Do you hate your in'laws? I do...

Maybe “hate” is too strong a word, but the alternatives aren’t all that much better; “despise”, “abhor”, “disdain”…nasty terms, all of ‘em. I’m not fond of any of my current in-laws, but my father-in-law is the worst.

So as not to seem like the stereotypical “guy who hates his in-laws”, I should mention that this is my second marriage, my second set of in-laws.

My former father-in-law was…quite frankly, the coolest old man I’ve ever met. I loved ‘The Colonel’, honestly, he was a friend of mine. He was an ex-Air Force officer, ultra-conservative, Republican, a war hero, a tough old bird who should have come across like a swaggering, mean old redneck; but that wasn’t The Colonel at all. He was humble, modest, almost shy. You had to get a few beers in the ol’ boy before he’d tell you any war stories…and he had a ton of them; he was an ace pilot in Korea and ‘Nam, huge kill record, incredibly decorated, once chosen for NASA (he declined), once a member of The Thunderbirds flight team, once base commander of Bergstrom AFB. The old man wasn’t a braggart; when you asked him about his military career, he’d usually change the subject. I didn’t hear his ‘we used to fly right up to the Czech border just to piss the Soviets off and make them go on Full Alert‘ story until I had known him 3+years; the fantastic ‘Area 51’ story until I’d known him 5-6 years.

He loved woodworking (one of the many common grounds we had), reading, history, cars, jokes and had a military guy’s love and fondness for beer and spirits. I always called him “The Colonel”, and he always called me by my name or ‘son’.

He had a beautiful old ’64 1/2 Mustang— factory Primrose in color, with a RARE 4-cylinder engine— that was his pride and joy. I’d always ask him “…so, Colonel, when are you ‘gonna sell me that Mustang?” and he’d always reply, “No need to sell it to you, son; you’ll get it when I die.”

We were polar opposites politically, but when we’d disagree it always came to, “…oh, I can’t agree with that shit,”. When we said goodbye after a visit it was always with a firm/crushing handshake and a ‘guy hug’…you know, when you lean in close and slap each on the on the back while shaking hands.

When the marriage dissolved, never seeing or hanging out with The Colonel again was one of the things that made me shed the most tears.

My current father-in-law? Oh, Christ.

My father-in-law looks like a clone of Colonel Sanders, and is an obnoxious old fart who has clearly chosen ‘pontification’ as his primary form of address. The old boy could (and would) talk the ears off of a dead man; if you ask him what time it is, he’ll tell you the complete oral history of the watch-making industry from the creation of the first sundial to present, different concepts of time that he’s read about, his own theory of the space/time continuum, the minute details of every watch he’s ever owned, why his watch is better than your watch, the social significance of clock towers in medieval societies…you may not actually ever find out what time it is, but you can rest assured, by the time he’s finished talking it’ll be at least 20 minutes later than when he started.

He’s a retired engineer, worked at a paper mill most of his adult life, but to listen to his long-winded oration(s), you’d think the man held multiple degrees in every subject ever imagined and had maybe even invented a few new ones.

And he couches all of the generous pearls o’ wisdom that he kindly drops upon society with this bullshit, folksy, hayseed-y, Wil Rogers-Lite manner that just makes me grit my teeth. He’s like the gene-spliced love child between The Professor on “Gilligan’s Island” and Gomer Pyle.

And a braggart? An attempted master of oneupsmanship? If you had a kitty cat as a childhood pet, he likely had a leopard; if your first car was a fast old Chevy, his was a vintage Cadillac outfitted with a jet engine; if you had a dip in the pool on a hot afternoon, he probably swam the goddamned English Channel (setting a new world record, at that). If you’ve got big, he’s got bigger; if you’ve got bad, he’s got badder; if you’ve got good, he’s got super-amazingly, jaw-droppingly outrageously, stupendously fucking AWESOME!

I simply cannot imagine that the guy has lived 70-some-odd years on the planet without ever having someone ask him to, pleeeeese, just shut the fuck up.

IME, people like that are frequently asked to STFU, or at least given strong body-language that conveys the sentiment. But they are convinced they are too damned special to listen to such things, and why would they deprive the world of their infinite wisdom?

OTOH, I really like my in-laws. My MIL, at 87, is getting cranky, demanding, and somewhat difficult to deal with. But what the hell, she’s 87! I’d say she’s earned the right. When I first met her 25 years ago, I liked her immediately. I’ll tell you how cool she is: my husband and I got married on a shoestring budget and had to pay most of the wedding costs ourselves. My mother was terminally ill when we got engaged, and we only had a 10 week engagement (I wanted my mom to still be alive to see the wedding!) So I bought a white prom gown, on clearance sale for $35.00, to wear as a wedding dress. I asked my MIL, who sewed beautifully, if she could just add a little lace or something to make it more “bridal”, and she said sure. Well, next time I saw it, she had de-constructed it into 19 pieces, and used those pieces to ‘build’ me a full-blown wedding gown from the ground up. Not only that, but she would bring it to my house for fittings and such, so we could do it in my mother’s room, so my mother would feel “included”. That’s how cool my MIL is.

My FIL? Disturbingly (deliberately) obtuse at times. But smart as a whip. Electrical engineer for Westinghouse for years and years. He got hired at Westinghouse as a “technician” because he didn’t have a college degree (had to drop out of school when his father died so he could get a job and support his family). He did the work of an engineer for years, on a tech’s pay. Then after some years, it came time for promotions, and they didn’t promote him. They loved his work but would not get over the fact that he didn’t have a degree. So he garnered two job offers, as an engineer, thankyewverymuch, from competing corporations, and went to his manager and said “Either I get promoted to engineer, or I go work someplace were I can be recognized”, and they promoted him. After he retired, there were so many pieces of equipment he had built himself, that no one else knew how to use, that they had to hire him back for six months (at $75.00 an hour) for him to train other engineers how to use the stuff he had built.

Mostly, I like my husband’s siblings, too (one I don’t care much for, but in the 20-plus years we’ve been married, I’ve only had to see him maybe four times, so no skin off my nose; another sibling of his didn’t care for me, but he died before we actually got married; I’d like to think if he had lived, he’d have come to appreciate me eventually).

So, like any family, they have their faults (about which I could go on and on, but I’m sure I’ve got stuff they could go on and on about, too). But all in all, I think I did pretty good, in-law wise.

You hate my in-laws? How do you know them?


I love my MIL and she loves me. She gave me a heart pendant for christmas. It says, “To my daughter…I will love you forever.”

twitch I had told myself I’d tone down on the FIL-bashing here - not the least since everyone’s heard the stories multiple times by now - but you had to go and post this.

Let me see if I can give the Cliff’s Notes condensed version. Edit: It doesn’t look like it, but that is condensed. :o

He’s got bipolar disorder, knows it, and refuses medication because he doesn’t see it as an actual problem. Plus he loves the highs too much, and his lows aren’t bad enough to be an incentive to deal with it.

He physically and verbally abused his wife and kids. There’s also some suggestion that the abuse of his wife extended into sexual humiliation and other stuff, but we don’t have anything solid about that. One of my husband’s sisters is still seeing a therapist to deal with the aftereffects, which include what I’ve called “Stockholm syndrome” - she almost always takes her father’s side over her mother’s. (And why not, her mother presented as the one without power during their childhood.) Plus at least half of the kids fought/are fighting drug and/or alcohol addiction as a result.

His dad worked all the time and his mom favored his brother, so he tries to enforce the Happy Loving Family model. You must spend every holiday with them or face anger and resentment. Even Christmas Eve and Day. Everyone must be happy and smiling at these gatherings. Any complaint of illness is treated as if you’re faking for the express purpose of angering him. The kids must call him at least once a week or else he badmouths those who fail this behind their back, to the other kids. We joke about who wins the “Bad Daughter/Son” award for that week. My husband was being bitched about after New Year’s because he didn’t call on NYE to wish FIL a happy New Year - even though my FIL had called him earlier that day and the wish had been exchanged then, and he knew we had plans that evening.

Any favor is a trap. He does it to make himself feel good. If you turn down an offered favor, he’s insulted. If you can’t really use a present/something extra he had in the house/whatever, he gets mad. If you accept the favor, he holds it over your head later, even if it was a temporary loan paid back promptly and with interest.

My engagement ring was from his own mother, willed by her to my husband for use when he got married. FIL tried to require a pre-nuptial agreement, which my husband rejected. Only a few years ago (we’ve been married for over a decade now), I heard my FIL talking to one of his daughters about how he’d rip the ring off my f*cking finger if we got divorced. My husband and I agreed that the next comment will get it thrown back at him. Nothing like feeling that your engagement ring is not yours, it will never actually be yours. We’ve planned to give it to the only nephew when he plans on an engagement - this might be in a few years since our nephew/nieces are only about 15 or so years younger than us.

He’s racist, homophobic, and bigoted against Muslims (and probably other religions if the topic arose).

My husband tolerates him so that he can see his mom, but in the past few years he’s begun to realize his mixed feelings about his mother never protecting the kids from abuse. His dad only stopped hitting him in his teenage years, because he caught a punch. Sure, she was a victim too, but she let him hurt her children. She had a wealthy family that could have supported her, a sister she was close to throughout; she had options.

I’m the opposite of what my FIL could have wanted for the wife of his only son. I’m feminist in belief, a vegetarian (non-proselytizing), childless by (mutual) choice, not a Catholic, not the same (both white European) ethnic heritage, and generally quiet and reserved. Furthermore, I rarely take the bait when he makes comments; I tend to just glare a bit and go icy, then change the subject. This really shuts him down because he doesn’t know how to respond; he’d prefer an argument because that gives him an excuse to really rev up his mania.

My inlaws were crappy parents to my wife. My FIL is a child predator that should have been in prison. My MIL’s only advice during problem times was either “this is what I saw in Redbook” or “I don’t know what to tell you.” I have no use for either of them.

My husband jokes that I’m the daughter his mother never had and if something happened between him and me, he thinks she would pick me. I dunno about that, but she’s amazing and she’s my role model in how to be a mother-in-law to my own two daughters-in-law. Sorry yours suck, mine is fantastic and I only wish I’d gotten to meet my husband’s father (he died a year before we even met).

I love my in-laws, except my FIL (who I don’t talk to and would not mind seeing drop off the face of the earth). Two words–abusive alcoholic. Brilliant (ex)doctor, horrible human being. He has, among numerous other things, gotten arrested on drunk driving charges on Christmas Eve, and blamed it on his daughter.

The rest of the family is great, and I love them. Even if my MIL is really good at laying on the guilt trips.

Oh, I forgot about this - my mother (only half-jokingly, I think!) said that if I hadn’t married my husband, she’d have been willing to adopt him! He loves her. My dad died pretty early in our relationship, unfortunately, but we knew he really liked the then-boyfriend because my dad struck up a lively conversation with him. Then-BF-now-husband didn’t realize anything was different about this, but my mom, sister, and I were all kind of listening around the corner and going :eek:. Dad was very quiet, reserved, one of those “man of few words but you knew where you stood with him” types. Actually easily engaging in a conversation with his daughter’s boyfriend was weird, and a very good sign.

(Oh yeah, my FIL bad-mouthed my dad, for being reserved. He didn’t like it because it was different from him and what he thought was “right” or “normal.”)

Jettboy, your father-in-law is the exact same person as my aunt’s third husband. I’d PM you to see if we’re related except that the occupation is wrong! My whole family dreads going to see them because he’s just so hard to be around. He’s also a HUGE gun nut and I get paranoid vibes from him, so there’s some weirdness coming from that direction too.

That said, I love my in-laws. I’m so glad I ended up with them, considering a lot of the horror stories I’ve heard.

I have excellent in-laws - they are kind, tolerant, and respectful of their son’s choice of a spouse. I’m sure they don’t approve of every single choice I’ve influenced their son to make, but they accept with grace that he’s a grown-up doing what he thinks is best for his nuclear family. Even though we aren’t touchy-feely close, I really cannot sing their praises high enough. They have never made me feel anything but a welcome addition to their family, although I’m certain that in many ways I’m not the wife they dreamed of for their first-born son.

I wish my husband had such a great mother-in-law.

ETA: I was only thinking about parents-in-law, but actually the above pretty much goes for the sisters/brothers in law as well. There are some SERIOUS political/religious differences among us, but somehow we can overlook that and enjoy each other’s company as needed. It helps that they are all smart, witty, and well-informed.

Well, I heartily dislike my narcissistic, dry drunk, manipulative, emotionally needy and arrested development circa age 13 MIL, but I think everyone knows that by now.

My FIL I am more mixed about. He was there for us any number of times–to help with the kids, with money (paid back), with handyman skills. It’s just that as he has aged, he has become increasingly harder to talk to. With Obama in the WH, he is practically foaming at the mouth re the “destruction” of this country. This man holds 2 degrees and a master’s. He was a brilliant Chem E. I still have trouble with the dissonance of so much education/so much bigotry and ignorance.

He is dying of cancer now, and my MIL is still dumping her shit on him–she can’t get out because she has to take care of him; she wants to get into his study and throw all his shit out, now (this in front of him) etc.

She’s a real prize. I figure I’ve learned what not to do re being a MIL. I do know that I will not guilt my kids into holidays etc; I will bite my tongue at times, but most of all, I will give my kids space and time to evolve their own traditions etc.

Hell, I’d like to meet this guy, myself. And you say his daughter is single?

My in-laws are just fine - I know they don’t agree with everything we choose, either, but I’ve never heard a peep out of them (they absolutely adore grandchildren, and Jim and I aren’t having any, but it has NEVER come up). As far as I know, Jim and my mom get along just fine. Jim never met my father because we were estranged by the time I met him; if he had, I’m sure he’d have lots of stories to add to this thread.

I get along fine with my in-laws.

My MIL is the sweetest, nicest old lady (she’s 94) on the face of the planet. Always pleasant to visit, tries hard to see the best in people, the same amazingly quirky sense of humor as her daughter. The best MIL one could ask for.

And my father-in-law is dead.


I hear they’re the easiest to deal with.

I get along great with my in-laws. My wife jokes I’m the son they never had. My parents however have be horrible to my wife. They seem to feel she stole me away from them. I have to say it was never my desire to live in the tiny town they moved to in the middle of no where. They couldn’t be bothered to remember my wife’s birthday (or mine) even though they bragged about the gifts they got my sister’s husband. Forget one of their birthdays and you’d get an earful.

My wife got the short end of the stick in this department.

Wow this sounds familar. We call it the Brady Bunch mentality.

While we’re hearing about your old FIL - care to share the fantastic ‘Area 51’ story with the rest of us? He sounds like an awesome story teller!

My husband’s parents divorced when he was 18 (around the time I met him), after 17 years of marriage, and they decided everyone else was going down in flames with them. Two otherwise reasonable and loving people who couldn’t possibly be more dysfunctional with each other. My MIL put her children through hell following the divorce – making my husband feel like it was his responsibility to make his Dad do what she wanted, sending him legal documents and incessant emails pertaining to the divorce, grossly neglecting the needs of her youngest child (my sis held a knife to her own throat when she was 12, and her Mom wouldn’t tell her ex because ‘‘he’ll just use it to make me look like a bad mother’’), and otherwise making her kids’ lives a living hell because of her severe codependency. My husband and I tried everything we could to get her to leave us out of it, but she insisted, so now we just ignore her emails. I kind of hate her, to be honest. A part of me will never forgive her for what she put my husband and my sister through, no matter how many fuzzy kitten socks she sends me for Christmas.

The good news though is that my beautiful, beloved sister in law is finally 18… they can’t fight about her in court any more. Everyone seems to be calming down. His mother is remarried. There is still drama because my SIL despises her father and his new wife, but my husband is learning to forgive his Dad for being emotionally abusive to his Mom. For the most part, they’ve all reached adulthood now and are starting to act like grown-ups.

Truth is, I consider myself lucky. His family is far more healthy and functional than my own.

Well, my in-laws are all deceased now, but I frankly couldn’t stand them when they were alive. My MIL was a manipulative, bigoted, superstitious, two-faced woman. Rude and insensitive, too. When we were first married she made my life a living hell and I suspect was trying to break up the marriage. After we had kids, she made a big deal of how much she loooovved me and all, but I knew it was a crock and, in a subtle way, a putdown. Oh yeah, suddenly I’m a great person and a wonderful cook. Gee, a few years ago you loved my cooking so much you arrived at dinner two hours late and brought your own food. Bitch.

My husband’s father died shortly before we were married, so I can’t really say I knew him at all. But his mother’s second husband was a control freak and a narcissist.