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PA MIL who likes to sulk

(13 Posts)
MaitlandGirl Sat 01-Nov-14 13:18:40

My MIL is a complete nightmare - incredibly passive aggressive, prone to tantrums and sulking if she thinks you're being critical about her, ignoring her or not letting her get her own way but can also be a wonderfully kind and generous lady.

We've got ourselves into a situation where going NC isn't possible and reducing contact is equally as hard (we've tried and had texts and phone calls asking what she's done wrong this time and why aren't we talking to her!) but after today I'm ready to throttle her.

She actually makes my OH sick with stress and I'm after any advice or techniques on how to deal with her. She's only young (mid 50s) so we've potentially got another 30yrs of her and if I can't get a handle on things soon I'm likely to snap sad

Icedfinger Sat 01-Nov-14 13:29:17

She sounds a bit like my MIL- a lovely lady but used to being in control and getting her own way.

Last year my MIL had a major strop about us not telling her everything about our lives. My DH tried to talk to her about it but she just made him feel even more guilty and upset. I decided I couldn't deal with it anymore so I spoke to her. Told her that I wasn't going to have it, she was shocked but backed down.

It's so hard, you marry a man and adopt his family!

Nomama Sat 01-Nov-14 13:31:43

So stop! I can't really imagine a circumstance that would make less or no contact possible - unless you live with her?!?!?!

Talk to your OH and let him know it is absolutely OK to ignore her and to let contact trickle away. It is also absolutely OK for him to tell her that she is being totally unreasonable, how her actions affect him and then to let her deal with how she feels about that, without his input.

I had this out with DH before we got married. It made all the difference to him, he gained more of an adult relationship with his mum. She didn't like the process, but he managed to persist long enough for her to adapt her behaviour with him.

Roseformeplease Sat 01-Nov-14 13:32:00

Can you arrange regular, but limited, contact at times that suit you. For example, tell her you will speak on the phone for half an hour on Sundays and screen calls the rest of the time? Have one short visit once a month.

FunkyBoldRibena Sat 01-Nov-14 13:34:52

Why don't you tell her why you aren't talking to her. Call her out on her PA, tantrums and sulks.

lemonpuffbiscuit Sat 01-Nov-14 13:41:26

One thing that can really help is seeing the funny side of her behaviour and making it a long standing joke.

Apart from that be overly nice when she's nice and very quiet/withdrawn when she's awful

VileStatistyx Sat 01-Nov-14 13:48:09

Unless she has you chained to her radiator, going no contact is not impossible grin

There may be reasons why it is not your preferred option but you need to recognise that it is your choice. That you have weighed up your options and you feel that it is better for you to put up with her than not.

I suggest this because I find that once I accept that something is a result of my making what I feel is the best choice out of a bunch of fairly shitty choices, I feel better because it makes me feel that I have some control. Otherwise I waa waa about how I'm a victim and don't have any choice, which makes me feel crappy and powerless. ok, it means I can pretend I have no responsibility, which has its upside grin but all in all, honestly, it's better to feel in control of your choices.

If you feel it is the best choice to not limit contact, then the best thing to do is to pretend you don't notice her sulking. Act like she isn't. Talk normally and if she doesn't respond, act like you haven't noticed.

Sulkers find it harder to sulk if they aren't getting their needs met by sulking. They are doing it for a reason. Normally to punish or control. Deny them that and you take away their power.

AdoraBell Sat 01-Nov-14 15:50:29

I'm thinking along the same lines as Vile in terms of her sulking. Just ignore it as you would with a toddler.

Also, setting peramiters as suggest above will help.

cozietoesie Sat 01-Nov-14 16:34:32

In my experience, being 'kind and generous' can be a power play in its own right - so not necessarily incompatible with the rest of her behaviour. It puts people in a (from the perspective of the giver) deliciously obliged position.

Is she generous with stuff and money? (Because she doesn't sound very generous of spirit in much else.) And what did she do today to upset you so?

Rainbunny Sat 01-Nov-14 16:59:44

Well this is easier to say than do, but can you and your DH agree on a united front on how to handle her. Accept that she will scream and cry and pull all her usual tricks at first, but (however stressful) remain impassive and keep repeating whatever your decision on whatever issue of the day is and simply end the phonecall/conversation calmly when she doesn't act appropriately. It would be kind of like training a very stubborn, tantrumy toddler -the kind that holds their breath until they're blue in the face. They do it because it gets the result they want, you have to firmly and consistently break that behaviour so the "reward" doesn't exist anymore. It's actually easier to do with adults because they learn quickly that they don't get contact with you until they behave reasonably and that contact will be ended if they act up. Just have to stay strong for the initial "training" stage. My siblings and I have had to adopt this approach as adults with our other sibling Everyone is much happier now and I honestly believe that our sibling is happier with clear boundaries for acceptable behaviour (sounds strange to say that for an adult I know but she was making herself as miserable as everyone else with her behaviour.)

Ragwort Sat 01-Nov-14 17:03:51

Maybe you should snap?

The problem is with your DH - surely he needs to stand up to her, he is obviously over awed by her and she knows this and uses it to her advantage.

I am always horrified by these threads as I am in my mid 50s myself (but hopefully a long way off being a MIL grin) - I just can't understand what makes these women tick. sad

Horsemad Sun 02-Nov-14 08:50:38

I sympathise OP, have a similar MIL myself. Experience has taught me to do what I want, not what she wants.
I am pretty much NC with my MIL. DH adores her but I refuse to do see her apart from Xmas Day when we make THE visit!

happyhats Sun 02-Nov-14 16:30:11

I'm in the same boat too but live with mine at the moment although this will hopefully change soon!
United front is absolutely essential! I let her get on with her strops these days but my dh isn't phased by her and started to call her out on unreasonable behaviour which has meant huge improvements for us! I would always feel horribly anxious in way home from work never knowing what kind of mood she's in. She takes it in turns to slag her kids off so there's always someone in the wrong which is easier in some wYs as we share the drama! It is not your job to make her happy or fill her life for her (this has taken me an age to learn). She can behave as she wishes but we do not react or respond to it particularly emotional blackmail. I spent years running around trying to "fix" her unhappiness. Dh will sometimes say "you keep slamming doors is there something wrong?" If she says no we take it at face value now.
Just wanted you to know I feel your pain! smile

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