Post # 1
Hi Bees, just popping in for some advice/incite.
My Darling Husband and his dad do not have the strongest relationship in the world. Unfortunately it seems like because my Darling Husband chose a not-so-physical line of work my Father-In-Law acts like he is not manly enough or something. Father-In-Law owns a pest control business and Darling Husband is a web designer. He has made some very cutting remarks to Darling Husband over his whole life, and Darling Husband is convinced his father flat out does not like him. Apparently he was much worse when Darling Husband was younger and has toned it down over the years, but he still manages to slip in passive aggressive remarks here and there. For example, over Christmas we were talking about some of the work we were doing on the house and Father-In-Law began to make digs about how Darling Husband probably didn’t know what end of the power drill to use, had no idea what he was doing, etc. which quickly deflated Darling Husband. I popped in with a simple “Actually, Darling Husband is doing a great job on our projects, and he’s taught me a lot of stuff.”
The other night Darling Husband went to hang out with Father-In-Law for his birthday. DH’s brother is a contractor and generally seems to be viewed more favorably by Father-In-Law because he is doing a “manly” line of work. Father-In-Law and his wife recently bought a house and Brother-In-Law is working on building them a privacy fence. Father-In-Law decided to make the comment that he appreciates both of them so much! Brother-In-Law because he is working on building them a privacy fence and is a hard worker, and Darling Husband for… “Whatever it is you do”.
Darling Husband was really hurt and immediately came home. He cried about it this morning and says he just doesn’t understand why his dad dislikes him.
Btw the comment was even worse because Father-In-Law is constantly comparing both of them, usually unfavorably towards Darling Husband, and Darling Husband and Brother-In-Law also have a rocky relationship, so all of this shit really helps to foster bad blood between brothers.
As a side note, DHs mom, who is no longer married to Father-In-Law, is a fine arts professor and part of me believes that Father-In-Law treats Darling Husband poorly because he is so much like her, and he treated her poorly too.
I just need some advice and ideas for words of encouragement for Darling Husband, and how I should deal with any future nastiness Father-In-Law throws his way.
Post # 2
Hi there, I don’t have words of advice but I just wanted to say hang in there. Your situation sounds really hard and quite upsetting but I’m sure your Darling Husband loves having such a supportive wife. You’re doing a great job (((hugs)))
Post # 3
Ugh, this is so shitty. Almost no one in the world can hurt you as much as a parent. I’m so sorry for your Darling Husband. 🙁
That said, I think it’s time for your Darling Husband to take some action. I think he needs to tell his father that these kinds of cutting and bitchy* remarks are hurtful and unacceptable. Your Darling Husband is a self-supporting adult who deserves respect, and if his father continues to disrespect him with these kinds of comments, your Darling Husband is going to have to reevaluate the extent to which he’s willing to allow his father into his life. He’s not a child anymore, and he doesn’t really need to have a relationship with his father except insofar as they can respect and appreciate each other as adults. That’s not happening here, so something needs to change. If his father isn’t willing to do the changing, then maybe the nature of the relationship itself has to change.
If your Father-In-Law thinks Darling Husband is so “unmanly,” it might actually HELP their relationship for Darling Husband to stand up for himself and demand respect from him as a man. It might be exactly the type of thing your Father-In-Law needs to see in order to respect him, as shitty and unfair as that is. And, if it makes things worse, well, things were always bad for your Darling Husband. Meanwhile your Father-In-Law has gotten to have exactly the type of relationship he wants to have with your Darling Husband. Time for things to change and for your Father-In-Law to have to be made unhappy and uncomfortable by this relationship too. He has no reason to change when everything is exactly as he wants it with no pushback from your Darling Husband and no outright conflict pushing him to change.
*Re: calling his dad’s remarks “bitchy”: I usually hate this. I really dislike gendered insults that assign a particular set of negative traits to women. HOWEVER, since your Father-In-Law is so hung up on these rigid standards of gender, I think it might actually strike a chord with him if his cutting remarks were described to him as “bitchy.” He takes so much pride in himself as a manly man or whatever, and he might want to change his behavior if it’s pointed out to him how “catty” and “bitchy” he’s being–which is the exact opposite of the super masculine identity he values so much.
I really hope this advice is valuable. I think your Father-In-Law is a jerk, and I’m so sorry that it’s hurting your Darling Husband. No matter how grown up you are, your parents still have the ability to just wreck you. Give your Darling Husband a hug from us at the bee, and let him know that lots of us think that creativity, problem-solving, and technical skills are PLENTY manly! (My own Darling Husband is in IT, and believe me I have no problems seeing him as masculine!)