My husband and I have been married for 8 years, together 10 and have a young child. The biggest fights we ever have are about his family, particularly his parents. They were lousy parents--neglectful. They are incredibly reclusive and reluctant to be social. They once left a holiday gathering at our home before dessert with no explanation and made me and my sister in law feel as if we had done something wrong. My husband defends his parents as being socially awkward and not intentionally rude, but their behavior is rude. Husband thinks he can make everyone happy, but that's impossible. I feel as though if he had to choose he would choose them over me. I don't want our child to grow up in a broken home, but I'm at the end of my rope. My husband is terrified of being upfront and direct with his parents as their communication style is extremely passive.
Anyone who says you don't marry into the family itself is an idiot, not least because, well, as you're finding out, your husband's been subjected to this attitude and behaviour his entire life (drip, drip, drip...), meaning he's moreover immune to it by now, has ceased caring because that leads to nowhere but banging his head against a brick wall. To you, an outsider, it presents as the unacceptably shocking behaviour that it is. Hence no-one has the strength and energy for forcing this couple to take a long, hard, very overdue look at themselves and the way the always behave and come across (like no-one else's feelings and expectations matter).
I'm sure in the past, when younger, your husband would have tried...and then given up and decided no-one can possibly change them considering not even their very own CHILD could 'slap' them out of it.
...and so the legacy continues, from parent to child. This is how family issues continue, like some rotten pass-the-parcel.
Doesn't mean your child has to learn that these ways are acceptable because s/he has you to teach him better, right?... that this is a prime example of how one SHOULDN'T behave. But from your own point of view, the wife, you have three choices:
1. Resign yourself to putting up with it to where it becomes water off a duck's back (but letting your child know it's *not* out of acceptance), for the sake of whatever else benefits being married to this man and his family provides.
2. Decide you and your child need and deserve a BETTER family life than this and divorce this slightly dysfunctional family.
3. Issue an ultimatum to that effect to see if that's enough to finally put a giant firework up your husband's a*se where putting his foot very firmly down with them is concerned. (I know you say you suspect he'd choose them over you but - think about it - that's the impression he'd WANT you to come to because then you wouldn't ever dare force him to make a stand, would you. Get it?
The most important consideration here, though, vis-a-vis that pass-the-dysfunctional-parcel aspect, is this: Is your husband a good father to YOUR child, one who has taken that example of how NOT to be good parents, in-laws and grandparents, and used that first-hand knowledge to spur him into always being the opposite/different? More importantly than that (because if mum's happy, kid is happy), how is he as your HUSBAND? And, assuming both answers are positive, is that enough for you or do you see involvement with ones extended family as inextricably linked with the state of married life?
What about your own family, where are they in all of this?
Oh, I just re-read your heading on your post.
Your in-laws' behavior makes you really think about divorce?