Suggestions to help change MY reaction


#1

Ok... So, I'm with it enough to know that I can't make others behave the way I want them to. :thumbsup:

Here's my deal...

I'm 15yrs married to my highschool sweetheart. We're pushing 40.

The biggest and quite frankly, nearly ONLY problem we've ever had are his parents and often his very possesive sister. They are extemely passive aggressive, and they dislike me. They have been terribly mean in the years gone by... starting out when we were dating... his mother writing a priority list for DH (again we were about 16, and he was BOYFRIEND status then)... The list listed normal things at first... family time, home work, housework... but went on to about 20 items... including picking up dog poop in the yard, and THEN "girlfriend" (well my name)... So bascially, EVEN dog poop was to be more important than me. She posted this in the house, where it could be seen by all.

When we announced our engagement after 10 years of dating, his mother's response... "REALLY????" Even his sister reports she couldn't believe how bad it was.

When I tried to include them in the planning and fun parts of the wedding stuff, like dress shopping for THEM... his mother refused to buy anything "expensive". I found a GORGEOUS dress for her. Beautiful color, appropriate for a Catholic church (they are not religious at all), my SIL gushed at how pretty she looked. It cost $150.00 She could NOT possible buy something so expensive. She promptly returned home, went to a dress maker, and then called me to tell me she is having a dressed made for her to the tune of $300 dollars. Yes, I was informed of the price. Turned out to be White... WHO DOES THAT??? She ordered a white dress for my SIL as well. At the wedding the mean comments were flying. SOMEHOW, I decided that I would not let a word they said hurt me, or ruin the day. And I managed. I had a terrific wedding. They were successful at pulling DH out of the reception over and over to talk with friends OUTSIDE the venue, but all in all... I felt very blessed to have such a beautiful ceremony, and a great celebration. It's not my fault they missed all the activities...

I could write a book about the things said and done to me. It would be a best seller I'm SURE!

Anyhow... I just attended my SIL's wedding. Destination wedding. It was lovely. However, my in-laws would not STOP trash talking the groom. They made it very clear (in a non joking tone, 'cause I'm sure we're ALL familiar with the JOKES), that if she wanted to pull out, they'd be fine with that. At every conversation I was involved in, they had something nasty to say about him. He has done NOTHING to instigate this. However, he has the NERVE to marry their daughter... which I'm realizing is MY offense. Never has been about anything I've said or done. Although they would say otherwise.

I came home from this event exhausted, having spent quite a bit of $$, and utterly depressed. I had always left a little room in my thought process for the fact that maybe I was being overly sensitive. But this time, it wasn't directed at me. And I just have this gross, looming confirmation that they are just determined to hate us. You know, only so that WE can see it.

In my younger years, when they would egg me on, I would respond either negatively, or just walk away. I have learned, from my SIL who can't keep her mouth shut, that apparently we had "arguements" over things that I thought we were just discussing. Meaning, we had opposing opinions about something, and because I didn't change my mind to their opinion, I was hostile.

About 2 years ago, I informed my DH, that I was no longer going to be the doormat they so much had fun wiping their feet on. Because we now have children, I don't believe they have a right to belittle me infront of them. They don't have a right to teach my children, that I should be shown no respect. That a woman, wife mother is someone to treat poorly. I informed DH, that he had better let them know, that they will be shut down with one sentance. I would not sit and fight with them. I will not instigate an arguement. I never have. And I will not endure an attack. I will just knock them out. So to speak. And it really lightened up.

I also always say a little prayer before they arrive, or before I see them that all will go well.

But this weekend feels like it ripped open some old wounds. They will never change. They don't even want to.

So I NEED suggestions, in addition to prayer and such... how do you deal with an abuser that you have to interact with. I'm not a child, my ego, or person isn't going to be damaged by them. But how do I make their words roll off my back (duck and water like!)

We have to spend too much time with them. I'm angry way to much, because this kind of stuff just gets mulled over in my mind like a teenage girl evaluating what the cute football player "meant" by saying hi!

Feeling like a nutter here!


#2

They appear to be toxic people. What does your husband do or say about it?


#3

I would simply let it be known that you won’t put up with their behavior and if they can’t treat you with respect as their sons/brothers wife then they aren’t welcome in your house. We had something of the same thing in my family. Once my mom put her foot down it stopped. :thumbsup:


#4

Wow–I feel like I could have written this post. Before I answer, can I ask the following. Where does your husband stand on his parents’ behavior. I ask this because I can better tell you how we’ve handled PA parents. I’ve shared your pain.


#5

First, give yourself permission to not “have to” be with them. You are a grown-up, now - nobody can drag you places that you don’t want to go. (Okay - work, and Church. But that’s all.) :slight_smile:

I’m angry way to much, because this kind of stuff just gets mulled over in my mind like a teenage girl evaluating what the cute football player “meant” by saying hi!

:stuck_out_tongue: Yes, I know what you mean.

I think maybe you just have to decide that they are the “disabled” side of the family, and treat them the same way you treat someone who can’t help swearing, or who spits all the time - you don’t take offense, and you remain polite to them, because you realize that they just can’t help themselves.


#6

I’ve had family members I’ve had issues with (won’t say which side), not the same but the same thought processes. The best luck I’ve had is with accepting that they have this fault. I don’t have to feel bad for not liking it, because objectively it is a fault. I feel better if I don’t drive myself nuts wondering why they don’t do something different. I feel better if I don’t spend time wondering why my husband doesn’t “do something”, because he learned long ago that there is not much you can do with someone who has no interest in changing. Maybe I’m perverse, but when I see evidence that it would have happened to anyone else in my spot, that it is not just me, I find that some consolation. While we should be compassionate and forgiving towards all, as jmmcrae points out, it is easier to put up with swearing if you know the person screaming at you has Tourette’s, even if they don’t know it themselves. (If they’re having to do the same with me, if I have equally-difficult faults that are plain to everyone on earth except myself, then hey, it’s even all around.)

It is like resenting that the Gulf Coast is hot and muggy. It is uncomfortable enough without raising a bigger sweat, railing against it. The way I figure it, if you can’t move to San Diego, you do your best to slow down and cope with the weather you have, and hope it’s a mild year for hurricanes. If there are other locals who have no problem with the weather, more power to them. When it is 85 degrees out and pouring down rain, you don’t have to apologize to anybody for sweating.

You’re in a bad situation, but for the sake of a good man. I think you’re doing pretty well, honestly. Talk to DH about it when you can, and close each conversation by reminding him (and yourself) that while you value his help, you know he can’t control them, and if this “worse” is what it takes to be married to him, he is more than enough “better” to make it worthwhile. As Steven Covey put it, after all, the main thing is always to keep the main thing the main thing.


#7

[quote="faithfully, post:1, topic:227011"]
She promptly returned home, went to a dress maker, and then called me to tell me she is having a dressed made for her to the tune of $300 dollars. Yes, I was informed of the price. Turned out to be White... WHO DOES THAT??? She ordered a white dress for my SIL as well...

[/quote]

This is too rich. I know we shouldn't dwell on the past, but this has to go into the family history, right there with a relative of mine who had a shoving match with another parishioner over who was next in line for confession!!

Relatives! You can't make this stuff up! :eek: :D :rotfl:


#8

You’ve wised up a great deal over the years, and perhaps the final eye-opener was the wedding you just attended.

However, you have one more thing to learn. You don’t HAVE to interact with these people at all. This is a choice you have made. You can make different choices. And, so can they.

So, you and DH establish the boundaries, and if they cross them then they have CHOSEN to exclude themselves from your life.

Honey, the only thing you **have **to do is die. That’s it. You do not have to spend time with odious people. Your DH can go alone if he insists on spending time with them.


#9

IMO, it was your husband's place to put them in their place concerning you. (He should have seen to that 24 years ago.)

Why hasn't he done that?


#10

[quote="1ke, post:8, topic:227011"]
You've wised up a great deal over the years, and perhaps the final eye-opener was the wedding you just attended.

However, you have one more thing to learn. You don't HAVE to interact with these people at all. This is a choice you have made. You can make different choices. And, so can they.

So, you and DH establish the boundaries, and if they cross them then they have CHOSEN to exclude themselves from your life.

Honey, the only thing you **have **to do is die. That's it. You do not have to spend time with odious people. Your DH can go alone if he insists on spending time with them.

[/quote]

And pay taxes, the taxman makes sure you pay your taxes, if you don't they make it hell on earth.

Just tell your in laws, to not disrespect you infront of your children, or in your own home, and if they do show them the door (or show yourself the door depending where you are), noone has the right to speak to you/treat you like your dirt, you know the whole "love one another as i have loved you" thing.


#11

[quote="Cristiano, post:2, topic:227011"]
They appear to be toxic people. What does your husband do or say about it?

[/quote]

DH is hit and miss. He often is not in the room when really awful things are said. So, if he says anything to them, they always report that I misunderstood them. When it's really obvious he says a thing or two. He also likes to talk with them privately. I'll admit, I'd really like to be there when they are told they can't talk to me "like that"... as I have a hard time believing ANYTHING has actually been said, and I would just for once like them to KNOW that I KNOW my husband is on my side.

Sometimes, he thinks I'm wrong. I can deal with that. Except when I KNOW I'm right. And DH just doesn't understand the topic at hand. This can happen around religious discussions. They have a lot of pre conceived notions about the Catholic church. I'm being "argumentative, and judgemental" if I explain how they are actually wrong... :shrug:

Right now DH is in the dog house. This because while discussing a silly topic with FIL, FIL got upset, and put some really nasty words in my mouth. Things that I didn't even elude to. DH was there, and he didn't correct his father and say that I DIDN'T say that. These will be things repeated to others. Instead, he said that I was wrong about MY OPINION. I pretty much don't care if I'm having a discussion with someone and we disagree about something. If they have info that changes my mind great. If not... so what? Life isn't about agreeing all the time...


#12

[quote="90Domer, post:4, topic:227011"]
Wow--I feel like I could have written this post. Before I answer, can I ask the following. Where does your husband stand on his parents' behavior. I ask this because I can better tell you how we've handled PA parents. I've shared your pain.

[/quote]

He's just a bit wishy washy. He loves his parents. I believe they love him. He doesn't like to argue with them. He was the kid that listen to them yell at him about doing something and then just go do what he wanted.... He's better at letting their words run off. And pretty much expects the same of me I think.


#13

[quote="jmcrae, post:5, topic:227011"]

I think maybe you just have to decide that they are the "disabled" side of the family, and treat them the same way you treat someone who can't help swearing, or who spits all the time - you don't take offense, and you remain polite to them, because you realize that they just can't help themselves.

[/quote]

LOL! I do this with so many people... I guess I've never thought to do that with them. Partially, because they are smart people. Apparently, I set my expectations too high. I've realized that I'm also a little jealous. My parents adore my husband. They brag about him. What a great father... etc... I wanted that too!


#14

Hi "faithfully". Try praying one prayer for each of them tonight. :eek: I'm serious. Who else will. They can't have too many people praying for them and it's just as important for you in your relationship with God and for your healing. It will help your reaction to them, if it isn't building on past insults/slights. You're situation is difficult, especially now with your children in the picture. Also, you're saying you "...have to spend too much time with them"..., but why not modify that. You can stand up to them too while you're at it, w/out being rude, but maybe you've done that already. After that, any unkindness they show you is just that, it belongs to them, not you. Be careful not to get snared yourself :thumbsup:


#15

Thanks… I do admit… the week gave me 2 insights… 1) as you state, if not me, then any other woman who would have married him. Since that’s what they are now doing to BIL 2)Where I held out that maybe I was exagerating… I realized, NO, they just don’t want to like me… the end… and so I felt a bit hurt that I really am right. They are just mean to me.

Does everyone have to like me??? LOL! No… I’ll get over it! I don’t THINK I need therapy for this…

I’m not even sure what the “main thing” is… LOL! My focus needs to be sharpened.


#16

[quote="faithfully, post:11, topic:227011"]

Sometimes, he thinks I'm wrong. I can deal with that. Except when I KNOW I'm right. And DH just doesn't understand the topic at hand. This can happen around religious discussions. They have a lot of pre conceived notions about the Catholic church. I'm being "argumentative, and judgemental" if I explain how they are actually wrong... :shrug:

[/quote]

Try to avoid discussing sex, religion or politics. Keep the conversation on neutral ground. If they ask a direct question, answer it simply and honestly, but don't argue with people - it's not worth it.

My mother also has some very weird ideas about the Church, and makes comments from time to time, and I just say, "Oh," and then talk about something else. There is no point in trying to argue her out of her misconceptions.

Life isn't about agreeing all the time...

And it's okay for them to be wrong about things. It's not up to you to educate them, or set them straight. :)


#17

[quote="Barbkw, post:9, topic:227011"]
IMO, it was your husband's place to put them in their place concerning you. (He should have seen to that 24 years ago.)

Why hasn't he done that?

[/quote]

Yes, I agree. And I think the BIGGEST problem with marrying your high school sweetheart, is that we were KIDS when we met.

His parents could control when he saw me and such. They still think they get a vote. I've actually seen this with some other people who ended up divorced. When they re-marry, the parents are WAY LESS involved...


#18

Your sweetheart – of roughly 25 years!! :thumbsup: – is the main thing (well, that and whoever else the Lord puts on your plate in your state of life). Whether it is his relatives or an employer or whoever, have as much contact with people who don’t like you and don’t treat you well as you discern that he and your children need you to have, do it as well as you can for his and their sakes, in a way that is pleasing to God, and feel no guilt about hitting the door the second you’ve satisfied the main thing. Even the Lord had people about whom Scriptures were prompted to say: But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. John 2:24-25

If you think a counsellor would help, by all means. If not, well, you know there is a reason there is a rich tradition in MIL jokes.

**Q: ** Why do they bury mothers-in-law 18 feet down, when everyone else is buried 6 feet down?

**A: **Because, deep down, they really are very nice people.

My MIL was a sweetie, but hers wasn’t! She would have loved that joke!!

When your mother-in-law really gets on your nerves, pour yourself a wee glass of wine and do an internet search on “best mother-in-law jokes”. It will lighten your load!


#19

Easter... I'm with you on the jokes...

I actually watched Monster In Law with my mother in law... I nearly screamed with laughter when the MIL walked in in a white ball gown...


#20

[quote="EasterJoy, post:18, topic:227011"]

My MIL was a sweetie, but hers wasn't! She would have loved that joke!!

[/quote]

I watched my grandmother treat my mother so badly it nearly ruined my parents marriage. It was B-A-D!!!

I suspect it's one reason my mother makes a HUGE effort with my husband.

And I pray that I will learn from my experiences, and treat my boy's wives with respect, friendship and love!


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.