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To be torn about this (MIL)

(62 Posts)
ClarabellaCTL Thu 21-Feb-19 22:52:01

My DH and MIL don’t get on well. She is narcissistic and PA, we both tolerate her for the sake of our kids and their relationship with her. She’s been making snide digs at my DH (to me) the last few times we’ve seen her. Eg, DH was taking our boya away for a few days without me as I had to work and he had some leave. I mentioned it to her and she said ‘Will he be able to cope with them’? Hugely insulting I thought, he’s their father and a wonderful hands-on Daddy. I snapped at her to this effect and she chuckled as if she’d only been joking. Tonight she is here (for the weekend) and I’m going away with my friends. She asked me ‘what will be made for dinner tomorrow when you’re not here? A boiled egg?’ I just looked at her and said ‘I’m sure DH will feed everyone adequately’ and she laughed and said ‘oh no, maybe it will be pizza’. At which point I just walked away before I caused an argument. I know if I told DH the things she says he’d be really hurt and angry, so I keep it to myself but at the same time I don’t like hiding it from him IYKWIM? It’s petty things I know, but she’s doing it on purpose and I don’t want to be the one to cause trouble by bringing it up.

Eviecee Thu 21-Feb-19 22:54:19

Ignore it. Change the subject. Bomb her with polite conversation. Or encourage her to talk about herself. And invite her to visit less often.

Ispywithmycynicaleye Thu 21-Feb-19 22:59:32

When she slates his ability to do grown up tasks such as cooking a simple meal etc, why don't you call her out on her poor parenting skills? I'm sure that will shut her up

AcrossthePond55 Thu 21-Feb-19 23:12:36

What Ispy said. Reply with a sigh "I don't know what he'll do! His mother certainly didn't teach him anything! Thank God he's got me to rectify that situation" <tinkly little laugh combined with hard stare>.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Thu 21-Feb-19 23:37:00

The other option is to act as though she is asking perfectly reasonable questions and answer. Preferably with lots and lots of boring detail.

“Will he be able to cope on his own?”
“Oh yes. He’ll be fine. I always think that hardest part of going away with kids is the travelling but they’ve finally got rid of those roadworks on the M62 so it’s much easier now. He’ll have to stop at the services for a loo break of course. I can never decide which services are the best....” (10 minute discussion on the best services on the M62 mentioning much much detail about cleanliness of loos, exactly how well the Costa made your coffee the last time you stopped and which shop sells Kit Kat Chunkys because you prefer them massively to ordinary Kit Kats.)

“I guess I’ll be having a boiled egg for dinner tomorrow.”
“No - Little Johnny doesn’t like boiled eggs.”
“Pizza then.”
“No - Fred isn’t a fan. I think there is chicken in the fridge. Fred does a nice chicken and Parmesan dish. Although I’m not sure we have any Parmesan. Maybe he can pop into Tescos to get some. I know Aldi is closer and cheaper but it doesn’t have Parmesan sometimes.” (10 minute discussion on Times You Went To Aldi And They Didn’t Have A Key Ingredient.)

Basically you want her to believe that you didn’t even notice her snide comments. As that makes them very unsatisfactory.

BareBum Thu 21-Feb-19 23:40:56

What Mumoftwoyoungkids said. That’s perfect. She’ll be so annoyed that you haven’t been upset.

5foot5 Thu 21-Feb-19 23:53:03

Actually I would be tempted to go along with Ispy. Something along the lines of "OMG, have you made such a poor job of bringing him up that he can't cook a simple meal for his children? God I hope I do a better job with my children"

Maybe the last sentence is going a bit far.

RedHatsDoNotSuitMe Fri 22-Feb-19 00:13:45

Just wait until you get home and ask her how her meal was. THEN do the tinkly laugh when she was to admit it was lovely.

Revenge is a dish best served cold...

Monty27 Fri 22-Feb-19 00:13:49

Has she got a sense of humour you don't get? She might just be bantering?
I'm sure it's not nasty OP and she could be a bit disappointed you won't be there? smile

IHateUncleJamie Fri 22-Feb-19 00:35:40

@Monty27 No, those of us who have had to deal with Narcs and PA digs are very astute at hearing digs that other people can’t pick up on. It’s never just “banter”. It’s taking every opportunity to disparage the OP’s DH and it’s ALWAYS deniable. “Oh, I was only joking”.

OP I love Mumoftwoyoungkids’ suggestion. Bore the old witch to death by pretending you can’t hear her jellyfish stings. Go grey rock and be selectively deaf. Oh and see as little of her as you can reasonably get away with. flowers

julensaor Fri 22-Feb-19 00:38:07

I agree with @Monty27; in my opinion as far as MIL threads go here, this sound pretty anaemic. It sounds like you are looking for a problem "IYSWIM" hmm. "narcissistic and PA"; all buzz terms, but in all honesty OP absolutely no facts in your post suggests narcissism or passive aggressiveness. I feel a back story is absolutely required.

JustOneShadeOfGrey Fri 22-Feb-19 01:02:04

I think you are being a tad touchy OP. MIL sounds like she’s having a go at humour but it’s lost on you. If your BFF were to say things like that, you’d have a completely different response.

Stroke her ego and suggest she might give them all a treat by making or help
DH make her famous delicious shepherds pie/Spanish omelette/hot pot or whatever.

You say MIL and DH don’t get on but that’s no reason for you to not get on with her.

Give her a chance - she is trying by coming to visit.

Northernparent68 Fri 22-Feb-19 01:18:27

There are some good suggestions on how to deal with her, but is she worth the trouble ?

I think your husband should know and maybe it’s time to distance yourself from her. Be careful she does disparage your husband in front of the children.

To the doubters on this thread I’m sure the OP can tell the difference between a joke and a dig.

Northernparent68 Fri 22-Feb-19 01:22:49

Justoneshade, there’s a reason the op’s husband and his mother do n’t get on, it’s not an attempt at humour, it’s belittling behaviour.

MonsterKidz Fri 22-Feb-19 01:29:13

I hear you OP. I have had the same issues with MIL, although different in that it’s always directed at me and never DH!

When I’ve called her out on it she has pleaded humor! I called you a slug (yes, really!) but you must have known I was JOKING!

Be the bigger person and move on. I w argued about it and it wasn’t worth it. She’s not ever going to be someone i will win an argument with or get an apology from.

julensaor Fri 22-Feb-19 01:43:00

@Northernparent68 - To the doubters on this thread I’m sure the OP can tell the difference between a joke and a dig

How are you so sure, she started off by calling the person narcissistic and passive aggressive and the rest of the post was just fluff. Maybe he was a lazy arse son, who knows, but the minute a MIL is mentioned the tribe come backing the DIL who takes offence at a 'bad joke'.

SilverBirchTree Fri 22-Feb-19 01:46:17

If she really is a narcissist & you want a relationship with her, I suggest you keep your powder dry for a bigger problem.

Don't engage with her, she's doing it to annoy you and be the centre of attention. Witty retorts or getting upset just reward and encourage the behaviour.

If she makes a comment say something boring and non committal like 'hmm.' 'I understand you see it that way.' Or ignore her and change the subject 'the weather is clear today isn't it MIL?'

MarthasGinYard Fri 22-Feb-19 01:55:44

Has she got a sense of humour you don't get? She might just be bantering?

This is how I read it too

IHateUncleJamie Fri 22-Feb-19 13:08:35

If the MIL is narcissistic or in any way toxic then people doubting the OP’s radar for digs are being supremely unhelpful. @julensaor I’m sure if the OP’s DH is in any way a “lazy arse son” she would know about it because he’d be a “lazy arse DH” too.

People minimising toxicity and Cheeky Fuckery as “banter” are part of the reason why CFs and Narcs get away with their behaviour.

CripsSandwiches Fri 22-Feb-19 13:34:48

I'd be tempted to laugh and say 'if he can't manage to cook a simple dinner I'd be worried about how he was brought up! What kind of notherc
Doesn't even teach their child to cook a meal eh?' smile politely and walk off.

CripsSandwiches Fri 22-Feb-19 13:37:27

I know this is aibu and our job is to assume the op is wrong on all counts and pick apart her personality as much as possible but I'm just going to trust her when she says mil is a narc. Op would know if DH was useless and lazy and she N hardly provide a full detailed review of their history to prove her mil is a narc. Let's just take her at her word.

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Fri 22-Feb-19 13:42:38

NPD is actually extremely rare, always over diagnosed on MN though.

About one percent of people are believed to be affected at some point in their life. It appears to occur more often in males than females and affects young people more than older people

Odd how its always old, females on MN that have this rare disorder. and here are the traits:

The DSM-5 indicates that persons with NPD usually display some or all of the following symptoms, typically without the commensurate qualities or accomplishments:[6][9]

- Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people
- Fixation on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
- Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions
- Need for continual admiration from others
- Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
- Exploitation of others to achieve personal gain
- Unwillingness to empathize with the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people
- Intense envy of others, and the belief that others are equally envious of them
- Pompous and arrogant demeanor

IHateUncleJamie Fri 22-Feb-19 14:02:46


NPD is rare but this is most likely to be because the sufferer doesn’t believe that there is anything wrong with them. Everything is someone else’s fault and they are perfect but very unlucky because people are always awful to them. In which case, you will NEVER get someone with NPD going to a therapist or GP about their MH therefore they are never or very rarely diagnosed. It’s a vicious circle.

It is diagnosed by proxy, by the victim’s therapist, but usually it’s just the victim who’s diagnosed with c-ptsd/anxiety/depression and so on.

The other issue is that narcissism is a spectrum and many people have N Traits such as over-entitlement, lack of respect for their adult children, trampling on boundaries and general Cheeky Fuckery. Making nasty little digs and deniable insults is toxic whether the person is diagnosed or not.

The OP hasn’t said her MIL has full blown NPD, has she? What she says is that the MIL is narcissistic and passive aggressive and you don’t have to be a Psychologist to pick that up.

FWIW my mother has been diagnosed by proxy as a disordered malignant narcissist, a sociopath and an abuser. The only people who know about this diagnosis are my DH, DB and DSIL. She was diagnosed by my two separate therapists after almost 3 years of counselling. I haven’t made it public though and there will be nothing on HER records which probably explains why it’s so rare.

That doesn’t mean toxic behaviour somewhere on the narc scale is rare though, and those of us who have experienced it can spot it a mile off.

KatnissMellark Fri 22-Feb-19 14:06:41

It really doesn't sound that bad confused

IHateUncleJamie Fri 22-Feb-19 14:13:32

@Katniss no, I agree. But equally, it doesn’t sound like “banter”. We probably need more examples from the OP though.

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