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Just realised that my lovely MIL is envious of me...

(55 Posts)
Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 09:04:50

Always generally got on well (unless visits longer than a few days when gets a bit much for both of us). I've turned to her recently, mainly due to issues with my own v cold and difficult dm and feeling rather depressed and isolated overseas.

I recently unexpectedly received a "pull yourself together" type letter which told me for a THIRD time how my friends must envy me (wtf?) and how "blissful" my life was and how lucky i am in having a good, ambitious provider in dh (unlike FIL).

So, where to go from here? I think i expected too much from her- projecting lovely mother vibes onto her, forgetting she's my MIL and has her own issues...probably not fair to have burdened her with mine. Problem is I've lost a lot of trust and she's due a long visit with us.

Any thoughts please? She is lovely, funny and kind most of the time and I'm very fond of her.

Mollydoggerson Mon 27-May-13 09:10:34

remain fond of her, but back off a little.

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 09:12:53

Thanks, probably right.

pictish Mon 27-May-13 09:14:18

I would just let it slide, and not confide in her again tbh.

I can relate somewhat - my own mother was lovely but died 8 years ago...and truly I miss that maternal relationship. I have sought it from mil too...in a gentle way, but a couple of incidents (nothing major) have reminded me that she is my mil - my husband's mother, and no matter what, she will view me with a readily critical eye. Not in a nasty way even....but I know I don't have her support especially.

7to25 Mon 27-May-13 09:17:40

Maybe she is not envious, but sees your complaints about your life as complaints about her son. This is a bit of a generational thing as she thinks that your life is the one that HE has provided for you.
Maybe moan to somebody else?

pictish Mon 27-May-13 09:17:42

She is lovely btw - she has never done or said anything negative to me....but she's not wholly that arsed about me either.
Why would she be?

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 09:18:29

Too true, "readily critical eye" just about covers it! Hard tho when one craves that maternal closeness, isn't it?

claraschu Mon 27-May-13 09:18:56

That is very hurtful, but she probably thinks she is giving good advice (make the best of things, stiff upper lip etc.). She is insensitive not to realise that you just want someone to talk to and to feel like you are being understood- a little sympathy and empathy. Lots of people give advice in situations like this because the don't know what to say, without realising that such advice is almost never helpful or wanted.

pictish Mon 27-May-13 09:19:38

Yes Salbertina it is hard. x

JeanPaget Mon 27-May-13 09:20:12

I think it’s a bit of leap to say she’s envious of you hmm.

As your husband’s mother I think it must be difficult for her to see her son presumably trying his best to make you happy/provide for your family and to have you moaning to her about the life he’s trying to give you. So think that’s probably an issue.

But tbh even if she were just a friend, it can be difficult to constantly support your friends without getting anything back from them. Maybe she feels like every time she speaks to you she’s having to deal with your problems rather than enjoying your company and that of her grandchildren.

You’ve said you’ve treated her like a mother and to be honest I don’t think getting a pull yourself together letter from your own mother is completely usual.

HabbaDabba Mon 27-May-13 09:21:13

Strange post. Would you rather that she told you that your life sucks and therefire your feeling depressed is to be expected?

Your MIL is telling you that you have lots of great positive things going on in your life. That is her being envious of you???

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 09:21:46

Yes i did find it v hurtful but realise she probably meant well..

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 09:27:07

Theres more context to me suddenly thinking she envies me. Don't want to elaborate as would completely out me!
Yes, appreciate hard work to be there for someone who's depressed but not been oneway, have tried to help/listen also... Maybe not enough.

Am v sensitive to feeling invalidated by those close to me telling me i shouldn't feel something that i am, had a bellyful of that from my dm growing up. But realise that's my issue not hers.
.

IamMrsJones Mon 27-May-13 09:28:48

I am going through pretty similar with my MIL. The difference in my situation is she is made of evil. I have massively misjudged the situation and thought we were getting to the point of a nice warm relationship, but something happened recently that showed me I couldn't have been more wrong. DH has told me to back away as she will never be a nice person.

So I think that is the only an

IamMrsJones Mon 27-May-13 09:30:02

Oops, posted to soon. I think we can only back off from them as we will only feel worse.

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 09:31:25

Sorry to hear that, MrsJ and think you're right to back off.

pictish Mon 27-May-13 09:37:21

Am v sensitive to feeling invalidated by those close to me telling me i shouldn't feel something that i am

I can relate to that too.

MumnGran Mon 27-May-13 09:38:29

She may not have handled it terribly well, but it sounds as though she cares about you but thinks she hasn't got her point across in previous conversations and so has written it down so that she expresses herself clearly and logically and there is no room to misunderstand what she is saying.

Maybe its time to stop and think that there may not be a hidden agenda .... that she just means exactly what she says. It doesn't sound as though she is writing because she is envious, but because she has failed to get her point across in another way.

I would use it as a discussion point with her...... as in "I wasn't sure why you wrote to me, rather than talking." ...... so that you sort it out face to face. That's how good relationship are built, and grow.

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 09:42:15

That could well be true..and do think she cares.

We're 1,000s of miles apart so tends to be written word or intensity of long visits, all or nothing, otherwise agree, a face-to-face conversation would have been better.

LimeLeaffLizard Mon 27-May-13 09:42:28

Salbertina I really relate to what you've said, especially about feeling invalidated by those close to me telling me i shouldn't feel something that i am, had a bellyful of that from my dm growing up.

Like you, I have a difficult relationship with my DM and a lovely MIL, and once or twice I've pushed things a bit too far by asking too much. Just quickly forgive her response, and get on with it... if she's truly lovely, she'll get over it!

Walkacrossthesand Mon 27-May-13 09:43:12

Good luck with backing off a little, Salbertina - be aware that you may find it hard to change your 'habit' of talking freely to her, and it may take a couple of tries! I know I've had (for different reasons) to decide consciously not to take certain people into my confidence before, and have found myself chatting more freely than I intended, through sheer force of habit... New boundaries can take a while to build!

MumnGran Mon 27-May-13 09:43:47

"otherwise agree, a face-to-face conversation would have been better"

Skype!!

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 09:44:49

Hi Lime, thanks, thats reassuring, Yes, i do forgive her but can't help still feeling hurt and less trustful.

lougle Mon 27-May-13 09:44:52

There are times though, when the feelings we feel are disproportionate to the circumstance we are faced with.

Past experiences can layer over each other and make each new experience a much bigger deal than it would be in isolation.

I have a family member who feels invalidated if her reaction to something is challenged, no matter how gently. She is reacting disproportionately though, and in fact her reaction is not one that is justifiable at all. It's not about invalidating her, it's about helping her to see that her reaction is about more than the thing that she is reacting to. It's quite exhausting.

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 09:47:42

Yes, i can see that, must be frustrating. As am i at times, I'm sure. Awareness helps, i had no idea of the root of it till about a year ago.

LimeLeaffLizard Mon 27-May-13 09:56:36

Its fine and normal to feel hurt and less trustful. That is part of the normal cycle - you push things a tiny bit too far, she responds a tiny bit too forcefully, you feel hurt and less trustful, so back away a little bit.

If she is lovely she'll probably then think, 'Salbertina has backed away a bit, hope I didn't offend her with my letter (I was just trying to help her see the good things in her life), I'll either apologise or just be extra nice to make things right again'.

Selba Mon 27-May-13 10:04:53

The thing is, when you confide in someone over an issue, problem, whatever, you have to be prepared to hear what they have to say in return and it might not always be what you expect. You don't have to agree with it and indeed you might be hurt but you chose your confidants because you think they will "get it " so you need to stop and considered whether she has a point in what she said.

My own mum was utterly wonderful , sadly now dead, but with sensitive emotional stuff she was absolutely of the " suck it up and count your blessings " school of thought and actually it's a perfectly valid viewpoint for the minor stuff and even some big stuff that can't be changed

HabbaDabba Mon 27-May-13 10:07:52

Some of my friends are quite envious of us. We are both in highly paid jobs and we live in a big-ish house in a nice part of the UK. We have two children at two highly ranked selectives who represent their schools in various sports.

We in turn are quite envious of a friend who retired at 50. He made a few wise property investments during the slump in late 80s. Now, he spends winter in the 'old country' and the summer here playing golf.

Envy is natural and as long as it doesn't manifest itself into bitchy remarks and the like then I don't see any wrong with your MIL being envious of you.

Or are we back to this 'context' thing that you don't want to talk about?

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 10:19:22

Agree, envy is natural, feel it often myself. I guess i feel she's projecting having told me 3 times that "my friends must envy me" on the basis of zero evidence in terms of them.

HabbaDabba Mon 27-May-13 10:31:14

My DD is gorgeous. My DS is a bit quirky looking smile but it doesn't stop my mum telling me how good looking my son is.

I don't really understand out a MIL trying to be positive and supportive is seen as her being envious. But even if.sshe is envious, why that is her 'projecting'.

Sorry OP but it looks to me that it is you that are projecting your insecurities onto your MIL. It doesn't help that others are injecting their evil MIL stories into the thread and are agreeing with you.

HabbaDabba Mon 27-May-13 10:35:00

....my comment about my kids appearance was in response to your envy comment. My point being that eople will complement you or your kids in order to be nice or supportive

Mollydoggerson Mon 27-May-13 10:35:03

I think her comment about friends being envious is her way of gently telling you to count your blessings.

Who knows? Some people are naturally more envious than others and see envy as more standard.

I can honestly say I am very rarely envious of people and I find it weird when people expect others to be envious.

maybe just accept that you both think differently on this particular subject.

Don't judge, just try to support each other.

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 10:36:19

Habba- fair enough, thats your view. As i said, more background I'm not going to into as too identifying. Interesting to canvass range of views, am not suddenly going to see her as "evil" just because of what others say. But envious at times, yes. A lot of it is generational too- she's had far fewer opportunities than me until her retirement. I recognise that.

ImperialBlether Mon 27-May-13 10:36:38

Well, I think I would reply saying, "Of course my friends are envious of me because I'm married to your son, but they are hardly envious of the fact I have a cold hearted mother and feel depressed and isolated thousands of miles from home."

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 10:38:13

Imperial grin Though also hmm

AcrylicPlexiglass Mon 27-May-13 10:45:57

she thinks her son is the bees knees and that you therefore as his partner are the luckiest person in the universe. You are undermining her beliefs by talking out your difficulties with her. Even though she knows life is not perfect she will not want to be constantly faced with the fact that her son's life is far from perfect either. I think you need to find someone else to talk intensely with and try and cultivate a lighter, more positive relationship with her.

Mollydoggerson Mon 27-May-13 10:47:59

Just on the envy thing. I have an aunt who is repeatedly rude to me, dismissive, nasty, contemptous, all for no reason as far as I can see. I suspect it arises from percieved slights and also it dawned on me that she might be a little envious. My Dad (rip) was a bit of a joker and told her a lie about a lump sum I was expecting to recieve! When the penny dropped with me, that her weirdness might be down to some ill founded envy, it made it alot easier for me to shrug it off.

You can't waste your life worrying/responding to other's people's negativity.

Shitsinger Mon 27-May-13 10:50:58

I think she is trying to "Fix" the situation,when you wanted someone to listen.
My DM does this "look at how lucky you are" instead of just listening.

lougle Mon 27-May-13 11:16:46

People can be envious in the wierdest contexts. A relative is envious of me, to the point that she can't 'forgive me' for having the life I have.

I have 3 children, one of whom has SN. The combination of their ages and her SN means that I can't safely take them out on my own. I have 3 different carers who come in during the week after school, and I have to be back for her bus on weekdays, so that means I can't hang around and be spontaneous after school. At all. I couldn't return to my profession. I had a course booked, but it became clear that I couldn't arrange childcare that would accommodate DD1's bus.

She has 2 children, both healthy. She has her own business and she has family childcare for her appointments. She recently went away for a few days for work. DH and I haven't had a night away since DD1 was born, 7½ years ago.

But, I am married, and that is all she desperately wants, so she conveniently ignores everything else about my life and there is no argument which will convince her that my life can be anything other than perfect, because if you are married, it must be.

Envy. A funny thing.

moleavenger Mon 27-May-13 11:23:59

I've been there with the projecting lovely mother vibes at other people, then getting a cold, hard dose or reality. Due to dysfunctional relationship with mother, I have had many "mother surrogates" and when I disappoint them, or they disappoint me, the sky falls down for me. If I've learnt anything, it's that you need to really not read anything into it - take it at face value, and don't fall into game playing (not replying to the letter, withholding the emotional connection etc...)

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 11:25:00

Gosh, Lougle- sounds like you could do with her active support rather than her envy.. Sorry to hear that she's so crap, my dsis is not dissimilar.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 27-May-13 11:27:28

I think sometimes people use the word 'envy' as some sort of compliment, ie. "I envy you that dress/bag/job/whatever" and they actually don't feel that emotion or anything like it, it's a way of telling somebody that whatever they have is nice.

From what you've posted, it just sounds as if she's getting a little bit fed up that you don't seem happy with your 'lot' and, if you're in the habit of complaining to her, perhaps she doesn't get to hear the 'nice bits', just the gripes?

I wonder if the 'pull yourself together' comment is really just a gentle exasperation. If you've been using your MIL as a sounding board for all of your moans, it can feel a bit stifling and, perhaps she's not the right person to reel your list of complaints too? She may also be of the generation where you just got.on.with.it...

Moan to your friends and keep your MIL relationship to what it needs to be. She's obviously uncomfortable in the role of your confidante so, don't put her in that role.

lougle Mon 27-May-13 11:28:48

She's not crap smile she's just a very hurt person. She can't cope with her own hurt so she can't see that anyone else is struggling.

HabbaDabba Mon 27-May-13 12:36:42

My friend has just the one child . A few years ago, when her DC was a baby, she was would talk to me about how she couldn't cope with the sleepless nights, the colic, the diarrhoea etc etc.

Being a friend I said the right supportive things but in my head I was thinking "pulling yourself together woman". Both DP and I worked full time and we had two. She had one and she was a SAHM.

Her MIL had even less sympathy. She literally worked in the fields back in the 'old country' with the DH strapped to her back and two older DCs at home with her mother.

I am assuming that you are from overseas, living here in the UK as opposed to an expat living overseas. If that is the case then that can be why your MIL more of acount your blessings type then a head nodding hand holding type.

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 12:39:43

Yes, can appreciate that.. Am British and overseas.

springymater Mon 27-May-13 18:18:55

Well, you have to laugh re Would you rather that she told you that your life sucks and therefire your feeling depressed is to be expected?

erm, yes I would. If it's the truth! Not necessarily that my life sucks, but that particular aspect sucks, yes. and to feel depressed about it is natural. Validation, see. Doesn't mean I'll flop about feeling sorry for myself - on the contrary, if I have support that my distress is understandable in the circumstances, it galvanises me to pick myself up, brush myself off etc.

Talking of differences, I assume your MIL is from a different generation. This could be the reason for her no-nonsense approach - or, rather, her 'count your blessings' approach. If she is of, say, my mother's generation (b. 1920s), they lived through the aftermath of a terrible world war, and another world war. So their take on life is different to ours. We have so many luxuries and comforts now - but that doesn't mean it's all good: imo we have lost as much as we have gained in many ways.

She could also be a different nationality? That could mean a different take on things, too. She may also feel protective of her son, that he is working like a dog and you're still not 'happy'. Her stuff, if so.

I'm sure she means well. Perhaps look at the glass half full thing - it sounds like you have a good thing going with her, even if it's not perfect? xx

springymater Mon 27-May-13 18:28:09

btw I'm sorry your dm is crap. It sucks to have a crap dm and no wonder you're feeling down about it. It also looks like you've drawn a blank with your bid for a 'replacement' mother, which is painful <practises what preaches>

Just goes to show we're all human, even the best of them are human and have weaknesses.

re envy. Well, a slippery beast eh. vile to be on the end of. All to do with the envier - who can kick out very strongly (from nowhere!). They invariably get the wrong end of the stick, bigging up one aspect while ignoring another. If she is envious, you have to learn to keep your distance. Preferably a leg kick away iyswim.

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 18:52:09

Thanks so much, Springy- really feel you get me/it smile v validating! Yes, she's a different generation (1930s) though same nationality.

I just expected too much, we'd really been opening up in correspondence and then this. Feel rather a fool.

Springdiva Mon 27-May-13 19:11:39

how "blissful" my life was and how lucky i am in having a good, ambitious provider in dh (unlike FIL)

Hmm, so FIL was a waste of space but perhaps, in her view, thanks to her wonderful mothering DH is nearly perfect!!

It sounds like she is putting her disappointments onto your scenario, which isn't fair. Why did she stay with useless FIL? She could have made different choices.

I would not hold grudges but perhaps not discuss your life with DMIL as it is too difficult due to loyalties etc

Salbertina Tue 28-May-13 07:52:08

Yes, you're right, she thinks dh is fantastic! And divided loyalties if I confide in her i now see even if nothing to do with dh.

Salbertina Tue 28-May-13 07:58:45

I think she thinks there was no other choice for her (coming from her generation) than FIL.

She is rather materialistic/ambitious, unlike him who was salt of the earth, live a humble/decent life kind of person.. So i realise she judges my/our "success" on dh's salary/our house rather than the fact that we'd separated a while ago, struggle with an SN dc, have lots of debt and no proper friends where we live, as well as tricky family on my side.

springymater Tue 28-May-13 08:31:04

When she comes to stay, hold your ground (emotionally, that is). You don't have to feel ashamed because she blocked your efforts for greater intimacy. My mum is the same - she's lovely, but maybe that generation doesn't get the emotional literacy we are used to and is very much part of our lives and culture. We are a therapised culture, after all; whereas theirs just wasn't.

I do relate to the need for closeness and intimacy with a mother-figure. My mother wasn't overtly abusive, but there is no way of getting close to her and never has been. I recently burst into tears because we had started to watch a film together and I was pinching myself, thinking 'I'm doing something with my mum!' and she suddenly got up and said very bluntly that she wasn't interested.

It's a blow to have your MIL block you like this, it must hurt a lot. Can you get therapy where you are? Are there ways to pump up the friendship quota? Are there support groups for eg SN kids? Maybe cast your net wider and see what comes up.

hugs to all of us with a mother dearth in our lives ((()))

springymater Tue 28-May-13 08:34:53

NB you could consider skype therapy if therapy isn't available where you are?

Salbertina Tue 28-May-13 08:40:56

Thanks for your insight and kindness, Springy. Sorry to hear your dm can be so hurtful hmm, how rude just to get up and leave!

I've kind of given up on the friendship front- not so long left where we are. Had invested too heavily in friendships when we first arrived and now.. Can't be arsed. Should make some effort as realise isolation doing me no favours. Little SN support here compared to UK so mainly get on with it and spend hours supporting dc through hmk each night, v frustrating process for us both!

Mollydoggerson Tue 28-May-13 08:46:25

Springy I laughed out loud at the film watching experience, that is my mother to a tee. Just couldn't be bothered and also is completely blind to how her disinterest is percieved by the other party. But as you say (in fairness to the older generation), they are not a therapised generation, their brain patterns do not flip over how some of their more minor actions will be percieved by others.

Maybe we are just too soft, after all!

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