Future MIL advice needed! AIBU?? Please help!(91 Posts)
Please excuse the long post but to explain the situation…
I’m not a Mum yet but have found Mumset a source of incredibly supportive advice in the past so hope it’s okay to ask again! I am looking for advice about my relationship with my future MIL.
My fiancé (DP) and I have been together for 3 years (living together for 2) and are getting married at the end of this year. He’s 27 and his Mum (MIL) is 52 with 6 children - DP being the eldest down to a 11 yo. Apart from DP all her children still live at home and the three eldest (18, 22 & 25) never left home to go to university. MIL was sadly divorced a few years ago having spent her whole life as a SAHM raising the kids. Her whole life is her kids and she doesn’t do anything other than look after them. She has raised them in quite a sheltered way, rarely going out or leaving the small rural town they live in, and they never watch the news or have any outside influences such as friends coming round. One of the eldest children has what I would describe as agoraphobia and rarely leaves the house or even gets dressed or leaves her bedroom. My DP somehow turned out very different from the rest of his siblings and from a young age was quite ambitious and independent. He left home to go to university a few hours away and completed postgraduate training before getting a job in London (a few hours away from MIL) which is where we met. He loves his Mum very much but enjoys what I would consider to be a healthy “normal” independent life of his own. He speaks to her from time to time and they text a lot during the week, but we/he only visits her at her home every few months.
The situation is that over recent months MIL has become increasingly clingy and emotional with my fiancé. She has been upset and says he has forgotten her and constantly asks when he is coming home. Examples of her behavior are as follows: Whilst DP was at Uni she got into the habit of giving him a wake up call every morning (yes this is a habit DP regrets encouraging), and she has been asking why he doesn’t want her to keep doing this now to help him get to work in the mornings! She said it must be because she doesn’t need her anymore now he has me.
MIL got really upset and cried when he told her that our wedding will not be in a church (we are not religious) even though MIL never even went to church herself apart from on Xmas day. She also cried when she found out that my parents are paying for our wedding, and has also been upset about various small non-traditional choices we’ve made about the day. I have felt quite stressed about the wedding because of MIL’s feelings and would have loved to just elope, but my DP says she spent their whole childhood telling the kids that one of the worst things they could ever do would be to get married without telling her.
Last Spring she announced that she had booked and paid for three nights in a local hotel so that we could stay local to her for Christmas, even though DP and I had not yet discussed what we were doing for Christmas. It never occurred to her that we might need to visit my family too or split our time. I feel like she thinks we will forever be going back to her house every Christmas and doesn’t seem to think that anything will ever change. On Mothers’ Day she suggested that DP and I might like to visit our own parents separately as we did that one year (but this was when we were first dating and we hadn’t introduced each other to our parents yet)! I think it is normal for couples who are going to be married to attend family gatherings together and not go back to their own family homes separately. AIBU??
We are buying a flat and she has been advising DP to move to various posh areas which are super expensive and we can’t afford, because she is worried about the safety of the area. When we invited her to our flat we went for a walk down the canal in Maida Vale (which is a lovely area) and she texted him afterwards to say we must never walk down the canal as it’s too dangerous!
My DP has always wanted a tattoo and last year we both got one together (very subtle and small). MIL was upset and cried when he told her, and said that she knew it would have been my idea (even though it was in fact DP’s!) It’s as if she still views him as a small boy rather than a grown man!
MIL also hates swearing which is obviously her choice, but she can’t accept that DP and I may swear at our home with each other (not excessively I might add, just what I would consider pretty average and we never swear in front of her or the siblings) and she has got upset about this.
The teenage children often ask when my fiancé is going to move back home, as if his life in London and with me is only temporary.
She has been a loving Mum and she is a sweet person so I don’t want to paint her out as a monster. I also believe the psychological aspect of this comes from losing her own parents at a young age and wanting to create a tight family unit for herself at all costs. She is also very traditional which my fiancé and I are not and so I accept there will always be differences in lifestyle and opinions. But I can’t help but be worried about how this will all play out especially if we start a family – I don’t want to spend out whole lives feeling pressured and emotionally manipulated about our choices. The pressure is exacerbated by the fact that unusually none of DP’s siblings have moved out or even have partners, so we are setting the precedent! If there was another SIL or BIL in the equation might make me feel less alone. My DP is supportive and thinks she is being OTT but neither of us know how to handle it.
It would be great to know if anyone has any opinions.
Thank you if you have read this!! XX
Always live very, very far away.
Get your DP into the habit of lovely bright breezy phonecalls where he asks loads about what's happening with her, siblings, home - and gives away very little about your life.
NEVER NEVER NEVER let her stay when/if you have a baby, for the first few months/year. You will fall out big time.
I assume your fiance corrects her?
What does he reply to his siblings?
She isn’t going to change and the more you move on with your life, the tighter her chains will become as she feels that she is losing her child. It seems to me that she sees her children as an extension of herself and not individuals in their own right. She won’t let go without a fight. Good luck.
You will have to set very strict boundaries.
This reminds me of Kiki's mom in Bad Moms Christmas She does sound unhealthily clingy especially when she has 4 of her kids still living with her
You and your DP need to read a book called toxic in laws. You can’t change her behaviour but you can control your bahviour and you need to make sure you are your DP are on the same page in regards to that.
Run away op (I mean both of you together).
Honestly? In your position I'd need to be VERY sure fiancé would ALWAYS maintain strict boundaries with her inc when you start a family, when you and he fall out...
I can see this becoming a very difficult situation.
Always live very, very far away."
Especially if you want to have kids because I suspect that will bring out a new level of WTF from her.
I've got a toxic MIL who sees her children and an extension of herself and can't understand when they make choices that she wouldn't. If these were joint decisions between me and DH, she'd always give me responsibility for things she didn't like and praise him for things she did like. We live 4.5hrs away from her and I never stay. Did you say she was 52? If so she's very young to be so traditional (I'm 50). My advice would be that you need to have a joint strategy to deal with her and your DP needs to stand up to her when she starts muscling in. Not nasty, and you don't sound like you are, just firm and assertive. Have the wedding that you want, it's not her day and I hope you are very happy together.
Blimey I thought my MIL was bad enough!! She told my SIL that her and I had stolen her boys off her and she rarely sees them now which is our fault as we have taken them away from her.
Pandering to her even a little or trying to reach a compromise always backfired as she demanded more and turned on the water works. She’s calmed down a lot now but DH is 53!!!
Stand firm live your lives keep in touch but don’t let her rule the roost or exert her influence.
This sounds tough.
My advice would be to set aside a night or day (!) with your DF to set some agreed limits. Then consistently train your MIL that those are your boundaries. You can be kind and loving, but be firm!
I could have written this. Me and dh have been together 9 years (married for 1.5) I’m 30 he turns 30 this week.
She will not treat him like the grown up man he is.
Constantly harassing him, just last night she was threatening to overdose because he doesn’t ring her and see her all the time.
I don’t have any advice except you aren’t alone and for me unfortunately, it’s not become any easier.
We are expecting a baby in May and it’s worse than ever because she thinks we are trying to cut her off from a baby that isn’t even born yet.
She is in constant competition with my family and it was really getting to me. In the end it was agreed dh deals with his family and I deal with mine. It has really taken the pressure off.
I really can’t apply my energy to her needs, my priorities have changed/are changing.
Thanks all! DP is totally aware of how she is being. He is a very secure person and doesn't let it bother him - just thinks she's being nuts about stuff and obviously doesn't agree with her point of view. I am a little less secure I guess, and it does affect me, for example the wedding stuff. makes me feel stressed. (I have disapproval issues stemming from my own mother so this is a bit of a trigger).
So in answer to your question DP is clear with her and very reassuring to me, but you can only say so much when someone is crying down the phone and he doesn't want to be unkind.
Any specific tips on how to draw boundaries now, e.g. with regards to our wedding, and her behaviour towards DP? (with one eye on the future too)
I feel sorry for her other children. She hasn't encouraged any independence, so they've become insular and immature (what teen would ask their adult, partnered up, brother, when he was moving back home?).
Do the older children go to work?
You're just going to have to put boundaries up and not let her guilt trip you/dp, and keep your distance.
Why was she upset about your parents paying for the wedding? If she's big on tradition, it is actually traditional for the bride's parents to pay.
Oh god that sounds like my mil. Threw an absolute fit when we got together and I wanted to move out of my parents. Apparently he would move in with me and she'll never see him again, I'm a witch. Apparently I am a horrible person and she made sure to tell all his family that so I get snide comments.
No wonder one of the boyfriends wants nothing to do with that family.
All I can say is, move away. Get on with your life and don't take any shit. She will ramp up the pressure no doubt but don't pander to it. Ignore ignore ignore
It never occurred to her that we might need to visit my family too or split our time.
It absolutely did occur to her that's exactly why she did it
I think you're just going to have to let her pleading and neediness turn into white noise, and try to focus on what's good about her.
It can be good with tricky people you have to have a relationship with to sometimes ask for their advice so they feel needed and like you respect them, so maybe consider if there are things she might help you with (at a distance!)
Maybe she can have a few sessions at Relate.
You and dp can also have a few sessions so as to get guidance on your specific situation from a trained professional who would have encountered this before.
Yes Motoko, the oldest (25) goes to work but lives at home. The 22yo had ambitions to go to uni but that's gone out the window and they now works p/t in a supermarket and help out at home, and the 18yo is the one who is stuck inside all day. The younger two (11 & 14) she calls her 'babies'.
I don't know why she was upset about who is paying for the wedding. DP thought it was because she hadn't been involved. I suspect she has al sorts of fixed ideas about what a wedding looks like. e.g. she has asked about her youngest DD being a bridesmaid but we are not really having traditional bridesmaids.
Yes to the other poster - although 52 and the same age as many of my friends she is surprisingly traditional. I feel like she would benefit from getting out more and meeting other Mums of grown up children so she could perhaps realise that DP is actually quite normal, but she has never done anything for herself and we don't think she would start now.
It's annoying to me and DP that none of his siblings have partners too so that things can start to change and progress. It's like she thinks DP has done something strange and radical by moving away and the other siblings are underpinning that view by staying at home.
She is always very sweet towards me so doesn't sound like some of these nightmare MIL's - as in she is kind to my face and never actually says anything unkind to DP about me personally, but nevertheless it is easier for her to link his independence from her to my appearance in his life than accept that letting your children go is a normal part of being a parent.
Seriously, stay away.
Make sure you live a deeply inconvenient distance away from her. Never, ever compromise on this.
Expect her to move close to you when her children eventually leave home though.
Honestly, she sounds like she has some really significant mental health issues.
"doesn't let it bother him"
"he doesn't want to be unkind." Yea there's gonna be more problems. It may not bother him but it (totally understandably) bothers you. And if he can't deal with her turning on the waterworks now how's he gonna deal with suicide threats, fake heart problems, fake cancer...
It's not looking promising.
Also as someone with agoraphobia myself yes that sounds like her child has agoraphobia (plus probably other conditions) too. People think it's blanket "never going out" it's not, it's rarely going out, only going to "safe" places, needing someone to accompany etc
"It absolutely did occur to her that's exactly why she did it" yep - so you were obligated to visit her.
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