Follow
Share

I will start from the beginning.

My husband is the youngest of 4 sons. When I met him, he was 23, I was 21, and his parents were retired and in their late 60's. (The same age as my parents now). They lived alone and did well together. My mother in law is handicapped and needs help 24/7 and my father in law was able to care for her. When we were first married my new in-laws were not pleased. They were never mean really, just more dismissive and cool. I was not a college graduate and came from a blue collar family. They all went to college, all 6 of them. I did not. I never felt like I belonged. Every decision we ever made was haunted by his parents. I went through about 6 different wedding venues because the handicap facilities weren't good enough, even though we agreed to get married close to their home so they could go home if needed. I went through about 9 churches. Because we weren't allowed to get married anything other than catholic. I wanted a barefoot wedding on a beach or in the woods. But I wasn't allowed. Everything was either dictated by my aging inlaws condition or my mother. My wedding was not MY wedding. And to this day, my life, is not my life. Before you think me insensitive let me clarify that almost every place we visited, I pre-called and asked for door measurements, ramp placement, etc. I wanted very much for my MIL to be comfortable. When I say it wasn't good enough, that was dictated by my husband. When we went to buy a house, we looked at about 8 homes. And while my mother in law could get in and around the main areas, (bathrooms, living space, kitchens), we weren't allowed to buy homes with a second floor in case she were to need to stay over (Which would never have been possible and never happened). None of his other brothers re-located, left their lives or considered her needs with any of these things. All bought homes in neighborhoods and homes they wanted, and she was lucky to be able to get into the backyard. At the start of our marriage it was told to me that we would be taking care of them more than likely in the future. I was not ok with it. They didn't like me, and I didn't want to live with people who didn't think I was good enough for their son. I wanted to help, to live close, but not live with them. We sold that house we first got, when my boys were 2 (That was a ranch, that was acceptable). The neighborhood and the schools weren't the best. My husband indicated we find a home with an in-law suite we could renovate when they time came. He's a good husband to me and a great father too, so I didn't argue. His parents warmed to me, and became nice and were good grandparents. I looked into about 15 or so homes. Again. None of them good enough. Fast forward, we moved to another state, in close proximity to trains so he can commute. My intentions of building a home that we could all enjoy was thwarted constantly. "That's too hard. I don't want to deal with that." Then, we found it. An awesome home. I LOVED it there. I couldn't wait to move and it was in our price range. The right home to raise my kids in. Quiet neighborhood, great schools. My husband and father in law said no, it has some issues and not worth to buy it. So we let it go. I was devastated. We went to look for land again until another house came up. "Its on a main road though..." NO! "But it has good schools and a large yard!" NO! "The apartment is made for handicapped persons." That was it. I had no say. It was done and 8 years later, with a huge mortgage (The house was 100,000 more than the other), we are stuck here. In a house with so many issues we have spent at least 100 grand on repairs. Bathrooms still smell and don't work well, plumbing is bad, etc etc etc. You name it. My mother in law is now in hospice. My father in law still here. He has reverted to child like 'teen' behavior. Its all about him. Don't get the mail, Ill get the mail. Take me here, there, where are you going? When will you be home? Hes a bigot, yells at my friends that come over to take care of my animals. Hes mean. And he treats my husband like crap, like a slave. He knocks. ALL THE TIME. He comes over when I don't answer. We took his keys away after a plethora of accidents. Im trying to be understanding. Im trying to realize my husband is only trying to be a good man. Im trying to understand that hes losing his mother. Im trying to understand that he has three brothers that help when its convenient. Im trying to understand that Im a bed and breakfast. I'm tired of living someone else's life, based on someone else's choices. Im raising three kids, working and going to school, and I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis. When is it our turn? When will I stop resenting my husband? His brothers? When will someone offer to really help us. When? Is this selfish? Ive hit a breaking point. I don't know if I want to stay now. I love my husband dearly, but I never felt like I was Number 1. I need help. Real help from people who understand.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Find Care & Housing
I want to clarify that there has been no emotional abuse. If anything, this is a case of him being too nice. But when I look back at all the decisions that were made and the fact I was trying to be nice and not cause a problem is the problem. Part of it lies with me too. There are 6 family members. 4 sons and 2 parents. Both parents grew up poor. So it was their dreams and goals for thier sons to be successful. My mother in law raised 4 great kids. And while they are kind and "want" to help they always fall short of the helping brass ring. My husband needs to make note of what this is too, which is a toxic, very co-dependent relationship. His brothers don't help either because the parents never ask them. They are set in thier ways and only want my husband. I had a knockout drag out fight with him the last 2 days. There are no boundaries. There is no normalcy in the father/son relationship. My father in law depends on him like a child a father. He gets upset when we are gone. Mad when we mess up something, like a bill. He tried talking to me like I was a child once and I put him right in his proverbial "daddy" place. Your son may take this crap, but I do not. So that was the last time he "yelled" at me. No one stands up for what's right. Everyone in this family is passive aggressive. I chose to no longer have my life decided for me. My husbands supports me, works hard for his family. And by all accounts loves his children. I know he loves me too. But I don't think he realizes how much he put me second. I brought all this to attention today. An email was sent promptly to his brothers. I told him, if you do not step up and grab control and put me first , I'll take it. This is my family. My family comes first. Your dad is a distant third to my job. My job helps support me and my family too. I need that more than his angry outbursts. So we will see what happens. Change isn't instant. But if things don't change I will have to change them and do it my way. I no longer wish to be a backseat driver. You have no idea how nice it is to have people who get this. I'm so glad I found this community.
(3)
Report

Since there are six children, all of them college graduates, and only four sons, there are presumably two daughters, too. Where are they? [scans horizon… ] Did their college education include the invaluable wisdom of making themselves scarce?

Actually, by all six of them, did you mean the four brothers and both parents? Lady graduates of 1950s vintage can be a bit snippy about lesser intellects, mind you, I assume through defensiveness. Anyway, never mind, it's beside the point.

And I'm sorry, I ought not to be flippant. You are, you must be, fed to the back teeth of being the family doormat and I don't blame you.

But I really don't know what to say to you. I married like that, too - much too young, not the venue I wanted, far too many orders being given, far too many assumptions about what I'd be happy with; but I was a bit of a head case at the time, for one thing, and for another I've been divorced for twenty years, which is probably not what you want to hear.

So all I can do is hope your husband responds better to your asserting your needs now, and add that I am sure you are doing the right thing in speaking up. One note of caution - don't expect overnight change, and pick your battles with care.
(1)
Report

There's another family dynamic that's involved: your husband is the youngest of 4 sons, generally noncontributory siblings. It appears as though they made their stand, your husband stepped up to help when they refused to do so, and has made his parents his priority when major decisions are made.

He took a position subordinate to the desires and intents of his older brothers, then passed that subordinate position on to you.

That long established family hierarchy and dynamic is probably the governing factor in your husband's relationship to his parents and to you and isn't going to be changed easily.

I missed in my first post the fact that you have 2 sons; my apologies.
(0)
Report

Mandy, Jessie hits the nail on the head - your husband was literally married to his parents all his life. He never really separated from them and supported you, his wife, as he should have.

He and his family have used and abused you, and having been able to get away with it are going to resist strongly now when you are demanding respect and equal participation from them as well your BILs.

You don't want to desert your husband "in his time of need." Mandy, your husband deserted you even before the wedding. Cruel, but keep all this in perspective. If you feel you need to compromise because of his needs, it will perpetuate the subordination to which you've been subjected, and acquiesced, for years.

It's YOUR time of need and has been for years. As a partner, where has HE been?

I'm not being critical, just blunt. Your husband is the way he is because of the way he was raised, treated, or influenced by his parents. You're battling what probably is a lifelong behavioral and family dynamic.

But do this you must, as it has gone on too long and it appears you're the only one who can stand up for yourself as well as your children. It isn't healthy for children to see their mother being treated as subordinate and as an unpaid servant for her in-laws.

If you have sons, they're going to grow up thinking that women are subordinates to husbands and in-laws. I would expect something like this from one of the polygamy cults. While I have very close relatives who are Catholics, I've never seen any kind of literally complete subordination as you've described.

I'm glad for you that you've come to the point of demanding respect and some changes. If you need support beyond what you've gotten here, you might even want to consult agencies that deal with emotionally battered women. I don't intend to insult you, but that's one of the first things I thought of as I read your message.

The toxic relationships and family dysfunction as well as manipulation by the in-laws has a long history; hold your ground, stand up for yourself and your children, and don't let these people dominate you any longer.
(2)
Report

My kids are 10, 10 and 7. I'm realizing now that no matter how great my husband is or howuch j love him things won't change. I just had a long conversation on the phone and explained what is to happen next. His relationship with his dad is toxic. He relies so much on my husband he never asks the other boys for help and that needs to stop. He needs distance and to have a relationship with his dad that won't make him resentful when he's gone and I told him so. I also said I'm no longer staying silent. I will be speaking with his dad and brothers if he does not take note and see the situation for what it is. I told him. "You are not a child under your dads roof. Your a grown man. You will not turn over and you will tell him what needs to happen. You will call your brothers and explain it. You will not lie down on it anymore. If you don't do this. I will".
(1)
Report

Mandylou, too bad you didn't see any of this coming while you were dating your husband. I know, love is blind.
(2)
Report

Mandylou, it sounds like you married a man who was already married to his mother and father. He probably chose you because he knew that you wouldn't stand up for yourself if he persisted. I don't blame you for being upset with everything. It doesn't have to keep being this way. If you could have what you wanted, what would that be? It sounds like you need to make your voice heard and quit letting the rest of the family treat you like what you want doesn't matter. I'm sorry you have gotten to such a late point in your in-laws life. I know it makes choices more limited. I have the feeling that your husband needs to man-up with his father and get your back. Shame on him for not already doing this.

Is hospice coming into their apartment or is your MIL in the house with you? I wish you could roll back time and buy that house you wanted. But since we can only go forward, I would say to figure out how you can be happy and aim for that. How old are the children now?
(2)
Report

Go to a non Catholic marriage counselor, ASAP!
(1)
Report

We are from the states. 90% of the issues here stem from catholic guilt. I love my husband and the life we have made, and I don't want to desert him in his time of need. But I feel that my needs were never a priority. Thank you for the advice. I will look that up.
(0)
Report

Oh, my goodness. First, please believe this! We teach people how to treat us. Next, read up on "setting boundaries" -- you need to set up plenty of them.

Are you from the United States? Actually, you sound as though you come from a different culture. We've come a loooong way, Baby! Hurry! You have some catching up to do!
(1)
Report

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.