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Alcoholic MIL: Out to Ruin

(46 Posts)
Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 21:48:25

Dear all,

Please don't think that this is just a random MIL bash. In fact, it's as if the person in question isn't really an MIL in the first place. I'll try to cut a long story short and not drip-feed.

I got married 3 weeks ago and my husband (26) has had a very rocky relationship with his 'mother'. She has a major drinking problem (has done since about 13), is from a non-deprived background (as in, a stable background - don't want to step on any toes!) and currently lives with her mother as she has made herself destitute through her drinking. My husband moved out of his mother's house when he was 14 to live with his grandmother i.e. his mother's mother as he couldn't take the alcoholic environment. His mother has been living with his grandmother for the past 3-4 years. He calls her by her first name or 'Mother' - never Mummy etc. He harbours immense rage for her.

In the past, I've found her rather pleasant. I had never seen her drunk. In fact, I just felt really sorry for her as she was unemployed and hates her mother, yet has to live with her. They do not live in the UK and I had met them a few times last summer (all without incident). This summer we went to their country, where my husband is from, to get married and just generally hang out there for a few weeks prior to the wedding. Over the last year I had spoken to and e-mailed the mother. I thought 'wow, how lucky I got a nice MIL!'

However, this summer's visit went so horribly wrong.

The height of the drama was when my then-fiance told his mother to put her cigarette out (it's his grandmother's house and she dislikes it too, but feels too scared to tell her own daughter not to do something). She retaliated by screaming like a banshee. A few hours later, and this is 4 days before our wedding, my fiance and I go to leave the house and she calls out 'Amy was 39, not 23'. This is in reference to my husband's first girlfriend (who he sees as an abuser. He 'dated' this person from when he was about 17 (just after his father had died and he was going through a rough time) for about 18 months on-and-off). I had no idea who she was talking about. I never knew the ex-gf's name and my husband had told me she was 29. My husband said she really was 39, but when we first got together told me 29 so as not to worry me.

I was livid with the mother. I went back into the house after about 20 mins and she had already geared up for a fight - was written all over her face. I have never had confrontation/an awkward moment in the slightest. I calmly said, 'why did you say that? What have I ever done to you?' She responded with, 'you've never done anything to me. I wanted to hurt him [my husband]'. He had spoken to her in the past about this older woman taking advantage of him and thus relayed how hurt and disturbed he was by it. He has often considered counselling. I told her she was evil, why did she seek to make others unhappy and was plain wrong, in all respects. She was getting hysterical and gesturing wildly with a lit cigarette in her hand. My husband then edged her back out on to the porch and shut the door on her - she was violent/close to it. She then broke the window to get back in and called the police on us.

A few weeks before, we had overheard the mother bitching about the two of us. She impersonated my British accent and mocking me for being 'hysterical over the wedding dress' and being all-round petty and mean-spirited. She got disinvited at that point.

When the reception day for the wedding rolled around, it emerged (after the evening) that some person had phoned the restaurant and tried to cancel the reception booking! The caller said the bride and groom weren't feeling very well - cancellation would have meant non-return of our £8000 deposit. Nobody cancels with that term written into a contract! A fake name was left and we're 99% sure it was the mother. She had also, prior to that, said, in a nasty tone, to my husband, 'there's not going to be a wedding'.

So, I really need your help. I'm sorry this is so long. Can anyone offer any insight into the mother? Is this really bizarre? She yelled at me that I was an idiot for agreeing to marry her son (but had previously said she was really glad we were getting married. She has never expressed dislike of me ever before).

Secondly, I was really scarred by the revelation of the ex-gf's real age. On one hand, I'm very angry that nobody looked out for my husband when he was 17 and said 'what the hell are you doing with this 39 year old woman and, moreover, what is she doing with you?'. It was a sexual relationship - but not until 18. I also am haunted my mental images and that he's not who I thought he was. I don't blame him for the relationship. He had just lost his father and he describes the person as a manipulator. My mother said I wanted things to be too perfect and that it's in his past and it's not like he cheated on me. A great weight would be lifted if I could come to terms with this woman and get closure.

Please help.

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 21:53:27

Sorry, the other thing that really gets to me about the ex-relationship bit was that she had a 10 year old son at the time and was separated from her husband, going through the divorce.

I'm unsure as to why/how that bothers me so much, I just know I get really angry about it.

My husband finds it very hard to talk about that time of his life and so I feel desperate for closure, but find it hard not to feel angry with him (I know I can't be angry with him). I just wish it had never happened - the relationship and the mother telling me.

squeakytoy Fri 12-Aug-11 22:19:02

I honestly think you have to try to stop thinking about his past relationship. No good is going to come out of you worrying and keep questioning him about it. It wasnt illegal. I think you just have to accept he had a relationship before he met you, it was over before he met you, and has absolutely no bearing on the relationship that you and your husband have now. It is in the past, and should stay in the past.

Regarding the Mother, if she is an alcoholic, then her moods will swing, and she probably hasnt a clue what she is saying half the time, or will regret it once she sobers up.. that isnt excusing her behaviour, but probably explains it somewhat. Drunks are never rational and rarely polite.

I think you have to accept she isnt going to be a MIL who you can have any sort of decent relationship with, be glad that she is in another country, and give her a wide berth wherever possible.

Xales Fri 12-Aug-11 22:25:53

Well I can't help on the MIL apart form to say why have contact with her if she is so vile? If he wants to see his grandmother try and do it when she isn't around.

Non deprived background means jack. You do not know what went on during her childhood and neither would your DH to be honest. For a 13 year old girl to have a major drinking problem something wasn't right. I would think it was very very much less common when she was 13 compared to now days.

This ex was separated and going through a divorce. Perhaps she was lost and lonely from a long term relationship ending and wanted some reasonable company? Why does her having a 10 year old make any difference? I have a 10 year old, does that mean I shouldn't be shagging or in a relationship but should just become celibate now (my OH is a lot younger than me and I am his first serious relationship)?

I don't see how is is anything to do with you to be honest. He could have shagged 30/40 more women. He could have shagged 60 year olds. It is none of your business. Plenty of men have the MILF fantasy, some of them get a chance to do it some of them don't.

Did you have any relationships before you met your DH?

Your DH is still the man you met, nothing has changed apart from one inconsequential detail about a previous partners age.

If you DH has problems discussing things maybe some counselling would help him come to terms with it.

Sorry the above reads a little harsh but I think you are making a real mountain out of a mole hill over the ex.

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 22:26:06

Thank you for your contribution.

The stupid thing is that sometimes I'll resolve with myself that 'it is in the past. He regrets the relationship, hates that woman and wants to never think about it again'. However, then I'll think, at other random times during the day, 'WTF was he thinking? He's not a pushover and would never normally let himself be taken for a ride'. It's like the 17-19 year old him is a completely different person to what I know now. Perhaps that's a good thing. I think I feel hurt on his behalf and yet the other angry emotions are diluting that. I know he feels immense pain and anger for and over that woman and I just want to say to his family (his mother we're never speaking to again), 'how could you let this happen to a child? Why did nobody do anything? Where was his care system?'

The mother is a full-blown nut. I can appreciate that alcoholics are never sober - after being drunk for more than 40 years, I can understand that the mother is 'always on'. I just cannot, for the life of me, understand why someone would

a) want to hurt their own son, who she professes to love, and
b) seeks to hurt me - even when she's said that I've never done anything to her.

Maybe I'm just hurt by the capacity for evil some people seem to have.

Has anyone else had similar irrational issues with a partner's history, on similar facts and circumstance?

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 22:32:02

Xales - yeah, your response was a little harsh for me, but I get your final point. Tough love from you, I suppose. I try not to think about the ex, but it creeps in every now and again. Perhaps it was because of the way I was told - the mother saying it in a malicious way 4 days before our wedding. That was something I had to process very quickly.

The 10 year old child makes a difference to me because my husband was 17-19. So, to me, it's like 'hang on, why didn't you end it when there was a kid a few years younger than you on the scene?'

There was no MILF fantasy. He considers her an abuser and that he was very lost (father just died, mother an alcoholic, his grandmother was grieving the death of her second husband. In other words, he was hugely vulnerable).

The biggest problem I had with the woman was that she was taking advantage of him - gathered from other things he has since told me about the ordeal. Because I only know now, it's as if someone right now is being nasty towards him and I feel the urge to protect him...and from what? Some woman 7 years ago. I feel helpless - and for him too.

His past is to do with me, in my opinion, because his life is now my life.

Yes, I had relationships before meeting him. The difference is that mine were "normal". I'm sure if I told him that a 39 year old preyed on me when I was 17, he'd have a shock.

NotQuiteSoDesperate Fri 12-Aug-11 22:34:25

If it helps at all, my DH had a relationship at 17 with a woman in her thirties. This was years before I met him. To be honest, it is none of my business. In fact it maybe was one of the reasons that he was such a great lover!

Please don't stress about something that happened before you came on the scene. Let the past be the past and look forward to building a great marriage for now and the future.

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 22:36:37

Hi NotQuiteSoDesperate - see the 'great lover' comment made my skin crawl. I don't want to think of him having sex with this manipulative woman! I want no connection of her in him. I know that sounds crazy and OTT.

Did you ever have a hard time dealing with your DH's past? If you had feelings of resentment (not jealousy, but just 'why did you have to fucking have that in your life?!'), how long before they went away...and how?!

squeakytoy Fri 12-Aug-11 22:37:00

He was 17, that is NOT a child. Most 17 year old males know what they are doing sexually.. this was a relationship he had. I have known plenty of 17 year old girls have relationships with men old enough to be their fathers. It happens. If he was 14 then you would have a valid point, but he wasnt, he was an adult as far as the is concerned regarding a relationship.

You are right, the teenager he was is not the person he is now, and that goes for almost all of us. We all change as we grow older, and its not unusual to regret bits of your past. I suspect if your husband told you that this woman was an amazing part of his life, you would be equally unhappy. Maybe by telling you that he feels bad about it, he is trying to make it easier for you to accept. But really, it is none of your business, at all.

Your husbands history is just that. History. And his personal history at that. You cant change it. You cant rewrite it. And it will do you no good at all to keep dwelling on it. It will eat into the relationship that you have together, which isnt what you want, is it?

I also think, there is probably an awful lot of background to his mothers life, that you have not been told. Possibly because your husband doesnt even know it. A child of 13 with a drink problem indicates a troubled life. Money and non-deprivation doesnt come into that, it can affect people of any status.

squeakytoy Fri 12-Aug-11 22:41:07

His past is to do with me, in my opinion, because his life is now my life.

No, no no no.. you are very wrong there. And heading for disaster if that is how you feel. You do not "own" him. His past before he met you is not to do with you. He didnt know you existed then, so how can it be.

Yes, I had relationships before meeting him. The difference is that mine were "normal". I'm sure if I told him that a 39 year old preyed on me when I was 17, he'd have a shock

Again, his relationship was not all that "abnormal". Many late teenage men have relationships with older women. It happens the world over. It is not by any means unusual.

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 22:42:45

I don't think she was an amazing part of his life, because he has expressed a wish to get counselling to deal with what she did to him - as he puts it, 'she used me for sex'.

I totally get the point about it eating into the relationship I have with him now. However, when the thoughts and images creep in, just sing a tune and shake my head? [Serious question]. Would you think completely ignoring it or talking it out with someone would be better?

He said he dealt with it, initially, by ignoring what happened and pretending it never happened and said it worked for him. I suppose it's only that I know about it, to its full extent now, that he feels counselling (both just for him and as a couple) could help him.

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 22:43:27

squeaky - I don't think it's normal for someone, of any age, to purely manipulate another and use them for sex, no?

squeakytoy Fri 12-Aug-11 22:47:28

He was seeing her for 18 months, from when he was 17. He was old enough to know exactly what he was doing, I would have thought.

NotQuiteSoDesperate Fri 12-Aug-11 22:49:09

Sorry, OP, if my comment was insensitive. I didn't mean it that way. I didn't get together with my DH until we were in our 30s, so we had a lot of past relationships between us. Yes in the early years I did sometimes get a bit jealous about what he had done before he met me - but I just got over it. We are all the sum of past relationships, good and bad, and these are what make us the people we are now. I think that you need to take yourself firmly in hand and look forward instead of back. Make exciting plan s for your future together. You are just starting out on what will, hopefully, be a long and happy marriage - enjoy the good times.

FWIW DH and I have now been together for 23 years - some of them very hard indeed. But we try to stay positive and not waste precious energy on worrying about the past.

Good luck with your MIL - at least she is in a different country. Now, I won't tell you about the nightmare time I had with mine!

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 22:53:18

NotQuite - no, no, don't apologise. Your final comment on that post kind of made it fit i.e. drumming into me that it's really a big pile of nothing when you think about it. If a complete stranger on the internet is beating it into you, well, then you know it's a non-issue.

squeaky - my husband wouldn't lie to me and say he didn't know what he was doing, if he really did. People don't say 'I want to get counselling' as part of their lie. I don't think my husband is up for questioning. The real crux is 'X is X and X happened. What are the coping mechanisms for me dealing with it?'

She. Abused. Him. Simple as.

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 22:55:52

The mother does not present that much of a future problem to me. We're never having contact - both of us (my husband and I) have firmly agreed that and are happy with that arrangement. He'll never forgive her for that one comment she made. To bring something up to your own child that you know will hurt them (both in terms of dragging up something that's painful for them and also in terms of it obviously affecting their new relationship), is profoundly sick.

I just can't be the only one who can't see any rhyme nor reason for what she did nor how she continued to behave (the reception restaurant bit).

squeakytoy Fri 12-Aug-11 23:01:09

my husband wouldn't lie to me

Well in fairness, he would, to spare your feelings. He has already lied to you about how old she was in the first place remember. I am not saying for a moment he was lying maliciously to you, maybe just to make it easier for you to accept. Perhaps he sensed you would have a difficult time in accepting that this relationship had happened to him.

I do think you are making a mountain out of a molehill. You are only 3 weeks married, you should be in the throes of your honeymoon, not worrying about his past like this. Honestly. It is going to spoil your life and your marriage if you allow it to.

If your husband is still troubled by this relationship, by all means let him go to counselling, to get it out of his system.

squeakytoy Fri 12-Aug-11 23:04:56

I just can't be the only one who can't see any rhyme nor reason for what she did nor how she continued to behave (the reception restaurant bit).

That was nasty and horrible behaviour. But there often is no rhyme or reason for the behaviour of someone who is an alcoholic. They are very selfish people, who often have absolutely no sense of control over their behaviour. You have two options, one of which would be to try and get her to get help, or the other which would be to cut her off.

She sounds a very troubled woman, who has not had a happy life, obviously not helping herself by her drinking, but being widowed young must also have hit her hard too.

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 23:06:27

I can see why he lied about her age. He was right too - I have freaked out over 39, whereas I was fine with 29.

Thank you for your help. However, I really can't read things like 'maybe he really enjoyed her'. It's making it so much worse. He's in the room as I type this (he doesn't know what I'm doing), and I feel rage, resentment and distrust of him all over again.

Thanks for your efforts and disclosures all the same.

squeakytoy Fri 12-Aug-11 23:10:24

But you are having emotions that are misplaced. You have no need to distrust him. You should be feeling rage either. He has done nothing wrong to you. Nothing at all. He didnt know you back then. Please please dont let this ruin your marriage.

squeakytoy Fri 12-Aug-11 23:10:49

shouldnt be feeling rage

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 23:12:38

No, I meant because of people saying 'maybe he just said he hates her to be kind to you' (when I know, for a moral certainty, what he's like), I feel rage. In other words, mis or uninformed opinions of others is making the thoughts in my head even worse.

Gay40 Fri 12-Aug-11 23:12:56

Did he always think of her in that way (an abuser) ....or does he say this now to make it palatable for everyone else to deal with?
You are at real risk of fucking your marriage up over something that essentially has nothing to do with your lives together, if you let it.

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 23:21:17

I don't think he knew what to think at the time. What little he has been able to tell me has seen him tell me that, when it came to sex, 'it just felt like, 'oh, here we go again then. I'm supposed to perform now''

He says that she preyed on him. They had known one another for about year before anything happened. It all happened just after his father died, he had law suits related to that to deal with, his aunt had just stolen money from him i.e. absolutely everyone was unavailable to him and betraying him at the same time too. He has said in the past that '18 tonnes of clue just hit me and I saw her for what she was. I had suspicions throughout, and that was why it was on-and-off, but enough was enough and I cut myself off from her.'

He has also said that she made herself out to be needy and thus he felt like he was trapped - she was going through a divorce, had a young son etc.

Spenguin Fri 12-Aug-11 23:23:11

So, in sum, I would say he thought of her as an abuser, without question, from the age of 19 i.e. end of their 'relationship' (he doesn't consider it a relationship, nor her a girlfriend - he uses 'gf' for convenience and so not to weird me out when we first got together.)

Doubts as to her credibility probably set in after a few months, but he was too blinded by other events to see/want to see. He says that he was probably looking for a parental figure - literally everyone in his family had either died or betrayed him.

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