Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Issue with partner and his mother(11 Posts)
Does anyone have any advice for dealing with their mother in law... She is in no way a toxic mother in law. I have always quite liked spending time with her other than when it's too much, which it's now become. She cares about us both and is helpful and supportive.
However, I find when we spend too much time with them that I get frustrated which then spoils the otherwise perfectly pleasant times we have. I've been with my partner for 6.5 years now we have our own house and are often happy certainly not perfect. I know his family well and like them. However my issues have really only come about recently and are driving a wedge between us and I don't know how to handle it.
Recently my partner and I got a puppy and since then she has taken it upon herself to be granny and idolises the dog. It's very sweet but is becoming increasingly overbearing. She offers her unasked for opinions on caring for the puppy. He's our first dog together (we're 25) and she has had dogs throughout her marriage. She's never done puppy school or what I'd call proper crate training and probably hasn't socialised her dogs all that well but takes it upon herself to question how and why were crate training the dog and many other things we've done with him. I don't look to her as an oracle on dog training in any way so when her view differs it's just irritating since I would end up sounding like a twerp if I explained why we do things our way. In my view dog training has moved on from her views but I would never say that as nothing is gained from comments like that. Except I have to hear it. It's frankly undermining and so many of her comments are loaded with a tone to them. Possibly something like passive aggression (except of course not aggressive just undermining)
She invites us round and then makes it awkward when we leave as she would prefer we left later. This is no matter what time it is that we leave at. We didn't stay the night over the christmas break again this was questioned. All day. We didn't spend new year there. Again this was questioned continuously and caused her to huff and puff. We make plenty of time for them but having a new dog doesn't make me want to stay over. I can't be doing with the dog crying or him having to sleep with us in our room while he's so young. We don't live far from them at all.
All people have their negative traits, I'm full of them, but I think she's quite negative and jealous of others. She only has sons so talks to me in a girly way about her friends in a jealous way expecting me to want to listen. I try really hard to be a positive person and it's awful to have to umm and ahh to conversations like this. With my own mother I could tell her to stop it. So what if a friend bought an expensive coffee machine. It's her prerogative. I'd probably enjoy a coffee from it but instead I have to go "yes it must have cost a lot" etc etc.
My issue is that I would never expect my partner to want to spend as much time with my family as he does me with his. I find it draining to go as much as we have been doing since getting the puppy (she wants to see the dog every week - at her house) and I feel undermined as a puppy parent. To me it feels like an example of when we have a child and she would question why we do what we do. It drives a wedge between us as I want to enjoy going and for me that is going less and him maybe saying to her that when we decide to leave to head home, accept it like a good host. He could maybe say to her that I feel undermined so to not question us so much. I only see this becoming a bigger issue. How can i in a way that would not spark an argument that the boundaries and rules maybe need bringing up. I would never accept my own mother doing this so don't see why I should accept his. He btw feels he can comment on my family dynamic
How do I tell my partner of 6.5 years that he needs to talk to his mother about how certain actions of hers make me feel undermined and frustrated. How can I do this in a way that does not make him instantly defensive of his mother. Perhaps the issue with his mother is not as big as the fact that I think we wouldn't be able to discuss this as he wouldn't like the personal family 'attack'. I know if i were to explain to my partner like the above he would get defensive and we'd argue. I'd like to make him see my point of view and find some way to balance our views. Any advice how to do so most welcome and thanks for reading my incoherent rant.
Don't have any children until this is resolved. What does your partner say if you say I dont want to/go/stay etc ?
I would say you need to be a united front with this, you won't get anywhere if it's just you and your partner isn't backing you. I'd brush off her comments about how you are doing things with the puppy, don't entertain a discussion, just say something along the lines of "well, we're doing it this way and it's working for us. We aren't going to change what we're doing as we're getting along fine".
With regards the bitchiness about her friends etc and gossiping, I feel your pain. I know how boring it can be listening to gossip about people you don't know or care about. My FILs wife does this constantly when I'm in her company and often tells me stories I've heard 4 or 5 times before. My advice is keep comments to a minimum and steer conversation onto something else. I even go as far as politely ignoring some comments as if I haven't heard them and then talking about something else.
Unfortunately your man is as much of a problem as his mother is; he is unable to see this for what it is (this is an unhealthy situation between the two of them) because to him this is normal. He therefore will not want to or even accept being challenged on it. He grew up thinking that this behaviour from her is normal so will not thank you for pointing out that it is not.
TBH I would seriously consider the future of this relationship because these types of situations rarely if ever improve. He may never be able to be his own person in his own right because of his mother; she has stunted him emotionally.
Where are your own boundaries here with regards to his mother?. You do not have to choose to go over there every week; what would happen if you said no to weekly visits?.
If you were to have children by this man she would be just as overbearing and make snide comments. She really was not a good example of a parent to him, she will not be a good example of a grandparent to a child either. She will probably go on also to idolise the child at great cost to yourselves; she's already idolising your dog and perhaps as a result give the dog behaviour problems. That behaviour of hers is not healthy.
What if anything do you know of her familial background, that often gives clues. Does she work, does she have any friends or outside interests apart from her son?.
I would read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward to further understand the power and control dynamics that are being played out here.
My guess as well is that he is still seeking her approval; approval which she will not freely give him. He also does not want to rock the boat and at all upset his mother for fear of losing such approval. Confrontation scares him. Such situations rarely if ever change.
I feel some sympathy for your man but if his loyalty is really first and foremost to you (rather than his mother) then he will have to talk to her and have some difficult conversations. He has to show her that you and he are truly united.
My mum likes to have a good bitch about people and I'm not interested as she bitches about things that aren't even an issue and obviously enjoys it. I wouldn't say anything to her so I can't imagine being in your position.
Alarm bells are ringing for me wondering what she'd be like if you were to have a child!
How often do you actually see her?
Would your man be willing to set boundaries in other ways, such as by limiting the frequency of visits with them or phone calls to reduce the stress on you?. If he cannot or won't set any boundaries with his family, you might have to face that fact and set boundaries of your own. Nobody can force you to spend time with his family if you choose not to, and drawing a line on this issue may lead both him and his mother to re-examine their approach (unlikely in her case though).
Oh wow thanks for all the responses it's been on my mind for some time now. I felt so silly writing down some examples when it's obviously much more than what I can express in a manageable post!
Well I hadn't seen her for 2 weeks but we went over on the weekend. Prior to that it had been every weekend since November. During the summer and in our pre dog days it was more random but we've always seen them a fair bit.
Yes I feel alarm bells for if we have a child. I think she'd want to be really involved (great!) but would want it on her terms and I would find it awkward to get it to be on OUR terms. I know she already wants to provide the childcare and I absolutely want to be there myself and then when I'm not use a childcare setting for socialisation purposes etc (aside from which it doesn't sit right with me using gps for care as well as babysitting). I know from things she's said before this would be a sticking point. She's keen to be a grandparent..
I agree we absolutely have to be united. We've discussed things before with my mother where we've been united. We do always say we have to be a team and from our discussions on having children over the years I know we believe in being a united front, it just needs to translate to our wider family relations too!
If I say I don't want to go over he might sulk or have a go at me asking why and remind me of all they do/have done for us. Equally he does accept sometimes I don't want to go but it's certainly not a case of ok well have a great day, I'll be back later. His mother has commented to him a few times recently that I haven't wanted to go as much and he's pulled me up on it. Because I wasn't prepared for it I didn't explain myself in a good way and he became defensive. I know if I'd heard the same I might have reacted similarly hence why I wanted to broach it better. However I find it outrageous his mum would say stuff to him like that as its creating a hierarchy between us and he has to choose a side.
MrsW absolutely I just ignore and try to comment on other things about the friend that are positive but my word it's tiring.
I find her quite volatile in terms of her moods and she idolises her sons and doesn't really have much going on other than them. Both adult children. Attila part of what you said feels true and this is why I want to discuss this before we ever do go onto have our own family and then have to awkwardly tell her to back off while my own family meet my view of acceptable boundaries. Having said that who's to say she would change for the dog but then be a nightmare with a child. Argh. I think from what I know of her more difficult childhood than most that this could be done to that. It does feel like an element of control so that we dance to her tune and I'm second. When I have put myself forward by saying we're going home she pouts. If my partner initiates us leaving its fine.
I feel sorry for my partner to have to deal with it and feel probably pulled in competiting directions. I wouldn't consider ending a relationship over this however I suppose the consequence of me talking to him would be more telling. Again though I don't think I would!
Just don't go. He can go by himself. If he isn't keen on this, explain why. If he doesn't respect your right to do what the hell you like in your own free time, he is an arsehole and your efforts to change him will probably prove fruitless.
She isn't the problem, he is.
Agree with PP your DP appears to be the problem. He can see his DM as often as he likes, but you and Puppy Sunflower shouldn't be at her beck and call. What would he say if you said no?
I seriously would not have DC with this man unless you are planning on moving far far away.
Having said that who's to say she would change for the dog but then be a nightmare with a child
chances are she'll be a lot worse with a grandchild than a dog. One is a baby related to her by blood from her beloved son whom she relies on a great deal. The other is a dog.
Be careful because if you do want to have a child with him, you need to know that he puts you above his mother (if it comes to a stark choice).
Hopefully it won't.
But if she's behaving like this with a dog, it would be an idea to plan for her being three times worse with a baby. Just in case.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.