Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: lorelai on June 09, 2013, 07:28:19 PM

Title: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: lorelai on June 09, 2013, 07:28:19 PM
This is a part vent/part plea for how to respond to my negative FIL. Warning - miscarriage mentioned below.

<BG>FIL has a habit of criticizing people or things - although he's a boisterous guy who likes to be the life of the party, he's also got this mindset that everyone and everything can be improved. Although this sometimes makes his family feel like nothing they do will ever be good enough. His daughter (my SIL) is too fat, she doesn't make the right choices in life, my DH who is amazing and the best son, isn't good enough. If we come for Thanksgiving weekend well we should have taken the whole week off. If we visit them for xmas for a week they say we should have come for two weeks.

When he and MIL were visiting at our house for a week, I got upset when he complained about a dessert I made, as well as complained about the quality of photos received from our wedding photographer. He fancies himself an amateur photographer. I found myself having to defend her choices, which were my choices too as I was in charge of media at the wedding. He also insulted DH's food that he prepared for them which really angered me. At the time I only complained to DH.</End BG>

Went to visit my FIL this past weekend as he had an angiogram. He's had heart attacks and issues in the past, and it was important that I be around to support both my DH and the family in general. Everything was totally fine in this regard, and he's thankfully as healthy as he can be.

Every time we see my in-laws they say that they want to blow up our wedding photos and frame them around the house. They have all the digital files but won't actually take the steps to get it done themselves. I got the brilliant idea to select photos that they might want to print and present it via slideshow and then they could decide and we could send them to the drugstore to get printed.

First of all, it's clear they hate almost every photo I've selected. DH and I are both getting a little frustrated but we can hide it well. FIL makes me crop photos so our faces are big - never mind that I'm uncomfortable with our faces being blown up like that in their house. We preview all the photos once more. We get to a photo of me, DH, SIL and BIL. Both of their children and DIL and son in law. I'm thinking this photo is golden. It's a posed portrait taken before our wedding. (we did all family portraits beforehand)

FIL  says, "This is not a good photo. She looks tired." I look up, and ask him who he's talking about, and he just keeps repeating himself about how tired she looks and that it's not good. DH asks him who he's talking about, and he says Lorelai!

At first I'm just stunned and I don't say anything. Nobody does. I am unbelievably hurt, and finally come up with, "at least I was smiling." I say this with a smile. DH doesn't realize how hurt I am until he sees me shut down a bit, but by then it feels too late for him to jump to my defense.

I tell DH privately that I couldn't believe FIL would say something like that to a bride - to anyone on their wedding day. The photo wasn't even the end of the night. I went straight from hair and makeup to taking this photo, my smile was good, I (was hoping I) looked beautiful. DH said that it was a baseless comment and that FIL didn't mean to hurt me and that he loves me very much. These two things I know are true - yet they don't stop him from offering his God honest opinion even when it isn't asked for.

As I am an extremely sensitive person, I ended up crying in our bedroom. I told him even if I wanted to say something in the moment, that he had a heart procedure the previous day and I didn't want to create conflict. We were already running late to dinner and DH said he hated being put in situations where one has to fake happiness, and that we should just cancel going out to eat. I told him to tell them that I wasn't feeling well, which was true. Instead he went out there and told them the truth.

Both his parents have said insensitive things to me in the past so I give DH credit for wanting to stick up for me. But I felt so badly that I was making FIL feel bad after his procedure that I was not happy. DH came and told me about their convo and I decided to go to bed early and deal with it in the morning. Although I know they were upset that I didn't come out, I needed the time to compose myself.

Their convo, btw, consisted of FIL defending his right to state his opinion and that he is old and has warts and I have to accept those warts. That I should know that he loves me. FIL and MIL both said they don't want to walk on eggshells around me. But I'd rather they did! They can both be really harsh and their manners are different from mine.

For example, after my miscarriage my MIL said that my cramping could not have been more painful than her arthritis. Cuz that's what I want to hear 2 days after I lost my baby :-/ So yes, walk on eggshells please! Although FIL felt bad that I felt bad, he was more angry about my reaction, which made me want to come out of the room even less.

In the morning I came out and FIL refused to look at me - ignored me completely. He left the room and went to his office. DH pleaded with me to talk to him to end the madness. I went up to him and said, "I'm so sorry about last night." I was about to add more, when he responded harshly, "Don't do it again. We look forward to your visits so don't do it again." I hugged him, again in shock, and went to the other room.

Don't do it again? Cuz I'm a child that needs to be scolded? How about meeting me halfway? DH said that the reason he said that is because he's probably still angry and since he doesn't have a filter he was trying to keep it brief so as not to let loose on me, which I obviously can't handle.

I'm so angry about his response. I can't believe he didn't apologize for his comment to me. If I had half a spine, when he called me tired I would have told him right away that I worked hard to look good on my wedding day and that his comment was hurtful. If I had half a spine I'd have told him DH worked hard to cook him food and that his criticism isn't appreciated. But I didn't want to upset a heart patient, or the father of my husband.

Fine, I WON'T do it again. I won't cower or mope or let him hurt me. I just have to think of what to say next time. In the moment I am always too stunned. I do much better in writing or when I've had time to think. But I need to do better next time. What would you have said?

Btw, if anyone thinks I overreacted to the "tired" comment I'm really open to hearing your POV. I do recognize that my sensitivity is my biggest flaw. The one good thing in all of this is that DH is with me on this, though he does think I should try to let comments roll of my back since it would cause me less distress. I have a hard time with mean people in general.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: weeblewobble on June 09, 2013, 07:52:47 PM
"If you look forward to our visits, perhaps you should try to make them more pleasant."

If you have to accept him and his warts, he has to accept yours, too
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Lady Catherine De Bourgh (formerly AustenGirl10) on June 09, 2013, 07:59:29 PM
He was feeling embarrased that you and DH called him on his abusive, demeaning behavior. You are not a child to be spoken to in that way! He says these hurtful things because he can get away with them.  Is there any way you can stop visits for awhile until he learns you won't accept that behavior? And why did your DH plead with you to "stop the madness"?  None of fil's behavior and harsh words are your fault!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Iris on June 09, 2013, 08:00:05 PM
Why on earth would you put with this? He was rude, rude, rude. Quite aside from making a personal remark what about the simple "SHE looks tired". Excuse me, you were *right there* and he was referring to you as SHE? He's telling someone they look bad in their wedding photos, speaking rudely by *anyone's* standards, regardless of the content, reacting ungratefully to the effort that you put in to help them choose a photo, disregarding your wishes as to your comfort of having your faces blown up on the wall and then chastises YOU!? This is one of those situations that makes me want to start waving my arms around like a crazy person I'm so annoyed on your behalf.

Firstly, stop catering to him. I can't fathom why your DH wouldn't simply say "Nonsense, she looks beautiful" right at that moment, or why you wouldn't say "I actually really like this photo, but anyway" and click over to the next. Secondly, stop giving him room in your head. This man does NOT love you, he is a pig who is trying to exert control. Try not to care about his stupid opinions because I guarantee that he is not just "being honest", he is maliciously trying to hurt. So I would say your first option is to just. not. care. what he says. I know that's a lot easier said than done, but with training it's achievable. Honestly, I wouldn't have been that upset at the remark, but I don't have the history that you do. Sometimes when someone has worn us down it only takes a relatively small thing to be that final push.

Second option is to limit contact. I would see that as a long term goal though because it seems clear that your DH is locked into this extremely toxic dynamic where Good Ol' Dad can be as abusive as he wants and it's all FINE because he LOVES us. As an aside I will add that your DH needs a come to Deity meeting right now. He should have your back, NOT throw you to the wolves as he did by telling your FIL the real reason you didn't want to go to dinner when you had asked him not to  >:(

Thirdly, and this is the one that EvilIris would use, is turn it back on him. He says "She looks tired", you say "That's a really rude remark." Or even the slightly kinder "She's the cat's mother. Didn't you know that?" When he takes offence say "What? That's my opinion! We're ALL allowed to speak our opinion aren't we? No? Just you? That seems kind of unfair." Sling it right back at him and see how he likes it.  >:D

You could turn it back on him in other, less direct, ways too. Turn off the slide show because they're clearly not enjoying it. Decide it would be best to not have a picture blown up for them because they don't like any of the photos. Leave early at Christmas because obviously they aren't enjoying your visit. Remember, you're thinking of THEM. After all if they're so unhappy with every single thing you do then clearly you're doing them a favour by removing your offensive presence.

Lastly, and this is really, REALLY, my favourite you say "Shut the Ehell Up, you old windbag. No-one cares what your opinion is!" Or at least imagine saying it in your head. It's not rude to imagine things.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: NyaChan on June 09, 2013, 08:15:23 PM
lorelai - I actually had a really really hard time reading your post.  When I got to FIL telling you not to do it again, I pretty much had to stop.  I am so angry on your behalf and I really have to give you credit for being as patient and tolerant as you were to someone who had no right to expect an apology from the person they hurt.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Venus193 on June 09, 2013, 08:19:33 PM
Your FIL is a bully and control freak.    If "everything can be improved" that also applies to him.  He needs to improve his attitude.

He bullies you because he enjoys that he hurts you and your husband has to see that.  I am going to guess that your husband had to endure some of this treatment back in the day.

My prescription for you is to limit your contact with him until your husband has your back.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: JenJay on June 09, 2013, 08:25:22 PM
I would make it really easy for them to not have to walk on eggshells around me - I'd stop going over there.

When you are with them and they say something hurtful, call them out. Not in a confrontational way, but say "Ouch, that hurt." and take it from there. Ask yourself this - why is it okay for them to say anything they want but it's not okay for you to be hurt by it? That's some pretty messed up logic they've got! I want to send you a hug for the crap your MIL said after your miscarriage. I've had two losses. Yes, there are things more physically painful than uterine cramps, but considering the circumstances? No, her arthritis was not worse pain than what you were experiencing.

Also, I appreciate that your DH was trying to back you up, but asking you to go break the ice with his petulant father wasn't the right move.  :-\
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: checkitnice on June 09, 2013, 08:31:45 PM
I wouldn't go over there again for a long while.  It's one (rude) thing to make an unpleasant comment about someone's appearance on their wedding day, but it's entirely another to bully someone about their behavior like he did.  I'm so sorry.  They sound like incredibly hurtful people.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: kherbert05 on June 09, 2013, 08:34:55 PM
I would make it really easy for them to not have to walk on eggshells around me - I'd stop going over there.

When you are with them and they say something hurtful, call them out. Not in a confrontational way, but say "Ouch, that hurt." and take it from there. Ask yourself this - why is it okay for them to say anything they want but it's not okay for you to be hurt by it? That's some pretty messed up logic they've got! I want to send you a hug for the crap your MIL said after your miscarriage. I've had two losses. Yes, there are things more physically painful than uterine cramps, but considering the circumstances? No, her arthritis was not worse pain than what you were experiencing.

Also, I appreciate that your DH was trying to back you up, but asking you to go break the ice with his petulant father wasn't the right move.  :-\
POD your DH should have your back and they should be at least in time out if not in your lives at all. Your DH should have kicked them to the curb after they treated you so badly after your miscarriage. You two lost a child and your FIL is having a temper tantrum because you aren't acting according to his script - good riddance.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: doodlemor on June 09, 2013, 08:36:09 PM
I'm very upset on your behalf, lorelai!  Your two inlaws definitely deserve each other.

I'm sure that your DH has been dealing with this for so long that he doesn't realize just how toxic it all is.  Perhaps you and DH should talk to a counselor to get some perspective, or at least read some of the toxic parent books that ehellions often recommend.

As far as dealing with these two old f......um....gaseous emissions - Miss Manners would probably use her phrase "How kind of you to say so."

Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: LeveeWoman on June 09, 2013, 08:37:03 PM
It doesn't matter if your husband wants to stand up for you. What matters is if he DOES stand up for you.


I wish I had more advice, but I'm almost speechless. Your father-in-law is a world-class bully. I don't care if he had just had two angiograms and five colonoscopies: there is no reason you have to take this crap lying down.

And, don't even get me started about your mother-in-law's comments about your miscarriage!

These people are toxic, toxic, toxic.

((((((lorelai))))))
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: TootsNYC on June 09, 2013, 08:42:02 PM
Yeah, if they look forward to your visits, that gives you an edge. Take them away for a while.

And perhaps even say to them, "I wish you *would* be more considerate of my feelings. I'm sorry if you think that's 'walking on eggshells'--I think of it as 'treating me kindly' or 'taking my feeings into consideration.' "

Also, you said this:

Quote
I found myself having to defend her choices,

No, you were CHOOSING to defend her choices. Face that.

Acknowledge it.

You can't really change them; or at least, you can't *count* on changing them.

Maybe it's time to get some coaching and strategizing from a family counselor. Not with the goal of "fixing" the family, but with the goal of learning and developing ways to mentally "frame" the interactions within your OWN mindset, so that the visits are easier.

As for the enlarging the photos--why were you bothering? They have all the stuff, etc., and they SAY they want to do it? Let them do it--or not. Disengage.

And I think perhaps you might find it easier to simply say, "ow!" every time they say something that hurts your feelings. Say it RIGHT AWAY. Immediately. And don't say it huge--just make that "wince" really clear. That might give them a chance to say, "Oh, I'm sorry." Instead of letting it build up because you feel you are *required* to tamp it down.

Yeah, I do think you took the "she looks tired" WAY too personally. That's not a judgment on you, at all. That's why I think you could really benefit from some coaching from someone w/ experience helping people deal with families.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: delabela on June 09, 2013, 08:53:27 PM
Your FIL sounds like a jerk who has bulldozed his way through life with a "sorry I just tell it like it is" attitude.

But I get that the entirety of his character is probably not reflected in your post.  You say he loves you very much, so there must be some things that he does that makes you know he cares about you.

So you have a couple of options. One - don't see him any more. It sounds like you are not likely to do that.

Two - stop caring. I mean, I know that's easier said than done, but really, you have to stop caring about what he thinks about things like that AND stop caring if you offend him or hurt his feelings. So what if he doesn't like your dessert and can't appreciate you and your DH making a nice dinner for him? You know it was good and you guys put in the effort to do something nice. So what if he thinks you "look tired" in that picture? I would bet that you heard a hundred times on your wedding day how beautiful you were, and I'm sure everyone who has seen that picture thought you looked great. Basically, he has shown you that you are NOT going to get what you need from him (normal kindness and consideration), so do yourself a favor and stop expecting it.

And call him on it. Not angrily or with malice, but draw his attention to the fact that he has said something stupid. "I worked hard on this, and I would prefer not to hear it criticized." "You may not realize this, but it's offensive to hear that I looked tired on my wedding day." "When you spend visits talking about how much you wish we were here longer, it taints the time we have together." Sure, he may feel like he has to walk on eggshells, but it sounds like his version of walking on eggshells is the general public's version of basic courtesy.

Good luck. I have dealt with similar situations, and it's stressful. 
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: *inviteseller on June 09, 2013, 09:00:46 PM
They sound like horrible people, to be honest.  I hate when people cover their boorish and rude behavior with "I'm just being honest."  I would tell your husband that you can no longer be around these people and if he wants to visit, he will have to go by himself.  He was beyond rude to you (no, you were not being sensitive ) and when your DH stood up to him (good for him!) he made it out to be your fault and talked to you like a child.  Nope..heart surgery or not, he doesn't get a pass to be nasty.  The worst part, to me, is he seems to have you questioning your beauty on your wedding day, and that is just wrong.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: gmatoy on June 09, 2013, 09:09:11 PM
This is a part vent/part plea for how to respond to my negative FIL. Warning - miscarriage mentioned below.
For example, after my miscarriage my MIL said that my cramping could not have been more painful than her arthritis. Cuz that's what I want to hear 2 days after I lost my baby :-/ So yes, walk on eggshells please! A again in shock, and went to the other room.

Having had a miscarriage when I was young and having had arthritis since I was 5 years old (well, that's when I was diagnosed) I will go to my grave thinking that the miscarriage was worse! In addition to the physical pain, I was grieving the loss of my child and, I thought, of my dreams of being a mother.

Feel free to quote me if she ever tries saying that to you again! Start with, "my friend says..." because I want you to know that you have Friends here!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: LeveeWoman on June 09, 2013, 09:10:38 PM
Your FIL sounds like a jerk who has bulldozed his way through life with a "sorry I just tell it like it is" attitude.

But I get that the entirety of his character is probably not reflected in your post.  You say he loves you very much, so there must be some things that he does that makes you know he cares about you.

So you have a couple of options. One - don't see him any more. It sounds like you are not likely to do that.

Two - stop caring. I mean, I know that's easier said than done, but really, you have to stop caring about what he thinks about things like that AND stop caring if you offend him or hurt his feelings. So what if he doesn't like your dessert and can't appreciate you and your DH making a nice dinner for him? You know it was good and you guys put in the effort to do something nice. So what if he thinks you "look tired" in that picture? I would bet that you heard a hundred times on your wedding day how beautiful you were, and I'm sure everyone who has seen that picture thought you looked great. Basically, he has shown you that you are NOT going to get what you need from him (normal kindness and consideration), so do yourself a favor and stop expecting it.

And call him on it. Not angrily or with malice, but draw his attention to the fact that he has said something stupid. "I worked hard on this, and I would prefer not to hear it criticized." "You may not realize this, but it's offensive to hear that I looked tired on my wedding day." "When you spend visits talking about how much you wish we were here longer, it taints the time we have together." Sure, he may feel like he has to walk on eggshells, but it sounds like his version of walking on eggshells is the general public's version of basic courtesy.

Good luck. I have dealt with similar situations, and it's stressful.

Will this "man" even care about these responses?
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: LeveeWoman on June 09, 2013, 09:12:08 PM
This is a part vent/part plea for how to respond to my negative FIL. Warning - miscarriage mentioned below.
For example, after my miscarriage my MIL said that my cramping could not have been more painful than her arthritis. Cuz that's what I want to hear 2 days after I lost my baby :-/ So yes, walk on eggshells please! A again in shock, and went to the other room.

Having had a miscarriage when I was young and having had arthritis since I was 5 years old (well, that's when I was diagnosed) I will go to my grave thinking that the miscarriage was worse! In addition to the physical pain, I was grieving the loss of my child and, I thought, of my dreams of being a mother.

Feel free to quote me if she ever tries saying that to you again! Start with, "my friend says..." because I want you to know that you have Friends here!

AMEN!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: delabela on June 09, 2013, 09:13:59 PM
Your FIL sounds like a jerk who has bulldozed his way through life with a "sorry I just tell it like it is" attitude.

But I get that the entirety of his character is probably not reflected in your post.  You say he loves you very much, so there must be some things that he does that makes you know he cares about you.

So you have a couple of options. One - don't see him any more. It sounds like you are not likely to do that.

Two - stop caring. I mean, I know that's easier said than done, but really, you have to stop caring about what he thinks about things like that AND stop caring if you offend him or hurt his feelings. So what if he doesn't like your dessert and can't appreciate you and your DH making a nice dinner for him? You know it was good and you guys put in the effort to do something nice. So what if he thinks you "look tired" in that picture? I would bet that you heard a hundred times on your wedding day how beautiful you were, and I'm sure everyone who has seen that picture thought you looked great. Basically, he has shown you that you are NOT going to get what you need from him (normal kindness and consideration), so do yourself a favor and stop expecting it.

And call him on it. Not angrily or with malice, but draw his attention to the fact that he has said something stupid. "I worked hard on this, and I would prefer not to hear it criticized." "You may not realize this, but it's offensive to hear that I looked tired on my wedding day." "When you spend visits talking about how much you wish we were here longer, it taints the time we have together." Sure, he may feel like he has to walk on eggshells, but it sounds like his version of walking on eggshells is the general public's version of basic courtesy.

Good luck. I have dealt with similar situations, and it's stressful.

Will this "man" even care about these responses?

See, I don't think it matters if it makes him re-consider his behavior - the OP probably can't make him a better person.  But if she calls him each and every time he does something like this, then he will eventually learn to stop saying it, even if he's thinking it, and that will make OP's life more pleasant.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: LeveeWoman on June 09, 2013, 09:19:09 PM
Your FIL sounds like a jerk who has bulldozed his way through life with a "sorry I just tell it like it is" attitude.

But I get that the entirety of his character is probably not reflected in your post.  You say he loves you very much, so there must be some things that he does that makes you know he cares about you.

So you have a couple of options. One - don't see him any more. It sounds like you are not likely to do that.

Two - stop caring. I mean, I know that's easier said than done, but really, you have to stop caring about what he thinks about things like that AND stop caring if you offend him or hurt his feelings. So what if he doesn't like your dessert and can't appreciate you and your DH making a nice dinner for him? You know it was good and you guys put in the effort to do something nice. So what if he thinks you "look tired" in that picture? I would bet that you heard a hundred times on your wedding day how beautiful you were, and I'm sure everyone who has seen that picture thought you looked great. Basically, he has shown you that you are NOT going to get what you need from him (normal kindness and consideration), so do yourself a favor and stop expecting it.

And call him on it. Not angrily or with malice, but draw his attention to the fact that he has said something stupid. "I worked hard on this, and I would prefer not to hear it criticized." "You may not realize this, but it's offensive to hear that I looked tired on my wedding day." "When you spend visits talking about how much you wish we were here longer, it taints the time we have together." Sure, he may feel like he has to walk on eggshells, but it sounds like his version of walking on eggshells is the general public's version of basic courtesy.

Good luck. I have dealt with similar situations, and it's stressful.

Will this "man" even care about these responses?

See, I don't think it matters if it makes him re-consider his behavior - the OP probably can't make him a better person.  But if she calls him each and every time he does something like this, then he will eventually learn to stop saying it, even if he's thinking it, and that will make OP's life more pleasant.

How do you know he will learn to stop verbally abusing her?
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Slartibartfast on June 09, 2013, 09:20:51 PM
First off, the "tired" thing wouldn't have bothered me.  Then again, I would have stopped at the first complaint and told him "Here, you've got the disk with the pictures on it.  Pick whichever ones you want."  And then every time they bring up how much they'd like to have a picture up, point-blank ask "So why haven't you done it?  We gave you the disk!  Ooh, have you tried this bean dip?"  It's not your problem if your in-laws can't decide on a picture, or think the pictures are all ugly, or wish the pictures had all been done in grayscale.  Not.  Your.  Problem.

Secondly, I do think you need to talk to your DH.  "Hey, DH, I was really hurt when your FIL said those things about me, and I was also kind of hurt that you didn't tell him to back off.  I'm not expecting you to read my mind, but from now on, could you please make an effort to think of his comments from my point of view as well as at face value?  I know he gets to me more than he should, but it also bothers me when you don't see to think anything is wrong with the things he's telling me.  Seeing your parents is kind of stressful and I need to feel that you're beside me as my husband and not just passively enjoying the visit as their son."

If your DH isn't willing to do that - if he thinks you need to just ignore it or let it go or toughen up or give his dad a pass - then you and your DH need to set some serious boundaries.  One of those boundaries may be not seeing his parents as much.  "DH, I know it doesn't bother you, but it bothers me.  Your father verbally attacks me every time we see him.  If "that's just the way he is," then I don't want to go.  I don't want to be sad and hurt the whole time while you're enjoying a vacation."
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: JoieGirl7 on June 09, 2013, 09:25:37 PM
I think you are being oversensitive about his comment.  And I think you have been making a mistake in pretending that these people are like family to you.  You need to back off and not consider that they are people who are going to be sensitive to you.  They are going to be who they always have been and you are not used to it!

In other words, part of the problem for you is that your expectation is that they love you and will act in a loving manner.  Well, maybe they love you in their own way, but its not a way that works for you.
For about the first 15 years of my marriage, I tried to consider that my MIL and FIL were really wonderful people who really did care for me.  They would write that they loved me in cards and it always made me feel really weird when I read that because its not how I felt.  I felt the whole thing was forced.

Add to that that my FIL refused to talk directly to me for about the first 10 years and that my MIL had a number of sisters who compounded the situation and I was not only outnumbered, but my DH didn't want to deal with it.

After 15 years I gave up.  I didn't care what they thought of me!  Finally after 20 years, DH had the same epiphany.

So, when we visit, I don't treat them like family.  I am reserved and polite.  And what's really really weird is that they practically kiss my butt!  I don't get it!

But, I can tell you that my problem with them (for me) went away when I stopped caring what came out of their mouths!

I was reserved and polite.  I bean dipped, avoided problematic subjects, backpedaled like mad and even excused myself upon hitting a hidden land mine.

For all those years I was also raising children and we would talk to them about their grandparents.  Yes, they love you and you can love them, but they are kind of nuts, so keep that in mind.  They did.  One of my sons is finally getting to know them a little better now that he is an adult and living near them.

But, still, he avoids certain topics.  He tries to find the commonalities he has with them so that he can have some kind of relationship with them.

My youngest son was always a target of sorts for them.  Middle son was the favorite (still is--the one who lives out there now).  And there were times when FIL was a jerk to my youngest son and I got in between the two of them like the great wall of China!  Boom!  You don't mess with my kid! 

Youngest son is now an adult too and participated on a vacation activity with the grandparents and his cousins (the only other and much younger grandkids).  One of those cousins, about 10 years old picked up on it and asked her mom why her grandfather didn't like her cousin (youngest son)!

But, to youngest son, it just rolled off his back.  He didn't care anymore.  It doesn't hurt him.  He takes what he wants from the relationship, is cordial and really doesn't let it bother him at all.

The big losers?  The grandparents, of  course!

My father did everything he could to establish and maintain a relationship with my kids.  He treated my husband better, I think, than he ever treated me!  My DH could do no wrong in my dad's eyes.  My mom's too.

People make their own happiness and they have to be responsible for forging their own relationships--real relationships that have give and take, that have listening ears and open hearts.

Don't pretend that's what you have when you don't.  They don't have to love you--your DH loves you--he chose you!  So, who cares what FIL thinks!  He is the one who is missing out!

You can't have a relationship with someone whose road has a giant One Way Only sign on it.

So, visit away! And act like an unrelated guest.  Be cordial and even somewhat distant.  And protect yourself.

My advice to him would be for him to open up and really listen and to actually forge a real relationship with you.  But, since I can't make him do that, you have to protect yourself.

Love your husband and respect his parents for raising him, but don't go any farther than that.  I understand that you don't want to make it harder for him with his heart thing and whatnot, but he would not give you the same consideration--MIL didn't when you had a miscarriage.

So, whether you drop them in reality and don't visit them, drop them in your heart.  It's not worth it.  Loving people do not act like that.

Again.  Protect yourself.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: delabela on June 09, 2013, 09:29:38 PM
Your FIL sounds like a jerk who has bulldozed his way through life with a "sorry I just tell it like it is" attitude.

But I get that the entirety of his character is probably not reflected in your post.  You say he loves you very much, so there must be some things that he does that makes you know he cares about you.

So you have a couple of options. One - don't see him any more. It sounds like you are not likely to do that.

Two - stop caring. I mean, I know that's easier said than done, but really, you have to stop caring about what he thinks about things like that AND stop caring if you offend him or hurt his feelings. So what if he doesn't like your dessert and can't appreciate you and your DH making a nice dinner for him? You know it was good and you guys put in the effort to do something nice. So what if he thinks you "look tired" in that picture? I would bet that you heard a hundred times on your wedding day how beautiful you were, and I'm sure everyone who has seen that picture thought you looked great. Basically, he has shown you that you are NOT going to get what you need from him (normal kindness and consideration), so do yourself a favor and stop expecting it.

And call him on it. Not angrily or with malice, but draw his attention to the fact that he has said something stupid. "I worked hard on this, and I would prefer not to hear it criticized." "You may not realize this, but it's offensive to hear that I looked tired on my wedding day." "When you spend visits talking about how much you wish we were here longer, it taints the time we have together." Sure, he may feel like he has to walk on eggshells, but it sounds like his version of walking on eggshells is the general public's version of basic courtesy.

Good luck. I have dealt with similar situations, and it's stressful.

Will this "man" even care about these responses?

See, I don't think it matters if it makes him re-consider his behavior - the OP probably can't make him a better person.  But if she calls him each and every time he does something like this, then he will eventually learn to stop saying it, even if he's thinking it, and that will make OP's life more pleasant.

How do you know he will learn to stop verbally abusing her?

I don't. He may continue being a jerk until the day he dies. The only way to ensure that he stops the stupid comments is to never see him. But my read of the OP is that she's not willing to never see him again. So all she can do is make it known he will not get to just say whatever comes into his head without a reaction. He may argue and tell her she's being sensitive, but if she is consistent and calls him on it every time, he may also just start "walking on eggshells." If she's going to be around him, she needs to be able to look him in the eye and say "that hurt me, don't say it again" if she's going to attempt to make things better. Personally, I would limit time with him - I can't imagine a week of this - but my read is that the OP isn't considering that option. I could be wrong.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Kariachi on June 09, 2013, 09:38:07 PM
I'm not exactly the most experienced person, but I'm gonna pod all these people saying to back the hedge away. I've discovered some fitting rules; if they make you cry with their comments? Back away. If they can't seem to find a positive word? Back away. If you repeatedly feel the urge to smack them so maybe they'll stop and think about what they say? Don't even bother anymore.

Life's too short to spend on people who don't care.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Library Dragon on June 09, 2013, 09:45:03 PM
Audrey Quest's examples are very much something that needs to be thought about.

OP, your FIL and MIL are bullies.  Do you want your future children to be bullied?  Now is the time to have an honest talk with DH about how you will no longer be mistreated and that you will not allow your children to be treated in this manner.  If that means no contact with them or leaving once FIL starts running anyone down. 

They are in control of their own behavior.  You have a responsibly to yours and your family's health (physical, emotional, and mental).
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: sammycat on June 09, 2013, 09:57:09 PM
I am absolutely incensed on your behalf.  These people are toxic bullies and there's no way in ehell I'd be visiting them again.

And I'm afraid to say but your husband is a huge part of the problem here. Each and every time these vile people say one of their  nasty remarks he needed/needs to step up to the plate and call his parents on it and/or shut them down. Whilst he continues to stand aside and let them bully you, and not defend you, they of course think it's okay to continue on with their venom. Newsflash: this is not okay.

The miscarriage comment blows my mind. I don't care if your MIL has the most painful arthritis in the world, that is nothing compared to the emotional pain of losing a child.

The 'tired' comment was flat out rude and nasty.  Even if it was true, there's no excuse for saying it.

Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Addy on June 09, 2013, 10:02:10 PM
I totally agree with Sammycat. I cannot believe that your husband sent you to deal with his father.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: shhh its me on June 09, 2013, 10:55:23 PM
  I have a question, does he complain about everything in life or just his family?
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: GSNW on June 10, 2013, 02:20:51 AM
Please stop giving them an opportunity to be abusive towards you. 

If the "she looks tired" comment was all there was, I would agree that you were being oversensitive.  However, what I took from your post is that you were trying anything and everything to get them a wedding portrait that they would like and want to display.  STOP.  You are beating your brains out trying to please this guy and he wants to throw in a criticism for good measure? 

And the comments from MIL about your miscarriage?  REALLY?  There is simply no justifying a remark like that, two days or two years after you lost your baby.  From anyone.

I'll say it again - stop giving them the opportunity.  Stop trying to please them when they clearly cannot be mollified, start working on making yourself and your DH happy - within your own family unit of two - instead.  And many hugs your way.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: peaches on June 10, 2013, 03:15:33 AM
DH's parents have been allowed (by their entire family) to get away with abusive behavior for far too long. They may mean well, they may not know any better, but the fact remains that what are doing is abusive.

Your DH, instead of trying to broker a relationship between you and his parents (and their hurtful behavior), needs to get on the right side (yours) and stay there. A real man does not allow his parents to disrespect his wife.

The way they are behaving would have resulted in a quick goodbye and exit, if it had happened to or around my DH.

I would set some ground rules before the next visit. If they don't agree to them, no visit. Make the visit a short one. Depending on how things go, the visit after that might be longer (or not take place at all).

You and your DH are trying way too hard to please these people. And you're the ones holding the trump cards. They need you a lot more than you need them, at this time of life. Someday you may have children, and if they want to be around those children, they need to shape up.

I hope you will show your DH this thread. He seems like a good and considerate person. He needs to step up to the plate and be the leader on this issue, as it's his parents who are the problem. Together, you two need to set and enforce some boundaries.

By the way, I am a mother of two and grandmother of two. I cannot imagine treating my grown children and my dear SIL and DIL the way you have been treated (and I certainly wouldn't get away with it if I tried!).


Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: nayberry on June 10, 2013, 05:41:45 AM
i had to deal with my FiL and his attitude towards me, well his attitude to the world really, he believed he knew best, even when it was on a subject that he had no experience in and i had worked in for years.

my solution?  i don't seem them any more, which is a shame as MiL is lovely! but as she doesn't drive and they live an hour away (i know close!) it means i don't see either of them.
have to admit i feel better for it
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Redsoil on June 10, 2013, 08:09:46 AM
I generally wouldn't be this extreme, but from what you've said, I'd never see them again.

"Don't do it again" indeed.  There would be no fear of "doing it again" if you cut off all contact.  What a pack of rabid scudgebuckets - arthritis vs miscarriage?  How self-absorbed and petty.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: bopper on June 10, 2013, 08:12:28 AM
You are trying to make your FIL happy. Most likely he won't ever be, so stop trying.  So if they say they want a picture blown up and you do it, you are stepping into making them happy about a picture.  Instead, make the pictures available and let them know about it and then step away.

If they comment on your pictures, instead of JADEing (Justify, Argue, Defend or Explain) just say "I am sorry you didn't like them" and then leave/change the subject/go get some water.

Also, like a normal, caring person you are trying to maintain a close relationship with your in-laws.
Reconsider the framework of your relationship.  Talk to your DH about what you need from him.
Don't suggest visiting them. Don't encourage your DH to call them more than he would do on his own.
Determine your boundaries. What will you put up with?  Talk to your DH about various incidents and what you want him to do (defend you) and when you will just leave when it is too much.

Basically the parents need logical consequences...they are rude, you spend less time with them.  Either they learn or you just don't spend time with them.

Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Zizi-K on June 10, 2013, 08:22:32 AM
A lot of people have recommended staying calm, and telling your FIL in the moment when he's hurt your feelings. However, I think he would read your 'staying calm' (which is what you've been doing, really) as 'not actually hurt' or 'just kicking up a fuss'.

Rather, if in the moment of a horrible comment you feel like crying, I would recommend that you go ahead and cry. Let him see the emotional fallout of his comment. Your husband will have to react to your tears, instead of staying silent 'for family harmony', and your FIL will not be able to deny his insensitiveness. Imagine if, after he said, 'she looks tired!', he was confronted by your tearful face asking 'why would you say something like that, it's so mean! Husband, can you believe what he just said about our wedding photos??' etc.

If he's going to ruin your evening, I see no reason why his should not be ruined as well. Over time, you may be labelled 'the sensitive one', but at least he'll try to curb his poison tongue around you because he won't want to deal with your emotional outbursts.

(I should add - I'm not recommending that you fake the emotion, I'm just saying that you should express the emotion that you do feel and not hide it for their sake.)
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: *inviteseller on June 10, 2013, 08:41:45 AM
I would not start crying in front of him...that is obviously a sign of weakness to FIL and sets him off further.  Walk out..just walk out.  Refuse to let him hurt you further.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Venus193 on June 10, 2013, 08:42:08 AM
I agree with *inviteseller.  I think the FIL is looking to make the OP cry.  We've labeled him a bully and that is what bullies look for.

Instead, look him dead in the eye and tell him he is never to talk to you this way again.  And if he does consequence him.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: peaches on June 10, 2013, 09:04:20 AM
It's ironic that the in-laws say they don't want to have to walk on eggshells around OP.

In reality, it's OP and her DH who are tiptoeing around these rude people!

OP, you are not being overly sensitive. Your in-laws, and FIL in particular, are incredibly insensitive to the feelings of others.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: scansons on June 10, 2013, 09:19:34 AM
(((Hugs)))

I'm sorry about this.  I grew up with a Bully like this.  I know exactly how it feels.  I was the one who was always too sensitive and taking him to seriously and he loved me, but it was alright to say horrible things to me cause it was the truth.  We still don't have a good relationship.  I fully expect we never will. 

But dealing with him, is both simple and extremely difficult.  You have to learn to laugh your bacon-fed knave off every time he says something horrible.  Believe me, once he's not getting traction, he'll stop.  He may move on to another subject.  But the more you laugh, the less traction he gets with his bone head stupid remarks, the less he makes them.  And eventually, you may even garner a certain amount of grudging respect from. 

"Of course I didn't look tired on my wedding day.  You're being silly FIL."

"DH cooked a wonderful dinner.  You're being silly FIL."

"Come out for a whole week at Thanksgiving.  Oh, that's a good one FIL"  Ha ha ha. 

If it helps, come up with ways to answer his most common remarks before hand.  I had an issue my Dad had been riding me about since I was five.  Took me thirty years to shut him down.  I had to write out my response  ahead of time.  But once I did, it never came up again.

Don't take him seriously.  He dosen't deserve it.  Respect is earned.  Make him earn it. 

ETA:  Also "Don't do it again."  should always be greeted with "Or you'll what?"   Cause what's he going to do.  kick you out? 
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: TurtleDove on June 10, 2013, 09:25:33 AM
I would not start crying in front of him...that is obviously a sign of weakness to FIL and sets him off further.  Walk out..just walk out.  Refuse to let him hurt you further.

POD.  I can understand why you are hurt OP, but among the best advice I have been given is to not let the words or actions of other people affect how I feel about myself.  The "she looks tired" comment truly would not have affected me unless I also thought I looked tired, which it sounds like you didn't.  How I would have handled that would have been to say, "Hah! Are we looking at the same picture?  I think we all look great!" 

I agree that limiting contact is a good approach, but I also think in general it makes sense to work on your own sensitivity.  I am not an overly sensitive person - very little offends me or hurts me anymore.  I was not always this way.  I used to be very hurt by what other people did or said or thought about me.  It ate me up and was not a good way to live. 

Once I was confident in how *I* felt about my life and my choices (and appearance and relationships and ___) I was able to really not let people who were not "value adds" to my life bother me or cause me to doubt my decisions.  So a random person thinks my parenting choice was wrong?  So what!  I am confident I did my best.

I am sorry you are dealing with this and I hope you are able to not let your FIL get you down.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: m2kbug on June 10, 2013, 10:00:17 AM
This is an abusive situation.  Your husband is so complacent in this behavior, he accepts it and dances around it, trying to make amends when it's not his place to have to do so.  He's gone all this time accepting this behavior and making excuses.  He's stuck.  It's going to be extremely difficult to get your husband to back you up (and himself) and call his father on this behavior.  I think that I would simply minimize any further contact.  If that means you have to make arrangements so that you can leave early (with the kids) and he can stay as long as he wants, that is what I would do.  Just stay for the bare minimum necessary or do not go at all.  You will have to have some discussions with your husband about this. 

The second thing you need to do is work on your own reaction and feelings about his hurtful words.  You need to develop a thick skin around this man and try not to let his words affect you, which I know is easier said than done. 

One thing that popped into my head while I was reading was, "Do you have to SAY everything you're thinking?"  And this crazymaking that he he loves you.  No, it's about control and breaking you, not loving you.  So he didn't like your photographer.  Was it necessary to share that information?  Was it necessary to share in such a mean spirited way?  Could he have found anything good to say about any of those pictures? 

I'm not sure how easily and readily I could come up with words to deflect and point out his bad behavior.  Some people have mentioned good ones.  But people like this rarely change, and the best thing to do is to minimize contact, if not completely cut it off completely.  Look at how he behaved when he knew he hurt you.  It became YOUR fault and your husband wanted YOU to make amends.  That is so wrong on so many levels. 

Where is MIL on this?  Is she equal in this or is she just as complacent to put up with it from FIL?  You said that she has said hurtful things, also stating that you are very sensitive, and I'm wondering if she's just as crotchety or if you got your feelings hurts, as tends to happen from time to time in life.  If both are toxic, all the more reason to avoid these people. 

I think at this point, I would explain to my husband that I am no longer putting myself in the path of such a toxic individual and I will minimize anymore contact.  Your husband would be well served to realize he does not have to put up with such abusive behavior as well and stick to it.  Seek professional counseling or classes if you think that would be useful or see what kinds of books are out there to help YOUR thinking and YOUR ability manage around these types of situations. 
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Eden on June 10, 2013, 10:15:26 AM
I'd take a multi-pronged approach.

1. Do not engage. I would absolutely not converse with them about anything other than basic pleasantries. They make comments on you and your life because they are given the chance to do so.

2. If and when they share their negative comments train yourself to know those comments are actually not about you at all but their need to control and start standing up for yourself. I don't mean getting into fights. But for example:

FIL: You look tired in these photos
You: What a rude thing to say
FIL: What? It's the truth. I say what I think. You need to get over it.
You: I don't NEED to do anything. Just because you have a thought doesn't mean you need to say it. Perhaps you're the one who needs to change.

Then walk away.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Otterpop on June 10, 2013, 10:31:58 AM
I completely POD Audrey Quest's experience.  My in-laws practically rolled out the red carpet for me after I started treating them like acquaintances, polite but distant.

The explanation is they disrespect anyone in their "inner" circle of family.  Close relations or anyone stupid enough to care about their hurtful opinions are prey to a bully.  Once you jump back to an outer orbit they have to be more polite (to lure you back in as you are now outside the influence of the destructive gravity, outside the range of their weapons).  Do not let your guard down and become vulnerable again.  It is their nature to hurt you and anyone "close."  It makes them feel better about their pathetic lives.

You may feel like a pioneer, lonely explorer in this new dynamic.  However, your self-esteem and emotional well-being are worth it.  Create your own loving environment within your own household and only let in only those who abide by healthy rules of interaction.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: mime on June 10, 2013, 11:20:11 AM
I'm so sorry you have had to tolerate this.

My thoughts:

MIL's comment after your miscarriage was beyond rude. It was absolutely horrid and demeaning. I hope you have found peace after your heartbreaking loss.  :(

DH sounds to me like a mixture of support and non-support. Sending you to make things right with FIL was so very wrong! FIL's 'don't do it again' comment was even more wrong! No more apologizing for responding in a hurt way to hurtful actions.


Like you, I struggle to find the right thing to say in the moment when I'm hit with nasty behavior. I have found in those moments what I can come up with is body language. I shake my head, or roll my eyes as if to convey 'there he goes with all his insults again...', or give a facial expression that reflects surprise (but not hurt) at a rude comment, or just leaving the room. I don't do it in a big-acting way to put on a show for anyone, it is more for my own 'release' rather than for conveying a message to anyone else.

Two interesting results have come from this:
1- as I have employeed that body language, my emotional response starts to follow my physical response. So, I may start out feeling hurt by a comment, then give a sarcastic smile and shake my head, and my feelings actually change to a sort of 'he's not worth my emotional energy' dismissiveness.

2- The hurtful people get no response from me to further encourage them.


I love Audrey Quest's and Otterpop's advice to distance yourself from the ILs in your behavior by becoming distant and polite. I've never tried that, but it sounds brilliant.

I also agree with PPs advice to limit contact. Your marriage is certainly not strengthened when DH is more supportive of others over his wife. Your time is too precious to waste around those people.

Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: lorelai on June 10, 2013, 11:27:54 AM
OP here: Thanks for all of your comments. I just got back home last night and DH is still over there, so I have some quiet time to reflect on the situation. Iím still not sure how Iíd like to proceed, but I figured I could respond to some of these questions.

He was feeling embarrased that you and DH called him on his abusive, demeaning behavior. You are not a child to be spoken to in that way! He says these hurtful things because he can get away with them.  Is there any way you can stop visits for awhile until he learns you won't accept that behavior? And why did your DH plead with you to "stop the madness"?  None of fil's behavior and harsh words are your fault!
DH asked me if I wanted him to tell FIL to stop the madness and I told him not to, because I felt that the freeze-out was childish and I wanted to be the bigger person. So he asked me to then go talk to FIL so I did.

Firstly, stop catering to him. I can't fathom why your DH wouldn't simply say "Nonsense, she looks beautiful" right at that moment, or why you wouldn't say "I actually really like this photo, but anyway" and click over to the next.
At the time DH said he wanted to say something, but then because I responded he thought I was alright Ė and he also didnít think the comment was as bad as I did. After hearing directly from me how much it hurt me, it upset him. When he went out to the living room to tell them what happened, and they kept pushing back with all their crap, he kept defending my point of view, so I appreciate that at least. He told me in the future if he is not reacting to something on my behalf due to cluelessness or whatever, that I should look at him or come up with a signal so he can defend me properly.

Lastly, and this is really, REALLY, my favourite you say "Shut the Ehell Up, you old windbag. No-one cares what your opinion is!" Or at least imagine saying it in your head. It's not rude to imagine things.

Thank you for this, I love it. :D

Your FIL sounds like a jerk who has bulldozed his way through life with a "sorry I just tell it like it is" attitude.

But I get that the entirety of his character is probably not reflected in your post.  You say he loves you very much, so there must be some things that he does that makes you know he cares about you.

So you have a couple of options. One - don't see him any more. It sounds like you are not likely to do that.

Two - stop caring. I mean, I know that's easier said than done, but really, you have to stop caring about what he thinks about things like that AND stop caring if you offend him or hurt his feelings. So what if he doesn't like your dessert and can't appreciate you and your DH making a nice dinner for him? You know it was good and you guys put in the effort to do something nice. So what if he thinks you "look tired" in that picture? I would bet that you heard a hundred times on your wedding day how beautiful you were, and I'm sure everyone who has seen that picture thought you looked great. Basically, he has shown you that you are NOT going to get what you need from him (normal kindness and consideration), so do yourself a favor and stop expecting it.

And call him on it. Not angrily or with malice, but draw his attention to the fact that he has said something stupid. "I worked hard on this, and I would prefer not to hear it criticized." "You may not realize this, but it's offensive to hear that I looked tired on my wedding day." "When you spend visits talking about how much you wish we were here longer, it taints the time we have together." Sure, he may feel like he has to walk on eggshells, but it sounds like his version of walking on eggshells is the general public's version of basic courtesy.

Good luck. I have dealt with similar situations, and it's stressful.

Will this "man" even care about these responses?

See, I don't think it matters if it makes him re-consider his behavior - the OP probably can't make him a better person.  But if she calls him each and every time he does something like this, then he will eventually learn to stop saying it, even if he's thinking it, and that will make OP's life more pleasant.
Iím not sure he will care about the responses. But I do think itís possible such responses will make me feel better so maybe thatís what counts. Before I left yesterday DH was cutting some watermelon and started eating the leftover watermelon on the rinds. MIL starts up Ė ďDonít eat that, itís not tasty. Stop it.Ē FIL continues ďItís not tasty, itís the bad part. Donít eat it.Ē They REALLY like to tell people what to do. DH kept eating it and I smiled and said, ďWell it must be tasty if youíre still eating it, huh!Ē and DH said he didnít see what was wrong with it. Itís not like he was eating the rind itself, just the pink watermelon bits. Iím relating this because being contrary to their negativity and controlling nature felt really satisfying! So maybe being contrary to the other unsolicited opinions will make me feel better too.

Audrey Quest's examples are very much something that needs to be thought about.

OP, your FIL and MIL are bullies.  Do you want your future children to be bullied?  Now is the time to have an honest talk with DH about how you will no longer be mistreated and that you will not allow your children to be treated in this manner.
 
No. I really, really donít. I told DH yesterday that even if I couldnít stick up for myself, that I would not let them to talk our future children like that, and he agreed. Somehow I feel more strong and capable to defend children I donít even have, rather than myself. But I hope to get there.

I am absolutely incensed on your behalf.  These people are toxic bullies and there's no way in ehell I'd be visiting them again.

And I'm afraid to say but your husband is a huge part of the problem here. Each and every time these vile people say one of their  nasty remarks he needed/needs to step up to the plate and call his parents on it and/or shut them down. Whilst he continues to stand aside and let them bully you, and not defend you, they of course think it's okay to continue on with their venom. Newsflash: this is not okay.

The miscarriage comment blows my mind. I don't care if your MIL has the most painful arthritis in the world, that is nothing compared to the emotional pain of losing a child.

The 'tired' comment was flat out rude and nasty.  Even if it was true, there's no excuse for saying it.
Although DH does defend me, it takes me awhile to even tell him whatís going on, and so itís never in the moment. I didnít tell him for 6 weeks what MIL said about my miscarriage. I just told him I wasnít up for talking to people on the phone and that he needed to field the calls. When I finally told him, he confronted her (and she denied it). Later while a guest in our house she apologized to me. It was so unexpected I didnít get to ask her the question I really wanted to Ė why did she say it at all?

I sometimes think my in-laws are like bad puppies. If I donít confront them peeing on the floor in the moment nothing will change.

  I have a question, does he complain about everything in life or just his family?
He has a lot of positive things to say about life and family, but nothing is ever 100%. There is always disapproval or a criticism somewhere. And he truly doesnít think thereís anything wrong with that. My husband was a good student in high school but every time he came home with an A test FIL would say, well [valedictorian girl] got an A+. He did say positive things about some photos Ė but I donít know if he thought this was a review and critique session because thatís how he treated it.

I have never heard him say anything positive about SILís choices or life. If he talked to me the way he talks to her, I would run screaming. This last weekend MIL told her we were taking a family portrait at xmas time and she needed lose weight. Afterwards I told SIL how sorry I was that she said that, but she said she was used to it. Perhaps I should have said something in the moment to defend her.

You are trying to make your FIL happy. Most likely he won't ever be, so stop trying.  So if they say they want a picture blown up and you do it, you are stepping into making them happy about a picture.  Instead, make the pictures available and let them know about it and then step away.
I think youíre right about this.

If he's going to ruin your evening, I see no reason why his should not be ruined as well. Over time, you may be labelled 'the sensitive one', but at least he'll try to curb his poison tongue around you because he won't want to deal with your emotional outbursts.

(I should add - I'm not recommending that you fake the emotion, I'm just saying that you should express the emotion that you do feel and not hide it for their sake.)
Although crying in front of him is certainly an option, and I would like for him to be faced with the consequences of his actions, it may lead to more of what youíre all calling bullying. He used to call DH a crybaby and that he needed to stop in order to be part of the cool, tough club. Itís a wonder that DH turned out as wonderful and sensitive as he is Ė he doesnít have any qualms about crying when it comes up, despite FIL doing this.

Where is MIL on this?  Is she equal in this or is she just as complacent to put up with it from FIL?  You said that she has said hurtful things, also stating that you are very sensitive, and I'm wondering if she's just as crotchety or if you got your feelings hurts, as tends to happen from time to time in life.  If both are toxic, all the more reason to avoid these people. 
 

MIL actually came to my room (just walked in, she doesnít know how to knock) and turned on the light and told me that I made FIL feel bad and that I needed to come out and talk to them so he wouldnít feel bad anymore. I told her I wasnít feeling well and that I did want to talk to them but that it would have to be later. She didnít contribute to the initial photo critique. Sheís got arthritis, and sheís in a lot of pain a lot of the time, and I think that makes her a mean old bat. Sheís rude to waiters, rude to family, rude to me. She thinks of herself as loving. I see that she can be loving, mostly to DH. Sheís 70, and she likes to tell people what to do. I resist people telling me what to do especially because many of my choices were not honored when I was younger (my parents sent me away to India for two years because I was behaving badly according to their perceptions, when I was 14), so when I turned 18 I took that independence and ran with it, real fast. So I have a hard time with their controlling natures.

I completely POD Audrey Quest's experience.  My in-laws practically rolled out the red carpet for me after I started treating them like acquaintances, polite but distant.

The explanation is they disrespect anyone in their "inner" circle of family.  Close relations or anyone stupid enough to care about their hurtful opinions are prey to a bully.  Once you jump back to an outer orbit they have to be more polite (to lure you back in as you are now outside the influence of the destructive gravity, outside the range of their weapons).  Do not let your guard down and become vulnerable again.  It is their nature to hurt you and anyone "close."  It makes them feel better about their pathetic lives.

You may feel like a pioneer, lonely explorer in this new dynamic.  However, your self-esteem and emotional well-being are worth it.  Create your own loving environment within your own household and only let in only those who abide by healthy rules of interaction.

I think the sad truth (sad for DH anyway) is that this is probably going to be the mode of operation going forward. Yesterday when he was dropping me off at the airport he said that perhaps a polite distance would better serve me, even if itís not what they want. What they want is to be really close to me, so close so that they can treat me like a daughter and talk to me all the time on the phone. Before I knew what they were like, DH and I made the decision to call our in-laws mom and dad. I think that has forced a familiarity, a relationship that does not or should not exist.

This weekend they talked a lot about visiting us, but the truth is that this year, Iíve spent more time with them than with my own parents and my new niece. So I would like to take the next few months to focus on my own family and hopefully that will preclude any visits from them. The last time they visited they stayed for 10 days and it was awful. This time perhaps I can bring that down to 4 or 5 days. Our next definitely scheduled visit is for xmas, and itís better if itís celebrated in Texas so I can choose my flights for the shortest visit possible.

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts about my miscarriage. Itís been more than a year but itís still a kick in the heart/gut to think about it, every time. DH and I are actively trying to have a baby amidst fertility issues, and I dread the day that my in-laws have an even bigger excuse to visit with us. I am going to keep reading and rereading, and decide what to do. At least what I think I should do, before DH comes back.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: lorelai on June 10, 2013, 11:33:11 AM
I should add that we come from a culture (both our parents are Indian immigrants) where it's ok to comment on people's looks or weight. When I go visit relatives in India, I'm told how much weight I've gained or how much darker I look and how I need to stay out of the sun. Still, my parents are much more tactful, and would never say anything like this to DH or to me.

If I was a completely horrible person, I'd tell FIL that he looks tired in every photo because he doesn't know how to smile. (Sidenote: Indian people from India don't often smile in posed portraits, I don't know why. They stare seriously at the camera. It's so strange! I hate to generalize about my own people, but I've seen it more often than not. Our wedding photos are a good example of this.) Anyway, that would be mean, so I won't say it. But I wish I could!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: NyaChan on June 10, 2013, 11:38:26 AM
I should add that we come from a culture (both our parents are Indian immigrants) where it's ok to comment on people's looks or weight. When I go visit relatives in India, I'm told how much weight I've gained or how much darker I look and how I need to stay out of the sun. Still, my parents are much more tactful, and would never say anything like this to DH or to me.

If I was a completely horrible person, I'd tell FIL that he looks tired in every photo because he doesn't know how to smile. (Sidenote: Indian people from India don't often smile in posed portraits, I don't know why. They stare seriously at the camera. It's so strange! I hate to generalize about my own people, but I've seen it more often than not. Our wedding photos are a good example of this.) Anyway, that would be mean, so I won't say it. But I wish I could!

Doesn't it just make you want to scream?  Drives me nuts that they do it - even after one time when my mom got to the family event first and told all the wives that no one was to say a word to either of her children about weight (UNPRECEDENTED!!), the first words out of my uncle's mouth "You've gained weight."  His wife read him the riot act and he later came back to hug me and tell me how pretty I looked  ::)  Gotta say though, my parents used to threaten to send me to India, but they never actually followed through.  I'm sorry that happened to you. 

This info re: culture kind of puts a new spin on things for me - they really aren't going to change because from their perspective, being older and parents and especially with you being a DIL, they don't have to apologize to you no matter what they say.  In their eyes, you being the younger, female, daughter in law means that you should be patient with them and just deal with it.  I think it is nice that your husband is willing to stick up for you if he knows what is happening - which means you should tell him when they say bad things! - since I know so many who won't say a word  :-\
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: weeblewobble on June 10, 2013, 11:45:32 AM

I think the sad truth (sad for DH anyway) is that this is probably going to be the mode of operation going forward. Yesterday when he was dropping me off at the airport he said that perhaps a polite distance would better serve me, even if itís not what they want. What they want is to be really close to me, so close so that they can treat me like a daughter and talk to me all the time on the phone. Before I knew what they were like, DH and I made the decision to call our in-laws mom and dad. I think that has forced a familiarity, a relationship that does not or should not exist.


Well considering how they treat their daughter, that sure as heck isn't a position I would want to put myself in.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: CakeBeret on June 10, 2013, 11:46:59 AM
(((hugs)))

My mother is a bully much like your in-laws. After my miscarriage, she told me "It wasn't even a real baby yet so stop being so dramatic." When I was facing a marital crisis and mistakenly thought that it was time to tell her what was going on, she spread despicable rumors about me. My relationship with her has been a series of betrayals interspersed with little insults, and when I show upset, she finds a way to blame it on me.

I've healed and become a better person despite her hurtfulness. What works for me is--as many other posters mentioned--polite distance. I don't share with her anything more than I would share with a casual acquaintance. When I have to chitchat with her I'll talk about my cat's latest antics or my son's new achievement, but my #1 rule is do not give her any ammunition. Do not share anything that can be used against me.

IMO, this is the route you need to go with your in-laws. Pretend they're a next-door neighbor or a distant cousin. Pretend they're a long-forgotten acquaintance with whom you are chatting at the grocery store. Don't make any more effort for them than you would a near-stranger. If you want to cook a nice dinner, concentrate on your enjoyment of it and don't expect any compliments from them.

You can even list things, in your mind beforehand, that are safe subjects. So when they ask you what's going on in your life, you can tell them about a book you read or a new coworker. When they ask you personal questions, give them a non-answer and change the subject. Eventually they'll get used to it, and so will you, and it won't be as much effort.

And lest you think that this is a sad and unfulfilling way to live, I find it quite freeing. There's a lot of security in knowing that they can't hurt you anymore. Once you get into the pattern of treating them with passing superficiality, it feels more natural and comfortable, and you may even enjoy your relationship with them again.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: lorelai on June 10, 2013, 11:49:26 AM
I should add that we come from a culture (both our parents are Indian immigrants) where it's ok to comment on people's looks or weight. When I go visit relatives in India, I'm told how much weight I've gained or how much darker I look and how I need to stay out of the sun. Still, my parents are much more tactful, and would never say anything like this to DH or to me.

If I was a completely horrible person, I'd tell FIL that he looks tired in every photo because he doesn't know how to smile. (Sidenote: Indian people from India don't often smile in posed portraits, I don't know why. They stare seriously at the camera. It's so strange! I hate to generalize about my own people, but I've seen it more often than not. Our wedding photos are a good example of this.) Anyway, that would be mean, so I won't say it. But I wish I could!

Doesn't it just make you want to scream?  Drives me nuts that they do it - even after one time when my mom got to the family event first and told all the wives that no one was to say a word to either of her children about weight (UNPRECEDENTED!!), the first words out of my uncle's mouth "You've gained weight."  His wife read him the riot act and he later came back to hug me and tell me how pretty I looked  ::)  Gotta say though, my parents used to threaten to send me to India, but they never actually followed through.  I'm sorry that happened to you. 

Haha yes, it's awful. It's so awful all I can do is try to find the humor in it. People really don't need to say everything they're thinking.

I know sending kids back to India was such an urban legend, but I'm here to say it does happen, and it stinks!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: Eden on June 10, 2013, 11:51:55 AM
This info re: culture kind of puts a new spin on things for me - they really aren't going to change because from their perspective, being older and parents and especially with you being a DIL, they don't have to apologize to you no matter what they say.  In their eyes, you being the younger, female, daughter in law means that you should be patient with them and just deal with it.  I think it is nice that your husband is willing to stick up for you if he knows what is happening - which means you should tell him when they say bad things! - since I know so many who won't say a word  :-\

This information definitely makes me think of OP's in-laws less as blatant bullies. But to me I think the approach is the same. Whether it be a family culture of open commentary or a regional culture of commentary, it is something with which the OP and her DH are not completely comfortable. Like all cultural shifts, it will be slow and take effort. And standing ground and letting the in-laws know it hurts feelings and isn't welcome is really the only way to make it stop.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: Otterpop on June 10, 2013, 12:01:22 PM
I should add that we come from a culture (both our parents are Indian immigrants) where it's ok to comment on people's looks or weight. When I go visit relatives in India, I'm told how much weight I've gained or how much darker I look and how I need to stay out of the sun. Still, my parents are much more tactful, and would never say anything like this to DH or to me.

If I was a completely horrible person, I'd tell FIL that he looks tired in every photo because he doesn't know how to smile. (Sidenote: Indian people from India don't often smile in posed portraits, I don't know why. They stare seriously at the camera. It's so strange! I hate to generalize about my own people, but I've seen it more often than not. Our wedding photos are a good example of this.) Anyway, that would be mean, so I won't say it. But I wish I could!

Doesn't it just make you want to scream?  Drives me nuts that they do it - even after one time when my mom got to the family event first and told all the wives that no one was to say a word to either of her children about weight (UNPRECEDENTED!!), the first words out of my uncle's mouth "You've gained weight."  His wife read him the riot act and he later came back to hug me and tell me how pretty I looked  ::)  Gotta say though, my parents used to threaten to send me to India, but they never actually followed through.  I'm sorry that happened to you. 

This info re: culture kind of puts a new spin on things for me - they really aren't going to change because from their perspective, being older and parents and especially with you being a DIL, they don't have to apologize to you no matter what they say.  In their eyes, you being the younger, female, daughter in law means that you should be patient with them and just deal with it.  I think it is nice that your husband is willing to stick up for you if he knows what is happening - which means you should tell him when they say bad things! - since I know so many who won't say a word  :-\

OMGosh that is so funny.  We had a rebellious 14 year old at one time and DH's co-worker said his family in India would take her over the summer and straighten her out.  We almost took him up on it! (we are not from there...)  Must be a cultural thing.

OP I feel for you.  It's not going to be easy, especially coming from a culture that values family closeness.  Your in-laws don't have a filter for their harshness.  (My MIL comes from a similar culture but her boys learned quickly, in a corporate environment, you have to temper yourself.  Also, they wanted to keep their wives  >:D).

Once you start protecting yourself and gain experience, it will become second nature.  You will also be better prepared to stand up for your children.  Good luck!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: cwm on June 10, 2013, 01:40:54 PM
OP, you are NOT being oversensitive about any of this. I have relatives who are oversensitive, and they use that to control everything around them. They've become bullies themselves because of how much they make everyone else tiptoe around them. You are nothing like them. You are the victim of bullying here, plain and simple.

It sounds like your DH has recognized that things are going to have to change. I agree that he should stand up for you, and you should have a signal to prompt him that he needs to say something.

I also think that calling FIL out on his big mouth is a good thing. Sometime when he says something hurtful, say something lightly to someone else that he can clearly hear that you learned as a small child that it wasn't necessary to say every little thing that went through your head, especially if someone could be hurt by it.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: rashea on June 10, 2013, 05:12:27 PM
I think the comment that you looked tired in a photo isn't bad on the face. The issue is that it was a straw, and you broke.

I agree with taking a big step back and thinking of them as acquaintance for a while. One thing that might help to desensitize you is to think about the "intent, meaning, and impact". Their intent was not to hurt you (I suspect, especially with the cultural information). I suspect the intent was to reject the picture in some way, and he came up with something. It's also possible that the fact you were smiling made it seem unacceptable to them, if non-smiling is what they are used to. The meaning for you was painful. A "you didn't look good on your wedding day". On the other hand, you took that a bit further. At most, he said that you looked tired in that photo. The problem is that if there is never anything positive said, you start reading more and more negativity into everything and it's a downward spiral. That's the impact.

You can't change them. You can try, and you might get them to modify their behavior a bit. But they will likely always hurt you like this. So now you have to decide if you want to try and just ignore their stupid little insults, or if you want to call them on it, or just draw back from them. Maybe a combination. But I think it helps if you can look at what their real intent might be.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: Minmom3 on June 10, 2013, 05:19:41 PM
Lorelei - maybe you could return to extreme formality in addressing them, and call them Mr. FIL and Mrs. MIL?  When they ask you why you have changed, you can tell them they aren't treating you with love, and you choose to be more formal from now on, and not call them Mom and Dad.  And I completely agree with the PP's who say to give them as little amunition - information - as possible.  They take that info and poke holes in you with it, so give them only the details untrustworthy strangers get.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: katycoo on June 10, 2013, 07:09:12 PM
Your FIL (and MIL) are clearly thoughtless people.  You can't change them, but you can stop allowing them to hurt you.

When they say something hurtfull, call them on it.

When they want your help but then criticise you, stop helping.  You said they have all the digital files of your wedding.  if they want to pick the photo they like best and make your face enormous, they can do so, but they shouldn't expect you to help when it makes you unhappy.

When they criticise your food, stop cooking for them.  When they ask why you stopped, tell them.

But if you keep putting yourself out there, you'll keep getting hurt.  This might help them to change, to see how mean and hurtful they're being.  It might not.  but at the end of the day, you'll be happier.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: lorelai on June 11, 2013, 12:20:18 AM
I'm still not exactly sure what to do, but I just wanted to thank everyone for all for the advice. And say that I'm sorry to hear of your miscarriages too :(
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: Miss Unleaded on June 11, 2013, 09:33:15 AM
I'm really very angry on your behalf!   >:(
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: StuffedGrapeLeaves on June 11, 2013, 09:40:19 AM
I'm still not exactly sure what to do, but I just wanted to thank everyone for all for the advice. And say that I'm sorry to hear of your miscarriages too :(

Lorelai, I also have similar cultural issues in my relationship with my in-laws, and the only thing that had worked for me was to pull back from the relationship.  I became more formal with them, I don't tell them anything beyond the bare minimum, and we cut back on our visits.  DH and I tried talking to them and pointing out what they were doing were wrong, but that didn't do anything.  So both of us now agreed to pull back, especially once we had our DS and it became more important that he was not subjected to the same treatment and that he didn't see me subjected to it.  I'm sorry you are going through this, but the most important thing is to save your relationship and any future kids that you have. 
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: Gyburc on June 12, 2013, 05:12:33 AM
(((lorelai and lorelai's DH))) I hope that things get a lot better for you very soon! I admire the way you have been able to think everything through so sensibly and try to see the different perspectives, and how you and your DH have been discussing the problem and working out how to solve it.

I just wanted to add that I don't think you are over-sensitive at all. One thing seems very clear - your ILs are like this to everyone, pretty much all the time. I can imagine it gets very wearing.

Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: BeagleMommy on June 13, 2013, 11:49:28 AM
Lorelei, I'm going to tell you something my father's cardiologist told our family.  "Heart patients are not any more fragile than any other person.  Coddling and catering to them will turn them either into tyrants or invalids.  It is fine for them to get upset, angry, sad, disappointed or whatever negative emotion happens."

Stop worrying about upsetting your ILs.  If your FIL says something unkind to you, look him in the eye and say "Why would you say something so hurtful to me?".  If he says he's just being honest you can hit back with "Honesty doesn't have to be cruel".

Then walk away.  If MIL has a habit of entering your room without knocking - lock the door.  Become politely distant.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: cicero on June 17, 2013, 04:59:35 AM
Lorelei just wanted to send you and your DH hugs. Your in laws are not nice people, contrary to what you or he think. Even with the added info on your cultural background - I still don't buy it. You even say yourself
I should add that we come from a culture (both our parents are Indian immigrants) where it's ok to comment on people's looks or weight. When I go visit relatives in India, I'm told how much weight I've gained or how much darker I look and how I need to stay out of the sun. Still, my parents are much more tactful, and would never say anything like this to DH or to me.
your parents are from the same culture and yet they understand that you'all are living in a different place. It is possible to be of X culture and be nice to your DIL
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: lorelai on June 17, 2013, 09:05:58 AM
Thanks for your kind words. I spoke to them yesterday for Father's day and they both couldn't wait to get off the phone with me. It's clear they're still mad at me for my "bad behavior". Usually they insist on talking to me every week which I dread, so I think this is a good thing. I can actually take some space to myself now.

MIL walks into our room without knocking. I have begged DH to put a lock on the door but he thinks it's rude since it's their home. He does ask her not to, but she doesn't always remember.

Upon reflecting, I think the main point of conflict is that they are looking to parent me, and I'm not looking for parents to tell me what to do. Don't really know how to resolve that.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: Curly Wurly Doggie Breath on June 17, 2013, 09:08:59 AM
Sweetie.............. Get a $2 Door stop Wedge. She won't be able to just walk in on you while you are in your room

((((((((((((((((Hugs)))))))))))))))
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: TootsNYC on June 17, 2013, 09:36:50 AM

Upon reflecting, I think the main point of conflict is that they are looking to parent me, and I'm not looking for parents to tell me what to do. Don't really know how to resolve that.

Stop acting like a daughter. Start acting distant.

And refuse to talk to them every week when they call. You don't like it, so don't do it. Start teaching them what you like, which is that you want them to be more formal around you, and less familiar. You WANT them to treat you like more of a stranger than they do.

And stop worrying about whether they have to "walk on eggshells"--maybe your DH should tell them, when they complain about that, "That's just the way she is. You need to treat her more formally." instead of thinking that he needs to fix YOU for their sake.

When your MIL comes in "your" room without knocking, *act offended*!! Be really shocked, and back her out of the room. Don't be "nice." Start showing them where the boundaries are. *Live them,* don't "talk" them. 

At least, live your side of them. It's rude to walk into someone's bedroom when the door is closed, even if it is their house (I actually agree--asking them to put a lock on it is rude). So act as though someone has done something rude to you. Say, "MIL! Please knock!" And then act as though you're offended and sort of mad.

It's OK for you to change the dynamic so that *they* are worried about offending *you*.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: bloo on June 21, 2013, 02:45:18 PM
Audrey Quest's examples are very much something that needs to be thought about.

OP, your FIL and MIL are bullies.  Do you want your future children to be bullied?  Now is the time to have an honest talk with DH about how you will no longer be mistreated and that you will not allow your children to be treated in this manner.  If that means no contact with them or leaving once FIL starts running anyone down. 

They are in control of their own behavior.  You have a responsibly to yours and your family's health (physical, emotional, and mental).

Totally agree with Audrey Quest as well!

My in-laws were very late to the game. They had a hard time figuring out a simple concept: "mean to bloo=little-to-no-time-spent with bloo, dh or kids."

Although within 10 years of marriage I'm just as mean as they are now and have no trouble holding my own against possible nastiness when I feel obligated to be around them (rare). Surprisingly they are nicer since I rarely deign to grace them with my presence.  OP, do you realize what I just typed? I'm worth treating nicely. I'm a nice person to people and I enjoy being helpful. I value myself. I don't waste much time being around people that don't believe I have value.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: lorelai on June 30, 2013, 04:05:07 AM

Upon reflecting, I think the main point of conflict is that they are looking to parent me, and I'm not looking for parents to tell me what to do. Don't really know how to resolve that.

Stop acting like a daughter. Start acting distant.

And refuse to talk to them every week when they call. You don't like it, so don't do it. Start teaching them what you like, which is that you want them to be more formal around you, and less familiar. You WANT them to treat you like more of a stranger than they do.

And stop worrying about whether they have to "walk on eggshells"--maybe your DH should tell them, when they complain about that, "That's just the way she is. You need to treat her more formally." instead of thinking that he needs to fix YOU for their sake.

When your MIL comes in "your" room without knocking, *act offended*!! Be really shocked, and back her out of the room. Don't be "nice." Start showing them where the boundaries are. *Live them,* don't "talk" them. 

At least, live your side of them. It's rude to walk into someone's bedroom when the door is closed, even if it is their house (I actually agree--asking them to put a lock on it is rude). So act as though someone has done something rude to you. Say, "MIL! Please knock!" And then act as though you're offended and sort of mad.

It's OK for you to change the dynamic so that *they* are worried about offending *you*.

I'm really into this advice. Thank you! I will definitely try to employ these techniques this month. Earlier this week my MIL fell down and fractured her hip in a few places. She had surgery yesterday and we found out it will be a long recovery, both in the hospital and at home. I told DH to let me know when he would like me to come out. I am grateful he told me to stay back initially. But now that we found out it's a very long recovery, he asked me to come out for a weekend. Which I can do, mainly because I miss him and I want to support him. I also want to support her, but I don't know how much anyone even wants to see me. And I also have to admit that part of me is resentful because we had planned to visit my family this upcoming holiday weekend, and I haven't seen my niece since xmas and I really miss her. And we've spent two trips with his family this year already. Did I mention it's kind of hard to make a baby without a husband? Our whole summer is kind of turning upside down now. I think this all makes me sound really selfish, but I guess I just need to vent for a second. I would never make them feel bad for this.

I feel badly for MIL as her mobility/freedom is so important to her, and I don't know that my presence will be of any comfort to her but I'll do my best to make my presence a pleasant one. One thing I'm good at is making and buying her favorite foods, so I can put myself to work doing that.

Every time I think of the last visit my blood still boils, but I have a feeling FIL will be too preoccupied to be a jerk to me, and MIL is and will probably still be on pain medication by the time I go there. Even though I feel badly, I do intend to protect myself. I will speak up as much as possible. And as we are actively trying for a baby, DH wants me to have as little stress as possible, so he also wants to speak up for me. I just have to give him the signal if he doesn't get it on his own.

I guess because of this, MIL can't come screaming into our bedroom in the mornings for awhile. I thought about the next time that does happen (maybe a few months down the line) to tell her that she can let me know what time she expects us to come out, so there's no reason to come and fetch us. And that I really don't want her to interrupt our personal time. :D
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: menley on June 30, 2013, 04:39:21 AM
<snip>

I guess because of this, MIL can't come screaming into our bedroom in the mornings for awhile. I thought about the next time that does happen (maybe a few months down the line) to tell her that she can let me know what time she expects us to come out, so there's no reason to come and fetch us. And that I really don't want her to interrupt our personal time. :D

Honestly, if it were me, I might just let her interrupt my personal time with my husband. Let her get an eyeful... it might be the only thing that stops her from trying to enter again!  >:D
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, Response #42, 60, 64
Post by: Pen^2 on June 30, 2013, 05:45:17 AM
My parents used to make very blunt statements about how other people, especially family, were failing in certain areas. My father's favourite thing to say when he saw me was "you need to wash your hair, it looks greasy." Often only a few hours after I had washed my hair, too.

I just put up with it, because I had grown up that way, until DH came along. While we were just going out, I didn't want him to have to have these things said to him. It's easier to stick up for someone else, I guess, because they often matter more to you. So when they said something rude, we would just say calmly, "wow, what a rude thing to say," and then carry on the conversation among ourselves. They would sometimes stew in silence, but we would be so busy talking that it was easy to pretend not to notice it. Usually they would protest, though. Looking back, we should have just gotten up and left the room, even mid-meal. I recommend you do this: "that's a very rude thing to say," before leaving, if it gets too bad.

With my parents, it didn't make them change their ways at all, but it felt good.

And both my parents used to do this really annoying thing with entering your room: they would knock as they walked in. The knock was completely superfluous. I can't tell you how many times, as a body-conscious and awkward teen, they walked in on me changing like it was nothing. To this day, a knock at the door makes my heart pound. I learned to have a messy room all the time, so a pile of clothes or books would buffer the door. They would start to open it, but it would hit a noisy pile of something and they would pause a bit, startled by the sound, before continuing to enter. It gave me a bit more warning. As I got older, I would often have chairs or other furniture in front of the door ("I was just moving it to reach something"), so they couldn't enter at all. Maybe you can leave your big heavy suitcase in front of the door and keep forgetting to move it. "Wow, knock next time, so I can move my suitcase out of the way!"

It sounds like you're on the right track here: a distant relationship is probably the best you can hope for. It'll be hard, but you can practice on your next visit. Don't get engaged in conversations beyond "uh-huh,"  "that's nice," and "oh". Bring lots of books that urgently need reading.

And I'd like to second what has already been said upthread: consider carefully if you want your possible future children around these bullies, even supervised. Unless they change dramatically, your children will grow up seeing their rude behaviour, even if you deflect it or outright leave every time. When I realised that any children I might have would never meet my parents under any circumstances, it was, frankly, a load of my chest.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: Venus193 on June 30, 2013, 06:06:20 AM
<snip>

I guess because of this, MIL can't come screaming into our bedroom in the mornings for awhile. I thought about the next time that does happen (maybe a few months down the line) to tell her that she can let me know what time she expects us to come out, so there's no reason to come and fetch us. And that I really don't want her to interrupt our personal time. :D

Honestly, if it were me, I might just let her interrupt my personal time with my husband. Let her get an eyeful... it might be the only thing that stops her from trying to enter again!  >:D

You beat me to that one!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: blarg314 on July 02, 2013, 08:20:28 PM

No. I really, really donít. I told DH yesterday that even if I couldnít stick up for myself, that I would not let them to talk our future children like that, and he agreed. Somehow I feel more strong and capable to defend children I donít even have, rather than myself. But I hope to get there.


One way to help you be active when it comes to standing up to (or avoiding) their nonsens is to think of this as practice for when you have kids.

When you get pregnant, and after you have a baby, you're not going to be at your best - you might be nauseous or tired before, and will likely be tired and overwhelmed and stressed afterwards. This is not a good mental state to be in when learning to stand up to bullies who have trained you to put up with their garbage. And in my experience, having kids makes things worse when it comes to bad family relationships.

So it will save a lot of grief down the line if you learn to stand up to them (or to leave when they get nasty, or to let your DH visit them alone) now, so you can do it automatically when they tell you that your labour was less painful than MIL's broken leg, or that you're being a bad mother because X, or that the baby is ugly/slow and what did you wrong. Or for that matter, when they start telling your *kids* that they are fat crybabies who can't do anything right.

Upon reflecting, I think the main point of conflict is that they are looking to parent me, and I'm not looking for parents to tell me what to do. Don't really know how to resolve that.

That might be half of it. The other half would be that they are terrible parents. The cultural background puts it in some context, but someone can come from a culture that gives elders a lot of power, and where personal comments are considered acceptable, and still be a loving, fair parent. Your inlaws are not. So their behaviour is still abominable, the cultural context mainly tells you that you're going to have an even more uphill battle than otherwise when challenging their behaviour.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: Nikko-chan on July 02, 2013, 09:17:37 PM
<snip>

I guess because of this, MIL can't come screaming into our bedroom in the mornings for awhile. I thought about the next time that does happen (maybe a few months down the line) to tell her that she can let me know what time she expects us to come out, so there's no reason to come and fetch us. And that I really don't want her to interrupt our personal time. :D

Honestly, if it were me, I might just let her interrupt my personal time with my husband. Let her get an eyeful... it might be the only thing that stops her from trying to enter again!  >:D

You beat me to that one!

EvilNikko had the same thought!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo, Response #42
Post by: Coralreef on July 03, 2013, 10:40:42 AM
<snip>

I guess because of this, MIL can't come screaming into our bedroom in the mornings for awhile. I thought about the next time that does happen (maybe a few months down the line) to tell her that she can let me know what time she expects us to come out, so there's no reason to come and fetch us. And that I really don't want her to interrupt our personal time. :D

Honestly, if it were me, I might just let her interrupt my personal time with my husband. Let her get an eyeful... it might be the only thing that stops her from trying to enter again!  >:D

You beat me to that one!

EvilNikko had the same thought!

Oh, and it works too!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, Response #42, 60, 64
Post by: White Lotus on July 03, 2013, 02:48:30 PM
I'd go for the door stop, because I don't play scrabble well in public.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, Response #42, 60, 64
Post by: lorelai on July 04, 2013, 11:56:14 AM
I think you're right about that doorstop :D
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, Response #42, 60, 64
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on July 04, 2013, 03:23:37 PM
Are they the type of in-laws to insist you call them "Mom" and "Dad"?  If so, address them by name instead.  Take away a layer of familiarity.  If they don't like that and insist on being called Mr and Mrs Lastname instead, insist upon an equal level of respect.  (Obviously, if they don't want you calling them that, none of this implies)
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, Response #42, 60, 64
Post by: lorelai on July 04, 2013, 04:50:05 PM
DH and I agreed to do the mom/dad thing, but he always forgets and calls my dad "uncle". In our culture it's customary to call elders aunty or uncle. I really want to revert back to aunty/uncle but I don't want to cause WW3.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, Response #42, 60, 64
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on July 04, 2013, 10:07:55 PM
DH and I agreed to do the mom/dad thing, but he always forgets and calls my dad "uncle". In our culture it's customary to call elders aunty or uncle. I really want to revert back to aunty/uncle but I don't want to cause WW3.

WW3 is going to happen no matter what you do thanks to these emotional black holes, so do what's right to save yourself.

As an aside, do you even show that level of respect (calling them Aunty and Uncle) to those who show you no respect?  Because they do not respect you.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Elfmama on July 06, 2013, 12:29:43 AM
Sheís got arthritis, and sheís in a lot of pain a lot of the time, and I think that makes her a mean old bat. Sheís rude to waiters, rude to family, rude to me.
No, I think she'd be a mean old bat even if she were in perfect health.  I have fibromyalgia.  I'm in pain a lot.  It would never occur to me to tell a young woman that since she doesn't have it, she can't possibly know what pain is.  Some years ago I went to a wedding where the poor bride's dress didn't fit well; did the pain make me say "That dress makes you look like a stuffed sausage.  Geez, honey, couldn't your dressmaker fit that gown properly?"   That would have been "honest", but incredibly hurtful and totally unnecessary.  So I just kept my mouth shut like a normal polite person and, when asked, praised the beautiful fabric and how it was the perfect shade to set off the bride's dark hair.

Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?
  At the minimum, unless at least two of the three are met, then the considered remark doesn't need to be said. 
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. my wed photo (long)
Post by: Pen^2 on July 06, 2013, 02:46:16 AM
Sheís got arthritis, and sheís in a lot of pain a lot of the time, and I think that makes her a mean old bat. Sheís rude to waiters, rude to family, rude to me.
No, I think she'd be a mean old bat even if she were in perfect health.  I have fibromyalgia.  I'm in pain a lot.  It would never occur to me to tell a young woman that since she doesn't have it, she can't possibly know what pain is.  Some years ago I went to a wedding where the poor bride's dress didn't fit well; did the pain make me say "That dress makes you look like a stuffed sausage.  Geez, honey, couldn't your dressmaker fit that gown properly?"   That would have been "honest", but incredibly hurtful and totally unnecessary.  So I just kept my mouth shut like a normal polite person and, when asked, praised the beautiful fabric and how it was the perfect shade to set off the bride's dark hair.

Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?
  At the minimum, unless at least two of the three are met, then the considered remark doesn't need to be said.

Exactly. Pain does not make bad, hurtful behaviour any less inexcusable.

I hope by now the OP has stopped calling them mom/dad and reverted to their names, and has likewise withdrawn into a very distant, cooly polite relationship that does not involve initiating contact unless absolutely necessary. They have shown that they will only mistreat the OP in a close relationship. Time to back far, far away.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, Response #42, 60, 64
Post by: lorelai on May 24, 2015, 12:48:30 PM
OP with an update.

I have family in town, including FIL MIL, and extended family of my DH's. Last night we gifted FIL and MIL with some prints of our LO and an anniversary cake. In the process of getting those prints I got a bunch of prints for our home that we will put up at some point. SIL asked for a nice photo of me and DH last night, and I happened to have printed the one that FIL complained about. So I went and grabbed that and gave it to her, since she and I are both in the photo I thought she would like it.

FIL has a bad habit of going through our mail (not opening them), reading anything that we leave out, analyzing the addresses, I don't know really know why he does this. So he saw the photo on SIL's purse and picked it up. So as I passed him by I said, all with a smile on my face:

Me: Oh do you remember that photo? That's the one where you said I didn't look good.
FIL: Huh?
Me: You know, the one where you said I didn't look good? On my wedding day? You said it so many times, that I didn't look good, and the photo wasn't good. I'll never forget it. But SIL likes it.

Some of his family heard and he looked embarrassed and walked away. I honestly wasn't trying to embarrass him, but I have never gotten over my anger about this incident. I can't decide whether I was being rude or assertive. I said it in the heat of the moment but I said it nicely.

We have been butting heads all week so maybe this was passive aggressive. He never apologized for what he said two years ago.

Does this make me a jerk? I can't tell objectively.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: EllenS on May 24, 2015, 01:03:13 PM
I realize you are under tremendous strain, and I sympathize, but yeah.  That was a jerk move.  You purposely embarrassed him because you were angry. There are more constructive ways to deal with anger, even justified anger.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: lorelai on May 24, 2015, 01:09:16 PM
I wish he had responded so we could have actually talked about it. But I guess I put him on the spot.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Two Ravens on May 24, 2015, 01:13:08 PM
You weren't being "assertive." You basically attacked him out of nowhere. I think most people's response would be to shut down in that situation.

You FIL is such a boor, I doubt he even remembers what he said about the picture. So he probably would have been unable to respond in any case.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: buvezdevin on May 24, 2015, 01:20:13 PM
I don't disagree with EllenS - other than to add:  if part of what has been the recent head-butting with your FIL has been his communication style or is otherwise something which ties to some hurtful behavior on his part - you may be able to turn this into a learning moment.

If you apologize to FIL (should you choose to) for making this comment, you could express your regret for your comments, and your subsequent realization that you spoke unkindly to him out of a lingering hurt from his prior comments about the photos.  Your hurt doesn't excuse your recent comments, you'll be more thoughtful in what you say in future out of consideration for his feelings, and you hope he understands that his comments or behavior can also cause hurt to others, and lconsider that in future comments/actions.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: gramma dishes on May 24, 2015, 01:29:18 PM
I'm going to go against the grain here.  I'm actually glad she reminded him of what he'd said about the wedding picture.  It puts him on notice that things he says do have long term consequences in terms of how the recipient of such remarks will feel about him in the future.  I think he needed that and no one (apparently) has ever called this man to task for his unfortunate way of treating people.  It's about time.

Plus, she says she said it "nicely" and I have no reason not to believe her.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: GoodyGoody on May 24, 2015, 01:38:28 PM
I agree with gramma dishes. I also don't think she attacked him out of nowhere--he picked up something that didn't belong to him off of some one else's purse. He was snooping/being nosey, and he got caught, and he got called out. As long as her delivery was as described, I think lorelai is in the clear on this one.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: EllenS on May 24, 2015, 01:46:48 PM
I agree with gramma dishes. I also don't think she attacked him out of nowhere--he picked up something that didn't belong to him off of some one else's purse. He was snooping/being nosey, and he got caught, and he got called out. As long as her delivery was as described, I think lorelai is in the clear on this one.

I think if she'd actually "called him out" about his behavior - such as "Does SIL know you're going in her purse?" or "Sorry, that's SIL's copy, but I'll get one made for you if you want", that would be legit.

But she didn't. It was a PA snark about something that happened 2 years ago, that has neither been addressed adequately/honestly, nor let go. 

Understandable, perfectly sympathetic and possibly even cathartic. But not polite nor conducive to improving relations in the future.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: JoyinVirginia on May 24, 2015, 02:04:13 PM
I agree with gramma dishes and goody goody, what you did was perfectly polite. Fil actions do have consequences, and he can't pretend it never happened.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: FauxFoodist on May 24, 2015, 02:48:03 PM
I'm going to go against the grain here.  I'm actually glad she reminded him of what he'd said about the wedding picture.  It puts him on notice that things he says do have long term consequences in terms of how the recipient of such remarks will feel about him in the future.  I think he needed that and no one (apparently) has ever called this man to task for his unfortunate way of treating people.  It's about time.

Plus, she says she said it "nicely" and I have no reason not to believe her.

I've only gotten as far as this post, but I wanted to say I agree.  I don't think OP "attacked" FIL out of nowhere.  I do think she brought back up something unpleasant and insulting he'd said about her that he said over and over *and over* again.  Seeing him view that picture *again* gave the OP an opening to bring up what he'd said and address it so it really wasn't out of nowhere as it was in context (because he was looking at the picture he'd been insulting her about repeatedly).

Several years ago, DH and I were at a bible study when one of the group members attacked what he considered ethnic churches (I was the only one present of an ethnic minority; everyone else was the same ethnic majority).  Before I could say anything in response, his comment was quickly swept under the rug and the discussion moved on.  I was pretty insulted and pretty mad that nothing was really said to him about his comment.  Two weeks later when the group met again, I made sure to bring it up so I could address it because if I were going to continue in this group, it needed to be addressed.  I think the other group members were slightly uncomfortable, including the guy who made the comment, but it was addressed (and other group members contradicted Guy's statement), Guy backed down from his comment and we moved on (and Guy has actually grown tremendously in his social skills since then).

Sometimes, you have to address a wrong when the moment presents itself (like FIL viewing the picture in question), especially when the abuser has taken numerous liberties to be incredibly hurtful and insulting with that wrong.  I suppose the only thing OP could've done better was to take FIL aside and mentioned the picture, but I'll give her a pass on that since she had no idea he wasn't going to insult her and hurt her yet again when he was looking at the picture so I'd see her comment as somewhat of a pre-emptive move given his past behavioral tendency.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: mstigerlily on May 24, 2015, 02:58:29 PM
I'm going to go against the grain here.  I'm actually glad she reminded him of what he'd said about the wedding picture.  It puts him on notice that things he says do have long term consequences in terms of how the recipient of such remarks will feel about him in the future.  I think he needed that and no one (apparently) has ever called this man to task for his unfortunate way of treating people.  It's about time.

Plus, she says she said it "nicely" and I have no reason not to believe her.

I agree with this, especcially if FIL has been saying his "nice" little comments again...

Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Otterpop on May 24, 2015, 03:24:47 PM
I'm going to go against the grain here.  I'm actually glad she reminded him of what he'd said about the wedding picture.  It puts him on notice that things he says do have long term consequences in terms of how the recipient of such remarks will feel about him in the future.  I think he needed that and no one (apparently) has ever called this man to task for his unfortunate way of treating people.  It's about time.

Plus, she says she said it "nicely" and I have no reason not to believe her.

I agree with this, especcially if FIL has been saying his "nice" little comments again...

I agree as well.  FIL needs to be aware that his words have lasting consequences.  He was looking at the picture, it revived the event.  The way others reacted means they are used to his abuse.  OP doesn't have to take it silently too. 
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Oh Joy on May 24, 2015, 04:28:55 PM
I know this will seem like splitting hairs, but...

While I'm fine with our OP reminding him that it was "that" picture in this scenario,  changing the adjective makes it more antagonistic to me.  He'd said that she looked tired in that photo, which could be the start of a blink or a shadow.  She retold it as his saying she didn't look good, which leaves a broader negative interpretation.  If it's worth bringing back up to help him understand the impact of his words, accuracy is key.

But I can be easily distracted like that.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Sharnita on May 24, 2015, 04:47:04 PM
Hmm, not sure. In general, I would say you were wrong. In this case, he forcefully ordered you not to avoid confrontation, not to hide your feelings from him. When you did, he told you not to ever do it again.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: TurtleDove on May 24, 2015, 04:55:30 PM
I think the OP was inappropriate and ineffective. I agree with the "splitting hairs" poster - FIL said she looked tired, not that she looked ugly or something like that. And it was years ago. If I were observing this, I would think the OP had some personal issues to address, not that FIL is a horrible person.

I think addressing the hurt feelings years ago would make sense. But now it comes across as holding a grudge and escalating the situation when it should have just gone away.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Sharnita on May 24, 2015, 04:57:48 PM
I think the OP was inappropriate and ineffective. I agree with the "splitting hairs" poster - FIL said she looked tired, not that she looked ugly or something like that. And it was years ago. If I were observing this, I would think the OP had some personal issues to address, not that FIL is a horrible person.

I think addressing the hurt feelings years ago would make sense. But now it comes across as holding a grudge and escalating the situation when it should have just gone away.

Since he has criticized his daughter for her weight and various other people for various other things, I imagine that people who knew FIL had a good idea of what he might have done.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: TurtleDove on May 24, 2015, 05:08:38 PM
Oh, I am not defending the FIL - not at all. I am saying that in *this* situation it is the OP, and not FIL, who looks bad (no pun intended). ;-)
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Perfect Circle on May 24, 2015, 05:17:52 PM
I think you're FIL is a boor but what you did is not ok from an etiquette point of view. It sounds like you put him on the spot in public and that's not really great. You also didn't really resolve anything by doing that. It was embarrassing for probably everyone around you.

I don't blame you for what you did, but it wasn't the best course of action, I'm afraid.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: sammycat on May 24, 2015, 07:01:44 PM
I'm going to go against the grain here.  I'm actually glad she reminded him of what he'd said about the wedding picture.  It puts him on notice that things he says do have long term consequences in terms of how the recipient of such remarks will feel about him in the future.  I think he needed that and no one (apparently) has ever called this man to task for his unfortunate way of treating people.  It's about time.

Plus, she says she said it "nicely" and I have no reason not to believe her.

I agree with grammadishes and subsequent posters who've expressed similar sentiments.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Minmom3 on May 24, 2015, 08:01:58 PM
I'm of two minds to Lorelei's comments to her FIL.  As my co-worker would say, it was 'sub-optimal' in a perfect world, but she's not living in a perfect world, this was defending herself against somebody who has been relentless in the critical comments to and about her.  I think I vote that 'better a late self-defense than NO self-defense'...  There is no virtue in being a doormat, and even the meekest mouse will bite eventually.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Goog on May 24, 2015, 09:22:32 PM
I'm with grandma dishes on this....I think that given the history, the comment was appropriate for the other party.  My reasoning:

1) This was a gift, of sorts, from you to your SIL.  It was none of his business.  And with his history about the photo, in the same situation I might have thought that he would even do something, like say the picture wasn't good, SIL didn't need it and try to throw it away or something.  Yes, an extreme assumption, but in the hyper-aware situation that the OP is in, I could see that thought flitting through my mind.  So she took steps to acknowledge that he had the picture and that SIL liked it, regardless of what he might think of it.

2) I see her comments as a pre-emptive strike to defending herself.  The previous issue was never dealt with properly, in that the FIL never even acknowledged that he *might* have said something hurtful.  So that issue, even though it's almost two years old, is still 'out there'.  Putting myself in the OP's situation, if FIL commented negatively on that picture once, I would think/feel that he could easily do it again, and I can see where she wouldn't want to let that happen.  So she let him know very nicely that she was hurt by his comments before, which is what everyone was recommending that she do with the original situation.  And by doing that, she basically put him on notice not to make those comments to her again. 

3) She put him on notice, like PPs said, that his previous comments left a lasting negative impression with her, and she didn't forget what he said.  Sometimes people need to be faced with the consequences of what they say and do, even long afterwards.  They may forget, but others don't.  They need to know that they don't live in a vacuum where what they say and do has no effect on those around them.

I say Bravo to the OP for nicely standing up for herself!  I'm just sorry that it took almost two years to feel like you could defend yourself, but I bet it feels good even now.  I had a (toxic) sister who used to bully me and just about ALWAYS had the upper hand.  But there was one time when I threw her own words back at her when she took advantage of me, and left her speechless to try to craft something to defend herself.  It was about 30 years ago, but I STILL look on that moment fondly as a time when she didn't get to take advantage of me.  To this day, that memory is empowering.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: johelenc1 on May 24, 2015, 09:48:51 PM
Just saying congratulations on your little one!!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, Response #42, 60, 64
Post by: LeveeWoman on May 24, 2015, 09:51:48 PM
OP with an update.

I have family in town, including FIL MIL, and extended family of my DH's. Last night we gifted FIL and MIL with some prints of our LO and an anniversary cake. In the process of getting those prints I got a bunch of prints for our home that we will put up at some point. SIL asked for a nice photo of me and DH last night, and I happened to have printed the one that FIL complained about. So I went and grabbed that and gave it to her, since she and I are both in the photo I thought she would like it.

FIL has a bad habit of going through our mail (not opening them), reading anything that we leave out, analyzing the addresses.


I don't know really know why he does this. So he saw the photo on SIL's purse and picked it up. So as I passed him by I said, all with a smile on my face:

Me: Oh do you remember that photo? That's the one where you said I didn't look good.
FIL: Huh?
Me: You know, the one where you said I didn't look good? On my wedding day? You said it so many times, that I didn't look good, and the photo wasn't good. I'll never forget it. But SIL likes it.

Some of his family heard and he looked embarrassed and walked away. I honestly wasn't trying to embarrass him, but I have never gotten over my anger about this incident. I can't decide whether I was being rude or assertive. I said it in the heat of the moment but I said it nicely.

We have been butting heads all week so maybe this was passive aggressive. He never apologized for what he said two years ago.

Does this make me a jerk? I can't tell objectively.

From now on, don't give him the chance to do so in your house. Hide your stuff, lorelai!

Better yret, keep him out of your home!


Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Goog on May 24, 2015, 09:57:35 PM
Just saying congratulations on your little one!!

I skimmed over this, but then read the earlier part of the thread again.  Congrats!  So how are the ILs with baby boundaries?  Have they said anything negative or pushed boundaries related to the LO?
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: lorelai on May 25, 2015, 12:41:15 AM
I appreciate all the varying opinions and well wishes. I want to clarify that FIL did say that I didn't look good. Not in that initial convo with me, but with DH when he was saying that he prides himself on speaking his mind and doesn't take back what he said. He said that I didn't look good several times.

I posted for hugs and clarified some things that I didn't think fit into this thread, so if you are looking for more context on how this day with FIL went you can find it there!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: lorelai on May 25, 2015, 12:44:46 AM
Just saying congratulations on your little one!!

I skimmed over this, but then read the earlier part of the thread again.  Congrats!  So how are the ILs with baby boundaries?  Have they said anything negative or pushed boundaries related to the LO?

Pushed boundaries like you wouldn't believe. I think I have a "my baby" thread somewhere around here that got locked.

Still working on those boundaries.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Curly Wurly Doggie Breath on May 25, 2015, 03:42:42 AM
team OP, long time coming, and surprisingly said calmly
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: SamiHami on May 25, 2015, 07:54:47 AM
I don't think the OP was out of line to bring it up. As others have said, it is an excellent reminder to him that his words are not forgotten and that he should choose them more carefully. If he doesn't want to be embarrassed by having his past rudeness brought up, perhaps he should stop saying rude things-and apologize sincerely for the ones he has said.

OP, the other thing that troubles me is your comment that he goes through your mail, etc in your home. What do you do when that happens? Do you immediately call him out on it? Does your husband? It shows a continuing pattern of lack of respect. When you/DH find that he has overstepped his boundaries I think it should be made into an issue. Perhaps insisting on having a "family talk" with him and MIL about what being a guest in your home requires, then give him the choice of abiding by your rules or leaving/staying in a hotel. You need to set firm boundaries in your own hyome and be firm that he and MIL abide by them 100% of the time. It is not unreasonable to insist that houseguests respect your privacy and treat you with respect. Especially now that you have LO-you don't want your child growing up thinking it's normal for people to behave the way your IL's do. Better to teach LO that actions have consequences.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Snooks on May 25, 2015, 08:41:21 AM
<snip>

OP, the other thing that troubles me is your comment that he goes through your mail, etc in your home. What do you do when that happens? Do you immediately call him out on it? Does your husband? It shows a continuing pattern of lack of respect. When you/DH find that he has overstepped his boundaries I think it should be made into an issue. Perhaps insisting on having a "family talk" with him and MIL about what being a guest in your home requires, then give him the choice of abiding by your rules or leaving/staying in a hotel. You need to set firm boundaries in your own hyome and be firm that he and MIL abide by them 100% of the time. It is not unreasonable to insist that houseguests respect your privacy and treat you with respect. Especially now that you have LO-you don't want your child growing up thinking it's normal for people to behave the way your IL's do. Better to teach LO that actions have consequences.

This one is difficult to balance without looking like you're picking on someone.  If you correct every time there's the risk they'll throw their hands up and say "I can't do anything right", if you take one issue at a time then you feel like Columbo "Just one more thing...".
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: SamiHami on May 25, 2015, 08:48:33 AM
<snip>

OP, the other thing that troubles me is your comment that he goes through your mail, etc in your home. What do you do when that happens? Do you immediately call him out on it? Does your husband? It shows a continuing pattern of lack of respect. When you/DH find that he has overstepped his boundaries I think it should be made into an issue. Perhaps insisting on having a "family talk" with him and MIL about what being a guest in your home requires, then give him the choice of abiding by your rules or leaving/staying in a hotel. You need to set firm boundaries in your own hyome and be firm that he and MIL abide by them 100% of the time. It is not unreasonable to insist that houseguests respect your privacy and treat you with respect. Especially now that you have LO-you don't want your child growing up thinking it's normal for people to behave the way your IL's do. Better to teach LO that actions have consequences.

This one is difficult to balance without looking like you're picking on someone.  If you correct every time there's the risk they'll throw their hands up and say "I can't do anything right", if you take one issue at a time then you feel like Columbo "Just one more thing...".

I get your point, but I don't think it's picking on someone to say, "Hey, when you are a guest in my home you are not to go through our mail."
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Snooks on May 25, 2015, 10:32:12 AM
<snip>

OP, the other thing that troubles me is your comment that he goes through your mail, etc in your home. What do you do when that happens? Do you immediately call him out on it? Does your husband? It shows a continuing pattern of lack of respect. When you/DH find that he has overstepped his boundaries I think it should be made into an issue. Perhaps insisting on having a "family talk" with him and MIL about what being a guest in your home requires, then give him the choice of abiding by your rules or leaving/staying in a hotel. You need to set firm boundaries in your own hyome and be firm that he and MIL abide by them 100% of the time. It is not unreasonable to insist that houseguests respect your privacy and treat you with respect. Especially now that you have LO-you don't want your child growing up thinking it's normal for people to behave the way your IL's do. Better to teach LO that actions have consequences.

This one is difficult to balance without looking like you're picking on someone.  If you correct every time there's the risk they'll throw their hands up and say "I can't do anything right", if you take one issue at a time then you feel like Columbo "Just one more thing...".

I get your point, but I don't think it's picking on someone to say, "Hey, when you are a guest in my home you are not to go through our mail."

I totally agree but that's not the only boundary stomping that lorelai's ILs do, there's several threads about them and their behaviour, I was coming at it from that context, meaning, where the heck do you start with people like this?  Because it's "Don't go through the mail, speak in a language everyone understands, don't rename our son..."
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: AnnaJ on May 25, 2015, 10:58:32 AM
Quote
I honestly wasn't trying to embarrass him, but I have never gotten over my anger about this incident. I can't decide whether I was being rude or assertive. I said it in the heat of the moment but I said it nicely.

I don't think there's any way to say something rude but nicely and I think this was more rude than assertive, particularly since you said it in front of other people; I'm not sure what 'in the heat of the moment' means, since it doesn't sound as though you and he were arguing at the time.

He looked in SIL's purse?  That's on SIL to deal with.  I can understand the frustration of dealing with someone who is always pushing your boundaries but I think you need to save your push back for when your ILs are actively doing something that affects your family, because it sounds like you need to be at full strength with these two.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Sharnita on May 25, 2015, 11:22:46 AM
Hmmm, if he goes through your mail I might plant a flier for nursing homes just to give him pause.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Mustard on May 25, 2015, 11:34:45 AM
Ohhhh, Sharnita; what a naughty idea....
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: gramma dishes on May 25, 2015, 11:36:57 AM
Hmmm, if he goes through your mail I might plant a flier for nursing homes just to give him pause.

 ;D
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Hillia on May 25, 2015, 11:38:54 AM
Quote
I honestly wasn't trying to embarrass him, but I have never gotten over my anger about this incident. I can't decide whether I was being rude or assertive. I said it in the heat of the moment but I said it nicely.

I don't think there's any way to say something rude but nicely and I think this was more rude than assertive, particularly since you said it in front of other people; I'm not sure what 'in the heat of the moment' means, since it doesn't sound as though you and he were arguing at the time.

He looked in SIL's purse?  That's on SIL to deal with.  I can understand the frustration of dealing with someone who is always pushing your boundaries but I think you need to save your push back for when your ILs are actively doing something that affects your family, because it sounds like you need to be at full strength with these two.

There is another thread going - the ILs are currently staying with the OP and her family and are doing some amazing boundary stamping and very rude, hurtful things.  If the worst the OP does is say, 'Yeah, remember when you said incredibly mean things about my wedding pictures two years ago?' I think she's holding it together fairly well.
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: lorelai on May 25, 2015, 12:14:37 PM
OP here:

The family members who heard me comment have all been victims of FIL's insults and criticisms. SIL actually apologized to me for what FIL said. So I don't feel like they perceived my comments as rude.

As far as FIL? Thinking about it I do think he thought I was rude, as many of you think I was. He doesn't like me instructing him in doing things differently with LO, and he also doesn't like taking things from women. I may have said what I did in a light hearted tone, with a smile, in what I do believe was a "nice" tone, but he was probably thinking 'how dare I, a kid/girl/lesser being, bring up the past and embarrass him?'

I saw the suggestion about apologizing, and even if it may be called for here, I can't bring myself to do it. I don't believe he deserves one after all that he's done. If I apologized, he would say, "don't do it again" just like he did before. I know that may make me seem like a total boor and etiquette-challenged, but I have decided to stand my ground on this. If he ever wants to bring it up with me I can speak later about hurt feelings and am open to bringing up any hurt feelings on his part and acknowledging how my actions made him feel. But there has to be mutual respect and currently, he has none for me. I am open.

I respect all of your opinions, however you sided on this issue!
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: lkdrymom on May 25, 2015, 01:40:34 PM
I think what you said was awesome!  There are some people in this world that you just can't deal with politely because they don't understand that. Being blunt is how he is and the only way for him to understand anything. He will always think you rude for standing up for yourself because you are a mere woman. But it will make you feel better that at least you tried. Saying nothing gets you nowhere and makes you feel bad about yourself. 
Title: Re: FIL's unwanted opinions about everything, incl. wed photo, #42, 60, 64, 78
Post by: Wordgeek on May 25, 2015, 01:53:41 PM
Insofar as this pertains to etiquette, the matter has been well addressed.

Best wishes to the op.