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oscarsmaman

...and 17 years later....

20 posts in this topic

Ha! I have a topic to post. Kind of an update, really. Well, there's a lot that's familiar, but there were a couple of new things.

My MIL's birthday was coming up, so last Thursday, SIL2 contacts DH about getting the whole fam family together at a restaurant-- should we do it on Labor Day, or Sept. 8? DH and I don't want Labor Day weekend to end on a BSC/bad note, so we say Sept. 8. Now, where to meet? DH proposes something more central (PILs live in The City. DH and I live 90 mi. South of them, SILs 1 & 2 and their mostly-grown families live 45 min. To the east of PILs). SIL2 agrees, and says, OK, where do we go?

Now for those of you who are new to Oscarsmaman's saga of MIL-SILs Tag-Team Bullying Brigade, you'll recognize this innocent question for what it is: A trap. BUT! For the past few years, SIL2 has been the "good" SIL, most shining two years ago when she repeatedly announced how appalled she was by BSC SIL1's behavior surrounding DN1's engagement and wedding (and apologized to me for not seeing it before. Very cathartic). DH's FOO is extremely enmeshed, so SIL2's BSC'ness was both quite the topic, and quite the stressor.  Another thing to keep in mind-- SILs are notorious for asking us what we'd like to do, we all reach a consensus, and then, last-minute, they completely high jack the plans or sabotage them.  To add insult to injury, they often give "homework assignments," little things we're supposed to make/do that coerce our affections for something or someone...and just like real homework assignments, they have sometimes graded us on our "work."

So before DH replied where he/we wanted to go, he called his mom to see where she wanted to go. Cut to the chase, right? "Oh, I'll go wherever anyone else wants to go, but I have heard that (supremely expensive steakhouse) is good, and I'd like to pay half the bill, since it's so expensive...." No, it's your b-day, we want to treat you...Do you want to go to moderate steakhouse instead? Not our fave, but FIL seems to like it, and it's pretty popular...."Oh, I'll go wherever."

DH and SIL2 put their thinking caps on. DH momentarily flings his thinking cap off to suggest a food-truck event none of us has ever attended, which is utterly stupid because any time the 12-14 of us go to something like that, we all wind up milling around with our own families and spend no time with each other, then everyone kvetches about it and wants to get together AGAIN. But SIL2 gleefully whips off her thinking cap, too, and starts making with the "yeah! And even though we'll have to park far away (MIL can barely walk), I'll bring a big white table, and we all can bring our own chairs (we don't even know the set-up at the park and if this is even permissible or logical), and...." 

DH calls me. I point out all the obvious. DH is frustrated because I'm right, and now he has to rein SIL2 in. But she's fine with skipping the food trucks, she's already moved on to perpetrate the NEXT annoyance....a homework assignment! "We 'kids' (meaning DH and SILs) write down 3 things we appreciate about mom-- oh, and so do the grandkids-- and then I'll put them together in a binder so she can enjoooooy it!" DH hates these homework assisgnments, and really, his enmeshed FOO and upbringing, led by MIL, has stressed our marriage terribly at times so he reeeeeally wasn't looking forward to doing it. But, to humor the "GOOD" SIL, he was willing to do it.

My reaction: "Sooooo.....are BILs not writing anything either? Or am I the only ***hole who's not writing 3 things? Either way, I'd be walking into this standing out like a sore thumb." DH's response: "I tried to ask her to just keep it to us three ACs, but she said MIL's GKs are sooooo close to MIL. SIL2 also said she got the idea from HER kids, who did this for HER, and she just loves it, so they really want to do it for their graaaandma, too." (Gut feeling: Both SILs claim "it's for the CHILDREN" when they want their own way.) DH didn't ask about BILs or me not contributing. Didn't want to poke the bear, because he's clinging to the thought that at least one sister isn't BSC. I was disappointed in SIL2 dreaming up a "family" project that, once again, either excludes spouses, or excludes me. BUT....DH wanted to go, we don't spend much time with them, it'd be 2 hours with them, max, and I'd like to see DN1 & her DH and kid, and the other nieces and nephew.

DH and SIL talk about going to a buffet (it's a nicer one) at a casino. I look up the prices. It's more than Moderate Steakhouse, less than Expensive Steakhouse, but it's better quality, more choices, new place, easy-breezy no ordering, etc. DH asks if we should make reservations. SIL2 says, "Why would that be necessary?" (Because it's 12-14 of us on a Friday night, maybe?). The plans are firmed up on Saturday. Meet at casino buffet at 6 p.m., in 6 days (so dinner is Friday.....last night).

Last evening, we were 20 minutes from our destination, when DH's cell rings. He clicks to answer it, and can't even utter a hello. It's the SILs on a 3-way call, and they're both blabbering a mile a minute at him, simultaneously, for a full 90 seconds about NOT going to the buffet, but doing something else. They don't want to spend THAT much money on a buffet (are you effing kidding me? These people go on lavish trips, eat more expensively-- all of them-- than we do....seriously, I'm not spending their money for them, here, I'm just pointing out they're being wildly inconsistent).

I'm sitting in the passenger seat, agog that we've looked to these plans for 6 days, and they're changing everything last minute. And DH is saying nothing, reverting to the habit of letting SILs' word-salads dump all over him. He said, "But we agreed--" and they were off to the races, shaming him, telling him it's for MOM, and they were thinking about either Asian Buffet or Moderate Steakhouse (the one that had been in play and was rejected!). SILs ask us to pick which one. We say Asian Buffet. DH says, "Please call Asian Buffet and warn them 12-14 of us will be coming in 20 minutes, so we have a better chance of getting faster seating on a Friday night with no notice." SILs are both, "WHY?! That's not necessary!" So we get off the phone, they text us the address (we had to ask them to do it) and DH has me call and make reservations with Asian Buffet. Then I use DH's phone to text SILs "I had Oscarsmaman make reservations for 12 at Asian Buffet. See you there."

Five minutes later, SIL2 calls AGAIN and says they decided Asian Buffet is no bueno. SIL1 has suddenly remembered, "BIL1 has MSG issues" and they want to go to Moderate Steakhouse. DH is getting tired and p.o'd, tells SIL2 he's getting fed up, and SIL2 is like, "I'm so sorry, this is allll my fault, just come for mom, do it for mom, we all have to be flexible, etc."

I'm fuming. While SIL2 is guilting/shaming/manipulating DH, I'm making gestures with my arm and hand-- not the "Italian salute" kind, more like the "saddle up and rally, boys, let's turn around and go home." Pointed my finger in the air, circled it in the air above my head a couple of times, and jutted it to point directly behind us: "Let's go home. No good can come of this."

DH gets off the phone, complains about it all. Says he's afraid (ha! FOG) we HAVE to go, because he kinda wants to see a few people there, we're already so close, etc.....I'm just like, I don't wanna. I will if you make me, but I don't wanna anymore. I was kinda looking forward to being there, now I'm dreading it, I don't really wanna go, DH, but....it's up to you. This is your decision to make.

DH says, "I'm sorry."

This ***** me off. "You're sorry? Sorry for WHAT, exactly? I'm tired of you saying you're sorry to me, when it comes to your folks." (Subtext: Because anyone who makes you constantly apologize for their ***holery, you probably shoudn't be around in the first place. But I thought I'd let him arrive to that conclusion himself.) "OK, I'll bite, what are you sorry for?"

"I'm sorry my FOO are jerks."

Me: "Then why are we going? Like I said, I'll go if you want to go, I just don't know why you'd want to be around jerks when they've been awful to you, even and especially if the jerks are family. But I'll go. This decision is entirely up to you."

As hard as it was for him, he did the right thing. We went out to dinner by ourselves, turned around, and went home. Texted MIL, hey, we've had a long day, we're stuck in traffic, we'll see you and FIL for dinner another time. SIL2 texted "I'm sorry! But you have to do this for MOM!" Nope. We don't. Later in the evening, MIL texted both of us she understood, and looked forward to seeing us for dinner. Aaaaand....DN1 (whose BSC mom, SIL1, left obvious fingerprints all over this) texted us: "Sorry for the cluster. We're so annoyed, too. Love you." (We texted her back thanks, and we love her, PK and their kiddo).

DH said either he'll hear from SIL1 or SIL2 or not, but he's not regretting his decision, and he's not letting any of them guilt him for his decision. I told him T'giving and Xmas is, once again, not on the table this year.

TBH, I'm a little disappointed it took my DH so long to reach the decision to NOT go, but I'm really glad he made the right choice in the end. I'm hoping he'll continue to "step out of the game" in the future, to prevent the necessity for apologizing to me further in the future-- for either his FOO being jerks, or for asking me to be around those jerks.

Sorry it's so long. I just can't believe how nothing's changed with them, all this time. But we have! :)

 

Edited by RoseRed135
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Shaking my head at the whole thing and the idea of having put up with it for 17 years.

If it was me I would have given up a long time ago.  Why are they asking you anyway. You have no say.  I would refuse to engage with them on anything about the planning other than the dates I'm available.  I eat out so rarely, that I don't care about the price, and I'm not a picky eater,  Pick one of the days I'm available, tell me when and where.  20 minutes from destination and I can get there fine.  I'm already dressed.  I just don't like to fight with people and I wouldn't engage in their silliness.

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I think my blood pressure climbed just reading this. DH's family often pulls this last-minute stuff as well (as does DH, because it's normal to him) and it drives me round the bend. But DH's family is not this large or this BSC. The price of the buffet was perfectly fine for a week and then became "too expensive" 20 minutes before everyone was to arrive? Are you kidding me?

APPLAUSE to you and DH for removing yourselves from this circus.

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If I were your DH I would have said " I'll be at the agreed upon place at agreed upon time. You all can do what you want. bye." Then just do it. Only reason to change things at the last minute is if guest of honor got sick and even that would be known more than 20 minutes ahead!

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Thanks for updating us, Oscar!

I'm another one who's glad you and DH bowed out. Kudos!

It's a prime example, IMO, of the value of changing your (general) own behavior even though you can't change the other person's/people's.

TBH, I'm a little disappointed it took my DH so long to reach the decision to NOT go, but I'm really glad he made the right choice in the end.

Please remember this is still his FOO, he still loves them, I'm sure, etc. So I imagine it's harder for him to say "no" to them than you, even when it's clearly called for. But, no doubt, he's glad he didn't let himself get any further caught up in that craziness than he did.. :)

 

Edited by RoseRed135
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P.S. I don't blame you for not wanting to do TG or Xmas w/ them this year after that bday fiasco. But I'm wondering, how did he respond to your comment about that?

Edited by RoseRed135
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E-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-n-g!     I think you have enough evidence to see that any idea you or DH offer will be disregarded, so in the future I would not bite when your input or opinion is requested concerning these gatherings, rather I would give your parameters in terms of budget, general venue areas you will attend, and dates/times you are available and ignore the nonsense that follows.  I also would decline any request that you are not comfortable with such as putting in more than a fair share of $$ or coming up with a list of your favorite things about MIL since none of this is ever your idea.  

I am so glad you and DH decided not to play and went to dinner elsewhere.  

 

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21 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

Please remember this is still his FOO, he still loves them, I'm sure, etc. So I imagine it's harder for him to say "no" to them than you, even when it's clearly called for. But, no doubt, he's glad he didn't let himself get any further caught up in that craziness than he did.. :)

 

Ah, but you have to remember, "Fear, Guilt and Obligation" are the exact things he must fight against, when it comes to finding reasons to be around abusive family members. It's hard for him to say "no," not because he loooooves them so much, but because they will Make Him Pay if he steps out of line. And sure enough, his sister piled on the guilt when he pushed back on the changing plans. For years, it's worked-- he's knuckled under and been brought to their heel. If anything, I'm going to continue questioning his motivation for being around them, when they start treating him, me, or us like crap. If they don't treat us badly, I obviously wouldn't be questioning his motivation. That's where he's **** lucky he married me, I still get the "faaaaamily" pull and I'm willing to go along with him if certain conditions are met.

But one of the conditions is "no crappy behavior or treatment." The abusive behavior-- and this was, indeed, abusive behavior, implying DH doesn't love MIL enough if he doesn't swallow SILs' poo sandwiches-- the mental and emotional abuse is not part of the bargain. And SIL2 was heaping it all on, Friday night.

I wish I could tell you that we came home and I'm just fine, completely over it, but truthfully, it brings up so much yuck from the previous years, I've really not felt like doing anything this weekend. It just came from out of nowhere. Well, it didn't, a leopard doesn't change its spots, we just presumed it had. We made ourselves vulnerable. For faaaaaamily.

At any rate, thank you to everyone who responded-- not only did I appreciate your feedback/validation, but DH did, as well. And @missmm, you win the golden ticket, DH said, "Oh, shoot! That's what I should've done! I should've told them we were going to Originally Planned Place anyway, and if they wanted to see us there, that's where we'd be! We're doing that next time."

Me (thinking): "Next time?"

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I'm sorry, Oscars. Learning not to obey programming is freaking hard.

Hopefully, your dh continues to learn.

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8 hours ago, ImpishMom said:

I'm sorry, Oscars. Learning not to obey programming is freaking hard.

Hopefully, your dh continues to learn.

I am so hoping he continues the upward trajectory. Thanks, Imp. And yeah, it IS hard to deprogram and uninstall the buttons they push. DH has a ways to go, but he's trying.

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Just now, oscarsmaman said:

I am so hoping he continues the upward trajectory. Thanks, Imp. And yeah, it IS hard to deprogram and uninstall the buttons they push. DH has a ways to go, but he's trying.

If he's not already in therapy, he may find it very helpful. 

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11 hours ago, ImpishMom said:

If he's not already in therapy, he may find it very helpful. 

He's found therapy helpful, but it's sloooooow going. They installed all the buttons they're pushing, and it takes a long time for him to cut through the FOG and identify what they're doing in the moment. It's a major paradigm shift.

He's come a long way, but still seems vulnerable to Hoovering, where they "act right" for a little while and we seem to be getting somewhere, and then they pull the same tricks again. A la SIL2's behavior in all of this. DH is feeling particularly betrayed by SIL2 right now, but he's coming to terms with the realization that she's not exactly the reformed rock star she might have seemed during the tumult of DN's wedding, where SIL2 was appalled by SIL1's behavior, attitude and actions.

DH texted SIL2 on Sunday (it was long), basically saying he was disappointed and frustrated, and in future, can we agree that plans will not be changed last minute? SIL2 texted back something like, "There are a lot of important issues in what you said. We (SIL2 and BIL2) would like to go to dinner this weekend and talk about it. Are you free?" (We're not.) DH texted back, we're not free, and he asked a simple question.

Whether it ends there or not, we really don't care. DH, at this point, isn't interested in a relationship with either of the SILs (we know SIL2 wants to talk so she can throw SIL1 under the bus and/or heap guilt on DH). DH considers it a "win" of sorts that FIL hasn't called him to guilt him about missing MIL's birthday dinner, and I have pointed out that's great and all, but it's not exactly a  complete "win" that FIL hasn't piled on-- where was FIL when the plans were being changed? He could have told SILs, "forget it, we're doing what we said we'd do." It's like saying, "Well, my sisters emotionally manipulated and battered me and created unnecessary chaos that was both exclusionary and insulting, but the good news is, my dad watched the whole thing happen and didn't pile on."

It helps to know SIL1 has HPD, I think SIL2 and MIL have shades of it as well, and that's helpful to DH, going forward.

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2 hours ago, oscarsmaman said:

It helps to know SIL1 has HPD, I think SIL2 and MIL have shades of it as well, and that's helpful to DH, going forward.

I think it is so helpful to know that SIL1 has a personality disorder, and possibly others in DH's FOO.   You no longer have to wonder why the heck you have such strong feelings to stay away? why the chaos? why the drama?  why the inappropriate behavior?  why you are exhausted when you spend time with DH's FOO?  why you feel so unrecognized or acknowledge when you are around these people? 

IMO, keeping your distance is the best solution when dealing with a personality disordered person.  If you do decide to engage, do so in a detached way in which you are observing the crazy without emotion. 

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From your description on your IL family, it is suspicious if SIL1 is the only one with a histrionic personality.  Your MIL for sure sounds like at least a borderline person with her dog conversation especially.

I am so glad that your DH called a stop to their crazy this time at least and maybe he will come up with a pat answer for the next time also.  "Sorry, we will not change out destination at the last minute.  We will be eating at the planned venue and would love for the family to join us."  (End of conversation).

 

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6 hours ago, oscarsmaman said:

 

DH texted SIL2 on Sunday (it was long), basically saying he was disappointed and frustrated, and in future, can we agree that plans will not be changed last minute? SIL2 texted back something like, "There are a lot of important issues in what you said. We (SIL2 and BIL2) would like to go to dinner this weekend and talk about it. Are you free?" (We're not.) DH texted back, we're not free, and he asked a simple question.Whether it ends there or not, we really don't care. DH, at this point, isn't interested in a relationship with either of the SILs (we know SIL2 wants to talk so she can throw SIL1 under the bus and/or heap guilt on DH - and perhaps to stave off any actual agreement "that plans will not be changed last minute?" B/c, of course, she still wants to leave that possibility open? -) .

 

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13 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

 

(Weird, I guess the quote button didn't pick up your add-on sentence. Oh well.)

Yes, I'm sure it's an attempt to "explaaaaain!" why she just HAD to go along with SIL1's BSC and dinner is an attempt to rugsweep the whole business. Or, perhaps she wants to avenge our no-show by luring us into dinner plans so she can no-show US. That crossed my mind, as well.

I talked to DN1 on Sunday, since DN1 had texted us sympathetically on Friday night, and because she's given indications she's aware of how dysfunctional things are in that family. I wanted to hear about how it went down from her perspective, so I took a leap of faith.

DN1 is firmly on our side, and confirmed her DM (SIL1) had been griping about the plans all week. She said when we no-showed, SIL2 said, "Oh, they must not have gotten the changed plans," and both SILs went to the parking lot to contact us. When I told her SIL2 already knew we weren't coming, she said, "That's straight bullying, right there." DN1 is aware of the problems SIL1 has (and creates), and was just as irritated as we were about the way the plans were changed last-minute. DN1 also refuted the SILs' reasoning that DN1 and PK (DN1's DH, Poor Kid) wanted to change the venue. DN1 was super-ticked about that, said she and PK actually don't like the Steakhouse SILs chose, but she's not surprised SILs would lie to get their way. "They'll do and say anything to get their way."

So this confirms what I've suspected all along, that my MIL's GKs see everything and know what's going on. I really hope that they don't just see it, but break the dysfunctional cycle and protect themselves and their own families as they marry and have children.

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Yep kids DO see.  My son cut off his PGM long before I did.  He really had nothing to lose.  He was being treated like a black sheep just as his father always had been.

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I was exhausted after just reading about what happened but I am so glad that DH decided to say "enough is enough" and turn around.  Big big change from when you first started posting here. :)  

After I finished reading your update I thought about that scene in that movie The American President where Michael J. Fox's character tells the President that none of his romantic dates are firm until 20 minutes before the date because something could come up at the White House that would make him have to cancel the date and he tells all of his dates/girlfriends this.  

Anyway, if your ILs are going to continue to be so ridiculous and inconsiderate then you should set some ground rules for whenever they suggest some sort of restaurant meeting/celebration/event/etc.  Since they don't really care about your and DH's opinion about where to eat and they end up shelving all plans and making a new last minute plan I'd tell them them the dates we are available and once they pick a date and time I would tell them to pick a place that is no further than 45 minutes (or whatever you feel comfortable driving) from my home and that they are to tell me the name and address of the restaurant of the event no later than the morning of the event (or if the event is a morning event then no later than 8pm the night before the event).  This would leave enough time to plan to eat before the event if the restaurant is one where you do not want to eat.  You could eat what you want and then show up for conversation, coffee and dessert.  I'd also tell them that any changes to the location of the event will result in me not attending the event.  I know this sounds ridiculous but it's no more ridiculous than their behavior towards you and your DH in the planning of these celebrations.  

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I've been gone three years and am sorry to read you still have the same issues with your ILS.  Kudos to your DH for taking a stand!

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I think when we have truly toxic issues with family members on either side, time will not change the issues unless the offender chooses to change.  If so, it wouldn't take 17 years for it to happen.

Toxic people will probably be toxic for the entirety of their lives.  The only change is how we choose to confront them, or do we decide a long term TO or even CO is the best way for us to go.

 

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