Re: Husband afraid to defend me...
You have my sympathy and understanding OP. I have the exact same problem as you.
In general, my husband is a good, strong man. He has a good, well paid job, is well respected by his peers, all my friends and family love him and he them. He doesn't abide bad behaviour and has strong morals, values and ethics. I love him to bits.
When it comes to dealing with his wretched family however, he reverts to a spineless, weak little boy and it drives me absolutely crazy. I am not scared of my family, and would not hesitate to put them in their place if they'd behaved in the same manner as my husbands family. But no, he can't do it.
He asserted himself recently when they overstepped a boundary while our daughter was in hospital, and they've not spoken to him since. He can't believe it and asked me why they would behave like this. I simply said "They've lost control over you and they don't like it. This is their way of teaching you a lesson". They sent him a card in the mail for his 50th birthday recently. A card. No phone call, no gift, just a card. His sister blocked him on FB, wooo she showed him, lololol.
If your husband is unwilling to stand up to his family (and it took me a long time and lots of arguments and tears to accept this), you have two choices - accept this is how it is, or leave. If you decide to stay, you have the right to set boundaries - mine are that his family are never to be in our home, and birthdays/holidays are to be spent with me and our daughter...if he wants to see his family he fits them in around us at a time that won't take away from our family. Those are my boundaries and I absolutely will not budge on them. Not one bit.
That's the cold reality and I'm really sorry to have to be so blunt but that's just the way it is.