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Inlaw Relations/In-Laws and Boundries Issues (Wife)


I have been married to my wife for 20 years now, and have struggled with her relationship with her family (oldest with 3 sisters, 1 brother). Most of them are takers, who expect us to "help" them out of bad situations "they" put themselves in. Here's a quick rundown of some things that absolutely piss me off, and have made me bitter towards them:

1) Paid off brothers credit card ($1,100) but never paid back.
2) Cosigned for brother's truck, fired from job and couldn't pay. We paid 3 payments before trading it in (with our car) on new vehicle - lost $3,000.
3) Sold numerous pieces of furniture to all, yet were never paid.
4) Paid for mothers funeral, and everyone took years to pay us back ($1,000 each)
5) Sister stole blank check from our home
6) Sister stole my mother's and wife's mother's coin collection from our home.
7) Think that brothers girlfriend stole money from my sons room while visiting
8) Numerous requests for money from all, while they all smoke and most of them drink and/or do drugs.
9) Bailed brother out from jail (DUI)
10) Bailed brother out from jail (Attempted Robbery)
11) Brother currently in jail for manufacturing Meth in truck (No Bond or would be bailed out again)
12) Brother, while in jail, asked wife to stop by house and straighten up. Turns out he and girlfriend had lab set up in trailer. Wife and sister in law cleaned it up and threw everything away to keep him from additional trouble even though neither knew anything about the severity of these actions.
13) Continue to put money on the books for brother and his girlfriend so they can get things. Also allow them to call, costing us as much as $150.00 a month extra in phone bills.
14) Wife is liason for his lawyer and probation officer, often needing to meet with them to discuss the situation, yet can't seem to find time for us.
15) Brother has lived with us several times, rent free, during his troubled times. Spent more time upstairs watching Nascar them trying to find a job.
16) Here's a good one - wife didn't want me to bring alcohol bottles into the house (don't drink, just have a decorative globe that I wanted to put them in) but allowed brother to bring in beer.
17) Allowed brother's previous girlfriend to spend the night, after we had previously discussed that this was not an option in front of our kids (12 and 10)

There are numerous more items that I could go on about, but I am at the end of my rope. I do not respect her family, nor do I respect the way they attack her boundries. Just this weekend, she explained to her brother that he couldn't call so much, and that she had no additional info to give him. She told him not to call back until Monday because she wouldn't answer. Phone rang Sunday and she answers it anyway because (well, it might be important - it wasn't)

My wife knows that they are abusing her and putting struggles into our marriage, but cannot tell them no on a consistent basis. I have suggested counseling, but she is hesitant. Add these issues onto the normal every day struggles (sex, money, kids, etc...) and to be honest, I want to pack up and leave and probably would have if I had no kids. I supply 75% of the family income, so many times I feel like a paycheck that all of them look forward to. We struggle with one-on-one time and intemacy issues as it is, and her devoting this much time and effort to her brothers situation, causes her stress and anguish, which as you can guess, falls back on me. Hard to hear your wife tell you she's too tired in bed, when she's spent most of the night trying to work on her brothers situation that HE put HIMSELF into......

Got anything for me?

Let me correct something. Your wife HAS no boundaries. All the things above suggest there are no boundaries she is keeping. I would also have to say that you have been a bit complicit in this as well. After the first couple times boundaries should have been put up, so it's a bit unfair to simply say it's all her when you have been by her side the whole time. I agree it's time to get refocused. This means you probably should seek out a therapist to help you figure out how to implement serious enforceable boundaries. I would first suggest that when a crime happens you report it. You describe several crimes, but I don't know if police were involved. I would also suggest you simply sit with your wife and let her know that you are going to help her face the challenges of her family and then do it. She has shown you over the years that she can't. She probably will be relieved if you take a much more proactive role in protecting the family. If she fights you on it then THAT is what you take to counseling. She needs to figure out why bad/criminal behavior is Okay when it comes to her family.

Doc David

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Dr. David Simonsen


I can answer you questions clearly and straight. Let me help you get your in-law relationships figured out. They can really be challenging


I meet weekly with families that have in-law challenges.


B.A. M.S. Marriage & Family Therapy; Ph.D. Psychology

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