Not Mil But Whole Family - Not Hatred But Uneasy Feeling

about 18 mos after my failed marriage to a man AND his mother from hell, i began to date again.  i met a great guy.  we hit it off amazingly.  as a matter of fact, in my adult life i'd not ever 'hit it off' quite like that before.  we both knew instantly that we were simply meant for each other.

let me lay down some history for you.

my current significant other (s.o.) was in a tragic divorce wherein the only thing he was awarded was the debt to the tune of $50k, an alimony bill and some highly inflated child support (they reported his income much higher than it actually is/was.)  he worked grueling hours to support his family so she could stay home and raise their children while they were married.  she was of the mindset that after the divorce she would still be able to stay home.  she had that lifestyle locked in until she moved to a more expensive area a state away.

in his great depression (he lived solely for his children and they were now in another state) and under the weight of the debt and bills, he had to take up residence with his sister.  it wasn't long until mom and sis decided to purchase a house together (both being single at the time - dad had passed on and sis had never so much as dated in her near to 30 yrs.)  they found sis's ideal home and signed the papers.  done deal. 

a few months later the sister meets a guy ... and only 9 mos later they were married.

this is where i come into the picture.  it was not long prior to the wedding that he and i began dating. 

he warned me repeatedly that his sister was a b!tch.  but the things he imparted upon me that he disliked about her were actually attributes that i possess.  so, naturally, i was confused.  how could this man despise these qualities in his sister but not in me?  i wrote it off at first figuring it to be 'sibling thing.'

i met his family within a week of our first date.  from what i could tell they were wonderful.  i mean WONDERFUL!  his mother was incredibly personable, cheery, wise, gentle, honest and list goes on.  his sister was nice enough.  she's a strong woman not unlike myself. 

(after our first date he and i were inseperable.  he virtually moved into my house only going to his mom's/sis's house for clothes changes and to do some chores for them.  which was FINE by me.  i wanted him with me!)

for the first 6 weeks we'd see his family several times a week for dinner, child visitations, etc.  (every other weekend when his children would come for visitation, we would go stay at the sis and mom's house.  after all, THAT is where he lived officially and where the children had come for visitation since the divorce 12-18 mos prior to.  plus i'd only met the children a few times and although they thought the world of me it's simply not healthy to submerge them into our relationship so quickly by having them stay at 'our' house so early on.)  it seems somewhere around week 5 or 6 things would begin to sour.

each time i'd go over his mother was lovely to me.  his sis on the other hand was hot and cold.  i can relate as i tend to run hot and cold myself.  plus i realized she'd just gone through a wedding and was adjusting to her new married life after not having ever had so much as a boyfriend.  HOWEVER, her husband, being a few years younger than her, and several more years younger than me and my s.o., became increasingly competitive with me.  to this day i can only theorize as to why.  perhaps because i came into the picture so early in his marriage?  maybe he feels like i stole some of his attention or thunder?  i really don't know.

i realized that it was partly due to his youth.  and i attempted to write it off each week.  as more time elapsed it would come to my attention that this young husband thought a whole lot of himself.  he knew everything!  he was quite self impressed and enjoyed sharing it with whomever would listen.  i continued to overlook his obvious personality defect. 

i considered many things in attempts to validate his behaviour.  i wondered if he wasn't very socialized previously.  i wondered if in the past he'd not been around very intelligent people.  i wondered if my past accomplishments intimidated him.  i wondered what it was about ME that seemed to set him off.  

he is an intelligent man and i'll give him credit for that.  regardless of his intelligence level, he's a FLAKE!  i assessed this by his work history and choice of education versus the market we live in as well as the many other weird things he'd choose to brag about.  he's quite young but he's one of those, 'been there, done that, did it better than you' people. 

around week 8 my s.o., without me saying a word, observed the weird behaviour himself.  we talked about it and i shared my theories.  together we let it go.

it would seem over the next month the man's behaviour would become increasingly competitive, braggart'ish, etc. well beyond what it had been. things like ... "i make this much money and we have this much in savings"  "we found a car like yours but we're going to pay cash for ours." etc.  again, i resorted to theorizing and thought perhaps this man is trying to validate himself among his older peers who have already accomplished such things.

it didn't stop there.  it got worse.  he'd make sure to correct me if i showed one of the children how to do something and he didn't appreciate it because he was planning to show them - i didn't know he was going to, how am i supposed to know what he's thinking?  i thought his corrections of me to be quite odd ... especially when he's not their father nor is he any sort of expert on the subjects he was correcting me, his elder, on.

and following her young husband's lead, the sis of my s.o. would begin to show her true colors.  we got along quite well.  she's a rather quiet girl around me ... for the most part.  we simply don't talk in depth ... not often anyway.  but now it seemed that she had NOTHING to say to me.  and again, perhaps she was overwhelmed trying to acclimate to her new married life.

at this point my s.o. and i became very busy and unable to spend so much time with his family if any at all.  which turned out to be a God send.  we told them of our upcoming schedules so as to avoid any hostile feelings.  each week we would receive offers for dinner and each week we had to explain our schedules again.  at this point they began to offer their help.  it's not that we didn't want their help and we explained that to them, repeatedly.  it was simply that there really wasn't anything they could do for us.  when there was, we called and asked.  at one point we were painting the interior of our new house.  his mom came over and helped.  the next day, after all our hard work and sweat, i realized the drywall mud was not sanded smoothly and had pitted throught the entire house.  it looked horrible.  not to mention the paint turned out to be a lilac color instead of a khaki.  this in and of itself was unacceptable!  lol

when his mom found out we had to repaint because the color i picked out (and i made sure to empasize MY mistake) was WAY TOO feminine for the whole house her feelings were so hurt.  it was if i told her that her work was bad.  which wasn't the case at all and no matter how much i explained the color being awful and that it was my fault, she got more and more upset about it.  to this day, nearly 8 months after the incident she still gets upset about it.

christmas came and we were all VERY sick with the flu.  some were so sick they simply could NOT get out of bed.  two of them were children that were so sick they didn't care enough to get out of bed to open christmas presents.  the sis had a terrible fit because gift opening did not go as she had planned.  she made the most awful comments and right in front of the remaining child and loud enough the other two could hear her.  her husband and mom went chasing after her to calm her.  i walked right into the middle of it, feeling as if she was directing her rage at me, and i said, "i'm very sorry YOUR 'christmas was ruined.' and i further apologize if my presence here has played any part in that."  of course she said, "oh no no no that's not the case."  but she reiterated her initial, awful comments this time in a more tactful way but still yet selfish as one can be.  she was sure to isolate her gift opening session with her mom and husband.  it was as if we were in a community with all these subcultures.  ...most bizarre...

after a little time, maybe 4 months or so into the relationship, the children would begin spending the last afternoon of their visitation at my home.  my s.o. and i decided it was time to begin the transition process so they'd become comfortable at 'our' home and in the future could spend visitation with us primarily but still visit the family.  most importantly it would allow my s.o. time with his children wherein he was their only focus.  (while at the other home their attention is all over and they rarely spend any true quality time with their father because they're so busy with their aunt, uncle, grandma and all the activities they have planned for the children.)  but at this point it was only 3 hours out of the entire weekend. 

one evening after dinner at their house just as we were leaving the sister says, "as far as i know the children still think of this as 'home' when they're here for visitation."  this caught me so off guard.  i hadn't a foggy notion why she was saying this or even what she meant by it.  i stood there blankly and she repeated herself.  she didn't format it as a question, she was making a statement.  i still didn't know what she was getting at.  i looked at my s.o. hoping he would bail me out of the situation because it was quite clear she was speaking directly to me.  it seemed somewhat confrontational yet i hadn't a clue where she was going with it and she didn't expand.  she simply repeated herself a 3rd time.  ???i was just as blank as the first time???  s.o. said, "why wouldn't they?"  there was no more discussion and we left.  we didn't leave on bad terms or anything, not to my knowledge that is.  it took me several conversations with s.o. and a few weeks to come up with her motivation.  i still don't know for sure but i assume it had to do with the children spending any time whatsoever at my home rather than at their's.

some 6 months into the relationship i confided in his mother.  i'd confided in her before with no repercussions.  she was a wonderful woman and had earned my trust.  she voiced concern about her son that day.  i tried to calm her.  and then i made the mistake of sharing with her some events of our household.  i.e. how i was growing disgruntled with her son's bill paying methods, help around the house, etc. ... things regarding her son and i expanded on it with her. 

the following week we stopped by their house to pick something up.  the bil and sis met us in the kitchen and said, "aren't you going to come upstairs and visit with us?"  they said it very deliberately and quite loudly.  it was more than obvious they were summonsing the mom to come down.  we weren't there for a 'visit', we'd simply come by to pick something up.  the mom came downstairs and the sis commences to giving my s.o. a 'talking to' about this and that - things i'd shared with his mother in confidence.  i was beside myself.  i'd been betrayed by this woman i'd spoken to in confidence and here she is so concerned about her son a week ago but yet she's allowing her daughter to speak to him like he's an idiot.

the conversation was then directed toward me.  i was told by the sis that they felt s.o. had chosen me over them and that the purchase of that large house was as a direct result of him living with them and needing enough space for his children's visitations.  i spoke up this time saying, "i thought this house purchase was a direct result of it being your dream home and it simply fit the bill for the family's primary needs?  what does this house have to do with anything?  what is it you are getting at?"  she then explained to me the house was purchased for the primary needs and it being her dream home was a perk.  all i could think is:  and?  none of this growing hostility toward me was making any sense whatsoever to either of us.  what had i done to these people?  i'd accepted every dinner invitation, i always did dishes, i helped prepare the meals, i brought extras, i bought dinner, i participated and had never had cross words of any sort with any of them, i'd always apologized even when i KNEW it had nothing to do with me - i sympathized, etc.  ... what had i done so terribly wrong except love their son/bro?

prior to this all they would talk about was; how happy he was these days since he and i met, how he's beginning to act like himself again, how thankful they were to me for making him happy, how it was nice to see someone pay attention to him and actually care for him and about him, how you could see a physical difference in his face when comparing before me and after me pictures, how good i was with and to thier grandchildren and neices/nephews, how beautiful i was, etc.  up to this point it had been nothing but praise from the mom and occassionally the sis would chime in and agree with her mother.  most usually she kept to herself though.

now, of course, i get a little bit upset.  i've not twisted the man's arm to move in with me.  he's not wanting for anything at my house.  he simply chose to live at my house, save commute fuel, and to accept my love and affection.  me being the patient person i am, i chose to ignore this 'attack'.  s.o. and i talked about it several times.  he's confused about it all as well.  thankfully i'd told him the content of the conversation i had with his mother prior to his sis's freakout that night.  nonetheless, he and i were very stimied with the whole situation which would only grow further out of hand in the weeks to come.

a couple weeks later the children were in town for visitation. as was customary i'd pack a bag for the weekend and go spend time with the family.  my motivation was to get to know the children better.  that night at dinner the youngest was having a fit wanting to sit next to me at dinner.  the middle child had already requested to sit next to me and i'd already said that was fine.  i was explaining to the youngest that she'd sat next to me at all of the meals so far and that she could have the next meal but it was the middle child's turn. the bil had just begun to help me explain to the youngest why i would be sitting next to the middle child, etc. when the grandma gave me my orders.  she told me to give in and sit between the two children that i was an adult and did not need to sit next to s.o.  well ... *sighs* i'd just received a phone call that my grandfather had a heart attack and was in the hospital, so i wasn't in the best of spirits.  i'd not had time to share it with the family yet so they were unaware of my emotional state.  i sat down between the two children and refused to look at anyone or to say a word.   "what are you teaching this child if you just give in every time? not to mention i've got enough stress going on right now to try to undo what just happened with this child and teach her the right way."  is all i could think.

s.o. asked if i was okay and i said, "not really.  i just got off the phone with my aunt and it seems that my grandfather is in the hospital after he had a heart attack earlier.  they aren't sure the outcome right now."  at which point he got up and walked over to hug me from behind.  of course, i cried.  grandma started the prayer and we ate.  i looked at it as if she'd had a bad day too and i let it go.

s.o. and i share our birthdays within a few days of each other with a commercial holiday in the middle.  under the premise of he and i marrying, for our birthdays and the holiday his mom wanted to purchase us a new mattress.  ours was old and was hurting his back. 

she'd previously shared with me that she was barely able to pay her credit card bills each month and she at a later time shared that she was looking to either purchase or lease a place of her own in the next 6 mos.  knowing that lenders and agents pull credit for both a purchase and a lease and without fair credit and debt to income ratio she would have a hard time, i spoke with s.o. about the rather large, impending purchase.  he and i decided it was simply too much, especially with her upcoming credit check and move.  we were there one night and she inquired first thing upon arrival if we'd found a mattress yet.  he wasn't paying attention and i felt it wasn't really my place to tell her we couldn't accept such a large gift.  i directed her to her son.  he told her how we felt and she got so spitting angry her face literally disappeared.  her eyes turned into slits, her mouth pursed up, a gator tear welled up in one eye, she turned red, huffed and puffed - literally, and refused to look at me or speak to me for several minutes.  she then informed us she wanted to and was able to do this for us and to not take that away from her.  i apologized profusely.  i really thought we were doing what was right thing for her.  she asked again if we'd found one that was suitable and within the price range she'd set (which was nearly impossible.)  i informed her that we'd not found one but that i'd just found out about a new place that claims the lowest prices and that i'd call them the next day.  although she was a bit distant for the rest of the evening, she acted like nothing happened - for the most part. 

since all of these small but critical things have happened i've become quite ill and have not been able to spend the visitation weekends there.  i've not been able to attend many of the invitations to dinner either.  (i have a condition that causes me to be bedridden approximately 8 mos of the year and this year it caused secondary but severe illnesses as well.)  thankfully we'd already transitioned the children to stay at our home one night per visitation - the other night he stays there with them.  i'll admit, it was and is a mixture of the ongoing and brewing tensions that ultimately caused me to begin refusing to spend weekends there.  i do preface my absence on the illness because truth be known, even if things were perfect between us all, i'd still have to stay home due to my health.  these two things just happened to accelerate at the same time.

in the beginning he and i spoke of marriage a LOT!  in recent months when he's inquired i've either changed topics or ignored it.  the last time he asked i told him that i wasn't a huge proponent of marriage since my last marriage.  i didn't tell him this but ... after the mil experience i had in my previous marriage and with all the weird things that have happened during our relationship with his family, i'm rather concerned and very hesitant at this point.

i also have a trying relationship with s.o.'s exwife.  the children played both sides of the fence so as not to hurt their mother's feelings.  it's only been in recent weeks that she admitted what the children were doing and stopped punishing s.o. and me.  nonetheless the damage is done to the children and me.  i went WAY out of my way to befriend the woman, then when i realized that would NEVER happen regardless what i did, i moved into the we will be civil to each other mode.  to this day she won't tolerate the sight of me nor will she tolerate the chance of having to speak to me.  he will call to speak to his children using the home phone and she refuses to answer or allow them to answer because my name is on the caller ID and countless other petty things of the like.

the eldest child is very close to the exwife and thus shares things of a 'not so true' nature just to get mom upset with us and to prove commitment and loyalty to mom ... i suppose.

when i'm as ill as i have been i don't generally want to nor do i feel like socializing in any way, with anyone.  i simply don't have the energy.  but i've realized that i've become very discontented with his family, his ex, and some time ... even with him and his children ... i realize i'm sick and overly sensitive right now.  HOWEVER, his family has me wore out.  they are currently acting as though nothing has ever happened.  his exwife will always be the way she is, she's always been this way according to all accounts shared with me.  she will continue to torment me in the name of her children.  and my s.o. feeling guilty about not seeing his children enough (they're in another state thanks to their mother! and remember he lives soley for them) and missing them immensely has a difficult time setting boundaries, disciplining, and paying attention to all of them at once in order to catch things before they get out of hand between the siblings - the oldest constantly provokes the younger two.  of course, i'm seeing it all go on and nothing being done about it.  next thing you know there's a screaming match going on and he's still not saying anything!  i end up upset with him for not 'taking care' of the situation promptly.  i don't feel like i should have to discipline his children at all let alone all the time.  they are GREAT kids, don't get me wrong but they are NOT mine to discipline.  i've created boundaries, yes!  but discipline?  that could potentially cause more difficulties with the exwife.  

the first weekend the children spent the night (ONE NIGHT) over here was a long weekend with them due to holiday.  both the aunt and grandma would have a near meltdown that they would not get to say goodbye to them and hug them immediately prior to the children leaving for home.  so upset in fact that they cried and carried on.  now when the children miss a weekend due to scheduling, holidays, etc. (like Mother's Day) the two women will call my house like stalkers would wanting to know when the children will be here next.  why don't they keep in touch with the children while they're at their mom's?  this is something i don't truly understand.  i am certain it's because they want nothing to do with the exwife (cuz she's a peach and all - lol) but if they miss these children so much, they should really look beyond their own problems and keep in touch with them.  and of course, they have no concern with s.o.'s immense sadness in the children's extended absences, only their own.  it's on the long overdue weekends the family becomes very possessive and overbearing about the children with no regard for s.o.  they tend to make impossible amounts of plans for the children without s.o.'s consent and don't allow him personal time with his own children.  it's as if they are all jockeying for position - the aunt/sis, bil and mom/grandma.  it's seriously too much.

maybe i'm just growing disenchanted with the whole thing.  maybe i'm just sick right now and overly sensitive.  perhaps in the coming months things will get better - they always do in the warmer months.  but in the meantime these people are all slowly driving me mad.

i could in no way handle a break up as i'm not only completely in love with this man but i LOVE and ADORE his children.  do you have any advice for me?  do you think i'm being silly about all this and making a mountain out of a mole hill?  be honest with me, please. i'd really appreciate your comments.

and finally, thank you so much for reading this novel.  i wish i could have shortened it but there's sooooo much to it!

AbbyNormal AbbyNormal
31-35, F
7 Responses May 27, 2007

I don't blame you for being skeptical about a committed future with this man. I, myself, have in-law problems so I can relate. You need to decide if you can live this way for the rest of your life - because nothing is going to change. It's a huge decision. Good luck.

You are absolutely right, they would treat anyone in his life this way. To continue to cater to their every whim is fueling them to continue their selfish behavior. Your S.O. is the only one who can tell them he will not stand for this behavior any longer.

Thank you so much to Bono for providing such an AWESOME and on the money website! It really helped me understand more of what was going on down below the surface.<br />
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SE ... rookie or not, you're right...<br />
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Grams, thank you for taking time to read these stories. You're absolutely correct and I think I'm going to let him read my stories and the comments and then tell him ... "I'M OVER IT!" *shrugs* I hope that will do it and get things rolling in the right direction, however, I'm always too hopeful and am sure I'll need to coax him a bit more as he's extremely passive and loves his family so much. He always says, "I don't understand what they want. I'm a grown man and can't live FOR them." Maybe it's time for him to tell that to them??? The bottom line is that this would go on with any woman in his life ... it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with someone significant in his life. Or so I think. I bet you agree, yes?

Birthday "pie", you should have told her thanks but no thanks and just went to dinner with your sweetie. Oh, girl.......You have given and made excuses and taken the punches with out retaliation, you can stand on your head until you turn blue and these vampires wouldn't even care.They are sucking your life forces out of you. Why, Why doesn't you S.O help you , or better yet take full control of this situation. I understand that he may work alot but think about it by him allowing this to go on he's not being any better than them. As far as the children go they will work both sides of the fence, just be aware and always keep it in mind, it's not really a personal thing they will just try to get the most out of both sides, I say this as a Mother and Step Mother, It wasn't until My Stepchildren were older that they could admit it,and mine were no better playing my husband and I with their father.You have just both been to passive with these people,take control,you too make the ground rules and they will abide by them or not see their son and grands even as often as they do now. Constant, I had to tell my parents when I married my first husband, ( we eloped and they didn't want him in their home) I told them both if my husband wasn't welcome neither was I, and left. It only took a day for them to reconsider then all was well.Your S.O. needs to step up big time.... You have done all you can and really taken more than you should have with their vexatious ways. Sounds like you need to sit down with your sweety and tell him you've just about had it, and you need him to intercede and take the reigns on this situation. Good Luck, and don't let them kill your spirit....

Wow, you are a real trooper for being able to deal with all of this...I agree with the above comment that you should consider your health first. It is great to love his kids and want to be of service but if it is always going to be that way, with the kids getting out of hand and s.o. not doing anything about it as well as so many issues with his extended family, you should maybe consider if this is going to be good for you long-term. I'm quite sure you've already considered that. I wish I could be of more help but I'm a relationship rookie myself. Best of luck to you.

Before you consider your options (i.e, ending the relationship or staying with the s.o.) you need to first take care of yourself. This for most of us is extremely difficult since women have the tendency to take care of most everything with the family. Secondly, it sounds like you are dealing with an enmeshed family that doesn't have any clear set boundaries. You, however, seem to know what boundaries are and this probably is the reason the SIL has difficulty with you. Since she has been primarily responsible for herself and has developed a certain degree of self absorbency, she is accustomed to everyone going along with her to keep the peace. The BIL is a piece of work and clearly is demonstrating insecurities that is why he knows everything. I would just limit my exposure to him as much as possible to prevent further aggravation. As for the issues with the children, they probably are in a way playing grandma and auntie as well as the exwife. I would ask the S.O. if in the future more time could be spent with them independently to forge your own relationships with them aside from the rest of the family. I would also discuss a contigency plan with the S.O. in dealing with another incident with his sister. She will, unfortunately, do that again (since she has no boundaries) and he needs to stand up to her by telling her that is not acceptable. Check out this sight http://www.psychsight.com/ar-shame.html, this may allow you insight into the type of family you are dealing with and allow you a means to combat their tendencies. Good luck!

i forgot about the whole birthday incident. we were supposed to have celebrated our birthday's together since the children would be there that particular weekend. when s.o. and i arrived, to our surprise it was just his bday being celebrated with a YUMMY, homemade cake made by his sis and all the trimmings . it hurt my feelings a bit especially when they said they'd like to celebrate my bday the following weekend even though the children wouldn't be there. later that week i received a call as to what kind of 'pie' i'd like for my bday party. i asked, "why pie?" and i was told, "because sis and bil are on a diet and they won't feel tempted by a pie." so ... i offered to provide the cake but it was refused. i know it all sounds so petty but all of these experience add up and compound over time and i don't know what to do about it.