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To go NC with MIL

(164 Posts)
passthedouche Sun 16-Nov-14 04:41:25

This is a long story I'm afraid but the details are important I think. I have known my MIL since I was 13 (when DH and I were first dating), I am now 40, and we have always had a strained relationship. She is very passive-aggressive, and makes snidey underhand comments about me - everything from my looks, the way I parent, the way I run the house, how much work I do/DH does etc - that I just try to ignore. It is never outright criticism but very indirect and underhand. She also sulks with both me and DH, and we often have no clue why. She kinda gives you the silent treatment or starts blanking you. It is very weird and uncomfortable. I make a very big effort to make her feel welcome when she stays - in fact DH says I bend over backwards and am almost arse-kissy, but it doesn't help. We now live in different countries so she visits us for a week at a time about 3-4 times a year. She used to stay in our house, but I put a stop to that as it was too much pressure, so now she stays in a local B&B which is mildly better but still strained.

Things got more serious about 5 years ago, when my now 14yo DD was 9 yo. It started to become readily apparent that my DS (then 7) was the preferred child. She has other grandchildren, but she always talks about the boys more fondly. There was an incident during one of the visits at this time when she got annoyed with my DD (for not following one of her barked orders) and she 'sulked' with my DD. A time when she was alone with DD the treatment she usually reserved only for me was now being experienced by my DD - she said that granny was 'looking at her funny' (glaring), and wouldn't speak to her and would only acknowledge my DS. She kept saying to DD that she was only talking to DS because 'he does as I say', and 'he wouldn't tell tales to your mum'. I confronted her about this (the first time in my entire life) as although I had put up with years of her nonsense for my DH I was NOT going to allow her to treat DD like that. I had it out with her, she denied it all, accused DD of being a liar, me being hysterical and a liar too (as I had overheard some it), so I went NC with her for 3 years and refused to let her see the DC's as I felt she was toxic. DH was in bits about this and it broke my heart because he loves his DM and he was really hurting.

Fast forward to last year and my DD (now 13) asked to see her again and my DH was pushing for it too. We discussed it at length and she wanted to give her another chance and asked me to reconcile so I did. I swallowed my pride and said, for the kids sake, I thought it would be a good idea to start afresh. She never acknowledged any wrongdoing and we have had three visits since then and basically nothing has changed. My DD (now 14) doesn't really want any more to do with her and thinks she is awful. Same behaviour as before really. I never said anything to DD about what I think MIL thinks of me or my other children, but DD says that it is obvious that she prefers DS (13), hates me and is uninterested in my other two DD's (6 and 4). DD even asked me to promise I wouldn't let her look after our two younger DD's (which I never would). I agree it is pretty obvious that she does favour DS and he adores her. My other DD's adore her to, and at the moment they can't see that she favours DS but I am sure it is only a matter of time.

I have spoken to my DH countless times about his DM but he has never stood up for me or his DC's in this regard, and he never will. He thinks it is pointless and will get us nowhere. His view is that all MIL's and DIL's have issues and I am over-reacting and should just suck it up. He also doesn't think that her having an obvious favourite is a big deal. Am I being unreasonable because I think it IS a big deal and that I really don't want the DC's around this woman?

ColdCottage Sun 16-Nov-14 04:48:44

I think that is so sad. Your poor daughters.

I think your DH needs to sit down with her and explain what she is doing is not on with examples. Has your dd14 spoken to her dad directly?

passthedouche Sun 16-Nov-14 04:53:10

Yes DD14 has shared her thoughts many times with DH and the response he has given her has always been that with granny you take the good with the bad.

He won't sit down and talk to her about it because he will see it as pointless as she will get defensive, will stop speaking to him, and nothing will change. He is right as that is what happened when I spoke to her about it.

passthedouche Sun 16-Nov-14 04:53:58

sorry my post has appeared three times! I don't know why.

BernardlookImaprostituterobotf Sun 16-Nov-14 05:02:06

Yanbu.
Your DH needs to put his wife and children first.
I would go NC, let your eldest dd do so too. I would usually say if it's a personality clash the dc don't get involved and DH has no ultimatum but deals with keeping the gp relationship going but in your shoes I wouldn't feel comfortable - you know how damaging her behaviour is and you can't trust your DH to protect them from it. He won't support you, he won't support the best interests of his children. There's your main issue as far as I can see - it's horrible he was hurting but it doesn't seem to have been enough to get him to do what was necessary to change things.
As soon as she was pulled up on it and didn't cut that shit out with my dc then that was the line crossed - it became her responsibility but she clearly won't do anything different because her precious boy won't go against her so she loses nothing and carry on being appallingly behaved to children she supposedly loves. It's not like you haven't been the bigger person and tried, is it?

Mrsstarlord Sun 16-Nov-14 05:03:16

Is it possible that he doesn't see it because he is male(I.e. Of the favoured gender)?

FWIW not all MIL / DIL relationships are like that, I wasn't close to mine more like terrified of her and I suspect she wasn't overly keen on me but we behaved like adults and were pleasant to each other.

Your MIL sounds like she has issues, your DDs shouldn't have to deal with that YANBU

ColdCottage Sun 16-Nov-14 05:07:30

It seems she was given a second chance and blew it. I think going NC is extreme but I can see where you are coming from.

I would say that she can't see the children until they are 16 and then if they choose to see her it is there choice. I would not ask my DH to ever NC with his mother though. He can talk to and see her is he chooses but without the children as I agree if it is that obvious it is damaging to the DC as it also gives them a warped view of how men and women are treated.

This is so sad.

passthedouche Sun 16-Nov-14 05:10:46

Thanks for making me feel better as sometimes DH makes me feel like a spiteful bitch /over-protective mum (he hasn't called me those things I just feel he doesn't get it). I forgot to add that she also has form for outright lying when she is confronted which makes it very, very hard. I have been told by DS that she has slagged off older DD to him saying she is a 'drama queen' and 'flaky', stuff like that. i think that is shocking but DH just tries to brush it off.

I do wonder if deep down he knows it's screwed up but loves her so much he doesn't want to see it. I do think it speaks volumes that the 'favoured gender' in the family all think she is utterly wonderful, and all the females think she is an utter bitch!

Charitybelle Sun 16-Nov-14 05:21:57

Get MNHQ to remove the other 2 threads by reporting them as duplicates. Otherwise it's going to get a bit confusing in a couple if hours when people start to wake up and comment on them.

FYI, you are not being unreasonable. She sound like a very manipulative person. Limit contact with your DC as much as you reasonably can. What your DH does is up to him, but protect your kids from her.

BernardlookImaprostituterobotf Sun 16-Nov-14 05:33:01

Sorry for appalling SpaG my phone lag is dreadful and can't see what I've written!

I would stop my children seeing her until you can trust him to supervise, which tbh may never happen, and let him deal with it. You've explained to him, you've sucked it up, been the bigger person and it's made not a single bit of difference to her or to how he sees you -valid feelings, making an effort for his sake & dc etc- .
She's not going to change. You have absolutely valid concerns about the effect of such pernicious spite toward your dds and golden child status of your Ds - please don't allow your DH to try and turn this back on you, it is not ok for you to be treated with disrespect and malice aforethought just because she is his mother, it's not ok for your children. It's easier for him to coerce you than to deal with his mother, it's absolutely to his benefit too. I would make an issue of this if it came to it. And did. It was the best choice for us. Your DH needs the Stately homes thread...and/ or a final rocket up the bum and to take the natural consequences of his actions, instead of you.
You aren't a bitch not at all. Sorry if loads of x posts - I dropped my phone in the loo, I don't recommend it!

passthedouche Sun 16-Nov-14 06:17:44

Thanks so much for your responses everyone. So helpful, all of them.
Any advice on how to approach this with DH? We are getting on so well right now, and one of the only things we fight about is this issue, so I am worried about his reaction. He really wants the DC's to have a relationship with her and has been talking about the next visit, and when i went NC last time he really made me feel that I was denying them their grandmother. He couldn't see that that is what she had done (with her actions) and he had done (with his lack of action). Kinda wishing I had never caved as I did the hard yards 5 years ago and now I have to go through that all over again!

minifingers Sun 16-Nov-14 06:29:18

Well, I'm going to swim against the tide and say you need to teach your children some tolerance, and learn to develop some yourself.

We grew up having lots of irritating relatives. My aunt (who we lived 6 doors down from) hugely favoured my db. My parents were lovely and we used to laugh about our grumpy and mean aunty's favouritism at home, rather than take it to heart and treat it as an emotional crime against us.

I think you are being a bit precious.

glenthebattleostrich Sun 16-Nov-14 07:05:55

There is nothing precious about the op.

My great aunt was the same as your mil op, I had no relationship with her from age 11 when I noticed her behaviour. I didn't see her again apart from the odd family party where I was allowed to avoid and \ or ignore her.

You are protecting your daughters, that's the most important thing.

MsAspreyDiamonds Sun 16-Nov-14 07:07:14

Does your dh have a sister & how is she treated by your MIL? Does your MIL have any brothers? I think this will give you a clue about her hatred for females.

My frienda mum hated her, preferred her db over her and this has really mentally affected her. Her mother used to wish her dead, beat her, withdraw food & sulk like your MIL at the drop of a hat. A real nasty woman, she believed that men were superior so deserved better treatment.

saltnpepa Sun 16-Nov-14 07:08:25

I'm sorry but I'm struggling to see what she has done so wrong here. Yes she is manipulative, underhand and passive aggressive, so she has pulled a few faces now and then, made a few barbed comments and had one argument with your children. Would you like to swap her for mine? What you describe are the usual strains and difficulties in any relationship and I think to go NC over this is a huge over-reaction. NC surely is saved for major transgressions against the whole family? Along the lines of violence, fraud, lies etc, a few bad moods, sulks and dirty looks is standard in the normal strains of most families. So yes I think you ABU.

winkywinkola Sun 16-Nov-14 07:37:00

No way is this normal or acceptable behaviour.

Op, I think you need to grow a pair and show your horrible mil the right way to behave. Your dh is spineless and you can't let your dds believe it's okay to favour one child over another.

Every single time she behaves badly, you need to pull her up on it.

Say stuff like:

"What are you sulking for this time?"

"I'll thank you not to glare at my dd like that, thank you."

"In this house, we are polite and do not give each other the silent treatment. Please behave yourself."

CSIJanner Sun 16-Nov-14 07:59:41

I take it as your DH is her son, that he was favoured also?

Either he faces the problem and mans up to talk, or the next option is NC.

LadyLuck10 Sun 16-Nov-14 08:07:55

I also agree with mini here. I think you are making much more of a drama out of it and encouraging your dd who was still only little at the time to do the same. If you do feel like she's favoring your DS then you should speak to her about it rather than choose nc as the only option. It's clear you don't like her, but these issues are not big enough that it can't be worked out.

vdbfamily Sun 16-Nov-14 08:12:33

I am also going to buck the trend here and say that going NC is an over-reaction. You say your 3 youngest adore their GM so denying them the right to see her is not reasonable. Maybe your oldest daughter and she have a bit of a personality clash and they should just have minimal contact. My in laws refused to come to our wedding because they didn't feel I was 'good enough' for their son. They refused to see us for 12 years and even put the phone down on DH when he phoned them to say they had a grand-daughter, but we kept trying and now see them monthly. I fought for that relationship as I wanted my kids to know where they came from and I coped with their bad behaviour by reminding myself that my DH who I love dearly, was made by these 2 people therefore,however much they were hiding it,there must be some lovely bits in there somewhere! Despite not seeing them for 12 years,we always talked about them positively in front of the kids and tried to give a simple explanation for the NC. This meant that when the kids met their grandparents for the first time aged 11,9 and 8 it was a positive experience. I think the problem is enhanced by the fact that she stays for a week each time.That sounds like such hard work. Maybe some of those days you could leave your DH in charge and you go and have a special day with your daughter.

redexpat Sun 16-Nov-14 09:07:53

Well i have no issues with my mil. In fact i dont think ive ever met a more generous, kind and loving person. My mum said the same of her mil. My sis is v fond of her mil.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 16-Nov-14 09:18:24

I am shocked at the responses supporting this woman's behaviour. So you think its ok to make snidey comments at a child, to treat one child better than another? The blanking, igonring dd and talking to ds. This is not just the child's word vs granny, op has experienced this behaviour, and its starting to shift to her dd. She does sound toxic, and your dh needs to grow a backbone and defend his family. It does sound like she preferres the boys, so dh and your ds don't see it, but you, your dd bear the brunt of this behaviour. Your other dds are still very young, but in a few years time, this will be passed to them to. I would distance myself from her, your dd has already said that she does not want to see granny, fair enough, so your dh can take the rest of the kids to see her. You and your dd don't have to be subjected to awful behaviour. Eventually your other dd will not want to see her too once they can see how differently granny treats them to their brother.

saltnpepa Sun 16-Nov-14 09:38:33

Everything vdbfamily said. Part of being an adult is working through things not just walking away, do you mind me asking how old you are? It seems your DH is being made to suffer for really what amount to fairly minor transgressions. I think you need to respect his family more and find ways to get along with this woman, I'd suggest pulling her up each time she is naughty and making it very clear how you expect her to behave around small children. Don't expect her to get it, you will need to keep working at it, but surely it's worth it so your husband keeps what is minimal contact with his mother and your children keep a grandmother. I think NC will make you look hysterical and spiteful which isn't how you want to come across is it?

passthedouche Sun 16-Nov-14 09:45:15

MsAspreyDiamonds - she only had three boys, one of whom she hasn't spoken to at all since he was 20 because he challenged her. She has other older grandchildren of both sex and speaks very badly about the girls, and very favourably about the boys. She knows I don't want to hear it so doesn't say it to me anymore, but she does to my DH. I tell him he should make it he clear he doesn't like hearing bad stuff about his DN but he doesn't listen.

I readily admit I don't like her at all. I would have continued to tolerate negative behaviour towards me, and had done for years, it was when I saw her behaviour affecting my daughter that made me get tougher.

passthedouche Sun 16-Nov-14 09:47:36

saltnpepa I am 40. If I pulled her up every time - or even one time - all hell would break loose. The last time I did that she packed her things and left half way through her trip. She would not discuss it.

winkywinkola Sun 16-Nov-14 09:54:05

Then let her pack and leave. Do you care?

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