Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Sons and their mothers

(29 Posts)
Kamchatka Thu 12-Sep-13 17:50:12

I am beginning to see that there is a problem with me/DH/MIL. Basically MIL and I don't get along very well - I find her utterly self-absorbed and it's getting worse. ILs rarely visit at our home, so we go to spend time with them. And this is what happens:

Within minutes, DH and FIL start cooking or doing something DIY-ey. I will not have any social contact with DH for the whole afternoon. He gets involved in something, and barely acknowledges my presence. He's not being unpleasant or dismissive, this is just what he does in their house. If I talk to him, he talks. He just doesn't really behave as though I am there.

As a result, the visits end up being me and MIL, and DS pottering about. And I HATE this. One I'd noticed it, it really made me think.

For twenty years or so I have had problems with MIL. We are not similar and we don't get along that well, but we do try. I have only just managed to explain to DH that I need his support when she treats me badly (comments and messing around arrangements and being totally self-absorbed). We visit them and behave as though we are separate entities, not a couple, not parents of a child who work really well together. It means a lot to me that we stop this. I need him to speak up at times. He finds her infuriating but he is also afraid of upsetting her hmm even though she's occasionally quite a shit.

Is this kind of normal? Do you notice your male partners not really engaging with their mothers? Does it affect you? I don't want to blame him but I have at times really needed his support and it seems like he thinks it's my business.

Yama Thu 12-Sep-13 17:56:43

The problem is not MIL surely. It's more that your dh is attached to his father and so ignores you. Or am I reading it wrongly?

If it were me, I'd either explain to dh why I didn't like this treatment, stop going, or I'd go and enjoy the peace and quiet (of not having to communicate).

ParsleyTheLioness Thu 12-Sep-13 18:04:40

It may be that he is avoiding contact with his mother, because he finds her difficult. This does not support you however. My XH always found mil difficult, but loved and hated her in equal measure. It gave him a lot of problems with women....hence the X part of XH.

PTFO Thu 12-Sep-13 18:09:17

Oh I get it. Your DH and FIL understand what your MIL is like and so they go off on 'jobs' and get very into what ever they are doing talking about. Your MIL being totally self absorbed so unless they do disappear it all becomes about her and its rather boring and hard work. So they leave the women together.....??

er yes your hubby needs to stick around a bit more and provide a united front. Cant you all do something together, go for lunch/walk/day out, break it up a bit?

to tell you about my DH relationship with his mother would take all day & night.

Kamchatka Thu 12-Sep-13 18:15:12

PTFO that's it precisely.

DH didn't really see it as his responsibility to be involved in my and MIL's relationship until MIL did something particularly shitty (messing me around very disrespectfully) and I couldn't take any more. I had a long sob at him and he was gobsmacked that I felt left alone when we visit them. (He is not very emotionally aware, it's true.) He was terrified that I would require him to bring her up on it.

Oceansurf Thu 12-Sep-13 18:18:46

I don't talk to my MIL now at all.

For lots of reasons. But some as you mention here!

She also failed to see me as an adult in my own right, with a family of my own right. We always had to visit them on their 'turf' (so to speak) and I felt as though I was a spare part surplus to requirements. (requirements being DH and DD)

Life's too short. Luckily DH is supportive of the fact that I want nothing more to do with her.

PTFO Thu 12-Sep-13 18:27:03

My dh and hid dad were the same, however my dh knows what his mum is like and knowing I would not be comfortable to be left, he would keep coming to check on me (code words!!) or I would go off with DH and FIL and root around loft, play with old train set, work on cars/camera etc etc.
MIL is so bad it got to the point where by DH said hello then went off then he wouldn't look at her then talk to her (she never questioned this) then he blanked ignored avoided- he would talk to his dad and after the huge fallout we went no contact with both of them. MIL is a narc, FIL enables. This process took 10 years I might add.

Viking1 Thu 12-Sep-13 20:25:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CookieDoughKid Thu 12-Sep-13 20:34:01

I wouldnt go over op and put yourselves through it! Let your do enjoy his family time on his own! I'm sure you won't be missed!

Liara Thu 12-Sep-13 20:38:05

Why do you go? And why can't you go and do something diy-ey or cook with your dh and fil?

Personally I'd just take advantage of the opportunity to have dh and your ds go over and you can have a bit of quality time with yourself.

Pagwatch Thu 12-Sep-13 20:47:54

Erm, but is not your primary problem that at their house your DH just buggers off with his dad?
It's rude.
It's not something he needs to be emotionally aware about. He just needs you understand when you say 'oi. I m not sitting with your mum all afternoon while you fuck off with your dad'

I have a 20 year old son and a 17 year old. I am not sure it's a mothers and sons issue. You just don't want your dh to leave you the whole time ith his mum who you understandably don't like much.

perfectstorm Thu 12-Sep-13 20:59:12

I'd suggest he visits very regularly... and alone.

She's his mum, and if she did an okay job, it's his duty. It sure as hell is not yours - I'm sure you have your own boring and/or infuriating relatives to deal with without adding one who isn't your issue to the list. I can't imagine she's that bothered about seeing you, anyway? It's her son she'll value visits from, after all. I'm not saying never go if she isn't completely toxic but definitely expect him to shoulder the burden instead of blithely dumping it onto you. It's like washing up. If you keep doing it, some people won't even twig the chore exists.

perfectstorm Thu 12-Sep-13 21:01:08

(My MIL is so like yours, it's scary. And my DH, when we first married, would invite her to visit and then arrange solid overtime... and when we went to hers would retreat to the bedroom and sleep or read, which isn't something I would dream of as a guest in someone's home. Believe me, I know what it's like. But it is fixable, just refuse to do his emotional and familial donkey work.)

DeckSwabber Thu 12-Sep-13 21:02:41

My ex used to bugger off to the pub when 'we' went to see his mum or when 'we' had her to stay. He just found her a bit too much and would leave, often without saying a word. Then MiL and I both felt disrespected.

Totally selfish.

Tottie24 Thu 12-Sep-13 21:17:09

Oh my XH never communicated with his mother, would never stick up for me to her - pre marriage I bought an apartment, H moved in and MIL asked me to lie to Her mother that the apartment was XH. She always treated me as though I did my job for fun despite the fact I was the main bread winner because she assumed XH was doing really well, but never actually bother to ask!. The relationship between XH and MIL extraordinary, she asked him nothing of any importance she said because she didn't want it interfere, he told her nothing, I felt she had no idea who her son really is, he would never disclose or discuss anything with her, would just agree to anything she said but carry on his own merry way. OMG he also did that to me thank goodness he is now XH! Can't believe I have just seen it! Mums and sons are undoubtly a complex relationship I think that first try and ask DH not to disappear for so long with FIL, if he continues than let DH and DS go and visit alone and enjoy some precious me time.

DeckSwabber Thu 12-Sep-13 22:56:57

I think you have every right to skip these visits, most of the time. Your son can have dad/grandad time. Your husband can have son/dad time. You can have 'me' time or just get the chores done in peace.

Kamchatka Thu 12-Sep-13 23:00:13

Yes I agree, it is wifework and I have only just become aware of it - which, given that she takes up quite a bit of my brain space in various negative ways, is quite surprising to me.

Quite often when I'm there I find myself floating about aimlessly or sitting somewhere and reading a magazine, but tbh that is the culture of their home, not a sign of any particular rudeness or anything.

Thanks for your responses, DH is more on side than he has been and quite happy to visit without me (no aggro!). She definitely annoys him btw so you're probably right about it being easier for them to get on with something and let someone else be talked at and never listened to chat to her.

Kamchatka Thu 12-Sep-13 23:01:27

Tottie, he would never disclose or discuss anything with her, would just agree to anything she said but carry on his own merry way ha ha that is advice I have had from both her sons!

Tottie24 Fri 13-Sep-13 06:13:59

Sounds like you have found a solution to preserve yourself! My Xinlaws lived far away which meant they would come and stay for days, I used to hide upstairs sorting clothes etc!

Kamchatka Fri 13-Sep-13 09:43:35

SO is it common for men to expect their partners to do all the family stuff, or is it just me?
I organise seeing my own parents (that's normal) and until recently I was the person who dealt with 90% of his family stuff too. I stopped a few months ago, told DH I was stopping, and tbh he wouldn't ever worry that dc weren't seeing GPs enough if I didn't talk to him about the fact.
Am I just married to a bit of a dolt? (He's lovely really, just, you know...)

CookieDoughKid Fri 13-Sep-13 10:54:11

well - i can only speak for my own experience but yes, it my dh totally expects me to organise visits to family. I stopped doing that ages ago since I didn't feel any benefit ( like you - I felt stressful and I was actually dreading the visits). It's been a few years now and I found actually, it's more peaceful and we are far happier.

Dh doesn't MISS me not making the effort and his family have never raised it as an issue. It does mean we see each other a lot less, but in the name of family we don't feel we have to. And you know what? It's OK!

perfectstorm Fri 13-Sep-13 18:23:48

I think it's really common, yeah. I ducked out. Told him to see her for a few days at her place every 6 months or so, but that the rest was down to him.

Of course, this has meant he's forgotten her birthday, and more than once... but that's his call and not my responsibility any more.

PTFO Fri 13-Sep-13 20:05:30

speaking of birthdays, my mil bought me a birthday diary book so I could remember everyones birthdays, ie it was up to me to remember and buy/send cards & presents for his family.....er that went in the bin. Even when I did buy and send gifts they would ring DH and thank HIM instead knowing I choose/gift wrapped and wrote card. so I gave up, let my DH remember...and I know that she knew as she made a comment to DH about her card being in my writing!! I cant win.

Kundry Fri 13-Sep-13 22:21:43

Ha! My MIL was disgusted that I we forgot one of DH's niece's birthdays (she was 2 so I don't think she minded smile). So as a Christmas present she gave me a crappy birthday book. Funnily enough not filled in.

She kept harping on about what a lovely present it was so I took my mum with me when I visited and when she started up again, I just said DH and I have decided that I will remember my side of the family and he will remember his. My mum helpfully pitched in that was how she and my dad had always run things so MIL had nowhere to go. Mum continued by launching into a story about how old-fashioned it was to expect women to do everything - my mum is older than MIL, MIL was squirming at this point.

Best bit about this arrangement is I only have to remember my mum's birthday, while DH get's both his parents, 2 siblings and 4 nieces and nephews.

Still a fucking birthday book. Surely the most passive-aggressive present in existence. Most liberating thing from me was realising I can't win with MIL but if I'm not playing she can't win either. So don't play.

Kamchatka Sat 14-Sep-13 08:05:34

Interesting about the birthday book. Yes MIL totally expects me to give a shit about remember all the family stuff on their side. It's not even her family, the bulk of the family is her husband's, dh's dad's, who died years ago. But they're wealthy and gracious and so bring kudos. They're very nice but they are dh's dead dad's family and not overly interested in whether or not I remember to send a birthday card.

I love that your mum brought your MIL up on it, Kundry grin

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now