Tuesday, December 18, 2007

storm brewing

There's a very good explanation for why my husband is an immature jerk. If you're raised by immature jerks, it appears to be tough to overcome.

On Sunday my husband called his family to discuss holiday plans. His entire family (parents, brother, sister) live 2 hours away. His brother's daughter's birthday is the 22nd, and there's a party. Over Thanksgiving, my parents decided to drive 1000 miles to spend the holidays here, the 20th-27th, to be supportive of me. My brother lives in this area, about 30 minutes from me, and my sister can travel here too. Last year we went to my family's house for Christmas. So those are all the variables, and my husband and I decided the best thing to do was go to the party on the 22nd, stay at his parent's house til the 25th, leave midday, during our daughter's nap, and drive back here, having dinner at my brothers. That way we'd have part of the 25 and the 26th with my folks.

So my husband calls his parents Sunday night and relays this plan. His mother says, I thought I'd get all Christmas Day! Husband replies we have a lot to juggle, she knows this has been a hard year, and this is the best solution for us. She is clearly not satisfied, but they leave it at that. Oh, yeah, and my husband hasn't talked to his parents since Thanksgiving and his change of plans the first week in December. So the last they had heard, he had a lawyer, an apartment, and was moving out. He says on Sunday he'll call them and talk to them on Monday.

Which he does not do.

Over dinner tonight I asked if he called his folks. No, but his dad called him in a panic. In a panic? Yes, his mom was on the warpath, and his dad asked if there was any way we could change our plans to be there all Christmas. After all, last year we spent the whole day at my folks - over 1000 miles away.

His mother is, in a word, a lunatic. A stark raving mad crazy woman who does not hesitate to throw massive temper tantrums to get her way. I best describe her using a stereotype, and I apologize for this in advance, but she just meets it so well. She's an Italian mother from New Jersey. Plus, she's crazy. She rages, she screams, she cries, she throws things, she threatens....she is a force with which to be reckoned.

She wore a long white dress to our summer afternoon wedding.

She screamed at me in April of the year we got married because I wasn't playing along with her plans, and she didn't speak to me again until the reception (August), when she sidled up to me and asked, so we're ok, right? She moved her entire family out of the hotel my husband and I had selected to another hotel 15 miles away, and threw a brunch the day after the wedding for her family. My family (and my new father-in-law's family) was not invited. (I'm still annoyed I caved and agreed to endorse that bad behavior with my presence.)

She got mad at my husband's brother when his wife was pregnant, didn't speak to them for about 6 months, and refused to attend the baby shower. My in-laws go on vacation to tropical islands once or twice per year (despite the fact they can't afford it, but their crazy money habits that have already driven them to bankruptcy once before are a post for another day), and never invite anyone else along, but when my brother in-law went on vacation with his in-laws, she hit the roof, screamed, pouted and cried and didn't speak to them for another 3 months because he was favoring HIS in-laws over her.

My husband was raised in a household that walked in fear of her tantrums, her rages, her insanity. She beat them with hairbrushes. Got in feuds with teachers at schools and put them in 5 different private schools, yanking them from their school after each feud. Banned one of their friends from their house for two years for no reason, until one night just lifting the ban for no reason. A deeply insecure woman, she showered the kids with clothes that had the right labels so they'd fit in (see bankruptcy, above). She dressed my husband and brother-in-law (2 years apart) in the same clothes growing up, and still - STILL - gives them the same outfits at Christmas and birthdays. And she labeled them from the earliest age, my husband was the good one, the smart one. Brother was the bad one, the cute one, the athletic one.

Of her three children, my husband lies on a regular basis, and has had two affairs. But at least he's left the immediate circle of influence. His brother lives 20 minutes away from the family and spends as many nights at his parent's house as he can. Oh, also he's a drug user/addict/alcoholic who is about 100 pounds overweight and had a long-term affair (~2 years long) soon after getting married. You think I'm crazy for sticking it out with my husband? Maybe because his wife has it so much worse than me my perspective is skewed. And my husband's sister? Still lives at home at 31. Essentially, my mother-in-law raised three kids to never grow up and be adults, never separate from their family of origin, and always, always orbiting about her world tightly.

My husband and I have joked - that's not the right word - that we've had three years of peace, and it's going to break soon. My husband has thought we now hold the ultimate trump card - the grandchild - and with any luck, she knows better than to pull any crap with us because she won't want access to the grandchild pulled.

I have to say as crazy as she can be at times, she also has periods of relative normalcy. And my daughter adores her. My mother-in-law is good with small children and I've never had any doubts about leaving my daughter with her, or having our daughter visit. (Keeping my eyes WIDE open that could change at any time, and absolutely knowing I'd act if there was ever a whiff of craziness in her interactions with my child - I may be a fool for my husband but NEVER for my child.)

I'm typing in the living room listening to my husband, who is in the kitchen, argue with his mom. Good googly moogly. This is not going to end well. I need to go to the grocery store and get the heck out of the house and not listen to this. My husband is holding firm, but I cannot imagine how this crazy woman is going to treat me over the holidays.

The first year we got married, we went up there after Christmas (we went to my folks, and believe me she keeps score) and my husband unwrapped present after present - shirts, pants, socks, underwear, ties, games - the stack of presents was 3 feet high for him. I unwrapped two - she got me a quilted set of boxes in which to store china.

I have a lot to update you all on, addressing some points from yesterday's comments, relaying our counseling session today, but this is already long and I do actually really need to go to the store. And I can't listen to my husband try to reason with a crazy woman any longer. She won't relent, and there are going to be repercussions. I cannot even imagine how this one is going to resolve. Gee, wonder why my marriage is in trouble. Marrying someone raised by an insane woman is not the firmest foundation.

UGH. More later.


meg said...

Oh my gosh...I was raised by a crazy woman, so I completely relate. The only thing that kept me going, was knowing that I not related to her by blood (I'm adopted). Your poor husband, doesn't even have that. You are right, nooooo foundation. I understand that completely. Thank goodness D is pretty stable and sane. It helps a great deal!

I'm sorry, so sorry about your MIL. You must be a very patient and considerate person to have put up with so much from her. And I can understand why your husband wants to avoid dealing with it all. I know that he *should* have called and dealt with it, when he said he would. I just can understand how awful it is to deal with an insane mother, and why he would want to avoid that wrath.

The Scarlet D said...

Well, in my house, I'm the one raised by the crazy lady, and the name for it is narcissistic personality disorder - i.e., "it's all about me" syndrome. And then I never realized it, but I turned around and married a guy just like her. Not as blatantly obvious with the fits and all, just in a hidden, passive-aggressive way.

I think this does explain A LOT about your husband, too - he lives a double life to avoid any kind of negative feelings, because confrontation in his house was so completely unhealthy, painful, and unpredictable. Instead of being open and honest about what he wants or needs and demanding it (like his mom), he just does what he wants in secret, avoiding the drama. It's still very narcissistic, just not as obvious.

(Can you tell how much of this crap I've studied? That'll be $60 please.)