Please help me deal with this woman(12 Posts)
Not really an AIBU just posting here for traffic.
My DP, kids and myself are spending christmas with DP's mum. She is lovely an we get along really well. DP's stepfather and I get along okay, it's DP's Stepfathers mother that is the problem.
She is very much a Hyacinth Bucket type woman, very domineering and controlling. Last year she would speak over me telling my children the opposite of what I was saying, trying to tell me what to do with my life and telling me how I should spend my money.
I am not good with confrontation and as it is DP's mothers house I do not want to be disrespectful to her or cause any trouble on christmas day.
Last year DP was very good at standing up to her when she told me that I should never buy new clothes (I was given a giftcard for a clothing store by DP's mother) and DP told her that as we are adults our finances are no concern of hers.
my own mother died very close to christmas day 11 years ago and last year DP's mother (who also knew my mum from when they went to the same university) gave me some photos she had found of my mum when she was at university. I started crying and this woman told me 'to get over it' and that 'I ruined christmas' when we were alone. DP was fuming and told his mum who was ashamed of her MIL's behaviour.
Anyone have any tips on how to deal with someone like this without causing a big row?
Why go at all? I wouldn't. Not if they keep inviting her! I'd stop...and tell them why. It's your Christmas too OP. You don't have to spend it with awful people.
It could be worse. You could be your mother. Imagine having that woman as your mil. She sounds like my mother. She’s only nice when she’s ill. Bring a dish, serve it and give her food poisoning?
Seriously though, there is no winning with these sort of people. It sounds as though any challenge to her “authority” will cause issues. So you need to decide if you want to put up with this or call her on her behaviour. You either talk to her directly and tell her “they are my children, I know what’s best” or “thank you, I don’t think we will be doing that”. Or you say to your children that grandma is of a different generation and has some very strange ideas. You can say this to them either in front of her or private. I speak to dd a lot about my mother.
yes I am glad she is not my MIL and so glad my MIL is lovely! not going is not really an option at the moment.
But do it very cleverly. Say a bright and breezy 'Hello, Happy Christmas' when you first see her, but don't ask specifically how she is, don't catch her eye on purpose or engage her in any one to one conversation. Avoid being left in a room alone with her by offering to help elsewhere. Be civil and polite but breezily aloof. Treat her as though she's insignificant.
Avoid going down any conversational avenues where you sense danger. Avoid mentioning anything about yourself that she might turn into a stick to beat you with. If she starts spouting off with anything that rubs you up the wrong way then just don't rise to it. Make vague 'mmm- hmmm' sounds and at the first opportunity turn your attention to someone else and ask them a question that will subtly steer the conversation in another direction. If you are feeling brave enough and she says something outrageous or confrontational, just look directly at her, tilt your head, practice you best poker face and say nothing ......at all.....for as long as you can. She will crack first, I promise you.
Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. It can really take the wind out of the sails of people like her. She gets off on being confrontational so you need to cut off her oxygen, deny her an audience.
What she said about your grief for your mother was poisonous, but on less significant things could you make a family joke out of it? I find humour is a brilliant way of taking the sting out of things. And yes, just be glad she is not your MIL. My MIL had a horrible MIL herself and I think that showed what not to do.
Agree use humour to shut her down. Grandma has some very strange ideas is a great suggestion. Then move on! Change the topic, suggest an activity. Treat her like she is talking innocent nonsense. She will soon get bored of not getting the reaction she craves. Let her flounce off if that's what she chooses to do. She's an adult, she's had years to learn how to be nice. It's her loss.
Astrid's reply is great. Use silence. If she says something cutting look at her and say nothing. Keep the silence. Humans can't cope with silence. What happens is the person talking has to fill in the gap. They can't help it but start contradicting themselves. Going back on what they've said.
It's really hard technique to do but works brilliantly. Try it. Much more powerful than words.
I think since she's not a close relative or someone you need to have an authentic connection with, it's probably not worth investing much in trying either to get on with her or set her straight. I'd be inclined to keep it polite but just try to engage as little as possible, or if she directly interferes, assert yourself without criticising or becoming angry.
If she contradicts something you've told the kids, say 'Oh, we normally do it this way in our family', then reiterate what you said in the first place.
If she complains about something, 'It's a shame you don't like it'.
If she disapproves of presents, just ignore and say thank you as normal.
If she says something generally disagreeable, make a neutral reply ('I see' or 'I hadn't thought of it like that' or 'Well I know there are different opinions about that'), then change the subject.
If she attacks you personally, don't take it but don't retaliate: 'Don't speak to me that way please' - then leave the situation.
Remind your husband before you go how awful she is, so he can look out for you again.
If she gets too much, take time out to go to the loo, check on the bird, text a friend etc and get some deep breaths.
If you find yourself alone with her, wrap her up in foil and stick her in the oven for 15mins per lb.
Hope this year is nicer!
if she says you ruined christmas last year... tell her tht no, I think it was you who was being rude... or tell her to get over it.
I do that breezy ignoring with my fil.....definitely works
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