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Met DP's mother...She's "difficult";. How do I play this?

(135 Posts)
kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 10:02:19

My DP, who is an only child, and I have been together for 6 months and I really want the relationship to work. The main potential problem is his mother.

I, like every women he's been with, am only after his inheritance (her semi in a not nice part of Surrey), but he's too stupid to see it. She threatens to kill herself because she's lonely and no one cares. She cried when she found out I'd stayed the night at his home - a neighbour saw me leave. She makes comments about my appearance (ugly), education (poor), family (common) and has started talking about writing him out of her will. He used to be so kind before he met me, but now she's ashamed of his (unspecified) cruelty to her.

She also has keys to his house, which he gave her when he was having work done, and lets herself in when he's at work; he has asked for them back, but the suicide threats start again, which distract him from the task at hand.

DP moved back to his home town when his father, who died two years ago, became very ill. He sees his mother twice a week and calls everyday.

She's an intelligent, capable women in excellent health, who appears to have lots of friends. I hate that this is relevant, so please don't hate me for saying it, but I own my own place and my family are "posher" and richer than hers.

She is very open about the fact that he ruined her life and career when he was born, so he owes her.

Does anyone have any advice on dealing with her? How should I expect him to behave if we're going to have a successful relationship? Is it even possible to have a successful relationship with someone like that in the background?

Hullygully Wed 08-May-13 10:04:38

Don't fight her.

Overwhelm her with love and kindness, shower her with invitations, give her heartfelt cards with the Samaritans' number on it, telling her how devastated her son would be. Cry with upset and bewilderment when she is horrid to you...

Beat her at her own game.

wonderingagain Wed 08-May-13 10:05:16

What does he think about it? Does he happily accept the situation with her? Does he complain or laugh it off?

CalamityKate Wed 08-May-13 10:05:42

I'd get out while you still can!

pictish Wed 08-May-13 10:06:10

She sounds like huge problem. Unless your dp is willing to stand up to her and make positive and lasting changes, I can't see how the relationship can last long term. She will never leave the pair of you alone to get on with your lives.

6 months in...I'd be considering the viability of continuing with it.

piprabbit Wed 08-May-13 10:06:47

I don't think you should try and deal with her at all. Leave that to your DP. Build your relationship with him, find out if he is someone you want to be with long term. Until then let him cope with his mum himself.

DontmindifIdo Wed 08-May-13 10:07:20

What does your DP say about this? Does he think she is wrong and prepared to speak to her about it and stand up for you? If he's not, then end the relationship now.

Oh and re the keys, do you have a set? I'd 'lose' them then arrange for the locks to be changed and pay for it, if your DP then wants to give his mother another set, you also know he's actually got no problem with her letting herself in.

pictish Wed 08-May-13 10:07:30's a shame for your dp but it's deeply unhealthy and will bring nothing but grief yo your life. Imagine if you had a child together? How controlling would she be then?

ISeeSmallPeople Wed 08-May-13 10:09:23

Consider asking him to call you when she's dead.

LifeofPo Wed 08-May-13 10:09:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 10:10:28

wonderingagain: He says she's crazy and manipulative, but his instincts seem to be to pacify her, rather than stop the crazy. I've been gently encouraging him to get counselling to learn how to respond to her. He says he thinks it's a good idea, but at the point he's about to arrange an appointment, she calms down and he decides to wait and see.

pictish Wed 08-May-13 10:10:41

Po grin

Lavenderhoney Wed 08-May-13 10:11:14

Well, it depends a lot on how he sees his relationship with his mother. Does he want to change it?

They do sound very close, all the vists and calls- but if he wants to carry on there is not much you can do tbh.

He needn't be ashamed of her. He can't change her behaviour he can only change how he reacts. She won't like it.

Branleuse Wed 08-May-13 10:11:49

why on earth did he want you to meet her? What does he say about it.

Id refuse to even meet her again, and if hes not hugely apologetic and even slightly acting like you should be ok with any of her crap, then take it as a red flag and severe warning for your future if you stay with him

Badvoc Wed 08-May-13 10:13:11

Bloody hell.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 08-May-13 10:13:21

"Does anyone have any advice on dealing with her? How should I expect him to behave if we're going to have a successful relationship? "

Be polite and nice but don't take any shit at the same time. IME that kind of person (a bully) loves being fawned over and will bridle at being challenged but, ultimately, will give you a wide berth if you stand up to them.

Tell him to change the locks btw. Meet suicide threats with 'don't be silly'.

Dahlen Wed 08-May-13 10:14:12

I'd call it off. If it's like this now, it will only get worse. If his instincts are to pacify rather than make a stand against unacceptable, manipulative behaviour, your relationship is doomed anyway. Unless you want to learn how to excel in the same type of behaviour, your DP will always side with her because he will always bow to the person who manages to make him feel most uncomfortable.

Life is too short for that.

pictish Wed 08-May-13 10:15:18

Well said Dahlen.

How very true.

nosleeptilever Wed 08-May-13 10:15:56

OP make sure he's worth the hassle of a nasty MIL because she will NEVER change! my MIL is not quite as bad as what you describe but her behaviour sometimes really gets me down because I'm stuck with her through no choice if my own. Thankfully my dh is 100% on my side so I know it's ok.
If you really think this guy is worth it you need to discuss the situation (as tactfully as possible) with him. If he can see it and support you then great.... If he can't then you need to have a good think about what the future will be like.

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 10:17:24

He thought that if she met me she would see that I am lovely, rather than the slutty monster she invented in her head. Didn't exactly work as planned. I'm still a slutty, slutty monster.

He feels a lot of pressure as an only child and she's incredibly manipulative.

What is it reasonable to ask for from him? We have talked about getting married in future, so the relationship is serious enough to have serious talks.

pictish Wed 08-May-13 10:18:06

She has done a very thorough job of making sure he feels responsible for her in every way.

This will never change.

Even if he hates her behaviour, he will still feel that it is his duty to accept it. Forever.

badtasteyoni Wed 08-May-13 10:19:19

I would seriously ask myself if he is worth it - this woman could (potentially) cause you misery for the next 20 years.

And although it isn't his 'fault', he is bound to have issues after putting up with her for so long. Do you really want this woman to be the grandmother of your children?

piprabbit Wed 08-May-13 10:20:47

She is also recently bereaved, possibly suffering from depression and leaning heavily on her only child.

I not saying it is healthy or a good basis for a long term relationship, but you need to tread very, very carefully if you don't want to end up as the bad guy.

badtasteyoni Wed 08-May-13 10:21:05

Sorry x posted with you. It's even worse if he's an only child. He is her sole focus and always will be.

schobe Wed 08-May-13 10:22:16

I know a couple of people in this situation and it's very, very difficult indeed.

The ONLY thing that can make the dynamic workable is for the partner who is the child of this person/these people to have worked out clear boundaries. However this is extremely rare and often only works if they are prepared to go no contact.

It has blighted my one friend's relationship to the point where they barely stagger on together and the partner (toxic people's son) is a hypochondriachal, anxiety-ridden, borderline abusive mess. There is this awful cycle he goes through of rationality and seeing his parents for what they are, followed by nagging doubts where he starts to wonder if they are in fact right all along. This is followed by him tormenting my friend as perhaps SHE is the real problem and his parents are right. They have kids unfortunately. It's pretty awful.

schobe Wed 08-May-13 10:22:38

yy - both cases I know are only children.

Badvoc Wed 08-May-13 10:22:39

She is a narc and that will not change

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 08-May-13 10:23:32

She's not in excellent health though, is she? 'Healthy' people don't seek to manipulate through emotional blackmail or suicide threats.

Whether through grief over losing his father or a determination to hang onto him because he "owes" her, she exerts massive influence over him.

If he doesn't see this and move now, I mean physically relocate to at least put geographical distance between them, you have no chance. Even then I think she will pose a big problem.

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 10:28:35

I have no experience of this. I come from a big family who shout rather than manipulate.
So, practically, what do I have the right to expect?
a) He gets the keys back.
b) He commits to, and mentions to his mother, moving away from the area.
c) He gets counselling to learn the appropriate response to her behaviour.

Can those things? Is that enough to be going on with?

wonderingagain Wed 08-May-13 10:30:23

She's obviously got him. I wonder if the only thing you could do is a trial separation - him and his mother. Tell him you want him to have no contact with her for 6 months to see how she reacts. Tell her what you are going to do, be upfront and see what happens. It's only 6 months. It's not like you are asking him never to see her again.

badtasteyoni Wed 08-May-13 10:31:06

So do you want to move away from the area then? It seems a bit drastic if that's the only reason for doing so....

Personally I think all your 'asks' are perfectly reasonable, but even if he does all of those things, she isn't going to disappear in a puff of smoke - she will fight back big time, and you will be the focus of her wrath, since in her eyes it will all be your fault.

badtasteyoni Wed 08-May-13 10:32:21

And there's also the issue of if he wants to distance himself from her.

piprabbit Wed 08-May-13 10:35:52

Why are you focusing on him getting the keys back? You don't live with him do you, or did I misunderstand? How is her having keys to his house affecting you?

Moving away seems a huge step - presumably you both have jobs in the area? And you have only been together for 6 months.

Are you actually engaged? I can see that you would want ground rules before moving in together and getting married, but if you aren't yet engaged you might be jumping the gun a little.

The counselling seems a reasonable request and should help with your first two issues too.

Holy fuck, I thought my MIL was bad. That is a whole lot of crazy you have to contend with.

Do what hully says.

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 10:36:30

I live in the city. He lives in the suburbs near his mother just outside the city, so moving would be moving to where I live. We basically operate two homes together at the moment.

How much he wants to change things will be the issue. How will I know if he really does? He says he does, but he hasn't, so... The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, right

Are there any happy endings to this situation?!!!?

wonderingagain Wed 08-May-13 10:39:34

Your action points are bound to add a long-term feud to the situation. She will play the long game, so will he, you will never know if he means it.

My suggestion would give you the answer within 6 months.

If he actually says she is crazy and manipulative he actually wants to break free but you may have to be more forceful.

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 10:39:56

Moving away would not be such a huge step. It would be him moving from Surrey, where he and his mother live, to London, where I live and we both work.

DumSpiroSpero Wed 08-May-13 10:40:13

Good luck with getting keys back - I had to do that with my MIL and got a stream of abuse that actually filled an entire answer phone tape back in the olden days

Ultimately it is his handling of his mother that will be the issue. I'd tell him your concerns and maybe give it six months to assess if he's up to dealing with her behaviour appropriately. If he's not, or you've still got doubts call it a day.

My DH and I have been together nearly 17 years but the amount of stress his mother has caused and the number of times I've nearly walked because of her behaviour and his inability to stand up to her is really not funny... and he's not even the only child - I am!

badtasteyoni Wed 08-May-13 10:43:54

I would be worried that he had been happy to put up with the situation until you came along. I would worry that could mean he is happy being her little boy unless he has another woman to look after him/run his life for him.

Why has he allowed the situation to get so bad in the first place? And how do you know that he's not been through the same conversations with every ex who's gone before you?

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 08-May-13 10:47:28

at the point he's about to arrange an appointment, she calms down and he decides to wait and see

Step one, gently point out she won't sustain peace and calm, because she'll ramp things up with every new stage of your relationship - say, going on holiday together, moving in together, and so on.

Step two, assure him it isn't about separating them, it's about him managing their relationship, get it back to an even keel.

This has been going on a good while since before you came on the scene.

I think the danger is you start off being reasonable and he knows it, but there'll come a point at which he begins to question whether in fact he is swapping one controlling woman for another.

wonderingagain Wed 08-May-13 10:48:49

She will still have everyday contact on the phone - distance won't help. He needs to make the break himself so that she finds someone else to depend on or becomes more independent.

cjel Wed 08-May-13 10:56:16

I'd worry he has no intention of changing things. He has asked for keys but gives up, gives lip service to counselling then doesn't. Pacifies every time she threatens. He wanted you to meet to see how you would cope with what shes like not to change her. I think you need big heart to heart. give him a week to get keys, a month to book counselling and if he doesn't you have your answer.

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 10:57:45

He says she's got a lot worse since his father died two years ago. Then her sister died the following year and her best friend died just before Christmas. BUT, he says she's always been crazy. He can't seem to decide whether the new level of crazy is a permanent or temporary state.

Thanks for the responses. I need to find a way to tell him that our future depends on him changing the dynamic between him and his mother. It's just finding a way to say it that will make him understand.

"his instincts seem to be to pacify her, rather than stop the crazy"

This is why no matter how much you work on the relationship, it is not going to work, as he will never stand up to her, or find his back bone.

I also advice you to break it off with him.

Remember, when "evaluating" a new man, it is not just HIM, his family is part and parcel. This man, with this mother, is too much trouble.

wonderingagain Wed 08-May-13 11:08:21

That's why I suggest a 6 month total contact break. It's likely that after a few weeks she will start looking for another victim to manipulate. She may turn in on herself but perhaps that's exactly what she needs. She may find her own strength to survive. God my Mum's so the opposite. Never wants help, the occasional lift to the doctors, never demands attention, happy in her own company, happy in others. She lives alone, lots of bereavement of friends and family but she would never burden us with anything. She has friends who help her out because they want to, not because they have to.

NoHank Wed 08-May-13 11:09:42

Can I ask, how do you know she is saying and thinking these things about you? Who told you she thinks you are a "slutty monster"? Has she said these things to you or is your DP passing on every negative comment she has supposedly said about you and telling you all about it?

And if it is your DP passing on these conversations is he saying what he has said in response to them? Personally if someone was saying these things about me to my DH I would be expecting him to be setting them straight in no uncertain terms that is was unacceptable to talk about a person he loved in that way and if it carried on he would be ceasing contact with them until they learned to at least respect me.

CarpeVinum Wed 08-May-13 11:12:27

but his instincts seem to be to pacify her, rather than stop the crazy

You can't stop the crazy. I wasted five years trying to stop the crazy, but discovered the bipolar 1 diagnosis and came around to the idea that I was never going to be able to control her behavoir with the normal techniques.

What you can do is

a) ask yourself if the loving you are getting is worth the fucking over you are going to get, regular and often.

b) ask youself if you are willing to conceed lots. and lots, and lots rather than have the man ypu love spend the next twenty odd years feeling torn in two. If neither of those options sound doable. Leave now.

c) ask youself how many years you can manage slowly unteaching him all the Pavlov dog responses he has been taught since before he could walk. Now double that. Now double it again. Can you do it ? All the while knowing that at best it will be 2 steps forward and 1.97 back, perhaps forever.

I love my husband, I love our son, I don't want a do over if it means I wouldn't have them. So it's just as well I had no crystal ball back when we were pretty young things. Or I would have run <screaming> for the hills.

She might just be a pretty unpleasant person. But looking at the description I'd leave room for the possibility of a pretty severe and probably untreated (or untreatable) personality and/or mood disorder.

If so, that is going to make life with him something of an uphill battle compared to everybody else you know. And it can be tough. Really really tough. None of the normal "dealing with badly behaved people and their unwitting enablers" will work if she is unwell. Not much works really. Well apart from pulling the duvet over your head from time to time and having a good sob. grin

My mother in law died on the last day of 2012. After 18 years together, that was when my husband and I as a couple finally got to be anything like a priority.

He's worth it. But dear god the tears, crisis, drama and exhustion getting here has knocked quite a lot of stuffing out of the pair of us.

You can't turn off love like it was water out of a tap. So if you want to be with him, then be with him. But ...brace yourself love, cos from the sounds of it you are in for a bit of a rollar coaster with his mum.

oldwomaninashoe Wed 08-May-13 11:12:37

This is very difficult and you are never going to win in this situation. Your DP and his Mother have a much longer relationship than you and him the dynamic has developed over years and now she is on her own he is her primary focus and she is telling herself and him all these dreadful things about you in an effort to convince herself and hopefully him that you are indeed dreadful.

Can you cope with it? because you will never ever win. Are you able to bite your tongue and turn the other cheek until she she pops her clogs, or your DP finally has enough and is forced to "choose".

My Dsis had exactly this situation, she spent every weekend of her early married life with her DH at his Mothers 100 miles away (he was an only child she was a widow) because there was always a "problem".
Things stepped up a gear when the first DC was born as they did not have the time to continue with the visits. She demanded to move locally to them, it was arranged.
The "demands" grew more frequent as did the suicide threats. She attempted suicide (thinking my BIL would be round as per usual by a certain time and would find her) He was called into work urgently and didn't call round until much later by which time he found her in a coma from which she never recovered.

I cannot describe to you the effect it had on my BIL and my Dsis. I am not saying similar will happen to you.
But think very carefully about your feelings for him and whether you have the stomach for the possible outcomes of her behaviour, before you get deeper into this.
It is possible he will always ultimately defer to his Mother it is all he has ever known, can you cope with that longterm?

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 11:21:37

The "slutty monster" thing is me paraphrasing.
I asked him to tell me exactly what she said about me because I though it was best to know exactly what I was dealing with.

They now have an agreement not to discuss me any more and all he's done in response is point out that she always says those things about his girlfriends.

The advice I've received in RL so far is to stay away and don't say anything that might even slightly imply that his mother is less than wonderful. Perhaps I shouldn't have followed that advice. I have pointed out that I think her behaviour is unacceptable, but haven't yet had a proper talk about her. That will happen now.

DumSpiroSpero Wed 08-May-13 11:23:15

Carpe has described living in this situation so well, her post is something to really think about when you decide where your relationship may be going.

<<Carpe I may hunt you down for advice next time my MIL has one of her narc fits wink >>

DontmindifIdo Wed 08-May-13 11:29:31

Well, the obvious solution to moving away is he rents out his place for 6 months and moves in with you. No point running two houses, the keys would be irrelevant then, why would she need keys to a house her DS doesn't live in? And you can insist she doesn't get keys to your house/flat. Do'nt give up your house and move in with him. It has to be on your turf and you to be the independent one - remember this way round if your relationship ends, it's easier for you to throw him out to go back to his mum's until his tenants move out.

I agree that killing her with kindness is a good way to go, but she won't change. Your DP's reaction to her might change, but in my experience, adult children of parents like this only change after something big. the low level stuff now that you see as unreasonable is just the way he's been raised, this is his normal, it will take her going mental over something for him to see it. If she never does that, then he'll never see that it's that bad.

TippiShagpile Wed 08-May-13 11:34:56

How old is he?

If he's 45 then I'd run for the hills.

If he's 25 I'd give it a while and see how it goes and whether he will change.

My dh is mil's favourite child and my relationship with her has been tough at times. I had some amazing advice on MN a few years ago about this (different name) and as a result I changed my attitude towards her. DH is completely on side and that helps hugely. I call her on her rudeness but generally am kindness and jollity personified when she's around. It's hard work sometimes and I can see my children looking at me as if to say "Why are you doing that ridiculous sing song voice mummy?"

I have the upper hand in the relationship now and she knows that. In some ways it's not a great way to be (I'm not like this in any of my other relationships) but it's worked as a strategy for me.

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 11:36:16

carpe How do you deal with your partner? Is he able to be open and honest about his feelings or does he respond best to emotional blackmail and manipulation?

It's hard because I know that if we fought my family would tell me to go and sort it out and make up, but his would tell him that it was all my fault and he should cut his losses. I am trying to see how a relationship can work when someone so close to it desperately wants it to fail.

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 11:36:40

He's 35. BTW

I think you will find there is a reason why he is 35 and single. His mum.

I bet many a woman have been in your position, been demonized by his mum, seen sense and cut their losses.

Leverette Wed 08-May-13 11:54:43

Next time she makes a suicide threat, just call 999 or her GP. Your DP needs to see a psychotherapist to explore his relationship with his mum and gain professional support in setting firm boundaries around his own life or cutting her off entirely.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 08-May-13 12:10:16

Maybe your DP's father kept her in check, maybe she was too busy dominating him to pester DP. Plenty of people are single at 35 without a demanding parent in tow.

I think several bereavements over a 2 year period would be devastating to well-balanced personalities. She does focus on her only child to an unhealthy extent so I foresee a long difficult road ahead OP.

Does he know you may end it over his mum? I take it all his overs went by the wayside because of her?

I'm not sure I could cope. It's ok him saying yes to counselling then not going. He needs to take charge of his life. Has he read any literature on toxic parents? Here's one book but I'm sure others can recommend some books/websites?

Website here The Lighthouse.

Is this familiar?

Meant others not overs.

Snorbs Wed 08-May-13 12:32:16

I'm not saying this is necessarily the best approach but it's one I'd consider:

Next time she makes a suicide threat, make her mental health the only topic of conversation and strongly encourage her to get professional help. Next time she throws a tantrum then, with your head on one side and with sympathy dripping from your voice, say "You see, this is what I was talking about befure. I'm really worried about how worked up you get over such unimportant matters. I really do think you need to see a doctor. Would you like DP to help arrange it?"

In other words, re-frame the story about her disproportionate behaviour from something she claims she is doing in response to you/your DP, and instead call it for what it is - a dysfunctional mental health issue.

Whatever you do though you need to have DP on-side. It's very hard to stand up to an abusive parent because he's grown up with this kind of thing and that makes it very hard to take the mental step back and really see the insidiousness of it all. If you present a united front then you have a hope. If you don't, then she will continue trying to drive a wedge between you.

deXavia Wed 08-May-13 12:45:11

totally agree with Carpe especially ... ask youself if you are willing to conceed lots. and lots, and lots rather than have the man you love spend the next twenty odd years feeling torn in two. If neither of those options sound doable. Leave now.

We have had Christmas' ruined, DH being accused of loving his firstborn more than he loves his DM (at which point she let go of the pram at the top of a hill on a main road), we have had trips cancelled (we live abroad - oh the relief, and oh my god the guilt) and we have occassionally discovered that she has locked her self in her flat and its all gone horribly horribly wrong.

For me - the saving grace is my DH realised early on he couldn't live his life like this, well before we met. Still its only now 11 years on for us and some 20 years since he left home that we have a balance. He called in doctors, he has set up support with social services - in other words he has called her bluff. Medication has helped with the depression, but some of it is frankly attention seeking and drama so he has forced counselling on her which keeps things on a steady keel most of the time.

Only your DP knows whether this is as serious as this - with possibly underlying medical issues - or if this is someone who is just use to having her own way and being unpleasant. But IMO unless he is willing to work that out and deal with it, the impact on your life could be huge.

CarpeVinum Wed 08-May-13 13:02:17

carpe How do you deal with your partner? Is he able to be open and honest about his feelings or does he respond best to emotional blackmail and manipulation?

Deal? Ha! Oh that it were something you dealt with rather than lurched from low point to end of tether-itus with. grin

I guess he does respond well to emotional blackmail. Ought to, he had a full 45 years of training right from when he was a few days old. I stopped any kind of "deal with her this way or I'll....." pretty early on. I didn't want to pile more of what she did on him. I wanted him to know something honest, rational, fair and...actual love in action rather than just an empty word used as a chain and padlock. He knew when I was feeling squashed, highly insulted (I am/was just like the SS, Gestapo in the shagtastic suspenders of an English whore doncha know) and frankly at the end of my rope. But we sort of just muddled through, with rows, tears and screaming mathces as part of the landscape when things got too much. But then, he also knew that I felt for him. Cos I knew it must be so hard loving somebody who only knows how to manipulate in return.

He is still grieving right now. She's only been dead since just after xmas. But pretty much I think the reason why things have been so good (even with grief factoered in) is becuase we aren't repeating the cycle thanks to bad habits cultivated during her lifetime. Perfect we are not, but the foundation of our interactions are based on real feelings rather than "cunning plans" being put into actions.

I think pretty much if you want this you either accept you will come trailing at the end of priorities (not becuase he loves you less, but becuase he fears her love more and has never known anything different.) or you do what all the rest of us do. Spend several years fighting it oly to end up in a knackered, dispirted, almost broken heap and face up to being the "model of good love" while wiping all the crap thrown at you off your face at regular inverals. and fantasise about dancing on her grave

Which incidentally you don't get to do. Well I didn't. Problem with people this ill is that when they get old and frail almost no OAP home will touch them with a disinfected bardgepole.

So it is.

As incensed as she got me, can't spend that long with somebody depending on you, even if their gratitude level is sub zero...and not get some kind of attachement.

One of the biggest irritations I have is that I ended up feeling so sorry for her. For the good, healthy life she didn't have becuase of the way she wad. And bits of my heart got a bit squished when she died, cos that meant all last hopes of a tiny slice of "better" were gone.

You want nice, clear, simple answers. Which is hugely understandable.

The problem is, there aren't any. If she is ill or this is chosen, but deeply ingrained, behavoir, it's pretty much over bar the shouting at this point. This is how she will be, your love interest will likely keep repeating the habits of an entire lifetime, you will probably keep searching for solutions that don't exisit.

Untill you give in, accept, and work with what you've got rather than what you wished you had.

Nothing going to help except time and experience and .... a mule like stubboness that she isn't going to ruin your relationship with her son.

And maybe running screaming for the hills. That might help. I wouldn't blame you if you did. Make sure he is worth it love. Becuase it is quite possibly going to be very expensive emotionally, loving this man longterm.

HerrenaHandbasket Wed 08-May-13 14:16:13

Great post carpe. Depressing as all hell, but very clear and honest. You've got some good advice here op.

What carpe wrote earlier.

Your man is also part of the problem here.

I would not want to continue a relationship with this man, he is too closely enmeshed with his mother and he cannot or will not let go. Theirs is a dysfunctional relationship; one that you will never have peace with.

TheRealFellatio Wed 08-May-13 14:34:55

So do you only know all of this because he has told you that is what she has said? Only she seems to know a lot about your background and your shortcomings, for someone who only just met you! Or did she actually say any of this to your face, or what it just a vibe you got from little passive aggressive things she said directly to you? I think it's quite important to distinguish between what is actually being said to who here. If all of this is third hand from your boyfriend I'd say you have a bit of a problem on your hands with him to be honest.

Xales Wed 08-May-13 14:39:33

The inheritance/money thing is easy to deal with.

You have only been together 6 months so if you are planning on living together you draw up legal documents to protect what is yours and what is his. And you say this in front of her as you are worried about him getting your assets to shut her up. You should be doing this anyway.

She does not get a key to any joint place you live - non negotiable.

The rest can only be dealt with if your P is willing and involved. If not it will destroy your relationship and you are better cutting your losses now.

OldRichandGrateful Wed 08-May-13 15:50:24

OP, unless you love this man unconditionally, if you stay with him your life will become more and more miserable, controlled by DM. Imagine the drama if you had a baby.

At 35, I suspect he has had a string of girlfriends who were too "slutty" to be with her precious boy. I also suspect DM has no intention of letting him go. In a few short years, he will either move back in with her or have her move in with him to provide "care". You will only be free of her influence when she dies.

You cannot change the way a person behaves - you can only change the way you respond.

I think you have already made your mind up about this relationship. You know it's going nowhere with him.

Playerpleeeese Wed 08-May-13 17:33:07

Op I have been in exactly your situation with my ex, I could have wrote your post. Even down to the 'your too common' when my family are quite obviously better off (don't mean to sound smug or anything! But it was so weird.)

If he's 35 and still like this with her, id cut your losses and run. You will never come first, imagine having children with him, it would be a nightmare.

SilverOldie Wed 08-May-13 18:21:58

I went out with a man in his 30s with a mother like this. Only son and on the train up to stay with her for the weekend, he wouldn't have a beer in case she smelled it on his breath. On arrival her first words to me were ' I suppose you made him grow this' referring to his beard. No, I replied, it was his his choice - disbelieving looks from her.

When complimenting her on some antique furniture in her home, was told not to touch as very precious. Shame I didn't have a pick axe with me at the time smile.

These women never change and your DP is unlikely to find the guts to put his mother in her place.

Your choice but I would move on.

WarmFuzzyFun Wed 08-May-13 19:00:21

What Silver said 'These women never change and your DP is unlikely to find the guts to put his mother in her place. '

Easy for us to say but difficult for you to walk away.

BlueSkySunnyDay Wed 08-May-13 19:44:56

Unless he is the nicest man in the world I seriously advise cutting your losses.

DH only child of widowed mother, we have had hell with her over the years. She is all sweetness and light to her friends but is very demanding to us - frequently putting us down and telling everyone how we neglect her.

In the past when she fell out with me she would give us the silent treatment until H apologised (which he always did) she is NEVER in the wrong. Last year she lost a 40 year friendship because she was rude to a friend who was trying to help her - she now tells people "I really dont know what happened" - bullshit if that were the case she would have tried to find out!!

A few years ago when being difficult she upset both the children, this was the tipping point for H and he does take a much harder line with her now.

I love H and I love my children but honestly if I had know when I met him what I know now I dont think the relationship would have gone further than a few dates.

Hissy Wed 08-May-13 20:11:56

Honestly? End it.

It's not worth it.

He won't stand up to her, she's abusing you left right and centre and he's not doing anything about it.

End it. 6m is not that big a deal. You can and should walk away. You will end up hating her, hating your life, and resenting him for being spineless. or serving time for her murder

Perhaps IF you mean that much to him, he'll see that you ending it means he HAS to step up.

Hissy Wed 08-May-13 20:14:24

Talking about marrying in a relationship of 6m?

You ARE crazy. Don't be an idiot.

wonderingagain Wed 08-May-13 20:16:25



GetOrfMoiLand Wed 08-May-13 20:25:58

Oh, sod him. Get out of it and meet someone normal. Plenty more fish in the sea and all that.

Because he is not a passive bystander in this and how it is making yo so unhappy. It may seem so but it is an active passiveness. He will spend the rest of the time placating her and ignoring you.

Leave them to it and find someone who doesn't have a family that can make you feel so miserable after six short months. Don't bother trying to fix this family. They don't wan to be fixed. Find a non-broken one to join and one where they will welcome you.

pictish Wed 08-May-13 20:27:34

And so say all of us!

deedotty Wed 08-May-13 20:35:01

What GetOrfMoiLand said, last paragraph.

I've just stopped being interested in a very attractive man as his situation hints at being slightly similar. Back on internet dating, no harm done and a few notches on the bedpost....From past experience, even another year of singledom would be fine compared to the horror of Clingy MIL type.

Fact is, by a certain age, if a man hasn't made the decision to stop being Norman fucking Bates, you can't fix it without throwing your own emotions and sanity under a bus. Don't waste your time!

GetOrfMoiLand Wed 08-May-13 20:36:10

You could find someone with a lovely family. I know the horrible mother in law thing is a popular theme but you could end up with a lovely set of in laws who you could really cherish. Life is hard enough some times without marrying into guaranteed years of strife and heartache.

Minifingers Wed 08-May-13 20:59:39

Can I just say that for the first two years following my father's death my mother was an absolute nightmare. She was judgemental, angry, self pitying and just really, really difficult. I can't imagine what it would have been like if I'd been an only child.

2 years is nothing in terms of a major bereavement. My mum was a different person before my dad died. Slowly she's getting some sort of life back now, 3 years on, but it's hard for her. She is old and lonely and frightened. She knows her behaviour alienates us but she can't stop herself doing it.

My advice to you would be to put yourself in her shoes. She is afraid and probably very sad still.

2rebecca Wed 08-May-13 21:03:29

I would end it. He is too close to his mother and should never have moved back to live near her. The only way to deal with manipulative parents is to move away and see less of them. He is unwilling to do that and not even willing to change the locks on his house to keep that private. Grief isn't an excuse for nasty manipulative behaviour 2 years down the line. I suspect if you ask him she was always like that and has just got worse recently.

2rebecca Wed 08-May-13 21:04:41

My father's personality hardly changed. he was quieter and sadder for a while but not nasty and threatening suicide.

deedotty Wed 08-May-13 21:25:39



OP, looks like we're "ganging up and telling you to break up" but I think a lot of us are posting from the "we STARTED with good intentions but realised it really REALLY wasn't fucking worth it" perspective?

Maybe its related to my own mother issues (OH YES, IF I MANAGE TO DEAL WITH HER IT WILL REDEEM MY OWN DIFFICULT MOTHER SITUATION) but I thought I could pacify or be nice or manage it would all be fine and I'd win her approval... hmm - I was young then...blush

But the woman was just like an emotional black hole who hated the person she had become, thought of her son as her surrogate husband, there was NO solution to be had apart from getting away.

Hissy Wed 08-May-13 21:34:39

"Fact is, by a certain age, if a man hasn't made the decision to stop being Norman fucking Bates, you can't fix it without throwing your own emotions and sanity under a bus. Don't waste your time!"

Jumps up and down on the <like> button.

<Glues phone back together>

AlwaysWashing Wed 08-May-13 21:39:27

Run for the bloody hills.

Darkesteyes Thu 09-May-13 00:08:44


RUN silent
RUN fast
RUN hard.
RUN deep.

But the keyword here is ......RUN!

WafflyVersatile Thu 09-May-13 00:30:27

Christ so much sympathy for women who struggle to get over ingrained though processes from being in abusive relationships and so little sympathy for someone struggling to get over ingrained thought processes when they come from his mum from childhood.

OP if you can't quite get him to counselling in a timely fashion why not look into some books for him to read of the 'stop walking on eggshells' 'toxic parents' variety to get him started.

Cerisier Thu 09-May-13 00:30:37

Great posts from Carpe. Very depressing though.

Darkesteyes Thu 09-May-13 02:07:41

Juniper many thanks for the link you put on this thread. A lot of the stuff on the Lighthouse fits my DM.

OP if you do dump him, be kind and let him know why. Maybe he'll take it to heart and put her in her place and stop her from ruining his life and chances at a future wife and family.
Not sure how you'd tell someone "I'm dumping you because you Mum is a psycho bitch from hell" but I'm sure you can put it better. She's turning him into Norm Bates all they need is a Motel, or maybe a B&B

rootypig Thu 09-May-13 02:26:25

I have a difficult MIL, though not nearly so bad as this - she has been welcoming in her own batshit way. DH is her only child.

I consider myself fairly emotionally literate but I never could have dreamed how she would test my sanity and my marriage in the short time that DH and I have been together.

OP, I urge you to walk away.

rootypig Thu 09-May-13 02:28:17

beautiful post Carpe

CheerfulYank Thu 09-May-13 02:35:43

I would suggest, as someone else did, that he move in with you and rent his place out.

Then she ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT get keys to yours.

If he's not willing, there you go.

CarpeVinum Thu 09-May-13 08:19:35

What is with all the "Norman Bates" and other negative adjective victim shaming bollocks ?

By and large in these sorts of situations you are looking at the adults who were trained from infancy to defer to their "difficult" parent regardless of reasonableness, regardless of personal cost. They typically never got to be the centre of their own universe, because from the get go they have always been extras or supporting actors in the soap opera of the protagonists making.

If I took you right now and told you that everything you knew and understood in personal relationships was wrong, black is white, white is black and change your thinking, emotional reactions and coping strategies right this minute...could you ? Could you really undo a lifetime of training, learning and fully formed ingrained habits in a matter of months on somebody else's' say so?

I am not saying the reality of how these children of the "difficult" is reason to hurl oneself under a bus in the name of being nice. However a little compassion for how people grew up and became the mother/father appeasing at all costs adults they are in the now wouldn't go amiss.

Nobody here (I hope) would cast aspersions on a woman who had her reactions, thinking and self imaged altered by years of emotional abuse.

Yet a former child who grew under a cloud of emotional abuse and yes, it may not be deliberate, but that is exactly what it is, is fair game ?


And OP for the love of God please don't take that as a reason why you should stick it out to "heal" him. Any healing will come with time, so much of it that you couldmrun out of lifetime, let alone patience and energy, before you get to a point where the bandages can come off.

It is likely that you are not in love with a man who "just" needs to handle his mum's demands and hysteronics better, but the adult form of a child who has been emotionally abused for his entire lifetime. And that is a massive undertaking. You absolutly shouldn't go into this unless you can do it knowing that changes, even small changes are far far from guarenteed and you could end up walking away utterly defeated (through no fault of your own having given a 100% to make it work) after ten years feeling like you just hurled a decade of your life down the toilet.

It won't be your fault if it fails, nor his. It won't even be his mother's if she has little to no control over the way she is. Unfortunatly the lack of blame available is no help at all when picking your way through the rubble of the aftermath.

CarpeVinum Thu 09-May-13 08:21:02


Nobody here (I hope) would cast aspersions on a woman who had her reactions, thinking and self imaged altered by years of spousal emotional abuse.

wonderingagain Thu 09-May-13 08:50:54

This is why a no contact period might help. It would force her to either find an alternative crutch or victim or if possible to take a good hard look at herself and gain some self respect and independence. I wonder if she lets go of him he will be able to recover?

Darkesteyes you're welcome. Sorry your DM is like this though.

WafflyVersatile Thu 09-May-13 09:24:14

Well said carpe

goonyagoodthing Thu 09-May-13 11:01:56

Carpe I like you wink

OP my story is something similar, although not quite as severe, as your own. I stuck with "Norman Bates" and it was very, very hard going. 11 years later things are good. I quietly fought my corner. And I won. It took a bloody long time. And there were loads of rows and arguments but we are fairly solid now and the shit behavior from MIL has mostly stopped.

This is probably the most coined phrase on MN but get yourself a copy of the book Toxic In Laws. When I read it I laid off my DH a bit because it shows you that this is ingrained into them since the day they were born. This behavior, while to you and the rest of the world is crazy, to him is normal. He knows no better. Now there does come a time where he has to step up and be a husband as well as being a son.

It is not an easy road OP and there were times I regretted the day I ever met them but the good times now outweigh the bad.

There was an incident on our wedding day from MIL that changed my outlook on things. I won't go into it all now but the following morning I got up and thought to myself "She might have won the battle but I will win the war". And I did.

The very best of luck. If you think he is worth it, give him a chance. I hope it turns out well for you.

CarpeVinum Thu 09-May-13 11:14:49

Carpe I like you

Why thank you, we can form a DIL's surviving not all that well balanced MILs mutual admiration society grin I dibs being tea maker and cheif bottle washer.

If we are giving out book recommendations can I also chuck out Emotional Vampires

It is hardly a definitive academic text, but the oft aserbic tone does give some peace in reconciling understandable anger and the knowledge that somebody is not particularly well emotionally or mentally, and the guilty feeling that their ills should always come before one's own need to not be sent quietly (well, rather noisely in my case) into a tailspin of involantary misery and self sacrifice.

DHtotalnob Thu 09-May-13 14:07:10

Off track, but

LifeofPo - still laughing. Thank you smile

Hissy Thu 09-May-13 19:48:58

"Nobody here (I hope) would cast aspersions on a woman who had her reactions, thinking and self imaged altered by years of spousal emotional abuse."

I was abused for 10 years. Longer if you count my parents.

If we take responsibilty for the condition we find ourselves in, and deal with it, reading, talking, counselling, then we can reverse the damage.

No amount of abuse is a reason for this womand to slag off her DS girlfriend.

I don't go round being a total bitch to people around me (unless they attack ME, of course)

Upshot is, no woman, man or gold-plated alien is worth being belittled, humiliated or terrorised for.

Not after 6 days, 6 months, or 6 years.

OP is not responsible for her Boyf, he is responsible for his own journey in life. He'll find the path if he chooses to.

Hissy Thu 09-May-13 19:52:10

One thing's for sure. He won't find it by being supported in enabling his DM. He won't find it by some other poor deluded person thinking theyt can make a difference.

Methren Thu 09-May-13 21:28:04

OP, it is worth considering that this woman's behaviour may have an impact on your relationship with your DP that extends beyond your interactions with her or the extent of your DP's involvement in her life.

My MIL has long history of behaviour patterns that are similar to those of your DP's mother. This has left a lasting legacy on my DH's ability to form and manage healthy relationships - because the most important and formative relationship of his childhood, his relationship with his mother, was dysfunctional.

Some of his ongoing issues are:
1.He has low self-esteem - because he was constantly told that he wasn’t measuring up to his mother’s expectations of how a loving son should act. This is coupled with a need for external validation/approval in order to boost his self-esteem.

2.He is a people-pleaser, and finds it very difficult to say no to requests from others at work, but hugely resents any demands/requests that are made.

3.He has a well-developed sense of entitlement, learned from MIL’s fixed belief that the world should revolve around her.

4.Intellectually and in calm moments, he can see through MIL’s antics. However under pressure, he reverts to all of MIL’s nastiest behaviours – because this is what he learned and saw modelled as a child.

I’m not saying every child of a parent like this will be affected in this way, but it takes a very robust personality to grow up around this level of dysfunction and not be adversely affected by it. It has taken my DH over a decade to reach the point where he can start detaching from his mother’s behaviour and influence, and I think this has only been possible because we have lived abroad for many years. The psychological effects of my MIL’s behaviour have had a significant detrimental effect on our marriage which we have not yet fully overcome.

<And I like the sound of Carpe's DIL-survivor group - can I join?!>

CarpeVinum Thu 09-May-13 22:26:09

If we take responsibilty for the condition we find ourselves in

So it's ok to call an emotionally abused wife "gutless" and "stepford wife" if she hasn't taken responsibility, worked out that she is being abused and/or LTB ?

CarpeVinum Thu 09-May-13 22:37:14

Hands Methren nice shiney membership badge.

Mumsyblouse Thu 09-May-13 22:59:39

Methren your post really resonated with me, my husband is pretty much like this through growing up with exactly that type of emotional abuse.

The thing that has made it ok for me is that he will defend me to the hilt and makes sure our decisions are family decisions and no amount of histrionics from her will derail it. If he was trying to please her, it would be simply untenable (as never pleased!)

Snazzynewyear Thu 09-May-13 23:10:15

OP, the extent to which your DP is really on board with starting to work at changing this relationship, however hard it might be, is crucial here. So I think you will need to have the talk to decide what to do. Because you have to make that decision together for you to work as a couple, rather than you deciding what demands you can 'reasonably' present to him.

Carpevinum Haven't had to deal with this myself so not eligible to join the club but I've found your posts very eloquent and thought-provoking.

Hissy Fri 10-May-13 07:41:50

Carpe? Where did I say stepford? Or gutless? Hmm?

I know at first hand how terrifying abuse is, and emerging from it, but not once did I start attacking others. I fought for my son's confidence to retuern, for mine too. To live day in, day out with abuse going on means actually that you're strong to the point of herculean actually, just the mental crap confuses you so much, you can't see a way out. As for stepford? That's bollocks, Stepford wives want perfection. DV victims are afraid of the consequences if things aren't perfect (in the eyes of their abuser)

This old woman may have been a victim of abuse. She may ALSO be a complete cow. Being a victim of DV doesn't mean you're a good/nice person, although ALL the hundreds of women I've met haven't been. It's perfectly plausible that the DM isn't very nice.

Stop the DM's shitty behaviour, what it is and why is immaterial, The op doesn't have to put up with it.

NOBODY is worth THIS amount of crap.

Hissy Fri 10-May-13 07:44:27

Being a victim of DV doesn't mean you're a good/nice person, although ALL the hundreds of women I've met have been.

Sorry. Need more coffee!

CarpeVinum Fri 10-May-13 10:22:22

Carpe? Where did I say stepford? Or gutless? Hmm?

I didn't say you did.

You chose to respond to my post re "would you approve of the same victim shaming strategies and terminology for an emotionally abused spouse?". Only you know why it provoked a defensive response from you. I am many things, but mind reader is not one of them.

And I responded to that response.

Norman Bates/Stepford Wife.....are comparable and highly insensitive, ignorant, victim shaming, knee jerk, self satisfied put downs. IMO

The salient point being BOTH. Ditto gutless

But if you read the thread it is evident that some posters feel that if a person is the vicim of a lifetime of emotional abuse, has a penis and is old enough to grow facial hair ..."but, that's different" comes into play. And it is open season in characterising them as weak and pathetic. Likening them to a profoundly mentally ill, violent, irredeemable, monstrous, murderous fictional character being just fine and all that jazz.

My question is, how is it consistent/acceptable/appropriate for victim shaming the now grown children of emotionally abusive parents to go virtually unchallenged in this forum? A board where pejoratives in the context of wives of emotionally abusive men would justifiably provoke a Tsunami like challenge of unabated ignorance and Everest sized mountains of self satisfaction ?

In my view any attempt to victim shame anybody, whatever their gender, whatever the nature of their relationship with their abuser, is ... utterly ignorant of the reality the victims have been and are living in.

And I think too that people are glibly ignoring the societal context in which the former children of emotionally abusive parents live in. There is no NSPCC for adults, no version of women's aid for the grown children of EA parents.

Society has come a long way in changing its mind about divorce being deserving of social stigma, not so much on its stance of chanting "blood is thicker than water" and "the abandonment of poor little aged parents". If I had a euro for every person who discovered I am estranged from both my parents and one sibling who went on to intimate "but they will die and you will drown in a sea of regret forever more!!" I'd be spending a lot more time in IKEA than is probably good for me. Yet nobody has ever been anything other than cool with my taking a sledgehammer to my first marriage certificate. (bar my first husband)

This old woman may have been a victim of abuse. She may ALSO be a complete cow. Being a victim of DV doesn't mean you're a good/nice person, although ALL the hundreds of women I've met haven't been. It's perfectly plausible that the DM isn't very nice

In terms of where the OP is right now it is more useful IMO to point out that she should not go in to this on an assumption that the potential MIL is "just an old cow". That she may get a nasty shock by expecting that behaviours can be modified or managed. That her love interest may have been irrevocably conditioned to react in one fixed way. That it is equally as likely that he isn't "just being a bit too soft" on his mum and both can and will sort himself out just as soon as the errors of his ways are pointed out to him. That the issues may be a damn sight more complicated and cemented into place and solutions that she can live with could well turn out to be very thin on the ground.

I think it is essential that she is aware of just how profoundly fixed the dynamic can be, and how normal strategies of behaviour modification may be as useful as a chocolate teapot. I think it is helpful for her to know that she may be letting herself in for a very very very long time of head/wall/bang with little to show for her efforts other than a bloody forehead.

She is in the early heady throws of romantic love, that is a powerful state which rarely responds to orders from strangers to "just leave him".

Stop the DM's shitty behaviour, what it is and why is immaterial, The op doesn't have to put up with it.

Quite. But...where has anybody suggested she should ? How much clearer a picture of how hard, how complicated, how pervasive, how exhausting, how depressing, how unsolvable, how enduring, how infuriating, how draining, how distressing being a DIL to this kind of MIL could me and my ilk have painted ? How much clearer could we have been that had we had a crystal ball prior to a profound emotional connection to our husbands we would have looked at what our lives were to become and ...probably run like fuck.

NOBODY is worth THIS amount of crap

IYO. My husband, my son. They were worth it. And as much as it will potentially irritate you that I have grudging and unwelcome compassion for "a cow", MIL was worth it too. She wasn't a monster, she was an ill human being. One I once had to talk myself out of smothering with a pillow by rerunning episodes of CSI in my head, but all the same, a human being. Who like it or lump it needed being taken care of and the state made it very clear it wasn't going to do it for us. In retrospect, with the help of hindsight, I am not sorry I did it. Although I am still not sure how I got through it without throwing myself off the roof or being arrested for strangling a "defenceless little old lady". But, sorry, no.

Does that mean I think the OP should throw herself under a bus into this newish relationship regardless of the challenges she will most likely face in terms of his mother's manipulations and her love interest's lifetime of conditioning to submit to her demands ?


Not least because knowing a husband was worth it is only something you discover in hindsight several decades later. It's a massive massive gamble, that perhaps you can only throw the dice on if you have no idea that you are playing roulette until it's too late. For every person who found a man to be worth it there are probably hundreds still licking their wounds after Herculean efforts for somebody who simply wasn't worth the pain they went through trying to chip away at the chains of a highly disfunctional child/parent relationship.

But I think anybody who has read my posts and come away with the impression that I am recommending full steam ahead has a reading comprehension issue potentially caused by their one tool toolbox.

Not every problem is a nail.

Which is why it is worth trying tweezers, spanners and scalpels as well as a plethora of hammers.

MrsLion Fri 10-May-13 12:35:34

I have a mil a bit like yours op. Controlling, manipulative, needy and very fond of emotional blackmail to get her own way. This has been a truly enlightening thread. There is great advice here op. Take it.

I really wish someone had said these things to me 7 years ago when i met dh. Not necessarily to leave, but so that I was more prepared for what having a mil like this entails.

I have to go but I will be back with more of my thoughts to add- am currently engaged in a war of my own. And, without hijacking this thread I love the idea of a dil support group. grin

TalkUsernameYoudLike Fri 10-May-13 15:32:43

Personally I'd run.

UltimaThule Fri 10-May-13 15:34:42

Don't even bother trying to overthink this one, OP.
It should be your partner overthinking ways to make things ok for you - this is out of your hands. Take it from those of us who have no control over our mothers-in-law.
If your partner isn't seeing a problem AND doing something about it, you're onto a loser. Sorry.

WarmFuzzyFun Fri 10-May-13 16:09:26


LemonDrizzled Fri 10-May-13 17:31:15

Methren and Carpe you have described brilliantly the dynamic and the process that forms the DS into the man. It has opened my eyes to how my XH could have had such low self esteem as well as being so entitled. And why at some level he dislikes women.

I am a survivor of such a MIL and I think I coped with her okay (mainly by distancing and humouring and avoiding any trigger topics)
In the end it was XH passive aggressive and EA behaviour that killed our marriage.

OP you have had some brilliant advice here. I think I would just add to you go very slowly and be sure your needs are being met in the relationship before you commit long term. Do not become a self sacrificing martyr to make her and DP happy at your own expense. It won't work!

Hissy Fri 10-May-13 20:17:24

Please don't lump my comments in with those of others, it gives the wrong impression of what they and I have said. They can speak for themselves. I'm not having a pop at you, but I think you are being too defensive of someone who is being absolutely vile. there is never a need for that.

When you have a H and a son it can be different. Op doesn't. She barely knows the guy, and he's already failing her by not standing up for her.

Oh I get why, but does it matter?

Short answer? No. It really doesn't.

the DP's DM will never be happy with OP, or any P the DP has, she will change the boundaries when it suits. DP, if he plays into this will only fuel his DM's behaviour.

If her P is not strong enough to stand up for his GF, he won't for his DC either, and who wants their kids to grow up with nasty GPs?

I say again, given a choice (which the OP most definitely has), it's not worth it. It's only 6m, nothing mega.

If she splits with him and is kind but honest as to why, perhaps it will give him the impetus to actually do something about it. For himself. For his future family, to break the chain of abuse. A strong dose of reality is needed, where DP states that no-one has the right to be so rude to people he cares for and if she can't say anything nice.... you know that rest.

My mother is not very nice tbh, her choice of H is shit too. I distance myself from the lot of them. For my sake and that of my son. better no-one than poisonous people sapping my confidence, while he looks on and watches/learns how his mum is treated. over and over. Enough!

I choose who is in my life on merit, not on blood group.

Hissy Fri 10-May-13 20:22:12

Oh I am aware that I do take a perhaps over simplistic view on things sometimes, but that's due to decades of people treating me like crap and weaving elaborate reasons as to why I ought to STFU about it and carry on letting them.

I now adopt a fairly rigorous zero tolerance, and it sorts the chaff out nicely.

This is why I say that no-one is worth that. I have spent hundreds in therapy (money I haven't even really got) to recover from people pulling me to shreds for their own emotional hard-ons.

Everyone has a perspective, I get your's Carpe, but I would hope too that you would see merit in mine. Precisely BECAUSE I love my son, is one of the reasons NOT to tolerate any kind of unkindness/disrespect or bullying. Why should he get to see that? We've suffered enough already. smile

UltimaThule Fri 10-May-13 20:24:14

Hissy you are so right.
(Actually one of the reasons I haven't been in therapy - yet - is that I really, really resent paying the cash, I think my family should be donating to a fund grin)

buildingmycorestrength Fri 10-May-13 20:26:12

kistanbul how are things?

Hissy Fri 10-May-13 20:32:54

grin I went to heal from the DV. That was a doddle, the shit my family threw at me was WAY harder to deal with.

I used to get really cross having to pay out so much when they could have just NOT been total bastards, the lot of them! So I can't change them, that's OK, but I certainly don't have to put up with them!


Nasty people have NO place in our lives, or of those we care about.

deedotty Fri 10-May-13 21:55:32

Good post Methren smile

In my experience, it's charming at the start that the men are SO eager to please. It's flatters ones ego to have some guy who is all "WOMAN, OH MY GOD, I AM OVERWHELMED! when you get together, who projects that real need for you?

(and they're SO vulnerable AND my inner martyr and comforter is tempted....grinshock)

Now that I'm older, I can pinpoint a lack of "naturalness" in interactions with women - where even the "being nice" part is driven by fear not love - and a LOT of hidden anger and passive aggressiveness?

I'd go so far as to say that in their careers (high achieving in competitive fields which you need to commit to fairly young) there was a strong element of "well I only did this to please Mummy, so I have a strained relationship with it". Not the kind of men who can "sit and be comfortable with themselves and their own choices"?

Chap I've been dating - we've spent a "first weekend" together. First time we've had any "non drunken/sociable time". Working abroad commitments meant we had to make it a "long one at his".

He switched between running round and having me on a pedestal hmm, and then having a resentful vibe and "shutting down" and not really interacting.

(We've been dating in a low key way for a short while, hardly know each other, and I'm pretty sure I'm a good house guest so I'm fairly certain its not me. Don't want to play Sherlock Holmes, but for someone 40 and a high flyer, his mother seems to organise a hell of a LOT of his practical stuff hmm).

Don't get me wrong - I'm old enough to be flexible, it was fairly civilised and the weekend was salvageable - I went sightseeing and notched up some good winkwinkblush time. But I can see it'd be a right fucking project to take him on for anything more in depth.

He didn't seem to be able to enter the "assertive/reasonable deal with your girlfriend as a PERSON" social territory. Didn't "naturally" know how to have a laid back 1-1 relationship or "downtime" with a non crazy woman, so either I'd have to (1) get crazy and controlling myself or (2) get all Project Mother Teresa on him.

deedotty Fri 10-May-13 22:04:45

Oh just forgot I found THIS article when looking for something else today. Seemed relevant to this thread!

wonderingagain Sat 11-May-13 08:42:15

My dp has a narc.mother. He detatched from her before I met him. I used to wonder why she spoke to him like a dog. We have 2 dcs and and no family connections on his side. They are all under her spell. It could be so much better. As a consequence he is quite detached and our relationship is not easy.

I would say run, far, far away. My nan was like this woman. She destroyed my parents marriage and my mother's mental health with it. At one point she actually lived with us. My parents were married for 20 years. My mum maintains that my dad was the love of her life, but those 20 years were hell on earth because of my nan. She died when I was 15, but by then the damage to my parents' relationship was done. They divorced a year later. I have my own issues with my nan, (who in their right mind calls their 7 year old grandaughter a slut? shockconfused). I would honestly get out now whilst you still can, no matter how much you love this man, his mother will ALWAYS come first, before you and before any children you may have in the future.

ImperialBlether Sat 11-May-13 11:32:05

OP, I'm another who would end it. He's 35 and has presumably had quite a few relationships. His mother has been like that with all of them. (Btw I think her bereavement is clouding the issue here - his mother was like this before her husband died.)

If you marry, you realise you will have her for Christmas every year? You realise she will want to come on holiday with you? If you have a child together she will do her best to spoil that happy time. She will get more frail, eventually. You will have to care for her. She is insulting and cruel and wishes her son hadn't met you but she will still want to be with him every weekend and every holiday. She will ruin things for you.

Think about it. He's had relationships and has not managed to 'manage' his mother. Do you really, really think he'll do it now?

I know it's awful to end a relationship where the man is lovely, but he has to be more than that - he has to be able to give you a lovely life together and he can't do that.

There are so many women with lovely in laws - hold out for a man with a family who will welcome you and cherish you.

Run, run as fast as you can!

Darkesteyes Sat 11-May-13 17:20:13

Imperial is right. She is toxic towards you but (and sorry for the bluntness) will very likely expect you to be the one to wipe her arse when she gets old.
The media only seem to cover carer abuse stories when its the carer doing the abusing but in a LOT of cases its the cared for who is being abusive. These are the cases we never get to hear about. The hidden statistics. If you stay with this man there is a good chance you will be one of these hidden statistics OP.

buildingmycorestrength Sat 11-May-13 17:36:54

My MIL emigrates tomorrow and I keep thinking I dodged a bullet with the geriatric care question. You never think of these things in the flush of young love but by God my life would have been awful. And she isn't even an awful MIL.

buildingmycorestrength Sat 11-May-13 17:37:50

Hasten to add I am not heartless and will probably end up caring for my own mum...just a reflection on the wisdom of some posters who have raised this thought.

Chottie Sat 11-May-13 19:36:25

You will have to love someone very, very much to accept there are 3 people in your marriage.......

IJustWoreMyTrenchcoat Mon 13-May-13 00:06:42

She is like my MIL, narcissistic and controlling. She likes to keep her sons and husband wrapped around her finger, despises me openly because I can see her for what she is. She is nice to my face, but slags me off to my partner and his brother. Once, just one she let her mask slip and sent me vitriolic text messages saying she hated me, didn't care if she ever saw me again etc.

Like your MIL, mine uses the guilt trip, how my partner has 'changed', how he used to be so much fun and now he is miserable. Apparently, nobody can believe how badly he treats her hmm. People like them have a script. You will come to know it very well if you stay with your partner, I know exactly how she will react to any situation, it is quite useful to be able to explain to my boyfriend how she will play a situation. I don't think people like her ever change so as others have said you need to decide if it is worth it.

In my case, I think it is. My boyfriend recognises her for what she is, admits she has made him miserable and does not want to continue like that. You will have to set out your stall and be firm, for instance we are expecting our first child and have told her we will not be at hers for Christmas. She had a meltdown at this, but we want our Christmas in our own house. He is definitely willing to distance himself a bit for the sake of our own family unit. This is something his brother is unwilling/unable to do - there is lots of money at stake which gets thrown around as a means of control (issue of inheritance also constantly raised). I couldn't give a toss what she does with her money, I want a happy stress-free life and am not going to put up with her BS just in case.

It hasn't been easy, she has caused a lot of tension in our relationship, but he is becoming better at ignoring her. He used to be really bothered about what her friends and family must think of him, I feel nobody who knows her well is unaware of her selfish side and people will take what she says with a pinch of salt. It will be harder for you as he is an only child, he may well find it much harder to step away.

I wish you luck, you will need it, but only you can decide if he is worth it.

IJustWoreMyTrenchcoat Mon 13-May-13 00:44:52

And yes to Methren my partner also suffers from low self esteem and anxiety - my MIL has the cheek to point her finger at me for this! No, nothing to do with her telling him throughout his childhood he would never amount to anything, or having no interest whatsoever in his education or hobbies. She is completely blind to her failings as a mother blaming me, his friends and colleagues: 'son, why do you let people make you feel this way'. Well, because it is engrained in him.

And my partner also left to his own devices will just do what she wants for an easy life. You will have to stay firm and say no. Then, you will probably get the increasingly irrational and EA text messages and voicemails because you chose to live your own life instead of pandering to the needs of a fully capable woman.

MrsRebeccaDanvers Mon 13-May-13 09:50:50

I have had a very similar MIL for 15 years and wish I'd left my H after 6 months. Even if he moves away she will phone and visit all the time and have exactly the same effect. Your love for each other will die and your life will be hell due to her.


I'm very sorry to tell you that but you will deeply regret it if you don't. I wish I'd had Mumsnet for support 15 years ago.

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