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#800284 - 01/12/13 10:07 AM SIL, and how her drama makes my marriage awful
sad_1 Offline
Amoeba

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 51
I am putting this here because SIL's behavior contributes to the tension between myself and hubby. The arrangement is thus: my husband’s brother and father bought this house that is in a vacation/retirement area. Some people live in this area full-time and some only vacation part of the year. They needed help paying for the house. Since we needed a place to live and thought that investing our money in the family’s vacation house would be better than just throwing it away by renting from a landlord, we agreed to give an initial investment of $30,000 and to pay half the mortgage per month and the primary resident (us at the moment) pays 80% of the electric, heating oil, internet (which they use to watch Netflix), and Direct TV (which we do not use, but BIL insists on having to watch football, even though the games he wants to watch are rarely on.) My husband is now listed on the title to the house along with his brother and father. When we moved in, we brought a houseful of things with us. Frankly, our furniture is a lot better quality than what was already here when we arrived because of the simple fact that this house is a catch-all for the whole family’s hand-me-down furniture that they no longer need for their primary residences. They helped move some of the furniture to the basement to accommodate our larger pieces. We also purchased furniture for the Master Suite, which we use, since we are the full-time occupants of the house. I reorganized the kitchen to combine my dishes and small appliances with the ones that were already here, and was told that it was “Spot on”. I have not thrown away anything that is theirs (not even so much as a spoon or fork) without their permission. It is hard to keep the kitchen organized, since SIL frequently puts things away in the wrong places. I put post-its up that listed the contents of each cabinet, but SIL insisted they be taken down. They still have access to the home for vacations. The living room and kitchen are “shared” in the sense that the boys turn cartoons on and then sit and play with their Kindles even if I am already in the room listening to music. There have been several times when I thought SIL was done in the kitchen, and as soon as we start cooking, she starts cooking something as well. SIL has her own cabinet in the kitchen that she puts non-perishables in, which I don’t mess with (can’t speak for my husband). There is one “common” bathroom that we have been asked not to use while they are here. Not really a problem with that, except for the fact that I can’t soak my sore muscles in Epsom salts while they are visiting. I place a basket of toiletries on the counter when our overnight guests are here. SIL has accused us of using her toiletries, which is ridiculous (she uses coconut scented products, and coconut does not go well with my body chemistry). That bathroom contains the only linen closet in the house, and when we moved in it was the only functioning bathroom, so that is where all our towels and cleaning stuff got put. SIL frequently complains that there are no towels in the closet and that they are HERS and should be put in there. One of hubby’s responsibilities is to carry up the folded laundry and put it away (due to the fact that I have joint problems and CANNOT negotiate the stairs while carrying something) He frequently forgets, so all the mismatched towels that go in the linen closet are usually in the laundry room (in the basement) where I have folded and stacked them waiting for hubby to put them away. The Master Bathroom was finished only after we arrived to contribute 50% of the supplies/labor. When that bathroom was finished, we bought matching towels for it, rather than try to remember which mismatched towels in the linen closet were ours and which were theirs. Bedroom #1 is permanently reserved for them and no one else uses it … EVER. (this was a little off-putting to me, however, one of the boys has allergies, so I understand why they want to control who/what is in there). SIL even expects me to stay out of that room, which wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that she feels that it is appropriate to go into our room without asking permission. SIL acted absolutely astonished that we borrowed the box fan from Bedroom #1 when hubby flooded the house and needed to dry the carpet as quickly as possible. As I said before, we have the Master Suite. Bedroom #2 SIL initially told we could share (so that is where our guests have stayed) though now she has changed her mind and wants it reserved permanently for them as well. This is kind of a problem for me because it makes it so that I cannot invite my ailing mother or my elderly grandmother to visit, since they expect our guests to sleep on the couch. I rarely have guests and most of them don’t stay overnight, but when I do, I think I should be allowed to use one bedroom to accommodate them (providing, of course, that I use my own linens). When they do visit, SIL normally sleeps in Bedroom #1 with the boys, their luggage is placed in Bedroom #2, and BIL sleeps on the couch. I would like BIL to use Bedroom #2 so that I can be up (either due to insomnia or because I have to work an opening shift) and clank around in the kitchen without feeling like I have to tiptoe around or do yoga in the living room without feeling weird. (Something about BIL waking up to see me trying to contort myself into various strange yoga poses just squicks me out. BIL and I kind of have some animosity because he feels that because he is a contractor that he should be allowed to dictate how the furniture in my bedroom is arranged. He feels that the design of the house calls for the bed to be in a certain place in the room, and that this reasoning should trump the fact that I need the bed to be against a wall so that my husband is shielding me from the fan blowing on me. I have certain tactile issues and cannot sleep with air moving past my skin. I have tried to explain this to BIL, but he just does not get it.) I asked them to give me at least 24hrs notice before they come. I feel that is only polite. I explained that I asked this because I have some anxiety issues and I like to plan things out. I also explained that I want to avoid having MIL or her daughters and FIL or BIL and family in the house at the same time, as they do not get along. SIL told me that if MIL was here when the other side of the family showed up that MIL should get a hotel. This makes me very uncomfortable inviting anyone to the house, since I cannot guarantee they will have a place to sleep. (I don’t think I can say to my friends/family, “Please come visit me, you can stay with me IF you want to sleep on the couch while a perfectly good bedroom sits empty and IF you have enough cash on hand to get a hotel at a moment’s notice.) SIL invites whomever she pleases to stay overnight. When I asked SIL if they could text me to let me know if they are planning on having an overnight guest (especially if it’s a male I haven’t met), she acted like I was out of line. BIL feels like since they are also partial owners of the house that they should not have to give any notice. I don't know if I can handle the fact that 5 people might just descend on my house at any given time. My husband is available, but he is very passive-aggressive and non-confrontational. He would rather sweep problems under the rug than deal with them. He handled negotiating the whole arrangement, and he agreed to some things that I would never have agreed to. For example, had I been in charge of the negotiations, I never would have agreed to pay for the Direct TV (we both hate watching TV with commercials and being tied to the network’s schedule and are not sports fans, so we use Netflix and Hulu exclusively) He’s a whole nother issue that belongs in a relationship counseling forum and not an etiquette forum. I am very much on my own here. I don’t have children, I have puppies who stay in a fenced enclosure or in my bedroom in their crates when there are extra people in the house. SIL seems to think that I can’t possibly be fulfilled without children and that I should have children as soon as possible. I asked her politely over e-mail (so that I didn’t have to discuss my ovaries in front of the boys) to please stop suggesting I should have a baby, and she wrote back that she was offended by me asking that. I would not even want to bring a child into this situation. Speaking of dogs, SIL doesn't like her dogs to be on the couch. That's fine, I respect her wishes by keeping my dogs off her couch and only letting them on our couch. My dogs are trained not to jump up unless they are given the command. Her dogs are not, and she acts like I should enforce her rules on her dogs. If I see her dog on the couch, I will tell him to get off, but I don't think I should have to put aside my knitting or whatever I am doing to try to drag her giant dog off the couch. Every time they are here I feel like I am being pushed into my bedroom. I agreed to own half a house, not one bedroom with occasional kitchen use. They live 3 hrs away, so they drive in. Sometimes, if I am lucky, I will get a call before they leave, and sometimes I will get a call when they are 30 minutes away. The most recent time I got a call when they were at the end of the driveway (they swear up and down that they told hubby, and he swears they did not). I have asked them to communicate directly with me, and not go through hubby, since he is unreliable, yet they insist on speaking to him. The issue that prompted this post was this: SIL looked in a cabinet that had Tupperware on two shelves and medical supplies on the top shelf and said that the medical supplies were in the wrong place. She continued on to say that medical supplies belong in the bathroom (something I know is wrong, because the moisture ruins them) and reccomended that I use the cabinet under the sink to store the medical supplies (this cabinet smells strongly of perfume, so I don't think it is the best place). I didn’t feel like getting in an argument, so I told SIL I would find another place for the medical supplies. I don’t understand why SIL thinks that I should keep everything in the place she would keep it. I need her to understand that I live here and I should be allowed to have my things in the common area. I put the medical supplies in the common area so that everyone could use them, but now they will be in my room, and she will need to ask to use them. If I could afford to leave my husband and live on my own, I would do it.

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#800309 - 01/12/13 01:58 PM Re: SIL, and how her drama makes my marriage awful [Re: sad_1]
Lori - Marriage Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Koala

Registered: 11/26/09
Posts: 2686
Loc: Orange, CA USA
Yikes. What a situation. First of all, even if your in-laws are "partial" owners, they need to remember that being a "partial" owner means having to work out suitable arrangements with the other owners. It does not give them the power to determine all the rules. Even landlords need to provide renters 24-hour notice before entering an apartment.

You not only made a considerable initial financial investment (did anyone else?) you also pay 80 percent of the mortgage. AND you occupy the premises.

You absolutely are within your rights to ask for advance notice for overnight guests--family or otherwise. As for non-family guests, these are a no-no without prior permission. Yes, it is their vacation property, too but just like a timeshare property, they need to have assigned weeks or weekends for visits so you can choose to be elsewhere. Should they be allowed to come and go as they please? No. Should they have unlimited access? No. Not when you're paying 80 percent of the mortgage.

They already have one bedroom to themselves that is off-limits to you.

But that is only the secondary problem. The real problem is that you are willing to leave your husband over this. While it is aggravating that your hubby is not dealing with this, you have to decide if your marriage is worth keeping. I certainly would not allow any pushy SIL to break up my marriage. She is your husband's brother's wife, not his sister, so it should be even easier to stand up to her.

Let them know that to make things fair, you all need to draft a suitable timeshare arrangement. SIL only has 10 percent rights. How many weekends a year should that allow her? When they are in the house, they can live by their rules. Otherwise, you don't have to follow her rules for where the dumb linens go and such. You live there. Be firm.

But be sure your own marriage is strong and intact by not making your husband feel bad for not standing up to them. You can do the dirty work if he won't. Don't blame him for the problems or take out your frustrations and anger on him. But be sure you are as sweet as honey to him so he'll remember whose side he's on and that it is in his best interest to keep you happy. smile

On the other hand, to keep the peace, I definitely would consider having the family buy you out of the house completely. Return your investment and cut yourself out of the vacation property rights. There can be only more pain in the future dealing with this SIL. I would hate to think what would happen should damages occur. (And by the way, who gets the tax right off?)

Find another home where you and your husband will live in peace in your own private domain.



Edited by Lori - Marriage (01/12/13 02:02 PM)
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#800329 - 01/12/13 08:11 PM Re: SIL, and how her drama makes my marriage awful [Re: sad_1]
sad_1 Offline
Amoeba

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 51
They had already been paying the mortgage for a number of years before they came to the point there they needed our help to continue paying it. FIL does not pay anything, he is on the title because he used his VA loan to finance the house, and now also functions as a voice of reason/deciding vote when BIL and DH disagree. When we invested the $30K, it balanced out the money BIL had already paid on the mortgage. Basically we looked at this deal as a nice thing to do for a family member in need, while also benefiting from it ourselves, since we would have been paying the same amount of money to a landlord (and getting nothing back from it) if we lived elsewhere. Sorry if this was confusing, but we pay 50% of the mortgage, as does BIL, but we pay 80% of the utilities, since we are the resident family. The Agreement states that the resident family will pay 80% of the utilities and if neither family resides in the house full-time, the utilities get split 50-50 like the mortgage already is. Believe you me, if I had anything to say about it, the Agreement would have quite a few more stipulations. They seem unable to understand that I only want to know their schedule so that I can make sure to avoid having StepFIL and MIL and her daughters in the same house as BIL and FIL. All I want is 24 hrs notice when they think their weekend is free, so I could cancel or rearrange my plans and get myself in a mental state that supports having 5 extra people and 2 extra dogs in the house. Suggesting drafting a new Agreement is pointless, since BIL is quite chauvinistic and thinks the menfolk should handle these matters. My husband and I will likely never live in peace. SIL’s actions are part of what is wrong with my marriage. See my posts in the Married – No Kids forum and the Domestic Violence forum for further details. Actually I view hubby as the main problem, sorry if the topic title was misleading, since BIL and I seem to get along fine and SIL is cordial to me when DH is not around. Would that I could have them return our investment and move out. They have already spent it getting out of debt. They have made noises like they want to kick us out of the house, since they think we don't take care of it properly. (They throw fits if my clean laundry is laying on the floor in my room waiting to be folded.) I laugh, because how can you tell someone who is an owner that you are going to kick them out?

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#800385 - 01/13/13 01:12 PM Re: SIL, and how her drama makes my marriage awful [Re: sad_1]
Lori - Marriage Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Koala

Registered: 11/26/09
Posts: 2686
Loc: Orange, CA USA
Ah, thank you for the clarification. When situations such as these arise, they give us an opportunity to see who we are, what we're made of and...what our marriages are made of. Yes, these are those "tests" that pastors and marriage officiants speak of that inevitably pop up along our marital journey.

When we can pass these tests, our marriages--and characters--strengthen. But sometimes, they overcome us for all our best and highest intentions and efforts. Sometimes, when they reveal true characters, we have to decide if we can be happy with the one we're with. In no way, am I making judgments here, having faced these tests (and failed many) myself.

In your case, you are within your full rights to request notice. That isn't much to ask at all. It is only common courtesy, especially since they're coming to visit means five guests plus two dogs. What an imposition!

But the real question is if your marriage is worth saving and can be saved just by moving out. You say that your husband is the main problem, not this situation. Aha. There it is. Perhaps this life situation arose to allow you to really reflect on your marriage. If you "will likely never live in peace" you might want to seriously consider your feelings.

I read your posts in the other forums. I see that you do have dissatisfaction in other areas of your marriage. Your husband is a selfish man. We humans are all selfish to some degree. But some selfish people are like black holes in the relationship universe. It can be suffocating to be around them.

Furthermore, I just read about his physically acting out and destroying property and calling you names. Yes, I'd say your problem is not your SIL or the vacation home.

If my husband was like this and refusing to go to counseling to address his behavior, I'd have to ask myself if I could be happy for the rest of my life living with this man as is. If the answer is no, I would not waste any more of my life with him. If the answer is yes because there is love and more good times with this man, I'd get into counseling just for myself to help me through.

At some point, you have to ask why you would stay with a man who does not respect you. Do you lack respect for yourself? The root of a lot of marriage problems is within the self because our inner self determines who we will choose, how much we will tolerate, etc. Strengthen yourself, love yourself, respect yourself and you will find enormous strength to set your outer world straight whether you choose to stay with him or not.





Edited by Lori - Marriage (01/13/13 01:19 PM)
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#800432 - 01/13/13 07:06 PM Re: SIL, and how her drama makes my marriage awful [Re: sad_1]
sad_1 Offline
Amoeba

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 51
I am giving him a chance to straighten up and fly right. When I graduate, there will be some major life re-evaluation happening. Right now I cannot afford to live on my own. Once I graduate and become self-sufficient, I will be able to decide if I need to jettison him.

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#800435 - 01/13/13 07:18 PM Re: SIL, and how her drama makes my marriage awful [Re: sad_1]
Lori-Dreams Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Chipmunk

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 1963
Sounds like you know what you want. Glad you have a plan.

You gave me another idea for a marriage article because sometimes mates will straighten up and fly right when divorce is on the horizon.
_________________________
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#800436 - 01/13/13 07:30 PM Re: SIL, and how her drama makes my marriage awful [Re: sad_1]
sad_1 Offline
Amoeba

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 51
Well, he does get depressed because he only has a GED and can't get any good jobs. If he can get into the school he wants, that will help a lot with his issues, I think, because he will be able to get a good job that he can enjoy. I will feel a lot less stressed once I am out of school and can have a better job too. I will keep asking him to go to counseling and telling him that I need to see long-term change, not just him being nice for one or two day stretches.

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#800437 - 01/13/13 07:35 PM Re: SIL, and how her drama makes my marriage awful [Re: sad_1]
Lori-Dreams Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Chipmunk

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 1963
Isn't it funny how we all have issues and don't realize that our issues end up affecting others in our lives? When men have self-esteem issues, they try to feel better about themselves by wielding power in their marriages and families.
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#800894 - 01/16/13 08:26 AM Re: SIL, and how her drama makes my marriage awful [Re: sad_1]
sad_1 Offline
Amoeba

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 51
He'd be perfectly content to just sit around and be depressed and mope and play video games. I don't accept that behavior from him, so he gets really mad and takes his temper on out the nearest inanimate object (or sometimes the dog ...) We have a standing Rule that either one of us is allowed to call for a Time Out if he needs to calm down or think about the issue ... the catch is that he's not allowed to play video games during Time Out. I think he forgot about the Time Out Rule, because he doesn't use it. I don't use it either, but I would rather sit and think together on a problem, and I'm pretty quick at coming up with solutions.

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#805890 - 02/13/13 12:40 PM Re: SIL, and how her drama makes my marriage awful [Re: sad_1]
Lori-Dreams Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Chipmunk

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 1963
Do you remember that old saying, "rules are made to be broken?" There is something inherently challenging about a rule.

Men--and women--don't like it when others impose rules on them, especially rules they don't like.

Instead of the word "rule," try the word "agreement." It might sound like a silly matter of semantics but words are powerful. The word "rule" makes one feel powerless while the word "agreement" reminds him that he engaged willingly into a guideline or compromise.

Say, "Remember, we agreed to..." Your tone of voice is key as well. No scolding or criticism. No disapproval. Helpful suggestions, reminders and even playful incentives are better. You are not his mother. Never, ever treat your husband like a child. Unless he is sick and needs some comforting. Every man turns into a little boy when he is sick! smile

Video games can be an escape from problems he doesn't want to face, but they also can be an enjoyable form of entertainment. Everyone needs that. I agree that sometimes the video game playing can be excessive (oy! If you only knew how many hours are spent playing computer games in my house!) and that can signal deeper problems that need to be resolved.

What do you want him to do other than play games? Can he be encouraged to find another enjoyable activity? A productive one? Anything from walking or training the dogs to building something new for the house. But be sure it is completely enjoyable and not "pay the bills" or "paint the bedroom" or "mow the lawn."

The problem when wives complain about their husbands' game playing is only worsened because they want to replace the fun with activities that are more like work. Not everything in life can be fun but be sure he has some fun in his everyday life, too.

It's a delicate dance to be able to get your husband to do what he needs to do without becoming a nag or a mother figure.

I constantly remind wives to remember how they treated their mates when they were dating, when they were best friends. Girlfriends are about fun. Wives are about responsibility. It's important for a happy marriage, to try to be both to your husband.
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