Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Living with the MIL guilt

(34 Posts)
chakachumchom Sun 29-May-16 13:25:09

I don't get along with MIL.
She probably set her stall out wrongly from the outset, was overtly protective of DH from the moment I met her. She would call me out of the blue to request things as soon as we began dating really.
When we bought our first house, it was all "I would prefer it if you did this, I would prefer it of you did that..."
She requested a wedding long before DH even proposed as she didn't feel comfortable with us simply co-habiting. I was very tolerant for a long time, DH often apologised for her, would tell her not to bother me so much, but never really properly told her to back off.
Her interfering became intolerable during pregnancy with DS1, but as I was suffering with pre-natal depression I didn't raise the issue and tried to steer clear of her as much as I could. She made all sorts of demands on my time for 'after the baby is born...' it was overbearing.
When DS came along, the parenting criticisms began and I became possessive and protective over DS when she was around. She over-stepped too many lines and I began falling out with DH as a result, he asked her to back right off and she became bitter towards me as a result.

The bitterness has continued for 5 years- DS 2 is now here and rather than the criticisms come subtle remarks about our treatment of her. DS feels sorry for her, I feel complete dislike towards her and empathy towards DH for how difficult he finds it. I have now cut ties with MIL after everything blew up and I refused to be in her awkward, unreasonable company any more after one remark too many.

DH has spoken on my behalf and explained that I will no longer be in MIL'S company. He is clearly depressed and feels resentment towards me, whilst wanting to stand by my side. He's trying but he has had such a close relationship with his PILS that he's finding this tough. I feel so guilty to have been the one to sever the close ties he's had for so long, but I can't take much more. I've really tried to get along with her but I really dislike the lady.

I'm worried about the future state of our marriage and I'm not sure DH will be able to continue his commitment to me as time goes on. I would say that the situation has worn us both down and worn down our love for each other. I do still love DH, but it's made things very difficult.

Seeing now upset, miserable and lost he is without this closeness with MIL, I'm not sure I can handle the guilt of knowing that ultimately, it's because of me.

CodyKing Sun 29-May-16 13:28:15

You aren't preventing him having a relationship with her - I'm assuming he can visit whenever he choses?

It his relationship with his mother - and men are pretty crap at arranging meet ups - he needs to do this for himself

RaeSkywalker Sun 29-May-16 13:31:24

Have you considered couples counselling? DH and I were in a very similar situation, it really helped us to get on the 'same page'.

chakachumchom Sun 29-May-16 13:36:31

He can visit when he chooses, but I've limited her contact with DS1 and 2 as a result. She used to take care of them for 1-2 days a week, which I've now stopped as I felt she was using them to get at me, trying to play mummy and not respecting my wishes, rather than being grandma. I was also aware of DS1 eventually asking questions about her bitterness towards me as she is rude to me infront of them.

It's this that DH has struggled with as he believes that the way I feel about MIL should not affect her relationship with DS 1 and 2. He has said openly that he still wants his DM to be a big part of their lives, unfortunately, I don't feel that she's able to do that without using them as tools to get at me.

chakachumchom Sun 29-May-16 13:41:50

She still sees DS1 and DS2 BTW. But just for a couple of hours each week and with DH.

Poppledopple Sun 29-May-16 14:42:24

chak - there are many of us taking the same stance as you. Well donr you in putting clear boundaries up to protect yourself and your children from this toxic environment. Dont let the "flying monkeys" that she has set off derail you from doing the best by your family.

Is it a recent arrangement? Maybe that is why it feels tough. Your arrangment is perfectly reasonable - your MIL cannot behave herself and is toxic to you and uses both her own DS and her grandchildren to get to you - and does not care that she hurts them all in the process.

You are doing the right thing here for your DC and yourself - your DH is so conditioned by her toxic ways that he cannot see it for himself - or she is continuing to pollute his head and this is the stress that he is experiencing.

Seeing DCs for a couple of hours a week with your DH is more than generous and standard for many other families - the fact that this isnt enough for HER - tells you all you need to know.

Dont let her guilt trip you from afar. Stand firm on your rules for your family - you are doing the right thing. DH needs to go in his own journey in his own time.

Poppledopple Sun 29-May-16 14:45:18

take a look at the thread above...

Chippednailvarnishing Sun 29-May-16 14:51:30

You have a DH problem not a mil problem.

If he had been clear that her behaviour was unreasonable to both of you from the start, you wouldn't be in this situation now.

DontMindMe1 Sun 29-May-16 15:06:04

you did the right thing limiting your dc exposure to her toxicity. why should they - innocents-be used as pawns in her game?!

Just goes to show some adults just cannot put the best interests on children first. I have an older toxic sis who does this. what she gets out of seeing her dc miss out on a relationship with their auntie beats me.

Ememem84 Sun 29-May-16 15:14:57

im in a similar situation although no kids yet. I've set the same boundaries though. Mil has always acted hostilely towards me and said one too many hurtful things in 2014 which resulted in me almost flying 36 hours home from our holiday (she lives in NZ) by myself.

I deal with her by being busy a s much as possible when she comes over. She stayed with us for 2 weeks last year and I spent about 3 hours in total in her company. At the time it was all I could handle.

Dh is in the same position as yours. I'm not stopping him seeing or speaking to his mum. But he feels we should present a united front. I can't do this until he tells her to stop bullying me. He says he has. But I need to hear him say it iyswim.

I no longer Skype. I don't send Christmas gifts etc. That's all up to him. He as a result forgot to send Mother's Day gift and Christmas gift. I was blamed (by her not him).

If we have kids she won't be spending time alone with them. And contact will be here. I'm not flying all that way to be insulted I front of my children.

rumblingDMexploitingbstds Sun 29-May-16 15:19:57

What is dh's solution? Obviously you just letting her carry on doing her thing and handling as you go it hasn't worked and it's not ok for her to use the children to get the digs she needs to make at you - so what compromises is she prepared to make in the way of changing her behaviour that he can arrange with her that might make you feel prepared to discuss trying the previous level of contact again?

Poppledopple Sun 29-May-16 16:20:35

Original thread to the batshit one

chakachumchom Sun 29-May-16 19:33:43

Rumbling: I told DH that I would meet with her to discuss how we can move forward once I got an apology (I needed to know for sure that she has accepted that she's hurt, belittled and caused me a lot of stress.) For me, it's the only way things can change. I've asked DH if I should be accepting an apology from her and he said "no I doubt it."
This means NC for me as nothing will change. I think DH is still working out in his own head whether he can accept my intolerance for MIL. He wishes I was "more tolerant" but I'm not, I'm naturally an anxious, sensitive person who absorbs other people's energies far too easily. But that's me. I think he's weighing up whether or not he can come to terms with that.

Thanks Popple, I've actually read the original thread before but will take a look at the bats hit one too.

chakachumchom Sun 29-May-16 19:34:19

*expecting an apology

rumblingDMexploitingbstds Sun 29-May-16 21:05:20

I think DH is still working out in his own head whether he can accept my intolerance for MIL. He wishes I was "more tolerant"

It sounds like by 'tolerant' he means you'd just accept her being vile to you quietly without it affecting him! It doesn't sound like you're being intolerant, you've put up with a lot for a long time from what you're describing, and you've reached the end of your rope. It sounds like he's also perfectly willing to accept that she will refuse to change her behaviour in any way, it's her way or the highway.

So why are you expected to be the one who does all the compromising and putting up with and being made miserable? How can he justify that as being ok? (And yes, I'm sure in his head it makes sense, but getting him to think about it from that angle may shake it around in his head a bit.)


chakachumchom Mon 30-May-16 07:51:05

Emem: good work for putting boundaries in place before DCS arrive. For some reason, the arrival of GCS just make toxic parents go a little awol. I'd say the issue is when they see the verb 'being grandparents' as their right rather than a privilege. My MIL is a very self righteous woman in all walks of life.

Rumbling: as someone pointed out further up the thread, I do believe that I have more of a DH problem than a MIL problem. He should have put his foot down in the beginning, especially as he'd already told me how pushy his DM could be!

He justifies it being ok that I should be the one bending over backwards because he thinks I'm unreasonable. That I'm overly affected by things, I'm sensitive in general as I sometimes struggle with friendships and with my relationship with my own parents at times. DH has therefore justified my boundary-making as unreasonable based on this.
However, regardless of me being sensitive, if I told you some of the things she's done over the years, I think you would be shocked. My friends and family have been appalled at some of the things she's said and done to interfere in our lives so I know I'm not over-reacting. DH has found a way to justify my response to his mum's behaviour as uncalled for by linking it to me being a sensitive person which is massively frustrating for me and for him, causes him to resent me.
It's been 2 months since I limited contact to nil with MIL and still DH seems to have lost all empathy and affection towards me.

thedogdaysareover Mon 30-May-16 07:56:52

Read this blog. It is a doozy.

JellyBabiesSaveLives Mon 30-May-16 08:11:21

So, if you behaved as badly towards MIL as she does to you, would your dh expect her to be "tolerant" and accuse her of being "too sensitive" if she took offense? Could you think up some specific examples that can be compared to her behaviour to you, and ask dh how he'd feel if you did those things? And why you are expected to "tolerate" but MIL is not?

And definitely counselling. Seeing another adult struggle not to look too horrified as I described my mother's behaviour, was hugely helpful. It may open your dh's eyes a little.

chakachumchom Mon 30-May-16 08:24:59

I actually once tried telling MIL what colour she should decorate her house to test the water and even elaborated on colour coded accessories. MIL seemed mortified, snapped at me and said "I don't even like that colour." DH appeared to sense her discomfort and was eager for me and him to make a sharp exit! Usually he'll sit aimlessly around their house for hours before suggesting to leave so it worked out quite well!

DH and I have tried to avoid counselling as DH is a private person who doesn't like to talk but we've said that we will try it should we need to. I think it's perhaps come to the point where we need to try. It's so expensive though, Relate is £55 per hour! Any suggestions? I'm currently in counselling myself as I am a depressive, but I can see why it's not working for helping in our relationship. I think DH needs to do a bit of work himself!

Ememem84 Mon 30-May-16 08:33:53

chaka we I needed to put boundaries in place now but am fully expecting things to go tits up once we have kids. Mil has always said she'll come back over for 6 month right after we have babies. (So during my mat leave) as her own mum did. To bond with HER baby.

I've already told Dh that this will not be happening. If it does (as I can't stop her booking flights) I'll be moving in with my parents for the duration of her stay.

Ememem84 Mon 30-May-16 08:34:50

And neither he now mil will see baby. But we'll cross that bridge when it happens. She's still working so hopefully won't be able to afford to quit...

chakachumchom Mon 30-May-16 09:14:57

Dogdays: the 'just not there' post on the blog makes for excellent reading. It resonates a lot.
She also says 'thank God for marriage counselling' which makes me think it's probably the way to go.

Emem: it's good to have a plan in place for when MIL decided to act our. Stuck to your guns.

Poppledopple Mon 30-May-16 11:17:33

Your DH is enabling her and gas-lighting you all for HIS emotional comfort.

He has tap danced around her all his life and allowed her over bearing, interfering, controlling behaviour to keep the peace. I bet there are few other friends and family that she still has a close relationship with - they would have quietly sloped away over time after witnessing or experiencing one of her outbursts. Point that out to him - will tell him all he needs to know.

Your DH is projecting his anger and frustration on to you and gas-lighting you in the process because he is too terrified of confrontation with his DM and her outbursts.

Your mental health will be aggravated (if not in fact caused/triggered) by this type of toxic person who has everyone on eggshells trying to second guess and protect themselves from the next stunt, outrageous boundary crossing or hysterics that is inevitable.

I am NC with my MIL for over a year now - same set up as you - although my DCs are teenagers and have chosen not to accompany their Dad on visits to her. We dont ever discuss her or the arrangement. I am not trying to get him to see it from my POV - but equally he needs to let me run my life my way and that involves NC with his mother.

Write the list out on here of all the situations you have endured over the years - and invite reasonable people to comment - then show the responses to him - he will see that you ANBU but that she is the common denominator.

Remain confident that you have absolutely done the right thing, keep focused and vigilant on your boundaries. You will feel stronger over time and your DH will get used to it - do not consider ever letting her back in - she will never learn and will upset you again and then you will have to start from scratch. She already has more than enough seeing your DCs for a few hours a week - watch carefully how she will try to erode/push these boundaries (sleepovers etc) and stand firm. You should also insist that she does not talk negatively about you when she has your DC - and that the consequences of doing so is NC with them.

Over time I think that my MIL is quite happy not to see me - she didnt like me anyway - she gets to see her DS and her GCs - so happy dayz all round.

thedogdaysareover Mon 30-May-16 11:25:19

Good for you Chaka, she is so on the money this blog writer. See also the "Cassandra Complex" thread, her best in my opinion.

Poppledopple Mon 30-May-16 12:01:53 thanks for that link - The Cassandra Complex - that whole article really resonates especially

"Your spouse doesn’t have to agree with your reality, but to repeatedly deny your reality as you see it is abusive. Hold fast Cassandras. Your version of reality is completely valid and you can, you must express it. Do not loose yourself amidst all the crazy-making behaviour of your spouse’s family. To give in or start to doubt yourself will lead down the line to some pretty
serious self-disgust."

You need to continue to extract yourself from his emotionally dysfunctional family - they are all part of the denial and enabling.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now