Author Topic: How to stop the escalation? Final implosion #59, updates #90, #151  (Read 38429 times)

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LadyL

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Re: How to stop the escalation?
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2013, 11:53:49 PM »
Frustrating update  :-\.

LordL talked to them and got blindsided by some bad news about the health of several of his elderly relatives (they are in the hospital). When they got to the subject of the reunion, his mother said they are sending out invites that read something like "join us as we toast to the marriage of Lord and LadyL, time and place, your presence is present enough."

He said ok to this  :o.

I told him that it reads exactly like a shower invite. He somehow doesn't see it. I told him the event is not about the family reunion per that invite, it's about us, and that's not what we wanted. He claimed to believe that this is a "compromise" and that we wanted a compromise. I told him that i thought our goal was to say a firm NO. I told him this was like forcing a birthday party on someone who doesn't celebrate their birthday - why would the GOH's feelings matter less than that of the hosts? He seemed to get that, and called and asked them not to send the invites yet.

I'm honestly concerned about what this means for our relationship, our ability to set boundaries, etc. I mentioned that it might be something to talk to a couple's counselor about. I'm just afraid of what another several decades of this type of nonsense will do to our relationship.

Also, he really wants to go to the reunion because some relatives he hasn't seen in a long time will be there. It is hard for me to convince him not to go. I even offered that we could take multiple trips to see those relatives another time but he feels his best shot of seeing them all is at the reunion.

jedikaiti

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2013, 12:12:11 AM »
And I bet MIL is counting on that. Heck, have you verified the health issues as reported? Would she lie?

I agree, you guys need a couples counselor STAT - you say no, he says maybe. He is so used to MIL's manipulation that he doesn't even see it anymore. At the very least, he needs to learn to see her manipulations for what they are.
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kudeebee

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2013, 12:54:02 AM »
And I bet MIL is counting on that. Heck, have you verified the health issues as reported? Would she lie?

I agree, you guys need a couples counselor STAT - you say no, he says maybe. He is so used to MIL's manipulation that he doesn't even see it anymore. At the very least, he needs to learn to see her manipulations for what they are.

Agree.  Or it will go on for decades as you said in your update.  You will say no, you two will agree and then fdh will tell mil maybe or okay if you do xyz.  But mil will do what she wants anyway.  I am sure that is not how you want to live your married life!

Judah

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2013, 12:54:45 AM »
Can't he go without you?
Ask for what you want. Let's be clear on this one:
Subtle hints don't work.
Strong hints don't work.
Really obvious hints don't work.
Just say it!

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blarg314

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2013, 01:14:44 AM »

This might be a point where you need to take a stand. It's obvious that your idea of what "No" means is wildly different than what your husband's idea is. (You meant "NO", he meant "Okay, as long as you change the parameters by a minute amount").

And if you give in, you've taught your MIL that she can hijack a family reunion, and force you to attend a shower you firmly stated you didn't want, if she's persistent enough.

As others have said, this isn't unusual behaviour for someone who has grown up with a manipulator - he's been well trained to go along with what his mother wants - and breaking free is hard.

One option - he can go to the reunion, but you stay home. Make this clear with your MIL, and if someone else asks, be honest about why you're not their - you didn't want to risk a surprise shower. If your MIL persists, she will look like  a fool for organizing a shower that the GOH refused to show up for.

But yeah, I think couple's counselling is a seriously good idea, for the health of your relationship as you go on. The earlier you establish good boundaries, the better and easier it will be. If you plan to have kids, this is doubly important, because  my observation has been that manipulative/boundary pushing family members become much, much, much more of a problem after kids are on the scene.


Pen^2

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #20 on: April 22, 2013, 01:43:25 AM »
Everyone has posted great ideas here.

MIL is clearly now, without even pretending otherwise, planning on hosting a bridal shower against your will. The only way to avoid it seems to not go, because it's clear that she will stop at nothing to have the darn shower. This is not a woman who is thinking about you at all here.

You need to see a couples counselor. Your marriage probably won't withstand years of this: MIL being manipulative and disrespectful, and LordL being easily duped into thinking that MIL's result is somehow a compromise of what everyone wanted. You need to sort this out before you get married. LordL is either not listening to you, or is being too easily swayed by his mother (it sounds like she has years of practice doing this) and he needs to be made aware of this so he can put the effort into countering it. Until this happens, things will continue as they have been and grow worse, as MIL gets bolder and bolder.

Don't go to the reunion. LordL can go on his own. He needs to also be clear that "don't send the invitations yet" is different to "don't under any circumstances send the invitations we absolutely in no way want or will ever agree on". And I would worry that he might accidentally (and with all the best intentions) make things worse if he's alone with his scheming mother for several hours. God knows what she'll have him agree to. All the guests you don't want invited, for a start. You're going to have to be incredibly firm, and not do things via LordL (i.e. only talk to MIL directly) until he's on the same page as you, and try to get some counselling done before the reunion if he is going to go. Your relationship does not deserve this strife.

weeblewobble

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #21 on: April 22, 2013, 01:44:26 AM »
This sounds really frustrating.  I think if I were you, I would withdraw from attending the reunion.  You're right to be concerned about what this "forecasts" for the future of your relationship, boundaries, etc.

Slartibartfast

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #22 on: April 22, 2013, 02:46:17 AM »
Is there a relative who might be able to tell you what MIL's story has been to the rest of the family?  I'm betting MIL has presented it to everyone as "She doesn't want a shower because she's being bashful but let's throw her one anyway!"

How far away is the reunion from you?  If it's not too far, rescind your RSVP and let LordL put it out that he'll be by sometime over the course of the day/weekend but he's not sure what - scheduling issues, you know!  Then he - or you and he both, depending on how it goes - can choose to only attend at a time which would be inconvenient to suddenly host a shower (e.g. the morning when half the people have left already, or in the middle of lunch but so sorry we can't stay long).

As for the couples therapy thing - sit down with LordL first and try for an honest conversation with the two of you: "LordL, when you finish what you're doing, could you please come in here?  I want a talk?" (then) "I'm really concerned at how manipulative your mother is being about this reunion-shower-thing.  We were very clear that we didn't want a shower, but now she's trying to invite the wedding party and she's sending out invitations inviting people to a 'toast' but without mentioning it's a reunion at all!  I asked Aunt Helen and she said your mother told everyone else it's a shower but not to tell us that  :-\  What are your thoughts on it? . . ."

His willingness to actually talk with you about it (or to sit down and have a "relationship talk" at all) will be a pretty good indicator of whether you need outside help or not.  If he's willing to talk about it, that means he trusts you - even though he (so far) believes his mother is making sense and it's just easiest to do it her way, he's willing to let you try to change his mind.  If he's not willing to actually listen to you, though, you've got a lot of years of not listening ahead of you  :-\

Iris

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2013, 03:02:15 AM »
There is something LordL needs to understand here: Why would you want a compromise? This is YOUR wedding, not your and MIL's wedding. A compromise is an agreement reached between two parties involved in a matter surely, not someone totally unrelated making demands that they have no right to. A compromise would be appropriate if LordL wanted the shower, but his mother has nothing to do with this.

Look, DH and I went through something similar with his parents, bless their well-meaning-but-simultaneously-astoundingly-self-centred hearts, so I can reassure you that it is not the end of the world if you don't get it all sorted out Right Now. LordL has been manipulated by this woman all his life so it may be an unrealistic goal for that to go away very quickly. What you do need to do is firstly, help him to realise that he HAS been manipulated because he probably doesn't see that. Also, recognise that it's hard for someone to come to terms with the fact that their loving mother has actually played them like a fiddle all their lives so it will probably take him a while. Secondly, you need to come up with a compromise with HIM over how you will deal with her demands short term. While you need to respect his needs as above, HE needs to respect that when you say no, you mean NO and it is not okay for him to change that simply because he has learnt that that is the easiest way to deal with his mum.

I won't lie, it was a rocky road for DH and I to navigate in the early years of our marriage, but it was easier to travel it together (Oh my goodness that sounds sickeningly twee, but hopefully you know what I mean). Or you could just be like my Grandmother was - she simply refused to associate with her MIL at all. My grandfather visited her by himself for their whole marriage  :-\
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Rusty

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #24 on: April 22, 2013, 03:10:15 AM »
From your posts it sounds as if you are the one who does not want the "shower" and that you have convinced LordL to agree with you. Nothing wrong with that at all, but it also sounds like MIL has convinced LordL that its still a family reunion with a bit of a celebration of your marriage thrown in.

Doesn't sound like you are both on the same page about the whole thing.  He still wants to go and see his relatives regardless.

So, you have two choices here.  Either you both go along with the whole thing or you don't and LordL doesn't get to see relatives he wants to see.  Could this cause a bit of resentment on his part?

The MIL is going to use her perceived power over LordL in the future if you don't get this sorted out before your marriage.

 


cicero

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Re: How to stop the escalation?
« Reply #25 on: April 22, 2013, 06:55:04 AM »
Please consider counseling. i think it's great that you are somewhat getting through to LordL but you have to understand taht he has been conditioned to jump when his mother says jump.
I told him that it reads exactly like a shower invite. He somehow doesn't see it. I told him the event is not about the family reunion per that invite, it's about us, and that's not what we wanted. He claimed to believe that this is a "compromise" and that we wanted a compromise. I told him that i thought our goal was to say a firm NO. I told him this was like forcing a birthday party on someone who doesn't celebrate their birthday - why would the GOH's feelings matter less than that of the hosts? He seemed to get that, and called and asked them not to send the invites yet.

see, he *does* see it. because then he goes on to say that he believed this is a compromise. why would you need a compromise if there is no problem.

the issue is that he probably *does* see things, but he is walking the line between "not wanting to annoy his mother/FOO" and "not wanting to hurt LadyL".

The good news is that he sounds like his heart is in the right place which means that with counseling and talking this out with a neutral third party, you will probably be able to "re-program" him (and before anyone jumps on my case, I am not seriously talking about re-programming but I think that LordL needs to learn to put his wife first and then his FOO and not the other way around).

for now - if *you* are willing to be blunt and be the "bad guy" why not tell him to say "I think LadyL had some ideas/problems/reservations about that. Give her a call". or if not - tell him to *always* say "I have to check with LadyL and we'll get back to you". don't embellish, don't say "I think it's ok but i have to check". it's perfectly normal for a couple to check with each other before comitting to an outside request

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Roe

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #26 on: April 22, 2013, 08:02:29 AM »
He can go but I don't understand why you are being forced to attend?  YOU can say 'no' and let him attend alone.  It still has the same effect of throwing a wrench in MIL's plans, after all, a bridal shower with no bride isn't quite what she is expecting.

LadyL

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #27 on: April 22, 2013, 09:14:32 AM »
Hi everyone. Thanks for the feedback. This is definitely a difficult case because I agree with all of you that LordL is habituated to his mother's behavior. He said to me, "Well the rest of the family just lies down and takes it when she does this stuff to them. I at least pushed back on her a lot." To him, this is progress, and I agree to an extent. But if you push back and *still* get steamrolled it teaches you that you need to change tactics.

What is really hard is that because he sees this behavior as more normal than I do, he has trouble understanding my reaction and strong feelings about it. He said it felt like he was being put in the middle between me and his mother. I told him we're supposed to be on the same team, so there is not a "middle," and that he is my primary family now. I put priority on our relationship above that with my parents, siblings, etc. - his happiness is more important to me, and I expect my happiness to be more important than pleasing his mother. I don't think he quite sees that when he chooses his mother's way over what we agreed upon, he is not following that contract.

At this point I am perfectly willing to call MIL myself and lay it all out on the line - NO SHOWER. Politely but firmly. In the past I have insisted all communication go through LordL but I am willing to make an exception - thoughts on whether this is a good or  bad idea?

Also, it is possible he could go alone, but it is 4 hours away so I would have to either stay home or make alternate plans with friends in that area (both are doable). If the situation continues to stall out that is what I plan on doing. I know it will hurt LordL a bit (he'd like me there because reacquainting with his relatives is a bit emotionally fraught for him), but honestly this situation hurts me too and if he can't admit that there is no way to please everyone, someone's going to get hurt - me, him, or MIL - and I have personally completely had it with being mistreated by MIL, so it's not going to be me.

Zizi-K

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #28 on: April 22, 2013, 09:21:06 AM »
Sorry to be a voice of dissent, but the invitation your MIL sent out does not sound like a shower invitation to me. It clearly asks for no presents and says that it will simply be a 'toast' rather than a whole event in your honor. I can see that your MIL is going to be a tough cookie and that you and your fiance have some things to work out. I too have a difficult MIL, and I have to tell you: this is a long game. Nobody and nothing is going to change immediately, and you have to pick your battles wisely. This does not strike me as the right hill to die on, so to speak. You will have plenty of chances to take stands, draw lines (and all manner of other battle metaphors), and while I do agree that couples counseling can't hurt (at any time, ever) - I would not skip the party or make up some last minute business trip. Go and show your MIL that you and your husband to be are a strong unit.

Specky

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #29 on: April 22, 2013, 09:44:28 AM »
I would skip the reunion since it is clear that MIL is a steamroller.  I ditto couples counseling.