Answering an "unanswerable" position

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LOObler

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Answering an "unanswerable" position
« on: February 12, 2018, 08:20:02 PM »
Hi everyone:

This is my first post and thank you for this wonderful space (which I have lurked on for a few weeks before posting today)!  I am hoping you can help me (via my hubby) with my BIL. We have agreed I am NC with my ILs and we live overseas away from his family. However, Hubby is still totally in the fog. Last night we went to dinner (yay) and then argued for two hours about BIL (not yay. exhausted, tired, over it...). It *paused*--because there is no end to the argument, really--when he said "I accept that you have no contact and I help to work to keep it that way for you. But you do not have a right to tell me how I should think or feel about my family." I just couldn't even go on. I have run out of words. I am so sad now.

His brother [BIL #1] is a mentally ill ex-alcoholic who has just dragged their birth family unit through 10 years of hell (divorced his wife, lost custody of his kids, can't work, on state assistance, entire birth family unit has fractured because MIL let BIL#1 live in her house for over 8 years and acted as his handler/driver/constant enabler, younger BIL#2 objected and now doesn't speak to MIL, my hubby is peacemaker in everything, BIL#1's kid was raised by MIL etc....BIL#1 then got Stage 4 colon cancer from not taking care of himself, almost died, full govt assistance for all medical because he's a ward of the state, blah, blah--now recovered, in AA, working with a gov't program to help ex-addicts and MIL/my hubby are now just like "isn't it wonderful, isn't everything great now..."  P.S. They are mid-Western and repressed/stoic in all their emotions.

Background quickly on me: huge issues with this because raised with alcoholic mother and alcoholic/abusive step-father. Completely galls me to see in-laws treatment and enabling of BIL#1 who has ruined two families. Yes, I know--my own issues, but this situation is a massive problem for me and hubby who love each other and are fine otherwise (22 years of happy except for this...) . We argue constantly about this issue, neither of us budge, I am frankly frightened and sickened by the same patterns happening in his family I saw growing up (he doesn't see it this way because childhood was great. BIL#1's problem didn't get unmanageable until around 12 years ago, although he evidenced OCD/anxiety issues + manic depression from late teens onwards. My hubby is also an introvert, me extrovert, and he's a total peacemaker/low conflict guy). He stands by his family without budging and I stand on my side saying, "I will never go through what I went through in my growing-up again, even if it means losing you."

My Question: how do I respond to my hubby, if at all. I do not want this in my life and I can't see why he can't recognise the dysfunctionality in his family...I don't want to live with someone who cannot do their own internal work to figure this sh** out!!  But he doesn't want to/fights every inch to stay put in the fog... He really, really, really doesn't want to look in the mirror of his family and his part in it all (the "system" they uphold no matter what...) :(

Thank you so much for any advice you can provide. I am really so sad and scared about this and how it seems like we will never reach a compromise THAT WE CAN BOTH ACCEPT,

Thanks again in advance  :)

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xredshoesx

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Re: Answering an "unanswerable" position
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2018, 10:11:30 PM »
welcome to the forum LOObler,


my MIL is most likely PD (not diagnosed) and a high conflict person.  as things with her behaviors came to a head, i decided the best thing for me and my relationship with my DH was to let him and his 3 siblings handle it.  i try to support his youngest brother's wife because she's the current scapegoat and was raised in an emotionally healthier family so this type of conflict is totally outside the realm of her experience.

high conflict- she didn't speak to me for almost a year because i told her it wasn't her decision alone to tell us she was living with each of her kids for a couple of months a year when she wasn't out west enjoying retirement.....this means not speaking to me at thanksgiving or xmas.....this also meant she moved out west with some random dude and then came back and was mad at us because we didn't 'help' despite her not telling anyone but one sister she was back.  oh, she went back with west with the dude again because we have too much snow even though he this that and the other to her.....because despite him being not suitable, we have too much snow and didn't pay her enough attention. 

so for all this i try to be medium chill/ grey rock.  i already know she's never living in my house and my DH gets that- what does this look like in our marriage-  we seldom talk about his mother.  i do not press him for details, and the few times it comes up, i keep a lot of things to myself it's not worth it.  if he gets really venty i suggest he call one of his sisters or his brothers and suggest some things they may do as a united front simply because their mom works them against one another ALL THE TIME.

after 8 years he doesn't come to me unless he wants a real solution or suggestions.  we don't fight about things that involve his mother, and he's stuck up for me with her since i backed off.

i hope this helps.  sometimes we have to let them deal with it on their own terms and when they come back and are upset because the same thing keeps happening, it's hard to not say 'i told you so'.

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VividImagination

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Re: Answering an "unanswerable" position
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2018, 10:46:10 PM »
You mentioned that you and your DH live overseas, so I assume on a different continent from his family. How do his family issues affect you? Are you expected to host them in your home on visits? Does your H expect you to accompany him on visits to their home? Do you have children involved that he expects to have contact with the BIL?

My point is, unless your H is giving your BIL money or asking you/your kids to have contact with him, he is right - his family, his choice. You cannot change others, only how you react to them. You have already taken the ultimate step in going NC - now it is time to allow your H to live with and deal with his own choices.

My MIL is possibly a mild DPD, somewhat dysfunctional at best and lives overseas from us. We do not get along for various reasons, and I have taken steps to distance myself and kids from her behavior that I don't tolerate. My H talks to her weekly via Skype, and I don't participate or ask what was discussed. We are happier not discussing her and keeping the relationships separate works for us most of the time.
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

Sometimes you're damned if you don't and damned if you do, so damn well do what's best for you.

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LOObler

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Re: Answering an "unanswerable" position
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2018, 11:40:55 PM »
Thanks very much for your replies. Sometimes it helps so much just to have other opinions/perspectives. I should clarify: I guess what I mean is VVLC (I will email my MIL back if she contacts me and we have "agreed to disagree" about BIL), but no contact otherwise and no visiting on my part as I don't feel safe there with everyone pretending everything is fine when it patently ISN'T. :no:

I like these emoticons :) I'm not that social media savvy (hehe). :doh:

Anyway, this fight came up because it's "my money" DH's spending to go back to see them in April (he is a trailing spouse and I earn significantly more and we do live a long way--other side of the world--from them). I recognise my anxiety coming out around this and will work to mitigate it. DH has a "contract" we've agreed on and he knows this is the last time "my" money will be used. In the future, he needs to earn the travelling funds himself.  Thanks again for the helpful advice. I"m going to look up grey rock now  :blush:

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VividImagination

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Re: Answering an "unanswerable" position
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2018, 07:26:31 AM »
I can relate to the money issue. Until recently I was earning all the "extra " household money through s side business and paid for MIL's tickets here for loooong visits I loathed. 

Once I stopped pointing out MIL's bad behavior and left my DH to deal with it, it became much more obvious to him, especially when he had to deal with the fallout because I refused to be involved.  Near the end of her last visit she terrified one of our older children with screaming at him over some ridiculous slight and my DH called her on the carpet for it. He was appalled by her lack of true remorse and came very close to sending her home early. It was decided that she wouldn't be visiting again in the foreseeable future,  and he is now well aware of her issues, past and present,  now that I am no longer the focus of the problem in his mind.
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

Sometimes you're damned if you don't and damned if you do, so damn well do what's best for you.

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LOObler

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Re: Answering an "unanswerable" position
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2018, 04:12:21 PM »
Thanks again: I just wanted to say that I had a total lightbulb moment when I re-read your comments. Sometimes the most obvious things are right in front of your nose but it takes others saying it to you to make it click. If I don't want to hear about it, I shouldn't ask!  :doh: :doh: :doh: OMG...what can I say. I would always ask "How's MIL/BIL/etc" when DH got off the phone from them. I don't know why I did it (basic politeness, I guess, or some stupid gendered idea of "relatedness")

BUT I DON'T HAVE TO! Who knew...DH's not going to care (super stoic; he never 'just talks' anyway; only if he's really got something important to say) and we can just avoid it all by my not following it up. I read this wonderful Buddhist statement in a book recently where they used the example of a guy meditating with a carnival being set up in the neighbourhood near him and him getting all put out because of the noise, worrying on it, and ruining his peace. His teacher said to him "Don't go out looking for the noise."  Just don't. Ahhh. I love the peace that comes from clicking about something. I hereby commit to "not going out looking for the noise." Thanks again: you are all doing important work here with your advice! Another emoji:  :applause:

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daughter

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Re: Answering an "unanswerable" position
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2018, 09:41:13 AM »
I'd categorize DH's plane ticket as a gift to him, and ask to not be informed of further news regarding his FOO Family.  Just "turn tap off" on this overseas irritant altogether.  In a marriage, it's helpful to think of earnings as "our money", rather than "my money" and "his money", and since your roles seem to be reversed, with you earning significantly more income, I'd allow the "gifting" of discretionary cash to DH to purchase such a plane ticket, in interest of fulfilling his expressed need to see them perhaps annually.  And in turn, I'd ask that DH not keep me briefed on his FOO Family, not respond to MILs emails (flip them to DH), not involve myself whatsoever in that far-away drama.