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MIL on repeat, repeat, repeat

(182 Posts)
HarrysOwl Sat 06-Apr-19 09:45:02

I genuinely love MIL.

She's a lovely person, really kind and welcoming. She never interferes, is only full of compliments and she wrote a lovely letter to me welcoming me to the family when DH & I got engaged.

The only thing that makes visiting her hard is her habit of repeating stories and being talked at. The stories are the same ones. Over and over. I can't express how torturing it is to be talked AT. She's been like this for 10 years.

I've tried:
1) saying 'I remember you saying this'
2) saying 'oh yes, you've told me a few times'
3) telling her the ending i.e. 'did you open the door and there he was, in a dress?' But she carries on regardless
4) changing the subject

Nothing has worked. She has a friend who is the same and they literally talk AT EACH OTHER, over each other. They stayed with us once. It was insane.

On the phone she's better, weirdly, and you can have a slightly more two sided conversation (it's still 80/20 her talking) but in person, honestly, it's 99/1 and I feel like an unwilling audience. I mind when it's new information - it's the repeated stories that make me want to eat my teeth.

She'll ask a question but then talk over you immediately. She'll tell you every teeny detail of her weekend in Weymouth but when we came back from our wedding (we eloped, but had it videod to show her) she couldn't muster enough attention to watch it, instead she talked about work. Poor DH was really, really hurt.

AIBU? She's such a lovely lady, it's just this aspect that put me (and DH!) off visiting her. I have to convince DH to come along, as he hates his mum talking over him and at him. His energy evaporates.

We're visiting her today.

Any advice? Happy to be flamed and I'll put my good-DIL hat on!

SplinterSplit Sat 06-Apr-19 09:56:34

I had the same OP. Drove me insane.

megrichardson Sat 06-Apr-19 09:59:46

My dad was like this, almost exactly the same. He wasn't an unkind person but in the end you just have to resign yourself to the fact that

- he is always going to re-tell the same old stories
- he is not, and was probably never, very interested in the lives of his kids

I just managed to switch off in the end when he started telling me the same old stuff. You end up massively lowering your expectations and be resigned to not enjoying yourself at all whenever you see your MIL.

You have my sympathies.

megrichardson Sat 06-Apr-19 10:01:39

I should add, it's also a sign of age I think. Is she coping ok in other aspects of her life?

HarrysOwl Sat 06-Apr-19 10:04:40

I'm sort of glad I'm not the only one!

She's really fit & well, mentally alert, she's just retired and has a very busy social life.

So I think she's fine, she's been exactly the same for 10 years (ten years of THE SAME STORIES).

boilingstormyseas Sat 06-Apr-19 10:07:07

My MIL has been doing this for 25 years! Smile and a deep breath ...

Babdoc Sat 06-Apr-19 10:09:32

There are many possible reasons for MIL’s behaviour.
She may be going deaf, and keeps talking because she fears not hearing your half of a conversation.
She may be autistic, and have a tendency to monologue and repetition, with inability to read social cues or take turns in a conversation.
She may have early dementia, and keeps rehearsing stories where she remembers the end, rather then risking talking about more recent things where she may forget the details.
Or she may just be a crashing bore and not interested in anyone else’s life - but this sounds unlikely, given that you say she is lovely and welcoming in all other respects.
Have you tried stopping her in mid flow and asking her WHY she keeps repeating the same stories? Not rudely, but laughingly “MIL, that’s the fifteenth time you’ve told me this story - why do you want to tell me again?”
Or cut in swiftly and change the topic to some news of your own. Keep doing so every time she recurs to her story.

MaggieAndHopey Sat 06-Apr-19 10:10:52

My colleague is like this so you have my total sympathy - and I've only worked with her a year. How I cope depends on my general mood. Sometimes I can indulge her, but sometimes I really feel like screaming. It's like a compulsion with her, and sadly it's stopped me initiating conversations quite a lot of the time, because anything can set her off, and then it's like she couldn't stop even if she wanted to - one story leads into another, and another, and there's hundreds of tangents where she fills in backstory or adds pointless detail.

I've tried everything from subtle social cues like stopping eye contact, engaging less and less, all variants of: 'yes, I remember you saying' (sometimes followed by exact recounting of the beginning of the story word for word). Usually I just turn back to my word, nodding and 'hmm'ing occasionally until gradually she runs out of steam.

I do honestly like her - she's a lovely woman, she's got a big heart and she's eccentric in lots of ways that I appreciate. But she drives me nuts.

Candleglow7475 Sat 06-Apr-19 10:11:57

My own mum does this .... there’s one story which is told every time at family get togethers, I actually cringed last time. I can’t tell her to stop it seems too unkind. She’s a lovely person, no malice in her, but she also does the asking questions then talking over the answers. I honestly don’t know how to stop this.... (are you my SIL)??? 😁

Friedspamfritters Sat 06-Apr-19 10:13:10

I have a family member like this. Trying to get them to stop will just drive you insane. Just listen out of kindness to her. I play old episodes of Alan Partridge in my head to pass the time.

ChoccyBiccyTastic Sat 06-Apr-19 10:13:37

You've just described my mother. If you find the answer, let me know...

AintNobodyHereButUsReindeer Sat 06-Apr-19 10:13:45

Take a book grin Would she notice if you sat there reading a book during her monologues?

TheLovleyChebbyMcGee Sat 06-Apr-19 10:18:17

There was a really similar thread to tjis ladt week I think, but about someones dad, and there were so many people with a similar problem. I feel for my parents as I think its just inevitable when you get old, yoy do less things so have less new stories to tell. My parents are obsessed with my youngest niece's bowel habits!

AnnaMagnani Sat 06-Apr-19 10:21:03

I open my laptop and Mumsnet while only having half an ear on the conversation.

The person doing the repeat conversation never seems to mind or notice.

It's obviously v easy to do on the phone but also surprisingly easy in person.

GuineaPiglet345 Sat 06-Apr-19 10:21:47

DHs mum does this, all the stories are about times he got drunk as a teenager and she thinks are outrageous but actually are pretty normal, like when he got so drunk he tried to open the front door with his car key or he was sick in the porch - they were mildly amusing the first time I heard them but 10 years on I get up and walk into another room when she starts up or I’d scream!

Robin2323 Sat 06-Apr-19 10:23:41

Just s question but how is she 'lovely ' if she talks at you.

I've had men do this to me on dates.

It's rude and shows a total lack of interest in the other person.

I try very hard not to do it.

I love chatter though so the repeat stories wouldn't bother me and I'd probably be in there enthusiastic telling my story too.

It's a tough one.

user1493413286 Sat 06-Apr-19 10:24:39

You’ve completely described my mil, she tells the stories as if I haven’t heard them before and sometimes I want to scream at the ones that are thinly veiled advice about what she did for her kids nearly 40 years ago (but unwanted advice is another thread entirely). Recently I accidentally abruptly said you’ve told me this before and she was so apologetic that I felt even worse

Holidayshopping Sat 06-Apr-19 10:27:53

I get the same-we generally say very little now, and behave like a pack of nodding dogs.

If one of the children or I attempt to make a futile effort to bring some faintly current news into the conversation, she talks over us with stories from 25 years ago or tells us what Doreen from up the road’s grandaughter’s mechanic said.

It’s depressing and I dread seeing them.

MaggieAndHopey Sat 06-Apr-19 10:28:59

"Just s question but how is she 'lovely ' if she talks at you."

I can't speak for the OP, but with my colleague, who I do describe as lovely, I feel like her issue is almost in the category of some kind of social/communication disorder rather than just bad manners.

ladyratterley Sat 06-Apr-19 10:29:04

My mum & DP’s mum both do this. I try to kindly interrupt & say “Yes I remember, you told us” but it often makes no difference.
With my mum it’ll be the most pointless stories about how her neighbour owes her £1 or a tv programme where they blind tested ketchups & Tesco one came off better than Heinz....
I try to be kind because I’m sure I’m going to end up the same! But it is bloody annoying.

Giggorata Sat 06-Apr-19 10:31:19

My MIL was just the same. It was unstoppable, we tried everything. She was lovely, not narcissistic or uninterested. It just seemed to creep up in her old age and I think indicated how her world shrank as she aged.
In the end we just resigned ourselves and let it flow over us.

anitagreen Sat 06-Apr-19 10:32:44

My dads dad is the same the same stories over and over again or he will tell horrible lies then contradict himself in the next sentence confused

Candleglow7475 Sat 06-Apr-19 10:35:38

*"Just s question but how is she 'lovely ' if she talks at you."

I can't speak for the OP, but with my colleague, who I do describe as lovely, I feel like her issue is almost in the category of some kind of social/communication disorder rather than just bad manners.*

Yes^^ it’s like a failure to realise she is repeating herself, or a failure to realise she is talking over the answer to the questions she asked.
It’s like she asks the right questions and says the right things but doesn’t socially ‘get it quite right’, by talking over the answers. My dad sometimes tells her by saying ‘let them speak!’ And she kind of says ‘oh sorry!’ Like it was a complete surprise, my DH finds it really rude, but I dont think it’s down to rudeness.
It’s more like she’s in ‘broadcast’ mode rather than ‘listening’ mode!

MrsRyanGosling15 Sat 06-Apr-19 10:38:51

My MIL is like this, unfortunately not lovely though. Just rude and so self involved. I've started keeping a mental note and I honestly think it has been over 4 years since she actually asked me a question as part of a conversation. I just stay away from her now. She does the same to my dh so if you magically come across a solution, I'm all ears!

HarrysOwl Sat 06-Apr-19 10:54:48

I'm shocked she's not the only one!

It's like she can't pick up on normal social cues during conversations.

I have tried walking out the room - saying I'm going to the bathroom - and I shit you not if she's in full-mode-story-stream she'll follow me and stand outside the bathroom door.

She doesn't miss a beat of the story. She stands outside and carries on.

And then I can't pee. blush

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