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Please help! I’m not sure what to do any more.

Bit of background: I am a teacher in a highly volatile environment. I specifically deal with English Language and Literature, Dramatic Arts and Theatrical Development.  All of my students have severe educational difficulties and other issues pertaining to their own experiences of education, which have never been resolved. I quite often find myself teaching much older learners to read and write simple spellings and names.

My in-laws don’t have a ‘permanent’ job, they standby for emergency work only and are struggling financially to keep paying their mortgage and their car payments etc.

The tale itself:
My In-Laws like to think they are superior to everyone. Not only are they constantly late to family gatherings, obnoxiously rude to my (gay) brother about his ‘choosing’ to be gay but also emotionally blackmail my husband into doing every little odd job they have around the house. They treat our home like it is their private skip and have even gone so far as to invite my husband’s ex-girlfriend to our wedding!  They really don’t like me, that is obvious, but I am now at a loss of what to do.

My f-i-l constantly complains about the educational system in my country. He says things like, “Teachers are paid too much”, and, “I don’t know why we bother with exams, they don’t prove anything.” The day I got my degree, he said, “Congratulations, you are now one of the mindless masses.”  He said this so quietly, no-one else heard, and of course, my Husband doesn’t believe he said it.

He constantly slates Dramatic Arts programs, saying that “they don’t teach anything” and that my students “are bad enough already, they don’t need to be taught any more rubbish.” (I have taken out the swears, in deference to the lovely readers here.)

He is always bringing up how my students “must be really thick, having to learn how to spell their names”, and, “you can’t be much of a teacher. They’re all really stupid.” He continually comments about their educational difficulties saying it makes them “stupid” or “retarded” and that “no one in my (his) family would dare have something so shameful.”  Yet he, himself is dyslexic!

My f-i-l also likes to “call-out” my dad and brother, saying things like,  “Your brother’s dyslexic, that means he’s retarded, no wonder he can’t get a decent job”, and when looking at text messages my dad has sent him about something,  “Your dad’s messages are stupid…what is he, brain dead?” He comments about my brothers’ job and how “thick” he must be, working in a shop, even though he is a manager.

So far, through all these comments I have managed to “bean-dip” away from the topic, and although he never mentions my family whilst my husband is around, it hurts. Every time my husband has been there and heard he’s called his dad on it, and basically told him to shut up.

However, I’m not sure how much more I should/can take. I’m sick of changing the topic all the time and having no “normal” conversations with my in-laws. Everything seems to revolve around F-I-L and his opinions, which are hurtful and upsetting.

I’m at the end of my tether and my ‘polite spine’ is about to snap!! 0919-13

Relinquish your hope of ever having a “normal” relationship with your FIL because he is not normal and likely won’t be for the foreseeable future.   There are some people in the world who live to goad others into misery because their own life is one long, miserable mess  and your FIL is one of them.  He’s trying to needle you every chance he gets and if he gets any kind of reaction from you, he scores.    I wouldn’t even bean dip at this point but rather ignore him completely, as if he did not exist, during the moments he says those hurtful things.   People like this are not worthy of the brain cells we yield to them and their opinions matter even less.

{ 77 comments… add one }
  • Jaxsue October 17, 2013, 11:52 am

    OP, I can relate. My late MIL was toxic and did many of the things you mentioned. My then-DH ignored her antics and doubted me when I told him some of the worst that were said to me in private. I finally had enough (as many other family members had) and refused to spend time at her house. There is no question that DH’s attitude was part of the reason we divorced.
    I am not saying that is your fate, but you and your DH need to stand up for yourselves. I would limit my time with FIL, to the point where you seldom see him. Life’s too short to spend with someone that miserable.

  • badkitty October 17, 2013, 12:46 pm

    “no-one else heard, and of course, my Husband doesn’t believe he said it.”

    OP, look at that quote. Take a long, hard look at what you’ve said. “of course” your HUSBAND didn’t believe YOU?

    Relationships are, at their core, between two people and two people only. You have a relationship with your husband. Your husband has a relationship with his father. You can choose to have a relationship with his father or not, and that is your choice… but the real problem relationship here is the one with your husband, in which people are free to treat you badly and he can’t even offer you the basic comfort of BELIEVING you. My advice is to get that relationship into counseling before it degrades further, and leave the in-laws out of the equation for a while. If your husband isn’t willing to do that, well, there’s some information you need, isn’t it? Because FIL isn’t going to stop, and things with your husband aren’t going to improve on their own; if your husband isn’t willing to invest in your marriage and work on THAT relationship, you’ve got a decision to make. I’m betting that an outsider’s perspective is just the clue-by-four he needs.

  • MichelleP October 17, 2013, 12:47 pm

    @Lisa, crucified my patootie. You are exactly right. Totally agree.

    @Jewel, the OP did not share her texts with FIL. She referred to texts her father sent FIL.

    I’m a little surprised at the posters here that implied that it’s partly her fault for sharing info with FIL. What she does for a living and her family who know FIL are going to come up. Like it or not, FIL is family. But OP has every right to share perfectly reasonable info about her life without being treated like this. FIL sounds like the type who would ridicule someone who cured cancer, and argue with someone who says the sky is blue.

    It’s easier said than done to cut someone out of your life, especially a family member. I’m more concerned that OP’s husband doesn’t believe her. At least he has put a stop to some of it, from what I read.

    OP, I agree with posters who have suggested that you limit contact. My sister had a toxic FIL and it eventually was a big reason for her divorce. Good luck.

  • Lola October 17, 2013, 12:47 pm

    Lady, where is your husband in all of this?

  • Rachel October 17, 2013, 12:50 pm

    Well said, admin. I would also say to the OP: work on getting your husband on your side. If he’s defensive, go to counseling since it sounds like you really want the relationships in your life to work well.

  • gellchom October 17, 2013, 12:51 pm

    Wow, this is awful. I am so sorry you have to put up with this. The only thing worse than having to be around someone this bitter and miserable is to BE him.

    I would agree with the posters who advise cutting him out of your life completely IF this weren’t your husband’s father. Not because of any duty to him, but because you love your husband and don’t want to put him in a tough place, and because other, innocent family members could be affected, too — you could be in a position of never seeing them, either. So it’s not necessarily your best choice.

    I do agree that you need to talk to your husband about what is happening and how it makes you feel and ask for his support, but I don’t recommend putting it in a way that presents him with an ultimatum or forces him to choose between you and his family. But you can certainly discuss the idea of your not ever, or only very rarely, being around FIL. Maybe that will work for the two of you. Or maybe he might have some idea of how he can be more understanding and supportive and help you, and you can discuss together what limits you are comfortable with. You may need to meet somewhere in the middle. No, it’s not fair for you to have to put up with this kind of behavior! But that doesn’t mean you are a doormat if you CHOOSE to do so occasionally for the sake of your husband and perhaps other family members that you care about. If you can bear it, it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing choice.

    I would stay away, for now, from the issues of how much work your husband does at their house and how free they feel to visit yours. For one thing, the first is really his issue, and the second is as much his as yours to call; maybe that family just generally feels free to come and go from each other’s homes. But more important, it’s just too much at one time. You have a really, really big issue to deal with; any counselor will tell you that it’s never a good idea to start dragging other issues in when you are trying to talk something through. Stick to one topic.

    As satisfying as many of the suggested responses to FIL sound like they would feel (especially the video one! I laughed out loud), I agree strongly with the posters who say not to give him ANY reaction; that’s exactly what he is looking for. You will NOT teach him, shame him, or improve him, you will just encourage him to do it more. The admin’s advice was excellent.

    I have personally done something like the “bingo” thing in my head — if the person says/does X ten times, I get a prize (no fair goading them to do it the tenth time). I love the Muppet method, too. I’m going to have to try that.

    This truly is worse than obnoxious, though, and my heart really goes out to you and everyone else around him. Especially his wife!

  • Gabriele October 17, 2013, 1:21 pm

    My late MIL…there was nothing I could do to please her since I wouldn’t consider moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles so her son (7th of 8 children, all the rest living in LA area) so DH could be near her. I was working and going to school in SF when we married (eloped). I graduated, bought a business (shoe repair that the schooling was for) in a small town which we had agreed was what we wanted to do. We had visited his mother and step-father three times in a couple years. When we moved further north (11 hour drive to LA) we visited once as we couldn’t afford the time off (work) or the cost.
    I wrote her letters and sent photos (she complained because he had grown a beard–his choice, not mine). Long distance calls were incredibly expensive from our area so we seldom called and she didn’t call because it was ‘Mickey’s’ (Mike) duty to call her. Right.
    My father died and we borrowed a friend’s newer car to drive to Reno NV where my father had lived; I had two sisters who lived there also. It was quite a blow because we hadn’t been close and now we never would be. We returned (very short trip) to discover my MIL had won a car and to celebrate she had driven up to Sacramento to visit a relative of her (DH didn’t even know the person existed) and then decided to drive up to see us. We hadn’t invited any family before because we lived in a small apartment attached to the shoe repair shop: NO room for any guests. They knew this.
    They arrived as a ‘suprise’…or so we were told by neighbors. Also heard how furious the MIL was that we weren’t there. Furious that they had to pay for a motel. Furious that no one knew when we’d be back.
    When we got back and found out, DH called the MIL and got an earful about so much…would not accept that I needed to go to Reno because of my father’s death, why hadn’t we informed her..well, she hadn’t left a phone number when she was there so when he called her, the number had been changed. He had to call a brother to get the new number. No, she couldn’t be bothered to write us with the new number but it was my fault that my father died so we weren’t home when she decided to pull a suprise visit. Her rant (on our dollar) went on and on. Disrespect, lack of concern for her and her feelings, on and on. And how did she know my father had really died and that we hadn’t used it as an excuse to go visit my sisters. I gave the phone to him and said I expected an apology. Didn’t get it.
    I had tried to be a good DIL. That changed. I told him she was his mother and I would expect him to honor her and going forward, it was his job to do all the things I had done (without appreciation) like sending cards, gifts, writing, sending photos. Since we were in touch with the one brother, I told him as well (so even if she didn’t hear it from dear Mickey, she’d still hear it.
    We drove to LA to visit friends (originally from SF) and I stayed with them. She knew I was in LA …but he lied and said no. I told him I lost a lot of respect for him because he wouldn’t be honest with her about me and wouldn’t accept my freedom not to be a tag-a-long to suffer from his mother’s ill-humor.
    I never regretted cutting those ties (for myself) and on meeting the eldest brother I found out that almost all of the children had nothing to do with the MIL…
    The MIL and some members of my own family taught me I don’t have to endure unpleasant company no matter what the relationship (blood or marriage) .
    The one thing I did observe was all the positive traits the OP mentioned about her husband are those I would have listed (early on) about mine. What I ended up seeing was that he was applying all the early training he had had from his mother to all female relationships….but there was a power structure so his mother was always at the top…after her, he would defer to me, then to a sister, then to a friend, and so on…except if someone used the same ‘demand’ tools as his mother, they’d move to the head of the queue ahead of me. So I was often not first or second, I could be third or even lower.
    Yes, the marriage ended but all of the divided loyalties made it easier since I and my needs had been like a ghost in my own house; I didn’t know if he would even miss me.
    So I agree with making the DH responsible for everything to do with his family if they come to her house (everything) and let him listen to all his father’s complaints about her…maybe he’ll get a better picture of what sort of man his father is.
    Me, I would get a large photo of the FIL and put it on a dart board and throw darts at it. Relieves a lot of tension and might get the point across to the husband. And so he (DH) won’t take it totally personally she could occasionally substitute the photo of a politician or other person who drives her up the wall.
    And what the OP is doing for the people she teaches? Bless her–I have a friend who was a Special Ed teacher…I know some of what she went through but I also know the lives she helped change.

  • NostalgicGal October 17, 2013, 1:35 pm

    I agree with… a) as little contact with this person as possible. b) recording device and show the DH later if he doesn’t believe. He might not believe one recording but it sounds like it shouldn’t be hard to rack up several in short order. c) total avoid as the beandip has run out…yes I’d read a book at the table at that point too.

    My DH has finally stood up to his Witchina sister, that no matter how much she goes off on it, as he said ‘well she is my wife so I have to take her side, don’t I.’ (firm end no questioning). The older sister also kicked Witchina’s keyster, because despite everything I’m still married to her little brother and I’m still with him and here for him. We passed our silver long ago, so she better just DEAL.

    OP, hoping your DH will finally buy the clue, and stand with you to support you. I know, it’s his father but that doesn’t give the FIL to wilt your DH’s spine and make his (bodyparts) wither either. You have a right not to have that man in your house again; and minimize anything you must do with him.

  • Delta October 17, 2013, 1:39 pm

    Lots of great suggestions here – here’s what I’d do: Get a digital voice recorder. Whenever you’re around your FIL, whip it out and start recording the conversation. Don’t be shy about him knowing either. If he asks about it be bluntly honest – tell him that your husband doesn’t believe the hateful things he says and this is to prove it. One of 2 things will happen – either he’ll continue to be his rude self, and you’ll have the proof to show your husband (and he can then act along with you, ) or FIL will curb his tongue and you won’t have to listen to his rubbish any longer. Win-Win.

  • Miss Raven October 17, 2013, 2:04 pm

    I agree with the commenters who say that you need to immediately eject this negative and damaging presence from your life. However, considering he is family, this may not actually be possible.

    So, I have another idea, which I have seen work in the past. One could call it “blackmail”, but I think in this instance a better term might be “consequences”. Your FIL does not like you very much, and your DH is unwilling to cut him out. So, FIL stands to lose nothing from his behavior. However, if you have children or are planning to have children, you would be well within your parental (and IMHO, ethical) rights to keep them as far away from your IL’s as possible.

    It is very damaging for children to not only be around the negativity, anger and prejudice, but also to see their parents subjected to this kind of abuse. You need to sit down with your DH and inform your IL’s that unless this behavior totally stops, permanently, they will be unwelcome in the lives of their (current or future) grandchildren. And you will not negotiate, and you will not change your mind. That’s it. That is just how it is.

    You may be surprised how quickly things change.

  • Kristin October 17, 2013, 3:02 pm

    I’m almost tempted to suggest you respond with, “At least *I* have a job.”

    I do think your husband knows his father is a jerk. You don’t get raised by a guy like that and not figure that out.

  • Jay October 17, 2013, 3:32 pm

    Replace “digital voice recorder” with “apps available for free on every smartphone”. Not hard at all. Though you shouldn’t have to prove it to him, really, it couldn’t hurt.

  • Marozia October 17, 2013, 3:37 pm

    I would ‘agree’ or even go with the boredom routine with FIL. When he says ‘Teachers get paid too much”, say “Yep, that’s right”, or *SIGH* ‘We’re not re-inventing the wheel over this again, are we?”. I’ve done that a few times with ILs and it’s never been said again.
    I also like @Kristin’s advice with ‘at least I have a job’. That might shut him up.

  • AIP October 17, 2013, 4:13 pm

    Let me guess, one thing he regularly says is “I’m a straight-talker me/ I says it like I sees it”? We all know these horrible “I say what I like and I like what I say” idiots and unless you’re able to dish it out as well as they can, you will not win.
    And you do need to put your foot down, him calling your family retarded is beyond the pale and etiquette de damned you need to say “knock it off, you have slagged off and insulted me and my family to my face for the last time, (and ideally add: clear off out of my house)”. Don’t ask for an apology because, if you get one, he’ll only use it as a bargaining chip to carry on… “You’re overreacting- I SAID I was sorry that you took offense”

    I agree with the others, if you are not going to put your foot down, avoid him like the plague. Do not have him in the house while you’re there – if hubby dearest doesn’t like that he can sod off back to them. He needs to remember that it’s YOU paying half the mortgage, not dear old dad.

  • AD October 17, 2013, 4:41 pm

    My best friend’s in-laws are like this. We generally arrange for her to have something to do over here, or she finds that she has a great many errands to run, or she has to stay home for some reason when they plan to go out. I suggest you find something to do, like “I have decorations to put up in my classroom.” or “I have so many errands to run, sorry I can’t be here when they visit.” and then go out and have a nice coffee or visit your friends. Just have some you time, and go back an hour after they’re supposed to have left. Let your DH deal with them. He’ll get the point soon enough.

  • jojo October 17, 2013, 6:50 pm

    According to relatives my FIL doesn’t feel welcome at my home. That’s because I always set limits so he can’t misbehave ( i.e., no alcohol in the house) and doesn’t get to be the centre of attention, poor lamb.
    I also call him out on his comments – the latest was a series of inappropriate and sexist remarks about myself and my SIL being in the kitchen.
    I teasingly pointed out that misogyny seemed to be alive and well and in the living room. Five minutes later FIL decides its time for him to leave. Think it must have had something to do with him not being able to handle a woman who’s going to give as good as she gets. He can’t flirt with me because I wont flirt back, he can’t put me down and he can’t wind me up to the point I yell at him ( like his ex-wife) so he’s stuck sulking because he doesn’t know how mature relationships function or how to handle a bit of teasing.
    Try calling him out in front of people, when he puts you down, tell him it’s offensive, or racist or just plain rude – it’ll take the wind right out of his sails.
    As for your wonderful job – Picasso says ‘ Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life’. Your students need drama as a source of therapy, embrace it whole heartedly!

  • The Elf October 17, 2013, 8:05 pm

    About cutting off contact…….

    I understand why the OP doesn’t want to completely cut off contact. She can certainly minimize it and ignore the hell out of him, but cutting off contact should be up to husband. He’s his father. You don’t want to be the wife who prevented him from having a relationship with his father if he’s not ready for that step. If he chooses to cut off contact, great. Otherwise, you’re are going to be times when he visits, or you visit him, and you just can’t gracefully get out of it without causing a bigger problem.

    Obviously, this would change if OP felt her safety was in danger or something along those lines. But right now, FIL is just being absurdly obnoxious. This can be ignored.

  • Lola October 18, 2013, 8:38 am

    Those of you who read Dear Prudie might remember one of those horror-classic letters a woman wrote in. She was suspecting her MIL of trying to poison her because every time she had a meal there, she got violently sick afterwards — the only person to do so. Husband refused to believe her and said she was crazy. One time, she switched her and her husband’s meals while no one was looking. After they got home, she felt fine and HE was violently ill. When she told him what she did and that it definitively proved some shenanigans on the part of MIL, he (and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember verbatim) looked at his wife with such hatred, she instantly realized that he knew all along and was OK with it. For whatever reason, OP’s situation reminds me of that woman. The husband knows what’s going on but is letting his family abuse his wife, gaslighting her in the process. Really sad.

  • Carolyn October 18, 2013, 9:11 am

    ‘but the real problem relationship here is the one with your husband, in which people are free to treat you badly and he can’t even offer you the basic comfort of BELIEVING you’

    I agree with badkitty. I think this is the biggest issue here – your husband is effectively telling you that you’re a liar DESPITE the lifetime of evidence of his father’s boorishness. This is a glaring red flag and it doesn’t bode well. I agree with previous posters that couples counselling may be in order.

  • PWH October 18, 2013, 9:32 am

    Hi OP, I’m surprised you’ve managed to maintain your polite spine as long as you have. I think there would have been many times when I would have either walked away or given FIL a piece of my mind. There are a lot of great recommendations on here, hopefully one will work out for you. It may take your husband telling his father that, as a couple, you can no longer be around him if he continues to make inappropriate comments around you. Avoiding him will may just end up making you miserable and letting him win.

    In my family I have two people similar to your FIL. One is my BIL. I’ve taken to asking him to change the subject when he makes inappropriate comments or begins one of his extremely long, opinionated over the top monologues or I excuse myself and go help in the kitchen or take my nephew to the park. The other person is my Grandmother. She is very judgmental, very opinionated, racist at times and pretty much considers our family to be the scum of the earth compared to my Aunt’s family. Her behavior is extremely passive/aggressive and she doesn’t feel bad about voicing her opinions on everything and everyone, especially when it makes you feel like dirt. When my Father died, my siblings and I all considered severing ties with Grandma due to her toxic nature. When we talked to my Mom, she told us that Grandma won’t be around forever, and that we aren’t like her and shouldn’t stoop to her level. We continue to grin and bare it, but we do our best to spend as little time with them as possible.

  • Michelle October 18, 2013, 9:51 am

    This is probably going to be an unpopular response, or at least the main thrust of it may be. I don’t disagree that fil is a handful, and if you feel you need to cut him out, OP, that’s certainly your prerogative and I respect that.

    Part of your submission, though, gave me pause and that was the part regarding your fil being dyslexic, and most of his insults have to do with stupidity, the uselessness of a degree, how dumb everything is, etc. I’m not usually one to go all psycho-babble, but I did go through a period where I felt like everything I did was stupid, everything I thought was dumb, I couldn’t do anything right, etc. The more I thought that, the angrier I became as a person, and the more I started thinking other people were stupid, dumb, etc as well. I never called them that (that’s where your fil and me would surely part ways) but I did think it, and I thought it very strongly. I have a feeling he thinks of himself as being very dumb, very stupid, and it’s spilling out onto others.

    What I would suggest (and I can hear the indignant screams already) is this: yes, cut him off completely when he’s insulting someone’s sexuality, religion, anything in general like that. But when he says something is really stupid, or someone is really dumb – give him a kiss on the cheek. He’ll have no idea how to respond to that, perhaps it might even pull him up in his tracks and shut him down. Then bean-dip. Next time he starts in regarding stupidity, do it again.

    You know you’re not dumb or stupid. It’s more like he doesn’t know he’s not dumb or stupid, and that’s where that issue is coming from.

  • Angel October 18, 2013, 1:20 pm

    If I were the OP I would re-evaluate my relationship with my husband. The fact that he doesn’t believe her when she relays some of the hurtful things the FIL says is a HUGE red flag. Beyond that I would just conveniently have other plans when the FIL comes to visit, or when you have to visit them. Life is too goddamned short to spend with people who are miserable jerks who treat family like this.

    I might ask my DH to go to counseling particularly if there are kids involved, but if he is continually siding with his own family over his wife, I’m not sure there would be much point in it.

  • Marie October 18, 2013, 5:55 pm

    If your husband believing what is father is saying is a major problem, carry a tape recorder (or just use your phone) when you’re around your FIL. Then play it for your husband. If he isn’t going to support you then, rethink your marriage.

    As for you FIL, just get up and walk away whenever he starts saying things like this. Cut off communication with him as much as you can.

  • babs October 18, 2013, 6:23 pm

    Aside from the toxic relation with this horrid man who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near OP or any children they have or will have, this part of the story disturbs and confuses me:

    “The day I got my degree, he said, “Congratulations, you are now one of the mindless masses.” He said this so quietly, no-one else heard, and of course, my Husband doesn’t believe he said it.”

    (“Of course My husband doesn’t believe he said it”??)

    “Every time my husband has been there and heard he’s called his dad on it, and basically told him to shut up.”

    So, in other words, Husband has heard his father say obnoxious and hurtful things many times, which he calls him on and tells him to shut up…. Unless, FIL says something obnoxious and hurtful privately to OP, in which case, Husband basically calls her a liar.

    I feel very sad for the OP. She has more issues to deal with than just her FIL.

  • doodlemor October 18, 2013, 10:22 pm

    I really, really like Michelle’s suggestion of kissing him on the cheek, because it would be a totally unexpected response for OP to make.

    During my years in the classroom I learned that oftentimes an unexpected response was the best way to handle very difficult children. Changing the response that the child was anticipating tended to change the dynamic of the behaviors.

    Perhaps this would work with adults as well. FIL is certainly acting like a horrible jerk, and OP would be justified in giving him a direct cut. I do think, though, that he is a very unhappy man underneath. Maybe a change here in the rules of the games that he is playing would be beneficial. OP doesn’t necessarily have to kiss his cheek, but could perhaps consider some unusual responses to his nonsense.

  • ketchup October 19, 2013, 2:15 pm

    OP, I’m going to say it too: take a good look at the relationship you have with your husband. He did call you a liar, and in my book that ‘s very very offensive. How can you have a loving, trusting relationship with someone you think lies? He doesn’t trust you?
    My MIL is a bit of a ditz sometimes and at times she’s said offensive things to me, but my husband always believed me when I told him. My SIL is not a ditz and was intentionally mean to me many times, mostly when no one else was around, and every time I told my husband, then fiance, he believed me. She has since then seen the light, and is much politer and kinder now.
    That is how it should be, you’re married to the man, and you are a unit. A unit based on trust and love. I don’t see that in your story, I’m afraid.

    On the subject of the FIL: ignore him. Walk away. Shrug and walk away. You can be polite and say why you walk away, but to me he sounds like he wouldn’t here you anyway, a lost cause if you will. There’s absolutely no reason to give this man so much power of your well-being. Be happy instead. It’s good to be happy.

  • cicero October 22, 2013, 7:18 am

    sweetie – this is not about your FIL at all. this is about you and your DH. (or not-so-dear…). When you say “He said this so quietly, no-one else heard, and of course, my Husband doesn’t believe he said it.” that speaks volumes about the dysfunctionality.

    I agree with PPs who said you need counseling for you and your husband. And next time your FIL says something nasty- walk away, pretend he didn’t say it, ignore. IOW – stop letting him control you.

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