September 12, 2019 at 12:44 am #311751
We have been married for 19 years, together for 21. When we first got together, his family just loved me. To the point that his very reticent mother put her arms around me in the ladies room of a restaurant, hugged me, and told me now glad she was that her son had me. My family of origin sucks. Completely dysfunctional, hateful, abusive from our father and how that translated into brothers and sisters being abusive towards one another, I will never understand. But it is what it is. My family always has to have a target. I was the youngest and ‘spoiled’, born years after the rest (big family) so there was always resentment. In school I was bullied from first grade until high school graduation. So let’s just say my self-esteem could be better. College was a God-send. Met the best friends in the world, still close friends 35 years later. They are more my family than my siblings. Up until a few years ago I thought my one sister and I were very close, mostly because we are clones of each other 10 years apart. Yes, I deluded myself and ignored a lot of signs. It all came home when I realized that she and my other siblings had gotten together to lie to me about one of our siblings, who was in prison. Everyone knew but me and one other sister. She didn’t care. Bottom line: she (and they) completely betrayed my trust. I am an attorney. If anyone would have understood the gray in a world of black and white, it was me. They have resented me from the day I was brought home from the hospital. Then I met my husband, after kissing a lot of frogs. He is one of the only truly good people I know. My best friend. So are my best friends. Its a happy accident that everyone outside of my family that are close to me are selfless, extremely intelligent, loving, caring, considerate, just all-around good people. So knowing my husband, I assumed his family was the same. And they were, for a while. Then little things came up. No one from his family showed up for the bridal shower but his mother, sister, and one niece. His sister complained that our wedding was scheduled during graduation party-season. His father took one look at a wedding photo of my family and said “What a bunch of fatties!” The list goes on and on. I ignored every sign. Truly I thought his family loved me. They said they did. As good as my husband is, I thought he had to come from a good family. He has only one sister (two brothers) and she is the cruise director. She tells everyone where to be, when, what to bring, how much money to spend, and gives the deadline on whatever project she has for that particular event. At the time, I had a 3 year old and 1 year old twins, all in diapers, two nursing, and she wanted me to go through our photos and pick out the best ones for a “family montage” for his parents’ anniversary. I almost shit my pants. In those days, if we were all alive at the end of the day, it was a success. Photos? You mean those things still on the old computer from my first daughter’s birth that I have never had the time to look at? So she emailed later and said not to worry about it, she was a photographer, she had more photos of us than we did. I thought “That’s true!” Sitting at his parents’ anniversary party and watching the montage and realizing that everyone in the family was in it except for me and the kids was a shocking slap in the face. That was back in 2007 and we still argue about it. He says he believes his sister and it was an oversight, a complete accident. Cut to last year when my FIL died and we drove 3 hours for the funeral. We were the only ones in the funeral home except for my SIL, MIL and some nieces. There was a table set up with a photo book. EVERY one of my husband’s siblings, their spouses, and children, and dogs were in that book except for us. They had REMOVED every page of us from the book. My husband insists that he believes his sister’s explanation that day that it was a coincidence. A complete accident. My husband has a PhD. He is an extremely intelligent person. One of the reasons I love him and we get along so well, except for this one issue. He will never acknowledge that his sister is being spiteful with the photos. I can’t divorce him. I love him. I love our family. But this issue is killing me.September 12, 2019 at 1:17 am #311771
Basically the issue now is that it feels like my entire life has been a mistake. I should never have been here. To be hated from the very first thought of your life and then to realize that your family of origin hates you and your husband’s family hates you? What is the common factor? If you feel like everyone hates you, then don’t you have to have to examine the reason why?September 12, 2019 at 1:25 am #311773
I should add that we were the only ones in the funeral home except for my deceased father-in-law. His body was right there next to that book that they took our pictures out of.September 12, 2019 at 5:01 am #311793
We have also been “erased” on purpose from family albums, slideshows, etc.
The only thing you can do is at the next family event, bring your own photos. Big. Framed. The rest in it’s own album. You DO exist, and in fact, can make it look like YOU run the family like a club and are its founder.
The issue is really with your SIL. Mine was with my step-mother.
You are a good person. Repeat as a mantra. Every day. You have to believe that in your soul. Your husband, the doctor, married you. He is a smart person, surely. Why would he saddle himself with someone un-photo worthy? He wouldn’t!! Don’t let your in-laws get in your head!
Bigger, Better, Framed Pictures,
InkySeptember 12, 2019 at 7:23 am #311823
You have a husband and children that you love. Your husband is not accountable for his sister’s spiteful behavior. She has pulled this stunt twice – ask your husband if he will still excuse her after the third time. Has he spoken to his sister on this subject? Has he told her how upset you are? He probably just wants to keep the peace.
This behavior comes from jealousy. Shrink it down to size and don’t let it bother you so much. Display your own photos of your much loved children, yourself and your husband. There is no reason for anyone to think that you should divorce your husband over this – it’s far too trivial. See it as it is – someone being trivial/jealous/spiteful towards you and your family.
PeggySeptember 12, 2019 at 9:21 am #311873
I enjoyed your intelligent sense of humor, quite evident in your writing. Your sister in law’s behavior regarding the photographs read like the typical passive-aggressive type. She communicated to you something like: you dare not help me with the family photo montage? Well, I will show you!
But you were busy with two one-year old children and a three year old, couldn’t she see that you were too busy to look at photos… that you needed help, not another task to do? Maybe she saw that but selfishly what mattered to her is to have power-over: her will be done or else!
Here is a thought: if the sister was at the restaurant that day or evening, maybe the reason her “very reticent mother put her arms around (you) in the ladies room” of the restaurant and hugged you there and told you how glad she was that her son had you- was because that kind of behavior and words were not allowed by the sister… a maybe- thought.
anitaSeptember 13, 2019 at 12:16 am #312019
A different perspective, perhaps a way in to why you can’t let this go, when you can’t stop letting your SIL have this piece of power over you when you don’t need to let her do so. I understand it’s frustrating your husband won’t agree with you and you probably feel let down that he’s “picked her over you” on this one thing. You can’t understand why he doesn’t see them the way you can.
But it’s not really about taking sides. I suspect given your own family, you were eager to find another family who loved you and when it started so well, had high hopes. When these incidents occurred, it would not be very surprising if they triggered all the same old feelings of betrayal and not belonging to your own family – and now also this ‘new’ family are rejecting you, not including you.
Like others have said, it does seem a bit of a pathetic power play by the SIL who wants to be in charge, come what may. But if it wasn’t a trigger point for you because of your own history, you’d be much more likely to see it the same way – and it wouldn’t bother you so much as it does.
You have your own healthy and happy family now, your husband and kids. That’s huge, awesome and wonderful given your struggles. Try not to punish your husband for not seeing what you can see, perhaps try and explain your own perspective too. Then accept it is isn’t going to be the bigger loving family you wanted and that’s ok – you already have what you want and need in your own family.September 13, 2019 at 6:31 am #312037
You should compromise if already passed 20 years together. you must try to understand each other.September 14, 2019 at 12:25 am #312185
Inky, *side-eyes* are we possibly related? Or perhaps I should better say cloned. Related is not so good. I said almost the exact same things to my friends when it happened. My version was that (in the next unfortunate event that my 94 year old MIL passes) I planned on taking our own photo album of only us. Couldn’t decide between just photos of my husband, kids and me OR (stay with me here) with blank pages for the rest of his siblings or just cutting their faces out of existing photos. Kidding. I am a kidder. But I know and understand exactly what you are talking about it. It may still happen.September 14, 2019 at 12:35 am #312189
Peggy, you are so right its scary but more so comforting. He would probably never reveal how upset I was/am. He never wants to make waves. With anyone but me evidently. The idea of reducing it to its actual importance is wisdom. Yep. Thanks for that. Easier said than done but I see the point you made. The jealousy thing has been brought up many times from my friends to me. Jealous of what? I don’t get it. Unless she is just jealous that she doesn’t have control over him like she used to. My husband has always been the passive peace-keeper. In fact, I would go so far as to say that his family treated him with complete disregard for most of his life. His brothers were “geniuses”. Bullshit. Ok, yes they are smart but so is DH and SO WHAT? He has a better heart than any of them do. They used to call him “Fat Al” when he was a chubby kid and teenager. His own family. Heads would roll if I ever heard any of them or ANY one for that matter insult my husband. I am very protective of those I love. Hence the cognitive dissonance between us. He doesn’t have that protective instinct.September 14, 2019 at 12:39 am #312191
Anita, the first two paragraphs of your (very) thoughtful response were almost verbatim of what I told my husband the other night. But I never thought, in all of these years, about why his mother took the time to hug me and tell me she was so grateful for me in her son’s life outside of the sight of everyone, including her daughter. You might be onto something there.September 14, 2019 at 12:42 am #312193
Michelle, Thank you for your response. It was very astute and accurate. That’s a good thing. Even though it made me cry.September 14, 2019 at 3:34 am #312201
Thank you for your kind words. Jealousy is irrational and comes from insecurity. Name calling is never clever when it is aimed at a child. It is always hurtful. Forgive your husband for not standing up for you on this issue – he just becomes that child again when he’s with the family.
PeggySeptember 14, 2019 at 6:33 am #312225
This is a very tricky situation, but my advice would be complete understanding. He must see your point of view completely, and it is important that he does not invalidate your feelings.September 14, 2019 at 7:44 am #312233
I like this: “Heads would roll if I ever heard any of them or ANY one for that matter insult my husband. I am very protective of those I love”- he is a lucky man and so is every person that you love.
Regarding your husband and how he was/ is treated by his family, you wrote: “My husband has a PhD. He is an extremely intelligent person… we get along so well, except for this one issue. He will never acknowledge that his sister is being spiteful with the photos… He never wants to make waves. With anyone but with me evidently… My husband has always been the passive peace- keeper… his family treated him with complete disregard for most of his life. His brothers were ‘geniuses’.. They used t call him ‘Fat Al’ when he was a chubby kid and teenager… Hence the cognitive dissonance between us. He doesn’t have that protective instinct”.
My thoughts this morning: your husband, as a child, very much had a “protective instinct”. There was spite in his home, between his parents, between parents and siblings. So protectively, he closed his eyes to the spite and removed it from his awareness. This closing of the eyes is the “cognitive dissonance” you mentioned.
As a child he had to survive his home (as do so many of us, including you). It is very threatening for a child to be aware that his parents or siblings (uninterrupted by parents) intend to hurt him, out of spite. So he closed his eyes to their spite. Fast forward, he still does.
It is this protective instinct in childhood that leads to many intelligent and even very intelligent, accomplished adults to be blind so to speak to what is so obvious to others.