DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

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MayB
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DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

Post by MayB » 24 Jul 2013, 08:58

Hey everyone. It's been a long time since I've been able to post anything. I've been reading here pretty regularly still though and it's always helpful. Since it's been a while, this post may get lengthy. I apologize in advance.

Where to start? A few weeks ago I decided to take off the G's for a few days while I was just doing things around the house. It was so liberating and I felt like I was finally comfortable in my own skin. Then, on a day I knew I would be out and about, I put them back on. I was miserable. Like many women, I've always had issues with garments, but I had never realized the effect they were having on my self-image and my state of mind. I wore them again the next day because it was Sunday and I'd like to incorporate them as part of my sabbath worship. Again, I was miserable.
I also had quite the anxiety attack during F&T meeting when I had the sudden realization that every single big decision I've made in my life was done because the church was telling me that was the right thing to do. I got married too young and too quickly for all the wrong reasons (which actually worked out really well after a rough 5 years). I became a mother at age 21 and proceeded to have 4 children. I love my children dearly, but it breaks my heart a little that not once did I decide to have a child because of a deep desire to be a mother or because I wanted a large family or because of a desire to nurture and love someone. Every single time it was because of pressure from church teachings and culture and people working inside those frameworks. I quit school and music because they were too time consuming and I was being told that I should be home with my children instead of spending time on these "selfish pursuits". Thankfully, my husband noticed my discomfort and suggested I go home and he would stay and bring the kids home after primary.
Now I don't wear the G's during the week. I wore them last Sunday for church and it went fine. I took the kids to visit my in-laws for a couple of days and I was planning to wear them because my in-laws are the epitome of orthodox over-the-top members and I knew that if they noticed it would mean a lengthy lecture or a phone call to my husband. But when I started to put them on, I just couldn't do it. I realized that I was wearing them for the wrong reason. So I went without and I don't think they noticed. If they did, they have yet to say anything about it.
My husband has stopped wearing his as well. I've continued to carefully share my feelings with him and information that I find troubling. He's been great about it and very supportive. I posted a while ago about him pressuring me to make a decision about the church. Last weekend, we got to have a short getaway without the kids and we had a great conversation about finding a way to be "in the church, but not of the church" :smile: I told him that I love some of the theology there and the emphasis on family and loving and serving others, but I also know that the LDS church is not the only way to have these teachings in our lives and our home. We talked about doing church on our own terms, which is probably easier said than done. I told him that, for me, this means attending on Sundays, but not freaking out if we miss once in a while. It means wearing my G's on Sunday and when/if I decide to go to the temple as part of my worship, but not wearing them all day and night every day and night. It means teaching our children more about the true history of the church and emphasizing the teachings of Christ in our home. It means teaching our children that baptism, missions, and the temple are all choices that they can make and not to let anyone else make those decisions for them. It means paying our tithing directly to SLC so that we can pay in a way that is consistent with our beliefs and not worry about some bishop or SP "doing the math". It means keeping a TR, but not necessarily attending the temple right now.

I don't know how well this will work in the long run, but I want to try it. We stand to lose family relationships and, because we are in UT, there would be social consequences for our children if we were to leave altogether. I know we'll run into issues with my in-laws somewhere down the line. While we were there visiting, the kids were watching a movie and there's a part where a man wins the jackpot from a slot machine and all the coins come pouring out. My son remarked on how much money that was and my MIL said "That's enough to fill your mission bank for sure!" My son, who gets quite upset when anyone tries to tell him that he HAS to serve a mission, didn't say anything. But his sister said, "He doesn't want to go on a mission and Dad and Mom told him that he doesn't have to if he doesn't want to." My MIL had quite the troubled look on her face and then said, "Well, if he doesn't go we'll just have to take back his mission bank and the money we gave him because it's for a mission. Then we can give it to you because girls can serve missions too." DD says, "I don't want to go either." Then the next day, before we left, I noticed that MIL had pulled my son aside and was talking to him quietly in a corner with her scriptures open. He did not have a happy look on his face. On the drive home, I asked him what they were talking about. He said that she was telling him that it is a commandment to go on a mission and that it would make her and Heavenly Father very sad and disappointed if he didn't go. I reassured him that God loves him whether he serves a mission or not and that many good men don't serve missions. We talked again about how it is a choice and that he has plenty of time to make that choice, no matter what Grandma says. For my in-laws, everything is about the church. They can't even send my kids a birthday card without it containing a personal message about how they are so proud of them for going to primary and how excited they are that DS or DD will be getting the priesthood or serving a mission or becoming a righteous mother or going to the temple. I really wish they could just tell my kids they love them for who they are regardless of their religious devotion or choices. I doubt that will change though.

Anyway, sorry for the lengthy post. I just needed a place to let all this out. If any of you have any experiences with doing church on your terms or helping your children through the church while helping them avoid some of the most damaging rhetoric taught there, I'd love to hear about it.
MayB

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Heber13
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Re: DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

Post by Heber13 » 24 Jul 2013, 09:47

MayB,
Keep us posted on how you feel this is working for you.

I think things you can do to reduce anxiety are good things.

I think it may also create situations where others get concerned for you...like if you are not at church every week, well-intentioned friends will want to tell you they missed you, and that may make you feel guilty.

But if you and your husband are supporting each other, I think it is good that you are doing what you feel is good and right.

And the good thing about the church is that if later you decide you miss some things, you can always go back and they welcome you back.

Do what feels "right" for you and your family. The Church should be a church of Love, not a Church of Fear. (See Wirthlin's talk "People to People" in Oct 1981 GC).
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Jul 2013, 12:04

I think it's wonderful that you and your husband are communicating and working together on these things - and that you are communicating with your children, as well.

There are no easy answers with regard to your in-laws. They need to stop pulling your children aside and talking with / pressuring / guilting them privately - but telling them that could cause a real rift, and not visiting anymore isn't ideal, either. One way or another, however, they have to know that you won't accept that sort of interference. Maybe if you looked them in the eyes and said something like:
"We love you, and we want to be involved with you. We want our children to know and love their grandparents. How would you feel if I pulled aside one of your children and started contradicting what you have taught them? How would you feel if I tried to undermine what you believe and teach your children? We would never do that to you, and all we ask is that you don't do it to us."


It's strong, but it is designed to make them think about what they are doing, rather than what you are doing. If they can't accept that, maybe a break is necessary.

I wish you well on that front.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Ann
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Re: DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

Post by Ann » 24 Jul 2013, 13:15

Thanks for the window into your thoughts. I noticed that my angry, panicked, constricted feelings re. garments alternate with positive feelings. Their whiteness and familiarity and symbolism pull me towards them. Sometimes I can't wear them; sometimes I can't not wear them. What is off the table for me is wearing them 24/7/365.

One idea re. grandparents - what if you helped steer conversations towards their life stories? They have a chance to talk about what's important to them but in a context. Then it's not about your kids measuring up and passing muster, or the implied threat of withdrawn love and approval if they don't do thus and such. It might be good for all three generations.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

Curt Sunshine
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Re: DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Jul 2013, 14:14

I really like that, Ann. It's a good thing to try, at least.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Heber13
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Re: DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

Post by Heber13 » 24 Jul 2013, 14:16

Ann wrote:I noticed that my angry, panicked, constricted feelings re. garments alternate with positive feelings.
I think its OK to vent a little, as you work through the feelings ... it shows how important it is to you...and you need to let it out, and then move towards what to do about those feelings.
Sometimes I can't wear them; sometimes I can't not wear them. What is off the table for me is wearing them 24/7/365.
I think that is good...especially if it makes it so you don't despise them. Recognizing they have some symbolic meaning for you is a good thing, I think.
One idea re. grandparents - what if you helped steer conversations towards their life stories? ... It might be good for all three generations.
Brilliant!

I think that kind of approach is a kind of Aikido ...instead of having a tug of war with the kids where no one wins.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Roy
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Re: DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

Post by Roy » 24 Jul 2013, 15:08

MayB wrote:I don't know how well this will work in the long run, but I want to try it. We stand to lose family relationships and, because we are in UT, there would be social consequences for our children if we were to leave altogether. I know we'll run into issues with my in-laws somewhere down the line. While we were there visiting, the kids were watching a movie and there's a part where a man wins the jackpot from a slot machine and all the coins come pouring out. My son remarked on how much money that was and my MIL said "That's enough to fill your mission bank for sure!" My son, who gets quite upset when anyone tries to tell him that he HAS to serve a mission, didn't say anything. But his sister said, "He doesn't want to go on a mission and Dad and Mom told him that he doesn't have to if he doesn't want to." My MIL had quite the troubled look on her face and then said, "Well, if he doesn't go we'll just have to take back his mission bank and the money we gave him because it's for a mission. Then we can give it to you because girls can serve missions too." DD says, "I don't want to go either." Then the next day, before we left, I noticed that MIL had pulled my son aside and was talking to him quietly in a corner with her scriptures open. He did not have a happy look on his face. On the drive home, I asked him what they were talking about. He said that she was telling him that it is a commandment to go on a mission and that it would make her and Heavenly Father very sad and disappointed if he didn't go. I reassured him that God loves him whether he serves a mission or not and that many good men don't serve missions. We talked again about how it is a choice and that he has plenty of time to make that choice, no matter what Grandma says. For my in-laws, everything is about the church. They can't even send my kids a birthday card without it containing a personal message about how they are so proud of them for going to primary and how excited they are that DS or DD will be getting the priesthood or serving a mission or becoming a righteous mother or going to the temple. I really wish they could just tell my kids they love them for who they are regardless of their religious devotion or choices. I doubt that will change though.
I also have manipulative In-Laws. It helps to live 500 miles away. Relations with more than half of the posterity is strained because of this issue. I have come to some realizations that I repeat to myself and DW as coping mechanisms.

1) Their behaviour is more about them than it is about you. I was noticing that sometimes MIL will send books for my 5 year old that are baby-ish. They send 12 days of Christmas packages that contain little dollar store knick-knacks that cost more to ship than to purchase (and that we didn't want in the first place). One time they were getting each family a Wii for Christmas - we were really hurting for money and DW wanted to visit her family for Christmas - we asked if we could use the Wii money to help finance the trip home. We were told that they really wanted us to have the Wii :wtf: , so we ended up putting the trip home on our credit card. With our kids being toddlers a Wii was not needed (we didn’t even take it out of the box for the first few years) but a trip home was important. Many of the other families had older kids so this gift made sense for them and the in-laws wanted everyone to get the same gift.

These actions can be hurtful because it tells me that no matter how great the gesture, it is not really personalized to you and what you might need. To say anything about it can make you sound ungrateful. I believe that these actions fulfil need to accomplish a duty or role or responsibility in the mind of the in-law. They do these things to feel good about their role or to “fulfil their responsibility.” Sort of like a faithful home teacher that visits every month and delivers the message but never seems to really connect.
2) They will never change. I have much evidence to suggest that trying to make them change would be a fruitless endeavour.
3) I sometimes equate this to love languages. I gravitate to expressing love through my love languages even though I know that my wife receives love more in other ways. I know this, but I still gravitate to what comes naturally to me. I try to be charitable to others doing what comes naturally to them.

In their own way this is how they show love. In DW’s family there is not much display of affection. Gestures such as giving of gifts is one of the only ways this is done. I believe that they think they are showing love – even if they are tone deaf as to what actual needs are.

In addition to reminding myself of these things we set boundaries. These boundaries to not necessarily need to be announced. Reducing visit frequency or avoiding certain topics can also be a boundary. Most of these boundaries are accomplished by the distance between us and the relatively young age of our kids, but we have made known that we have certain parenting styles and techniques. I try to be a “filter” for my kids to help with the outside messages that they receive. I believe that you were doing exactly that by talking to your son about it later in the car. If you think it would help to ask your MIL to direct all her “life lessons” through you then go for it. Otherwise, a debriefing afterward might accomplish a similar objective.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

Post by Kumahito » 25 Jul 2013, 16:57

May, just a quick note on your in-laws.

Unfortunately, in the Church the success or failure of parents and grand parents are often measured in numbers of temple marriages, missions served, children baptized, etc. How many times have you heard older members of the Church introduce themselves as "a mother of four wonderful children, all married in the temple." It's an outward indication of their faithfulness, they think. Perhaps your mother-in-law feels, for some reason, that if your son doesn't serve a mission it will be a negative reflection on her. So, rather than encouraging someone to serve a mission because of the positives the missionary will take from their mission, people with this mindset encourage others to serve in order to receive some of the reflected light from that service. Kind of selfish, perhaps.

Not judging your in-laws, but perhaps just an insight into why they're doing what they're doing.

Just out of curiousity - did your father-in-law and mother-in-law serve missions?
"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
- Oscar Wilde

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DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

Post by mackay11 » 25 Jul 2013, 23:08

I think you and your husband are doing brilliantly. Well done for negotiating this together. If you keep at it, it will be a huge benefit to your relationship.

Your in-laws sound like... well... butt-holes (is that too far Ray, I had another phrase in mind but figured the mods would disapprove).

Some people find it very difficult to come to terms with the idea that their truth isn't your truth.

Good luck with the in-laws. For the rest, it sounds like you're doing what's right for you and your family.

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MayB
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Re: DH, Garments, In-laws, Anxiety

Post by MayB » 26 Jul 2013, 07:32

Thanks for all your responses. My husband has been great about all of this and working through it together has been really beneficial to our relationship. I do find that if I talk about anything church related too often, he shuts down a bit. And he still seems to see me teaching GD as being sort of hypocritical. I've talked to him a little about how I don't teach anything that I don't believe in and I work hard to steer the lesson towards basic principles rather than just teaching the church version of its history. I think he's slowly coming around on that one. He's usually busy with our 9 month old during my class, so he doesn't hear my lessons.
Ann wrote:I noticed that my angry, panicked, constricted feelings re. garments alternate with positive feelings. Their whiteness and familiarity and symbolism pull me towards them. Sometimes I can't wear them; sometimes I can't not wear them. What is off the table for me is wearing them 24/7/365.
Thanks for your thoughts on garments, Ann. I'm not to the point where I ever feel drawn to them, but perhaps that will come back in time.

As for the in-laws, yes mackay11, you hit the nail on the head. :lol: But they do it in the most passive-aggressive way with a big smile on their face and "truth" on their side. It drives me nuts! My FIL has always held high-profile church callings. He's been bishop, has been a patriarch for the last 20-ish years, and is also a temple sealer. My husband grew up being known as the patriarch's son and his parents have always used the guilt/shame tactics when it comes to behavior and anything church related. They've even used it on me a time or two. They have already alienated their 2 oldest children and their families by being judgmental and overbearing. We've been trying hard to maintain a good relationship with them, mostly for the kids' sake. But if they continue to apply the same behavior to their relationship with our children, they might just lose us too.
Kumahito wrote:Unfortunately, in the Church the success or failure of parents and grand parents are often measured in numbers of temple marriages, missions served, children baptized, etc. How many times have you heard older members of the Church introduce themselves as "a mother of four wonderful children, all married in the temple." It's an outward indication of their faithfulness, they think. Perhaps your mother-in-law feels, for some reason, that if your son doesn't serve a mission it will be a negative reflection on her. So, rather than encouraging someone to serve a mission because of the positives the missionary will take from their mission, people with this mindset encourage others to serve in order to receive some of the reflected light from that service. Kind of selfish, perhaps.
I think this is a lot of the problem. My MIL in particular seems to do this a lot. She takes a lot of pride in her family being extra righteous. The first time I met her, she went on and on about how lucky I was to be marrying into their righteous family and how it was so sad that my parents had divorced because I must have never been able to experience a family that reads scriptures every day, prays together, goes to the temple, and how my family won't be an eternal family. It was repulsive. She would flip out if she knew that her two oldest children(both RMs and married in the temple) haven't been attending church for years. As I said before, my in-laws have already driven them away and have very little contact with them.
Kumahito wrote:Just out of curiousity - did your father-in-law and mother-in-law serve missions?
FIL served a mission but MIL did not.
Roy wrote:I also have manipulative In-Laws. It helps to live 500 miles away. Relations with more than half of the posterity is strained because of this issue. I have come to some realizations that I repeat to myself and DW as coping mechanisms.

1) Their behaviour is more about them than it is about you. I was noticing that sometimes MIL will send books for my 5 year old that are baby-ish. They send 12 days of Christmas packages that contain little dollar store knick-knacks that cost more to ship than to purchase (and that we didn't want in the first place). One time they were getting each family a Wii for Christmas - we were really hurting for money and DW wanted to visit her family for Christmas - we asked if we could use the Wii money to help finance the trip home. We were told that they really wanted us to have the Wii :wtf: , so we ended up putting the trip home on our credit card. With our kids being toddlers a Wii was not needed (we didn’t even take it out of the box for the first few years) but a trip home was important. Many of the other families had older kids so this gift made sense for them and the in-laws wanted everyone to get the same gift.

These actions can be hurtful because it tells me that no matter how great the gesture, it is not really personalized to you and what you might need. To say anything about it can make you sound ungrateful. I believe that these actions fulfil need to accomplish a duty or role or responsibility in the mind of the in-law. They do these things to feel good about their role or to “fulfil their responsibility.” Sort of like a faithful home teacher that visits every month and delivers the message but never seems to really connect.
2) They will never change. I have much evidence to suggest that trying to make them change would be a fruitless endeavour.
3) I sometimes equate this to love languages. I gravitate to expressing love through my love languages even though I know that my wife receives love more in other ways. I know this, but I still gravitate to what comes naturally to me. I try to be charitable to others doing what comes naturally to them.

In their own way this is how they show love. In DW’s family there is not much display of affection. Gestures such as giving of gifts is one of the only ways this is done. I believe that they think they are showing love – even if they are tone deaf as to what actual needs are.

In addition to reminding myself of these things we set boundaries. These boundaries to not necessarily need to be announced. Reducing visit frequency or avoiding certain topics can also be a boundary. Most of these boundaries are accomplished by the distance between us and the relatively young age of our kids, but we have made known that we have certain parenting styles and techniques. I try to be a “filter” for my kids to help with the outside messages that they receive. I believe that you were doing exactly that by talking to your son about it later in the car. If you think it would help to ask your MIL to direct all her “life lessons” through you then go for it. Otherwise, a debriefing afterward might accomplish a similar objective.

We used to live about 400 miles away and we'd only see them once or twice a year. Things were so much easier then. Now we're only about an hour and a half away and see them every couple of months or so. Still not too bad, but they've recently expressed a desire to have the kids over for sleepovers. DH and I just aren't comfortable leaving the kids with them because of those small things, like the mission comment, that get turned into little lectures given to our kids make them feel bad.

I have already realized #1 and #2. Others have tried talking to them about their behavior and it hasn't done anything except cause them to do more of it. For me, it's more about just trying to manage a relationship with them while they behave this way. As our children are getting older, this is becoming increasingly difficult.
I love the love languages! My in-laws do the giving gifts thing too. Their gifts are things like picking up outfits for the kids at garage sales, dropping off random items they think we could use, and then of course birthdays and Christmas. I'm okay with this. Whether it's something we can use or not, we always accept whatever they offer with gratitude. I know it's their way of showing they care.
I like the boundaries you mentioned. That's exactly what we've been trying to do. I think we'll continue filtering their behavior and messages to our children and hope that works. If not, we may have to do something like what Ray suggested.
Ray Degraw wrote:Maybe if you looked them in the eyes and said something like:

"We love you, and we want to be involved with you. We want our children to know and love their grandparents. How would you feel if I pulled aside one of your children and started contradicting what you have taught them? How would you feel if I tried to undermine what you believe and teach your children? We would never do that to you, and all we ask is that you don't do it to us."


It's strong, but it is designed to make them think about what they are doing, rather than what you are doing. If they can't accept that, maybe a break is necessary.
I can easily see it coming to this, but I know that even if we did make a statement such as this, nothing would change and we would have to take a break.
MayB

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