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What the hell are we going to do now? PIL related. Long :-((121 Posts)
Ok, long story short. I hope. (I normally lurk) I need some outside perspective from wise Mumsnetters. I think I'm losing touch with what is 'normal'.
and I have already learned so much on the Relationships board
My PIL are lovely, decent, hard-working people. Well educated, 'up-standing pillars of the local community' sort. After my difficult childhood (severe family illness) and various life changing events, I was over the moon to meet and fall in love later in life, with my wonderful now DH. Also quite delighted to discover he had a pretty amazing family who were great achievers in all areas. They were all extremely welcoming towards me, although MIL could at times be rather suffocating in her enthusiasm (her son and I had met in our 30's and as the last to settle down, maybe she was panicking slightly that it wouldn't happen for him). We were extremely lucky to have a little financial help from them to buy our first house and I am always telling them how grateful we are.
It was no secret to her children that MIL wanted grandchildren. They all knew there was a family heirloom waiting for the first grandchild to arrive. I was also slightly perturbed to hear it was family knowledge that one of her DIL's was "already on the folic acid" during their wedding planning. No pressure then. Luckily, they were rewarded with a honeymoon conception and MIL -beaming- duly congratulated them on their achievement.
Now, I should add that MIL has high anxiety levels. They have been described as 'neuroses' but if I listed them here, you may have different ideas. They also like to be very 'involved' in their grown up children's lives and with extensive life experience have lots of wisdom that has to be shared. They also like to know as much as possible and often worry -unnecessarily- when they aren't involved. I understand in the past, they have never refrained from commenting when they did not think any potential in-laws were not suitable, particularly if they were foreign
and could take their child/grandchildren abroad This understandably has caused some tensions.
DH & I were able to date, get engaged and plan a small wedding without too much discussion
intervention At the time, MIL was pre-occupied with the other siblings, mainly how they were bringing their children up and other wedding plans. She became quite ill with anxiety and stress during this time, perhaps because the siblings had their own plans/lives and she wasn't happy about some of them (PIL tend to ring the other siblings and share the stress out during these dramas). I am aware that one sibling's calls had to be screened by FIL as she was too ill to talk to them directly and another sibling had threatened to go NC with PIL if they continued to be 'over-involved' with their child-rearing ideas. Or 'concern' as it is labelled.
There were a couple of calls about bringing our wedding forward (why? it was the winter! brrr) etc On the whole though, during our short engagement they were very kind and supportive, offering lots of help and even donating a small sum towards the modest costs (very low key wedding).
Both DH & I are quite private people (as are PIL) and as we don't consider ttc a team event, never announced to all that we were going to try for a family. (Even though they had quizzed DH about it before the wedding - to ensure it was going to happen I assume). Less than five months after our wedding (with as yet no pregnancy announcement) MIL asked to have a private word with me. She said she knew that I enjoyed my career and that I had worked hard to gain financial independence, despite my difficulties in life. She suggested it might be difficult for me to give that up. Therefore, to make it a bit easier for me, she wanted to give me £10,000 to support me during any maternity leave (!) Bizarrely I was already 6.4 weeks pregnant and we were planning on telling them after our 12 week scan. Unfortunately, I had been bleeding AND feeling extremely ill and didn't handle my -surprised- response clearly and assertively enough. I was also in the throes of a severe chronic illness (at that time undiagnosed) and mumbled politely that it was thoughtful, but if she wanted to give money then it would belong to DH and it would be up to him how to use it. I would have told her that I was pregnant anyway, but had a bad feeling about the bleeding and knew she'd be upset, so I didn't. After she left the house, I miscarried. The pregnancy was over but chronic illness continued.
The next 18 months have been a blur of uncharacteristic continual severe illness, misdiagnosis, countless hospital visits, medical letters, scans and finally, a diagnosis and PIP application/ill health retirement. We didn't make it headline news amongst everyone we know (we weren't sure what was happening ourselves) but DH kept his family informed. During this time, I was unable to attend any family/friend events and lost touch with so many people. It was a horrid time, but I attempted to keep in touch by group e-mail and also sent copies to PIL. My friends were amazing! During my illness -where I was housebound most of the time- PIL held group meet-ups, but rarely came to the house, so I did not see them much at all.
MIL was extremely anxious when we discussed my illness with her at the beginning and sent me to her recommended alternative practitioner to see if it would help. I gladly went, feeling so ill, but it became another treatment we tried that did not work. We did not share our miscarriage with them on top of me being ill. (MIL has experienced terrible fertility issues/lost a child in the past and I could not face involving anyone in our grief, especially with the inevitable anxiety! I had enough of my own by then). Anyway, we would soon be pregnant again wouldn't we and give her some happy news. Well, I did get pregnant on a further two occasions and devastatingly lost them both, one between hearing the heartbeat for the 2nd time and getting a scan picture (10 weeks) and the 12 week scan. The chronic illness may or may not have contributed and it was a scary, unpredictable time for us both. We clung to each other and survived through it, thank goodness. My maternal age was advancing and I know my Dh was desperate for children. We had the inevitable discussions about whether we should separate and he should have a second chance with someone younger/more fertile. He was always adamant that it had taken him so long to find me, he wasn't letting go of me now, children or no children. I was very keen to keep trying (not very wise in hindsight) but he was a lot more realistic about our chances and although sad, said he had let that go now. He could see that I was too unwell. The pressure was off. Are you still with me?
DH told PIL about the miscarriages very soon after the last one (16 months after the wedding) and said that it was not looking very hopeful for us now. MIL sent me a lovely e-mail about how horrid MC's were and that they were thinking of me and the only thing that mattered was to get better again. They sent round lots of vitamins/healthy drinks and cooked food. Very thoughtful as I was so ill. Sadly, I did not improve and of course did not go out or see people. I asked PIL to come and visit (they often are near seeing the other siblings) but they seemed rather elusive. I believe that because of their anxiety, DH did not perhaps be as honest about how ill I really was. There were lots of other issues in the family (more fertility angst elsewhere) and with his DM's health, he only focussed on the positives. i.e. the days I had got upright and left the house briefly. MIL did ring me to wish me Happy Birthday which was thoughtful. But she was concerned that DH was not getting out enough and wanted to know did he still see his friends? (NOT on my priority list to be honest).
During my mostly housebound and awaiting a diagnosis months, PIL would travel to the area to see some of the siblings and meet DH from work for lunch to catch up. He would come back with various updates. I.e.
*MIL thought we were becoming socially isolated (er, hello, did you know I was ill and rarely seeing anyone -not even my own family- and I was relying on DH for care?!! AND I had invited PIL on numerous occasions).
*MIL was extremely concerned that we weren't in touch very much with the siblings (er, the ones with children or are triumphantly pregnant you mean? I think my DH struggled with this as much as I did)
*MIL was worried that Dh would not have children and should freeze some sperm (DH pointed out to her that as we had stopped trying, unless I had been hit by a bus and he would have to go ahead and meet someone else in the future, that it would not be necessary). MIL came back the next day with another sibling to convince him and MIL would pay for the sperm freezing storage costs. He declined.
*Following another long call between DH and MIL, a letter arrived in the post. It was a newspaper article stating that the UK was short of sperm donors and MIL thought that if DH signed up for it that it would "take the pressure off" and wished us both luck (!)
MIL seemed to be avoiding visiting me during this time and I became upset that she didn't visit or seem to understand how ill I was. I felt I was being pushed out and she was becoming a little 'over-involved' with discussions that did not seem to involve me. DH then decided to share this with her (to improve relations?) and she arrived unexpectedly on my doorstep weeping when he was at work. She was upset that we had not told her about any of the pregnancies (none had ever reached 12 weeks) and that I was "secretive". She was also very upset that I had not even told her about the MC when she was round here last
offering the money. Truthfully I told her I did not know it was a MC at the time, as I'd never had one before. She then shared her own distressing fertility struggles (about burying babies) with me and although I wish she hadn't (it made me cry) I understand she was probably trying to empathise/get closer. I was too ill to really engage with her -or anyone else.
Life carried on, both with me not recovering and MIL going back to not visiting me but DH from work. I asked PIL to visit by e-mail, telephone call, or through DH. I offered to cook (would have taken me a week) or to travel to visit them and take food (so that MIL wouldn't have to cook). Her anxiety during this time was sky high (other family issues) and she had a huge panic attack in public. DH said she was too ill to visit me (but seemed to manage to get to the other siblings ok). During an argument, he then confessed that MIL thought that I had been stringing DH along all this time. Putting the wedding off as long as possible during dating (I was waiting for him to propose!) and making sure I was too old to have children, so it would be too late. It explained so much. I guess when there was no pregnancy news over 16 months of marriage, they became ? fearful?
I continued to be ill, and trying (& failing) to make arrangements and see people. I'm a very sociable person normally and the isolation was driving me crazy! Last year we organised to travel and go and meet PIL (I was hoping it would improve relations). Unfortunately they decided to turn it into a bit of a celebration and invited other siblings along. DH and I had been hoping for something small and low key which we had discussed with them (without staring at pregnant bellies) so he cancelled politely by e-mail 48 hours before. MIL e-mailed a lovely brief reply, but there was some panicky phone calls the day after about why he had suddenly cancelled, so DH had to send another reassuring e-mail out to them that he was fine, just weary.
On the evening of the day we were due to originally meet, PIL drove 50 miles for an unannounced visit to us. MIL was very teary and clingy with DH. She turned sideways to me, would not look me in the eye and ignored all attempts by me to engage and set a date so they could come and visit for lunch. Later we discovered that PIL thought that DH was suicidal as his cancellation was 'uncharacteristic'. He has NO idea where that idea came from. (With suicide in my family I was careful to discuss this with him at length!).
This has gone on long enough! Are you still there? Sorry. I could write so much more but wanted to provide a balanced account of the main events. I have been ill for so long and had so much time to think about what has happened but I'm not sure I am strong enough to see solutions to this. Disclaimer: The illness/ recurrent miscarriages has triggered anxiety and depression, which although under control now, has had me doubting my judgements/feelings.
The happy news is that now I have a diagnosis, I have an amazing medical support team and I have clear information I can share with family/friends. I have been advised to surround myself with people who can really support me during my potential recovery -fingers crossed that happens- and to avoid anxiety where possible. I still find the behaviours of MIL upsetting and their long anxiety-filled telephone calls to DH very difficult. I can't list their fears/neuroses for fear of outing myself, but they are long and varied and at times quite extreme. All very tiring. (One being that I took their offer of money the wrong way, even though it was kindly meant etc. I see some blame coming my way.....).
My doctor has suggested that DH tells PIL they are not to ring the house or visit. How is that going to do down?! Ulp. My husband is the kindest, most caring, calm, loving, individual. He tends to be the peacemaker and is quite adamant that they do everything through love and do not intend to offend. However, even he seems to be on the edge over this recently and appears hesitant to be in touch with them.
Any advice or suggestions? They are intrinsically lovely, thoughtful people and I am quite devastated that I have lost a relationship with them due to MC and illness (rarely see my own family). I'm not sure what to do next. What would you do if they were your PIL? I hope there is someone still reading?..... If so, then thank you!
Now we can all go and have a long lie down!
I am quite devastated that I have lost a relationship with them due to MC and illness
You haven't lost a relationship with them because of your illness. It's that your illness has exposed their deeply unhealthy and dysfunctional family dynamic.
You said your DH is kind, loving caring and selfless. This doesn't surprise me as he has certainly been brought up to be the caregiver for his mother. His primary role in life (as she sees it) is to provide emotional support for her.
It all sounds horribly co-dependent, and very unhealthy for you to be around.
From a practical point of view, would your DH feel comfortable simply saying "Woke is not feeling well enough for visitors or to visit you at the moment, but I'll pop round on Sunday" or similar? In the short term. In the long term he may wish to explore how far away from the norm his family is...
I read it all. [waves]
It sounds to me that your MIL is chronically insecure. There's nothing you can do about that. They sound like good people, even if a little misguided.
I wouldn't go NC with them unless your life becomes unbearable. If there comes a time where your DH is forced to choose then that would be a different matter.
Hope your health improves soon
Oh and PS - if all else fails, move abroad!
I can't imagine what you are going through without the nightmare ILs. Fuck, they are intense!
Their obsessive behaviour about your husband's sperm would have tipped me over the edge. You seem to be treated as a potential incubator rather than a person. Who suggests freezing sperm to their son? Weirdos, that's who.
Why do you keep inviting these people to your house, especially as they only seem interested in your DH and his sperm? Do you think you are seeking their approval? I don't think you should instigate contact with them, particularly if your own doctor doesn't think they should visit or even call!
Wow OP I'm exhausted just reading that you MIL sounds unhinged to me. I know it's your account of everything here but I really fail to see how you've done anything wrong. They sounds so intense that I think I'd be emigrating.
Does your MIL just have anxiety problems or are there any other Mh problems? She sounds a lot like my MIL who's an alcoholic and gets ridiculously ott with anxiety when drunk so I know how intense it gets. We don't see her anymore and life's easier and more pleasant. I get it's different situations but that isn't an acceptable way to act to your sick dil! Both take time away from PILS for a while - you will both be able to breath again.
Really sorry to hear what crap luck you have had in the last few years - glad your feeling better now
They're not intrinsically lovely, or thoughtful. At a time where you needed love and support, they've made things harder for you and your DH.
It's toted out on here often enough, but you and your DH need to read Toxic In-Laws.
You have done nothing wrong op. They are really overbearing to the point of being nasty. I would just keep my head down and keep on with your own life and not worry to much about having a relationship with them
Your MIL sounds so self absorbed and maybe your SIL /BILS see her as toxic. Perhaps you should focus on the sibling relationships - I get the feeling they would empathise if they recognise the behaviour (not the sperm one that's just weird)
It certainly is a bit intense. MIL does not seem to have any sense of boundaries and appropriate behaviour. Offering to pay to freeze her own son's sperm! - that is seriously deranged!
I think you need to concentrate on the positives that you have: a loving relationship and a long-awaited diagnosis and potential for recovery. These are the things that matter. It would be hard on your OH if this snowballed into a family row or rift, so this would I think be something to avoid. He has clearly been brought up on appeasing Mum and it would be very hard for him to change now.
I get the impression that he is a good partner and that has to be the most important thing of all - his parents' needs are secondary.
I am sorry about your history of MCs - that is hard for both of you.
What Tiggy said. There is nothing in your OP to suggest that they are either "lovely" or "thoughtful". Quite the opposite.
It's wonderful that you have your DH's support, but you should be his main focus. You are not well and you need support. It seems to me that his mother is doing all she can to deflect his attention back to herself.
If you feel up to it, a proper sit down conversation between you and DH, plus ILs might help. It would have to be led by DH and the aim would be to air absolutely ALL grievances whilst you are all in the same room so that nobody has the opportunity to worm out of anything or do the whole "it wasn't meant like that..." thing afterwards.
If you aren't up for that though, I would suggest minimal contact and just the two of you hunker down together and support each other, spend time with supportive friends etc. and keep the ILs at arms length.
I think you are being very generous in your description of your MIL and in your interpretations of her behaviour. Too generous.
She sounds like a control freak, who develops anxiety when one of her children steps out of line so they will fall in again and do as she says. Deeply unpleasant and manipulative.
You have been through so much and you are still recovering. The last thing you should be thinking about is this. They are really dysfunctional.
She finds out that you have suffered MCs so she tells you about burying babies? That is so uncalled for it is unreal. She could have told you she understands, that she has gone through similar. That would have been thoughtful. But to discuss things that were obviously going to really upset you...that is nasty.
And to go on like that about freezing sperm to your DH when he is also grieving, while trying to support his wife, honestly she is a grade A bitch.
What do they bring to your life?
I agree with PP: your MIL is manipulative and over-involved. You've been through some terrible experiences . And it sounds like your DH is supportive, which is really important.
I think that you need to concentrate on managing your illness at the moment. If your PIL are not part of the solution, then they're part of the problem. They need to learn different ways of relating to their adult children. You have to put yourself first and if your MIL gets anxious, well, that's (unfortunately) her problem, not yours.
She's obsessive and too involved with her family. But she loves her on and knows that in the past he really wanted children.
Can you both get away for a bit ?
Have you thought if adopting, or is your health too precarious?
Oh my goodness you are all SO lovely, I cannot thank you enough for reading all that AND responding! I'm all teared up I thought I was going crazy! I love my husband so much and this has caused huge stress between us as we are seeing this a bit differently.
When I have a bit more energy I will post again. Thank you so much for your kind wishes & saving my sanity It has been a truly horrific time & I'm not sure how I survived!
Good night all
OP. I'm exhausted reading that, you must be on a whole other level of exhaustion having to experience all that. I hope things improve for your health now that you have a diagnosis.
As for MIL, she sounds seriously unhinged, the obsession over your husband's sperm would have me banning her from visiting! That's is just not acceptable a thing to say at all. What a bloody weirdo.
She sounds mad !!!
Hope life gets easier fir you now you've a diagnosis x
You need to withdraw. She's a narcissist - it's all about her. Please don't think about a 'meeting' between you all - that will just fuel the drama. You need to develop some appropriate distance: e.g. 'Mum we're not going to discuss my sperm'! !
They sound incredibly controlling. I notice that your MIL's anxiety is very convenient for her - she wants to know every detail of her children's lives and gets anxious if she can't.
Christ! What a family! This is nuts. It sounds to me op that this is all about your PILs being hell bent on continuing their "dynasty" and basically you aren't fitting into that so they're making dramatics because they're thinking their son will never have an "heir". Deeply fucked up. Keep well away. This will not help your recovery.
I think you would have to be a whole lot better before thinking of sitting down with your ILS to discuss your problems, afterall the doctor wants you to be free from anxiety.
I think you've got to forget about your ILS, as my own dear MIL says, you are not a little gold coin for everyone to love you and your MIL doesn't sound capable of loving anyone to be honest.
Maybe your husband could keep on seeing them but refrain from repeating his mother's awful comments to you.
He tends to be the peacemaker and is quite adamant that they do everything through love and do not intend to offend. However, even he seems to be on the edge over this recently and appears hesitant to be in touch with them
no doubt pil are doing what they do out of 'love' and what they think is best.......however, those are just their opinions. Your dh needs to remember that whilst he can treat his parents with compassion, it doesn't mean he has to allow them to interfere to such an extent. They do need to be told they are overstepping the mark, and the two of you need to lay down some boundaries.
mil behaves as though you are a baby making machine only and not a human being who deserves to be treated like one. her neuroses are her issues to deal with so don't make them your responsibility. i would have stopped trying with her ages ago. how narcissistic to make all of this about her.....she already has healthy gc and instead of being thankful she is making a drama of how your fertility issues are devastating her!!!! Instead of empathising and offering emotional support/help she chooses to talk about herself (mc) and still refuses to acknowledge you as a person.
i think you're being too kind in your description of your mil. i also feel you've been very passive when it comes to laying down some boundaries. As for mil, she's just a narcissistic bully who plays the drama-llama script to a tee. To bully you into 'breeding' (i say that cos that's how her attitude comes across) is bad enough, to manipulate you into accepting financial 'gifts' is worse, but to treat so appallingly during your ill health is beyond despicable in my opinion.
your dh's siblings have had their eyes opened as to what her 'help' and 'concern' actually mean, i suggest you both chat to his siblings about how to deal with mil. her actions - however well intended - are having a negative effect on you AND your marriage, therefore they should not be accepted.
just something you might want to share with your dh when the FOG is clouding his judgement and he says things like 'they mean well'......my parents wanted me to have an arranged marriage. they also genuinely 'meant well' and were coming from a loving place - but i'm my own person and i knew it wasn't the right thing for me. they'd spent ages finding 'suitable' partners. i refused. they were devastated. it affected their lives. it still affects their lives. they 'suffered' because of my decision - but they never tried to manipulate me or buy me off with money, they didn't treat me like a baby making machine that had no other value. to this day they still believe an arranged marriage would be best for me, they would be over the moon if i said yes....but they've accepted my decision. i don't get any shit from them for it.
your mil needs to be reminded that she is not the most important person in the equation. she is also not a 3rd wheel in your marriage. she already has healthy gc....and the life changing/devastating effects of your health affect you and your dh directly - not her.
She sounds absolutely fucking awful.
You sound like you're ignoring this (subconsciously or not) because you've been desperate to have a real and good extended family.
She's already had one child consider going no contact with her.
I repeat - she sounds absolutely fucking awful.
I had the heebiejeebies about her just reading that!
She's anxious when it suits her. It seems like without being able to fall pregnant you are no use to them and not worth a visit.
Just stop telling them everything that's going on in your lives. Keep them at arms length and concentrate on getting back to full health xxx
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