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MIL....and Christmas(54 Posts)
I would value your opinions as I don't really know whether I am being unreasonable.
Basically MIL is and always has been a nightmare. She's an alcoholic, rings up when drunk and leaves vile abusive messages throughout the year. MIL has made it quite clear in the past that she would be delighted if DH and I were to split so it could be "just them" again. She has a fantasy that the difficulties in her relationship with DH are caused by me, rather than her own actions when out of her head on alcohol.
We don't really have much contact with her at all, to try and minimise her negative impact on our lives. DH sees her once or twice a year, occasional contact (usually by phone) with our DC.
The difficulty is Xmas. MIL was on her own last year as we were away. MIL has asked whether she can see us this year. Frankly, I would rather be eaten alive by piranas, but DH feels under pressure.
I could probably bear seeing her for a meal on Xmas day, but absolutely can't stand the thought of her staying in our home. The atmosphere would be unpleasant and tense. I don't want that for me or my DC. MIL lives about 1.5 hours drive away.
What to do?
If she's on her own, she's only herself to blame. A meal out somewhere would probably be a good compromise. You don't want an abusive alcoholic anywhere near your home at Christmas or any other time. How about Boxing Day?
If she is in the habit of leaving abusive messages then she has shot herself in the foot. Who the hell wants that as a Christmas house guest!
"Oh never mind all the abuse mil...of course you can come for Christmas!"
Not bloody likely!
Is it possible to go away again this year?
Otherwise, meeting halfway for a restaurant/pub meal?
Or, just refusing (best option but difficult if your DH is struggling with it).
I'm glad you don't think I'm being unreasonable.
The difficulty really is that DH will be stuck in the middle of me saying "no she can't come to stay" and MIL saying "poor me how can you leave me all on my own....you're the worst son in the world".
Now I know and DH knows that she really doesn't "deserve" to come to ours for Xmas, but she seems to be able to send him on a complete guilt trip, even though her behaviour the rest of the year is appalling.
I'm basically at sea about how to avoid tension between me and DH over this. Don't want to make his life miserable, but also don't see why I should let vile MIL ruin my Xmas....
One of my best friends takes her DM out for lunch with the family at Christmas. The DM doesn't like travelling (lives about an hour away) likes to be in her own home but doesn't have room for people to stay. My friend isn't wild about cooking so a smart hotel does it for her as well. They all meet up, have a lovely time, take DM home afterwards... everyone happy.
Can't you go to her on Boxing day, go out to a pub or something for a meal, then go home when you're ready?
I certainly wouldn't have her to stay if she gets drunk and abusive.
Cogito.......I can see the sense in your suggestion. But (and perhaps I am being unreasonable here) I don't really want to have Xmas lunch in a hotel - I want to have it at home with my family (just with no MIL!).
We can't meet up on Boxing day as already have other family commitments. But even if we could it still wouldn't satisfy her as she would be alone on Xmas day!
Sadly finances don't permit going away for Xmas this year, so not an option.
Does she have any other family or friends who she could go to on Christmas day?
How old are your children? Does your DH accept that it really isn't fair on them to expose them to a drunk and abusive grandmother, expecially at Xmas?
If she phones up drunk and leaves abusive messages throughout the year, then she is going to be alone on Christmas day. What does she expect?
It's her own fault entirely. Tough shit.
Christmas Eve then... be creative. I just think, if you don't want to get steamrollered or guilt-tripped into having her to stay, you have to come up with an alternative solution fairly quickly.
There really is no miracle solution: you're either going to have to say no, and deal with being the "bad guy" in both your DH's and your MIL's eyes, or say yes, and have an abusive drunk in your home for Christmas, moreover confirming in her mind that she can carry on being vile and abusive to you because there are no consequences: she even gets invited over for Christmas with you.
Have you read "Toxic In-laws" by Susan Forward? I would recommend it.
I was just going to ask the same questions as Agatha. I think those questions have a large bearing on whether or not you should bend to your DHs wishes.
I think she needs to earn her way into your life via good behaviour. If you can't do Boxing Day could you meet half way for lunch on Christmas eve or the 26th. If she is polite and respectful and this continues through 2013 then she can have an invite next Christmas.
I think that approach is far to your DH in that you are willing to try again but makes it clear that you will not stand to be treated badly. If you back down you are surely saying her behaviour is acceptable.
In all honesty does your Dh really want her there or does he just feel obligated?. If it is the latter this should be pointed out to him and you should endeavour to make other arrangements like a meal out Xmas Eve
I would imagine her abuse is hurled at you when she is drunk and she has no recollection of her behaviour, can DH gently point out to her that there is probably a good reson why she is alone Xmas day!
Assuming she is at her worst when under the influence, could you let her come but ban alcohol on xmas day, harsh, and might involve you and DH going and "checking"the Turkey a lot .
Wow thanks for all your replies!
In answer to the questions from AgathaF, my DC are 12 and 9. The one(and only!) good thing I have to say about MIL is that she doesn't drink around the children. So I can't in all honesty say that she has to stay away in order to protect them from her bad behaviour on Xmas day itself.
But I can't forget or forgive the torrent of abuse received during the last 20 years or so.
There is no-one else who will ask MIL - she has alienated everyone (her own brother changed his mobile number!). My DH has a sister but they are estranged, and will not even think about having her for Xmas.
I've talked to DH time and again about MIL having to "earn" the right to be part of our family, particularly at special times such as Xmas. He says that's of course correct, but she is so delusional that she won't understand or accept that bad behaviour throughout the year has consequences.
He's probably right. She is in my view suffering from some sort of personality disorder, as there seems to be no rational thought processes....
So DH doesn't want her, I don't want her, but he feels obliged to have her because no one else will, she's getting older etc...
I've talked to DH about possible alternatives, but Xmas eve impossible (he's working until late) and Boxing day is out.
It's pants really - I know that I'm going to be stuck with her coming to stay
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
How very sad. I do sympathise. Maybe a bit of straight talking will put her off wanting to repeat it? After 20 years I don't blame you for feeling you've had enough. How old is she?
Hopefully the weather won't be awful on Christmas day and you and the DC can go out for a walk or something to break it up a bit.
<Feebly tries to look on the bright side...>
I can understand that your DH feels obliged, and that he will feel guilty through Christmas if she is on her own.
Could she stay at a hotel near you overnight, so that she comes for lunch and maybe part of the afternoon, but goes back to her hotel for the night before going home the next day?
Have you told her how you feel about her behaviour of the last 20 years? If she knew how you felt, she might not want to come to yours so much. Perhaps it is worth having a frank discussion with her, or writing her a letter.
Do you children want her there? Do they know about her behaviour?
Agatha - I was wondering that too - and wondering what, if anything, this woman says about her drunken behaviour, when she's sober.
My guess is nothing - no apology or explanation or whatever - because all the drunkenness does is let out her true feelings towards the OP - which are vile and unacceptable. If my guess is correct, then under no circumstances would I want to spend my christmas with such an unpleasant person - mainly because there are children involved. To some extent, the adults can, if they choose, suck it up and endure the nastiness for the sake of family, but it could spoil the children's christmas day, and that I would not allow.
And if I am being utterly frank, were I the OP, I wouldn't want my christmas spoiled either.
If you really can't stand the idea of having her to stay, a rendezvous on neutral territory is the only answer. Meet halfway and book a taxi for her each way so she doesn't need you for transport. As Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday this year I would organise a lunch out on neutral territory on either the preceding Saturday or Sunday. Somewhere like a smart hotel in a lovely setting where you and the children can stretch your legs while DH and MIL have leisurely coffee afterwards. Venues will be highly decorated and if not actually Christmas it will still have some atmosphere. It's not Christmas Day but it's better than avoiding her all festive season. Much as you dislike her she is still DH's mother and if he wants to see her, it's for him not her.
You have my sympathy OP. I am in the same situation except it's my mother. I really don't want her in my house again to ruin another Christmas but she will be all alone (because she has alienated everyone else through her drinking and selfishness). After last years carry on I swore that she would never set foot in my house again let alone spend another Christmas with us but of course I am waivering now and feeling horrid about it all.
It makes me feel like cancelling Christmas because it is all just too much hassle. The biggest joke is that I am worrying myself sick and actually all she will want to do Christmas Day is work her way through a box of wine. She doesn't want to interract with us, she is so drink addled that she can't eat the meal, we may as well not be there at all. She may as well stay home and drink herself into oblivion on her own and let us have a nice time.
If I was a braver person I would know that the best course of action would be not to invite her, tell her exactly why and like another poster said earlier, let her "earn" the right to spend Christmas with us in the future. It is so difficult though in reality to have that chat so I can see why your DH is dragging his feet. TBH if your MIL is as bad as my mum, there is a good chance that even if your DH has the chat she will have been so pissed that she won't remember anyway...or will pretend not to.
Well, it's a bit of a long story (20 years!), but in summary my DH and his DSIS seem to just ignore MIL's behaviour....DH says it does no good to confront her - she just says she can't remember making the call etc.
After she has made the vile calls there is never an apology, no recognition that her behaviour is unacceptable. Nada.
To start with I found the situation unbelievable - why did DH and DSIS not DO something about it? Over the years I have seen that, in fact, they probably have little choice but to simply ignore it and have minimal contact. The only other alternative is to cut her off completely (which DH will not do).
I did raise it with MIL once. It nearly ended my marriage.
Yes perhaps a hotel on Xmas eve nearby would work, with MIL just coming to ours on Xmas day. Will give it some thought....
He says that's of course correct, but she is so delusional that she won't understand or accept that bad behaviour throughout the year has consequences.
Just because she's delusional and won't accept responsibility for the consequences of her behaviour, doesn't mean that you shouldn't enforce those consequences.
You're right: she will never see her own behaviour as wrong. But you do. And you are entitled to enforce the consequences that you deem are appropriate. Even if she learns no lessons from them.
As you say: DH doesn't want her. You don't want her. So don't have her.
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