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My in-laws are ignoring me and making me feel like I don't

exist in my own home...
My in-laws are ignoring me and making me feel like I don't exist in my own home. We live in another country so we don't see them all the time but when we do, they take over, making all our decisions for us about who, what, why, where, how we do things. My husband says I should just grin and bear it and I've been doing that for 10 years but I feel tired of keeping up the pretense that I'm fine and my days are ending by crying privately. I just don't know what to do.
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Answered in 18 minutes by:
8/2/2013
TherapistMarryAnn
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5,894
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Verified
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.
From your description, it sounds like you are caught in a very difficult situation. You are basically being bullied by your in laws and the one support you should have, your husband, is unable or unwilling to help. That leaves only you to cope with the situation and so it makes sense you are feeling as you are about what is going on. It is amazing that you have been able to cope with this behavior for so long.
You are correct that your husband should be supporting you and taking care of this situation. These are his parents and therefore, his responsibility. It may be that he has been bullied by them for so long he is fearful to go against them and try to stop them from acting this way, even as an adult. Many adult children still fall into the same patterns they had as a child with their parents because for them, the love of their parents is tied to accepting their abuse or bullying behavior. The person feels that if they go against their parents, the parents will no longer love them.
While this may explain why your husband is not supporting you, it does not help you in the long run. Nor is it an excuse as to why he should continue to allow his parents to hurt you.
Talk to your husband about seeing a therapist together, or about him going on his own. He needs to get to the root of why he continues to allow his parents to act this way and hurt both of you. But if he will not go see a therapist, try going on your own. You deserve the support and guidance on how to handle this situation.
And even though it may not be easy, you may need to protect yourself from his parents and maybe even your husband from now on if you want to be free of his parents bullying you. One way to respond to them when they begin to take over is to say, "I'm sorry you feel that way" and then walk away from them. By leaving, it tells them that you are not going to listen. This may make them upset and they may even try to band together against you. But hold firm. Most of the time, people who act like your in laws are not willing to do much more than they already are doing to you.
Also, talk to your husband before you see your in laws again about your new response to the situation. Let him know that while he may feel their behavior is ok, you do not so you are going to take action to protect yourself. He may not agree, but since he is unwilling to help you, you may have to do this on your own. Then follow through. If you choose not to see them or want to leave before they come over, do so. Do whatever you need to in order to minimize your contact. That way, they have little control over you.
You may also want to learn more about personality issues, which may be why your in laws are acting as they do. The more you know, the more tools you have to help yourself. Here are some resources to help you get started:
http://psychology.about.com/od/personalitydisorders/a/personalitydis.htm
http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-With-Impossible-People
http://counsellingresource.com/lib/therapy/self-help/understanding/
I hope this has helped you,
Kate
May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thanks Kate, your insight is invaluable and has made me feel that I have some tools to help deal with the situation. I feel like I have been trying really hard to make them like me all these years but I agree that I need to protect myself by walking away and minimizing contact. I want to also mention that they have told us that they will rent a house near us when we have kids for 3 months at a time (they can't stay in the country any longer than that) - I have also been upset by this, not only because of their behavior toward me but because we were never asked if that would be okay or if it fits with our plans for the future. Do you have any advice for how to establish healthier boundaries whereby we are at least consulted when these types of decisions are made?

You're welcome!
It is very easy to fall into the trap of trying to get them to like you. Usually you feeling that way is a sign that your in laws may have personality disorders. You should never feel you have to convince someone to like you. They should already be treating you well and respecting your boundaries without you having to try.
It is very difficult to get someone to listen to you and respect your opinion when they are only focused on getting their own way. So you may be able to ask that they consult you before they decide to move into a home near you, but the likelihood they would listen and respect you is very slim. Therefore, you can tell your husband that you do not agree to what they are doing and that you intend on minimizing contact if they do move in. For example, if they try to come over uninvited, you can tell them that you are too busy to visit and they can come back (name a time), when you are not so busy. They may get upset, but this is your home, your children and ultimately, your life.
Kate
TherapistMarryAnn
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5,894
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Verified
TherapistMarryAnn and 87 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
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Thank you so much for the positive rating and bonus. I appreciate it!
My best to you,
Kate
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

You are very very welcome, I can't begin to tell you how much you've just helped me. I am reading the articles you sent over in addition to your advice and I already feel that some of the anxiety I was feeling is going away - no more tears. I hope you truly have a wonderful day and thank you again.

That is so wonderful to hear! You just made my day. I am so glad I could help. Anytime you need to talk I am here.
Take care,
Kate
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