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Toxic SiL and family relationships

(20 Posts)
OvertiredandConfused Fri 31-Jan-14 10:20:17

Sorry for the essay. Long back story and I don't want to drip feed.

My SiL and I have never really been close but we rubbed along okay for years. I supported her a lot when her DH had an affair with her son's best friend's mum (classy) - driving up and down the motorway (90 minutes each way) every day etc.

She's always been jealous of me and DH. This jealousy got out of control a couple of years ago when I wasn't working but began to loose weight. Without any specific incident she got more and more worked up - almost stalking me on social media - befriending my friends etc then calling my MiL to rant about how I was taking advantage of DH by not working etc, etc.

Christmas before last she suddenly cancelled the family visit (weekend pre-Christmas) saying she'd only come to our house if I prepared the meal and then went out while she was there to eat it! DH told her to do one effectively. DH and my DC met up with them away from the house for a couple of hours - with my blessing as DC wanted to see their grandma, aunt and cousins. That's the short story.

I've always been close to her daughter who is now almost 20 and away at university. Because of the issue with SiL, we haven't seen each other for ages - more than a year - but have been in touch via messaging, instigated after niece asked MiL to give me her number. Niece and SiL have poor relationship and, as of last weekend, they hadn't spoken since 29th December.

It's my birthday today and I'm going up to London tomorrow for a spot of shopping with DD (12) and then DH and DS are joining us for a fancy afternoon tea.

DD really misses her cousin - they were also very close - so niece said she'd love to meet us in London. I sent her the train tickets as they're quite expensive for a student. DD and niece have been counting down the days.

Some how SiL found out - we think through niece's FB page. I have no contact with her publicly as SiL has banned it. She called my DH to rant. Has completely banned the trip. We've heard nothing from my niece. I sent one brief message that just said "I gather you aren't able to come on Saturday?"

My DD is distraught. She loves her cousin and had been really looking forward to the shopping trip etc, etc. I'm furious that SiL has done this - to my DD as much as to me. Have to say, I was also very upset.

So, my questions now. Firstly, aibu to say I don't want my DC to have contact with any of them, except my MiL until / unless something significant changes? And if I do that, what do I say to DC?

Also, how much is it reasonable to expect of my niece - at least in terms of letting me know what's happened? I know her mum controls the purse strings and can be domineering, but she lives a long way away and niece is almost 20.

Thanks for getting this far!

Chyochan Fri 31-Jan-14 10:32:07

Sil sounds like a nightmare, it would be nice if your niece got in touch even if just to say she is not comming but given her mum is, well, as you describe, you may have to be understanding to the fact she is not able, for whatever reason to contact you or your DD.
its sad for your DD and I can understand why your angry but 20 is still very young and breaking away from dominating mums is hard at any age.

Meerka Fri 31-Jan-14 10:38:44

I don't think you're unreasonable in saying that you don't want your DC to have contact with your SIL. She sounds impossible and very unpleasant.

About your niece. She may be 19, but it's incredibly difficult to stand up to a domineering and absolutely rabidly furious mother. The time will come when she may well have to stand up to her, but at the moment her mother has her by the - well I'd say her non-existant goolies, but you know what I mean. She probably got a dreadful rage directed at her for planning to meet up at all. Far worse than your husband did.

While I understand that your daughter and yourself want to see her, I would cut her quite a lot of slack. She's in a horrible position. In fact, if you can, I would suggest sending her a letter sayign that you appreciate things are extremely difficult and that you all love her and really, really want to see her again but that you don't want to make her life more difficult. Ask her what she would like and how best she thinks you can all handle contact. Make it clear that you do very much want contact, but that if you have to wait until she is freer to be in contact on her own terms that you will understand.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 31-Jan-14 10:41:06


re your comment:-
"Also, how much is it reasonable to expect of my niece - at least in terms of letting me know what's happened? I know her mum controls the purse strings and can be domineering, but she lives a long way away and niece is almost 20".

Makes no odds I am sorry to say. Controlling behaviour as you know is abusive behaviour and your niece is well under her mother's mad levels of control. She after all has grown up with this and probably on some level sees this as normal. All you can do is try to maintain some form of contact with your niece on some level.

"DH and my DC met up with them away from the house for a couple of
hours - with my blessing as DC wanted to see their grandma, aunt and cousins".

I can see why that happened but doing that just played into their hands even more. SIL got what she wanted i.e you not being there. You all come as a package; if these people cannot or will not behave civilly then they do not get to see any of you.

What does your H make of his sister?. My guess too is that she has always been somewhat difficult and may well have some form of untreated personality disorder. Emotionally healthy people do not behave in the ways she has done.

SIL should be avoided at all costs. I also think she has previously taken complete advantage of your kindness.

OvertiredandConfused Fri 31-Jan-14 10:53:39

Thank you.

Meerka that's roughly what I would like to do but I am worried that SiL may get hold of it somehow. And whether she does or not, I don't want to make it worse for my niece, who I adore. Also, DH would get lots of grief if anyone does find out. And I don't want us to argue about her. He's been fantastic at standing up for me and our relationship is very much in a good place again now after a rocky patch (unrelated and no infidelity, abuse etc) last year.

Atilla my DH thinks she's a nightmare too. I understand that he doesn't want to rock the boat is so much as it'll impact his 78 year old mum - she lives near SiL. I think the time has come to take a firmer stand and keep our distance. DH is already worried about when his mum dies - hopefully a good way off! - as SiL has already said I won't be welcome. I have a great relationship with my MiL most of the time and am very fond of her.

I think I need to just send niece a short message and refuse to engage in debate with anyone about it if it comes to light.

Meerka Fri 31-Jan-14 13:05:17

I think a short message sounds good. Actually it's important to say what you need to say - that you want to be there, but will understand if she can't and you'll still be there when she can - for your own needs and those of your daughter, which is important. She will probably also need to hear it said - if you just cut contact, she may think you are angry with her and don't want anythign more to do with her.

If she has any sense at all she'll read the letter then hide it or even dispose of it to stop her mother seeing it. If not, I'm afraid that that is not your responsibility. You have said what needed to be said, for all your sakes, and it's up to her to make sure that it remains private between you.

OvertiredandConfused Fri 31-Jan-14 13:14:18

Quick update

I sent a message - our usual method of contact - that was very short. I just said we love you, there's no pressure from us and we can see you whenever you want to.

Got an almost instant response. She said "I know that and I love you too......I am so upset.....have been looking forward to seeing you.......feel very caught in the middle......hope I can see you soon"

Made me cry a bit because I feel so helpless and angry. But she knows we're here. That, and regular silly and inconsequential messaging to keep the lines of communication open, is all I can do for now.

MrsWedgeAntilles Fri 31-Jan-14 14:36:58

Poor girl, SIL sound like a complete arsehole.
Your message sounds like it was exactly the right thing to say.

Meerka Fri 31-Jan-14 16:19:17

yes, it does sound exactly right smile

she's in a hard situation - either she sees you on the quiet and all hell and high water will break loose if her mum finds out, or she doenst see you and misses you (and you her). sneaking around v no contact. don't envy her. When she is older, she can be expected to break free and stand up her mum, but now while she is still dependent is very hard :/

maras2 Fri 31-Jan-14 16:48:38

Sorry Overtired but I can't get past the fact that SIL wanted you to prepare Christmas dinner in your house and then leave your house whilst she ate it. What kind of deranged person does this. Your poor niece. Good job that you and your lovely sounding family are there for her.

Hissy Fri 31-Jan-14 22:34:19

When I was 20, I flew off to Latin America for 2 years.

Your DN is 20, at uni and has a ticket. She is free to choose how to spend her time. She'll be ok, she has you if she needs support.

IEvenBurnToast Sat 01-Feb-14 09:21:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Deathwatchbeetle Sat 01-Feb-14 19:42:54

Seriously!!!!!!!! She wanted you to cook her something then bugger off until she went??????? Jeez.

Her daughter is 20 she can tell her loony ma to get stuffed!!!!

OvertiredandConfused Thu 13-Feb-14 16:52:00

Bit of an update, with an AIBU attached.

SiL "offered" in conversation with DH to pay for the train tickets. He said yes, please send cheque. She said she would and he believed her!

No cheque, which I expected.

I've since found out (through seeing niece's twitter account second hand) that she actually used the tickets and was in London that day. I now really, really want that money back!

DH will pursue if I push him. He'll be a bit grumpy about the confrontation, but he does think she should pay, he just hates the arguments because he's worried SiL will start getting MiL involved.

AIBU to not let it go?

Meerka Thu 13-Feb-14 18:52:34

I think that you should take this as a pretty damn obvious indication for both of you to stop communicating with your SIL.

She doesnt want you around.

Im sorry but he was a mug to believe her.

I reckon you should let it go, and let her go.

If you still want contact then sure, push for it. But it seems to me that she will keep on being this unpleasant in the future.

OvertiredandConfused Thu 13-Feb-14 20:12:33

I don't want to see SiL and nor does DH. Some minimal contact is inevitable due to MiL in late 70s but that's fine. And niece knows where I am when she wants feels strong enough to defy her mother.

I know I should let it go and I was happy to pay £50 for the train tickets so we could see our niece. But given SiL put the kibosh on that by dropping a bomb that's still reverberating - DD is still very upset - I don't want to let the principle go.

captainmummy Thu 13-Feb-14 20:16:57

Who used the tickets? SIL? Or niece? If niece, why did she not contact you while there? Is it that she doesn't really want much contract either?

Meerka Thu 13-Feb-14 21:00:32

I think you need to let it go yes. Explain to your DD why - there's no need to varnish it, can explain what's happened without being nasty.

Your neice knows where you are and you've made it clear she can contact you as and when she is able.

EvaTheOptimist Thu 13-Feb-14 21:10:17

I would let it go. If you pursue it your niece may feel very bad, and you don't want that in a situation where you have so little contact with her. Its slightly mystifying that she was in London but didn't see you - but I think you will absolutely have to let it go and remain open to niece and as non-contact as possible with SIL.

OvertiredandConfused Thu 06-Mar-14 16:20:30

DH and DD are going up to stay with MiL this weekend. I am staying at home with DS as he has two football matches to catch-up after the awful weather and I don't have the heart to tell him he can't play just so he can sit politely at grandma's house

I've told DH that I don't want my DD seeing toxic SiL this weekend. He says he doesn't want to see her either but there's not much he can do if his mother invites her over.

AIBU to ask him to tell his mother in advance not to invite her over?

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