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Stuck in the middle? New wife and parents hate each other!


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Old 25th October 2005, 2:30 AM   #1
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Stuck in the middle? New wife and parents hate each other!

"Happily" married for almost 6 months now, I thought we had gotten over past problems with my overbearing father/parents (I've posted threads about this over a year ago and even saw a therapist for 4 months), but now "the s*** "has hit the fan", as they say...

Over a week ago (last Sunday), we visited my parents for a coffee, and before long they found an excuse to vent all their frustration on my wife, since they have long felt she is overbearing and disrespectful and imposing herself on me and telling me what to do... which ironically is exactly what SHE thinks my father is doing to me and has being doing so for a very long time. Well, some name-calling ensued and before long they had insulted not only me and my wife but pretty much thrown us out of their house! I haven't spoken to them since, except for one phonecall from my mother a couple of days ago, where we basically fought again and I demanded an apology. They of course, feel they have done nothing wrong and it's my wife's fault...

This is nothing new... both 'sides' (wife and parents) have accused me of being weak and a pushover -- she has been telling me I can't control my parents since the day we met over 2 years ago, and they say I can't control my wife (meaning to somehow 'enforce' the concept that while she's in their house she should respect them and abide by their rules and not be rude).

So now, I don't know what to do. We are exhausted and worn out with my parents causing issues at every major event (when I wanted to move in with my wife before getting married, before the actual wedding, at holidays, family events. etc. in each case they accused us of being distant, or my wife of being antisocial). My wife (and her parents) now want nothing to do with my parents -- she claims she would rather split up with me than let our children (when we ever have them) be exposed to my parents.

On the other hand, I'm an only child and was always close with my parents. Even in my late 20s I'd travel with them, and until recently, would go out for the occasional lunch or coffee, just the three of us (since my wife didn't want any part of it). I'm HAPPY with my wife and love the life we are trying to create, but I honestly don't know how much I can (or want) to keep my parents so much out of it. I'm a family person, and have gotten used to parents sticking their noses in every aspects of my life, to the point where I have always shared almost everything with them, as if they were my best friends or siblings. My wife, coming from a family of 3 children, whose parents live around the corner from us but never visit and keep their distance unless SHE contacts them, just doesn't get it.

Is it wrong to feel my parents are feeling hurt and that I want to make up with them, as I usually do after every fight, even a day later (I'm not one to hold a grudge)? Or is my wife right to say that I should have more pride and teach them a lesson and put up boundaries. I HATE 'power games' and I know that they're not calling because they're waiting for ME to bend and give in. Logic tells me all this, but is logic the best guide? Perhaps the close (TOO close?) relationship I had with my parents is something unique and I am with the wrong person now, who is too independent and strong-willed to accept it.

I've always preferred to avoid conflict rather than confront it, and now part of me just wants to walk away from everything. I'm already psychologically overloaded (as is my wife) from other issues, such as looking for a job in a very difficult job market, as well as an impending move to a new home.

It all just seems too hard. Any advice?
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Old 25th October 2005, 2:38 AM   #2
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I'm a family person, and have gotten used to parents sticking their noses in every aspects of my life, to the point where I have always shared almost everything with them, as if they were my best friends or siblings
Time to grow up and cut the umbilical cord. You're a man with a family of your own; that's where your first loyalty lies.

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whose parents live around the corner from us but never visit and keep their distance unless SHE contacts them
And that's as it should be.

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I've always preferred to avoid conflict rather than confront it
Well there's your problem. Adult life means that you encounter difficult situations and you must deal with them rather than running away. No wonder both your parents and your wife think you're easily controlled; you are.

If you can't handle the responsibilities of being an adult and a family man, get counselling for yourself to learn to stand on your own two feet and quit letting mommy and daddy run the show.
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Old 25th October 2005, 5:22 AM   #3
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Good point...

Good point, Outcast, I've been thinking along the same lines as you... I think deep down inside we all know what the right thing to do is, and don't need advice, but the problem is finding the strength to DO the right thing.

I don't want to let ANYONE run the show, and standing on my own two feet to do what "I" wanted is what I was in counselling for, sometime last year...

I just can't stand the feeling that I've estranged my parents somehow, and can't help feeling that there might be SOME shred of truth to their words... that I've found someone who is more overbearing and imposing than my own father, and that I'll pay the price down the road...

You might ask, have I ever done anything to get my parents angry or something they don't agree with? Of course! I never had a 'rebellioin' in my teenage years, but I did lots of things they didn't like.

Right now I have other things to deal with, and don't really want to deal with this issue... yet I know that my father is so stubborn that if I don't pick up the phone and contact them, they are capable of cutting themselves off from me for a very very long time. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Makes you wonder whether they really love their own kid... even though I've believed all my life that they do (but don't ask my wife)...
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Old 25th October 2005, 6:26 AM   #4
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Oh, man, can I ever relate to this. It's one of those "no matter what you do, you're screwed" scenarios.

I had to endure a similar situation a number of years ago, and my attempt at maintaining some semblance of balance was nothing short of disaster.

What I should have done was defend my wife. I should have stood up against my overbearing parents. But I didn't, I tried to be Mr. Nice Guy and keep everybody happy. Big mistake.

Good luck.
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Old 25th October 2005, 7:06 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by slubberdegullion
What I should have done was defend my wife. I should have stood up against my overbearing parents. But I didn't, I tried to be Mr. Nice Guy and keep everybody happy. Big mistake.
Nice to hear somebody else has gone through the same thing! And in my home province of Ontario, Canada, too!

I'm trying to accept that Keeping Everyone Happy is not always possible... and besides, people will respect you more if you stand up for yourself, even if they don't like it. At least that's what my logic says.

A horrible conflict of Emotions vs Logic. Logic says I'm doing the right thing. Emotions make me wonder whether I should walk away and start over...

What happened in your case, slubberdegullion?
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Old 25th October 2005, 8:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ehehef
What happened in your case, slubberdegullion?
It's a long and involved story, and I don't want to rehash the whole thing here. But the essential bits are that my extended family descended upon my house for a holiday, and it took maybe five minutes for my wife (now ex) to get fed up.

I should have made the hard decision and stood up to the rest of my family, but I didn't want to alienate them. That was a bad idea. Mr Nice Guy, as usual, got smushed between the immovable object and the irresistible force. The end result was that everyone was angry and frustrated. My feeble attempts at resolution only exacerbated the situation, and the result was years of strained relations between everyone involved.

Now, I don't know the specifics of your situation, but the long and short of it is that if I had to do it all over again, I'd stand up for my wife even if I believed she was wrong or irrational, because that relationship is the primary. All other relationships outside of the husband/wife bond are secondary.
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Old 25th October 2005, 8:45 AM   #7
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Going out on a limb and could be very wrong here

Is there a slight possible chance that you are enjoying the attention you are getting by your parents and wife fighting over you?

If your parents do indeed love you they should understand that regardless of how they feel about your wife she is the most important thing in your life.

I notice you did not really chat too much about how your wife is effected by this......what about her feelings? Sounds like she is taking the brunt of this not you. How is she feeling knowing that your parents so dislike her? It has got to hurt like heck.

I have been here, on the wife/LTR end in a 8 year relationship..... eventually I gave up realizing, finally, that he could never be a husband/ LTR because he was too busy still being their kid. He liked the attention, made him feel important and in the lime light.

Of course you do not have to abandon your parents to stop this but you need to lay down YOUR RULES. You need to promise your wife that you are going to resolve this with her help and understanding.

Just do it...... good intentions do not get the job done!

BTW I am taking a stab at this....... if your wife is an evil witch and chucks snowballs at the back of your parents heads and spits in their coffee when they visit........well......than they would have a right to be snippy about her.

a4a

Last edited by a4a; 25th October 2005 at 8:50 AM..
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Old 25th October 2005, 8:59 AM   #8
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I can so relate to this situation... My mil has always caused friction between me and my h and she finally accompished what she wanted she split us up after 6mths of being married... She wore black to my wedding !!! She gave me a wedding shower and didn't send out any invitations to my family no one on my side came she never sent them even my mother.. My mother didn't know and it was a surprize so i couldn't !! My h mom is back with h dad after his wife died of cancer she was writing poems and woeing him to get in his good graces !!

She played on his emotions and won him over and behind his back was dogging his wife that was just buried!!! My mil has my fil thinking bad things about me and he loved me before she came into the picture .. My h parent's have nothing really to do with him because he is with me and they can't stand our daughter i guess cause she looks like me !! They have always treated her like an outcast .. My mom and her fiance worship the ground our walks on so its their loss!! I feel that people will be in other peoples buisness because their lives are miserable and feel if they aren't happy noone else will be!!! My h thinks alot of my mom and her fiance !! He respects them more than his own parents !! Good luck keep me posted and pm me if you will like to chat i so can relate
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Old 25th October 2005, 11:44 AM   #9
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I just can't stand the feeling that I've estranged my parents somehow
The job of parents is to get a child ready for life and then let the child live its life; not to try to run the child's life until it dies. Sure, they might get snitty when you reject their control - that's what controlling people do. Too bad for them. They're grownups and need to control their own petulance. If they cut you off that's their problem because they will only be spiting themselves.

Don't be held hostage by this sort of emotional blackmail.
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Old 26th October 2005, 7:40 AM   #10
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"Emotional blackmail" is right!

Funny, 'emotional blackmail' is exactly what my wife accuses my parents of doing!

To comment on everyone's posts:

Slubberdegullion, good point about the husband/wife relationship being the primary one... after all, it's kind of hard to imagine anything that could happen to seriously damage a parent/child relationship, especially when we're all adults now! In other words, I'm sure my parents will still love me and get along with me no matter what (they have, after all, when I've been seeing them once or twice a week since getting married and having a lot of free time on my hands).

Relations between my wife and parents were already strained from day one, when they realized she wasn't as 'soft' and controllable as their own son, and that she stood up to them (which they still interpret as rudeness or disrespect). But now that they had a big fight, she obviously has no obligation to put up with them (contrary to what they believe) and so never wants to see them again OR have our future children see them, which is VERY hard for me to accept -- I'm already dreading holidays when I always believed my wife and I would 'hang out' comfortably with all parents.

a4a... my wife is a strong person, and yes, she IS bearing the brunt of this, or so she says. SHE stood up to my parents the last time we visited by telling them not to pressure me so much (they were trying to convince me to help them with a project and I was trying to decline politely, with little effect).

I guess as an only child I have always been in 'the limelight' (and not only because my parents have issues of their own for years and I have been the 'glue' keeping them together), but I doubt I enjoy the attention now... I just want everyone to leave me alone! During the last (and only) big fight between wife/parents, I exploded, saying, "I've heard enough bull***t from both sides here!', which of course my wife didn't like because it sounded like I wasn't 'on her side'.

lilmoma1973, I'll PM you soon to chat about this, I got confused just skimming over your story, need a few minutes to read it thoroughly! :-)

Outcast, yours is the 'toughest' advice, but it's SO hard to implement.. right now I'm TORN between picking up the phone and calling up my mother (who is easier to talk to and doesn't hold a grudge like my father) who I used to speak to every day before the last argument. It's been over one week and I'm fighting the urge to call and say 'isn't it stupid that we're not talking? can't you and I and my father get along as we were, and let me live my life with my wife in peace?'. At the same time I'm angry that theyre obviously playing some stupid power game by not calling. Are they being 'snitty' now , or are they waiting for me to make a move? Either way, I'LL be the one accused, I'm sure... if I don't call they'll say my wife kept me from doing so, if I do, I'll probably hear more arguing. I just want to tell them, 'I don't want to talk about it, give me some space, I'm very angry with the whole thing, I have more important things to deal with, like finding a job, otherwise here's the bill for my weekly therapy sessions, please PAY UP!'...

This is in my thoughts every minute of every day, and I just want to RESOLVE things. The only thing keeping me from ending it all (divorcing my wife that is) is the thought that I'll be equally miserable and feel I have 'failed' without her in my life and being on my own (I have little intention of gong back to live with the folks, but for financial reasons I may not have a choice). I don't want to be 'the kid' but I also don't want to go to the opposite extreme from the close loving relationship I've had with them over the years (my wife however things that it was all an illusion -- has anyone else heard this?).
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Old 26th October 2005, 8:30 AM   #11
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The one who is standing between the two fires is always hurting most. Your parents are concerned about their baby (you), your wife is basically pissed and somewhat hurt, but you're the one who feels responsible, attacked by both parties, and hurt.

Apologies and further fights will only make things harder for everyone. You can't demand an apology, you can only accept it when it's offered to you. I think you should assure your wife that if you fight with your parents, they will hate her even more (which she might not care for, but she cares for you, right?), because they will think "Ha! Here it goes, he fights with his parents because of that woman!" Tell her that you're always on her side and she doesn't need to react to anything they say as you will straighten things up later with your parents. Let her know that it hurts you even more when she is hurt by anyone, especially the people you're so close with. In that way you will eliminate the problem with your wife (who is supposed to be understanding) and have only your parents on your back. Your wife will feel much better if she knows that deep in your heart you're always on her side. You don't need to choose between her and your parents.

You should stop sharing all details from your marriage with your parents. You should only say good things about your wife and your relationship. When your parents start talking against her, remove yourself from the situation politely and elegantly. Show them that you will not take any comments or advice regarding your marriage and that she loves you and you're quite happy with the way things are. When you repeat things enough times, they wil eventually give up.

But you must be firm in your attitude that no one can interfere with your marriage. Let them know that if they continue to make you feel bad around them, you will not communicate with them as often as before. Nobody has to take anyone's crap even when it comes from your own parents.

Last edited by RecordProducer; 26th October 2005 at 8:33 AM..
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Old 26th October 2005, 8:45 AM   #12
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The one who is standing between the two fires is always hurting most....You should stop sharing all details from your marriage with your parents...But you must be firm in your attitude that no one can interfere with your marriage. Let them know that if they continue to make you feel bad around them, you will not communicate with them as often as before. Nobody has to take anyone's crap even when it comes from your own parents.
Wow, well said! FIRM is the key word here, something which I am trying VERY hard to be!

Logic all says that all this makes sense... but can we ignore the EMOTIONAL aspect? Can it be that my feelings for my parents and wanting to be close (perhaps TOO close) to them is making me a bit of a 'pushover' and giving in easily?

So far I haven't made any effort to call them.. but if I do, should I just politely avoid the subject, ask them how they're doing, etc. and if they try to address it politely say, "I love you both and I don't want to fight, so I'd rather not talk about it, ok?".
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Old 26th October 2005, 9:04 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by ehehef
Wow, well said! FIRM is the key word here, something which I am trying VERY hard to be!
The above, should answer the below:

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Originally Posted by ehehef
So far I haven't made any effort to call them.. but if I do, should I just politely avoid the subject, ask them how they're doing, etc. and if they try to address it politely say, "I love you both and I don't want to fight, so I'd rather not talk about it, ok?".
If you're trying to be FIRM. Then BE FIRM. Attend to the issue in hand, don't pussyfoot around it again... that isn't being FIRM! RP's advice is top notch... *as usual* but my personal opinion is that you need to face that it happened, and try to put it to bed. Let them know you do not wish to discuss your marriage with them. Be polite, nice and very FIRM!
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Old 26th October 2005, 9:47 AM   #14
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That is why my inlaws don't like me because im no mousey and i will speak my mind .. My h dad thinks everyone is scared of him and won't say anything to him because he mean and use to fight and hurt people .. I 'm not scared of him and he knows im not !!! My counselor said to my h that the reason me and the inlaws clash is because i am a strong independent person and im not taking any crap from noone !!! I intemidate my inlaws and that makes them say im a B**ch!! We went to counseling about this and my h finally had to disengage himself from his parents because they were causing us problems and till they excepted that i was with my h then we wouldn't go back to their house !!He treats his ss better than my h and that was another problem too!! He pays all ss bills .. ss lives in dad's house and doesn't pay any rent either !! My h dad wouldn't acknowledge h till there was a blood test when he was 14 .. He never really been in his life so h says how do you miss something you never really had!!! H mom was a partier and drank andwent to bars his grandma keep them and raised them pretty much !! It doesn't bother him not to have his parents and then his dad said he is waiting for h to appologize and h says he isn't ... I think his dad should to both of us!!!
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Old 26th October 2005, 9:56 AM   #15
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What I should have done was defend my wife. I should have stood up against my overbearing parents. But I didn't, I tried to be Mr. Nice Guy and keep everybody happy. Big mistake.

Good luck.[/QUOTE

Slubber so sorry to hear that you didn't take up for your wife!! Are you two still together or did she get tired of you not defending her? Dr Phil says you always take up for your s/o and not let no one treat them bad that is his priority!! He said never let someone bad mouth your spouse !! I was getting mad when my h wouldn't take up for me because anytime someone would bash my h i would say something.. My family worships the ground my h walks on and never has said one cross word about my h even when h left!! He cheated on me and they always said he would be back and he did!!! Always stand by your s/o no matter what !!
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