I Hate My Inlaws!

FIL is Toxic Control freak

Posted on Mon, Jun. 22, 2020 at 09:18 am

While me and my wife were dating I knew that my FIL would be kind of controlling based on stories from friends who had interactions with him and my wife expressing a dysfunctional relationship with him that seemed to be based on what seemed at the time some normal, although not appropriate, control issues on his part. Things like trying to choose her career, make her stay in the same city as him, what apartment she could live in and some tongue in cheek shotgun dad jokes towards me. An early red flag I ignored was he seemed very interested in manipulating my career in an effort to keep me and her from moving farther away. He was not upfront with me about it but looking back his "advice" was always bad career advise that just made me closer to his sphere of influence. All of this did not seem like a big deal in the beginning and seemed manageable and maybe even a little comical and pathetic. Honestly, he is so obvious about it that it kind of just came off as cute. He was pretty charming, fun and was for the most part pretty nice and generous. He seemed more like a cartoon version of a controlling dad rather then anything I was concerned about since he did not even seem to be very effective at it and he was kind of obvious about his manipulations to the point where I had to think he was not doing this stuff intentionally(at least it seemed that way). My wife would complain about it and I would just listen and think that she needed to work through it and would be fine. I wrote off a lot of my wifes complaints about him too because she seemed torn on the issue and I did not want to make her processing her childhood more difficult by adding in too much of my own two cents. So then some things started piling up. I saw him scold my wifes sister(two years older then me) in public about something pretty petty but it looked like an overly authoritative parent with a toddler rather then what I experience in my family which was mutual respect. My wife had surgery when we first got engaged and she said she had to kick him out of the hospital room because he was scolding her for something minor when she woke up....again I was trying to stay out of it but that was pretty disturbing and I wish I would have followed up on it then. I kind of had this judo philosophy with him and decided to just let him be in charge of a lot of wedding stuff and to just let the baby have its bottle to avoid conflict. Then my real baby was on its way and things went from cartoon to serious really fast. He was visibly agitated and even tried passively aggressively insulting me because he disagreed with breastfeeding and our doctors were suggesting it(yep this is my FIL, not my MIL and he is not a doctor or a healthcare professional). That same weekend, I also overheard him insulting his other son-in-law and even went so far as to call him "womanly" because I guess that other guy put his foot down on child rearing and my FIL did not take it well. So anyways, I was nosy and that is when I started to hear all the more extreme stories about him from my wife. I was put on high alert and even talked with my wife to please be careful to keep him out of the hospital during our delivery just in case he wants to start causing chaos if there is a crisis we need to deal with. She agreed and understood and even hinted at that he did just that with her sister. Well, the best laid plans, our child needed extra intervention and while we left our child with our MIL to go get some food(who is a very nice and sweet person when not with her husband) the FIL was also there. Upon our return, he said and I quote "I am not making any friends with these nurses, you guys should really make sure to put your foot down with these people". He then proceeded to scold my wife just like I have seen him before with her sister and my wife kind of folded and I did not want to disagree with her in front of him. I was visibly frustrated that he found a way into this situation when I wanted to nicely keep him out of it and he knew I was frustrated with the way he talked to my wife. Well suffice to say, that was not a pleasant hospital experience with those nurses and in the midst of that chaos, he went from bad to worse. He was emotional, demanding, seemed to care more that people listened to him then my childs health, kept accusing me of ridiculous strawmen and essentially made it difficult for us to navigate an already stressful situation. He seemed really fixated on me though. I had some really good friends and family member advising us and the hospital was pretty good.
I told my wife I only wanted my MIL involved in any decisions since she was a nurse and she was rational but just make it subtle so my FIL could keep his pride and he would not overreact. My wife agreed because she relates best to her mom but he must have picked up that we did not want him involved. He was not terrible but he was demanding to be involved and for the most part my MIL gave in when he would call in and seemed to have this...that is just the way he is tone about her. I kind of understand that and did not want to hurt him. Well, I have some really good friends who are doctors and we were at a great hospital so we got past it, built a good relationship with the pediatrician at the hospital and came up with a care plan for our child. However, I told me wife that I see what she has been saying and it seems to come out the worst when he is in crisis or he thinks people are ignoring him(which I was because I had better advisors coaching me through that). I moved on and focused on raising my child. He did not. He was taking every opportunity to insult my decision making and started passive aggressive insults behind my back to my wife and others, it came out at the worst times...when there was already a problem. Now, this is why I need to vent somewhere because what happened next was were I no longer felt like he was manageable anymore. My mother passed from cancer and I wanted my father to hold my child since my mom only got to hold her once and me and my wife agreed that only I should go to the funeral to keep our child from being exposed. Now, corona was just starting up so I was cautious but our pediatrician said it would be fine. For the most part there were no confirmed cases of corona near us and my dad had already held her the week before. Now, my FIL had just held my child two days prior and lived in an area with more confirmed cases of corona and this is very important to how angry I am about what happened next. My FIL attacked, and I do mean attacked, my wife by text messages after seeing my father online holding my child from a picture we posted with a caption honoring my dead mother. My wife was very upset and told me not to answer the phone if her dad called me. I believe she was trying to protect me. Since, this was not the kind of thing you say about a loving parent I was concerned. I asked why I should not pick up the phone and I asked if I could just see the text messages as my family was now involved and I asked if her dad was going to call my dad to scold him(who was grieving his wife). I should have listened to my wife but she said to just ignore it and "this is just the way he is". That line seems to be used a lot with this guy.
Well I read on in the text messages and I became indignant. In the midst of what my FIL describes as a "civil conversation" he made a sarcastic joke/comment about my mothers death while also talking down to my wife. My wife was close to my mom and she was upset. I asked what that joke meant and she responded, you guessed it, "that is just the way he is". I was furious and I did not take time to breath and I reacted, I called him, told him he is bad in crisis and to cease and desist and to not contact my family or try to turn this into a giant issue by involving anyone else. I did not yell at this point but I was firm and was not nice about it.
He thankfully did not contact anyone in my family but did involve his wife and then started harassing my wife again with text messages playing the victim because I do not respect his decision making which must mean that she turned me against him. Yes he blamed his daughter for me scolding him and telling him I do not respect his reaction to crisis. I am not proud of this but I still thought he was going to contact my family so I called him back, yelled at him, told him to apologize right now and to give up.
I was really mean this time, I might have fit in a be a man piece about not talking to me directly but rather picking on his daughter after she asked him to stop. Again, really not proud of it and would never do it again knowing what I am dealing with and how futile scolding a narcissist really is. So, now he is defensive, has me emotional and he got even scarier. He got eerily calm, and started redirecting the conversation away from what I was mad at and said I was really mad at his wife and put her on speaker. To be clear, I would not have been in a million years mad at my MIL. No big deal and I really should have not scolded him even if he is a giant dumpster fire who scolds others for looking at him funny. Then, he started giggling and laughing which is what made me calm down and maybe even pick up on the fact that he "got me". My MIL is now upset with me and is getting defensive and I did not have time to tell her the reasons or the person I am upset with. My wife says he had done this with other people including her and her siblings. Kind of like a school yard bully He gets them upset and then starts laughing while also claiming to be the true victim here after they react emotionally. Well, I had just lost the moral high ground by yelling at him and figured it was best to apologize to him let him pretend to apologize to me and maybe give him the benefit of the doubt that he was misunderstood. Well, guess what, in our makeup session I suggested that maybe we get into conflict because we never took the time to get to know each other well. It seemed innocent in my head and was a place where we both could admit some fault and grow. He responded with "I know you, I am great at knowing people", got emotional, insulted his daughter for misrepresenting him, and tried to involve other people into the conflict who had nothing to do with it. Then I felt myself getting kind of frustrated but just initiated my exit protocol and made up an excuse to hang up. If he wants to be who he is then he can be who he is and I live far enough away it is not a problem every single day. I am thick skinned, have had some difficult family members and can handle him again as long as I do not take him too seriously.
My wife rationally agrees with me that his behavior is troublesome and his manipulation tactics are obvious.(but emotionally she still struggles with it because its her dad and he is pretty nice 80 percent of the time). Well, he then might have suggested to me after I hung up with an excuse that he recorded our conversation. I was fine with that since I was pretty happy with what I said and the lunacy was pretty much only on his side this time. Even though my mother just died I was not the emotional one so he did not "get me" this time. But....what the hell? I think he deleted whatever he recorded because it was not useful to him so I never heard about it again. I showed my wife the text and it was super cryptic but I think it has him trying to be a clever manipulator again written all over it. So anyways, I have a FIL policy now. Ignore him as much as possible, wait for his gaze to be on someone else and my wife has agreed to present a united front if he tried to pit her against me or me against her. He is not invited to critical conversations unless my MIL invites him. If he changes, he changes, but I am not holding my breath. He does not want relationships he cannot control. I would love a friendship with him or even a normal older man/younger man relationship but that does not fit his vision. Maybe going 2 for 2 will mellow him out but I am not going to sit around and wait for it since his other son-in-law seems pretty content to just go with the flow. I love and respect my parents too much to respect someone who so cheaply attacked them for no good reason. For the most part the good fences make good neighbors thing is working at a surface level because we live in a different city. He has gone back to his charming side of his personality in public and I do not talk to him in private ever. However, I am starting to pick up on some background noise in my wifes family that suggests he is not moving on but only changing his strategy. We are the only ones that do not interact with him on a daily basis and it is starting to feel wierd when I see my wifes family. It is either real or imagined but I seem to be a social pariah at my wifes family gatherings and I know that my FIL is talking to anyone and everyone who will listen about how I scolded him because he basically told me he was going to do that(I am not doing the same BTW and my father does not even know about this). This is the first time I have talked to anyone besides my wife about this except for a friend briefly who knows her FIL and just told me "he is sick, just pray for him" which really helped. I have noticed that the a sarcastic joke about a dead woman and harassing my wife about my father has not made its way into these conversations with my wifes family. So, he is basically doing the exact opposite thing I asked him to do before I got mad and scolded him which is involving as many people as possible to his side to win. He is basically just doing his thing. That is who he is. I do not care but it upsets my wife. I do not have it that bad compared to my wifes sister and her brother-in-law because they cannot escape him but since I am the one who stood up to him, I am the target now and honestly I think they are just glad its not them and are kind of joining in on it. Her younger sister seems to have a similar philosophy, just go with the flow and be glad its not you. Again, he is his charming self(just like when I first met him) but I am just waiting for the next shoe to drop and I cannot shake this feeling like he is waiting for me to make a mistake or another crisis to happen and then he will pounce or that he will casually call someone whose opinion I care about and start working them. I feel like he is this dark specter in the background in any situation involving my child that my wife wants to talk to her mom about. His other son-in-law is an anxious mess and I am beginning to see why. I want to pity my FIL but he is just too good at getting what he wants for me to feel bad for him or to have sympathy for the hell he must experience in his own mind. He was kind of a mess when he was younger so I guess he is probably as good as he is going to get. I am not mad anymore and I think I am so emotionally detached from him to really get upset like I did about that comment about my mother's death....but I am afraid of him and whether he will cause so much stress with me and my wife that we will struggle in our marriage. I should have just let him go, try not to be a righteous martyr defending my parents and moved on but the eye of sauron is firmly fixed on me now. I totally see why other people in that family say "that is just the way he is" and go with the flow. It is a scary place to have that eye on you. I know the name of the site, but I do not hate him, I just want to live without this specter in the background anymore. I want to be free, I want my wife to be free and to a certain extent I want my child to be free.

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