Post # 1
Up until recently, my fiance has had trouble setting boundaries with his family. It put a huge strain on our relationship last year. I still haven’t forgiven him for certain things that happened (though he has apologized). He has gotten much better with standing up to them. However, I still don’t completely trust him to handle things properly the next time someone crosses the line. I feel resentful and don’t know how to stop feeilng this way.
My plan was for us to talk about it during pre-marital counselling sessions. We had an appointment last night, which we ended up cancelling. He decided at the last minute he didn’t want to go. He doesn’t feel comfortable talking about his “stuff” with a stranger. I understand that, but I wish he hadn’t cancelled at the last minute. Maybe I should have just gone by myself… Anyway, he told me he is going to research pre-marital counselling and maybe possibly consider going later… I seriously doubt we’ll end up going.
I think the boundary-setting issue is getting better, but I can’t really tell for sure. My fiance has become more assertive over the past year. He used to tell me about the negative comments his siblings made about me. I don’t hear any of that anymore. Apparantly, they stopped insulting me (in front of him, anyway) after we got engaged. He also told his brother that he doesn’t like how he talks about me (and got a non-apology in response… big surprise). They used to stick their noses in our financial business and criticize it. He no longer shares that information with them. I know that whenever he says or does something his family doesn’t like, they blame it on me. For example, his parents don’t like it that he wants to buy a house in the country, so right away they decided I must have talked him into it. Nope. It’s his own idea. He said no to doing a particular favor for his brother. It must have been my doing! After all, he could not possibly have his own thoughts and ideas, right?! Ahhhh…. I am starting to wonder if they assume I boss him around because that is what THEY do with him. Sort of like how a cheating husband will accuse his wife of doing the cheating… projection? Maybe I’m overanalyzing it.
So the problem is that I still don’t completely trust him. How do I stop feeling resentful? What can I do to ensure that these sorts of problems don’t happen again? For the moment, we have put the wedding planning on hold.
And I don’t know if this is relevant or not, but I’m starting to sort of see why he has problems setting boundaries. In his family, if you say or do something that offends someone, that person will give you the silent treatment…. for MONTHS! And if you don’t want to do something, they’ll try to guilt trip you into doing it anyway. I grew up in a family where it’s okay to say no. I’ve had to set boundaries with my own family, and while there was some resistance at first, I was never punished for it with silent treatment or anything like that. I understand that different families have different dynamics, but wow. We really need a strategy for dealing with his family. I need to know that my fiance has my back.
Post # 2
He does sound like he is getting better with things, but you need to be absolutely open and honest about the fact that you feel yourself harbouring resentment, that you need to get that sorted out and that the best way for you to do so is for the two of you to do the couples counseling.
Post # 3
I would tell him that pre-marital counseling is a necessity to me, given the boundary issues that have occurred. Explain that you aren’t comfortable walking down the aisle without pre-marital counseling. It’s OK if that’s a dealbreaker, and you can tell him that. It’s not a threat, and it’s totally reasonable that you’re scared and worried for the future. Personally, I couldn’t marry a guy who refused to go to counseling despite the fact we’re having major issues.
Post # 4
So I can definitely understand where you’re coming from, having a tough in-law situation myself, and being with my husband for years while he learned to navigate dealing with them.
There were many times where I would be upset/angry with him for things that his family was doing. At some point I had to realize that he was truly doing the best he could given how difficult the circumstances were. I started coming to him with compassion rather than anger and it really helped us to work as a team. (Though I am human and sometimes my first response is still anger and I have to remind myself that his intentions are always good.)
When you’re dealing with difficult family that you just can’t cut off, it will unfortunately ALWAYS be a part of your life. No matter how many boundaries you set, there will still be times that they overstep them. It was important for me to remember that this wasn’t my husband’s fault when they overstepped the boundaries, as long as he was firm in pointing out to them that they were overstepped and following through with whatever “consequences” we had agreed on beforehand.
13 years later and it’s still not perfect, but things are definitely better since we started working together rather than letting them drive us apart.
I think you are doing the right thing in postponing the wedding planning until you can feel 100% sure he is going to be firm in dealing with his family and that he will put your needs/feelings/relationship first in his life. You need to be honest with him that you are experiencing resentment and that you NEED this counseling to work things out before you’ll feel comfortable moving forward with the wedding.
Post # 5
I already told him that I feel resentful. He knows that’s a big issue we need to deal with.
I’ve also already told him that I don’t feel comfortable marrying him unless we do the pre-marital counseling first. Now I’m wondering if saying that was a mistake… part of the reason he bailed on our appointment is because he “felt pressured” into it. Urghh. He does not respond well to feeling pressured.
My heart sunk when he bailed. All I could think was, “are we going to not get married then?” We were supposed to elope this fall. We’re postponing it now. And I had just tried on wedding dresses the night before.
Post # 6
have there been any scenarios with his family recently that lead you to believe he still hasn’t set appropriate boundaries? If he’s already made changes why don’t you trust him to continue doing so?
I guess to me it seems a bit unfair to tell him you don’t trust him standing up to his family in the future if he’s already been doing that?
Either way, whatevers gone down in the past is clearly an issue and I don’t see how you can work through it without counseling.
Post # 7
browncoat : so, you tell him counseling is a deal breaker before you get married and then he cancels counseling.
I don’t think he had any problems with boundaries. He clearly has them when it suits him, because he said no to you on a deal breaker. Perhaps he only struggles with boundaries with his family.
Your decision is to proceed given that he is saying this is now it is. He is blowing off your deal breaker. You can take it or leave it.
I read in here zero interest in your feelings. So this issue isn’t whether he stopped doing this, but how he treats your feelings. What is the harm in counseling, even if he doesn’t like it it’s an hour. Surely you have given him an hour doing something you didn’t like.
Post # 8
So it went:
“I dont want to get married unless we do counselling”
“Nah I feel too pressured, lets not do counselling”
He basically said “ok lets not get married”, wtf?
Post # 9
I’m dealing with similar issues with my Fiance. It’s great that your Fiance is showing improvement but this is going to take time. He’s used to this treatment from his family and has been letting them steamroll him his whole life and that’ll take time to reprogram. As long as he keeps showing improvement and doesn’t try to throw you under the bus (i.e. saying, “You’re just to sensitive,” or “Why can’t you just try harder to get along with them?” or blaming things on you to his family) I think that shows promise.
The resentment is hard to deal with. It’s really tough trying to build a new life with someone who doesn’t prioritize your wants and needs over his family. And that’s what not building boundaries is: he’d rather hurt your feelings and upset you than upset his family. What helped me was a lot of distance from his family for an extended time (over a year) and showing consistent improvements. There have been set backs but we’re dealing with them.
Good luck, bee.
Post # 10
I second what BalletParker wrote: your fiancé can set boundaries when it suits him. And it suits him to set boundaries with you over something that was extremely important to you: premarital counseling.
Listen to his actions. They are speaking loudly.
Post # 11
Sorry but after having witnessed the batsh*t crazy that comes with marrying into this kind of family because of looooovveee and also seeing countless threads of the insane horrible ways the rejected spouse is treated by the crazy family, girl you need to run because things will only get worse and not better.
Look unless your fiance grows a strong spine NOW, before you are married and have children (his family boundary-stomping behaviors will get 100xs worse the moment you have children), you are in for a world of hurt, pain, and crazy making behaviors. Right now things are easy for you guys, you’re not married yet so if there are serious red flags you both need to address them NOW before you walk down the aisle. Look if he doesn’t want to change and just wants to rug-sweep everything by giving you BS excuses (i.e. like canceling the premarital counseling saying he’s going to do more “research”) right now when the stakes are still low, there is NO way he’s going to come around and do the right things when your lives will inevitably get much more stressful (if you marry and stay with him) and the pressure is weighing heavily on BOTH of your shoulders. What are you going to do then when your own and say your future-children’s safety and well-being is now in serious jeopardy and you need him to act now when the pressure is on, but he blames you and sides with his family and justifies their horrific boundary-stomping behaviors and refuses to go to counseling or get help since he and his entire family blames you and declares it’s all your fault? Because I guarantee you this is the fate that is awaiting you if you marry this man and procreate with him.
His behavior shows that he does not want to change, he does not mind you being the bad guy and scape goat to his family (i.e. in the future he doesn’t want to do something they’re demanding but instead of owning up to his own “no” he covertly throws you under the bus and allow his family to believe it was because of YOU that he is not complying, that way he doesn’t have to face any consequences since he knows you won’t leave him and he just has to get you to rugsweep again, which is much easier than the silent treatment punishment or worse he’ll endure with his family).
His rug-sweeping tendencies and comfortableness with his family blaming everything on you draws some serious red flags. You need to really think carefully about this relationship.
Post # 12
browncoat : so, ok, a few things to unpack.
1. the resentment won’t go away until you feel like your needs are a priority. I don’t think either of you want it so that you have to treat him as poorly as his family does, if you’d even be capable of it (I wouldn’t..), so he NEEDS to tell some stranger his “stuff” and work through the decades of conditioning his family has put him through to make him so scared of saying no to them. It does sound like he’s figuring some of it out on his own, so I guess you can maybe watch for a bit and see how it goes without a ‘stranger’ but.. honestly I am skeptical so much deep conditioning can be undone without a professional. I mean we’re talking about since childhood most likely. His idea of what’s normal familial boundaries has got to be so skewed.
On this note–some bees are noticing his ability to say no to you and saying therefore he should be able to say no to them. It really isn’t that simple because, again, he’s been conditioned since childhood to obey them and let them enmesh in to his life. It’s not an excuse to let it go, its just an explanation why it’s not “simple”, even though it must be fixed.
2. stop caring what they think about you. Shitty people’s opinions dont matter. If they want to think its all your fault, so be it.
Post # 13
futuremrs2020 : To answer your question, it’s hard to trust someone when he didn’t set boundaries with his family for 3 years and then only just started to improve over the past 10 or so months. Yes, I’m starting to feel better about things, but some of the stuff that happened put a serious strain on our relationship. It’ll take time for me to get over that.
amanda1988 : Yes, exactly. He sets boundaries just fine with me, coworkers, friends, etc. His family is different. Some of the stuff he used to say, is pretty obvious that he’s repeating something he had been told over and over again (basically guilt-based messages about how he owes them big time because they did x,y,z for him). There was also physical abuse. I feel uneasy that he was conditioned to obey them, as you put it. His one brother even complained that I wasn’t “conforming” enough. Jesus Christ!! If I had known all of this at the beginning of our relationship, I would have run away screaming.
To the bees saying that it’s bad he said no to pre-marital counseling, I’m well aware that it’s a bad sign. It worries me. However, I don’t want to act just like his family and force him into something he’s not comfortable with. I will wait awhile and see if he comes around. If not, then I guess I’ll be back here to complain about my broken engagement and broken heart.
Post # 14
browncoat : im so sorry he endured physical abuse too. What they’ve done to him, especially knowing that (I wasnt sure just from your original post) was likely categorized as emotional abuse–you can look up “enmeshed relationships”. Often enmeshment is just one parent and one child, but sometimes it can be an entire family, as is the case with your fiance.
Running away screaming is a bit harsh–he is a victim of abuse, and it affects him, that’s no secret. But I would talk to him, very seriously, about the reality of the situation. If he was physically abused, and isn’t in denial about that, he may not balk so badly at being told he was and still is being emotionally abused, and he needs someone to help him sort through the damage they’ve done. Unlike with physical abuse, where he knows for sure so long as they aren’t touching him anymore he’s no longer being abused, understanding what is and isn’t normal familial behavior is really, really hard.
If he doesn’t want to talk to a therapist, maybe he can at least talk to you a bit and get a gauge on what is and isnt normal. Open his eyes a little bit, if he’s open to it.
And it’s really, really normal that they dont like you–you are a threat to the control they currently have over him. They will never like you, not unless you resign yourself to a miserable life under their control. Give up any hope they ever see you as anything other as a terrible, homewrecking, person. The sooner you accept that, the easier it’ll be to help encourage him to break free from them.
Post # 15
amanda1988 : I agree with most of what you’ve said. He has talked to me quite a bit about the physical abuse. When it comes to how they treat him now, I have to tread carefully. He has been veeery defensive about any criticisms I make, even if I’m pointing out blatantly rude/disrespectful behaviour. I find it more useful to stay neutral. That way, he doesn’t focus on what I say. He focuses on what they said or did.
For example, I recently offered an olive branch to the two harshest critics (youngest brother and sister). They rejected it. I figured they would, but it doesn’t hurt to try, right? To my surprise, my fiance took it very hard. He started pointing out things I had noticed a long time ago but hadn’t mentioned…. like their sense of entitlement, bossiness, etc. Now he won’t talk to them and avoids even being around them. He says he needs time away from his family, so I’ve dropped the subject.
I have suggested he go for individual counselling, and he won’t do it. I wish he would.
And thanks for verifying what I’ve suspected all along: that I’m a threat to their control over him. You should have seen how berserk they acted last year when I put a boundary in place. Wow. I’ve started to just feel sorry for them instead of seeing them as enemies. They clearly have their own issues to work through.