Dealing With His Family
#1
My sister-in-law, who is 31, has been "tattling" on me to her mother for the past year. We had to live with my husband's family for eight months while waiting for our own home to be livable -- the sister still lives with her parents, as she has her whole life. While we all lived together, I tried to defer to her because it was her home, but whenever I did or said something she didn't like, instead of speaking to me directly, she'd go downstairs and talk to her mother and I'd hear about it from her later. I don't know if she asked her mother to speak to me or if MIL just felt the need to speak for her daughter. Oh, I didn't do anything bad -- SIL got upset that I let my daughter run around naked last summer (we were potty-training) and immediately upon discovering it went and told on me. I asked SIL if I could move the dining table out from behind the front door so that we could actually use it to eat on, she said she didn't know and ran off, and my MIL later told me that SIL was afraid I would move the furniture and then leave it that way when I moved out. Or I'd get the message from MIL that SIL felt "trapped" in her bedroom because my daughter and I were in the living room. Things like that.

Well, we've been in our own home now for four months, but the "tattling" continues. First it was because SIL asked my husband if she could come over on Labor Day, he told her yes without asking me, and I made him call her back and tell her she would have to come later in the month instead because our house was not yet ready for visitors (we'd only been there for a month and there were whole areas blocked off, nails sticking out of the floor, etc.). So MIL told my husband that the two of them had been talking about it and "knew" that the reason I had given wasn't the true one, and insulted my housekeeping. (I confronted her for butting in and for insulting me, but all she would say was that no insult had been intended.) I thought things had settled down and that all was okay, but the other day MIL called me and at the end of a pleasant conversation told me that SIL had tried to send me a message on Facebook and got a message from them saying that "she was not welcome to be my friend." Yes, it's true, I unfriended my SIL because after all this tattling and various other things, I'm not all that fond of her, but I didn't think she would find out about it and certainly didn't want to hurt her feelings. I was embarrassed and caught off guard and babbled something that I'm sure made it obvious I had been "caught" and was desperately trying to hide the fact that I had unfriended her while not actually lying about it. I got off the phone and felt as though I had to say something to my SIL, so I sent her an e-mail that I'm sure made it worse, although I'll never know probably because she hasn't answered and probably never will. How I hate Facebook!

The thing is, they're expecting to come visit during December. We already said "no" to one proposed visit because I was going to be out of town. It's not me they want to see, or my husband either, they want to see our daughter. And I don't want to keep them from doing that. But silly as the Facebook debacle is, I'm now so embarrassed and upset by it that I don't really want to be around them. I'm also sick of my SIL going behind my back to complain about me and sick of my MIL trying to fight her daughter's battles for her. The last time I confronted her, it did not go well and my FIL got really angry with me. I don't know if I have the stomach to do it again, especially at Christmastime. Normally I believe that grown-ups should deal with their own problems, but I feel as though my husband has left me to deal with them totally on my own long enough. Would I be wrong to ask him to speak to his mother and sister about this?

I'm a very sensitive, brooding sort of person, so this kind of thing bugs me probably a lot more than it should, but I don't know how to NOT be bothered by it.
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#2
I absolutely think your husband should talk to them. They are his family after all, if it was the other way around, you would talk to your sister and mother. Besides, if he does, it shows them that you two are a united front, and it will help you to have his support when they come over. His sister is being childish and silly, but you probably shouldn"t have defriended her, cause then its obvious. (Facebook is so stupid sometimes, i know) defriending them on facebook is like defriending someone in real life.
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#3
I defriended my whole Mother's side of the family because of tattling.  My aunt confronted me about it and I'm not one to shy from confrontation so I flat out told her why.  I guess if you want to avoid confrontation you can just block them from seeing things.

I'm sorry you're going through this Satori.  That family sounds difficult.  In a perfect world, your husband should deal with this but most men I know shy away from dealing with anything difficult.  I'll bet the sister is jealous of you and feels threatened by you.  And I agree that adults should solve their own problems.  I had the same problem with my mom running to my dad and telling him things.  I finally wrote her a "cut the bullshit and growup" letter and surprise surprise, it stopped.

But you know why she would run to my dad?  It's not because she was afraid of confrontation - she wanted him to see me as a problem and take sides.  Cause problems.  Make us fight.  As childish as it sounds - she wanted him to not like me as me as she doesn't like me.  I suspect that is your SIL's motive too whether she realizes it or not.

Anyway, I'm sensitive and brooding too.  The only way I've dealt with family drama is to be upfront about it.  I don't let it be the elephant in the room and I don't resort to talking or complaining behind people's backs.  If I have a problem, I tell them.  If I were you, I'd deal with them myself, nicely, but upfront and honestly.  If I hear someone got their stupid feelings all butt hurt over something they imagined I did, I'm on the phone pretty quickly straightening it out.

I guess that is easier said than done.  But the only way to not brood about something is to NOT brood about it.  Do something about it. 
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#4
I'm sorry you're having to deal with this, Satori.  I would gladly loan you scipio, who most certainly does not shy away from these types of confrontations...he's actually my sic 'em dog LOL.

It really seems as though your husband should handle this problem.  The first thing he should do is very sternly warn his parents about meddling in y'all's affairs and specifically against insulting his wife.  Then he should very sternly tell his sister to cut it out or she's cut off for good.  It's sad when that's the course that needs to be taken...but it makes life so much more relaxed.  Anyway, he should do it now...before the visit.

If he won't do it...stop inviting them over.  Tell your parents-in-law the truth.  Tell them that you intentionally de-friended their daughter...and why.  It's hard to hear criticism of your own child...but I can't imagine that they don't already know her character enough to understand and support your decision.  Then, ignore your sister-in-law.  She doesn't deserve contact with your family if she's determined to be a thorn in your side.  And you don't deserve the stress.
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#5
(11-28-2010, 11:58 AM)CanadianCatholic Wrote: I absolutely think your husband should talk to them. They are his family after all, if it was the other way around, you would talk to your sister and mother. Besides, if he does, it shows them that you two are a united front, and it will help you to have his support when they come over. His sister is being childish and silly, but you probably shouldn"t have defriended her, cause then its obvious. (Facebook is so stupid sometimes, i know) defriending them on facebook is like defriending someone in real life.

I don't think so -- I've unfriended a handful of people on Facebook simply because their posts pissed me off, not because I didn't want to be friends in real life anymore. For instance, I have one friend who's an outspoken lesbian and I got sick of seeing disgusting, offensive things she posted, so I unfriended her -- and shortly afterwards invited her to a party. If she ever asks me why I did it, I'll tell her.

With my SIL, it's touchier because I actually have come to dislike her, but I never intended to remove her completely from my life or not let her see her niece as often as she likes. I didn't intend for her to find out at all.

There's more, though, that makes my situation with her difficult. When I was living at the in-laws, I was stuck there by myself with my toddler for five to six days a week because my husband was working in another city. It was the suburbs and I had no way to get out and do anything -- no car, no bicycle, and no way to go for walks because of the way the streets were in that neighborhood. I was literally stuck in the house alone with the child, never got a break except on Sunday mornings at Mass, never even got to take a shower alone, and spent a lot of time trying to keep my daughter quiet so she didn't disturb her grandfather. It was horrible. And in the meantime, my SIL, who has a job but no responsiblities, never offered to help with her supposedly adored niece and would go out nearly every night and every weekend, then come home wanting to talk about how nice it was at the park or out in the country, etc. And I was seething inside because I didn't want to hear about it, I wanted to go out, too. Once I asked her if she would take my daughter to the park with her, but she didn't want to because she wanted to relax and be alone.

So, I"m no saint -- I suppose my resentment is sinful. But I really don't want to be friends with her anymore, because I don't think she acts like a friend. She only comes around when she wants something, and she only wants to be with her niece when it is fun for her and flattering to her ego.
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#6
(11-28-2010, 12:45 PM)Paloma Wrote: I defriended my whole Mother's side of the family because of tattling.  My aunt confronted me about it and I'm not one to shy from confrontation so I flat out told her why.  I guess if you want to avoid confrontation you can just block them from seeing things.

I'm sorry you're going through this Satori.  That family sounds difficult.  In a perfect world, your husband should deal with this but most men I know shy away from dealing with anything difficult.  I'll bet the sister is jealous of you and feels threatened by you.  And I agree that adults should solve their own problems.  I had the same problem with my mom running to my dad and telling him things.  I finally wrote her a "cut the bullshit and growup" letter and surprise surprise, it stopped.

But you know why she would run to my dad?  It's not because she was afraid of confrontation - she wanted him to see me as a problem and take sides.  Cause problems.  Make us fight.  As childish as it sounds - she wanted him to not like me as me as she doesn't like me.  I suspect that is your SIL's motive too whether she realizes it or not.

Anyway, I'm sensitive and brooding too.  The only way I've dealt with family drama is to be upfront about it.  I don't let it be the elephant in the room and I don't resort to talking or complaining behind people's backs.  If I have a problem, I tell them.  If I were you, I'd deal with them myself, nicely, but upfront and honestly.  If I hear someone got their stupid feelings all butt hurt over something they imagined I did, I'm on the phone pretty quickly straightening it out.

I guess that is easier said than done.  But the only way to not brood about something is to NOT brood about it.  Do something about it. 

I'm glad I'm not the only adult who's had to deal with tattling relatives. Not that I wish that on you, it just makes me feel less like a freak.
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#7
Ack! Passive-aggressive in-laws! Where do they all come from?

Sorry this is happening to you, Satori. I know it's hard dealing with the in-laws--I've mostly cut mine out of my life. I don't know if it's the right thing to do or not, but since my hubby won't deal with it, I'm not left with many options but to preserve my own space, especially in my head where they were all just taking up too much danged room!

And beware of the biggest danger there is when dealing with passive aggressive people--when you get sucked into playing the p-a game with her. That's easy enough to do and it just leaves you feeling icky and horrible.

If you don't want to deal with her at all, I don't think you should feel like you have to. Or if you can deal with her at least once more, tell her the behind-the-back stuff has got to go. Take it or leave it. She'll either back off or ramp it up. Best bet is to have your husband deal with any future problems, they're his family after all...

With my own in-law fiasco, I've realized I just don't have the time or energy for the silliness anymore, I'm guessing you don't either.

I have to say, I do like Paloma's approach, I'm just not poised and composed enough to pull it off. But if I were, that very direct method would be the best.
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#8
ResRev, my situation's not nearly as bad as yours. And I've known of much, much worse in-laws. I don't have it that bad. But it's hard for me to deal with because of being very sensitive and very introverted. I'm not comfortable with confrontation, either, but I do know that sometimes it's necessary.

So here's what I've decided to do: I've written a message that I'm going to send to my SIL if she doesn't respond soon. (I'm so sick of her not returning my calls or answering my e-mails and having to practically pin her to the wall to get an answer about ANYTHING.) It apologizes to her for my having not handled the situation well. Then it gives her a full explanation for why I did what I did, without descending into name-calling or being accusatory. I wrote exactly how I felt living in her home, while acknowledging that it can't have been a fun situation for her, either. I said that going behind my back has got to stop because it is wrong, and I told her that if she could accept all this and deal with me comfortably, she could send me a message any time telling me when she'd like to come visit and I would work that out. It's a minor work of art, really.

I'm also going to send a much briefer message to her mother, telling her to quit interfering when her daughter has an issue with me. I'll tell her I will not tolerate that at all. Then if either of them pulls that shit again, I'll make my husband deal with them and I WON'T. So there. Thanks, everybody.
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#9
(11-28-2010, 06:32 PM)Satori Wrote: ResRev, my situation's not nearly as bad as yours. And I've known of much, much worse in-laws. I don't have it that bad. But it's hard for me to deal with because of being very sensitive and very introverted. I'm not comfortable with confrontation, either, but I do know that sometimes it's necessary.

So here's what I've decided to do: I've written a message that I'm going to send to my SIL if she doesn't respond soon. (I'm so sick of her not returning my calls or answering my e-mails and having to practically pin her to the wall to get an answer about ANYTHING.) It apologizes to her for my having not handled the situation well. Then it gives her a full explanation for why I did what I did, without descending into name-calling or being accusatory. I wrote exactly how I felt living in her home, while acknowledging that it can't have been a fun situation for her, either. I said that going behind my back has got to stop because it is wrong, and I told her that if she could accept all this and deal with me comfortably, she could send me a message any time telling me when she'd like to come visit and I would work that out. It's a minor work of art, really.

I'm also going to send a much briefer message to her mother, telling her to quit interfering when her daughter has an issue with me. I'll tell her I will not tolerate that at all. Then if either of them pulls that shit again, I'll make my husband deal with them and I WON'T. So there. Thanks, everybody.

Perfect! Hooray for well written letters.  I hope it all works out (or at least improves.)
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#10
I'm sorry you're having to deal with creepy in-laws! I agree that your husband should probably deal with it, but that may not happen, and you don't want to start fighting with him over his family. That's probably what his wimpy sister would like to see happen, even if she won't admit it. Perhaps you should  confront her directly and honestly (skip MIL as the middleman.) Alternatively, you might just ignore the fact that they are causing problems for you--don't allow them to be that important. My guess is the next step would be for them to complain to your husband, and then he would have to get involved. By that time, it should be obvious to him how immature his sister and his mother are.

My daughter (married 18 months) has a passive-aggressive MIL. I feel for you.
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