Northrop2011's picture


In another post someone mentioned boundaries (see below):

" So our therapist told us that all we could do was set up some boundaries and stick to them. We reviewed some boundaries with the therapist and we never went back for another session. It's worked out beautifully. For us. SD, on the other hand, can't deal with not getting a rise out of us with her drama. Too bad, so sad."

For those of you who have set up boundaries, could you please list some ( or all;), and let us know how it's worked for you!  Thanks...I love this place!

stepalong's picture

Personal space: Do not come

Personal space:
Do not come in our room without knocking-you dont just help yourself to my things-hair dryer, curling iron, etc. --took a few months but now she's very respectful of our space

My things:
We've sent her the message that everything in the house is ours (me and husbands) basically. She has her toys and some autonomy over those things, but do not touch my stuff w/o asking. Likewise, I do the same w her-I dont go get scissors out of her room, or her sewing kit w/o asking-she is not allowed to take my dishes outside or use our tools w/o permission. --She's getting better about this

Our relationship (DH and I):
We have date nights. She's not invited. We dont make up excuses why-we tell her it's important for her to be away from us and we need time together w/o her. We have conversations and tell her to please go play. She has learned there are grown up conversations and she's a kid so she's not part of them. Also bedtime is huge-we've settled that but it took awhile-bed time to me is a boundary b/c it delineates kid focused time vs couple focused time. I Need her to go to bed so i can spend time w/ husband, or just by myself. She knows bedtime is good for her b/c she needs sleep but also b/c we need non-kid time.

Grown up stuff:
We dont share anything w her about $. Her mom does complete opposite and knows all about how poor her mom is , why her phone gets cut off all the time etc. She naturally asks us how much our power bill is, etc etc and i tell her it doesnt matter she's a kid and that's not kid business. We dont discuss a thing w/ her related to $ and that includes the fact her mom NEVER pays child support or pays for a single freaking thing in her life (we have full custody and she goes w/ mom x2 month).

We dont talk w/ her about all the ways in which her mom sucks..not yet. she's only 10. I never will say a harsh word about her mom; it's up to her dad if he shares the truth of stuff w/ her one day. she's beginning to see some of the light herself and when she says stuff like "my mom has been really mean to you hasnt she?"-and she has!-I reply-"baby, your mom loves you and I'm not going to talk w/ you about issues b/t the grown ups." and that's it. We try to shield her from drama that her mom tries hard to pull her/us in to.

Boundaries are great and kids thrive on them. She has straight up said she likes when we have date nights b/c then she doesnt have to worry about us getting divorced. at first it was woe is me and sadness and despair but as she's gotten more secure and as adults we've stuck w/ our convictions she is able to rest in and trust in that.

sandye21's picture

I made the mistake of not

I made the mistake of not setting up boundaries for SD and DH right after marrying. As a result, SD did everything Stepaside mentioned - plus a few more including treating me like I was invisible, slamming doors in my face, etc. DH also was disrespectful in many ways. If I had set up boundaries from day one, I might have not had to ban SD from our home, and I would have had more respect and trust for DH.

As far as present boundaries with SD, if she were to enter our home now she would have to be mannerly and courteous. Otherwise she would be out on her ear. As far a s present boundaries with DH, he would have to display in front of his daughter that he verbally and morally supports me as his wife. Otherwise he would be following SD out the door. And it's non-negotiable. This is not a threat. It's a promise to myself. I will never again allow anyone to assault my dignity.

One good thing that has come out of my late 'revelation': I have 'cleaned house' of friends and relatives who do not practice mutual respect. It's a heck of a lot easier and life is much more pleasant. I could list all sorts of behaviors that I will not allow but when we set boundaries aren't we really drawing the line of mutual respect? I do not expect anyone to accommodate my actions or intentions any more than I would theirs.

AVR1962's picture

The boundary list is good and

The boundary list is good and this doesn't just apply to the step children. Last summer I went to a family gathring with my husband, his side and I got all the cold shoulder reactions like was listed. Of course I didn't feel comfortable and I have no doubt they felt justified and united. I then told husband that I woudl not be returning for more treatment like that. He witnessed and agreed. However, we had traveled miles (flew over the ocean) to make this possible, mostly because husband's father is elderly so I told husband he could go but that was the end for me. It does bother me because I know my hsuband would never create a scene with his family and he would accept anything they wanted to say about me or anyway they wanted to treat me which in my thinking is completely messed up!

bi's picture

fdh is the same way. he

fdh is the same way. he never, ever sticks up for me. he usually won't even acknowledge that his family is out of line. but even when he does, he still keeps quiet, but doesn't hesitate to rain hell on me for having the nerve to defend myself when he doesn't. apparently i am supposed to happily eat their shit for the sake of keeping the peace. that isn't peace in my world.

"I don't hold grudges. I remember facts."

AVR1962's picture

This really does create

This really does create friction. If our husband enevr defend us or stick up for us the children/family feel they can walk all over us with the unspoken permission from our husbands. I have tried to convey this to my husband and he doesn't seem to care. We pay a huge price for our kindness!

Toooldfor this's picture

Best and funniest tip I ever

Best and funniest tip I ever received...a friend of mine was a divorced dad with full custody of two teenage daughters. Daughters proposed that the three of them vote on any rules or family issues!! Being an intelligent man he knew how this would end up so he offered a compromise. They would run the family like a corporation, for every dollar that you paid towards the mortgage, you got one vote....problem solved Smiling . And clear message sent to the daughters about who was "running the company". We have tried to make sure our sons understood their roles, as in, let's be clear son, I am the parent and you are the child. When confronted I would even point to myself and say parent and point to whichever son needed clarification and say child. Mind you this would sometimes go : parent, child, parent, child, parent, child, are we clear here????! Smiling

LilyBelle's picture

Boundaries are good, and not

Boundaries are good, and not just for skids.

Think about common courtesy and start there.

My boundaries with SO's adult daughter come down to I will not expose myself to ill treatment from her (or anybody for that matter). I expect her to extend to me the same courtesy that she would extend to a client at her job, and if she does not, I don't subject myself to her.

The important thing is that you and your SO agree on the boundaries you set. I have called our moving forward and becoming engaged to a screeching halt because we are not on the same page about what those boundaries should be, and I feel like he's asking me to simply take everything she dishes out & I know I'm not willing to do that.

You have to know yourself, be honest with yourself and SO, and be willing to love SO from afar or move on if you can't agree on appropriate boundaries.


Drinking alcohol makes you an alcoholic? I drink Fanta, so that must mean I'm Fantastic!!

"I am a Bitch-- Beautiful, intelligent, tough, charismatic, and hell no you're not messing with me."

2Step's picture

All my boundaries are for DH

All my boundaries are for DH and DH only because I have no problems with the four young adults in our family (2 are mine, 2 are his-and both of his are SDs). They are great people, all in their own way, and I have no problems with any of them. Mostly because I am honest with them (no games, no powerplays), I encourage their honesty with me (and I am tolerant--they are not perfect--they are going to make mistakes, just like me sometimes), and I truly love them all and want only their health and happiness, including DH's! I am not their doormat--when I stopped that we all got along better.

DH is another story. Here are the boundaries I have set up for him:

1) You will not dictate to me the terms or conditions of my relationship with my children or yours.

2) I will not be forced to participate if I don't want to, and likewise, you will not be forced by me either.

3) I will not be drawn into discussions of comparing our children to each other, or get involved in a contest between us about who does more for each other's children.

DH agreed to go to counseling with me. My boundaries are not to his liking and I can't get through to him.

2Step's picture

I personally feel a great

I personally feel a great success with the stepdaughters but the step-marriage (second marriage) is a challenge.

Then again, the basics were there -- they are good women to begin with. If you have nothing to work with, what can you do?

Mominator's picture

This is actually a very good

This is actually a very good topic.

I don't have too many boundaries at the moment, just because we've had practically zero contact from the SD's (20/23) in the past 2 years.

If I'd have to sum it up I'd say:
* Complete disengagement from my SD's
* DH's attempts at a relationship with his daughters is 100% up to him
* SD's are not allowed in our household until sincere apologies are made, and behavior patterns drastically improve. ---probably never going to happen
* IF and WHEN DH regains relationship/contact with his daughters, he is to keep our relationship (in their conversations) completely separate from his relationship with them. (I am not to be brought up and discussed.)
* If DH wants to gift them for something other than the usual birthday ($100) and Christmas ($250) gifts, he must discuss with me first. We decide together whether it fits within our budget, reasonable means, etc.

Other than that, our relationship has been given an enormous break from the chaos. I'm nearly over my PSTD that took a good 2 years to completely recover and get myself back. Our marriage finally got a chance to have a healthy 're-start' that pretty much saved the relationship. We've been focusing on US this past year. We've stopped stressing/focusing/getting emotional over what we/he can not control, and letting go of those that abuse and use emotional blackmail as a tool to manipulate. We are having fun, we are making memories together (which is the strongest foundation you can build with your SO ladies), and we are focusing on our adventures together with friends and family.

He KNOWS I WILL NOT GO BACK to the way things were. DH knows his youngest will never be allowed to live with us again, because I will not allow myself to live with someone who has complete disregard and disrespect for us, our house, our property, and our privacy. That in itself is my biggest Boundary.

Mominator's picture

My DH really had to swallow

My DH really had to swallow hard on my last paragraph. He's in complete denial that his littlest princess would ever try her shit on us again (if she moved back in). AT LEAST we had "the talk" about it recently when something else came up ---oh, YSD wanted him to co-sign on a car loan, just because she thought she deserved a 11k car, but couldn't afford it. DUH. --And we're suppose to pick up your tab for the next how many years, while we pay OUR BILLS???? Not gonna happen. Didn't happen. I put my foot down with DH. Not our responsibility, NOT our problem. She's working full time, AND she's an adult. Welcome to adulthood dear, this is where you start.

My boundaries are VERY MUCH CLEAR to him. He finally respects that, despite his unyielding heart-felt desire to have his 'baby girl' back in his home. Too much has happened, and NO, these self-entitled twits do not just wake up one day, all grown up and mature and treat others with respect. No, the light bulb just doesn't go on that quick my dear.

I am safe now. I have a safe place to live without them in my life. It's peaceful and relaxing, and I look forward to going home every day. He can have them. Both of them. All he wants. Just not near me and not in our house. My home is OUR sanctuary and OUR safety.

ybarra357's picture

Yep, good post Mominator.

Yep, good post Mominator.

That's no moon, it's a space station!

bi's picture

mine are few and simple. but

mine are few and simple. but she still couldn't manage to respect them.

i will not be a part of your pregnancy. that means i will not discuss it with you and i do not want you trying to discuss it with me. do not call me for advice or to share anything with me. i will not be throwing a baby shower and i will not be going to the hospital. your pregnancy is off limits to me.

i will not tolerate shitty fb messages or posts, and i will not tolerate you texting me a bunch of crap that you don't have the nerve to say to my face.

she has broken both of these. she is now blocked from fb and my phone and i simply don't talk to her. she is dead to me. i like it that way.

"I don't hold grudges. I remember facts."

Poodle's picture

Mine change, depending on

Mine change, depending on circumstances. My marriage and step boundaries currently are:

1.No disrespect, sharp behaviour, anger, passive aggression or manipulation from DH tolerated for a moment. He does all these things unconsciously as he is so kind and caring most of the time. But if that behaviour comes out, I point it out immediately, firmly, and say I will not tolerate it.
2.No OSD in the house.
3.No discussion of OSD. If ILs bring her up to DH and I am present, I fade out and move away.
4.No initiation of discussion of SS and YSD by me. Happy to talk about them if raised.
5.No phone calls from SS/OSD/ILs picked up by me.
6.No attempt by me to resolve these issues, H to seek any counseling for both of us.
7.If YSD23 visits, which is very rare anyway, no boundary needs drawing because she is one of the most kind, tactful, thoughtful young women I have ever met.
8.If SS21 visits, no sex with girlfriend in the house, he contributes to chores, he switches off lights, he does not have computer network password, he does not have front door key, he tells us the times that he will be in and out. (this has always been the case but we had to have a big battle about the girlfriend, key and password last year)
9.No more caretaking by me of BS's card and gift giving to their stepsibs -- if DH wants that to continue he can think of it himself (he hardly appeared to notice the practice anyway).
10.No more caretaking suggestions by me that we visit ILs. If ILs initiate invite, I make sure we comply after very great delay and stay is as short as possible.

In my situation, interestingly, DH uses the SS and YSD whom I like, as mental pawns in his fantasy battle with me. I notice that now that I have taken up my OSD policy in the last 3 months or so, he assiduously avoids mention of the 2 whom I like also. It's as if he won't allow me to pick and choose whom I like to engage with, maybe because of his own principles about parental favouritism which he expects me to share as if i were a parent, maybe because he is trying to draw me, maybe because he's enlisted them in OSD's latest battle, maybe because it's all too painful, I don't know.

But one thing I do know, I am blissfully happy in myself for the first time in 15 years even if some of these boundaries express a rather unpleasant reality within our marriage.

It's nothing personal.

Mominator's picture

To Add: My DH's boundaries

To Add:

My DH's boundaries are:

"Let me have a relationship with my daughters." Okay, done.

"Don't say anything negative or condescending of my daughters TO ME. If you do have something negative to say, talk with your friends, don't bring the negative into the 'family' (earshot of family members who are 'neutral' and DO support us, and especially earshot of those family members who truly hate us). However, I am open to constructive criticism and taking a realistic logical approach to every different situation we may encounter with them along the way." Okay, done.

"Let's try to focus on us, our life together, our happy times together, the fun we have with family and friends, and the adventures we have together. I've been through ENOUGH of their drama in my lifetime, I've just had it. I don't want to go there anymore. Okay please? (let me do the worrying and contemplating about my relationship with the girls, I don't want you all stressed out anymore)." Okay, done.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

What it comes down to is

What it comes down to is manners and treating people like you would like to be treated, or they, in this case.

I didn't have a problem with my 48 year old stepdaughter until we moved down here. Then all hell broke loose on her end.

I won't stand for any more of her nonsense, and like the OP says, it is driving her nuts. As one poster to these boards pointed out to me that it is called escalation. That she will escalate her behavior to try to get the responses she use to get before and loved. They say it will eventually settle down but one has to wonder when and how long it is going to take.

OP you are on the right track. Stick with it. Some days it is easier than others but with practice we all will learn to stay on track.

Pilgrim Soul's picture

Boundaries on two fronts. I

Boundaries on two fronts.

I am following this thread with baited breath ( not kidding) and taking notes... learning from everyone's experience. DH and I have been together for 4 years, married since last fall, and we are still in the process of figuring out where the boundaries fall. It makes sense to add that he comes from an enmeshed background: BM understands no boundaries at all. So my first job was to draw some lines with her and also with my kids' SM, who does not get boundaries either. A few years ago i felt for a while that i am fighting against being swallowed up by two women, on two fronts. With the skids' BM it was more about her not telling us what to do and how to do it when skids were here, i.e. how to celebrate Thanksgiving - which is the holiday DH gets every year. I was in somewhat of a shock about her trying to tell him what to do for Thanksgiving to make his kids happy. Or her getting on the phone with them from Italy (!!!) to tell them whether to come and see their aunt, my SIL, visiting from out of town when they are supposed to be with their dad - it was unbelievable! He finally began telling her to butt out. It worked for a while. Now we are closer to where most of you guys are, where i do not initiate conversations about his kids or respond in depth to his attempts to talk about them when he brings them up. I am giving up on gifts and and care-taking efforts ( gifts from my kids to his). I am not giving up on my kids gift giving to DH or them writing cards to his extended family ( my SIL is wonderful). So my boundaries are under construction, i guess.

Where my kids' SM who was an over-eager beaver when she first came into the picture is concerned, I was very uncomfortable with one aspect: from the get-go she decided she wanted to be the contact person re my son's meds, special needs, etc. My ex was telling her nothing about his history, and i wasn't going to volunteer either. So for a while when my son had to take meds when at their house, she attempted to be his care-taker. I think she emasculated my ex, but that is another story. The meds were never given on schedule, thank god he needs much less right now, and our relationship soured for a million other reasons. One being that my son comes back physically sick every other time he goes to them. Sick to the point of having to miss school and me having to drag him to his doctor. What boundary do you think i could draw to prevent that?

Sorry for veering off topic.

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” —Pablo Neruda

sandye21's picture

Why is your former DH not

Why is your former DH not attending to your Son's meds and needs so he does not become sick? I agree that it is not his wife's responsibility to take charge of it but maybe she saw that this was not being taken care of and attempted to help.

Not-the-mom's picture

Here is one link for a chart

Here is one link for a chart of how boundaries work.

There are "permeable" - "too permeable" and "impermeable".

We want to strive for appropriate permeable boundaries.

Hope this helps.

Keep the faith!

Not-the-mom's picture

Here is more information on

Here is more information on Boundaries -

How to not to be the designated punching bag!
By Dr. John Townsend

Rule of the Universe =”You experience in life, what you tolerate in life.”

A person who puts up with bad treatment, gets treated badly.

Ask yourself – or a trusted friend or family member – if you put up with things in life that you shouldn’t put up with?

Do I allow others to treat me poorly, and not stand up for myself?

Do I not set any healthy limits with others; instead I laugh off their disrespect or say nothing, instead of letting that person know that what they said or did was unacceptable?

All of us should have certain requirements on how we want to be treated:

You want respect from others.
You will not allow others to talk to you in an inappropriate tone of voice.
You will not allow others to use certain disrespectful words towards you.
You will not allow others to put you in certain inappropriate situations.

Although it can be very difficult, it is important to stand up for yourself, and tell the others person(s) that you take responsibility for allowing them to treat you with disrespect, and that you will not be allowing this to happen any longer – and say it in a respectful but serious tone of voice.

Next, you need to enforce this! If we have trained others to think that they can get away with treating us disrespectfully, it will take time and effort to “retrain” them to not do this any longer.

They are not going to like the “new you” and they will let you know this through their words and actions. They will test and retest your resolve.

This can mean that you will leave the room, leave the party, leave the situation, not talk to that person for a while, etc... There needs to be some sort of immediate consequence for the other person’s bad treatment of you.

Be consistent and firm! Don’t back down no matter how much they try and get you to do this.

Keep the faith!

sandye21's picture

”You experience in life, what

”You experience in life, what you tolerate in life.” Wow! This says it all. I like the part about taking responsibility for allowing yourself to be disrespected. SA brought this up in one of her posts and it made me realize that ultimately, I am the one who has to ensure there is mutual respect. I have 'retrained' DH. He no longer puts me down. You can not 'retrain' a narcissist and this is why I am disengaged from SD but she is now living with the consequences of her actions. I could add a few other items to the list such as 'You will not allow others to be disrespectful toward you in your home'. This includes treating you like you are invisible, slamming doors in your face, sideline conversations and whispering, stink eye, puffy fish, etc. It took a long tme for me to stand up for myself. I only regret I did not do it sooner.

emotionaly beat up's picture

I agree Sandye. At least you

I agree Sandye. At least you had an excuse for not standing up to yourself sooner, your SD was younger and it is much harder to disengage or ban younger children from your home. Mine was 20 something when she first came into my home, I should have thrown her out that very day. She made it clear how she felt about me, she ignored me, she isolated me, she made smart assed remarks that were clearly intended to humiliate me, and I took it. So she continued to dish it out, and with each passing year she gave bigger and better insults until I finally cracked. So, I now realise that my husband was at fault here because he failed to do one single thing about her behavior, she was at fault here because she was a grown woman and needed to know better, I was at fault here because I too failed to do anything about it for 8 years. I had no excuse, there was no BM threating to deny access, there was nothing stopping dh from seeing his children other than his children, and I tried so hard to please them they thought I was an idiot, and let's be honest I was. Still, I too could be retrained, and I have well and truly retrained myself. DH thinks twice about putting me down now. His children never come here and, never will. My doctor only last week advised me to keep well away from my husband's entire family and you know what. He is right, and I will.

sandye21's picture

SD was over 16 years old when

SD was over 16 years old when we got married so she was well on her way to being an adult. Before DH and I got married she was not too bad but I can recall one instance when one of her friends saw me in a store and told me that SD had said some mean things about me and she was surprised to find I was so nice. But the day we got married she declared full out war. Like you, I have also retrained myself. I do not allow put-downs from DH, and that has carried over to other people in my life. But now I address it immediately. In most cases, as with DH, the other person accepts the boundaries that I have set - I am reasonable. In a few cases, as with SD, I've had to disengage completely and remove myself from any sort of relationship with her. I too do not try to stop DH from visiting or having any contact with SD. You commented that your doctor said to stay away. After SD's meltdown I went to a therapist. She suggested leaving the house when SD wanted to visit. I let the therapist know this was not an option for me, SD's past behavior had shown that she could not be trusted in my home without me there. The therapist retracted and agreed that it might not be a good idea. She DID advise me to stay away from narcissists, which she said it seemed SD was.

emotionaly beat up's picture

Sandye21 Hell would freeze

Sandye21 Hell would freeze over before I would leave my home so SD or any SK's for that matter could visit. If they could not come into my home and be respectful, then the consequence of that is, THEY CANNOT COME INTO MY HOME PERIOD. I cannot imagine a therapist even suggesting that, it is just encouraging these people. How happy would they be to see that they had you running out of YOUR home so they could comfortably visit daddy. My doctor has said that my SD is a narcissist, however he took it further the other week and for the first time ever told me what he really thought. He said that my husband's father is not much better than my husband's daughter and that his behavour towards me over this is not normal either, he then said, DH also has the gene.

I used to ring my FIL every single day, he lives a 4 hour drive away from us, and I am the only family member in this State that ever bothered to call, even my DH would rarely call him, maybe once every 2 or 3 months, his grandchildren and the precious grandaughter, never. I as I said called him daily, the precious grandaughter went up to see him last October and told him I banned her from my house and FIL has barely said two words to me since. I used to ring, say Hi dad, how are you, he would say Oh, Margaret, I'm allright, okay then Margaret, and he would hang up. We went from 5 to 10 minute phone calls to 5 or 10 second calls once he had a visit from his "blood" grandaughter. I didn't want to just cut him off, I felt sorry he was 88 years old and I wasn't prepared to cause trouble or upset him, but the phone calls were hard, so I cut them down to twice a week, then once a week, till last March when another incident happened and I just stopped calling altogether. Now I have gone in the space of a few months from calling him daily to not calling him at all. No one in that family, not even my DH has asked why I am not calling him, and my FIL has not picked up the phone to call here, and he won't, because he has wiped me over his grandaughter, he told her she was to come here whenever she wanted to and she could just forget the past. I said NO she needed to apologise, and all hell broke loose, no one felt she should have to apologise, this was her father's home (bullshit), and she could come here anytime she felt like it, and if she didn't want to talk to me, that was okay, then I should just not talk to her either.

I think we have all pretty much felt the wrath of our stepdaughters without them saying a word, I was not about to go through that again. The horrible atmosphere she brought into my home was something I could not bear to live with. Neither could I bear to live with her pulling my husband's strings, talking to him like dirt, and demanding to be waited on hand and foot. This entire family thinks this girl deserves to have it all her way and we should all do her bidding, and I still haven't worked out why, she does nothing for any of them, not one thing, yet they all jump through hoops of fire so as not to get her mad.

There are mental health issues in this family and living with one narcissist is difficult, I cannot take on anymore.

This is my husband's flesh and blood, but then again so are his two sons, yet he has not spoken to his sons in a year, not for any reason, just because they don't matter that much to him. His eldest son has a 13year old son, and his partner gave birth a year ago to a baby girl at 29 weeks, he hasn't even seen that baby and it doesn't faze him at all. But he did get cut up about this business with his daughter. Her boyfriend told my husband that she was never going to change her attitude towards me and that if he wanted to see his grandaughter then he had to leave me, is my DH upset about that, no he is upset that I won't put up with her treating me like dog poo on the soles of her feet. She wanted to have a life with my husband in it, but not me. I told him that was fine, off you go, but I am not living like that. We all have choices and I choose not to play second fiddle to any other woman in my marriage. I do not feel selfish or mean or uncaring or even harsh here, because I look at my husband and see a man who has no issue whatsoever in discarding his two sons and two grandchildren, did not even bother to enquire about the health of that very prem baby, I see a man who is not normal, who does not feel like most people feel, and I say to myself, I need to look after self, and that is what I am doing. No more being belittled or levelled by my DH so he can make himself and his daughter look better in their own eyes for me.

sandye21's picture

"I think we have all pretty

"I think we have all pretty much felt the wrath of our stepdaughters without them saying a word." Oh, the world of being invisible in your own home! I've experienced that so much before SD was banned from entering our house. That very thing, and the mumbled sideline conversations between she and her hubby was the very thing that prompted me to ask them to "please speak up". For this they both unloaded on me. My DH is a lot like yours too, his comfort and welfare comes first. Somewhere along the line I realized where SD got this obnoxious behavior from - the tamtrums, self-absorbed thinking, always right, trying to be the 'big man', inconsideration for others, limited communication. So eventually you HAVE do what you need to emotionally survive.

EBU,has DH's family ever said exactly what you are supposed to apologize for? What would FIL do if one of his son's wives came into his house and treated him as SD did you? It is sad that a casualty of this has been the disintegration of your relationship with FIL. But there has to be a balance between his wishes and your self worth and happiness.