I received a quite insightful comment on an earlier post and again found myself responding at length. I think I'd rather share it here though....
(parts of the comment:)
...I found I felt much better when I stood up for myself to my ex's family. I wasn't rude. I just did what I thought was best for myself and my family... If they didn't like it... That was their problem. The interesting thing about difficult people is they never go away.
...Love and take care of yourself... Always tell the truth in love and don't be too hard on yourself:) It really is the best way to love your husband :)
Earlier in the year I was seriously contemplating divorce and the thing that made me feel the best about it was the fact that I wouldn't have to deal with his family anymore. (We don't have kids, so we'd essentially be going our own ways.) Now that I've recommitted to the marriage, time and time again I realize that his family is the biggest wedge between us. It's where most of the dissension begins.
I am beginning to calmly stand up for myself and my decisions without apology, but without being rude about it. I can only take responsibility for my actions and reactions. Their happiness is up to them. And I think my hubby is just starting to catch on too. But even that isn't my responsibility, it's his.
You make a very good point that difficult people never go away. No matter how much we grow and mature, it often has no bearing on others' maturity. But we can live in peace when we take responsibility for ourselves and let them have responsibility for themselves. Even if they want to blame us, we don't have to take that on.
I was blessed that I had a personal counseling appointment Friday afternoon right before we went camping with his family. "Bill" pointed out two things to me. 1.) the "Leave and Cleave" command in Genesis is directed to the son. It's not completely the parent's responsibility to let their child go, it's also up to the son to make changes to his relationship with his parents. Not that he should completely cut them out of his life, but there is a change in priorities that should occur, and it's his responsibility to initiate that. It's naturally designed to occur in the adolescence, but often enough never occurs at all.
2.) Philippians 4:4-8 gives us a good guideline to achieving peace.
A.) "Rejoice in the Lord" (so hard to do when focusing all our energy on the people who are driving us crazy!)
B.) "Don't be anxious for ANYthing."
C.) "Instead pray and petition." The word used for Petition means a detailed request. This is more for our benefit than for God's because he already knows! But it creates intimacy when we spend the time to get into detail in our cry for help.
D.) "With thanksgiving." Why would we be thankful? Because it's an opportunity for growth in our lives. Because it's an opportunity for us to become more intimate with God. For any number of reasons. Maybe it's and opportunity to portray God's compassion to those that are hurting us.
E.) "Think on things..." that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. It's really hard to remain tense and anxious and focused on retaliation when we're thinking on this kind of thing, isn't it! LOL.
A tool that Bill encouraged me to initiate is to take notecards and write verses on them that would help me to "think on these things." I did just that over the weekend, starting with these very verses! Others that I've added are Romans 8:28 , James 1:2-6 and Jeremiah 29:10-13.
By way of follow-up, on the surface, it seems that the weekend went fairly smoothly. I fully expect that my hubby will get a scathing phone call this afternoon though. *sigh*, another reminder that we can't control their actions and feelings. They may have the perspective that we MAKE them feel this, but the reality is that they choose their feelings, even as we choose ours. We can choose to live our own lives or continue to be puppeted by them. I even found myself at times over the weekend reading insult into probably innocuous things, but caught myself most times before I jumped to that conclusion. I imagine the same is true for them. Though whether they "caught themselves" or were looking for insult is up to them, not me.
I am at peace this morning knowing that I did what I could while maintaining my personal boundaries and there is nothing that I would do differently.