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Partner's mum or is it me?

(43 Posts)
lauren42 Wed 10-Dec-14 14:54:16

I am seeking some advice, please. Myself and my partner are in our early thirties. Been together for 3 years and used to live together before our jobs have meant a temporary living apart (for the next 7 months). OH's mother is divorced, bitter, has very few friends due to a catalogue of fallouts with them (3 so far just this year who no longer speak to her). For the record, I have always been extremely kind to her - I have included her in our days out, called her from time to time, emailed, kept her up to date and have always been supportive. She has some kind of issue with me - one which my partner puts down to 'just her being moody.'

Over the last 3 months, she had to go into hospital for a scan. She has previously had cancer and since recovered. Obviously, she is now worried about it - and I appreciate that. When she went for a check up, they noticed something on the lung. As a result, she had to go back in for another scan. It concluded that she would go back in 6 months for another scan. To my mind, that means they think nothing is wrong and to come back for a check up, to make sure in 6 months and to monitor? Please tell me if I am wrong here!

My partner, for a few months, perhaps two or three, has been progresively distant. He gets irritated easily,always says he is tired, always quotes work as being stressful (he used to say he never got stressed in the past), has stopped going out so much to the gym, and generally just seems to have lost enthusiasm across the board. I am quite an open person, and I found this hard. As a result, I questioned him on this...asking if he wanted to end things, if I had done something wrong, etc which he said not it wasnt me...all of this leading to a massive conversation one day where I shouted 'you seem manically depressed or something!" He then said "well maybe I am." And that's when he said he was stressed at work and had been worried about his mum. I asked him why, and said your mum must be fine if consultants have looked at her scans and said come back in 6 months. He sort of agreed, but then indicated his mum had said on an almos daily basis that she was worried because her own mother had died of lung cancer, and that she had been coughing a lot, etc etc. My reaction was to be angry with his mother - why would she worry her own son? She also said she didnt want his father to know...again why? Maybe he needs some support on this? On his birthday she said she wasn't sure if she would be able to attend chirstmas with us, 'depending on what happens with the hospital.' Again, why, when the consultants haven't said anything is wrong? I have been so understanding to his mother and am I a complete pushover when it comes to giving sympathy to people...but this struck a nerve with me. Why would she want to worry her son so much? Especially when she is merely going back for a check up?

Obviously this is a very sensitive topic, and I don't claim to know how to handle it correctly. I am worried my partner has used this as an excuse he doesn't really want our relationship anymore... but when I ask that, he gets angry and says it isn't me and tells me to stop asking. But dealing with this distant, strange attitude is so hard - I can be quite an insecure person and I feel completely lost with all of this. He is so different to his usual happy self. I have asked him to talk to me and he said he doens't want to dicuss it - he finds the topic of his mum easier to deal with himself.

Should I be worried that this is me? Should I be annoyed at his mother for doing this if it's not about me? Should I leave him alone? I don't know what to do. I really love this man and I feel like he is broken :9 Any advice really welcome!


nicenewdusters Wed 10-Dec-14 15:55:04

Just wanted to say I had read your post; sounds like a very difficult situation for you. Will post again later when I have more time. I'm sure others will be along with advice in the meantime.

Just a few points. Are you still living apart at the moment because of your jobs ? How has this impacted upon your relationship, and how far are you from each other ?

Is your partner an only child ? How often does he see/speak to his mum ? Is he now living nearer to her as a result of your living situation ?

(Sorry if I sound like the Spanish Inquisition !)

lauren42 Wed 10-Dec-14 15:59:22

Thanks so much for your response. Feeling so confused right now!

Yes we are living apart - it hasn't been great and I miss living together properly - but as he always says, that will change again soon when we move back in. We see each other at weekends, although that hasn't been every weekend of late due to various reasons (mainly his working abroad).

Yes he is an only child - you're good! He speaks to his mum nearly every day. It seems to be more so recently, too.

He is living where we used to live, and she has just sold her house (she was about 2 hours' drive away from where he is). She is hoping to move a 20 min drive from him in the new year.......

Thanks again.

Coyoacan Wed 10-Dec-14 16:12:09

Maybe your partner is depressed because he is not living with you at the moment.

It is very traumatic to watch anyone, let alone a parent, die of cancer and I speak from experience. My mother died of breast cancer many years ago and I still imagine lumps on my breasts at times.

It is hard that he has been made his mother's confidant but he is an adult and, no matter how irrational her fears may be, she has them and she needs to share her concerns with someone.

cafesociety Wed 10-Dec-14 16:20:59

I get she is worried, and I get your DP is worried. But I agree she shouldn't really mention this all the time to her son, and it sounds like she depends on him a bit too much so maybe is manipulating the situation to get as much of his attention as she can. And it is working but at the expense of P's peace of mind.

Maybe this is one of those tough times which test a relationship. He is dealing with it all in his own way. I would back off and not say too much in what is a pressure cooker situation. Watch how he deals with it in the next 3 months and just be supportive, and not talk about this subject too much.

I'm sorry this is impacting on you so much. I think just make him know you are there for him, that you are concerned for him, that he can talk to you when he chooses to. Then wait out the next 3 months. You can't control this situation or afford to get drawn too deeply into the drama until you know exactly what the outcome of further scans are. I know it's very difficult for you.

It sounds like you are very kind and considerate to P's mum, and it just sounds like she is bit jealous of your closeness to her only boy. But you sound a reasonable and considerate person.

Ohfourfoxache Wed 10-Dec-14 16:25:11

It all sounds very, very hard.

If she is the type of person who routinely falls out wih people anyway then all that does is intensify the stress for your DP - he is the one person she probably relies on not falling out with. It may be that as her anxiety increases, she gets increasingly shitty for him to deal with, which in turn makes it harder on him. A downward spiral.

How long until you can go back to living together? I would say that it sounds like he misses you and is finding it hard to cope with his mum on his own. Fwiw, DH finds it difficult to cope with his parents. He doesn't generally talk about it in depth, but I know when something is bothering him and just being there in your own shared bubble of normality can be comforting.

Is your DP's mum someone who would consider going to a support group? As a cancer survivor the risk of recurrence is not an uncommon fear to face - and it might relieve some of the pressure from DP?

diddl Wed 10-Dec-14 16:28:41

She does perhaps mention it too often.

But if she is alone, who else should she talk too?

It's not as if she's telling a child!

If he's struggling then perhaps he either needs to tell her to tone it down, or talk to someone himself.

But there's not "nothing wrong", is there?

There's something on her lung that needs looking at again in 6months.

HamPortCourt Wed 10-Dec-14 16:32:21

Disclaimer: My own narc mother has "cancer" whenever she wants attention/isn't getting her own way/needs to manipulate a situation.

I suspect that the reason your partner is not allowed to discuss his mothers illness with his father is because it might transpire that the father has a very different set of medical information than what his mother is telling him. Also, by claiming she cannot talk to her husband, it justifies her dumping all this on your DP.

Honestly, I would run from this situation. The fact she is moving to be nearer to you/DP is chilling.

The way I look at it, either the mum is telling the truth but is dumping massively on DP and you will have to support him through this, and that looks like it isn't working for yo at the moment.

Or, Mum is lying and is manipulative and toxic, and DP cannot see it.

Or lastly, DP is blaming his distant behaviour on his mothers illness and doesn't quite have the guts to tell you/it doesn't suit him right now.

Neither of these three alternatives appeals to me but you should probably take your time and consider your options. What would happen if you contacted DPs father for a chat? I must confess I would probably go for the nuclear option but that's probably one of the reasons I am single.

Good luck OP. thanks

Annarose2014 Wed 10-Dec-14 16:33:54

Tbh, you're basing your supposition on it not being serious on her being asked back in 6 months.

I don't think that's really safe, considering she has a family history of lung cancer and has had cancer already, and had a scan that wasn't clear. If it was me I'd be a basket case for for those 6 months and I'm a nurse!

I think her fears are not necessarily paranoid and unreasonable. I also don't think it's unreasonable to talk about it with your only child, who is an adult. Particularly when you have lost friends in recent times. And I very much doubt there are many divorced women on here who would tell their exes about their health worries, sorry.

Yes, your partner is very upset but you know what? That's allowed. You sound like they should both have downplayed it to nothing. That's not how it works, in my experience.

Now whether it's indicative of a larger problem in your relationship I don't know. But I think you have to be careful not to come across as unsympathetic, as if the poor woman does end up with something, your initial reaction will not be remembered fondly.

lauren42 Wed 10-Dec-14 16:35:38

Thanks everyone.

Well since all this I have been reconsidering the moving back in (the mother has encouraged him not to live with me in the past..again for reasons I don't know or understand).

He seemed a lot more stable when we lived together - I don't know, perhaps his mother says different things to him when she knows I am not in the vicinity, which has made him so misrable.

She definitely would not do that as far as I am aware. She lieks to have the attitude that 'she doesn't want pity,' which I find ironic considering what she's said to my partner all these weeks.

I feel so fed up and confused over it. And obviously in the back of my mind I keep thinking maybe it IS me, and he just doesn't want us?

Kundry Wed 10-Dec-14 16:39:48

You are entirely correct about the scan.

This a fairly common situation - there's something on the scan, it's most likely nothing. However because of where it is in the lung it's impossible to biopsy it so no-one can say 100% for certain that it's nothing to worry about.

So all you can do it rescan it in a bit and see if it's grown - if so it's probably nasty, if not, it probably isn't.

It is a very stressful situation for the person concerned as cancer hasn't been 100% excluded but leaving it 6 months does suggest the doctors are not really very concerned.

I would be very sympathetic to her worries but her suggesting she may not be here next Christmas and talking every day about dying from lung cancer suggests it's all got out of hand. I'd be getting her back to her GP to try to get her understanding of the situation back in proportion and maybe trying some counselling or a support group.

The toxic version is that she knows perfectly well how worried (or not) the doctors are about this and is enjoying the drama and opportunities to manipulate your DP. If you have masses of back story with her, you have to decide what is most likely - some people sadly do take a really minor health problem and turn it into a brush with death for their own gain, it is very sad to see and traumatic for their families.

lauren42 Wed 10-Dec-14 16:41:14

Annarose - thanks for that.

Perhaps I have not been as understanding as I should be.

I thought being called back in 6 months would be for a check, and therefore mean the scan they currently have is clear?

I realise that does not mean in 6 months all is well, but surely it doesn't qualify for the comments she makes to her son on an almost daily basis?

Thanks again.

lauren42 Wed 10-Dec-14 16:43:25

Kundry - unfortunately I think she knows exactly what she is doing. She is a very manipulative person and even said to my partner that other sons had attended appointments with a friend to similar scans... my partner had been to ALL of hers, bar one, and he lives nearly 3 hours away! She is very cruel and enjoys drama. I can't help thinkign she enjoy basking in it.

I still remain sympathetic, but when I see my partner so down, ti makes me angry she can carry on like this.

Kundry Wed 10-Dec-14 16:46:35

Does your partner go to the scans or the appointments that talk about the scan results?

Going to the scans doesn't really tell you anything but if he goes to the appointments he can ask questions and get a true sense of what the situation is in order to support her better with the anxiety

MrMcGintysGoat Wed 10-Dec-14 16:53:55

No, I wouldn't worry it was you at all. From what you have said you are a caring partner.
Maybe he is depressed. I agree with what Coyocan says, mum has had cancer, and now has something on her lung. It is the norm to keep an eye on something, but until she is actually told it has gone or there is a reason for it, the worry, given her previous history, is always going to be there.
Life throws crap at us sometimes, and everyone deals with it in different ways.
I know you say she can be shitty with you sometimes, but is there anyway you can try and clench your teeth and be supportive towards her, so that maybe she unloads some of her worries onto you instead of DP?

lauren42 Wed 10-Dec-14 16:54:08

she went to one appointment alone - and said she was happy to do so.

it all just seemed very strange. it may be true and i may be totally wrong... but after the scan we waited nearly 5 weeks to hear...she ended up rining (after we told her to ring weeks before), and they said they'd sent out a letter. the letter never arrived. she waited. rang again. they told her she would need to go back. we asked why, and she said for another scan. we asked if they had said antyhing more and she said she hadn;t asked as she didnt trust them over the phone....

so now we are waiting for this upcoming scan.

unfortunately i just cant work out how far this is affecting my partner. and if it IS affecting him, he doesn't want to talk about it, so I can't help. it seems that the more I ask about her and how he is feeling, he withdraws. it's so odd. it's like he wants to be aroud people who dont even know.

Ohfourfoxache Wed 10-Dec-14 17:37:55

Ah, ok - if she has form for being cruel and manipulative then that may well change things.

DP could be unaware of his mother's behaviour, in which case he may not recognise if she is being manipulative/ controlling.

He might be aware but is caught up in fear, obligation, guilt (FOG - I can recommend you reading up on this if you haven't already - the stately homes thread would be a good start).

She might be being "genuine" - you are best placed to assess this, without knowing her it's difficult for strangers to say definitively.

The only thing you can do for your DP is "be there". Sounds like, for whatever reason, he doesn't want to think about the situation.

FryOneFatManic Wed 10-Dec-14 19:52:00

She also said she didnt want his father to know...

Why isn't she telling his father? Is she living with him? Surely he would know if she's been to the hospital, etc, so why is she dumping it all on her son?

My mum has a tumour on one lung. At present it seems to be manageable.

If the doctors were telling your DP's mum to come back in 6 months then it's not serious, yet, and might never be. She sounds manipulative to me.

MrMcGintysGoat Wed 10-Dec-14 20:05:41

No Fry, they are divorced, so why should he be told.

Meerka Wed 10-Dec-14 21:08:31

Seems tht your instincts are telling you that she's playing games.

It seems that there may genuinely be something to worry about but it's clear you feel she's using it to gain ... something ... from her son. Who sounds as if he's taking all the burden of this on his shoulders and is getting heavily depressed and consequently withdrawing from you.

She's also planning to move 20 mins down the road from him.

OH's mother is divorced, bitter, has very few friends due to a catalogue of fallouts with them (3 so far just this year who no longer speak to her). For the record, I have always been extremely kind to her ....She has some kind of issue with me - one which my partner puts down to 'just her being moody.'

She is a very manipulative person and even said to my partner that other sons had attended appointments with a friend to similar scans... my partner had been to ALL of hers, bar one, and he lives nearly 3 hours away! She is very cruel and enjoys drama. I can't help thinkign she enjoy basking in it.

I don't know, maybe I've seen too much and read too much. That's definitely possible. But if I'm not just reading too much into this, the way you have put things, this all sounds like someone who is hating loosing her son and so, dislikes you as you are a female whom he's connected to.

If that's the case, something unpleasant is going on. Since you don't live together at the moment and he's withdrawing, you're in a difficult position to try to counteract her. Sorry :/

intlmanofmystery Thu 11-Dec-14 11:18:56

This looks like simple attention-seeking behaviour and your P is the only one she can turn to. He obviously cares about his mother and will respond accordingly, especially being an only child, but is unlikely to be able to see the broader pattern of behaviour that has cost her a marriage and a lot of friends.

I have seen this from both sides - my own mum divorcing, gaining and losing friends very quickly and being very dependent on myself and my brother. Until we just said "no" to her. My exILs moved to just round the corner from the family home and were always just "popping in", my ex was also an only child. I ended up asking them to leave and return the keys as whenever I came back from work FIL was at the kitchen table and in no rush to move. Needless to say it caused huge rows with the ex but she could never see it from my POV.

If you can put up with it until the next scan then do so and keep your distance from her but support P as best you can. If the scan comes back negative then you need to sit down with P and talk through your relationship and where its going. IMHO her desire to move closer to you is a huge red flag and could damage your relationship with P beyond repair as he will be even more under her influence...

A lot of men find it very hard to stand up to their mothers especially if they are controlling/manipulative. Sorry, sounds like you've found one but he has to want to change his relationship with her.

lauren42 Thu 11-Dec-14 11:33:05

Thanks for this response, intlmanofmystery.

Since we met, there were a few 'red flags' about her that I noticed, but I wanted so much to give her the benefit of the doubt because I really love my partner and understand what it is like to have a lonely fmaily member (my grandmother was massively dependant on my dad and it caused argumetns between my paretns when I was younger, too).

Also, I know people who have been divorced will naturally talk bitterly about one another - and anything my partner's father has ever said about her I took wit a pinch of salt. Now I wish I hadn't, because he seems to be stop on about her. He also never spoke explicitly badly about her - whereas she would be really vile about him - something she does about most people in fact.

A few motnhs ago when my partner had to work abroad for a month (while we lived together), it later transpired that his mother had said to him she didnt htink it was a good idea for us to consider buying a home together, said she thought I wasn't supportive of his career (even if I am massively harsh on myself I don't see how she could think that, I am more supportive than you can imagine), and also said she thought "a healthy relationship was where two people have separate lives, and then another life together, too." God knows what that meant... clearly something she lived by, leading her to end up as she is.

The saddest part to all this is that I tried so so so hard with her. And still do, actually. But it's at the point now where I just expect a new thing to crop up each week with her. I would have no issue with her moving closer, in fact, it would make life easier for us in some ways as we wouldn't have to travel so far to visit... but after how she has behaved the last few months and what she has said aboutme, I fear the worst.

If I said any of the above to my partner, he would likely just defend her/definitely not bring it up with her. Whilst I appreicate it is his mother, i my paretns were to speak badly/unfairly of him, I would defend him to the death. Is it wrong of me to expect the same thing?

I also appreciate that he is worried for her - but this brings me back to the original point... how can I say stop letting your mum do this to you, when he doesn't even she that she is? I just come across as the nasty one.

I am so concerned that her frankly disastarous views on relationships are being infiltrated to him, without him even realising. So fed up sad

lauren42 Thu 11-Dec-14 11:43:03

Also, can I add that I personally would never have had a problem with his mother if she had at least even been civil with me. I couldn't car eless if she falls out with friends/neighbours/men, and I would defend her simply because she is my patner's mum. That's just what I believe to be the right thing to do. But it seems her issues with relationships don't stop anywhere - even someone like myself who has been massively patient and constantly turned the other cheek, she still can't form a good relationship with.

I'm sick of coming across as the bad person when I so much as mention to my partner that something she has said or dont isn't the right thing. It worries me that if he genuinely believes she is behaving correctly with people in her life - (and i dont mean the above with the tests at the hosptial - that I can categorise separately as I know that must be hard for her) - do I want to be with someone that thinks all that is ok? The last friend she went on holiday with walked out on the third day and fell out with her...she went to New Zealand and fell out with friends there and ended up meeting people online to stay with as an alternative...has a problem with all her neighbours.. criticised a couple in her extended family who had been married 60 odd years on the day of the husband's funeral (saying it wasn't all that great a marriage - my parents doesn't recall this comment apparently)...the list is endless.

I think my partner feels his mother is always in the right...and that's natural I suppose. But come on..there's an obvious pattern here. If he wants to be influnced by someone like that, I feel like it might be time to move on. It's all so shit sad

lauren42 Thu 11-Dec-14 11:44:09

*partner dosn;t recall the comment, not parents!

Meerka Thu 11-Dec-14 11:47:29

^but after how she has behaved the last few months and what she has said aboutme, I fear the worst.

If I said any of the above to my partner, he would likely just defend her/definitely not bring it up with her.^

I'm sick of coming across as the bad person when I so much as mention to my partner that something she has said or dont isn't the right thing. It worries me that if he genuinely believes she is behaving correctly with people in her life - (and i dont mean the above with the tests at the hosptial - that I can categorise separately as I know that must be hard for her) - do I want to be with someone that thinks all that is ok?

Can I suggest you look at a couple of threads around atm:

Not saying it'll go the same way but there are some things you've said that seem similar.

The key is not your partner's mother. It's your partner.

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