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lifecoach28, Social Worker
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 21
Experience:  15 years teaching people to have satisfying relationships.
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My husband suffers from Major depressive disorder (MDD) and

Customer Question

My husband suffers from Major depressive disorder (MDD) and had an episode in late November. An episode in our house involves a 911 call and a trip to the emergency room...
Our relationship with his parents is not great. They blame me for his condition. I blame them for being insensitive. They are also VERY, VERY close to my husband's younger Brother. He and his wife are practically perfect in EVERY way. Their parents make this well known - it is not my imagination. I spent an hour listening to my mother-in-law gloat about how silky and soft her daughter-in-law-to-be's hair was.... they weren't even engaged yet.... She still introduces me as her son's "friend" - we've been married 5 years, and dated for 8 years prior.
Since my husband's episode, some things have happened:
1. His parents have been concerned and on edge about everything that he does. Understandably.
He is on medication and in therapy and is stabilizing nicely. I am very proud of his progress! I don't think they believe me when I tell them.
2. His brother and sister-in-law have announced their 1st pregnancy after months of trying.
3. We have found out that we are also expecting after one weekend of talking about how nice a second child would be. Basically, we got pregnant the DAY they told us their good news.

I have no idea how to announce that I am pregnant. Only my husband and my doctors know that we are expecting. It is such a WEIRD situation between myself and my in-laws (all of them). We are SO excited to have another baby! My husband doesn't even want to tell his parents! He says, "They'll figure it out." I am so distressed about telling people for fear that they will judge me because they think my husband is unstable and violent... He is neither, just depressed.
I also don't want to make the announcement because it is so close to my sister-in-laws pregnancy. Let her have ALL of the spot light - heaven know I don't want it!!! I HATE the attention. I just don't want anyone to be offended.

How long should I wait?
Do I have to call them? Or can I send a gift that says something funny but gets the point across?
Also, when the time comes, how do I decline my sister-in-laws baby show invitation? I LOATHE baby showers and as a personal rule don't go to ANY of them.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Rev.Dr. August Abbott replied 5 years ago.
Would it help to know that you're not alone in having in-laws like this? Or even parents. Some people enjoy putting others down in order to elevate themselves. It may not be about what you are or aren't, or even how you compare to them. Often it's a matter of 'power'. They like that they can make you feel bad.

Sad isn't it?

If you fight to keep this in mind whenever you deal with them, your responses will be less defensive or hurt and more sympathetic.

Imagine you find a frightened, lost toddler wandering the grocery store aisles. The tone and attitude you'd take with that child, to soothe and calm them; to overlook their tantrum (knowing they're acting out because they're afraid) will be similar to the new response you'll be giving your in laws when you remind yourself this is a flaw of theirs that they can't help unless they first admit it's a flaw and secondly, decide they want to be different.

The only thing you have control over is you.

So from this point on, decide to not play their game, not react the same way you've always reacted and to finally get a different result because you'll be putting out a different action.

TELL them you're pregnant, sound as happy as you are over it. Tell them as if you're telling your best friend; someone who will celebrate this news and share in your joy.

When the in laws react the way you expect, simple pretend you don't hear it. Without a shred of sarcasm in your voice say something to the effect of, "We knew you'd be thrilled in your own way! Now remember, I don't attend baby showers. Not even my own. When the time comes perhaps we'll have a barbecue or something. We have plenty of time to talk about it. Gotta run now - more calls to make! Bye!"

The truth is that no one can "make" you mad or sad, not even happy or content. Others can lay the groundwork for these feelings, but it's ultimately YOUR choice to feel them or not.

Once you decide that these in laws will have no more power over you and because the laws of 'nature & family' indicate you have to have them in your lives, you get to decide how they'll be there. You do.

I think that given your husband's depressive disorder it might be conducive if the two of you at least briefly enter couples counseling to get a better handle on how to recognize the tools at hand to keep these others at bay.

Even just four little visits should be enough; you sound very insightful and like you've got a good handle on things as it is.

Well, other than the 'funny announcement' option which I sort of think you would have thought better of anyway.

You get to conduct yourself with grace and class even when others do not. Never allow them to drag you to their level. Always maintain your own.

Congratulations on your news by the way. And best of luck with the family


Expert:  lifecoach28 replied 5 years ago.
Well first I'll address the sister-in-law's baby shower. One option is to agree to go then show up when it's almost over. I know it sounds bad but sometimes you have to protect yourself emotionally. It's good that your husband is in treatment. The professionals who are working with him should offer you information on how to get even more help. For example, they could refer you to someone you two can talk to and get help with dealing with the stress of his daily life.

As far as announcing your pregnancy. This could be done in stages. First off, everyone needs emotional support of people they trust. You will feel a lot of relief if you have people to depend on. So the first people you tell could be only the people you truly trust. Spend time with them discussing the pregnancy and anything else you like. When your belly starts to show, you can tell the general public including his parents about your pregnancy. The friends you trust will support you through what ever happens after telling his parents. During your pregnancy, it's best for the baby that you remain as happy and healthy as possible. For this reason, it is up to you whether you spend much time with your friends who disapprove of your relationship. Let me know if any of this helps.