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Author Topic: 4.21 | BPD in-laws: Experiences and coping strategies  (Read 8352 times)
Kwamina
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« on: November 12, 2015, 09:07:34 AM »

Hi again

Most people posting on this board have family-members with BPD (traits) in their lives. Some of us were born into a family of origin (FOO) with one or more BPD family-members. Others found themselves confronted with BPD family-members in the form of BPD in-laws. And some of us are dealing with both categories Smiling (click to insert in post)

In this thread I would like to focus on BPD in-laws. I would like to explore the experiences and coping strategies that you have. To aid us in this exploration, I've formulated some questions:

1. Who is the BPD in-law in your life? What are the most significant challenges you face with this person or as a result of this person being involved with your family-member? Are you perhaps dealing with multiple BPD in-laws?

2. At what point did you realize something might be 'wrong' with this in-law's behavior? Was it a sudden realization or more like a gradual process?

3. Do you feel that your relationship with your family-member (in a relationship with) or partner (related to) this BPD in-law, has changed as a result of the involvement of the BPD in-law? If you do, in what ways has your relationship with your family-member or partner changed?

4. Have you found effective coping strategies for dealing with your BPD in-law? If you have, could you perhaps share some of them with us?


I would greatly appreciate it if the members with one or more BPD in-laws, could answer these questions.

Many thanks in advance for anything you are able to share here Smiling (click to insert in post)

Edit: Question 3 needed some sharpening up, now also includes partners related to BPD in-laws.
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2015, 10:16:42 PM »

These are good questions, Kwamina.

I am slowly going through old posts to see what sorts of things I have posted that relate to the topic.

1. Who is the BPD in-law in your life?

We think my dh's sis is uBPD. His mom has lots of Npd traits that counselors for three different family members, including myself, have suggested we read up on--no diagnosis just awareness of what npd can mean in terms of communication and relationship.

What are the most significant challenges you face with this person or as a result of this person being involved with your family-member? Managing guilt and managing relationships that fit our values.

Are you perhaps dealing with multiple BPD in-laws? Yes--at least axis-2 type behavior


2. At what point did you realize something might be 'wrong' with this in-law's behavior? Was it a sudden realization or more like a gradual process?

The process was gradual. There was always weird behavior--guilt, enmeshment, unstated but expected expectations--that I just ignored because the behavior just didn't jive with my upbringing. Thankfully, because I ignored it and didn't jump to try to fulfill needs, I didn't get sucked as sucked into certain dynamics and behaviors. However, the first experience as the focus of a rage was sudden.

3. Do you feel that your relationship with your family-member who is in a relationship with this in-law, has changed as a result of the BPD in-law coming into that person's life? If you do, in what ways has your relationship with your family-member changed?

I'm not sure if my answer fits this question precisely. I am married to someone with a uBPD sibling and unpd mom. I feel like my marriage has been enriched in some ways as a result of learning to maintain relationships with significantly difficult (and/or mentally ill) people. I have to say that one of the gifts of uBPD/unpdis that I have learned more about myself and my dh and more strategies to parent sensitive kiddos and communicate better in general.

4. Have you found effective coping strategies for dealing with your BPD in-law? If you have, could you perhaps share some of them with us?

Here are some snippets from past posts about coping:

My dh has a mom who is very NNNNNN (narcissistic) and a sister who appears to be uBPD. He is distant with all of his siblings, and this extends to other family relationships. DH has noted on occasion, "I wouldn't have contact with my family if it weren't for you." I have to be careful not to be the main connection to dh's family for him; he needs to be in charge of maintaining his relationships. There are people in DH's family I like and others that I am not fond of. I choose to foster relationships with those I like and DH follows--he feels very ambivalent about his family after years of drama/guilt/FOG, and he doesn't want our children infected (dh is very protective and angry about letting his family near our kids). However, we are not close geographically, for the most part. We email two or three times a month. We talk on the phone every couple of weeks to certain siblings/cousins/MIL, and we see people three or four times a year. Most of us live far apart, so the F2F time seems normal. I feel that my family is a bit more healthy, and we see my family a similar amount of time or less, and we live in different states and have similar phone/email habits, although I talk to my parents weekly.

Over time, my dh and I have changed patterns of behavior with his family. With his sister, we have low contact.

With his mom, one boundary we have worked to create is that when people want to visit us, they have to let us know when they would like to come for a visit, so we can check to see if the visit works with our schedules. What this has done for us is if dh's mom does not like to ask if it's okay to come for a visit, she either gets a hotel room and tells us she will be at a hotel on certain dates, or she finds friends/family in our area and stays with them and then tells us she is visiting with so-and-so in case we want to see her.

This is a bit weird and uncomfortable because it makes us seem like mean or unaccommodating people. But my therapist keeps reminding me, this is her choice, and all she has to do is call or send an email saying, "Would it be okay to come and stay with you on X dates?" and she is refusing to do this since we started telling her we didn't like getting a call in the morning saying she would be arriving that evening to stay with us for X-amount of days.

Another boundary we have is we want our children to see family members at their best, so we do not do holidays at dh's mom's or uBPDsil's houses because these have a long-standing pattern (decades) of triggered/disordered behavior. Other family events or family hosts we go to because they do not seem to act out in other locations.

When it comes to gifts and my uBPDsil's family, I look at giving a gift as something that is free of attachments and expectations. We send birthday, graduation, Christmas, confirmation, and whatever other type of gifts to nieces and nephews because we choose to err on the side of reaching out or giving without strings attached (which is a fairly unknown concept in much of DH's FOO). We rarely receive acknowledgement or a thank you card, and I have no idea if the gifts are received or if uBPDsil takes cash/gift cards for herself, throws them away, or gets rid of packages, but I continually work on letting go of caring about the outcome (always easier said than done!  ). It is much less annoying after a number of years of practice. The years that uBPDsil has decided to acknowledge birthdays/holidays of our children, we send a thank you note, and our children are old enough to write their own now. We hope that we are modeling positive qualities, but we choose to do this for ourselves and not what it may or may not do for upbdsil and her family.

I have to say that therapy has been necessary for working on being okay with the types of contact/boundaries we have with these family members. CC often feels just as bad as the enmeshed, narcissistic, and uBPD behaviors, but my therapist says that these feelings are normal. What we are being called on to do when dealing with people with these behaviors is not usual, but we are maintaining a relationship even though it's limited. And, we cannot give MIL or uBPDSIL the relationship that they want because it's so dysfunctional and unhealthy for us, so we accept the discomfort of doing what is healthier for our marriage and our family.
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Kwamina
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2015, 01:57:49 AM »

Hi Pilate

Thanks for kicking off this discussion!

3. Do you feel that your relationship with your family-member who is in a relationship with this in-law, has changed as a result of the BPD in-law coming into that person's life? If you do, in what ways has your relationship with your family-member changed?

I'm not sure if my answer fits this question precisely. I am married to someone with a uBPD sibling and unpd mom. I feel like my marriage has been enriched in some ways as a result of learning to maintain relationships with significantly difficult (and/or mentally ill) people. I have to say that one of the gifts of uBPD/unpdis that I have learned more about myself and my dh and more strategies to parent sensitive kiddos and communicate better in general.

Don't worry about it, your answer fits exactly with how I really intended the question to be  I have since edited the question to also include partners related to BPD in-laws.

I can relate to your answer here. I don't have experience with BPD in-laws but do have a lot of experience with BPD family-members in my FOO. I too have found that in certain ways I have been enriched because the coping skills and communication tools required for dealing with people with BPD, can be seen as highly advanced life skills. It for instance has greatly helped me in dealing with difficult colleagues and other people outside of my family.

With his mom, one boundary we have worked to create is that when people want to visit us, they have to let us know when they would like to come for a visit, so we can check to see if the visit works with our schedules. What this has done for us is if dh's mom does not like to ask if it's okay to come for a visit, she either gets a hotel room and tells us she will be at a hotel on certain dates, or she finds friends/family in our area and stays with them and then tells us she is visiting with so-and-so in case we want to see her.

This is a bit weird and uncomfortable because it makes us seem like mean or unaccommodating people. But my therapist keeps reminding me, this is her choice, and all she has to do is call or send an email saying, "Would it be okay to come and stay with you on X dates?" and she is refusing to do this since we started telling her we didn't like getting a call in the morning saying she would be arriving that evening to stay with us for X-amount of days.

Another boundary we have is we want our children to see family members at their best, so we do not do holidays at dh's mom's or uBPDsil's houses because these have a long-standing pattern (decades) of triggered/disordered behavior. Other family events or family hosts we go to because they do not seem to act out in other locations.

These are some great boundaries! I totally agree with your therapist, it is your MIL's choice to not call or e-mail in advance. Also very wise to only see them at 'low-risk' family events Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Boundaries are very important to protect your own well-being so I am very glad you've been able to set and enforce these boundaries with your in-laws.

We hope that we are modeling positive qualities, but we choose to do this for ourselves and not what it may or may not do for upbdsil and her family.

This too is very important. We cannot control other people. By changing our own behavior we might influence them or we might not. Regardless of whether they change or not, by changing your own behavior you are changing the dynamics of your relationship with your BPD in-laws. Sounds like you've made significant progress Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

What we are being called on to do when dealing with people with these behaviors is not usual, but we are maintaining a relationship even though it's limited. And, we cannot give MIL or uBPDSIL the relationship that they want because it's so dysfunctional and unhealthy for us, so we accept the discomfort of doing what is healthier for our marriage and our family.

This is very true. The knowledge and skills required to deal with BPD individuals, is something we aren't born with. Usually it is something we learn a long the way, often through a process of trial and error. Acceptance is key, as hard as it may be, only after accepting reality as it is, is it truly possible to deal with reality as it is and make a change.

Take care and thanks again for answering these questions, I found your post very insightful
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2015, 07:42:57 PM »

1 BPD in law is ex dil

2 I think I had thoughts of problems while they still lived overseas when we skyped or on special occasions when she wouldn't come out of her room. But it was when they lived with us for a year and I experienced the rages,  the not talking for sometimes up to a week,  the general rudeness and her obvious feelings of "we owed her" just to name a few problems. I was working full time in a very physically and emotionally demanding job at the time and it was ghastly to come home to. My husband stayed at work to avoid the problem!

3 I  think my relationship with my son is perhaps closer but at times more difficult with my husband as he just likes to ignore the problem and not talk strategies. However I must say of late after a big talking to he is trying to communicate so maybe something positive may come out of it.

4. Coping strategies?  I have a very good friend who I talk to.  She has been wonderful and helpful. I am a former oncology nurse with rather a black sense of humor as you get when you work in that field for any length of time and I now use that black humor whenever situations become totally ridiculous as it can get with texts emails etc that don't make any sense and are illogical. I find it really helps to see the funny side of things.  It's not that I am laughing at her just at the situation.  It relieves frustration, anger and bewilderment. I even try and use it where appropriate with my gd and she gets it.

I also avoid talking to her and put everything in writing and I am learning to create boundaries which had made me feel better ie that we are not at her whim of changing rules etc according to her mood of the day and this was a frequent occurrence. So frustrating.

I still get very sad for gd a 12 year old should not have to deal with this and I get frustrated at the ever changing rules and her sense of the world owes her ( if you look at my past posts you will see why) and i am still working on this one.  But as I said boundaries!

Also an odd one I guess is other people's reactions.  They do not get that a female of this particular race could possibly be abusive. I am learning to shut up and stop justifying. This site had been an amazing help with these problems.
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2015, 09:13:04 PM »

1. Who is the BPD in-law in your life? What are the most significant challenges you face with this person or as a result of this person being involved with your family-member? Are you perhaps dealing with multiple BPD in-laws?

I used to think t was just my Ex's dad, who used to be a violent man. After coming here, I started to think the my former MIL was a Hermit-Waif, who parentified and emotionally enmeshed her eldest daughter. My Ex realized it, too, after leaving me, minus the BPD terminolgy. There is a cultural component going on as well.

2. At what point did you realize something might be 'wrong' with this in-law's behavior? Was it a sudden realization or more like a gradual process?

3. Do you feel that your relationship with your family-member (in a relationship with) or partner (related to) this BPD in-law, has changed as a result of the involvement of the BPD in-law? If you do, in what ways has your relationship with your family-member or partner changed?


Both of these go together. I never had a direct problem with her parents. Her dad has always been affable, but I could see not emotionally connected to any of the kids. He even tried getting out of going to his last son's high school graduation, saying he had to work around the house (his wife made him go, but everybody knew, so the emotional damage was done).

Having babies, though a lot of work, should have been a joyful time. It wasn't so much. My MIL's anxieties were mirrored by my Ex. She knew it, and would sometimes comment that she knew the right thing to do, but was trained otherwise. It was an internal fight she had with herself. The kids were going to get sick and die if things weren't dine just so... I wasn't allowed to bathe them for the first 6 months. MIL had to come over to show how it was to be done properly, as if it were rocket science. Hose them off, blow-dry. How hard is it, really?

The only real episode of domestic violence happened when I let our son, then about 1, fall asleep on my shoulder while she was making dinner. He had to be bathed, or he'd get sick or something, and of course he had to eat first or he'd starve to death. I walked into the ktchen to tell her (dreading it), walked out, and she slammed the refridgerator door hard enough that the door contents spilled onto the foor and made a huge mess.

On a side note, her older brother is BPDish. None of the other siblings trust him as stable. I found out this past summer that he raised his hand and threatened to smack S5.

4. Have you found effective coping strategies for dealing with your BPD in-law? If you have, could you perhaps share some of them with us?

I dealt with it by letting her go once I realized that she was trying to recreate the r/s dynamc of her parents, even switching to be like her dad, the cheater. All in all, her parents always liked me. It was my Ex's mirroring of their worst traits which caused harm. Truthfully, me mirroring being the little hurt turkish of my BPD mom wasn't helpful either. I wish I had some sage advice to share, other than looking at the tools on the Staying Board, because even if your spouses aren't BPD, they may have a few traits given BPD parents or siblings. If not BPD traits specifically, then probably some unhealthy coping mechanisms.
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2015, 07:08:49 PM »

Can I just add another thing that can be difficult if it is an inlaw. I have found that I have had to get past the fact that it is an inlaw and not your own child.  While not to downgrade the difficulties that parents of BPD children have,  I guess rightly or wrongly I feel I didn't make the choice of this girl in our family and I haven't signed on for this.  All the while trying to support our son and gd as she continues to reign havoc down upon them.  I guess that is where my humor comes in.  When I feel the emails texts etc are getting too ridiculous I tend to try to laugh and see the funny side. It is honestly much easier than crying!
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2015, 09:54:56 AM »

Hi mother in law

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!

4. Coping strategies?  I have a very good friend who I talk to.  She has been wonderful and helpful. I am a former oncology nurse with rather a black sense of humor as you get when you work in that field for any length of time and I now use that black humor whenever situations become totally ridiculous as it can get with texts emails etc that don't make any sense and are illogical. I find it really helps to see the funny side of things.  It's not that I am laughing at her just at the situation.  It relieves frustration, anger and bewilderment. I even try and use it where appropriate with my gd and she gets it.

I also avoid talking to her and put everything in writing and I am learning to create boundaries which had made me feel better ie that we are not at her whim of changing rules etc according to her mood of the day and this was a frequent occurrence. So frustrating.

I still get very sad for gd a 12 year old should not have to deal with this and I get frustrated at the ever changing rules and her sense of the world owes her ( if you look at my past posts you will see why) and i am still working on this one.  But as I said boundaries!

Also an odd one I guess is other people's reactions.  They do not get that a female of this particular race could possibly be abusive. I am learning to shut up and stop justifying. This site had been an amazing help with these problems.

Having a support network, people to talk to about these things, can be greatly helpful. So I am glad you have this good friend to talk to. Does this friend also know about BPD or do you talk about your DIL's behavior in more general terms?

It's clear that you too have discovered the importance of boundaries

It is sad though for you gd and also very difficult for her. Being raised by a BPD parent can be quite confusing for a child, many of the members here have experienced that.

We cannot control the reactions or views of others, but fortunately we can control what we do ourselves. Great to hear that you've found this site so helpful Smiling (click to insert in post)

Can I just add another thing that can be difficult if it is an inlaw. I have found that I have had to get past the fact that it is an inlaw and not your own child.  While not to downgrade the difficulties that parents of BPD children have,  I guess rightly or wrongly I feel I didn't make the choice of this girl in our family and I haven't signed on for this.  All the while trying to support our son and gd as she continues to reign havoc down upon them.  I guess that is where my humor comes in.  When I feel the emails texts etc are getting too ridiculous I tend to try to laugh and see the funny side. It is honestly much easier than crying!

This is actually one of the reasons this thread was started. Growing up in an environment with a BPD family-member is indeed in some ways a different experience from all of a sudden in your adult life being confronted with a BPD in-law.
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2015, 10:03:11 AM »

Hi Turkish

Thank you too for sharing!

The only real episode of domestic violence happened when I let our son, then about 1, fall asleep on my shoulder while she was making dinner. He had to be bathed, or he'd get sick or something, and of course he had to eat first or he'd starve to death. I walked into the ktchen to tell her (dreading it), walked out, and she slammed the refridgerator door hard enough that the door contents spilled onto the foor and made a huge mess.

I believe you posted about this incident before. What did you do after she slammed the door? How did she react to her own behavior?

Were there perhaps also other 'less real' episodes in which she became physically violent (or threatened to become)?

On a side note, her older brother is BPDish. None of the other siblings trust him as stable. I found out this past summer that he raised his hand and threatened to smack S5.

This is quite concerning. That older brother definitely needs to be watched.

I dealt with it by letting her go once I realized that she was trying to recreate the r/s dynamc of her parents, even switching to be like her dad, the cheater. All in all, her parents always liked me. It was my Ex's mirroring of their worst traits which caused harm. Truthfully, me mirroring being the little hurt turkish of my BPD mom wasn't helpful either. I wish I had some sage advice to share, other than looking at the tools on the Staying Board, because even if your spouses aren't BPD, they may have a few traits given BPD parents or siblings. If not BPD traits specifically, then probably some unhealthy coping mechanisms.

You've actually shared some great advice here. Reflecting on your past you have been able to identify the dynamics of what was really going on. Once you are able to recognize this, you can start to make a change Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2015, 05:35:21 AM »

Hi Kwamina no my friend has not had experience or even read much about BPD. She did in the early days however ask if ex dil had npd. I had really no knowledge of BPD before this. 

My friend listens allows me to let off steam comforts me when I have cried (and there was lots of that before I discovered laughter) and never judges.  The not judging is so important as many have said on this site some situations are so outlandish sometimes they are difficult to believe. We go back a long way ( 52 years ) and I think we  really understand each other.

I also think being able to write things down on this site ask advice then step back to wait for the answers saves an awful lot of heart ache as it would be so easy to jump in feet first and react in a really bad way to what ever problem has arisen and we all know that doesn't work with a BPD person.

I think I have said alot on this subject Thanks for listening.
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« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2015, 09:31:00 AM »

Hello,

I am also gearing up for the holidays and am dreading a holiday visit where I will be battling my MIL who will try to take over the house, make passive aggressive demands (waif), and pretend she is all about visiting with her grandchild, though she will show no affection unless there is an audience of strangers.

1. Who is the BPD in-law in your life? What are the most significant challenges you face with this person or as a result of this person being involved with your family-member? Are you perhaps dealing with multiple BPD in-laws?

My MIL.  Biggest change is realizing that I have had to bring it up and talk about it as my husband does not like to deal with the chaos and appeases everything.  He has always been very accommodating and in turn will become physically ill when she throws guilt on him or puts him in difficult situations.  It is challenging for me not to get angry with my  husband when he goes into "checking out" mode when she is around so that she will not get upset about anything and everything. 

I also have a great aunt who has severe witch BPD and am again in no contact with her.  I will send her a Christmas card but nothing else.  I feel awful about her as she is 85 and lives alone and seems very coherent but when I talk to her she yells and is abusive and only wants to get into circular arguments.  The last time she, I let her yell at me for 10 minutes and asked her to not be mean to me and she started again.  I hung up and probably will not talk to her for quite a while.  And it makes me sick with sadness and guilt.

2. At what point did you realize something might be 'wrong' with this in-law's behavior? Was it a sudden realization or more like a gradual process?

With the MIL it was a gradual process.  My husband was in denial but then slowly revealed more to me about how it was common knowledge in the family.  (Aunt is a psychiatrist).  I realized all the stories of mean people who made her cry where really stories about people who could no longer take her insults and demands.  If people don't act or respond exactly as she expects, she cries.  We went to her house for Christmas two years ago and I really realized that she could never manage any schedule.  We would eat dinner at 10 pm after her saying it would be ready at 5 and not allowing us to eat anything else. And she constantly says she is sorry.  I would find her going through my things and sorting them out and if I would walk in on her, she would say she is only trying to help.  I saw the repetitive calls to my husband that were done in a way to create chaos.  Ex. Calling him right before he gets on a plane to say something is wrong with his father and that they might have to go to the hospital. Or if he didn't answer she would leave a message that they were going to the hospital with his father and then she would not answer the phone when he called back. My husband would become physically ill.  I saw it happen so many times. 

3. Do you feel that your relationship with your family-member (in a relationship with) or partner (related to) this BPD in-law, has changed as a result of the involvement of the BPD in-law? If you do, in what ways has your relationship with your family-member or partner changed?

I feel like he is now open to talking about it and we have worked out a bit of a strategy.  We invite them out once a year, instead of her constantly tell us when she would like to come out.  We try to do things on our terms.  For this visit, we have activities planned for the entire time as we cannot have any idle time with her because she cannot sit still and will do things like lint brush all the furniture, try to make food ( this is the absolute most stressful situation with her - food making), or sit with us all in the living room or make comments about how uncomfortable the bed is of that my daughter isn't yet potty trained.  (We allowed her to purchase her own air bed and have it sent to the house.  My husband said if we bought a bed she would complain about it but she would not if it was her purchase)

I will admit I need to remind myself not to get mad at my husband for his acceptance of her behavior.  He has lived with it his whole life and done what he does to survive. I am afraid for the future and what will happen if his Dad passes first. We've already decided that if she moved in with us, our marriage would be over.

4. Have you found effective coping strategies for dealing with your BPD in-law? If you have, could you perhaps share some of them with us?

My coping strategy has always been the medium chill - is that what is called?  She knows nothing about me.  We don't tell her about major events. Surgerys, etc.  She gets hysterical and insists on coming out to help even if she is no help. She says unhelpful things that trigger my husband and upset him. (ex. when I had pre eclampsia in the hospital, he called to tell her I had it and was having a c section. she yelled and cried and told him that women die all the time from it.  A rattled husband was the last thing I needed before that surgery, he was a mess) I've stopped trying to foster a relationship with her.  After we had a child, I used to often send pictures and videos but every time, it just created a flurry of comments, many rude.  Then she would text my husband and sort of "fact check" what I had said.  So no more information. We Skype with her once a week and occasionally I will send her a photo. I am cordial and nice.   We never tell her when my mom comes to visit because she is also very competitive. 

I have constant anxiety about her coming to visit.  She insists on dominating everything. I love her husband.  It is hard for me to bite my tongue when she interrupts any conversation I try to have with him.  Yes, the holidays. Thanks!
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2015, 09:47:50 AM »

Hi sammy1212

Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights with us.

My MIL.  Biggest change is realizing that I have had to bring it up and talk about it as my husband does not like to deal with the chaos and appeases everything.

... .

With the MIL it was a gradual process.  My husband was in denial but then slowly revealed more to me about how it was common knowledge in the family.  (Aunt is a psychiatrist).

... .

I feel like he is now open to talking about it and we have worked out a bit of a strategy.

... .

I will admit I need to remind myself not to get mad at my husband for his acceptance of her behavior.  He has lived with it his whole life and done what he does to survive.

I am glad that your husband is now more open to talking about the problems with his mother. Do you feel like he has come out of denial? Does he also know about BPD and if he does, do you feel like he too believes his mother has BPD?

It's clear from your post that your MIL's behavior really affects your husband, sometimes even to the point that he gets physically ill. I think it is good that you are able to see that he has lived with his mother's behavior his whole life and how difficult it might be for him to free himself from all of this. At the same time it's of course also important to have certain boundaries in place to protect yourself from your MIL's behavior. It seems that you've been able to device a strategy to help you navigate these problems Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

I have constant anxiety about her coming to visit.  She insists on dominating everything. I love her husband.  It is hard for me to bite my tongue when she interrupts any conversation I try to have with him.  Yes, the holidays. Thanks!

Sometimes it's best to just not respond but other times it might be better to respond using some of the communication techniques described on this site. Are you for instance familiar with S.E.T. and D.E.A.R.M.A.N.?
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« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2015, 09:28:44 AM »

Thanks for your response and insight Kwamina!

Excerpt
I am glad that your husband is now more open to talking about the problems with his mother. Do you feel like he has come out of denial? Does he also know about BPD and if he does, do you feel like he too believes his mother has BPD?

I do. It has helped to put a name to all the erratic and destructive behavior that he has known for so long. The explanation of her BPD has made a lot of events make more sense to him. 

Excerpt
Sometimes it's best to just not respond but other times it might be better to respond using some of the communication techniques described on this site. Are you for instance familiar with S.E.T. and D.E.A.R.M.A.N.?

I was not, thank you for these links.  The Support of S.E.T. can already be difficult for me.  I know I have a tendency to just shut down once I am frustrated with behavior.  To appear open and friendly through a smile or hand gestures is great advice.  It has been a big one that I struggle with .  Also the Staying Assertive in

D.E.A.R.M.A.N.  I very much want to retreat and just forget about it.  As with my husband, it is sometimes more hassle than it is worth and I find myself following his footsteps and then getting angry about how I was spoken to or manipulated. She is also a self hurting waif so almost always, if things don't go her way, she will "accidentally" hurt herself.  Ex. Waiting to eat and with my child, I ask my husband to get some food for us while we wait for a lavish and unnecessary dinner (scheduled to eat at 5, ate at 10, i hid in the bedroom with my child because I was so frustrated).  He tells her we came to visit her and we don't need a buffet of food for dinner, please stop etc... .She cries at him, he feels awful.  Then when we do eat, she shows me the giant scar of where she just burned herself.  I laughed it off and said you have to be careful!  But to me, it was very evident that she had done it for my sake and was blaming me.  It takes all my energy not to say, " you did that on purpose! don't blame me!".  We try to keep her out of the kitchen as much as possible because that tends to be the heart of the chaos.
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« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2015, 01:56:58 PM »

Hi again

Most people posting on this board have family-members with BPD (traits) in their lives. Some of us were born into a family of origin (FOO) with one or more BPD family-members. Others found themselves confronted with BPD family-members in the form of BPD in-laws. And some of us are dealing with both categories Smiling (click to insert in post)

In this thread I would like to focus on BPD in-laws. I would like to explore the experiences and coping strategies that you have. To aid us in this exploration, I've formulated some questions:

1. Who is the BPD in-law in your life? What are the most significant challenges you face with this person or as a result of this person being involved with your family-member? Are you perhaps dealing with multiple BPD in-laws?

My SIL, my husband's only sister. She is more NPD than BPD, in my opinion, but not diagnosed either way. The most significant challenge I face is that my husband (and his parents) have always put his sister in the center of their lives; she runs the family. They are all afraid to stand up to her and to hold her accountable for her bad behaviors. They give her a free pass and chalk it up to "well, that's just the way she is." It has created a lot of tension in my marriage, but thankfully, my husband has started standing up to her and things are improving VERY slowly.

2. At what point did you realize something might be 'wrong' with this in-law's behavior? Was it a sudden realization or more like a gradual process?

From the beginning. I will never forget one of the first arguments my husband and I had about her. We had been visiting her (at the time, she lived in the same city as me, but my husband lived 4 hours away), and as we were walking to the subway so my husband could get on a train to go back home, he said to me, "The next time we hang out with my sister, do you think you could do more of the talking? She's not really used to having to make conversation. She's used to people coming to her and accommodating her." I was surprised, of course, and didn't understand at first. He went on to tell, not ask, me that I really need to do more work to make his sister feel liked. That's when I knew something was wrong.

3. Do you feel that your relationship with your family-member (in a relationship with) or partner (related to) this BPD in-law, has changed as a result of the involvement of the BPD in-law? If you do, in what ways has your relationship with your family-member or partner changed?

Unfortunately, my husband has some of the same traits as his sister does, but thankfully, not nearly as bad. I've been seeing a therapist for almost 2 years now (we've been married for 5) to better understand his behavior and my role in our marriage. Since I've started doing more work on myself, things have improved between my husband and I. The more I get to know his FOO, the more I am sure that he is the way "he is" because of his upbringing, and in particular, his sister.

4. Have you found effective coping strategies for dealing with your BPD in-law? If you have, could you perhaps share some of them with us?

I try to stay out of whatever argument my SIL and my husband engage in. I have told my SIL directly that I don't wish to be a part of their family drama. Additionally, I make no attempt to have a relationship with my SIL; if my husband wants to invite her to visit, he can. I have no desire to have a friendship with her. I mainly keep my distance and try to remind myself that when she makes disparaging comments about me, it's her problem and not mine.

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« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2015, 09:15:11 AM »



1. Who is the BPD in-law in your life? What are the most significant challenges you face with this person or as a result of this person being involved with your family-member? Are you perhaps dealing with multiple BPD in-laws?

My bother's wife. The most significant challenges are pretty much having anything to do with her, at this point. They have three kids now so I can't bring myself to cut her off entirely, but I would if it weren't for the kids. My mom gets the brunt of her abuse and it's totally undeserved and hard to watch. SIL uses the kids like pawns, it breaks my heart. All my mom wants is to be a grandma to them and SIL lies and manipulates and withholds in almost every situation.   

2. At what point did you realize something might be 'wrong' with this in-law's behavior? Was it a sudden realization or more like a gradual process?

My first inclination that something was really wrong with her was during the months leading up to their wedding. They were married relatively young, age 20 & 21 I think, but had been dating since they were 15 & 16 so I'd known her for a long time. We knew she had a bad upbringing and that her mother was horrible to her and had BPD herself but were very naive as to what all that meant. The first big blow up came about a week after their wedding and nothing was the same after that. My sister got married a few years later and SIL was just awful at that wedding. So bad that Sis, me and my mom sought counseling to find out what we could have done to upset her so much. The counselor immediately suggested SIL might have BPD and it was like a light went on in our heads. We read up on it and suddenly her past behavior, although no less awful, made sense in that context and we felt less crazy. 

3. Do you feel that your relationship with your family-member (in a relationship with) or partner (related to) this BPD in-law, has changed as a result of the involvement of the BPD in-law? If you do, in what ways has your relationship with your family-member or partner changed?

I feel like I've lost my brother. When she's not around I can talk to him like we used to when we were kids. As soon as she enters the room he becomes a totally different person. Some of the things he goes along with... .it's like he's a puppet and she's got her arm stuck up in him controlling everything he says/does/thinks. It's gross.

4. Have you found effective coping strategies for dealing with your BPD in-law? If you have, could you perhaps share some of them with us?


I avoid her as much as possible.  Like I said, if not for my niece and nephews, I would have cut contact with her long ago. I try really hard to keep toxic people out of my life and she is toxic, like poison. When she tries to manipulate me, I keep silent. I don't give her any information about my life or about those around me. I don't try and reason with her or get into any of her little games, I just walk away. I tolerate her around the kids and try to keep my focus on the kids for the sake of the kids and do my best to put her out of my mind when she's not around, not waste any more energy trying to figure her out. She's put a huge strain on our family and it sucks. One person can muddy the waters so much when there's fifteen other decent people and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. 

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« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2015, 06:06:23 PM »

This posting has really made me reflect,  in a good way. Another positive for me is that I have a sil who is extremely passive aggressive towards me and has said and insinuated some very nasty things to my face at times.  It used to worry me, i would not react and I would spend alot of time thinking "why"?

I think that since my dil and all the problems with her,  I have learned to ignore my sil worry less and think it is her problem.  I have also learned how to put a stop to her nastiness whether it be on face book or face to face and that less contact to no contact with a relative is OK thanks to this site.

I feel this is a positive.
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« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2015, 05:57:12 AM »

Hi Cat21

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Smiling (click to insert in post)

My SIL, my husband's only sister. She is more NPD than BPD, in my opinion, but not diagnosed either way. The most significant challenge I face is that my husband (and his parents) have always put his sister in the center of their lives; she runs the family. They are all afraid to stand up to her and to hold her accountable for her bad behaviors. They give her a free pass and chalk it up to "well, that's just the way she is." It has created a lot of tension in my marriage, but thankfully, my husband has started standing up to her and things are improving VERY slowly.

Based on what you say here it seems your husband and his parents have been enabling your sister and seriously walking on eggshells around her. I can definitely see how this could create tension in your marriage. Good though that your husband has started standing up to his sister. What led to this change in his behavior towards her?

"The next time we hang out with my sister, do you think you could do more of the talking? She's not really used to having to make conversation. She's used to people coming to her and accommodating her." I was surprised, of course, and didn't understand at first. He went on to tell, not ask, me that I really need to do more work to make his sister feel liked. That's when I knew something was wrong.

This indeed is a clear sign of something being very wrong. How did you respond to your husband 'instructing' you how to behave around his sister? Hod did that whole conversation make you feel?

Unfortunately, my husband has some of the same traits as his sister does, but thankfully, not nearly as bad. I've been seeing a therapist for almost 2 years now (we've been married for 5) to better understand his behavior and my role in our marriage. Since I've started doing more work on myself, things have improved between my husband and I. The more I get to know his FOO, the more I am sure that he is the way "he is" because of his upbringing, and in particular, his sister.

I am glad you have support from a therapist to help you navigate this difficult family environment. Is your husband perhaps also seeing a therapist?

What traits do you see in your husband that you also recognize in your SIL?

I try to stay out of whatever argument my SIL and my husband engage in. I have told my SIL directly that I don't wish to be a part of their family drama. Additionally, I make no attempt to have a relationship with my SIL; if my husband wants to invite her to visit, he can. I have no desire to have a friendship with her. I mainly keep my distance and try to remind myself that when she makes disparaging comments about me, it's her problem and not mine.

Not taking what is said personally (as difficiult as it can be) and not letting yourself get provoked, is very important to remain balanced yourself Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2015, 06:11:09 AM »

Thank you too baconpony for joining this discussion

I feel like I've lost my brother. When she's not around I can talk to him like we used to when we were kids. As soon as she enters the room he becomes a totally different person. Some of the things he goes along with... .it's like he's a puppet and she's got her arm stuck up in him controlling everything he says/does/thinks. It's gross.

I am sorry that you feel like you've lost your brother. I have read stories from other members too who felt the same way after their family-member got involved with the BPD in-law. Have you ever discussed how you feel with your brother? How does your brother view this whole situation and how it has affected his relationship with you? Do you feel like your brother acknowledges that there is something wrong with his wife's behavior?

I don't give her any information about my life or about those around me. I don't try and reason with her or get into any of her little games, I just walk away. I tolerate her around the kids and try to keep my focus on the kids for the sake of the kids and do my best to put her out of my mind when she's not around, not waste any more energy trying to figure her out. She's put a huge strain on our family and it sucks. One person can muddy the waters so much when there's fifteen other decent people and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

We might not be able to change the fact that we are faced with someone with BPD, but what we can change and control is our own behavior and our responses to that person. You've already given several examples of that in your post. Not getting into circular arguments and just walking away can often be a very good strategy Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Other times it might be necessary to firmly set and enforce/defend boundaries and assert yourself, we have tools here on this site that can help with that such as D.E.A.R.M.A.N.. These tools can actually also be helpful when dealing with your brother.

Take care
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« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2015, 06:23:42 AM »

Hi again mother in law

This posting has really made me reflect,  in a good way. Another positive for me is that I have a sil who is extremely passive aggressive towards me and has said and insinuated some very nasty things to my face at times.  It used to worry me, i would not react and I would spend alot of time thinking "why"?

I think that since my dil and all the problems with her,  I have learned to ignore my sil worry less and think it is her problem.  I have also learned how to put a stop to her nastiness whether it be on face book or face to face and that less contact to no contact with a relative is OK thanks to this site.

I feel this is a positive.

Great to hear this thread has sparked this positive reflecting

Dealing with hurtful comments isn't easy. I am glad you've come to the point that you are better able to deal with it and not let it affect you that much anymore. Your SIL's hurtful words and actions aren't a reflection of who you really are at all, but only a reflection of her own inner turmoil and negativity which she is projecting onto you.

BPD is a very difficult disorder and an in-law with BPD, particularly one who doesn't acknowledge his/her issues and is unwilling to work on them, can greatly affect all the other family-members involved. To protect yourself, setting and enforcing/defending boundaries is crucial and that indeed can include reducing the frequency of contact. Even when people go completely NC, this doesn't necessarily have to last forever though, it all depends on the situation. We might not be able to change or control the other person's behavior, but we can control our own behavior and we indeed have options available to us that include determining the frequency of contact we feel comfortable with.
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« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2015, 11:34:30 AM »





I am sorry that you feel like you've lost your brother. I have read stories from other members too who felt the same way after their family-member got involved with the BPD in-law. Have you ever discussed how you feel with your brother? How does your brother view this whole situation and how it has affected his relationship with you? Do you feel like your brother acknowledges that there is something wrong with his wife's behavior?


I tried once or twice to reason with him, before I realized what was really going on, tried to make him see that this wasn't normal behavior. That went very, very badly. He's very much her Knight in Shining Armor. Very enmeshed with her. They are attached at the hip, eat off the same plate! I think I've only been able to spend a few hours with him over the last 10 years without her by his side. Every phone call, text, email has her 'filter' on it, if that makes any sense. My brother and I have a very superficial relationship. We talk about the weather, about our jobs, about what the kids are doing in school, and even then, I watch my words extremely carefully because I never know what I say will be used against me later.



We might not be able to change the fact that we are faced with someone with BPD, but what we can change and control is our own behavior and our responses to that person. You've already given several examples of that in your post. Not getting into circular arguments and just walking away can often be a very good strategy Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Other times it might be necessary to firmly set and enforce/defend boundaries and assert yourself, we have tools here on this site that can help with that such as D.E.A.R.M.A.N.. These tools can actually also be helpful when dealing with your brother.

Take care [/quote]


Thank you for your kind words. It helps so much to read about other people's experiences. So much! Sometimes I use these strategies, sometimes I just don't care, sometimes I'm really resentful of the work I have to put in just to keep the peace. Sometimes she really catches me off guard and shocks me with what she says. I never do well when put on the spot like that, so I've gotten really good at stunned silence. Seems to work until I can become better at setting those boundaries!
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« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2015, 05:26:30 PM »

Based on what you say here it seems your husband and his parents have been enabling your sister and seriously walking on eggshells around her. I can definitely see how this could create tension in your marriage. Good though that your husband has started standing up to his sister. What led to this change in his behavior towards her?

I think it was partly me encouraging him to stand up for himself and also the birth of our daughter (we have a 4 month old). His sister started behaving much worse when she found out we were pregnant, and it has recently reached a point where she is now criticizing our parenting to my husband's face. Thankfully, he brushed it off and saw it for what it really is- her anger towards him for not giving her his undivided attention. Unfortunately, these events with her happen regularly, and my husband seems to forgive and forget quickly, and she goes back to being up on her pedestal.

"The next time we hang out with my sister, do you think you could do more of the talking? She's not really used to having to make conversation. She's used to people coming to her and accommodating her." I was surprised, of course, and didn't understand at first. He went on to tell, not ask, me that I really need to do more work to make his sister feel liked. That's when I knew something was wrong.

This indeed is a clear sign of something being very wrong. How did you respond to your husband 'instructing' you how to behave around his sister? Hod did that whole conversation make you feel?

I was very angry and confused. I told him that I would do no such thing and that a relationship is built and maintained by 2 people, not one. It made me feel as though I was being told how to behave and what to do- something a parent would say to a child. I remember crying in the middle of the sidewalk, hoping that our relationship wasn't over. He defended his sister 100% and it took about 3-4 years after that for him to stop always defending her.

Unfortunately, my husband has some of the same traits as his sister does, but thankfully, not nearly as bad. I've been seeing a therapist for almost 2 years now (we've been married for 5) to better understand his behavior and my role in our marriage. Since I've started doing more work on myself, things have improved between my husband and I. The more I get to know his FOO, the more I am sure that he is the way "he is" because of his upbringing, and in particular, his sister.

I am glad you have support from a therapist to help you navigate this difficult family environment. Is your husband perhaps also seeing a therapist?

No. He has said in the past that he doesn't "believe" in therapy. However, he knows that I see a therapist and I was recently profiled for PPD; he now supports it, but I'm not sure if he'll ever go.

What traits do you see in your husband that you also recognize in your SIL?

The biggest trait is the failure to take responsibility for his actions; scapegoating. It is ALWAYS someone else's fault and he is never to blame. He also goes from 0-60 in seconds when upset. His insults are below the belt and designed to cut to the core. To him, it's about winning the argument, not about what he's actually saying. I can't tell you how many times, after a bad argument, he has said, "I don't even remember saying that. Obviously I didn't mean it." When he and his sister really get into it, it's incredibly childish- with horrible insults back and forth- and they call their parents and drag their parents into it.

I try to stay out of whatever argument my SIL and my husband engage in. I have told my SIL directly that I don't wish to be a part of their family drama. Additionally, I make no attempt to have a relationship with my SIL; if my husband wants to invite her to visit, he can. I have no desire to have a friendship with her. I mainly keep my distance and try to remind myself that when she makes disparaging comments about me, it's her problem and not mine.

Not taking what is said personally (as difficiult as it can be) and not letting yourself get provoked, is very important to remain balanced yourself Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2016, 11:22:21 AM »

I'd missed this post during my absence, so I'll give my answers and then go read what everyone else has said!


1. Who is the BPD in-law in your life? What are the most significant challenges you face with this person or as a result of this person being involved with your family-member? Are you perhaps dealing with multiple BPD in-laws?



My mother-in-law (no multiples on that side of the family, at least not any that are still living.) The most significant challenges are/were -

- before we went no contact, constant manipulation/verbal assault/threats of other assault, via every form of communication possible

- since we've gone no contact (two years ago), ongoing residual trauma to my husband who is really only starting his healing process from that relationship. He and I both still have nightmares involving his mother, though they are decreasing with time in my case.

2. At what point did you realize something might be 'wrong' with this in-law's behavior? Was it a sudden realization or more like a gradual process?

For me, it was before my husband and I were even dating. I got a bizarre Facebook message from his mom (he and I were FB friends - casual friends in real life, but living in separate cities and not very involved with each other.) The message from his mom was weirdly personal, flirty on behalf of her son, and sounded like a drunk text. Her explanation through him later was that she was high on painkillers when she wrote it - which may have been true, but the type of thing was an early warning sign for how she really was all the time. The first time I visited their home (his parents were living with him) when we had just started dating a year later, his mom whisked me upstairs to show me stacks of academic achievement plaques and baby pictures and other memorabilia showing what a great guy her son was and why I should snap him up immediately. The kind of behavior you usually only see in movies with gregarious/invasive Italian moms. (MIL is not actually gregarious nor Italian.) I knew by this point that she was messed up and boundary-less at a deeply problematic level, though I didn't conclude that she was malignant until rather later when she let me see her witch behaviors.

3. Do you feel that your relationship with your family-member (in a relationship with) or partner (related to) this BPD in-law, has changed as a result of the involvement of the BPD in-law? If you do, in what ways has your relationship with your family-member or partner changed?

It definitely changed the course of our dating and engagement process. My then-boyfriend was trying very hard to justify his family's disorder so he wouldn't have to face the abuse and rock the boat to stop it. Since I'd been through a similar process earlier in my young adult years when becoming educated about my own mother's uBPD, I was able to be patient with my then-boyfriend, but I also didn't fight for him the way I might have fought for a friend. I knew I could not proceed with our romantic relationship if either of us saw me as a rescuer. That made things in those early months really stressful - on both of us, but especially for me, as I had no guarantee he was going to be able to make it out the way I knew he could.

Fortunately for us, he DID do the growth work he needed to on his own, and we were halfway through our engagement before his mom started acting out worse. After our wedding, she did us the favor of going so completely off the rails of acceptable behavior that after a couple of months he chose to alert the police to the threats we were receiving from her, and he/we went no contact with her. This whole process has solidified my trust in him and strengthened our marriage perhaps a bit deeper and faster than it would have grown in such a short time otherwise.

4. Have you found effective coping strategies for dealing with your BPD in-law? If you have, could you perhaps share some of them with us?

I was really careful, when we were still in contact with uBPDmil, to not make decisions FOR my husband. I voiced my own boundaries to him ("I will not go visit her today; I am feeling vulnerable from her last attack, and she is not in any physical need" and I voiced my concerns about his emotional health in very blunt terms ("Your eyes are glazing and your facial expressions shut down the second you see her name on your caller ID. When you spend time with her, it can take up to a full day for you to come back out of it", but I did not tell him what he must or must not do concerning her. I wanted to avoid triangulation at all costs, and this practice helped keep the stress where it actually belonged - centered in MIL's behavior, not in playing my husband and I against each other. Again, not very fun at the time, but it kept the problems from getting as murky as they could have gotten.

After going no contact, we still received all kinds of communication from MIL. Gifts sent via Amazon.com, emails, voicemails, et cetera. When it became abundantly clear that she was not interested in the terms of tentative reconciliation my husband had communicated in his no-contact letter (that only after a year of no abusive communication would he consider guided meetings together with a licensed therapist), we blocked her number from our phones, set up elaborate auto-filters to block her emails, and threw away any packages that arrived from her without opening them. After we moved, we did not inform her (or relatives liable to inform her) of our new address. Keeping a very firm line on this has allowed the kind of peace that is slowly letting my husband's psyche relax in ways it hasn't since he was a toddler.

... .Which of course means that now that things are better, they're getting "worse" in the sense that he's beginning to notice irrational PTSD-like behaviors in himself (and the toll that they also take on me), and having to address them instead of ignoring them as he did in the initial two years of just being relieved to not have to deal with his mom's constant input. But it's okay. I was prepared for this process to take years, decades, whatever, and I have faith he'll keep growing in health and will only flourish in the long run. He's got a meeting with a new therapist today - we have not had good luck in finding one in our area who really gets it about BPD and the complications it puts on more average mother-son enmeshment issues - but even if this one is a bad fit, we're not going to give up on working on finding one that helps.
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« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2016, 06:54:03 AM »

Hi claudiaduffy and thanks for joining the discussion

I hope you do go back and read what everyone else has said, the posts are very interesting! Smiling (click to insert in post)

I am glad your husband was able to recognize the dysfunction in his mother's behavior. It is sad though that the step of NC was necessary to keep yourselves safe from her. It is what it is though and setting boundaries, protecting ourselves and being mindful of our own well-being is very important indeed.

Your own mother was BPD too and your experiences with her helped you be more patient with your future husband. Do you feel that your experiences with your own mother also helped you be more prepared for dealing with your husband and his uBPD MIL in other areas?

I can understand how your husband might have certain PTSD-like issues after going through all of this. You mentioned he was meeting a new therapist when you posted this. How did that meeting go?

Take care
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« Reply #22 on: February 29, 2016, 01:02:33 PM »

Do you feel that your experiences with your own mother also helped you be more prepared for dealing with your husband and his uBPD MIL in other areas?

Hi, Kwamina! I did go back and read the rest of the thread - some good stuff in here.

I'm sure my experiences did help tremendously. The same kind of internal survival tactics I had to employ to shed my mother's guilting and other attack behaviors helped me deal better with my mil's abusive attacks; they were much more aggressive than my mom's ever had been, but if I hadn't been a little prepared, my mil's methods could have completely sunk me. As it was, I had already developed the emotional "moves" to combat the abuse, though my "emotional muscles" were pretty sorely taxed and had to grow stronger in response to the greater threat. (I like to think that now I'm approaching anti-BPD-abuse black-belt level  Being cool (click to insert in post) )

I can understand how your husband might have certain PTSD-like issues after going through all of this. You mentioned he was meeting a new therapist when you posted this. How did that meeting go?

It went very well! He liked and trusted the person immediately - which is unusual for him - and he's going for his second appointment today. This therapist is going to be trying EMDR with him, and after reading up on it all weekend, my husband is optimistic about the method. It was very helpful to him that this therapist is treating his emotional difficulties as real and weighty but not insurmountable. Other counselors he's seen just wanted him to talk about his thoughts and feelings and come to ownership and conclusions via his own innate wisdom, instead of addressing the actual difficulties he has with even knowing what his thoughts and feelings ARE and trying to come out from a lifetime of being conditioned to rationalize his parents' abuse.
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LepoqueModerne

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« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2016, 01:22:49 PM »

1. Who is the BPD in-law in your life? What are the most significant challenges you face with this person or as a result of this person being involved with your family-member? Are you perhaps dealing with multiple BPD in-laws?

My husband’s mother has many of the traits of someone with BPD/NPD. I think the MIL-DIL relationship can be a challenging relationship regardless, but is certainly very difficult when mental health issues are mixed in.

Having BPD as part of my life has meant dealing with controlling behaviors, rages, vilification of me as a person, emotional blackmail and love frequently used as a weapon. Consequently, I have had the challenge of working through my own feelings of guilt, anger and hurt. I’ve had do a lot of growing as a person (and continue to) in order to step up to these challenges.

2. At what point did you realize something might be 'wrong' with this in-law's behavior? Was it a sudden realization or more like a gradual process?

When I first met my in-laws over dinner, their 5 kids had a little side conversation with me to apologize in advance for their mother being a little crazy. I mostly just laughed it off and figured they meant it in that way everyone’s family has their quirks. It’s only when I moved in with them that I initially did have a bit of an “off” feeling. I mostly shrugged it off. PwBPD was extremely generous, complimentary and charming. In retrospect there were many hints of possessive and controlling behaviors I ignored at the time. Things came to a head when we tried to move out of their house to our own apartment. And really descended into a place I would qualify as emotionally abusive when her son and I decided to get married a few years later.

3. Do you feel that your relationship with your family-member (in a relationship with) or partner (related to) this BPD in-law, has changed as a result of the involvement of the BPD in-law? If you do, in what ways has your relationship with your family-member or partner changed?

Having BPD behaviors as part of our life has forced us to strengthen our ties together as a couple and become more mindful of our own behaviors than we may have otherwise. Communication techniques and boundaries we’ve learned to interact with pwBPD have also been great for generally strengthening connection and understanding in day-to-day married life. 



4. Have you found effective coping strategies for dealing with your BPD in-law? If you have, could you perhaps share some of them with us?


I think it was hitting rock bottom in dealing poorly with the BPD behaviour that propelled me to open my eyes a little more. I didn’t have the compartments to mentally file the way I was being treated at the time… so I was dragged under. Learning about BPD was a real first step in change.

I have since gone into a bit of a training mode to try and build the muscles that would help me manage having a pwBPD in my life. I started practicing DEARMAN and SET with difficult clients, even with stubborn farm animals (I know they don’t understand, but great practice for me coming up with DEARMANs for different situations!). I’ve become more conscious of enforcing boundaries at work. I also picked up a book on DBT and find concepts like mindfulness and radical acceptance to be very applicable. I hope to practice these techniques enough in calm waters so that when the next BPD storm hits I can have the tools in my tool belt. That’s the idea at least.

For the time being, I have chosen to keep my distance from pwBPD (My husband is low contact, I am very very low contact). I have made the decision that I not only owe it to myself to be happy and healthy, but I also have people who care for me and who rely on me to be happy and healthy. No longer exhausting our emotional/mental energy on trying to make the pwBPD in our life happy has allowed us to put this energy towards the positive things we do have. I think this refocusing has given us a chance to have full batteries when it does come to inevitably dealing with some of the hurtful/destructive BPD behaviors. Doesn't make things perfect, but helps.

My goal is to continue to keep the distance I need for my own wellbeing, practice the techniques that help not only in dealing with BPD behavior, but for improving quality of day-to-day relationships. And hopefully I’ll eventually get to the “anti-BPD-abuse black-belt level” like Claudiaduffy mentioned! I find many of the stories on this board to be very inspiring and hope to continue to learn and grow like so many others. ☺

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Seoulsister

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« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2016, 06:06:32 PM »

Thanks for starting this thread. I have been reading through and finding myself nodding in agreement with a lot of these experiences.

1. Who is the BPD in-law in your life? What are the most significant challenges you face with this person or as a result of this person being involved with your family-member? Are you perhaps dealing with multiple BPD in-laws?

My in-laws together are quite mentally ill. It's difficult to distinguish which negative behaviors belong to each of them because they have become so enmeshed and codependent. My mother in law is diagnosed bipolar and BPD and my father in law exhibits traits of OCPD and NPD. The most significant challenges are controlling behaviors, and hypersensitivity/catastrophizing.

2.At what point did you realize something might be 'wrong' with this in-law's behavior? Was it a sudden realization or more like a gradual process?

MIL's sister came up to me at our wedding and said that she was sorry that I was going to have MIL as a MIL. That was the first eye opener. I wasn't aware of the severity of her mental instability or their (MIL & FIL) odd OCPD behavior until a few years into our marriage. Like LepoqueModerne, I chalked it up as typical MIL-DIL struggles at first, thinking MIL was just having trouble "cutting the cord" with her youngest son. Then we'd have visits where she'd meltdown, enrage over perceived slights and cry hysterically and I'd be like, "What the heck just happened?" In the past 5-6 years MIL has become worse; higher levels of anxiety/greater need for control, meltdowns, rage & more destructive behaviors.

3.Do you feel that your relationship with your family member (in a relationship with) or partner (related to) this BPD in-law, has changed as a result of the involvement of the BPD in-law?

My husband and I have hit some rough patches over the years, sometimes due to the FOG and also due to my resentment. I struggled with radical acceptance and took too personally the harsh things MIL said/did. Husband has come to see more of the dysfunction that he mistook for normal. There's also a realization that FIL is just as involved in the drama/control.

4. Have you found effective coping strategies for dealing with your BPD in-law? If you have, could you perhaps share some of them with us?

Infrequent contact works best for us, and in small doses. Boundary setting has been helpful too. Somewhere along the way we realized that neither of us were raised with validation, so learning and practicing it has been a lovely asset to our marriage.
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Kwamina
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« Reply #25 on: March 04, 2016, 10:27:23 AM »

Hi LepoqueModerne and Seoulsister

Great that you've also joined the conversation! Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights.

I have since gone into a bit of a training mode to try and build the muscles that would help me manage having a pwBPD in my life. I started practicing DEARMAN and SET with difficult clients, even with stubborn farm animals (I know they don’t understand, but great practice for me coming up with DEARMANs for different situations!). I’ve become more conscious of enforcing boundaries at work. I also picked up a book on DBT and find concepts like mindfulness and radical acceptance to be very applicable. I hope to practice these techniques enough in calm waters so that when the next BPD storm hits I can have the tools in my tool belt. That’s the idea at least.

I have also found that all the skills and techniques can be very helpful in other situations. I use techniques such as SET, DEARMAN and BIFF a lot with difficult colleagues and clients. I have found that the skills we learn to deal with BPD in-laws and/or family-members are in fact highly advanced life skills that in a sense can give us a competitive advantage in certain situations.

I am glad that you've been able to take steps to protect your well-being. Hopefully some day we all will reach the black-belt coping skills level claudiaduffy is approaching Smiling (click to insert in post)

Infrequent contact works best for us, and in small doses. Boundary setting has been helpful too. Somewhere along the way we realized that neither of us were raised with validation, so learning and practicing it has been a lovely asset to our marriage.

Boundaries really are crucial when dealing with individuals with BPD, I am glad this has also helped you. The communication techniques such as validation and S.E.T. are very powerful! Your post also shows how the techniques we learn to deal with BPD individuals also have great value in other areas of our lives. That the validation technique has helped your marriage is lovely indeed! Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2016, 01:47:44 PM »

Hopefully some day we all will reach the black-belt coping skills level claudiaduffy is approaching Smiling (click to insert in post)

... .it may also be noted that this is - not wishful, but definitely hopeful thinking on my part. I am more or less channelling Maria von Trapp when she sings,

What will this day be like? I wonder.

What will my future be? I wonder.

It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free

My heart should be wildly rejoicing

Oh, what's the matter with me?

I've always longed for adventure

To do the things I've never dared

And here I'm facing adventure

Then why am I so scared

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries

If I don't I just know I'll turn back

I must dream of the things I am seeking

I am seeking the courage I lack

The courage to serve them with reliance

Face my mistakes without defiance

Show them I'm worthy

And while I show them

I'll show me

So, let them bring on all their problems

I'll do better than my best

I have confidence they'll put me to the test

But I'll make them see I have confidence in me

Somehow I will impress them

I will be firm but kind... .

I have confidence in sunshine

I have confidence in rain

I have confidence that spring will come again

Besides which you see I have confidence in me

Strength doesn't lie in numbers

Strength doesn't lie in wealth

Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers

When you wake up -- Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to

All I trust becomes my own

I have confidence in confidence alone

(Oh help!)

I have confidence in confidence alone

Besides which you see I have confidence in me!

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Kwamina
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« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2016, 06:26:59 AM »

Thanks for sharing this Smiling (click to insert in post)

The Board Parrot has confidence in you too claudiaduffy
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« Reply #28 on: July 02, 2016, 04:07:16 AM »

Hi everyone

We started this thread last year to talk about dealing with BPD in-laws. This can be quite challenging and I believe it helps to connect with other people who've had similar experiences.

Anyone else have experiences with BPD in-laws you would like to share here?

Take care

The Board Parrot
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standin

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« Reply #29 on: August 10, 2016, 11:47:16 AM »

Hi... I posted this on another thread, but think this group might have been the best place to post this as it seems many of you are dealing with an in-law situation too. 

My husband of 17 years is a wonderful man who is the child of a BPD mother.  After many, many years of starts and stops in therapy to determine how to handle her, some significant events occurred that have made him recommit to therapy and he is leaning towards ceasing a relationship with his mom.  This is a difficult decision for him and one he is working through weekly with the help of a great therapist. 

Now for my problem: For our entire relationship, whenever we have had any type of disagreement/discussion, he shuts down and retreats.  This is not how he handles confrontation in any other part of his life.  In fact, he is an accomplished businessman who takes confrontation in his work life in stride and is often the one brought in to have those difficult conversations.  Personally, however, he has always retreated, and most often forgets the disagreements or discussions.  As a result of his therapy, he is learning he does that because of his past experiences with his mother. 

I can understand that, however, there are consequences as a result of that response.  Because he always retreated, I just started to handle more and more things and to make decisions without him, regarding our schedules, our children, etc.  He never complained having these things taken off his plate.  (To complicate matters, my husband travels a great deal for work and we had a second child with special needs who requires a great deal of involvement in his therapies and at his school.  All of that fell on me, along with caring for and raising our older child). So now we are in a situation where he says I took decisions away from him, therefore, he responds to me like he would his mother (retreat and then forget), yet the reason I took everything over is because he was never around emotionally to help me in the decision making process.  I became very independent because I was used to not relying on him, and now he is telling me that the reason he is emotionally distant is because I am too independent. 

I want to encourage him in his therapy regarding his mom, but feel like the process has brought up issues in our marriage.  I realize it is a problem and want to figure out how to fix it so we both feel balanced again.  But I feel we cannot work on us, while he is still trying to figure out his complicated childhood.  In the meantime, nothing has changed in his emotional distance.  I feel he is transferring his upset with how his mother treated him onto me and our relationship.  As a result, we are growing farther apart. 

I have consciously tried in the last few months to let go of things in our life and include/encourage him to make more decisions.  I am sure I still have a ways to go.  But I don't feel he is making a similar attempt to connect with me emotionally.  It is like my independence emasculates him, but his emotional distance pushes me to protect myself and just take care of things.  I don't know how we get out from under this.  Do we try counseling at the same time he is trying to figure out his relationship with his mom or wait until that becomes more clear?  I have talked to him about all of this and cried to him about what I need from him and nothing has changed.  We are very kind to each other and if you saw us you would not think anything is wrong, but emotionally, we have very little connection.  We are great co-parents and becoming just very good roommates.  Does anyone else have experience being married to a child of a BPD and the effect that had on the child's own marriage?
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