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Arrgghhh, needy MIL is doing our heads in!! (Sorry, yes its a MIL one).

(18 Posts)
PotterWatch Wed 21-Sep-11 15:13:28

DH's step dad has recently left MIL, they aren't living together at the moment but are still seeing each other and having counselling. I am assuming he actually wants to work it out, this is the way it appears.

MIL has never had to do things for herself, always had someone to think for her and never been on her own. She is doing our nut in!!!

At first we were sympathetic, listening to her on the phone for hours at a time, going on about the same thing, even though we have 2 young children to see to, or it would take up the whole evening when DH had finally got to sit down.

No though, we are starting to get fed up. It is the same old thing every time (oh I can't sleep what time should I take my pills, oh I'm so stressed, oh I can't deal with this so she needs DH to go over and sort it out for her). DH had to go through her income and household bills with her 3 times before she got it, and that took him finally getting a little shirty so she just started crying. SHe cries if SIL says something she doesn't like and recently put the phone down on her.

I am pissed off because we have had some shit times and she has never been there for us at all. She rarely visits but now wants us to go over all the time. She actually offered to have the kids for me for a couple of hours recently (which I was very grateful for, I have a long term illness and 2 young children, it can get pretty stressful at times), then she said she needed me to stay too as she was too fragile to have the children on her own (this isn't anything physical, she is in good health and not an 'old' woman).

I didn't mind DH nipping over now and again, in fact I encouraged it more than he was keen too, but she is sooo bloody needy. She doesn't take no for an answer and won't listen if it isn't something she wants to hear. She phoned on our anniversary the other evening then got a bit funny when DH said he was going after 40 minutes of her going on, yet again.

She was happy to not have much to do with us when her DH was there, in fact she didn't want anything interrupting their nice little life together, which is part of the problem. Step FIL wants to see more of his (grown up) children but MIL thinks he should be spending all his free time with her and going out and doing things when he is also trying to come to terms with having parkinsons (he isn't dealing with that very well and MIL doesn't seem to like that fact that it has interrupted their cosy life together, I can really see where SFIL is coming from).

I know I sound like a bitch, and I have been sympathetic and listened, but there are worse things going on or have happened before and she does need to get a bit of grip. For DH to actually try and get off the phone with her shows how annoyed he is getting (he usually sits there for 2 hours and listens, then its bedtime).

Any tips?

AKMD Wed 21-Sep-11 15:21:00

YANBU, you've done enough. Set a time limit for phonecalls (30 minutes is more than adequate) and make sure you and your DH stick to it. If you dont mind your DH going over, fine, but don't let it be all day. Needy people are draining.

petitepeach Wed 21-Sep-11 15:21:30

What a bloody nightmare! Feel very sorry for you, most people want to help family out, but she sounds totally selfish!

Don't know what to suggest; you need to discuss this properly with your DH as it is affecting your lives in a horrible negative way....maybe limit the time of phone calls, then unplug? Don't answer if you know it is her? She dosen't sound like she will listen to reason, hope you get some better advice and she dosen't upset you anymore.....

PotterWatch Wed 21-Sep-11 15:25:42

Made me smile when I read don't answer. We know when its her and we have ignored. SHe continues to keep phoning or phones DH's mobile instantly!!!!

IggyPup Wed 21-Sep-11 15:29:03

You or your DH need to be firm but gentle with her. This behavior won't change overnight so you need to develop strategies to improve the situation. Perhaps something like: when your MIL calls, you or your DH tell her you can only stay on the call until a specific time. Say 30 mins. Then 15 mins through the call remind her that you can only stay on the line for another 15 mins etc.

Suggest that she writes down all the things that worry her and then fix a time when you or your DH can address each item. Writing things down may prompt her to find her own solutions.

Play devils advocate and ask her to consider others point of view. Especially your SFIL.

She may need to hear some home truths. Think about what you and your DH consider important that she should know about her behavior.

Good luck!

Panda1234 Wed 21-Sep-11 15:33:33

Tell her that you're going to be out all week or busy, but will be in on a set day. Then don't pick up the phone until that day. It doesn't matter if she keeps phoning in between times - just keep ignoring her or unplug the phone, or switch it off.

You can also say at the start of the phone call "I really need to keep this short as I'm going somewhere in x minutes", and then stick to it.

wheelshavefallenoffthebus Wed 21-Sep-11 15:36:24

Must be v annoying! Does she gave any friends she can talk to? She needs to learn that your DH shouldnt be her replacement husband if you know what I mean. My mum is a bit like your MIL some times but not as bad, she gets a bit too reliant on gs1 to make up for being on her own. Hopefully this is a short term thing for your MIL. If she learns a bit of independence now it might benefit her future relationship.
Good luck OP smile

PotterWatch Wed 21-Sep-11 15:48:34

Thanks for the

Having some independance would help her marriage (if it works out, she refuses to even consider that it may not and just dismisses anything DH says suggesting that she needs to think about that possibility). She is far too relient on her DH and just stays in all day when he is at work, then immediately wants to do things when he is home (him juggling shifts and parkinsons are really causing problems for his health, he prefers being in his little bedsit so he can actually get some rest away from MIL).

She does have friends and is going out and doing things now but feels the need to text and phone DH and give him a running commentary on every little thing. She even texts to tell DH when SFIL texts her, DH doens't reply but she isn't someone who gets the message!

Definitely have to tell DH to put a limit on the time of phone calls, its taking up all of time when he needs to relax as he works full time and I need him to give me a hand with the kids due to my not so great health.

slavetofilofax Wed 21-Sep-11 16:11:36

Be blunt with her, tell her no, then ignore the tears. Remove yourself from the situation. I agree with telling her that you will be prepare to do whatever she wants for a couple of hours a week, be it help her with bills, listen to her moaning, or changing her lightbulbs. Then stick to it. be unavailable at other times. There is nothing wrong with unplugging your phone and putting mobiles on silent.

I can't stand women like this. Neediness is so irritating! Especially when it is Mothers to their own children. If she is otherwise healthy, it's just worng on so many levels.

She sounds very selfish. It seems to have put her out a bit that her husbands ilness isn't all about her!

eaglewings Wed 21-Sep-11 16:22:08

Agree with the rationing of phone time.
These tactics have worked for me when trying to end a call

Tell the person you are going out in ten minutes and need to get ready in 5 so only have a few minutes left. This helps them focus on the most important reason for the call

Have a loud door bell and get someone to ring it or ring it yourself

Use a second mobile to phone yours so you have a reason to put the call to your MIL down

If this fails get caller display and leave the phones to answer machine. Protect vital family time such as meals and bed time.

When she repeats questions you have already answered, respond with, we have already talked about this, my answer hasn't changed

Put your family first and don't feel guilty

Good Luck!

whattodoo Wed 21-Sep-11 16:27:14

Maybe your dh could pre-empt the calls by ringing her first and saying "potterwatch says dinner Will be 20 mins so I thought I'd phone for a chat". Then finish the call by saying "we've got a lot on the next few days so i'll call you Sunday" manage her expectations. Doubt this will eliminate the problem, but gives you a way of opening up the conversation about her excessively intrusive interruptions.
Don't envy you.

PotterWatch Wed 21-Sep-11 21:27:40

Thanks again. Some good suggestions here. Some I can use, unfortunately she knows we have tea at 5 and the kids go to bed at 7 and she phones about 8-8.30 when she is home from work. I do like the doorbell one, although ours is currently completely broken, may have to get that fixed. I did offer to phone DH's phone before but he said no, he may have changed his mind at this point though.

I like the idea about the time limit though so it gives her time to talk about hercrap-- the important stuff first (probably bleating on about her loss of holidays abroad, she really does have it hard hmm).

Slave, she is very selfish, its also not so much that the illness isn't about her, but that it has inconvenienced her lifestyle of exotic holidays abroad and her and her DH going on day trips when he isn't at work. He can't cope with it anymore but she is just moaning about not going to South Africa this year (they go on 2 big holidays abroad a year, plus several small weekends away etc).

I did point out to her once something about her DH needing rest (as someone who has a long term illness, I do feel sympathetic to what HE is going through more tbh) she just said "what about what I want, I don't think she is even thinking about what her DH needs.

Miette Wed 21-Sep-11 21:38:16

I feel for you. My mother is like this. She relies on my dad to do everything for her and would fall to pieces if he were not around. They are both retired and if he ever wants to go out and do something on his own, such as watch cricket, it is a major issue as she doesn't like to be on her own at home. hmm So she practically wants us to babysit her!

Miette Wed 21-Sep-11 21:42:30

and when my dad slipped a disk she was far more concerned about how it would inconvenience her that he couldn't ferry her around, than about the pain he was in. Sounds like my mother and your MIL are from the same mould, although at least your MIL holds down a job. My mother could never be bothered with that sort of thing! hmm

PotterWatch Wed 21-Sep-11 21:47:19

It is a pain isn't it. I once suggested years ago to her that she have driving lessons (my nan started her lessons on her 50th birthday, absolutely no reason why MIL couldn't do it) she just said they couldn't afford it (but they can afford holidays that costs thousands). I just don't think she wants to be independant. If DH is going over of an evening she immediately wants to know if he can pick her up from work (she works 3 hours a day) or when she was trying to get me to go over, she said "oh but can you take me to work", anything so she doesn't have to get the bus. DH told her she has well over £50 per week to spend after every bill is paid and he really over estimated her food bill, she immediately wanted to know how she could possible afford her bus fare!

megapixie Wed 21-Sep-11 21:57:40

My Gran used to be this way with my Dad when she had to get carers several years after my Grandfather died. It was horrible to watch. I think it wasbrough on by the fact she lost her husband/carer and had to pay other people to do stuff for her, made her feel incapable and old.

She would ring up night after night "Ohh I'm in such a state" "Ohh I don't know what to do" crying down the phone etc etc. My poor parents had to put up with so much shit cause my aunts and uncles didn't care. He got physically ill and mentally damaged in the end because of the stress she brought on to him.

In the end she sold her house and moved to a home where she was much happier as she had the constant attention she needed. Gave my parents a much needed break and it's quite nice to visit her now.

PotterWatch Wed 21-Sep-11 22:12:43

Blimey! I hope it doesn't do that to DH, but it sounds familiar. SIL has been pretty tough and told her she doesn't want to hear it, so has DH's uncle so poor DH is the one getting all the crap and I can see how much it is stressing him out. It does worry me as his dad died young of a heart attack and nothing really wrong health wise, it makes me worry for DH.

slavetofilofax Thu 22-Sep-11 09:25:05

If other members of the family have told her that they don't want to hear it, there is no reason why your poor DH can't do the same. You just need to help him be strong enough to say it, and follow through!

She will find she has the resources to look after herself if she needs them, but all the time she doesn't have to try, she won't even bother.

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