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about difficult mothers-in-law?

(50 Posts)

From what I've read on MN, loads of MILs seem to have issues with their sons' partners, some behaving despicably! I'm just wondering how your DM treats your DP, is it the same or is it mainly DMs of men (that sounds sexist but not intended to be!)?

LightsPlease Thu 26-Dec-13 12:19:21

Does anyone have an answer or explanation why they are like this with dil's?

Is it a majority or do I just think that because I spend too much time on AIBU?

Snowhoho Thu 26-Dec-13 12:39:54

This is mainly a forum used by women - so by a process of reasoning you would think its mostly women complaining about their MILs, not the other way round. No-ones going to come onto AIBU and start a thread about how great their MIL is, they are only going to start one if there are issues.

Changebagsandtinselrags Thu 26-Dec-13 12:40:07

I always feel bit sad at the MIL threads. My MIL was a lovely woman. When we had DC1 and my mum was fussing like a mad thing with advice MIL came out with "I won't interfere, things are done differently these days" and she never did. She loved her grandchildren dearly. She admired my engagement ring, she was gone before we married.

She was incredibly welcoming and ensured we were filled with tea and cake on every visit.

Maybe Irish Mammies in Law are different.

ViviPru Thu 26-Dec-13 12:42:54

I can't comment whether it's the majority or not, but I see a common thread in the issues my Mum has as a MiL to her DiL and the problems I have with my own MiL, AND issues other women have with MiLs, even though the actual crux of these problems is different.

That being the desire for the son to keep everyone sweet, even if that means not being entirely honest with people. They often tell their DM/DW what they think they want to hear and this leads to misunderstandings and ill-feeling. I'm not placing blanket blame on the men, and not all men do this, but IME men are not great at balancing conflicting interests of their wives and mothers. They often miss nuance and fail to judge the importance placed on certain things, then wonder why someone is upset.

(IME) Often, men err on taking the action which they perceive is the best tactic for a quiet life, but this is often the catalyst for more explosive situations erupting further down the line. The inadvertently light the blue touch paper, then innocently wander off, and then by the time everyone is at conflict, no one can remember the original small issue that lay at the heart of it all and all that remains is MILs and DiLs at loggerheads.

mumaa Thu 26-Dec-13 12:43:48

Good question, from my situation my DM gets on very well with DH and vice versa, she thinks he is great and tells him so.

My MIL is pleasant to me on the face of things but arranges family meals including all family except me, DH & DD, always turns down my invitations to spend time with DD on bank holidays etc (when I know she is off so may ask her if she would like to come for lunch with us/go to park/come to DDs playgroup) by saying she is busy or had other plans, yet she complains we don't invite her round?! Or says she hasn't seen DD for ages!?

To be fair, not being invited to things isn't entirely down to her, the other guests don't invite us either (SIL, GPIL) so can't be laid entirely at her door. Latest example is they all went out for SIL bday, we didn't get invited but MIL brought us some cake from the event, thanks! To me it's like - we didn't want you there but look, aren't I being nice to bring you some leftovers from our nice day out.

I find it quite hurtful but have resolved not to make the effort anymore, DH says I shouldn't bother with them, I don't know what the problem is... I only make extra effort as DH works weekends, so I felt that it would be nice to make the effort with them so they can see DD at the weekends when they are off but it always gets turned down so I am giving up on bothering.

Sorry, that kind of turned into a moan, basically, they are nice on face of it but not very nice under the surface, my DM goes out of her way with my DH, but she genuinely likes him.

Mrswellyboot Thu 26-Dec-13 12:43:49

I love my mil ! She is a sweetheart and I view her as a friend

ElizabethBathory Thu 26-Dec-13 12:45:55

My DH gets on ridiculously well with my mum. They are extremely similar and gang up on me when it comes to organising stuff hmm

And my MIL is lovely. FIL bit of a sexist, entitled knob sometimes though.

WaitingForMe Thu 26-Dec-13 12:48:12

I think it's the person. My DM has a great relationship with DH and SIL. She's just a decent person who loves her kids and respects their choice of spouse.

MIL isn't terribly nice but doesn't save that just for me. She's pretty bad to DH and his sister.

emsyj Thu 26-Dec-13 12:49:05

I wonder whether actually men don't care as much what other people think of them. My DMum isn't always the easiest person to get on with, but DH has a bit of distance there and wouldn't really get too offended if she said something a bit 'off' to him, whereas I probably would read into what MIL says to me - I'm just more invested in people and feelings and all that. I don't think my DMum is nicer than MIL, but I don't really have a good relationship with my MIL (fault on both sides).

IneedAsockamnesty Thu 26-Dec-13 12:50:04

I could make a guess based on nothing other than opinion.

A certain type of person may be so concerned about being pushed out that they go into overdrive this makes them over the top and pushy.

When you combine this with manners its not good.

People's own mums are often prone to exactly the same behaviour however its easier to address that with them with a quick 'fuck off and stop it'

So it tends not to build and build.

I think some grandparents can get quite carried away with babies because everything is a choice so they only have to deal with the stuff they want to so its much like playing dollies and they may very well forget how certain things can make the more negative aspects harder so they are less concerned about contributing to that.

purrforamincepie Thu 26-Dec-13 12:57:51

I have an idea, which isn't a fully formed one, and I do expect a lashing of FFS!!!!!!! That's such rubbish!! Feel free. In my social circle, the men are still slightly more important than the women. In the older generation, the men are very definitely more important. Then, there's an extra layer of expectations: a woman's job is to get married and keep the men in her life happy. Be that her husband or her son.

I appreciate my own social circle may be about a million years behind everyone else, but I don't think it is.

So a woman has a son and kowtows to him and her husband and cares for them exquisitely and extensively, to her own detriment, but that is her martyrish-secretly-pleased cross to bear.

And then the son gets married and doesn't need his mother in the same capacity. At all. She's still wanting to spit on a hanky and clean his face whilst he's down at ikea with his wife. She may feel usurped. She will try to ignore this feeling and try to befriend her DIL whilst secretly harbouring resentment that it's the DIL that makes everything ok for her son, and not her. She might step over boundary lines she can't even see by telling her DIL what her son's favourite music and food is, even if the relationship has lasted for many years already. She feels helpless.

Whereas the women that have girls groom them into a modern variety of subservience, where they are educated to a high standard, in good careers, and still doing all the cleaning that they were raised knowing how to do. And when children arrive, they do the majority of that. The DM doesn't feel usurped by the husband of their daughter. She has handed over her well trained staff member to a new owner.

I think most folk would laugh/be cross at the above but I think there are grains of truth in it for a lot of families.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Thu 26-Dec-13 13:02:27

Similar to ElizabethBathory my husband and mother get on like a house on fire. They have the same taste in films and go off to the cinema now and again.

It wasn't always like that, my mum didn't think he was 'all that' when I introduced them to each other but I think she's realised that he's more tolerant of her than I am.

My own MIL is ok, she thinks I'm an air hostess (I'm not) and in vain do I tell her what I do. She didn't want anybody to marry her sons and didn't come to our wedding but she's quite protective of me now. I don't care, she's nice enough but we'll never be in each other's pockets.

I was thinking of whom I would have liked as a MIL... I think Dame Maggie Smith! I wouldn't have wanted to marry her son though, just had her as a MIL. grin

theladyrainy Thu 26-Dec-13 13:04:28

It's all about control I reckon. Women with control issues are terrible MIL/DIL's. When two collide expect fireworks!

Primrose123 Thu 26-Dec-13 13:05:03

My MIL is okay. I wouldn't say we are close, but we get on fine even though we are very different people. There were a few comments from her when our first baby was young, but I chose to ignore them, and they stopped. My FIL is quite annoying though!

My DM absolutely adores my DH. He's like the son she never had. I know she loves me more than she loves him, but sometimes it doesn't feel that way! If he has annoyed me or we disagree about something she will always back him up, which annoys me even more!

Purrfor you seem to be describing my DM to some extent. She believes men are important, and is disgusted if a wife doesn't iron her husband's shirts. fhmm I believe very firmly in equality between married couples, but I have no idea where my beliefs came from, because it wasn't from her!

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Thu 26-Dec-13 13:06:50

purrforamincepie... YY to all of that.

I think that mothers like to be the 'hub' of any family, adored by all and have their roles utterly sanctified respected as above all others and sometimes that's to the detriment of other family members as it's seen as a 'competition' almost.

'Two women in a kitchen' - perfectly true and applies to any room in the house.

rabbitlady Thu 26-Dec-13 13:09:36

i'm a very difficult person but i think i'm a nice mother in law. i like my son in law, he's good to my daughter.

SauceForTheGander Thu 26-Dec-13 13:11:53

My MIL is great. Easy going, kind and so generous with her time and doesn't demand or expect.

My DM is controlling and PA.

Both adore and love my DCs.

Swings, roundabouts.

BohemianGirl Thu 26-Dec-13 13:12:20

Mother and daughter have a totally different relationship to that between any other women. Broadly you will parent the way your mother parented, you will have the same values and you will accept her advice. Possibly your sister will come a close second.

Thats the difference. Another womans opinion will not be seen as advice, it will be interference.

Mother and sons, a whole different ball game. Same with Fathers and daughters.

MammaTJ Thu 26-Dec-13 13:15:00

My Mum doesn't like men much!

So she is not going to like her Son in Laws.

She isn't rude or anything, and doesn't really show it, but she doesn't like my BIL, who I love to bits, or my DP , who I also love to bits.

Kundry Thu 26-Dec-13 13:20:03

What purrforamincepie said, totally.

My DH could live without seeing my DM but he thinks she's OK. She doesn't tell him what to do and we have to remind her she doesn't have to keep out of our way all the time.

DMIL was a SAHM with values formed in the 1960s - the dull bits of the 60s not the swinging bits grin. She tells me endlessly how stressful and responsible DH's job is (it isn't), how clever he is (we are equally qualified), how he earns a lot (half what I do). When we married she also had clear ideas that I would take on wifework and was v judgy when I didn't. She has no inkling at all that I frankly don't have the time even if I had the inclination.

I feel quite sorry for her as she has strong values that she has strived for, and no doubt had to make sacrifices from what she wanted to do, to make sure those values were kept. And then I turn up and don't give a toss about anything she values at all. It must be horrible for her and so we are always going to clash a bit.

fluffyraggies Thu 26-Dec-13 13:38:29

My DH gets on fine with my mum. My XH got on fine with my mum. Face to face most blokes jog along with their MILs i think. They might have a bit of a dig about them in private, but don't get really stressed about personality clashes -

BECAUSE - and here's my big theory - beyond friendly chit chat, they don't actually have much dealings with them, so less scope for clashes.

Broadly speaking it is the women of the family who orchestrate day to day family events (like the family dinners, overnight visits, visiting new babies at home or in hospital, shared holidays, meals out etc. Also it tends to be, IME, the women who do the remembering of buying cards and presents for xmas and birthdays. The whole who gets what and who's going where and when all year stuff. Therefore it's between the women that fall outs and friction will tend to occur.

When a woman begins her own family she will have ideas that may differ from the way her MIL ran her own family ... = Potential Flash Point. It's just the way of things.

It's how either/both parties handle their differences that count.

(On the whole the only time you here FILs being moaned about is when they are particularly obnoxious individuals.)

Marcelinewhyareyousomean Thu 26-Dec-13 13:50:23

Great post Kundry. We just don't care about the same things.

You describe my situation. I'd add into that I expect my relationship with other adults to be different, with equal respect given. My parents/ ILs were expected to demonstrate reverential respect in their dealings with their ILs and 8 dedicatedly don't share that view. I call my parents and ILs by their first name; I can't imagine calling someone I'd known for 35 years Mrs Surname.

I work longer hours and earn a lot more than my oh. It gets on my tits to see the menfolk treated like kings. If my parents did this I would ask them not to. Dh says his parents are old fashioned. [

I'm more willing to confront my parents. We have a grown up relationship. DH has a very odd (IMO) grown up child/adult relationship with his his parents.

purplebaubles Thu 26-Dec-13 13:56:10

I don't think it's a MIL thing, I think it's just some women are nasty! And one just happens to be my MIL sadly!

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