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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.

Marylou2 Mon 29-Jul-13 12:01:39

Dear Tangerinefearthers, I can feel your stresss and anxiety and I know it's not just based on the comments in your post. I'm sure there's a lifetime of toxic comments and petty attempts to undermine you. I can almost feel this womans anger and jealousy seeping from her. You have every reason to be cross as she is invading your space for such long time as you are preparing for your baby to arrive. Perhaps this time as she's already here you just have to take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other until she leaves As Churchill said "When you're going through hell, Keep going...." Also next time maybe a weekend in a hotel rather than a week in your home.

tangerinefeathers Mon 29-Jul-13 11:23:36

Oh she hasn't only just started in on the FIL Lunaticfringe! It's been going on for years.... one of the biggest problems is that despite the fact that DH is the only person in her family still talking to her, apparently it's everyone else that is crazy. My FIL was always nice to me, stressed at times but not someone with violent tendencies, it wasn't his nature.

Justinsmum yes he has definitely trained himself not to get angry. No wonder he got depressed instead, don't 'they' say that's anger turned inwards?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JustinBsMum Mon 29-Jul-13 08:15:36

If he never gets angry he probably has trained himself over many years as he grew up (maybe his father's example?) to suppress it and be resigned to her behaviour (maybe his father's example was so extreme he preferred to suppress his own anger instead).

tangerinefeathers Mon 29-Jul-13 05:44:36

Yes exactly lunaticfringe and jux.

In retrospect there was absolutely no way in hell I could have had her in my house for nine days. I kept trying to say that to DH but he has a way of simply not hearing. We need to have a big talk about how all this has come about, he can't be so passive and 'nice' all the time, while hell breaks loose around him, it's also something his therapist has confronted him about.

He dropped her at the airport last night thank god. She left by saying we are not welcome at her house but DS is, and she will see him on his own (he's not even three yet so not quite sure how that will work, does she expect us to put him on a bus??). And when DH asked her not to say horrible things about his father she told him that he used to hit her. His father died a few years ago so is hardly in a position to refute this.

She was also apparently very nasty about me but he wouldn't tell me what she said.

All DH can say is how 'disappointed' he is. He never gets angry. It's so strange.

Jux Mon 29-Jul-13 03:23:39

Quite agree, LunaticFringe. We are taught to be kind, polite and so when we first notice that something's a bit off, we tend to disbelieve it. Then, our h's say "oh that's just how she is" so we try tolerance, but it gets woorse, and evetually it's intolerable. Then our h's let us down and suddenly there you are, leaving the house when she arrives..... Yes, I've been there, could you tell?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tangerinefeathers Sun 28-Jul-13 13:31:37

Totally agree Isetan. We are not used to having a small child being around to witness our adult dramas and need to take him into account in future. That's one of the things my DH said today - it's not just me anymore, I need to think of you and DS.

Isetan Sun 28-Jul-13 11:27:37

As with most MIL issues, the issues mainly stem from their children's inability to stand-up to them.

Your H needs to take more responsibility when she visits. Him not cleaning the bathroom, inviting his awkward mother when he had no leave left and not making alternative arrangements when she extended her stay is bang out of order. She does sound like she has some serious issues which she probably isn't that aware of rather than being a total cow (which explains why your H's childhood was so dysfunctional and abusive).

This has gone on long enough so your expectations of both your H and MIL should have been set by now, she's socially awkward and has no respect for boundaries and your H is weak. It didn't take hindsight to foresee what was going to happen. If you are going to invite her then you need to develop a much thicker skin and develop strategies for dealing with her (running away from your own house is avoiding, not handling). This isn't just about you OP, your children will learn a lot from how you conduct yourself.

Communicate what your boundaries are, communicate the consequences of overstepping those boundaries and most important, follow through.

Your H may never really stand up and defend you, deal with it, stand up for yourself. Do not let your children grow up in a house where respect and accountability are missing.

Partridge Sun 28-Jul-13 10:11:08

Miss marples I have a mil who regularly makes remarks such as, "have you always been a heavy girl?" and " I always knew you'd be an extravagant wife," plus telling me she hates all her gs names.

She didn't tell my dh when his father had died (despite him having a good relationship with his df). so i think i have walked a mile thank you very much. However she adores my kids and my husband wants to maintain a relationship with her. I love him and I wouldn't dream of making that awkward for him.

We don't see her much and I confront her when her behaviour is out of line. She ignores this but I feel better for standing up for myself. She doesn't mean to be evil and had a very cold, dysfunctional childhood herself. I am the lucky one with warm, loving relationships so can be the bigger person in this instance. Plus I have some empathy for her - life is tough when you find it so hard to communicate positively with people.

tangerinefeathers Sun 28-Jul-13 09:57:56

sorry Missmarples that should be 'his father'

tangerinefeathers Sun 28-Jul-13 09:56:31

Justin of course I am not going to keep her out of our lives permanently. She has constant huge bust-ups with people, she is speaking to no one else in her family, including her other son.

But yes shorter visits are going to be the norm from now onwards, my DH has admitted he should have been firmer on that point and we won't let that happen again.

My DS can make up his own mind about having a relationship with her, that is not my business. She is his grandmother and that doesn't change.

tangerinefeathers Sun 28-Jul-13 09:53:48

Thanks Mrs Marples

Finally her father was in another country; he came to visit as often as he could but had other children, a wife and business in his own country (plus didn't speak english) so could not move near DH permanently. Her taking DH away broke his heart.

JustinBsMum Sun 28-Jul-13 09:52:44

But do wonder why she ended up coming for 9 days, NINE, far too long. A couple of nights is more than enough for most. Then you could steel yourself, OP, just grit teeth and have a rant when she is gone.

You and DH need to man up a bit too and tell her two days is enough or whatever.

Do you believe that you can actually keep her out of your's and DCs lives for ever. If you can't would be better to make up a bit. But only have her visit for a day or two in the future.

tangerinefeathers Sun 28-Jul-13 09:48:42

finallygotaroundtoit you may be right, but she doesn't fit all the criteria (from my admittedly brief read). I think perhaps she is 'stuck' at about six years old. There is definitely an element of not getting it, but there is also some 'naughty' behaviour that reminds me of the way a child would behave - eg she might take one of my scarves but then wear it the next time I see her, or eat food off my plate before I've finished and pretend not to realise.

If the visits always turn sour when she comes to us but are OK without me there and limited to shorter visits in her own home then I don't see what the problem is. It's really not as if she likes me, that has always been clear. She treats DH like a child and resents my presence, so my stepping away a bit is not going to upset her at all, and will make my life a lot more pleasant.

MissMarplesBloomers Sun 28-Jul-13 09:43:35

Patridge & curlew have you actually read the whole thread & all of tangerinesposts? shock

She has tried and tried to resolve things it seems and taking herself away from the situation rather than end of up having an unholy row with MIL, not good for anyone,particularly herself and the baby!

Walk a mile in her shoes before you criticise!

Partridge Sun 28-Jul-13 09:41:57

Ok fair dos. That does sound a lot worse than you had previously implied. Going from her comments to you up thread your reaction was totally disproportionate.

Finallygotaroundtoit Sun 28-Jul-13 09:41:18

Just read about DH's childhood. It sound terrible but I'm still wondering if the abuse could have been part of lacking empathy ?

Where was his Dad when this was going on?

Finallygotaroundtoit Sun 28-Jul-13 09:37:23

Like Vatta I wondered about aspergers.

Turn this around a bit and you may see things differently. If she doesn't understand social rules she may have no idea how or why she keeps offending you sad

If she can only make conversation by asking you questions, every attempt to connect with you pushes you further away.

She perhaps responds with anger and frustration because she is incapable of seeing things from another perspective - and may not be doing it deliberately at all, which is what you (and the rest of her family and friends think)

She wants breakfast so makes it for herself.She is probably unaware that this is rude and selfish if she cannot think the way you do.

The wedding thing may have just been about trying to keep up with social norms that everyone but her understands and getting it wrong.

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 09:35:44

Sorry tangerine not having a go at you at all. Just saying it is tricky.

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 09:34:07

Yes curlew me too. Being DM gives you all the power and oh boy do people use it. I was reading another thread where some posters think it reasonable to visit MIL's home and dictate who does the chores. Position reversed it would be "fuck off out of my house". Wait a few years and then see ...

tangerinefeathers Sun 28-Jul-13 09:33:29

partridge As I said I have no intention of getting in the way of my DH's relationship with his mother. My DS likes her and will make his own relationship with her independently of me.

This has been eight years in the making - i have tried again and again to get along with her, to have a successful visit, and forgiven her for saying and doing some astonishingly rude and selfish things.

She is unable to change. I am in a far better position to judge that than you. Both her sons have had severe mental health issues as a result of her parenting, and she did some horrific things to my DH when he was a child. Sending his dog away, taking him to live on the other side of the world away from his father and siblings, deciding at the last minute when he was due to visit his father that he couldn't go. She drank, was violent and emotionally abusive. His childhood was hell at times, and he is only really acknowledging it now. This isn't just a tiff, she has some serious problems and while I do feel sorry for her there comes a point when you have to just give up.

As for your last comment, well, time will tell. I may be the MIL from hell, but I hope not to be. I'm sure it's difficult, but I have never had these problems with any of my other boyfriend's mothers so I don't think it's 100% my fault.

curlew Sun 28-Jul-13 09:25:08

I often wonder what would happen if some of these MIL stories were posted as if it was a male DP refusing to be in the house at the same time as the OP's mother, or taking offence at perfectly innocent remarks made by her......

Partridge Sun 28-Jul-13 09:22:27

* pathologise * sorry - auto corrected.

Partridge Sun 28-Jul-13 09:19:02

I also hope you have another ds and then you may be forced to develop some empathy for the incredibly invidious position that is being the mil.

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