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MIL/DIL relationships - I despair at the norm.

(147 Posts)
MoRaw Mon 22-Dec-14 09:06:02

I’ve only recently starting becoming more engaged with Mumsnet. Over time, what one of the things that have often piqued by curiosity is the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship. Undoubtedly there are a lot of dysfunctional families out there and mothers who really should be kept at a distance. Consider that I am not talking about these types as they clearly cannot be the norm.

I am struck by what seems to be a norm – DIL feeling undermined by MIL and wanting DH to “go up against” his mother. Some of the things that lead people to feel undermined might be considered by many as minor and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I appreciate what is minor/major to one person could be the opposite for another.

I am suspicious of any man who would treat his mother rudely or badly. I would never want to back my husband in a corner where he felt he had to choose between me and his mother (unless she was of those people who are dysfunctional or it was something major). I believe that if a man has a reasonably good relationship with his mother, getting him to take sides will cause him some distress and even though he may seem supportive on the outside, he might be struggling. Blood is thicker than water. Marriage is hard work as it is and throwing this sort of thing in the mix might be lead to problems brewing underneath the surface. The bond between mother and child can be incredibly strong. I think a man who battles with his mother for minor things because his wife expects him to/encourages him to do so is not a man I would trust (that’s me personally). I just feel that if a man can do this to his mother (a bond so strong), he can easily tread on the wife.

I know my parents care for me and for my husband. They would never willingly or maliciously seek to cause me harm. My husband mother is the same. I would not cause any tension between me and my parents on account of my husband’s expectations on how they should be or what they should be doing. I will not allow my husband to come between me and my parents and I would not come between my husband and his mother. If there is a problem that is really something worth sweating about, then I will speak to them otherwise, there are some things that as human beings we should live and let live.

Anyone else despairs at the negative MIL/DIL dynamics that appear to be the norm these days? Is this what our daughters and sons have to look forward to in the future?

Quitelikely Mon 22-Dec-14 09:11:37

I sometimes despair at the advice doled out on here towards MiLs.

It's as if the parents somehow become no more significant than the neighbour next door or certainly don't have any more right to be involved in your life than say, that of a colleague.

Once my children marry I can't imagine being told to back off and keep away or only visit fortnightly for an hour and so on!

Hopefully they will want me around but going by mumsnet more importantly their partners will want me around!

Tobyjugg Mon 22-Dec-14 09:14:31

I don't think it's the norm, I think the bad ones are the ones that make it into a thread. My wife says her relationship with my mother was excellent - she couldn't have asked for better. Our daughter's relationship with her MIL is a bit distant but not a disaster. However, we have one friend whose son married a friend of our daughter's who has turned from a nice, happy lady (as we knew her) into the MIL from hell. Guess which one would make a MN thread?

I don't think the situation's getting worse. It's just that those who suffer ware no longer doing so in silence.

Longtalljosie Mon 22-Dec-14 09:15:07

I don't get bullied by my boss. He's really nice actually - we get on well. I shall now start to pontificate about how everyone who does get bullied at work is inferior to me and deserves it in some way fhmm

So your MIL is nice? Good for you. Well done. I'm sure that's a massive comfort to people who are struggling with this.

Tobyjugg Mon 22-Dec-14 09:15:28

* suffer are

StockingFullOfCoal Mon 22-Dec-14 09:16:14

Hmmm. I see it a lot on here and in RL but in my family its never been an issue. My Grandmother adores my Dads wife (she is his 3rd wife and his first 2 including my mother were absolute horrors but even now Grandmother says nothing bad about them, but nothing nice either - she is of the if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all generation) and my step Mum adores my Grandmother too. My Uncles ex gets on with her very well, Grandmother still provides childcare in emergencies and school holidays) and she also gets on well with Uncles new DP.

I loved my Great Grandmas but according to my Grandparents they were both very controlling in the early days of their marriage and so Grandparents have a "hands off" approach to their 2 sons and to my marriage (she is more or less my Mother) but will offer perspective/advice when asked.

My own MIL is lovely and we get on well. My ex MIL was lovely but very interfering and we clashed regularly but nothing major. Not once did I ask exDP to step in as it was my issue with her, iyswim?

I read a lot of MIL problems out to DH and quite a few of them he has said he would be apoplectic if his DM treated me like that. Some are awful, some not so much, it depends so much on your personalities and what your own family dynamics are like.

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 22-Dec-14 09:19:09

People dont usually post if everything is fine and dandy do they? So it is not the norm. Otherwise we wouldnt be able to move for MIL threads.

ToAvoidConversation Mon 22-Dec-14 09:24:18

I like my MiL (and the rest) but I let my DH look after his side of the family and I look after my side. He's also responsible for phone calls, birthday presents, etc. I step back and just let whatever happens happen.

AMumInScotland Mon 22-Dec-14 09:27:44

1. it's not the norm, any more than abusive men are the norm, just because you get a lot of threads on here. I could start several threads a week about how my DH does nice things for me, but it doesn't occur to me to do it. Functioning relationships don't kick off that many threads.

2. people in general should deal with any rudeness in their own familiies, preferably with a polite nudge or suggestion, or a gentle joke, but more robustly if needed. Men shouldn't have to be rude to their mother, because the relationship shouldn't already be a problem. But it often is. There's a dynamic on a lot of threads where the husband puts up with his mother's shit and expects his wife to do the same, because he's been trained into it from childhood. Those are the men who need to sort themselves out.

3. Often the OP is about something trivial. But it's the constant drip of 'trivial' things that winds you up to a point where you want to scream. If you read on, there tends to be a hell of a lot more going on beneath the surface.

MarjorieMelon Mon 22-Dec-14 09:30:11

I have sons and I also have experience of having gone through a very very difficult relationship with inlaws in the early days. I think this will help enormously when I am a mil because I have seen it from the other side.

I don't think MN bashes Mil's I just think that some people can be very difficult and struggle to allow their children independence. I could write a book on my experiences alone.

AMumInScotland Mon 22-Dec-14 09:34:08

"I know my parents care for me and for my husband. ... My husband mother is the same."

Well, lucky you! My MIL and I got on okay, but that was helped a lot by the fact that my DH 'reined in' her behaviour when she started to behave in ways that were potentially divisive, didn't repeat things to me that she had said, and generally filtered her comments and expectations so that I didn't bear the brunt of them.

In my turn, I've made sure my parents were clear that they didn't get to be insulting or negative about the man I chose to marry, and politely suggested they 'back off' a bit here and there as required.

That works. Not everybody gets that lucky.

GnomeDePlume Mon 22-Dec-14 09:34:32

The bond between mother and child can be incredibly strong. agreed but my DH is an adult not a child. I dont expect him to behave like a child with his parents - and he doesnt.

I get on fine with in-laws but they are DH's family not mine. I married DH not his mother.

Fortunately DH feels the same way.

MistAndAWeepingRain Mon 22-Dec-14 09:34:50

I don't think it's the norm. People are hardly going to post to say 'I get on quite well with my MIL most of the time - AIBU?' Are they? I'm divorced now but when I was married I got on fine with my MIL. We were never bosom pals (too different) but I had a great deal of affection for her. The drama we see played out on MN is not typical of my RL experiences.

thatsmyname123 Mon 22-Dec-14 09:35:58

I don't think what you see on here is the norm, just people venting about a difficult in law, you wouldn't post about how great your mil is, you'd post because there was a problem and others with similar experiences would then sympathise.
My mil is brilliant, she treats me like one of her own children, I feel very lucky when I read some posts on here where people have obviously difficult relationships but I think it is far more common for people to get along with their inlaws

Swingball Mon 22-Dec-14 09:36:10

Agree that you only see posts usually when people are struggling with the relationship. So I don't know how it can be said that this is the norm?

MistAndAWeepingRain Mon 22-Dec-14 09:38:51

Which is not to say that there are not some horrible narc MILs out there -I'm sure there are. But I don't think they are typical of most MILs. If you read the relationships board regularly you could be forgiven for thinking most men are abusive twats. They aren't obviously. But people don't generally post to say 'my DH is a lovely chap and I would never LTB'. Do they?

LadyFlumpalot Mon 22-Dec-14 09:39:42

I don't expect my DP to "go up against" his mother. I expect him to speak up for me as needed the same as I would for him.

CaptainRex Mon 22-Dec-14 09:39:46

I very luckily have a lovely relationship with my MIL (who comes to stay every Christmas and is most welcome).

However, an ex of mine, who later married a close friend, had one of the MIL you read about on here.

So I know there are those MIL (PIL) out there who do need to treated as the abusive people they are. And of course, its only the bad relationships that cause most people to write on here.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 22-Dec-14 09:41:24

This thread pops up from time to time and the OP always has a nice MIL that is easy to get on with.

Ragwort Mon 22-Dec-14 09:42:31

I do think some people just don't 'break away' from their parents when they become adults or their parents don't treat them as adults (or both).

Some people do seem incredibly over involved with their childrens' lives - I am genuinely looking forward to my DS leaving home, I have loads of interests, hobbies, travel etc that I want to get on with and really have no thoughts either way about if I am going to become a grandmother. However I have a good friend who is bereft now that her children have left home, she constantly pays for their holidays, encourages them to come home at the drop of a hat and (IMO) over invests emotionally in their lives.

I got on well with my MIL (now deceased) but I was over 30 when I got married so I think in some ways that helped. Both DH and I had our own homes and had lived independent lives.

dawntigga Mon 22-Dec-14 09:43:44

People with great MiL's are much less likely to post about them aren't they.

FFS the amount of people who post about toxics are a very small drop in the ocean compared to the amount of people who post in here.

If you don't like reading about it or want to help hide the threads.


steerpike82 Mon 22-Dec-14 09:48:52

TBH, I'm hoping to raise my son to tell me if I'm being a witch! I don't mean only visit every second weekend & all that crap. I mean if something happens to me and I do end up a malicious cow, my son has every right to tell me I am being a cow to my DIL/SIL.

funnyossity Mon 22-Dec-14 09:50:13

I can see this from both sides, one set of sensible parents who made a point of getting on with in-laws and another set of parents whose children can do no wrong (except that they have married problem spouses!)

It's the rich tapestry of life, isn't it?

Penguinsaresmall Mon 22-Dec-14 09:53:03

op I would agree with you if it were really that simple. But sometimes a DIL can run around in circles trying to keep her inlaws happy and 'involved' for years, only to be crapped on from a great height anyway sad.

Sometimes it's the MIL backing her son into a corner against his DW. I just count myself lucky that in that situation my DH told them all where to go and backed me and our DC 100%.

Honestly, I would love to have a big cosy extended family of in-laws, but they made that impossible sad.

SunnaClausIsComingToTown Mon 22-Dec-14 09:53:52

I've seen a fair few nightmare DiL threads as well. I think it happens when mothers or partners view a man as a possession and fight for control. That's just weird.

When I married my in laws became part of my family - we didn't become a family is isolation from them. My DCs are happily partnered and my DH and I are part of their families now. We all get along fine.

There are maybe a lot of possessive women out there but give and take and accepting of each other's families is the norm, I think.

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