Help with family

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Help with family

Post: # 250626Post Pumpkin&Piglet
Mon Dec 26, 2011 11:54 pm

Without wishing to share too much of my personal life with strangers I am looking for help with some emotional issues I have.

I have a very troubled relationship with my husbands family and am making renewed effort at the moment to build bridges and make friends etc.

I have managed to forgive anything they may have done, worked out how to behave nicely towards them and 'see them with love.' Well, it's a work in progress but it's going ok at the moment.

After 4 years I have all this cracked - at a cost and an awful lot of time and effort which I by no means begrudge.

My current trouble is with my husbands sister in law and my mother in law. Effectively me and the sister in law are in the same position. We have each married one of the sons (there are only two). We were both treated with dislike and rudeness to start off with but whereas she put up with this and was then embraced by the family things turned a great deal more sour for me (for a number of reasons, not because I'm nasty - honest!)

I think we have moved past this aspect but I am left with difficulties in my feelings as the sister in law is loved dearly by them whilst I am definitely an outsider still. I am looking to fix this with consistent loving behaviour on my part to 'win over' my mother in law and I realise this will take time and that is fine. But how do I continue this whilst maintaining my self respect i.e. not bowing down to her rudeness and manipulation. If I stand up to her, assertively and politely, not aggressively, will she still respond to my attempts to bond?

I am essentially jealous and setting out to get what I want (but havent yet got) but I am trying to do it in a positive way with love - for my sister in law (who coincidently hates me and refuses to speak to me) as well as my mother in law.

My jealousy is my own issue and I am hoping someone might know of some research I can do to help me deal/process with it. I have a counsellor but he is 3 hours away and it costs nearly £100 for a one off visit (including travel) so I try not to go unless I am already in the area or am desperate.

Any help would be much appreciated, I apologise for the perhaps long post and hope it is not inappropriate.

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Re: Help with family

Post: # 250629Post trinder
Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:15 am

Search back though some other threads . there are lots that you will see/ understand that it's the same basic issue . Jealously is based in insecurity . Insecurity is based in..... "games people play" is one expression you can search on. It is a book but there are lots of other books that will help you understand.
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Re: Help with family

Post: # 250630Post Susie
Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:57 am

Pumpkin&Piglet wrote: After 4 years I have all this cracked - at a cost and an awful lot of time and effort which I by no means begrudge.


I think we have moved past this aspect but I am left with difficulties in my feelings as the sister in law is loved dearly by them whilst I am definitely an outsider still. I am looking to fix this with consistent loving behaviour on my part to 'win over' my mother in law and I realise this will take time and that is fine. But how do I continue this whilst maintaining my self respect i.e. not bowing down to her rudeness and manipulation. If I stand up to her, assertively and politely, not aggressively, will she still respond to my attempts to bond?
P&P, quick response because I am going to bed, and I honestly mean this in a supportive way (and believe me I've been there). Don't spend one more minute of your precious life trying to make her like you. Not one more minute. You don't have to win over anybody: some people just won't like you, and in a situation like this there are dynamics that just have nothing to do with you and that you can't affect. You don't have to bond. It's great of you to behave politely and assertively - do that because it's the right thing to do and it will make you feel better to behave well, don't do it expecting her to be friends with you. The reason she's nice to your SIL is to get a rise out of you.

I'm sorry to sound so cynical. I'm really sympathetic - like I say, I've been there (or, you know, somewhere similar ;-) ). Does it cause problems with you and your husband? A united front definitely helps if you can manage it (she will try divide and conquer - my MIL disinherited my other half because of me - twice! :? ). I wish you all the best :hugish: .
that's it ;-)

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Re: Help with family

Post: # 250646Post happyhippy
Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:23 pm

I'm with Susie on this one.I'm not into butt kissing! :iconbiggrin: No I think you should be assertive and polite but you certainly don't have to bow down to this lady.If she does'nt like you,then thats her problem.I think from reading your post,you havent done anything to make her "not"like you.Its all about acceptance is'nt it?Warts and all,with families.I don't know about your SIL,but maybe she has spent a great deal of time butt kissing your MIL to get her to like her?I know it must worry you alot,and cause you grief.Have you thought of approaching said MIL for a talk?Maybe try the "I'm hoping we can get to know eachother better"line and see if that works?And if she's not up for it?Give up.You can't and should'nt spend the rest of your life trying to win this lady over.Good luck and hope it all works out in the end.

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Re: Help with family

Post: # 250647Post Zech
Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:28 pm

Susie's advice is wise, and based on experience, but not the approach you're currently trying. IF you choose not to take her good advice, here's an alternative...

Treat it as a game. Try to detach yourself from it emotionally. It's not about who you are, it's about trying to make them behave the way you want them to behave (nicely). You're trying to do this by being consistently kind and loving towards them, whether you feel loving or not. Every time you resist the urge to to give one of them a smack in the face (or even a sharp reply), chalk it up as a victory for yourself. So long as they don't have too much influence over your day to day life (and that's a big 'if' when we're talking about in-laws), appearing to give way to them is not the same as actually giving way. Biting your tongue and turning the other cheek takes a huge amount of strength and is no means a sign of weakness. If you can do it, you can feel very pleased with yourself. I don't know the woman, but I suspect that standing up to your MIL would work against your efforts to make her like you. Some people just can't tell the difference between assertive and aggressive.

As you've said, this takes an awful lot of time an effort - I'm not sure I'd want to put in that much work myself. I'm very impressed that you've managed to forgive them and that you feel able to behave kindly towards them. Be proud of your own strength of character in doing this, but also recognise what it's costing you. There may come a point (possibly now, as Susie says) when you decide it's just not worth it. If you do, there's no shame in just not bothering any more. You can decide to put in a certain amount (number of years) effort in the hope that they'll soften, then if they don't, say it's not worth any more of your time - sod 'em all!

Good luck with managing this, it doesn't sound like fun.

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Re: Help with family

Post: # 250666Post Rosendula
Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:12 am

Good advice above, so all I'll add is two little bits
1) you can't like everyone and you can't be liked by everyone. It's the same for everyone.
2) you choose your "family" (your husband and your kids if you have them). The rest of them are nothing more than "relatives".

Rosey xx

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Re: Help with family

Post: # 250668Post boboff
Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:38 am


You do not owe them this love you speak of.

You can respect them and not rock the boat, note the slights and bad behaviour, and let it flow like water of a Ducks back.

Talk through these thing with OH, and explain there is only so much subligation you are willing to endure for family harmony. Hopefully then when Mummy is a bitch OH will tell her to her face with you there to wind her neck in or leave the house..... IMO bullies will when confronted back off and she may well start playing nice, when SIL sees this she'll come round to Mummy's new point of view.

Or not, what ever, but the important thing is that you respect yourself enough to detach from the playground and be the Adult, hopefully with OH's support.

I hope it works out.
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Re: Help with family

Post: # 250671Post battybird
Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:26 am

Agree with everything said before. Its difficult , I am sure, as your OH may get a different side presented to him by the in-law! Or be like mine and really not aware of undercurrents even when I pointed them out to him after!
Is there a father-in-law around? I had a very similar problem...I was the "loved one" at times, then the "hated one" for no apparent reason. It all got too much one day and I burst into tears in front of my FIL. He hugged me and said that he had been tiptoing around this behaviour for 30 years and whatever I decided to do, he would support me. Strangely, having a silent witness really helped me.
I treated her like a confused patient and when she said nasty things, smiled and treated it as though she was joking...she could not possibly be that horrid (could she :shock: ). It did work although I am sure she was very frustrated that the barbed comments and slights did not have an effect! Made me feel better cos it annoyed her and made me look sooo sweet natured! Which I am not. It took effort and there were times when I just could not be bothered so I stayed away and let OH visit. I am not entirely sure it was ever worth it, but now she has settled in temperament and seems to have forgotten all that bile! I tentatively blame the menapause for her volatile moods and irrational behaviour! And the SIL left her husband so she fell from grace, leaving only me :lol:
At the end of the day, it is you and your close family who are important NOT relatives, as Rosendula pointed out. You may never be able to win over the MIL & SIL and I wonder what you actually will gain by expending all this energy trying to love & forgive someone you dont like.
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Re: Help with family

Post: # 250678Post Lost-in-the-Day
Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:58 am

P&P there are similar issues in my family only with people on my dad's side rather than my OH's side. Making time for certain relatives comes very low on my list of priorities because I am fed up of the way they treat myself and my mum. Sadly my dad believes his family can do no wrong and that myself and my mum are in the wrong, but after years of snide jokes, being looked down on or lectured and generally made to feel like "outsiders" who aren't quite on the same high level as the rest of them we now don't bother going out of our way to socialise with some of them. We are always polite and friendly when in their company (my mum more so than me!) but for various family gatherings we simply make our excuses and don't go, much to my dad's lament. But personally I would much rather have the small rift there than waste my time and effort trying to constantly stay in their good books. Sometimes they seem to like us and then others we have fallen from grace for no apparent reason. And we both have enough problems as it is without adding them to the list! :lol:

The best advice I can give is speak to your OH about it all. I hope that you will be able to sit down with him and explain the situation and how it is making you feel. Hopefully he will be able to see your side of things and have a quiet word with his mum and get her to back off. I fear you may never be close to one another but maybe you will at least be comfortable. And if not, stuff them. You don't need the approval of rude, manipulative people.
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