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Hi, Everyone :wave: Goody is in desperate need of advise in regard to my In Laws and their increasing effect on our marriage.

As many of you already know, I am married to a wonderful guy who means the world to me. However, we have been having problems with his family ever since I can remember but which has escalated to something that is having it's effect on our relationship. There's is alot to this which I will fill in as needed but the jest of it stems from Tom's family's continuous efforts to come visit and not respecting our boundaries that we so desperately try to set but somehow are manipulated into getting it to be their way. This often comes at the expense of causing distress between Tom & I and one or both of us giving in.

Tom's family lives out of state as does mine. We become the sponsors of many family reunions and get togethers because of this. My family comes far less often, respects when we can house them or cannot and schedules their visits at our convenience. They never overstay and my parents have a saying which says..."guests are like fish, after a few days they start to smell!!" However, Tom's family over the years has insisted on coming despite when it is inconvenient and ends up staying far beyond a reasonable timeframe often for a week to 20 days....up to 10 people at a time. His mom visits us every few months for at least 10 days...when we told her that all stays must be a week or less she comes not as frequently often cashing in on not staying previously so she can stay 2 weeks :eek: ....and lately she doesn't even offer a date of departure hoping that we won't ask her to leave. When his sisteers call asking to come for a visit I explain to them the only week that is bad and it never fails that it so happens to be the ONLY week that is available for them. Tom & I have come up with plans to alleviate the manipualtions to the point that they call him and get a no and then call me visa versa :nono: Tom has admitted that his family are the masters of manipulation and if anyone needed a crash course on how to weasel your way inconveniently into one's life just spending time with his family would do the job :D Most recently, I have discovered with the help of a dear friend ;) that old defensive responses that I would categorize as a "fight & flight" response in me have somehow re-emerged. I didn't understand why I became so distressed every time his family took advantage of us until this wonderful friend of mine helped me to see that I am demonstrating the same defense mechanisms I did in the past when I was in an abusive relationship. I am only touching the tip of the iceberg here when it comes to his family....Tom tells me that he has become callous to their ways but I am not able to do so. Things go beyond that I most recently discovered that they are not only very self-centered & manupulating people but also somewhat "toxic" and borderline "abusive".

I am upset at how we are treated and probably more upset that Tom over & over again is unable to put them in their place. We recently had an argument when his sisters wanted to come stay with me while he was away for a week despite my telling them that it was inconvenient & to come another time. We've since resolved this after my "fight & flight" response. His parents are coming up for a wedding and staying at our house and arriving two days before Tom returns from a week trip. I just had his mom for 2 weeks about a month ago....Tom goes off to work and I have all day with his mom and this continues and has been going on almost all of our marriage. We had a huge argument about this and I am beginning to lose respect for Tom so long as he sees how this distresses me & is unable to do something about it (that is, not until I have become distressed to begin with). I would appreciate any advice from others. And yes....I have already told Tom that God clearly give us guidlines on how "a man shall leave his mother & a woman leave her home." I feel like I have done my end of the bargain but that he has yet to live up to his. Help :eek:

~ Goody
Goody,
I am so sorry that you are feeling upset. I had a weird feeling this morning that something was wrong and that is why I posted on the other thread asking you how you are only shortly before you posted. Amazing isn't it??
Now, I need a little more info. You and Tom had come to the decision previously to tell his family they could not come. His parents are coming up for a wedding 2 days before Tom gets back. Are they staying in the summer house with you or in your other house? Do you know how long they are staying? Did you guys receive another call from his family in the last few days leading you to believe that they were staying longer than originally planned? Did Tom back down in some way to his family in the last few days? What has changed from when his mother originally told you she would be coming in for the wedding?
Is sounds as though you did not resolve your arguement before he left on his trip, is that correct?
It really stinks when family does not respect your boundaries. Your right, they are manipulative and very self-centered. It sounds like even when you come right out and tell them when they can come and for how long, they ignore what you say and do what they want anyway. I can understand completely why it would make your blood boil. The only way that you will be able to overcome this in your marriage is if you both are in agreeement and take a FIRM stand, NO MATTER WHAT HIS FAMILY DOES. Tom unfortunately, (because this is his family), will need to be willing to set firm and unbending guidleines and stick with them no matter what.
It sounds like he has told his family no already and they continue to barge in. Unfortunately, the only way this may ever change is if he is willing to possibly lose his family (for a time) if need be. (I get the impression that if he takes the kind of stand he will need to take, (ex refusing them a key to the house, telling his family- this is the week that is good for us for you to visit and only X amount of people can visit at one time and only stay X amount of days), his family may choose to cut off communication with him. (They sound like very immature people.) The possibility of losing one's family, is a VERY difficult thing for anyone to accept, and thus that is where I think his dilemna is. Have you both spoken about that very real possibility? Is he willing to do that if needs be? If this continues to cause problems in your relationship and you can not both come to a united decision, you may need to seek counseling.
Since most people would not "invade" someone's home after they have been specifically told not to come, or not stay longer than a week when they have been asked to limit their visits to a week, and they do it anyway, my guess is that there is tremendous baggage going on from his family of origin. It is interesting that his mother seems to visit alone most of the time. There is obviously a tremendous need within her that she wants to come visit so often and leave her husband behind. Although you mentioned they are both coming up for the weekend, it sounds as though the majority of the time, she comes by herself. I sense she is very unhappy in her marriage. Is his mother a controlling person in other areas? She strikes me as possibly being the type of mother that showed love and approval only when her children did what she wanted. Perhaps Tom deep down inside, (and he probably is not even aware of it), feels as though his mom and family will not love him if he does not do what they want. What do you think of this?
Unfortunately, you can not fix the family dynamics of others. You and Tom only have control over your own responses to the actions of his family.
You are wonderful with words. Have you ever thought about writing a heart felt letter to Tom explaining in detail how it makes YOU FEEL when his family does X and how it makes you feel when he responds to them in Y way? If you write the letter in such a way that it does not come across in an attacking way, perhaps he will be able to really understand. Word pictures work great. If you can try and think of a situation that he can relate to (basically tell a little story), and then at the end say, that is how I feel when
your family acts in this manner. I would then add, "I need you to.........., so that I feel............ End the letter, reinforcing your love to him and that you don't want anything coming between you.
I'm anxious to hear the answers to my questions and your response. I'm sorry your hurting and I will keep you in my prayers. Try to do wonderful fun things with your daughter while Tom is away to keep your mind off the situation.
I know this is causing you alot of anxiety and anger, understandibly so!! As hard as it may be, try to remember how wonderful a husband Tom has been in so many other areas. This will be another obstacle that you will both learn how to overcome.
(((((((((HUGS))))))))))
Blue Eyed Lady
Continued......

[QUOTE=BLUE EYED LADY]Unfortunately, the only way this may ever change is if he is willing to possibly lose his family (for a time) if need be. (I get the impression that if he takes the kind of stand he will need to take, (ex refusing them a key to the house, telling his family- this is the week that is good for us for you to visit and only X amount of people can visit at one time and only stay X amount of days), his family may choose to cut off communication with him. (They sound like very immature people.) The possibility of losing one's family, is a VERY difficult thing for anyone to accept, and thus that is where I think his dilemna is. Have you both spoken about that very real possibility? Is he willing to do that if needs be? If this continues to cause problems in your relationship and you can not both come to a united decision, you may need to seek counseling.[/QUOTE] BINGO....this is exactly how I see it. And as i already posted to Music, both Tom & I are unable to do this....it is a final option for me and something that I could never expect Tom to do. It's a last resort....I feel lucky that they are all out of state but could never expect Tom to disown his family on account of me. As a matter of fact, I have no problem having them visit but I do when they do not respect our terms or boundaries. It's gotten to the point that I no longer enjoy their visits and if they didn't take so advantage of us and manipulate us in such a way I would. I know that somehow we can come up with a strategy of setting those boundaries but each time we work together in doing so we fail. And you are right....I am beginning to think that an objective opinion may help Tom see things a little bit more clearly. Many times the way I react is viewed by him as an overreaction. Tom knows his family and I am certain that he has endured this type of behavior that it doesn't affect him in the way that it does me. The people who love me never treated me this way and I know that Tom already knows this but somehow despite it all still needs his parents approval. I understand far more than he thinks however, it is abusive and at the very least disrespectful to us both and our marriage. I have endured this for so long because I love Tom so much and I have made sure that they do not destroy what we have together and in a way think that they would be happy if they did.


[QUOTE=BLUE EYED LADY]....my guess is that there is tremendous baggage going on from his family of origin. It is interesting that his mother seems to visit alone most of the time. There is obviously a tremendous need within her that she wants to come visit so often and leave her husband behind. Although you mentioned they are both coming up for the weekend, it sounds as though the majority of the time, she comes by herself. I sense she is very unhappy in her marriage. Is his mother a controlling person in other areas? She strikes me as possibly being the type of mother that showed love and approval only when her children did what she wanted. Perhaps Tom deep down inside, (and he probably is not even aware of it), feels as though his mom and family will not love him if he does not do what they want. What do you think of this?[/QUOTE] You are absolutely right and couldn't have said things more clearly. Tom's dad was an alcoholic and he has 2 brothers who are in & out of jail/rehab. He attended a military boarding school in high school, worked the family business and when things were bad he went to college and then into the navy. He returned after his father stopped drinking and took over the family business with his one sister. They never got along.....he tolerated her for the businesses sake. His two brothers are out of the family picture and his other sister is okay when not united with the other. He was often his brother's keepers when they were in & out of jail until I put a stop to that when we were first married. So for the most part his mom became the matriarch and does things separate from the husband as you say and Tom being the oldest son sort of took on his father's role in terms of assisting his mom. I guess he still feels that he mustn't disappoint her anymore than she already has been. Tom has received calls to make up with his sister after an argument in which she has clearly been in the wrong, and has been told also to "put his wife in her place" the one & only time I had spoken up in my daughter's defense when mistreated by his sister. So what you say is very true. He is not willing to lose his mother's love or approval or to be seen in a bad light in her eyes.


[QUOTE=BLUE EYED LADY]Unfortunately, you can not fix the family dynamics of others. You and Tom only have control over your own responses to the actions of his family.[/QUOTE] Again you are so right....I am confident that we can work on this area...I know that I cannot change his family but that I am certainly capable of changing my response to them and their control over Tom and I.

[QUOTE=BLUE EYED LADY]You are wonderful with words. Have you ever thought about writing a heart felt letter to Tom explaining in detail how it makes YOU FEEL when his family does X and how it makes you feel when he responds to them in Y way? If you write the letter in such a way that it does not come across in an attacking way, perhaps he will be able to really understand. End the letter, reinforcing your love to him and that you don't want anything coming between you.[/QUOTE] This is a wonderful suggestion. I will try doing so since I have the time while Tom is away. :D


[QUOTE=BLUE EYED LADY]Try to do wonderful fun things with your daughter while Tom is away to keep your mind off the situation. As hard as it may be, try to remember how wonderful a husband Tom has been in so many other areas. This will be another obstacle that you will both learn how to overcome.
(((((((((HUGS))))))))))
Blue Eyed Lady[/QUOTE]

Thanks, Blue....I already spent the day doing just as you said. took my daughter out for a manicure/pedicure, lunch and challenged her to a game of bocce which she of course won!! Tom is a wonderful husband and I am confident that we will get through this. It's great to know that I have people here who understand and are so great at offering support. Thank you Blue....you are truly a friend :angel:

Ruth ~ My "cybertwin"....these problems started when we had a house with no guest rooms :eek: These people will pitch tents to be with us. Funny thing is that they like us too much....our summerhome is a recent blessing and hopefully a refuge
[QUOTE=Snails] I've had a little taste of how divisive and aggravating in-laws can be, and I think you're an absolute saint for handling this as well as you have so far. The most important thing is not to let these sad little manipulative meddlers cause any rifts in your bond with Tom, no matter what--your family of Tom and the girls must come first and be shielded from any negative outside influences, no matter how determined, persistent, and annoying they are! Hang in there Goody, and remember what a wonderful and blessed foundation you and Tom have been fortunate and devoted enough to create--nothing should ever be allowed to threaten that bond, and I know that you and Tom will succeed in overcoming this, as you have overcome so many other obstacles, together and with a stronger feeling of unity than ever. [/QUOTE]

Stacy ~ I didn't want to forget to thank you for the wonderful post you left me....it brought tears to my eyes when you reminded me of how important it is for Tom & I to not allow this all to infiltrate what we have worked so very hard to have. I thank you and all the other posters here that have helped me put things into a better perspective.

Tom is gone and I am missing him terribly...unfortunately he is in Central America on a fishing trip and I will not be hearing from him for a week. He is barely computer literate and the place he is staying does not have phone in the room and for the most part he will be out fishing all day and recuperating at night.

Anyway....although I do not like the timing of our last infiltration by his mom we were able to reconcile but still I feel awful for allowing it to get to us before he left. I have been spending my time distracting myself from all that occurred before he left.

I have wonderful news....moments ago I received a phone call from one of Tom's sisters who provided me with an update on his other sister who had gone in for a colonoscopy. While we spoke SHE brought up with ME how she had a talk with her mother about how often she visits us and how she is overstepping her boundaries. (There must be an angel watching over me :angel: ) She told me that she had heard about her mother's various changes and told her mom that she had just stayed with us for 2 weeks only a few weeks ago and that it was disrespectful to expect us to have her again.

I took this opportunity to tell my sister in law that Tom & I are both tired of this happening and that before he left for his trip, we had both decided that when anyone comes for a visit it will have to be at our convenience and on our terms and that the boundaries that we set are going to have to be respected. And she agreed.;) I went on to tell her that her mom was coming the same time we had told her and my other SIL was inconvenient for us and that I was honestly upset with that as was Tom and that this would be the last time anyone imposes on us in such a way. She assurred me that she was working on things on her end to see that everyone understood this and apologized for being part of that in the past and promised not to do so in the future. :bouncing: Can you believe how this happened overnite....I am in shock & awe of the whole thing. :eek:

I guess our last tactics worked afterall, that is, when Tom told his sisters that if they still insisted on coming during the week that he was away fishing & was inconvenient for us then to find a hotel & take care of their business & call after the 14th when he was back from his trip. We didn't back down on this and stood our ground, felt a little guilty about doing so but it worked. :bouncing: This is really unbelievable...it's a miracle because never in the 18 years we've been married did [B]anything[/B] work. I think when Tom hears this he will have a much easier time setting boundaries knowing that he has gained his families respect rather than fearing that they will abandon him for doing so. :D

Yes, the troops have retreated realizing that they are no longer welcome in our camp unless they abide by the treaty that we will present to them. :D The only thing missing is Tom and being able to celebrate this great victory with him. :bouncing: It's amazing and a true answer to my prayers. :angel:

Thanks everyone for your wonderful love & support. ~ Goody :wave:
[QUOTE=Snails] As far as the in-laws go, I'm assuming they are arriving at your house a few days before Tom returns from fishing? If so, I think I would definitely suggest holding off on any conversations on the lengths of their visits or any other sensitive issues until Tom returns, so that you two can once again present a united front on any decisions you declare.[/QUOTE] I completely agree.....the more I thought about it I saw things just like you have suggested. Sometimes I get too excited and tend to jump the gun. That's why I knew that you guys would help me out in not doing so. :D

[QUOTE=Snails]I bet a significant part of his relatives' need for drama, conflict, manipulation, etc. comes from insecurities, needing attention, and probably some jealousy of the happy relationship and family you and Tom are so blessed to have created. So just like we said way back when on your old thread, positive gets positive as negative gets negative, and I have a feeling that Tom's mom and sister will be most responsive and open to compromise if you approach any significant conversations as respectfully and lovingly as possible...not that you would do it any other way![/QUOTE] As one that always sees the good in everyone, I have often wondered about this myself. It almost seemed as if his family got a thrill out of upsetment and negative....I wasn't use to things like that happening in terms of family dynamics. And the more I got to see this the more I saw how Tom's family took this type of interatction on in a way of protectively dealing with alcoholism and codependency issues as he grew up. I understood this and I guess that is why it has been so difficult for me to set the boundaries that needed to be set in order to make sure that this type of "irrational" behavior didn't become a way of life for the next generation. I have been a mother bear fighting protectively to make sure of this. Now I understand why it has been so distressing for me and why I take on a the "fight & flight" response.

[QUOTE=Snails]......as to if you should say anything in addition to what Tom's sister says, that depends...how certain are you that she will actually follow through on the conversations she vowed to have with her mom and sister? Do you think she'll convey your message accurately as well as sufficiently forcefully, but politely?[/QUOTE] Your insight once again is impeccable.....I too have my apprehensions because another problem was that at times I have had conversstions with his family things have often gotten twisted around and used to pit Tom against me or at the very least place him in the middle.. So....I have learned to do most of my direct talking to Tom allowing him to speak for the two of us in order to avoid this. Whenever speaking to any of his family I am extra careful as to what I say always one step ahead making sure it won't be held against me. I have gotten pretty good at this...but because of it happening in the past I found myself being very careful last night when talking with his sister...only reflecting back in conversation what she had already said and validating it. I don't think that this can be used against me....but that fear is always there thus the feeling as if this all can possibly be a ploy to launch another ambush on our camp. :D But something tells me that she should do as she said only because our last ordeal in which we said no and stuck to our guns in not allowing his sisters to come took place over a span of a month with at least 5 or six phone conversations of her attempting to invade our camp. And this is the first time that Tom & I were able to stick to our guns despite the guilt that often had us relenting and giving in. I think that because we did so, the message was finally clear....enough is enough. :nono: And I guess I am happy because last night I was able to see how the message was understood in what my SIL said to me. I sure hope I am right but I can't help but be a little leary of the whole thing.

[QUOTE=Snails]Again, if you and Tom can discuss what to do next together without letting this issue cause any tension or animosity, or otherwise divide you or devolve into a discussion of your marital and personal issues, I am 100% sure that you will conceive the best possible plan for how to deal with his relatives' upcoming visit. I will have my fingers tightly crossed and be sending you my best wishes from the frozen tundra up in Minnesota with the dubious distinction of housing the largest mall in America :rolleyes: :).[/QUOTE] This is the key....I am not naive enough to think that old behaviors will not return and so long as Tom & I see that standing united and not breaking down is key I think we should be okay. Once you find something that works you can't help but use it again. But there may come a time that they will try to break through the granite wall that we have built only this time we will be ready. :D

[QUOTE=Snails]Hey, didn't you love Hiya's new thread? I was so happy to read about her slowly but surely discovering the small joys and benefits of independence...I truly hope that you are feeling the same sort of increase in optimism and contentment in your own life, Hiya?[/QUOTE] Yes....I was feeling that too. I really miss our listing at least 3 positive things together ;) It's nice to see that Nini was able to share a positive that happened in her life. Could be that she is starting to emerge out of her cocoon and go through a metamorphasis of some sort??? Every butterfly must go through this and perhaps that is what our Nini is going through. Hmmmmm....time will tell.

((((((HUGS))))))) ~ Goody :wave:





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