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How to deal with MIL? Depressing just thinking about it.

(37 Posts)
LittleMissMedium Mon 20-May-13 16:04:18

It's so stereotypical and I hate it, but I do not have a good relationship with MIL. There's never been an out-and-out confrontation between us (only her an DH), but it's just there, bubbling away under the surface.

I have finally reached my boiling point after 4 years of her bullshit (she's upset that me and DH are getting a mortgage, she doesn't talk to him much now we're married, she was FOUL on our wedding day - to mention a few recent issues) and there's literally nothing I can do to make this situation better.

I've tried with her, I really, really have. DH is her only child, so I completely get that it's difficult to let go. But it just feels like a constant unspoken battle between us as she tries to act like he's still a little boy whilst we're building our life together.

DH says he doesn't love her. This is v sad, but there relationship is strange. He doesn't want to cut her out of his life or anything, but she is very poisonous and it is exhausting going over there - she constantly refers to his old girlfriends, how she doesn't want to be a grandmother, and generally criticises our life.

The reason I'm asking for some advice is that we're TTC, but it's making me really upset to think of her around any DC we may have. I know that's unreasonable, but she's really so horrible to me and about my family that it just gets me down that this woman is in my life. I don't get how my DH came from her, because he is truly wonderful. He is v supportive and puts her in her place when she is rude to me, but it never changes anything in the long run.

So - do you have a relationship like this? How have you dealt with it and how do you manage it with your DCs around?

forgetmenots Mon 20-May-13 21:35:53

Bloody hell maillot you have the patience of a saint smile

Your DM will likely be worried for you both and for her future grandkids littlemiss. Mine only told me recently how upsetting and stressful she found watching what MIL did to us as a couple as she didn't want to interfere at the time. I totally understood it must have been difficult to see.

I'm glad posting has been a help. Good to vent, isn't it! smile

LittleMissMedium Mon 20-May-13 21:02:46

maillot thanks for sharing your story, it's so interesting to see how similar the behaviour is. You're right about us needing to be a united front, and thankfully my DH is wonderful and has never been anything other than supportive and apologetic (the latter I find very sad and wish he wouldn't apologise for her, because it's not his fault. He knows this really I think).

I read something on another thread just that was just so freaky - MIL puts on a baby voice sometimes when talking to DH... Not quite sure why, it annoys the hell out of him and he doesn't respond to it, but another poster mentioned it and it just makes me feel horrible. It's like the most childish form of an attempt at manipulation.

I spoke to my DM about it this evening and she is in agreement with quite a few of the posters here that she will not get better when there are DCs in the equation, only worse.

maillotjaune Mon 20-May-13 20:07:27

I posted before reading the whole thread but now I have it is spooky how many other things I could have said that have been mentioned already - it has been years since she was shouting through the letterbox, but playing the victim came to a head when DH was diagnosed with cancer last year but it was all about her.

The only relief we have is that she and FIL divorced when DH was young so there is noone else involved.

maillotjaune Mon 20-May-13 19:57:22

Gosh that story is familiar - my MIL has had long periods of time not talking to us, saying she hoped we didn't have children, didn't see DS1 until he was almost 1.... it's a long, boring list of problems.

20 years into marriage and with our oldest DS now 10 I think we have finally got to a situation I can tolerate. No better than that.

She lives overseas - but threatening to return to UK which would be hard!

She is more unpleasant to DH than me but we always call her on it after years of trying to ignore. She won't discuss anything but pointing out that she is being unreasonable generally stops it.

She spends time with her DGSs and they enjoy each other's company for a while. She has a history of letting them down in terms of not turning up when she said she would, and saying unkind things about DH to them, but again we don't just ignore it.

Most importantly - I accept (and DH is getting there) that she will never change. She's in her 70s and if she was ever going to become less difficult it would have happened ling ago.

Actually, maybe the most important thing is that I am saying "we" a lot - I think if it's really a MIL / DIL clash life can get very tricky, but if you and your partner are in agreement you just need to find a way to live with her (or not if that's what you decide) and you will cope.

Sorry for such a long reply - my MIL has arrived to visit this week so it has touched a nerve!

LittleMissMedium Mon 20-May-13 19:40:15

SoulTrain that made me laugh! High fivey! Oh god I just see her face now! It would be totally worth it.

LittleMissMedium Mon 20-May-13 19:39:17

Thank you, I feel so much better for starting this thread. It's nice to know that other people understand how bloody stressful it can be thanks

SoulTrain Mon 20-May-13 19:38:18

Honestly, if you can - try to care less. I know it's hard but if you continue to let her have such an affect on you it will only be you that suffers. As a previous poster said, she will go one way or another with DC involved and that's when you're really going to have learn to be clever. Distance yourself, don't ask opinions, don't seek validation from your MIL, just concentrate on you and your DH.

And if she fucks you off, tell her. Honestly, you'll feel massively high fivey with yourself and even if nothing changes you will feel better.

forgetmenots Mon 20-May-13 19:24:28

Just remember littlemiss that it isn't personal (Attila phrased this much better upthread) - she doesn't hate you or have a problem with you as a person. You're coming before her in the pecking order with her son and as such you're a barrier to her emotional vampirism where she wants to bleed everyone dry. Unfortunately DCs can often be seen in the same light.

You sound lovely and supportive, your DH is I'm sure a lovely person too (and the fact that he stands up for you is huge, not many children of toxic parents have that strength, certainly not without a long process). You can't change her, she will only change the day she wants to - but you and your DH can live well and be happy regardless smile

LittleMissMedium Mon 20-May-13 19:18:05

Thanks Fairylea, will have a look. I'm finding it's making things clearer by reading other people's stories.

forgetmenots That sounds awful. Truly awful. So glad you and your DH are no longer exposed to that. I do think that FILs that allow the behaviour are letting their children down... My FIL is a nice man, soft, quiet... but even he seems to believe her bullshit now, which is equally as bad.

Boundaries it is. It's just such a head-fuck (excuse my language) because to other people, she's sweetness and light (initially). She will sometimes be lovely in front of DH and you can see on his face that he's like, wow, this is progress, then she'll be in a room alone with me (I've asked that this doesn't happen, but on a few occasions it's been unavoidable) and the spite starts. Or she just stares at me when I try and make conversation. It's truly unnerving sometimes.

Anything to do with us moving forward in our lives and everything changes. It's sad because my friends all have, for the most part, really good relationships with their MILs. DH has a great relationship with my DM (even better than mine!!) which is great but I know I will never have that with her. I started this thread with that in mind but I can just see that is not going to happen.

forgetmenots Mon 20-May-13 18:59:49

DH really struggled littlemiss. He has been NC for about 18 months (only a few weeks after that thread actually), after a final incident where his mother threatened to kill herself (not for the first time) in a dramatic manner. He had spent years trying everything and everything failed.
She did turn up at our home announced, battering on windows, screaming through the letterbox, and DH would be visibly terrified, but we just ignored it. We've now moved and not shared the address, and his long term health issues have all but disappeared (funny, that!)

He is still hurt that his dad won't have anything to do with him unless it's sanctioned by MIL, but if anything he is now angrier with him than her as he sees that he has done as a cold and callous choice by a rational person while his mum is clearly not rational or thinking (I think this is probably overrating things, but it's how he feels).

Given though that his mother repeatedly has wished ill on any children we might have and has said she 'doesn't give a shit' about being a grandmother, we feel rather we are respecting her opinion grin - apologies for the gallows humour but it's got us through!

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries are all I can offer. Any kindhearted reduction in them is seen as weakness and opportunity. I feel so sorry for your DH. Good luck ttc, if he is anything like my DH this will be the trigger - realising you want the opposite for your children that you had can be pretty sobering.

Fairylea Mon 20-May-13 18:37:35

Gosh this sounds so familiar!

I will reply in more detail later but I have a similar thread in relationships called "dh and I not really talking, probably my fault" or something along those lines.

I really feel for you.

LittleMissMedium Mon 20-May-13 18:35:52

Thanks Milly smile

MillyMollyMandy78 Mon 20-May-13 18:23:45

Sadly she sounds like my mum. She made our lives hell and at the age of 35 I have recently cut all contact with her. I tried everything over the years, but people like this rarely change. Good luck in whatever you decide!

LittleMissMedium Mon 20-May-13 18:17:57

Oh god forgetmenots, that all sounds far too familiar. MIL acts the victim a lot and I dread to think what is said about me to their friends. Good for you with cutting contact, and congratulations on your pregnancy! I do not want this dark cloud hanging over this next chapter in our lives, but life is too short to put up with the bullshit. How did your DH cope with cutting contact? He says he can't honestly say that he loves his Mom, but he does love his Dad, although he feels let down by the fact that FIL seems to just let her carry on.

forgetmenots Mon 20-May-13 18:16:06

Thanks donkeys smile it's been tough on DH but he is now much, much better for his decision - and as in the OP's case, FIL can make his own decisions... Time will tell but I won't hold my breath! smile

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 20-May-13 18:11:47

Congratulations forgetmenots as of now it's all about you and DH and your DC, take care.

forgetmenots Mon 20-May-13 18:09:37

ps we did eventually conceive and dc1 is due any day. They don't know.

forgetmenots Mon 20-May-13 18:06:32

I want to show you a thread I started about 18 months or so ago:

I read it every so often to remind me. I had a terrible time with my DH's toxic mother - yours sounds awful and the pattern so familiar I had to post. Please: google narcissistic personality disorder, and check out the Stately Homes thread - great for support and clarifications.

I'm more than happy to chat on PM too if it would help - I'm afraid out story only got worse and we are now no contact with DH's family. It has been the best outcome if I'm honest but very difficult. Good luck! flowers

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 20-May-13 17:50:55

It needn't involve a big break, just let things dwindle. Anyone who can say something tactless and unkind (and probably untrue) about someone's late parent in their presence is obviously missing an empathy gene. It would probably be water off a duck's back if you challenged her once or twice on something. I don't think there's a way of handling someone like her without incurring damage to your self, unfortunately. FIL knows where you and DH are.

LittleMissMedium Mon 20-May-13 17:47:17

Thanks Jamie, this is what DH says - "just let's get on with things and deal with her when we have to"

Attila you are right - DH says MIL had a terrible relationship with her alcoholic mother, some of which was physically abusive. It is just sad that minus the physical abuse, she is just as bitter and nasty. Both MIL and FIL drink every night at several different pubs and I think alcoholism is a real issue on his side of the family, which is why DH rarely drinks.

I think firm boundaries are the way forward - she complains that she doesn't know enough about his life but she knows everything she needs to... it is just sad when DH has achieved so many great things in the past few years, yet it's like they are disappointed he has achieved anything at all. If I am honest, I don't see him being able to have much of a relationship with them one day.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 20-May-13 17:37:43

These people do not and never will play by the "normal" rules governing familial relations so being nice and reasonable has no effect. Also such behaviours play into their hands.

Your MIL would have acted the same regardless of whom he married, it is not your fault she is like this. This all started with her in childhood and her own family did the damage, pound to a penny abuse of some sort featured in it.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 20-May-13 17:34:36

What you have here are what are termed toxic inlaws. You have fortunately come from a family where such a type of familial dysfunction is thankfully unknown so that makes it even harder to deal with. You need to realise that such people NEVER apologise nor take any responsibility for their actions.

MIL here wears the trousers and FIL acts as both her willing enabler and bystander (i.e acts out of self preservation and want of a quiet life) in all this so I would not let him off the hook either.

Your DH has had a lifetime of such conditioning and likely has FOG - fear, obligation and guilt with regards to both of them in spades. His primary loyalty however, is now to you. Both of you need to be on the same page with regards to his parents (and if you have children I would be very wary about letting them have any sort of relationship with them, some parents should not have access to their grandchildren).

Both of you need to agree firm boundaries and these too also need to be consistently applied to this pair. Also boundaries need to be raised a lot higher than they currently are. Physical as well as emotional distance needs to be made. The further you are away from these two the better.

He is torn as well because he cannot cut them off either, they are his parents and despite everything they have put him through he loves them and wants their approval still (that is also part of the problem). Cutting parents off is not at all easy as the people on the "Stately Homes" thread could attest to, it is not a decision done without much soul searching and a process akin to loss.

I would give him Toxic Parents written by Susan Forward to read, at least read Toxic Inlaws for your own self. Also you may want to post on the Stately Homes thread for more counsel.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Mon 20-May-13 17:33:04


I think you need to try and change your mindset.

You are nice, she is not. Do not try to deal with her as you would someone who is nice/reasonable. You can't

Just try and minimise the hassle to yourself.

LittleMissMedium Mon 20-May-13 17:28:30

Thanks Windingdown. That last line made me tear up a bit. God doesn't it just feel that bleak. I can't imagine 40 odd years of it.

Windingdown Mon 20-May-13 17:20:20

I truely doubt that you could be demonised even more than you already are by this poisonous woman - so don't let that hold you back from doing what is right for you, your DH and any soon to be Littler Miss or Master Mediums.

My father was like her and my mother played the role your FIL does.

40 odd years of having the "Depressing just thinking about it" cloud hanging over us. We wish we'd realised decades ago that there is a way to just switch that cloud off. My God the uplifting freedom when the sky cleared was breathtaking.

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