I have difficult in laws, especially my mother in law.
Two things: One, don’t confront them, and two, don’t change. Confronting them is going to cause a whole host of issues that aren’t worth it, especially if your DH generally agrees with them. If his whole heart ins’t into defending you then you will fight the battle alone, and it will be horrific. For example: I stood up to Future Mother-In-Law, DH didn’t say a word (because he was caught off guard), and even though DH agreed with me, he didn’t help so I was left to fight his mom by myself. She kicked me out.
Two, don’t change because it goes both ways. I think you CAN change the way you handle yourself around them and things like that if things ever go sour, BUT don’t change who you are. After my big blow up, DH said, “Well, my mom has a point that you are very distant with the family…any time they’ve invited you to play games, you always turn them down.” While it would be easy for me to change and just start playing games, I have chosen not to because one, any time they have invited me to play games it has been right when we are ready to leave, which is a tactic they use to get us to stay. Two, I shouldn’t have to play Dominos, a game I LOATHE, just to be in their good graces. If conversation isn’t good enough, why should I have to make an even extra effort? What effort are they making on their end? None.
All of this comes down to your DH’s ability to stand up for you. And actually, I can retract that staement a bit…he shouldn’t even LET them talk ill of you. If he doesn’t want to stick up for you, then when they start talking shit, he should just say, “Mom (or dad), that is my wife, and I love her. If you have a problem with her, we need to sit down all together and discuss it.” It’s very unfair to bitch about you behind your back, but the issue you will run into down the road is if your DH doesn’t stand up for you or doesn’t have his heart into it, a conversation will go nowhere, so pick your battles wisely. I suggest being very sweet with them. Honey works better than vinegar just FYI…took me a LONG time to realize it.
If you have any questions or need more advice, PM me. I am the queen of difficult in laws 🙂