Author Topic: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer  (Read 53651 times)

whybe

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advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« 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 ;-))


Cookie78

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #1 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.

vhalros

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #2 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.

galaxie

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #3 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.

supernovajm

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #4 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

bacchi

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #5 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.

Tyson

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #6 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.

whybe

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #7 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.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2015, 11:56:09 AM by whybe »

Tyson

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #8 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.

Retire-Canada

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #9 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.

Frankies Girl

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #10 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.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2015, 12:33:57 PM by Frankies Girl »

TrMama

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #11 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?

kathrynd

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #12 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.

vhalros

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #13 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.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2015, 12:56:35 PM by vhalros »

ltt

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #14 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.

Megma

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #15 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.

mm1970

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #16 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.

midweststache

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #17 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.

whybe

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #18 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.


whybe

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #19 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.

Candace

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #20 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.

cats

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #21 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)

taekvideo

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #22 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.

tarheeldan

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2015, 02:46:16 PM »
+1 Finish Thesis!

tele25

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #24 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.

puglogic

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #25 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. 

Janie

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #26 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.

hope2retire

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #27 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

Exflyboy

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #28 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.

Norrie

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #29 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.

swick

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #30 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.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2015, 03:52:17 PM by swick »

deborah

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #31 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.

pbkmaine

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #32 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.

iris lily

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #33 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.

Cycling Stache

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #34 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!   

Lynne

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #35 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 - lots of good advice and scripts for setting boundaries.

former player

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #36 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.

Dee18

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #37 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....

Vwjedi76

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #38 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.

bwall

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #39 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?

Chrissy

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #40 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.

expectopatronum

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #41 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.

whybe

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #42 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.

expectopatronum

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #43 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.

Spondulix

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #44 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?

Zamboni

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #45 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."

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #46 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.

Janie

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #47 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.

Pigeon

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #48 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.

KBecks2

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Re: advice needed - wife's family putting us through ringer
« Reply #49 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.