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MIL issues(30 Posts)
I'm hoping for some MIL advice. I'm really not sure how to handle my MIL anymore and it's got to the point where I'm dreading the birth of my first child because I'm worried she'll spoil it. DH is her youngest child and the only one she has contact with (she had no contact with her other 2 boys) and therefore she puts a huge amount of pressure on him to be 'a good son'. If he doesn't do exactly what she wants she'll throw a tantrum and make him feel ridiculously guilty, ending in him usually doing what she wants in the end anyway. DH is 8 years older than me and his parents are in their 70s, whereas mine are in their 50s and very laid back and supportive of any decisions me and DH make, whereas his Mum is often critical of our decisions and will ALWAYS make her opinions known. In addition she makes it perfectly clear that she thinks I'm 'common' and will often correct my grammar or tell me how I should hold a knife or how to behave in certain circumstances. She has ruined many 'special' days over the last few years, such as my birthday or when we've spent Xmas with my family by making my husband feel guilty about not including her. DH then gets upset and sulks for days causing us to have blazing rows about how his Mum has yet again spoilt things. I live 120 miles from my family and on average see them once every 6-8 weeks, yet MIL will still sulk when we go to visit them. We see her at least once a week (for dinner at her house) and often we'll pop in to see her or take her out at the weekend. (Not because we want to but just to keep her happy). My dilemma is this.....with the birth of our first child approaching I feel extremely bitter that this woman will probably get to see our baby before my family and going forward will get to see the baby a lot more than my family. She has also threatened to come to the hospital whilst I'm in labour so she can wait to see the baby. This is already stressing me out and I've still got 10 weeks to go. It's also annoying me that she's telling people that this is her first grandchild...it's not...she has 2 others that she's never met, her choice!! Am I being unreasonable and hormonal??
Thanks in advance.
Well you're in good company on here OP because lots of us have similiar MILs! All these women (and some FILs too) seem to have great difficulty accepting that their little boy is now a grown man with a life of his own. He is no longer a child and neither are you - correcting your grammar and making you feel small is just not on.
So no, you are not being unreasonable. Re the birth of your child - do not tell her when you are in labour. In fact, don't tell anyone. Wait until baby has arrived and you are settled at home. No-one needs to know you are in labour, it just puts pressure on you that you don't need. You need boundaries of iron with people like this, and you need your DH to be on the same page as you. How does he feel about her behaviour?
I would keep her well away from your child and would now cease all the visits to her house as well as taking her out to keep her happy. Bad behaviour from her should never be rewarded, infact doing that at all by seeing her has also made her far worse. It is not your fault she is the ways she is, you both did not make her that way. She was not a good parent to her children and she will not make for being any sort of decent grandparent figure to your child.
You certainly both need to raise your previously all too low boundaries because she has taken full advantage of you both and she likely regards you as both weak.
I would also suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward to further understand the dysfunctional dynamics that are being played out here. Unlike your DH, you come from an emotionally healthy family so seeing this from his mother is even more shocking.
I was also wondering what your DH thinks of his mother's behaviour. Is he the sort who says, "well you know what she is like" or some other such nonsense. His inertia when it comes to his mother is simply hurting him as well as his own family unit; it may be that he will never be properly able to stand up for his own self or assert himself as his own person here. He may still be seeking her approval, approval that she will never give him. She has done a lot of emotional harm to him over the years.
You do not mention his dad in all this, is he still around?.
Is he at all surprised that his other siblings and she have no contact?.
In situations like this, posters usually advise that the problem lies with the DH enabling the behaviour rather than the MIL herself
IME they're perfectly correct
There is obviously a reason why her two other sons are not in contact. I think this speaks volumes....they probably got fed up of her behaviour and chose their own family because of it.
Personally, it's as if she is treating your DH as some kind of 'partner'.....she puts you down, he has to take her out EVERY weekend and do everything she says. It's just not normal.
Your dh has to be on side here. Don't tell her you're in labour, have you discussed that with him? Tell the midwives not to let her in if she does turn up.
You're the one pushing a baby out, you've no idea how it will go, how you will feel afterwards and how long you'll be in hospital for. You get to make the decisions here.
Is your DH in contact with his siblings? If not, why not? It would be interesting to find out their views.
I agree with other posters who have said that it is your DH's response to this which is critical. Does he excuse her controlling behaviour or does he disagree with it?
I agree with not telling her you are in labour. You just don't need that sort of pressure, and I have always found the race to be first to see a new baby a bit weird and proprietorial.
She has ruined many 'special' days over the last few years ... DH then gets upset and sulks for days causing us to have blazing rows about how his Mum has yet again spoilt things
Just to clarify - do you mean he gets upset because of how she's behaved, or because you've dared to object to it?
My MiL also threatened to turn up at the hospital. As it turned out, I had a fairly traumatic birth and had to stay in hospital for 2 days. I didn't want to see anyone, not even my own mum. Once we got home, then we invited people to visit. My MiL was the first.
Like you, my mum lives much further away and my MiL gets to see her grandchildren a lot more. It does grate, but now I am actually thankful to have one grandmother near enough for regular babysitting. We've had a lot of disagreements (eg my breast milk was obviously not of a high enough quality because DD was a skinny baby and then "when are you going to wean that baby? I want to give her chocolate!" when DD was 2 months old!) but you just have to pick your battles. My exH was hopeless at standing up to her. I hope your DH is better.
Thanks for the advice so far. To answer some of the questions.
FIL is still around and even though him and MIL have been married for over 50 years and live together they aren't together in the true sense of the word, they lead separate lives. FIL is great and very supportive but is a quiet man and doesn't tend to get involved in arguments. My DH is much closer to his Mum than his Dad and often him and I disagree about him favouring his Mum over his Dad. I get on well with FIL and feel quite sorry about the way she treats him at times.
DH has become a lot better at standing up to his Mum, but he still panders to her for an easy life. He doesn't have contact with his siblings, mainly so he doesn't upset his Mum. I know for a fact that one of his siblings is definitely not in contact with their Mum because of her behaviour towards his partner. The other one has tried to be in contact as he wanted his children to have their grandparents in their life but MIL refused, probably because he doesn't do what she wants.
DH is supportive to me and backs me up a lot more than he used to but feels caught in the middle and just wants a quiet life. DH mainly gets upset with his Mums behaviour but on occasion feels that I could do more to keep the peace. I am generally very assertive and feel that I bite my tongue a lot more than I would with some people therefore I'm doing my bit.
Thanks for the advice about not telling her I'm in labour....I have spoken to DH about this and he's reluctantly agreed but we both know it's going to cause trouble afterwards. We've already had arguments over names and godparents! :-( Also I feel bitter that I can't tell my Mum I'm in labour (in order to be fair to MIL) as my Mum is great and wouldn't even think about interfering or turning up without knowing we were ready. I know I should try and be fair to everyone but I think it's natural for a woman to be closer to her mum than her MIL.
OK, how does she make his life difficult?
I mean that seriously.
She makes it difficult because he lets her.
He doesn't have to do what she says, listen to her carrying on, see her or even talk to her on the phone unless he wants to.
He is the only son that bothers with her-he holds all the cards!
Of course you can tell your mum you are in labour. Being in labour is not a time to be worrying about "being fair". It is a time when YOU need support, and if you need that support from your own mum, you are perfectly entitled to that.
If your DH can't see that, then you have bigger problems than you think. Soon you will have a tiny baby and will be recovering from birth. He needs to have your back and be putting YOUR needs first, not his mum's.
I think you need to clarify this with him pronto or your stress levels are likely to go through the roof, which is not good for you or the baby.
I think that you and DH could try to get into the mindset of your 'family' just being yourselves and the baby. The rest are extras.
While you obviously want support and close contact with your Mum and feel that this means you have to treat MIL the same, perhaps you need to concentrate on adjusting to being a family of 3 first, then tackle the wider family dynamics.
If you can get DH to agree to this, then get him to tell his parents (together) that his priority now is his wife and child and that if he is a bit less accessible for the next few months that is because he wants to give the baby the strongest possible start in life.
Then, once the habits of weekly dinners etc is broken you can start to estsblish traditions and habits thst suit you 3 better.
Meanwhile, continue to invite parents and his parents over when it suits you to maintain closeness and keep the doors open. Speak often on the phone to your mum, send photos and updates in between visits.
That sounds far more straightforward that I imagine it would be in your situation, but distance and breaking established routines is essential.
Don't be upset about MIL being first grandparent to see the new baby. It isn't a competition (although I suspect she might see it as so!) and each grandparent will be loved by the baby individually.
Good luck with getting your DH to see your point of view!
He still panders to her for an easy life. He doesn't have contact with his siblings, mainly so he doesn't upset his Mum
The first bit I more or less expected; the second sounds absolutely beneath the pale. I can see why MIL and the siblings might be NC, but for DH to do the same just because she might be upset is surely completely unacceptable
I'm truly sorry Piglet, but I think you've got much bigger problems than your MIL here; if this is what DH is like since getting "a lot better at standing up to her" I daren't imagine what he was like before. Let's not forget that the siblings will also be your DC's wider family, who they may not get to enjoy if this goes on - even if you're happy to go with this for yourself, are you prepared to accept it for them??
OP, my mother is a lot like your MIL and I have a lot of sympathy for your DH and his feeling pulled in all directions and just wanting a quiet life. Adult children of parents like this experience FOG - fear, obligation, guilt - to a profound degree. He has probably been brought up to consider his mother's feelings at all costs, even before his own.
However, all of that said, this is a woman who will never be happy. Nothing will ever be enough. He needs to stop trying to please her and try to keep her happy because it's nothing but a big fat waste of energy. And its just not fair to expect you to hold your tongue and behave like a little nodding doggie just to 'keep the peace'.
It is not easy to stand up to a parent like this - believe me, I have the scars and the therapy bills to prove it. However, you are in no way unreasonable to feel how you do, and everyone on this thread seems to agree. You have needs and wants of your own and you are entitled to those.
Good advice from chairmeoh - this is the perfect time to break the habits of weekly dinners and all the other established routines that neither of you really want.
"He doesn't have contact with his siblings, mainly so he doesn't upset his Mum"
Oh dear Lord.
So does he actually want to see them but chooses not to?
If so, that is very sad.
Uncles (aunts & cousins?) that your child could have relationships with rather than just his bullying mother.
And how would she find out?
Do not let anyone know that you are in labour, just you and your DH for that time.
Secondly from the off do not allow MIL to drop by unannounced, say that you need to know/agree her visits as your diary will be full of HV and mid wife appointments that are never running to time. Then its baby groups etc, make them up if you need to. Just make it clear that there isn't an open invite.
When I was on maternity leave I was out most Mornings and afternoons, nothing exciting just baby groups, swimming, park, shopping etc if my MIL lived nearby I know she would have tried to drop in all the time (and irritated me) but she wouldn't have found me home.
Start now with saying that you are too tired for some weekly diners etc? Don't agree to DH going on his own, be needy on purpose (if you can't be now when can you be?) this might start a shift in both your DH and MIL's mind that you are now his top priority. Expect her to have illnesses/need attention during this time but ride it out, arrange appointments that clash with her plans if you need to.
Have you joined an NCT group? if not maybe a good idea.
God your poor DH. Not "allowed" to see his siblings for fear of losing his mother's horribly conditional love.
Your MIL is a narcissist and FIL is a weak enabler. Your poor H sounds deep in the FOG - that's Fear, Obligation, and Guilt.
Here is a link to the book Atilla suggested: Toxic Inlaws I think it's available on Kindle if you've got one, or the Kindle app.
You will need to be very clear with your DH that his loyalty now lies with YOU and your BABY. You are now his primary family and his mum is relegated to extended family.
Do not feel you need to be "fair" to MIL. She would not recognise fairness if it leapt up and bit her. No matter what you do, she will find something wrong with it (as you've already seen with the visits to your parents) so do what you want and need - this is you giving birth and if you want your mum there, then your wishes trump anyone else's tantrum.
Also. sorry to point out the obvious, but she's in her 70s.
What will he do about his siblings when she dies?
You have every right to let your mum know you are in labour. Labour can be very emotional and sometimes traumatic. Why can't you ask for your mums support if you want?
Your dh would tell his mum if he was going into hospital for something big and wouldn't necessarily want your parents to know. Would you be pissed off?
re your comments in quote marks:-
"FIL is still around and even though him and MIL have been married for over 50 years and live together they aren't together in the true sense of the word, they lead separate lives. FIL is great and very supportive but is a quiet man and doesn't tend to get involved in arguments. My DH is much closer to his Mum than his Dad and often him and I disagree about him favouring his Mum over his Dad. I get on well with FIL and feel quite sorry about the way she treats him at times"
I would not feel too sorry for your FIL; he has also played a role here in this overall dysfunctional family that your DH is still a part of. FIL is a weak man and a bystander and they act out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. Its of no surprise to me that they live separate lives; if MIL is indeed a narcissist such women cannot maintain any relationship at all. Men in such relationships are often kicked out or are narcissistic themselves. FIL and MIL get what they want out of this relationship; that is why they are still together.
"DH has become a lot better at standing up to his Mum, but he still panders to her for an easy life. He doesn't have contact with his siblings, mainly so he doesn't upset his Mum. I know for a fact that one of his siblings is definitely not in contact with their Mum because of her behaviour towards his partner. The other one has tried to be in contact as he wanted his children to have their grandparents in their life but MIL refused, probably because he doesn't do what she wants"
He still has a very long way to go because he still panders to her and seeks her approval (approval she will not give him, its all conditional). He still has a very dysfunctional relationship with his mother. The second sentence here is appallingly bad. His siblings have backed off from their parents for good reason. It is hard being the last one left (in that he is the only one who now bothers with her) as your DH is but he needs to realise that his own inertia is hurting his own self as well as his own family unit.
"DH is supportive to me and backs me up a lot more than he used to but feels caught in the middle and just wants a quiet life. DH mainly gets upset with his Mums behaviour but on occasion feels that I could do more to keep the peace. I am generally very assertive and feel that I bite my tongue a lot more than I would with some people therefore I'm doing my bit".
Wanting a quiet life is the role that a bystander plays and he is playing that role to perfection. Your DH I am sorry to say is weak (like his bystander dad) and he is also a large part of the overall problem here. He is very torn between his mother and you as his wife and certainly has divided loyalties.
I would keep your child well away from his mother going forward.
Go to your next midwife/hospital appointment on your own. Tell them exactly what your fears about your MIL muscling her way into.your labour/delivery room are.
Talk to your midwife about your concerns about your MIL when you come home & how you don't think DH will support you. She'll have seen it all before & might be able to give you some extra support.
piglet333 first congratulations on your forth coming baby ..but if you dont put your foot down know when you are a young woman expecting her first bundle of joy .you will end up a bitter middle aged woman who hates her mil but hates herself more for being such a bloody doormat .this is your time she has had hers .this advice comes from said bitter middle aged woman
Absolutely do not tell her you are in labour. Most first labours start with a few days of warnings and niggles. You can give your parents notice and when it really kicks off they can get on their way. Then as soon as you are up to it after the birth your parents can visit.
His parents can get a call at some later time when you are ready. They will be able to visit when you invite them. It is a wonderful excuse to say the midwife has said no visits or very short visits only .
My own parents were in the delivery room about an hour after the birth and they lived miles away. It was my mum who wanted to hear first hand and I agreed. My in laws were told that evening and my dh popped in to see them but they visited the next day. And they are nice people, I just wanted my own parents first.
Remember you hold all the cards, stop feeling your mil is the boss. She is actually the weaker party, she just has you all well trained.
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