practical advice for daily dealing with problem in-laws

ok I know pray for them and all the standard generic advice but I need specific daily ideas and suggestions for dealing with these people please…!

The do not go to Church and do not want to, would not even go to Confession to be able to participate in our Wedding Mass. They are immoral (as in lying cheating stealing with no conscience) and completely and totally obsessed with their son, my husband. They failed as parents and are greedy and selfish and so enmeshed as a family that it has brought me to the brink of divorce MANY times. They have in the past been violent and threatening towards me. I am currently speaking to his parents —atleast I think I still am, but they may not be speaking to me, hard to tell-- but his sister is not speaking to me as of last night because I told her to mind her own business when she didn’t.

I waited 10 years for my husband to defend me but he is not capable of it and I just have to live with that disappointment, so I do have to defend myself every few months. His sister will make trouble whenever she can and since she is the golden child at the moment and the holiday season is fast approaching she has started her stuff already.

Personally I do not care what they think of me, I don’t like any of them and would not be friends with them if I didn’t know my husband. I might occasionally be able to show some genuine affection for my husband’s sake and I am always kind and civil, but these people are abusive and I have to be able to protect myself, since he won’t protect himself OR me. (Thank goodness we have no children.) HOWEVER I do care what God thinks of me and I am getting tired of covering the same old ground in Confession myself.

Please some practical and real life suggestions on how to live with this bad situation? Any particular saints to help with bad in-laws and difficult marriages? (He is improving, until they set him back every few months–especially around the holidays-which for them are birthdays and Thanksgiving since they are not religious!)

Were his parents like this during your courtship?

not really. he was very good the first few years at living a double-life, apparently seeing them when I thought he was working and telling them stories about me that had little to do with reality.

He misrepresented himself and them to me, and if I knew then what I know now I would never had got involved with him. But divorce is out of the question and now I just have to make this work and bear whatever cross I am given. I do love him now and we have history. (Besides, now I am in my 40’s, disabled, and all my family is gone–where else am I going to go if I leave—I will stick around just to torment him for the rest of our lives—LOL j/k)

He is not abusive, they are. And as long as he is not with them we get along fine and he is happy. But they turn up the heat at holiday time. His sister is the catalyst for most of the problems. She is totally obsessed with him–to an unnatural degreee in my opinion. She is never married and every boyfriend she brings home resembles her brother. It is sicko. I might add too that she is 40 years old with a 18 year old daughter herself.

My husband did not know his family was messed up before we met. Even his friends did not really know the extent of the dysfunction. He is very charming and talks a good game–he is a master at lying to himself. No one knew. We were friends for 6 months before we ever even dated and I lived in the condo next door to his parents for over a year!

If you offer a few examples of regular, specific situations you deal with, I could offer more specific advice.

I would start by not speaking unless necessary, responding to most comments or questions with “yes” “no” “fine” or other responses that are very brief and limited.

I would press assault charges if anybody ever abused me.

If they insulted me I would say, “thank you for pointing that out, I will have to work on that.”

If they got angry with me over something, even if I think I was right I say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t use common sense. I should have handled that differently.”

If they were just making fun of me I would smile and say, “okay I think I’m going to go do something else now.”

Look at it like they have some sort untreatable dementia. Do what you can to prevent “episodes”, and if they do act up chalk it up to them being disordered and just try diffuse the situation as quickly as possible. Never let on about what you really think of them.

Time - plain and simple. Your husband probably will back you eventually. I used to not be allowed in family photos and that’s when my husband spoke up. It took him 5 years. Incidentally that was only my f-i-law that was the problem.

specifics are hard because when I am living it it feels worse than when it is typed out. I know people will think why don’t I just ignore it, but there is so much to ignore I have to have some kind of interaction with them.

We finally live 4 hours away, but they call 5-6-7 times a day. And once they called 911 when we didn’t answer a whole day. When we first moved to another state from them they called the State Police and claimed their 35 yr old son (at the time) was a teen age runaway and when we arrived at my relatives house where we were staying the cops had the place surrounded and guns drawn because they claimed I abducted him and he was a minor!

Now it is not that extreme. But every couple of months we spend every dime we have on gas to go down there to see them and I sit and listen to his mother and sister criticize everything I say or do while they gamble or drink or smoke for 2 or 3 days because we can never just go down for the day–it always turns into a long week end. Or worse they come up to our house. (But not very often because they have to spend money for that.) Just two years ago they were not speaking to me so he went down for his birthday without me and they had his old girlfriend (who wanted him back) waiting for him!

We are having some difficulties right now and he did not want to have to ask them but he asked them if they could help us out financially and co-sign a loan (they own their own home now) for $2000…of course they can’t because they are already helping his sister who has been evicted again (because she started a fist fight with the landlord’s wife!) We have never once asked for money or anything from them the whole time we have been married–10 years now, even tho we have given them thousands of dollars and his sister even more.

So now I am getting all kinds of advice on what I can put out in a yard sale (rolling my eyes–of course nothing she gave me!) and how I should find a job (I am physically disabled and get a pension that amounts to minimum wage plus all my health benefits which I would lose if I worked even if I could) or we should all move in with them…the solution to everything is to move in with them. They want him back under their roof so badly that they would even take me ----this time. But they have offered him without me many times. (His job and licensing and our life is where we are and moving is not the solution to our money woes, a small loan would be…but I told him it is not worth it to owe them money.)

so last night he happened to throw a tantrum because the internet kept bumping him when he was talking to his sister in Messenger. He stomped off and went back to bed–which is where he should have been anyway since he is working nights this week but they keep calling and waking him up. So I reconnected and told her he went back to bed just to be polite.

His mother never even acknowledged that I said anything and his sister started yelling at me online like I told him to go to bed or something—which I didn’t but any fool would know he has to get some sleep—and I told her I did not ‘send him to bed’. Her next comment was threatening to ‘kick my’ you-know-what for ‘talking to her brother like he was a child’. I don’t even know where that came from, because I saw the conversation before he left and it had not even mentioned me. So I just told her to mind her own business and next thing I know I have a string of obscenities and Messenger windows popping up as fast as I can close them! Now apparently atleast his sister is not talking to me again after 6 months of relative peace (<ha ha punny!)

Stupid I know. But this is the kind of thing I put up with all the time and I just need help not getting sucked in to this infantile drama. And of course he is ‘not taking any sides’ and just keeps going on like no one said anything to me or made no threats.
It wears me out.

I have been married 10 years. I gave up on waiting for him to be my protector. Knight in shining armor he ain’t. :eek: LOL

I wish I had advice to give you, darlin.

Personally, I would just distance myself from them. Let him answer the phone, if he is not working nights, if/when they call.
If he’s working nights, shut the phone off. I wouldn’t visit them.

I managed to get out of an abusive relationship. I have a daughter from it, and I am forced to interact with the father, but I keep it to a minimum, and only when I have to. You have the choice not to.
And it is your home. If they want to come for the holidays, say no. If you husband wants to see them, let him go.

I will pray.

The only advice I have for you is to cut off all contact that you have with your in-laws. Forgive them and walk away. It will be very hard in the beginning, because it is always hard to break out of a cycle, but it gets easier. Also your children will respect you and eventually so willl your husband. And God will give you the graces you need.

Sounds like my ex-stepsiblings (?? you ask).

My mom re-married (after divorce) to a man that was also divorced. He had 4 children. I got along with him better than my own father, and he did more for me in my personal & professional life than anyone I’ve yet to know… yet he and my mother divorced themselves… then got back together again as “significant others”…

(Ever wonder why “Jay2’s” posts seem to come from a confused mind??? - you could live in a base-camp in Antarctica and I could probably relate to something…)

My ex-siblings and their mother really needed to ask “Mr. Peabody” to set the way-back machine to 1967 and go live in a commune. NOBODY in this circle has an individual life. Any and everything concerning any of the 5 of them becomes group discussion, and the course of action is decided as a group. There is NO private discussion, nor anything held between only 2 people… If one has a problem, all 5 have the problem and it will be jointly resolved.

Run Away… as hard & fast as you and your husband can. After 10 years of this the time to “be nice” is over. Trust me, they will eventually want to come back… allow it only on your terms, and show them the door at the 1st transgression.

so the questions are ‘what is wrong with these people?’ :shrug: :confused: and ‘how did it skip me (and my husband)?’ :thumbsup:

It did not skip your husband. He has to be accountable for his part in it, and in allowing it to continue.

Have you tried going to counseling with your priest?

Here are a couple of books for you, maybe they’ll help you:

Toxin In-Laws by Susan Forward (she also has a book called Toxin Parents that might be good for HIM)

Going Home Grown Up by Ann Grizzle

Not specific to families, but EXCELLENT books:

Crucial Conversations
Crucial Confrontations

by Kerry Patterson, et. al

Work on your marriage, and find a good Catholic counselor.

be Christ like and loving to the rest of the family - but, stay out of the drama. You can choose to not engage if they begin acting in a crazy way. Do not discuss your finances with them - that is between you two. Pray Pray Pray!

I agree - it didn’t skip with your husband.

Retrouvaille is worth a try, but for some marriages there is no hope. This might be one. If your husband is abusive (verbally, emotionally) he may well never change, and you may well be co-dependant. Your behavior is postive reinforcement. That would be worth learning about. Also the whole dynamic may be why you are sick. Its like being allergic to dust and living in a never-dusted house. You don’t get any better.

It seems to me, that if a wife is a co-dependant, if she brings out the worst in her spouse, and her actions and responses encourage his abusive behaviors and allow them to flourish, then she is an enabler in his sinning. She helps him sin, and enables him to stay in the vicious cycle of it. And both their souls would be better off away from each other.

I also think talking to a priest is a good idea. It sounds to me like he might say, “This is not a marriage.”

A counselor can tell help you with what other living options you have. There are other options. Maybe you are just resistant to any idea of change. Seek wisdom. God will give you strength to do the right thing.

As to dealing with your in-laws, I agree that avoidance is best. Don’t answer the phone, don’t visit them in their home.

If you protect yourself, then perhaps your spiritual life can flourish, with the peace you gain.

I know you are asking for advise, but have you ever been to professional counseling? I think you must put a stop to allowing this behavior to continue. Your husband should be defending you & not siding with his parents at his age. I can’t even imagine my husband allowing his parents to disrespect me. I think you do need to seek help. My MIL was very involed with our lives & called constantly to check on us. She is sweet & had good intentions, but it was overbearing! I stopped answering the phone. I would go 2 -4 days before getting back. She finally got the hint. We did move 7 hours away & that helped! My husband had to set boundaries with her & he did it in a loving way. She was hurt at first, but respected him more I think. She never disrespected me she just was too involved in our life or at least tried to be.

It is hard to give advise when we do not know all the details. Does your husband know how much distress this is causing you?
I hope that you can set boundaries & do not feel gulity about NOT going to their home or answering the phone. If you have lived with this for 10 yrs of your life do you want to continue this pattern or really make a change? Life is too short to let other people make you unhappy. God Bless You!

he is not abusive. I am not co-dependent. the problem is when they get involved. He can ignore them, I am the one who can’t. I am asking for advice on how to handle myself. He has distanced himself. We go to visit them because HE WANTS TO. And I do not let him go alone because of the way they treat him and the last time he went alone they had an old girlfriend waiting for him! I am asking for advice to me not him. We have gone to retrouvaille and we don’t need therapy—our marriage is fine. It is difficult because of his personal problems with his timidity. His job is the same way. Our finances is because of his timidity. He needs an assertiveness class. I agree he needs therapy, but I am not going to bully him into it either! What point would that serve? He deals with them by pretending they are not there. I want to be able to do that too! Please do not turn this into something it is not. There is no violence or abuse on his part. And the first time there ever was he would be in jail–I am not that kind of woman. I have called the police on his parents and sister before too and I will again if I need to. One of the reasons why they hate me so much is because he is empowered with me.

ok well this is far enough I guess. I dont want to end the marriage–I am CATHOLIC–what happened to trying to be a CHRISTIAN ? and yard sales are not what we need–as if there is anything worth selling??? ($20 worth of knickknacks for 3 days work? I am disabled–did that get skipped in the posts too?) and he did leave when he found out the old girlfriend was there. Apparently I am not making myself plain----I wanted advice on how to handle this in a loving christian way, not an escape hatch.
forget it, I got enough advice before this degenerated —and degenerates further into a ‘hate-the-husband’ diatribe of ‘divorce-the-abuser’ feminism.

mods you can close this now. thank you for the ones who posted who actually read the words I wrote and didn’t read something into them that isnt there.


My MIL is not way not in the league with your MIL. Thank Goodness. But, she used to have more of an influence with us.

I know it is very painful when your husband wimps out and doesn’t defend you and your marriage to your inlaws. It is a betrayal. My dh hates arguing and confrontations. If his mom gets mouthy about me, he’d rather say nothing than have a big to do. I feel so hurt when this happens. I think he should stand up for us! But, I understand that it’s hard to “be a man” with your mom when she spent 18 years browbeating you.

I think if you just stay strong and unite this suffering to the cross (Jesus was betrayed), then you will find some consolation.

I can’t really add anything to others’ suggestions. In your shoes, I’d cut off contact, pray intensely, and work on strengthening my marriage so he feels stronger.

But, I have a very devout, very virtuous friend who really embraced her difficult MIL. And, I have to say it was a beautiful thing to see. And, my friend really grew in love and selflessness. Not many women could be like my friend, I know. I don’t think I could. She wasn’t a doormat either.

Wow, it was like seeing Jesus. Her ministry to her MIL was one of the most loving, sacrificial things I’ve ever witnessed. And, it was not easy for her.

That certainly does sound bad. Cutting off communication does seem to be the way to go. Screen your calls. Turn the ringer off the phone when dh is hom and should be sleeping–you can check the messages later or check caller ID and only answer those you want to. After he left the PC to go to bed, just shut it off. Don’t become involved in a conversation between your hubby and his family.
Try your best to space out the trips down there. Can you cut it to only 4x a year? And of course, if possible don’t go during one of their ‘holiday’ times.
His family does sound toxic and the book recomendations you got are good. Surround yourself in prayer also, especially before a visit. I will be praying for you too.

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