Caught in the middle
My husband has had enough of my family disrespecting him and want nothing to do with them now which is fine with me. I still have a good relationship with them and see them occasionally. However, my husband has stated that I am not allowed to take our daughters over to see my parents.
He has multiple reasons for this.
• He does not want our girls being around people that disrespect him/their dad
• He feels my family will 'get their way' - they get to see me and their grandkids without their son-in-law
• He feels my family does not deserve to spend time with our girls
Does this sound reasonable or have I been too heavily influenced? I want to prioritise my husband and marriage but I am constantly sad and teary. Please help me.
Hi Surfer mum,
I’m sorry to hear that you are in such a difficult position. I kind of understand where your partner is coming from on this issue, and can see why he feels the need to take a stand. I don’t think anyone should have to tolerate people who continually disrespect him like that. I suppose I am curious as to why they feel so comfortable disrespecting him in front of you? If my family dared to disrespect my partner in front of me, we would definitely be having words and I would be calling them out on their behavior. It kind of sounds as though you are perhaps a conflict avoidant type person and have been trying to placate both sides by not directly addressing the issue and it has now come to a head. Would you say that sounds fair? Or alternatively could you provide us with a bit more back story
Hi Surfer mum,
Your husband puts a good case for how he feels disrespected and wishes little contact, but how do your daughters feel (if they are old enough to discern) about losing their grandparents or, even worse, having to choose between love and respect for their father and the love that only grandparents can dote? Is this a very high price for them to pay for the way their father is perceived (justly or otherwise) and is your husband that offended by character assassination as to use his children as leverage?
I would be more inclined to address your husband's insecurities so he can overcome biases that are so prevalent among in-laws the world over. Although I admire your loyalty to the family unit and agree you are right to side with your husband as he would for you, resolving the fractious relationship he has is between him and your parents - not you or your children, and I fear you will be most greatly impacted for the sacrifices you make notwithstanding the longer term damage arising from your children's exclusion.
If your husband could look beyond his own indignation, then this alone would demonstrate the fallacy of your parent's estimation - it's not so much a case of what they think, but what you believe is right for you and your family.
hi and welcome to beyond blue.
as Juliet_84 said, sounds like you are caught between a rock and a hard place. And if I were in your position, I would likely be caught in an argument with myself as what would be best thing to do - support my husband or my family? And if I chat with someone I dont know how they will take it and might I wreck a relationship! On the other hand not doing anything has had an impact on you 😞
(One of my in-laws believed I was gay because I liked to cook! Luckily this was only 1 person. But unkind words are unkind. I was also speaking with my psychiatrist today and said that I can be overly sensitive because of past experiences.)
Is there a 3rd way? Is some sort of compromise possible?
Without any background it is impossible to answer your questions. It is possible everyone has their part to play. At this point in time I would ask whether you believe what your parents say can be seen to be disrepectful? And how you feel about talking with them about this?
Such conversations can be difficult - I have been there also. What would need to change in order for you to not be teary and sad? A change in the way your parents behave? Or your husbands behaviour/thoughts?
I hope you come back to share more of your story and perhaps if you write your thought down (not necessarily here) you might find the solution. Listening to you,
I don't believe what my family have said or done to be disrespectful or bad. To me, it's just them and thats how they talk. Husband believes its because I've grown up with that type of behaviour and become used to it, when its not actually normal. Its not just disrespecting him per se but also he thinks that they're not nice people.
To provide some examples..
• family don't greet him. This can vary in extent from not even looking up from a bowl of food when he comes over or simply walking off if he's said something. He doesn't expect a grand gesture but just be polite.
• parents show extreme favouritism to my sister to the point where husband and I are expected to hold her up on a pedestal too. "Don't say anything to upset her", "Apologise for asking her to help you"
• family have joked about how we spoil our girls. I just shrug it off as an innocent joke but husband takes it as a personal attack on his parenting
Tim, you are so right that after writing some of my thoughts down, the situation seems more manageable. It seems so dire when we argue.
I can understand that my husband is a highly sensitive person and that will not change. I hope time will ease his frustrations with my family and soften his stance on grandparents visits.
I cry most days because I miss my family. Am I tricking myself when I tell myself that as our daughters and our family unit, they'll fill that void in me.
Thank you for the responses so far - the questions really help me order my thoughts. Its so nice to know others are putting in so much effort to reply.
Hi Surfer mum.
Sorry to hear of your situation, especially when it comes to extended family, that can be quite complex and difficult to navigate.
There really is only one option for this to be resolved effectively and within reason; and that is for you to be straight up with your extended family members, laying out your boundaries (what are his are also yours and vis versa) and making sure they all respect them. Remember that your family comes first, no matter what.
All healthy relationships has boundaries and this also includes your extended family. They do not have a right to be rude, disrespectful and toxic.
Stand for your fam bam and let no one take advantage of your power.
Hi surfer mum,
Thank you for providing the additional context, that is most helpful. Ok so your family seems to have all the usual “quirks” that most families have, favorites etc, and can be a little insensitive. Although I agree that sometimes that’s just the way that families are. But that can obviously be easier to excuse when it’s their blood running through your veins and you have grown up with it and are desensitized to an extent. However, your partner has now reached the end of his tether and has put his foot down in a big way. I think that you need to talk to your family and explain the situation and how it makes your partner feel, and they need to humor him and make more of an effort. To your partner, I think you need to let him know that you support him and will speak to your family but that he also needs to accept that they are your family and the children need to stay out of his personal vendetta. I don’t think it’s fair to involve them in an adult issue. Your husband may need a few months to cool off but hopefully he will come around. If not, then you’ll just have to do family stuff without him until he does
This is obviously not going to happen as husband will not allow it. The girls are young (aged 2) so they don't know what's going on yet to miss people. Husband simply does not want them growing up around such selfish people.
I've grown up always trying to please my family and I crave their approval, sometimes at my own expense. I still want them to get to know our daughters & I instinctively feel the need to fulfil their wishes again this time. It makes my heart heavy knowing I can't and that my family are going to be upset with me.
Please tell me if I am doing the right thing by listening to my husband & withholding our girls. I feel so overwhelmed and I can't wait to go to sleep at night so I can go cry.
Hi Surfer mum,
I was denied access to my grandparents due to grievances of my parent. As my other grandparents had long since passed before I was born, this was an experience which deprived me of any bond with them beyond the occasional visit each year (and that was full of tension even though I couldn't pinpoint why at the time). The irony is that my parent had a very close relationship with their grandmother at the expense of their own mother who was constantly reported as 'the villain' for as long as I can remember.
I'm still not sure if motivation was 'vendetta' or just fear of being usurped in being the primary source of affection. I'm also not sure what effect it had on my development as I have no other 'me' to compare it to. However, I often look on in admiration of those families with self awareness of the bigger picture and the role grandparents play in the holistic raising of confident well grounded children. I'll never know how it feels to receive that kind of love and after many years I can see the cruelty of those self serving actions.
The implications followed that I also never got to know my cousins mostly due to the associated fallout from family disunity. I would encourage you to consider your daughters' welfare as they are not to blame for the behaviours of others and a little more compromise, tolerance, and acceptance would serve your family well (on both sides).
In one of your prev. posts you gave some examples of interaction between your parents and (you and husband). And I thought about differences between the "my" family and my in-laws. Now my family is from the country and stations where meeting a relative was a big thing. On the other side of family... the opposite and perhaps closer to yours. Lets call it a country vs town thing?
Will leave the other examples to a later date/time.
You also mentioned avoiding issues, so the fact that spoke to your sister about it shows you are strong and courageous and want to make things better. Unfortunately it sounds you did not get the answers you were looking for 😞
(Fwiw... that is something my psychologist would give me for homework. Not sure how you were before the chat, but I get a little nervous as though my wife will think me a freak.)
So I would not be surprised if you were a little frustrated by the lack of answers. Not sure which parent you might get on better with and you chat with them to see if you can work out some sort of compromise? While you cannot change a person, you could tell them about the impact it has on you. Which is just as important.
Going back to my original thought... was the relation between your parents and partner always strained? when did it start otherwise? what happened? different beliefs or values? it could be something as simple in differences in upbringing between your parents and you husband? It might help in finding the way to move forward? While the topics might have been slightly different, I have had similar chats with my wife and own parents to work out how everything fits together in my puzzle. I hope some of this has helped.