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Coping strategies?

(14 Posts)
vvviola Thu 30-Jun-16 08:39:10

MIL arrives tomorrow (from abroad) to stay for 3 weeks.

She's not the easiest person to live with - she's extremely set in her ways and quite passive aggressive. She appears to have forgotten that DH is a grown man and treats him like a ditsy 16 year old. If you ask her what her preference is for something you will invariably get "oh, whatever is easiest", but if you don't choose what she actually wants she will sulk. If she has decided something, then it is nearly impossible to change her mind, even if it means she is putting you out (in case anyone remembers a previous thread, this is the woman who decided that she was going to sleep in our garage, with the cars, washing machine and gardening equipment, because my parents were staying and she wanted to piggyback on a special treat we had organised for my DDad and DD1. It took DH multiple difficult phone calls to convince her this would not be happening).

There are a lot of other little niggly things that, if she is staying a couple of days you can grit your teeth about, but over a longer time begin to really grate.

DH has limited patience with her, and usually finds an excuse to be "busy" in the evenings when she visits, which means I usually get put in the "entertain MIL" role. Again, OK for a night or two, but for 3 weeks...

At the moment my patience is very limited - we've just moved house, I'm trying to get everything sorted out, work is extremely stressful, we've just had a family bereavement that means my Mum who is usually a great support, needs support herself. And now we have MIL. For 3 weeks.

The thing is, irritating as she is, she means well (mostly) and she adores the DC (on her terms). And she's coming from the other side of the world. We're also very conscious (as we were when we lived closer to her and further from my parents) that when someone lives that far away and is getting older, it may be the last time she makes the trip (although she is very healthy and only in her late 60s, recent bereavements have reminded us that it isn't always that simple).

So, I don't want this to turn into an unpleasant trip for her, or us, and I need some ideas on how to cope/keep my patience for the sake of family harmony. I could resort to lots of wine, but I suspect that may not be the cleverest idea....

RedMapleLeaf Thu 30-Jun-16 08:45:16

DH has limited patience with her, and usually finds an excuse to be "busy" in the evenings when she visits, which means I usually get put in the "entertain MIL" role.

You know what we're going to say, don't you? You don't have a MIL problem.

vvviola Thu 30-Jun-16 08:53:45

grin Well, yes, I suppose that's true to some extent Red. And I will be having words if he does it too much. But that's his coping strategy and avoids them having a massive row (I still shudder when I think of "chocolategate" a massive row over a small piece of chocolate that she refused to speak to him for a week over).

I suspect that, even if DH is around all the time and doesn't grab the excuse to go for a beer with his DB (BIL is coming too - he's a whole other story, but is easy to get on with, so I don't need to worry about him in this case), I'll need help with my patience levels...

category12 Thu 30-Jun-16 09:15:54

Start off with not being the entertainment - she's here for three weeks - too long to dance attendance. So I'd be going the "make yourself at home" route, not grand hostess.

Dh needs to suck it up and have some strategy of his own, not just fucking off.

Tag team - when he needs to tap out, you step in but vice versa, you get to tap out too. Agree a signal. grin

MrsBertBibby Thu 30-Jun-16 09:54:15

How old are your kids? Old enough to help? My son enforces relentless board and card games when my mother pitches up. Keeps her too busy to bitch and moan.

vvviola Thu 30-Jun-16 10:03:34

DC are 9 and almost 5.

She had quite a good relationship with the 9yo when we lived nearer and she can talk for Ireland, so that's a good idea. Nearly 5yo is a bit tricky as MIL was reluctant to spend time with her before as she was younger and quite clingy with me, and MIL also seemed to think that sending her chocolate (which she cannot eat as she is allergic to dairy) was fine "because I thought she'd like the box/toy it comes with", so I'm a little wary of how all that will work out.

I think MIL sees herself more as an "old school granny" (dispensing treats and sitting on the couch chatting, with the occasional short walk to the park), which confuses my DC a bit as my DM is more of the "skip along the street, get down on her hands and knees to play Lego, get on the swings with the kids" approach.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 30-Jun-16 11:19:34

Who invited his relations? Your DH and for three weeks as well? Why was a hotel stay seemingly not suggested?

Sounds like your DH is in FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) with regards to his mother as well. These three weeks will be a very long time and will no doubt cause you to have a lot of resentment against your DH and your MIL.

Re this comment:-
DH has limited patience with her, and usually finds an excuse to be "busy" in the evenings when she visits, which means I usually get put in the "entertain MIL" role

No, do not let him do that under any circumstances. They are his family and thus he needs to be involved, he must not abdicate all responsibility to you. If he cannot and will not deal with them they why were they invited at all? You are not their entertainments manager and I would also leave him to it in the evenings.

vvviola Thu 30-Jun-16 12:10:04

We invited her/them as a family. She is my husband's mother and the grandmother of my children. I may not get on with her particularly well and she may drive me crazy, but she is still part of our extended family. When we lived on the opposite side of the world to my family, DH would never have considered "not allowing" them to visit, even though my DM drives him crazy sometimes. She hasn't seen her son or grandchildren in 18 months. Was she supposed to never see them again, just because I find her irritating?

A hotel isn't an option for many reasons - none near us, she couldn't afford it after paying for flights, and she's family so unless she was a lot more than "irritating" we budge up and make room.

There's definitely no "fear" element in the relationship between MIL and DH, but possibly a bit of obligation/guilt due to us choosing to live so far away.

But yes, I will have to have words if he keeps finding reasons to be "busy" in the evenings. It was ok when the visit was for one or two days, but a longer visit, when I'm already stressed and exhausted with work means he can't hand it all off to me.

But even so, I do still need advice on how actually to cope....

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 30-Jun-16 12:47:44

"We invited her/them as a family. She is my husband's mother and the grandmother of my children. I may not get on with her particularly well and she may drive me crazy, but she is still part of our extended family".

This is not actually a really good reason to be inviting such people in the first place. You likely also come from a nice and emotionally healthy family as well, your DH has clearly not been so fortunate. He cannot stand his mother and has actively left you to deal with her. That is not acceptable but he is also a problem here; he has a lot of obligation and guilt. She is also passive aggressive and treats your DH like a child. No dissent from you all is tolerated. You would not have tolerated any of that behaviour from a friend, his mother is truly no different.

If you are after advice re how to cope then his family of origin are really that problematic. In that respect I would think about your own (perhaps currently too low) boundaries with regards to these people and further strengthen them over the coming 3 weeks as well. What is acceptable and unacceptable to you behaviour wise with regards to you re her and she re your children?. If you all go out for meals who will pay? What if she starts getting uppity with either you or your children because they are themselves bored by nanny not really interacting with them?

ill they be able to entertain their own selves? Do not make yourself readily available to these people; MIL and BIL need to fit in with you as a family, not the other way around. They are your guests but you are not their entertainments manager or servant.

RedMapleLeaf Thu 30-Jun-16 13:36:18

We invited her/them as a family. She is my husband's mother and the grandmother of my children. I may not get on with her particularly well and she may drive me crazy, but she is still part of our extended family. When we lived on the opposite side of the world to my family, DH would never have considered "not allowing" them to visit, even though my DM drives him crazy sometimes. She hasn't seen her son or grandchildren in 18 months. Was she supposed to never see them again, just because I find her irritating?

So, what's the problem then? Why the thread?

vvviola Thu 30-Jun-16 14:23:23

The problem is, we've had a stressful few months, work is stressful and I have limited patience - and biting my lip for 3 weeks is a lot different to biting my lip for 2 days, which is the longest she has stayed with us for years (she stayed 2 weeks about 6 years ago, but circumstances were different then).

I was looking for coping strategies and ideas of how to get through the 3 weeks with my sanity, and family relationships intact.

RedMapleLeaf Thu 30-Jun-16 15:02:28

What if a stay of 3 weeks is just not compatible with maintaining sanity and family relationships?

RunRabbitRunRabbit Thu 30-Jun-16 20:04:34

There is only one coping strategy that could ever work: you spend as little time with her as possible, your DH and DC spend as much time with her as possible.

She is clearly going to drive you nuts. Sounds like she likes to stir up trouble.

If an argument has to be had, if someone has to snap, it must be her son not her DIL. If she has to be told off, it must be her son that does it, after witnessing whatever happened (not having it reported to him because he was absent).

Are you and DH out at work in the day time?

vvviola Thu 30-Jun-16 21:05:56

I'll be at work every week day except two (and one of those is to take DD2 to a hospital appointment so I'll probably be gone for a large part of the day). DH is taking a week off, and a day or two here and there. Of course, because work is so stressful at the moment, it will just be going from one stressful occasion to another (which is why I'm so concerned about coping - because I'm not likely to get down time)

But I had actually forgotten that they are going on a couple of overnight sightseeing trips, so there will be a bit of a break in the middle which will help.

There is only one coping strategy that could ever work: you spend as little time with her as possible, your DH and DC spend as much time with her as possible.

Yes, you are probably right. It just goes against my upbringing which is screaming "guests, must look after guests!!"

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