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OT - in-law situation

moeilijk's picture

Ok, ladies. I did something that I regret, and I am not sure how to handle it.

Ancient history: I have been married to my DH for 7+ years. We have DD2. I moved to his country when we got married. He has MIL and SIL who live in the same city we do, and who are so joined at the hip they are practically conjoined twins. He also has FIL, who is currently living in the Phillipines with his new partner, and who calls MIL and SIL on the phone at least once per week. In comparison, FIL calls DH maybe once every couple of months.

More recent history: MIL and SIL are best friends, like, almost creepy. They'd be roommates but SIL got her own apartment, mostly (IMO) so that she could have a cat. She goes to MIL's every day after work, hangs out, has dinner, then goes home to sleep unless she stays over. She's 35. As an example of what is (IMO) their creepy-closeness, when SIL got pregnant (she's doing IVF as a single woman - that's a whole 'nother ball game), I mentioned how happy I was with my doula (pre-natal care here sucks). My MIL told me that I only went with a doula because my mother wasn't in the same country to support me through my pregnancy/delivery.

I am here to tell you that I can't imagine *wanting* my mother to be my support during my delivery. Nor can I imagine my mother being interested either. And certainly I can't imagine my mom and I both EXPECTING to be together while I give birth. Just sayin'.

My own baggage: My own parents had major flaws which left me feeling rejected and insecure. That feeling carries through into my adult life in funny ways, which often surprise me. I am aware of it, but often not in the moment.

The situation: MIL and SIL babysat DD2 overnight this past weekend. We expected they would return DD or ask us to pick her up sometime between 10am and 3pm. We didn't hear anything until 4pm. MIL texted DH that they had ordered a pizza and were going to pick it up at 5, so could we pick DD up at 5.30 after they all eat.

I felt irritated and excluded (my own drama, plus they'd spent the day on a family visit I wish I had been included on but actually I couldn't have made it so I was working on sucking it up lol). So I asked DH to ask if we could just join them for pizza. At 5.30 they said they had already ordered the pizza and were just getting it now so we couldn't come, but could we get DD at 6 instead.

I got really angry, because I was hurt. Again, my own baggage, feeling rejected etc etc. While DH was talking to me about it, he said something along the lines of he doesn't know why 'they' are the way they are, he wishes they were more open to have a relationship with him, but he accepts that they are not. So now I am furious. First, how dare anyone make my DH feel less than wonderful. Second, I feel guilty for treating DH like he's made of stone when it comes to his family. All the stuff that bothers me? Of course it hurts him too.

So now here's what I did that I regret. I sent my MIL a text. I told her I though it was very unkind that she and SIL excluded DH and I from dinner, that a pizza order can easily be changed so that DH could join them, and that I think it's very sad that she and SIL are not open for a relationship with DH.

MIL had a reply (surprise!). She explained why the pizza that day wouldn't work, but mostly she was all angry that I drew that conclusion and resentful that I said something via text. (Keep in mind this all took place in my 3rd language).

Between the time I sent my text and got the one from MIL, I knew I'd made a mistake. I think it's wrong to interfere in someone else's relationship (DH and MIL). The same things piss me off, I also feel excluded etc, but that's not what I addressed in my text.

I also realized, my text was probably quite confrontational. But, TBH, I feel like I either suck things up and act like a doormat, or I come across as very confrontational because I'm angry about something. I don't know what I can do/say in the middle-ground there, even though the middle ground has got to be full of options.

Since then I've seen MIL briefly twice, and I've just acted like nothing happened. Tomorrow, unless they don't show up, I expect MIL and SIL to both come over to take DD swimming like they do every week.

How can I handle this? I want to talk about it, but I don't want to be aggressive or avoidant... and so far, that's all I know how to do.


moeilijk's picture

I think you're right, but I am distracted by my continued anger about feeling like they don't include DH (or me). I'm so right and they are so wrong!!! Also, I think I am used to people trying to manipulate me/others with anger, so that comes up a bit for me too.

I guess I could see wanting to be in the delivery room. I don't know why they were so dismissive of me having a doula there, she really helped both me and DH in so many ways. And since SIL would only have MIL there (she doesn't have any other friends), I was just suggesting something that was nice for me. I felt pretty dissed.

And SIL miscarried - a couple of days after the positive pregnancy test, which I think is called a chemical pregnancy? Anyways, we were really sad for her. MIL told me at the gym, so I texted DH to call SIL to offer support. She didn't take his call, and to this day she's still never told him about it, it's been over a month. We finally sent a card from both of us, since otherwise he would never get to say anything to her about it. They just pretend he doesn't exist.

But you are right. We both would like to have a closer relationship with them (all of them, incl. FIL). It just seems like we'd have to fight our way in between them, because they're super-glued together. I used to facilitate a relationship, but I stopped a couple of years ago. In a way I started again when DD was born, but I only do it for/with DD.

DH told me this weekend when this was all going on that if it weren't for me arranging things, he'd probably never would have seen any of them this past decade. He also told me that he'd probably lie to them if asked directly if there was a problem, because he wants to avoid a conflict and he doesn't think anything will ever change.

Oh, the soap opera that is my life. Lol.

z3girl's picture

I agree with all this.

If your DH accepts things as they are, does it really matter? He might not really be interested in being closer to MIL and SIL. My DH's family is very dysfunctional, and for the longest time I tried to be the "perfect" daughter-in-law. I realize now that I can never fully integrate into that family, and it is what it is. DH loves me for how I am different than his dysfunctional mother and sister, and we now do things solely for the benefit of FIL who is the only one genuinely kind person in that family. It's not ideal, but is what it is.

As for the mother-daughter relationship being over the top...if it makes them happy and doesn't harm you, why not? It's not the way most people choose to live, but it could be worse. My mom had friends who were half sisters that were 25 years apart in age. They lived together til they died, and the oldest lived to be about 100. They never married, couldn't drive, and spent their days feeding stray cats and watching soap operas. Different, but whatever.

I'd say follow your DH's lead. His family, he knows whether it's worth pursuing, or knows when to give up.

kathc's picture

Tell her honestly that this isn't your first language and you fear you may not have come across the way you intended.

She sound awful though. I'd be tempted to sat write her off.