It’s not that the suggestions you were given backfired or didn’t work. You didn’t employ those suggestions fully. You applied parts only, which dilutes the effect. *Don’t engage* means *don’t engage*. It doesn’t mean *half-engage* or *engage until it goes off the rails and then don’t engage*. This needs to be all or nothing. You are drawing a hard line in the sand and then standing your ground and making it clear that them stepping so much as one toenail oveer the line will result in the exact. same. outcome. every. single. time.
You can’t quibble. You can’t waiver. You are setting the precedent for how they are to conduct themselves with you, your husband and your children for the rest of your married life. This isn’t about venues. This isn’t about flowers. This isn’t about *half-weddings*. This is about their incredibly presumptuous, boundary-obliterating behavior and attitudes. You made a grevious error in allowing them to believe this behavior was okay. Now you need to re-train them. No one can do that but you.
I am absolutely serious when I tell you that this is exactly like training a dog. You got a puppy. You thought he was just the cutest little thing and you allowed him to jump up on you when you got home from work because it was just so darn cute to see him so excited. Now, he’s a year old and huge. You were holding your newborn in your arms the other day and your husband opened the backdoor and that *adorable puppy* who is now 80lbs jumped up on you and got your newborn in the face with his claws. You realize you made a serious, serious error and didn’t think long-term about the puppies behavior and it’s now actually harmful to your loved ones. You re-evaluate.Yyou realize you need to re-train him not to jump up. Every time he jumps up, you’re very stern and very no nonsense and in no uncertain terms you make it perfectly clear that he is not allowed to do that. You’re consistent. You don’t let him jump up sometimes and forbid it other times because you know it will just confuse him and this is important. You need this behavior to stop completely and forever. Period. And you make sure that comes through. That you will not be giving in and that it will never be okay. Ever.
You need to use that mentality with people in your life – not just your family – who are presumptuous boundary-pushers at your expense or the expense of your marrieage and family. People are going to cause damage – intentionally or not – if you let them walk all over you like some big, uncontrollable dog.
You need to drastically narrow your possible responses to them when they try to engage you. Any boundary-pushing behavior needs to be met with 1) silence 2) I’m not having this conversation with you 3) sorry to hear you feel that way. For example, you said “When she mentioned weddings I just told her that me and FI are going round some places.” Mistake. That is the opposite of *avoid engaging with them*. Volunteer nothing. They mention weddings, you respond with complete silence. She demands information and tells you it better not be a half-wedding and you say *I’m not going to have this conversation with you*. She says she doesn’t think this wedding is even going to happen and you say *sorry to hear you feel that way*. Whatever is happening, you choose whichever of those 3 responses is most appropriate and use it.
Because the fact is, you cannot coddle her out of this. You can’t nice her out of it or mollify her out of it or placate her out of it and all of those things just serve to make her feel justified in her boundary-pushing. You need to re-train her. You are using an equivalent of *I screwed up and let you think this is okay and it isn’t. It is harmful to me and my loved ones and I cannot allow you to do it anymore. Ever. Period.*
If you stick to those 3 responses and are consistent and no-nonsense she will eventually stop because her behaviors aren’t working anymore. Just like the big dog jumping up for loving gets scolding instead and stops doing it. She will have to actively look for something else that gets her the outcome she wants.
Again, this is something you need to look at applying to your life in general because unfortunately, boundary-pushers can smell a push-over from a mile away and in fact, tend to seek them out and surround themselves with push-overs. Boundary-pushers are, for the most part, very selfish people and like to have their own way as much as possible. Surrounding themselves with push-overs who don’t stick up for themselves is a very effective way of ensuring they get their own way as often as possible.