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In-law Trouble

I need help in dealing with my alcoholic in-laws.  Both my MIL and FIL are alcoholics, even though my DH refuses to say they are.  Every time we are with them, all they.  Luckily they live about 3 hours away and we only see them a few times a month but even that is becoming too much.  I am having a hard time dealing with this.  Its not like they became alcoholics over night and I understand I married into this but my DH will not work with me to set boundaries.  Typically, the problem lies with my MIL.  She cannot control her drinking and she ends up acting a fool and saying stupid things and stirring up drama which either leads to her crying at the end of the night or throwing up.  At that point, NO ONE can stand to be around her, including my DH and FIL but no one says anything or pulls the beer can out of her hand, which I do not understand.  I want to help her and would like to get both my FIL and MIL into a rehab program but my husband says this is how they have always been and they will never change so I need to leave it alone.  Since we are now starting to think about children, I am worried about having children and subjecting them to their alcoholic grand-parents because of their terrible lifestyle and behaviors.  It scares me to death.  Our nieces (my DH?s sisters kids) already cannot stand their grandmother in particular and has told me and my DH numerous times how mean she is to them when she is drinking and they don?t want to be around her.  I feel helpless because my husband grew up in this environment and I think is still in denial that they have a problem.  The moment anything comes out of my mouth about it, he gets pretty defensive.  I try to keep my mouth shut for the most part and I don?t want this to ruin my marriage but it is becoming a problem.  I can deal with it when it comes to me, but I refuse to have my future children have an everlasting image of grandma and grandpa with beer cans in their hand.  I don?t want them to have the same experience our nieces do with them.  Am I making this into a bigger deal than it is?  Help!

Re: In-law Trouble

  • You can't control their drinking. You can, however, control whether you are around when it gets out of hand. Why don't you leave when it becomes obvious they are drinking?

    As for hypothetical future children, I don't think it's too much to ask that they not drink around them. If they choose to drink, you can choose to leave. Simple as that. Well not really simple, but if you can stick to facts it will get easier.

  • I would strongly suggest you start attending al-anon meetings.  I'm sure your situation is NOTHING new to the people at al-anon.  So many family members of alcoholics are in denial.

    I agree, you cannot change your dh, or your MIL or FIL.  However, you are 100% in control of your own actions.  I suggest when your MIL starts drinking, that you LEAVE.  If that means locking yourself in the guest bedroom, going to your parents home (if they live in the same town), or hopping into your car and going home or to Barnes and Noble until it closes.

    One thing I have noticed from my own experience and from reading similar stores - often when a spouse (who is the family member of the toxic person) does nothing or keeps visiting, acting like everything is ok, it's because their DH or DW starts to act as a buffer.  So if notice that YOU are now dealing with MIL (b/c you want to help her, can't stand the thought of her choking on her own vomit) - remove yourself from the situation.  Its not your job to take care of MIL.  By doing so, you're prolonging your own agony (b/c you keep dh from experiencing the unpleasant dirty work of dealing with his mom).  Let dh and his dad clean her vomit, calm her down, etc.  Tell your dh "I don't like this atmosphere, I need to leave." and GO.

    Don't worry about kids right now.  Of course you won't bring your children to the drama and troubled atmosphere of an alcoholics home.  But as long as you aren't pregnant, you don't have to worry about that yet.  Deal with the problems you are facing now. 

    I will say - I stopped visiting dh's dad's house because his stepmother was a nasty alcoholic.  There were other reasons, but her behavior and nastiness when she was drunk meant that I didn't want the kids around her.  Once I stopped going (I told dh he was FREE to visit - just without me or the kids), he stopped going too!

  • Leave when they start drinking.  You know how that's going to turn out.  Just do it as unemotionally as you possibly can: "DH, I'm going to go in a separate car from you when we go to your parents' house, because I'm going to leave when they start in on the booze.  I don't like being around your parents when they're drinking.  But you're free to stay as long as you like."

    Right now, since children are only a hypothetical, that's not a battle that has to be fought.  Once you start TTC, though, it's probably time for you both to get into Al-Anon if you haven't done it by that point.  With kids in the picture, you have to be on the same page about how you're handling his parents and their alcohol abuse, and you may need some third-party advice and perspective from people who've BTDT.

    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
  • Ditto the PP recommendation that you attend Al-Anon. ?Al-Anon is for people whose lives have been affected by the drinking of others. ?You qualify. ?Your DH is in denial about his parents, but you should go for yourself. ?

    Secondly, when you have kids, don't take the children to their grandparents' house. ?Invite them to yours and don't serve alcohol while they are there.?

  • Textbook case your H is -- he's still in denial over their problem.

    (Adult Children of Alcoholics, in addtion to AlAnon, would be two good resources for him -- AlAnon for you, too)

    The only thing to do in the case of an alcoholic: You tell that person, "Listen, I really love you but you have an alcohol problem. I will not speak to you or have anything to do with you until you go to AA and/or a drug and alcohol counselor and you are clean and sober for a good period of time" and then stick to your guns. 

    You cannot get them to get clean and sober: this is up to the alcoholic to do so and that person needs a "rock bottom" moment to realize that they have a problem with alcohol and help is needed pronto.

     

  • I agree with the pps that going to Alanon would be very helpful for you.  They help families and friends of alcoholics deal with the turmoil of alcoholism and they know what you're going through.  Your DH is in classic denial.  He may be angry if you start going to Alanon, but that is his problem.  Going to Alanon is what you need to do to help yourself. 

    Regarding future children, their grandparents may always have beer cans in their hands (you can't control that) but the children don't have to be around to see it.  You have the ability to limit your (and any future children's) contact with them.

  • image DaringMiss:

    Secondly, when you have kids, don't take the children to their grandparents' house.  Invite them to yours and don't serve alcohol while they are there. 

     This. and also the recommendation of attending Al-Anon.

    image 

  • You are sooooo not over reacting. I don't know how much help this will be but, my SIL is a BIG alcoholic and it is always a constant battle when his rents and her visit. They are in TOTAL denial, but thats a whole other story. The days leading up before they come is always a trying time for our relationship but he still stays by my side. We really just want what's best for her.

         When we visit their house, it is what it is we can't control his parents rules even though it calls so many problems. BUT when they visit, we don't keep alcohol available to her. It's hard to deal with that we haveta hide alcohol in our own house, but we feel that its better that way. We haven't had to deal with what happens if they bring it to our house, but we have discussed how it will go:  "Please put away the alcohol, we would prefer to not have it in our house" If they don't respect that, they will be asked to leave. His sister may be an adult and be able to buy booze, but it is our house, so our rules. 

       You can't control what they do when you visit them, or what they do if you go out to eat, but you can control what happens in YOUR house. Good Luck with everything, I feel for you. 

  • They live 3 hours away and you see them a few times a month?

    My parents live 3.5 hours away, they're not raging alcoholics, and we only see them a few times a year.

    Who's doing all the traveling to visit? Them or you?

    fiizzlee = vag ** fiizzle = peen ** Babies shouldn't be born wit thangs ** **They're called first luddz fo' a reason -- mo' is supposed ta come after. Yo Ass don't git a medal fo' marryin yo' prom date. Unless yo ass is imoan. I aint talkin' bout chicken n' gravy biatch. Then yo ass git a all-expenses paid cruise ta tha Mediterranean n' yo ass git ta hook up Jared Padalecki on tha flight over while bustin yo' jammies. But still no medal.
  • I don't have any answers, but I think your concerns are absolutely legitimate.  I would not children exposed to this behavior.  You have a battle on your hands if your dh thinks his parents' alcoholism is appropriate/normal.  But I think it's a battle you need to fight.
  • Al Anon.

    People recomend it because you can only change your own behavior.

  • image zitiqueen:

    They live 3 hours away and you see them a few times a month?

    My parents live 3.5 hours away, they're not raging alcoholics, and we only see them a few times a year.

    Who's doing all the traveling to visit? Them or you?

    The same thing jumped out at me.  What's up with this?

    I'm also guessing that you and DH are drinking and sleeping over their home?

    1st step:  Stop drinking around them.  YOU - because you don't control DH.  YOU stop drinking completely. You'll be free and sober to drive away.

    2nd step:  Get a hotel room.  Stop sleeping over and watching this woman deteriorate to vomitting from so much beer.

    Listen to your DH.  This is how they are and they are not going to change.  It doesn't matter if they call it alcoholic or if DH calls it alcoholic.  Its just a label.  And it sounds like they are avoiding the label becuase they will not/ can not change the behavior.  And its the BEHAVIOR you want to change.  You can't want rehab for somebody else.    

    But you can certainly not visit them sevral times a month, drink with them and sleep over.  Change YOUR behavior.  Stop wasting your energy and damaging your marriage trying and failing.

    My darling daughter just turned 4 years old.
  • Typically, it is my DH and I that are visiting them but they also come to our home.  I have told my DH before that I prefer to stay at a hotel but he thinks that will just hurt his parents feelings.  I definitely am going to use the approach of just leaving.  I DO NOT drink when I am around my IL?s but my DH does.  That is part of the problem.  He wants to enjoy ?a beer? with his Dad or Mom while doing yard work, going to a baseball game etc. and I told him that he needs to give that up if he really wants to help them.  I also told him that the next time they come to our home, there will be absolutely no drinking allowed and we will find fun activities to do that don?t need to involve alcohol because typically that is all they want to do.  Thank you all for your suggestions about Al-Anon.  I never thought of that.  I will probably start attending on my own at first and hopefully my DH will decide to join me too!

  • And once again, the problem isn't your ILs, it's your H.

    And don't count on your H joining you in Al-Anon. You said yourself that he refuses to accept that his parents are alcoholics, not to mention the fact that he drinks with them.

    You know, you are allowed to not go with him when he visits his parents (every weekend, by the sounds of it).

    fiizzlee = vag ** fiizzle = peen ** Babies shouldn't be born wit thangs ** **They're called first luddz fo' a reason -- mo' is supposed ta come after. Yo Ass don't git a medal fo' marryin yo' prom date. Unless yo ass is imoan. I aint talkin' bout chicken n' gravy biatch. Then yo ass git a all-expenses paid cruise ta tha Mediterranean n' yo ass git ta hook up Jared Padalecki on tha flight over while bustin yo' jammies. But still no medal.
  • My mother is an alcoholic and so is my 40 year old brother who lives with her.  Thankfully,  I live 1k miles away.   When I visit "home" (the state I'm from) I stay at my dad's or sisters.  I go out to lunch or meet my mother in a public place.  My oldest brother is bad, like he goes in to DDTs if he doesn't drink first thing in the morning and frequently wets the bed.  After my last visit (where we had to leave the restaurant because he drank so much before he left home he went out to the parking lot and was making such an ass out of himself the hostess almost called the cops) I will not be seeing him again unless he makes the decision to stop drinking.  I don't care if my mom wants him along.  IMO the most important thing I have learned and accepted about alcoholism is you can not change their behavior.  The individual needs to want help before the help will work.  I no longer stress over their decisions because no matter how much I want to I can not control them.  What I can control is my, my DH's and my son's exposure to them.  It sucks my mom doesn't know my son at all but until she makes the decision to stop drinking and stop enabling my brother I don't see it changing. 

    I'm kind of at a loss as to how to make your DH see that their behavior is not normal.  I think it is important before you TTC to set boundaries because not only can your children be exposed to unpleasant and hurtful behaviors but also dangerous one as well.  

    DS 09/08

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