Author Topic: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer  (Read 53248 times)

MMMaybe

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #50 on: July 04, 2015, 07:51:29 AM »

 I highly recommend Captain Awkward - lots of good advice and scripts for setting boundaries.

Off topic a bit but this is an awesome website. Thanks for posting. I have what the Captain refers to as a Highly Difficult Person for a mother so I look forward to setting some boundaries myself...
« Last Edit: July 05, 2015, 01:36:34 AM by MMMaybe »

electriceagle

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #51 on: July 04, 2015, 07:55:43 AM »
I've been through this sort of thing - had serious issues with both my own family and inlaws and had extensive counseling with both the husband and individually. So I'm coming from a place of experience on this.

You have a wife problem, not an inlaw problem.

I won't quote the whole thing due to screen space, but +1

My only difference in opinion is that there is an implied expectation that the recipient of college money will finish college. She should defend the thesis.

Kris

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #52 on: July 04, 2015, 08:54:15 AM »
I quit a PhD program and defended a paper I'd gotten published as a master's degree. I couldn't get through the defense now because you forget stuff over time. Do it ASAP. You haven't addressed others' comments about this, which makes me think that both you and your wife are hiding from it.

This. For god's sake, just get it done.

College Stash

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #53 on: July 04, 2015, 08:54:37 AM »
even if DW applies for a thesis-defense now, it will be months until she finally goes in front of the board. by then she will probably be a young mother (fingers crossed) or well on the way. obviously she's acting out of emotion and ignoring the bigger picture here, which is MIL's overbearing, controlling personality. I have tried to suggest confronting this issue in the past, but DW has obviously been reluctant and pessimistic about the chance of such a course even remotely succeeding, saying "you don't know my mother, it will only make things worse" or "I won't go down to her level" etc.

i am well aware that 80k is a hefty sum to pay and that it will not solve the situation 100%, not even 70% for that matter. I for one would love to help DW in this but I still recognize she needs to go the distance to see the end on her own terms, me cheering from the bleachers. otherwise she will always think less highly of herself in this respect and iit might have consequences to her own self image. I have no apprehensions regarding ramming MIL full on (couldn't care less what she thinks of me), but i do realize it might not be enough to intimidate her into realizing there are other people on the other side of her "me" tinted glasses.

+1 on she will find something else to be unhappy with.

Recently married and already wanting a child? No offense, but I'd wait at least a couple years so that you know more about how each other operates. It would likely make the experience a lot more pleasant.

little_brown_dog

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #54 on: July 04, 2015, 10:04:26 AM »
maybe it's me but your wife was lucky to have a family member fork over 80K for grad school. the vast majority of us had to pay for grad school ourselves. regardless of whether MIL is a rough person to deal with, your wife is the one at fault for effectively wasting your MIL's money if she doesn't complete her program. if i spent that much on my kid's education and then they blew it off repeatedly, you bet i'd be nagging up a storm.

as a woman with her masters who is married to a man who finished his MS while we were engaged/getting married, and who is now working on his PhD while working full time AND expecting a baby, i think your excuses for not finishing the program are completely ridiculous. i mean think about it...the excuse for not finishing was we got married (aka: we were planning a big party!) and now the excuse is "we might have kids" (aka: we are having alot of sexy time!). no wonder MIL is pissed.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2015, 10:06:30 AM by little_brown_dog »

human

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #55 on: July 04, 2015, 11:04:39 AM »
I don't get it, why all the hate for the mother in law? She gave the daughter 80k for a specific purpose and the daughter pissed it away, she has every right to be mad. Who gives 80k away and then just shrugs their shoulders when the person they gave it to flushes it down the toilet? Am I missing something here? As for her controlling behaviour, well she took the money so deal with it.

If you decide to pay the money back if the degree doesn't get finished you are doing the right thing, not sure why you should feel all self righteous about it.

2ndTimer

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #56 on: July 04, 2015, 11:10:56 AM »
Speaking as a person who did it, defending is scary.  However, it has never killed anybody and it gives a nice feeling of having finished what I started.  Sounds to me like your wife is avoiding it.  You are setting yourself up to be accused of ruining her life by derailing her career with marriage and children if you go along with it.  I speak as a female who got married in grad school and finished a PhD.

Cole

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #57 on: July 04, 2015, 11:13:56 AM »
Why is your wife going over there alone? If she knows that this happens every time she goes there why does she not bring you along as backup?

human

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #58 on: July 04, 2015, 11:20:55 AM »
He's probably avoiding the MIL and trying to get the wife to do it too. Which is why he thinks it's no big deal to take the money and stomp on it.

Cassie

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #59 on: July 04, 2015, 11:44:23 AM »
I also had to defend for my PhD & yes it is stressful but no one dies from it.  She will be very sorry later that she did not finish & I would be pissed if I was her Mom.

Spondulix

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #60 on: July 04, 2015, 12:24:06 PM »
I don't get it, why all the hate for the mother in law?
Because he described her as "royal pain in the ass and a real old fashioned bitch". But maybe that's just venting. I do see your point, though - especially if the parent gave money was given as a way of "helping" another problem (say, a child's inability to find a job or support themselves, depression, laziness, etc).

mm1970

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #61 on: July 04, 2015, 12:33:27 PM »
If I'm reading the facts right, you have not witnessed the nagging that your wife is complaining about.  There might be some spin in there....

Well, not really. Heard it over phone conversation more than once. MIL can be a real biter when she wants to. Really gets under DW skin. DW is certain that her parents view her as a big disappointment and nothing more. That she was supposed to be this high marks getting straight A student just because parents allowed her the perfect conditions to finish two degrees in a row. Never mind that this was poor judgement career-wise, since if DWhad started working in her field  between degrees she could have graduated with that much coveted experience all recruiting employers have sought almost 100% of the places she got an interview. She got her current job, for which she seems way overqualified, through (you guessed it) MIL's connections.

 
While I agree with many of the other posters, I wonder what would happen if you chatted with your MIL about the fact thet the nagging appears to be one of the things stopping her daughter from completing the degree.

She'll yell at my wife probably. Something along the lines of how dare you educate us, we'll talk to our daughter anyway we see fit, when you have kids of your own you'll understand etc...

I would seriously question whether you and your wife should be getting pregnant at the moment. 

Is there any chance of you and your wife moving to a different country?  Preferably one several time zones away from her mother, I would have thought.

"Have kids already, gimme grandkids!" is a BIG pressure point in our country. Hell, my father has been at me for 10 years about this, before I got married, before I started school, before I was anything really. This seems to be the ultimate self actualization expected of pretty much anyone and everyone.

Plus, DW being a learned person, wants to be done having babies by the time she reaches 35, an age which statistically seriously increases chances of defects and deformities in foetuses. We've talked and agreed about this. 

She's also expressed to me her will to stay and live our lives here, she wants to be close to what little family she's got, even if they put her through seven hells. I have little qualms about where exactly I live.
I appreciate the pressure for children, and the desire to have them before 35.

But still finish the thesis.

I had my kids at 35 and 42, FWIW.

Letj

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #62 on: July 04, 2015, 12:53:50 PM »
This is the reason I refused to pay for any of our 4 kids higher education.
It would have pissed me off royally, if they had wasted my hard earned money, and not finished their course, or decided not to bother using it afterwards.

Pay the MIL back her money...the wife didn't keep up with her side of the bargain.
+1 Yes Pay her back her darn money if your wife won't finish the degree. I would be royally pissed off if I paid for my children and all they need to complete the degree is a thesis and they put that on hold to get married and potentially have a baby. What were you guys thinking? You sound like both of you are pretty immature.

whybe

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #63 on: July 04, 2015, 01:59:02 PM »
@ShoulderThingThatGoesUp there's a beautiful abundance of advice here and only one me, I'm reading everything and reveling in it, even if I don't reply to all of it :) UPDATE - Asked DW what it would take for her to schedule a session and defend thesis. she said it would take about a month to two (after making the initial phone call to the department), in which she would need to prepare both by going over her own work and rehearsing, and by reading and analyzing others' work. I urged her to go through with setting a close enough date that would enable her to get the paper defended and would not interfere with her day-to-day, probably by the end of summer. after that is done successfully (let's hope), it will be a matter of waiting for the University to issue the degree (waiting for a graduation ceremony i should think). that could be another 6 months.

i agree with @Spondulix who wrote that it's not my job to come between them in their relationship. I just wish I could find the way to gently nudge DW into accepting the responsibility for her own life and the way she is treated, and into making a necessary baby step in the right direction.

hmmm..... doesn't sound to me like any country where English is a first language, IMHO. But, your English seems to be of the native speaker variety. Do you share a native language with the MIL? If not, which country do you live in?

I'm Israeli. my Dad was born in US. I never lived there. I've always had a knack for languages.
MIL is originally Russian, immigrated to Israel in the 1970s. There definitely is a triple mentality gap here, but nothing that cannot be handled.


i mean think about it...the excuse for not finishing was we got married (aka: we were planning a big party!) and now the excuse is "we might have kids" (aka: we are having alot of sexy time!). no wonder MIL is pissed.

these were all things that MIL ALSO wanted very badly, to the point of driving us all bonkers. starting a family has grown to be on our agenda as well, with a bit of a schedule (DW's clock is ticking).

in short, not saying DW isn't at fault. MIL is not making it any easier on her. seems like DW is in the habit of not knowing how to speak up for herself, with MIL always coming back to the same scripts (respect your parents, you cannot speak to me that way, know your place, you are such a disappointment) that are pushing the same buttons with DW that lead her to not speaking her mind and only internalizing everything, then bursting with tears as soon as she's clear of MIL's earshot, because God forbid MIL would see her, lest she know that her words and actions have an influence.

I don't get it, why all the hate for the mother in law?
Because he described her as "royal pain in the ass and a real old fashioned bitch". But maybe that's just venting. I do see your point, though - especially if the parent gave money was given as a way of "helping" another problem (say, a child's inability to find a job or support themselves, depression, laziness, etc).

there might be some laziness involved (although DW is very thorough and meticulous in her studies), mixed with a bit of a feeling of "I already failed myself and my parents so what are another 6 months of delay?" but basically, DW's parents are putting all three of their daughters through BA and MA, (youngest still in BA). It was important for the parents to provide that for their daughters, so that they can "focus on their job of getting a good diploma". it's been like that through their entire schooling - the most important was their academic success. this is the way her parents see as the surest for financial and social success. "get a degree, get a job, work your ace off for 35 years then retire to boss your kids and grandkids around." pretty much sums up life.


deborah

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #64 on: July 04, 2015, 02:19:26 PM »
this is the way her parents see as the surest for financial and social success. "get a degree, get a job, work your ace off for 35 years then retire to boss your kids and grandkids around." pretty much sums up life.
Doesn't sound much like FIRE to me. I think that you may need to get that degree sorted out, and NOT have a baby until it's happened. This would exercise your resistance muscles (to family interference) for the enormous problems that FIRE will cause.

whybe

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #65 on: July 04, 2015, 02:35:17 PM »
Why is your wife going over there alone? If she knows that this happens every time she goes there why does she not bring you along as backup?

sometimes we arrive separately (weekend, DW wants to be there early, to be with her family a few more hours, I stay in our hometown for work  / volunteering / football match whatever) and arrive later. it might be 1-2 hours, but in that time MIL will definitely bring up whatever is bothering her. and DW will only tell me about it after we leave.

as far as everyone involved is concerned (MIL, DW), DW's parents were intent on providing this advantage for their offspring, and so it became a given that that's what is going to happen. Parents did not ask their children if they were ok with it or if they were ok with the terms (there were none at the time. it was on the trust that degrees would be finished on schedule). MIL never said to DW, "I want you to finish the degree for your sake." she however did say, "call me old fashioned but I wanted to hang the diploma up on my wall 2 years after you started it. you're really selfish, irresponsible and on top of that a real disappointment to us." I know it hasn't been clear from what i said, but DW has not been slacking the past year most of it's been spent LOOKING FOR A JOB so she could ween herself from parents' funding. she's been doing exactly what MIL has been pressuring her about for years. we also have our own family plans for the future. she's just frustrated to hear really ugly words and tones from her MIL who is second-guessing her every move and criticizing her every decision.

Doesn't sound much like FIRE to me. I think that you may need to get that degree sorted out, and NOT have a baby until it's happened. This would exercise your resistance muscles (to family interference) for the enormous problems that FIRE will cause.


FIRE is off the table between DW and myself right now. after bringing it up with her (having read all of MMM and a few other books) to check for feasibility of reaching FIRE in 10-15 years, she threw an enormous tantrum (dragging me into a raging fit as well...) saying "you're thinking so selfishly b/c if one of us stops working the other will have to work double the time to make up for it. I won't live uncomfortably and in poverty just so you can have time off with the kids. I still want to see the world, still want the kids to experience it. The earliest I want us to think about retiring is 60 (-/+ 30 years from now). I will not use whatever we save and invest before that age.  and you're definitely not covering all bases since what if any of us or the kids will need expensive care? what about the things you can't expect or plan for? Don't they cost money you won't be able to make if you're not working?"

but obviously I digress... :)

MidWestLove

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #66 on: July 04, 2015, 05:29:01 PM »
I think you (and your DW) are starting to make baby steps towards right direction (scheduling and planning for defense). As others already told you both, stop making excuses and just get it done. my personal experience and that of my circle is that I see people succeed and people fail - those you succeed typically do things, not just talk about doing something (learning a language, picking up a skill , moving for better opportunity/leaving current opportunity ,etc.).  I removed the rest of my response as inappropriate, so I will say very mildly as one Ashkenazi (with family in both Russia and Israel this is my culture to a t) to potential another ashkenaz - there is no reason for your DW to put up with that amount of control/abuse (regardless of choices or decisions). there is also no reason for you not to take action, it IS your business, DW IS your family, and that trumps everything else.

whybe

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #67 on: July 04, 2015, 10:25:49 PM »
I removed the rest of my response as inappropriate, so I will say very mildly as one Ashkenazi (with family in both Russia and Israel this is my culture to a t) to potential another ashkenaz - there is no reason for your DW to put up with that amount of control/abuse (regardless of choices or decisions). there is also no reason for you not to take action, it IS your business, DW IS your family, and that trumps everything else.

Hurray :-) I would love to see your unabridged response. You can pm me... Question is, what action to take that won't be seen as meddling or that will further implicate me in MIL's eyes.


use2betrix

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #68 on: July 05, 2015, 06:51:49 AM »
Your MIL paid $80k for your wife's schooling and it seems, based on the mutual agreement in this thread, there's no reason she can't just get it done with.

I'm not understanding how giving her 80k is a better idea than finishing something she started AND keeping the money. Sounds like either a lose-lose or a win-win.

There's really no good reason not to finish. And if she is pregnant when she defends it, it'll probably even give her some sympathy points.

MidWestLove

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #69 on: July 05, 2015, 09:06:07 AM »
Hurray :-) I would love to see your unabridged response. You can pm me... Question is, what action to take that won't be seen as meddling or that will further implicate me in MIL's eyes.

.... :) may be - lack of sleep with newborn makes me a little more black and white vs nuances needed for written communication. Regarding your question above, coming from Russian ashkenaz you are looking at it really strangely to me - your family trumps the mother thing (as I assume your wife is older than say 16 in which case it would be different), so YOU are not meddling , your MIL is and need to be told that in no uncertain terms, preferably by your wife  with you being present. I do not recall , if your wife also the only child or only girl?

In my own family, the same dynamics exists to a smaller degree, my bright, talented sister  (only girl of three of us kids) keeps getting life advice and child advice, and why are not you married advice from parents and mom specifically (who uses dad as a spoke piece). the thing is my bellowed sister is 35 and told in no uncertain terms that love is there but advice they can keep to themselves. 'Oh, we are just concerned about you. Oh, we want for you to be happy'. so eventually they understood that transition from parent-baby to adult relationship happened (with a lot of fireworks and explosions , yelling, attempted manipulations from both sides , victim trips ,etc.) and learned to learn this topic alone.

whybe

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #70 on: July 05, 2015, 09:47:04 AM »
Thanks all for your thoughts and your oh so mustachian words. :-) I think DW will drop the refund idea soon and go ahead with finishing her degree.
This was my first post here and maybe not my last.

BlueHouse

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #71 on: July 05, 2015, 10:24:43 AM »
People who are in controlling relationships often find it easier to find a new "strong personality" rather than to cut the ties themselves.  Has it occurred to you that your wife may have been attracted to you in part because she thought you could help distance her from her mother?  Do you consider yourself or have you ever been told that you are a little bit controlling?  If so, I would seriously look at the whole dynamic before taking any action. 
How long did you date your wife before getting married?  Did you ever talk about what your individual goals and dreams were before marrying?  Was there some reason you couldn't wait to be married until DW's lifelong dream and goal was completed?  Honestly, if I were the MIL, I'd be royally pissed at you for sidetracking my daughter.  Please try to see a little piece of what the MIL may be feeling and try to build on your relationship from there.  Honestly, the best and most loving thing you can do for your wife is to help her build a healthy relationship with her mother and as long as you see the MIL as a bitch and the MIL sees you as god-only-knows-what, that will never ever happen and it will only hurt your wife. 

wenchsenior

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #72 on: July 05, 2015, 11:05:45 AM »
Speaking as a person who did it, defending is scary.  However, it has never killed anybody and it gives a nice feeling of having finished what I started.  Sounds to me like your wife is avoiding it.  You are setting yourself up to be accused of ruining her life by derailing her career with marriage and children if you go along with it.  I speak as a female who got married in grad school and finished a PhD.

I agree. If the thesis is done, just defend the thing and put this behind you. We got married in grad school, too...my husband had to defend his doctorate and I defended my master's. I had to travel to a different state to do it, because we had moved for husband's post doc by then. Just get on with it...it takes a month or two of prep, and then you never have to worry about this again.

On a different topic, it never fails to AMAZE me that people feel it is their damn business to pressure anybody to have kids. How appalling. I'd tell my parents to screw off if they started in that stuff, but I can't even imagine a universe where they would think it appropriate. People baffle me.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2015, 11:09:23 AM by wenchsenior »

Spondulix

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #73 on: July 05, 2015, 01:23:02 PM »
Just out of curiosity - what do you think MIL will do once your wife finishes her degree? Is the story going to change from "you're such a disappointment for not finishing school" to "you're such a disappointment for not working in the field?" or "you should be able to parent and work"? It sounds to me like MIL may have a script for how her children's lives should go. It's incredibly self-centered and probably horrible for a child's self-esteem to hear that from their parent.

Like I said before, I don't think it's about standing up to MIL, but I'm wondering how much discussion (between you and wife) you've had about the boundaries you want between yourselves and your in-laws (on both sides). There's going to come a point where you both will have to say, "this is right for us and others may not agree with it" - whether it's about spending a holiday meal together or not finishing a degree.

Salim

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #74 on: July 05, 2015, 01:43:10 PM »
You could consider a different approach.

1. MIL should be told the thesis has been submitted, daughter is working on the defense, daughter appreciates mother's opinions, but the subject is now closed to discussion. No drama... it's just closed.

2. The gift of the education was extremely generous. Some kind of tribute or way of showing appreciation for the gift should be made, financial or not. Some ideas:

   Gift in MIL's name to her favorite charity
   Garden makeover
   Mother/daughter trip to visit a favorite place or relative
   Donation of volunteer hours to a favorite cause

If you and your wife can see past the nagging and do something nice for the woman that brought your wife into the world, even if MIL doesn't know how to thank you, someday it will be a comfort to you. I deeply wish my MIL were still alive and I could do something to cheer her up.

Daleth

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #75 on: July 05, 2015, 02:02:27 PM »
even if DW applies for a thesis-defense now, it will be months until she finally goes in front of the board. by then she will probably be a young mother (fingers crossed) or well on the way.

So she will never finish it is what you are saying? Seems like a waste of all her time (not to mention the money) if she would quit now. Even if it will take a few months to get in front of the board, it will take 9 to have a baby. Sounds like she is not pregnant yet, last I checked pregnant women could still do most things that non-pregnant ones can. Sign up now, she can defend it while she is pregnant and get the degree finished!

No finishing will probably not quiet the mom, but jeez it's clearly a good idea when she is so close.

Yes x 1000. It is idiotic to waste all this emotional energy on being angry that mom is not how she wishes mom was, and all-caps UNBELIEVABLY IDIOTIC to believe that paying back the $80k will improve things, when she's 95% of the way to finishing her degree. The money is not the issue and not the solution, as illustrated by the following:

Here's what will happen if she doesn't pay back the $80k and doesn't do her thesis defense (i.e., doesn't finish her degree):
her mom will nag her for the rest of her life about how she wasted $80k of her mom's money on a not quite complete master's degree.

Here's what will happen if she pays back the $80k and doesn't do her thesis defense (i.e., doesn't finish her degree):
her mom will nag her for the rest of her life about how she wasted $80k of her own money on a not quite complete master's degree.

The only way out is through. Stop waiting for the mythical Perfectly Convenient Time, and just schedule the defense for the earliest she can schedule it. Your lives will arrange themselves around this deadline and she'll defend and do fine. And as for dealing with mom, just tell her, "Mom, I have scheduled my defense for X and I'm not going to talk about it anymore." Repeat as necessary; hang up the phone or leave if mom doesn't get the message.

And then, after the thesis defense, this weight will be off your wife's shoulders forever. If her mom finds something new to nag her about, then that's something your wife will need to deal with at the time (what, does she really think that right now in one fell swoop, with $80k, she can solve all her family problems definitively and not have to worry about them ever again? NOT HAPPENING--that ain't how it works).

urbanista

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #76 on: July 05, 2015, 06:07:41 PM »
... my bright, talented sister  (only girl of three of us kids) keeps getting life advice and child advice, and why are not you married advice from parents and mom specifically (who uses dad as a spoke piece).

Yup. I am from the same Russian Jews background. I am over 35, have 5 post-grad degrees, have successfully survived an immigration, been married twice (second marriage going strong), have a child and a 1.3M net worth.  I also financially support my parents.

Nothing matters!!! I still get advice/criticism on parenting (we are bad parents), marriage (I am a bad wife), career (I work too much), my driving style (reckless), my money management (I am a tight ass) and anything one can imagine (yes, my house is mess too).

I stopped listening to my parents' advice when I was 15. Stopped being upset about my parents' advice when I was 25. That's when I finally grew up :-)

Advice still continued to be given though, along with very strong opinions.

There is only one way to deal with it, that is: "In at one ear and out at the other". Keep smiling too.

P.S. Finish that thesis!!!

urbanista

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #77 on: July 05, 2015, 06:21:23 PM »
Honestly, if I were the MIL, I'd be royally pissed at you for sidetracking my daughter.  Please try to see a little piece of what the MIL may be feeling and try to build on your relationship from there. 

This.

Your MIL sounds like normal Russin Jewish mum to me. It is very common (and considered normal) to pay for childrens education and then say "I am looking forward to putting that diploma on my wall". Keeping appearances and external symbols of success are huge drivers, but it doesn't mean they do it for their own sake, and not for the sake of their daughter. They probably love her to pieces and that's how they show their love, by making sure the child have the most expensive and prestigious education they can afford.

whybe

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #78 on: July 05, 2015, 07:52:22 PM »
Has it occurred to you that your wife may have been attracted to you in part because she thought you could help distance her from her mother?  Do you consider yourself or have you ever been told that you are a little bit controlling?  If so, I would seriously look at the whole dynamic before taking any action. 
How long did you date your wife before getting married?  Did you ever talk about what your individual goals and dreams were before marrying?  Was there some reason you couldn't wait to be married until DW's lifelong dream and goal was completed?  Honestly, if I were the MIL, I'd be royally pissed at you for sidetracking my daughter.  Please try to see a little piece of what the MIL may be feeling and try to build on your relationship from there.  Honestly, the best and most loving thing you can do for your wife is to help her build a healthy relationship with her mother and as long as you see the MIL as a bitch and the MIL sees you as god-only-knows-what, that will never ever happen and it will only hurt your wife. 

I have not felt nor have i ever been described as a controlling person. I do not force myself or my opinions upon others. things aren't "my way or the highway" in my life. Yes, I tend to do things my way even if there's someone else's, or even an objective "better way" to do them. if at all i felt others had control and power over me my entire life.

the reason to get married soon was DW's lifelong dream - have 2-3 kids before age 35, and not in close succession. if there ever was anyone who was elated by our marriage, it was MIL (or at least she wanted to see grandchildren soon). She had a weird, overstressed and meddlesome way of showing she could (not) trust us with the planning and orchestration of the event, but in the end she did say she is taking her hat off for us.

it's true that my OP had some harsh words, but it was shortly after DW was reduced to tears once again by MIL, again while I was away. From experience, I learned not to trust MIL with anything and not reveal information about our plans (where to live, when to have kids, what we do on the weekend if we're not coming to DW's parents') if it's not already decided and on the way. and learned to basically ignore any hints, big or small, MIL or anyone of DW's family is giving on these subjects. She would just distort that information to fit her self-centered, victimized view of the world, twist it to what she sees as her advantage, and if she can garner points of respect, prestige or control over others (by financial or time favors they might owe her), she will. this is straight from her own mouth.

Just out of curiosity - what do you think MIL will do once your wife finishes her degree? Is the story going to change from "you're such a disappointment for not finishing school" to "you're such a disappointment for not working in the field?" or "you should be able to parent and work"? It sounds to me like MIL may have a script for how her children's lives should go. It's incredibly self-centered and probably horrible for a child's self-esteem to hear that from their parent.

Like I said before, I don't think it's about standing up to MIL, but I'm wondering how much discussion (between you and wife) you've had about the boundaries you want between yourselves and your in-laws (on both sides). There's going to come a point where you both will have to say, "this is right for us and others may not agree with it" - whether it's about spending a holiday meal together or not finishing a degree.

we have had some discussion about it, when we started dating and came to her parents' house for a weekend I would be appalled by the fact that a) they seldom close the doors to their rooms, and if they do they're never locked. b) they don't knock on the door before they enter. EVER. meaning she lived with the idea her parents could walk in at any time. And they did. luckily DW has developed a distaste for sleeping there for the reasons I've been iterating... *whew*


Spondulix

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #79 on: July 06, 2015, 12:19:55 AM »
She would just distort that information to fit her self-centered, victimized view of the world, twist it to what she sees as her advantage, and if she can garner points of respect, prestige or control over others (by financial or time favors they might owe her), she will. this is straight from her own mouth.
Have you ever read about narcissistic parents? Narcissism isn't about looking in the mirror all the time or talking about how great you are. It's the inability to be empathetic to other people's feelings and needs. Narcissists are the people who feed you when you say you're not hungry and then get upset that you're not eating. Or give you money for something that you don't want to do in the first place, then get angry when you're struggling and need support (because you're ungrateful). They can't comprehend what it means to be controlling or manipulative - unless it's other people doing it to them, of course.
http://community.drphil.com/profile.blog/karyl_mcbride/?EntryID=33507
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201311/the-narcissistic-mother

MidWestLove

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #80 on: July 06, 2015, 06:36:00 AM »
OP, it is almost like you may benefit from crash course into the culture you have married into

1. on gifts and expectations - in that (our) culture, gifts are gifts and it is pretty strong insult to return a gift (very direct f%ck you) or re-gift it to someone else without some sort of explicit communication on why and how and acknowledgement from the original gifter ( it is much easier to 'lose' items). We say that подарки - не отдарки (gifts can not be returned, at the same time can not be ungifted). What your MIL is doing by trying to manipulate you is trying to have it both ways and it does not work within the culture, if it was gift she needs to shut up (big no no  bringing gifts up trying to create obligations), if it was not a gift then she is in different kind of trouble (what kind of parents lend money to their kids if they simply give it away? another cultural no-no -trying to take advantage of your own kids, very bad parenting, and would put her in hot water with her friends around her, a lot of condescending looks). Either way, the "gift" talk should stop and stop fast, and yes your DW should finish her degree for herself (not for her mom)

2. on communication - you have two strategies
 - you can ignore them  в одно ухо влетает из другого вылетает in into one ear and our of another as one of the posters said above. they can say whatever they wish, you will do whatever (both of you) want and there is really nothing they can do about it. do not go with their flow , do not go against their flow, go there you want to go. and no , you do not have to pick up the phone just because it rings or even have ringer enabled. if I want to talk to you, I will call you approach.
-  you can set the boundaries (fight) as you can not change them, you do not want (and should not have to ) change yourself , the result is that views of the world would clash, tears would be shed , shields will be broken (aka lord of the rings if you get the idea).  and if you decide to set boundaries and know  arguing with them if inevitable, wouldn't you want to pick what you will fight about, when , where, have alias, escape roots (i.e. other places to go, not in your house).

I see boundary settings and both necessary and inevitable as that have nothing to do with 'gifts' , 'education', etc. Please tell me what you do not live with them physically (as that would make it even worse) , otherwise you are your own household that should live as such household.

getting your wife to be able to grow up and stand up for herself is critical. how long has she been in Israel, is she native born or  olim hadash?

otherwise, you seem to be on a good track, and as long as you are in sync with your DW (supporting and encouraging her as needed) that is what matters.

MidWestLove

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #81 on: July 06, 2015, 06:50:16 AM »
"

Nothing matters!!! I still get advice/criticism on parenting (we are bad parents), marriage (I am a bad wife), career (I work too much), my driving style (reckless), my money management (I am a tight ass) and anything one can imagine (yes, my house is mess too).
"

and this shall pass... I think girls get it much harder with our culture which is a lot more traditional (on gender roles and expectations ,etc) than anything 'modern western world' is. boys get away with almost everything.. given I am a Russian father of two girls, my desire is not to place the same burden on them..

for you -great job! we can love parents but not necessarily listen to them

MidWestLove

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #82 on: July 06, 2015, 06:57:53 AM »

we have had some discussion about it, when we started dating and came to her parents' house for a weekend I would be appalled by the fact that a) they seldom close the doors to their rooms, and if they do they're never locked. b) they don't knock on the door before they enter. EVER. meaning she lived with the idea her parents could walk in at any time. And they did. luckily DW has developed a distaste for sleeping there for the reasons I've been iterating... *whew*


Yes, very cultural - Russians do not understand how family (FAMILY!) could lock the doors inside. fairly large stigma, same as seeking outside help, 'not being a man', not following gender roles, etc.  think of it as one very traditional culture thousand years old that does not necessarily adjust to all of the rapidly changing winds of the 'modern world' (and does not care to).  no different from any other fairly traditional cultures (Italian, generally European ,or anything not in a big cities).  Either way , you are in heavily urbanized Israel, very modern , live, vibrant society , and do not have to put up with this if it does not work for you. they will disapprove , but it is your life to live, not theirs. 

iris lily

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #83 on: December 12, 2015, 10:25:54 AM »
I want to know if the thesis has been defended.

OP?

elaine amj

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #84 on: December 12, 2015, 09:42:19 PM »
Thanks for bumping This up. Just read the whole thing and now I am curious too. Sad about the hate on the MIL...because it is very similar to how my SIL would likely describe my mother. My mother is an amazing, lovely person...but has done many of the things this poor MiL has done - all with the best of intentions. She was so completely flabbergasted and hurt when my brother set firm boundaries with her. It would have been beyond horrible if my brother had cut her out of his life like many posters recommended.

Anyway, I really am curious about that thesis :)

kathrynd

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #85 on: December 13, 2015, 10:46:09 AM »
me too

LeRainDrop

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #86 on: December 13, 2015, 10:59:32 AM »
Quote
even if DW applies for a thesis-defense now, it will be months until she finally goes in front of the board.

Thesis is already written, right? So just schedule the defense. Having seen this multiple times, the longer you drag this out the less likely she is to ever finish it. MIL might still find something to complain about, but at least it won't bet his, and she'll have a Masters.

This X100. The best thesis is a finished thesis.

Once it's scheduled, let MIL know. If she then decides to pick something else to nag about, see every else's above comments: set boundaries, be very firm in how you communicate these boundaries, and follow through on what boundaries you (and DW) set.

As someone contemplating motherhood while finishing a degree, I understand your desire to start a family; however, as my DH pointed out to me, sometimes pregnancy can be a means of productive procrastination. Better to have the defense scheduled pre-baby.

I really, really hope this is the advice that OP and his wife followed!  I also agree with this:

Sounds a bit like some passive/aggressive shit there. As in, she's just sooo busy she can't do it... knowing that it is pissing off her mother. If there is even an iota of truth that some of the delay is due to that, she needs to recognize it and then dump that attitude NOW. And she should definitely finish the degree. Making that a priority is something she owes herself for all of her hard work on it up until now.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2015, 11:03:41 AM by LeRainDrop »

purple monkey

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #87 on: December 13, 2015, 02:51:41 PM »
This is the reason I refused to pay for any of our 4 kids higher education.
It would have pissed me off royally, if they had wasted my hard earned money, and not finished their course, or decided not to bother using it afterwards.

Pay the MIL back her money...the wife didn't keep up with her side of the bargain.
+1

Student loan stomper

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #88 on: December 13, 2015, 05:59:42 PM »
Couldn't get through all the replies, but as someone with a lot of family boundary issues I highly recommend the book Bounderies by Dr.  Henry Cloud.  It also has a workbook.  Very helpful! There is also a marriage version of the book I reccomed both! 

TomTX

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #89 on: December 13, 2015, 08:14:20 PM »
It's been long enough that the thesis should be defended, degree issued. Right?

RIGHT?!?!

Big Boots Buddha

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #90 on: December 14, 2015, 03:33:58 AM »
I just read OP and not other things:

80k is a lot of money. If I gave my child 80k to go to school and just before the finish line, they quit, got pregnant, traveled and didn't plan to finish it anytime soon I'd be pissed. Don't you have the responsibility to finish something that someone pays 80k for a person to do?

Dumb blonde

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #91 on: December 14, 2015, 04:59:09 AM »
I just read OP and not other things:

80k is a lot of money. If I gave my child 80k to go to school and just before the finish line, they quit, got pregnant, traveled and didn't plan to finish it anytime soon I'd be pissed. Don't you have the responsibility to finish something that someone pays 80k for a person to do?

This. I pay for my kids education. They don't HAVE to go to university. But if they choose to, I'm happy to pay for it BUT I expect them to finish it. Baby or no baby. I would be a nagging mother as well if one of my kids would do what your wife did.

BTW, when I was pregnant of my first child I started a year long course that required about 8-12 hours of study per week (while I worked full-time, I already had earned my masters degree a few years before) and I finished it with good grades when my son was 6 months old. Having a baby is no excuse for not getting the degree!



TomTX

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #92 on: December 14, 2015, 05:15:08 AM »
I just read OP and not other things:

80k is a lot of money. If I gave my child 80k to go to school and just before the finish line, they quit, got pregnant, traveled and didn't plan to finish it anytime soon I'd be pissed. Don't you have the responsibility to finish something that someone pays 80k for a person to do?

This. I pay for my kids education. They don't HAVE to go to university. But if they choose to, I'm happy to pay for it BUT I expect them to finish it. Baby or no baby. I would be a nagging mother as well if one of my kids would do what your wife did.

BTW, when I was pregnant of my first child I started a year long course that required about 8-12 hours of study per week (while I worked full-time, I already had earned my masters degree a few years before) and I finished it with good grades when my son was 6 months old. Having a baby is no excuse for not getting the degree!

Hell, my wife was still doing martial arts classes until 8 months pregnant.  No contact sparring by then of course.

GuitarStv

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #93 on: December 14, 2015, 07:33:15 AM »
It kinda sounds like the mother in law is being reasonable.  Don't drop out of school at the last minute to get married and pregnant.  Put in the little bit of extra effort to get the damned diploma.

Inkedup

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #94 on: December 14, 2015, 08:24:22 AM »
That's rough. I have experienced the bullying-family-members issue myself and there is no one right way to handle the situation.

I don't have anything substantive to add on top of all the great replies here except to encourage your wife should finish her thesis for herself, not to shut up her DM. 

Apples

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #95 on: December 14, 2015, 08:50:46 AM »
Just a thought, which you can take or leave.  Sometimes women need to vent (which is more often than men usually do in my experience).  So maybe institute a policy of there is one complaint session per visit to MIL or something.  And after phone calls up to 10 mins of venting/complaining.  And then your wife has to decide if she's going to let it continue, or start setting the boundaries that others have described her.  I've had problems with  my mom, and I'm in my  mid 20's and married for less than 5 years.  Once DH pointed out how we weren't acting in an adult/adult relationship, but instead an adult/teenager-to-boss-around relationship, he then would listen to the venting and sometimes ask if there was anything I wanted to do to stop the thing from happening.  If not, then I had to take responsibility for my share of perpetuating it.  And then I didn't get to complain about it any more.  Boy did that make me grow up quickly!  The whole thing still took over a year, but we've made serious progress.  I got emotional support from DH after arguing with my mom, which is good in a healthy relationship but was enabling me to keep arguing with my mom.  So we worked on some boundaries.  DH helped me come up with ideas and scripts for setting up boundaries (first small ones, then bigger ones) and supported me fully in front of my parents.  Things are good now.

irishbear99

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #96 on: December 14, 2015, 10:15:48 AM »
MIL never said to DW, "I want you to finish the degree for your sake." she however did say, "call me old fashioned but I wanted to hang the diploma up on my wall 2 years after you started it. you're really selfish, irresponsible and on top of that a real disappointment to us."

I personally know the pain of having parents who only value you for how good you make them look to others. It's an extra-special kind of hell, and I'm so sorry she has to experience it. That being said, it seems that the degree and the MIL are two separate issues, and it might help her to separate the two. By all means she should finish her degree. Not for her mother, or for you, but for her. She is *thisclose*. Ask her what you can do to help her get over the finish line, and then do it. Even just serving as the audience while she practices her defense could help.

The second, entirely separate issue is, of course, her mother. I don't know any of you, but I can guarantee that this behavior didn't start with her degree. It's not going to end with it, either. In fact, if/when you have children, it will likely get worse. It would behoove your wife to learn new ways of managing her relationship with her mother. I second the earlier poster who recommended the book on boundaries. A few sessions with a therapist might also help her develop and practice ways to manage her mother that are less hurtful for her.

Good luck.

MrsPete

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #97 on: December 15, 2015, 07:38:02 AM »
Another vote for, finish the degree. 

I don't blame mom for pushing her daughter to complete a degree that's so close to done.  Being nasty about it, of course, isn't right, but I do agree with encouraging her to finish what she's started. 

Do not cut ties with your family; do not deny yourself the benefits of extended family, nor your future children the opportunity to have grandparents.  Rather, work on building healthy boundaries.  As soon as an interaction starts to turn sour, make one attempt to stop that conversation -- and, failing that, leave -- remove yourself politely.  Do not fight.  Do not stoop to anyone else's level.  You won't alter the interactions overnight, but you can create a healthy relationship in time.

Finally, she's being put through the wringer, not the ringer.  Wringer as in an old-fashioned washing machine attachment that squeezed the water out of clean clothes.  Being put through the wringer means having the life squeezed out of you. 

AMandM

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #98 on: December 15, 2015, 09:40:53 PM »
What MrsPete said.

I defended my master's thesis while 8 months pregnant with twins.  My poor director, a youngish bachelor, was so nervous--I think he was afraid I'd deliver right in front of him!  I later dropped out of the PhD program, and I am SO GLAD that I have the master's.  That piece of paper opened doors for me that had nothing to do with the topic of the thesis.

My mother, on the other hand, dropped out of her PhD program but her school didn't offer a master's option.  She always regretted that (not the dropping out but the absence of the M.Sc.). If she'd had it she would have been eligible for higher-ranked jobs and higher pay.

11ducks

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #99 on: December 16, 2015, 04:30:36 AM »
I wonder- was her thesis non-defensible? Ie would she fail/need major reworking to have it accepted?  It can be embarrassing, esp to let down your parents and partner and people who have supported you for so long. It would explain why she just wanted to drop it, and was trying to move on with marriage/family?