Why does my husband get so defensive about his family?
by maxie414, Jun 11, 2012
My husband gets angry whenever I say anything about his family. Even pointing something out sets him off. I can't say anything or else he gets defensive. He especially hates it when I say anything about the releationship his mother has with his ex-wife. His ex has done so much to alienate the relationship between my husband and his daughter that his daughter will barely say two words to him and completely ignores any attempt he does to make contact. His daughter is 18 and treats my husband like crap and we all know it's due to what his ex says and does. Because of this reason it bothers me when my husband's mother continues to be EXTREMELY friendly with my husbands ex wife, knowing she has poisoned his daughter's mind and has said so many negative things and lies about my husband. If I even express how I don't understand how his mom can be so friendly with his ex-wife he gets mad at me. I don't expect her to be mean or rude but she doesn't have to go out of her way with the hugs, kisses and I love yous to the ex-wife( she has been the ex-wife for 19 years). She can do all that with her granddaughter but with the ex she claims to hate and who has caused so many problems? I just don't understand it and I can't even say it to my husband or he gets mad at me and acts like I'm being ridiculous. He has even argued with me and threatened to leave me over a disagreement about his sister! A sister who when he was living with her had kicked him out for no reason, no notice because her husband at the time said so. They didn't care that he didn't have any of his things with him, they just locked him out one night. A sister who will stand by any man she is in a relationship with. I don't understand it and I've had it!!  He acts like they are his number one priority. I go out of my way to be nice to them and don't ever have disagreements with his family or anything. I'm not that kind of spouse but I'm getting to the point to where I'm about to say what is on my mind.

Also, in his eyes it's ok for him to talk about my family and my nephews and nieces and point out anything wrong (regular kid stuff at that) they do but no one can do that to him. He has even gotten to the point to where he is always pointing every single thing out that may daughter does. He has so much nerve doing that when my daughter does so much to help out compared to his kids who are way older. I've had it. I have told him he can leave if he's not happy and he can go live with his family. He is a totally different person around them (sweet, fun, helpful, and respectful) and with strangers but with me and my family, he acts like he could care less. It hurts me so much because we have a 2 year old together and I know I do more for him and treat him better than his exes have. (Hmmm, maybe that's why he has so many exes) Anyway, it also hurts me because my family treats him like one of their own and behind their backs he talks bad about some of them. Please give me advice. Thank you!!!
Member Comments (20)
by Londres70, Jun 11, 2012
Three things come to mind after reading your post:  

a. Dysfunction

b. Missing boundaries

c. Disrespect

Of course your husband is going to be upset; you are talking ill about his mother and it really isn't about anything she is doing to you but in regards to how she treats others, i.e. the ex you loathe.  It's unfortunate the ex hasn't made the situation between your husband's daughter and your husband ideal, but that has NOTHING to do with the MIL.  Perhaps the MIL is trying to keep in good graces with the ex because she doesn't want any problems between her and her granddaughter?  Have you consider that?

Then, your husband is "bad-mouthing" your family behind their backs?  

I am not sure why you both have this need to comment on each other's families so often and so harshly.  Why not minimize this since you both KNOW this is a "touchy" subject?  Sounds like you both are going into "full-blown" attacks on each other's family and it sounds unnecessary.  Sounds like a "equivalent retaliation" situation, i.e. you say something bad about his family and then he says something bad about your family....back and forth, etc.  

Plus, your stepdaughter is 18, so it is up to her to determine whether she wants a relationship with her father or not.  To can't control your MIL's behavior no more than you can control your SD's behavior just because you HATE the ex.  You can CONTROL how you response to their behavior and all this nonsense.  

Your statement....."I do more for him and treat him better than his exes have. (Hmmm, maybe that's why he has so many exes)."  My married him knowing the number of exs he had and I don't think it is necessary to compare yourself to his exs.  

Any thoughts about marital counseling?  I think that should be your next step and soon.  Your blended family is in the "danger" zone.  

I am not trying to "slam you"......just giving you honest feedback.    

by brice1967, Jun 11, 2012
Constructive criticism.... that is what Londres's post is and I think she may have hit it right on the head.  I don't know what I can add that will be of help...

About the MIL and her relationship with the SD.  It really sounds like she is trying to preserve a relationship with her grand daughter.  In order to do this, she stays in good graces with the ex wife.  (Yeah, I can see how this aggravate you.)  The key to remember here is, you cannot control your MIL, the ex, your SD, your husband.... the only person you can control is you.  You get to choose how bad all of this is going to affect you.  (I am not saying it is right or wrong to feel the way you do.)  

You get mad at him when he talks negatively about your family.  He gets mad when you talk negatively about his.  I'm not sure where any good comes of this.  This is unnecessary friction.  Of course you get mad when he does this.... its reciprocal.  He gets made when you do.  Is there ever anything positive said about each others family?

It's sad that the ex has manipulated her daughter to stay away from your husband.  Again, you cannot control this.  The daughter is 18 and is legally old enough to make her own decisions.  Regardless, sooner or later she will be able to see the real worth of her father and what a relationship with him might be like.  I'm 45 years old and only recently saw my relationship with my father, for what it was.  Unfortunately, my father died 15 years ago and I could not tell my father what I knew and always wanted to say.  

Marriage counselors sound necessary.  Either go together or individually, but I think both could benefit from it.  The help is there and you've already made the first step.  Acknowledging that there are issues is that first step.

Good luck
by maxie414, Jun 11, 2012
First of all I don't speak ill of my MIL and never have. Even when she has said things that could be considered rude, I have just held my tongue. My question was posted because I don't know why my husband gets so defensive or upset over anything. Most recent situation which I mentioned above. He was annoyed and I agreed with him. I guess he thought I took it to far by saying "I know and I don't know why your mother feels she as to be so affectionate with her especially if she can't stand her and says that she does not want to speak to her".  I don't exactly see that is speaking ill of her. My MIL says she cannot stand my husbands ex and doesn't want to have anything to do with her so that is why I said what I said. I don't like his ex either but I'm still cordial out of respect for my step-daughter. This brings me to your comment about if I have considered that maybe my MIL doesn't want problems, of course I have considered it and that is why I said I don't expect her to be rude or mean. I think nice conversation and a hug would be sufficient not multiple hugs and kisses and numerous I love you's within a few minutes. This woman will take this as it's ok for her to continue with her antics. I know this because she has made comments to my husband like that in the past. You would have to know the whole story to understand. As for the issue with his sister, he and I got in an arguement over his sister because I told him something she did that he needed to know because it affected other family members and in order for nothing to get out of hand he had to know. Anyhow, he got upset with me when I had nothing to do with it. Kind of a shoot the messanger thing.

Now, the situation with him talking about my family, he does do it quite a bit. He will say things about my sisters. I tell him not to because he would be livid if I did the same, which I don't. Therefore, your comment about us saying things often and harshly does not apply here. He will say things about their laziness or their attitudes and it upsets me because they aren't do anything to him or me or our family. They can tell us a story about something that happened during their day at work or whatever and when they leave he will be ready to criticize what they have said. He will point out any mess my nieces, nephews or daughter make which really gets to me because his teenage son can do the same and nothing is ever said to him. I tell him give my family the same respect I give his and to treat our kids to the same when it comes to chores.

Blended family topic. I wouldn't go as far as to say we are in danger, I get along great with my stepsons and their mother. My husband gets along with my daughter and my ex husband (other than him pointing out any little mess she makes). My step-sons and I have a great relationship and confide in me. I used to have the same relationship with my step-daughter till recently due to the ex mentioned above. She turned her against us once we had a child. It's a shame because she doesn't even get to spend time with her baby sister like my daughter does and my step-sons do.  I tell my husband to never stop reaching out because one day she will realize. Again, one would need to know the whole story here and know the crazy antics this woman has done to truly understand.  

Lastly, your remark about I new when I married him. I'm fully aware, hence my comment (Hmmmm, maybe that's why so many exes). That was supposed to be a light hearted spin to my judgement.

I hope this sheds a little light because this isn't a case of I'm crying because my MIL speaks to my husband's ex. It's nothing like that at all. Those who know me know that I have no problem being friends with ex spouses. I truly believe it's best for children. This is truly I don't know why my husband gets defensive when I say anything.

Londres 70, I'd hate to see your comment if you slammed someone. LOL ;)
by maxie414, Jun 11, 2012
Thanks for your feedback. I don't think my comment is being read the way it's actually meant. I'm not mad at my MIL for being nice to my husband's ex. I completely understand preserving relationships for the sake of children. I don't even care if they were friends. My issue is why did my husband get mad at me for agreeing with him I'm not a jealous person and everyone who knows me knows I'd rather everyone get along. I posted my comment because my husband gets over anything that is said about his family. The issue isn't about the ex, that was an example of what happened recently. His mother went overboard with affection to the person she claims to hate. It annoyed him, I agreed with him and said I don't understand why she did it to that extreme either and he got mad at me. His mother is the type that tells everyone off and doesn't care who's feelings she hurts. Her words are if someone doesn't like it then tuff **it. Again, one would need to know history and dynamics.  I'm upset with my husband getting mad at me for anything. The above was just an example.
by maxie414, Jun 11, 2012
It does bother me that she is like this because she knows what she is done and she knows it affects my husbad but I'm mad about how my husband reacts when I side with him or say anything about it. I'm not saying your mom this or that. I'm just saying I don't know why either, etc. does that make sense? sorry if it doesn't.
by maxie414, Jun 11, 2012
I just re-read my last comment. OMG, i cannot type today! It's supposed to say "Despite it does bother me how my MIL has been acting with my husband ex after what she is done, I'm mad about how my husband react when I say anything even if it's when I'm siding with hi. I'm not saying his mom is this or that. I'm just stating the facts. Maybe I shouldn't even say that. Ok, hope that makes more sense than my last comment.
by TTinKKerBBell, Jun 11, 2012
I do not understand what You see as an issue here.
You are saying You don't know why Your Husband gets defensive when You say anything about His family but it seems You are defensive when He says something about Your Family.  Your family was set long before You met Him and His family was set long before He met You - No one should be trying to change or "remedy" what was set in place before You/He came together.  Your Family is Yours and His Family is His and He's not likely to change anything about Your Family, You are not likely to change His.  I'm not sure what You are looking for here - but it didn't sound to me like Londres70 "slammed" anyone.
Maybe You could be a little more clear about  what kind of advice or feedback You are looking for?
by Londres70, Jun 11, 2012
I am just being direct and honest.  I don't tend to "sugar coat" many things. There is NO malice intended.  

I just don't think I would want to hear my husband tell me how my mother should act with others.  So, yes, I would consider this an "ill" comment or a negative comment.  If it wasn't a negative comment your husband wouldn't be upset.  

I guess I am just not understanding why you are so overly concerned about how your MIL treats the ex.  If she chooses to hug and kiss the woman, that's her business.  I am thinking that your husband might feel you are being petty and perhaps that's why he is getting mad.  He probably doesn't want to hear this is my guess.  Only he can tell you for sure WHY he is getting upset and you should ask him as anyone in this forum would be PURELY guessing.  

Your first post makes the situation more serious then your second post.  In the second post you have toned things down a bit with the situation.  

Most of the time if someone is "acting" defensive, then he/she probably feels like he/she is being attacked often.  

"My husband gets angry whenever I say anything about his family. Even pointing something out sets him off. I can't say anything or else he gets defensive."  My response.....perhaps you are offering comments, etc. that not in a positive direction; more negative and this is not being appreciated.  Plus....I am not sure what tone you are using with him.  

If he is getting like this with EVERYTHING you say.....I would recommend you both seek counseling and get help with this situation.  

In my opinion, the problem is both of you; not just him.  You have this communication "stumbling block" and this should be sorted out.  

by specialmomBlank, Jun 11, 2012
Hi there, I have a foggy brain and will read everyone's posts carefully and forgive me if this has been said.  I wonder if one reason that your MIL has kind of gone out of her way to be nice to your husband's ex is since she's seen what this woman will do if so inclined . . .  that she didn't want to be one of the ex's casualties????  Ya know what I mean?  Like perhaps she was/is afraid that if she doesn't treat this woman well, that she'll then be the next target.  

And sometimes people are defensive about their family because they have a little pain surrounding them.  My husband's mom was a real doozy.  Now, in the end, as she's passed away now, I felt I grew to like and respect her, but she was difficult with her worst fault being that she wasn't all that nice to my husband.  But she was his one and only mother.  He could be honest to me about her but didn't want me to use that information to hurt him more by bashing her.  She was easy to bash, let me tell you but I tried hard to control my tongue because it made my husband feel bad.  Better to let him do the complaining.  And I've found that to be the case with the rest of his family.  If I complain or point things out, he freezes up.  But if I don't say much, he'll notice things they do more.  Why that is, I don't know.  
And one other thing which is GOOD news for you.  If one of his buddies says something rude about you. . . he's gonna get ticked off.  He'll be loyal to you like he is to her.

So, I don't know why he is protective of his family.  But I've found that I just hold my tongue a bit and do all my venting and complaining about my in laws to my friends.  

I think that a my family verses your family is a battle that doesn't need to happen.  Keep it neutral.  Having in laws is a job for many people.  

Now, if she is mistreating you, that is another matter.  You have every right to tell your husband if you feel she is rude or nasty to you.  Then he should help set a boundary himself with his mom (or whomever).  

Again, I didn't read everyone's responses, so please forgive me.  I may be reiterating what everyone is saying or completely off track.  

I do wish you luck!