In-laws have had a big row!


#1

My MIL rang yesterday to tell us the she and FIL had a huge arguement about a month ago and are no longer speaking. They have discussed divorce but decided against it for the moment and are still living in the same house. Tomorrow my husband and I are going to visit them for the New Year and will be expected to stay 4 or 5 days.
We are not very surprised this has happened. FIL retired this April and is now home all day every day. They are both difficult people. He is moody, demanding, excessively clean and tidy but also kind-hearted and honest . MIL is lazy, a complete slob, controlling and will lie or sulk to get her own way. ( I still haven’t found her “good” quality but am working on this.) MIL blamed it all on FIL when she called yesterday but DH is finally becoming wise to his mother’s controling behaviour and managed to say very little.
Any advice on how we avoid being pulled into this? I know MIL will expect DH to take her side and if he doesn’t, will blame it all on me. Also, neither of them are talking to DH’s grandmother (mother’s mother). She is in her 70s and lives in a seperate granny-flat in the same house. DH’s older brother lives with them, is not working (again!!!), pays nothing towards household expenses even when working, and has sided with his mother as usual. He doesn’t speak to the grandmother either and doesn’t really get on well with DH.
We are dreading our visit and would like any advice on how to manage this kind of situation. Even if nobdy has any suggestions, can you pray for us. This is very difficult for us, especially DH.

Gearoidin


#2

“are expected to stay 4-5 days”? whose expectations? I would stay for a day visit only. Rent a motel room if you are flying there and commit yourselves to never entering into their chaos again. prayers for you two.


#3

Can your husband tell his mother very respectfully that while the two of you were looking forward to seeing her, you feel uncomfortable about the situation she’s described and would prefer not to visit this time? Visiting under those circumstances sounds both excrutiatingly uncomfortable and completely inappropriate.

Can you meet halfway somewhere and have dinner, then part ways?

That sort of drama needs to be avoided at all costs, not just for THEIR marriage, but for yours, too. Dinner is about all I would be willing to do in those circumstances. Put your emotional health FIRST, not theirs.

If your MIL pouts and sulks, I think the honest question is asking her why she thinks the two of you want to walk into a house (let alone stay five days) where there is a constant power struggle and no one is speaking to each other?

And I agree with MJE, I wouldn’t stay there for anything.


#4

[quote=MJE]“are expected to stay 4-5 days”? whose expectations? I would stay for a day visit only. Rent a motel room if you are flying there and commit yourselves to never entering into their chaos again. prayers for you two.
[/quote]

Traditional Japanese culture/saving face etc. FIL was a well known politican and is known and respected in the community. He may be running for re-election in 2007 so public appearences are vital to him. We are expected to visit the local Shinto shrine (something I hate) on New Year’s Day as a family and attend other public events too. Smiling pleasantly and making everything look normal for the press is very important.
Thank you for your prayers. I think we will need them.

Gearoidin


#5

[quote=Princess_Abby]Can your husband tell his mother very respectfully that while the two of you were looking forward to seeing her, you feel uncomfortable about the situation she’s described and would prefer not to visit this time? Visiting under those circumstances sounds both excrutiatingly uncomfortable and completely inappropriate.

Can you meet halfway somewhere and have dinner, then part ways?

That sort of drama needs to be avoided at all costs, not just for THEIR marriage, but for yours, too. Dinner is about all I would be willing to do in those circumstances. Put your emotional health FIRST, not theirs.

If your MIL pouts and sulks, I think the honest question is asking her why she thinks the two of you want to walk into a house (let alone stay five days) where there is a constant power struggle and no one is speaking to each other?

And I agree with MJE, I wouldn’t stay there for anything.
[/quote]

You are right. Not visiting would be the best for us but we don’t have that choice. We are trying to find a way to cut the visit back to 2 nights/3 days and be out of the house and apart from them as much as possible except for public events. I hate any kind of fighting and get very upset in this kind of atmosphere. When we are with them, avoiding being pulled into this or MIL trying to force us to take sides, will be the biggest challenge. Thank you for your advice.

Gearoidin


#6

Do they live in Japan or the US? Yes…if you fly out all the way to Japan and he is ‘famous’ I can see your problem :eek: …What an awful situation! Praying for you and your dh, that these few days pass with as little drama as possible :wink: !

Anna x


#7

Can you stay with Grandma in her “granny flat”?

If no one is talking to her- they might just leave you alone while you are there. She could use the visit, and you could just see the IL’s in public.

(This is assuming GIL isn’t worse)


#8

Now THAT is an idea: see ‘grandma’ AND avoid in-laws as much as possible :thumbsup:

Anna x


#9

This is just my personal take on what you’ve said regarding FIL’s penchant for face-saving obedience at the expense of you and your husband…please ignore it if it’s just outside the realm of what you can see yourself considering.

Whether or not your FIL realizes it, if he truly cared about the public’s perception of him then he would live his life in a genuinely kind way and nurture the relationships around him. His son, DIL and wife would then want to be around him and maintain an authentically caring interaction. There would be no dreading of visits nor worry about the atmosphere.

Instead, you’re allowing yourself to be held hostage by the fear (I’m guessing?) of his or your MIL’s reaction should you not ante up and play their game by making public appearances that present the family in a positive manner. If he wants to have public perception be positive, then he needs to be positive in the way he treats people. Expecting them to jump when he says jump is not just unhealthy (for you), it’s also unrealistic.

Anyway, again, that’s just me. I or my husband would call and decline the visit and explain that when family relationships are healed then we’d be more than happy to make a trip to see them. But that until then we don’t feel like subjecting ourselves to stress and drama and pretending for only their sake.

Best of luck and I’ll pray for you!


#10

Abby,

That advice makes all kinds of sense to us, and probably to the op too, but she is dealing with a Japannese culture/mindset. The consequences of that action for her and dh would probably be very bad.

My question is this, if FIL is so bent on public apperences, what would a messy divorce do to his “public image”??? That thought alone should be a force to start him working on a resolution to his marital/family problems. You can’t “hide” and “pretend” through one of those.


#11

Gearoidin,
I will pray for you!!! There is nothing worse than being pulled into a situation where people you love ask you to take sides. I have a similar problem in my family too. My sister and I, when we have to visit, spend alot of time politely changing the topic of conversation. We have gotten pretty good at it, some of the tactics that work well for us, are to simply reply to the complainer, “I don’t think she meant that the way you are taking it,” or “But, on the other hand…” and list their good qualities. I have also found that a frank comment like, “I am not going to get in the middle of your dispute.” works well at times too. But, my absolute favorite…when one person is complaining about another, just reach into your purse and take out a small notepad and pen and start writing. If they ask what you are doing, say just taking some notes. Then at an opportune time leave the notebook out where they can see it…on the pages write:

  1. Pray for _________(person that was complaining to you)
    (S)He seems so unhappy all the time, perhaps contact a counsellor for him/her.

Trust me, it shuts them up quick!!! They think you might tell someone else about them, they won’t complain in front of you anymore.


#12

[quote=Gearoidin]Traditional Japanese culture/saving face etc. FIL was a well known politican and is known and respected in the community. He may be running for re-election in 2007 so public appearences are vital to him. We are expected to visit the local Shinto shrine (something I hate) on New Year’s Day as a family and attend other public events too. Smiling pleasantly and making everything look normal for the press is very important.
Thank you for your prayers. I think we will need them.

Gearoidin
[/quote]

Yeah, but you can still make these public appearances without having to stay at the HOUSE, right? I’m with MJE and Princess Abbey…RUN FOR IT…oh,wait…ok, I mean, stay somewhere else and show up for dinner and for the pictures…
and of course you are in our prayers…listen, we have ALL been there…some more than others…the MIL sounds like she needs to go in the Jesus Box…


#13

[quote=BlestOne]dispute." works well at times too. But, my absolute favorite…when one person is complaining about another, just reach into your purse and take out a small notepad and pen and start writing. If they ask what you are doing, say just taking some notes. Then at an opportune time leave the notebook out where they can see it…on the pages write:

  1. Pray for _________(person that was complaining to you)
    (S)He seems so unhappy all the time, perhaps contact a counsellor for him/her.

Trust me, it shuts them up quick!!! They think you might tell someone else about them, they won’t complain in front of you anymore.
[/quote]

I LOVE THIS
:rotfl:


#14

[quote=Siena]Abby,

That advice makes all kinds of sense to us, and probably to the op too, but she is dealing with a Japannese culture/mindset. The consequences of that action for her and dh would probably be very bad.

My question is this, if FIL is so bent on public apperences, what would a messy divorce do to his “public image”??? That thought alone should be a force to start him working on a resolution to his marital/family problems. You can’t “hide” and “pretend” through one of those.
[/quote]

Siena, this is exactly the problem. I am in Japan and bound by Japanese culture. There is often a huge difference between “inside” and “outside” image and behaviour. Not going and not staying with them is not an option although this is what I would do, if we were outside Japan. Public image is the only reason they were not divorced years ago. The divorce rate is still very low here, mainly because of the shame it causes. I know numerous couples who live seperate lives, yet continue to live in the same house and present a united public image.
Sometimes it is difficult to live in a very different culture. I wish I were better at coping with situations like this but I have very little experience with difficult marriages. Maybe I am lucky!

Gearoidin


#15

[quote=BlestOne]Gearoidin,
I will pray for you!!! There is nothing worse than being pulled into a situation where people you love ask you to take sides. I have a similar problem in my family too. My sister and I, when we have to visit, spend alot of time politely changing the topic of conversation. We have gotten pretty good at it, some of the tactics that work well for us, are to simply reply to the complainer, “I don’t think she meant that the way you are taking it,” or “But, on the other hand…” and list their good qualities. I have also found that a frank comment like, “I am not going to get in the middle of your dispute.” works well at times too. But, my absolute favorite…when one person is complaining about another, just reach into your purse and take out a small notepad and pen and start writing. If they ask what you are doing, say just taking some notes. Then at an opportune time leave the notebook out where they can see it…on the pages write:

  1. Pray for _________(person that was complaining to you)
    (S)He seems so unhappy all the time, perhaps contact a counsellor for him/her.

Trust me, it shuts them up quick!!! They think you might tell someone else about them, they won’t complain in front of you anymore.
[/quote]

LOL:rotfl: Wouldn’t I love to do that.
We have talked it over and I think we will be going with the changing the topic and frankly refusing to take sides. I’m sorry about your problem too.

Gearoidin


#16

[quote=anna1978]Do they live in Japan or the US? Yes…if you fly out all the way to Japan and he is ‘famous’ I can see your problem :eek: …What an awful situation! Praying for you and your dh, that these few days pass with as little drama as possible :wink: !

Anna x
[/quote]

They live in Japan and we do too. Thank you for your prayers.
Gearoidin


#17

If my husband and I go visit family when we know things will be uncomfortable, we try to visit other people as well. This way, we are not in the house as often but we also are able to put on a loving front. We fake it till we make it. Our SIL drives us crazy beyond belief. Because of health problems, we were able to avoid the trip this year. Before the health issues came up, we had planned to visit some friends and do some sight seeing to keep us out of the house as much as possible.

One other consideration is the family is really cordial and put on a good show when out and about. Use this to your advantage and try to keep them out and about as much as possible. This way they will avoid the drama because they wouldn’t want the public to get any negative ideas. Instead of having dinner at home, eat out as much as possible. Keep them in the public eye as much as you can. The less you stay in, the less chance there is of anyone trying to corner you. Also, keep reminding yourself that you only have to see them once a year and don’t have to live with them.

Just my two cents…I will pray for you. In-laws can be a source of much pain. If my MIL says one more thing about my husbands weight, I think I am going to have a conniption fit :eek:


#18

Gearoidin,
Forgot to ask…where in Japan? My new coworker just moved here from Tokyo in October and his family just got here last week. He is teaching me alot about Japanese culture and I of course am teaching him about the US. Our kids are similar ages and interests so we pal around with the whole family. I like it that he is so family oriented because we are here too. His wife is totally sweet, and she cooks very well!!! One of the first things we did together was go out for sushi and he taught my daughter the proper way to eat it and use chopsticks. We enjoy teaching each others kids. Tomorrow night I am taking all his and my kids ice skating. His kids have never skated before so it should be alot of fun.


#19

[quote=BlestOne]Gearoidin,
I will pray for you!!! There is nothing worse than being pulled into a situation where people you love ask you to take sides. I have a similar problem in my family too. My sister and I, when we have to visit, spend alot of time politely changing the topic of conversation. We have gotten pretty good at it, some of the tactics that work well for us, are to simply reply to the complainer, “I don’t think she meant that the way you are taking it,” or “But, on the other hand…” and list their good qualities. I have also found that a frank comment like, “I am not going to get in the middle of your dispute.” works well at times too. But, my absolute favorite…when one person is complaining about another, just reach into your purse and take out a small notepad and pen and start writing. If they ask what you are doing, say just taking some notes. Then at an opportune time leave the notebook out where they can see it…on the pages write:

  1. Pray for _________(person that was complaining to you)
    (S)He seems so unhappy all the time, perhaps contact a counsellor for him/her.

Trust me, it shuts them up quick!!! They think you might tell someone else about them, they won’t complain in front of you anymore.
[/quote]

I put this on my New Years list of things to do!!! :rotfl:

Also, our Faith has a Commandment to Honor Thy Father and Mother. That goes for FL and ML too. Just focus on that and you will only help the situation, not make it worse. :thumbsup:


#20

[quote=BlestOne]Gearoidin,
Forgot to ask…where in Japan? My new coworker just moved here from Tokyo in October and his family just got here last week. He is teaching me alot about Japanese culture and I of course am teaching him about the US. Our kids are similar ages and interests so we pal around with the whole family. I like it that he is so family oriented because we are here too. His wife is totally sweet, and she cooks very well!!! One of the first things we did together was go out for sushi and he taught my daughter the proper way to eat it and use chopsticks. We enjoy teaching each others kids. Tomorrow night I am taking all his and my kids ice skating. His kids have never skated before so it should be alot of fun.
[/quote]

Shikoku, the smallest of the 4 main Japanese islands. We live in Kagawa, my in-laws in a neighbouring prefecture. It is a rural area (by Japanese standards) with lots of bamboo-covered mountains, irrigation ponds for the rice fields, orange and olive trees. It is like a different world to Tokyo. Much more relaxed but also more traditional and conservative than Tokyo.

Gearoidin


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