DP and DM can't stand each other - WWYD?

(188 Posts)
crocodarl Sun 06-Nov-16 22:20:38

Apologies for the length of this, but I want to avoid drip feeding if possible...

I have a great relationship with my DP and also with my DM, but, as with many inlaws, they really don't get on with each other. In fact, they fell out properly when DS1 was about 10 months old and I found it very difficult as I got completely stuck in the middle trying to mediate between them... after that they didn't see each other for about 2 years - I went once or twice a year for a long visit to DM with the kids but DP stayed at home.

Over the last couple of years things have improved and DM has been over to stay with us several times and although they still aren't keen they seemed to manage to tolerate each other for the sake of me and the kids. However, now it seems to be all boiling back up again... DM is visiting as DS3 has just been born and pretty much every day there is some kind of unpleasantness.

The problem, I think, is partly cultural and partly just personality clash. They are both people who are very set in their ways and automatically think anyone else's way of doing something is wrong if its different from theirs - but neither of them thinks they are like that! Also, DP is very direct if he is annoyed about something (in a way DM finds very upsetting and rude) and DM is completely insensitive about stuff that is clearly likely to set him off (then gets very upset when it does). She thinks he is aggressive and controlling. He thinks she is rude and over-reacting.

Lately the issue has been cleanliness: DP and his family are borderline obssessive about domestic hygiene. DM has a far more relaxed approach. Obviously I was raised by DM and so am not panicking about dirt, but on the other hand I quite like things clean, especially as we have a new baby at the moment I think it's quite normal and sensible to be a bit careful about handwashing/keeping things clean around the house. DM takes exception when DP asks her to wash her hands when she comes into our house (although there's no way she'd do it if he didn't) also she really doesn't get how disgusting it is for him that she has a day old used cloth hanky in her pocket. Also at dinner this evening she passed a drumstick she's already eaten part of to the 2 year old to finish... and she'd think nothing of using a tissue she'd already used herself on the 2 year old or the 4 year old ... to be honest I'm totally with DP on all of this being wrong/revolting, although on the other hand I grew up with this kind of stuff seeming normal and knowing we are all healthy and all survived so also think it's fairly harmless really - just I wish she wouldn't! But on the other hand I know she means well and she's lovely in lots of other ways and I hate that this is making her feel so unhappy/uncomfortable around us - but i wish she'd just think a little bit!! And as for her relationship with DP, this is just 1 example - even if we got the hygiene issue sorted, he would find something else to be annoyed about.

I have tried talking to both of them and tried to give them tips to help them understand each other a bit better but it really hasn't helped ... and I'm starting to think the best plan is just to keep them away from each other... I just don't have the energy to try to fix this any more, I am so sick of being stuck in the middle ... I used to find it upsetting, now it's just sort of funny except for neither of them sees it that way.

I don't want to sacrifice my (or the kids') relationship with either of them, and I don't want to ban DM from visiting us (or for DP to have stay out of the house when she does) but I don't know if I can stand the atmosphere of of what's it's like when she's here.

So, thanks anyone who read all the way through this! And, from your own experience regarding inlaw relationships, should I just let them fight and stay out of it, or should I go back to only visiting DM at her place without DP? I think she'd be devastated though, if she thought she wasn't welcome at ours.... Any suggestions welcome.

NoMudNoLotus Sun 06-Nov-16 22:26:00

Does your DP really ask your DM to wash her hands when she comes into your house ? shock

Cherrysoup Sun 06-Nov-16 22:28:59

I think she could stay in a hotel. I also think she could have more consideration re hygiene, she does sound kinda disgusting, sorry! I know you say your DP will find something else to complain about: he needs to be more tolerant, clearly. Does she have to stay with you? Isn't it a bit crowded with three DC and her?

crocodarl Sun 06-Nov-16 22:29:34

Yeah, but only because the baby is only 1 week old. He is a bit obsessed, but I don't think it's completely unreasonable just at the moment...?

crocodarl Sun 06-Nov-16 22:33:01

Cherrysoup we have 5 guest apartments we usually rent to tourists, so thankfully she gets her own apartment when she visits... pretty sure they would have killed each other otherwise...

trappedinsuburbia Sun 06-Nov-16 22:37:36

Sorry but I think your DM is right.

mummarichardson Sun 06-Nov-16 22:39:11

Wow that's really tricky, I actually think asking her to wash her hands when she comes into the house is bonkers, does he do that to all guests or just your mum?

I don't see the other stuff as massive crimes either but maybe as you say that's a product of my background. We considered a few germs as a good thing because it built up your immune system wink

Does your partner understand just how crap it makes you feel? We all have quirks that we don't like my in laws have them in abundance but for the sake of my husband I just put up with it as we only ever see them once a week really. It sounds like your mum isn't just popping in all the time and so can understand that his behaviour would make her feel very unwelcome. This must be so hard for you and also put you under a lot of pressure so is really unfair of him and I think he needs to appreciate that.

DixieWishbone Sun 06-Nov-16 22:44:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DixieWishbone Sun 06-Nov-16 22:45:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Cherrysoup Sun 06-Nov-16 22:49:32

But regardless of the studies etc, I think you need to back up your DP on this, the baby is more important than her sloppy hygiene. His feelings are also more important than hers within your little nuclear family.

Notonthestairs Sun 06-Nov-16 22:51:13

I'm with your mum. I grew up in a hygiene obsessed household and believe me it was no fun. Don't get me wrong I am as dettol loving as the next parent - I just know when something really isn't a big deal and won't result in anyones limb falling off/serious infection. I understand you have a newborn but an old bit of tissue isn't going to do a great deal of harm.

HmmmmBop Sun 06-Nov-16 22:52:17

Your DP is totally ridiculous OTT. Usually when people say someone is borderline obsessive they are exaggerating, but you are really not.

I'm with your mum and have to say I'd not be back if my SIL made those sorts of demands of me.

crocodarl Sun 06-Nov-16 22:52:17

Hmm good points mumma. I have had extensive talks with him about his attitude to my mum in the past, but he really doesn't believe he's done anything wrong. He is quite intolerant at times, honestly. But he is also from a completely different culture and country, and his behaviour is normal there. And he is otherwise a good partner and excellent father.

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Sun 06-Nov-16 22:53:37

I'm totally with your mum on this.

Ok when the baby is a week old I can kind of accept it but otherwise? Not necessary.

Do you make your two year old wash their hands before they go near the baby or do you just trust they haven't been picking their nose or bum out of sight beforehand?

SquinkiesRule Sun 06-Nov-16 22:55:38

I'd probably blow my top at the pair of them to be honest I couldn't stand the stress.
Dp needs to STFU and back off.
Your Mum needs to be aware that her level of hygiene is a bit lacking and to try a little harder to not pass germs to the baby.
You have a new baby, you don't need this.

crocodarl Sun 06-Nov-16 22:59:13

thanks Squinkies !

Felicia we are pretty strict with the other kids about handwashing - at least, when they come into the house, after using the toilet and any other time its clearly necessary...

NoMudNoLotus Sun 06-Nov-16 23:04:19

I have to be honest OP.

Iv had 2 premature babies , and it never occurred to me to ask my family to wash their hands when they came in the house shockshock.

StarBears Sun 06-Nov-16 23:05:51

I am with your DP on the hand washing around a 1 week old baby, it's not essential as such but it is probably better than not, given a choice. (I wouldn't be overly bothered about sharing a drumstick with a toddler.) I am not fanatical about germs but I don't want to take unnecessary chances around newborns and young babies. Same with kissing newborns - cold sore viruses are terrible for a newborn baby. (off topic but still).

Could you be the one to ask your DM to wash hands rather than your DP? Or could you have some hand sanitiser around and say "I'm having a squirt of this myself Mum, can I just give you one too while I'm here?"

Could you put boxes of tissues around so there's always one handy? Maybe you could say that with it being flu season, advice is to wipe nose with a new tissue each time and bin it, for healthy adults it's not that essential and when she's in her own home of course she can do what she wants, but for being around newborns and small children it would make sense to humour you/your DH on that?

Could you make light of it and say "I bet you think we're crackers, all this tissues and hand washing, sometimes we think it's a bit crackers about it, but just while DS3 is so tiny and it being winter..."

Obviously reiterate that she's a lovely Grandma and you thoroughly appreciate all that she does but if she could find a way to humour you on the hand washing and tissues front that would be fab...

NoMudNoLotus Sun 06-Nov-16 23:08:18

Exactly Felica!!

Young children are walking health hazards!!

Asking people to wash their hands when they come in is complete bonkerness and I actually would be telling DP to STFU on that score.

As a nurse I have more than slight OCD for cleanliness / infection control but honestly this takes the biscuit.

StarBears Sun 06-Nov-16 23:08:58

Felicia we definitely made our DC1 and DC2 wash their hands before touching the new baby... why wouldn't you? It's not being precious, it's just that when you see where your children put their hands and what they touch with them, wink it's not a nice thought seeing the same unwashed hands all over a baby.

Gwenhwyfar Sun 06-Nov-16 23:10:16

"he is also from a completely different culture and country, and his behaviour is normal there. "

When in Rome...
I don't think it's fair of your DP to impose his customs in this country.
OK the sharing of tissues isn't very nice, but not the end of the world and I find all the other things normal. Cloth hankies are a bit old fashioned now, but he's offended by a hankie that is ONE day old???
I've never heard of being asked to wash one's hands on entering someone's house either, but you say that's just because there's a small baby.

StarBears Sun 06-Nov-16 23:11:37

NotMud as a nurse you think it "takes the biscuit" that the DH wants (admittedly slightly unhygienic) DM to wash her hands before picking up a newborn and he should STFU? shock

smilingmind Sun 06-Nov-16 23:11:40

I am a MIL and wouldn't dream of criticising anything that goes on in my DCs houses. Their place their rules. I also have SILs and DILs from other cultures.
Assuming you are accepting of DPs attitude, which you seem to be,
can you and DH get together after this visit, decide what is important to you and then explain to DM next time she comes.
I do think this isn't going to go away unless you address it and it would be a shame for such a quite small thing to spoil family relationships.

Gwenhwyfar Sun 06-Nov-16 23:13:13

" "I'm having a squirt of this myself Mum, can I just give you one too while I'm here?" "

How patronising! And I thought there was no evidence that hand sanitiser was a good way to wash hands.

Trifleorbust Sun 06-Nov-16 23:13:35

Asking guests to wash their hands is fucking rude, sorry, OP.

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