Hurtful Inlaws-How to respond?


My husbands birthday was Tues. It came and went without a phone call or acknowledgement from his parents. Today I got the mail and opened a card from his parents. I usually don’t open my husband’s mail but for some reason today I did -thankfully. Inside the card his parents wrote “We thought we give you the same thing we received” and they signed it Mom and Dad.

My husband was laid off at the time of his mom’s birthday and we couldn’t afford groceries let alone presents and they were well aware of that. Although we did send a nice card and my husband called to wish her a happy birthday. Since we didn’t get something for his mom when his dad’s b-day came around we also just sent a card because it felt weird to get something for his dad when we didn’t for his mom.

This isn’t about them not sending my husband anything (they usually give him a check). A simple Happy Birthday and we love you would have been perfectly fine. What has stunned me is the fact that they would use their son’s birthday be petty and spiteful. In anger I ripped up the card and buried in the garbage so my husband wouldn’t see it. My husband grew up in am abusive house where his mom stood by and let his dad physically and emotionally abuse him for years.

I have remained silent through the numerous times his parents have re-gifted things back to us on holidays that we have given to them including something our daughter made for them for Christmas. And distracted my daughter when our eager little girl watched her grandfather toss aside gifts without even a comment that she was so excited to give him. I remember when my husband would come home for visits when he was in the military and his father wouldn’t even acknowledge he was in the room. And seen this man toss aside birthday cards and father’s day card without even opening them.

I am tired of being the better person, and overlooking their rudeness and their hurtful behavior. I’m not surprise at this coming from his dad but his mom has been the one parent that he could get the unconditional love that children are supposed to have from their parents. Even if she wasn’t behind it, she allowed it.

I’ve written and re-written a letter in response to the card but it always ends up sounding not very Christian. I’m so angry and more then that heartbroken that his parents would treat my husband this way. He has said recently he thinks my parents love him more then his own do - I just couldn’t let him see what his parents wrote, I couldn’t let him see that they would be that hurtful to him on his birthday.

There is so much we have endure from this people I could relate but this post is already long. So how do I respond? Is it wrong for me to keep this from my husband? I don’t know what to say to these people - well I know would I would like to say, but it would end our relationship forever.


Hmmm…I don’t know if it’s wrong to keep this from your husband. You know how he would react and if you’re doing the right thing protecting him from this hurt. I do think it’s a good idea to write a letter to them reminding them why they were niot given gifts on birthdays, saying that you thought/wished they would understand. Beyond that, I would cut them out of your lives. It sounds like a toxic realtionship that you would all be better off without.

I’ll keep you in my prayers tonight. {{{Hugs}}}


Wow. Give your husband lots of hugs. :slight_smile: Spend lots and lots of time with relatives who give you genuine love. Pray for these in-laws, and continue to protect your kids from them. It sounds like they’re the type who might need a bolt of lightning to change them, and this kind of petty, deliberate hurtfulness doesn’t sound like much of a relationship anyway.


that sounds horrible, I am so sorry. If it was me I know I would think about cutting them out of my lives. I wouldn’t want my child to see people treated that way, but I know its easier said than done.

Did anything happen to them that your husband knows about? Does he have any idea why they are like that



I would not get between your husband and his parents. You need to tell him of the card and its contents.

Then, you need to form your united plan for dealing with them-- which should really be to eliminate them and their hateful, abusive behavior from your and your child’s life.

If your husband has not received any sort of counseling for his prior abuse, perhaps he should do so now if possible.


Thank you all for your replies. My gut tell me I need to tell my husband because if nothing else it going to be awfully hard to hide my feelings toward them after this incident. And I absolutely don’t like keeping things from him. I just hate to see this people hurt him anymore.
I’m afraid they’re going to make this all about the gift they didn’t give him and tell everyone we are angry with them because they didn’t send my husband any money. But that isn’t it at all. A "we love you, we’re proud of you, we’re glad you’re are son would have been better then any gift they could give him.
Our daughter loves her grandparents and we’ve done our best to protect her from the ugliness of the situation. I don’t know how to explain to her why we won’t see them anymore.
My husband was on anti-depressants several years back and did go to counseling for a while but I’m not sure the issues with his parents were ever fully addressed.
Please pray for me and for my husband because I know how badly this will hurt him.


I’m not sure I’d share this ugliness with your dh now–I can’t see anything productive coming of it. I’m sorry you have to carry the burden of this knowledge, but you are such a strong soul I know you can put it in its place.

As for communicating your thoughts to his parents…really…why bother? If they cared about your or your husband’s feelings we would have no issue before us. You only risk stoking the flames, not touching their hearts. They are a cold, selfish pair.

I would absolutely minimize my contact with them…and while you’re at it, I would step back from trying to protect your daughter by covering for the “real” them. Better she knows the truth and doesn’t build up false and unjustified expectations of them or the relationship. It’s a hard, but valuable, lesson for kids to discover that some people, even adults who should know better, are selfish and/or dysfunctional and therefore unhealthy to be around. It also gives clear context for your limited relationship with them instead of leading her to think you are avoiding these oh-so-nice grandparents for no reason.


This is very good advice. I am finding that with such people it is best to just have no expectations of them being reasonable or pleasant. Arguing with them is pointless, so even if they are baiting you, don’t bite. Just deal with them in the specific situations that you need to deal with them. Be polite, but don’t go out of your way.

Somewhere I have a really good article with a few choice quotes that would apply in dealing with people such as your in in-laws. If I find it, I will post it.


Well I did tell my hubby tonight when he got home from work. And he actually handled it way better then I did. He said if I wanted to write them a letter and tell them off if it made me feel better that was fine. As we talked about it he said this is the stuff he’s had to deal with all his life and he’s used it. We kind of poked fun at the complete immaturity of their response and he did say “that’s why I at least have your parents.” He also came up with a better solution then me telling them off. Tommorow he’s going to call them, tell them how much he appreciated the card and that he loves them - and then say -well I have to get ready for work now so I’ll let you go. Not giving them the satisfaction of getting a reaction they wanted.

I can tell my husband has really moved forward because this is not the reaction he would have had even a couple years ago. I’m really proud of him. Thank you all for your thoughts and advise.



That’s cool. I’m glad your hubby is dealing with this well. It’s great he has so much support from you and your folks.



Thanks! I feel really stupid for being so worried yesterday. But I remember visits to his folks that would send my husband into a depression for weeks. If it wasn’t for our daughter we’d probably not see them at all. But they are usually very good to her and she loves them.

We used to visit more often but it was too stressful (they live about an hour away), because we never knew what kind of mood my father in law would be in. This summer they asked to have our daughter for 5 days. The last they saw her was Christmas.I was a nervous wreck and called everyday. I also told our daughter if she needed to call anytime day or night she could (she’s almost 11). Everything went fine and my daughter loved visiting. They took her shopping and spoiled her with toys and candy. I have a hard time taking that away from her. But I’m so worried one of these days the ugliness that we’ve dealt with is going to be directed at her.


You had every reason to worry as you did not want your husband to get hurt. All you can do is pray for them. Do not have so little faith people do change when they get older. Show then that you are the better person. These people will always be his parents and your daughters grandparents and there is nothing you or anybody can do about. I always get told “Stop confessing with the mouth” don’t say things that have not happened yet.

Believe in God and everything will work out. Do not change for anybody don’t be like your in-laws. If you are nice person stay that way shown them who is the better person. Leave it up to God you have no right to judge them. I know that they have caused alot of pain and suffering but do not allow them to get the better of you or your husband. Thank God that he turned out to be a good man they must of have down something good.

So just keep praying for them and pray that they learn from their mistakes and no do it again. Forgive them do not hold back you blessings by harbouring resentment for anybody. Thank God you were blessed with such good parents that loved you and cared about you.


Your hubby sounds like a good man. :thumbsup: I couldn’t have thought of a more Catholic way to handle the situation.

My DH has been through the same type of issues with his own parents and I know how it feels to sit on the sidelines and watch. Why can’t parents just be nice?! :frowning:

In his situation, he tried so many times to have a relationship with his Dad, forgiving him and giving him second and third chances. He finally had to cut him out of his life and I think he’s more at peace now. He considers my Dad to be his Dad. They have a great relationship and have a lot in common. My Dad never had a son, and DH never had a Dad that loved him unconditionally. It’s funny how God let’s things work out sometimes.


You are making an awful big deal about a birthday card! Tape up the card, and apologize for tearing it up. I live with my parents, and can hardly believe the way the rest of my siblings treat them. They can’t seem to have adult relationships with them! It is “Honor thy Father and they Mother,” not Honor thy children! My sister crabs to them even if her toe hurts, metaphorically. She won’t keep anything in! Those who are good to their aged parents are blessed. I just can’t believe you! My Dad, for instance, gives $2,000/year for Christmas, and you can’t imagine how tight their kids are about stuff in return. A 50th anniversary party, and, I couldn’t get a nickel out of any of them. Parents are abused far more than the other way around. I am proud that I am able to be a caregiver for my folks. When they are not well, the rest of the family hides. Some simple consideration of their age. You know, some parents don’t live to be 90, as mine have. But I know why they are still around, I love them and remember that they were once young folk. Remember that war that changed their lives. Remember that they are modest spenders, etc. PS My sister’s husband borrowed $20,000 off of my parents, and lost his job a month later. He ran off with the car, and declared bankruptcy so that he could keep it! When your parents act strangely to you, or are angry, etc. love them even MORE! That’s the only way to resolve it. Love bomb them back. The money thing, well, you figure that one out.


You are completely missing the point. The OP’s issue is not about $$, it’s about the rotten treatment shoveled out towards her husband by his own parents.

Maybe some people will never understand that unless they witness it or experience it themselves.


You have an obligation to protect your DH and kids against their emtional abuse. Keep the fam away froms these abusers. Keep the relationship on a superficial level. Jesus would not tell you to go and be abused by anyone including your parents. You can honor them by not giving them a near occasion of sin by letting them abuse your family. Dont let the kids be victims for the sake of “honoring” them. that is not a good trade off!


Thank you!

Ohioszo -this is not about money at all. This about the mind games, rudeness and abuse we’ve endured all through out our relationship. I have hard time honoring someone who when my husband was child had him hold matches on every finger until they were burned because he caught him with matches. Who beat him with belts and locked him in his room, in darkeness with the window locked in the middle of the hot summer as punishment. Who told him he was p***y loser and must have cheated to graduate from school, and did not attend his graduation. Who wasn’t allowed to receive any Christmas presents for the first 13 years of his life but was taken to his cousins house on Christmas and watched them open all their gifts year after year. And whose mother felt the need to reveal to my husband that his father try to force her to abort him, and that he didn’t want him.

You are projecting your feelings about your siblings onto a situation that is no way related to your own family issues.


Jeezo PETE!!! How sick and EVIL!!!


Wow, your husband is truly amazing to come out of that to be the man that he is today! I think his way of handling this is pure genius.


Of course, your inlaws sound like awful people. So, I’m not trying to excuse that horrible card in any way.

In the Five Love Languages written by Gary Chapman, he talks about people who only feel loved by receiving presents. My mom’s primary love language is presents. It took me a long time to realize this. For all the years of my childhood and into my twenties, I didn’t feel loved. Now, I realize that the way she is always trying to give me things is the way she is expressing love.

It may be that your inlaws (as immature as they sound) only feel love if they actually receive a present. So, they may not be reacting to the fact that they didn’t get a fabulous gift, but that they felt rejected by not receiving love (the gift). This might explain why they spoil your dau by giving her lots of gifts.

Does that make sense at all? Does it help?

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