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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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Jul 19, 2017
Similar Situation
by: Anonymous

I have a similar situation where my wife hates all my relatives. In anger, she sometimes says that she hates me too and regrets marrying me. We have a kid together so at such times, I feel like she is with me only because of our kid.

When angry, she tends to get abusive both physically and verbally. Being the guy, I never raise hands on any woman let alone my own wife.

She also cannot find a single positive about my family. I feel like the bad communication has lot of blame on me and everyone, but daily life is tough. She sometimes cries that I ruined her life and no one cares for her. I feel very guilty with all this.

I have suggested counseling to her but she refuses to come with me. Other times, she is very excited and asks me to buy a new house and car among other things.

As the only earner, I am hesitant to make such huge financial commitments but at the same time, I do want to provide what my wife likes. This is all very stressing.

Apr 11, 2017
Please Get Professional Guidance
by: Anonymous

Re: aftermath of miscarriage/broken relationship with your mom

Please don't give your wife an ultimatum. You don't know enough yet. Grieving takes a long, long time to work through. Your wife may be struggling with depression. She may be still hurting badly. She wants to blame someone for her pain and your mom is convenient and by doing so, she is getting your attention. Couldn't this just be a very big cry for help?

I would recommend counseling. Please. Something is very wrong here and I don't think we know enough to give wise counsel. I would encourage you to get her into counseling for dealing with her anger and depression - but I would encourage you to also get into counseling alone to work on how to set appropriate boundaries with both your wife and mom.

Pick up a book about codependency and seriously consider whether you have had difficulty cutting the apron strings. Does your wife appropriately feel like she plays second fiddle to your mom? Has it taken a crisis for her to come to grips with the fact that your heart is with your mother and not with her? What if she is rightly crying out for reassurance that she has value and that you love her unconditionally? Are you dumping her because she isn't healing on your timetable?

Have you spent the years of your marriage expecting your wife to "love" your mom? What if she doesn't? Is this reason to dump your wife. Sometimes big happy families just don't happen - and that is tragically sad - but do you have the right or ability to force your wife to love someone?

But what if that isn't the real issue here? What if it is your wife who has issues with unrealistic expectations for you? I don't know enough.

As the mother-in-law in my own story of rejection by my daughter-in-law I interject my own caution. Saying a husband's responsibility is to choose his wife over his mom can be twisted in an inappropriate way. In a normal husband and wife relationship there is give and take, well set boundaries that can be evaluated and readjusted according to life experiences.

Is your wife using passive aggressive behavior to attempt to destroy a healthy relationship with your mom because she has personal issues that this crisis has brought to light?

Pick up a copy of The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists and see if their explanation of narcissistic personality disorder resonates. If that does resonate, discuss this with a counselor.

I again want to encourage you to evaluate carefully what is going on before making a big decision with your life. Consider both your strengths and weaknesses as a spouse. Consider your wife's strengths and weaknesses. Get professional help. You are both worth it.

From Dr. DeFoore Thank you so much for your thoughtful and well considered comment. I believe it will be very helpful to readers.

Apr 11, 2017
Your Wife Is Grieving...Give Her Some Time
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hi, and thanks for your comment. Please be patient and kind with your wife, and make sure you honor her grief process. Talk openly about the child you lost, possibly even give the child a name and conduct a memorial.

Try to avoid giving her an ultimatum.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Apr 10, 2017
Wife Hates Mother After Miscarriage
by: Anonymous

I couldn't imagine being married to someone who disliked my mother. Mum is the sweetest, kindest, most selfless person I know. So I was overjoyed when my then fiancé hit it off with her so well, they got on great. Otherwise, yes it may have been a deal breaker.

I love my mother with all my heart. She sacrificed everything for me and my brothers and had a hard life in the process. My wife and I have now been married 6 years and have a 5 year old daughter, who gets on great with my mum. But earlier this year, everything changed.

My wife had a miscarriage at 12 weeks, after we had announced the pregnancy. My wife didn't want it spread around but we agreed that if anyone asked specifically about the baby we would tell the truth. So that's what Mum did. She was naturally asked by several people about it, and told them the truth.

Unfortunately we can't control news once it gets out there, and it spread to an extent that my wife became upset and angry, blaming my mother. From that moment she has essentially excluded mum from our family and if I go visit her, even with our daughter, she stays home. Yes we've talked but she won't listen.

She knows it's getting to me and even promised it would all be OK by this month - how does that work? Well here we are and nothing has changed. Bottom line: I will give it till after Easter and then I will tell her that I don't want to be part of a family where my mother isn't welcome.

Apr 07, 2017
by: Anonymous

I have a similar situation although there is no abuse in our relationship. My wife finds faults with basically all my family members. It started a few years back with one of my sisters and then it was my other sister and then my mother.

Her and my mother were basically best friends and now she constantly finds things to complain about my mother. The most recent argument we had was dealing with the kids. My wife and I have a 3 year old son together and then she has a 12 year old daughter and an 11 year old daughter. My mother told me that her and my uncle want to take our son to a dinosaur exhibition this weekend. My son loves dinosaurs.

When I went to say something to my wife about it, she started screaming at me. She claims that my mom does everything for our son but nothing for the girls. My mom does do stuff for the girls. Every holiday and birthday, she makes sure she gets them great gifts. She pays attention to what they like and based gifts on that. She spares no cost to get them stuff they will love. She does so more for my son and gets him stuff more often but his clothes and gifts are a lot cheaper than the stuff she gets for the girls.

Plus, I may be wrong but I do believe 3 year olds usually do get spoiled more than 11 and 12 year olds. Not just by my mother but her mother, me, and my wife. It's ok when her and her family do it but it's a crime when it's my family. I keep telling her that my step daughters had their baby years where they got spoiled but she claims her exes mother never got them anything when they were little. (Which I know isn't true because she told me in the past that the exes mom use to spoil the girls).

We use to go to my mother’s house every Sunday for dinner and the girls would call my mother every now and then and she would take them to do stuff. Now they never call her, we don't go over for dinner and the girls basically don't have anything to do with her. Our son spends every Friday night with his ma'am. He has time for her and the girls don't.

My wife said she isn't going to let my mom and uncle take him to the dinosaur exhibit and she's not going to let my mom have him or buy him stuff unless she does the same for the girls. Now my wife's mother does a lot more for our son and that's ok. Her and my father in law lived in our house and stole from us, disrespected us, caused a lot of issues around the house but that was all ok.

Her mother was just recently in jail for a month and a half and we came up with the money to get her a lawyer so she could get out. Her own husband didn't help out at all. That was all good. About a week after she got out of jail, she found out she was really sick so now we have my mother in law living with us again and we take care of her.

My wife does the most but I help out as much as I can and I have no issues with this but to my wife, my mother is "the terrible one." My mother has helped us out SO much throughout the 5 years we were married. Her mother didn't just not help out, she took from us but yet her mother can do no wrong.

Anyways this is just the most recent happening. I don't know what to do because I love my wife very much but she constantly puts my family down. I couldn't imagine me talking about her family the ways she talks about mine.

We have a very hectic and busy life and the last thing I need is all the added stress from stupid stuff like this. I'm truly thinking that this is the last straw for me and going to get divorce papers in the morning.

Doesn't matter what I say or do, she always finds a reason to bash my family. And to make matters even worse, she has a habit of posting our issues on social media sites.

Mar 15, 2017
Please Read With An Open Heart
by: Anonymous

I read every comment and the core issue. I have the same problem and I never thought I’d have in-law issues. It isn't that your wife hates your family. You must understand that hate and anger and rage hurts her more than anyone. I'm in the same boat.

I feel this rage when my husband ignores how I feel. His mom persists on silently burning me and he talks to her. I ask him to support me, and he contacts his sisters despite their bad behavior, and he is cold with my family.

I sometimes hate him but I love him. I find him very unfair and the fact that he does things behind my back makes me trust him less, even though it’s just for his family!

Please don't be so unfair towards the wife. You have to realize that no matter how strong she may be, she always has the weakest position, as men will always drop you in a second. No woman wants to drop and go even if they say so!

She is sharing her life with you, have you understood that? She will be the only one there for you. Your mother has her own husband and kids, why not let your wife experience life?

How many rights does your wife have towards life? She needs to live this experience.

Jan 20, 2017
Family Forever!
by: Anonymous

I just gave my wife the freedom to find another man because I allowed her to stay away from my family. But now she gives me attitude and is depressed when I go interact with my family alone. I will never let up... family will never leave me or let me suffer but a wife can leave you even without much wrong.

A woman who can’t tolerate even a lousy family for her partner would never walk through troubled times with you. Let her go and find happiness alone or with another.

As for my wife I realized whenever she is unhappy after I interact with my family she chats to men on the Internet like she wants to make new "friends." So I’d rather she does that while we are separated and in my knowledge instead of behind my back. So that way she can take the decision of whether to move on with a new man or stay based on the risk of losing me.

Then finally I will know if she ever loves me enough to try tolerate my family as I have tolerated hers through it all.

Jun 27, 2016
Your Wife Is Right
by: Anonymous

You need to listen to your wife. How would you feel if the one person you chose in life, your spouse, chose to ignore and disrespect your feelings.

Even the best family relationships would buckle under the strain of a 3 month visit from an in law. The fact that you just told your wife your mother is coming to visit for 3 months shows how little respect you have for your wife.

She probably feels that you will never put her and your children first. She is constantly feeling the betrayal from you, it sends her into panic that the one person whom she wants to depend on is still being manipulated be another woman. Albeit that woman is your mother, but your mother has to know the strain she is causing on your marriage, and still she chooses to cause more by imposing herself in this way.

It is time for you to grow up and help your wife feel safe in her own home and family.

May 26, 2016
Sibling Rivalry a Factor?
by: Anonymous

I have loved my wife for 50+ years and her dislike of my family only makes me love her more. I observe the terror and anger of my wife for my 'betrayal' for still loving them when they are in their late 70's. She sees it as a rejection of her which could not be farther from the truth.

She has only ever collected reasons for her dislike and is unable to recall even one positive. Thus seeing my inability to dislike them as well 'proved' my loving them more than her. I see them only every year or so now and it is beyond my experience to understand why she feels so badly.

I am trying to get counselling for me so that I can begin to understand myself with a view to making her feel less traumatized.

Gathering information over the years, I found that my wife was the only child and spent the whole time with her Mum, her dad still in Army, until the age of 6 when a new baby brother was born. She was excluded from the hospital, only allowed to see her mother cuddling her baby through the window –these were the Matron's rules.

She always had a poor relationship with her brother while at home which may be the key to her lifelong dislike of anyone that may 'take away' the love she feels to be her due. My experiences are an added complication as I am the youngest of three and lost my dad to suicide on my I3th. Birthday, so plenty of analysis 'fodder' there.

The trauma my wife feels is increasing as she grows older, and she relives her terror with every imagined betrayal.

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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