dealing w/in-laws who supported affair

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2005
dealing w/in-laws who supported affair
Thu, 01-19-2006 - 12:24pm

I just don't know what to do. I'm at my wits end. This is really eating me up and I'm afraid it will cause damage in R with H. Here's the situation (this won't be brief!) and keep in mind that it is from my perspective:

H is an only child. He is close to his parents and his aunt. He very much desires their approval in all areas of his life. He values their opinion above all others (save for perhaps mine, but I don't know that for sure).

H's parents have not liked me from day one (which they deny). I have always known that his mother did not really care for me, but thought I had a good relationship with his father. I always felt that I had a fantastic relationship with his aunt. Over the years, MIL and I have both made small attempts to become closer, but our timing was just always off I guess.

Over the past 2 months that we have been reconciling, I have come to find out many things that I wished I never knew. On the day of the reconciliation, I called his folks to "extend the olive branch." His father answered and proceeded to scream at me that I considered my H to be my meal-ticket, that I was clearly insane for talking about taking my own life and I needed to see a shrink (nice of H to let them know I went through this), told me I was rude for embarrassing H the night of a party he was at with OW (who I did not even realize at the time was OW), etc, etc. Basically, this man who I thought I had a decent relationship with told me exactly what he thought of me as a person (which was somewhere between a single celled organism and a slug). I was stunned. Never in my life has someone spoken to me that way. He brought up things that happened 9 years ago that I never even knew were issues (like the fact that my parents, his parents and H&I split our wedding three ways - FIL says it was parent's job to pay for everything... it was 9 years ago for God's sake!).

Anyway, I come to find out that H's parents adored OW. In fact, MIL met her and H in Savannah while I was on a cruise with my mom (supposed to be my H, but he decided not to go). I didn't even know about the A at that point!!! Then, they welcomed her into their home on Christmas while I spent the day alone (H was still denying there even was an affair and we were living together still).

Over the course of the next year, his parents and aunt welcomed them as a couple to stay at their homes on at least 3 occassions. All the while, knowing that I was doing everything in my power to save our marriage. His parents and aunt helped him in his legal responses during the time we were planning on a separation agreement. His parents even went so far as to send him information on how to hide marital assets!

The fact that his aunt,whom I thought actually loved me like a family member, was so quick to discard me like a peice of trash when OW came along really hurts. I don't know how I can ever trust her again when she says nice things to me. In a recent call with H, she said "tell W not to be mad at me... it was all your fault." She sort of said this jokingly, but still, own up to your actions. If you want to apologize to me for treating me like yesterday's news, then come right out and do it. Don't try to blame H for your actions (and trust me, this woman has no problem speaking her mind).

Needless to say, ILs hate the ground I walk on and the air I breathe. They actually seemed mad at H when he decided to breakup with OW and work on our marriage. They constantly use the phrase, "we only want him to be happy." It's like their get out of jail free card or something. If it made him happy to molest small boys would they support that too (don't worry, it doesn't)?

I understand they love him and want to support him. But they went beyond supporting him to actually encouraging his affair. I feel so betrayed by this! We often use the saying on this board, "if they're not a friend of the marriage, then they shouldn't be a friend at all." Well, that's fine and dandy with friends, but what about with family.

H constantly tries to take the blame for them. He says he kept telling them that we were getting divorced and he kept asking to bring OW to their homes. Fine, I understand that, but never once did they say, "maybe you should work on your marriage," or "OW is welcome once you are divorced" (or at the very least, once your wife knows about the affair and you have moved out). These people are intelligent adults. They should know that you can support a person and still love them without supporting their actions. However, they chose to support his affair.

I know, this is so long. It's really helping me to get it out.

Here's my problem. H would love for us all to have a great relationship, or at the very least a cordial one. I am so afraid that if we can't all come to some sort of agreement on how this can happen, then H will wish he was back with OW (because the SH had a great relationship with his family). What it all boils down to is my FEAR. I hate that H is put in the middle of all of this. I don't want that for a second. I truly want a good relationship with his family. I would never ask him to chose between them or me. I am willing to own my part of what was done to cause the strife to begin with, but they see nothing wrong with anything they have ever done. I could even let everything go that has happened in the past if we could have a good relationship. But, I don't think they want one. I am afraid that they see their continued dislike of me as a way to cause problems in our marriage so that H will leave me. I know that I construing an aweful lot here, but it is just how I feel.

What do I do? I don't want H and I to keep arguing about this. It has always been a sore spot for us, but it is now more so than ever. I am truly afraid of the influence these people have on him. I don't know what to do to combat it. Please help!


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-05-2005
Thu, 01-19-2006 - 1:23pm

I am not rebuilding, but thought I would give a response because this issue goes beyond that. Your H's primary relationship and responsibility should be with you, his wife. What his parents and aunt did by facilitating the affair and welcoming OW was Wrong with a capital W. They owe you an apology!! Your H needs to make clear to them that he has ackowledged that the affair was wrong (not just a mistake - but wrong) and that including OW in famly activities was wrong and that he has decided to work on his marriage and that their opinion on that is not wanted. He needs to insist that his parents treat you with dignity and respect at all times. Does he know about how his father yelled at you?? If so, why did he tolerate it? Did he tell his dad never to treat you like that again?

Sounds like you guys need some major boundaries here with his family. He is a grown man. Please don't be so worried about him deciding that he shouldn't have stayed with you that you don't stand up for yourself. He can have a good relationship with his parents -as long as they treat his wife with dignity and respect. Your relationship and your marriage should be his number one priority. Please don't worry about putting H "in the middle of this" - he put himself there by bringing OW into their lives. He needs to stand up for you. Please for your own sake, insist on that..

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-22-2004
Thu, 01-19-2006 - 2:26pm

Do they owe you an apology? Yes they do. But should you hold your breathe and expect them to change. I wouldn't. My vote is A) speak your heart to his parents about how much they hurt you and that you just want to get along for the sake of your husband. They dont have to love you but you are willing to be cordial to them. They dont have to accept you and your husband's decisions, you can make themselves and your not asking their permission. But you are offering them respect and courtesy and from this day forward you expect the same from them. I strongly suggest your husband be present in this conversation and show his support of you and your speech about "just getting along" for the sake of love for the same person your husband.

Then take sometime off and keep the visits limited give yourself some space from "them"
and one day at a time fulfill your obligations. Learn that they will not be your friend and they probably will never like you but you can get along and be respectful.

Bbalm I do it all the time with my SIL's husband. He is a huge jerk and I always give him respect and am courteous. But I NEVER let my guard down with him. I can't change him and he'll never want to change but I can act like an adult and be respectful and courteous with small talk. I did take some time away from him after our falling out. But I knew eventually I was going to have to accept him into our lives since he is married to my SIL. That's all that you owe your IL's. If it's really important to you tell them how you feel. But you can't really leave them behind and put your husband in the middle. BUT PLEASE INSIST from your husband that if they EVER cross the line and become disrespectful again your husband MUST say or do something about it. Deal with it ASAP don't let it pass. And use your psychology tools when you have to confront them.
Hugs, tea

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-14-2005
Thu, 01-19-2006 - 2:31pm

I can write a novel about my relationship w/my ILs. My MIL actually pointed her finger in my face and yelled that men have affairs for a reason. My FIL encouraged my H's siblings not to talk to me while H and I were separated. Yeah, I know exactly how you feel. H and I have had many arguments over this and it has definitely strained our relationship. I have felt for years that my H did not stand up for me when it came to his parents disrespecting me in one way or another. I've made it clear to him that me and his children are his priority and if he can't handle it, there's the door. I won't tolerate it anymore. Even after all H has put me (and his children through) I would never, ever allow anyone in my family to disrespect him, and my family respects me and my wishes (and they do truly love him).

To try to keep the peace, I just stay out of their presence as much as possible. I see them only when I have to for b-day parties, certain holidays, etc. They will never get a "Hi how are you call" from me and I never just drop in with the kids to see them. We will never have that type of relationship and I accept that now.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-14-2003
Thu, 01-19-2006 - 2:52pm

I wouldn't worry too much about who is wrong, who is right and who owes who an apology. The fact is, these geniuses are your husband's family and they come with the package. Accept the fact they will never like you and have no etiquette or manners.

Then workout exactly how much you are willing to tolerate. If you think that you can be pleasant to them regardless of their words or actions for, let's say, for a 3 hour duration 5 times per year, then figure that you will attend 5 family events for 3 hours each year. No matter what they say or do, smile like Miss America and let everything go in one ear out the other.

After awhile these folks will figure out their words have no effect and will reduce the amount of nastiness toward you.

Avatar for firstglimpse
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2003
Thu, 01-19-2006 - 3:12pm

I do not have any IL's remaining on H's side, but I have some input anyway :-)

My father & H are both only children & were both raised by a single mom. I come from a large family, in fact I grew up in Utah, lot's of big families. I have definately seen a difference between parenting an only child vs 2+ children. Basically there is just so much idealism and belief your child can never do bad in such a situation.

MY GUESS is H needed to justify the A. Therefore to have his family accept the OW he would have had to tell them undesierable things about you, just as he probably did with the OW and possibly began to believe them himself. Now that the A is over it may be pretty hard for him to tell his family he exaggerated or even made up things about you. As he does not want to taint his image b/c he only knows how to be in their spotlight.

It also seems with men in general they like to sweep things under the rug & pretend they do not exist. So I'm thinking he wants you & all of his family members to do the same & just move on as if nothing this painful actually happened.

The family probably has not belonged to any type of religious organization that value family. Or even if they did perhaps they've all come from such broken homes they find own self-needs as very important.

Realize you're most likely not going be able to get H to retract conversations regarding you during the A. So a new approach will be needed.

Since it is important to your H for everyone to get along talk to him about 'dating' each family member seperately for a while. So, for example, maybe once a week for a month he goes out with his mother. During this time his conversations should be bragging about you. Maybe the first date would be to bring up small things you do that make him enjoy/love you. With each date he can get deeper into why he has chosen you to be his wife & why he now wants to rebuild his M with you.

I think it is his job to let his family see he really his happy with you and it would be important to him to have them accept you.

He has probably used his family to voice frustrations in your relationship as they are a great support when he's upset. But when he's 'lucky-in-love' he doesn't need their support and doesn't share the good sides of you. It is time for him to make an effort, until it becomes habit, of sharing the good times and favorable attributes.

Once H softens a family member now it's your time to date. So H has moved on from mom and is now is dating his aunt. Now you start dating your MIL. Do something more than just going out for a meal. Perhaps go play BINGO, go curtain shopping or anything that may be a little different, but also a distraction so you're not simply sitting face to face.

I have a M workbook I bought when H EA began. There is an exercise where every day you think of something about your partner you like & you concentrate on that trait all day long. Perhaps in during the day before your date you can do this for the family member. Then perhaps your attraction to that trait will show through or you'll even compliment them on it. EVERYONE LIKES COMPLIMENTS, EVEN IF THEY SHY AWAY FROM IT.

Meditate or something before hand to keep yourself as calm as possible. If you feel like you're being attacked do everything possible from not defending yourself. If they are just ranting, let them rant and just give some sort of indication you're listening. If they expect a response try to do so as non-defensive as possible, then say you're uncomfortable with the topic & would like to talk about something else.

Wow, this must be really hard on you. Betrayal all over the place. Hang in there.


"Only when we are sick of our sickness shall we cease to be sick."

~ Lao-Tzu, from The Tao Te Cheng
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2005
Thu, 01-19-2006 - 5:05pm

WOW! You have all given me so much to think on. Thank you so much!

Laurie - I agree that H needs to acknowldge to his parents that his participating in the A was wrong and that he needs to insists they treat me with dignity. He knew the way that his father screamed at me (he was standing near by for most of the call). He didn't say anything to him at that time and I don't know if he ever really addressed it with him. However, you are correct that he needs to demand that his father never speak to me that way again. Finally, you made so much sense when you said that I am not the one putting H in the middle, but rather that was something he did to himself by bringing OW into our lives.

Tea - Yes, H does need to stand up for me right when the event occurs (or as soon as possible thereafter if he is not present). He tries to play both sides of the fence too often. Like I said, I do not want him to have to choose between me or his family, but he needs to understand that in all matters our marriage comes first. (with my parents as well as his).

Mom2 - I am so sorry that there is someone else out there who has to live the IL nightmare to a similar degree. It really sucks doesn't it?

Chamey - I believe that my IL get some sort of pleasure out of "getting to me," sick as that is. They can be very sadistic to people they don't like or see as beneath them (you should see how they treat servers in a restaurant!). I will polish my Miss America smile and start putting into to use.

Bonnie - Wow! Thank you for such an in-depth reply. You brought up so many good points. For starters, I see your point in that H had to justify the A by badmouthing me and trust me, my IL soaked that up like a dry sponge! You also made a good point about it now being hard for him to admit to any exaggerations he made in his attempt at justifying things, but you are correct that he needs to admit to anything false he said to other people in order to make it seem OK that he was cheating.

His family does not seem to value the concept of marriage the same way I do. Everyone that he is close to in his family has been divorced at least once. I also recently found out that the aunt that I respected so much was the OW to her current H. They make no attempt to try to work through problems in their marriages - they just move on to the next one.

Finally, the idea of H "dating" his family and lacing his conversations with positive points about me is a good idea. Since we live a few states apart, this would have to be done via email or phone, but I think it would still work. As for me "dating" them.. well, since they won't even speak to me I think that's pretty afr off in the future. It IS his job to make his family see that he is happy with me (especially since they won't believe me). And I will try to remember not to get defensive when they bad mouth me (that'll be a interesting challenge).

Thanks again everybody! I really want to make this work for my H's sake. I love him dearly and this is so important to him. H once said to me, "If you put as much effort into having a good relationship with them as you did into saving our marriage, then it will happen." I think he is right - I just have to figure out how.


ps - this was just too long to proof - sorry

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-05-2005
Thu, 01-19-2006 - 7:46pm


I am glad you are feeling better. One comment concerns me though Your H said "If you put as much effort into having a good relationship with them as you did into saving our marriage, then it will happen." Yes, you can play a role in improving the relationship - but please don't take this all on your shoulders. Frankly, your H did the majority of the damage because of his comments and actions - HE should put in the most effort. (as should they.) It is not your sole responsibility. Seems like you guys should focus on each other for a while and his parents can cool their jets. It is not your job to fix this.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-17-2005
Thu, 01-19-2006 - 7:51pm

Very good point lauries_mom. ITA. He should lay the groundwork for all of this, not bbalm.

{{{Hugs}}} to you, bbalm.



It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2005
Thu, 01-19-2006 - 9:24pm

((((hugs to you))))

first, I think the parents/aunt need to apologize to you.

I had a situation (not related to A) with my MIL because she wanted to control what we did and how we did it. And H didn't think anything of it because he was USED to her taking control of family functions. When I came along I wasn't having it and went against the grain. She hated it.

My MIL has a very dominate/controlling spirit (personality) and she use to take over if you let her. Her excuse was "I just want you to be happy" but I felt like it was "I want you to do what I want you to do when I want you to do it and that will make me happy"...LOL. Well, my SIL lets her "take over" and I still don't. She has learned to let it go in my case. When we were having problems, MIL and I, I just knew things would end badly. I am just glad they didn't have much control over H.

So I was the unfavorable DIL. I constantly felt that my MIL liked my SIL better. Then one day, I stopped caring about that. And now I don't notice a difference.

I firmly believe that in most A's the WS tells the OP how to behave in veiled comments or overt comments. Like "my wife doesn't this or that" so the OP goes out of their way to excell in that area. Since you had a "rocky" relationship with your MIL...when she met the OW she probably did the same thing that a WS does. Which is demonize the W. Which aloud the OW to "impress" MIL by doing exactly what she wanted. This makes the OW feel that she has "one up'ed" you on the score board. And since the OW probably knew that H wants to please his parents she figured if she could get the MIL on her side things would be easier (if her goal was getting your H).

As for you FIL...(I too am closer to my FIL-our personalities are very similar)...In one particular misunderstanding he RAN to her aid. He didn't yell at me on the phone but when he hung up the phone on me I was sooooo hurt. But because it is his wife, he believed her over us until he understood the misunderstanding. Now he pretty much stays away from making the judgements. Our relationship hasn't quite be the same since...but is still good.

So your MIL has probably told him everything that the OW has said about you (which is info that your H has said to her)...all info that was said as a manner of making his A o.k.

Course this is all my opinion.

I think your H needs to keep your business to yourselves. Don't pull them in and don't talk to them about personal things in your life.

When I confided in 4 people in my life that made up my support team (after d-day) they did not make any judgements about H and never treated him any different that before the revealing of the A. That was very important to me.

And something that parents have to be very careful to not make judgements about their childrens spouses. Those that do make them, take on the vibe that their child is giving off at that moment, so any dislike they have before something happens is worsened when something happens (be it your fault or his fault). They never think that those same children that spoke badly about their spouse could reconcile with their spouse.

Edited 1/20/2006 11:17 pm ET by makinitthru


Greatly Missed, Never Ever Forgotten

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2005
Fri, 01-20-2006 - 8:30pm

bblam, I have the same problem with my H's brothers and sister. My Mother and Father il have been very good to me over the years. However, I learned a very valuable lesson durig his A. This is cold but true, I am not "their" blood. I as my sister IL said may have their last name but I will never be one of them! It hurts me just to say these things. As I wanted more then anything to "belong". I was angry at my H for not standing up for me. For not making them see what he sees in me. Then after banging my head on the wall one to many times. I have given up. They are who they are. As it turns out they are not as perfect as they would like everyone to think they are. The all live in some big glass houses if you know what I mean. I now go to the family functions and kill them al with kindness. I do it for my h and my kids. I have asked my H not to tell me what they have to say about me. I have also asked that we only go during major holidays. He is welcome to go anytime alone. I have agreed to make the best out of it for him. He would love for things to be the way they once were but like so much after the A they never will.

My mom told me many years ago.. The devil you know is better then the devil you don't. Meaning once you know what kind of evil you are dealing with you can learn to play the game safe! ( at least that is how she explained it) I have always valued that and spend a great deal of time trying to figure out what kind of devil I am dealing with in every relationship..

Keep your chin up. You have done nothing wrong!!!! They have no idea what they are missing by not getting to know you and it is their loss not yours!


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