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Issues with the in-laws

Community Member

I want to keep this short but I don't think I can without missing important details. I know most people have issues with in-laws so hoping someone can help.

 My husband hasn't spoken with his parents in 2 years. This year we need to mend & resolve the issues and begin rebuilding some form of relationship for our children. 

Background in a nutshell: We have been together over 13 yrs, married for 6 yrs and have 3 daughters. We were young parents at 18 & 21. 

His mother has never liked me; she is rude & condescending and has even had his ex's over for coffee in recent years. She has always told me that I'm a bad wife, housekeeper and mother. This was magnified when our daughter was diagnosed with ASD, ODD & ADHD 4 years ago. 

I firmly believe she was the sole reason I was dx with depression late 2011. She was telling my husband I was bad at every opportunity and we even attended marriage counselling early 2013 because of her. I've never done anything except support, love and care for my husband and kids. I always had a fear that if I told my husband how she treated me when he wasn't around, that he would choose them over me. She did make a point of always saying 'he'll always be my baby boy' etc. I finally told him how she'd been treating me late 2013. He snapped! Words were exchanged and they destroyed their family, not me. His father turns a blind eye and won't discuss the past to assist in moving forward. In Sept last year his mother came to our home while I was at work to fill my husbands head with more crap and to tell him she's been diagnosed with a form of cancer. I had a panic attack at work and headed home quickly (I had never had one before so was shocked when I discovered what it was). She was ordered to leave our premises after telling my husband that I was 'poison'. With the news that she has cancer, I have made a decision that I have to put aside my fears and emotions and deal with this. If it's not dealt with asap, and her cancer gets the better of her, I potentially could lose my husband and our girls could lose their father; Emotionally, mentally and physically!I'm scared that they'll manipulate our children and our lives again. I have already told our girls that they can make the decision to see their grandparents on their own - I won't force them. And it won't be an overnight process. My husband has some healing to do. He wants his mum to apologise to me. We know that will never happen.


7 Replies 7

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi es, welcome

I just typed a long reply and lost it.

So best to allow you to read two articles I've written that might strike a cord with you. Google the following-

"Topic: emotional blackmail- likely extreme BPD - beyondblue"

"Topic: children of mothers with borderline personality disorder BPD- beyondblue"

"Topic: BPD mother made me an emotional basket case- beyondblue"

I'm no doctor and I'm not suggesting any diagnosis here. Just possible similarities..

Tony WK

Community Member

Hi es030609.  Wow, you've really got your hands full.  Yes, you're right, your MIL won't apologise, you're right not to expect this.  You say your hubby hasn't spoken to either of them in two years, unreal.  Was he aware of how badly she treated you, or did you tell him?  What I mean is, was she sweetness in front of him, but nasty behind his back.  If she was sweetness in front of him, it would be hard for him to believe she was nasty behind his back.  If she was nasty regardless of whether he was there or not, he would still be torn between wanting to defend you and standing up to her.  Unless he's strong enough emotionally to defend you.  In which case, I envy you.  If she does have cancer, this is something only your hubby can decide if he wants to 'kiss and make up'.  If he chooses not to, he will have to deal with his feelings if she passes.  This is where you'll need to be strong.  I think you've done the right thing telling your kids it's their decision whether they see her or not.  If she's cruel to them, they'll soon stop seeing her.  If, every time your hubby had contact with them, it ended badly, it's hardly surprising he got sick of the rubbish.  The best thing you can do is, stay out of it.  Whether she has cancer or not, it's not really your decision whether hubby sees them and sorts things out.  Let him know you support whatever decision he makes, don't push him either way.  He loves you, show him the same love by accepting his right to choose.  He may not be emotionally strong enough to deal with the way his mother behaves.  If that's the case, support him on that issue.  If you try to force him to 'kiss and make up', you might do more damage.  Just because she's his mother, it doesn't give her the right to be cruel.  No-one has that right.   

I'm sorry you're in such a terrible situation.  I feel sorry for your hubby too, it must be awful for him to be in the middle of all of this.  Hope my reply helps you. 

Thank you White Knight. I read these and I think 'children of mothers' sounds familiar. From what he tells me and what I've seen my husband had a pretty abusive childhood. I suffered from his verbal and emotional abuse in our early days. I'm grateful he has turned 180 and now I'm 'his queen'. 

You're insightful and I'm sure it would have been an interesting read. 

Community Member

Hi Pispy

Thank you for your reply. It has put a different perspective on our situation.

His mother was never nasty when he was around. It took me many years to gather the courage to tell him out of fear he would leave me. He has been the victim of his parents abuse for many years and bought this into our relationship in the early years - emotional and verbal but he has completely changed.

i feel for my husband being in the middle of this and can't imagine a life without my parents. Although I have never met more nasty, disrespectful people. I finally realised respect is earned, parent or not. I have always been respectful - our families are cheese and chalk.

i thought helping him to sort stuff out was me doing the right thing? Because deep down I believe he wants a relationship with them. I don't want to push him into something he doesn't want to do. But I saw him when his Nanna passed and he hadn't spoken to her for years cos she was an alcoholic. He blamed himself. 

I don't expect much from these people but my husband is angry and I believe he is suffering some form of mental illness thanks to his parents. I did insist he see a professional to reassure him that they were the issue and not him. Now he's just really angry and expects more from them than I know they'll give.   

Community Member

Hi E.S.  I agree your hubby has some issues with anger for past problems with parents and losing his nana.  He's on a vicious merry-go-round of emotions, wanting recognition from his parents that he's clearly not going to get.  He possibly feels guilty because of the obstinacy of not seeing them to 'punish' them for past treatment.  The problem being, they don't feel his anger, he does.  It's not affecting them, that makes him more angry.  When we feel anger or bitterness towards someone who's hurt us, we want our anger to affect their behaviour, when it doesn't, it makes us more angry.  His mother sounds slightly narcissistic, that doesn't help.  Narcissists never see themselves as doing or saying anything wrong, they blame everyone else.  They see themselves as 'poor, hard done by people' who've only ever tried to do the right thing.  If his mum is like that, then staying away from her would be the right thing for him, till he learns coping skills.  Perhaps grief counselling might help him overcome his anger at losing his nana, that's probably still in him.  He could be feeling anger at her alcoholism, he couldn't help her there.  He wants everything to be 'normal' in his life and can't cope or figure out how to make it so.  That makes him frustrated, angry.  Maybe a trip to the Dr to arrange counselling for him to help with his angry, bitter feelings at how he was treated.  His father's indifference to his mum's treatment of you puts him in the middle of that merry-go-round too.  I feel he's just a very angry, possibly depressed man who needs some guidance from a specialist.  One thing comes across loud and clear, the love you have for each other.  Believe it or not, this is a good stable environment for him.  Try not to buy into his anger, help him work through it, but don't take it on board.  Let him see your love and support, be there when he needs to talk, but don't push.  You may need some help yourself when things get too much, don't neglect yourself.

All the very best to you both.

Community Member

Again Pipsy thank you. You hit so many nails on the head. You are wise!

I laughed out loud when you said my MIL is a narcissist. That's a nail!  

i definitely agree with all of what you have said. Especially regarding my husbands emotions. I just don't know what else to do? And whether or not my emotions are hindering his healing. I will work with him through all this advice and hopefully we'll get somewhere. Where though? Only time will tell 🙂

Community Member

Hi E.S  There's really not a lot you can do in relation to your hubby's mixed emotions.  As I said before, just being there to give him some stability will help him more than you could realise.  If you can get him some anger management counselling, this would benefit him.  If he refuses, perhaps you could get some help to guide him.  He needs to know his anger is justified, but won't make a difference to his parents and the way they ignore him.  Once he realises they simply don't care, that will hurt, but it's a different type of hurt, because through this, he will heal and become stronger.  It's a reality hurt once he accepts his parents indifference to him.  At the moment, his hurt is being 'fed' if you like, by his anger.  Once the anger is addressed and 'vented', the healing will come naturally.  Let him know he is 'allowed' to feel angry and hurt, but at the same time, help him let go of the negativity he feels, by telling him he is loved and wanted and important to you and children.  He's never been told how important he is by his parents.  That's the main crux of what's affecting him. 

I'm here if you need me.  Good luck, you have a wonderful man with a good heart.