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My inlaws are 92 moving into an aged care hostel near us. Previously they've lived 4hours away. I'd like advice on how not to let them make me sad with the way they treat me, (which is by ignoring me and almost pretending I'm not there), and with how they live. I've gotten used to it and realise that by not standing up for myself when 1st married (at 25) that the way they treat me is partly my fault. My husband & I have just had 5 days at their house with them, packing up their things prior to them moving into the hostel. although they were quite good about the packing decisions and we were able to get a lot done I'm now miserable in myself and trying to work out how not to let them effect me like this. I guess I'm worried that with them moving closer & having to see them more often it may really affect me (make me more sad?). OK - I'll give you some examples, my husband is an only child, he had a lonely childhood with 'older' (for the time) parents in their 40's. his parents told him when he introduced me to them I was not good enough and suggested other girls who would be better, it's gone on like that. when we visit a few times a year, they laugh when I'm cold in the house, but do not turn on heating or provide blankets, smaller portions at meals are dished out for me, they think it's funny if I'm still hungry. for many years I've taken my own food and blankets. I'm grateful I don't have to go to their house many more times. this long weekend while packing their house and working for them, I slept outside with our new puppy - who was not allowed in their house, which is fair enough I guess, but not even the laundry, a lot of this time was stormy with driving rain. I provided the food and baking for the weekend, mainly in the hope of having food to eat myself, even this was not a foolproof plan as hubby insisted his mother do the reheating of the meals I bought and dishing out - again we were hungry, (they like to eat fewer meat & veg and more desert and cakes which is not good for me). don't get me wrong, I like camping, & it was lovely in our tent at night to get away from the extremely loud tv (father in law won't wear his hearing aid, the noise and him not hearing me speak is my fault / problem not his). but they did not enquire if we were ok outside...why start now. the thing is they've rarely had anything to do with us, and show little interest in our lives. this weekend we were packing up their lives and they were saying things like ' where have the last 50 years gone'...this makes me so sad, as they have had only 1 friend in that time, no hobbies, no clubs, rarely called us or (thank goodness) visited us, they have a large extended local family and have little interaction with them, yet they are quite fit and healthy. just a void where other people have hobbies and interests. weirdly mother in law has more recently started almost reaching out to me for a hug when she sees me, this is way out of character & makes me wonder what's going on. I feel so sorry for the emptiness in their lives, although I don't know if they see it, I think not, yet I think she is lonely. yet I would not say they are happy. they exist in their own little world and think they are marvelous people...perhaps at this age this is an entitlement, but I've known them for 20 yrs and they are the same...their days are spent grumbling about their neighbours and old wrongs, rarely do they interact with the neighbours or other family in a positive way. I often suggest gifts and things for us to give them, if they know I've had anything to do with it they say it's a bad idea (unless it's my cooking - they are good eaters) - gifts with both our names on are claimed by them to have come from my husband only. and yet this year they bought me a birthday gift. I'm quite confused. I've felt bad for days now, sad and depressed after spending time with them, usually I can shake it off. My husband does not understand how sad they make me feel, he thinks they are just difficult and old, I just look at them and see so much time wasted, where they could have had activities and helped their other family. I think my mother in law would actually have enjoyed seeing us more and sometimes she is almost fun, but father in law is like the snake in the undergrowth, very selfish with an amazing sense of entitlement, so confident that he will be 1st in all things, have the most food, and have all things done for him, then ignore me. any advice much appreciated. I think the other part of this that makes me so sad is that all my older family have passed away, they had friends and helped in the community, had interests and were interested in us, it makes me very sad that these non-interest people get to still be here and my loved ones do not. I'll have to deal with this closer to home soon, any ideas would be great.

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Hi Ink ...
Have to ask ... are your in-laws of the Italian persuassion? Not meant to offend anyone that is but just know from personal experience that while not as horrible as your FIL my FIL (deceased now) was a real treat too and very similar ... Hate to talk poorly about the deceased and also of the Italian nationality but he was a real pip when it came to "who he was in the pecking order" He ate steak and the kids ate hot dogs ... he hid cookies that were all for him and no one else (he got diabetese a payback?) He said no and it was no ... I remember dating my husband ... when they found out I wasn't Italian they were besides themselves but learned to deal with it. THEN 17 years later they got what they always wanted an Italian DIL ... Talk about "becareful what you wish for because you might get it" deal ... and boy oh boy did they get it ... She was and still is a total nut case and has cause them huge amounts of grief ... While I the non-Italian DIL they would rave about to anyone that would listen ... Problem with that is I was no good until they knew me ... then I was a gem ... Thing with me is I know how to tolerate ... even if I don't like ... and I tolerated them both well ... in fact I tolerated them so well even my husband thought we were all hunky dorey! He was a tyrant ... treated his wife my MIL like a slave ... Told her what to cook every morning before leaving for work ... and boy it better be on the table and waiting for him when he got home and he was not as bad as his father was! She handled no money and had no clue about what they had in the bank. Now his father was 100 times worse that guy used to get sponge bathed by his wife (I would have drowned him). One of my friends after metting my FIL for the first time said thank God your husband is nothing like his father ... he would never have made it in life. I remember once my FIL and I had words ... and he said that he and I could never have been married ... to which I replied sure we could have ... I just would have been a bride and a widow all in one day!

Also them with an only son ... thats like a red flag with the Italians ... (for what I've experienced) Seems to me that the oldest or the only get to take care of them no matter what ... its just exected of them. Only thing that can get in the way of that plan is yours truly aka the wife.

I'd say keep your distance ... why make yourself sick ... its not worth it ... Drop it all in your husbands lap and let him deal with it ... Trust me once you wash your hands of it your husband won't be far behind ... Men like in child birth and caring for parents just can't take it!
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My in-laws are the same. Sorry you had the identical detrimental relationship. After 40 years of compromising, I gave up. They no longer exist in my mind. Burden gone.
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My in-laws are the same. Sorry you had the identical detrimental relationship. After 40 years of compromising, I gave up. They no longer exist in my mind. Burden gone.
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my MIL even wrote in a letter several yrs ago(to her sister) that she never liked me. I was the 1 who insisted we should move back to fla to be near our aging parents. my MIL even moved in with us(built cottage next to house) an dI took care of her daily with medical needs. then she exploded, screaming at me, accusing me of all sorts of horrible deeds.(in front of husband-only child) I walked out after saying "have a nice life". had very little contact, just pleasant when I did see her(hard to do when you life 20 feet away! huysband has had to take over and take her to dr's and hair dresser, meds, etc. certainly helped my life. now she has been in nursing home since sept after passing out and falling. I would visit with my husband after church on sunday, but stopped that now after having my 1st ever operation for melanoma, followed a month later for breast cancer. now going thru radiation treatment aftr lumpectomy. she has mercer and I told my husband, I will not venture into NH. do not need the stress or exposure-so for me, live is good now. my husband understands my health is most important now. he visits her regularly for only a few minutes. I wait in car after church and she knows and tells him to hurry on because I am in car. don't know if she finally realizes what she created-she is lonely, but she created it.
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It's a tough thing to handle. I had a MIL who ignored me, got angry when I washed her silverware before using because there were roaches in the drawer, I usually had to take food or go to the store. There were times she lived on cheat hot dogs and cheap cake mix. She saved money and then her kids would end up with it. She insulted my cooking, ( "I made that cake a while back and it was better than this"). Etc. She wouldn't turn up the heat when I or my kids were cold and in summer would turn on the window air conditioner when my husband insisted, but then turn it off if he left the house. After 21 years of that, I just refused to go anymore and subject my kids to her. A couple years later I divorced her son, and though he was diagnosed as extreme narcissistic, (by a doctor) he did do more than I thought he would for her.

As others have said, we should have put our foot down in the beginning or else avoided them!

Looking back to the 80's when I broke away I can only say I don't regret trying to be good to her all those years, my consience is clear. Had I stayed in that family I KNEW I would be the one to take care of her in the end. She went to a nursing home finally. Hubby's new mate avoided her too.

Best of luck. I agree that you should make it clear from the start that they are not going to "use" you after how they've treated you. They will, no doubt forget the reason. Narcissists never take the blame for their mistakes. Sorry......
Try not to blame yourself, as someone said, "they were mean people".
Hugs
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Both parents actually got easier once they had alzheimer's. I enjoyed them much more.
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Oh this was many years ago. Mother died of alz in NH in July 2013 & dad is in NH.
They were both in NHs since 2010. This all happened back in early 2000's. My boys are married & grown & out. There was no alzheimer's. I was just trying to say that there are messes in every family but my dad was a major take charge person & even that night was out of character for him. He did have a major stroke not too long after that. We had many such odd incidents while visiting them. Just none with the violence. He could be a very difficult man. I don't think it helped that mom was as subservient as she was. Her subservience seemed to feed his monsters.
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thanks for the book recommendation ElaineKSanchez. Yes earthmom, I think their attitudes are perhaps because they were raised differently, esp FIL, as I know many of MIL family & they are more open and happy. I think he's affected her greatly over the years, and from what her family say, has changed her for worse. recently my neighbour pointed out that my family is very close and influenced by our italian grandmother in how we interact...which is different to other cultural groups - which has given me more to think about there.

thanks for your story Junkkit, I think I'll try to be nice, but limit my exposure to them. happy to do baking and send it along with hubby when he visits....nice at arms length!
thanks for the ferris1 for the standing up for yourself reinforcement. I am listening! Lucysmom501 - we've agreed last few years that hubby visits inlaws on his own, yes, I think with them moving closer we should just stick with that - I guess this helping them pack up the house visit was a glitch in how we cope with them, just frustrated me so much that it affected me so badly.
thanks for your comments Mildrednewark & CarmenP, lastresort, Moxie1 & countrymouse, I've been re-reading your posts - mulling things over, it helps.

Moxie1, when they used to visit with us for a week or more I'd often have friends drop in(because they wanted to help us cope with the inlaws), or I would leave the house for a break, once we went out to see a good friend who was home from overseas work for a few days(we were gone maybe 3 hours). the inlaws tore strips of us when we got home for leaving them alone, not being interested in them and serving up appalling food (which I worked out to mean food they are not used to eating), also complained that I had so many friends visiting. my hubby was so upset he said they'd never be welcome to visit in out house again (not to their faces though, nothing was said to them!), over the years though they have been to stay with us perhaps once each year & we try to muddle through it. I've always encouraged hubby to visit his parents, and phone home, as I think family should be involved. maybe he would have visited them less without that encouragement.
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thank you all for your ongoing comments, well LadeeC I think there is some 1950s stuff going on, they are trapped in a time warp, I am very conscious last few years as my hubby gets older (turned 50 this yr) that I don't want him to become like his father, and I don't want to be in that kind of marriage. am making ongoing effort to have us involved in family and friends etc & the puppy is a step in keeping the 'play' and happy times in our lives. Hubby is quite different when his parents are around and falls into the '3 of them' 'always been like this' groove.

.I agree Ismiami that it's rude to bring a dog to a home that it's not welcome or wanted in, but they wanted me there to help and I agreed to go if puppy would be welcome and come with me. of course I should have realised they would not have thought this through, and she really would not be welcome. could not find a dog friendly hotel in the area - I would have decamped quick smart! i've had the 'I won't be involved with your parents' discussion with hubby before, and then gone along on occasion to make him happy. yes - agree the ignore them (as much as I can) option is the way to go. Gosh KathleenPlano, what a story, no violence or yelling in my story, but it's made me realise that silence and behind the scenes actions can be just as destructive.
Miggygreene- i'm so trying to be positive it's just the 'how' I have trouble with sometimes. really having all your comments and 'dose of reality check' has been a huge help, I'm feeling more evened out and balanced in myself.
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Kathleen, I hated reading your story, because Grandma might be in trouble if Grandpa keeps getting worse. I hoep you can stay in touch even though it really isn't safe for the kids any more if his judgement and temper are bad enough to forget what he just said and throw things. Sad story.
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Oh dear Kathleen Plano, we had the same father. I remember many meals being belittled and yelled at for no real reason. I learned later dad was extremely narcissistic and a bully. I suffer from his abuse many years after his death and my family dynamic is ruined due to the way we we all bullied.

I would think twice about exposing kids to this behavior. If dad had ever pulled some of the things your father did in front of my kids, it would have the last time. Funny, we had to drive 11 hours to visit my folks. Never felt especially welcomed and finally just stopped visiting. Mom and dad were/are very narcissistic. My tolerance and give a d**n are all used up.

When dad died I was so over his drama, I didn't travel to say good bye. And six years later I am not sorry because I could not be a hypocrite.
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i completely agree with LaddeeC. Your husband is already complicit by not defending you. I need to know did he sleep in the tent with you and the puppy or did he lbanish you as well....neither is acceptable.
First it is impolite to bring a dog to someone's house who does not want or care for them. Personally, I am allergic to dogs and would not want to be bothered with a pooch. Normal families work these thngs out. They should have accomodated you, since you were there to help them. So if yoiu could not board the dog, or stay at a pet friendly hotel, you should have stayed home with the puppy and let hubby pack his own parents.

Have a serious talk with hubby, tell him you are no longer willing tobe involved with his parents because they have been rude to you all your life. Do not even bother looking for second chances, these old dogs wont change. Do not have words with them, since you may still have extended family outings. ignore them.
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Try to give them what they want and just be nice to them. They only have few years to live so don't stress with the fact that they hated you. Make an effort to try to please them. Just be positive.
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::double checks her calendar, confirms it's really 2014 and just blinks:: Was there a rollback to 1950 that I missed?

Unless you're willing to tolerate that kind of behavior from ~your husband~ somewhere down the line, I'd strongly encourage you to get that spine and stand up for yourself with him. This is just nuts. I'm sorry .. I just don't buy the whole, "they gave birth to me, I owe them" pile of crap. Parents owe the children. Period. They made a decision to bring a life into this world and to treat your children and choice of spouse in the manner they have, says a world about how your husband was raised, and I fear for your sanity, in the end.

If this is the way you and your husband normally interact, maybe it's time for some self-evaluation and learning to gain some self-worth. I think you're gonna need it.
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I had my son with me for one of the holiday visits. We had driven there (a 24 hour drive) from TX as a family of 4 but my husband & my eldest son had a 1 way plane ticket back home the day after Xmas because of a special Winter Boy Scout Camp they were attending as father-son & my youngest & I would be driving back home after a few days spent with G & G. You see they lived 4 houses from the beach which meant fun swimming & warmer temps. Also that 4 plane tickets would be too expensive. Well Grandfather had a couple of drinks before dinner one night & my son asked nicely if he could watch his Barney tape in the vcr after dinner like he had other nights & dad said yes but when my son went to insert the tape dad went off on him. We still don't know why he over-reacted but he took the tape out & threw it across the room at Grandma who was at the sink doing dishes. It missed her head by a couple inches. He then lunged at my son to act like he would hit him. Everyone was stunned. I'd never seen him this bad. Well I said I didn't agree with throwing things & I didn't know why Grandma. He said well if you believe that I need you in Dallas meaning even though this was late evening NYE we were being put out. So son & I packed up & went to stay at a nearby hotel for the night so we could being driving in the am. I had no intention of driving through the night with my young son. We did not speak for a couple years after the incident. I had only seen him have his normal 2 martinis before or with dinner. I don't know what set him off but everything that occured was pretty everyday for the other nights. Just this night set him off. I never saw anyone as surprised as grandma with a vhs zooming by her head.
We all have family dynamics that aren't what we would like but I didn't quite know where to file this one. I do remember that my son hid in his bedroom closet while I was doing the packing. The worst part was my mother running around going "Oh Bob, do they really have to leave, it's NYE & I don't want them driving in the middle of the night. I had already decided to leave. It would have taught my youngest all the wrong things had I stayed.
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One of the most interesting stories I have read yet. My parents were over-bearing when we would take the kids to visit for summer breaks & holidays. My father was the worst of the 2 but to watch the 2 of them as a couple was an interesting look into a couple. Mom would say much, dad did most of the barking (talking). It always felt to me like an animal marking their territory. Constantly needing to present himself as the main totalitarian even though there was never any threat to his reign. The big difference in my case was that there was no treating my husband & I any differently from each other. He just basically treated everyone oddly. The kids would often become confused about loyalties & who was in charge while staying there because dad would seem to start things up just so he could bark orders at everyone. Kinda like a drama starter (not wanting to say queen).. There was none of that feeding anyone less or anything blatant. I just always found it odd. I noticed it took a short while whenever we returned home with the kids to restore order in the family after Grandfather (yes he demanded to be called Grandfather out of respect). Yea respect (that was it). Anyway, family rules & family order took a couple days to restore after a week there. And unfortunately it was not the normal spoiling kind of grandparents. It was more of a boot camp which I always thought was unfortunate for them. I think they could have enjoyed the grandkids alot more. He really did love to light a fire under everybody. My mom used to say that the family dinners just between her, him & I (grammar?) sorry. Anyway, she used to say that it was tough for her to digest how it was all huge powerful arguments. He would just poke at me & poke at me until I'd had enough & there would be an argument (but not a yelling one). Never a peaceful dinner & god help any guests that might have been included. You may as well have sold tickets. I don't know what to say except some people can't live without the drama.
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First, this has been going on for a long time and your husband should have been the man to get both sides to come together since he is the common denominator. Secondly, it sounds like you do care about them and wish things were not the way they are. It is far better for you to continue to be as nice as you can be knowing time is getting shorter for your in-laws lives and in the end you will have been the better person with no regrets on how you treated them even though they were not so nice. I am in my 50's and have a daughter-in-law who is not nice. She has treated us like second class citizens and her parents as royalty. My son will not stand up and say this is not how we treat my parents. Instead he just pacifies the situation and when he was deployed for a year she denied us from seeing our two grandchildren. My other two children are very disappointed with the way she is treating us and that their brother is handling this situation poorly. I have another daughter-in-law and we have no problems with her. She includes us in things and makes sure we feel like we are part of her family too. Just be nice to his parents for how ever long they have left. Your husband should begin little by little to bring your name into conversations and to build you up in conversations and to squash their negative comments at every opportunity he can. As we age change gets harder but can be more tolerated if given some positive conversations to open both sides.
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Dr. Roberta Satow wrote a wonderful book called, "Doing the Right Thing . . . Caring for Elderly Parents, Even if They Didn't Take Care of You." I recommend it for anyone who has trouble setting boundaries. I had great parents, but I learned a lot about valuing myself and not giving the control of my life or feelings over to others.
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It is hard to have In-laws that treat you badly. I understand how it is to try to fit in with a family who has not excepted you and treats like an out cast. I felt that way with my husbands family at first. It is time to be honest with them and ask them why do you treat me this way? Sometimes its our insecurity's that make's us feel this way? If your husband is like mine he is dense at the fact you are feeling this way because they are his parents. Ask them what you ever did to deserve such treatment? You may be surprised at the answer. Sometimes they may not be aware they are doing something wrong? We are all raised differently, It could be in their time they were raised with out showing emotions maybe? Maybe its a cultural thing? Most of my family was from back east, they were more refined and proper, when I was from the west and we just did as we felt was right. I was not use to eating chicken with a fork and knife. I was just use to eating it with my hands off the bone. They use to look at me like I was from outer space. People look at things from all different perspectives. Try to ask, if they say something hurtful then your husband should know the truth as well?
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You never mentioned what your husband is saying and doing in all this mal treatment of you. Put your foot down NOW! Do not allow this behavior of theirs to continue because you have allowed it to go on for way too long. Yes, it was incorrect of you not to refuse to allow them to treat you badly at the very beginning, but now that they have had their way for over 20 yrs. you have given them "permission" to continue. Tell them to their faces you do not appreciate the way you have been treated, it will stop now, and YOU will not allow them to cause you anymore pain and sadness. YOU control that, not them. Do not speak to them when they treat you like a doormat, and tell your husband if he doesn't stand up for you, you will fill-in-the-blank. But you stand up for YOU 1st!
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My inlaws did not like me. They said I was a princess who only wanted their son for his money. Little did they know that it was my income that allowed him to have the new truck he so desperately wanted, the boat and vacations. Trust me when I say that we did not live lavishly, but on his income alone we couldn't do anything but pay our monthly bills. We were an extremely happy couple. The few times that I went to visit his family with him my treatment was way different that the others and he noticed it too. Rather than keep him from his family it was decided between us that he would visit alone. This way there was no tension during the visit and they could enjoy him without me. As time went on, they showed their true colors to him and he had spats with his sister, mother and sister in law, therefore he himself chose not to visit anymore. He kept in touch with 2 brothers, that was it. If you do what you always did you'll get what you always got. Time to step aside and let him have his relationship with is parents.
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I'm so sorry you've had to endure this lifestyle with your in-laws for all of your marriage. I do believe your husband should have stepped in at the very beginning and set standards for them to respect you. Obviously this didn't happen, I know you were trying to get along so you held your tongue, but I think had you spoken up at the very beginning and set your boundaries, your life with your in-laws would have been different: either they respect you and you spend time with them, or they don't respect you and you go on with your life and stay out of their lives. At least they would have made the choice. I know you can't bring back time, but you can still tell them how you feel and let them make the choice. Your husband needs to stand by your side and support you. Life is too short to bother with folks who want to live miserably and make everyone's life they touch just as miserable. Be strong and speak your mind. Hugs to you.
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DO NOT LET THESE PEOPLE TREAT THIS way? they know what they are doing. They are mean. Your husband should stand up for you. SHAME on him for that?you do not have to take care of them. If they are able to have a place of their own . Do not put yourself in that position . I had a mean set of in laws . I just did not dwell on them I focused on what was important to me and my family.
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I had similar issues with my in laws. My husband is one of four children, other three are girls, Mom VERY partial to girls (when her first grandchild was born, my son, she went by when he was about 1 sitting on the floor and patted him on his head and said "What a pity he wasn't born a girl). We had 3 kids and I always felt they treated me and the kids as if we were step in laws. Oldest son by 2 did not want to go visit "I love grandmother , but I don't like her very much." Now many years later she has come to me and said I raised the most polite three of her 11 grand children,had my husband buy me some african violets etc. I have been married to my husband for 40 years in August, so I guess she has had to accept that I'm there. Luckily my family lived within 12 miles so I just stayed with them. Mom learned whenever we ate at in laws to have food ready for kids when we got back to her house...
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It is perfectly OK for you not to see them again - even when they live close by. My cousin used to visit his folks in the nursing home and his wife rarely went with him. They were not her parents, it was a depressing situation and really there was no good reason for her to go, just like there is no good reason for you to visit your inlaws when they move near you. You also don't need to have them visit your home. If your husband schedules such a visit, be conveniently busy and out of the house at that time. Most of all, don't ever feel that you need to do anything for them. They don't deserve it.
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Stop wishing that these people were nice. They are not. Do for them whatever you are happy to do on your own terms, for the sake of your own principles, and do not do more than that. If your husband believes they need more, he can go ahead and help them with your blessing, then, can't he.

If your husband expresses the view that you should be able to take a joke, sweetly tell him that you have lost your sense of humour and as a result will no longer accept rudeness, discourtesy or frank insults.
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Hi Veronica91 - no hurt feelings, I shall treasure the image of me pulling up my 'big girl knickers' and get on with it! we did take a crate.
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OK, FIL is not nice and apparently has little respect for females. Wish that sort of thing was less common in the generation, but there it is. It is sad, but they need to be sad, not you, and they won't be sad because they are so used to it all they don't really see it. Their attitude and behavior is very lacking in empathy and repsect, it is not your fault, it relfects badly on them and not you, and IF you choose to go back there, you need to pack your own food so you do not go hungry. And pack your own sunshine too, they are not going to give you any because they do not have it to give.
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thank you all for your replies,
margarets - what is the t-word? you all remind me why I have pretty much limited contact with the in laws for the last 10-15years, they upset me so much all that time ago I had to decide if i would let them continue to be upsetting, letting the badness into my life. I decided to turn away as much as possible. at one instance where my MIL actually asked my husband (many years ago now) if I was ok (as i basically shut down around them), he said there was nothing wrong and did not speak up at all. I realise this is the pattern of communication they have, whereas in my family we would have it all out in the open until the issue is resolved, they just ignore it. I guess we were both bought up to respect our parents and in my case to particularly respect the elderly, ironically the inlaws were some of the 1st un-nice elderly I'd ever had anything to do with, which was a big lesson in itself.
Hi Moxie1 - thank you for your comments - I have gone out for takeaway & learnt to take snacks and fruit etc, again I've not rocked the boat to avoid upsetting my husband I guess. I think he 'allows this behaviour ' by his parents because they are old...I don't really understand it, he tells me they have become more bitter as they've aged and I should have known them when they were younger.....I guess I've limited the time I have to be exposed to them, which is a way of coping, unlike your FIL, mine rarely says much, he just sets it all up in the background and primes MIL to say what they 'think', it's hard to call him out on it. their extended family actually pointed out what was happening when I reached out for help early in our marriage - knowing it was not just me really helped, hilariously MIL's younger brother (in his 60's at the time) said they'd been expecting me to call, and not to let the inlaws break up our marriage, & that FIL would not cross the road to help anyone...a huge dose of perspective!.
on the tent aspect, I do love camping, it was more their lack of any empathy or concern that bugs me, and I have now got an offer from my husbands aunt & uncle to stay with them if I have to go again (with puppy :)..) they were appalled but not surprised at the tent as well. I visit with these relatives-in-law each time I go hubbys home town, for sanity and a hug! I think the inlaws find it strange that I visit other family(their family) when in town, but it's something I just 'do' (i do put my foot down somtimes :)

funnily MIL did thank me for doing the packing and carting stuff to op shop etc and said they had thought they would have to pay someone to do this for them...very ironic - interesting Moxie1 that you highlighted that we worked for free.
thank you for the suggestion Assandache to volunteer, I do like working / visiting with elderly folks & spend time with my neighbour in her 80's, had been thinking of volunteering with an aged care home - now I wonder if I can volunteer somewhere other than the one they are moving too?
Well Palmtrees1 - I guess they are narcissistic, and no grandkids - which is perhaps a blessing in this instance, I did say to MIL early on that I'd not stop hubby visiting with them, but that I would not be...she just blinked at me.

thank you all for your comments - it's a great help to put this all out into the universe and have the universe talk back! yesterday I was really down about it, today I'm not letting them stuff up my day ) (5 days packing + 4 days at home feeling awful is enough)! talked to hubby about it last night as he says I'm sounding / looking really down last few days, I told him his folks and their house is really toxic for me and I can't be around them, he just sighs, (he's seen it before) but says he will do the final clearing of the house & helping them pack (really we've done most of the work - so I don't feel too guilty about it). relieved not to have to go there again hopefully.

throughout this weekend packing I was texting my sister a lot for support, at one point she said to just "get out, move fast and don't go back", she has friends on a farm 1hour away and I could bunk in with kids and their dogs! I said I couldn't walk out on hubby as he'd helped our family so much with similar work in the past, she said " yes - but we include him and feed him"...which pretty much sums everything up I guess.

how we manage / negotiate having them so close to us for the future I don't know, I've said we must remember to have our own time and not just be about helping / visiting them. at the moment I think we can manage this as the inlaws are not that interested in us - will have to see how it goes. thank you all again for taking the time to talk on this, much appreciated.
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I don't get the whole picture, you don't think she likes you, but you reject her when she offers a hug? You are upset over things that haven't happened yet? And so much anxiety! Maybe you could get a complete physical and a brain MRI or CT. Anxiety and Obsession and mixed emotions could be signs of Alzheimers in very early stages. Protect your health, get a full checkup.
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