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So this might be a bit long, but I'm having an issue with my in-laws that is drastically effecting relationships all around, and I'm not sure at this point what to do except reach out to others who may have some insight into how to address this issue.

My mother-in-law and I both subscribe to traditional gender roles, but our outcomes are drastically different. For me, my willful and eager submission and respect for my husband results in affection, emotional/spiritual nourishment and a mutual respect and honor (within the confines of our roles, of course). In my mother-in-law's case, it results in her being taken advantage of. My father-in-law, for at least the past three years, has done nothing—and I mean nothing. He has no job, contributes absolutely zero to their finances, and shutters himself in his office all day, hardly interacting with his wife at all. He expects food on the table, his clothes washed, and his sexual needs taken care of, but provides absolutely nothing for his wife, who has severe breathing problems and works herself to the bone in and out of the home to provide for him. He is absolutely thankless and cares nothing for her needs or her health, choosing to be a miser who hoards every penny he hasn't earned instead of investing in his wife's deteriorating health. He refuses to help around the house or take care of himself in almost any way. Yet he continues to believe he is the head of the household, can determine what his wife does/how she spends their money, and puts his needs above hers in almost every case.

I'm so grateful and so thankful that his son is the exact opposite. My husband works two jobs, contributing 95% to our finances (I'm a housekeeper who makes about $200 a month, so I contribute a small amount), pays our bills and keeps a roof over our head, all the while respecting my needs and putting others above himself. He lives to serve others and does so exhaustively. He has never demanded I do anything for him simply because he can, and has never obstinately refused one of my requests out of selfish pride or a desire to put himself above me. I never feel as if I do not matter, as if my health and my needs are of no consequence, and I never feel as if my husband is purposefully out to hurt me or put me below him simply because I'm his wife. The same can't be said of my MIL.

My MIL has been somewhat in purposeful denial of the way her husband treats her. Everyone else around her has made gentle and well-meaning observations to her about the state of her marriage, but she has responded by blaming herself for her husband's behavior. I've tried to interject examples of my husband's behavior into our conversations to give her an idea of how a true godly marriage between man and woman is meant to function, but it hasn't done much good. The problem is, my MIL is close to her breaking point. She is working grueling hours, coming home and cooking and cleaning, and being expected to provide sexual favors to a man who refuses in every way to help her even one iota. Sometimes she can barely move, is in constant pain and when her lungs shut down she is always in danger of suffocating. As her breathing problems and other physical ailments get progressively and obviously worse, I can't help but feel furiously helpless. I don't know what to say to help her wake up. She is literally working herself to death. And I'm not sure how else to help her.

Her relationship with her husband is one of enslavement. While I respect the male role as head of the household, in my opinion my FIL does not deserve this title. He is killing his wife, and I do not know what to do or say to help her wake up to the reality of her situation. I'm not sure what I'm asking for; advice, help, something. I do not want to see my MIL die in servitude to an ungrateful, slothful and vindictive man. 

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It sounds like you did it right. She followed a traditional approach but, with 'the bad boy.' a lot of women plummet their smv to pursue Chad's. It's not your battle to make nor fight. Step aside. Let them handle it. 

Iam the product of the nuclear family. I value family and marriage but, I have no use for what it has become to this point. 

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Hi @CygniAustralis

Maybe this will be of some utility to you:

° Think of the earth and the moon. Without the earth's mass influence, there would be no force keeping the moon orbiting our planet. The moon exerts an 'attraction' too, hence tides, influence on the weather... etc. but it's way smaller due to it's much smaller mass and the distance. Anyway, the forces in-between the two could be increased/decreased if the properties describing their 'relationship' were somehow altered, i.e. the moon orbited closer or if the earth was a smaller influence, if it had a weaker 'pull', less relative 'weight-in-the-relationship'.

° Now imagine, that relationships between two people are somewhat similar, in that there are differences in strength of character, the couple's closeness... etc.

The main problem with my metaphor however is that human relationships are nothing like celestial bodies orbiting each other (or just very remotely)...

With seeing how couples interact/live together, one must be mindful to keep the existence of choice in sight, albeit with layers as they're more often than not split into admitted, secondary or un-aware components.

What I'm saying with this, is perhaps what could have been more instructive looking at the scenario you put forward, is to:

 °see who are the people,

and

° what decisions had they taken,

° what actions were performed

and

° whether there were repeating patterns visible there.

° BE MINDFUL TO OBSERVE MORE AND KEEP AN OPEN MIND, BE AWARE OF YOUR OWN INCLINATIONS (others might think com-pleeetely different)

Making judgements is necessary, although not possessing sufficient understanding will skew with the content of the truth it's within them and leads to bias, confusion...

Maybe, (in my personal opinion,) you exercising more curiosity and asking good questions (to them) about what's confusing you about their decisions... It's likely, it could make those you see now in a certain light, appear very different afterwards they answered your constructive and tentative questions.

Hope that helps...

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Discussion is good but I guess he won't talk although does she talk to him...?

Marriages take two and she's also part of the problem, as you perceive it.  I would stay the hell out of it.  Do you want to become third part of that problem, as you perceive it..  Do you to be remembered historically as the person who interfered.  Not easy to stay out of it, but truly, truly you are only getting one side of the argument, even he's a serial killer, although thankfully he's only unemployed.  Trying to help is natural but men have been killed trying break up fights between man and wife - both turn on the intervener, usually to help the women.

If you believe marriage is sacred then you will stay out of it.  They made a contract together and you weren't written in to that contract to be an arbiter in case of problems.  There are thousands of reasons to intervene in someone else's marriage, as perceived by external eyes.  Even to intervene in your marriage.  Give me details I'm sure I could be critical of your marriage.  Would you like that?

Their marriage is a car wreck is what you're saying but it's their wreck, not yours.  If she breaks away then that's different but marriage is until death do us part, not until someone else decides that one or other of the marriage partners isn't worthy.  Yes it's heart-breaking, so welcome to the world. 

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On 6/7/2018 at 3:39 AM, barn said:

Hi @CygniAustralis

Maybe this will be of some utility to you:

° Think of the earth and the moon. Without the earth's mass influence, there would be no force keeping the moon orbiting our planet. The moon exerts an 'attraction' too, hence tides, influence on the weather... etc. but it's way smaller due to it's much smaller mass and the distance. Anyway, the forces in-between the two could be increased/decreased if the properties describing their 'relationship' were somehow altered, i.e. the moon orbited closer or if the earth was a smaller influence, if it had a weaker 'pull', less relative 'weight-in-the-relationship'.

° Now imagine, that relationships between two people are somewhat similar, in that there are differences in strength of character, the couple's closeness... etc.

The main problem with my metaphor however is that human relationships are nothing like celestial bodies orbiting each other (or just very remotely)...

With seeing how couples interact/live together, one must be mindful to keep the existence of choice in sight, albeit with layers as they're more often than not split into admitted, secondary or un-aware components.

What I'm saying with this, is perhaps what could have been more instructive looking at the scenario you put forward, is to:

 °see who are the people,

and

° what decisions had they taken,

° what actions were performed

and

° whether there were repeating patterns visible there.

° BE MINDFUL TO OBSERVE MORE AND KEEP AN OPEN MIND, BE AWARE OF YOUR OWN INCLINATIONS (others might think com-pleeetely different)

Making judgements is necessary, although not possessing sufficient understanding will skew with the content of the truth it's within them and leads to bias, confusion...

Maybe, (in my personal opinion,) you exercising more curiosity and asking good questions (to them) about what's confusing you about their decisions... It's likely, it could make those you see now in a certain light, appear very different afterwards they answered your constructive and tentative questions.

Hope that helps...

Late in reply again, sorry! 

I think I understand what you're saying. I should've mentioned in my original post that my MIL comes to me very often to complain, and often relies upon me to get her out of the house so as to avoid being stuck at home all day. I have her perspective, as well as her son's (my husband) and her daughter's on the situation, but I've never received her husband's perspective, but that's simply because he'll never admit to an issue being present. In my interactions with my MIL I try to stay as neutral as possible, but I do try to explain some of his behaviors through a psychological lens (I have a degree in psychology) without being outright accusing and without tearing him down needlessly. 

I do continue to feel frustrated because on one hand my MIL is very viscerally aware of the issue but at the same time suppressing that truth mentally in order to, I believe, avoid some of the mental/emotional anguish and to stave off conflict. I continue to see my FIL as undeserving of his title of husband, but I would never use such language in conversation with her or any other member of the family. I'm still conflicted on how to approach this issue. 

Thank you!

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Hi @CygniAustralis

A pleasant surprise...

8 hours ago, CygniAustralis said:

Late in reply again, sorry!  

Don't worry, I understand you had higher priorities, more, important things to tend to... sure.

8 hours ago, CygniAustralis said:

I think I understand what you're saying.

I hope you did/do, though some analogous or symmetrical allegory certainty could have made me be more certain (,probably). All-right.

8 hours ago, CygniAustralis said:

[...]... my MIL comes to me very often to complain, and often relies upon me to get her out of the house so as to avoid being stuck at home all day. 

Is it fair to say that when some people (like your "MIL") seem to be acting more proactively in the vicinity of others (such as yourself) that more likely than not, suggests they prefer to be helped in making decisions, some of which on their own would maybe not have manifested if they had been left to their own devices?

8 hours ago, CygniAustralis said:

 have her perspective, as well as her son's (my husband) and her daughter's on the situation, but I've never received her husband's perspective, but that's simply because he'll never admit to an issue being present.

(Cynical smirk) Yep. Seen that, been there with people. I even had to journal about it myself (Although the research I did parallel into C-Biasies, made it doubly rewarding). A loop inducing phenomenon in most cases, very easy to fall into when lacking self-awareness, avoidance is stronger than curiosity.

What are?... What do you think about the secondary gains, the unspoken but evident gains resulting from it... ?

a. for him

b. for her

c. for the daughter

(...if there are, there might be none for some of those people ... these are open ended questions, helping me see what you are seeing, understand you better.)

8 hours ago, CygniAustralis said:

 In my interactions with my MIL I try to stay as neutral as possible, but I do try to explain some of his behaviors through a psychological lens (I have a degree in psychology) without being outright accusing and without tearing him down needlessly. 

What are/is the most prominent 'theme', or recurring syllogism she uses to describe it?

(Internalised narratives or 'myths' are key to breaking down the dynamic, I think.    

As in:

->ie. - she expressed helplessness, unable to affect those around / can't enter into people's guarded personal 'zone' = akin to seeing them being distant and entirely autonomous, completely independent?...etc. variations I haven't thought of.)

8 hours ago, CygniAustralis said:

I do continue to feel frustrated because on one hand my MIL is very viscerally aware of the issue but at the same time suppressing that truth mentally in order to, I believe, avoid some of the mental/emotional anguish and to stave off conflict.

Yes. Makes sense. It's only but the surface however in my estimation.

As in:

What does she think it would bring about, other than the conflict? What is really at the 'end of the road' that her mind's eye is looking at, that she's terrified of, the key ingredient in her choosing 'not shaking the bee-hive', do you think?

Could it have been in-grained in her from her past history? (the reason why I'm asking is 'cause I know very few people who are simultaneously open to self-knowledge, yet 'carry decades old logs of dead-weight'... you'll tell me, it's just a hunch+exp.)

8 hours ago, CygniAustralis said:

I continue to see my FIL as undeserving of his title of husband, but I would never use such language in conversation with her or any other member of the family. I'm still conflicted on how to approach this issue.  

I sort of agree with you from a point of suspension. There's a plethora of people that from a far-off perspective, from a superficial assessment seem to be in circumstances of 'undeserving proportions', lacking/indulging in qualities 'unfairly'... the reason for my multiple use of quotations is because when I put my 'objective-thinking-hat' on, usually the correlations equalise within surprisingly reasonable and humanistic standards. Probably you had the experience of seeing one through the glasses of 'it takes one to know another'. After having managed a situation yourself, became more aware of its presence in others simply because of a better insight on the mechanics.

All I'm trying to say with this is that perhaps you being on the 'can't conceive side of things' is due to lack of information from the souce, maybe something you haven't internalised yourself and that's why it looks 'foreign'. Hence my earlier highlighting...

On 06/07/2018 at 10:39 AM, barn said:

What I'm saying with this, is perhaps what could have been more instructive looking at the scenario you put forward, is to:

 °see who are the people,

and 

° what decisions had they taken,

° what actions were performed

and

° whether there were repeating patterns visible there.

° BE MINDFUL TO OBSERVE MORE AND KEEP AN OPEN MIND, BE AWARE OF YOUR OWN INCLINATIONS (others might think com-pleeetely different)

It's an enormous feat to have achieved the capacity to 'play devil's advocate' without steering off the path of neutral exploration, yet the better it's done, the fuller picture the 'explorer' can discover. (Um... not wanting to explain stuff you already might know... , probably you're more aware than me of the procedures when 'diving in', psych. degree and all... Just wanted to circle back a bit.)

8 hours ago, CygniAustralis said:

Thank you! 

I'm glad... that was my aim :happy:

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