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Thread: Strained Relationship with In-Laws

  1. #1
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    Strained Relationship with In-Laws

    Hey everyone!

    I’m here because I’m feeling confused, guilty, anxious and annoyed. I am currently six months pregnant so all these feelings are heightened. I couldn’t stop crying and clenching my teeth over this ugh!

    Tl;dr - Haven’t heard from FIL & his wife in 1.5 years, even after our pregnancy announcement. Wife is rude and standoffish when around my family. Now FIL & wife are upset about not being invited to baby shower. I’ve apologized and invited them to see baby when he comes. I’ve admitted my wrong and extended my sympathy toward their feelings but they continue to bully me and my mother. What to do???

    Anyway as the title says, my husband and I do not have a relationship with his father and his father’s wife. My husband has always had issues with his dad which I think stemmed as early as childhood. His dad had (has?) anger issues I.e. breaking my husbands toys, holding money/gifts over his head, speaking over him (a reason I believe why my husband is so quiet now). My husbands parents got a divorce when he was 18. And his dad remarried a woman five years ago.

    Just FYI, my husband also had anger issues when we first got together almost 10 years ago. But after therapy and yoga, we are the happiest we’ve ever been. We are so excited for the arrival of our first baby!!

    So we haven’t talked to his dad and new wife in a couple years. At first, we really liked her! But after we went on a couple trips with her and I brought her around my family, our opinion of her has changed. During the trips, she complained a lot and was very controlling. I sense that she may have some anxiety issues so I can understand that traveling may heighten that so her behavior on the trips were more annoying yet tolerable. But it is her constant rudeness to my sister-in-law who is fun and beautiful btw (saying she’s not ladylike enough, recommending Botox, commenting on her weight), her attitude to my own mother (snappy when asked simple conversational questions), and her comments to me (saying I’m messy in these offhanded ways), it has made it harder for me be around her without feeling uncomfortable and deflated. She also bad mouths my MIL (hubby’s mom) often and that sucks. My husband does not enjoy her company either. He has expressed to his dad that she is difficult to be around but his dad finds my husbands opinion childish and invalid. The second she was rude to my family (and my family expressed that they felt victimized by her comments), it made it hard for me to vouch for her. So for our own happiness, we distanced ourselves from them.

    We are in our late 20s and have done a lot of traveling and have even volunteered abroad for extended periods working as teachers. After experiencing a tragedy abroad (our host sister was hit by a car), we returned to the US last year. We moved to a brand new city and then I got pregnant. Tbh it was the hardest year of my life. All this time we have not spoken to hubbys dad and wife. I never made it clear that I didn’t want to be around the wife.. we just halted contact altogether. They didn’t hear from us and we didn’t hear from them in over a year. And we’ve only seen them three times in the past three years.

    Now here finally comes the part where we are at now. I just recently had my baby shower (which was awesome btw) and my husband and I decided on not sending my father-in-law’s wife an invite. There are three reasons here for our decision: 1. Haven’t heard from them in over a year... not even when we announced the pregnancy. My sister-in-law spilled the beans to them early so they knew. My husband did call his dad to confirm the pregnancy before we announced on social media. Yet we have not received any word from them since. No asking about the baby or how I’m doing. I didnt sense that they wanted to be involved tbh. And reason 2. I felt like it was tacky to send her an invite when we haven’t spoken in a long time. I didn’t want to seem like I was fishing for a gift. 3. She has been rude in the past around my family and friends.

    Well the day after the baby shower I visited my mom and she had just received a heated call from my father-in-law about not inviting his wife to the shower (they found out through social media). He thought my mom had thrown the shower and was blaming her... yelling at her and eventually hanging up on her. My mom felt confused and verbally assaulted. My mom really didn’t deserve that.

    Well I never ended up giving my father-in-law my phone number since I returned to the states 9 months ago (my bad). But we are Facebook friends and an hour after the call to my mom, he sent me a Facebook message saying that I “crushed” them by not inviting her to the shower. I waited a couple hours to respond and compose myself. I sent him a sincere apology along with my honest truth about how I was hurt too that I didn’t hear from them throughout my entire pregnancy. I did not mention my true feelings toward her in the message. I wanted to come across as understanding. I mean I get the feeling of being left out and that does suck. So I did formally invite them to come when the baby arrives and emphasized that I am always open to whatever relationship they want to have with baby.

    He responds saying that he had no way of contacting me this year since he didn’t know my phone number or address. I was a bit confused by this bc he was literally communicating with me via Facebook. Him and his wife are on Facebook often, multiple times a day btw. It was obviously very easy for him to get a hold of me when he’s upset but not when he hears the news that I’m carrying his first grandchild. He now wants me to contact his wife to square things away. I honestly don’t know what to say to her. An apology? His words were hurtful and caused me much anguish which I shouldn’t be dealing with at this stage of my pregnancy. It’s not healthy for me and baby to be crying and clenching all day.

    I have not responded again. I’m not sure what to do. My husband doesn’t want me to respond at all. My sister-in-law is so passive that she just wants everyone to “get along.” And I’m trying to compose myself and not respond in an angry way whatsoever. They may not want to accept any blame here which is annoying but I feel like I can not pacify them rn. I know I ed up by not inviting her and I have expressed that.

    I have thought about waiting a couple days (weeks?) to respond with our newest ultrasound picture of baby and our address and a reminder for them to come visit when baby arrives. From his messages I sense they want to be involved but I also don’t see much effort on their end to initiate involvement.

    What would you do in this situation?

    Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
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    You dont deal with ANY of this, got it? You dont call, text, email or respond. This is your husbands family he deals with them , you deal with yours. If the way he wants to deal with them is to make ignore them or cut them off, that is his privilege. Stay out it, do not respond, let him handle it, dont read the emails etc. not your problem , stop creating anxiety and issues for yourself dealing with pests and trying appease people. You dont invite them to anything. You dont remind them of anything. And this is true FOREVER, not just while you are pregnant. His family, he deals.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    Baby showers are for people who want to wish the new mom well, not for upsetting the new mom. So skip that. The FIL had a method of contact that's been used prior, and he and wife have opted to not use it.

    I would not send an ultrasound picture. While younger people view that as a typical method of 'sharing,' and I don't personally find it offensive, I've been startled by the negative and disgusted reactions of older people on my job and in my family to the posting and distribution of fetus photos. So I'd rather err on the side of conservatism in that regard. Ask your husband to gather or supply FIL's home address and snail mail a traditional announcement. Include a hand written statement that you welcome the couple to visit and enjoy the new baby.

    Boom! Done.

    Don't work yourself up over it. Ask your mother to refuse any calls from the man or his pesty wife, but if she opts instead to engage either of them, then she's a grown woman and perfectly capable of managing her own conversations.

    You're not doing yourself or baby any favors by working yourself up over self entitled people. That's on them, not you. I'd stay out of it and allow your husband to manage his own family.

    Move your focus onto enjoying your own life and your own responsibilities. I'd play 'stupid and cheerful' with anyone who imposes their rude behavior onto me. I'd simply fail to recognize it or acknowledge it by changing the subject instead to thanking them for their concern and well wishes. If that doesn't wall off the onslaught, I'd suggest that we close the conversation and converse at a time when they can manage a happy reunion.

  4. #4
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    I do agree with the previous poster re: its your husbands family and he needs to deal with them. Not you.

    Its really up to your husband to CALL them (no texting when there are hurt feelings to this degree).

    The reason it has to be your husband is because there could be family fall out from this and HE needs to be completely on board as to the resolution of it all. He cant just say its ok. If he holds back any feelings in order to not upset you, it has the potential for HIM to have hidden hurt residual feelings and for it to bleed into your marriage - even years down the line. I know you feel guilty and so you want to handle it on your own - but families are more complex than they appear (as you can see) and its easy to make a miscalculation (as you can see). Your husband needs to step up and handle this for the good of the team.

    I just wanted to add - the reason you didnt invite her is because you dont like her. You thought since you werent that close you could get away with not inviting her. That was a miscalculation and Im glad to see that you are owning it. But all that other stuff about not wanting to fish for a present, or thinking its tacky or being hurt that they havent asked about the baby, etc... I mean... that doesnt come across as genuine to me? You dont like her. You kind of didnt want the hassle.

    Its up to your husband how much of all that he wants to address and whether he wants to use all this to bring everyone closer or whether he wants to ignore it and push them away.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member indea08's Avatar
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    I dont think you shouldve apologized for not inviting her the the baby shower. And I strongly, STRONGLY encourage you to reconsider inviting them to visit right after the baby is born. Heres why:

    -The baby shower. You hadnt heard from her or spoken to her in over a year, and you never really got along with her anyways. Your baby shower was not the time nor the place to hash that out. Your baby shower is about you and the people close to you celebrating the new life you created and your becoming a mother. It was for YOU, so if you didnt want someone there, youre well within your rights not to invite them. If they get butthurt over that, its their problem.

    -Visiting new baby. I can tell you now, if you think pregnancy hormones have you feeling sensitive, just wait until the baby is born. Many new moms struggle with emotions after the baby is born. Theyre often over-protective (as they should be) and very emotional. The last thing youre going to want to deal with is visitors you dont want (or even like) when youve just had a baby, youre feeling sore, youre learning life with a newborn, not sleeping a lot...not a good time to put yourself in a potential conflictual situation. Wait until youve had the baby, see how youre feeling, and when you feel ready, have your husband invite them over. Or better yet, go visit them so you can leave when you want to.

    And I very much agree with the first poster. None of this is your problem to deal with, let your husband deal with them. And Im not sure why you feel the need to mesh so much? Like why does your FIL even have your mothers phone number? If you want to be so distanced from them, which I think is more than reasonable, they shouldnt be able to personally attack your mom. Your mom should block his number, hes not her problem either. Your husband needs to be direct with them and handle all of this, including letting them know that calling your mother to complain about not being invited was completely out of line and will not happen again.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member maew's Avatar
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    Can I understand why FIL was upset? Sure, in his mind he was defending his wife. Does this have to change anything or do you owe him an apology for not inviting her? Not at all. He gets to be upset, and you get to decide not to have them in your life.

    I am adding another vote for turning this over to your husband to deal with.

  8. #7
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    The only mistake you made was apologising for nothing.
    Your husband told his father about the pregnancy before posting on social media. Thats great!
    As for the baby shower, you have no relationship with this woman and therefore no requirement to invite her.
    Delete her from social media!
    This sounds more like a communication issue between your fil and his wife.
    Dont get involved.

  9. #8
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    Your FIL's wife is only upset because she didn't get any photo opps for FB. Ignore the message. This is about their vanity. Not for you and your baby's well-being. Plus, typically the prego doesn't throw the shower, someone else does, so they didn't know to invite them since they haven't seen or heard from them in years.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member itsallgrand's Avatar
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    It's not worth stressing about, especially since as you said yourself, being upset isn't good for you or your baby.
    There will always be a few wild cards that will make whatever decision you make into their own dramas. They especially play up during pregnancies, weddings, deaths.
    When I was reading I thought " fair enough to be sad they weren't invited, but then you send a message wishing them the best and move on already!". It is they who are acting kinda immature here.

    So let your husband handle it now and don't worry!
    And congratulations.

  11. #10
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    All this over a baby shower. Take it easy and put your feet up. This shouldn't be happening. You're taking on too many negative emotions at once and are unusually vulnerable being easily accessible via social media. It might do you good to step away from that for awhile and turn off the notifications from facebook. It's time for a breather and some breathing space. I don't think it's your husband's problem. He's already stated that he prefers to do nothing. That's a serious clue that he understands and knows how to handle his family. The less reaction they get out of the both of you, the more likely they'll cool their jets.

    I believe your mil is a bit of a bully and might be insecure about any number of things. She targets you because you're an easy target. Sit down with your husband and discuss proper boundaries when it comes to parents and in-laws (extended family). Come up with some rules about the energy in the house and how you both want to raise your child. Use this as stepping stone for a healthier environment as a family. It is not one individual's problem or onus to maintain any peace or create a harmonious home. It's both of you, as a couple, together. You cannot do this without each other because you are married and both of you are parents to this child. It will take two grown adults to nurture this child and create a positive environment.

    The more you focus on productive problem-solving the less prone you will be to getting lost in the negative energies and becoming consumed by non-productive thoughts, unhealthy thoughts.

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