I don't like my parents in law...(61 Posts)
Hello everyone... (is this the right thread to post on?)
My PIL are completely different to me in every way. I have always struggled to find any common ground with them to even have a cup of tea. (DP and I been together 4 years, no children but thinking about it so this is on my mind). I find them very opinionated about pretty much everything and find they try to put down the way I live my life. Eg. I went travelling abroad on my own before DP and I got together and they make comments such as 'we always feel so sorry for women who have to go away on their own, it's quite sad isn't it?'.
I have always been polite to them and tried my hardest to join in with family occasions (admittedly with a heavy heart sometimes) but I'm not as warm as I am with my friends/family. I try to respect their way of living is completely different to mine but I am getting sick of their comments. It is affecting DP, he knows I don't get on with them well but that doesn't stop me from caring for them because he does and trying to do what I can to make our relationship better.
So, firstly, am I being unreasonable to find their comments about my life really quite rude (I never comment about the way they choose to live) and secondly please does anyone have any advice on how to get over these difficulties? It makes me feel sad that if we do have children they wouldn't encourage them to be independent and excited about the world unless there's someone by their side the whole time.
Any advice would be so helpful!
I don't think you are unreasonable not to take to them, they sound quite rude. However, I don't think you need overthink how this will be with children, they will have very different relationships with them. My grandma made all kinds of faces about her son's wife working twenty years ago, now I work full-time she never says a thing and is quite proud of me. Unfortunately some parents-in-law still think their little darling is just too amazing and no-one else is good enough for them. You are doing the right thing by ignoring/putting your own view accross ('Gosh, do you really think that, I disagree, travelling by myself was the most amazing adventure').
Don't worry about them overly influencing your children if you have any, presumably you like your husband and they brought him up.
If it helps, I had a 'strained' relationship with my PIL until I had DS, but then we suddenly had something we agreed on, that he's the most amazing thing in the whole world ! We still don't talk politics, religion or other such things, but I'd say we now have a nice relationship.
If they are being rude, the easiest way is to pull them up on it, StrandedBear is right, "Gosh, that sounded rude, did you mean it to come across that way?" is a good way of dealing with it. Remember, your DC will live in your home and experience your way of life, DGPs will be people they see every now and then and who's way of life they won't experience.
Thank you all for your replies.
strandedbear I think you are right, I do need to find a way to respond, I'm just so unused to people being this way that I've ignored it for so long it's hard to change my reactions.
hardgoing You are completely right about any future children having a different relationship with them, I actually hadn't thought about it that way.
lydiawickham yes, that really does help, and I'm so pleased your relationship with them has improved.
Gosh, when I was younger and daydreaming about meeting my dream man I never once thought about taking on his family too.... Even after 4 years it all seems like a bit of a shock. Silly I know!
well what did you say when they said "how sad, travelling on your own"
Did you just "mmm" or did you say "ACtually, I had a fantastic time in ... made some lovely friends and found that it helped me become independant and I learned so much about ... culture." Have PIL been there?
Maybe 'in their day' it wasnt the done thing to go off travelling alone, things were probably different.
Could you learn to not rise to their comments and instead make a positive out of it?
I hate that kind of passive aggression. Has DP has girlfriends in the past that they preferred? Do you get the impression they think he could do better? Either way, the only thing to do with bullies is to stand up to them. Make it crystal clear that you're not going to take their shit and don't be afraid of being offensive in the process. They'll rail a little to begin with but will soon be much more careful how they behave around you. You may never achieve chumminess or cosy affection, but at least you'll have their respect....
You do have common ground - your DP. My mil doesn't always approve of me, but I shrug it off. I don't live with her or near her, and only have to put up with her comments when I see her.
You also have to recognise the generation gap....mil has a different world view to me because I am 31 years younger than her, so it was different for her. My ds thinks I'm old fashioned sometimes, and I am with certain things. You'll be the same.
Have you also considered that they may be envious of the opportunities and freedoms you have had that they haven't? You might also consider that they find it just as hard to talk to you, and find common ground, as you do to them. They are his family, and he loves them. You have to learn to compromise a little and loosen up with them. They can probably feel the tension.
I don't think there is a massive amount you can do. There is light at the end of the tunnel though.
I could have written your post when I had been with my DP for 4 years. My MIL was constantly saying things like "once you have children, women shouldn't really work" and "travelling alone is odd" (mind you this applied to DP too!). Eight years on, DP is now my DH and we have 2 DCs and I have to say that things have changed. I think they have realised that we live in a brave new world and that things have moved on. they also worship the DCs and we agree that they are perfect! Plus I recently got a really fantastic new job and MIL was even heard to say "wow, what a great role model you are for your children" (I kid you not. I had to lie down for a while, but it shows how far they have come). It is fear of the unknown for them really.
I have similar problems to you, OP, and it is tough. My FIL is a racist whinger who channels the Daily Mail on a regular basis, and my MIL is a basically a nice person but also is a complete control freak who sees me as a child rather than a grown woman. I find being with them very stressful and I feel sorry for DH who is very much on my side but who finds it hard to know what to do. Here's my take on the whole thing.
It's normal to want your PIL's approval as they are your DH's closest relatives and you have to see them often. But when it's clear that you're not going to see eye to eye with them then I think it's important to try to disengage from them emotionally and decide that you're not going to let their attitude get to you. You want to continue seeing them for the good of your DH so you have to change how you respond to them, as they are not going to change who they are. You have to consciously decide that what they say is going to wash over you rather than get under your skin. It is very hard to do that but well worth it as you will find being with them a lot less stressful in the long run.
So, for example, when my FIL started ranting about single mothers, I found myself responding as I would to any rational adult, by addressing his arguments and trying to start a debate. Then when he came back with his usual inane nonsense I reminded myself that this is FIL, he doesn't want a debate, he wants to rant and feel superior to others, so I just nodded and said "mmmm" until he ran out of steam.
It's harder with MIL, but the good news is things are better since I've had DS. She still tries to control things but she is very aware that as DS's mother I have the upper hand so to speak. She really wants to see DS as much as possible and I would never ever stop her from doing that but I think she is treading carefully with me in case I decide to see her less often. She still tries to control things and stick her oar in, and she still treats me like a child but she has a tiny bit more respect for me now I think. I would love things to be better with her as she is genuinely a nice person but I don't know how to go about it. So I try not to take the things she says and does personally, hard as that is.
I think the best thing to do is as another poster says, ask questions of her opinion "why do you think that?" and re-iterate your own opinion and experience. If needbe "we will agree to differ then".
Ime, it only gets worse when children arrive.
I would respond to every comment with Yes. Well. and an unspoken air of "but you are a dick and you would think that really wouldn't you."
coffeeismyfriend I totally agree things may have been different for them at my age and I do try to be respectful of that, I just wish they could do the same for me. I mean I wouldn't dream of saying 'I find it so pathetic when some women have to follow their husbands everywhere'. It's not how I choose to live but it might make someone else happy so that's fine. I do my best to rise above their comments, I just find it hard when it seems they compare everything I do to 'their way' and mine is wrong. Why do either of us have to be 'wrong' when we are just different, if I'm making any sense.
cogitoergosometimes I do think that MIL especially thinks noone would ever be good enough for her boys (she is equally dismissive of her other DIL) which in a way I respect but she seems to forget he is only a human being like the rest of us, faults and all!
scaryteacher I totally agree they can probably feel the tension, which is why I really do want to try and improve my relationship with them. I also agree we may have different views of the world due to our age difference/backgrounds/experiences etc but I like to learn from people older than me and younger than me as I'm sure you do with your DS. I'm sure you wouldn't dismiss his thoughts because they are different to yours. I think it's great you can shrug off your MIL comments, perhaps I find it more difficult because we live very close by and see them at least once a week - anpther reason why I really want things to improve!!
Well try to keep in mind that, regardless of their inward-thinking views, they have managed to produce your DH, so they must have done something right.
I could have written the opening post 4 years ago (been with DP 8yrs) I completely get where you're coming from OP and there are some great strategies suggested here.
"Gosh, when I was younger and daydreaming about meeting my dream man I never once thought about taking on his family too.... Even after 4 years it all seems like a bit of a shock. Silly I know!" - OP, I've thought exactly that on many an occasion. I imagine you're like me in that you are shocked how problematic you're finding it when you generally have pretty happy, easygoing relationships with most other people in life.
With my PiLs I usually default to the standard twist every negative thing they intimate into a big fat positive, but that can get extremely tiresome, its so much nicer to have frank, friendly conversations than constantly having to steer the mood.
I've also done the retreat to room with feigned illness tactic, it relieved me from their constant rude & misinformed chitchat on one particularly dreadful occasion, but not really a long-term strategy.
I've tried to loosen up and just shrug it all off, but just as I'm relaxing and deciding maybe they aren't all that bad they always come out with something so outrageously irritating or behave so unreasonably it would take an enormous feat of emotional detatchment not to let it affect me.
The only thing I've not tried is CogitoErgoSometimes suggestion of just giving it to them straight. I'm not especially an avoider of confrontation, but whenever I envisage this scenario, I just can't see it ever ending with a positive outcome in my situation.
I console myself in the fact that all my BiLs avoid visiting them at all costs, and my DPs previous DP refused to visit them. I'm at the stage where I'll only visit when its completely unavoidable, but its hard as they're still labouring under the misapprehension that everyone's a big happy family (My MiL's a bit like Zainab in EE in this respect).
They do live a long way away though, thankfully, so OP I guess I'm really not helping.... I think what I'm trying to say is yes, strive for a better understanding and relationship with them as you are doing, but also be prepared that no matter what you do, things might not change and you shouldn't give yourself too hard a time about that.
I'm hoping that when we have kids, it will play out as in Lydia's scenario. And my lesson of the day (from 2 threads now) is the "Sorry, was that meant to come across as rude?" retort. Going to practise that on the dog.
Urgh I hate massive long posts sorry all
need to pop out but will be back later, some brilliantly helpful replies, thank you. wish id posted months ago.
vivipru must quickly say i did chuckle at the mention of zainab, some aspects of my situation very much put me in mind of her
My FIL is a racist whinger who channels the Daily Mail on a regular basis, and my MIL is a basically a nice person but also is a complete control freak who sees me as a child rather than a grown woman
spooky, CailinDana, you have the same PIL as me
"i did chuckle at the mention of zainab"
Add a large helping of Hyacinth Bouquet and big dollop of Eeyore the Donkey and we're about there
Well from the OP, it´s sounds as if they are generally rude & like to criticise, or that they don´t like you!
I wouldn´t bother to justify myself to them I think I´d just "mmm"/ignore tbh.
Once you have DC's you can busy yourself, my PILs think that i am super helpful, i wait on everyone, it saves me having to join in the conversations, which often echo the DM.
Of course your DP is nothing like them! He hasn't their genes and their nurturing didn't make him who he is?
If it did miss him all by, you need to bear in mind that your DC may be a mini MIL or FIL-in looks, character or both.
I'd say politely disagree with them. They may even change their minds. If someone is so entrenched in their views I say "Ah, well, we'll have to agree to disagree on that won't we?" I have lots of practise with this with my dad, never mind PIL.
On the travelling thing I would have said "Oh really? Well, I had a great time. I wasn't on my own a lot in fact as it was very easy to make friends - mostly other girls who were travelling on their own, who were actually in the majority. But when I wanted to be alone, I could be, I'm very happy in my own company."
Sounds like my PIL. Even after being together for 17 years and 2 children, I still have nothing in common with them. When they visit, I spend most of the time in the kitchen. Everytime I walk into the room MIL stops talking. But, I married DH not them. We only see them 3 or 4 times a year, I hate it but have no choice. You need to concentrate on your OH and not worry about them, or how children will affect things.
i have the opposite problem with my PILS when i 1st got with DH i used to absolutley love them,i found them very easy to talk to,could have a drink and a laugh with them,it used to be ME who used to want and go and stay with them (live 120 miles away)
then we told them i was pregnant and everything changed,all the sarcastic nasty comments started,MIL went out of her way to make me feel like shit,my DS is 17 months now and i detest going to see them,im going there this weekend unfortunatly,im worked up for days on end when i no im going,i dont no how to handle the situation either,my DH does agree with me about the way his mum goes on but he s frightned to say anything to her
they dont adore our DS like some of the OPs are saying,they never ring and ask how he is and dont see him very often either even though we have given them plenty chance to
its sad really i dont no why they are like this
I'm lucky now as my PiL's have banned me from their house, but before they used to set me up to gather evidence. Mil -'Spuddy do you buy free range eggs?' Spuddy -'yes, i do'. Mil - 'Spuddy, do you like gold or silver on xmas tree's?' Spuddy -'oh gold i think'. Mil - 'don't you hate londonistan, full of paki's & wogs?' Spuddy - 'er no, i love multiculturalism and find those words offensive'
Then later (4 months later) saying i had insulted their eggs and xmas tree and had such strong opinions they didn't want me there anymore.
So in response to cogito if you stand up to them they may not respect you, but like mine they may just ban you! (not that i disagree with cogitos post - just saying there is an alternative outcome to that scenario)
cailin said above they are his relatives and you HAVE to see them. But i disagree. If they are HIS relatives and they are rude you have no responsibility to see them. Just let him see them on his own.
Good luck anyway.
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