Husband and My Parents


#1

I am heartbroken today. For some time, my husband has opted not to visit my parents, and I can't say that I don't blame him. He is a northerner, they are southerners. We are Catholic, they are not (Baptist and non-church-going). We are college educated professionals, they are not (trade school and high school). However, these differences are not the problem, but rather how they treat my husband.

My husband went through an extended period of unemployment, and my father called him "sorry" (as in "lay about lazy"). My dad has never apologized to my husband. My parents will not recognize that a great deal of my husband's joblessness was related to him moving to a small town in support of me furthering my education and career (we are now moving to a larger metropolitan area).

My mother announced a few years ago that they were not "doing birthdays". Yet I still receive a present for my birthday; my husband receives nothing.

When my husband has come to visit, they ignore him. When my parents talk to us, they only make eye contact with me. It's almost like he's a potted plant. He tries to talk to them, and they continue watching TV.

Today, on our wedding anniversary no less, I stopped by to say hello to my parents. My mother broke down in tears (that she immediately recovered from) to say how sorry and upset she was that my husband hasn't come to visit. She added, "and after we've done even more for YOU than your brother" -- as if there is a contractual quid pro quo instead of love at the heart of our parent-child relationship.

I did not want to argue with her, and told her and my dad that I was not discussing this matter, and left rather abruptly. I do not want them to know exactly how hurt my husband is by their behavior because I think they will use it against us. My mother, particularly, is very masterful at playing "victim" when in fact she has been the instigator through callous and less than feeling remarks. I have just told them that it is best he not see them now. I am afraid that HE will tell THEM what he thinks of them, and any hope for reconciliation lost.

With our upcoming move to another state, my mother has packed up the last of my childhood items. I don't have a problem with taking these items with me and picking them up next week, but she is absolutely demanding that they are gone TODAY. I cannot deal with TODAY as I was stopping by her home on a break from work. It is almost as if she wants to rid her house of any evidence of me.

What can I do to foster a reconciliation between my parents and my husband? The gulf between them seems so far. I feel like such a spineless individual, but I don't like the confrontation that has been forced on me. For me to admit to myself that my own parents -- who were loving in a cold WASP-ish way to me growing up -- can be this cold, passive-aggressive, and narcissistic is very difficult, and I am frankly pretty hacked off with them, too. I do not want to move away without at least making the effort to make a bad situation better.

Your honest advice from a spiritual point of view is appreciated. Thanks!


#2

Firstly, I think it's great that you are standing by your husband in this and seeing your parent's behaviour as unacceptable. Many spouses can too easily be manipulated by parents and it can cause great friction within a marriage. So well done for putting your marriage first.

As for how to deal with your parents, this is very tricky and there aren't easy solutions as your parents do need to meet you half way on this. It may be that moving will put some distance between you and force them to consider their behaviour...even if subconsciously. Most parents want to see their children and will make the effort to do so. The increased distance may help them to see that time with you is precious and that they need to make more effort for that time to be enjoyable.

I think that at some point your husbands feelings of not being welcome need to be raised. In my opinion, it will be much better coming from you than from him. You should talk to them about it. You don't need to make any ultimatums, but make it clear that it's hard for you to spend time with them when your husband feels so ostracised. They may not be aware of how their actions are coming across and might be happy to change. If their actions are more deliberate, then you need to let them know how hurtful and disrespectful that is to you.


#3

My honest opinion. Your husband is shouldn't have to try to be friends with people who call him sorry for supporting you.

You can NOT change anyone. Just pray for your parents and stick by your husband

CM


#4

[quote="Wee_Flower, post:1, topic:246065"]
I am heartbroken today. For some time, my husband has opted not to visit my parents,
What can I do to foster a reconciliation between my parents and my husband? !

[/quote]

not much
what you can do is what the bible says and leave your parents and cling to your husband, and simply tell them quietly without drama that they are the ones forcing the issue.
you can also tell her flat out you refuse to be victimized by her any longer, nor to allow you or your husband to get into any situation that enables her manipulation.


#5

Thank you all for the responses -- I am afraid that it will be very difficult to get my parents to realize that it is their behavior that is more at fault. They told me today, "What have we done to him?" :(

As it is, they are not welcome at our house now, and my husband said that he does not want them visiting us when he is at home in our new state. My mother has had crying fits about not coming to visit us. Even if they did, my parents would not want to go anywhere beyond one or two tourist sites, and just would want to sit around our house and watch TV, and have my mom "be helpful". When my dad came to DC to help us move, he would not even let us drive him around the Capitol at night, saying "I don't need to see THAT." :dts: They refuse even to get the internet to keep in touch with my brother and his family.

A good friend of ours says that our first child will help bridge this gulf. I'm afraid I'm not so sure. My husband's not even happy about them being the grandparents (of our future, yet unconceived kids).

I sound so harsh about them, but I'm afraid it's all true. ::blush:

I appreciate the support and perspective. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, help me.


#6

[quote="puzzleannie, post:4, topic:246065"]
not much
what you can do is what the bible says and leave your parents and cling to your husband, and simply tell them quietly without drama that they are the ones forcing the issue.
you can also tell her flat out you refuse to be victimized by her any longer, nor to allow you or your husband to get into any situation that enables her manipulation.

[/quote]

i wish my wife could read this or could have. 23 years her parents have been doing the same thing, but my wife now fears for their health as they are older and the manipulation has been taken to another level.


#7

My mother, particularly, is very masterful at playing "victim" when in fact she has been the instigator through callous and less than feeling remarks.

so this current episode of drama is nothing new. people who poison their own wells rarely take responsibility for it.

puzzleannie wrote the mini treatise on it and posted it above. the shorter version still: cleave and leave. and sincerely and prayerfully give them to God.


#8

What puzzleannie said. :thumbsup:

Having DD actually widened the gap between my parents and us because their behavior affected our daughter now too and as her mother, I wasn't going to let her see that. :shrug:

Good luck!

KG


#9

[quote="Wee_Flower, post:1, topic:246065"]
I am heartbroken today. For some time, my husband has opted not to visit my parents, and I can't say that I don't blame him. He is a northerner, they are southerners. We are Catholic, they are not (Baptist and non-church-going). We are college educated professionals, they are not (trade school and high school). However, these differences are not the problem, but rather how they treat my husband.

My husband went through an extended period of unemployment, and my father called him "sorry" (as in "lay about lazy"). My dad has never apologized to my husband. My parents will not recognize that a great deal of my husband's joblessness was related to him moving to a small town in support of me furthering my education and career (we are now moving to a larger metropolitan area).

My mother announced a few years ago that they were not "doing birthdays". Yet I still receive a present for my birthday; my husband receives nothing.

*When my husband has come to visit, they ignore him. When my parents talk to us, they only make eye contact with me. It's almost like he's a potted plant. He tries to talk to them, and they continue watching TV. *

My advice would be to leave as soon as they start this behavior. I would say* if my husband isn't welcome then neither am I. When you can treat us both with civility then we'll be back. Until then bye*

Today, on our wedding anniversary no less, I stopped by to say hello to my parents. My mother broke down in tears (that she immediately recovered from) to say how sorry and upset she was that my husband hasn't come to visit. She added, "and after we've done even more for YOU than your brother" -- as if there is a contractual quid pro quo instead of love at the heart of our parent-child relationship.

So what that was their choice if it is even true.

I did not want to argue with her, and told her and my dad that I was not discussing this matter, and left rather abruptly. I do not want them to know exactly how hurt my husband is by their behavior because I think they will use it against us. My mother, particularly, is very masterful at playing "victim" when in fact she has been the instigator through callous and less than feeling remarks. I have just told them that it is best he not see them now. I am afraid that HE will tell THEM what he thinks of them, and any hope for reconciliation lost.

They need to hear it. Maybe they are too self centered to realize their behavior but dancing around the issue and avoiding it will get you nowhere. Chances are 99% they already know and don't care.

With our upcoming move to another state, my mother has packed up the last of my childhood items. I don't have a problem with taking these items with me and picking them up next week, but she is absolutely demanding that they are gone TODAY. I cannot deal with TODAY as I was stopping by her home on a break from work. It is almost as if she wants to rid her house of any evidence of me.

Your parents seem a bit toxic to me I think it might be best if you guys took an extended break from each other. Absence as been known to make the heart grow fonder. In any event it sound like they add more stress to your life then you need at present.

What can I do to foster a reconciliation between my parents and my husband? The gulf between them seems so far. I feel like such a spineless individual, but I don't like the confrontation that has been forced on me. For me to admit to myself that my own parents -- who were loving in a cold WASP-ish way to me growing up -- can be this cold, passive-aggressive, and narcissistic is very difficult, and I am frankly pretty hacked off with them, too. I do not want to move away without at least making the effort to make a bad situation better.

Your honest advice from a spiritual point of view is appreciated. Thanks!

[/quote]

I would say bye and take a break from them for awhile. Check up them from time to time but keep it minimal since they can't seem to act in a mature way.


#10

[quote="Wee_Flower, post:5, topic:246065"]
A good friend of ours says that our first child will help bridge this gulf.

[/quote]

Well, your friend is wrong. :o I myself was "that" child and it only made the problem family members even more possessive and caustic.


#11

Unfortunately I have been through a similar parents vs spouse situation. My parents have called my wife many names, however about 2.5 years ago, enough was enough. They had left a nasty message on my cell phone, which she had at the time because we just grabbed whatever phone, didn't matter mine or hers we'd interchange whenever. The message told me to go to their house "without her knowing" after work one day to "discuss" things. Needless to say, the tone, which promised a "fight" with my wife did not go over well. I got a call at work that day from a very anxious, and pregnant with third child wife about the message.

I did not go over, but called. A very heated argument ensued, after which I said that things were too heated, we needed a "couple" of weeks to cool down, then to try again. I told them to call in two weeks to sort things out, but the call never came. Then the nastiness through the family grapevine started and things went downhill. There had been nastiness before through the grapevine, things that my mother confirmed she said when I asked, so I felt that what I was hearing was true enough to not try to approach things at that time.

Fast forward a year and a half and my grandmother gets very ill, put on life support and the inevitable meeting happens in a hospital room. After a big dramatic show of how much she missed me, she turns to my grandmother, my only family ally at that point, the only one who provided moral support to my family and I, and she stopped just short of spitting on her after releasing a lot of venom on a helpless person who could not speak. On the way out, I said that she could call me, the hospital was not the place to deal with these things, they had moved since we last spoke so I didn't have their number and I waited for about 2 weeks by the phone, but no call came.

Shortly after that my grandmother died, and the funeral home was anything but comfortable while they were there. They (parents) had an "attack dog" friend shooting glares which my wife and I laughed about after, but had to question what that was all about. During the funeral Mass, the priest allowed me to say a few words about my grandmother at which point my mother started screaming in the Church and left. I was too focused on not breaking down completely while speaking to know much more than that.

At the cemetery I tried to make some peace. I was executor so I asked for the blessed Cross from her casket to be handed to me. I really wanted to keep that, the strength in my faith now comes from what I learned from my grandmother;s example, but as a gesture of peace I handed it to my mother. If it wasn't for my father it would have gone into the hole as she had already wound up to throw the cross into the ground. They stormed off there and after that no contact has been made. Things got messy with the estate and now the small estate that my grandmother tried to give to me and her three great grandchildren is tied up by millionaires (my parents and uncle) fighting broke young parents for a small amount of money. Instead of stepping in, because she had already given up her share, and trying to broker peace, she sided with the uncle rather than her son, and I think that says a lot about the prospects of future peace in the family.

The point of all of this is that sometimes the couple is better off cutting off toxic relatives completely rather than allowing them to rot you marriage. We are stronger and less stressed with the toxicity removed from our lives. I personally know of situations that have gone the other way, husband taking parents side rather than the wife's and needless to say that husband is now an ex.

Stand up to your parents and support your husband. If they don't like it and can't support you, it may be time to step away from them.


#12

Yeah, I don’t much care for my in-laws either.

My MIL is an avid racist but I still grin, bite my tongue, and try to get through visits. I won’t let her speak offensively around my daughter though. Some people. . . . . . . :rolleyes:


#13

Wee Flower - first of all, happy anniversary! I also have a similar story. My husband has also stayed away from my parents' house. My mom preferred that (and voiced her preference) until one day she said "he needs to get over whatever problem he still has with me." Now it's all his fault. I still visit once a week (with DH's ok), but I am struggling with that. I don't want to keep the kids from my mom, but for my children's sake, they are better not knowing her. Does that make sense?

When I posted my own situation here a few weeks ago, the responses were along the lines of... how dare you choose your parents over your spouse? It seemed a bit harsh at the time, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that attitude is absolutely correct. And as far as a child bridging the gap?? Don't count on it! The biggest issue I have with my mom is a safety issue affecting the children. I thought I could trust my mom (like most daughters, I think, when the first child is born), but I was WRONG! You need to protect yourself, your husband, your marriage, and your yet-to-be conceived children from toxic people, whether they're related or not.


closed #14

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