Tuesday, October 7, 2008

shoe dropping

My husband came home this afternoon, walked in the door, and announced, well, the shoe has dropped.
Husband's brother sent him a long e-mail this afternoon, saying in-laws had asked brother to tell husband not to come to the viewing tomorrow. It would be too upsetting, particularly since husband didn't even bother to send them an anniversary card. Further stuff in e-mail about how we haven't responded to in-laws gestures, are being selfish and stubborn, someone has to be adult, etc etc. Husband writes brother back, I don't know all the details, but that yes, husband has been swamped and has just not had a chance to send card, he can be blamed for being insensitive, but there was nothing meant by not sending card, etc.

Then, husband calls his mother. And she lights into him for not properly responding all the times they've sent cards to us. Apparently we were supposed to call them and thank them for their thoughtfulness. Husband yells at her that she couldn't even bother to call for daughter's birthday. MIL says she didn't bother since we would have seen caller ID and not answered. Husband shoots back - it wasn't even worth trying to make the call? Trying to talk to her? There's much yelling back and forth (thank god I wasn't around to hear, these calls stress me out so much), and it ends with MIL crying and hanging up on husband.

So. Here we are. Husband says he is in a lose-lose situation. Go, and risk a scene. Not go, and offend other family. He would like to go. But in the midst of all this, work is insane, and his car is up on jacks in the backyard (I told you we were classy). I first suggested he think of what HE wanted to do - ignoring his parents. I think he'd rather go, but he doesn't want to spend hours in the car with his brother (he'd drive to brother's, they'd drive together) arguing over this. So then I suggested sending flowers tomorrow, writing his second cousins heartfelt sympathy cards, and then sitting down and writing it all out for his parents. I think that's the current plan. Of course, it all could change.

Midway through relating this to me, I burst into tears. I just really, really despise my MIL so much. The drama, the histrionics, the pressures. She's a crazy woman. And it plays into my insecurities. I'm not an ideal daughter in law. Isn't it the wife who buys cards and remembers things? I am terrible at that. I've never been her ideal daughter in law - I'm just not wired that way. I'm not compliant, and I believe in independence and creating an adult life. I don't know how reasonable I am. I don't really blame myself all that much - I know she is troubled and selfish. But there's definitely a piece of me that gets hurt by all this drama.

So, we're less than 7 weeks out from birth. They still don't know. I do think a letter is the next, best step, but I don't think these people will magically grow up. Any ideas?


Antigone said...

No ideas. Just reminded of my ex-in-laws.

CLC said...

No ideas either. Just here to say I am thinking of you and cursing them for causing you so much stress.

k@lakly said...

I don't want to sound like a broken record but I know I will...your situation is so similar to mine with my husbands. I think you are right to ask him what HE wants. That is the only thing that matters. People like your in-laws will always be giving you hoops to jump through and you will never do it right, ever. And you will always hear about how you did it wrong. It is a very passive-aggressive control measure. The whole "we did these nice things and YOU weren't grateful enough...YOU didn't acknowledge this or that event the way we would have, We gave you x, y, and z and YOU only gave us x and y....blah blah blah. It is incredibly immature and very hurtful and as I said, there is NO way for you to ever win or even succeed in a relationship like that.
My best advice, as it has worked well for us, after years of being treated the very same way, was to cut them out completely. For my husband it became an issue of not wanting to subject his kids to the same kind of mental torture that he had known his whole life. The idea that he might one day have to answer our sons question of "Why didn't Grandpa____ give me a card this year or why did my sister get an xmas gift and not me" with the response of Grandpa___ was mad at you because your thank you note was insufficient or your sister called them 3 more times than you did, was more than he wanted to deal with in this lifetime. He knew his folks wouldn't change and there was no meeting them half way as they refused to even entertain the idea that they might actually be part of the problem, so we finally said, "Check please" and left the table.
Our lives have been much calmer and the fights we had over their BS are over. His dad has called him once in the last 7 years, they had a civil conversation but that was it. As my husband said, until he's willing to admit his behavior was a huge part of the problem it's just not worth getting back into it because nothing will be any different.
Don't know if this helps you at all, but I thought I'd throw it out there, just in case.
Good luck:)

Tash said...

see, me? I'd tell them not to let the door hit them on the way out. My therapist would probably disagree. maybe I'll run this by her tomorrow as a hypothetical.

I'm' really so sorry. There are days I almost wish the IL's would just up and announce they're cutting us out -- then I wouldn't have anything hanging over my head. Because this faking it crap is killing me.

We tried the letter route and got the cold shoulder for 5 months, including over Christmas. But maybe that's a godsend at this point?

thinking of you all -- I sympathize, completely.

Molly said...

You can rise above this. It's hard not to get bogged down in their petty arguments and "gotchas," but it's important to keep in mind what is important - your marriage, and your kids. Don't let them drag you down with them.

Am I doing okay? said...

My first thought was to add it as a PS on the card to the flowers you send.

But my second thought, send them flowers w/ a card that is too the point.

"We're expecting a new baby–in 7 weeks."

You could do something conceptual, like a wreath of fall foliage and close with:

"Let's turn over a new leaf."

I mean, at this point, do you really want to continue on like things have been? You've stood your ground. Set your boundaries and move on to a happier place. Or decide to let it go.

But the purgatory of it all is hurting you.

Louise said...

I think if your husband wants to go, he should go. It would not be HIM causing a scene - it would be your MIL, and surely people would see it that way?
Other than that... I really don't have any advice. It makes me angry that people can treat others the way she treats your family.

The Yak said...

Note k@lakley's line above: "they refused to even entertain the idea that they might actually be part of the problem." I would send them a letter outlining chapter and verse how THEY have been cruel and insensitive (just in case they're too clueless to see, and that they might subsequently feel some remorse). There are an awful lot of people in the world who need a mirror because they genuinely have no ability to realize how they appear behavior-wise to other people. Then say you're having a baby but that this child, unlike your first, will never be subjected to their BS. And if they ever want to be a part of either grandchild's life, here's what they need to do and not do (again, being very specific). You can couch it in terms of the pain their behavior causes their grandchildren rather than to you and your husband if that makes it easier. But I just think they need to be made to see in no uncertain terms that the ball is firmly in their court.

Astarte said...

I would send flowers to the funeral home, and a nice card and flowers to the relatives that would be offended by your not coming explaining that your car is busted and you're too pregnant to travel, etc., but that you are so sorry that you couldn't be there for them. People will understand. If they don't, who cares?

As far as your MIL goes, it sounds to me like the whole thing has gotten so astronomically out of control that it almost doesn't matter what you do. I think writing a letter might be best, but keep it simple and as un-emotionally charged as you can. There's almost no need to go over why you're upset, because apparently Husband and MIL screamed it at each other the other day. Just say that obviously you all love one another, but that there have been a lot of hard feelings going around due to poor communication on both sides (even if this isn't the exact truth, it will defuse the accusation that *they* are poor communicators and keep them from accusing you as being so), and that you would like to have a better relationship for the sake of the grandchildren in particular. Then you can segue into that you had been hoping to be able to tell them in person, but that there is another grandchild on the way, etc. Try and end it on a more upbeat note, if you can, if at all possible. I know it sucks, but it sounds to me that Husband wants to have a relationship with his brother, and that in order to do that, you're going to have to appear magnanimous and be able to claim the moral high ground on no uncertain terms. Suck, I know, but the only other option is walking away entirely, and it doesn't sound like Husband is quite there yet.

Kim said...

Coming via Antigone Lost.

Wow. I swear, I have never EVER read a post on someone else's blog completely about MY in-laws. My jaw is seriously on the floor.

I've chalked it up to this. If they're THAT old and this is how they choose to act, then you can't change that. You can't help them. Nothing you can possibly say or do will ever make them think differently of you and the way that you choose to live your life. If you're a better person than I am, you'd keep trying. But me? I stopped. I stopped trying because it was coming between our marriage. And I married him, not them. I'm not her daughter. They choose to disrespect us and our family, and I choose to not include them in our lives. I have tried and failed time and ago to make them act like adults and change their ways. And it's not going to happen. And I'm not going to keep trying to teach grown-ups how to act like grown-ups. I have my own life and my own family, and quite frankly - I don't care. But if you do care, or you care enough that your husband cares - then a letter sounds like a reasonable idea. Just be prepared for their reaction.

Kim said...

And really, I could go on and on... but maybe you should just e-mail me. ;o)