Need Advice before I cause a divide in my family


#1

Appreciate in advance your advice on my sticky situation.

I’ve caught my wife and my brothers wife talking bad about my mother and my sister. They seem to have nothing but bad things to say about them and call them “terrible people”. My sister and mother are loving people and never hurt anyone so I dont understand why they hate them so. They dont know that I know how they have been talking about them. I’m stuck in a difficult situation because if I say anything to my wife, she will know I was monitoring her email (originally intended to monitor the kids but then caught this) so she will be upset with me and if I say anything to my sister or mother their feelings will be hurt and it will create animosity between them.

I just want my family to get along but it kills me to know the things they say behind everyone’s back. I dont want to make things worse which I fear will be the case if I say something but I’m developing disdain in my heart which hurts me very much.

How do I get them to stop while avoiding a major fight between everyone?


#2

I think you should explain to your wife that you intended to check up on the children’s mail but accidentally read that message. It’s not good for you to sit on it and feel bad about it. Maybe your wife has a reason to feel as she does about your mother and sister. Maybe they have been too intrusive or judgmental of her. Talk to her about it. Don’t be confrontational and accuse your wife, be gentle and ask her what made her feel that way about your mother and sister.

Under no circumstances should you tell your mother or sister what you read however, that would destroy their relationship with your wife for good.


#3

I just want my family to get along

How do I get them to stop

these are grown ups. you have no power over them. the only things you can do are:

refuse to participate in any nasty conversation

insist your kids are not party to it

pray-- not only for them but for yourself to be free of resentments. ask God to put a deep charity of all involved in your heart. the devil will try and dismantle your charity. he loves family discord and is often successful at getting the ‘peacemaker’ to act worse then anyone else.

be careful. ask your guardian angel to intercede for your protection against judgment and resentment. .


#4

My husband, then fiance, was oblivious to the way his family treated me. At first things were very passive and easy for him to overlook because he didn’t think they were capable. But they were and they did and as a result I do not like to be around them.

So I would not assume that your wife is just making things up. You are on her team now, so be on her side and allow her to explain if it comes up.


#5

You are on her team now, so be on her side and allow her to explain if it comes up.

yeah, yeah. good observation. my antenae went up with the “they wouldn’t hurt a soul” thing and I forgot all about it by the time I posted. (i’m not getting smarter, that’s for sure.)

so yeah. perhaps the OP feels unwarranted defense of his dear mom and sis?

still, he’s not going to be able to make all the adults line up and act like he wants them to.


#6

As a married man, your responsibility is to cleave to your wife - I don’t mean that you need to encourage unjustified hate in her, but I do say that you need to be loyal to her OVER your mother. You are a big boy now.

As many have said here, you don’t know WHY your wife feels as she does. The betrayal a wife feels when her husband sides with his mommy against her, is beyond words. It is horrible. Don’t make that mistake! She may well have a good reason, unknown to you. For some reason, men a absolutely blind when it comes to their mothers. And many of those mothers are not saints.

I say these things to you because your post suggests you have already made a judgement. Your mother and sister are wonderful, your wife is not. Very dangerous ground to walk on. You may well be wrong. And as I said, it is in fact, biblically, a betrayal to your wife.

So come clean, say you snooped and apologize. You are reaping what you sowed in fact - if you hadn’t snooped you wouldn’t be in this mess, would you? And then ask with an open mind and heart why she feels as she does.

As far as avoiding a fight in the family - your prayers can help with that.


#7

You know, I might even not say you snooped. Be attentive to her comments on the subject and her attitudes and discuss it with her as if you observed some tension. Get her to open up. The fact she is talking to your brother’s wife leads me to believe your mom has issues with the women her sons married. Some moms are like that. The insiders versus the outsiders. (and they resent it) Your wife feels more comfortable talking to her about it than you. Family dynamics are fun. Aren’t they? Sometimes personalities mesh differently. It doesn’t mean some people are good or bad, they just are… they show a different face to some than others, some bring out the best in them, some are negative. It would take King Solomon to figure out what is going on here. But your place is supporting your wife. It’s easier to plaster a smile on your face and visit the in-laws who don’t like you if your spouse is in your corner.

Why she thinks your brother’s wife makes better backup than you do is something you really need to find out. It’s a crack in your marriage. Look at your mother and sisters and your wife realistically and find a way to see that maybe mom would hurt a fly. Or at least she’d take a swat at your wife when you aren’t looking. While you men are in the tv room watching football during family visits, there could be all kinds of drama and pettiness going on in the other room. :wink:


#8

Yep. One of my friend’s mother-in-law was pure evil towards her, but always out of sight and earshot of her son. The son was convinced his wife was making it up or exaggerating. He did not defend his wife. Then after a few years of this abuse, the mother got sloppy. She made one of her terrible comments with her son in the room. After that, he realized how wrong he had been and tht his mom had been abusing his wife the entire time.

So, my advice is be cautious regarding you saintly mom and sister. You don’t know how mean women can be. You may think that mom and sis are being angels when in fact they aren’t. You don’t know what goes on when you aren’t around.

I’m not saying your mom and sister are bad. Maybe it’s your wife and sister-in-law who are petty or gossiping unjustly. I would caution you on how you approach it, if you do.

Maybe you should put up your antenna and really pay attention at a few family gatherings before you say anything. Maybe you will learn something important.


#9

I find it telling that it’s both women who’ve married into your family saying this…

I’d keep my eye out…As a woman, I do find that other women can be cruel to each other in ways that men can’t even fathom…


#10

:eek: I can’t believe that you would even entertain thoughts of mentioning those emails to your mom and your sisters! :eek: Yes, your fears are correct–it would make things worse if you mentioned the discussion to the people who were being talked about.

Now that you* know* your wife doesn’t get along with your mom and your sisters, I suggest you hang out with your wife when you are around your family. While you say the women in your family would never hurt anyone, you have recently read an email discussion that suggests they somehow hurt the feelings of your wife and your brother’s wife. Perhaps it was unintentional. Perhaps, the established relationship and communication patterns between your mom and her daughter somehow leave your wife and your brother’s wife feeling uncomfortable at family gatherings. Or perhaps both you and your brother simply married terrible women, despite the fact that the women you grew up around are perfect saints. I highly doubt that the last suggestion is true.

Whatever the case, do not mention those emails to your mom or sister. Ever. You don’t even have to mention that you read them to your wife. But now that you know what she says about your mom and sister, don’t immediately assume that she has no reason for feeling the way she does. I suggest you quietly observe more closely how your mom and your sister treat your wife.


#11

Thanks to all of you for your advice. It is greatly appreciated.

I'm fairly confident the issue with the women in my life is an issue of jealousy and misunderstanding. I know mothers can be protective of their sons and that can lead to issues. The only time there have been issues with my wife and my mom is when my wife fails to listen to what she says and misinterprets a conversation. I know this because she does the same thing with me and others. Sometimes she hears what she wants or is just not paying attention to a conversation and thinks she heard something she didn't. The issue as someone pointed out earlier, is that she goes to my sister in law with this misinformation or misinterpretation rather than coming to me. Or even if my mom/sis did do something wrong to them, why wouldn't my wife tell me. That is something we need to work on. I will take the advice and try to discuss this with her to see what I can do to help that situation although I fear that it will result in an argument. Perhaps its just girl talk or perhaps she thinks I'll go back and tell my mother (which I wouldn't) but whatever it is, we need to fix that. The issue for me is still that they have such a level of hatred to talk the way they do about someone meanwhile they are all lovey dovey with them when they are in person. The two-facedness really bothers me. I know my wife as a loving person who tries to help everyone she can so I dont understand this hidden evil face and it honestly makes me fear what she says about me.....


#12

Does your wife display anxiety before gatherings with your family? This sticks out to me

The only time there have been issues with my wife and my mom is when my wife fails to listen to what she says and misinterprets a conversation.

When this happens are you always defending your mom? If so, that's a real problem and that is probably a major reason why your wife doesn't trust telling you her feelings since you always side with your mom (how she hears your defense of the conversations that you say are misinterpreted). One thing I learned this weekend at my husband's aspirancy training is that women pick up on more things during communication then men, that we have more lines that connect in our brain. So, while you may not read "deeper" into the "misinterpreted" conversations for what they truly mean (and women do relay more than just what their words are), your wife sees everything more in totality.


#13

I'm fairly confident the issue with the women in my life is an issue of jealousy and misunderstanding. I know mothers can be protective of their sons and that can lead to issues. The only time there have been issues with my wife and my mom is when my wife fails to listen to what she says and misinterprets a conversation. I know this because she does the same thing with me and others. Sometimes she hears what she wants or is just not paying attention to a conversation and thinks she heard something she didn't. The issue as someone pointed out earlier, is that she goes to my sister in law with this misinformation or misinterpretation rather than coming to me. Or even if my mom/sis did do something wrong to them, why wouldn't my wife tell me. That is something we need to work on. I will take the advice and try to discuss this with her to see what I can do to help that situation although I fear that it will result in an argument. Perhaps its just girl talk or perhaps she thinks I'll go back and tell my mother (which I wouldn't) but whatever it is, we need to fix that. The issue for me is still that they have such a level of hatred to talk the way they do about someone meanwhile they are all lovey dovey with them when they are in person. The two-facedness really bothers me. I know my wife as a loving person who tries to help everyone she can so I dont understand this hidden evil face and it honestly makes me fear what she says about me.....

Oh, dude, seriously... you're heading for the abyss.

Don't know where to even begin here! :eek:

Okay, I'll just say I'm writing this as a mother, as a former daughter in law and as someone whose xh hatedhatedhated my mother for stuff she never did, or stuff he read into what she said that wasn't even there but he was paranoid and mean... so I've seen it from ALL angles.

First off... you don't like your wife much, do you? As a woman, we pick up on that real quick. We know who is in our corner. Are you mommy's precious baboo, and somehow you have ended up with an evil two-faced woman who doesn't listen to you and even if she does, she misinterprets, or doesn't hear or misconstrues what you say?

Gosh! HOW did you ever marry someone that awful when you grew up with a saint like Mom! When you say "jealousy and misunderstanding" who are you referring to? Because your mommy is a bit old to be jealous of your wife. (I'd love to hear the stories of how SHE got on with HER MIL because that would shine a whole new light on this....) And at this stage, your wife should have NO reason to be jealous of your mother, unless your behavior causes her to feel second fiddle. It's different with daughters and their mothers and some men feel cut out of a friendship there. But you are a son and your relationship with your mother as a grown man should have changed when you got married.

Your mommy doesn't need to protect you from your wife. Send her a memo if you haven't already.

Now, all the misunderstandings may not be misunderstandings, if I can read between the lines here. (it's what we women do... we never just go on words alone, when body language, tone, raised eyebrows and glances with other people in the room can say soooo much more than "How are you today, dear?"

Just that one sentence alone... can convey earnestness, compassion, love, concern, or wariness that the nutball is in the kitchen again and she might blow, and do we need to take cover under the kitchen table?

Women pick up on the secondary meanings and inflection really well.

So your wife misinterprets you too? Did nobody in your family learn to communicate effectively? Or did you just pick a bad one to marry? Because something is wrong here. Or maybe she hears VERY clearly, and YOU don't trust her enough to really LISTEN to what she is saying. In which case, how long ago did she give up trying to talk to YOU and now just finds people who will listen to her? (Did your brother also magically find a wife just like that, who also misinterprets Saint Mommy and she doesn't listen to him either?)

See... you're afraid to have an honest conversation because that will result in an argument. Why would it result in an argument? Because you will knee-jerk defend mommy and not want to hear anything bad about her? Because mommy really IS a saint and you've realized you married a shrew? Because your listening and empathy skills are defunct? Because you don't agree on much anyway? Well, if it always ends in an argument, THAT is why your wife goes to Sister in Law. Because they AGREE.

continued...


#14

The issue for me is still that they have such a level of hatred to talk the way they do about someone meanwhile they are all lovey dovey with them when they are in person. The two-facedness really bothers me. I know my wife as a loving person who tries to help everyone she can so I dont understand this hidden evil face and it honestly makes me fear what she says about me.....

Now... this caught my attention. The woman you brought home to meet Saint Mom probably didn't hate her. Didn't even know her. I imagine hate is a strong word. I suppose you want to drag your wife over to someone's house whom she doesn't feel comfortable around and do what? Spew invective? No. Adults have feelings they learn to keep quiet in appropriate circumstances. So what you are seeing is called POLITENESS. Not two-facedness. Unless you want a knock-down fight over the mashed potatoes. Ask, and you shall receive. Tell her "I'm sick of watching you pretend you like my mom. I want to see honest interaction next time." Should be fun. Can I come and watch? :popcorn:

You call it two-facedness. I like that. Given a choice between two words to describe your wife, "two-facedness" and "polite" you choose the evil adjective. You know her as a loving person but she has...a hidden evil face? WOW. Just, wow! :eek: Yet, she's a loving woman who tries to help everyone, but your mom is the only person on the planet who brings out this negative side? Something doesn't add up in this picture.... :shrug:

Is your fear she's ripping you apart behind your back the same way you have shredded her here?

See... this isn't at all about your mom. Or your wife's opinion of your mom. It's about your relationship with the woman you married. How you communicate with her. You don't say how long you've been married. You're angry she calls mom and sis "terrible people" but you say she's two-faced and has a hidden evil face?

Wow!

Here's my guess... we can choose from a list of possibilities. There are trends in life. Sons often marry someone just like their mother. In which case, your wife's hidden evil face may be reacting to mommy's hidden evil face. Or sons marry someone just the opposite of mommy, in which case mommy is awful and your wife is a saint, but you can't see that. Or your wife is awful and your mommy and sis are saints. But the thing about really saintly good people... they don't often inspire the kind of animosity in their in-laws that you are complaining about here.

You're right in that you need to talk. But there is a way to communicate that doesn't lead to screaming and tears. I would suggest you sit wifey down and ask her with love in your eyes, to take a piece of paper and just humor you. Have her write down 10 adjectives to describe your mom and sis. Now look at that list in all honesty and see if those 10 adjectives do or don't match your opinion of your wife. In which case, you have married your mother and they don't get along because they understand each other all too well.

Now, go through the list honestly. Whether you agree with it or not, that is HER opinion and she has a right to her feelings. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They just are. It's how you act on them that make them right or wrong. And since your wife has the self control to stuff her real feelings down for family harmony and for your own interest, you might want to thank God. Those of us who had spouses who let loose the dogs of war at family gatherings and spewed their hatred for every imagined slight and punished us for our relatives don't feel really sorry for you. Be glad it's not all out war. And find a way to back up the woman you married and start seeing your wife's good points.

Because if you play your mommy off against her too much, I'm sure mommy would love to let you have your old room back. You can bunk with your brother. Might make mommy real happy. Her precious baboos all home again where they belong!

See.. the catch in all this is your brother's wife also seems to feel mistreated. So if I were you, I'd really LISTEN to your wife.

Oh, the title of this thread is wrong. You haven't caused a divide. There is already a divide in your family. You've just finally noticed because you read your wife's email to your SIL. Something tells me you haven't been paying attention. Did you want us to tell you to smack your wife and tell her to honor your mother?


#15

Under no circumstances do you discuss your wife’s private emails with your mother. Your priorities are seriously messed up if you are siding with your mother over your wife. Whether or not your wife’s objections to your mom are real or a misunderstanding -your wife is obviously being hurt by this. She feels like she is being mistreated and her feelings need to matter to you, not to be brushed aside like she’s just being a scatter brain and not really paying attention to what your mother is actually saying. Women generally speaking are more intuitive and pick up on body language and other things men often just don’t see.

This is your wife, you need to be her protector and defender, not someone who would side with the person she feels hurt by and betray her by sharing her private emails with your mother.


#16

Thanks again for taking the time to read my dilemma and provide your thoughts. It is exactly what I needed to hear multiple views on the situation.

I apologize as I realize I left out some information. My wife and I have been married for 14 years now and have 3 wonderful children. My mom is a senior citizen and my dad passed away 20 years ago.

For the record, the few times there were open issues between my wife and mother, I have always backed my wife and in most situations it proved out to be cases of her mis-understanding what was said (which she acknowledged). So I’ve taken bullets for her before and dishonored my mother in her defense. Additionally, I just found out recently that a rift with my wife’s cousin who stopped talking to us abruptly years ago was caused by gossip started by my wife.

And in regards to me not liking my wife, nothing could be further from the truth. I love her and all that she stands for. I guess I’m just naive and assumed that she couldn’t have those feelings in her heart. Everything I do in my life is for her and our children. I can forgive the act, I guess I am disappointed that things aren’t really as they seem. If I didn’t love her as I do, I wouldn’t be here asking for help in this situation.

Again many thanks for your help. God Bless you all.


#17

You really need to talk to your wife about this without talking about this “hidden evil face” or misunderstandings or “those feelings” she has “in her heart”.

It really does come across that you’re starting out with believing your wife is a bad person, and don’t think she can’t tell you think that way through your words and actions.

If both your wife and the sister and law were talking about how bad your mother and sister are, there is probably something to it. Yes it’s possible that one person is a lying sociopath, but it’s very unlikely that there’d be 2 of them in your family. They both talked about it and agreed. My money would be that both your mother and sister did something to make them think that way, otherwise the sister in law wouldn’t have engaged in that conversation and agreed with your wife.

So here you, are assuming the worst of your wife (using the word evil) and the best of your mother and sister. At the same time, you’re afraid to actually discuss this with your wife and find out why she feels as she does.

No offense, but you do come across as a momma’s boy. It’s time to man up and have an honest conversation with your wife.


#18

Some families don't communicate enough. Some communicate too much.

Look, no one is perfect. I'm glad you love your wife. 14 years is a long time to make a marriage work in this day and age.

Your wife is nice enough not to pick on old widows to their faces. Doesn't mean your mother doesn't tick her off.

Backing one doesn't have to mean biting heads off the other. You can say "Dear, I understand. She was wrong. I disagree with what she did/said but just humor her. She's old. Her views are this way. I just don't want a fight."

Your wife might actually respect that attitude. You don't have to dishonor your mom to disagree with her.

There is also effective communication that is respectful.

You can't make people love each other. The only reason your wife and mother may have anything in common is you and the kids. They love the same people. Doesn't mean they're going to love each other. So be happy they can at least be polite. Ever seen a family where MILs and DILs are at each other's throats? It's not a situation of love me, love my dog. She treats your mother with respect when she's around her. But her feelings are based on how she feels your mother treats her.

I imagine after 14 years there is mud on both sides of that street by now.

Next time your wife gets upset at something say "Make sure you have accurate information before you get upset." And as for gossip, well, that old "telephone game" never ended well, did it? The message always gets garbled and changed along the way and what is being communicated is not the truth after a while, which is what makes gossip so wrong... it is putting oneself in the position of relaying things that may be true but not right to divulge, or things one is unaware are not true, so one is passing along lies.

Don't demand perfection of your wife. Pray for her and set an example yourself of kindness. Make her feel secure. Your mother might be the kind that does things to get you to defend her for attention or to see if she can still control you or show your wife where your loyalties are. If it doesn't give her a reward she wont' do it. And sometimes people just disagree. I disagreed with about 86 percent of my ex MIL's attitudes and behaviors and actions. But in front of my children I was polite to her and showed her kindness. Because that was the example I wanted to set. That civility was important. They watched their own father treat her like refuse. That was HIS lesson. I'd hate to think someone watching would come away thinking I was evil or two-faced and a hypocrite because I didn't show all the anger I felt. I thought that was called self control.

Your wife is showing your children how to treat in-laws and people in general. Someday you may reap the rewards of having sons in law or daughters in law who are kind and loving and polite to you even though they might not think you are so great personally. Your children will want them to do that because that is how they were brought up. Your wife is teaching them how to do that. Thank her.


#19

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