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why does my mil act like this?(17 Posts)
I can't make sense of my mil, she loves our daughter very much and is very good with her. Sometimes she can act like the warmest person, she always manages it with other people and can sometimes towards me too. Today was my daughters birthday and when at our house she was chatty, normal and perfectly fine. Then we get to the party and she's mingling with family members, being warm and welcoming but totally cold and weird towards me. This happens a lot, she suddenly switches and barely acknowledges me. When she left, she gave everyone there a hug and a kiss, making small talk as she said goodbye and then she just turned and went "bye" and walked off.
We haven't had the perfect relationship, her son has issues with his parents being controlling etc but these turns in behaviour come out of nowhere, often at gatherings, ie our wedding, christening a of dd, her birthdays etc and they leave me feeling just confused and a bit hurt if I'm honest.
Her son makes very little effort himself with her, in left to buy her birthday presents, Christmas gift, Mother's Day etc and yet she acts so strangely with me, she's expressed before she thinks I've torn her son away, but if I didn't bother she wouldn't get anything more than a card for special dates etc and I've actually told her this to try to make her realise I'm not out to steal her only child.
Today really got to me, because it's so sudden and random and other people notice, it makes me feel so uncomfortable and makes me dread future get togetherness because it happens almost everytime.
Don't really know why im posting, maybe for advice on how to deal with it? I'm rarely confrontational and just never know how to react.
Accept that you probably have done nothing wrong.
Accept you cannot change her approach towards you.
Avoid her as much as possible.
Don't let her burn your emotional energy, like she is doing right now
Personally I'd mirror your DH's attitude.
You said yourself that your DH knows they are controlling g and makes the choice not to make an effort, I personally think you should respect that decision and emulate hiim in how he deals with his parents.
Your behaviour towards them has protected them from his decision. It should be up to him to initiate contact and deal with cards and gifts as they are his family, not yours.
Maybe I shouldn't make the effort, but dh gets on in general with his dad so it's tough. He doesn't have the perfect relationship with him but he feels his dad is only controlling and needy when his mum nags him about not being loved etc and her son not trying with her.Basically he feels his mums the issue. So i just try and keep her sweet for our own sanity. Dh wouldn't cut contact with them, but when j haven't made the effort I've been blamed for the breakdown of relationships and dramas arise quickly and often.
Oh I don't know. Need to learn to be thicker skinned and ignore her but it's just not something I'm all that good at.
I think you should pull her up on it. I'd send a text now saying, "Was something the matter today? You seemed quite happy when you were at our house but a number of friends asked why you were cold towards me at the party and I didn't know what to say as I didn't think I'd done anything to upset you, but you acted as though I had. Hope everything is alright and that you enjoyed the party."
Let her know that others have noticed. She thinks she's playing some sly game where you're the only person who notices her behaviour. Let her know that's far from the case.
She slags you off to the rest of the family and then she can't be 'normal' with you because she will reveal herself as a massive hypocrite.
If I sent her that text there'd be a shit storm to follow! I'd somehow end up the baddy trying to make her look bad! Maybe I've done something unknowingly. I'd rather she just say, but it happens too often. I'm going to have to learn to let it go over my head I think I just don't know how, I feel in a weird way like she knows she can act how she wants because she knows I can't do anything without looking unreasonable or causing further issues. It's weirdly controlling
My Mil displays similar behaviour at family gatherings, I've concluded it's jealousy that my kids are mine and not hers and she doesn't feel the centre of attention and so takes it out on me, as of she's diminishing my 'importance' to everyone else if that makes sense?
No, you HAVEN'T done something unknowingly! That might happen once but as you say she does it often.
You should take the power back. If someone acts differently towards you, it's normal to ask what's the matter. That text only says that people noticed she was treating you oddly. Yes, she might twist that against you but she's against you anyway! And if she quotes it to someone, what can they say?
The thing is, she's not your friend. You need to let her know that you know this.
Re your comment:-
"We haven't had the perfect relationship, her son has issues with his parents being controlling etc but these turns in behaviour come out of nowhere, often at gatherings, ie our wedding, christening a of dd, her birthdays etc and they leave me feeling just confused and a bit hurt if I'm honest.
Her son makes very little effort himself with her, in left to buy her birthday presents, Christmas gift, Mother's Day etc and yet she acts so strangely with me, she's expressed before she thinks I've torn her son away, but if I didn't bother she wouldn't get anything more than a card for special dates etc and I've actually told her this to try to make her realise I'm not out to steal her only child".
All this is a red flag re your MIL; infact there are so many red flags here you could make a line of bunting.
Your MIL does this because she can, it works for her. Its not your fault she is like this, her own family of origin did that lot of damage to her.
I presume you have yourself come from an emotionally healthy family yourself where this type of dysfunction is thankfully unknown. You simply though cannot apply the "normal" rules of familial interactions to people like his mother.
You need to now raise your own far too low boundaries re her because you are also simply being exploited and used. Being nice to such people does not work nor does rewarding bad behaviour.
You need to stop buying his mother presents on his behalf because it is his mother and thus his responsibility. Given her behaviours towards you all I am not surprised he has not made much of any effort; he has had a lifetime of her conditioning and he has seemingly had enough of her. Such women see other women as a threat and that you are not "good enough" for her darling boy. She would have acted the same regardless of whom he married.
Her husband your DHs father has acted out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. He has stayed with his wife for his own reasons (named in previous sentence) and has failed to protect his son or you as his DIL from her mad excesses of behaviour. He is her hatchet man here really and cannot be at all relied upon. It is also not your role at all to police relations between he and his parents.
I actually think your DH could well benefit from talking to a therapist because his own inertia when it comes to his parents is simply hurting him as well as you.
I would suggest that you read "Toxic Inlaws" by Susan Forward as a starting point.
I remember you, this is one of the replies I wrote to you towards the end of last year:-
These people are not rational and never will be as long as they are alive, you are still thinking like a person from a normal emotionally healthy family would behave and that is your mistake here. They are not and have never been emotionally healthy, the rule book gets well and truly thrown out when it comes to such dysfunctional families.
Are they still going to have your DD for the 3 hours over the weekend?. I sincerely hope not because that is something else you will bitterly regret ever doing as well.
I hope too he was told not to bother turning up at your house. His "apology" will be just that in quote marks; he will say anything to bring you both back into line. He will not ultimately do anything.
Your fiancé now has a choice to make; I do wonder if he is strong enough to actually make a clean break from his parents ultimately. I still think he is far more afraid of them that he ever would be of you and dare not upset them. Part of him perhaps also wonders how the hell it came to this now between his family of origin and his own unit now. He is involved and has to be involved now; he cannot bury his head in the sand any more. His inertia to date has basically hurt his own family i.e. you and your child".
I agree with Attila, your partner is an adult who is perfectly capable of managing his relations how he wants to. Leave him to get in with it.
You both know his parents are unreasonable and controlling, you both know you'll both come under fire for anything that's in his DM's head but not real, so why do you think your relTuonship with her could be any different than your partner's? He's done nothing to make her controlling towards him and despite you doing nothing to warrant her behaviour, you seem surprised and looking for answers on how to stop her when nobody has been able to
These people control you 24/7.
Their unpredictable and threatened volatile outbursts keeps everyone walking on egg shells constantly.
Most people just drift away after a time (your DH) or try to smooth things over (you DFIL) in a passive way.
However - it is important to be assertive and brave (feel the fear and do it anyway). Clearly state the issue and clarify your boundaries. If she has no respect for this then walk.
You are the baddie anyway so let rip. Shit storm or just treat you like shit...whats the difference?
Attila, thanks. Since that falling out dh had made up with his father. Who managed to apologise rather sincerely to us both; he gave us space and since then has treated dh and I really well actually. He's Far from perfect as we all are but he is open and honest and just him. Mil however has never ever taken any responsibility what's so ever, told dh i was a liar and all sorts of crap. It's a tough situation because dh generally gets on with his dad but his dad is controlled by his wife and does as he's told and is fiercely defensive of his wife.
I have tried to remove myself from the family bubble, however dh's parents message us both all the time and dh will ask me what I want to do ie; "do you want to spend your one day off this week with my parents as they've asked to do x,y and z" and I feel like it's all dumped on me.
He never goes to see them alone, he doesn't want to. And they'd be uninterested in seeing him with out dd.
It's not easy to get the balance right, keeping them at arms length is tough and dh feels he always needs an excuse when saying "no", he was meant to see a therapist, I found him one, emailed him for dh, dh got in touch but never went.
I agree with others´ advice. And the text which Imperial suggests sounds perfectly reasonable to me. It would force her to have to acknowledge her behaviour if you mention that it´s been noticed by others. The point is you cannot please everybody. Nor can you make your MIL like you. She sounds unreasonable ( putting it politely! ) and a right bitch.
I think you´re being a mug making all the effort with birthdays etc. You should stay as far away as poss from these screwed up family dynamics. You´re on a hiding to nowhere. None of your efforts will make any difference in the long run. Look where it´s got you so far??
I would go NC or very minimal contact. I can´t believe you make more effort than her son actually, yet she still treats you like shit! Seriously, your OH can fight his own battles and you should stop being a passive puppet in all this, with her holding the power and controlling the relationship dynamics. She is not the sun with everyone else in her grip, revolving around her! She needs to know there´s consequences to her inappropriate behaviour. She´s a manipulative bitch.
Stop bending over backwards to try and please her and achieve something you will never achieve. You need boundaries with people like this, you also need to be totally upfront and honest when they piss you off and behave like idiots. Who cares if there´s a shit storm?? Nobody ever died cos they were assertive and told their inlaws to shove off if they behave like twats! Let them kick off...what´s the worst that´s gonna happen? It sounds like she wouldn´t be a great miss in your lives. And if the husband comes with her as a package, so be it.
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