Advice on coping with my "suegra"(21 Posts)
I'm a Brit married to a Venezuelan, and we're living in Germany. I just found out that I'm pregnant, and to my shame one of my first thoughts was "omg, she's going to come and stay for months in MY house"...
I love and respect the lady, but I struggle to be in the same house as her for more than 2 weeks at a go.
Does anybody have experience with a forceful latina suegra? Hints and tips much appreciated.
get your husband to say no!
I have one, not so much forceful as passive aggressive. It is exhausting and there is NO WAY I would let her stay for months at any time much less when I had just had my first child. Just no way. that is my advice: don´t let it happen.
lie Get your dates muddled up? Take charge of booking the flights and "accidentally" book them 4 days apart instead of 14? Tell them that visa restrictions mean they can only stay 7 days and it has to be a hotel -- and the nearest one is twenty miles away--
I have no idea what a suegra is but am assuming it's a bit like an interfering MIL btw
I love the idea of stretching the truth, but sadly she knows her visa rights...
Lisaro, PurplePidjin, yes, this is my interfering MIL. Warning...rant approaching...
Last time she came it was for 3 weeks and in that time she never once asked me what I wanted or how I run my house. I think at home only her opinion counts, and that attitude doesn't fly with me.
The small and annoying stuff included that she took over my kitchen (not ok), ate all the soup I'd made and frozen to make space in the freezer for her stuff, cooked some of my ingredients for which I had other stuff planned, and of course never consulted me about any of it.
Food wasn't the only battleground. She also spontaneously cleaned various things, supposedly to be helpful, but it came across as a passive agressive judgement on my housekeeping. This grated, as her house is a pig sty. Oh, and based on her personal appraiseal of our lovely flat as she bought us a winerack, which I made DH ask her to take back- we'd just received one as a wedding present from a friend. Which she would have known if she'd asked. She's generous to a fault, but never actually checks what you would appreciate.
We had a couple of huge fights, but it never seems to help. To be honest I wouldn't mind her helping, but she never ever asks what would look like help. She then does stuff that drives me nuts, and instead of making me like her more as she's so er.....helpful, I like her less as she's such a domineering pain! Latina mama knows best, always!! Ahem. Glad I got that out. Stress isn't healthy in pregnancy, right?
So basically she's not coming when I have a new baby cos with hormones and kitchen knives there would be bloodshed.
I was just looking for hints on how to stop her from turning up, manage her so that she turns up for a limited time and not at the beginning, or worst case how to ensure that when she turns up that my DH is there during the day too as referee.
My biggest regret with no 1 was being honest about my dates. Definitely add 2 weeks on (after all you might go that much overdue). Can you do a sneaky move with christening timing so she has to delay the start of the visit? or completely cede control of the kitchen so you get to at least keep the baby.
Oh and attachment parenting, exclusively breastfeeding might be a way of getting away more (have to go feed, have to go see la leche league person, got to go and co-sleep...). Can change back when she leaves if controlled crying, bottle/ formula and cot in nursery really appeal . Dilute her effects by making sure other visitors always there?
MILs go a bit mad with a firstborn grandchild. I think it's some weird hormonal reaction. Not easy to be charitable, but they usually mean well.
And honestly, I can't see her changing from what to you is seriously OTT Latina mama so you might need to somehow adjust the expectations dial.
I'm going to need DH's support on lying about dates. Fab idea though. I'll ask him tomorrow.
We could also plan a time for the baptism and then suggest she joins for that instead. MIL is awfully Catholic, so she might even prefer that.
Thankfully we have a little flat, so if I tell her that my mum is here for the beginning, then there is no space for MIL...<evil laugh>. Realistic, or would MIL arrive and sleep on the sofa anyway?
My DH has a twin sister. If I use lots of positive energy now then maybe she will end up pg too. Daughter trumps daughter-in-law, so then I'm safe.
All welcome to help with thinking pregnant thoughts to my sis-in-law. I know it's a long shot, but it is seriously my favourite plan right now!
In that case, call her in an absolute panic "MIL,.MIL, I've spoken to Father Fatboy and the only space he can fit us in is for the baptism is two months after the due date. I'm desperately going to need you expertise to co-ordinate that, could you maybe come a bit later??"
That's easy. You have to do a baptism course first and the dates tend to be filled up before you get round to it. Plus crying infants may not be welcome on the course and so you may actually need her to babysit! Unless you do it per-natally of course.
Would asking SIL to come & be godmother raise the chance of a pregnancy? Or since the two mums will both stay and then fight over who gets the martyrdom of the sofa, plan a middle name (if girl obviously) after St Rita of Cascia patron of hopeless causes and long shots at pregnancy .
Brilliant. Baptism plans to be discussed at a later date and I've managed to convince DH to help me lie about my dates too. Not lie, just give a worst case prediction.
Your suegra sounds so much like mine! She came this summer for a month and totally took over as if it were her house, going into our bedroom to do all the washing, doing all the cooking, cleaning even though we have a cleaner and getting all offended on one occasion because I didn't want her to take my young child to the park because it was nearly lunchtime. On that occasion she told my dh "you don't trust me, i'm going for a walk" and disappeared with my suegro for the rest of the day. Basically if you don't do what she thinks is best she gets all sulky (even if not saying anything, you know you've done something "wrong") or goes to bed with a headache and on one visit she came over "ill" the day after i had offended and made my husband buy a flight for her the very next day!
The worst thing is that my dh never sticks up to her and would rather offend me than her since even a rational unoffensive comment can be taken personally! They don't have a family culture of honestly talking things through so everything is under the surface.
If we told my suegra that a month is too long (especially when we were having an extension built, had very little space and no kitchen) she would have taken that to mean she was not welcome and would have been really offended. As it was, when we explained our curcumstances her reply was, "that's ok, we won't get in your way. We can help you, I can cook with anything" (as if I couldn't!)
So, I sympathise with you! You just have to get dh on side and find strategies of coping with her!
Sorry, I realised that post was not very helpful! On reflection my advice is:
Never let her stay too long, find legitimate reasons to prevent this;
Don't let her come when you are in a weak position, for example mine came when we had building work, I was pregnant and tired with two toddlers to look after. Although i was coping without her, i was hardly in a position to refuse her taking over;
I adopted the tactic to cede control of the kitchen and let her get on with it. The problem with this is you end up feeling guilty and it gives her the opportunity to use emotional blackmail, i.e. she thinks she is earning the right to make decisions in your house and says things like "oh so you're happy for me to be your slave but i'm not allowed to have a say"!
I don't know if that helps at all!
Yours and DH's house, your AND DH's rules....
As it sounds that your DH is from a religious background blow up this quote from Genesis and stick it on the wall:
Genesis 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
You are his family now, decide what your family needs and have him deal with his Mum. If she gets huffy, he should point her at the same verse... She shouldn't be your problem...
Devil's advocate here - I have a Colombian suegra and my take on it is:
Latin MIL's (and Latin people in general) do not have the same boundaries with respect to personal space as Brits. Other people's bedrooms/cupboards/kitchens/washing baskets are not sacrosanct places that require permission for entry/rearrangement etc
as I found out to my mortification when my MIL fished out all my dirty smalls and hand washed them.
This is not better or worse, just different, and difficult to handle if different to your norms. Most "interfering" behaviour (in my family at least) actually comes from a motovation of demonstrating loving care, not criticism, even if it is expressed in a way that I have to pretend to appreciate through gritted teeth. And it is difficult to communicate the cultural diffeences without hurting their feelings - they genuinely are likely to feel that you wish to exclude them and do not love them.
I have surrendered to it, even on the rare occasion it is in my own house. After all, it may involve chunks of time once in a while but the rest of the time they are safely at Skype distance ;-) I think it is worth the compromise to keep the peace. I second all the suggestions above to keep the visit to a manageable length and at a time when you feel you may have regained a modicum of patience and tolerance.
Sorry if that was all a bit po-faced, just my 2p worth xx
Thanks cheerymum. In the middle of a new visit, with new challenges. This time my fridge has not been rearranged though, so on balance it's going well. My DD (5 months) is helping by being a focal point!
I do find it hard to deal with the Latino concept that excluding someone from your laundry basket means you don't value/love them, but it is true that the boundaries are different. I can't expect a 60 year old lady to change though, so I'll have to be the one who does. Vamos made a great point- I'm coping better by having waited a little after having DD before "the visit", more sleep means more patience on my side. 1 week to go then back to Skype normality...
Good on you for the forbearance - now does anyone know of a shop selling lockable laundry baskets?!
Don't agree with you cheerymum, I'm afraid! my latin mil (not southamerican) will come here on open ticket, no boundaries - I'm pretty much a stranger in my own home and apparently the worst mum ever as I'm not of her nationality (that's racist innit?). The fact my h encourages it says volumes.
I don't say a f'cking word. I can't. My ds (who a great fan of exended families) hates it and that also speaks volumes. Extended families are great (in moderation) - toxic and manipulative families are not.
Giveitago, she sounds toxic indeed - but there's a difference between being toxic (which can be the case regardless of cultural background) and simply the cultural gap making it difficult to understand and appreciate each other ....
It's about control. The matriarch expects the daughter in law to cede control to her age and wisdom. The son is the best person to trump this. If you do not have support from your oh, like giveitago, you have low status.
I'm glad this visits' better, fresco lita, it sounds like you are better able to appreciate her good intentions, even if she doesn't ask!
Join the discussion
Please login first.