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Help & Advice needed - I'm desperate

(43 Posts)
ConfusedSon Thu 10-Jul-14 12:38:02

Hi,
Firstly I'm not your normal mumsnet poster as I'm not a mum. In fact I'm a late twenties son looking for advice & help from other mums perspective over how my mum has been acting recently. I'll start from the beginning:

I got engaged recently to my beautiful fiancé, we decided we wanted a small intimate wedding abroad just immediate family only and then a large party back in the UK at a later date so everyone else can celebrate.

We initially picked Thailand as we both love South East Asia & found a stunning hotel we could get married in. We then mentioned this plan to my mum, who to put it politely didn't like this idea - granted she isn't the most confident of traveller, but at this stage it was just an idea & we wanted to gauge other peoples thoughts.
A large row then commenced, now I generally have a good relationship with my mum and we hardly row. But this was a full on screaming match (I hold my hands up to the part I played, it takes two to argue) but she was calling me names, bringing up things from the past from years ago and then decided in fact we only picked Thailand because we knew my finances parents could go and my family was just an after thought - Which is an utter fabrication, my fiancés parents were almost told at the exact time.

Now after we all calmed down (as dad got involved and my fiancé got involved) me and my other half decided that having family there was important to us so we would need to change the destination. Second on our list was Italy, but before we even looked at venues etc. I spoke to mum and said if we did it in Italy would you be able to travel there, she said yes.

Now 3 weeks later everyone is booked, accommodation sorted and a stunning venue found, we are all now looking forward to the day or so I thought....

Mum is now continually picking fights with me about everything, about the way we have planed the wedding (it's only 3 months away), about how we have not yet told extended family our plans (give us a chance it was only booked last week!). But she is now getting very personal, calling me names, slagging off my character, saying we don't want them there (we moved out wedding to another continent for her!), bringing up the past with texts like "you've always taken us for granted" and won't drop, forget or forgive the argument we had, it's as if she wants to constant re-live it everyday.

Now I'm a bloke and I know mums would like us to be more in touch with our emotions but I'm not a bad egg. I was not a problem child, I did will at school, I've worked since I was 17, I left home at 20 and been financially independent ever since. So I'm not sure where all this resentment is stemming from? And now when I open up to her and say "your making me feel bad" or "you are making me and my soon to be wife feel you don't want us to marry" she doesn't say sorry, she accuses me of saying that just to be cruel and has the cheek to say "oh it's always about you isn't it" - so one minute I'm too closed off, then next I'm one of these people who is all me me me?

I can't get through to her, and in less than a month my relationship with my mum is rock bottom, and she even text me to say "there is no relationship left". I'm getting married in 3 months, what rational mother thinks throwing around statements like that so close to a life defining event is a good idea? She twists everything into a negative, anytime we talk on the phone she says "why say it in that tone" or if I message her and forget to put a 'kiss' on the end it's because I'm a bad child. So I've decided to ignore her for a week or so, but then get a barrage of texts telling me I'm "not making enough of an effort", "if I don't contact her today the entire family will know what you think of them"

I try and find excuses for my mum, I believe she is going through the menopause and do stand up for her. But my fiancé sees or hears all that she says, and now she is upset for me and she now thinks my mum doesn't approve of our me marrying her, because there is no rationale for verbal abuse I'm getting.

I'm out of ideas and I'm exhausted. And I can't find excuses for her anymore, she is hell bent on creating an atmosphere for the entire lead up to the wedding and no doubt on the day. I'm considering asking her not to come.

Superworm Thu 10-Jul-14 13:05:46

Congratulations on your engagement and sorry your mum is behaving so badly.

A few possibilities spring to mind, either she doesn't like your girlfriend and is upset you two are getting married, or she is having a hard time with the transition of you marrying and moving on with the next stage of your life.

Another thought is she may have expected to have more involvement with the wedding arrangements and is feeling excluded so having a bit of a tantrum.

None of these excuse her behaviour though. Name calling and abusive text messages are not ok.

Does she have form for behaving this way? What is your relationship like usually?

ConfusedSon Thu 10-Jul-14 13:19:12

No not really. She would always say that she 'just let things go' or is 'too soft for her own good and wouldn't confront people' - it's as almost as if she is now the polar opposite.

My mum & my fiancé have always got on well, they are not close but due to my work I have lived away from my 'home town' for many years. I am now 7 hours away from them in Dubai. So I'm not sure is struggling with the transition as it happened a long time ago.

Her actions are that of a teenager, saying stuff like "I never want to talk to you again" only to ring back 30mins later. She wants to end every conversation as if "this is the end of our relationship goodbye" and wants me to call her to try and convince her not too. It's classic attention seeking, but I can't give her the attention she wants if all she does is make me feel bad about myself and my upcoming nuptials.

heyday Thu 10-Jul-14 13:37:34

I think your mum is eaten up with jealousy and is not coping at all with the fact that her son has a new, more important woman in his life.
However, this is a very important and exciting time for you and whilst you should try to be polite to your mum you can't possibly be expected to keep going over the top to reassure and console her.
This can be a very tough time of life for women when they have to face up to huge life changes and your mum is obviously not a happy lady at the moment.
But You need to stand firm now. Say to her that you love her dearly, tell her that you love your future wife dearly and that you want your wedding to be the happiest day possible for all of you. Perhaps give her some specific role to play or something specific for her to organise so that she feels involved, often the grooms mum feels quite excluded.
After you have said the above then you will need to add that if she can't be happy for you and embrace the day then perhaps she would be better off not going. It won't be easy to say I admit but I do think it needs to be said now, and then you can focus on the most important thing here, which is your wedding. I hope you have a wonderful day in stunning Italy.

kaykayblue Thu 10-Jul-14 13:49:41

First of all, congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

Your mum is being batshit mental.

I've always been close to my parents too, and they have always given the message of "oh whatever you want to do for your wedding is fine by us. It's your choice, etc". However, now I'm actually planning the wedding it's changed a bit. They sort of...passively agressively insist on something and then follow it with a "oh but it's your decision of course". lol - it's not too bad and I know they don't mean it, but it was a bit of a surprise.

Could it be that your mum had really set ideas of what your wedding would be like, how involved she would be in the planning, etc, and now that's not happened, she is feeling really rejected? Has she been involved in things like your fiancé trying on her dress? Have you asked her if she's found her wedding outfit yet? That sort of thing?

You have a few options:

1) Talk to your dad - tell him you are fed up with her melodrama and he needs to wade in and tell her to get a reality check. Because it is pissing you and your fiance off. You can also tell him that unless she gets her act together, you will be blocking her number. You don't need to put up with this behaviour. Then let him have words. This might work quite well, as someone can say these things to her face, it will be someone slightly objective, and she might need to hear from a peer that she is being totally unreasonable.

2) Ask your dad "what the fuck is going on with mum" and see what he has to say. Maybe there are reasons behind her behaviour that you didn't realise, and then you can take steps to address them (if they are reasonable).

3) Tell you mum point blank - "I will not have you ruining my wedding, causing arguments with my fiancé and picking fights with me all the time. You either stop it right now, or don't bother showing up to the wedding". If she starts going off on one or being hysterical, just hang up, then ignore her. You might want to tell your dad in advance that you'll be giving this ultimatum and why. Of course you want her to be there, but she needs to learn that you aren't some little kid that can be bossed around and manipulated. If she wants the pleasure of being at the wedding, then she needs to grow up.

ConfusedSon Thu 10-Jul-14 14:27:44

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks she is acting batshit mental right now.

It's seems as if she is playing the "well I'm mum, I can talk to you as I please" and speaking back is some kind of utter disrespect to the family.
A) I'm an adult not a child and B) we are not 'The Sopranos'

After the shouting match I rang my dad (who was out the house) to tell him I thought mums behaviour was over the top and nasty. He even sympathised a little at the time saying my mum does seem to "flip her lid at the moment". But after he got home and heard the one sided version of events from Mum I then get told I'm in the wrong, I shouldn't shout, and I should apologise (no mention if the screaming coming from my mum or the hurtful name calling she should apologise for). So the last thing I feel I can do at the moment is speak to him about it.

We have tried to involve her as much as we can, but as she has been such a child right from the word go its hard to involve her. We need to get things done ASAP, not tip toe around mums feelings for weeks before we pick flowers etc.
But she knows all this is going on, and it's as if she doesn't want to speed up the reconciliation process so she can be involved.
I mean if it was my child, and there was underlying issues in my life or my relationship with my child, I would just forget it for 3 months be involved and then once back from the honeymoon let rip!

TBH if she cannot or will not behave I would not invite either of your parents to your forthcoming wedding. The abuse that you are receiving is not at all acceptable. I would block her number from your phone if she cannot behave; there have to be consequences from you for her actions.

I very much doubt her behaviour now is at all due to the menopause.

I think your mother is throwing a strop because its not about her, she wants life to be all about her. I would read up on Narcissistic personality disorder and see if any of that fits in with her ways of thinking.

Also your Dad seems to be a bystander in all this overall dysfunction because he is siding with his wife and not wanting to hear your point of view properly. He is failing here to protect you from his wife's mad excesses of behaviour. It may well be that he will continue to side with his wife; you cannot therefore blithely rely on his to be reasoned here either. It to me also sounds like he is acting out of self preservation and want of a quiet life.

It is not your fault your parents are the ways they are. You did not make them this way (their own birth families did that to them).

Boundaries from you to them in terms of acceptable behaviour have to be set higher and have to be maintained.

adaorarda Thu 10-Jul-14 15:12:44

you need to slap down the boundaries pronto.

<she says something snotty or uses a horrible tone, even once>
"mum, you are acting in a very strange way. i need you to act civilly or this conversation will end immediately."
<wait. do not fill the silence or try to get her to behave better/stop shouting>
<she shouts/wheedles/insults>
"right mum, you had fair warning. i'm ringing off now. i will call you on DATE and hopefully we can have an adult conversation then. bye." <click>

rinse
repeat
ad infinitum.

you can't argue or convince her into being a normal, nice, decent mum. she is choosing to act this way because she is getting a reaction from you that she craves. i suspect she wants you to prove to her that she is #1 in your life despite your upcoming marriage; this is achieved by upsetting you to try to goad an intense emotional response from you, which makes her feel powerful and important. DO NOT let this carry on. STOP rising to the bait, you're just making this situation work for her which means it will only carry on, even worsen.

you NEED to set the boundaries and nip the drama in the bud, right fucking now. don't let your fiancee's wedding be a bad memory for her (and don't let your mother break your heart on your wedding day!). the only way to pull this back from the brink is to leave your mother to it compeltely and 100% refuse to engage in any drama whatsoever.

you need to read a book called Toxic Parents. I'm sorry to say but your mother may be giving you a taste of what is to come. you need to prepare yourself.

adaorarda Thu 10-Jul-14 15:14:31

if she escalates this behaviour, or continues it (and it is likely that she will) i am sorry to say that your only option may be to leave her out of the wedding.

ConfusedSon Thu 10-Jul-14 15:28:46

Thanks for all the advice.

I've told her we are having space and I'm not going to call, text or respond in the meantime.

This all seems to stem from the plan to get married in Thailand first, and she feels somewhat bitter that we had even considered going such a long distance away, and it was an insult to even ask.
But we have moved it somewhere closer that she is happy with, rather than be thankful she is bitter. I don't get it. Am I missing the point here?

Superworm Thu 10-Jul-14 15:38:49

No it's not you it's her. You have been very reasonable, accommodating and tolerant. She is behaving badly.

Boundaries are a good idea.

My mum behaved almost identically when I moved abroad. Threatened to never talk to be again, sent me hate mail telling me I was selfish. I just let get on with it and reduced contact until she was able to be civil again. Took about two years and probably not what you want to hear, sorry.

adaorarda Thu 10-Jul-14 16:12:08

But we have moved it somewhere closer that she is happy with, rather than be thankful she is bitter. I don't get it. Am I missing the point here?

Yes, you are missing the point -- none of this has anything to do with anything practical or even to do with etiquette.

She is doing this because she is getting an emotional boost from seeing how upset she can make you. It makes her feel important, powerful and special to see how much she can affect you and disrupt your wedding.

NO placating on your part will stop this -- for example, moving the wedding to Italy was never going to improve her behaviour. In fact it's just playing into her hands since you moving continents made her feel VERY powerful, and taught her that tantrums work with you.

The only way to stop this is to shut down drama immediately and refuse to participate in her tantrums or cater to her demands. She needs to stop getting the emotional payoff, and then she may change her behaviour (if you're lucky).

holeinmyheart Thu 10-Jul-14 16:28:49

You have my utmost sympathy as you are having such a hard time. Are you an only child as you haven't mentioned any siblings? I think it was the decision to have the wedding in Thai land that probably set her off. It is a long way to go. Or she might really secretly not like your girlfriend and hoped your relationship would collapse. I have kept my mouth resolutely shut about son's partners that I thought were unsuitable, in the hope that nothing would come of them. The MNetters will say ' well it's nothing to do with your Mum where or how you get married, but I think, either you are a family member, or not. Also, if anything happens to your relationship your parents will be expected to support you and then you are back to being a family member again. A lot of Mother's of sons might want to behave like her but have got more sense because they think of the future, and the mature side of them knows that they have to let go of their sons. (I have 3 and 3DIL) The childish immature side of you grieves that you are losing your son to another woman. So what can you do if she will not listen? Has she got a Sister you could talk too? She is obviously not listening to your Dad. What about ONE letter stating that you love her very much and she will always be an important part of your life and both of you want her to be at the wedding. You are very sorry for shouting at her but you were emotional and stressed about getting married, and quarrelling with her is tearing you apart. Short and sweet. Then when she phones don't rise to any bait, don't raise your voice or lose your temper, whats the point? It strikes me you love your Mum and want to continue having a relationship with her so do a bit of extra apologising for your part in this row. If she cannot be placated then I think you just have to decide to have a lovely wedding day, with or without her. What else can you do? If she comes she comes but don't bar her. You do the right thing. So stand firm without yelling. If she goes on ranting on the phone just listen and say' that's as maybe Mum, I am sorry you feel like that or just 'Mmmm ' Eventually hopefully she will run out of steam and calm down. Best of luck.

MaryWestmacott Thu 10-Jul-14 16:47:37

You have my sympathies, my mum was "hard work" around my wedding- it is quite common. It could well be that she's just seen your DP as the girl you are dating, nice enough, but didn't see your relationship as that serious, particularly if you live overseas so she's not there to see it every day. It could be she's facing up to the fact you've grown up and you are going to have a very different life to hers, including marrying overseas, she might well have assumed you'd come "home" for a wedding, settle down near them. (And a wedding near home would be an event she would help "host"- did they have a lot of their parents friends and extended family at their wedding?)

Is she normally the one who arranges things in the family?

I would dial down the drama, refuse to engage. This is her problem, not yours, plan your day, no more allowances to tantrums. If she doesn't want to be there, then you can still have a good wedding.

Your mum and dad are your main family now, but you are about to get married, your new wife will be your main family - it's a mental shift you all have to make, and some mums fight against losing their position. Sadly, it usually means they end up with an even lower priority position because their adult children step away.

ConfusedSon Thu 10-Jul-14 16:54:09

I am the eldest of 4. (2 younger brothers & a younger sister).

I am also the eldest out of all cousins etc. so I'm always the trailblazer when it comes to things like this. My youngest brother especially gets the easiest ride.

She doesn't have a sister, only a brother which I don't think will help, he is a great uncle but not the emotional type. I have thought about speaking to her Mum but unsure if that will calm the situation and not just make it more intense.

I have apologised to her on many occasions, the initial argument was 4 weeks ago now. Since then I've giving flowers sat down for HOURS talking it through and even stayed for pizza with her and my brother. She then went on holiday, the only contact I had was when I rang her on her birthday, everything was fine. Now when she is home I thought, right we've moved on lets do the normal family thing and organise the wedding but out the blue I get name calling and insults and we are back to square one.

If she doesn't like my fiancé then there is no hope for a relationship between me and my Mum anyway. I could be accused of looking through rose tinted glasses but my fiancé is the kindest most loving person I've ever met, and she gave up a hell of a lot to be with me, and helped me through some tough times - she is not the normal kind of girl mums don't like!

This post from adaorarda is bang on re your situation to my mind and thus you need to take heed:-

"Yes, you are missing the point -- none of this has anything to do with anything practical or even to do with etiquette.

She is doing this because she is getting an emotional boost from seeing how upset she can make you. It makes her feel important, powerful and special to see how much she can affect you and disrupt your wedding.

NO placating on your part will stop this -- for example, moving the wedding to Italy was never going to improve her behaviour. In fact it's just playing into her hands since you moving continents made her feel VERY powerful, and taught her that tantrums work with you.

The only way to stop this is to shut down drama immediately and refuse to participate in her tantrums or cater to her demands. She needs to stop getting the emotional payoff, and then she may change her behaviour (if you're lucky)".

I would think that wherever and whoever you married, she would still not be happy because she is not being the centre of the universe here.
No more apology flowers or apologising by you should be done; you have done nothing wrong here. Your mother has not apologised (and will not do so either) nor importantly has taken any real responsibility for her actions. Again read up on narcissistic personality disorder to see if any of that fits in with what you have seen from your mother.

My guess is she will not change her behaviour at all and will use you still as her whipping boy/scapegoat for all her ills. It is NOT your fault she is like this and your Dad is also failing here to protect you from your mother's mad power and control crazed outbursts. This is not about etiquette; this is a power and control issue.

I would make your own life going forward with your fiancé (soon to be wife so many congratulations) and not have either of your parents now involved in any aspect of your wedding day or even day to day lives.

GenuinelyMaryMacguire Thu 10-Jul-14 17:08:44

Ah.

Your mother has 'wedding fever'. Its very common amongst parents of both bride and groom.

Take a deep breath. Stand back. Don't apologise any more and don't get involved in any arguments. You've organised the wedding, stay very calm and go ahead with your plans.

Your mother also has 'He's my son -itis'. This is often connected with 'He-loves - me - best' disease. The only way to treat this is to make it clear, quietly but firmly, on every occasion, that your fiancé is the woman who is first in your life from now on.

Good luck.

MaryWestmacott Thu 10-Jul-14 17:11:07

Right, first off, stop apologising, you are reinforcing the view that you are in the wrong to want to have a small overseas wedding. That this is something to apologise for.

You said you don't have dcs, so you've probably not dealt with a toddler tantrum, but the basic advice is to ignore the bad behaviour, don't reward it with attention. Your mum I throwing a tantrum, and so far, she's learned that with you and your DP, it works, you changed your wedding plans once because she stroped, so she's upped the ante to get what she wants.

I'm no expert, my mum still manages to make everything about her, but I've found pretending everything is fine drives her insane when she's sulking. Not saying sorry or trying to "fix" what's upsetting her, just "oh right." Or "I'm sure you'll sort it." When she starts complaining. (My mum also "can't" travel and should be looked after. Amazingly once I stopped running, she discovered that trains go big ways after all, but apparently it's much harder for her on her own to get on a train then be collected at the other end with no changes, than for me to do the same without being collected at the other end, with 2 pre-schoolers, I'm "used to it" so it's easy, as are flights with babies compared to retired couples on their own).

MaryWestmacott Thu 10-Jul-14 17:14:30

Oh and be warned, if they do come (as a big favour to you, of course!), be prepared for her "being ill" when in Italy.

HenI5 Thu 10-Jul-14 17:15:05

Hi OP. Perspective from a mother of grown DCs.

IMO the very worst thing you could do is tell her she has to behave a certain way, that you need her to stop or that she won't be able to come to the wedding if she doesn't behave.
All of those will just enrage her more and give her what she sees as justification to continue in the same vein.

I feel really sorry for your fiancee and for you too of course. It should be an enjoyable experience planning and looking forward to your wedding.

I can't imagine why she's kicked off like this. If it's come out of nowhere and is totally out of character I'd wonder if she was ill or something. Other than that you're left with the fact that she's lost all sense and reason.
It doesn't sound like it's because she doesn't like your DP, but she has soured that relationship and she's going to have to work hard to restore it.
Your Dad's not likely to be much help as it sounds as though he's on the receiving end of some serious ear bashings too.

If I were you I'd restrain myself from shouting or laying in to her no matter what she says. Bite your lip until after the wedding. I don't mean be a doormat and take everything she throws out lying down, but stay calm and watch what you say so that if she repeats it to your Dad and other family, she can't make it seem bad. You just need to deprive her of any more ammunition or I can see this being like groundhog day.

It's almost like trying to talk down a tantrumming toddler who's transcended the point of no return. I'm really sorry she's carrying on like this and hope it all calms down, she really needs to apologise and mean it properly, but if she doesn't, try and keep the moral highground, it's less stressful in the end, honest.

ConfusedSon Thu 10-Jul-14 17:47:21

Thanks for all the responses,

Part of me wants to give her the link to this thread so she can see what level headed impartial adults think about what she is doing!

gamerchick Thu 10-Jul-14 17:54:00

Is she scared of flying?

ConfusedSon Thu 10-Jul-14 18:07:25

She is apprehensive of flying. She would say she is scared, but regularly fly's to europe for holidays & recently did a 7 hour long haul flight. As I said in my OP she doesn't travel well, but she does travel.

Twinklestein Thu 10-Jul-14 20:23:50

While I think her reaction is probably rooted in the fact that you're her firstborn son and your new wife will displace her as the most important woman in your life, - my mum actually reacted exactly the same when my sister got married (she married before me).

General bonkersness - everywhere my sis wanted to get married was wrong, the music was wrong, the invite list was wrong and it ended up her saying that she and my sister had nothing in common any more and they didn't have a relationship. So pretty much snap.

My mum didn't have the excuse, like yours, of being menopausal, and that does send some women a bit barmy for a bit.

So yeah I guess it's the end of an era for her and she doesn't seem to be taking it well. On the plus side my mum pulled herself together when my sister had kids & now she's happy as Larry.

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