My husband lets his family disrespect me! Help! It’s putting a real strain on our marriage!
The ‘horrible in-law’ family is a common trope in movies and sitcoms but the reality is an unhealthy relationship with your husband’s family can put a real strain on you and, ultimately, your marriage. So if your husband is letting you face the brunt of this yourself what does it mean and what can you do about it?
It might be as innocent as your husband not seeing it. It can be hard for some to see fault in their own family and what seems like disrespect to you might seem like familiarity to him. On the opposite side of that, he might have shared something with them which is causing them to act this way.
Note: This post got a lot more attention than I thought it would. I didn’t include in-law friction in my things that destroy a marriage list but it seems like this is more common than expected.
Why Does He Let Them?
Even when our spouses are okay, it can be difficult to relate well with their parents. Sometimes you’re just different people and you’re not going to get along. This absolutely happens but your husband should be coming to your defence.
Obviously, I don’t know you, your husband or your marriage. I don’t know if he just doesn’t see it or he’s well aware that his family is causing a problem. If you want to get a little more into the details take a moment to take the marriage assessment quiz and we can try and narrow down the root of the problem.
But, speaking in general terms, there are some common causes:
His love for his parents
At times when your husband doesn’t stand up for you, it could imply that he needs to side with the parents because he’s extremely close to them. He might not even realize when this is happening and this can be hard to address in your marriage.
He genuinely might not see a problem or feel that you’re overreacting. This can be a hard barrier to get beyond.
It’s important to inform him in a calm and non-confrontational manner. Talk to your partner gently, expressing how his family’s behavior is affecting your life and family in general. You need to engage him in a frank conversation, informing him of what’s been happening between you and his disrespectful family. Most significantly, avoid jumping to conclusions and don’t take a step until you’ve heard his opinion on the matter.
He’s afraid of his parents
This can happen too. It’s not surprising to find husbands siding with their parents just because they’re scared of them. They might never have been abusive, but relations between parents and their child can be complex. It could mean they disregard your spouse or are the controlling kinds and this has resulted in your husband’s fear of them.
Something More Sinister?
This is not going to be my first assumption so don’t immediately jump to this – but I can’t skip it either.
It might be that your husband has told them something that he’s not told you yet. If the disrespect from your inlaws is recent then it might well be they feel there’s a reason for it.
Again, not the first thing I’d suggest and I don’t know your marriage but if this sounds possible maybe look at the signs your husband wants a divorce.
How to Talk to Your Husband about His Mother
It’s not for you to take the step of approaching your mother-in-law and telling her to back off. If there’s anyone who you should talk to regarding the situation, it must be your husband. Don’t allow anger to dominate you while discussing the issue, be sensitive, and inform him that the two of you need some alone time.
Remind your husband that you don’t have a problem with his mother or going over to her place for dinner once in a while. However, it doesn’t mean that she should attend all your activities simply because of loneliness. You need to explain that your intention isn’t to eliminate her from your lives. Rather, both of you require time to grow and connect as a couple. Your spouse should also let them know how important you are to him.
Express Your Feelings
While this might sound tricky, expressing your discomfort is a good starting point. Without apportioning blame, make your husband understand that his mother’s behavior isn’t helping your marriage. You should concentrate more on the bond and the existing friction.
Ensure you remain positive during the conversation. There are chances that your husband doesn’t even recognize that he’s under his mother’s influence because he’s used to that kind of life. Perhaps you could make it clear that you don’t appreciate your mother’s interference in trivial issues such as deciding what he should wear.
Remind him that you’re the go-to person.
You should make it clear to your husband that just because he’s used to consulting his mother on everything, things can’t continue the same way, because he’s now married. He needs to remember that you’re his wife and any decision he makes will affect you both. Explain how consulting you instead will benefit your marriage in the long-run. After all, he’s married to you which means that the two of you should make decisions together.
Take the Marriage Assessment
If your husband is aware of the problem and still isn’t standing up for you then it might be this is a symptom of something deeper going on.
Husband’s Family is Ruining My Marriage
When it comes to in-laws, judgment is typically evident on both sides. Parents-in-law can be quick to judge us in terms of how a wife handles and takes care of their child. Regardless of how old their child gets or how independent he might be, they will always see your husband as their child.
Consequently, they never stop wanting the best for him. This can drive in-laws and other family members to judge whatever we do, from cooking and parenting to even laundry. The same can apply to our end; we might be just as fast in judging the other party. Signs that my husband’s family is ruining our union include:
The refusal to honor boundaries
It can be difficult to set boundaries with your husband’s family, but when there’s a violation of the set boundaries every time. This also makes it virtually impossible to develop a mutually respectful association. Many in-laws are known to breach boundaries – some just more subtle than the others.
For instance, they can offer unsolicited advice or show up impromptu to provide parenting advice or cleaning critiques. In-laws step over your lines for various reasons, however; most of it revolves around control.
Being older, we owe them a certain degree of respect. However, several of them forget that respect is a two-way street. While developing boundaries is significant, maintaining them is even more significant.
They hang on to outdated ideals
Since the in-laws frequently belong to a different generation, they usually have outdated expectations for our relations; this could result in conflict. For instance, our in-laws can start comparing our relations with their children against the conventional gender roles they grew up with.
They may also start criticizing the way you handle the kids or how you’ve set up cooking-rota with your husband. If whatever you do goes against what they’ve always believed, they’ll make sure they say something about it.
They involve themselves in private decisions
Having in-laws that are too involved or pushy could result in some serious issues. At times, the behavior might originate from concern, which is endearing. Other times, the need for control or interference drives them to involve themselves even in private issues between the couple.
In-laws involving themselves in personal matters could be detrimental to the fabric of your relationship. Interfering in your issues to voice their view over yours is an indication that they devalue your opinions and disregard you.
They show up impromptu
While this can be welcomed every once in a while, showing up unannounced ever so often isn’t merely an indication of disrespect. It shows your in-laws are attempting to exert control over your relationship. Whether your in-law helped cover some financial issues in your marriage or simply feel entitled to drop by just because they’re family, unannounced visits show a lack of respect.
Although it might seem endearing initially, an in-law that doesn’t respect your personal space and home’s limits wants to come between you and your husband. Whether their behavior is unconscious or conscious, it’s toxic. This will end if you put your foot down gently.
They turn you and your husband against each other
The most telling indication of a dangerous family member or in-law is one who turns your relations into a “she-said, he-said game.” Such in-laws or family members exude negativity and make it their goal to cause trouble from the beginning. They not only sow confusion but also discontent. Consequently, you and your husband will fight constantly.
Sometimes, our in-laws dislike us for one reason or the other. When this occurs, they can resort to petty behavior to undermine your self-confidence. In-laws and family members that go out of their way to undermine your feelings are toxic and you’re better off limiting the influence they have on your life. This step begins with a discussion between the wife and husband and ends with some form of compromise that restricts the time you need to spend around or with your in-laws.
They act as though you’re non-existent
A freeze-out occurs when in-laws and family discuss you as though you don’t exist or ignore you at get-togethers. They’ll act as though they’re unaware of your presence and upon confronting them, they typically become passive-aggressive.
Acting as though you’re non-existent is a cruel way in which in-laws express how they devalue us and our opinions. If an in-law freezes you out, it implies that they dislike you as their son’s wife and disrespect you at the same time.
No marriage is perfect. Once you take the step to get married, you can expect some challenges down the line. A common and major challenge arises when there’s disrespect between you and your in-laws. In particular, you might find yourself in a position where your husband’s family disrespects you. But you need to remember that love is no reason to tolerate it and that you shouldn’t get comfortable with anyone disrespecting you, including the in-laws.