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Mother-in-law keeps flaunting her wealth

(123 Posts)
feellikeahugefailure Tue 16-Feb-16 10:39:32


I'm in my late 30s, two children under 5 and generally things are good. However I haven't had a pay rise for 8 years and with surviving a round of redundancy pretty much every year. I know we are both lucky to have a job and live in one of the richest countries in the world and we never go hungry or cold. However I do feel like a bit of a failure as I've been trying for years to get on the housing ladder and every year it just gets harder and further away. Most things we have in the house are hand me downs and we haven't ever had an abroad holiday as a family and can't really afford a car. Every penny we have just about goes on keeping us above water with nothing left over in a good month. I still think we are doing ok. I know lots of people don't own their own home, although Germany its only 10% less and France is about the same as the UK but they have proper renters rights. Our current landlord has put the house up for sale so we will soon have the 3rd move in 5 years.

All of this is fine really. But my mother in law has a lifestyle very different to ours. She seems to come round and talk about her "problems" but never listen to ours and just switches off. Recent problems included that the high end microwave knobs aren't recess-able but the oven above does, so it doesn't match and that the builder put the isolating switches in the wrong place. Or she will go on about some fancy holiday she's had. I do think well done to her, but its getting very grating and sometimes it feels like she's rubbing it in our faces. I know for her world these are big issues, it feels very insensitive.

She bought a rug she didn't like so brought it round to us as she assumed we would want her rejects.

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Tue 16-Feb-16 10:45:55

So just because she has more money than you, she's not allowed to talk about her life? And she tried to do a nice thing by offering you a probably expensive rug. But you 'don't want her rejects'. Okaaaay. hmm

Fairenuff Tue 16-Feb-16 10:47:48

It may be that you find her problems boring and she finds your problems boring. Small talk can be boring. Try and find something different to talk about and change the subject often.

MintyChops Tue 16-Feb-16 10:49:24

I suggest you do as she does and simply switch off while she complains about her problems. If you don't want the rug tell her thanks but no thanks. Perhaps she actually thought you would like it? She didn't have to offer it. You sound jealous to be honest.

GloGirl Tue 16-Feb-16 10:50:28

I am getting a booked about the mismatching buttons and it's not my house! That is well worth of a complaint <twitch>

As said above, her problems bore you but yours probably bore her too.

spankhurst Tue 16-Feb-16 10:56:39

I DON't know, I'd like to think if my adult child was struggling somewhat for money, I'd help out a bit if I was comfortably off. Does she know that things are tight for you?

Xmasbaby11 Tue 16-Feb-16 10:57:57

Hmm I don't think she'd consider that flaunting get wealth as such - she's just talking about what's going on in her life. She's at a very different life stage to you and it won't help you to compare.

Do you feel she should help you out financially? My parents are not loaded but they can afford holidays. They have chosen to lend and give Dh and I money to help us out - it's a normal thing to do in our family.

PaulAnkaTheDog Tue 16-Feb-16 10:58:29

I think you're being unfair, probably because you're a bit resentful, which is understandable. Yabu, sorry. The rug thing was her trying to be nice but you took it in the wrong way. Her problems are hers, the same way yours are yours. You can't compare and say yours are more worthy of discussion, that's not fair.

LastOneDancing Tue 16-Feb-16 10:58:51

I'm not sure if she's 'flaunting her wealth' or whether she's just a bore.

I had to endure the same really boring conversation - twice - yesterday with my DM about the WI. Her life isn't as exciting hmm as mine with my interesting tales of my crap boss and crazed toddler.

Would you be ok with the boring chat if she paid the deposit so you can buy not rent?

TattyDevine Tue 16-Feb-16 10:59:26

It can be a bit draining can't it.

My mother is often going on about how wealthy she is. Keeps saying how many properties she owns and how much her bank shares went up and so on so forth. I'm pleased for her but it's a bit embarrassing when she does it in front of my husband.

Still she always says how she's going to pass it on to me so perhaps she's being nice or wants some gratitude, which I give her (Oh well, that's lovely mum, if thats what you want to do, but let's not think about that now, you've plenty of years" etc etc)

I think partly she's just surprised and pleased with herself for working hard and being cautious with money. That, and being a baby boomer of course, does tend to result in a reasonable stash by her age so good for her. If I didnt have my own home or was struggling though, I think it would probably grate my tits.

PennyDropt Tue 16-Feb-16 11:03:17

Sell the rug online.
Where is DH when she is round, I find men are v good at 'listening' and not engaging.

Better he chats to her than you if it winds you up.

WorraLiberty Tue 16-Feb-16 11:04:41

These are just normal, every day problems that people make small talk about confused

As for asking if you wanted the rug, is that suddenly not a nice thing to do?

If she's given it to a friend, you might be on her complaining that she doesn't put family first?!

I get that things are difficult for you right now, but that's not your MIL's fault.

Kewcumber Tue 16-Feb-16 11:06:29

She's making small talk re the knobs/holidays etc - small talk generally is boring but I don;t see that as "flaunting her wealth". What would you like her to talk about? Does she/you have any hobbies or have any thing in common?

It would be quite normal for someone in our family to offer around stuff we don;t want - no offence would be taken.

But yes it can be miserable being hard up - but being on the housing ladder isn't going to make you less stressed - it just switches the stress in my experience from worrying about how long you can stay somewhere to how you're going to afford to repair the leak/bath/shed.

Is it any consolation if I said that I'm a bit skint but my sister who lives a mile away has three houses, two swimming pools, an Aston Martin and more "cheap" cars than I can shake a stick at. She doesn't understand my life at all but we manage to converse pretty well with a bit of good will on both sides. I don;t assume she's flaunting her wealth, I assume she's talking about her life, she can't discuss struggling to pay the rent because she doesn't.

shovetheholly Tue 16-Feb-16 11:08:02

I don't think she means to flaunt her wealth at you. She does, however, sound incredibly self-absorbed. To the point that she just can't see that there are greater forms of suffering than mismatching knobs (that sounds wrong grin).

It's exhausting having to make ends meet all the time, feeling worried whenever a big bill comes in. And no, her problems don't really compare to your fight, and bollocks to anyone who says they do. She sounds like the kind of person who just doesn't have much empathy and who simply cannot understand the grinding nature of your day-to-day. I'd try to avoid her as much as possible and let your DH do the heavy lifting.

Does she really understand how you feel about your situation? She may not realise how tight things are for you so doesn't really appreciate the impact of her words. Also if everyone around her has similar wealth, it is easy to lose perspective. I earn a lot more than my siblings and work in an area that is well paid. I am very circumspect what I say (none of them have any idea what I earn because they might guess I earn double what they do but in fact it is 5-6x more). If there is a big income gap, it is very easy to sound like you are rubbing other people's noses in it when you are just talking about everyday life.

I suspect it is lack of thought rather than deliberate showing off.

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus Tue 16-Feb-16 11:14:22

It really doesn't sound like 'flaunting her wealth', OP. At all. Talking about what's going on in your life isn't 'rubbing people's faces in it'.

Whycantweallgetalong Tue 16-Feb-16 11:15:03

I actually thought the mil was driving up OP's street in a Ferrari or showering the DC with overly expensive gifts. But no, she just talking about her mismatched oven knobs confused, but then she offered OP a brand new rug she decided she didn't want, but OP didn't like her 'rejects'. It doesn't look like she can do anything right to be honest, if she offered you money I dare say you'll be offended by that as well as it'll be insinuating your a charity case.

I think it's you with a chip on your shoulder.

WickedWax Tue 16-Feb-16 11:16:40

Most small talk bores me, I got bored reading your first paragraph tbh, sorry.

I'm also getting twitchy about the non-recessable microwave knobs grin.

I think she was trying to do a nice thing with the rug.

If she gave you a big lump sum of cash would that make her small talk more palatable to you?

paxillin Tue 16-Feb-16 11:17:09

Are you sure she is gloating? I think the problem is you want what she has. That is not her fault. What could she be talking about?

We have mismatched furniture, all second hand and I have no problem at all sympathising with my mother when she moans about some problem with her fabulous new sofa, because I'm quite happy sitting on a cast off. If I was madly keen on a new sofa I might (wrongly) think she was gloating.

And our sofa was somebody else's reject, I am happy they thought of us, we didn't need to buy a new one and they are rid of theirs. Had I not wanted it I'd have said no thank you, but ask Auntie Mabel, hers has seen better days.

Badders123 Tue 16-Feb-16 11:17:15

I do sympathise to a point, as we are in the same boat financially. On paper it looks great but we live in a money pit and have no savings.
I don't think your mil is flaunting. She is talking. Your own feelings of inadequacy (?) are doing the rest.

KaosReigns Tue 16-Feb-16 11:18:11

Well you have my sympathies at least OP. Having just listened to my own DMs sob story about how no one is willing to offer $150,000 over RV on her house within a month of listing it, and she can't buy her 4th new car in 3 years.

Then my MIL and FIL and how expensive it is to heat their giant house, and apparently llamas are more expensive pets than you would imagine.

I am pregnant, haven't been able to work in 4 months, struggling to get maternity leave and had $20 for food this week, for two adults. We are also facing moving for the 3rd time in 2 years. Every cent of our savings is gone, and the bills just keep growing.

They are all aware of this, but MIL still helpfully suggested we should start putting some money away each week to prepare for baby. So yea I was a bitch and said "we would love to, but as we have had to cancel all of our savings APs in order to eat at least 1 meal per day, and drained all of our accounts I don't think we will".

Rich people should just stick to bitching to other rich folks if they need to vent. Same as how a size 10 doesn't get to complain to their size 18 friend about how fat they feel, its basic tact.

TheVeryThing Tue 16-Feb-16 11:19:04

I sympathise OP, as my Mum can be bit like that.

She's not boasting, she's just telling me about her life (and her way of communicating is to tell you about everything little thing in great detail).

Her life just happens to involve lovely holidays, meals out, theatre trips etc.

I'm very happy that my parents are in position to really enjoy their retirement and I don't begrudge any of it.

It's just that sometimes, when you're feeling stressed and a bit ground down it's hard to muster the enthusiasm for other people's holidays, new kitchen etc.

On one particularly memorable occasion, we were totally broke and very stressed as FIL was seriously ill (in a coma, from which he never recovered) and I had a text from my Mum saying 'Venice is stunning'!

I'm lucky that my parents are generous and supportive so it's easier to cope with this aspect of my Mum's personality.

It's different when it's your MIL and she doesn't appear to have much interest in your life.

I would agree with the suggestion to just zone out a little bit when she goes on and try to remember that she's not deliberately flaunting her relative good fortune.

KaosReigns Tue 16-Feb-16 11:19:29

They're not gloating though. Just thoughtless as fuck.

And I may be a teensy bit hormonal...

AutumnLeavesArePretty Tue 16-Feb-16 11:20:19

She's making small talk or is she never allowed to speak for fear of upsetting you?

She only offered you the rug, family and friends offer things all the time rather than wasting good items. You say you have lots of second hand items so why is this any different simply because it's her?

You have made different choices, if holidays and home ownership was so important to you you could have held off having two children (very expensive) and taken second jobs, moved roles, trained etc first. You can't have everything you want in life, it's all about choices. You have made yours as has a she.

llhj Tue 16-Feb-16 11:22:05

Why doesn't she help you out? How well off are we talking about? Mils generally can be dull but then can't we all?

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