C.W. asks from Altamonte Springs, FL on July 02, 2008
In Law HELP...Need I Say More? (Mainly SIL)
I have really enjoyed reading everyone's advice to other moms, so I guess it is time for me. My sister in law is driving me crazy. This may sound totally ridiculous, and I don't know how to put this the right way. I just wish that my DH wouldn't care so much about what his family thinks, mostly her. He has a brother too, and I don't mind that they hang out once in awhile because he doesn't live here in town, but he and his sister were roommates for awhile and they are closer. I think that he doesn't want to disappoint any of them. It didn't bother me at first, but then once we got married, I thought that the focus would be entirely on our family. We have our own little girl now. We can't focus on his sister's kids anymore. She hasn't really done anything to me specifically, but it is really bothering me that he cares what she thinks. She is also superclose to their mom so I feel that she just has too much family influence. Does this sound totally terrible? If it doesn't, then how can I put a little bit more room between us without rocking the boat or better yet without him realizing it. After all, it is OUR marriage, right? I don't want this to eventually get in the way of our own little family. I can already see that birthday parties and stuff like that is going to be a problem. HELP PLEASE!
ADDED to the Request: Let me give you an example...his family likes to have a birthday dinner for everyone's birthday...(his parent's and brother & sister). This totally threw me off because my family didn't do this. I have always felt that if you want someone to show up for something, you send them an invitation. It would make me so mad that they would just call a day or two before and tell him where they were going to eat (either a restaurant or their parent's house). That is not enough notice for me. They say that their birthdays are always on the same day each year, so they just have always had a tentative plan to do it. That is like 5 or 6 days a year! I don't want to have to do that every year! Does that example help??? I just want my own family. How do I push them away?
So What Happened?™
Thank you everyone for your brutal honesty. I'm so glad that I asked because I know now that I am not alone, but that it is something that I need to deal with inside myself. I would never have thought that it could become so out of control if I were to pull my husband and daughter away. I didn't intend to go that far, but I'm much better to know what could've been before I did. Thank you so much for the warning. I will do my best to establish the things in my household, yet respect my husband by giving in a little to the small stuff. I love my husband so much and it is not worth the pain that you all spoken of. I look forward to bringing my concerns and thoughts here in a safe place and get such honest responses! I guess I will have to vent here from now on and blow off some steam!! :)
T.F. answers from Orlando on July 02, 2008
I want to say something helpful, but you never really stated a problem. What is she actually doing that is driving you crazy? In my family, my husband and his brother aren't really close and we live only a few minutes away from them-- it breaks my heart that my kids don't ever get to spend time with their cousins. If your husband ignores your daughter in favor of your sister's kids or something then there is a problem, but just the fact that they are close and want to be in eachother's lives is a blessing not a problem the way I look at it. Please elaborate if you can on anything specific that she does to drive you crazy-- otherwise I say count your blessings and be happy that your daughter has extended family she can grow up getting to know-- not everyone has that. Do you have siblings?
I'm adding to this after seeing what you added as an example, and after seeing a couple of responses from others.... I stand by what I said that having an extended family is a BLESSING!!!!! My husband's family tries to get together for everyone's birthday, too. I think it's AWESOME and I don't think a formal invitation is necessary since-- hello- it happens every year!!! So what that you don't get more than a couple of days notice?? Is your life that busy that you can't change your dinner plans to spend time with family? Sounds like an easy answer to me-- when you know someone's birthday is coming, call a week ahead and ask where the dinner will be held if you really need to know ahead of time. Or in the very least, block that date on your calendar and wait for the call to see WHERE it will be because it's not like you don't have any idea WHEN it will be, right? I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo sad that people are telling you that your husband has to ditch his family because he got married. Do you want your daughter to ditch you once she gets married just because her husband was raised differently than she was??? Think about it!!! Right now she is an only child-- if she has siblings eventually, do you want them to ditch each other when one gets married?? That would be so sad! For goodness sake, C.-- I hope there is a lot more to this story than you are telling us. Otherwise, I just can't wrap my brain around someone taking issue with a close family!!! I know sooo many people who, for one reason or another (usually job related transfer) don't have ANY family living locally and it's just so lonely for them on holidays, birthdays, and during rough spots in their lives. I hope you take some time to dig deep within your soul and figure out why you have such a problem with your husband being close with his family. NO ONE marries a mate who has a family exactly like their own-- every family does things differently and you can CHOSE whether to embrace it or freak out about it. My in-laws are drop-by-without-calling-first people. It used to drive me up a wall. But I eventually figured out that I wasn't bringing the kids by their house to see them very often and it saved me a trip to their house because they really did only stop by for maybe 15 minutes or so. I also discovered a pattern that it seemed like they'd come by on Sundays. So instead of continuing to be miffed over something so insignifigant or try to change it, I made the CHOICE to be happy about them stopping by. I LOVE that my kids are getting to know their family members. I have fond memories of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents from when I was a child and I'm so glad my kids will have memories, too
F.G. answers from Orlando on July 08, 2008
C., I hate to say this, but you are going to have to find a way to get past this jealousy you have for your sister in law. If having birthday dinners without invitations are the only thing she or even they have done, you really need to understand that it is only a few days out of the year. You should be grateful that they want you to be there on their important days. It is a small sacrifice if you truly love your husband. You said that you have a little girl. Imagine if you have another one, and one day when they are grown, they leave their F. to get married, and they do not include each other or you in their children's lives. You cannot control his F.. If they have been doing things a certain way their whole lives, why not make new traditions with your F. during the rest of the year. When your children grow up, they would enjoy seeing their F. even if it is only a few days out of the year. It is really such a small thing. What happens when you have bigger events then birthdays...graduations, recitals, baptisms, etc and you have pushed everyone away? Do you think that your children will feel as if no one cares or wish that they had F. to enjoy their successes? I hope this doesn't sound rough, but you really should look in your heart and see why you don't want them in your lives? Jealousy is the root of all evil. If you allow it to take hold with something as small as this, I'm afraid you will have disaster ahead. Please consider that there is not a problem with having your own F. traditions and special things that you do with your husband and children, but when you push everyone away, there will be nothing left for your children to inherit and pass on to their children except a harsh look at F. relationships. I pray that you make the right decision.
Are you also pushing your own F. away? If you are not, then is that really fair to your husband? Do you think that he will not pick up on this eventually? He would be so sad if it got so far that his F. didn't even get to know your children or how wonderful they are. I think you said that his sister has kids too. Do they see your daughter? What a shame if they miss out on each other.
R.N. answers from Orlando on July 04, 2008
To: C. W Date: Fri. Jul. 04, 2008 Regarding: C. W's profile Subject: Family
After reading your story it sounds so similar to my life. I am a single mother of two. I was just like you and did want to set up my boundries and keep my husbands family away. They were very close. He has only one sister. I thought she was always controlling his life because she was older. I am from a divorced family who really kept to ourselves. When I met my husband his family was very nice. So nice it was hard to believe. I hate to admit it but they had the family that I always wanted. They were very close. They also had birthday celebrations of which I never wanted to attend. Finally after a year of marriage we had a big fight and I finally convinced my husband that we had our own family. I wanted it to be just like I grew up. My mom and my brother and no one else. I had never seen a family like his where they seemed to care so much about each other. I told my husband that we should have are own family and since I was his wife we needed to just start our own traditions. This came with alot of resentment from his family. It caused my husband and I many problems but he finally gave in. Over the next 5 years we did not see any of his family. My husband began to change and was not the loving husband he used to be. He began building up a large amount of resentment to me. Finally one day I came home and he had move out. I was totally devastated. That was two years ago.
After about six months he finally agreed to go to counselling. We tried that for about three months. His family was the first thing that came up in the first session. He told the counsellor that his love for me had turned to hate because I did not want him to see his family.
We finally got a divorce of which I did not want. He has since remarried and I have found out from my girls when he has them that they all are always going over to his parents house. They even told me that their grandmother is going on a retreat with their father's new wife.
Hindsight is twenty twenty. I have continued going to a counselor because I just cannot get over this. I feel now looking back at the situation that if I would have just given his family a little more room we would still be together. The counsellor has shown me that I was re-acting the behavior of which I grew up in. Since my mom and myself and my brother had not other family relationships I thought this was normal.
If I were you I would start little by little accepting his family. I think you will see the more you accept his family the happier your life will be.
K.W. answers from Orlando on July 03, 2008
How close are you to your own family? Are they in the picture too?
A marriage is not only a marriage between two individuals, but of their families, especially when you have kids. Your kids are both part of you and your husbands family and having those relationships are very healthy.
I'm not sure what is actually wrong with your husband being close to his sister/family--are there specific things that she does that get your goat?
Despite this, your immediately family should come first. Do you feel your husband is not doing this? It's just unclear what is actually wrong. It just seems you are upset with their relationship and his relationship with his nieces/nephews which you really have no reason to be unless he is obviously favoring them over his own family.
Anyways, whatever the issue is, mys suggestion is simple. Talk to your husband about it. Bring it up in a way that is not on the offense, but based on your point of view and how you feel (not on his behavior, if that makes sense).
If you feel less important in his life then the rest of his family, then let him know!
J.S. answers from Orlando on July 04, 2008
C....I'm going to give you some advise. Please take it from my personal experience. I was you 25 years ago. I have to admit I was jealous of the attention my DH gave to his family. I didn't feel it at first, but once we were married, I wanted his attention to be directed to me only. His family lived close by, but really the only time we were "expected" (for lack of a better word) to spend time with them was on their birthdays - 5 days a year. I wanted so badly to exercise my "right" to say "no" and I did...over and over again. I could see that it pained my husband, but I wanted my own life with him. As time passed, it caused a lot of stress in my marriage. We worked through it, and we completely shut out his family. They expressed their hurt feelings at first which gave me full reason to say that I didn't like the things that they said...more fuel to say "no", right? I blamed them and I convinced him that they did not treat us right. My children were raised with barely a mention of their cousins. They were our children and ours alone...no grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins from his side of the family. Over the years, his family would send them gifts and continue to invite them into their lives and events. I basically prohibited it citing that they were not good for us. I said "no", but I made him do it so that it didn't look like my fault. I know they knew it was me, but what could they do. Each time another event came up, my DH and I would fight and then we would move on, but all in all, we kept them away. It eventually drove us apart. It hurt him for many years. I thought it would go away and that my children would never be hurt by it. It wasn't until one of them died that he stood up to me for all of the years that I had kept him and our children away from his family. He had not been in their lives for years and he resented not being there for the important milestones in their lives and expressed deep regret for not allowing our children the love of his family. It tore us apart. My kids are now grown and they have made their own decisions. They resent me for having kept them from "their" family...I didn't see it that way. His family is also my children's family. They now know that I kept them from a life of love and relationships with their grandparents and aunts, uncles, and cousins. They have made the decision to choose them. I have had to apologize for my part in this and it has been a very difficult road - one that I would change if I could. It basically ruined the pretty "family" picture I wanted to create with my husband and him alone.
Yes, it is important to build your own family identity, but it should always include those that love you. Your extended family will not be perfect and they will disappoint you, but won't you do the same?? Carefully consider your choices right now. Do you want to create blessing or curse in your family? Spending a few birthdays each year is a very small price. Take it from someone who knows.
J.C. answers from Orlando on July 03, 2008
hi there. please don't feel bad if you are trying to create your own space and family unit. when your husband said his marriage vows, he said it to you and not to his sister or any family members. the two shall become one. there is really a need for him to leave his mother and father( and sister) and cleave to his wife. i think you need to have a serious talk with him about your wishes and dreams for your family. be careful not to sound accusing. remember to honor and respect his mother and father but be firm with your belief of what a family should be like. i believe if you show him that you care for the family and will not put up with anything that will create a disturbance in the peace he will soon cooperate and see your point of view. hope all will be well with you and your husband.
completely understanding your situation,
B.L. answers from Orlando on July 03, 2008
Wow!! I feel like I have a twin out there with the exact same story.
Let me give you the rundown on my situation. I am married 5 years with 2 kids, however when my drama with my SIL started I was married 2 years with a little girl. It started with a birthday party, us not going because of a history of no notice or invitations and then things just blew up with them. My husband was also her roomate in past. We have gone threw so many years of christian counseling and support from people around us to get us to the point where I am now in a spot experience wise that I am the one that offeres the support for all of my friends that have similar sitations.
First let me say, YOU ARE NOT ALONE :)
Second, I will say you need to talk to your husband about your concerns and you both need to set up some boundaries to have with them and be on the same page with implimenting them. He needs to be the one addressing any concerns with his family ( so you are not a target)
A great book to read together with your husband is "Boundaries" by Henry Cloud and
Townsend. Do not feel bad about your feelings they are completely legitamite and you and your husband have your own family now, that means you will make your own traditions and your time and rescources will be different than they were when you didn't have kids and could jump when they called with a last minute request. The reality is when you get married you leave your family and cleave to your spouse and the two of you become one. This dosen't just mean you leave your family physically but emotionally and financially. Sounds like your husband needs to leave some strongholds he has with his SIL. This is his responsability as a husband and a father.
Please feel free to send me a personal email if you would like to chat further, I have so much experience in this and I was freaked out to see how similar in every way your story was to mine.