AIBU to be annoyed with MIL and how do I deal with it!(23 Posts)
Short version of a very long story, DH has addiction issues. For most of our relationship these have been under control. 3 years ago something happened and he fell off the wagon very badly, doing well again now, but highlighted something has to change and he has finally been given a place in rehab to learn how to resolve his underlying issues and generally deal with life. He, hopefully, goes away this week, which will be hard for all of us, but better now lowering the risk of him relapsing when dc are no longer young enough to be unaware.
DH and MIL's relationship has always been shaped by his past. He doesnt like to say no to anything she asks as he feels very guilty about the problems and hurt he's caused her and "just wants her to be happy". She likes to look after him and spoil him to the point that before we got married I sat them down and said no more lending / borrowing / giving of money, I only want to marry someone who can stand on their own 2 feet. She seemed to get it, he didn't, but they both promised and for several years, I believe they stuck to it. Also babies him when she visits and is very good at smiling, nodding and agreeing when I ask her to help me out by not doing something and explaining why, then carrying on. On the rare occasion DH asks her not to do something she's been dismissive and refuses.
Then when he fell off the wagon the borrowing / lending / giving spending money started again. For most of the time he was off the wagon I concentrated on our dc, detached emotionally and just offered support when he asked for it and otherwise left him to sort his issues.
Now around 6 weeks ago she rang me very upset, he'd spent all his (our) money and asked her to help him out with bus fare, she rang me to say she'd said no because he'd already taken money from her and she couldnt afford her rent, etc, etc.... Now I did know he'd asked her for money to pay debts he'd run up whilst off the rails because he'd told me - my reply being that I wasnt happy about it, they'd both promised no more, it wasnt fair on her, but that I was pleased he'd been honest despite knowing that I wouldnt be happy.
Not sure she got the reaction she expected from me. I explained that I think she's lovely and care about her, but that I wasnt going to get involved, it was between her and him, I'd asked them both not to and it had caused massive arguments between us when it carried on until I decided that it was between them and not to get involved. That I'm not happy with him about it and he knows it, but asked her again to stop as it really doesnt help, it reaffirms in his head that he's incapable as mummy had to help out, makes him less careful with money as he never has to grasp the concept that when it's gone it's gone, because it isnt, encourages him to lie to me instead of fessing up when he's messed up because he has an easy way out which then leads to self loathing on his part and he detaches, etc, etc. Also suggested she get counselling to help her deal with stuff, become stronger and detach a little, because he's a grown up who is responsible for his own actions and successes / failures in life and it's not fair on her to take on any of that responsibility.
Since then she's voluntarily spent I'd guess well over £200 on him ??????????? He'd asked if I'd be happy with him buying a cheap music player for when he goes away as he won't have his phone or other entertainment and thought it would make a big difference having music to listen to when struggling with being away, facing issues, etc. He'd seen one second hand for £10 - actually pretty proud of him at the time, usually he wants the most expensive / best and is financially feckless and impulsive (one of his issues he's going away to work on). Said so long as he worked hard on being better with money for the 2 weeks prior I'd be happy with that, he beamed. Then he mentioned to his Mum that he was going to get one and she's bought him a brand new one, plus a game as an early Christmas present, plus a phone (that he can't take with him and is on a contract that we cant afford that he signed up for whilst they were in the shop together looking for a phone for her and options for a one for him "when we could afford it") and some clothes to take with him whilst away.....
Clothes convo with me:
DH I'm a bit worried I don't have enough comfortable clothes for when I'm away
Me Well why don't you go through them and see what you have, pack nice and early and I'm sure you have more than you think. Happy to go though them with you when you've had a look. Of course we'd all like new clothes, but can't afford it at the moment and pretty sure you have enough.
DH Oh, okay, thanks
Clothes convo with him Mum:
MIL Are you ready for going away?
DH Yeah, I'm just a bit worried I don't have enough clothes
MIL Why what do you need?
DH Well I'd like....
subject changes, she buys them.
Been raging for the last couple of weeks that we're all suffering financially because of his relapse / financial fecklessness, yet he's the only one not facing the consequences because a) MIL's spoiling him and b) she's bought him a game (for no real reason / occasion) to bury himself in and avoid real life. Yet trying not to say anything to either of them because he is about to take a massive step to sort his issues and don't want a huge row a few days before. Also that he didn't say "you know what Mum, kind though it is of you to want to spend all that money on me DW is in the shit financially because of me so it would rub her nose in it ?"
So then I get really dropped in it financially, by him, and, first time ever he takes responsibility for it and asks his Mum to help me out - didnt know he'd asked or she'd said yes until after he'd sorted if for me, feel like a fraud, double standards etc, but very kind of her.
Then later they have another chat on the phone and later that night I ask him what's wrong as hes been detached and out of character and I'm actually worried he might have had a minor relapsed and be beating himself up instead of fessing up. He says he had an upsetting convo with his Mum, she said she wishes she was dead because she's already been worried sick about money before helping me.
I know that I have a DH problem and my rage is displaced, I know I should be thanking her from the bottom of my heart for helping me out, BUT he does so much better with money and everything in life and surprises himself with his achievements when she butts out.
Today's our last family day before he goes away and he sprung it on me last night that she's invited us over. Said he's sorry, should have checked with me first, agrees we don't get much time together and our relationship could do with some quality time before he goes, but she put him on the spot and he didn't like to say no, but we don't have to go if I don't want to. Going to have to go now he's said yes as she'll really be looking forward to it, but am part grateful to her, still raging at them both and feeling cheated out of the chance of one last fun day for our little family before he goes away
Sorry, that was long, iabvu arent i?
No yanbu. I suggest you sort your finnces out while you are away and move out.
You have explained your situation beautifully and I totally understand what is happening BUT as you've stated yourself, the problem is your DH, facilitated by his Mother, but he is still the problem.
After this time away are you planning on calling it quits if he screws up again or are you in it for the long haul?
YANBU. Spend the time he's away getting advice about extricating yourself financially from him.
Wow. You poor thing. I applaud you for sticking with this man-child, I think I would have given up years ago. I strongly suggest you completely separate your finances and I wouldn't be going out with his mother to play happy families either.
No real advice, just shocked at how much you've had to put up with. Hugs x
This is tough. ((Hugs))
Your MIL needs to understand that she's killing him with her kindness.
Whilst it's natural to want to help your child, her help is actually hurting him.
Maybe rewrite this post (your OP) for her, and whilst he's away go through it with her.
She is only trying to help, but she doesn't understand the harm she's causing.
For your own sake, you sound like you have ring-fenced your finances so he can't hurt you / the family too much. But, as you say, when he spends the family money he is hurting you. Is there anything you can do to get the "family share" of his money/ salary before he throws it away? I understand you can't and shouldn't manage his money, he needs to learn responsibility, but it sounds like he has to accept responsibility that a share of "his money" needs to go into the family pot.
(If you haven't already, - I'm sure you have - get your free hour with a solicitor to get advice about ring- fencing your/ family assets.)
(Btw - am Married to someone with "light" gambling issues, so I understand a little of your problem. ...we're currently separated, but not due to gambling.)
Awww thanks, expected to be called a total biatch for not being all grateful to MIL
To those who have asked - ALWAYS said that if he messed up after we had kids he'd be gone, but whilst it was and always is his choice the circumstances were such that I could understand why - support / medication withdrawn and residential rehab refused (been asking for it for over 4 years now :-(). Also even Social Services (who were called when he sought help for his relapse) signed us off with a lovely letter saying that he was a positive influence in dc's life, that they never had cause to think that his being in the house was a risk (just at times unable to look after himself and others), that we'd both taken all possible steps to keep his addiction from dcs and they were happy in my judgement as to when he was capable of looking after them. So instead decided to detach emotionally as much as possible to give him the space to sort himself out and that while ever he was showing a desire to recover the door would be open to see if we had a marriage left afterwards.
Last couple of months before the showering of gifts had actually started to feel happy again just being with him and seen lots of effort on his part to pull his weight.
Just so frustrated that almost everytime things improve, then go backwards, MIL seems to be involved somewhere. Don't get me wrong she's a lovely lady and I usually get on really well with her BUT surely from seeing the progress he's made during our relationship (everyone who knew him before comments on looking better, improved self confidence, like a different person, etc.) she should realise by now that tough love and consistent boundaries work best.
We've compromised on an hour at the park first so got to go, thanks for all the replies.
Another thought, is it worth discussing the mil issue with your DH's key worker? It sounds like they have a toxic relationship. Not meaning she is horrible, just that the way their relationship works isn't right for him.
A part of me thinks that maybe you need to be in control of how often they see/speak, in order to ensure that she doesn't keep derailing the good work. But then the other part of me thinks that this needs to come from him/her. No easy answers I suppose.
Your MIL is an enabler and her son is making full use of it. Send him off to rehab, pay her back as soon as you can and give a lot of thought to your future. Maybe you and DC would be better off without him living under the same roof?
Do you think as part of his rehab it may be worth you talking this through with the councillor and having the councillor then speak to mil about it? It may come across better from a professional 3rd party x
Thanks all, thought I'd got somewhere with his Mum, done the isnt helping in fact quite the opposite chat with her 4-5 times over the years and, like I said in my op it seemed to stop after I said it to both of them before we got married, it now seems it was down to him that it stopped as she agrees, looks genuine, then carries on regardless.
This time I spelled it out as in I dont want to be married to someone who will spend money on luxuries (given by her) when we as a family can only afford essentials. It's incredibly selfish and if it carries on we will divorce. She seemed upset, hugged me, agreed, then offered me a fiver to give to him on my next visit which I strongly refused as he has everything he needs... Then bought him a tenner phone credit... She isnt going to change :-S
Think somewhere in her dna she has some deep down "need" to look after him and he's so tied up in fog based on his unpleasant actions to say "no" to her unless he feels very strongly and then is ignored. Some pretty extreme examples too eg he was immobolised for a while after an accident, she treated him to nice food to the point even the nurses raised their eyebrows. When at home she use to cook lunch and tea for us once a week, fab break for me, but dh was piling on weight to the point he got very unhappy. I started cooking more healthily, she carried on regardless to the point where he was getting almost as many calories in that one day as the rest of the week together (think roasties in duck fat, pastry, deserts, wine, etc). Eventually he poured his soul out to her and she said never mind the weight will fall off when you become active again and carried on regardless. I had a word, she promised to stop, didnt, we said no to the help...
Strange without him in the equation we get on very well, but... Definitely think it's a toxic relationship but she wont get help to change and isnt a toxic person so confused as to what to do. Tackling her on it just seems to stress her out and upset her, with no resolution, so don't see the point in trying again, just starting to want to distance myself from her, which is a shame.
Unfortunately, she won't access counselling or any of the groups his rehab has recommended. She just seems to want it to all come from him and for him to be given treatment and to be fixed! Yeah I know!
Rehab arent encouraging contact with her and will encourage him to look at relationships in general. His worker, sigh, yeah the ones who eroded his self confidence over 6 months when he was clean and repeatedly refused residential rehab, the ones who insisted he traveled daily to a centre with active addicts despite it being a trigger, the ones who were so kind they encourage him in self delusion, none of whom, despite supposedly offering counselling picked up on the one issue that he couldnt live with himself for and was stopping him staying clean until I untrained picked up and supported him to deal with within weeks of meeting him, as did the social worker, as did rehab. Sorry, think most are genuine people, but have to say over 7 years and at least 50 different key workers most have done more harm than good and he thrived and stayed clean only during the time he had minimal contact with them.
Dont suppose anyone has any advise for him to see just how toxic the relationship is?
Still keep feeling like it's me and I'm being a bitch upsetting him mum
It's not you or her, it's him. I don't think she sounds toxic, just a different type of person to you. Focus on him and his behavior. He's an adult, his choices are his own.
Agreed with you for a long time Morris, but then started to see him admitting he needs help, has poor decision making and makes mistakes, trying to change and asking for help then seeing his Mum right there rolling her eyes in a oh what's dh done now kinda way when she was right there next to him enabling him to overspend, bailing him out so he doesn't have to face the consequences.
He has to be stronger too. It's not just mil. He knows what she's like, hence bringing up the clothes. Also, it's not her fault if he keeps eating. God forbid, but if mil wasn't there, what would your DH be like?
Thing is, I don't think he does know what she's like. To him, she's his mum and she's lovely and she likes doing things for him because it makes her happy. Thats one of the reasons it feels like a toxic relationship to me, he finds it almost impossible to say "no thanks", thinks it will offend her and wants to make up for the past by keeping her happy. Use to think he'd got it all wrong, but starting to think her (un)helpfulness is more about her needs.
He's only stood up to her and said no a couple a handful of times one being the food and it really hurt him that he spoke to her twice the second time being really open with his feelings and asking her to bring healthier food and she just ignored him. It wouldnt occur to him to not eat something he (and she) likes, would see it as a total affront to her and worry about upsetting her. So he asked me to have a word as she seems to see me more as an equal (unfortunately I get the impression more of a co-parent, grrr), I was really blunt, she agreed, yet carried on :-S until I told her we didnt need her help anymore...
The clothes, well she rings him every night, so he does tend to tell her everything he's feeling especially on this as she asked. He thinks it's normal for parents to indulge their adult children (then throw it in their faces that they have money troubles). In the past I've thought he's been manipulative, but with this I was stood right there close enough to hear both sides of the convo and he wasnt, just mentioned it as a genuine concern of his and she leapt in to the rescue, then wonders why he's never had any self confidence and felt incapable.
Yes, it would be nice if he said no thanks mum, but meanwhile is there any way to stop her "helping" for both their sakes?
When she's not around, is ill, or has no money to throw at his problems, sorry to say that he behaves much better and is sooo much more confident and happy! Just wish they could have a more adult relationship.
Oh and with the food he totally cut down on every other day, no grumbles, was really proud of him, just on MIL's visiting day, 2000 calorie per meal supermarket finest meals were on the table...
Oh come on lets not put the blame on his mother here. You have a man-child for a husband and I am sure it makes you feel better to put all the blame on your mil, but it is your husband fault. Your mil even phoned you up saying HE asked HER for money. They both have a cycle going on here so it is so unfair put all this on the mil.
It sounds like you are talking about a teenage boy here...really sad.
I'm afraid I agree with Rebecca, sorry. It's not realistic to expect the parent of an adult to apply the 'tough love' principles in line with the demands of their child's spouse.
You could be telling my story, except it was FIL who was the enabler - to the tune of £30k over 10 years.
It was not his fault that he constantly wanted to help his son out. The complete fault lay with my Ex-H who fell off the wagon and would spend mortgage and bill money and then run round his Dads for help.
The first thing I did was to separate our finances and I ensured that I didn't rely on his money to pay mortgage and bills.
I had a very strong conversation with FIL and said 'If your son was on heroin, would you go out and buy smack for him, because that it what you are doing by constantly bailing him out'. This was the shock that FIL needed to stop giving his son money.
Best thing that ever happened as when Ex-H fell off the wagon again, he decided to steal from me. That made me realise what a selfish ba&£ard he really was and I got rid.
It's not your MIL's fault, it's down to your DH. Maybe rehab will give you some space to think things through yourself and realise the impact that your husbands addiction is having on you and your family.
Surely a parent is exactly the person who should be applying tough love and boundaries?
How is giving your DH money when he has a spending problem, any different to giving an alcoholic booze?
Irresponsible and I think your mil is in the wrong.
Being honest it sounds like both of you are over parenting him!
Your annoyed with her but between the two of you your like fun parent and firm parent! Tbh I doubt your DH is ever going to learn to be responsible for himself whilst both of you are so quick to either tell him what to do/not do (you) or fix it (her).
You all make a lot of sense and thank you Lucy for sharing your story.
Think i just need to accept I cant get through to her, she can do what she wants and to distance myself a little from her. Maybe work on some firm boundaries too because I'm not up for her complaining to me about the consequences of her enabling (her being skint / putting him down for his actions that she's been a participant in). Nor am I up for putting myself out for her other than little things when I'm already at full stretch. He was virtually estranged from his family when we met, so I do know he does better when she backs off a bit, but you're all right not my decision...
Think I'm extra sensitive at the moment because it's his last chance to sort himself out and if he doesnt it's unlikely that he will be in dc's lives (yes he was clean for several years pre the decision to start a family) and they need him so it's bugging me that, in my eyes, she's (a small) part of the problem and wont change. Yes, of course it's also easier to transfer blame to something that seems fixable, her actions, rather than his, that are entirely down to him. Not sure how I parent him, I have boundaries for my own well being, but even his family have said hes seemed much more confident and independent since being with me...
Also a little hurt that I'm starting to see her a little differently and need to work hard not to resent that she'll do so much to spoil / enable her son, but has only seen dgc three times while he's been away, two when she came with us to visit him and one when I did all the driving (3hrs). Yet turned down my offers to meet her near my work which would be a much shorter journey for her. So seems while he's been away as she seems to think it's down to me to enable their relationship as well as being a single parent, working and enabling dh and dcs relationship.
Just need to let it go and enjoy peace, quiet and dc...
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