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DH and MIL at stalemate. Should I get involved?

(30 Posts)
diffuserreed Mon 19-Nov-18 15:02:59

MIL is a cold fish and has always had a very strained relationship with DH (he has no happy memories of her growing up and remembers wishing he had a different mum from a very early age). She has very poor social skills and when we meet most conversation is initiated by me. She makes no effort with our dc as she claims she cannot hear them! She is also very religious but not in a good way - she is very critical and judgemental of others. MIL tries to put down and undermine DH also to the point where I have to tell her to stop being so nasty but she laughs it off, she will also roll her eyes at DH and shake her head at me expecting me to join in. There is a SIL as well who believes she has had a great upbringing, and when we talk she has a completely opposite opinion of MIL. SIL manipulates situations to make it look like she is good and DH is bad. We have caught her out on a few occasions, but think it happens a lot. She has also relayed untrue information about me to MIL to make me look stuck up. SIL is very competitive with DH and is, I think, struggling with the fact that DH is doing very well in his career, and our dc are also currently doing very well - we appear to have a very good life at the moment, but work hard for it. FIL unfortunately passed away before I met DH.

As far as we know there has been no incident, but for the past few years communication between MIL and DH has dwindled from a weekly phone call from her or DH, to a phone call every 3-4 weeks always from DH. She never phones. She never visits (we have been there past few times.) It has now got to a situation where DH is refusing to phone MIL as is waiting to see if she phones him. I am now starting to feel guilty - should I have made more of an effort to smooth along their relationship? Should I interfere and phone her? The situation makes me feel so uncomfortable.

CuriousaboutSamphire Mon 19-Nov-18 15:13:14


Do nothing. Your DH has lived with all sorts of FOG, Fear, Obligation and Guilt. He has finally made his peace with it and CHOSEN to cease contact. You have NO RIGHT to undermine him because you have your own FOG.

Feel as uncomfortable as it takes. But you have to make a choice - to support the man you love or the woman who made his, and your, life miserable. Their relationship is not yours to fix, or interfere in!

Step back. Everytime you want to 'help' remember you will be acting to make yourself feel better (nobody likes that awful feeling of being impolite); you will be undermining your DH; you will be removing his right to autonomous decisions; you will be showing him that you put yourself and his mother above him and his feelings.

Just don't do it! I say that as another whose DH deliberately distanced himself from his family. I support him in that, I follow his lead with regards to his family - just as he does for me with mine.

AornisHades Mon 19-Nov-18 15:14:40

God no. Stay out of it and let DH work it through. The last thing he needs is you undermining his choice even if your intentions are good.

DeRigueurMortis Mon 19-Nov-18 15:16:29

Personally I think you need to take your lead from your DH on this.

From what you've written I can't see anything you could do anyway to smooth over decades of poor parenting and a overly critical and the unsupportive attitude your MIL maintains.

She sounds like a pretty good example of someone you'd actually want to go low/no contact with.

Relationships involve multiple parties and when one (or more) continue to behave in a way that's hurtful why would you and your DH continue to put the effort in to maintaining it?

As for how it makes you feel - we your obviously entitled to your feelings but I don't think you being uncomfortable gives you the right to interfere on DH's behalf when it comes to the level of contact he's willing to have with a mother who sounds like someone able to suck all the love and goodwill out of a room within 10 seconds of entering it.

FadedRed Mon 19-Nov-18 15:17:34

Just support you DH in his decision to be low or no contact with his mother and sister. Have a look at the ‘Stately Homes’ thread on here.

Aquamarine1029 Mon 19-Nov-18 15:19:25

Please stay out of it. Your husband is starting to see the light and to set himself free from her abuse. Just support him.

AnnieOH1 Mon 19-Nov-18 15:21:43

We have zero contact now with my mil. She occasionally emails but we do not respond. Trust me when I say having no contact at all is an absolute blessing. For the first half of your post I actually wondered if you were my bil's partner! The bottom line is she has made her bed, she can lie in it. [Flowers]

NoSquirrels Mon 19-Nov-18 15:24:59

No. Not your relationship to manage. Allow your DH the peace and space to do as he thinks fit.

Echobelly Mon 19-Nov-18 15:28:55

I sympathise OP... in a similar situation. DH has been pretty much incommunicado for over 3 weeks now with his parents who we'd otherwise seen most weeks because he's had enough of their hyper-critical, blaming ways. This includes them having not seen the kids and I was initially uncomfortable about that and some other things, but I'm taking the line that whatever discomfort I feel, DH's is worse and I must stand by him. I initially felt that bringing access to the kids into it might undermine his case (and he hasn't told his parents anything about this overtly yet), but I now get his point that if they can't make an effort with their son, why should they have a relationship with their grandkids?

They are making nice noises and asking him to over over for dinner etc, but this is just upsetting him more as it's clear they haven't recognised they have done anything wrong and they're treating this as though it's just some kind of strop that can be simply talked over.

I have spoken to MIL on unrelated topics but been clear I can't say much on the situation with DH as I don't want to risk putting words in his mouth (which they might twist around and use against him, but I'm not saying that to them).

I want an easy life, I want everyone to just get along, but I have been fortunate to have a functional home life so I know I can't really understand how he feels - I have accepted that this is not my battle and I have no responsibility to 'sort it out'.

crosstalk Mon 19-Nov-18 15:32:27

As other PPs have said - let him deal with it, just support him and be there for him to talk it through with you. Why on earth would you be around this woman and her daughter anyway if what you say is accurate? What have you and your family have to benefit from it? Sounds like zilch.

Goldmandra Mon 19-Nov-18 15:34:38

She sounds exactly like my (now deceased) MIL.

I used to try to arrange visits and put up with DH getting grumpy and stressy about going. In the end I realised I was being a mug. I stepped back and left DH to it. She already thought I was preventing him from visiting her (how ironic) so when the visits reduced, her opinion of me was just confirmed. Our quality of life also improved.

Just let it go and allow your DH to step back from the relationship if that is what is right for him.

diffuserreed Mon 19-Nov-18 15:40:23

Thank you for the reassuring replies. I very much dislike her but have made a big effort with her in the past because of who she is (DHs Mum.) She brings nothing positive to our lives, in fact she has only brought stress.

It is only because I hate people not getting on and also because I know she will be discussing with SIL how awful we are that we haven't contacted her that I am feeling like we should, but everything you say makes sense.

LagunaBubbles Mon 19-Nov-18 15:41:09

This relationship is not yours to manage. I don't understand why you feel guilty?

diffuserreed Mon 19-Nov-18 15:44:03

I think it is more that I don't like people thinking badly of me, so tend to smooth things over.

CuriousaboutSamphire Mon 19-Nov-18 15:44:31

I very much dislike her but have made a big effort with her in the past because of who she is (DHs Mum.) Well that explains your own FOG! Now you have identified it you can relax and just let your feelings of responsibility go!

You will get used to it. It is such a relief when you both know that you don't have to deal with the drama! Imagine, a Christmas doing what you want to do without having to put up with MIL/SIL and their nasty little digs. Best Christmas present for your DH, I would have thought!

IHopeThisIsAGoodIdea Mon 19-Nov-18 15:48:27

Support your husband's decision.

Aworldofmyown Mon 19-Nov-18 15:55:52

Oh god, see it as a blessing and keep out!!!!

Haven't spoken to my father in ten years - just because your related doesn't mean you are indebted to them.

Gatehouse77 Mon 19-Nov-18 16:01:41

I think it is more that I don't like people thinking badly of me, so tend to smooth things over.

Then it's more about you than about your DH and his mother's relationship/ Which is not a problem if you recognise that and take your DH's lead on the situation./

PerspicaciaTick Mon 19-Nov-18 16:05:28

Is she genuinely losing her hearing? It sounds like she has always been a difficult woman, but it is possible that the recent decline in communication has a physical basis that might need checking out.

ghostsandghoulies Mon 19-Nov-18 16:10:14

No don't get involved. Your h should lead on this matter. Interfering could be construed by your h as you thinking that he's wrong about MIL.

You should support his decision to go NC/LC. Your h won't be made to feel shit and your kids won't see her awful dysfunctional behaviour too.

Mummyoflittledragon Mon 19-Nov-18 16:12:24

Sounds very much like my family in reverse as it is my brother, who is my mother’s golden child. The manipulation comes from his wife and the violence from him. Let your dh do what he wants to do. It must be such a relief for him to be coming out of the FOG. It is for you to work on your need to feel accepted and not thinking ill of you.

Letshopeitsallok Mon 19-Nov-18 16:20:53

As a former people pleaser, I say this with compassion. You may want to look into your bed to fix things and smooth everything over. The sooner you can feel comfortable with disharmony and realise you don’t have to fix everyone’s negative feelings, you’ll feel a lot lot better.

It’s actually pretty insulting to others to try to fix things for them, if you think about it. You’re implying that they are weak and can’t handle their own emotions or relationships!

I’d hazzard a guess there’s some clues in your childhood about why you have that need. When do you think you first learns to minimise your own feelings to try to create peace?

One thing I do when I get the urge to fix other people, is to look at where I’m experiencing the same issue in my own life and go and do something about that instead. When the urge arises, there’s usually something similar of my own to deal with.

Like others said, it’s perfectly fine to let this relationship drift away if it just isn’t working.

Letshopeitsallok Mon 19-Nov-18 16:21:23

Into your bed= into your own need!

Ginkythefangedhellpigofdoom Mon 19-Nov-18 16:23:47

To be honest you'll just have to suck it up and get over how you feel.
I know that's harsh but this isn't actually about you even though I understand that it does affect you (and the children)

He had spent his whole life being unsupported, put down and manipulated by his mother and now also by his sister.

Do you really want to be another person in his life who does the same? Or do you want to be the person he thought you were, his teammate and his support against anyone out to hurt him?

Your the one person in the world he has chosen to be on his side always! (As long as he's not being an arse and hurting others etc)

I have a difficult relationship with my mother understatement and if dp ignored my wishes because he worried what she (the person who hurt me probably more deeply than almost any other person) thought of him (rather than a valid reason like he saw that my behaviour was partially causing things which is a different scenario obviously) I'd be very disappointed and hurt, it would make me feel he wasn't the person I thought he was.

NoDancingPolicy Mon 19-Nov-18 17:15:17

Your the one person in the world he has chosen to be on his side always!

Please just support your husband's choice. It can't be easy for him either.

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