I can't even believe I'm posting this . . . (after all these years)
Find a Conversation
|Tue, 04-23-2013 - 8:22pm|
Background: H and I have been married for 21 years. H is from a very dysfunctional family who has never really been accepting of me or my children from a previous marriage. My MIL was extremely over-controlling of all seven of her children. When I started dating H, he was only living and working in the area (we worked together) because his mother had given him "permission" to work 2 hours from where she lived until he could secure a job closer to her home (she had FORBADE him to work out of state - where he found a job that he really wanted).
So obviously there were some pretty big red flags from the get go.
H assured me that he could contain his family, and we got married. Being married seemed to trigger something in H, and he did a complete reversal with regard to his family - and started to see himself as a victim torn between me (and my young girls) and his family of orgin. Suddenly he started to believe his mother, and fall for all of her "divide and conquor" stuff - thinking he should go on extended family vacations where my girls and I were not included (even though his siblings families were included).
Needless to say, we developed maritial issues over this. We sought marital counseling, and luckily found a great therapist who immediately saw what the real issues were. He started working solely with H. Eventually, he recommended (strongly recommended - to the point where he said he wouldn't continue to work with H unless) H cut ties with his family unless they could adhere to three basic boundaries. According to H's T, H's family was dysfunctional at best - more likely highly abusive,and H didn't have the tools at that time to contain them or appropriately process what was going on.
The three basic boundaries were:
1) H wouldn't talk to one family member about another (so no more of the siblings calling to say how "hurt and disappointed" their mother was with him. When H would receive these sort of communciations he would respond, "IF Mom is upset with me, she is perfectly capable of picking up a phone to call me herself. Now what can I do for YOU."
2) H would no longer accept communications at his place of employment. He would only respond to personal communications via his personal address or home phone, or in person at his home.
3) H would not accept (or acknowledge) any invites to famiy events that didn't include his wife and children if his siblings spouses and children were included.
Not suprisingly his family violated every boundary, immediately and repeatedly (even refusing to include me - or our children (at this point H considered my children to be his since they had no contact with their biodad) - to his sister's wedding, I suppose in an attempt to really "up the stakes".
And when H didn't budge on these boundaries, his family (his ENTIRE family) cut all ties with him - saving him from having to cut ties with them.
This went on for about 7-8 years. We'd hear through the family extended (aunts/uncles/cousins) that his mother was telling people she didn't have contact with H because he was a "skid row homeless drunk". That she didn't even know how to get ahold of him. Whatever. Typical weirdness.
About 7 years ago, H decided to attend a family reunion (he found out about from an uncle). It included extended family, not just H's immediate family. It went well. And H decided he would like to attempt to reconnect with his family this way. He would still insist on the three basic boundaries, but also only see his family with others around (since he didn't trust his family one-on-one). This went well for a few years. And then he decided he would see individuals in his family, but not all at the same time (so he'd visit with his mother, or a brother . . . but not attend family functions like Xmas, etc) This worked well too.
And everyone was respectful of the three basic boundaries.
Then this Xmas he decided to attend his immediate family Xmas party - which was A LOT of people, since his siblings children were growing up and having so/spouses and children of their own now.
And he asked me to go with him. So I did. It was fine. Everyone who talked to me (not all did, but then I didn't seek them out to talk to them either) was polite to me - moreso than they had every been before.
Still, I was uncomfortable (not terribly so, since I really don't have a lot of social unease). I mean why in the world would I want to be in the same house with these people? They have been perfectly awful to me for years and years. Our children are now grown and out of the house. Neither has ANY interest in this family. The few memories they have of them was that they were rude, judgemental and intolerant of them when they were children.
Honestly, I haven't taken much that they have done/said to/about me personally over the years. They truly don't even know me. They hate me for reasons all their own. I've always said, "I don't mind my MIL disliking me. I just wish she would know me well enough to dislike ME for who I am, and not who she thinks I am".
But it's clear his family has gotten the message . . . if they want my H in their family . . . they have to behave . . . and, at least, be polite to me (which is always all I really wanted from them).
So now that they are doing this . . . everything should be good, right? Well . . I'm just not "feeling" it. I wish they would all just stay away. I mean how meaningful of a relationship can H really have with his parents given all that's gone on over the years?
H wants to pursue a relationship with his family - though truthfully, H is very, very shallow when it comes to these sorts of relationships (for example, his work often takes him RIGHT by his parents home, but he never thinks to stop by to say "hi" unless I ask if he plans to). But I don't know if I can. I just don't care enough about these people to try.
What the heck is wrong with me?