My Wife Hates My Family

by Stephen
(Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)

I write this with a heavy heart. We have been married for 11 years now and I must say my wife has never liked my family. She finds fault in every little thing they say and takes it very personally.

Over the years, she complained to me that my family belittles her, downplays her contribution in our family, and never said nice things to her, and absolutely not a positive thing she can say.

To be honest, my family members have their flaws, but they love my wife very much. A lot of the unhappy episodes were in my view, caused by miscommunication or misunderstanding. For the first 10 years, she told me she managed to "let go" of those silly comments my family makes.

My wife is very sensitive in nature. She is a workaholic and often stays up late to monitor the share market. She is impulsive and likes to get things done quickly and effectively, and leaves very little time for relaxation. She tends to take on the world's problem and in 2006, she had a big fight with her own mother about a will she was doing. It took her 1 year to get over it, and in the interim, she had a lot of outbursts and screaming etc.

She picks on the tiniest of things and twists it and always take the worst and most negative interpretation of what was said. She remembers events to the most trivial details, and would often try to link things together, even though the events happen in different times.

She hates my parents and my two sisters to the point that she is thinking of revenge everyday, and wants them to die a terrible death. She responded very badly when my sister attempted to buy my son a gift. She flew into a rage.

In March 2011, my world turned around. When she found out my mother was coming for a stay lasting for 3 months, she was never the same again. She had daily episodes of outbursts, with phone smashing, yelling, abuse, dragging me out of bed at 1am in the morning and scolding me and being abusive, very often accompanied by uncontrollable rage, chest tightness, and this would last for 2 - 3 hours, and continue on again in the morning. She often rings up my sister to abuse her, called her very nasty names and wishing the worst on her.

She said she is constantly thinking of revenge, wants to rock the whole family until each of us is "drowned", and wants to sever ties with everyone. She is threatening divorce every day and taking away our son and my possessions.

However, at a lot of times, she seems completely normal and can have the most logical and sensible discussions about things. However, the mere mention of my family would trigger a nuclear war.

She is extremely unhappy, and at times, when she was at her senses, she said she felt stupid herself. But when she gets angry, her arguments are so logical and yet so hurtful and full of venom.

Her brother and mother had told me she is quite extreme in her thinking, and can draw blood out of a stone for the most innocent comments.

She has smashed a few phones so far, a pot, belted me with a cup, and to be honest, I have never seen anyone so hateful and full of rage.

The weird thing is her own family had also "offended" her in the past, and yet, she never exhibit the same level of rage and anger as she is showing now. I'd like to think she has some kind of mental illness so that all of these are excusable. But could it be that she is just an evil person or is she really ill?

I took her to see a psychologist in early 2011 but was told she had no depression. But I don't know.

Given that she has blown up and yelled and screamed at my family for so many months now, her anger is not dying down but it seems to get worse. I am quite troubled by her evil thoughts.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Stephen, and thanks for telling your story here. I can certainly see why you're concerned about your wife's behavior, particularly since it seems to be getting worse. I will try to help.

First of all, I encourage you to set aside thoughts of whether she is "evil" or not. That will get you nowhere. Your only valid focus needs to be on yourself, and taking the best steps for your own well being and peace of mind.

I think you will find the following page on relationships to be very helpful:

how to deal with abusive relationships

If your wife is willing, it would be good if the two of you could work through the exercises in this book: Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. It is practical and powerful, and if you both do all of the steps, you will benefit greatly.

Follow the guidelines in the above referenced pages, Stephen, to help you make the right decision for yourself in terms of how to manage your relationship with your wife. You cannot fix her or get her to do anything different. The best thing you can do for her is to be healthy and strong within yourself, and from there you will make the best decisions regarding your marriage.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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May 23, 2016
Validation vs. Agreement
by: Anonymous

Your wife comes before your family. I have a similar situation but without threats of violence against my family. Validating your wife's feelings is very important here.

Don't try to explain your family or defend them. However, if you wife demands that you agree with her assessments/opinions, etc. of you family that is not validation. This misunderstanding of validation (by your wife) is a major source of discord.

It is also very easy to get angry when your wife complains about family, especially incessant repetition over the same things, from years ago. What might be happening is your wife experienced her father emotionally abusing her mother during her childhood and has now projected that onto you and your family.

Counselors don't like going into childhood experiences these days, but knowing about that can help in keeping yourself from getting angry along with your wife. Works for me.

Apr 26, 2016
Growth Of The Passive Spouse Is Key
by: Anonymous

I speak from personal experience here as I am seen as a mother-in-law from hell but who in reality wanted very much to love my new daughter-in-law. There was a news article six months ago about a man who went to the animal shelter to adopt a dog; he brought the dog home and the dog immediately killed his new owner. What was wrong? The new owner loved dogs and reached out in gentleness which was interpreted incorrectly as malicious and vengeful so the dog protected himself in the way he could. Misunderstanding big time. Our family situation is like this story - we reached out in normal ways to our new daughter-in-law who accused us of being disrespectful and controlling because we did those normal things. Our son was told he had to pick between his family of origin and his wife...and he obviously picked his wife. Things have disintegrated from there to the probable point of no return and as a result a close family has been broken in two. What is the real issue here? Through counseling I've seen that my part of the problem is co-dependency and an inability to set solid and unemotional boundaries instead of retreating in tears from this angry and injured young woman's behavior. My son's part of the problem (should he ever admit it) is that he also cannot set boundaries with his wife and with his family of origin but gives in to her insistence that he support her unconditionally and preferentially. (Usual advice, right? Well, not exactly. When a desire to please or pacify takes precedence over his own evaluation of what HE wants in his life this is unhealthy and abnormal behavior. My son would seriously benefit from individual counseling so he could focus on individual growth and boundary setting.) One interesting thing I learned was to consider who has the power in a marriage where one spouse is controlling and the other passive. It is not the controlling spouse but instead the passive spouse. When a passive spouse becomes strong enough to set effectual boundaries, he is now the strong one who is able to build or rebuild healthy relationships -- his spouse is now an ineffectual child throwing temper tantrums in desperate attempt to regain control. Only if she decides to maturely accept her need to evaluate her behavior does she have any chance of real relationship. Growth of the passive spouse is the key.

Apr 22, 2016
No Rhyme or Reason
by: Anonymous

Although not as extreme, I, too, am going through the same thing. In my case, it's easy to pinpoint where "it all went wrong," but the bottom line is, some people just can't forgive and forget.

I am constantly badgered to just up and leave, and move as far away from my family as possible. This is not a solution and there will undoubtedly be other problems that she will constantly be complaining about. Forcing a spouse to cut all ties to their family since they are merely "extended family" now is unacceptable, especially when the other constantly visits their own family.

Hurt, anger, insults, whether real or imagined, or merely perceived due to a propensity to twist any words into a negative spite will always beget resentment. I believe the problem lies with a bad/negative attitude.

Unfortunately, that is something that I cannot force to change in my spouse and it's really unfortunate that there are many others in my situation. I hope we can find peace someday.

Feb 21, 2016
3 Months Is Too Long!
by: Anonymous

I found this page because my husbands mother hates me to the point she refused to visit our child for the first three years of her life. My husband mollycoddles and cowtows to his family to the point that I have been excluded from family events because it might upset the mother. My husband attends these events and takes the children and his stance is that I just need to accept that his family is this way.

The idea that anyone would allow someone else to come into the home for a visit without first discussing it with their partner is shocking to me, especially if it's a person who causes strain on the relationship. Dinner would be bad enough but 3 months. I think your wife is being abused to be expected to be OK with her partner inviting anyone for 3 months behind her back and without the option to say no.

Feb 11, 2016
I'm Fed Up And Will No Longer Visit My Husband's Family
by: Anonymous

I have been going through this for 30 or more years. My husband has allowed his family to exclude our daughter from the family. I have tried to take the high road throughout this marriage. Treating them with the upmost respect, welcoming them into my home, staying overnight.

Nothing ever stopped the way my family was treated. In our face they would put on this big how you do, but talked really bad behind our backs, even complaining to my husband that we don't do enough for the family, we treat the family funny, a whole bunch of bull. What about the way our daughter, their blood relative has always been treated, because they never liked me and he did…he made a choice without their approval…that is the only reason.

I have gotten phone calls from family members telling me what I should do or not do in our relationship. My husband and I have had our share of arguments , a couple of times we got physical…this was all before we were married, and we were both young (18) and not proud of this at all. We worked out our problems, promising each other never to get physical again and it never happened again. The physical only involved some pushing and yelling.

We have been together 37years. I tried real hard with his family, but things just kept happening, so I decided I was done. No more birthdays, holidays or anything. He still goes to see them, and is angry with me when I refuse. No one even knows our daughter's or grandchildren's birthdays.

I am disappointed that I let this go so long, but I love my husband and his family but I can't take any more. In their lives, our daughter does not exist unless it's time to manipulate my husband to do something for their children. I’m completely fed up.

Oct 15, 2015
Hang On...
by: Anonymous

This comment is also directed at the anonymous poster from March 15th. If your family has caused your wife to go nuts over unjustifiable and outlandish reasons, then you need to talk to your family and give them a chance to apologize. You need to always put your wife first. Granted your wife has justifiable reasons for acting the way she is. If your family gets away with doing bad things and doesn't apologize for it, then they need to be cut out until they start respecting your marriage. Your marriage is your life and your future, and with your family upsetting your wife and your future, they have no respect for you.

Oct 01, 2015
Starts With You
by: Anonymous

Wow, I'm sorry that both of you have to go through this. I must ask, what is it specifically that your family members have done to offend her?

The reason why I ask is nobody throws and break things if they are angry over nothing. There needs to be some credit for her here.

You shouldn't have to go through this either, but to help yourself, if you really want to fix this, figure out whatever is bothering her and just take care of it.

They are YOUR family, and when they are irritating your wife, it will affect your marriage. Find out where the problem started with your family, nip it in the bud, and maybe your marriage can flourish instead of the both of you suffering. Maybe they are crossing boundaries? Being passive aggressive? These things can be hurtful.

Putting each other first no matter what is the most important thing about marriage. It's only the two of you who signed up to share a future. It's going to be really hard. Good luck!

Mar 15, 2015
Then What?
by: Anonymous

Understand her side, then what? Say goodbye to the family who you grew up with? To do that for a woman who'd most likely leave you in a fit of rage for something else, it seems pretty radical. Believe me, if it's not your family it'll be something else, or at least that's the way it sounds to me. Seems like she is generally unhappy with herself and her decisions and is taking her resentment out on you. It is terrible and selfish for anyone to force not just someone, but the love of their life supposedly, to make that choice.

Feb 03, 2015
Everyone Has A Place
by: Anonymous

Sounds to me like your family may be provoking your wife and then you are taking their side. Maybe if you talk to your wife and see why she feels the way she does, then you will understand. Everyone has a place. And your wife should come first.

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