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MIL problems..(451 Posts)
Thought id post here as really feel at a loss about what to do.. Sorry for the essay, its been going round and round in my head.
My DH is an only child and has always had a close relationship with his mum. She has had a troubled life and because of this, has quite a few issues. Up until DS was born last year, I found her hard work and quite demanding, but we managed to get along fine and I always made effort to see her and have contact with her because having a relationship with her was important to me.
Looking back there were signs she possibly didnt like me, because her reaction when DH told her about our engagement and pregnancy were very odd (she said she was busy and would call back later and hung up the phone). There was the odd thing like her wanting to go on holiday (on her own) with DH for two weeks (two years in a row) and expecting him to go down and stay with her a week before DS was born to 'dig holes in her garden' ?! But again, I tried to be tolerant of all this. She is on her own and doesnt have friends so I understood she was lonely.
Once DS had been born it started to go downhill fast. She came to stay with us the day I got out of hospital even though I had specifically said no visitors. When I got back and she showed up, I didnt have the energy/ didnt want to cause a scene so bit my tongue. She then proceeded to stay for 4 nights and didnt lift a finger to help, wanted to hold DS all the time when I was still in the stage when I felt like I wanted to bond with him and hold him all the time. There was a time il never forget when my DH had popped out and she said she was hungry and me- the mug- was trying to bend down to get plates etc and prepare lunch for her 5 days after a c-section whilst she held DS. Every time she came to stay subsequently she was the same- expecting hotel service and not understanding things had changed.
The last time I saw her was 4 months ago when she came to stay and everything exploded. In a nutshell, she had worked herself up into a rage- we didnt realise- because she wanted time alone with my DH and apparently she had told me this in the morning and we had agreed she could have this time alone with him (i do also find this slightly rude!) -I had totally forgot about this so rather than saying anything she had got really angry. Anyway, i was cooking and passed DS to DH. As I did so, she snatched DS out of my arms and stormed past me saying DS needed to sleep and DH was exhausted. I was fuming, DS started crying and DH sat there like a shell shock victim not knowing what to do. I stormed up after her and retrieved DS (I dont know what came over me but i was shaking in rage). She then stayed upstairs for about half an hour and DH took her out for a walk. On this walk she slagged me off and basically told him she wouldnt be coming to stay again as she found me stressful to be around, that I was a bad mother, a nasty person etc and tried to stir problems between my DH and I by saying I didnt seem to want to spend time with him..
Since she left we have had zero contact. My DH told her that she owed me an apology. She refused to apologise which infuriated me more, and made no contact. It is my DS birthday in a couple of weeks and she said she wanted to come up to see him on his birthday. We have told her we are having a family day but that she can visit around the time of his birthday. She then asked if she could stay at our house (she has no shame!!). My DH said he would speak to me.
When he got back to her and said no, and pointed out to her that she had previously said she couldnt bear to stay with us and would stay in a hotel for her next visit, she announced that she had already booked her train ticket. She then said she didnt have enough money to stay in hotel (rubbish) and said she would meet me for a coffee before staying at our house to 'sort things out' My DH pointed out that she was being a little naive by thinking all could be forgotten after a quick coffee...she also upset my DH by saying its hurting her that he is 'choosing me over her'. He told me last night that it feels unnatural to tell his mum she cant stay.
Am I being unreasonable? Am I doing the right thing? I have stuck to my guns and said she is welcome to come and see DS around his birthday and that I will meet up with her to talk but that she is not welcome to stay. I don't trust her and feel like she is someone that enjoys drama and creating problems and her demands on my DH's time are not conducive to a normal functional relationship. I don't hate anyone, but I think I might hate her.. I just have so much anger and resentment there that I don't know if I can get rid of... I know things cant go on like this but I cant bear her and dont know how to move forward...
No, you are not unreasonable in the least OP. It sounds like the woman is extremely jealous of you and your role as 'the woman' in DH's life. She has extremely poor boundaries and can't seem to accept that her baby boy has grown up and is an adult now. I have a lot of similar behaviour in my own family and I know how furious it can make you.
Nip this in the bud NOW. Her boundaries are very weak so you need to be veryvery firm with yours. An offer to see DS but not stay in your home sounds like a good compromise. You can't trust her to behave and be respectful in your home so she doesn't get invited back. Tough.
How does your DH feel about this?
If you and your dh have both agreed that she owes you an apology, and she has refused, then of course she shouldn't be allowed to stay in your house until you receive a genuine apology.
I understand your dh that it feels unnatural
to not let his Mum stay, but that is her fault and your dh has told her why.
I can understand it must be difficult for her if she's on her own but that doesn't give her the right to treat you badly or make demands on your life, especially in your own home.
She's trying to force this upon you so she gets to see her ds and dgs without apologising to you. Which doesn't bode well for you in the future and will set a precedence.
The good news is that your dh seems to be handling this correctly. She knows why she can't stay in the house. She knows she owes you a sincere apology. Anything less than this gives her a lot of control.
I say stick to your guns and well done to your dh. It can't be easy for him but he's doing the right thing by standing by you in this.
she announced that she had already booked her train ticket. She then said she didnt have enough money to stay in hotel
Not your problem. Just respond that it was she that flounced out and disrespected you and quite frankly, this is another sign of her pushing boundaries that don't need to be pushed.
With all the best will in the world, I think you're guilty of high drama here along with your mil. Obviously her behaviour was less than ideal, but you seem to have overreacted to it as well.
It reads like one explosive row after a bit of build up over a few days. These things can and do crop up within families you know.
Thanks for your quick replies... its good to know im not losing the plot. DH and I had a lot of rows shortly after it happened as I felt like he wasnt supporting me, but he has since really stepped up and I do now feel he has been great. DH finds it really hard as he has a real sense of loyalty and responsibility towards her (he has kind of been the carer in their relationship) but does also admit that he knows she is a difficult woman. He even told me she is inherently selfish. But he has also said he doesnt think she will ever change. How do I work with this??!! I don't want her looking after DS unsupervised. I cant put my finger on it but she scares me and I really dont trust her. He just wants the problem to go away and for us to be one big happy family. I wish it could be that way....
pictish you are right it is the culmination of a lot of things, but things have built up over a period of a year rather than a few days.
She managed to raise your dh ok, so I'm not quite sure why you need to ban her from spending time alone with your son.
She did thats true, and I havent done anything like impose a ban, the fact is it hasnt cropped up, im just voicing my fears on here... I want it to be clear that im not enjoying this Pictish, and nore do I have issues with any other friends/ family members.. its not my style at all!!
In dysfunctional families things like this happen. I don't think the OP has over dramatised the situation at all. The mil sounds a complete nightmare if she wants a relationship with her family she must make amends. Inviting yourself to stay is not how you go about making amends and sounds like she is being difficult because she wants to stir up more trouble.
Dyswim? Yes - she's a bloody nuisance, but it's not a competition between you and her for your dh's loyalty and affection here. As much as she childishly stamped her feet over him choosing you over her (which is ridiculous), you're now making him turn her from the door in retaliation.
I feel sorry for your dh. You're both behaving badly. What's he supposed to do?
I dont want it to be a competition at all!! Im just trying to do whats right for my family.. Im conscious that I must do something to move forward more positively, but im struggling with how to handle the situation.. hence posting here...
I'm honestly not trying to put you down OP - please don't think that.
I just think you'd get a better result from refusing to play tit for tat, that's all.
you are offering a compromise, she is demanding her own way. You are NOT as bad as each other. Discuss and agree what you are prepared to offer as a couple and continue to show a united front.
I don't think they're as bad as each other as such, but OP is not innocent of stirring the pot either.
I think your dh needs to speak to her. If I was your dh I would say to mil that you all want to get along and for her to be part of the family, however you feel that it is too soon for her to stay and you will visit her for the day instead. As the reason for her contact is her grandson's birthday I would go somewhere like a zoo, it takes the pressure off of everyone and you can get away when you need to.
This is not tit for tat and never has been. His mother has poor boundaries, infact I am being kind here because she has no boundaries and likely sees her son as an extension of her. She is more likely than not going to be a poor grandparent role model and I would keep your child well away from her. If she cannot behave decently around the two of you it is the self same deal for your child as well. She could well go onto use your child to get back at you both. You have acted more than reasonably throughout and even her own son, your DH, has said that she is unreasonable to you both.
This comment you made earlier is infact very telling:-
"DH finds it really hard as he has a real sense of loyalty and responsibility towards her (he has kind of been the carer in their relationship) but does also admit that he knows she is a difficult woman".
Many adult children of such parents would say the self same things, they are mired in FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) with regards to their parents. At least your DH is on your side; presenting a united front with regards to such people is vitally important and must be done. Your DH still has some degree of fear obligation and guilt with regards to his mother.
If his mother cannot or will not behave she gets to see none of you. No further discussions are needed. I realise it is difficult for you to get your head around all this seeing as you likely come from a family where this sort of familial dysfunction is unknown thankfully, but you need to see this for what is really is. His mother will do her utmost to ruin your marriage; she wants her son to herself. She is not also above projecting herself onto you either by calling you a so called bad mother etc. She is that person really.
I would suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward as this will further help you understand the power and control dynamics here.
Will she change - no, its not likely to happen.
Attila that is exactly it- my entire family are all really close and naively I just assumed it would be the same with her. Not only this, but also because she hasnt got many people in her life, so I thought she would be happy to have some more family floating around... As it stands it feels like she wishes I would just go away and leave her with DH and GS. Will look for book in library and read in secret haha!
Excellent advice from Attila, as usual. 'Toxic Parents' is a fascinating read and will help you to see MIL's behaviour even more clearly.
Do not back down OP. She cannot be allowed to treat her son like a child and you like an inconvenience.
I can't believe anyone thinks you have been 'stirring the pot'. So you lost your rag - hardly surprising given her behaviour!
This is your and your husband's house. I'm afraid that the new family unit is you, him and your baby. She is welcome by invitation but not by forcing her way in.
Having said that you could extend an olive branch. But frankly I think that you both need much longer to calm down and I think you should take it. Force contact now and the resentment will simmer longer.
Her booking the ticket is her problem; simple. She should have waited until she knew what was happening. Not your problem.
I think that meeting for an afternoon for coffee, all of you, is the best option.
Most of all, if your gut instinct is telling you not to leave your baby with her - don't. Mother instinct is very strong and it's there for a reason. Going against it has to be thought about very carefully. In this case, she's taken your baby from you unwilling. She invited herself at a very tender time, just after the baby was born and she handled it badly.
so I would say no, don't let her have your baby. Not until you feel more comfortable with the idea. But do meet for an afternoon with her - husband and baby there - and let her have some time alone with your husband. In the circumstances that is reasonable. I don't think it will be enough for her, but I don't think what she wants is reasonable.
Just be polite and make small talk, tell her funny stories about ds. I wouldn't refer to the past.
What shoudl you say? Be civil. You don't have to be warm, but do be civil. If she outright asks for the baby, say politely and with a smile "I'd rather not". do warn your husband first though!! He won't like it, but it's your baby. Are you being rude? No, not really. You have no obligation to give your baby to someone you don't trust and who is unpleasant.
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