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MIL drama - was I being oversensitive?

(57 Posts)
tangerinefeathers Sat 27-Jul-13 06:27:43

Not sure where to start. My MIL is a difficult woman & out of her remaining family my DH is the only one still on speaking terms with her.

We haven't seen her for a year. She is very intense, requires constant attention, gets moody and sulky very quickly, picks fights, is incredibly stingy and generally the visits end in a fight and her leaving in a huff.

Invariably my DH and her make up after not talking for a few months and another visit is planned. So this time she wanted to come and we said OK, come for a week. So she booked for nine days (across two weekends), which was annoying as I am 7 months pregnant and really want that time to get things done before the baby comes.

I decided to try and get out a bit so we're not in each other's faces the whole time. I cleaned the house, made dinner, made up the guest room for her etc and then planned to escape, but she got back from the airport before I could leave as a friend rang and I got caught on the phone.

I know it's a bit rude to disappear but she honestly prefers having DH to herself anyway and I don't get much time to myself so thought it would be better for everyone, plus I was going to have a swim which puts me in a much better frame of mind mentally for dealing with her.

Anyway she comes in and I asked her a few questions about her flight, her house etc. She says nothing to me about my pregnancy which is fine. But then out of the blue she says 'You look tired!'. Which is not especially rude but not perhaps the first thing I'd ever say to someone I haven't seen in a year. Then my DH leaves the room and I say, i'm going to go out now, I was planning to go for a swim. And she says, Do you drive there? [this is typical of her, she asks hundreds of questions rather than making conversation] and I say yes, and then she says, So can you still get the seatbelt around you?

Which to me says, you are the size of a baby elephant.

She always, always comments on my weight and I am so sick of it. I just don't think it's something you need to mention. Like many women I am constantly struggling with my weight and feeling fat etc.

Anyway I left and told DH that I wasn't coming home until she'd gone. I know it's a bit unreasonable of me but I just can't do nine days of these comments. She has nothing nice to say, it's always something bitchy.

It's such a minor thing really but it's just coming at the end of about ten years of minor comments and it's as if she piled on that last straw. Anyway my DH said would you consider an apology and I said no, I can't do nine days of this. I just can't. So I've agreed to go to my parents and I'm not sure what's going to happen now. She will be happy as she'll have him to herself which is far preferable for her. He will have to bring DS to me at some point.

He says she didn't mean it, you are pregnant, she was just commenting on your belly, and clearly thinks I'm overreacting, as does she.

Sorry for the essay. Don't really know where to go from here. He is also in therapy at the moment and dealing with a lot of issues about his mother and his shrink basically told him that if she's rude to me he should stand up to her, because she's going to be a nightmare whatever happens, but he's clearly not doing that in this situation. So I suppose I am disappointed in him as well.

Roshbegosh Sat 27-Jul-13 06:34:09

We all have a breaking point, if you can't cope with her then you are right to go away. The relationship was pretty non-existent anyway, now it will be officially over. I would not be too hard on DH, he might be more assertive if she wasn't in your house as he doesn't want to row with her for 9 days. He will probably get the message across in that time.

redcaryellowcar Sat 27-Jul-13 06:52:28

I think she sounds awful, and I am impressed you agreed to her coming to stay at all, whilst I think I would almost certainly do the same in your situation I think looking rationally at this from an outside perspective that I would try to be around. I think its important to see you as a family unit, and also for your husband to have a chance to stand up for you. I think if my husband had said what can I do to persuade you to come back I would want his total support and also him to take her on plenty of trips out including meals so you don't end up constantly catering.
Hope trip not too bad, maybe look for b & b nearby ish for her next visit, or maybe this one?

tumbletumble Sat 27-Jul-13 06:59:20

Is it possible that she is a socially awkward person, rather lacking in empathy, who tends to put her foot in it rather than deliberately trying to be rude or hurtful? Your description of her as asking lots of questions rather than having a normal conversation made me feel a little sorry for her.

Dilidali Sat 27-Jul-13 07:07:49

I would expect my husband to stand up for me and ask his mother to move to a hotel. You don't need this stress.
How about you take the reins? Ask DH to take your son out and sort out the MIL: sorry, but you need to go to a hotel, end of.

Good for you for sticking up for yourself and as someone said earlier we all have a breaking point.
Maybe this will make her think

Partridge Sat 27-Jul-13 07:09:23

There must be a huge backstory here otherwise you are being completely ur.

Theexisapsychocunt Sat 27-Jul-13 07:11:12

You totally over reacted and also my personal opinion is shooting straight out is exceptionally rude.

cloudskitchen Sat 27-Jul-13 07:18:20

On the face of it it seems you have overreacted however having put up with it for so many years, you know her intention. Your Dh might be more inclined to stand up to her when he's had 9 days alone with her. What a vile woman. Can you laugh at her when she says these things and therefore take the power away from her. Where's the point in insulting you if you just find it all a big joke. If you reconcile again can I suggest you go there for a visit so you can keep it short. Like maybe 2 hours grin

curlew Sat 27-Jul-13 07:21:50

On the strength of your OP, which is obviously all we've got to go on,you are being massively unreasonable and incredibly rude.

Flibbedyjibbet Sat 27-Jul-13 07:37:25

I think you have been unreasonable...
You look tired..... chances are you look really really tired you're 7 months pregnant dealing with blistering heat.

People of her generation seem to have this weird thing about seatbelts not fitting. Is there any chance she could have been checking it still fits you for yours and GC to be's safety.

I feel so sorry for your DH, his Mother has arrived has said 2 things to you (maybe perfectly innocently, maybe not) you've disappeared for a "swim" and he's had to sit down and tell her that his life partner is not coming back till she has gone. Even if she is the biggest witch I wouldn't wish that job on anybody.

Theexisapsychocunt Sat 27-Jul-13 07:41:28

I've had a think about this and I can't believe you were going to go out before she even got there.

You shouldn't have said she can come for a week when you clearly can't stand her - for whatever reason.

If my dh was so rude to my mum - he'd be the one looking for somewhere to stay while she was here.

cloudskitchen Sat 27-Jul-13 08:02:30

I'm wondering from the responses you have received if I'm one of the few to notice that. ..

no one in the family is talking to her because she is so difficult

your husband has a therapist because of her

you invited her for a week so she booked 9 days.

her first 2 comments to you were insulting

There is clearly a much bigger picture here than Mil arrives and you walk out. This behaviour has obviously been going on for years and has worn you down. I would however give it a bit longer before walking out for your dh sake. lots of early nights might be needed for early escape and try not to let her acidic comments get under your skin.

curlew Sat 27-Jul-13 08:17:27

He is not in therapy because of his mother. He is in therapy and dealing with issues around his mother- which any of us would do. And anyway, doesn't that make leaving him to deal with her for 9 days even worse?

And since when has "you look tired" been insulting?

She could be the worst, most unpleasant person in the universe-but noting in the OP sounds as if she is. So either tangerinefeathers is downplaying the situation or she is being unreasonable. And rude.

maillotjaune Sat 27-Jul-13 08:24:18

I agree that on the face of things you look unreasonable BUT I have a MIL a bit like yours (minus the stingy - she tries to fill our house with crap she's bought) and I know the feeling of being close to the edge when she arrives.

However - it's your home and there's no way I would have left like that. If you can't tolerate her staying with you, can she / you afford a local b&b just so you have some space?

This looks like a good chance for you to tell her what has upset you. That might end up in her flouncing off - so be it.

ll31 Sat 27-Jul-13 08:28:57

How is your looking tired being insulting?? Going out so soon is v rude.

something2say Sat 27-Jul-13 08:35:52

My mother is an absolute nightmare and my brother got married and they had a baby....every time I see a MIL thread I wonder if it is them!!!!! My mother would be the sort to clean, buy. Things, over ride, make comments etc all because no one would be good enough for her precious son, plus she thinks the most important thing in the world is being clean and she has never had a life, and she is rude and outspoken and opinionated, as tho everyone cares what her opinion is!

Good luck op.....

Cabrinha Sat 27-Jul-13 11:59:41

It really does depend on the backstory. You sound very rude and U - but if it's in response to bad behaviour in the past, it's more reasonable.
You do sound a bit precious though - she's flying over, of course she'll want a longish visit. Also wanting that time to get stuff done - you're only 7 months. And the tired / seatbelt comment also sound very precious - your weight issues and yours, not hers.
But - I don't know the full story. Has she spent years being rude about your weight, or have you spent years being over sensitive about ordinary comments?
She does sound very difficult though. I'd just suggest in future that if she stays, you sort it out in advance to be absent rather than walking out!

kutee Sat 27-Jul-13 12:10:58

U over reacted. It's clear u didn't want her there and threw a fit first chance you got.

piratecat Sat 27-Jul-13 12:11:42

well you've said it's ten yrs worth of her being a mare, and that your dh is the only one left speaking to her.

If you are at the end of your tether with her then tbh i don't think you are being unreasonable to feel upset.

I do think it was unreasonable to be out on her arrival.
I do think you are being unreasonable in not setting more boundaries, by that i mean she will always have the opportunity to piss you off, if you keep having her back.

ComtesseDeFrouFrou Sat 27-Jul-13 12:11:53

This is a toughy - my MIL is very much as you describe: socially awkward, asking questions in lieu of actual conversation and prone to getting my back up. Unsurprisingly, I'm almost looking for things to be cross about before we've even met up. A lot of the rings she says would be thought of as innocuous to an onlooker but, as part of a pattern, are infuriating.

That said, the time to put a stop to the 9 days was before she came to stay. You should have been clearer with DH about the support you were expecting. It is going to appear rude and unreasonable that you have left for the duration - if she's anything like my MIL, she won't have a clue what she's done wrong and wouldn't understand if it was explained to her.

Personally, I would take a few days out and head back. You might feel more able to cope with it then. I know that, in the same situation, if the visit starts badly, it will get worse. If it starts better, it will inevitably deteriorate, but won't be as bad.

tangerinefeathers Sat 27-Jul-13 16:01:06

Ok so I agree that I have been very unreasonable. I lost my rag. I am exhausted, partly because I've had to clean and cook for her visit all week. And I do have a lot to do before this baby comes, work and study related, it's not about washing muslins and ironing babygros, it's about earning money and preparing for an exam.

My DH was meant to clean the bathroom but went out last night and got pissed with a mate so not even that was done.

I said numerous times that nine days is too long and not what was agreed but DH didn't listen. He also hasn't taken time off as he has none left so I was looking at a full week of her at home plus a weekend on either side.

I don't particularly have weight issues but it is something she tends to comment on. eg 'oh, you've lost weight, around your face' or she said to my sister who was four months pregnant at my wedding, 'gosh, the last time I saw you, you were slim'.

As for going out, i meant to be out before she arrived. This is honestly not a problem - she becomes jealous very easily and much prefers to have her DS to herself. Plus she will be around all week while he is at work so I thought she would like quality time with him and her grandson while he was around. It's also easier on him if he can focus on her fully as she tends to behave better with his full attention.

There is a huge back story, a long history of her behaving very badly. Comtesse your MIL sounds very similar. I can't have been any clearer with my DH about what support I expected but he doesn't listen. Your comments have made me realise that a big part of the problem is how he handles it - sits on the fence, is very passive, doesn't actively manage her behaviour at all (something his therapist has pointed out to him).

kutee yes there is some truth in what you are saying. I'm not proud.

As for the comment about being tired, it was more that I had tried to get things off on the right foot by being friendly etc and the only thing she can say to me is that i look tired. Not in a concerned way, just in a 'you look like shit' kind of way. I think there are better things to say to someone you haven't seen for a year. But she is socially very odd and always has been so I should have let it go. She also made a comment about the kitchen being very old which seemed a bit rude. I suppose it was just the comments coming one after the other, with nothing nice to say, in between lots of intense questioning that is very typical of her, that just pushed me over.

I am by no means the first to react like this - she gets everyone's backs up. She also invades my personal space and if we are walking along she will constantly walk into me, and is just generally very demanding and exhausting to be around.

tumbletumble yes she is very socially awkward and I have always tried to accommodate that. but hit my limit, it seems.

cloudskitchen yes there is a long history of this behaviour.

Flibbedyjibbet she may have not intended the seatbelt comment to be rude. but knowing her she did. I do feel bad for my DH but at the same time he never sticks up for me when she is rude, just laughs it off and tries to jolly everyone along. It gets exhausting. I am staying at my parents tonight, I have told him she needs to work out what to do and apparently he's 'thinking about it' but she's being as good as gold and playing with my DS etc and obviously very happy with how things have worked out. Plus they ate the effing lasagna I cooked yesterday.

ComtesseDeFrouFrou Sat 27-Jul-13 18:45:04

OP well done for being mature enough to recognise all of this - apologies if that sounds patronising, it's not meant to.

I agree that DHs are not the best at managing their mothers - we went to see MIL last week and she clearly wanted to go out for lunch but wouldn't say anything, DH (stubbornly?) didn't pick up on her hints. In the end I had to verbally bang their heads together and get them to sort it out like a pair of 7 year olds.

I have found recently (perhaps because I am PG and have less patience) that it actually helps to pick her up on things she says, particularly where she's being rude or intrusive. Do you feel able to do this? If you do already, how does she react.

If she's socially awkward, she may not realise that she's crossed a line, plus families feel that they can get away with things that friends or strangers can't.

I suspect the comment about your kitchen being old was just the first thing that came into her head. I wonder whether you we're perhaps oversensitive to that comment because it came from your MIL and you feel defensive about the age of the kitchen, particularly if its a question of not having the funds or the inclination to replace it?

Twirlyhot Sat 27-Jul-13 18:54:54

If this were most people, then the seatbelt comment wouldn't be offensive. Someone who's managed to alienate all her family so your DH is the only one she speaks to and who seems to have regular rows that lead to periodic estrangements with him too is not most people. I suspect your DH isn't keen on being left alone with her given their relationship.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Sat 27-Jul-13 19:00:38

TBH I'd have been pissed off right from when she booked for nine days, not one week, as asked, and across two weekends! Any comment after that, even seemingly innocuous, would have tipped me over the edge.

YANBU. And your DH sounds as though he needs to man up and not let her invite herself for unagreed periods of time too.

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