Author Topic: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling  (Read 22619 times)

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cattlekid

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S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« on: August 01, 2013, 10:46:09 AM »
For those who followed the Dear Prudence thread on the redecorating MIL, I have a follow up. 

For those that didn’t follow that thread, the short version is that my SIL, in the guise of “helping”, pulled up several expensive plants from my front yard that were put there by my mom and aunt on the occasion of my kidney transplant this past April.  SIL was NOT asked to come to my home, she was tagging along with BIL and FIL who were there to cut branches from a tree in the front yard.  FWIW, BIL and FIL were also not asked to do this, they insisted that it had to be done immediately and that they had to do it, where we could have easily scheduled a professional to come and take care of it at a more convenient time. 

Needless to say, I was infuriated when I saw the damage that had been done.  I am trying to focus on the boundary trampling and not on the plants themselves, because every time I try to discuss this issue with DH, he says “it’s just plants”. 

I told DH that SIL is no longer welcome in our home when I am there unless she a) apologizes and b) UNDERSTANDS why what she did was so out of bounds.    Right now, I can’t even fathom how I could have a civil conversation with SIL at this point.

Yesterday, MIL stopped by to pick up their chainsaw that was left at our house and she said offhandedly, “SIL is really sorry about the plants”.  I calmly told MIL that I needed to hear that from SIL directly.  I know MIL is trying to smooth everything over and it’s not going to work this time.   

I am close to considering this my hill to die on.  My ILs (all of them) have a hard time understanding that our home is OUR home, not theirs.  They are welcome as guests but that is it.  I would not dream of going into their home and making changes to suit my tastes, but they do not extend the same courtesy to me.  When they are called out on their behavior (such as in this situation), they act hurt and confused that I do not welcome their “help”. 

DH has agreed that we can take a break from his family for a while.  However, we have a family christening coming up where we will all be placed at the same table for dinner or, if there is no seating chart, MIL and FIL will expect that we will sit with the rest of the family.  At this point, it’s going to take every ounce of energy I have to put on a fake smile and sit at the same table with SIL because I doubt I will ever receive the apology that I am seeking.

Every time I think about this or look out my window and see the missing plants, my blood pressure goes up 10 points.  In order for me to get back to a happy place, I have some questions:

1.    Am I wrong to feel hurt and trampled in this situation?
2.   Am I wrong to insist on an apology from SIL? 
3.   How can I get the ILs to understand that I am trying to enforce boundaries, not reject them totally?

Jocelyn

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2013, 10:58:49 AM »
You are not wrong to feel how you feel.
I agree that SIL should apologize, and not send it half-heartedly via MIL. However, I agree with you that you probably won't get one.
I'm not sure there's anything you can do to make people understand a particular point of view. Is your DH supporting you? What is he saying to his family? Because if he's saying anything that minimizes your point of view, you're sunk.

zyrs

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2013, 11:00:05 AM »
1.  No you are not wrong to feel hurt and trampled in this situation. 

2.  You are not wrong to insist on an apology directly from your SIL, she is the one that pulled up the plants.

3.  I don't know that you can.  Some people cannot understand that other people do not want them touching their things.   

cwm

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2013, 11:02:03 AM »
1. No, you're not wrong at all. You told them all specifically NOT to come over, they ignored you and your wishes and your property was damaged/removed.

2. Not in the least bit. I'd also insist on one from FIL and BIL in that situation as well. They ALL ignored your requests. SIL was the one who removed the plants, but if FIL and BIL hadn't insisted on taking care of the tree for you, none of it would have happened.

3. Once you've calmed down and things are smoothed over, sit down with them together and calmly discuss things. Explain to them that this is your home and while you appreciate their offers of help, you would prefer to weigh all of your options and make plans based on what is best for your home and family. If they still don't get it, offer to come redecorate their house and then when they decline, tell them that when they come in and do things like they did, it feels like they made the offer, you declined and they did it anyway, and ask them how they would feel if you still came in and redecorated everything without their permission.

Some people don't get it and never will. Some people have to have a bit of persuasion to understand what's going on. Hopefully your ILs are neither and will understand once you sit them down.

cattlekid

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2013, 11:02:48 AM »
DH is playing Switzerland.  He's had it with his family as well for other reasons but he won't actually call them out on their behavior towards him.  So he agrees with me as long as I keep it about boundaries and not the plants themselves, but then he won't back me up with his family other than to placate me by saying that we don't see them that often anyhow.   

You are not wrong to feel how you feel.
I agree that SIL should apologize, and not send it half-heartedly via MIL. However, I agree with you that you probably won't get one.
I'm not sure there's anything you can do to make people understand a particular point of view. Is your DH supporting you? What is he saying to his family? Because if he's saying anything that minimizes your point of view, you're sunk.

camlan

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2013, 11:07:15 AM »
Well, somebody agreed to let FIL and BIL come to trim the bushes, and it doesn't sound as if it were you. And how did FIL and BIL know about the bushes, if you don't see them that often now?

There's two parts to this problem. One is DH's family. The other is DH.

You both need to start telling his family "no." If he can't do that, then there is a deeper issue here between the two of you. He is not willing to support you against his family.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


jaxsue

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2013, 11:12:51 AM »
Well, somebody agreed to let FIL and BIL come to trim the bushes, and it doesn't sound as if it were you. And how did FIL and BIL know about the bushes, if you don't see them that often now?

There's two parts to this problem. One is DH's family. The other is DH.

You both need to start telling his family "no." If he can't do that, then there is a deeper issue here between the two of you. He is not willing to support you against his family.

ITA.

My X-DH was just like this. My late MIL was the queen of boundary trampling. She was also verbally abusive to DH and myself, and physically and verbally abusive to X-FIL. DH ignored all of it. There is no doubt that that contributed to the demise of our marriage. I'm not saying that the OP's IL's are this toxic; this is just my experience.

OP, I hope your DH can see this situation for what it is.

JenJay

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2013, 11:18:01 AM »
DH is playing Switzerland.  He's had it with his family as well for other reasons but he won't actually call them out on their behavior towards him.  So he agrees with me as long as I keep it about boundaries and not the plants themselves, but then he won't back me up with his family other than to placate me by saying that we don't see them that often anyhow.   

I'd turn this back around on him.

"They were not just plants, they were an expensive and thoughtful gift that my Mother and Sister gave to me to commemorate an important turning point in my life! The fact that the gift was a plant is irrelevant, if your sister had come into our home and thrown away an expensive knick-knack you'd see my point, right? It doesn't matter what they threw away - they shouldn't have touched anything!"

As for your SIL I personally wouldn't let my husband's lack of spine stop me from saying something. He should back you up but if he's not I don't see why you should just let it drop. I'd tell her exactly what the plants were and why they were so important, how much they meant to you, how difficult and expensive they'll be to replace, etc. Let her feel terrible - she should! Not that you plan to let her step foot onto your property without supervision, but maybe this will make her stop in her tracks the next time she's tempted to come over behind your back.

gramma dishes

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2013, 11:20:29 AM »
...    I am trying to focus on the boundary trampling and not on the plants themselves, because every time I try to discuss this issue with DH, he says “it’s just plants”.  ...

This sentence bothers me.  A lot.

No, they weren't "just plants".   They were very special plants that were given to you as a gift during a difficult time by people (your Mom and your Aunt) who truly love you a lot. 

I don't understand why your husband can't understand your emotional attachment to those particular, specific plants and see the difference between them and weeds which are also "plants".  If HE doesn't get it, it's quite probable that his family won't ever get it either.  And that's sad.

In answer to your questions:
1.  No, you are being trampled.
2.  No, you're not wrong to insist, but that doesn't mean it's ever going to happen.
3.  Tell them.  Tell them your Aunt and Mom planted those (expensive) flowers for you right after your transplant.  Tell them how much they meant to you.  Tell them how incredibly sad (and angry) you were to come home and find them missing.  Tell them you don't want them "helping" in ways that hurt you.  Tell them you want to get along with them, but you don't want them touching your stuff without your permission.

And tell your husband too!   >:(
« Last Edit: August 01, 2013, 11:22:51 AM by gramma dishes »

artk2002

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2013, 11:22:39 AM »
DH is playing Switzerland.  He's had it with his family as well for other reasons but he won't actually call them out on their behavior towards him.  So he agrees with me as long as I keep it about boundaries and not the plants themselves, but then he won't back me up with his family other than to placate me by saying that we don't see them that often anyhow.   

The thing is, Switzerland's neutrality in WWII was useful to both sides. In this case, his 'neutrality' isn't useful to you, which means he's really taking their side.  There is no 'neutrality' in this situation -- he married you, he's supposed to be on your side. That's what all those marriage vows are about.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

cattlekid

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2013, 11:52:16 AM »
Thanks everyone, I appreciate your comments very much. 

I agree that DH needs to step up and be willing to confront his family.  However, the avoidance behavior is entrenched for him and will take quite a bit of serious counseling for him to shed. 

However, I also have a role to play here.  I've spent the last 10 years sublimating my wants and feelings around his family for the sake of "fitting in" and I'm done.  I did step a toe in this water last night when I told my MIL that I wanted an apology directly from SIL and that the plants were planted by my mom and aunt and I can't get those back.  She dropped the topic after that but the look on her face told me everything I needed to know...that she didn't appreciate that I didn't back down. 

Guess she's going to not appreciate a lot of things from now on.  Oh well.

JenJay

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2013, 11:55:41 AM »
Thanks everyone, I appreciate your comments very much. 

I agree that DH needs to step up and be willing to confront his family.  However, the avoidance behavior is entrenched for him and will take quite a bit of serious counseling for him to shed. 

However, I also have a role to play here.  I've spent the last 10 years sublimating my wants and feelings around his family for the sake of "fitting in" and I'm done.  I did step a toe in this water last night when I told my MIL that I wanted an apology directly from SIL and that the plants were planted by my mom and aunt and I can't get those back.  She dropped the topic after that but the look on her face told me everything I needed to know...that she didn't appreciate that I didn't back down. 

Guess she's going to not appreciate a lot of things from now on.  Oh well.

The bolded should be the official motto stitched into the cloth that everyone uses to polish their spine!  ;D

camlan

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2013, 12:02:15 PM »
You could maybe try sitting down with DH and explaining that it's not just about the plants.

"DH, the plants are a symptom of a larger problem. For the past 10 years, I have tried very hard to put up with your family, in the hopes of making your life more peaceful. But the plants are the final straw.

"When you say to me, 'It's just plants,' what I hear is that the gift my mother and sister gave to me at a time when I was very ill isn't important. What I hear is that I have no say in what plants are in my yard. What I hear is that you don't care that I am upset by the loss of this gift. What I hear is that you would rather keep your family happy than keep me happy. What I hear is that I have no say in this house and this yard, which I have worked for and helped to pay for and which is not theirs, but mine and yours. What I hear is that the opinions of your family, about my behavior, about trimming our trees, about everything, is more important than my opinion. What I hear is that *I* am not at all important to you.

"I need you to hear this: I am not happy. I haven't been happy for a long time. And I am not going to put up with this behavior from your family anymore."
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


wheeitsme

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2013, 12:10:34 PM »

...every time I try to discuss this issue with DH, he says “it’s just plants”. 


So, DH, what you're saying is that it's okay for me to go over to MIL's and pull up and throw away her rosebushes/lilies/cut down her tree, because "it's just plants"? 

cattlekid

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Re: S/O: MIL redecorating....SIL and boundary trampling
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2013, 12:16:19 PM »
Ah yes, but here's the rub.  They have ZERO landscaping on their property other than grass.  They have an active dislike of all ornamental plants and a fear of all trees.  They are convinced that trees = branches through the roof and therefore trees are evil and need to be avoided at all costs. 

It would have to be something more along the lines of "I threw out these family pictures because I didn't know the people in them and besides, they were just cluttering up the place anyhow".


...every time I try to discuss this issue with DH, he says “it’s just plants”. 


So, DH, what you're saying is that it's okay for me to go over to MIL's and pull up and throw away her rosebushes/lilies/cut down her tree, because "it's just plants"?