I am 27, H
is 29, we have been married 3 years, together for 12 years. I recently graduated
from vet school and we are currently living with my in-laws so we can get a
head start on paying loans back. We moved back to our home city, where dad is. Parents
divorced when I was 13, and dad is currently in his 3rd marriage.
Dad has always been controlling, and I am now starting to realize how it affects the rest of my life. Since we have moved back to town (January), he has wanted to get together every weekend. I work as a brand new veterinarian 50-60 hrs/week, with every other weekend off. While I have tried to be accommodating for his wants, H and I are starting to feel like I “have” to go see dad, rather than “want” to go see him. Dad and H have never really gotten along, they tolerate each other. H never wants to go with me because he says that I change my behavior when I am around Dad and it is awkward.
Dad has told me that it isn’t fair that I spend the majority of my time at my in-laws, and comparatively little with him, especially now that we live in the same city. He knows that we live with them. He tells me that I need to manage my time more evenly between “H and his family” and “my family”.
Recently, Dad asked me what I thought was a fair amount of time to spend with H and his family, and what was fair to spend with my family. I said I didn’t know, and he stated that it would be a good thing to find out. When I asked him what he thought was fair, he suggested that H and I come over to his house once a week for dinner or game night.
Dad has also said that I only see him when it is convenient for me, on the way to something else. Recently, I did see him for a few hours, and then left to go see my mom…on mother’s day. He is clearly upset that I didn’t spend enough time with him (about 4 hours), or that I didn’t see him a different day instead. I asked what other instances he was referring to, and he mentioned instances from 6+ years ago.
I am frustrated, and H is upset that Dad is suggesting, (or perhaps passively demanding?) that I schedule time to see him each week. At first, my thought was that this was not a very unreasonable request. But the more I think about it, and have asked people I trust, the more I am feeling the pressure of being controlled and manipulated. H says I need to tell Dad that I am an adult and have my own life to live with my husband, and that I will see him if I have the time, energy, and desire to do so. I don't know that I have the strength to have that conversation with Dad. I am afraid of how he would react.
As a caveat, whenever I do hang out with Dad, I meet him at a place of his choosing, and then we go in his car from there to wherever he wants (bookstore, shopping, his house to do…. absolutely nothing at all). Most times I watch him play games on his ipad. So I come home frustrated and irritated, and H has to deal with that. H has said that he would be willing to go camping, hiking, bowling, etc with Dad and his wife occasionally. Certainly not once a week, but every so often.
What does FM think about my situation? The comments I have placed in here are things he has said several times over the years. Is Dad’s behavior controlling and manipulative, with boundary issues? My thought is to ignore his comments. I could instead invite him to things that H and I will be doing, rather than hanging out with him and allowing him to dictate our time together. Any advice is appreciated! Thanks in advance.