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Met DP's mother...She's "difficult";. How do I play this?

(135 Posts)
kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 10:02:19

My DP, who is an only child, and I have been together for 6 months and I really want the relationship to work. The main potential problem is his mother.

I, like every women he's been with, am only after his inheritance (her semi in a not nice part of Surrey), but he's too stupid to see it. She threatens to kill herself because she's lonely and no one cares. She cried when she found out I'd stayed the night at his home - a neighbour saw me leave. She makes comments about my appearance (ugly), education (poor), family (common) and has started talking about writing him out of her will. He used to be so kind before he met me, but now she's ashamed of his (unspecified) cruelty to her.

She also has keys to his house, which he gave her when he was having work done, and lets herself in when he's at work; he has asked for them back, but the suicide threats start again, which distract him from the task at hand.

DP moved back to his home town when his father, who died two years ago, became very ill. He sees his mother twice a week and calls everyday.

She's an intelligent, capable women in excellent health, who appears to have lots of friends. I hate that this is relevant, so please don't hate me for saying it, but I own my own place and my family are "posher" and richer than hers.

She is very open about the fact that he ruined her life and career when he was born, so he owes her.

Does anyone have any advice on dealing with her? How should I expect him to behave if we're going to have a successful relationship? Is it even possible to have a successful relationship with someone like that in the background?

DontmindifIdo Wed 08-May-13 11:29:31

Well, the obvious solution to moving away is he rents out his place for 6 months and moves in with you. No point running two houses, the keys would be irrelevant then, why would she need keys to a house her DS doesn't live in? And you can insist she doesn't get keys to your house/flat. Do'nt give up your house and move in with him. It has to be on your turf and you to be the independent one - remember this way round if your relationship ends, it's easier for you to throw him out to go back to his mum's until his tenants move out.

I agree that killing her with kindness is a good way to go, but she won't change. Your DP's reaction to her might change, but in my experience, adult children of parents like this only change after something big. the low level stuff now that you see as unreasonable is just the way he's been raised, this is his normal, it will take her going mental over something for him to see it. If she never does that, then he'll never see that it's that bad.

TippiShagpile Wed 08-May-13 11:34:56

How old is he?

If he's 45 then I'd run for the hills.

If he's 25 I'd give it a while and see how it goes and whether he will change.

My dh is mil's favourite child and my relationship with her has been tough at times. I had some amazing advice on MN a few years ago about this (different name) and as a result I changed my attitude towards her. DH is completely on side and that helps hugely. I call her on her rudeness but generally am kindness and jollity personified when she's around. It's hard work sometimes and I can see my children looking at me as if to say "Why are you doing that ridiculous sing song voice mummy?"

I have the upper hand in the relationship now and she knows that. In some ways it's not a great way to be (I'm not like this in any of my other relationships) but it's worked as a strategy for me.

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 11:36:16

carpe How do you deal with your partner? Is he able to be open and honest about his feelings or does he respond best to emotional blackmail and manipulation?

It's hard because I know that if we fought my family would tell me to go and sort it out and make up, but his would tell him that it was all my fault and he should cut his losses. I am trying to see how a relationship can work when someone so close to it desperately wants it to fail.

kistanbul Wed 08-May-13 11:36:40

He's 35. BTW

QuintessentialOHara Wed 08-May-13 11:51:21

I think you will find there is a reason why he is 35 and single. His mum.

I bet many a woman have been in your position, been demonized by his mum, seen sense and cut their losses.

Leverette Wed 08-May-13 11:54:43

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 08-May-13 12:10:16

Maybe your DP's father kept her in check, maybe she was too busy dominating him to pester DP. Plenty of people are single at 35 without a demanding parent in tow.

I think several bereavements over a 2 year period would be devastating to well-balanced personalities. She does focus on her only child to an unhealthy extent so I foresee a long difficult road ahead OP.

Does he know you may end it over his mum? I take it all his overs went by the wayside because of her?

I'm not sure I could cope. It's ok him saying yes to counselling then not going. He needs to take charge of his life. Has he read any literature on toxic parents? Here's one book but I'm sure others can recommend some books/websites?

Website here The Lighthouse.

Is this familiar?

Meant others not overs.

Snorbs Wed 08-May-13 12:32:16

I'm not saying this is necessarily the best approach but it's one I'd consider:

Next time she makes a suicide threat, make her mental health the only topic of conversation and strongly encourage her to get professional help. Next time she throws a tantrum then, with your head on one side and with sympathy dripping from your voice, say "You see, this is what I was talking about befure. I'm really worried about how worked up you get over such unimportant matters. I really do think you need to see a doctor. Would you like DP to help arrange it?"

In other words, re-frame the story about her disproportionate behaviour from something she claims she is doing in response to you/your DP, and instead call it for what it is - a dysfunctional mental health issue.

Whatever you do though you need to have DP on-side. It's very hard to stand up to an abusive parent because he's grown up with this kind of thing and that makes it very hard to take the mental step back and really see the insidiousness of it all. If you present a united front then you have a hope. If you don't, then she will continue trying to drive a wedge between you.

deXavia Wed 08-May-13 12:45:11

totally agree with Carpe especially ... ask youself if you are willing to conceed lots. and lots, and lots rather than have the man you love spend the next twenty odd years feeling torn in two. If neither of those options sound doable. Leave now.

We have had Christmas' ruined, DH being accused of loving his firstborn more than he loves his DM (at which point she let go of the pram at the top of a hill on a main road), we have had trips cancelled (we live abroad - oh the relief, and oh my god the guilt) and we have occassionally discovered that she has locked her self in her flat and its all gone horribly horribly wrong.

For me - the saving grace is my DH realised early on he couldn't live his life like this, well before we met. Still its only now 11 years on for us and some 20 years since he left home that we have a balance. He called in doctors, he has set up support with social services - in other words he has called her bluff. Medication has helped with the depression, but some of it is frankly attention seeking and drama so he has forced counselling on her which keeps things on a steady keel most of the time.

Only your DP knows whether this is as serious as this - with possibly underlying medical issues - or if this is someone who is just use to having her own way and being unpleasant. But IMO unless he is willing to work that out and deal with it, the impact on your life could be huge.

CarpeVinum Wed 08-May-13 13:02:17

carpe How do you deal with your partner? Is he able to be open and honest about his feelings or does he respond best to emotional blackmail and manipulation?

Deal? Ha! Oh that it were something you dealt with rather than lurched from low point to end of tether-itus with. grin

I guess he does respond well to emotional blackmail. Ought to, he had a full 45 years of training right from when he was a few days old. I stopped any kind of "deal with her this way or I'll....." pretty early on. I didn't want to pile more of what she did on him. I wanted him to know something honest, rational, fair and...actual love in action rather than just an empty word used as a chain and padlock. He knew when I was feeling squashed, highly insulted (I am/was just like the SS, Gestapo in the shagtastic suspenders of an English whore doncha know) and frankly at the end of my rope. But we sort of just muddled through, with rows, tears and screaming mathces as part of the landscape when things got too much. But then, he also knew that I felt for him. Cos I knew it must be so hard loving somebody who only knows how to manipulate in return.

He is still grieving right now. She's only been dead since just after xmas. But pretty much I think the reason why things have been so good (even with grief factoered in) is becuase we aren't repeating the cycle thanks to bad habits cultivated during her lifetime. Perfect we are not, but the foundation of our interactions are based on real feelings rather than "cunning plans" being put into actions.

I think pretty much if you want this you either accept you will come trailing at the end of priorities (not becuase he loves you less, but becuase he fears her love more and has never known anything different.) or you do what all the rest of us do. Spend several years fighting it oly to end up in a knackered, dispirted, almost broken heap and face up to being the "model of good love" while wiping all the crap thrown at you off your face at regular inverals. and fantasise about dancing on her grave

Which incidentally you don't get to do. Well I didn't. Problem with people this ill is that when they get old and frail almost no OAP home will touch them with a disinfected bardgepole.

So it is.

As incensed as she got me, can't spend that long with somebody depending on you, even if their gratitude level is sub zero...and not get some kind of attachement.

One of the biggest irritations I have is that I ended up feeling so sorry for her. For the good, healthy life she didn't have becuase of the way she wad. And bits of my heart got a bit squished when she died, cos that meant all last hopes of a tiny slice of "better" were gone.

You want nice, clear, simple answers. Which is hugely understandable.

The problem is, there aren't any. If she is ill or this is chosen, but deeply ingrained, behavoir, it's pretty much over bar the shouting at this point. This is how she will be, your love interest will likely keep repeating the habits of an entire lifetime, you will probably keep searching for solutions that don't exisit.

Untill you give in, accept, and work with what you've got rather than what you wished you had.

Nothing going to help except time and experience and .... a mule like stubboness that she isn't going to ruin your relationship with her son.

And maybe running screaming for the hills. That might help. I wouldn't blame you if you did. Make sure he is worth it love. Becuase it is quite possibly going to be very expensive emotionally, loving this man longterm.

HerrenaHandbasket Wed 08-May-13 14:16:13

Great post carpe. Depressing as all hell, but very clear and honest. You've got some good advice here op.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 08-May-13 14:28:07

What carpe wrote earlier.

Your man is also part of the problem here.

I would not want to continue a relationship with this man, he is too closely enmeshed with his mother and he cannot or will not let go. Theirs is a dysfunctional relationship; one that you will never have peace with.

TheRealFellatio Wed 08-May-13 14:34:55

So do you only know all of this because he has told you that is what she has said? Only she seems to know a lot about your background and your shortcomings, for someone who only just met you! Or did she actually say any of this to your face, or what it just a vibe you got from little passive aggressive things she said directly to you? I think it's quite important to distinguish between what is actually being said to who here. If all of this is third hand from your boyfriend I'd say you have a bit of a problem on your hands with him to be honest.

Xales Wed 08-May-13 14:39:33

The inheritance/money thing is easy to deal with.

You have only been together 6 months so if you are planning on living together you draw up legal documents to protect what is yours and what is his. And you say this in front of her as you are worried about him getting your assets to shut her up. You should be doing this anyway.

She does not get a key to any joint place you live - non negotiable.

The rest can only be dealt with if your P is willing and involved. If not it will destroy your relationship and you are better cutting your losses now.

OldRichandGrateful Wed 08-May-13 15:50:24

OP, unless you love this man unconditionally, if you stay with him your life will become more and more miserable, controlled by DM. Imagine the drama if you had a baby.

At 35, I suspect he has had a string of girlfriends who were too "slutty" to be with her precious boy. I also suspect DM has no intention of letting him go. In a few short years, he will either move back in with her or have her move in with him to provide "care". You will only be free of her influence when she dies.

You cannot change the way a person behaves - you can only change the way you respond.

I think you have already made your mind up about this relationship. You know it's going nowhere with him.

Playerpleeeese Wed 08-May-13 17:33:07

Op I have been in exactly your situation with my ex, I could have wrote your post. Even down to the 'your too common' when my family are quite obviously better off (don't mean to sound smug or anything! But it was so weird.)

If he's 35 and still like this with her, id cut your losses and run. You will never come first, imagine having children with him, it would be a nightmare.

SilverOldie Wed 08-May-13 18:21:58

I went out with a man in his 30s with a mother like this. Only son and on the train up to stay with her for the weekend, he wouldn't have a beer in case she smelled it on his breath. On arrival her first words to me were ' I suppose you made him grow this' referring to his beard. No, I replied, it was his his choice - disbelieving looks from her.

When complimenting her on some antique furniture in her home, was told not to touch as very precious. Shame I didn't have a pick axe with me at the time smile.

These women never change and your DP is unlikely to find the guts to put his mother in her place.

Your choice but I would move on.

WarmFuzzyFun Wed 08-May-13 19:00:21

What Silver said 'These women never change and your DP is unlikely to find the guts to put his mother in her place. '

Easy for us to say but difficult for you to walk away.

BlueSkySunnyDay Wed 08-May-13 19:44:56

Unless he is the nicest man in the world I seriously advise cutting your losses.

DH only child of widowed mother, we have had hell with her over the years. She is all sweetness and light to her friends but is very demanding to us - frequently putting us down and telling everyone how we neglect her.

In the past when she fell out with me she would give us the silent treatment until H apologised (which he always did) she is NEVER in the wrong. Last year she lost a 40 year friendship because she was rude to a friend who was trying to help her - she now tells people "I really dont know what happened" - bullshit if that were the case she would have tried to find out!!

A few years ago when being difficult she upset both the children, this was the tipping point for H and he does take a much harder line with her now.

I love H and I love my children but honestly if I had know when I met him what I know now I dont think the relationship would have gone further than a few dates.

Hissy Wed 08-May-13 20:11:56

Honestly? End it.

It's not worth it.

He won't stand up to her, she's abusing you left right and centre and he's not doing anything about it.

End it. 6m is not that big a deal. You can and should walk away. You will end up hating her, hating your life, and resenting him for being spineless. or serving time for her murder

Perhaps IF you mean that much to him, he'll see that you ending it means he HAS to step up.

Hissy Wed 08-May-13 20:14:24

Talking about marrying in a relationship of 6m?

You ARE crazy. Don't be an idiot.

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