How to Deal with Fake in Laws

Updated on November 30, 2017
S.M. asks from Cincinnati, OH
15 answers

I've been married to my husband for 20 years and I've had my ups and downs with my in laws. Just to name a few things: #1 I included them in my wedding even though me and his siblings weren't best friends. The mother paid for pictures, as a gift but all of my wedding pictures were ugly and most of the pics of me I am talking. Even when I obtained the pictures from the guy all of our pictures were 4x6 and she has massive pictures of her and her kids 10x'13 in her home. I told my husband like why are all the pics big of you all and not us. It was our wedding. He asked his mom and she said b/c she paid for them even though I didn't ask her to pay. I left that situation alone.#2 For years one of his siblings has never bought my kids anything but the sibling is always telling others that she does or lies that she is going to do for our kids for special events etc... but when she comes to birthday parties and Christmas they always come empty handed. However, I always have bought for the siblings kids just b/c the kids can't go out and buy my kids a gift on their own if their parent isn't purchasing. I try to teach my kids to treat people how you want to be treated. However, The older my kids are getting they are questioning why their uncle and aunt doesn't buy them anything but always coming to our parties empty handed but we always give to them. This bothers me b/c if they can buy their friends kids items, then why don't they do for their own flesh and blood. Also they aren't required to buy anything, but don't lie to our mutual friends that you are and you are not. #3 My mother in law when we bought a house told others she loved our house, but she was going to buy her a house because she couldn't let her daughter in law out do her. I informed my husband but he just said leave it alone. This bothers me b/c some of the things that was said I only had said to my mother in law so I know this mutual friend isn't lying. I could write a book but I will leave it at this for now. How would you all deal with your in-laws. I've just held it in for too long trying to keep the peace, but the younger crazier me wants to just curse them all out and tell them that they fake as hell smiling in my face.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

Just how are they fake? You sound like a piece of work with your tit for tat score you keep with everyone.

You've been married 20 years and you are still nit picking? Good grief, pick out the wedding pic you want displayed, go buy a larger print, frame it and hang it.

Your kids should not "expect" gifts. Gift giving is not an obligation and no one is entitled to receive gifts.

Who cares who has a larger house.

What you think your MIL said is hearsay unless she spoke directly to you.

I'm sorry but it sounds like you have a mess that you are largely responsible for due to your actions.

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E.B.

answers from Honolulu on

What a sad post to write.

Oh,not sad because your inlaws' photos in their home are larger than the ones you got. Not sad because one of your husband's siblings have never bought your kids gifts. Not sad because certain people come to parties empty-handed. Not sad because someone wants a bigger house than yours.

It's sad because for 20 years, you've been keeping score, keeping track of who bought what for whom and how certain people showed up at parties.

And it's sad because of what you're teaching your children. You write that your kids ask why their relatives don't buy them gifts, when you take great care to buy gifts for others. What you should be teaching your children is not to expect equal treatment when giving gifts. Don't teach "treat others the way you expect to, or want to be treated". Instead, teach "we give kindness always, because that's the right way to act. Sometimes we give gifts like toys or clothes because it gives us pleasure to see others enjoying something we've chosen for them. That's it." Teach your children to treat others the way the others should be treated, regardless of the payback.

It seems like for over two decades, you've been keeping track of equality, of expected treatment, and fretting over photo sizes.

You're going to be (more) miserable. Stop expecting gifts. Stop putting demands on what people should show up with when they come to a party. If you're giving a party, celebrate the birthday boy or girl, and figure out how to teach your children to be appreciative of people, not things. Stop worrying about whether your MIL buys Buckingham Castle, and instead make your home one of peace and love. Stop listening to the "mutual friend", who is incredibly NOT helpful. Teach your kids a very different lesson than you're teaching now.

To answer your questions, I'd treat your in-laws with kindness, I'd tear up the score card, I'd purge your heart of regrets, and I'd start creating a healthy and generous and kind spirit in your own children.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

Must be infuriating.

You did the right thing letting the wedding pics thing go, although you might have gone to the photographer to ask if there were additional pics your MIL didn't pick that you could purchase. Surely he wasn't a horrible photographer overall. But that's done.

I'd teach my kids, "When they go low, we go high." When they ask why there are no gifts, say you have no idea but that's how Auntie has always been. You can't control her, only how you respond. If she says something in front of of others are you are there, you can gently contradict her: "You bought my Katie a sweater? How thoughtful. I didn't see her open it. What color was it?" But that will probably just make your in-laws dig in even more. Your MIL is on a power trip to make you feel inferior - but that can't happen without your participation. So better to just smile benignly or give your kids a quick wink as if you say, "There she goes again!" If you're all in on the "joke" of the invisible presents, it will become the story you all laugh about for years. If there's any confrontation or push-back to be done, I'd let your husband do it entirely. It's his mother and his sister.

I had a great aunt with serious mental health issues - it was probably PTSD from being in London during "the blitz" (back then, they called it "shell-shocked") - she was very childlike in many ways, and used to send us teenagers coloring books (in which she had colored some of the pages) or other things that were used. We were taught to just accept her eccentricities and not to be offended. We were taught that she was much more miserable and unhappy than we were.

.You could also stop inviting them to all these parties and gift-giving occasions.

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

Chalk it up to “your crazy in-laws” and just let it go. You are kind of stuck with them because they are in laws and not friends.

Are they really worth this much energy to you?

Expectations are the root of all evil. Teach your children not to expect gifts from anyone. Take responsibility for your part in not having the pictures you wanted from your wedding. You could have hired a photographer. You could have ordered the photos you wanted etc. Re: the bigger house comment...that just sounds nuts. Let MIL buy a bigger, fancier house...who cares.

You will be a much happier person if you let all these annoyances go. Seriously, life it too short.

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E.J.

answers from Chicago on

I think you have already identified the problem......”I’ve held it in too long trying to keep the peace”.
What peace?
I think the problem here is that you and your husband have not set boundaries with your in laws.
You and your husband decide what is best for your family and then do it.
Why keep inviting family to parties if you just get upset? You have the right to adjust it how you need. Make it just grandparents from now on.
You need to let a lot of things go regarding your in laws, but honestly I think the problem is not your in laws...it’s your marriage.
You and your husband need to be a team and communicate as such so that you don’t build up so much resentment. It’s just hurting you
It’s time for you to learn to set healthy boundaries with others and stop letting so much upset you.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

If you want more/bigger prints of your wedding pictures - talk to the photographer - he should have your negatives on file - and go buy some bigger prints from him.
When the photographer from our wedding finally retired - he cleaned out his files and GAVE us all our negatives so we could do what ever we wanted with them.
If I wanted a huge portrait made to be hung over our fireplace - I could have it done I just have to pay for it.

You and your in laws just don't bring out the best in each other.
This has been going on for 20 years and it's not going to get any better.
Your one consolation is - you are going to out live them.
You can either let it all go and just smile when you think about this.

Or you and your husband and kids can move far far away (like several time zones) and not deal with your in laws except for brief visits every few years.
Or you can cut all ties with them.

Why don't you discuss all this bad feeling and anger you have for these people with a good therapist and really get it all out and resolved?
Cursing them all out really won't solve anything.
The only thing you can change is how you think about the situation.
If you don't care what they do or say - then you can be completely indifferent about them and laugh at their antics.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

To be honest none of that seems worth causing issues between your husband and his family. So she made a joke about needing to get a better house as to not be outdone, that hurts you how? It is just a joking way of saying you have a nice new home, take it as such. I get the gift thing being frustrating but you are right when you say they don't have to buy gifts. My BIL has never bought my boys a gift, I still buy for his daughter every year because I will not punish her for her fathers behavior, but I also won't call him out for not buying because he does not have to. If the kids ask you just tell the truth, you don't know why they don't buy, that some people just don't consider gifts to be that important and consider time together the gift, and leave it at that.

As for the wedding pictures, could you not buy prints of the ones you wanted? Let her buy what she wants and you buy what you want. I get being annoyed, my BIL wore a ratty teeshirt and jeans to our wedding, including for our pictures, but what would it help if I kept holding on to anger about that 18 years later now?

You can not change people, they are who they are, and your husband loves these people just as much as you love your own family, warts and all. You have to learn to just let these things go and accept that these people are who they are, no one will ever live up to everyone's expectations of them.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

At this point you are super frustrated. I get it. Been there.

You need to step back and realize - this is not my issue. This is your husband's issue. You have to let it go.

You have to recognize he has not handled it well if it has gotten to this point (need boundaries), you two have not communicated well, and you need to let the anger go. I like one mom's point below - what is driving all this upset in you? It's more than just you in-laws being rude and inconsiderate. Are you hurt deep down? I am guessing that's the real issue here. You don't feel accepted or appreciated. Not to mention, your husband is not sticking up for you and your family.

Our marriage and our family comes first. Let the gift issue go (who really cares - I'm sure your kids get enough presents, and just scale back what you give to theirs if you feel it's so unbalanced. Give a gift card to make it less obvious), and as for the photos in the house - my mom's house has none of our wedding pictures up. We are all very close, spouses too. You have to move on - for yourself. Let it go. Forgive. Not for her - but for you. Make room for happier memories with your family.

** Oh one last bit of advice - you don't have to visit as often as your husband does. My MIL is fake. I find it makes me uncomfortable because it's like she's acting and somewhere during the visit, she turns back into herself and she becomes unpleasant. My husband is ok that the kids and I don't visit as often as he does. We visit when he would like us to.

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C.C.

answers from Seattle on

Hi S.,
Thanks for sharing your story. I hear years of frustration that is bringing you close to a breaking point with your in laws. I suspect you don’t want that, because you are asking for input on how to move forward. It comes down communication to clearly express your feelings, needs and requests of others in a respectful way- and to also hear and acknowledge them as well.

Here are some thoughts:
1. Identify your own feelings in a particular situation and the root cause of why it bothers you. Example, for point 1: does Inlaws putting up bigger pictures of their family instead of you and your husband make you feel like you are less important than others in the family? Moving past a judgement call on their rudeness, get to why it truly bothers you.
Naming your own feeling has to be a starting point.
2. Think about what request you have of your inlaws. What would you like for them to do differently and how does that help you interact better with them? For example, for #2, it may seem obvious to you that your relatives not giving your kids gifts is hurtful- but they actually may not know that. It does not sound like they are that self aware, so you have to find a way to communicate the need in a respectful manner so they can hear and hopefully understand. But what is the need?
I don’t read this as you necessarily wanting more material gifts for the kids. It comes across that it makes you and the kids sad or hurt because this is a form of not bring acknowledged during special events and holidays, especially you try and make effort to remember and acknowledge them. Knowing your own feelings and the specific request you have of others, is going to help with how you communicate.
3. Get on the same page with your husband. He may feel caught in the middle and thus the response of “just let it go.” If you can express these situations from a different angle, he might be able to hear you better and you guys can formulate a plan forward together.

Communication is complex and the way we communicate can always grow to improve/ if you are really interested in changing your communication, I recently started reading a book called “Non violent communication” which may help. I’m not through it yet, but it makes me think differently about how I communicate with those around me.

Best to you!
C.

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A.E.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am patiently waiting for someone to respond to your question..I have been in the same situation for 10 years. I try so hard to be the bigger person but when it comes to my mother in law only respected my stepson in front of my children I just want to lose it. I can’t tell if I’m more mad or hurt

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D..

answers from Miami on

It's an awfully long time to hold on to your grudge about your wedding. Why have you held all this in for so long? You could have done yourself a real favor going to a counselor and talking this out.

You don't have to be friends with your husband's family. You don't have to tell your mother-in-law stuff that matters. You could try to understand that a woman who is old enough to be your mother, and doesn't have as nice a house as you do, might either joke badly that she needs to keep up with you, or genuinely be a bit jealous that her son and daughter-in-law have it better than her. (Which is a real shame, because part of being a parent is USUALLY about wanting your kids to have better than you...)

Your sister-in-law sounds like a serial liar. I would not do anything with her away from the rest of the family. When your kids ask about gifts, just tell them that your aunt doesn't give gifts outside of her own family. And stop giving her kids gifts. There is no reason to continue this. Your idea of teaching your kids to treat people like they want to be treated is not workable in this instance. And though you shouldn't talk to them about the adult issues of aunts who lie, you shouldn't be a doormat. When your sister-in-law asks, tell her that you decided that one-sided gift giving isn't in anyone's best interest, and don't discuss it further. And you don't have to go to their parties. Make an excuse. Don't invite them to your kids parties unless it's just a family affair with the rest of your husband's family.

As far as cussing them out and calling them fake inlaws, what do you think that will accomplish? You'll just look bad. And if you think your mother-in-law talks about you now, just wait til you act like a crazy woman in front of them.

The best thing you can do is get some counseling. You will feel better. And you need to spend less time with them and not care so much about the issues between you all.

I DO understand what it's like to obsess over how people make you feel. It's hard! But getting past it will make you feel better. A lot better. If you can't do it yourself, go get help.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

I think the answer here is to change your way of thinking. Stop thinking about your in laws so much and what they do and don't do. It's not really that important. 1. As a mom, I would want big pics of my kids on my walls, but probably not a big pic of my kid's weddings. Who cares what she wants to hang up in her home. You just hang up what you like in your own home. 2. Kids all have too much stuff these days. Let it go if aunt and uncle don't bring a gift. I just would not care. A couple of my siblings and one of my husband's siblings often don't give a gift. I don't really care...it's up to them and my kids know their aunts/uncles love them gift or not. It's really just not important. 3. Eh...whatever. Your MIL sounds a bit jealous of your good taste in a house and like she's a little competitive. Just laugh it off. In a way, it is a complement to you. You say they are being fake, but honestly it sounds like you really dislike them and are being fake as well. Instead of thinking of it as being fake, think of it as keeping the peace. Hang out with them less. Don't let what they do or don't do have power over you. Enjoy your friends and family that you do like. When you do have to spend time with them be polite for your husband's sake. If their is a conflict I believe it is your husbands job to set boundaries and deal with them. Does he do this?

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

All sorts of people took photos at my wedding. We didn't even hire a photographer.

My mother in law and I had our moments. But I miss her every day and wish I could just spend one more day with her.

I would say that your husband needs to look for work somewhere else. Maybe getting away from them will help you move past all the things you're holding on to. It's hard to let go when they're right there all the time.

If it were me I'd simply have the kids parties and not invite anyone else. If your kids have a friend party then family doesn't come. It's the kids party and they get to invite who they want.

If you have a family party then that's all included. Gifts don't come all the time.

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W.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi
I think in-laws are third parties in your marriage. twenty years in marriage are too many to be undergoing this nightmare. You have to learn to mind your own business and closing your ears to those who bring you the reports about your in-laws. Stay as far away as possible from them and find something to keep yourself busy with.

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X.Y.

answers from Chicago on

Did you mean you've been married for 2 years? I hope it's not 20 years because this is a whole lot of drama to hold onto this old baggage for 20 years!

1) get your own damn pictures, it's not her responsibility to buy you larger ones
2) if you've been married 20 years how old are your kids and the nieces and nephews? you either buy them presents with an open heart or don't buy them presents because you feel like stooping to their level
3) seriously, comparing homes? sounds childish to even let this bother you

Honestly, if you could write a book and this was your top best 3 things to be mad about, you're being ridiculous.

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