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How can I bare my miserable, negative MIL?(17 Posts)
She is the most negative person I have ever met. Everything has to have a negative slant, absolutely everything. She never says anything nice about anyone or anything. If we go out for a meal she will always moan about something, she even moaned that the waitress was too quick taking our food order once. When she comes to stay she mopes around, never comments on food etc I make for her, never plays or talks with my dc, basically makes me feel uncomfortable and like she is judging everything. She never shows any interest in our family or our life and is totally self obsessed. I would love to tell her to cheer up and stop being a nasty woman but I daren't. I really cannot stand her and my dh only sees her because he feels guilty.
Telling her either to cheer up and stop being a nasty woman would be a wasted effort on your part and could easily be thrown back at you. Such women do not like to be challenged at all. They also do not change, nor apologise and also do not accept any responsibility for their actions. You are dealing with someone who will not be at all reasonable. It is not your fault she is the way she is; you did not make her this way (her own childhood would likely give clues). The "normal" rules of dealing with relations has to be put totally to one side when dealing with such dysfunctional relatives.
What does your DH think about his mother generally or does he clam up, excuse (by saying well that's just the way she is) and or refuse to talk about her and what effects she is having on your own family unit?
Sounds like your DH is very much still obligated with regards to his mother. He's probably also on some level still very afraid of her and feel guilty re her to boot. Is he her only son, does he have other siblings?. If so, how do they get along with her?.
Who invites her to stay with you?. I would reinforce your own boundaries with this woman and certainly not have her to stay over at all if she is this miserable to all around her. Your H may still want a relationship with her but it does not follow that you and your children have to be subjected to her at all.
Limit contact. Don't socialise with her, if your dh wants to invite her round to yours can you go out and leave him with her?
The important thing is to not let yourself feel uncomfortable - so she's judging everything? That's her problem, not yours! Don't let it get to you, she's obviously not a happy person, so don't expect her to be happy about anything.
Ways of dealing with it?
Play Bingo - you can make up cards with her standard miserable phrases, or just look out for one each of "Moaning", "Failing to say thank you" and "Pulling faces" or whatever her other specific things are.
Or practice a smily Polyanna face and stock reply "Oh we should all count our blessings every day!" or "At least you've got your health!" Or "Worse things happen at sea!" and trot it out every time.
Or - tell her to quit moping and do something useful! Why do you 'not dare' tell her to cheer up? It doesn't sound like you or DH would miss her much if she took off in a huff.
Oh, and think about how often you have her to stay and try to reduce it - you don't have to host people who are a negative influence on your life just because they happen to be related to you.
Thanks for the replies. They are so helpful as I have never met anyone a unkind as her before and find it hard to deal with.
My dh is gradually realising what a mean person she is and has recently said (after an awful visit to hers), that we should limit contact and try to meet her for a short time instead of having her to stay. I don't know if he will be able to keep this up as i think he is a bit scared of her and is also trying to seek her approval (which he never gets, she is negative about him to his face and rolls her eyes to me when he is doing something she thinks is wrong, expecting me to join in with her !!!!!!!!!!!!)
He has a younger sister who we get on with who feels exactly the same as us. He also has an older sister who MIL talks about constantly who is clearly the favourite. She has pictures of that sisters dc everywhere in the house, but none of ours. The oldest sister thinks MIL is 'a laugh' and seems to have no issues with her.
My Mum sucks the joy out of life too.
If I spend too much time with her my mood suffers for months.
I try to keep meetings brief and busy like shopping or take her dgs to buffer.
I would see her as little as possible. Don't feel obligated. The rolling her eyes behind your husband's back and expecting you to join in is a divide and conquer tactic and very nasty.
Re: the other sisters children and pictures everywhere, I would get massive pictures of your children, really massive and bright, and give them to her every Christmas, for ever.
My grandma is like this (but much much worse! That's a whole other story!), it's fucking awful and was really affecting my mental health! I've withdrawn massively, occasional phone call, meet for an excruciating lunch every few weeks! I feel much better!
Don't have her over anymore, meet for lunch somewhere rather than picking her up so you can leave straight after! Deep breaths help!
Taking to her won't help as she will honestly not see what she says/does as being wrong!
I think the meeting for short periods is the only way forward. We have recently had to speak to her on the phone more than normal and even that has upset me and left me resenting her even more. And these phone calls are over things that for a normal person are pleasant occurrences - birthdays and weddings! But she has managed to put her whole negative slant on everything as usual. She even moaned about the holidays she is going on this summer
Would not even bother to meet her for short periods. She is patently not interested in you and your lives. There is no law to say that you have to spend any time at all with her.
Your own birth family are likely nothing at all like your DH's birth family; your birth family is likely to be emotionally healthy and functioning whereas his one is clearly not and never has been. It is difficult to comprehend when you have never come across such negativity before.
Re this comment:-
"He has a younger sister who we get on with who feels exactly the same as us. He also has an older sister who MIL talks about constantly who is clearly the favourite. She has pictures of that sisters dc everywhere in the house, but none of ours. The oldest sister thinks MIL is 'a laugh' and seems to have no issues with her".
Older sister is likely to be the "golden child" and is thus favoured as well as her children. Your H and his other sister are the scapegoats for all her inherent ills. People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles and it is no surprise to me either that your DH is still seeking her approval even now (also commonly seen in adult children of toxic parents). It is approval that she will never ever give him.
I would suggest you read Toxic Inlaws written by Susan Forward to further understand the unhealthy dynamics.
If it was down to me I would never see her again but i feel bad for dh who struggle to stop seeing her altogether. If he goes for a time with no contact, he gets massive guilt pangs and phones her (although she rarely phones him). I will get that book because I hate feeling like this.
Please don't bare your MIL. Being stripped naked will make her even more mean and negative I would have thought.
Sorry, unhelpful Others are providing much better advice on how to bear her!
"I would love to tell her to cheer up and stop being a nasty woman but I daren't."
'Dare'? Just say it. 'Bloody hell mother, you've a face like we broken in your house and pissed on your dinner!' Might not change her personality but at least you'll be asserting yourself. Some people are miserable. Others are attention-seekers that pull the cats-bum-mouth thing to see how much they can get away with. Some are bullies. Always say what needs saying....
I always invite my MIL who is just like yours and whinges for Britain, to count her blessings. Of course she doesnt have any to count as her life is sooo awful, but just to help, I count mine with her and then I feel so much better.
Ive just realised that sounds really twee, but it actually isnt, it does work, you feel much better, and can cope with the negativity because it isnt your life
Basically what Attila says, she knows her stuff, I know because she advised me about my MiL, also Miss Hobart is on the ball, these people are not emotionally capable! I have spent plenty of time sobbing over my MIL's disregard of my children/general superficiality/judgement of others, so I do feel your pain.
I could have written your post (and a lot more besides my MIL is walking spite) your MIL is clearly not a happy person, probably a narcissist and definitely has the emotional depth of a puddle on a poorly laid pavement, she is not capable of understanding/changing/being happy, so I would step back, engage on a superficial level "nice weather we're having" do not offer/engage/raise expectations of functional emotional ability, it isn't there. Do not have the woman to stay, support your DH in going to visit her if he has to, minimise and disassociate without her realising, support your loved ones, they are going to need it and need you.
My mother is like this.
Please OP listen to what Atilla says and distance yourself from her. You need to protect your children from her. She may not find them interesting now, but these people can "switch" and I can assure you, you wouldn't want one of your own DC turning into the scapegoat or the golden child.
Your posts are littered with "we have to" and "I daren't" It is this mindset that you need to change. You do not have to answer the phone when she calls, you do not have to see her. If you don't already have caller ID then get it, it will be money very well spent.
Minimise your exposure and don't feel guilty. Why should you? If she were nice you would be welcoming. She will have brought it all on herself. Be prepared for her to ramp up the attention seeking if she detects you are wise to her though. My mothers favourite was to get "cancer" every time anyone had the audacity to call her on her shit behaviour or try to escape her.
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