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Relationship with MIL when your connection to your own mother was dysfunctional/non-existent

(32 Posts)
Letsnotaskforthemoon Mon 21-Mar-16 07:36:54

I am reflecting just before a two week visit from my MIL. This is not a MIL bashing but as this cannot be talked about with anyone that I know, just wonder if other people feel a great strain being immersed in someone else's family (ie husbands) when you have no family of your own.

Your relationship with your mother is so basic, so fundamental that when it really is not there, it is hard to observe at close quarters someone fulfilling that role for others and knowing you will never have it from your own mother and that your MIL will not/cannot be a subsitute for you.

I am rambling but trying to get myself ready for an intense two weeks.

Letsnotaskforthemoon Mon 21-Mar-16 07:39:14

should say "was not there" as my mother has been dead for several yrs and I had not seen her for 15 or so yrs before her death.

Cabrinha Mon 21-Mar-16 07:44:29

I have seen my mother about 5 times in 25 years. I think that counts as a non existent connection, last time 4 years ago when she tried to create a fight at my child's birthday - so check to dysfunctional too.

I have never looked to my MIL to replace that, any more than I would look to a friend, neighbour, stranger in the street.

I do notice when other people have normal relationships - my boyfriend, friends - and actually I'm cheered by it, because it makes me more positive that I can have that with my child. (my default belief when younger being that all mother/daughter relationships were shite!)

I have accepted that I don't have a mother relationship, I don't look for one elsewhere. It is what it is. I have other fulfilling relationships. I know this is rather glib, but honestly - I concentrate on what I have, not what I don't.

Cabrinha Mon 21-Mar-16 07:46:33

For example, to have a MIL, you have a husband. So... concentrate on that. Many people do not have a life partner (or a good life partner) and that is a better thing than a mother (IMO). You will never be happy if you focus on what you haven't got.

Letsnotaskforthemoon Mon 21-Mar-16 07:49:31

Thank you Cabrinha, I fully accept what you are saying and totally agree but I guess it is just the day to day interactions, feelings, your role when you are with your partners family for any length of time. We don't meet for an afternoon and then go to our respective homes, because of distance we spend one, two weeks together and it is that they I find somewhat of a strain.

Aussiebean Mon 21-Mar-16 07:56:54

I grew up wondering why my friends actually wanted to spend time with their mothers, since mothers where so horrible and make you feel horrible about yourself.

My dh has a lot of respect for his dm, and so do the rest of his siblings. She has taken me under her wing, and supports me.

She is not a mum replacement, but I look to her as an example of what a mother should be. How a mother is around children who love her and actually want to be around her.

Mine gave me an idea of what not to do, mil gives me an idea of what to do. Of course we are different people, so it's not all the same. But I have some thing to go on.

PuellaEstCornelia Mon 21-Mar-16 07:59:08

I'm not surprised! I get on ok with my husband's family (now) but a week with them? No way! I'd end up getting done for murder!
To be fair, love my family to bits, but again more than a couple of days I'd be climbing the wall!
Maybe you are expecting a lot of yourself?

Letsnotaskforthemoon Mon 21-Mar-16 08:02:58

I have not had that support from my mother in law. i am not saying she has not been helpful and has done things for us but she is not a warm person, with grandchildren yes. She fusses over one daughter and excused her for everything and is quite cold and at times harsh when she talks about other daughter.

I am not looking for a mother subsitute and accept that I will not have a warm relationship with her.

Because I have no family of my own and have not had for the whole 15 yrs of knowing my husband, I have had no counterbalance, everything has been his family with nothing on my side if you see what I mean.

Letsnotaskforthemoon Mon 21-Mar-16 08:04:54

Puella yes two weeks is a long time one week of which my husband will be at work all day. I have to keep things light, stay off contentious topics, try to show an interest in all she says and try to be a good hostess.

Letsnotaskforthemoon Mon 21-Mar-16 08:11:03

I guess another thing I would say is my husband loves his mother and therefore his view of two weeks with her is different to mine as he has a different relationship with her (obviously) but he does not see that and does not understand what it is like to be in someone else's family as an outsider.

juniperdingleberries Mon 21-Mar-16 08:28:53

I think my MIL would like me to see her as a substitute for my own mother (NC, very dysfunctional relationship). But for me it'll never happen. We get on well but we are very different people. I like her because I love my DP, I wouldn't have a relationship with her if I wasn't with him.
I find it hard seeing other people have loving relationships with their parents, but not jealous or bitter. Sometimes I just feel sad for the child version of myself, who wondered what was wrong with her. But it makes me more determined as a mother to give my own children what I never had and to have a warm, loving relationship where they feel safe and know that I'll always support them.

Letsnotaskforthemoon Mon 21-Mar-16 09:29:03

I guess I just grow weary of it sometimes. Yesterday was a good example. I am the one who connected via Skype and I sit there and say hello to her and no "hello how are you" just almost immediately "where are the others?" as in husband and children. I try to make some conversation and say what they are doing, husband washing up, I have had a rotten cold all weekend and somehow he is a hero for doing things.
It is just that weariness of having to interact with someone a lot who you know/feel is not really bothered about you.

She is good to the children and they love seeing her so I have to out my feelings to one side but it is a weariness.

Letsnotaskforthemoon Mon 21-Mar-16 09:29:45

put my feelings to one side

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 21-Mar-16 15:01:58

From what you have written, my guess is that you need to re-evaluate your boundaries. Physical as well as emotional.

You sound so nice and attentive about being a good and proper hostess. But if your efforts are met with apathy or rudeness, I don't think anyone would or could blame you if you stepped back a good measure.
The what sounds like blanking you during a Skype session-wouldn't it be tempting to say someone may wander by in a minute and then leave it/her with a view of something interesting? She is disrespectful in treating you like you are invisible -so detach and be invisible.

My mom was a bi polar alcoholic-pause...yeah. I cried myself to sleep being so thankful when I married that I'd have a second chance at a Mum. More fool me, ha! I was an alien from another planet to her so I finally let dh deal with his family and stayed in the background.

Letsnotaskforthemoon Mon 21-Mar-16 17:18:11

Thank you andthebandplayedon. I do need to detach myself and not get so worked up, clearly after 15 or so yrs a lot of water has gone under the bridge, but I do feel I have always taken the brunt of the problems within their family that they cannot talk about, far easier to blame the outsider than lift the lid on what may be wrong within the nuclear family.

I want to be a good hostess in the sense of distancing and politeness. i feel we have all over the yrs allowed familiarity to breed contempt, me included. My husband is so particular over his mothers feelings but that is one way traffic. Obviously she never says or does anything hurtful or thoughtless to me.....

I feel she makes little effort with me. Anything she says that I would find hurtful is brushed aside by my husband, so BIL is pretty much disliked by all of them (SIL's husband) and MIL said "oh, no you are not as bad as him". Not funny and not very nice. When we got engaged and there was a photo of the two of us (i dislike having my photo taken ) " you do look smug". I have never forgotten that comment.

I expect too much and then feel disappointed. It is enough that we get on at a day to day level and not expect too much.

fishfacedcow Mon 21-Mar-16 17:29:11

My mum is one of those people who shouldn't have had wait...she should have had Me...she was always ok with the others. Anyway nc for 20 or so years......she was offended when I moved 300 miles away to be closer to Dh's family starting.....I feel like you are choosing them over me. ( no shit sherlock you vile woman)

But anyway dh mum is wonderful. She is kind in thought and action. She has been a guide to show me how I want to be. But I don't call her mum. I call her by her name.

I never stuggled with the two different mums in my life...but I did stuggle about how this would impact on my dd.

Until I read a fabulous book...Dear Dawn French. She perfectly describes a similar situation in her own family and it gave me an acceptance of how thing are. They're not what I would have chosen or wish for but it is what it is.

I no longer mourn for the mum I never had. I no longer cry for the little girl I was that had no one to protect her.

Just accept

PuellaEstCornelia Mon 21-Mar-16 17:29:45

When my MIL started with the snarky comments, I used to raise an eyebrow and say ' really? What an odd thing to say!'
Or that old Mumsnet favourite, 'Did you mean to be so rude?'
The trick is to keep it really calm

RingUpRingRingDown Mon 21-Mar-16 21:37:18

I get on much better with my MIL that on with my (toxic) mother. She can irritate the hell out of me but she'd still do anything for me and treats me equally to Dh, if not better. I feel very lucky to have had her in my life to sort of make up for having a terrible mother.

JustCallMeKeith Mon 21-Mar-16 22:11:30

Letsnotaskforthemoon this is very similar to my situation and you describe exactly how I feel. I Have struggled massively over the years with this, my own mum died 15 yrs ago, just after DH and I got together and I've always felt like the outsider in their family. I'm not even above BIL in the rankings!
It does bring it home to me that I don't have DM about when I see everyone interacting with each other, especially since SIL has had a DC, and MIL is so doting and helpful, whilst she hasn't seen my DC in months.
I hate that I sound so bitter about it too! Sorry, rant over. blush

Andro Mon 21-Mar-16 23:37:42

My mil is warm, loving, affectionate and fair...all the things my mother is not. I adore her and she has been very open in her welcome and affection towards me, she is mom (as she is to dh) I would never be so informal in addressing my mother - she wouldn't welcome it and I don't think she deserves it.

Mother is a title of biological fact, mum/mom/etc are titles of affectionate respect - I have neither affection nor respect for my mother but have both for my mil.

Dollius01 Tue 22-Mar-16 06:53:46

My mother is toxic and I struggled with my relationship with my MIL at first. I think because I just didn't know what it was like to have a mother relationship with anyone. Now I can genuinely say that I love her. When one of my dearest friends was dying, it was her who held me as I sobbed in her arms. I could never in a million years have done that with my own mother. My PIL are generally just very supportive of us and always try to help without any strings attached. Of course they have their foibles and issues, but they are genuinely good people and I respect them.

This is the key really, my MIL genuinely loves me, but it doesn't sound like yours even likes you much, OP. You shouldn't have to put up with her being so rude to you.

Horsemad Tue 22-Mar-16 09:18:11

My MIL tried to become my Mother when I was NC with my own Mother and this riled me immensely.
I didn't want DH's Mother, I wanted my own.

She put 'To my new Daughter' on my Xmas presents (we'd got married the week before Xmas) and I was really put out.

I think the harder she tried, the further at arms length I held her.

Nowadays, neither of us care that much about each other; I would not choose to be a friend of hers if we didn't have DH in common.

She has no daughters, and I know she would have loved a girl, so maybe that was the reason she called me her 'new Daughter'?

fishfacedcow Tue 22-Mar-16 10:53:33

Thing is can't be reasonable with someone who wants to be unreasonable . It takes willingness on both sides.

memyselfandi10 Tue 22-Mar-16 13:11:42

I have a very LC relationship with my narcissist mother for the past 5 or so years. Prior to this she caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety and now, while I still feel the guilt quite often (for all the upset and pain she says I am causing her), I am much happier.

I think I appreciate my lovely MIL all the more because I have such a distant relationship with my own mother. MIL and PIL are completely different to my folks, very pleasant, always pleased to see us, good fun and with zero demands, criticisms or judgments. I have known them now for about 13 years and they have never once upset me in any way and have never been less than kind to me.

I really think I got lucky both with my DH and with his family, it makes me feel secure and liked for who I am and completely unlike how I feel when I am around my own parents (walking on eggshells, wary, dreading annoying them etc etc).

memyselfandi10 Tue 22-Mar-16 13:13:56

Sorry, I meant FIL not PIL in previous post.

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