Are we BU not to know how to deal with MIL, almost feel like just telling her where to go....(17 Posts)
MIL is becoming harder and harder for DH and I to put up with. We live a few hours from IL's so only see them 3-4 times a year for about a week a time but in person and on phone she's so critical and horrible to us, and to everyone else, but in constant small ways, like constant digs that make it hard to pick up on one thing but hard to ignore too.
She belittles almost everything we say, always has to be right, blames DH for any little thing he doesn't do perfectly, on and on. But how do we address it? DH won't entertain going NC and I agree, I'd miss SIL and family too much. And pulling her up on individual comments makes us look very petty. Like if she says "well you can't cook a pizza like THAT, it'll turn out all doughy and I won't eat it" it seems ridiculous to make it into a big argument but what do you do when you can barely even breathe without being in the wrong?
Smile and nod when you see her in person.
On the phone have a code word and when you say it then your partner can ring the oven beep the oven timer or call your name so that you have an excuse to end the conversation?
If you only see her infrequently you perhaps might want to pick your battles
If we get her off the phone too quick she'll only phone back when we're 'less busy', and expects a call\calls us at least twice a week, bare minimum so it feels like it creeps into our lives a lot. If we smile and nod we get told snarkily 'it's nothing to smile about!' - it's like she wants us to either kowtow or have a fight, doesn't mind which and will keep going until it happens, but if you call her out on one comment she'll brush it off as just one little misunderstanding and deny all knowledge of past shitty comments.
Could she have early dementia? My MIL gets worse each year too and DH just puts her on speakerphone and says ummmm at regular intervals whilst doing something useful. I suspect she has either early dementia or depression, but she won't see a doctor and we see her less and less as a result.
She's not even that interested in the children, although she's better 1 on 1, so DH tries to take just one child to see her once a year. We also tend o do stuff that involves her not talking ie panto,films, theatre when we do see her.
Why do people excuse rude behaviour by saying 'they might be getting dementia'. All rude mils must have it. 'My mil just slapped me and called me a bitch'. 'Maybe she has dementia'
Sadly it won't change. You have to find ways to cope with it but it sounds more cantankerous than demented.
Keep calls short. No rambling. Helps us. As does having a point, not just a chat.
And just because she's your mil doesn't mean she should be able to get away with rude behaviour
If it was anyone else would you tolerate them talking to you like your a shit?!
No you wouldn't
One cutting remark deserves another, she will soon get the measure of you then
If she's DP's mother let him talk to her.No need for you to listen to her crap.
Re calls rather than making excuses it's perfectly acceptable to end a call thusly
"Well it was lovely chatting to you mum, it's time for me to Xyz so I'll give you a call on x day a round x time if that suits (make this a time when you will also only have 15mins and DO follow through)
Perhaps rather than actively pulling her up you can take control of your responses. "Well I've always cooked pizza like this abs it suits me fine but if your quite particular about how you like it why don't you have that and I'll do the salad. It's so kind of you to help, it really takes the pressure of when having guests"
Put pizza equipment in her hands and go and get salad.
Obviously the pizza example is a little specific but the essence is;
Assert politely that your way delivers results you are happy with
Agree that her way is fine too
Distract and praise
like a puppy or toddler
a week long visit sounds a long time, especially four times a year! maybe a few daytrips or overnights instead?
phone is easy - speakerphone and get everyone to talk to her almost at once so she cant get a word in edgeways.
and i also wondered about the start of dementia
You need a stock phrase that you use each time she does it eg "I'm sorry you don't like the way we do things." Make it completely obvious that you're using the same phrase every time, and that you're not going to engage with her any further on the subject.
If she persists just say something like "I understand you don't like that" or "I'm sorry you find that disappointing" then wait for her to talk about something else.
If she continues to persist then say "If you can't talk about something else I guess that's the end of the call. Talk next week."
Don't feel you have to defend yourself, and don't give her the satisfaction of taking it personally.
I honestly wouldn't get worked up about this. My DM is the same - critical and cantankerous. She doesn't sound horrific, just irritating. Just smile, nod, say fuck off internally and let her get on with it.
I agree that four one week visits sounds a lot. (My MIL gets one or two visits of three days.) Do you use all your holiday allocation on her?
We have this problem with my ils, and it's getting worse, which is ultimately making us dread any phonecalls or visits which is so sad. DH has made a NYR to be more assertive with them to try and avoid the relationship deteriorating any further
well you can't cook a pizza like THAT, it'll turn out all doughy and I won't eat it
'Pizzas are meant to be doughy MIL - its going into a hot oven and will cook just fine. I'll leave you some dough here so that you can roll your own if you like, it's no bother.'
Pre-empt everything you do when talking to her with a weary 'right mil, how many ways are you going to tell me I can't do <insert task> this time?' so every time she replies she looks more and more petty - it will take the wind out of her sails if she can't stride into a conversation with a criticism.
Play MIL bingo and put treats/prizes in for every 5 things she pulls you up on or specific things so it turns it into a game as you are able to predict what she says and it becomes a game as you want her to say something so you get your next treat (be it a soaky bath, a glass of wine, a box of chocs, a handbag or a new coat - depends how bad she is!!)
Have a notebook and every time she tells you something you are doing wrong, stop whatever you are doing and write what she says in a book. Be OTT, read it back to her and make sure that you capture everything just right. Then once you've written it, put it down and carry on with whatever you want how you want...
And then hopefully she will start to contradict herself so you can go back to previous 'wisdom' and pull her up on it!
I agree you need to have a bank (small one) of stock responses. And oil your feathers so it is just water off your backs. You may be surprised at some changes.
Try with a larger comment to start with then a reference comment each time afterwards.
For example, my parents used to always bicker. Always. It was so wearing - it didn't mean anything big to them but just not pleasant to sit through/watch. So I started pulling them on it. "I feel uncomfortable when you do that bickering thing and would be happier if you could not do so in front of me." Then each time they started "You are doing that bickering thing again" With a gentle smile to take the sting out.
We have just had the first ever bicker-free Christmas. Was amazing.
Maybe you need to try something similar "It makes me feel very uncomfortable when you criticise every step I take when cooking. I would be happier if you could not pass comment when I am in the kitchen". If she starts "You are doing that criticising the cook thing Mum".
It will pull her up but without going in all guns blazing.
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