Terrible in-law relationship. Long post, but advice TRULY needed!

posted 1 year ago in Relationships
Post # 31
1102 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

duchessgummybunns :  all of this. I don’t understand how she isn’t more angry about this and forcing her husband to actually find his balls. Really. Speechless.

Post # 32
1156 posts
Bumble bee

 There is nothing really I can add but you are getting some good advice here Bee. Please, please listen especially for your future children’s sake.

I think Anthony and Sarah are on the right track maybe you should take a page out of their book?

Post # 33
3030 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

My mother-in-law has NPD and is similarly controlling/erratic without even contributing anything to our lives – the bitch just takes takes takes. She has never been violent like your Father-In-Law, though, just wails FAKE NEWS, I’M PERFECT, YOU ARE JEALOUS, SAD!!! whenever anyone tries  to call her on her behaviors and YOU ARE INSECURE AND CONTROLLING, WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN TO MEEEEE?! when boundaries are set.

Darling Husband told her to “fuck off” when she tried to gossip her fabricated bullshit about me and informed her that we would not be speaking to her again until we can all meet for family counseling. See the difference? I’m enjoying the temporary respite. It’s been three glorious weeks. 

Your H needs to protect you. You are his wife and should be his top priority, not his mom. You make a new family unit when you marry (if you are Christian, the “leave and cleave” model applies). If you aren’t a united front when setting boundaries his parents will chip away at them and cause the resentment to eat up your love for him. This is serious. 

Post # 34
179 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

If anyone in my family ever threw something at my Fiance, I’d cut them off on the spot and never speak to the shithead again. Period. That your husband is going back to the status quo of daily talking to them makes me freaking sick. 

You are so within your rights to cut these assholes out for good. And if you have kids, you should make it non-negotiable to your husband that your children do NOT see or spend time with his parents. They are abusive, dangerous assholes. They don’t get to know your children. 

If I were you I would absolutely insist Darling Husband go to individual therapy with a therapist who specializes in enmeshment. He needs it desperately if he actually wants to keep these people in his life. 

I know we’re supposed to say “husband can have any relationship with them that he wants …” but honestly, I don’t think I could stay with a man who wanted to keep a relationship with relatives who assaulted me. I’d be out. 

Post # 35
1 posts
  • Wedding: September 2008

Whoa, now! Such rude comments! I don’t think the OP has indicated in any way that she doesn’t have a backbone or is gullable. Those comments are not helpful to her. I’m sure she’s angry and upset or she wouldn’t be seeing a counselor. Which is very brave to seek help and recognize when you’re in over your head. Bravo.

OP – I am so sorry this has happened to you. Ignore the nasty commenters on here, even though you specifically asked for people not to criticize! Those people attacking you are no better than your in-laws, with that “my way or the highway” attitude.

Some people have never had to deal with mental illness in their family. Moreover, I think it’s really admirable that you are trying to handle this situation with grace and empathy for your husband.  It doesn’t sound like he’s fighting you on any of this or is defending his parent’s behavior, and that’s good! He was raised by this looney toon for decades, and I agree with your counselor that it would be unrealistic to expect him to completely sever his relationship with her after 2-3 months of ranting. Of course he’s going to hope that things will turn around, that’s what children do when they love their parents! Even if the parents are addicts or mentally unsound. It’s a hard place that he is in, too. And clearly this is all new to him, as well. 

I would also like to add that I think it’s extremely wise for you to avoid the other commenter’s mentality of not “allowing” your husband to have a relationship with the people who raised him. As anyone knows, giving ultimatums and threats is a good way to end up with a very resentful spouse, unhappy marriage, or worse. 

You mentioned that he is nervous to tell you when his mom comes up (understandable) and that you are having a hard time being calm when he does (also understandble). You’ve both have to work through this and keep open communication, or else it’s all going to shut down. Just remember, neither of you wanted this and you both seem to be trying to work through it. 

Lastly, why are these commenters saying you’re “determined” for your kids to have a relationship with your in-laws? Did I miss something? It’s just reality that eventually, if the grandparents are living, there is a VERY high chance that your kids will want to know them. And if your in-laws are that determined and persistent, it doesn’t even matter if you and your spouse severe ties with them completely for the next 15 years and hide your children in a closet.. Eventually, when the kids are old enough, the in-laws are going to seek them out. I’d rather it be on my terms than on theirs.

Just take care of yourself and make sure you are safe and not alone with these people in the future. The same goes for your kids, whenever you have them. Keep going to counseling and keep taking the high road. If they are truly as awful as you described, it will become more and more apparent.  

Post # 36
386 posts
Helper bee


newlymarried2017 :  The ‘irk’ is a tough one, but I usually try to hold my tongue. When the screaming and ‘behaviour’ reared it’s head from her, I told Darling Husband that I don’t want him EVER telling her anything about me. If she asks how I’m doing then he can be vague and polite, like ‘she’s good’, because I don’t want to be a topic they speak about. I found (in my experience) that a personality that can be overbearing, controlling and sometime’s downright nasty will often hold personal details about yourself (especially your relationship) against you whenever the personality ‘switches’.

Be patient, but don’t be afraid of cutting her out your life. I told Darling Husband that I don’t want her in my life but he’s free to do what he wants, I just have different lines that I can’t forgive if crossed.

Good luck! Your inlaws will always be in your life aslong as your Darling Husband is, but YOU decide if you want anything to do with them! Just because you’re all ‘family’, doesn’t mean you have to see eachother.

P.S, I also had a discussion with Darling Husband years ago and said when we have children there is no way in hell she’s ever looking after them UNLESS I specifically say so and am comfortable with it, and he wholeheartedly agreed as although he won’t ever cut them out (strong family is forever mantra) he understands that making me uncomfortable is no way to have a marriage.

Post # 37
10664 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

duchessgummybunns :  

Very well articulated, as usual.


newlymarried2017 :  What, exactly, is the point of a forced apology?  It sounds absurd. How much time, energy, and upset went into trying to cajole that completely insincere apology out of the MIL?

Bee, your husband is the real problem here. He’s like someone who has been in a cult for a long time. His family’s dysfunctional ways are familiar, predictable, even comfortable.

He’s being pushed to change the dynamics of something he really doesn’t understand. That’s why he reverts back to “that’s the way she’s always been” mode.

Hubby feels like he’s stuck with a Sophie’s choice. How does he make you happy without being disloyal to his parents?

I suspect you’re approaching an impasse.  Your in-law tolerance is dropping fast and he’s not ready to go No Contact. It doesn’t sound as if he’s willing to do much, other than a little Kabuki theater in the therapist’s office.

All of this noise about setting boundaries, limits, and apologies is ridiculous. That works with normal people. To a Borderline, that stuff is life threatening.

There is not a snowball’s chance of ever having any kind of healthy relationship with your in-laws.  Start withdrawing some of your energy. Direct it, instead, to your husband’s very real issues.

And as for children, dear gawd, no. Children do not need grandparents. Both of grandfathers died before I was born and I know virtually nothing about them. My grandmother on my father’s side was a friggin loon who scared the crap out of my cousins and me. My life was not enriched by having my grandmother in it.

You ultimately may want consider allowing the in-laws to see the kids, but only under very tightly controlled conditions. They can have their visit in your therapist’s office.

Post # 38
2950 posts
Sugar bee

Your husband needs to firmly tell his parents that his support for you overrides everything. You come first and they come second. Period. No arguments. No discussion.

I also think that you need to reach out to your brother-in-law and his wife. They have already gone through this situation and there is strength in numbers. 

The one good thing to come out of this situation is that you and your husband aren’t the “golden couple” anymore. Your Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law should not be treating one sibling better than another. That’s a recipe for future resentment and conflicted sibling relationships. It may ultimately allow a better relationship between you husband and his brother. 

In the meantime I would suggest that neither you nor your husband have contact with his parents in the immediate future. You both need to have a joint plan on what you would like to do next and how you are going to protect each other’s backs because the in-laws are likely to throw even more tantrums when they find that they cannot get what they want by throwing tantrums.

I use the word “tantrums” advisedly. Think of them as children who need a firm hand.

I’d also like to warn you that manipulative parents use every trick in the book – especially using the kind of guilt that is aimed at the child that your husband once was, and this is compounded with all that they have done for him over the years. That’s the hold that they have over him and it’s why he finds it so difficult to confront them. If this doesn’t work they will try excluding you. Don’t let them. Stick to your husband like a limpet. 

The moment that they try to initiate guilt you need to call it out. If you do this you will be even less popular with them but by this stage there really isn’t anything to lose. In the end they will see that the only way of maintaining contact is to be nice to you and nice to your husband.

Other than this, move to Florida as soon as you can. 

Good luck. 

Post # 42
1102 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

newlymarried2017 :  Listen, I may have been harsh, and for that, I apologize. But you clearly aren’t seeing how serious this is and how this will affect your life moving forward. 


your hsband may may very well be the nicest man on earth. I bet he’s super nice. But he’s failing you as a husband. 

He isn’t speaking to FIL? Great. But Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law are a team, so it doesn’t really matter that he isn’t speaking to him. He is so enmeshed with his mother in a disgusting unhealthy way, I’m not sure how else to put it. I’ve said it previously, it is NOT normal behavior. I understand that his mother has conditioned him to behave like this, but he isn’t really making any effort to stop that. If he truly put you above his mother, he wouldn’t be speaking to her. That is the truth, whether you like it or not. 


This will cause massive problems in your marriage. It might not right this second, but it absolutely will tear you two apart in the future if it isn’t handled. I would highly suggest taking a page from your Brother-In-Law & SILs book. They’re doing the right thing to protect their marriage and children from your Mother-In-Law.

And I would also suggest getting a new therapist, because from what you’ve told us, she doesn’t seem like a “leave & cleave” therapist, which is what you need. This will also hurt you.


My situation never got nearly as bad as yours has, because I took control right from the beginning and made Mother-In-Law realize that I’m not going anywhere and I will be respected as her sons wife. You need to do that, however you can. Even if that means you BOTH cut her off for a long period of time while you work on your marriage.


Good luck. 

Post # 43
386 posts
Helper bee

newlymarried2017 :  I hope everything goes well for you!

Sounds like your Darling Husband is amazing! It’s crazy that sometimes the most caring and giving people come from families that aren’t the ‘norm’.

I think you will do great handling yourself with grace and whenever you find yourself in an uncomfortable position or getting annoyed that yours or your DH’s phone is ringing non stop with dramatic messages too – take a moment to look at your Darling Husband and think ‘fuck it, I can deal with the crazy for this incredible man’. My Darling Husband can tell whenever I think that because I always end up sighing and laughing to myself, even in the most stressful batshit crazy situations.

I do recommend an occasional trash talking to your Darling Husband, it’s super mean but boy does it feel great when he knows exactly how I’m feeling about it all! And if you two are on the same page, he should understand and that sometimes you need to vent to somebody that is also in the situation.

Post # 44
707 posts
Busy bee

newlymarried2017 :  

I sympathise. I’m often horrified by how judgmental and harsh the opinions given on these boards are. Sometimes, such as when a woman is in an abusive relationship, some tough love is the right call. I don’t think it is in your situation. Sometimes a lot of assumptions are made – people have incomplete information, and they fill in the gaps for themselves. It makes me cringe. I would probably never post my own problem on this forum because I’d be so worried about being torn to shreds when I’m already emotionally fragile.

Anyway, as for your situation. I do think the commenters who have suggested that you cut your in-laws off and insist that your husband do the same are being completely unrealistic. In some situations, it is warranted and realistic to cut family off, but in many (most) situations, it’s not. I have personally dealt with some pretty wild shit from members of my own family over the years, and I have exercised my own judgment about which relationships to maintain, and to what degree. Some relationships can be improved, to a greater or lesser extent, even if they are not ever completely healthy.

I think setting boundaries is the way to go here. You and your husband need to start the process of carving out new ways of interacting with your Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law. That’s going to be more difficult for your husband, but it sounds like he is committed to the process, which is great. If it were me, I would start by taking a hiatus from them for a while… maybe a few months, maybe longer, how long will depend on you. And when I did start seeing them again it would be short visits, in public places, maybe coffee or a brief lunch at a restaurant, with long gaps in-between.

Most importantly, I would keep the conversation very superficial, civil and light. No talking about any hot-button topics. No talking about anything personal or private or to do with your decision making. I’d make these visits contingent on your Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law being able to keep their tempers in check and behave civilly. The nice thing is that if they’re in public places, there will be more pressure to behave normally, and you can get up and leave at any point if the interaction turns nasty in any way.

I don’t know if the way your therapist describes it as “indifferent” is how I would put it… I would describe it more as cool, distant. “Indifferent” is probably unrealistic for your situation. But you can aim for treating your ILs in a manner which protects yourself. It’s like having a coat of armor around you where you can be civil to them, but you won’t let them hurt you. Very cool, calm and collected on your part is the way to go here. Both you and your husband need to make it absolutely clear that emotional blackmail won’t work on you, and don’t respond to it.

Spending weekends or lengthy visits at their house ever again might be out of the question. But you can certainly agree to meet them in public places, and, if they show over an extended period that they can behave, short visits, like for tea, might be possible. They need to be made to understand that, as soon as their bad behaviour starts, so the visit ends. I know it sounds weird, but use contact and any kind of time spent together as a “reward.” Like training a puppy. 

Any way you look at it, however, you’re going to need to have a much more distant relationship with them from now on.

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