I always knew there was something off about my FIL, step MIL, and SIL. It took 7 years for me to figure them out. They were always being bullies to my husband. Standing up for him seemed almost impossible because they felt they were in the right for being bullies.
They take all measures to find out information about him. They go to the extent of making up lies and spreading rumors.
Recently, they started on my kids and I. They are nice to our face. Then call us on the phone and leave nasty voice mails. My SIL says that life is better when we aren’t around. My FIL says that we all deserve to not be a part of this family. I don’t know what we did and neither does my husband. We would go to outings with them and have dinner parties. I thought we were all getting along and making fun memories.
Turns out my step MIL made up stories and said that my husband and I were running our mouth. When we didn’t. We got wind of that information from my SIL, from when she confronted my step MIL about the nasty things that were said about her. I’m assuming my step MIL convinced my SIL that all that stuff my step MIL said came out of our mouth.
We invited everyone over for thanksgiving dinner. They all said that they would show up. Noone came. They all called us to rub it in our face that they are having a great time without us. So then they invited us over for Christmas. We declined. They backfired with “enjoy another holiday by yourselves, its better without you anyways”.
Then they call us again trying to be nice. I’m so confused. My husband and I don’t call them or talk to them. But they try to talk to us. We just don’t want to be a part anymore. we tried to put everything aside for the holidays, but they were just rude again. Like I said earlier my husband and I decided to be cordial and distant. But they seem to not get the hint to just leave us alone.
My husband said they have been that way his whole life. I don’t know if I should confront them or ignore it all together. Things they say to us hurt. They succeed in making us feel worthless. I don’t know. Any advice would be nice. I’m just kind of confused.
Christmas is Over
The first bit of your letter reads very, ‘He said, she said, I never’. And you know what? For all that information to get back to you someone is running their mouth, and unfortunately, with gossip, even if you’re just listening to someone else do it it appears like you are engaging in it.
I’m not saying I never gossip (gosh, how I love to gossip). But I also acknowledge that people are going to gossip about me. And you know what? I hope they make up some fun shit and enjoy themselves! What other people think of me is not that important.
Sure, I want to be liked (by people whose judgement I trust. There are plenty of people I could not give a care in the world whether they liked me). But I don’t want to be liked by all people, at all times. Even those close to me aren’t going to like me every second of every day. It’s not realistic. And it’s really NOT THAT IMPORTANT.
So I was all ready to tell you to just calm the hell down… and then you came to the part about Thanksgiving. They accepted an invitation and then didn’t show up?
UNACCEPTABLE!! Surely they know the trouble you went to. The shopping you did. The cooking. The table-laying.
If they really gave you the impression they were coming, and then didn’t show, seriously? I’d be tempted to let them go their own way until they got in touch. Who needs hassle like that in their lives?
I say, ‘If they really’, because I’m getting the exaggeration vibe from you. Honestly, did you make what you thought were water-tight plans? Like, ‘2pm arrival for a 3pm lunch’? Or did you say in mid-September, ‘Hey, come to ours for Thanksgiving!’, and then waited around for them to get in touch with you, rather than properly inviting them with specifics? (Please answer in the comments, gah, I really need to know!) (UPDATE: The letter writer replied! See the Comments below)
I totally agree with your decision not to go to theirs at Christmas, given how they have treated you. Them rubbing your faces in what a great time they were having is ridiculously childish.
So ridiculously childish that I’d have a hard time getting worked up over it. It’s like when your 4 year old niece says something mean. She’s only 4! What do you expect? That’s kind of how I’d deal with this. They are SO childish it’s kind of hard to get worked up about it. I’m more inclined to pity them.
Honestly, I don’t think ‘Having it out’ with them will acheive anything. You’ve said yourself that they consider themselves to be in the right by bullying your husband.
What I would suggest is that you:
1) Rise above it. Don’t engage in the tittle-tattling. When sister-in-law says, ‘You’ll never guess what Mom said about you!’, say, ‘Honestly, Kim, I don’t want to hear it. Thanks, but I’m not getting caught up in that drama’. REPEAT THIS LINE UNTIL IT SINKS IN.
2) Tell them clearly and calmly when they have crossed a line, and what action you are going to take. So when they are belittling your husband in some way, you CALMLY say to your father-in-law, ‘I’m not prepared to listen to you talk to my husband in that way. If you continue, I will have no choice but to leave’. Then FOLLOW THROUGH.
Don’t merit their bullying by arguing with them on each point. Do not even accept the premise of what they are saying. Don’t dive in with, ‘No he didn’t!’. Simply state that you are not going to listen to it.
Only put commitments on your own actions (eg I will leave), not your husband’s (eg we will leave) and let him make his own choices. They are his family. He will naturally endure more than you will. Don’t make it a battle for him to pick sides. State clearly what YOU will do, then do it by yourself. If your husband choses to leave too, good on him for setting boundaries with his family. If he chooses to stay, good on him for setting boundaries with you.
3) Regarding the answerphone messages. Listen to them quickly, and if they are just pointless nastiness, delete and move on with your life. Yes it’s horrible. But cutting off relationships altogether is a big step. If you can get along face-to-face as you used to do, and just have to quickly cull your messages once in a while, maybe that’s the easiest and best solution.
Yes, it’s hard to hear people speak ill of you. But if you KNOW in your heart of hearts that they are wrong, and deluded, and honestly, have some bigger problems, it should be like water off a duck’s back. ‘Ah, nonny left a crazy message again, oh well!’.
And in case you didn’t get my first point, which is really my only point, you need to rise above it.
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, as they say.
PS. Readers, tell me straight: am I being too harsh today?
PPS. UPDATE: See the reply to my question in the comments.
photo credit: Lynn Friedman via photopin cc