plan to have some debriefing and recovery time after you have to spend time with your husband’s side of the family. You can learn to cope with this and even hold your own admirably well, becoming something of a “one of us” to them, but you’re probably not going to get used to it. They may think you have become accustomed to it, but you’ll probably always need to give yourself time for the cortisol to wash away. It is easier if you expect it and budget for it, and come home and sip your cordial and say, “Lord, help me and bless their hearts, but if we’re going to do Heaven together, please help them to tone it down a bit. If eternity is like that, I don’t think I’ll last the first hundred years before I go nuts.”

Praying and thinking about you. Another thought also came to mind. Maybe an idea to help your husband understand how important a holy, nurturing environment is for his young children is asking the priest ( from PaulinIowa’s idea) or someone he respects to meet him. The purpose would be for them to share with him how influential all adults are to the young children they are around. If they are around dirty language and crude behavior don’t be surprised when they, his children, also start to use this language and start to imitate their uncle’s behavior.

Another idea, maybe an article from a well respected source that explains that children are always learning like a sponge even when we are not teaching them, (or especially when we are not teaching them) might be useful.

It would be so nice for your husband to be on board about his duty to protect his small children.

God bless you.

Oh! I see a red thumb pointing down on the title of my last post. Oh! That icon is my mistake or my phone’s mistake!!! Forgive me and my phone!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit