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I fear that this will seem as if it is a long ramble so I will apologise for that first.

I believe I live with a narcissist, many times I have considered our home environment as 'toxic'. We broke up for a long time before getting married where I spent a lot of time working through my faults and failings... as well as the things my husband (then bf) would tell me was wrong about me.

Since then, we have got married, had children and have a home together.

Life was good, as we all know, throw children into the mix and things get even more complicated when the narcissist isn't the centre of the partner's eye anymore and focus switches to the little people in our lives. I feel that I have devoted myself to our family. Giving up a career to be at home with our children; I wanted to be there for them, however we don't have the money for childcare others do and it was very much implied once I'd had children that going back to work wouldn't be an option as he wouldn't help with our kids.

After 10 years of devoting myself to our family, as well as his own family I am feeling lost and of course it is the wonderful 'Family at Christmas' issue that has thrown me into despair once again.

I have married into a family of narcissistic males. 

Their mother died a few years ago and since then the egos have really taken over. I was very close to my mother in law and witnessed her decline where they weren't able to actually give her emotional support and at times, the lack of care was shocking. I would do what I could but it was always made clear that it had nothing to do with me.

For all the years we have been together my husband's work and his family come first.

He doesn't take any time off with me and the kids, only times he'll be with us is if it's a family occasion, if it's my family there will be some reason he can't make it or is late or he'll dominate the occasion, when it's his family, me and our children are almost wheeled out as the picture perfect family and the issues are masked.

After years of spending Christmas focussing on and hosting his family I really felt that this year, it could just be me, my husband, our children and my parents and one of the other sons could host my father in law however once again they have all held their hands up and said "nah, we're all away so it's on you" 

I have always just rolled over and said that he can't be alone at Christmas and have him, but every year it is a disaster. He's late. He doesn't bring gifts. He sits at the table and treats me like a slave. He and my husband chat non stop and just leave everything else to me and quite frankly ruin Christmas for me and our children. Then the calls come in from abroad from the other sons and their wives, while muggins here gets treated like dirt by all of them.

I know I have left it too late to have any say in all of this, but quite honestly, I just want to tell my husband that if he wants to see his dad at Christmas then he is to go there alone and I'll host my parents with my children at home. 

The thought of it all is making me feel physically unwell, I don't want to see my father in law at Christmas.

Now the final point is, which makes it all the more confusing...

My father in law drives my husband mad when he sees him, because he's always late, because he never brings our children presents, because he never mucks in. All the things that my husband gets driven mad by are the very things that drive me mad... they are also traits I see in my own husband. He always says that he's had enough of it always falling to us. Then I get upset about it all and then it's ME that gets made out to be the one causing issues by getting upset at the toxic nature of his family.

I don't want my father in law here for Christmas, but if he doesn't come to us, then he's alone because none of the other sons put any effort in at all. 

My husband never takes time off apart from Christmas and it always falls to us.

I can't take it anymore.

I can't deal with the stress of saying "yes, he can come" only for it to make my husband in a horrible mood with me and the kids when it's not us who have caused the problems.

I can't deal with the guilt I'll be loaded with if I say "no! not this year! I want a break from the drama" 

I can't deal with being the one who is always at fault, always to blame for problems.

I just want a nice Christmas for me and our children without all the drama and with my parents who actually help out! I know that if I put my foot down, he'll be horrible towards me.

I just feel that whatever I do I'm wrong. 

In my inlaws eyes and seemingly my husbands eyes, I'm not worthy of taking any time off, neither our our children and we are not worthy of having a restful Christmas.

I am not a slave and deserve to have a Christmas where I'm not demeaned, mocked, sneered at or made out to be the villain when other people are causing issues.

I'm going on and I'm not even sure if any of this makes sense.

I'm so upset.

I am suck a mug and just don't know what to do for the best, for me, for our children and for the future of our marriage.

I should add that I have been trying to get my husband to go to therapy with me but he simply won't commit to it.


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I would plan a second Christmas after the FIL leaves with just your family and the way you want it.  I realize that's not optimal! I'm sorry you're stressed.  I also would buy gifts and pretend the FIL brought them so the kids get something from their grandfather. 

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Tell your husband to visit his father while you host your children and parents in your home. 

As for gifts, explain to your children that their grandfather is not the type to partake in gift giving and they need to accept this fact because a lot of people don't give gifts.  For a lot of people, it's about being together for a special holiday meal and togetherness for the holidays especially if some people have to travel far and wide in order to gather with family.  As for your FIL (father-in-law), explain to your children that their grandfather doesn't give gifts so tell them not to expect gifts from him.   Be matter of fact about this. 

I'm sorry you're going through this,  @nightowl  I have a similar situation.  My BIL (brother-in-law - married to my sister) is an extreme narcissist, obnoxiously ride, disrespectful and inappropriate ALL THE TIME.  He has 5 brothers who are all the same!  All SIL (sisters-in-law) share notes.  Then you have all 6 brothers together and it's a living nightmare!  Fortunately, I've since permanently wriggled out and bowed out of annual holiday gatherings at my sister's house.   I'm extremely relieved.  From now on, we'll gather at my in-law's house.  (Btw, my sister and in-laws reside locally.)  It will be potluck for the buffet table.  Everyone brings their special homemade side dish contribution to share.  My husband and sons help with kitchen clean-up and a few others as well.   

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10 hours ago, nightowl said:

I just want a nice Christmas for me and our children without all the drama and with my parents who actually help out.

Sorry this is happening. Take the children to your parents and leave your husband and his family to get together for themselves.

It's better than seething with resentment or feeling like a slave. Discontinue enabling your husband. Let him get gifts for his family. Let him go to his father's or whoever. If it all falls apart then so be it.

In the meantime consider going back to work at least part-time. Unless you regain some independence, you'll feel like the household help.

Simply announce that this year you and the kids are going to your parents and your husband, but not his family, are invited. He can visit with them instead or afterwards. His choice.

You need to make changes rather than expecting all them to change. You're responsible for your own happiness and decisions. Why continue in the same resentful rut year after year when you can easily change and fix this by taking appropriate action and spending the holiday with your parents?

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