Husband's family is driving me crazy
My husband and I have been married for under 2 years only but we have different cultural and religious backgrounds. In general, the religion has never been an issue. However, his family has a history of being extremely gossipy and manipulative and it has reached a point when I can´t take them and I wish I didn´t feel like this.
Where do I start?
My father in-law (Mr G) is truly a basket case. He used to be the bread winner of the family for this very large family of 6 kids and was the decision maker for most of their lives. He got most of his kids into horrible arranged marriages, supported by his mum. Still a little of the controlling over the family continues to this day.
Mr G used to earn well. Had loads of friends. But then, he stopped working after an injury and he is now a bitter man. Sometimes he doesn´t make any sense. He insults anyone and everyone who comes to his house, including, sometimes me. He constantly wars with most of the in-laws except me because I live in a different city.
When I first visited, I stayed in their house, but he basically said that I didn´t spend enough time with him and that if I was to do that I should not be in his house.
So, I decided to stay with a different family member. It turns out he was waging war with her, and so, Mr G got angry.
My sister in law (one of the two) lived for a short while in the city I live and they went to visit her (Father in law, Mum in law,
few nephews, two brother in laws). So, my brother in law decided he needed to use the toilet and refused to go to their toilet and went with my husband unannounced to our flat without me being warned, so my house wasn´t ready for visitors because I had worked late all week and hadn´t tidied up properly. My husband did not let my father in law and the rest of the people visiting my sister in law (they remained in the car) in the house. Hence, my father in law got extremely upset as in I didn´t take him in as a guest and give them food. I wasn´t even home. I was still at work. I had an anxiety attack that night. My husband remains clueless of how this caused me so much stress.
Next couple of times I visited with my husband I decided to stay in a hotel, but then Mr G got extremely upset when my husband told him about it because we were "embarassing him in front of strangers".
Anyway no one in that family puts a stop to it and he insults me and denigrates me and all they expect me to do is laugh it off or shrug it off. "He is old"- they say. Because, out of respect I am not supposed to talk back to him.
I have stayed away from going there, which has of course, caused other issue, eventhough my husband has gone by himself several times. Whenever, we travel, or go the theatre, my husbands HAS TO TELL them for some reason, and there seems to talk about how we spend our money and questions about why we don't travel to visit the in-laws as much.
I personally feel my husband does not feel that they are poisonous, and continues to discuss with them issues that they proceed to gossip about between them. I cannot shake out the feeling that they are very jealous because we live far away from the old man, and have, somehow, developed financially and professionally more than them. Aside, from the fact that we got away with being in a love marriage as opposed to my husband getting an arranged one. I feel that they are very frustrated with their life choices, some of them, Mr G's, so, they constantly call my husband to involve him in any little issue they have with each other and try to drag him down a bit.
I'm strugling with this as my husband gets very defensive about his family. He says I hate them, and that this is all in my head, but because I live far away from my family I feel that his family takes precedence over me and that, I am left out alone. I feel like he is taking their side and I can't say anything because he is just going to hate me for it and I am going to be alone.
I don't know what to do anymore.
This sounds like a toxic relationship. The fact that your husband is on his family's side and doesn't seem to even try to see your side is not a healthy thing to have in a relationship. While I don't know the full extent of your relationship with your husband, from what I know from what you posted this relationship is toxic, and is something that I would want leave immediately.
I mean, husband and I get along just fine, since we don´t live close to his family, we don't have to deal with them. The whole family "means well" but they have been so dysfunctional for so long that I think they have created a system to cope with my father in-law (Mr G) which is to laugh it off and let it go. As a result, because he (Mr G) probably has an undiagnosed psychiatric illness (and therefore untreated), has gotten worse.
So, they are respectful to him and are patient with him because they know he is ill. However, some of it is illness, some of it is just him getting away with everything he wants. So, personality.
In regards to the rest of the family and me, I have addressed the issues in the past, but there is not much to address in regards to how they act, because that is not my concern. My concern is that my husband does not truly put a stop to it.
In the recent months, my husband has put a stop to Mr G calling me because he used to say things to upset me and say he was going to pay me a long visit at home, say bad stuff about his wife, about my husband himself.
However, my husband is not consistent, because he does not see a problem with his family. He thinks the problem is me. ME, Who doesn´t know how to laugh it off.
And aside from his father, who he recognises is not O.K. he does not think the rest of his family is dysfunctional and that how they are always meddling with each other's businesses is not normal or O.K. He loves them and wants to think they all love each other on the same level. However, my husband has a kind heart and does not believe they wish him ill.
So, last month when we travelled abroad, he gave his mum a call to say goodbye and shared that he was going to Rome. BOOM! a day later, we got an angry text from one of my sisters in-law saying my husband did not care about anyone and that he did no even visit mum but had money and time to go to Rome (which is not true). My husband´s response was not to tell her off. I think he actually felt guilty.
We have talked about some of these things but he shuts down immediately. I don't know, probably some repressed issues. He does not want to hear it. I think he thinks that I think am better than them and judge them for their life decisions (too many kids, staying in bad marriages, women not going to work, nobody except hubby getting a college education, etc.) but it is what it is. I am not going to judge other people's decisions because only they know why they are making them. However it is perfectly O.K. for them to be judging each other (which I don't care about), except my husband does it to them, so they judge us.
I don't know maybe this is too complicated.
There always are 2 ways: to grab ankles or to leave. And it is all up to you. If you feel, you are able to abide Mr. G and your husband's family, then do so. If not ... then break up. I think it is not critical situation and you should be patient if you do love your husband.
Your husband's **in denial, more like. And if you have a problem with his family then HE has a problem with his family. Because being properly married means you share STATES as well as thoughts, feelings, ideas and consequences.
The already tyrannical patriarch is now even more unhappy with his lot (i.e. finally has something REAL to 'cry about') and sees it (no doubt because of his own paternal role model) that part and parcel of every family member's familial duty is to stand there and take his now racheted-up moodies and urge to punch indiscriminately at his 'subjects'. He's set the whole family tone as well as managed to normalise it by daily chipping away at their courage (assuming they had any to begin with, that is). You refuse to pander or play by these warped family rules (quite rightly) and so you threaten Cartman's "authoritah" and cake-and-eat-it attitude, and must be tamed, either directly or through husband.
Anyone who says you marry the person and not their family is a blinkered or ignorant eejit. That's only the case where the family lives distantly and gets on moreover with their own lives. Like adults.
You didn't day-in-day-out grow up under that sort of toxic, emotionally abusive culture and hence moreover desensitize to it like your husband and his siblings, etc., will have done (**had to, in order to survive and not go mad - think about it). So unless he has plans to concertedly loosen the umbilicus, finally, and act like the co-head (with you) of his *own* family in-the-making then you and he, I'm afraid to say, should be deemed incompatible in terms of hard-grained training at living that unpalatable way whilst letting it wash over your head (or "ha-ha, what's he like!" pretending it has).
Not having come from a respectful family culture (nothing like!), it's going to take your husband a while longer, aided by the ongoing drip-drip effect of your continuing to gently, subtly but noticeably nonetheless, impose your own, much nicer and more libertarian household culture template...after all, he was the one who CHOSE you of all feistier, more independent-minded types, did he not, which must have been for an either conscious or subconscious reason (oh yeah, baby!))... until he realises he no longer has to live his life constantly taking that kind of nonsense (father and family are verbs before nouns, and respect is a two-way street).
In other words, he's secretly stood there watching you, taking notes, and learning whilst borrowing little bits of your own courage...preparing to catch up. But he'd never admit that because "it's not manly" (yawn).
At the mo, though, he's still quite a way behind you in terms of adult development, albeit, hardly surprising after having been so systematically bit-by-bit wounded until left with a limp. So unless he agrees to get counselling (with you, if you both prefer) in order to speed himself up more to where YOU sit, you're probably looking at having to stomach another year or two of this aggro. But even then, there's no guarantee.
HOWEVER, saying that, if I personally had to put money on whichever outcome, I'd definitely put it on his coming round to your way of thinking and eventually telling them once-and-for-all to shape up or ship out. The proof lays, amongst other little signs, in his having stopped Mr G from calling you (tick!). So he's inconsistent only because he's still in the umbilicus-stretching process of vacillating between yours and your past family's way and his family's (ugh) way. It's therefore crucially important - if you DO decide to do the longer-haul route of being a bit more patient with him - that you meantime do all you can to maintain and increase his sense of permanence and solidarity regarding you/his new future, so THAT the eventual choice between you & he versus them is by then a no-brainer. That's a tricky balance to strike, though, meaning, takes experimentation... because obviously if you're TOO patient, he might think you've accepted the status quo ergo he doesn't have to do a thing, whereas if you nag and complain too much, he'll start to fear that you're thinking of abandoning ship.
His loyalties have to be seen to lay first and foremost with *you*, though, as a target, and not just in secret behind closed doors - *everywhere*....visibly and audibly. It's a main requisite for being able to succeed any worthwhile romantic relationship, as comes under the title 'adult courage'. If a man can't/won't, however, then, being made to live with an unwanted extreme, his wife is within rights to present him with an extreme choice in response: them or me/Us. That's not to say the husband wouldn't still get to visit them from time to time, same as any once-child. But the whole point of entering an adult primary relationship is to say goodbye to your old pack as parents and siblings, instead start treating them like the now-FRIENDS they are, as you say hello to your REPLACEMENT PACK, the 'product UPGRADE'.
Basically, he needs to increase doing psychologically what he's only HALF done via his mere feet: leave home and finally finish growing up. This means, whenever his sister (or whomever else from that family) thinks she can stick her nose into your private affairs and try to create guilt FOR doing what is only Nature's way - putting his new family unit ahead of his old - he, like a grown man with his own life and independent decision-making, turns around and says, 'Now look here, you. You know I'll always love you, BUT!...what I and my wife and future mother of my children choose to do with our hard-earned salaries is absolutely NONE OF YOURS OR ANYONE ELSE'S BUSINESS. Where you got the idea it was, I DO NOT KNOW [obviously he does, and so does she, but it'll get her to start looking at herself]. Now, before I get on with befittingly adorning my lovely new nest with a bit of Gold-plating - did you have anything else you wanted to discuss with me or was that it?'.
Summary: He's clearly already in the process of inch-by-inch bum-shuffling away from them so - [a] have you got the patience and endurance (is he worth it) to wait for him to finish in his own time or [b] would you rather extricate yourself entirely from that whole family and (in that regard) find someone more like you or [c] call his bluff by asking for a separation for the purposes of 'taking proper stock'?
He needs ultimately to appreciate that, just because HIS nerves are nowadays pretty numb from all the bashing, that doesn't automatically mean you're the same. You still have fully working senses and sensibilities. WHICH you'd obviously rather protect and preserve (tick!).