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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: whybe on July 03, 2015, 11:30:34 AM

Title: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on July 03, 2015, 11:30:34 AM
Hi

TL;DR - DW's mother is a royal pain in the ass and a real old fashioned bitch. DW is thinking of giving her back money that paid for her education in the hopes of shutting her up about it. Thoughts?

======================
We're a young couple, recently married. My DMIL is putting DW through an emotional hell over not finishing MA degree on schedule, which is basically a technicality since she has handed in her thesis last April. She was supposed to defend her thesis last April (last stage before getting her diploma), but since then we got married, traveled for a few weeks, then she got a job and had to go through training and a state exam for her position, which kind of swamped her schedule and prevented her from going through the defence.
All DMIL is interested in is having the diploma so that "she can see the fruits of her investment". By that she means the fact she and FIL paid for DW room board and tuition ( whatever wasn't covered by scholarship). And herein lies the issue. DW is sick and tired of hearing her DM speak to her about how much of a disappointment she is. She would rather return the "investment" and stop her DM's trash talk  and the emotional poison and torment it brings with it. I am prepared to give that money back if it will help my DW regain something of her happiness ( after all increasing happiness is pretty badass even if you pay for it with the money you got for your wedding) . There are of course no guarantees that going this route will stop MIL from acting the way she does, but DW is prepared to go there. She has no idea what putting 80K in front of her parents will do, and I asked her several times if that is what she wanted to do, she said yes. I told her I'm prepared to front this money on the condition of not having that issue come up again and if her mother shuts up about it and quits making her miserable. Again, no guarantee.

Question is, should we go through with it if the money here is something we would probably have to work extremely hard to  see again? Should we go through with it at all,  risking i-don't-know-which reaction from DW's parents?

(( Personally I would love to limit my MIL'S influence on our lives but that's getting sidetracked ;-))

Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Cookie78 on July 03, 2015, 11:36:52 AM
Is it too late to defend her thesis now?

I don't imagine paying back the money will change the attitude of the MIL one bit. Seems like an unnecessary expense to me, and it's only rewarding the bad behavior of MIL. 80k is a lot to pay to hope that someone will stop expressing their disappointment.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: vhalros on July 03, 2015, 11:38:02 AM
Couldn't she shut her up by doing the defense? You don't really want to let that drag out any way.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: galaxie on July 03, 2015, 11:42:47 AM
MIL will pick something else to nag about, or find a way to be insulted about your wife paying back her "investment."  It's fine if you two want to make a very expensive statement - but it will not get her mom to quit making her miserable.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: supernovajm on July 03, 2015, 11:44:30 AM
MIL will pick something else to nag about, or find a way to be insulted about your wife paying back her "investment."  It's fine if you two want to make a very expensive statement - but it will not get her mom to quit making her miserable.

+1
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: bacchi on July 03, 2015, 11:45:53 AM
Screen phone calls, set up an email filter, block mom's SMS. You decide if and when to interact.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Tyson on July 03, 2015, 11:47:39 AM
Get the thesis defended.  That has objective value and you should not leave that on the table - it will directly impact your wife's earnings and more importantly it will affect how quickly she will be able to find new work if/when she is laid off. 

That will probably shut the MiL up on this subject, so she will be free to move on to another subject to nag about.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on July 03, 2015, 11:53:52 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Tyson on July 03, 2015, 11:55:38 AM
Bullies will bully until someone stands up to them.  But for the love of god, get the degree finished.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Retire-Canada on July 03, 2015, 12:04:01 PM
Disown the MIL. You don't have to keep family that is abusive to you. Stop talking to her. Don't see her. Cut her out.

Whether or not you want to pay back the money is up to you. I don't think you are obligated to and once you no longer speak to her it won't matter a lot.

If you and your wife keep going back for more abuse than appreciate you are the ones you are perpetuating the cycle of abuse.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Frankies Girl on July 03, 2015, 12:32:14 PM
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.

Your wife is an adult, right? So why is she still allowing her parents so much influence in her life if it isn't making her happy?

Did she have an agreement with her parents that they would pay for her degree if she did "X"? If so, then she needs to follow through on the agreement, or yes, pay back the money.

If it was just that parents offered to pay with no strings attached, but they're nagging her all the time, then she needs to tell her parents something along the lines of "I am an adult now, and I will decide when or even if I do this. You don't get to tell me what to do with my life any more. I love you and appreciate your help/guidance when I was younger, but you need to back off and stop bringing this subject up. I'm not going to discuss this with you any more, so in the future, any time you bring this up, I'll either hang up the phone or leave."

And then do this.

Each time the MIL starts in on her she should tell her: "I've already told you I'm not discussing this with you. I'll talk to you later." and either hang up or gather her things and leave.

Until your wife is willing to step up and put in place firm boundaries and enforce said boundaries, she's always going to be at the mercy of her parents. She's trapped in a parent/child dynamic and will remain that way - possibly for the rest of their lives. She's the only one that can tell them to stop and teach them that there are consequences (by her leaving/ending conversations). And if they cut her off for that, that is on them and kind of solves your problem in a nice way - no more inlaws! What are they going to do - ground her and take away her car keys? She needs to stop being an ostrich and step up. But yeah, clear and firm boundaries, explain them and go from there.

The other alternatives are that she cuts them off completely - without telling them about any boundaries (which is kind of a chickenshit path - and doesn't give them the chance of changing how they interact and possibly growing into a better relationship dynamic), or you both just shut up and continue the parent/child relationship. Which seems to be working soooo well now. Ignoring and caving in to her parents every whim and allowing them to nag and bully her as an adult is going to wear on your relationship, and could color how you raise your own children. It won't be pretty, and marriages have been destroyed by spineless partners not separating themselves from their parents' influences and establishing themselves as adults in a grown up relationship.

And just my 2 - she is like 90% finished with that degree, why is your wife using all those excuses to avoid completing it? You didn't have to get married right then, and even if you for some reason had to do that and then travel "for several weeks" she still could have buckled down sometime in the last YEAR (you're saying "last April" and not this past April, so it's actually been over a year) and got that degree completed. 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.


ETA: OMG... you just got married this year, and you are now saying in your latest post that you hope she's knocked up ASAP too. You both should just admit that she has no intention of completing the degree. And basically you both need to slow the hell down and get a handle on being married adults too - she can't have a decent relationship with her mother, and can't even stand up for herself, and popping out a kid right this minute isn't going to help matters. You think things are bad now with the wife basically acting like a child putting her fingers in her ears and ignoring the problems with her parents? Just wait until you add kids to mix... your life will SUCK and you and your wife will have so many fights over the inlaws' nagging and demands, and the wife will just cave each time since that's what she's always done. Good luck with that trainwreck.

Slow the hell down, figure out what both of you want, and then be honest with yourselves and her parents and set some damned boundaries. She needs to do this: as in "mom, I'm not completing that degree, so stop talking about it." and then enforce the boundaries NOW.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: TrMama on July 03, 2015, 12:33:36 PM
Disown the MIL. You don't have to keep family that is abusive to you. Stop talking to her. Don't see her. Cut her out.

Whether or not you want to pay back the money is up to you. I don't think you are obligated to and once you no longer speak to her it won't matter a lot.

If you and your wife keep going back for more abuse than appreciate you are the ones you are perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

^^^ This. I'd also be sure to cut her out of your life before you have kids. Grandchildren tend to up the ante in these kinds of relationships. Do you really want your MIL to make your DW miserable over her parenting choices? Do you want your child to think this is acceptable behaviour from a grandparent?
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: kathrynd on July 03, 2015, 12:34:44 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: vhalros on July 03, 2015, 12:54:56 PM
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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: ltt on July 03, 2015, 12:59:19 PM
Gosh, I hope I'm never one of "those" types of MIL.  :)

This isn't really about money.  This is more about the fact that you took "her baby" away by marrying her.  If there was no agreement that the money be paid back, whether or not she finished her degree, then there is no obligation to return the money.  If the money was a gift over the course of a few years, then it is just that, a gift.  However, your DW is an adult who willingly took money from her parents for school.  Sounds like your DW has some growing up to do---and so do you.  Referring to your MIL as a b**** is juvenile.  This is not how grown-ups act.  However, I'm sure both of you would morally like to do the right thing---which is to return the money.

People get very funny over money.  I would hate to see you cut the MIL out of your DW's life.  After all, when grandchildren come along, it would be extremely disappointing for them not to know their grandmother.  And I do think that most grandparents change their tune once grandchildren are born.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Megma on July 03, 2015, 01:00:54 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: mm1970 on July 03, 2015, 01:03:34 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. 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.
Defend the thesis.  I know too many people who started working before they defended their PhD or Master's theses.  And let me tell you, 50% never finished.  "ABD". All that work, for ABD.  It matters.  My husband started working before he finished.  7-8 months of working during the day, writing at night.  I took on ALL the household chores with a full time + job, and it sucked.  But it's worth it.

He's a PhD, many of his cohorts are not.  As long as you are getting jobs using your network of connections, it's fine.  But the minute you need to go "outside" to find a job?  "So...why didn't you finish?"

Finish.

And recognize that your MIL is going to harp on you for other things, learn to tune her out.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: midweststache on July 03, 2015, 01:08:05 PM
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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on July 03, 2015, 01:18:45 PM
i really appreciate all you guys are saying here, even if some of it reads like punches to the face, i do agree with most of it. Esp. the boundaries bit.

My Brothers and I went through this a few years back with our own mother, and it only stopped once we sat her down and told her she needed to stop acting the way she did. I shared this story with DW on several occasions, and with my MIL some time ago. It did not go well, but not to my face. MIL has expressed her disdain and disapproval of the whole "kids educating their parents" thing, and believes and acts as if this is a one-way street and that children of all ages should obey and respect their parents. For some reason my DW's family refrains from putting the shit to the fan while I'm there and always does it when DW is there on her own. I only get to hear about it when my reaction has no effect (can't stand up alongside DW as support). DW also insists I stay passive on this since she "doesn't want to bring me into it", doesn't matter that by our relationship (and marriage) we are already knee-deep "into it"...
I'm basically trying to find the way to communicate this to my DW without doing the work for her. I want to find the way to make her see that this step is both necessary and feasible for her own development, without getting in between her and her mother.

Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on July 03, 2015, 01:30:35 PM
also, some background.

we live in a country where close-knit, up-in-your-beeswax families are the (not so healthy) norm. disowning / cutting out MIL is possible by all means, however not on DW's agenda at all, and bringing it up would be playing / preying on her childish side.

family is never farther away more than 1 hour drive where we live, and if we move closer to work anytime soon, it will be even closer to her family.

i'll probe into what will it take for her to defend the thesis. it is definitely HIGH on DW's to-do list, but right now all the nagging is NOT helping an already fraught relationship.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Candace on July 03, 2015, 01:40:50 PM
+1 to "Get the thesis defended". Regardless of who paid for school, it would be a huge waste to come this far and then not actually get the degree.

It almost sounds like you want her to let it slide. "She got married, she traveled, and now she might have a baby right away".

Priorities. That is the most important thing. Is she sabotaging herself? Are you somehow encouraging her to do so? Or at least enabling her?

She may have completed all the work, but without the sheepskin, she will be offered much less in the future for the work she has earned the opportunities to do.

MIL is going to be a pain regardless. If you think she's bad now, just wait until there are grandchildren. If you and your wife can set appropriate boundaries and enforce them -- mostly your wife -- you will both be better off. This is up to your wife.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: cats on July 03, 2015, 02:23:17 PM
Yeah, that thesis needs to get done.  Your MIL is perhaps being an ass about it, but to be honest it sounds to me like your wife's guilty conscience that's bothering her as much as your MIL is...she probably KNOWS she should be finishing that thing and doesn't want to deal with it.

Once a defense is scheduled, politely tell your MIL that the situation is under control and moving forwards and that it's time for her to STFU.

I realize this is difficult as I have probably a similar relationship with my parents--they see it as totally okay to be up in my business all the time and I have a hard time deflecting without things turning into a huge scene.  I live further away so we mostly communicate by phone, but before I pick up the phone to call, I make a little list of things I want to ask them about their life/activity/etc.  Basically make sure I have something else to move onto quickly if they start probing further into an issue than I would like.  It kind of works (not always though, sorry....parents are just tricky)
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: taekvideo on July 03, 2015, 02:37:53 PM
Another +1 to finish the thesis!

But also... don't have kids until the abusive relationship is resolved. Seriously.
My brother has a trainwreck of an inlaw that constantly makes his SO miserable.
When I come to visit them I sometimes find her crying, because she just got off the phone with her mom.
They have 2 kids now (still babies) and it made everything A LOT WORSE.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: tarheeldan on July 03, 2015, 02:46:16 PM
+1 Finish Thesis!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: tele25 on July 03, 2015, 03:02:09 PM
Hi

TL;DR - DW's mother is a royal pain in the ass and a real old fashioned bitch. DW is thinking of giving her back money that paid for her education in the hopes of shutting her up about it. Thoughts?



Does your MIL have any power or control over your lives.

The answer is no.

Therefore you can simply decide not to have anything to do with the interfering old crone.

And this is irrespective of whether you  decide to give her 80k or not.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: puglogic on July 03, 2015, 03:05:00 PM
Disown the MIL. You don't have to keep family that is abusive to you. Stop talking to her. Don't see her. Cut her out.

Whether or not you want to pay back the money is up to you. I don't think you are obligated to and once you no longer speak to her it won't matter a lot.

If you and your wife keep going back for more abuse than appreciate you are the ones you are perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

+1

You do not have to have this abusive person in your life. 
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Janie on July 03, 2015, 03:08:43 PM
Finish the thesis. Not sure why both you and your wife are making the thesis about the MIL. Work out these issues separately.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: hope2retire on July 03, 2015, 03:25:46 PM
Defend your Thesis and get the diploma.
From the mothers point of view, she wants her bragging rights for her hard work of funding your higher education and not your money. Parents take pride of even the smallest success of their kids, even it is graduating from 1st grade. They want to see that. That is issue of pride. she does not want to see her money go to a waste just because you are lazy. Think positively, they are pushing you for your own good. Some parents take the route of positive reinforcement some go the nag route all depends on how the kids are(go-getter or lazy etc). So understand how you are for her to NAG. If it was an adult to adult to conversation it would have gone like this: Finish the diploma xxx, ok mama, i will do it by the end of xyz. after xyz, the diploma is on momma's table. She is going to say I am proud of You.

If she indeed thought about money in the first place she would not have bothered to fund you. It is highly offensive from your part to say I will give you the money to shut you up.

H2R
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Exflyboy on July 03, 2015, 03:36:18 PM
Finish thesis, Finish thesis, Finish thesis, Finish thesis, Finish thesis, Finish thesis......

Learn to establish boundaries as a separate issue. Your Wife has one job right now.. and that's to finish the damn thesis!

You will both almost certainly both regret this big time if this thing is not done and quickly!

As to MIL.. Deal with her.. Grow some balls. Your Wife is under your protection.. deal with her.

I dealt with mine, of course it helped that she tried to register her car at my house in Oregon to avoid paying Colorado Sales tax.. I turned her into the DMV... She got the message.. I.e don't F with me!

I also threatened to return any money she paid towards out wedding and then "Un-invite her".

Don't stand for outside interference... Write to her and tell her that if she keeps up her tirade there will be no relationship with her Daughter, and be prepared to follow through.. Boom done.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Norrie on July 03, 2015, 03:41:48 PM
I think that there are several different things going on here, and that they're getting lumped into a bit of a mess.

1. Your MIL may be a nightmare, but she rightfully expected your wife to finish her degree. I'd be pissed/impatient if I was in her shoes too.

2. I feel like your wife is making a lot of excuses about why she can't finish her degree, and then blaming mean old mom.
I got my Master's degree with a two year old and a four year old. The four year old's lungs were failing, and she was hospitalized often. During my final sprint in graduate school, she required surgery to remove the right middle section of her lung. Oh, and both of my parents? They were both diagnosed with terminal cancer six weeks apart during this time. (They both survived, which was nothing short of a miracle.) I was also working.
Getting married, going through training for a job, whatever? Sorry, not a good enough excuse. None of that is a significant enough event or crisis to make it impossible to defend a thesis.

3. Now you're wanting to try to start a family, while this 80K degree is still left dangling? So that there's one more excuse for not finishing? That's just...immature is the only word that I can think of.

I'm not usually very harsh, but this just reeks of a lot of immaturity, privilege, and of placing blame elsewhere. You can cut off my MIL if she's really that much of a pain in the ass, but my guess is that you guys are going to run into one "problem" after another unless you get your own shit a bit more together.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: swick on July 03, 2015, 03:49:42 PM
The posters who say this is two separate issues are right on. Both you and your wife need to realize that. If she is at all familiar with this forum and can accept that the face punches people pull are not personal, but for your own best interest I would consider showing her this whole thread....it might help her to see that other people who have no skin in the game think the power dynamic is broken between her and her mom.

There is no real guide for navigating the hardest relationship transition that exists. The shift from a parent/child relationship to an adult relationship needs to consciously happen. It doesn't happen by magic when you reach a certain age or hit a mile stone. It takes WORK and honesty and a clear idea of boundaries. It is a process and sometimes needs some navigating through sensitive issues.

It can be especially hard as the spouse seeing your significant other being treated like a child and the emotional and relationship damage that occurs. If your MIL doesn't see your wife as an adult, it is your job to highlight your wife's adult behaviours and help her see the positive, strong, responsible adult SHE raised.

Really, for the most part, that is what parents want and their biggest stress is when they feel like their kids don't have the ability to launch, or can't see it because they are connected to the "child" they raised - looking at it from your MIL's pint of view, spending all the money and to have her child get so so close but not finishing makes HER feel like she failed her child somewhere along the way It is not just a benchmark for your wife, to your MIL it is a tangible gauge of her success as a parent.

She has to get used to seeing your wife as an adult. That can be hard and takes a profound shift in thinking that unless you start the process, won't happen. Of course she might refuse, she might insist that her view is the only correct one, and then you have to figure out how much influence she is going to have on your life. That is YOUR choice - but you owe it to the entire family to "adult up" and lead the process of establishing boundaries and expectations from an adult to adult relationship.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: deborah on July 03, 2015, 04:09:37 PM
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. Say that you would REALLY like her to finish it, and how can both of you together HELP your wife to do it.

I also suspect that if the 80k is handed over your wife will NEVER finish the degree - that she really wants out of it, but is scared to tell either you or your MIL that she doesn't actually want to finish it. The fact that it is on her list (currently, until the 80k gets paid) may mean that she is (unconciously) lying to you and to your MIL and perhaps even to herself.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: pbkmaine on July 03, 2015, 04:11:26 PM
+ 1  for finish the thesis. A schoolmate of mine never finished her doctoral dissertation and is still regretting it THIRTY YEARS later. She is right to have those regrets. Her life would have been better in so many ways if she had completed it.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: iris lily on July 03, 2015, 04:51:17 PM
Dear god, defend the thesis, get the damned degree, THEN regroup to have baby or tell MIL to go to Hell or whatever.

i'm with the posters who have seen too many people do all but the thesis work for an advanced degree.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Cycling Stache on July 03, 2015, 05:07:13 PM
You don't need to pay your MIL back.  She's been controlling, etc., but I think we kind of get her frustration that she feels like all this effort and money went into getting a degree, and your wife seems to be bailing at the last second right before getting it done.  Of course, there are good reasons for that, but I don't think your MIL's reaction is crazy.  It makes sense to get the degree now, then decide what to do with it.

Going forward, I recommend considering the "strings" attached to any future money from your in-laws.  I had a similar relationship with my MIL (although improved quite a bit lately), and we finally decided to stop going on the fancy family trips that they paid for because it just wasn't worth the constant reminders from her about the fact that they had paid, and that we should therefore do whatever my MIL wanted, etc.  Since then, our relationship improved dramatically.  And we've figured out the Mustachian way to deal with them on the eating out front by offering to cook meals whenever they visit.  If they reject and prefer to go out, we let them treat.  Seems to work out just fine.

Good luck with it!   
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Lynne on July 03, 2015, 05:20:50 PM
Defend your Thesis and get the diploma. ... She is going to say I am proud of You.

If she indeed thought about money in the first place she would not have bothered to fund you.

Maybe this is the way parents are in your experience.  It is not true of all parents.  There are reasons to fund your kid's education that don't involve love or an unconcern about money - e.g. as a way of exerting control over their lives and giving you leverage to bully them.  In some families gifts come with a lot of strings attached.

Also I'd like to live in a world where parents were always proud of their children's accomplishments.  :/  This is not that world.

I strongly agree with others saying to get the thesis over with ASAP though.  She needs to do that for her own sake;  it is not about her mother at all.  Or it shouldn't be.  Speaking of, I highly recommend Captain Awkward (http://captainawkward.com/tag/boundaries/) - lots of good advice and scripts for setting boundaries.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: former player on July 03, 2015, 05:27:41 PM
I would seriously question whether you and your wife should be getting pregnant at the moment.  Your wife hasn't completed her MA, she has a toxic relationship with her parents, because of that toxic relationship you and your wife have a serious and currently unresolveable cause of discord in your relationship, and you are considering paying $80,000 of your money (which is apparently your money and not your and your wife's money?) to someone with whom your wife has a toxic relationship.

Frankly, this situation has disaster written all over it already, and it sounds to me as though adding kids to the mix until you have all of those things resolved will entrench all those problems for the next twenty years or more.

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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Dee18 on July 03, 2015, 05:41:21 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....
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Vwjedi76 on July 03, 2015, 07:17:04 PM
Please please please read the book "Boundaries" by Dr Cloud. Then ask your wife to read it. Buy two copies and read it together. Please. It will change your married life.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: bwall on July 03, 2015, 10:50:45 PM
also, some background.

we live in a country where close-knit, up-in-your-beeswax families are the (not so healthy) norm. disowning / cutting out MIL is possible by all means, however not on DW's agenda at all, and bringing it up would be playing / preying on her childish side.

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?
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Chrissy on July 03, 2015, 10:58:10 PM
There's this amazing stuff called "contraception", and it will actually prevent pregnancy until after college degrees are completed.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: expectopatronum on July 03, 2015, 11:40:28 PM
I'm basically in support of what cyclingstache and Frankiesgirl have said.

While MIL is in the wrong for constantly pushing this issue and using it as a power play, I firmly don't believe the answer is to immediately cut her out of your life. Yes, this is poor behavior, but you need to put your foot down. You are allowed to say, "We plan to do ______, as we have decided this is the best step for our family. We're not going to discuss this further, so if it comes up again, we won't participate in the conversation."

...or however you decide to proceed. YOU can choose how to respond. 

IMO, don't run away without first trying your best as adults to actually address the issue and let her know how damaging this is becoming to your wife's health and relationship to them. I can't see where that route has been exhausted. Grandparents are not easy to come by. Having an estranged family member (especially a mother, for someone trying to get pregnant...) is not as easy or simple as it sounds. If this were a friend I'd say screw them and move on- but it's not.

I also don't think the problem is fixed (long term or short term) by throwing $80K at MIL.

Finally, despite some barriers, I think it is actually an understandable reaction. They supported your wife through grad school, but she didn't follow through (in their eyes) on her end of the deal by actually getting the degree. To you this is a fine detail and a technicality, but...they have a point.  She's not a PhD or MA or whatever , technically, even if she got the job and turned in everything already. Do the damn defense or sit them down to tell them, look, it's not happening. It's true that "gifts" can be used manipulatively (if you've ever planned a wedding you probably know this...), but offering college funding kind of goes along with assuming the recipient is making their best effort to realize the degree unless some circumstance prevents that. Look at it this way: if you choose to excise them entirely- that means that they get kicked out of your lives (and your kids' lives) because they supported your wife through grad school and she didn't want to hear it anymore, so she just cut them off. Unless there's something else that I'm missing about the relationship, that's not good enough reason to never speak to them again.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on July 03, 2015, 11:45:16 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: expectopatronum on July 03, 2015, 11:47:50 PM
Disown the MIL. You don't have to keep family that is abusive to you. Stop talking to her. Don't see her. Cut her out.

Whether or not you want to pay back the money is up to you. I don't think you are obligated to and once you no longer speak to her it won't matter a lot.

If you and your wife keep going back for more abuse than appreciate you are the ones you are perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

^^^ This. I'd also be sure to cut her out of your life before you have kids. Grandchildren tend to up the ante in these kinds of relationships. Do you really want your MIL to make your DW miserable over her parenting choices? Do you want your child to think this is acceptable behaviour from a grandparent?

While there's obviously a boundary issue at hand, the "abuse" can also be stopped by enforcing boundaries in the manner Frankiesgirl wrote about.

As a kid who never knew 3/4 grandparents (the 4th died when I was 4), when I reached adulthood I would wonder why my parents thought it was acceptable behavior to disown her parent over this, rather than to take the temporarily difficult approach of learning to be an adult and knowing how to stand your ground without simply running away.

Coming from a culture that emphasizes family ties only makes it an even worse decision.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Spondulix on July 04, 2015, 01:37:44 AM
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've been married 8 years with a difficult MIL - difficult enough that I've had to talk to a therapist about it. What I've learned is that at the end of the day, it's about your wife's relationship with her mother. MIL is technically family, but the extend of your relationship with her is your choice. You don't have to have much of a relationship at all, if you don't want. I'm about as open with my MIL as I am with my mailman. If my spouse and MIL want to fight or yell over the phone, that's their relationship and their choice. Me trying to mend things or get in the middle just made it worse- it took me about 5 years to figure that out.

If they've been like that for 20 or 30-something years, you are not going to change anything - nor is it your job to. What you can do is be supportive of your wife and continue to be on her team. If she had a crappy boss, you wouldn't be going to her job and try to speak up for her, right?
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Zamboni on July 04, 2015, 01:43:37 AM
^That seems like really good advice.

Also, invest the $80K, don't throw it at your MIL.

There's something else going on with the lack of thesis defense, and I don't think it's just "oh it's too inconvenient to get it scheduled."
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on July 04, 2015, 05:02:31 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Janie on July 04, 2015, 06:21:09 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.

OP, please consider this.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Pigeon on July 04, 2015, 06:22:09 AM
Your wife should make finishing the degree a top priority. Stop making excuses and do it. It is a huge waste not to. It will be difficult but many things in life are.

Don't take help from your MIL in the future whether it be money or child care. It will come with strings.

Have your wife set boundaries with her. That is infinitely easier to do if your aren't accepting help.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: KBecks2 on July 04, 2015, 06:52:09 AM
Please please please read the book "Boundaries" by Dr Cloud. Then ask your wife to read it. Buy two copies and read it together. Please. It will change your married life.

Second this recommendation.  Also, your wife can limit her exposure to mom. 
Best wishes to both of you!!  Give your wife encouragement that she is not getting.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: MMMaybe on July 04, 2015, 07:51:29 AM

 I highly recommend Captain Awkward (http://captainawkward.com/tag/boundaries/) - 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...
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: electriceagle 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Kris 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: College Stash 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: little_brown_dog 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: human 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: 2ndTimer 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Cole 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?
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: human 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Cassie 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Spondulix 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).
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: mm1970 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Letj 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe 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.

Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: deborah 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe 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... :)
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: MidWestLove 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe 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.

Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: use2betrix 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: MidWestLove 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: BlueHouse 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. 
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: wenchsenior 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Spondulix 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Salim 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Daleth 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).
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: urbanista 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!!!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: urbanista 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe 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*

Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Spondulix 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
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: MidWestLove 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: MidWestLove 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
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: MidWestLove 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. 
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: iris lily on December 12, 2015, 10:25:54 AM
I want to know if the thesis has been defended.

OP?
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: elaine amj 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 :)
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: kathrynd on December 13, 2015, 10:46:09 AM
me too
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: LeRainDrop 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: purple monkey 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
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Student loan stomper 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! 
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: TomTX on December 13, 2015, 08:14:20 PM
It's been long enough that the thesis should be defended, degree issued. Right?

RIGHT?!?!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Big Boots Buddha 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?
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Dumb blonde 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!


Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: TomTX 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: GuitarStv 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Inkedup 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. 
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Apples 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: irishbear99 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: MrsPete 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. 
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: AMandM 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.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: 11ducks 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?
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: SKL-HOU on December 16, 2015, 10:59:52 AM
I didn't read all the posts.
So your wife basically got her Mrs. degree and she is now done with school because of that. I cannot blame the MIL for wanting her daughter to finish school. While you are newly weds, you never know what will happen in the future. It will never hurt her to get the diploma while not getting it may. It seems the hard part is done so I do not understand why she is being such a baby.
No matter how much pressure your MIL is putting on you, it is not nice to call her a bitch. What she is asking for is not unreasonable and it really is in the best interest of her kid (your wife).
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: asauer on December 17, 2015, 07:44:25 AM
This isn't a money problem- it's an MIL problem.  She'll find something else to complain about.  Keep the 80k, finish the degree and establish a low contact relationship.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: TomTX on December 17, 2015, 07:58:42 AM
This isn't a money problem- it's an MIL problem.  She'll find something else to complain about.  Keep the 80k, finish the degree and establish a low contact relationship.

A "low contact relationship" with a Russian Jewish MIL while everyone is living in Israel? Good luck!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: fitfrugalfab on December 18, 2015, 02:36:11 PM
Bullies will bully until someone stands up to them.  But for the love of god, get the degree finished.
+1!!!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: TomTX on December 19, 2015, 06:09:42 AM
OP hasn't responded since July. Maybe the MIL is holding them hostage until the thesis is defended - otherwise, what a waste of $80k! ;)
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: GuitarStv on December 19, 2015, 08:31:41 AM
I suspect the OP wanted sympathy and a chorus of voices telling him that wasting all the money for the thesis makes lots of sense.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on December 19, 2015, 10:41:56 PM
Hello all! I haven't checked on this thread in a while... And I'm sad to say that thesis has not been defended. Yet. not for lack of me trying gently to remind DW, asking for updates, encouraging her. We are 8 months pregnant with a boy now and I am being very patient with DW and trying not to nag. We have had quite a few discussions on the topic and she did clearly stated that she wants to finish this. But, her professor is VERY slow in setting up the defense. As I expected. And she is preoccupied with her current job and the pregnancy. I don't want to be as nagging as MIL, but this is really dragging. DW /MIL relationship continues to be strained, all through pregnancy. We have moved to DW's hometown (closer to her job, but further from mine, 1/4 mile from MIL) this was planned but happened earlier than expected. . DW still hasn't figured out how to stand up to her mother or completely ignore the comments. I haven't put myself in the middle yet. Not planning on it anytime soon. I am supportive of DW when she goes through a rough patch. This is where it stands. Thanks for all your advice  and support. Can't agree more but since I am not looking for a fight I haven't been pushing these issues forward
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Doubleh on December 20, 2015, 06:26:26 AM
Congratulations on the pregnancy! Yes it's disappointing that the defence hasn't happened yet but it sounds like at least concrete steps are being taken to make it happen - it's important to keep them in track. For the purpose of clarity I do think your Mil has a pretty fair point about the degree, but it sounds like the family problems go pretty deep and this is just one manifestation of a wider issue

Apologies for the long response but we experienced somewhat similar issues with a parent when my daughter was born. At the worst I thought we may need to cut off contact, but we were able to turn things around and in doing so transformed the relationship with the parent. Seeing how much they love and care for my daughter has also helped us appreciate them more than we ever did. But you do need to address this situation and do it now, not in 6 weeks time when you're both sleep deprived, exhausted, hormonal and Mil is making things harder for you not easier.

Having recently lived through the early parenthood days they are wonderful and rewarding but will put a lot of strain on you, your wife and your relationship. Having family near by can be a huge blessing and is not to be underestimated. However if things have been difficult to this point don't think a kid will make them easier. There are lots of touch points that can cause disruption - but on the plus side it is a great opportunity to reframe your relationships with MIL. She's evidently big on parental authority - good, use that. You're the parents now. You can explain that you want her to be a big part of her grandchild's life, but that she needs to respect your roles as the parents and not undermine you both.

Basically what you need to do is to set healthy boundaries - I'd urge you to read up on this or even if you can to attend a session or two with a counsellor who can help you do this, along with your wife as it's something you need to do together. Up thread you said that your Mil doesn't like to be educated - the beauty of setting boundaries is that you don't need to educate her. You don't need her permission or her buy in to do it. Setting boundaries is something you and your wife do together, for yourselves. You don't need mil to change her behavior or understand how she makes you feel. It isn't even about the Mil, its just about the two of you deciding what behaviors you will and won't tolerate.

So for example, you don't ask her not to nag your wife, or try and explain how much it hurts your wife when she does. You don't try and change her, because you can't. Instead you decide a boundary and what your response is, and explain that to her dispassionately. For example tell her firmly but non emotionally that the defence is being scheduled and you'll tell her when you have news. In the meantime its not a topic you're prepared to discuss. Explain the consequences of she does raise it, for example youll politely remind her that it's off the table but if she persists you will have to disengage from the conversation by leaving the house of hanging up the phone. If this happens you follow through, not just in an emotional way. It's just the unavoidable logical consequence of your boundary being over stepped.

It's easy in theory but does take commitment - from both you and your wife to implement. It can be scary at first and initially she is likely to escalate her negative behavior in the hope of eliciting a response. This is where it's really important that you stick to your guns, don't be swayed and don't get drawn into am argument. Firm and dispassionate. Most likely she will pretty quickly learn to play by the new rules, her desire to spend time with her grandchild will help her find a way. This can get messy in the short term which is why I suggest counselling or at the very least reading proper books written by people with qualifications rather than random strangers on the Internet. But it can be life changing.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Miss Prim on December 20, 2015, 06:53:07 AM
This is why my husband and I only paid for a Bachelor's degree and not a Master's with our two kids.  Honestly, if I paid $80,000 for my kids education, I would be upset too if they were that close to finishing and chose not to. 

Just have your wife finish her degree and I'm sure the MIL will back off.  Or pay them back.

Just a different prospective on this. 

                                                                                      Miss Prim
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on December 20, 2015, 07:31:00 AM
I agree with your perspective regarding MIL's right to be angry or upset. However the disproportionate response all involved had to this situation was and is quite overwhelming. after all DW had no intention of not finishing or quitting just before the finish. I am also growing to know the usual scripts MIL is using to manage her reality and the conditioned response DW has to these scripts. Also her complete inability (in my eyes it's a won't disguised as a can't) to stand up for herself in front of the MILs shenanigans.
I've tried talking about this with her and I'm tired of the usual "ignore her and it will go away" routine. Setting boundaries is not easy and I keep trying to offer ideas and experience in the matter, all the while practicing compassion towards all involved. It's not easy.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Doubleh on December 20, 2015, 08:49:10 AM
Properly song healthy boundaries is not the same as talking to her or ignoring it and hoping it will go away. You're correct though that our is not easy but it is worth the effort. That's why I'd suggest a couple of seasons of counselling or at the very least a good book to guide you.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: LeRainDrop on December 21, 2015, 03:21:03 PM
Thanks for providing an update, whybe.  Congratulations on becoming a dad!  Wishing you and your wife luck with the inlaws and whatever impact the new grandbaby has on that relationship.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Frankies Girl on December 21, 2015, 04:40:44 PM
I personally really hate this update. Everything about it makes me really sad. Basically your wife is not doing jack as far as establishing healthy boundaries or completing her degree, and you are hiding your feelings because you are afraid of her reaction and swallowing all that resentment is just going to fester and eventually have to come up at some point. And you are adding a child to that mess, AND you moved closer to the inlaws you claim are the problem (they're not; it's your wife) which is just insane.

I honestly think your wife has no intention of finishing her degree and never has. I don't care what she says, she's not going to and I'm sure that once this kid is here, her world with be all about him and her job, and then a year or two down the road (just in time to maybe start thinking about tackling that degree) it will be time for kid #2 and maybe she'll have to stay home with the kids and quit the job somewhere in there, and before you know it, 10 years gone and she won't be able to even tell you a summary of what her thesis was about.

She is on a path to get what she wants and will ignore any and all attempts to do things that are too complicated, and you are not comfortable even having a serious discussion with your spouse to come to be able to come up with a compromise since she sees it as "fighting words" if you dare to question anything she does. And everything is always someone else's fault why she can't do things she's supposed to be doing (but actually that she just doesn't want to do and would rather be doing something else). Her mother, the instructor, her job, now the baby - she will use any excuse in the book to avoid responsibility and face her issues head-on. You should be very aware of this pattern NOW because it will only get worse if she refuses to recognize this major issue.

And you are walking on eggshells - making excuses for her selfish behavior, and going along with whatever she decides she wants to do regardless if it is a good decision.

I would love to be proven wrong, but I honestly think that will not happen.


I wish you much luck, because you are definitely going to need it.

Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on December 22, 2015, 06:02:19 AM
I believe that your face punch is in order and it is well received. Well deserved too.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: PhrugalPhan on December 22, 2015, 09:05:20 AM
+1 to Frankies Girl's response.  When someone is happy with their environment, its very unlikely they will change it, even if it will make things better.  Hopefully we're wrong, but I doubt it.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Frankies Girl on December 22, 2015, 03:40:59 PM


She is on a path to get what she wants and will ignore any and all attempts to do things that are too complicated, and you are not comfortable even having a serious discussion with your spouse to come to be able to come up with a compromise since she sees it as "fighting words" if you dare to question anything she does. And everything is always someone else's fault why she can't do things she's supposed to be doing (but actually that she just doesn't want to do and would rather be doing something else). Her mother, the instructor, her job, now the baby - she will use any excuse in the book to avoid responsibility and face her issues head-on. You should be very aware of this pattern NOW because it will only get worse if she refuses to recognize this major issue.


Anyone have advice on getting past the bolded portion? My DH does not take words very well.... Anything I mention different to what they're doing or thinking gets a very harsh angry response. He seems to take everything as a deep criticism to himself and then responds with anger. Later its usually followed with bashing himself. I've resorted to just keeping my mouth shut. But this also messes with me as I feel unable to discuss anything at all. Everything turns into a fight no matter how little or big the topic. We can't talk about anything at all let alone real pressing money issues. Of course not talking about future plans or actionable changes leaves me deeply unfulfilled and just going with whatever comes along. But really any resources would help!

Counseling ASAP. If he won't go, then go by yourself to see if you can work on your own responses (and also if you even want to repair this relationship since it sounds very lonely and sad where you are).

The anger is a "no way am I listening to you - how dare you think your opinion matters" move, and then followed by the "I'll put myself down so bad you'll feel like you have to pretend it is all okay and comfort me and just ignore that I got my way again" move. Not good, extremely manipulative.

If you do think he's a good person somewhere in there and your relationship could be saved, then I'd explain to your spouse that you love them, want to have a better relationship with them and are tired of not being able to have a real conversation about things concerning your relationship/future without it dissolving into a fight, but you need professional help and want to see a counselor/therapist. Make sure and say that you both need help in figuring out how to communicate without anyone feeling blamed or shamed. Some people just don't have good communication skills when it comes to expressing worries and fears and really deep stuff. That's not anyone's fault. Come to them from a place of love and support, and they may be amendable to counseling.

Something along the lines of "Honey, I think we need help... aren't you tired of us never being able to talk about stuff without it turning into a fight? I love you and I know you love me, and it makes me so sad that we keep messing this up. I want to see about going to a counselor who might be able to help us fix this and make us a stronger couple and feel safe and comfortable about talking things through no matter what comes up in our lives..." (big thing is to not make it sound like it's all the spouse - you are a team, so lots of "we" statements and how you want to make things better)

I'd suggest also reading the book Stop Walking On Eggshells as well. Even if your spouse isn't a BPD (although yours does kind of hit the warning bells), the book is really nice for learning how to navigate a relationship when you have a partner that is manipulative/controlling. Or at the very least, giving you some coping mechanisms and deciding if this is how you want to live your life going forward.


Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Pigeon on December 22, 2015, 07:37:33 PM
What a gigantic waste of your MIL's money, and your MIL has every right to be completely disgusted.  I agree with Frankies Girl's assessment of the situation. Your wife had no intention of finishing up.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on December 22, 2015, 10:51:34 PM
What a gigantic waste of your MIL's money, and your MIL has every right to be completely disgusted.  I agree with Frankies Girl's assessment of the situation. Your wife had no intention of finishing up.

let's look at the facts for a minute:

A. Money is not yet wasted. How is it wasted if DW already has a job in her field on the premise of her completing the MA?
B. DW is on track to defend the thesis. She will receive her three articles this week.
C.whether she finishes or not remains to be seen.


Have a lot more to say about the situation. But the rest is either my analysis of it or my opinion. So we'll leave it at that.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: hoping2retire35 on December 23, 2015, 08:21:55 AM
1) your mouth is shut for the next month until baby is born, DW needs no extra stress while pregnant. you must bear this burden.EDIT: put that goofy fake smile on your face and make sure DW thinks you are in baby heaven, even if you are really pissed

I am not sure if your MIL is just pissed about the money or is toxic, but it is probably both.

after baby is born you will want a few days of bliss and happy memories, but then you will need to not just be dad and DH but DAD and HUSBAND. accept no compromise, be stubborn as hell and always right(this means thinking a lot about a situation and being sure they cannot corner you, mentally/psychologically). I have some very toxic relationships with mother and in laws; currently mother is on not talking(or any communication) terms and MIL and FIL are on the avoid anything other than cordial talk(and they know it). Make it clear sometime between 3days and 1 week of birth to your DW that you will no longer speak or even be in the presence of her mother. If you have to see her in passing do not speak only glare. If your MIL is watching the baby or "helping" then do what I do, leave. see video below
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36s1yEdb5QI

You will have to keep this up for a while, maybe years. My DW only confronted her parents 8 months ago (been married over 9 years and oldest kid is 3 1/2). But this will take you being strong and able to back her up and talking to her so she can be comfortable doing this. maybe consult an aunt or older sibling, you will need allies. Sounds like you did this but maybe your mother was the type to listen to reason. Spending $80k and not seeing her graduate would make anyone pissed so maybe MIL is not hopeless. so my next point is...

DO NOT pay back money, just get the degree. Everyone will be happier with this and MIL will have less ammunition.

keep us up to date.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Frugalman19 on December 23, 2015, 08:30:35 AM
I agree with others, leave the wife alone until the baby is born.

I would be soo pissed too if I paid all that money and my child decided not defend her thesis. Offering to pay the money back is childish and will only cause more resentment, so get that out of your head. Just have her finish already, it's better for her and her mom will be happy, it's what we call in America a "win win". For the record, my MIL is a bitch, and my grandmother was to my dad as well. It's pretty common here in the US haha.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: zephyr911 on December 23, 2015, 08:40:52 AM
Anyone have advice on getting past the bolded portion?
What bolded portion?
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: I'm a red panda on December 23, 2015, 09:02:48 AM
There's this amazing stuff called "contraception", and it will actually prevent pregnancy until after college degrees are completed.

There's also this amazing thing called "multi-tasking" which allows one to finish college degrees even when pregnant.  (My next door neighbor is a medical intern and is a Mom of 3. She had her first while completing her undergrad and the second two while in med school. It can be done.)

Defend the thesis; ignore the MIL.

I did my Master's in a traditionally female field. At least three-quarters, if not more, of the cohort was pregnant sometime during the program, or had multiple children, and all of us worked full time. Me not having kids was the rare exception. (The two men in the cohort had kids too.)
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on December 23, 2015, 10:12:31 PM
after baby is born you will want a few days of bliss and happy memories, but then you will need to not just be dad and DH but DAD and HUSBAND. accept no compromise, be stubborn as hell and always right(this means thinking a lot about a situation and being sure they cannot corner you, mentally/psychologically). I have some very toxic relationships with mother and in laws; currently mother is on not talking(or any communication) terms and MIL and FIL are on the avoid anything other than cordial talk(and they know it). Make it clear sometime between 3days and 1 week of birth to your DW that you will no longer speak or even be in the presence of her mother. If you have to see her in passing do not speak only glare. If your MIL is watching the baby or "helping" then do what I do, leave. see video below
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36s1yEdb5QI

You will have to keep this up for a while, maybe years. My DW only confronted her parents 8 months ago (been married over 9 years and oldest kid is 3 1/2). But this will take you being strong and able to back her up and talking to her so she can be comfortable doing this. maybe consult an aunt or older sibling, you will need allies.

Just a bit of clarification - if I take this advice what's my endgame? Also how do I bridge this to DW? Just tell her in advance, then lead by example and hope she follows? How do I back her up without being there (again whenever I am not there she gets pestered by the family)?

Also, by allies you mean from her family? She's a bit of the black sheep in the family, and her mother is making sure everyone is ganging up on her. Even though she's not the eldest she did most of the trail blazing in front of the parents. Neither her or her sisters had a the chance of a teenage rebellion and I think this is kind of it. Sisters are out of the question, one is too resentful or seemingly apathetic to DW and the rest of the family, the youngest is too young to form her own opinion and runs to tell mom when DW has tried to confide in her (the opposite is never true).
Aunt is also a tentacle of the MILtopus, can't guarantee that she'll be on DW's side. So... A bit of a pickle.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: former player on December 24, 2015, 06:59:42 AM
You could try using the arrival of a new baby, as in: there have been difficulties recently apparent in the relationship between DW and her mother, it would be better if that were not added to the big job of being new parents and if the baby were not exposed to family strife in the future, and can the two of you together develop a way of managing the relationship between DW and her mother which will make everyone happier?

Assuming that MIL wants to see the baby, you and DW can then discuss saying something along the lines of "We would love it if you see the baby, but new parenthood is hitting us both hard and we can't deal with anything else at the moment.  Our plans at the moment are to enjoy the baby and settle into our new life as parents.  We'll get back to you on anything else as soon as we can."  Repeat final sentence as necessary, and close down the conversation immediately if you've had to say it more than once.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: hoping2retire35 on December 24, 2015, 08:31:30 AM
after baby is born you will want a few days of bliss and happy memories, but then you will need to not just be dad and DH but DAD and HUSBAND. accept no compromise, be stubborn as hell and always right(this means thinking a lot about a situation and being sure they cannot corner you, mentally/psychologically). I have some very toxic relationships with mother and in laws; currently mother is on not talking(or any communication) terms and MIL and FIL are on the avoid anything other than cordial talk(and they know it). Make it clear sometime between 3days and 1 week of birth to your DW that you will no longer speak or even be in the presence of her mother. If you have to see her in passing do not speak only glare. If your MIL is watching the baby or "helping" then do what I do, leave. see video below
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36s1yEdb5QI

You will have to keep this up for a while, maybe years. My DW only confronted her parents 8 months ago (been married over 9 years and oldest kid is 3 1/2). But this will take you being strong and able to back her up and talking to her so she can be comfortable doing this. maybe consult an aunt or older sibling, you will need allies.



Just a bit of clarification - if I take this advice what's my endgame? Also how do I bridge this to DW? Just tell her in advance, then lead by example and hope she follows? How do I back her up without being there (again whenever I am not there she gets pestered by the family)?

Also, by allies you mean from her family? She's a bit of the black sheep in the family, and her mother is making sure everyone is ganging up on her. Even though she's not the eldest she did most of the trail blazing in front of the parents. Neither her or her sisters had a the chance of a teenage rebellion and I think this is kind of it. Sisters are out of the question, one is too resentful or seemingly apathetic to DW and the rest of the family, the youngest is too young to form her own opinion and runs to tell mom when DW has tried to confide in her (the opposite is never true).
Aunt is also a tentacle of the MILtopus, can't guarantee that she'll be on DW's side. So... A bit of a pickle.

Well, the only endgame you can singlehandly bring by doing this is establishing some boudaries and giving yourself and DW some space form her mother. This will not "fix" the situation. Doesn't help by moving closer to MIL. I had the advantage that my siblings and DWs siblings were already antagonistic to our parents, and we were both sorta the 'favorites' in our families, so when we made this confrontation is was a little easier to establish the boundaries and the 'balance of power', if you will. So your situation my be a little different than mine.

If your DW is the black sheep of her family then you will need to work to do some one-upmanship and the above strategy will not be very effective for your situation. Making the best dish at family gatherings and making sure everyone knows; complementing DW in front of family. Make her little sister your new family bestie. Figure out if you can get aunt on your side. Try to indirectly make fissures between MIL and her family. Getting that degree will make a big difference.

Your situation sounds a little to complicated to offer many suggestions on an Internet forum that would really be helpful. I would suggest you get some books on narcissism, co-dependency and do some internet searches on what exactly is going on in your family and then reading about that disorder or family dynamic. Once I did that I understood our situation a lot better.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Cassie on December 25, 2015, 12:14:50 PM
Finish the degree or pay the $ back. It really is that simple.  I don't blame the MIL for being upset at this point.  The smart thing to do is finish the degree. She will regret it later if she does not.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: MrsPete on December 25, 2015, 07:48:55 PM
Honestly, if I paid $80,000 for my kids education, I would be upset too if they were that close to finishing and chose not to. 
Yeah, as a mother currently paying for two children to attend college classes, I am HAPPY to be able to provide my children with a college education ... but I skimped and saved for years, did without things I wanted, traveled less than I would've liked ... and I expect my kids to respect the sacrifices I made by making the most of my financial investment.  I totally understand a mother being upset that those sacrifices didn't end in a degree. 
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on December 26, 2015, 07:10:06 PM
Again emphasizing - didn't end in a degree in a timely manner according to a previously-never-discussed schedule. The degree will be completed.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: hoping2retire35 on December 26, 2015, 07:37:36 PM

My Brothers and I went through this a few years back with our own mother, and it only stopped once we sat her down and told her she needed to stop acting the way she did. I shared this story with DW on several occasions, and with my MIL some time ago. It did not go well, but not to my face. MIL has expressed her disdain and disapproval of the whole "kids educating their parents" thing, and believes and acts as if this is a one-way street and that children of all ages should obey and respect their parents. For some reason my DW's family refrains from putting the shit to the fan while I'm there and always does it when DW is there on her own. I only get to hear about it when my reaction has no effect (can't stand up alongside DW as support). DW also insists I stay passive on this since she "doesn't want to bring me into it", doesn't matter that by our relationship (and marriage) we are already knee-deep "into it"...
I'm basically trying to find the way to communicate this to my DW without doing the work for her. I want to find the way to make her see that this step is both necessary and feasible for her own development, without getting in between her and her mother.

This was the most telling post, and I think when people say something along the lines of get the degree and everything will better they are ignoring how toxic the situation is.
Could she not go there unless you are there? What about spending time with your family instead of going their as much?
Will this be MILs first grandchild? That will change a lot of family dynamics, even if not.
May be best to sit and wait and see what happens, the child may remove some of the black sheep aspect. It would be good of you to pay close attention to how different people react to both of you and the child, after the child is born. Do others in the family know what is going on?
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: kathrynd on December 27, 2015, 08:18:11 AM
When it comes down to it, this situation is between the mother and your wife.

MIL rightfully is upset. She gave a huge amount of money to pay for a specific purpose.
The daughter is either going to fulfill her end of the bargain....or she isn't.
At the moment,it sounds like she isn't.

Until she either finishes, or pays the money back....the situation will not change.
The money or the degree isn't even the issue...that is just the  subject, there is always an underlying issue.
Disrespect?...
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: hoping2retire35 on December 27, 2015, 01:47:43 PM
When it comes down to it, this situation is between the mother and your wife.

MIL rightfully is upset. She gave a huge amount of money to pay for a specific purpose.
The daughter is either going to fulfill her end of the bargain....or she isn't.
At the moment,it sounds like she isn't.

Until she either finishes, or pays the money back....the situation will not change.
The money or the degree isn't even the issue...that is just the  subject, there is always an underlying issue.
Disrespect?...

This is what I was getting at. People who haven't had family like this I believe just don't get it, even those of us who had were pretty confused for a long time until we made sense of the situation. Of course, the OP and his wife will continue to have problems until the degree is gotten, really no getting around that. Sorry, but he is married and about to have their first child, pretty much any problem either one has the other one also has, no problem is exclusive to just one.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: TomTX on December 27, 2015, 04:03:36 PM
Again emphasizing - didn't end in a degree in a timely manner according to a previously-never-discussed schedule. The degree will be completed.

Oh really? Lets go back to the beginning of your very first post in this thread:


We're a young couple, recently married. My DMIL is putting DW through an emotional hell over not finishing MA degree on schedule, which is basically a technicality since she has handed in her thesis last April. She was supposed to defend her thesis last April (last stage before getting her diploma), but since then we got married, traveled for a few weeks, then she got a job and had to go through training and a state exam for her position, which kind of swamped her schedule and prevented her from going through the defence.

Bolded by me for emphasis.

Instead of defending, she fucked around instead of completing her planned defense on time. And I mean "fucked around" both figuratively and literally. She's 8 months pregnant and April was 8 months ago. Apparently y'all never heard of a condom. Or birth control pills. Or the IUD. Or a damn calendar, since you just needed to avoid a single week that month you were fucking around.

My wife was still doing Taekwondo 3 nights a week while she was 8 months pregnant, and successfully tested for a belt while 8 months pregnant. She did get an accommodation and the sparring was non-contact (ie, you throw the kicks, evade, etc - but you stay a few inches away from actually hitting) - I bet the committee would let your wife sit in a chair for the defense or something.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on December 28, 2015, 08:35:09 AM
Valid point, even if you are using a tone that I do not approve of. How about we had a plan for our family growth that stated we wanted to "get busy" when we did. DW has had enough high scientific education to equip her with the knowledge of human biology and physiology to know she wanted to be done having babies before age 35, when the chance of defects and all sorts of genetic maladies increases significantly. Seeing she wanted more than 1 child it was sensible to start earlier than not.
Not that I have to justify my family planning to a grumpy troll like you ToTomTX. I appreciate all y'all's help but seriously this is a lot out of line.
Not that I have any fucks to give you after I gave em all to my wife.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on December 28, 2015, 08:40:39 AM
How about, since the baby is coming, y'all stop shitting on them for getting pregnant.

I'm disappointed that the degree isn't finished yet, but it sounds like OP is too.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: SU on December 28, 2015, 09:25:33 AM
The money spent on a degree is a sunk cost. Also, it's MIL's sunk cost. As far as defending the thesis goes, your wife has a job, a family and a great partner. As of today, will defending the thesis increase her current or future happiness and earning power? Would she start the same course today, given that she already has a job? If not, just leave it unfinished. You know, like Bill Gates did.

MIL issues are separate, but it sounds like they are a longer term project than just defending a thesis.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: TomTX on December 28, 2015, 10:27:19 AM
Valid point, even if you are using a tone that I do not approve of. How about we had a plan for our family growth that stated we wanted to "get busy" when we did. DW has had enough high scientific education to equip her with the knowledge of human biology and physiology to know she wanted to be done having babies before age 35, when the chance of defects and all sorts of genetic maladies increases significantly. Seeing she wanted more than 1 child it was sensible to start earlier than not.
Not that I have to justify my family planning to a grumpy troll like you ToTomTX. I appreciate all y'all's help but seriously this is a lot out of line.
Not that I have any fucks to give you after I gave em all to my wife.

*shrug* Y'all deserve facepunches. If you want a sweeter response, I suggest Bogleheads.

Maladies and defects only go up slightly after 35, moderately after 40. As scientists ourselves, we researched it in depth, and any scientist should be able to do the same. Popular magazines have the drama of defects after 35, but the reality is different.

And y'all only had to wait a month. Irrelevant for issues.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: soupcxan on December 28, 2015, 01:26:34 PM
The money spent on a degree is a sunk cost.

When you are 99% through with something, the 99% is a sunk cost, but if you can complete it for only 1% more effort, you should put in the 1% and get it done.

You know, like Bill Gates did.

That's the worst strawman argument I've read in a while. Both Melinda Gates and Priscilla Chan (Zuckerberg) finished their masters degrees.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: deborah on December 28, 2015, 01:46:46 PM
And y'all only had to wait a month. Irrelevant for issues.
Yes! This is the crux of the matter. And I have yet to find anyone who has needed to leave work the instant they get pregnant. The pregnancy is almost totally irrelevant to the issue of whether she has finished her degree. She is just stalling. And this thread was started in JULY, so she has managed to stall for another six months.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: TomTX on December 28, 2015, 03:52:20 PM
And y'all only had to wait a month. Irrelevant for issues.
Yes! This is the crux of the matter. And I have yet to find anyone who has needed to leave work the instant they get pregnant. The pregnancy is almost totally irrelevant to the issue of whether she has finished her degree. She is just stalling. And this thread was started in JULY, so she has managed to stall for another six months.

Hell, he could have still gotten her pregnant, they just needed to delay their several weeks vacation/party time so that she could defend in April.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on December 29, 2015, 11:32:35 PM
UPDATE
===========

the articles for the defense came through. No more than 30 days to the defense. Yey!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Ann on December 30, 2015, 03:13:09 AM
Happy to hear that!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on December 30, 2015, 10:35:53 AM
UPDATE
===========

the articles for the defense came through. No more than 30 days to the defense. Yey!

Progress!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Apples on December 30, 2015, 12:54:39 PM
Whybe, does you wife actually believe she can have a better relationship with her mom/parents?  Does she believe she is going to be able to establish boundaries, play the long game of a few times shutting down toxic conversations so that later on they can have a healthy relationship?  Does she really, deep down, want to go through the short term unfun things to get to hopefully greener pastures?  That might be the tact you take with her to help convince her to start establishing boundaries, not going over on her own, and shutting down the guilt tripping.  That is not nagging.  That's support of a spouse.  But if she isn't confident in her ability to turn things around, or doesn't think there will be greener pastures, then your "encouragement" of her will definitely feel like nagging.

Also, to the person who can't have real conversations because their spouse gets angry...I have been known to be that spouse on occasion, but usually only when I'm stressed or at a certain time of the month where I just can't handle it and I'm immediately defensive and lash out for no real reason.  It really helps when my husband frames our whole conversation as a "we" discussion, not you vs. me.  We need to figure out what we want to do about this money thing.  We need to figure out how we can visit your/my parents for the holidays.  We need to to laundry - I can't get to it tonight, can you?  We want to do x thing, do you want to sit down and do that?  However, you sound like you definitely need some counseling to really set a foundation you guys can use to communicate.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on January 30, 2016, 12:11:56 AM
UPDATE
========
DW WENT THROUGH THE FINAL STAGE OF THESIS! woohoo!
Baby not here yet, we are at 39th week. She was so underwhelmed by the whole thing, I was trying to root for her and encourage her, all she's feeling right now is the discomfort and pains of carrying the child.  So now we wait for the results and getting the diploma from the university. And we can move on to other things,  like having a child (!)
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: deborah on January 30, 2016, 01:57:13 AM
Well Done!!!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Ann on January 30, 2016, 02:12:37 AM
Wonderful!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: TomTX on January 30, 2016, 05:31:18 AM
Congratulations!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Miss Prim on January 30, 2016, 05:40:59 AM
Yay!  So happy to hear this!

                                                                              Miss Prim
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Dee on January 30, 2016, 06:22:10 AM
That's wonderful! Thanks for updating us and congratulations to your wife!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Tabitha on January 30, 2016, 07:06:40 AM
Congratulations. Hopefully with the elephant conquered the rest of what's in the room can be seen.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: iris lily on January 30, 2016, 08:19:58 AM
OP, this is great news indeed. Now you can move on to adulting, which means parenting your incoming infant and setting boundaries for MIL.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Cookie78 on January 30, 2016, 11:10:17 AM
Awesome!!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: LeRainDrop on January 30, 2016, 11:33:43 AM
What a fantastic update!  Congrats to you and your wife for getting through that, and best wishes for your new baby!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: lhamo on January 30, 2016, 07:11:01 PM
Congratulations!  Glad she managed to get through the academic stuff before the baby came.  Hope the delivery goes smoothly and that you all have a great time bonding soon.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Josiecat on January 30, 2016, 07:20:55 PM
So happy for your wife!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: DebtFreeBy25 on January 30, 2016, 07:58:05 PM
Congrats! Hopefully this good news, degree and new baby, will put MIL in the right frame of mind to see you both as capable adults.

I'd recommend that you start setting appropriate boundaries now. Some overly-involved parents like to tell their children how they should be raising their grandchildren. Don't let this happen to you. Standing your ground early and often will go a long way towards limiting the influence of your MIL.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on January 30, 2016, 11:07:28 PM
DW still hasn't told MIL about this.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Psychstache on January 31, 2016, 08:03:19 AM
Congrats! Hopefully this good news, degree and new baby, will put MIL in the right frame of mind to see you both as capable adults.

I'd recommend that you start setting appropriate boundaries now. Some overly-involved parents like to tell their children how they should be raising their grandchildren. Don't let this happen to you. Standing your ground early and often will go a long way towards limiting the influence of your MIL.
I hope so too, but, in my experience with Russian Jewish grandmothers, she will simple find something new about them to be disappointed in. Probably related to how they are raising the child.

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: iris lily on January 31, 2016, 09:30:37 AM
DW still hasn't told MIL about this.
Dont tell her until the thing is done and signed off and she's got the diploma.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Physicsteacher on January 31, 2016, 10:08:09 AM
Great news! I am happy for both of you.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: former player on January 31, 2016, 10:33:47 AM
DW still hasn't told MIL about this.
Dont tell her until the thing is done and signed off and she's got the diploma.
Agreed.  It would also be good if when she does so your wife sends a formal but heartfelt letter saying thank you for the support which enabled her to get it.  As well as being an excellent display of good manners, it would help to draw a line under the whole episode.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: elaine amj on February 01, 2016, 01:08:28 PM
Awesome news :)
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: BFGirl on February 01, 2016, 01:49:31 PM
Congratulations!!

Just try to make sure that if the MIL starts trying to interfere too much with your new family that you and your wife discuss setting some boundaries with the in-laws.  My ex wouldn't stand up to his parents and over time it caused a lot of problems in our relationship.  I always felt like he chose placating them over me, and whether right or wrong, I felt like I took second place to their wishes.  Ultimately, their passing eased that particular strain, but it was one of the things that adversely impacted our marriage.  Just my 2 cents.

Best of luck!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Daleth on February 04, 2016, 08:47:38 AM
Fantastic. Yay to your wife, and best of luck with childbirth and the transition to parenthood!
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Exflyboy on February 04, 2016, 10:27:40 AM
Congratulations!!

Just try to make sure that if the MIL starts trying to interfere too much with your new family that you and your wife discuss setting some boundaries with the in-laws.  My ex wouldn't stand up to his parents and over time it caused a lot of problems in our relationship.  I always felt like he chose placating them over me, and whether right or wrong, I felt like I took second place to their wishes.  Ultimately, their passing eased that particular strain, but it was one of the things that adversely impacted our marriage.  Just my 2 cents.

Best of luck!

Agreed my Wife's mother is unbelievably abusive.. I had to bring the hammer down until they learned to behave. Registering her new car at my house to commit sales tax fraud (without telling me) was the last straw.

Naturally i turned her into the DMV.. That got her attention..:)

My Wife's wellbeing is Job #1 as far as I am concerned.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on February 24, 2016, 02:02:05 AM
So,
Mini whybe has arrived! DW had our baby boy Saturday 13.2. Both went through the ordeal well and we ahad been adjusting to the new situation since. I will go back to work Friday.
Amazingly shenanigans are still up on DW's side of the family, although we can't be 100% sure... Someone clipped his nails right under our noses. And MIL is our immediate suspect. Here goes:

He was born with longer than average nails and a full head of hair. for his cousin (SIL's daughter) who was born 5 months ago, MIL clipped the nails at the hospital before checking out. We were against the idea, as were the medical staff at the hospital, recommending waiting until 1 month old. MIL expressed her discontent with his nails a few times but we told her we won't agree to it.

At the  baby's circumcision ceremony, last saturday, he was put under local anaesthesia (we spent on having a doctor perform the circumcision and not a traditional /mohel/), and was pretty happy during the whole thing. Everyone was happy and many people held him while we were taking care of things like payment and such. Later that night, DW notices he isn't scratching her so much during feeding and looked. We were shocked to see that all his nails in is hands have been cut short... We immediately asked all of the 30 people who attended if anyone saw anything. Of course no one confessed, but we have our suspicions. The only pair of baby nail clippers in the house is in my backpack, and not in plain sight. The only person with enough beef and chutzpah to do this is MIL.but why does she think it's OK to do that without telling? Then bluntly lying about it? We feel we can't trust MIL to stay alone with baby now. Nor with my mother. Vigilance is key.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Irishtache on February 24, 2016, 03:23:26 AM
Congratulations on the new arrival. Hope mother and baby continue to be well. That was quite an invasive action by whoever clipped the baby's nails. I suppose she sees it as  grooming issue. Mothers (or MILs) huh?

I have to admit, though, that I squirmed more at the idea of the baby having his schmeckle clipped! Ouch.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: former player on February 24, 2016, 03:55:52 AM
Congratulations on your son, and on having a doctor perform his circumcision under anaesthetic.

Someone cutting your baby's nails when doctors had advised against it is intolerable.  Accusing MIL, or anyone else in particular, is unlikely to help.  You might think of sending a "more in sorrow than in anger" missive to everyone who might expect to be left alone with the baby saying something along the lines of -

"Here is the latest picture of our newborn son.  We were delighted you could come to the ceremony and celebrate him with us.  Unfortunately, while he was out of our hands someone cut his fingernails and toenails.  We had specifically asked his doctor about this, and were advised that for good medical reasons his nails should not be cut until he was at least a month old.   Because this procedure was carried out on our son without our knowledge and against medical advice by someone who held him at the ceremony, we have very sadly come to the conclusion that we will not be allowing unsupervised access to our son for the foreseeable future.  We know this will make some of you sad, but we are sure that you will understand that our son's welfare comes first."
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: iris lily on February 24, 2016, 05:37:56 AM
Nailgate. That's crazy. I can't imagine a set of baby nails that is truly bothersome. But I am not around babies, so maybe I don't know. I also can't see how anyone could cut the nails while passing him around during a ceremony.

But anyway OP, your MIL'S action is inexcusable.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: little_brown_dog on February 24, 2016, 05:57:59 AM
There isn't much you can do except reiterate that you don't want the nails clipped. But honestly, I think revoking access to the baby over it is just as crazy and controlling as the person who did the unauthorized clipping. It isn't right to go against a parent's wishes for their child, but parents also need to pick their battles or else it is easy to blow something way out of proportion. A little bit of humor might also help you put this in perspective - for example, you just chose to cut skin off of his PENIS under general anesthesia...surely that was far more traumatic, medically risky, and life altering than one episode of unauthorized nail clipping. Sometimes seeing the irony in our own choices can make us more forgiving of others who piss us off.

As for the mystery clipping - you don't need clippers to trim a baby's nails. It's really easy to simply bite them off, and many parents prefer this method because they are too nervous using files and clippers on those tiny fingers. So it's possible the nails weren't actually clipped, but removed in another way.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Psychstache on February 24, 2016, 08:26:27 PM
There isn't much you can do except reiterate that you don't want the nails clipped. But honestly, I think revoking access to the baby over it is just as crazy and controlling as the person who did the unauthorized clipping. It isn't right to go against a parent's wishes for their child, but parents also need to pick their battles or else it is easy to blow something way out of proportion. A little bit of humor might also help you put this in perspective - for example, you just chose to cut skin off of his PENIS under general anesthesia...surely that was far more traumatic, medically risky, and life altering than one episode of unauthorized nail clipping. Sometimes seeing the irony in our own choices can make us more forgiving of others who piss us off.

As for the mystery clipping - you don't need clippers to trim a baby's nails. It's really easy to simply bite them off, and many parents prefer this method because they are too nervous using files and clippers on those tiny fingers. So it's possible the nails weren't actually clipped, but removed in another way.

The issue isn't the particular action taken, it is the complete disregard for the parent's directly stated wishes. If I tell someone not to do something with my child, and they then go and do that exact thing, I have zero qualms about cutting them off.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: former player on February 25, 2016, 02:05:23 AM
There isn't much you can do except reiterate that you don't want the nails clipped. But honestly, I think revoking access to the baby over it is just as crazy and controlling as the person who did the unauthorized clipping. It isn't right to go against a parent's wishes for their child, but parents also need to pick their battles or else it is easy to blow something way out of proportion. A little bit of humor might also help you put this in perspective - for example, you just chose to cut skin off of his PENIS under general anesthesia...surely that was far more traumatic, medically risky, and life altering than one episode of unauthorized nail clipping. Sometimes seeing the irony in our own choices can make us more forgiving of others who piss us off.

As for the mystery clipping - you don't need clippers to trim a baby's nails. It's really easy to simply bite them off, and many parents prefer this method because they are too nervous using files and clippers on those tiny fingers. So it's possible the nails weren't actually clipped, but removed in another way.
Not much point saying "we don't want his nails clipped" after it has been done, is there?

It is not about being "crazy and controlling", it's about establishing and enforcing appropriate boundaries.  Which has been a serious problem in this relationship for a significant period of time, is ongoing, is unresolved and will cause difficulties throughout the whole upbringing of the child unless sorted.

Whatever your views on circumcision, describing a fundamental religious and cultural practice performed under anaesthetic by a medical doctor, on a jewish boy born in Israel, as "traumatic, medically risky and life-altering" is inaccurate.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on February 25, 2016, 08:51:12 AM
Congratulations on your son. New babies are hard and it may be hard to enforce the "no unsupervised access to our son" plan. Setting boundaries is important, but setting a boundary you then don't enforce would make things worse. Consider that before acting.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: partgypsy on February 25, 2016, 11:45:47 AM
I absolutely agree that whoever cut the baby's nails without the parents' permission is in the wrong. However I do not understand why the doctor said that you had to wait for a month to trim them.  In fact with my oldest they cut her nails at the hospital before discharge because they were on the long side. They can also accidently scratch themselves with long nails.

Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Sibley on February 25, 2016, 08:00:16 PM
OP, check out Captain Awkward's blog (in your copious spare time!).  She's got some very good advice and scripts for how to set and enforce boundaries.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on February 28, 2016, 01:19:27 AM
Thanks all for the support. Still in the getting to grips stage of the whole parenting thing. We are trying not to overreact on this whole thing. I am aware of captain Awkward, and personally think some of the stuff she writes is gold. but again, DW isn't in the place where she thinks resistance is going to bear fruit since she's automatically playing out a defeated script in her head, I.e. "I'd love to stand up to my mother, but to whatever I say she will say x y z and that will be the end of it. Just can't win." It's her internal struggle here first of all. Should I be encouraging her down this path or should I just let her be? It's a tough one.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: BTDretire on February 28, 2016, 07:25:09 AM


ETA: OMG... you just got married this year, and you are now saying in your latest post that you hope she's knocked up ASAP too. You both should just admit that she has no intention of completing the degree. And basically you both need to slow the hell down and get a handle on being married adults too - she can't have a decent relationship with her mother, and can't even stand up for herself, and popping out a kid right this minute isn't going to help matters. You think things are bad now with the wife basically acting like a child putting her fingers in her ears and ignoring the problems with her parents? Just wait until you add kids to mix... your life will SUCK and you and your wife will have so many fights over the inlaws' nagging and demands, and the wife will just cave each time since that's what she's always done. Good luck with that trainwreck.

Slow the hell down, figure out what both of you want, and then be honest with yourselves and her parents and set some damned boundaries. She needs to do this: as in "mom, I'm not completing that degree, so stop talking about it." and then enforce the boundaries NOW.

+1 on the above.
Finish the thesis, but it won't change MIL.
She will be a thorn, until your DW stands up to her
and puts an end to it.  MIL needs to know that there is a line, and when she crosses it,
DW will say mom, that crossed the line, I'm hanging up now, call me in a week. Bye.
 You wrote a pretty good description of the emotional upset MIL is causing, help your DW
write a letter about the upset mom is causing in her life and set some boundaries.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: iris lily on February 28, 2016, 08:15:37 AM
Thanks all for the support. Still in the getting to grips stage of the whole parenting thing. We are trying not to overreact on this whole thing. I am aware of captain Awkward, and personally think some of the stuff she writes is gold. but again, DW isn't in the place where she thinks resistance is going to bear fruit since she's automatically playing out a defeated script in her head, I.e. "I'd love to stand up to my mother, but to whatever I say she will say x y z and that will be the end of it. Just can't win." It's her internal struggle here first of all. Should I be encouraging her down this path or should I just let her be? It's a tough one.

Ok you DID ask, above.

Its not about "winning" as in your wife changes the mind of her mother.

Its about two adults having different opinions and retaining those different opinions, yet maintaining a relationship. Thats what boundaries are for.

Talk to your wife about honoring her mother by allowing mom to think what she thinks, wish what she wishes, but NOT allowing action that crosses your defined boundaries.

Boundaries are about actions, not thoughts. When mom says X (an action) you two do X. When mom shows up,at your house uninvited (an action) you two do X.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: Apples on March 02, 2016, 08:15:01 AM
Read a book on boundary setting.  There's a famous person in the money world who recommends the book "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud.  I've not read it, but I know people who have who found it really helpful.  I've read things similar to it (but on the internet) that have helped me figure out how to set boundaries.  I have a MIL that is passive aggressive and a guilt tripper.  My DH had to learn how to actively set boundaries to let her know when a line was crossed, but also that there will still be contact (hey, that's not ok so I'm going to hang up now, but I'll call you again next Sunday.  If you text me a lot between now and then I probably won't call --- b/c she'll send terrible long texts to try to get him to call her on a Tuesday at 7 am and Thursday at 10 pm-really inconvenient times).  It took DH a long time to see there was a whole grey area between the black of "mom's mad at me and everything is terrible b/c she makes it so" and white of "I do and let her do whatever she wants".  Setting a boundary in the first place takes courage, and not letting the "consequences" the person does b/c of the boundary takes some fortitude.  But it's so worth it!

Lock your doors to prevent random stopovers.  My friends had trouble with this, and eventually locked their doors and didn't answer.  "must have been busy upstairs and not heard the knock, we weren't expecting anyone".  Of course, people told them the other option was when they see the parents pull in the driveway, get naked and have sex (or look like you're having sex) on the couch/floor/table so that if parents open the door, they see you.  That'll stop them from "just stopping over"!  Of course your wife recently gave birth, so this probably isn't an option right now :p
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: whybe on March 05, 2016, 01:02:33 PM
Nice... :-)

I will look into the book you mentioned. We need to strategize on the boundaries thing.
Title: Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
Post by: elaine amj on March 05, 2016, 02:52:02 PM
Spend some time with each other discussing which battles you want to fight and what boundaries you want to set. My in-laws are a handful, and fully believe in their right to interfere in any and all matters, particularly as it relates to our children.

What helped me (my kids are in their teens now and we all survived with our relationships intact):

- My DH made it clear that he would support me in anything. I rarely argued with them - he fought all "battles".

- My DH eventually realizing that sometimes wives just need to grumble and complain - he didn't need to go yell at them or anything (my brother is still learning this one lol).

- I looked at them in love, accepting them with all their faults. They generally had the very best of intentions, even when those intentions were super annoying.

- I took a stand with my key issues, and let the rest go. Although there were some occasions where even if I took a firm stand, they would still cross the boundaries. When DD was a toddler, my MIL kept insisting on cutting her bangs. We would come home to find her bangs cut. No matter what we did, she just wouldn't stop. That was her battle that she was willing to fight me about *sigh*. The only thing that worked was for me to make sure I always took my DD for regular haircuts.

- we did what we could to give all of us some space. We lived the first couple of years with my inlaws. Eventually, I couldn't handle it and we moved out. Eventually my MIL moved in with us due to health issues but it was easier since it was our house.

We still had issues through the years, but it gradually declined. I am glad I didn't cut her out of our lives. She has received tremendous joy out of our kids and watching them grow...and I could never do something like that to a family member anyway. She did raise my super awesome DH :)

I know my way won't work for everyone. But family is super important to me and I was able to be as patient with them as possible. I won't say I was the best DIL - I have spent plenty of time avoiding them and keeping my distance (that helped my sanity though lol!.