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in-law problems


Family Parents too demanding? Sibling driving you mad? Tell us!

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Old 17th April 2019, 10:57 AM   #1
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in-law problems

Hello,

I have been married for 2 years, we dated for 4 years before that. My husband comes from a wealthy family, who own a family business all together, and I come from a solid middle class background.

Before we were married, I had to sign a prenup and it was a really ugly time. My in-laws took the reins because it would impact their family business as they all co-own things together. I understood that and wanted them to feel safe. Though, they'd known me for 4 years at that point and it made me feel kind of ****ty, but I truly did understand. But I did question the contents of the document, as I'd read how the incidence of divorce in marriages where one signs a prenup they don't wholly agree with, is much higher. So I knew, for my marriage, as well as for myself, I had to agree with what I signed. Nastiness ensued on their part, statements of, if I question the document then I am not in the marriage for the right reasons, etc. So I said, let me just sign it now then, get it over with. To which his mom replied, no you need a lawyer (this is just to make it legal binding). But when I tried to follow said legal counsel, who told me the document was too one-sided, I was not to be trusted and was after my husband's money. I couldn't win, so I just signed the damn thing, as I was running out of time to plan my wedding and desperately needed to get my good feelings back to be able to plan effectively and enjoy my engagement. All during this time, my husband feels stuck in the middle, we are arguing, he is distraught, so am I, his dad was yelling at me drunk, I was just tired of these nasty interactions with them and I had to make it stop, so I signed. I now know I was bullied by them and that is hard to get around.

They've been nothing but nice since we married, but I've received no apologies so I have taken to seeing them as wolf's in sheep's clothing. I can enjoy their company on occasion, but I know the reality of what they're capable of. In a more positive light, I'd also hoped that maybe that kind of thing would never happen again, and maybe it was stressful to see their son get married. He also experiences some mental health issues and I don't think they understand mental health, so they think he's somehow disabled or unable to think, and would easily be manipulated. They don't trust anyone outside of their 'blood relatives' so I was seen as a threat, which is a hard pill for me to swallow since I've only ever wanted in-laws who I could treat as a second set of parents, which is what mine are for him.

That was two years ago and we did move past it, my husband and I, and we really don't see them often so it's not been an issue. They all live in one state, and we live in another. We know they're having a lot of issues lately, but we are not so acutely aware/involved, and I think it's healthier for us. His father is making lots of mistakes with the business, handling things wrong, being rude, and it just came to light that he's been cheating on my husband's mother for 25 years with various women. She's tolerated it silently. It only came out now because the husband of the lady he's currently seeing found out and came to their office with photos.

Flash forward this past weekend. I hear some gossip from a former employee of theirs who is still a good friend of my husbands. Some people on a random work site he was called to were saying, " the brother and sister have a crazy brother they have to hide investments from because he has a gold digging girl." They weren't naming names, but he realized it was us they were talking about, and set them straight that my husband is not crazy and I am not a gold digger.

I know this is just gossip, and whatever was said initially was probably less shocking that what this friend overheard. But I know it came from somewhere, and I am heartbroken. I signed the prenup, I've done nothing but be honest and real and loving to them THE WHOLE TIME I've known them, and this is what the story is going around. That obviously originated with them.

So we spoke to his brother and sister who adamantly state they've never said this, and I believe them. They felt it was their father, because he's been behaving so poorly even they're refusing to be around him. My husband confronted his father via email, in a kind message, and then he received an angry text from his mother the following morning stating 'how dare you believe this idle gossip' and 'we've tried to welcome your wife to our family but I guess she won't have it', somehow making it my fault that my heart was broken about what I'd heard. When it's obviously something that came from somewhere because it's too close to what actually happened during that prenup time over two years ago.

Then he spoke with her on the phone and it was like nothing happened. They glossed over it, in true pathological ignoring fashion, as they do.

So I don't know what I should do now. I feel it needs to be confronted, it's what I would naturally do, but this family is different. They are bullies to get their way, throw their money around to get their way, but when they are called into question about anything, it blows up and becomes the problem of the injured party: in this case, me. But, if I don't address it, I am still expected to come to family gatherings on occasion and smile, look nice and happy, etc. Problem is, I am not fake. So doing that without addressing this would feel like lying. I'm not a liar.

If you've made it this far into this long post, what are your thoughts? Advice? Anyone dealt with anything this wacky before??? I can't find anyone in my life who has any sort of experience with anything like this.
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Old 17th April 2019, 12:23 PM   #2
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One sided prenups are indeed bad but prenups themselves are not bad. DH & I have one. I felt it was the best pre-marital exercise we did. I was adamant & unwilling to yield on one point: my dog who I had before I met DH was mine no matter what. Everything else we talked about. I said, I would rather work things out with DH when we loved each other & wanted things to work.

The more time that passes & the longer 2 people are married, the less valid the prenup becomes. We're talking decades here not a few years.

Obviously your in-laws are all about money. Because they are so focused on it, they think everybody is a gold digger & they get all nutty about it. You have to understand that. It's not about you per se but their own paranoia & obsession.

You need to focus on your love for your husband & not his parents' love of money. Be a good spouse. Let whatever they say & do roll right off you, especially because you don't want their money. Obviously you would expect equitable distribution if you got divorced. That means you would want what is yours, but you would not be trying to upend their business. They don't understand that & are afraid of claims by a divorcing spouse where that person claims entitlement to a business on the grounds that because they stayed home, ran the house, raised the kids and functioned as a hostess for business dinners that they freed up the business owner to make more money so now upon divorce they are entitled to part of the proceeds. You don't seem to be making those claims but it is a big part of what they fear.

Money can make people crazy. After my mom died, my dad started to do his Medicaid planning. He needed to transfer substantial assets to me, including his house. There is a 5 year look back period. He trusted me, his daughter, to know that if he gave me all his money & needed care during the 5 years, that I would not spend his money & I would use it to care for him until he became Medicaid eligible. But it came to light that he did not quiet trust my "new" husband. DH & I had only been married for about 4 years when dad started this process. Dad was terrified that if he game me all his assets, that DH would divorce me to get 1/2 of dad's money. I was a bit hurt on DH's behave but DH said he understood dad's fear. So we made a plan to have DH sign something called an antenuptial agreement disclaiming any entitlement to dad's assets that were being transferred into my name. We ended up not needing any of this because unfortunately Dad died but it was a little awkward that my dad needed these additional reassurances from my husband.

If your husband is sticking up for you, be grateful for him & loving toward him. Let your ILs obsession with money roll right off you.

To ignore their issues is not being fake. It's keeping the peace. Just resign yourself to the fact that they are money focused & do your best to ignore that aspect of their personalities. No amount of talking will change them so don't waste your breath.
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Old 17th April 2019, 12:35 PM   #3
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I think if I were you I would have went to my in-laws myself and confronted them about what I had heard then assure them that I am in love and committed to their son. I would ask them if this was true and if so how deeply hurt and betrayed you feel. I find going directly to the source is the best solution.
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Old 17th April 2019, 1:01 PM   #4
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Really tough, tough, demoralization situation with your in-laws. I get how awful this is to be so closely tied to such people.

One thought I have ... and this goes back to my newspaper days but is actually quite relevant to your situation. Always name the agent ... in your case, name the creator of the expectations ... You write: I am still expected to come to family gatherings on occasion and smile, look nice and happy, etc. Problem is, I am not fake. So doing that without addressing this would feel like lying. I'm not a liar.

Well here's your opportunity. You want to set your own expectations ... the more precise wording of your sentence might be ... your in-laws expect you to attend family gatherings and smile ... or ... your husband expects you to attend family gatherings and smile ... Name the people with the expectations. Don't phrase this as if the universe is expecting you to attend these gatherings.

What naming does is make things more clear ... Your in-laws might expect you to show up and smile. So what?! You don't have to agree to that expectation ... and you don't have to accept that expectation as reasonable. When you say "I am expected," you put yourself in a no-win situation. You have the authority to reject expectations others have of you. I'm sure don't bow to the expectations of all the people in your life. I'd bet there are ways you defied your own family's expectations of you--for good reason. And you don't walk around saying (regarding your own family's expectations) I am expected to ...

Now, if you're not accustomed to defying expectations, you will feel uncomfortable as you first do so ... you might feel anxious ... but you can work through that anxiousness and discomfort.

It's time for you to accept the reality that your in-laws are jerks, sharks really, dangerous sharks. You will never win them over ... You might be able to hold your breath and close your eyes and pretend to tolerate them ... but you will never trust them and feel great warmth for them. His mom sounds amazingly manipulative ... blaming you for the rumor that most likely she or the husband started. You can't please that mom. So forget about it.

Your husband is a key actor here. You would feel more comfortable keeping your distance if he kept his distance. Ideally, he'd skip some of those family gatherings along with you. I'm not sure there is such a thing as being in the middle. Your husband needs to side with you in response to their nastiness. He really needs to get brutally strategic ... do the minimum maybe to keep some of the family money, but only do so to play the game. He may want think about renouncing any family money ... or reaching a settlement with them and moving on.

I don't see what you lose by skipping family gatherings. You will be miserable attending these gatherings. You will have to be fake--and you're not going to get any credit anyhow.

These folks, I have to bluntly say, are poison, pure and simple and undiluted. Mixing perfume and niceness with the poison will do nothing to dilute the toxicity of the poison.

Time to start asserting your independence ... and drop the fantasy project of pleasing these folks. Will keeping your distance cause problems in your marriage? Well ... you've got problems as things are right now.

It is really hard to accept that some people are just not good people. We want to hold on to the fantasy that we can change them, win them over, convince them to like us and trust us. And sometimes we can win people over (even jerks) over time. But these folks--I don't see that happening.

Time to reset the expectations ... time for YOU to reset the expectations, time for you to set the expectations. Are they gonna talk about you if you miss a gathering? Sure! ... So what!?

Give yourself permission to opt out of a game that is rigged against you.
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Old 17th April 2019, 3:45 PM   #5
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I'd avoid seeing them as much as possible. I suppose they'll want to see the grandchildren. IMO, that is a privilege grandparents earn, not one they're entitled to. So I'd be sure and let your hubby know that you're not having the kids around them alone at all since they speak ill or you and prefer to avoid being around them yourself since you can't be expected to like them after they've repeatedly inferred you're a golddigger.

I can't blame a rich family for protecting their assets, but you signed the unfair thing without getting anything in return (there should always be an agreed amount if you're with them for so many years - not nothing), and I just won't be around people I know look down on me. Maybe you agree to grandparent visitation once they tear up the prenup or write a new fair one, because now you have kids and are acting in their best interests.
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Old 17th April 2019, 3:52 PM   #6
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Time to reset the expectations ... time for YOU to reset the expectations, time for you to set the expectations. Are they gonna talk about you if you miss a gathering? Sure! ... So what!?
Agreed. You don't have "in-law problems", you have unrealistic expectations. You found out everything you needed to know about them when you were engaged, so I'm not sure why these new events should surprise or trouble you.

You're several states away. Live your life, ignore the gossip and take responsibility for your own happiness. It's surely not coming from them...

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Old 18th April 2019, 2:02 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jez319 View Post
So I don't know what I should do now. I feel it needs to be confronted, it's what I would naturally do, but this family is different. They are bullies to get their way, throw their money around to get their way, but when they are called into question about anything, it blows up and becomes the problem of the injured party: in this case, me. But, if I don't address it, I am still expected to come to family gatherings on occasion and smile, look nice and happy, etc. Problem is, I am not fake. So doing that without addressing this would feel like lying. I'm not a liar.
Say you do confront them about the rumor. You already know you're not going to get an acknowledgment or an apology and you might even just have it turned around on you somehow. And you're STILL going to be expected to smile and look nice at family gatherings, unless you're willing to just stop going and further alienate yourself or your husband (and children? future children?) You said they've been nice to you until now, so I wouldn't think this should be the thing to cut them out over.

Honestly, they don't sound like warm, loving, generous people, but that rumor could truly have come from anywhere. People hear things, people talk - especially in workplaces - and some fairly innocent comment could have been overheard and misinterpreted by someone, possibly years ago. One person might have simply heard the word "prenup" pertaining to your marriage to the son, and like a game of telephone, after the story goes through several people, now he's "crazy" and you're a "gold digger" and the family is trying to make sure you don't steal everyone's livelihoods away.

My point is, give them the benefit of the doubt. Unless someone admits to it, you'll never know where that rumor started so try not to let it impact anything.

If I were going to address anything with them, it would focus mostly on this comment: "we've tried to welcome your wife to our family but I guess she won't have it." That was a pretty hurtful thing to say. I would start there. "I heard a very hurtful rumor, and while I know it may not have come from any of you, it still made me feel awful and reminded me of the hard time I went through trying to agree to a prenup. I don't know how to prove to you that I am not after anyone's money, but I want you to know I will always do my best to never hurt anyone and I want nothing more than to be a part of your family." idk something like that.
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Old 18th April 2019, 12:17 PM   #8
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If I were going to address anything with them, it would focus mostly on this comment: "we've tried to welcome your wife to our family but I guess she won't have it." That was a pretty hurtful thing to say. I would start there. "I heard a very hurtful rumor, and while I know it may not have come from any of you, it still made me feel awful and reminded me of the hard time I went through trying to agree to a prenup. I don't know how to prove to you that I am not after anyone's money, but I want you to know I will always do my best to never hurt anyone and I want nothing more than to be a part of your family." idk something like that.
Personally feel this would be a mistake. Staring a dialogue based on gossip and hearsay simply gives it a life of its own. And these aren't the kind of people who are going to fess up to their side of poor or hurtful conduct anyway.

Jez319, this would be a different challenge if you lived next door to them - you don't. Minimize contact and when it's unavoidable, smile and be pleasant to everyone. While you're tied to them through your husband, you certainly don't need their validation. Take the high road and leave the drama alone...

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Old 23rd April 2019, 3:52 PM   #9
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Thanks, guys. My husband and I did confront them. They staunchly denied it, showered compliments, how happy they are with me and us, etc. I have no choice but to believe them at this point, but just be more cautious. I am now thinking it was just gossip, maybe someone putting nonrelated things together and coming up with that conclusion, who knows. I'll never know.

My husband supports the idea of me spending less time with them or no time with them if I choose. I choose to forgiveness. I was super upset when I wrote the post, but it's dissipated.

Yes, I did find out who they were in the months before we married, but I do believe in second (and sometimes third and fourth) chances. It bites me in the butt a lot and I do get burned sometimes, so I may be re-thinking that character trait of mine, lol.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 4:20 PM   #10
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You know, you could ask him to revise the prenup before you agree to have his children.
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Old 26th April 2019, 11:01 AM   #11
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Thanks, guys. My husband and I did confront them. They staunchly denied it, showered compliments, how happy they are with me and us, etc. I have no choice but to believe them at this point, but just be more cautious. I am now thinking it was just gossip, maybe someone putting nonrelated things together and coming up with that conclusion, who knows. I'll never know.
With all due respect, this is a copout. Of course, they were gonna deny things. That's what schemers do ... ask a a bank robber if he robbed the bank, absent him a video, he will deny and so no, he didn't rob the bank.

You have no choice but to believe them? What the heck does that mean. You would completely naive and self-destructive to fully believe them. You mean, you have no choice now to pretend to believe them? That's wrong. You have choice ... but yes, I can see where you feel the need to pretend to believe them. But if you really believe these folks, then rethink that.
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