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Well, my husband told his brother and brother's wife that he didn't want to go, and the SIL shot back fairly quickly, "Well then you can't say we didn't do anything when you aren't willing to meet (his brother) for counseling when he's willing to."

 

His brother allows himself to be pressured into things he doesn't really want to do, so he probably agreed to go just so it looked good to their dad. And she's throwing it back at us....

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Thank you, Cherylyn, that is exactly what I've been trying to do in the recent years, practicing good diplomacy, being respectful, gracious and kind yet keeping an acceptable distance... it's been working great! Thank you for understanding what we're feeling.

 

Thank you, maritalbliss86.

 

As for SIL, disregard and ignore her comments. You and your husband should simply turn a deaf ear. Your husband already put forth the effort to be close to his brother yet his brother rebuffed him. BIL and SIL can't force themselves to be close to your kids. I'm sorry. BIL and SIL's sincere enthusiasm doesn't exist.

 

If your husband doesn't want to confront his father about not attending counseling, then silence is the equivalent to his refusal to attend counseling which is fine.

 

All you and your husband can do at this point is remain peaceful. No one has to like each other, however, no one should fight either. It's perfectly acceptable to keep a safe, well mannered distance. This is called enforcing healthy boundaries for your husband and yourself.

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Do you really want to have the admiration of relatives so easily swayed into believing things about you? It isn’t worth it. Trust me I have been there in my own family and otherwise.

 

My husband is military and he is the most unassertive person there is with his own family. He lacked assertion most of his life. With most people he can be incredibly diplomatic and almost subservient. People are genuinely shocked when he shows some assertion or even aggression. So don’t believe that stereotype. 😉 however, he has grown more assertive with age.

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MB. I am quite amazed that these toxic people would have such a reach and sphere of influence. Doesn't say much about the other relatives either, who are so prepared to believe them.

 

"that's the problem with gossip... it ruins a person's reputation. If our FIL and MIL are playing the victims and complaining about us, it makes other relatives who care about them, get angry and treat us from the frame of mind later. That's painful to watch relationships ruined because of the way they see us now,"

 

You do realise that no matter how "gracious" you are the atmosphere will NOT improve. Guaranteed. Such individuals do not understand the concept of graciousness. And they will plough into your space anyhow, because (from what I am reading) the concept of boundaries would be meaningless to them.

 

It's your call,MB. DEcades of this poison, or......?

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All you and your husband can do at this point is remain peaceful. No one has to like each other, however, no one should fight either. It's perfectly acceptable to keep a safe, well mannered distance. This is called enforcing healthy boundaries for your husband and yourself.

 

Yes, and have him enforce boundaries when needed. Yes, a safe distance and being peaceful is so nice!

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Do you really want to have the admiration of relatives so easily swayed into believing things about you? It isn’t worth it. Trust me I have been there in my own family and otherwise.

 

My husband is military and he is the most unassertive person there is with his own family. He lacked assertion most of his life. With most people he can be incredibly diplomatic and almost subservient. People are genuinely shocked when he shows some assertion or even aggression. So don’t believe that stereotype. 😉 however, he has grown more assertive with age.

 

THey seem to have what is called, "Group Think," so you're right that it really isn't worth it. They control the narrative of what is or has happened, and I think that's why she shot back like that, they want to have the narrative that they once tried to send the BIL to counseling, and my husband said no, making him the problem again.

 

My thoughts are that it was blissful when none of them were in our life, 4 years of blissful peace, but my husband brought them back in because he has a somewhat dangerous job and wanted to make sure we'd have some family (he actually really regrets that now though). He's seen finally that they aren't the kind of family that would be helpful to me anyway, if anything should ever happen to him.

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MB. I am quite amazed that these toxic people would have such a reach and sphere of influence. Doesn't say much about the other relatives either, who are so prepared to believe them.

 

"that's the problem with gossip... it ruins a person's reputation. If our FIL and MIL are playing the victims and complaining about us, it makes other relatives who care about them, get angry and treat us from the frame of mind later. That's painful to watch relationships ruined because of the way they see us now,"

 

You do realise that no matter how "gracious" you are the atmosphere will NOT improve. Guaranteed. Such individuals do not understand the concept of graciousness. And they will plough into your space anyhow, because (from what I am reading) the concept of boundaries would be meaningless to them.

 

It's your call,MB. DEcades of this poison, or......?

 

Yes, we've realized it, the only other option I see, other than completely cutting them out again (which we both don't want to do to his parents) is to follow Cherylyn's suggestions (manners and etiquette) and keep a safe distance.

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I think you're generally right that shifting my thinking to the individual and just accepting what is, is right. I didn't used to care if people talked about us, I had a totally different mindset about that years ago. But then I watched the gossip change the way other relatives saw us and interacted with us and our kids (some have gone so far to be unkind in front of them at events, it's just so out of hand). This happened with ones we previously had a good relationship with, so that made me care very much if they were gossiping and kind of poisoning the environment we'd be entering later on. It made it to where now we really can't go to almost anything with most of them (we do have relationships with some relatives, but it's on more of an individual basis).

 

I mean, that's the problem with gossip... it ruins a person's reputation. If our FIL and MIL are playing the victims and complaining about us, it makes other relatives who care about them, get angry and treat us from the frame of mind later. That's painful to watch relationships ruined because of the way they see us now, so it did change me to be more aware of how things would directly affect us and our kids.

 

Ultimately though, we can't control what others think/saw/act like. He may use this as more fuel to their fire of, "Well they just don't want to work on it." So you're right, I need to let that go completely.

 

I mean - to me - why is it so imperative you go to all of these family events? Or that your children or all of them go? My son zooms with our cousins every weekend - our cousins who are our age not his. They play video games, he sees their furkids, lol. This weekend we only met with one of the siblings -she had a falling out with her brother and stormed out of his house so the effect was that the brother didn't want to join our zoom meet. Oh Well. Life goes on. Like I've mentioned, towards the end of his life my FIL treated me very rudely so I started avoiding being around him - I loved how he was with our son so when he came over I got "me time". Do you really need to be around people this much? If so, make friends, meet people, volunteer, etc. Doesn't have to be family or a family gathering. If your husband has this odd idea that he can't go unless you go.... well, oh well, he won't go either.

 

Yes, a relationship might not work out - but I'd shift my thinking as far as how important these extended family are to you - evaluate why you feel that way or maybe again it's this generalized assumption that you "should" be around extended family this much.

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Batya, believe me, the only reason I put up with (in the past) going to family events like weddings and such, was because I love my husband and he really really wanted me and the children to go with him.

 

I think maybe he can process those feelings himself though, figure out why he won't go if I choose not to... or why he wants them in his life when they're toxic people? I don't have the answers to these things, but maybe a therapist can help him process it correctly.

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Is being in lockstep with his family a cultural thing for them? The answer to distance yourselves a bit seems clear but you seem confused.

 

It is definitely a cultural thing.

 

When I went to a psychologist before to process his family dynamics, he brought that up, and the group think that pressures them, even the nice ones, to fall in line. My husband was the first of his generation to break away from the group (literally he physically moved hours away) and then wouldn't let them control him on various minor things, so it caused a lot of drama even before I entered the picture.

 

There were red flags I noticed while dating, things like he'd go home, but would not tell his family he was in town and would secretly stay with friends to avoid them... but I was really naïve to think it would all iron out once married. Of course, it only got a lot worse.

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THey seem to have what is called, "Group Think," so you're right that it really isn't worth it. They control the narrative of what is or has happened, and I think that's why she shot back like that, they want to have the narrative that they once tried to send the BIL to counseling, and my husband said no, making him the problem again.

 

My thoughts are that it was blissful when none of them were in our life, 4 years of blissful peace, but my husband brought them back in because he has a somewhat dangerous job and wanted to make sure we'd have some family (he actually really regrets that now though). He's seen finally that they aren't the kind of family that would be helpful to me anyway, if anything should ever happen to him.

 

Sometimes no family is better.

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Sorry, MB. But manners, etiquette and safe distance will NOT work with people who do NOT understand such concepts.

 

You remarked:

 

"why he wants them in his life when they're toxic people? "

 

Why indeed. He likely does not want them in his life but hasn't got the courage to lay down the law to them.

 

And:

 

"it was blissful when none of them were in our life, 4 years of blissful peace,"

 

That's the bottom line Susan.

 

Toxicity is the destroyer of bliss.

 

I see that Wiseman asked you if it was a cultural thing. I was also wondering but didn't like to ask.

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Batya, believe me, the only reason I put up with (in the past) going to family events like weddings and such, was because I love my husband and he really really wanted me and the children to go with him.

 

I think maybe he can process those feelings himself though, figure out why he won't go if I choose not to... or why he wants them in his life when they're toxic people? I don't have the answers to these things, but maybe a therapist can help him process it correctly.

 

I understand love and wanting to be there for someone. And - a person you love and who loves you will not want you to be subjected to what you describe. Or his kids. He "really really" wants you to go - and what you do is say "I love you and I hear that you want me to go. But it's unhealthy for me and our children to be subjected to that kind of treatment. I am not going to keep you from your family. If you feel you must go to this event then go with my blessings and we'll hold down the fort here"

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I understand love and wanting to be there for someone. And - a person you love and who loves you will not want you to be subjected to what you describe. Or his kids. He "really really" wants you to go - and what you do is say "I love you and I hear that you want me to go. But it's unhealthy for me and our children to be subjected to that kind of treatment. I am not going to keep you from your family. If you feel you must go to this event then go with my blessings and we'll hold down the fort here"

 

Yes, I agree. The only events he felt he needed us all to go were his siblings' weddings, but those are well over with now, and after his brother's, he said no more, ever.

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Yes, I agree. The only events he felt he needed us all to go were his siblings' weddings, but those are well over with now, and after his brother's, he said no more, ever.

 

Good. Yes weddings might be obligatory. I get it.

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MB:

 

You remarked elsewhere:

 

"The last time they watched our kids (1 1/2 yrs ago now) they screamed/yelled at our oldest so much and made him so terrified he locked himself in our room and was in serious emotional trauma until we came home. I could tell something dramatic had happened due to the way he looked rattled and, "off," because we're so close. And the worst part is that they didn't even let us know... I had to find out later when I was able to talk to him alone and wanted to see if anything was wrong. So they effectively weren't honest and tried to hide the fact that they had had that hard of a time with our kids (because I think they know they crossed a line in for whatever reason, getting too angry and screaming/yelling at him to the point where he was terrified and in emotional distress)"

 

These people don't seem to be able to operate in any kind of acceptable fashion.

 

It doesn't strike you at all that they are quite unhinged?

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MB:

 

You remarked elsewhere:

 

"The last time they watched our kids (1 1/2 yrs ago now) they screamed/yelled at our oldest so much and made him so terrified he locked himself in our room and was in serious emotional trauma until we came home. I could tell something dramatic had happened due to the way he looked rattled and, "off," because we're so close. And the worst part is that they didn't even let us know... I had to find out later when I was able to talk to him alone and wanted to see if anything was wrong. So they effectively weren't honest and tried to hide the fact that they had had that hard of a time with our kids (because I think they know they crossed a line in for whatever reason, getting too angry and screaming/yelling at him to the point where he was terrified and in emotional distress)"

 

These people don't seem to be able to operate in any kind of acceptable fashion.

 

It doesn't strike you at all that they are quite unhinged?

 

No, but his parents never ever ever take responsibility for their actions. When my husband did finally confront them about that incident, in person at that, they were just silent and they still have never apologized.

 

They really are nuts, but they behave when we're there, so we've reached a happy medium where we can have them on our turf, they act really nice and polite believe it or not, and it works out somehow.

 

But no, they'll never get to watch our kids alone ever again. They were abusive to my husband when he was growing up, verbally and physically, so yes, they are not safe, sane people. At their core, there's something very wrong with them.

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I should add... the family (as a group) have no idea his parents were abusive. And they weren't like that as much to his siblings, he was the, "scapegoat," we've found out in therapy. Apparently that can be normal, where one child gets abused more than the others, but it's made it to where his siblings have zero empathy for him and probably don't believe the parents were actually abusive.

 

So he has to deal with the rest of the family denying there was any abuse (if he ever tried to explain it to them, which he probably won't at this point).

 

I think that's normal with abuse. The rest of the family tries to ignore it, shove it, and make the victim appear insane.

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Ok, so your therapist has identified some sort of Black sheep family dynamics. It's unclear why you want them to agree with that or "take responsibility", etc. It's never going to happen. You both need to stop living in a past that can't be changed.

 

All you can do is set your own boundaries, see them for whoever they are and let go and move on.

 

You seem to be using them now as the "scapegoats", to explain your disappointments. You know it's not about them, it's about a cultural clash and him leaving the pack unlike the others.

 

When you stop trying to change them and expect them to be in agreement with your marriage counseling, your life will become infinitely more peaceful.

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MB:

 

You remarked elsewhere:

 

"The last time they watched our kids (1 1/2 yrs ago now) they screamed/yelled at our oldest so much and made him so terrified he locked himself in our room and was in serious emotional trauma until we came home. I could tell something dramatic had happened due to the way he looked rattled and, "off," because we're so close. And the worst part is that they didn't even let us know... I had to find out later when I was able to talk to him alone and wanted to see if anything was wrong. So they effectively weren't honest and tried to hide the fact that they had had that hard of a time with our kids (because I think they know they crossed a line in for whatever reason, getting too angry and screaming/yelling at him to the point where he was terrified and in emotional distress)"

 

These people don't seem to be able to operate in any kind of acceptable fashion.

 

It doesn't strike you at all that they are quite unhinged?

 

You know what? You can't dump your kids on your BIL and SIL to watch and then complain about it.

 

If you want a relationship with them, then when you do see them, see them for a set amount of time (to see a show as grownups with no kids, dinner at a restaurant) or if with kids make it a 1-2 hour visit tops at a time of day when your kids won't be overtired and cranky for lack of a nap, at a time when your kids will be on their best behavior for their age, and have your small talk about sports or how second cousin Larry just won an Oscar and then be on your way.

 

Go to family weddings and funerals and share cordial small talk. You can muster that.

 

I had ex in laws -- they were a mess. A cousin of my ex managed to have a great relationship because he and his family attended family gatherings for a set amount of time -- always had another stop to make to the other side of the family's gathering after or a ticketed event to go to, so were "so disappointed they could only stay for little while" and then they left. They left before the conversation took a weird turn. And the rest of the family thought he was really something --- successful, positive, etc. Unfortunately my ex wanted to stay around indefinitely and usually the other shoe dropped shortly after dessert.

 

You CAN have a relationship without BIL and SIL realizing you do not have one by doing this.

 

Teach your children to be polite always - to sign the cards, etc, at birthdays and holidays to them but don't build up their expectations for a close relationship -- just teach them socially acceptable manners.

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You know what? You can't dump your kids on your BIL and SIL to watch and then complain about it.

.

 

I think maybe you read my post wrong. My BIL/SIL nave never watched our kids... they pretend our kids don't exist for years now.

 

It was my MIL / FIL that watched our kids alone once, 1 1/2 years ago, for only a few hours, and scared our oldest like that. They were verbally and physically abusive to my husband growing up so we really shouldn't have left our kids alone with them at all.

 

On the wedding attendance... we've tried 2 weddings and another huge family event. The first went well, but as they got used to us coming, some of the cousins made passive aggressive (public) insults directed at us. They really tried to humiliate us. Alcohol plays a role in it, too, I'm sure... they're always drinking heavily at these things....

 

I just refuse to put myself through that just to maintain some kind of image we're successful (we know we are). I think the fact that we are so successful really bothers them.

 

I have 4 children that depend on my mental health and I need to protect it. We've found a happy medium where we can have good relationships with some of the nice relatives individually, sans the bad ones.

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Ok, so your therapist has identified some sort of Black sheep family dynamics. It's unclear why you want them to agree with that or "take responsibility", etc. It's never going to happen. You both need to stop living in a past that can't be changed.

 

All you can do is set your own boundaries, see them for whoever they are and let go and move on.

 

You seem to be using them now as the "scapegoats", to explain your disappointments. You know it's not about them, it's about a cultural clash and him leaving the pack unlike the others.

 

When you stop trying to change them and expect them to be in agreement with your marriage counseling, your life will become infinitely more peaceful.

 

Thanks, Wiseman, I do think it will get a lot more peaceful once we just let go.

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