I need an outsiders perspective on this FIL issue

My FIL has had a gf for about 2 years. I never cared for her (she is about 25 yrs younger than him), she is not nice, kind of just blah. He has been divorced for over a decade and seemed to be in some kind of serious relationship with her to the point of them moving in. Whatever, again not my issue.. To make a long story short, he called us one day to announce that he left her bc she hit him and that he was going to file a restraining order if she didn't leave his house (he owns it), she left.. fast forward one month.. he is back with her! 

They are 'better' than ever, and again he is doing the same things he used to (not seeing us because if she can't come  he can't either, he doesn't have her permission, infrequent calls, etc). The man is late 60s, not senile at all, but had some health scares that she 'aided' him with. The point is that it's my ds bday coming up and he refused to come because she isn't welcome. I am beyond devastated and can't imagine a grandpa not wanting to be there (we are relatively close by). Have you ever dealt with domestic abuse in your families? What do you do? I can't stand the thought of seeing this lady I would just do something I would regret. He know claims that he was also one to blame for events that went down and that he wasn't telling the story right. But something says that he is lying... anyways.... any advice, encouragement would be greatly appreciated. I feel like I don't know anyone in this scenario and I am a passionate person, so this affects me deeply... 


If you really want him to come to the function, invite her too.  His refusal to come without her could be as much driven by his wanting you to accept her as any hint of controlling behavior or abuse on her part.  Seeing them together may help you to better evaluate their relationship for yourself rather than relying on something he may have said to you in the past.


What does your spouse think of the situation?


yahooyahoo said:

What does your spouse think of the situation?

This was my first question too.

Clearly, the girlfriend is abusive. He is having trouble extricating himself from her.

Does FIL have money? If so, that's what she might be after. How old is he? You might want to get Adult Protective Services involved.

http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/documents/APS%20flyer.pdf

There's also a national center of elder abuse that may be able to give advice. 

http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/Stop_Abuse/Partners/APS/index.aspx

As far as the birthday party is concerned, you and your spouse have to decide what your priority is: grandpa there with GF, or grandpa not there. You could tell him that the reason you don't want his GF there is because it is very hard for you and your spouse to watch how she treats him.


You can't invite someone and exclude his significant other. He makes choices you wouldn't make, but if you want to invite him for the reason that he is family, you also have to invite the family member you don't like, and you have to be as gracious about having her as you possibly can be. If you can't be gracious, you have to live without him, and do you really want to do that?


why would you exclude his SO? Has she been mean or abusive to your children? Other than just kind of being "blah" has she done anything to you? It's his call to stay/not stay with her, not yours. And as long as she isn't abusive to you or your family or violent/inappropriate in front of your children, seems pretty petty to exclude her.


I am also curious to know what your spouse thinks about this situation. And while I sympathize with your desire to protect him, I have to agree with others who have said you should not invite him while excluding a live-in significant other. Etiquette apart, that strategy isn't going to make him more inclined to listen to your concerns, and (I hate to say it) makes it look like you are trying to control his behavior as much as the GF. 

Sad to say, he is a grown man, and whether you like the GF or not, he has to arrive at his own conclusions and regulate his own choices and behavior. If you want to influence him, stop pulling so hard in the opposite direction.


So, my husband can't stand her. He is infuriated that she abused (abuses) his father and told him that we obviously want a relationship with him but do not want to expose our son to a violent person. At first, FIL was understanding and said that it was comprehensible. When they got back together he had stated that he was going to take things slow, that he wasn't going to move in with her, that he was going to have 'control' over the situation and not expose himself to a risky situation. And that he was never going to disappear or isolate himself because of her. Now, all of that has seemed to change and he's back 100 % with her and he can't function without her. If she's not there, he's not there- type of unhealthy scenario. My husband's other brothers are very upset and skeptical. She has never been violent towards us, but we don't like everything that she is currently doing to manipulate/estrange him. 

I really believe that she is after his $$, not that I care or my husband care for that matter, we are more concerned with her isolating him from us which is just heartbreaking. He has stated that she hit him on repeated occasions and that she wanted to force him into marriage after he specifically stated that he never wants to get married again. After this round of getting back together, he had said that he was going to make it clear that he never wanted to get married, and apparently now she is wearing some sort of 'promise ring' on  her finger. 

Husband told him that it was very disappointing that he couldn't make it for one afternoon without her, because he has all of the weekend with her. He is very distraught and concerned that we will never see him again. 

Why would I put my child and other children at risk of a crazy, violent woman? 


shoshannah said:


yahooyahoo said:

What does your spouse think of the situation?

This was my first question too.

Clearly, the girlfriend is abusive. He is having trouble extricating himself from her.

Does FIL have money? If so, that's what she might be after. How old is he? You might want to get Adult Protective Services involved.

http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/documents/APS%20flyer.pdf


There's also a national center of elder abuse that may be able to give advice. 

http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/Stop_Abuse/Partners/APS/index.aspx

As far as the birthday party is concerned, you and your spouse have to decide what your priority is: grandpa there with GF, or grandpa not there. You could tell him that the reason you don't want his GF there is because it is very hard for you and your spouse to watch how she treats him.

Thanks for the reply it is very useful. 


mxg86 said:



Why would I put my child and other children at risk of a crazy, violent woman? 

Quite frankly, I haven't seen any evidence in what you've written that you would be putting your child & other children at risk during a brief afternoon visit.  I think you're perfectly capable of protecting them from harm while allowing a visit, and that's what you should do.  


What do you think she might do at your child's party?  Has she frightened your child in the past?


yeah "such a violent person" who can't be exposed to your children seems a bit much. You have no idea what really happened between them or who's at fault. And even if it's 100% true she hit FIL, I still see no imminent danger to your kids at an event. Now, having them spend time with her unsupervised, sure I might draw the line there.


I'll put in my two cents worth and it may only be worth two cents.  

By not seeing him without her and not having him at the party you are playing into her hands.  The more she can isolate him from his family the better things work out for her.  Abusers are very big on isolating the people they abuse from friends or family.  Eventually the person has no one to turn to except the person who is abusing them.  

By welcoming her you are helping the FIL keep a lifeline open.

The possibility that she will hit the children or be violent to them is extremely, extremely small.  No more than any other situation they might be in.  Abuse and the attendant violence is done in private, not in a public setting.  

I'd say invite them both to the party, grit your teeth and try to have a good time for the child's sake.    



Right now you are living in the frightening limbo of "What's going to happen?"

If this situation had existed in my family, my brothers and I would go over to our father's place and we wouldn't wait to be asked. Contact and conversation = influence over what is possible and what is not.


NoraCharles said:

I'll put in my two cents worth and it may only be worth two cents.  

By not seeing him without her and not having him at the party you are playing into her hands.  The more she can isolate him from his family the better things work out for her.  Abusers are very big on isolating the people they abuse from friends or family.  Eventually the person has no one to turn to except the person who is abusing them.  

By welcoming her you are helping the FIL keep a lifeline open.

The possibility that she will hit the children or be violent to them is extremely, extremely small.  No more than any other situation they might be in.  Abuse and the attendant violence is done in private, not in a public setting.  

I'd say invite them both to the party, grit your teeth and try to have a good time for the child's sake.    

Excellent advice.


Sounds like the plot twists from


jimmurphy said:


NoraCharles said:

I'll put in my two cents worth and it may only be worth two cents.  

By not seeing him without her and not having him at the party you are playing into her hands.  The more she can isolate him from his family the better things work out for her.  Abusers are very big on isolating the people they abuse from friends or family.  Eventually the person has no one to turn to except the person who is abusing them.  

By welcoming her you are helping the FIL keep a lifeline open.

The possibility that she will hit the children or be violent to them is extremely, extremely small.  No more than any other situation they might be in.  Abuse and the attendant violence is done in private, not in a public setting.  

I'd say invite them both to the party, grit your teeth and try to have a good time for the child's sake.    

Excellent advice.

I agree.  If anything, your husband and his brothers need to keep in closer contact with their father to minimize his isolation and be alert to signs of abuse.  

Although this seems unlikely from what you have posted, through family interaction with her you may find that your fears become diminished.


I am of a different mind from those who say you have to invite him with her. It will be very hard for mom and dad to enjoy their little son's birthday party while hosting grandpa's abusive GF. Have a kids' party without them. Then have a family party that's just for the adults (and maybe young cousins) in the family. 

Your husband and his brothers need to have an intervention with your FIL. They need to go over there unannounced and have a loving, but firm talk with him. Ask him what he would think about a situation in which one of his sons was involved with a woman who did these awful things. Sometimes it helps to guide someone to think about it as something that's happening to someone else in order for them to see what it wrong with the situation. That's how we got my MIL to stop driving at the age of 93. She thinks of herself as 100% competent in every way. But I said to her, "Mom, if an acquaintance mentioned to you that their 93-year-old mother was driving a car around Brooklyn, would you think that was a good idea? Would you think to yourself, 'Bravo for her!'" Once she took it outside herself, she realized how ridiculous it was.


As far as I read this, we have a solo incident where the FIL says "she hit me".  I still think there may be more to the story and two sides to it.  For example, a woman slaps her husband across the face once during an argument because she finds out he's cheating- is that abuse? (Not saying that happened here just noting that we seem to have a solo incident and one side of the story)

Regardless, so far I fail to see a pattern of abusive and violent behavior and I especially don't hear anything about this woman doing anything rude or violent with anyone in this family or to the grandchildren.  And as for the withdrawing from family, well, yes, he is because she's NOT INVITED and she's his SO.  I wouldn't see this as isolating or controlling behavior.  If you invite them both to events and she tries to keep him from attending or reaching out, then I might say there is some sort of controlling type of abuse going on.  But if you are excluding her, I think the FIL is the one making the decision not to attend, not her.  


NoraCharles said:

I'll put in my two cents worth and it may only be worth two cents.  

By not seeing him without her and not having him at the party you are playing into her hands.  The more she can isolate him from his family the better things work out for her.  Abusers are very big on isolating the people they abuse from friends or family.  Eventually the person has no one to turn to except the person who is abusing them.  

By welcoming her you are helping the FIL keep a lifeline open.

The possibility that she will hit the children or be violent to them is extremely, extremely small.  No more than any other situation they might be in.  Abuse and the attendant violence is done in private, not in a public setting.  

I'd say invite them both to the party, grit your teeth and try to have a good time for the child's sake.    

I agree and your thoughts are worth more than two cents.  I never thought of it that way while reading and thinking about the situation.  IMO I would invite the both of them, be cordial, grit your teeth but maybe make the party shorter than intended.   Ultimately it is his decision as an adult to stay with her.  I have learned, you cannot make anybody do anything that we think isn't right for them.  They have to learn on their own unfortunately.  


conandrob240 said:

As far as I read this, we have a solo incident where the FIL says "she hit me".  I still think there may be more to the story and two sides to it.  For example, a woman slaps her husband across the face once during an argument because she finds out he's cheating- is that abuse? (Not saying that happened here just noting that we seem to have a solo incident and one side of the story)

Regardless, so far I fail to see a pattern of abusive and violent behavior and I especially don't hear anything about this woman doing anything rude or violent with anyone in this family or to the grandchildren.  And as for the withdrawing from family, well, yes, he is because she's NOT INVITED and she's his SO.  I wouldn't see this as isolating or controlling behavior.  If you invite them both to events and she tries to keep him from attending or reaching out, then I might say there is some sort of controlling type of abuse going on.  But if you are excluding her, I think the FIL is the one making the decision not to attend, not her.  

Actually when they broke up, FIL said it was 'many' incidents of hitting, abuse, verbal and emotional. To the point were he told me that she said she knew how to hit him and not leave a mark. I was besides myself shocked, because I never would have expected him to suffer in silence for over a year and a half. (we were living across the country when everything happened so we never would have noticed) Now he's changing the story and saying that it was his fault that she hit him. This to me screams classic abuse victim, when the abuser kind of gets in their brain and engrains that it is their fault that all of this is happening. 

I personally would be beyond upset, as would my husband if we were to see her after everything FIL claimed when they broke up. 

To everyone else, I want to add that she has a job (well paid gov job) that if she were to have had a restraining order placed, she would have been fired. She also claims she hates her job and that she can't wait to 'quit or retire'. She doesn't let him travel or do anything without her. So, she left the house after a couple of weeks and FIL moved back in where he swore her off forever. 2 weeks later she called him about 50 or more times, he finally answered and somehow managed to convince him to get back together and that she was willing to accept going to therapy and 'changing'. After this, he still talked to me and said that she had changed (in 2 weeks).. so after all of this I was very surprised that he had agreed to get back with her. My husband is deeply hurt by his own father not attending the bday of his grandchild because the gf and him see each other every day, why can't she just go without him one day (3 hrs at most)... it's a very controlling, unhealthy relationship. 

I guess I just wanted other people's perspective and if anyone had any similar experiences with family / friends. 

I appreciate everyone's voice, I am taking note and analysing what to do next. 


NoraCharles said:

I'll put in my two cents worth and it may only be worth two cents.  

By not seeing him without her and not having him at the party you are playing into her hands.  The more she can isolate him from his family the better things work out for her.  Abusers are very big on isolating the people they abuse from friends or family.  Eventually the person has no one to turn to except the person who is abusing them.  

By welcoming her you are helping the FIL keep a lifeline open.

The possibility that she will hit the children or be violent to them is extremely, extremely small.  No more than any other situation they might be in.  Abuse and the attendant violence is done in private, not in a public setting.  

I'd say invite them both to the party, grit your teeth and try to have a good time for the child's sake.    

Thanks for this, I thought about this too but ultimately it was my husband's decision not to invite gf because he can't face her. It has only been about 4 months since the restraining order attempt was made and now they are back on. It's an intense feeling. It's not even my dad, and I feel the need to be protective but I totally get what you are saying. Thanks


I think you're taking a bad situation and making it worse, and in the meantime, you're teaching your son a bad lesson. If the woman is violent in your presence or in your son's presence, you have a right to remove her from the situation and tell her she's not to behave that way in your house or your presence. But you can't indict and convict her for things she does in her personal life which is not your life. You are right to draw boundaries, but you've drawn this one too far out and are trying to control a situation that is not yours to control.

You asked for advice for how to deal, and we are finding fault in you. That may be hard to take or even understand, but to tell you that you're wrong, if you're able to hear it, is the most generous thing we can do for you.


steel said:

Right now you are living in the frightening limbo of "What's going to happen?"


If this situation had existed in my family, my brothers and I would go over to our father's place and we wouldn't wait to be asked. Contact and conversation = influence over what is possible and what is not.

Yes!!!! If it was my dad I would have practically moved in to their house by now. But I'm also a different temperament than my spouse. 


It's a kid's birthday party.  Why are you inviting adults?


ellenlynn said:
NoraCharles said:

I'll put in my two cents worth and it may only be worth two cents.  

By not seeing him without her and not having him at the party you are playing into her hands.  The more she can isolate him from his family the better things work out for her.  Abusers are very big on isolating the people they abuse from friends or family.  Eventually the person has no one to turn to except the person who is abusing them.  

By welcoming her you are helping the FIL keep a lifeline open.

The possibility that she will hit the children or be violent to them is extremely, extremely small.  No more than any other situation they might be in.  Abuse and the attendant violence is done in private, not in a public setting.  

I'd say invite them both to the party, grit your teeth and try to have a good time for the child's sake.    

I agree and your thoughts are worth more than two cents.  I never thought of it that way while reading and thinking about the situation.  IMO I would invite the both of them, be cordial, grit your teeth but maybe make the party shorter than intended.   Ultimately it is his decision as an adult to stay with her.  I have learned, you cannot make anybody do anything that we think isn't right for them.  They have to learn on their own unfortunately.  

So true! It's just gut wrenching to face a person that you know is doing something so dreadful to a loved one, even with his complete consent. Thanks


lizziecat said:

It's a kid's birthday party.  Why are you inviting adults?

Ha, well it's a toddler's bday party and family is invited. We actually just moved to town and know very few kids. I think toddler parties are ok for grandparents and family friends


Tom_Reingold said:

I think you're taking a bad situation and making it worse, and in the meantime, you're teaching your son a bad lesson. If the woman is violent in your presence or in your son's presence, you have a right to remove her from the situation and tell her she's not to behave that way in your house or your presence. But you can't indict and convict her for things she does in her personal life which is not your life. You are right to draw boundaries, but you've drawn this one too far out and are trying to control a situation that is not yours to control.

You asked for advice for how to deal, and we are finding fault in you. That may be hard to take or even understand, but to tell you that you're wrong, if you're able to hear it, is the most generous thing we can do for you.

thanks, I appreciate it. I really do


@mxg86 ~ When is the party?  I really feel for you.  You are in a horrible position.  

I had a similar situation with my brother who is living in Pennsylvania.  I so did not like his girlfriend... a trouble maker to say the least.  I would never accept his invitations to go up there for dinner because of her.  My brother never took my advice as far as she was concerned.  He always made excuses and blamed himself too.   He ended up losing everything in his life basically because of her...and .... guess what ??  He still wants to be with her.. Sometimes you can't make people see the light.  


Tom_Reingold said:

I think you're taking a bad situation and making it worse, and in the meantime, you're teaching your son a bad lesson. If the woman is violent in your presence or in your son's presence, you have a right to remove her from the situation and tell her she's not to behave that way in your house or your presence. But you can't indict and convict her for things she does in her personal life which is not your life. You are right to draw boundaries, but you've drawn this one too far out and are trying to control a situation that is not yours to control.

You asked for advice for how to deal, and we are finding fault in you. That may be hard to take or even understand, but to tell you that you're wrong, if you're able to hear it, is the most generous thing we can do for you.

I don't know, Tom. I would not want the person who abuses my loved one in my house—no matter how much my loved one loves his abuser. I want to set an example. I stay far away from known abusive people, even if I am not the one being abused. Not even theoretical for me. I have a cousin married to someone who smacks her around and has put her in the hospital a few times. He never did anything to me or my kids. No way would I ever want to be in the same room with him. He is not invited. I don't care if he's my cousin's legal spouse. I do not let people like that into my life. Period.



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