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MIL begging me to improve relationship with SIL I don't get on with. WWYD?(14 Posts)
Long story short, my SIL is pretty toxic and has always had a very difficult relationship with her mother, my MIL. She is very abusive now and has been for years. MIL is lovely but very weak. She lets it continue even though she is scared of SIL (physically intimidated and emotionally bullied) as she doesn't want to lose touch with her grandchildren, although she feels she has 'lost them' anyway as SIL badmouths her in front of the kids and they don't want to spend time with her much. SIL has a real chip on her shoulder about my DH being the favourite in their family - he does have a better relationship with his parents but possibly down to the fact he didn't run away and lie about being abused by his parents as a teenager, which she did, and countless other issues since. She even lied about her last pregnancy and kept it secret until the baby was a few months old.
My FIL, her step dad who has raised her since she was 2, can't stand her and doesn't want anything to do with her. My DH can't be arsed any more either and only sees her from time to time to keep his mum happy and for our kids to see hers.
I have tried to stay out of it and have always been civil to SIL though never particularly friendly. I got involved a few years ago and it all blew up as I was the only being honest with SIL about her behaviour and how it was affecting everybody else in the family.
I have managed to avoid seeing her much - pretty much only at family gatherings at MILs house where MIL is always a neurotic nervous wreck (her usual state anyway) and SIL doesn't speak except to criticse her mum - a nervous, lack of social skills thing I think. It's all very hard work and exhausting.
Recently it has all blown up again with SIL being horrible to MIL and bitching about DH and myself. She never says anything to us directly, only on facebook and to MIL, but we are getting a lot of pressure from MIL to do something to improve things for her sake.
MIL says she wants us to be open and honest...
I am very fond of my MIL and feel for her but don't really want to travel a couple of hours to spend time with SIL I rarely talk to, don't like and have absolutely nothing in common with. In fact I would go as far as to say I can't stand her and if I'm going to be 'open and honest' about how I feel it would only make relationships worse! I am happy to keep things as they are and be civil when I have to see her but don't want to waste time and effort on a pretend relationship when life is so busy I barely get to see my own friends and family I love.
Phew. Sorry, this is highly edited but still an essay.!
Basically - what would you do? How do I handle this without relationships getting worse than they already are?
I think you are doing fine as you are. MIL sounds like she enables SIL bad behaviour, and wants you to enable SIL as well. Don't get drawn in any further.
Woah! It sounds like this family is a can of worms that you just don't want to open.
She thinks your DH was the favourite? Maybe he was.
She alleged abuse? And her step father hates her? Hmm. Might not all be lies.
I would be very wary of getting involved in any way. I think MIL may be using you as a "flying monkey" and I would just not do her dirty work for her.
(Maybe it's all true that your SIL is the bitch from hell, and has just turned out evil for no reason. In which case, what will your involvement achieve, anyway?)
Don't get drawn into the drama the whole thing sounds exhausting just keep doing what your doing you dont have to do anymore.
To be fair, Hardcore, FIL didn't have issues with her back then - they did all they could to help her as she wasn't happy, couldn't settle at school. Would probably be diagnosed with various issues if she was at school today! She fraudulently cashed and claimed money from dead nan for a few months, ran away a few times and then lied about both parents beating her so she would get a bed in a teen refuge and not have to go home. eventually retracted all claims and went home only for cycle to begin again a few months later. FIL has just had enough of the constant cycle of her ignoring them, then demanding help, before being abusive to MIL who often returns from a weekend visit without even making it as far as SIL's home. It's all so exhausting!
It's a mess. SIL is a mess and I feel sorry for her. She has recently been having counselling and I do hope it helps her but just don't want to be involved any more...
I think you need to explain to MIL that you love her dearly but you cannot stand SIL.
While you understand that MIL puts up with it because she is her DD you are not about to do any such thing.
Yes, or MIL wants you to be 'open and honest' and fight her battles for her.
It does sound like things might be building to a head, so there may be a blow up anyway.
The one caveat to add is that the kind of teenage behaviour you describe from SIL doesn't come from nowhere. It may have been untrue, but such a dramatic behaviour is a cry for help / expression of distress.
I know a family where there were similar claims of false / exaggerated abuse (know the adult siblings). And what I see is it was an expression of family rivalry (between the siblings for attention and money from the parents) egged on by earring divorced parents.
Sounds like the SIL has been labelled by everyone as the 'bad one' but often that person performs a function for the whole family, by being the scapegoat for everything. They are pushed into that role and the others (including your DH) need them to be in it.
Doubt there's anything you can do about any of this. But observing that you too labelling SIL as the 'bad one' means that you to have been drawn into their dynamic.
Having been forced into just such a family reconciliation talk I would advise against it.
The upshot of ours was BIL told me I wasn't blood, had only married in, so had no say in family business, but his wife was family and I was disrespectful to have laughed at that somewhat two-faced notion!
He went to punch me in the face and ended up on his tippy toes, with my hand under his chin, helping him up, and me explaining that if he was going to try and hit a woman he should do so when sober - as he might make a better decison - and should choose a woman whose day job did not include teaching kickboxing as an exercise class!
We have only spoken since to arrange MILs funeral and he still blames his brother, my DH, for having caused the whole thing - despite the reasons being his having appropriated £25K of MILs money and then refused to pay it back!
So just don't do it. Those who act like loons have a tendency to beleive their own twisted logic. By engaging with it you give it credence, and them a stick with which to beat you!
At the beginning of our relationship/my relationship with the family, I tried to be really friendly with SIL but she is a very difficult person to be around for many reasons.
I could say more but all the background would definitely identify us all and I don't really want to do that.
Thanks for replies.
I feel better knowing that others don't blame me for trying to stay out of it.
I hope I'll be able to maintain that but can see it starting to cause problems between DH and myself and him and his mum so who knows...
MIL is weak and is also enabling this bad behaviour.
Do not become further involved in this. You need firm and consistent boundaries.
Stay out of it, every time mil tries to talk about it tell her 'I am not getting involved' and change conversation. Every single time.
With regards to your dh, say to him that you are 'not getting involved with his families dynamics'.
Rinse and repeat.
You may wish to read up on golden child and scapegoat child. The sil's behaviour has not been formed in a vacuum, there is usually a kernel of truth to behaviour patterns.
But also consider that SIL has had the best of everyone, a lot of atention etc.
BIL would say DH had 'the best' of their childhood, that is why he resents him. No one else in the family would say that. They all know DH was Sent to Coventry for looking like and beng named after their dad. AT 7 years old his DM, DB and DS started to ostracise him! The extended famliy all know who the Golden Child was - the one who has always been the loudest, neediest, least stable. BIL has always been 'allowed' as he is just 'BIL' or 'just drunk' etc. But they all prefer to 'let it lie' - which is why DH is firmly, 100% NC since his DMs death!
In similar situations with my family I say "Nothing I could do would help. I would just make it worse. It is best if stay away from X until he/she has sorted out his/her issues."
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