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I've just had an epiphany!(30 Posts)
I've always thought my MIL and DHs relationship was a bit odd and over close and I don't know why it hasn't occurred to me before but I've just had a sudden realisation that she uses him as a husband not a son.
From my point of view their relationship is really affecting our marriage but how on earth do I say that without sounding like I'm making him choose, me or her! We've had a bit of counselling and the counsellor said that perhaps he has the relationship with his mum he should be having with meas his wife. How do we all move forward?
Ouch! You must have drifted into that one over a long time. Is MIL alone? or very old and frail? Or just dysfunctional?
How do you think that MIL uses DH as a husband? And how does their relationship affect your marriage?
I'm asking this as a MIL that certainly has no desire to be in my DC's relationships but am close to my DC and this seems to be a problem for one of my DC's partners in particular.
MIL and FIL are still together but pretty much live separate lives. MIL uses DH for total emotional support, support she doesn't get from FIL. When she comes to stay all she wants to do is have big in depth conversations with DH about life the universes and everything totally leave me and the DCs out of conversation. She comes into our bedroom in the morning whilst we're still both in bed and sits down and has a cup of tea and starts up these types of conversations. I do feel like I've drifted into this and just had a sudden realisation its really not OK but what to do about it?
Well the coming into the bedroom in the morning thing is weird. What does she do if you and DC join in the conversation? Does your DH try to include you?
Sorry for the questions but from the small amount of info it would seem that your DH is at fault rather than your MIL. Why is he not telling MIL that you are not comfortable with her coming into your bedroom in the mornings?
But her a copy of DH Lawrence's Sons and Lovers.
Probably not helpful
This has actually made me quite sad for some reason - she must be very lonely. Now you've had the epiphany can you bring it up during counselling?
He thinks its all perfectly normal?! I don't want to give too many specifics and out myself but I'm constantly under scrunity from her about how I manage the house as how I do things and how I was raised don't fit in with how she views what is 'right and proper' - apparently its terrible that I buy ready rolled pastry rather than make my own, hence the username! I've said before to DH that there are something I would like him to make clear are not acceptable eg expecting anyone can come and stay any time without checking with me first but he just says that's not a conversation he wants to have.
OK so MIL is functional and married so is just not respecting boundaries and your DH is not expecting her to. There needs to be some retraining here
Is he aware of your discomfort? I imagine so if you have been to counselling. Does he accept that this is an unusual way for his DM to act? He may not realise the situation isn't normal. You will need to lay out what behaviours are intrusive and damaging your marriage. It will then be his call as to whether he prioritises your feelings and the wellbeing of his relationship with you over his DM.
You can only state your case and see how he deals with it. Then decide if that is enough to repair things.
Cross posted there OP. You are already at the nub of it then. Has he realised the consequences of his failing to have "that conversation" maybe the demise of his marriage? He cannot continue the status quo but like many conflict avoiders (who in my experience are often male) he is trying to avoid addressing the problem. What is your response? Is this a deal breaker? or can you see another solution?
In my more generous moments I think its sad as well - I think there is a lot of guilt there as DH was sent to boarding school at a very young age. She won't broach her unhappiness in her own marriage with her own husband (he can be a very difficult man) and is projecting the marriage she would like to have on my DH. I'm just not sure I can deal with this for another 20/30 years?!
It's not a conversation he wants to have - says it all really. What was his reaction when the counsellor made their comment.
OPs MIL is dysfunctional and has a codependent relationship dynamic with her son. He thinks its all perfectly normal because he has been raised within such a dysfunctional family and knows no different.
Surely he does not think that his mother coming into your bedroom of a morning is at all normal. He is more afraid of both parents here that he ever has been of you; he is still looking for his mother's approval even now.
Why is she allowed into your home at all?.
How has he reacted in and to these counselling sessions?.
I'm not happy and something needs to change - I think he would like to but the counsellor also said its not always a difficulty for the couple to change but the people around th em to accept the change. However, He needs to articulate the changes we would like to make his mother and he can't avoid it for me to feel like he's totally on board with the marriage. His whole family are conflict avoiders so not sure its a conversation any of them will have....
He always agrees with the counsellor at the time but then things just aren't put into practice.
OK so he needs to practise his assertiveness skills and so do you. Maybe start on something small and talk about the possible consequences and how they make him feel.
eg He tells mother she can't come into the bedroom.
She a. bursts into tears and sobs
b. shouts angrily and storms off
c. blames you and says how you have changed him since his marriage
How would he respond?
None of this is your job to learn though. All you can do is state your views and choose your response to his actions. He needs to want to change for things to improve.
You need to put your own personal boundaries in place, regardless of your husband's stance.
It is your bedroom too. So, you could say to her that your bedroom is your and DHs private space and it makes you feel invaded if she comes in in the mornings, so could she please not.
The way you make pastry or anything else is your business. Your choice. You need to point this stuff out to her OP, and protect your boundaries in your own home.
It doesn't seem as if your DH is going to do anything, as he is part of the problem. But he can back you up over what you prefer in your own home. So you need to be firm about what those preferences are.
I had a MIL like this too. I would have been so tempted to welcome her into the bedroom with no clothes on and cackle " ooh MIL have you come for a threesome?" and embarrass her out of the door. (Mine was a total nightmare when I was breastfeeding my DC)
Have you read This book which is the definitive work on assertiveness? It really explains how to lay down boundaries gently and safely. It changed my life.
Thank you - yes I think I need to learn how to manage my response to so of her behaviour and my DHs lack of support in backing me up. I do tend to ruminant and get crosser and crosser so I need to think of methods to stop that. Actually just writing things down in this post has made me feel better. I feel as if I've had some validations to my feelings - something which I'm lacking from my husband.
Your problem is not so much with MIL, it is with DH. In the duty league you should come first and he should support you first and foremost. Years ago I was in this situation and MIL had free rein to break the marriage due to pathetic dependency of ExH. For me it turned out to be good riddance to both of them, but hopefully your DH can help you to restore you to your proper position.
The issue is with your DH not being willing to make changes to improve your relationship. He is putting his relationship with MIL before his relationship with you. Are you still seeing the counsellor? If yes, trying raise it again. If not start seeing them again and be firm about what needs to change. Perhaps your DH needs counsellor to help him set boundaries.
When mil comes to stay perhaps you will suddenly be very amorous in the mornings.
Well, I spoke to him about it last night and he agreed that yes his mother does use him for emotional support where she doesn't get it from FIL. However, he did say that he's always viewed his close relationship with him mother as a positive thing and that she does need support and can't get it from anywhere else as he can't make his dad change. He did say he wouldmake a ccommitment to change but it would be hard as it means reprogramming his whole life. I said his words and action need to align as they don't always. We'll take it all back to counselling and see what happens I guess.
At the moment it sounds like your DH can't really be bothered with addressing the imbalance. IMHO it's not promising because he seems to need the closeness with his DM as much as she does.
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