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Horrible parents-in-law

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Relationship advice Have I done the right thing?

I have been with my husband for over 5 years and we have been married for 18 months. We are extremely happy together and now have a 5 month old daughter. Arguments are few and far between and we laugh together all the time.

In stark contrast, I have very little in common with my parents-in-law. This makes conversation difficult and I think it is a key factor in our relationship struggles. I have done my best to get involved in many, many conversations about their hobbies, but I admit that I find it difficult because I have little to usefully contribute. I'm often quiet as a result and can retreat into reading the newspaper or getting on with something else. If I try to start a conversation about something I am interested in, I feel like it is shut down very quickly. I've even been told by my father-in-law 'oh no, not this again!', when talking about a huge event at work. They also happen to have favoured hobbies which are a long way out of my comfort zone. For example, they have a small boat and I would be uncomfortable and nervous sailing on it. I think they take it personally when I decline to sail.

Alarm bells really started to ring for me about 1 year in, when my husband and I were planning to buy our house. My in-laws announced that they were going to give my husband £20,000. My mother-in-law told me face-to-face that we would need to hold the house in trust so that I couldn't 'run off with [her] son's money'. I said nothing at the time and neither did my husband, but we discussed it at home and I said I thought it was an insensitive comment and I'd been hurt by it. They continued to press the issue in phone calls with my husband. Eventually, they dropped it when it was pointed out by my husband that I would be contributing an equal share towards the house from my personal savings (they hadn't even considered this might be the case).

Through the years I/ we have been criticised almost every time we've seen them. I'm sure they would see it as advice but it's unwanted and often said in ways that I consider to be offensive. They wanted us to reconsider our wedding venue (''too expensive looking

Horrible parents-in-law

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and no outside space), tried to push us into a property with a garden we didn't want, even told us our choice of dining room table was 'stupid'. It's been said that my choice of political party demonstrates that I have 'no social conscience' (not something I would normally discuss, but they are very vocal about their views and I defend my position). All low level stuff, but constant and wearing. We are both very successful people and I admit I don't take well to feeling patronised. My husband says this is 'just their way', but does appreciate that to someone not brought up with it, it could be seen as offensive.

I had hoped that when I fell pregnant we would finally have something to bring us together. However, my in-laws didn't want to talk about the baby before she was born. They never explained why, but my father-in-law would say things like 'we can talk about her when she arrives, let's talk about more pressing things'. This was the single most pressing thing there had ever been for me and their son! They also arranged to be away over my due date, sailing. Admittedly a little hurt, i asked whether they were more excited about their first grandchild or their new boat. There was a long pause before my mother-in-law said 'well, we could take the baby on the boat'. If it was meant as a joke, nobody laughed. I am used to my Mum's style. She was so excited about her new grandchild, cleared her diary for weeks and dressed up like it was a wedding when coming to visit her for the first time. I know comparisons like this are unhelpful, but it's impossible for me not to question the stark difference.

Two weeks after my daughter was born, we went to see my in laws. My father-in-law began to press me repeatedly on sailing. I responded 'the thing is, I just don't like boats'. He turned to my husband and said 'oh, what have you done?'. To me, it just confirmed his dislike for me. I was really upset but said nothing at the time as I was shocked. At home, I discussed it with my husband and he e-mailed his Dad to say I was understandably upset. My father-in-law completely ignored this in his response, which just answered the question my husband had asked about what he would like for his birthday. I was mortified.

The next time my husband and daughter went to visit his parents, I didn't go. My husband again stressed that I was upset. No apology has been forthcoming and they have continued as if nothing happened.

Today, we went out for lunch for my brother-in-law's birthday. As usual, I hardly said anything. Then my mother-in-law broached Christmas. She said 'I don't want it to be like last year when on two occasions I was put under pressure by people looking at their watches while dinner was being served, saying they needed to go'. This was very definitely aimed at me and my husband. However, we drive backwards and forwards like lunatics at Christmas, trying to see and please everyone. This often means sticking to particular times and we had said when we would need to leave, offered to cook, offered to eat elsewhere so as not to inconvenience anybody etc. I often feel very uncomfortable at my in-laws because so much stress goes into cooking and I think everything else goes out of the window. The contrast with my family is enormous and I know that's an age old problem.

It was a small thing, but it pushed me over the edge. I shouted, a lot. I said exactly what I thought. That I think they can be very rude, that I was really hurt by a lack of apology previously, that I'd spoken to a counsellor about our relationship because I find it so difficult. I stated my intention to not see them again.

I think that me walking away is the best possible thing. Nobody can be offended anymore and my husband won't be caught in the middle. I won't stop him or my daughter from seeing them or try to influence my daughter in any way. However, it will have an impact. I will not be separated from her on Christmas Day, for example.

It is sad, but I need to protect myself and my marriage from the persistent anxiety this causes.

Horrible parents-in-law

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it looks like these parents can not let go of their son and let him (and you) lead the life you will - they must have control it seems and money is their reason/excuse to abuse power and authority - they harbor a lot of distrust for whatever reasons that are theirs - not yours

I think your husband must break the "bondage" (codependency ?) and make it clear to his parents that this is his life with you and not them living their life through both of you and then pointing out on you to make you the scapegoat : that is unhealthy

you both have to put clear boundaries and make a deal out of how you are going to relate and behave all together - on what terms : people often think that "love" is the gateway for anything to be permitted (in the name of love - also family love) : but relations are first and foremost a deal - might not sound very romantic but it's the truth : without proper boundaries - no relation can grow and evolve in a healthy way because of self-boundaries not properly put in place.

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