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MIL no-contact, DH sad, what to do?

(466 Posts)

This is going to be long, and MIL related. Sorry. I just don’t know what to do, and I don’t want to dripfeed. This is so identifying to anyone who knows me but I don’t even care anymore.

I’ve been with my DH since we were 18 (we met at uni), and we married this year. We are in our late twenties. We relocated earlier this year for his job to the US. Our relationship is mostly great and we are very happy together. There’s one problem, my MIL. We are now completely estranged and its breaking my DH’s heart. We are due to go home for Christmas and I have no idea what we’re going to do.

I’ve always felt that MIL has disapproved of me, and we have clashed over the years when I have refused to toe the party line like the rest of the family. Everyone does what she says, because if they don’t she cries, or is ill, or starts an almighty row. I’m not used to such a manipulative dynamic in my own family, and it made me very wary of her.

Whatever we did wasn’t the right thing. Jobs, where we chose to live, the fact we hadn’t bought a property by 25, our friends, the fact that I have had MH problems and have had some time out of work over the last few years due to ill health.

When I was 19 and disclosed that I had been abused she asked whether I had been tested for STIs, as she didn’t want me to pass anything on to her son. I was going through the ordeal of seeing the case go to trial, giving evidence in court and watching it be plastered all over the national news at the time. It made me feel so ashamed and dirty and I have never forgotten it. She tried to persuade my DH to leave me at the time, something he let slip. I let it go then, as I was grateful she hadn’t thrown me out of their home for my disclosure. I have come a long way since then.

Over the years, I veered between avoiding her and trying to be accepting of her personality, out of love for my then DP. There were times when we got on better, even though I still felt the underlying disapproval. So, last year we got engaged and planned a wedding very quickly as we wanted to move to the US. We would have got married in the following 18 months-2 years, but we had been given this opportunity of a lifetime and to be together needed to be married. And that’s where the trouble began.

She ruined our engagement party by crying and storming off when she found out we weren’t going to be married in church. She continually made digs about this, even though she knew I had been abused in a church setting and this was really triggering for me, which I explained to her. She goaded me into screaming at her and getting completely hysterical when we went round there by constant little digs about how what we were planning wasn’t good enough, because she didn’t have enough involvement. I tried to involve her in the beginning, but she wanted to entirely take over so I drew back.

In the interests of full disclosure, we asked her to make the cake as this is something she does as a hobby and is very good at. I thought it would be a good way to make her feel involved, but I think this was a mistake. They also offered money, which we accepted. This was also not a good idea - we were able to pay for the wedding but I think DH didn’t know how to not accept their offer. I did meet her and forgive her for the above, before Christmas. I made some compromises to try and make her happy – not having the humanist ceremony we really wanted and we tried to accommodate them with the food.

My DH left for the US in January a few months before the wedding, so on the whole I had to plan it without him, but was running everything past him over Skype. I met her for coffee with my DMum, as I had a feeling she was going to create a scene or try and manipulate me, which is exactly what happened. What was meant to be a talk about wedding plans turned into her screaming that the wedding would be a shambles, it wouldn’t be real as it wasn’t a church wedding and that she wasn’t coming. In a shopping centre. It was so embarrassing and I was very upset. We tried to cut the scene short, and walked away. She followed, shouting at us. This is because I told her we would be getting married in another room than originally planned, because the guest list had gone up. She then sent me a very malicious text after. My DP was in the US, absolutely heartbroken and bewildered that she had said she wasn’t going to come.

To cut a very long story short, she came to the wedding and we managed to keep it civil. This was through various people in the DH’s family putting pressure on me to meet her and talk about it. Everyone is desperate to placate her all the time. After the wedding, I discovered she had tried to manipulate the wedding planner into changing the room, been horrible to my bridesmaids when they changed their dresses in the evening, ran our wedding down to anyone who would listen and had a massive row with her DSis because I met her for lunch. As far as I know, they still aren’t speaking.

After this, I decided I could have no contact with her. She made the run up to our wedding the most miserable time of my life, when it should have been happy. She does not understand why I won’t have anything to do with her, even though she has had it explained by various family members. My DP is desperate to have us in the same room at Christmas- we are both homesick and he is so sad that we are estranged, even though he is completely on the same page that what she has done is awful. She is still his Mum and he loves her, even though he doesn’t like her behaviour. I hate seeing him cry about this, but I’m still so angry with her I think meeting her would make it worse. I feel such hatred and bitterness towards her for everything that has happened over the years and I don't want to inflame the situation further by losing my temper.

So – does anyone have any idea where to go from here? If you got to the end of this congrats, it was long.

reup Wed 19-Oct-16 17:25:19

Could you not go to your separate families for Christmas? Ask him why he would want you (someone he loves) to spend time with someone (his mother) who has been horrible to them?

You are presumably homesick for your families and England not each other families.

LetitiaCropleysCookbook Wed 19-Oct-16 17:25:22

My goodness - what an impossible situation, op. What would be the arrangements over Christmas - are you planning to stay with her, or with your family? If the latter, could your dh visit her alone, or does he want a full-on 'one big happy family' type get-together?

Gazelda Wed 19-Oct-16 17:28:30

I really wouldn't cave on this one. DH can happily meet up and spend time with his Mum, while you visit other friends/relatives. It really isn't on for him to try to persuade you, she made you miserable and you are not ready to forgive, nor are you prepared for her to treat you so badly again.

At best, can you suggest a big get together in a pub one Sunday afternoon, where you could pop in for an hour? You don't have to speak with her other ths. To say hello and wish her merry Christmas. Although to be honest, i think that even that would be a compromise too far for me.

We have no arrangements at the moment, as every time we talk about he gets into such a state. We have other relatives or friends we can stay with but he won't face up to it. He's burying his head in the sand.

We are home for over 2 weeks so we need to make plans. I just want to spend at least a part of our first married Christmas together sad

Mysecretgarden Wed 19-Oct-16 17:31:42

You have no obligation to be in touch with his mum and be subjected to her abuse. He is her son and he loves her. You can support contact between the 2 of them as long as it does not destroy your marriage. Tell him he is free to have a relationship with his mum but you can't. Go and visit other relatives or friends when he is with her. Or just treat yourself to something and have a great time.

I think your idea is probably the only workable one, Gazelda. It's a shame because I have a great relationship with the rest of the family but she has hurt me so much.

I agree it's not really on for him to keep trying to persuade me - I'm making allowances at the moment as I know he is homesick and not dealing with all this terribly well. He is one of those people who has so far gone through life without considerable strife/unhappiness - he was always very happy at school and uni, has a great career, finds it easy to make friends. He is taking this very hard sad

reup Wed 19-Oct-16 17:33:09

sorry but if you've been together for many years why is it so special that you are married now? In he wants to spend it with his mum and you don't you have to compromise somewhere. Presumably you are spending all your time together in your new home. You could always have a pre Christmas Christmas Day before you go - that's what a couple I know does every year - it sounds fun.

NapQueen Wed 19-Oct-16 17:34:05

I agree about doing parts of it separate and parts together. Maybe he could go to his mums after Christmas lunch at your folks and stay with her overnight and spend boxing day with her? Then the rest of the time he can pop in if local enough on and off.

No way would I spend any time in her company at all.

Thank you mysecretgarden. That is the approach I've tried to take - I've told him I want him to have a good relationship with her but I don't feel able to have one.

I just know that the other family members will start too - my BIL did when he came to visit and we had words about it. Everyone is so desperate to pander to her that they will put pressure on me to see her. It's a shame because other than that, I get on very well with the rest of the family. Things wont be the same anyway because of her argument with her DSis, but DP is willing us all to recreate the past and pretend this never happened...

annandale Wed 19-Oct-16 17:38:22

OK if I'm completely honest, I wonder if you can take the long view on this.

You are married now. The wedding is over. I know that you had to compromise massively and pretty much everything your MIL did was appalling - but ultimately, very few of the things she wanted to stop got through - your DH and you stood firm and you had something like what you wanted, even though there was a price to pay. I am absolutely not trying to minimise what she did, which has been awful, but just saying that ultimately you did do most of what you had planned.

Even if you never speak again, in fact you are connected through your DH for the rest of your lives. If you can find a way to compromise (again) it might even be that things have changed.

I would ask your DH now, what does he need to happen to make Christmas work for him. Would he for example cope with you going to his parents' house together, having a cup of tea then you going on to your parents separately?

You've been together a decade. Can you let go of 'your first married Christmas' and just try to see family in the most manageable way possible?

ocelot7 Wed 19-Oct-16 17:38:38

Things would only change if you can genuinely let go of the 'hatred & bitterness'. Carrying this around is not good for you either - very damaging in fact. Is there a way you can let it go & find a way to tolerate each other for yr DHs sake? Someone would have to take the lead on this to make it happen

Chippednailvarnishing Wed 19-Oct-16 17:39:12

I'm sorry but she's manipulative and it sounds like he is following her lead in the way he is trying to get you to see her.

I'd be making arrangements to spend Christmas with mil's sister...

reup it's special because in all our years together, it was only last Christmas that I got to see DH for a few hours. Before that - nothing on the day, and it always upset me. I'm not asking him to not see her, I just want some of the day together.

NapQueen I think it's a good idea. Problem is, it's about 20 miles apart and we sold our car before we moved. We might need to look into hiring one while we are home.

It's not even just the day - it's the whole time which is the problem. He is desperate for us to be in the same room and I don't have good feeling about it at all. I think it's a recipe for fucking disaster tbh, as I have such negative feelings towards her.

Sgoinneal Wed 19-Oct-16 17:40:57

Much of this MIL behaviour applies to me too, the awful abuse and trial aside OP.

I stuck to my guns and supported him in his decision to go and see them on his own. Shortly after he went NC. Unfortunately she only got worse with DH when she didn't have my 'interference' to blame.

Life is pretty peaceful now.

WaitroseCoffeeCostaCup Wed 19-Oct-16 17:41:03

Do we have the same mil?!

FrancisCrawford Wed 19-Oct-16 17:41:31

Oh goodness, she is poisonous.

Are you coming home for Xmas? If do, I think you need to avoid staying with MIL. If you are able to meet her(and that is totally your decision) then make sure your DH is there at all times. Don't be alone with her for ten seconds or she will attack you and then lie about it. You will have to get your DH inside for this

Most importantly, what will your DH do if she starts attacking you again? You need to agree this well in advance. If he won't take your side 100% then don't go

I'm so sorry. TBH I would avoid her like the plague but understand how your DH feels.

How does he think you should deal with this?

Is her attitude having a detrimental effect on your marriage?

Is there any way you can both stay in the US for Xmas and let mil know you won't be coming home for a visit until she has apologised and is making an effort to be nice? Distance might work in your favour and give you some power

Sgoinneal Wed 19-Oct-16 17:42:16

He can't force you to be in the same room. Tell him you understand he loves his mother and you will support him. No ultimatum, no demands. But tell him equally firmly that you are stepping aside.

I wish we could spend Christmas with MIL's sister! We have a much better relationship. I think part of the problem with MIL is that she is jealous of my good relationships with other family members.

MIL is a very manipulative woman and I know DH was told last time he was at home that if he wanted to leave his family and not have anything to do with them, that was fine sad he was trying to comfort her at the time and make sure she was ok! He knows that when they speak it will all be a problem, so is putting it off. I asked him how he wants Christmas to pan out, and he said he doesnt know other than he wants it to be like this never happened. He's not fully rooted in the reality of it all.

The hatred is not good for me, I know. But I don't know how to let go. It's not just the wedding. It's the looks and comments and general disapproval. And what she said to me about my abuse. That's what's really hard to let go of, and influences everything else I think about her.

We've booked the flights, so have to go home now. Tbh I really want to as I miss my DParents, DSis and friends desperately. My work permit has only just arrived and due to our long break at home I won't be seriously looking for work until after Christmas. So my days aren't as full as they could be, although I'm looking for volunteering at the moment and we have lots of visitors in the next few weeks.

My DH says he knows this probably isn't fixable but he wants us to be able to sit civilly in the same room. He knows and accepts that if anything else is said, that's it. My instinct is to avoid someone who has hurt me. I spent years trying to please her and try to be what she wanted in a DIL and look where we are!

Mysecretgarden Wed 19-Oct-16 17:51:06

Sounds like emotional blackmail towards your DP.
She definitely judges you, as if it was your fault.
She is a self-righteous b*

Oh yeah, she definitely judges me. I said to her in our row last year that she never thought I was good enough for DH, and she didn't deny it.

Mysecretgarden Wed 19-Oct-16 17:56:24

That's sad and you can't change it. She has to want to change. I wonder what her issues are. Maybe BIL and SIL can help in this regards.
Meanwhile you are a person of worth and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Oh blimey, I forgot to mention that while she was screaming at us in public she said that she and her family and friends have 'standards' and that she was worried we would embarrass her with the wedding. My DMum started laughing because her 'standards' didn't go far enough to stop her screaming in an M&S Cafe

Sgoinneal Wed 19-Oct-16 17:58:25

Oh god. My MIL did this too albeit not in m&s.

Tbf we are not in contact with the whole family so you may well be my SIL - maybe you've emigrated.

Run, run for the hills.

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