Author Topic: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it  (Read 13486 times)

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xanne

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Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« on: May 29, 2013, 02:56:43 PM »
Summer is almost here and it is time for my FIL's yearly visit.  Since I have been married to DH, for the past 11 years his parents would appear sometime in the end of May and leave usually in September.  MIL has now passed, but FIL owns the adjoining property to ours where he has a large travel trailer where he and MIL always stayed while visiting.  ILs built the house we live in, DH purchased it before we were married.  When we married, I sold my house and bought into the house we now share.  FIL doesn't understand that WE own the  house.  I bought new dining room furniture, since 1970s early american is not my taste.  Comment was made to DH. "I don't know why she needs new furniture, there is nothing wrong with what is already there."  The trestle table with benches just didn't cut it for me!  I posted before about the furniture that was left behind.  When I said that I would like the Hammond Organ to find a new home because I wanted to put down new flooring in the room (the 1970s indoor/outdoor carpeting was beginning to get worn- sarcasm intended) I was told that since my husband wasn't working, we couldn't afford to do that so there was no reason to move the organ.   The organ will be leaving this summer, the new flooring has been purchased along with paint for the walls.  I also had the nerve to have DH rip out the cabinets that were in the room in preparation for moving the washer and dryer into the basement and out of the nicest room in the house.  I am sure to hear about that also.  FIL is a nice man, he just doesn't get it, how do I nicely tell him that I need to be able to have a say in what is done in the house that I pay for.  DH tries, but his Dad tends to view him as 8 years old.

bah12

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2013, 03:06:00 PM »
Chances are, he already knows that you have the say in what happens in the house and not him.  Changes are also good that he doesn't care and won't change.  I wouldn't bother trying to argue the point with him.  Don't give him what he wants...which is to bother you.  Ignore every comment he makes as if he said nothing.

It doesn't sound like you need him to do things like move the organ in order for you to make upgrades, so don't respond to him when he says it doesn't need to be done. 

You can always find a reason for him to leave (or for you to) when he gets that way.  Maybe if he sees that everytime he does this, you and your DH no longer interact with him, he'll change. Just don't expect him to. 

ladyknight1

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2013, 03:14:02 PM »
Is there a particular reason why the organ can't be donated or discarded while your FIL is away? It would have been gone as soon as the paint and flooring was ready, if I were in your situation.

I POD Bah that you should ignore all of the comments about changes to the house.

TootsNYC

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2013, 03:17:09 PM »
Can you say to him, "FIL, I paid money of my very own to PURCHASE this house. It is now my home--my only home. And my husband and I own this house--you do not. Nor do you live here--this is not your home."

And I might send him home the minute he makes any sort of comment. Don't be snippy, but just say, "well, it's time for you to go--I need to have my home to myself now." And usher him to the door.

Sort of a behavioral-modification tactic.

Or maybe just repeat the same sentence over and over? "You don't live here, and you don't own this house anymore. We do."

It might make you feel better. But it's probably not going to change him.

And bah12 is right--he's not that likely to change. Don't argue the point.

Think of him like the grownups in the Charlie Brown movies--when he talks, it's just "wah wah, wah wah wah."

It' snot like it MATTERS what he says, right? You don't need his permission to move anything into or out of your house. You can set it in his travel trailer, or toss it, or arrange for someone else to get it.

In fact, you might have better luck if you completely purged the house of ANYTHING that was owned by anybody but you and DH after you purchased it. You might have been better off if you'd completely emptied it and started acquiring things from scratch. It might have made the point that "this is my house now."

So maybe do that now. Get rid of everything--whether your'e going to redo the floor or not. It's not your stuff, so it doesn't belong in your house. And say those things, "It's not our organ, FIL, so it doesn't belong in our house." Get rid of it NOW, just because. Just because, well, it's not your stuff, so it doesn't belong in your house.

"It's not our sofa, so it doesn't belong in our house." Even if it means not having a sofa.

Think like a tomcat--mark your territory. Make it smell like you.

Shoo

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2013, 03:21:49 PM »
I get that it might make you uncomfortable to hear him making comments like he does, but it's not like his comments actually make any difference, right?  You don't make decisions based on what he does or does not want or approve of, right?

So next time he starts in with the comments, tell him you don't need to hear it.  It's your house, you'll do what you want.  I, personally, would find him extremely irritating.  You say he's a nice man, but .... 

doodlemor

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2013, 03:26:40 PM »
POD to everybody.  Your house is your house.

If you haven't changed the locks, now is the time.  Don't give FIL a key - ever.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2013, 03:29:07 PM »
Quote
how do I nicely tell him that I need to be able to have a say in what is done in the house that I pay for

I don't think you need to make him understand you have a say, but he no longer does. You've already replaced furniture and modified cabinetry and have plans for flooring and getting rid of the organ. So he knows you and your DH have a say.

I'd just go with:
"FIL, I know you take great pride in this home. DH and I enjoy it as much as you and MIL did. But it's our home and we will modify it to meet our needs. I'm sorry if that bothers you. But you won't change our minds."

For all future comments, ignore. Don't justify your actions. At the most, just respond "Well, its a good thing you are no longer living here."

And you might also want to rethink how you view his summer living arrangements. He owns property and a place to live. He is not coming to visit you, he spends his summers at his second residence. Don't treat him like an invited guest. It might help put a little emotional distance during the coming months and reduce your feeling of being responsible for him and his happiness while living near you.

Roses

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2013, 03:36:41 PM »

In fact, you might have better luck if you completely purged the house of ANYTHING that was owned by anybody but you and DH after you purchased it. You might have been better off if you'd completely emptied it and started acquiring things from scratch. It might have made the point that "this is my house now."

So maybe do that now. Get rid of everything--whether your'e going to redo the floor or not. It's not your stuff, so it doesn't belong in your house. And say those things, "It's not our organ, FIL, so it doesn't belong in our house." Get rid of it NOW, just because. Just because, well, it's not your stuff, so it doesn't belong in your house.

"It's not our sofa, so it doesn't belong in our house." Even if it means not having a sofa.

Think like a tomcat--mark your territory. Make it smell like you.

This! 

Make it your home, get rid of anything that does not belong to you and DH and make it your house.  You don't have to ask permission, he just needs to understand he doesn't have a say.

camlan

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2013, 03:43:27 PM »
Sit down with FIL once, you and DH and FIL. Have DH tell FIL, once, that it is no longer FIL's home. And just as FIL and MIL got the chance to make it their own, now the two of you are doing the same thing. This probably won't do a bit of good, but you might feel better getting this out in the open. Once.

Then I'd adopt the Toots special and come up with one phrase/sentence that both you and DH will use whenever FIL starts in on the changes you are making. I kind of like, "We want something different."

"That table and those benches were good, solid furniture with a lot of years left in them."
"True, but we want something different in our home."

"That carpet cost $9 a square foot. I can't believe that you are tearing it out!"
"Yes, Father, but we want something different now."

You are never going to change FIL. So change what you can--your reaction to his comments. "We want something different," isn't judgmental, doesn't comment on the worn-out state of the furnishings, doesn't say FIL and MIL had bad taste. It just says that you want something else. You are allowed to want something else.

And if he gets upset and stomps out of your house--is that such a bad thing?
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


xanne

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2013, 03:45:00 PM »
I called the Church twice about the organ. Rather than call me back, they called FIL.  The message from FIL was that the organ was NOT leaving the house until he came up.  DH=8 years old.  The comment about the key made me LOL!  The front door handle and lock was our wedding present.  I think I just need to remind FIL that MIL wouldn't let him replace the carpeting in their house and it was the first thing he did when he got home from the funeral, so I shouldn't have to live with things that I don't want.

lowspark

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2013, 03:52:11 PM »
My first comment is about the church and the organ. WOW! If they did that to me, I would promptly donate it to another organization. Or sell it. Or whatever. But you can bet there would be no way that church would be getting it. Period.

As for FIL's comments, I would pick some sort of noncommital reply and repeat it ad nauseum till he figured out that his comments were falling on deaf ears. The one I always used with my kids was "I'll take that under advisement." It didn't take them all that long to catch on to the true meaning which was "I'll do that if I want to but your pleading will not influence me except negatively if it becomes excessive."

It will be even better if both you and DH use the same line to FIL, every single time.

Roses

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2013, 03:54:51 PM »
Donate it to someone else.  The church lost their chance.    FIL, we are donating the organ to X organization.  If you want it to go elsewhere, it needs to be out by June 15th. 

Lorelei_Evil

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2013, 03:55:57 PM »
POD.  The church seems to be under the impression that you're renting your own house or something and your FIL seems to be under the impression that he still calls all the shots regarding the house and contents.  None of that really matters, though, because you're not caving to that perception, right?

My dad is a lot like this.  I've found the judicious use of "mmmhmmm" and the ignore function have helped save my sanity and my blood pressure.

rose red

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2013, 04:00:50 PM »
Donate it to someone else.  The church lost their chance.    FIL, we are donating the organ to X organization.  If you want it to go elsewhere, it needs to be out by June 15th.

I agree.  I can understand the way your FIL is behaving (not approving, but understanding), but I would not tolerate that from the church.

TootsNYC

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Re: Setting Boundaries - for someone who just doesn't get it
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2013, 04:08:54 PM »
My dad is a lot like this.  I've found the judicious use of "mmmhmmm" and the ignore function have helped save my sanity and my blood pressure.

I would move the organ to his trailer. Can you get in the door? Maybe you don't have a key (probably you shouldn't have a key if he doesn't have one to your place).

or I'd move it to the shed or something. Or to a storage unit, and hand him the key and stop paying the bill.

Get forceful. Move it out.
Frankly, I'd probably get really pissy and go through the whole house looking for EVERYTHING that was his and not really yours, and I'd drag it ALL over to his trailer, and I'd move it in, even if I had to break through the door to do so.

He wants it? HE can move around it.

And yeah, "mmmmhmmm" is a really useful phrase.

I called the Church twice about the organ. Rather than call me back, they called  I think I just need to remind FIL that MIL wouldn't let him replace the carpeting in their house and it was the first thing he did when he got home from the funeral, so I shouldn't have to live with things that I don't want.

No, you need to stop giving a crap whether he AGREES with you. It doesn't matter.

Not the slightest. Stop caring what blah-de-blah comes out of his mouth. Just do what you want in your own home.

And I would bet that if you move all his crap out of your house, you will find yourself FAR better able to MENTALLY let go of this issue.

All that stuff is becoming toxic to you, and to your relationship with your FIL.

Once his stuff is out of your house, you might be able to think of him as "going to his country home" instead of "visiting you." Because it won't be, in any way, HIS house.

I honestly think your relationship with your FIL would benefit from a complete purge of your home.