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How to manage mil?

(23 Posts)
mrsXsweet Sat 09-Feb-13 22:25:04

Mil was an only child and is the mother of 2 sons. This strikes me as relevant as she is used to getting her own way and cries if she doesn't.

Pil do not have many (any) close friends. Fil fills his time with parish council, gym and looking after his elderly mother. Mil has no activities so sits at home (doesn't drive) and stews over perceived injustices.

The latest injustice is she thinks my parents have been seeing more of the grandchildren than she has. This is incredibly insulting as we have been scrupulous in ensuring that my parents are not favoured and celebrate major occasions altogether. My parents end up with less alone time with the grandchildren as we often see them and my sister at the same time. Anyway mil has decided that this is not the case and is demanding to see more of the children. They are coming at the weekend and she knows that we know she has had a big tantrum.

I am already dreading Christmas, this year we will be going to my parents (last year we were altogether, year before at theirs, year before that altogether) but it will also be our sons first Christmas. She is going to cry when we tell her that we will see her on Boxing Day.

I don't really know what I am asking just want to have a wee rant about her manipulative behaviour really. People who don't know her think she is generous but with us there is always a condition attached to any gift and she loves to tell us that she is changing her will.

onepieceoflollipop Sat 09-Feb-13 22:30:31

mrsX i could have written most of your post. My mil also is emotionally manipulative, a very angry and unhappy, jealous woman. I have no magic solutions/advice.

CailinDana Sat 09-Feb-13 22:40:35

Ignore her and carry on with your life exactly as you wish to. You aren't responsible for her ridiculous behaviour. If she wants to cry, let her.

jelliebelly Sat 09-Feb-13 22:46:39

Ignore her.

forgetmenots Sat 09-Feb-13 23:25:15

Agree with above, you can't manage her but you can manage your response to it. How does your DH feel about it?

mrsXsweet Sun 10-Feb-13 09:59:16

My dh is fully aware of how she is but still finds it difficult to tell her things she won't want to hear. So for instance he has taken a week to pluck up the courage to ring her and ask her to stop always buying presents for our dd (she has so much stuff and is getting a bit grabby) because her was scared of her reaction.

LilQueenie Sun 10-Feb-13 10:07:05

So much like DP as he wont say boo to his mother. He even takes the blame for her when she does/says things or just sticks up for her. We dont see much of her now because last time I opened my mouth and told her straight to back off. She undermined me in front of DD and I wasnt having it. Dp doesnt want her to visit because apparantly Im too rude/mean/moody! all because I stuck up for myself when he wanted me to shut up and make polite talk when she doesnt even listen or answer me.

OP remember your DH isnt you and you can speak up yourself. It may cause a bit of an argument but the sheer relief and ..well i cant think of the word...but the feeling is great when you do. I just felt like HA you havent walked over me. My house and Im back in control of it.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 10-Feb-13 10:17:43

You did not make her this way, her own parents unleashed that lot of emotional damage on her. What do you know of her childhood?. Pound to a penny it was emotionally abusive. Its far more complex than her just being an only child and that fact has nothing to do with why she is the way she is. She was spoilt and indulged by her probably own spoilt and indulged parents in childhood thus the cycle of dysfunction continues.

Your DH is probably in the FOG state re his mother - fear, obligation and guilt. Even though he is now an adult he seems very afraid of her and her reactions (this is partly because even now he still seeks her approval). He has also had a lifetime's conditioning at her hands which makes any attempt to stand up to her now even more difficult. But he must do so for his sake as well as yours; his primary loyalty should now be to you.

Am I surprised to read that these people have no close friends - not at all actually. FIL gets out of the home as much as possible.

Do what you want for Christmas and ignore any tantrums that MIL throws.

Would suggest you read Toxic Inlaws written by Susan Forward. You will find your MIL and FIL within those pages. I would also look at his role in all this as well, he is likely to be a bystander; a weak man who acts out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. He has not managed to protect his son's from his wife's malign influences has he and has completely failed to do so.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 10-Feb-13 10:18:57

You need to bear in mind as well the very real possibility that he will never be able to stand up to his mother.

Charmingbaker Sun 10-Feb-13 11:00:33

My MIL is the same, also an only child, FIL goes for the path of least resistance, the result is we see very little of them. They live a 2hrs drive away, but have visited us4 times in 16 years. We visit them once or twice a year. MIL doesn't like cities so refuses to visit us, even though nether have worked for years and they're only in their early sixties.
We never do Christmas with them, not having her spoiling my Kids Christmas.
After our yearly visit last summer (very stressful as usual, one of our DCs was ill at the time, we thought a few days in the country would be good for him). She was her usual nightmare self, when we returned home DH had had enough and spoke to her about her behaviour, she blamed it all on FIL and said if we didn't like it there we shouldn't go (she's very stubborn and NEVER wrong). We haven't been back since, however we are waiting to see if obligation and guilt kick in over the summer.
I do find it quite sad as our DCs are there only grandchildren (no chance of any from BIL) and they live by the sea in a beautiful part of the country, I would love to be able to visit then every month or 2. I also worry about their lack of support as they grow older. They (well she) have fallen out with all of FILs family and have no contact, they have also fallen out with both neighbours - spot a pattern.
Sorry I've not offered any advice at all, just had my own little rant.
For us, speaking to MIL has made no difference over the years. DH is seriously considering cutting off contact, I don't think it will come to that, but it will be limited whilst it is stressful to see her.

Mollydoggerson Sun 10-Feb-13 11:17:20

I think the best thing to do is to always remain polite, civil and cordial to her, but also stand your ground. Don't give in to tantrums and remain firm wrt your rules in your house. Don't give her ammunition against you but also always be your own person. In fairness do you reaally care if she goes off on a hissy fit?

BTW we have xmas at home in our house to avoid all the usual BS.

flubba Sun 10-Feb-13 11:23:45

My MIL isn't as bad but is similar in terms of getting huffy when we require some time to ourselves etc.

Re: Christmas - it's good that you've had a precedent of not always being at theirs - so now you simply say that you're going to do one Christmas all together, next with your parents, then again all together, then with his parents and so on. (Or better still, book yourselves a 'your own immediate family only' Christmas too) - and you can sell it that kids don't really get Christmas when they're 1 or under, so they'll be 'getting him' when it's much more meaningful to him.

Jux Sun 10-Feb-13 12:01:30

Oh, it's ridiculous, isn't it? MIL was like this too, to the extent that if she knew my mum was round she'd just turn up. There's an occasion which I am still gobsmacked about. Mum on one side of the room, dd playing with her handbag, MIL turns up, sits on other side of the room, and starts calling "come and play with my bag, dd, look at my bag".

DH was a complete wuss too. i figured I would be the bad one, and no skin off my nose, so stopped pulling punches and just told MIL whatever arrangements were her business, and ignored her childishness.

flubba Sun 10-Feb-13 12:28:47

Jux I can see my MIL doing exactly the same!

I, however, am going to be a wonderful DM and a very D MIL when the time comes wink

Abigail9580 Sun 10-Feb-13 12:38:24

Oh my goodness, I think we have the same mil!! Mine doesn't work and like yours spends most of the day on her own and thus stews on things all day!! I have taken to dealing with her head on, when she complains about not seeing grandchild I very politely state all the times in the last week I have called/ text her trying to organise something and have been ignored etc. basically my method is to be super nice, and always initiate the effort so then she has no come back. When she throws her toys out the pram I also then have my partners full support as he is aware of the effort I make!

mrsXsweet Sun 10-Feb-13 13:13:28

Jux, that is exactly the kind of thing she would do. Abigail I could try the super nice but she would never say no!

Dh's 92yr old grandma hasn't met ds yet, I offered to take the children up on my own to see her, mil rejected this as grandma would want to see dh as well (fair enough). So I said why don't we come to u this weekend instead and then dh could visit grandma. This was also rejected because she wants a weekend away (I think it is more likely that she was worried that we would pop into see my parents). So she said "you will come at half term", now dh has inset, dd has hospital appt and nursery parents evening , ds has jabs, we are going to London one day and i was getting my haircut. All of these are on different days. Now I feel like I need to cancel my haircut so dh's grandma can meet her great grandson.

I think if she was less demanding and they were less keen to get rid of us so they could have the children to themselves i might feel more accommodating.

This weekend visit came about after she left dh an answer phone MSG crying saying that she needed a date they could come for a whole weekend as he had promised (he hadn't) and so couldn't back out of it. She then told us "you will go out for the evening and we will babysit". We don't bloody want to go out but might have done if she had said, "would u like us to babysit so u can go out for the evening"!!

HMTheQueen Sun 10-Feb-13 15:51:27

Mrs : my MiL is similar in that she does her utmost to get rid of me to get DS on his own. She will tell us when to visit, not ask and will tell us that we are giving her a lift. Unfortunately as my DH died, I am the only one around to tell her to BACK OFF. It doesn't always work and we have recently fallen out, as I reached the end of my tether with her.

Sorry, rambling!

All I can say is commiserations and good luck.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Sun 10-Feb-13 17:06:27

There's a long time before Dec 25th so in the next 10 months practise saying to her, "I'm sorry you feel that way" and treat any pleasantry as a bonus. She can huff and puff and make FIL's life a misery but the bossy phone calls and tears should roll off you. There's staying in touch and there's jumping through hoops to please MIL. I wouldn't be surprised if your phone develops dodgy reception or sometimes cuts out altogether mid-nag, "Hello? MIL are you still there? Oh dear what a nuisance there goes the phone signal again" etc. wink

Dare I ask how she is with your BIL, does he have a partner who gets nagged too?

mrsXsweet Sun 10-Feb-13 18:31:12

BIL is a car crash, dh is the prodigal son. Bil has 2 children (less than s year apart but different mothers) and has no contact with either, PIL still see the youngest one. I think this is part of the problem in that they are desperate to hang onto us but their behaviour causes me to occasionally fantasise about divorcing dh!
HM I am so sorry about ur husband, it must be difficult maintaining a relationship with her for ur son's sake when she drives you mad. Does she not realise u r a saint!

mrsXsweet Sun 10-Feb-13 18:32:17

a year apart

HMTheQueen Tue 12-Feb-13 10:26:56

It's not easy! (Hence all my threads in Relationships).

I've recently reached the point of no return and said somethings to her that I have bottled up for the last 10 years. Currently working our way through the fallout. But I'm hoping that it will make her aware of my feelings and that the world does NOT revolve around her!

delilahlilah Tue 12-Feb-13 12:59:46

Arrgh! angry just wrote long reply and lost internet connection and the reply!

Anyway... in brief... I think she needs setting straight. That her behaviour ias pushing you away. Yes, there would be fallout, but less I would imagine, than if the tension continues to build.

There is no way I would let her deprive a 92yr old lady of time with DCs. That is spiteful on her part. I don't see why she needs to be involved in that anyway? Just do it and deal with her afterwards.

I think you need to have a long conversation with DH, when all is calm and explain your fears. Tell him that you are worried that she is going to push it too far, and it will be more difficult to resolve than tackling it head on now.
I would say she needs the 'we love you, we want the GCs to spend time with you ... BUT... it isn't going to be arranged by emotional blackmail, it is going to be mutual agreement. ( adding a 'ps do what you like with your will, it isn't the reason we have a relationship with you!!!')

2rebecca Tue 12-Feb-13 13:40:38

I agree with telling her that her behaviour is pushing you away and also that you don't like the competitive grandparenting and that how much your parents see your kids are nothing to do with her and that the fact that she seems to be keeping a tally is insulting and petty.
Kids don't have to spend equal time with both sets of GPs. Mine actually see my ex's parents more because they live nearer. Thankfully my dad doesn't ask me who they are seeing when and gets on with his own life and sees the kids when it's convenient for us.
I'd stop telling her when your parents see the kids. If they just saw the kids once a year would she also see them once a year so things are "equal"? It is silly. I would tell her that this sort of nonsense makes you want to see less of her not more.
Does your husband's grandmother live with his parents? If not I don't understand why you are involving your MIL in discussions of when you'll visit her. It's nothing to do with her.
I'd visit her as often as you and your husband want to visit her, ignore the tantrums and stop discussing your schedule with her, just be vague.
You are adults and don't have to update your every movement to her.

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