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How to cope with a controlling MIL

(16 Posts)
teaping Sun 15-Jan-17 19:42:38

Please help!

We're getting married this year and our relationship is great....except for the effect his mother has!

She is incredibly controlling and expects to be fully consulted and involved in every decision we make. She is also extremely unreasonable about many things and majorly holds grudges - she sits at home stewing over everything and for months and even years goes on and on about tiny insignificant things which happened in the past. she rants on the phone to DP if there's something we've done that she doesn't like, and although he stands up to her sometimes, most of the time he will just say (though usually not actually do) whatever she wants to keep her happy. They speak several times a week for about half an hour, so inevitably end up discussing pretty much everything.

I need some tips for how to handle her!! I know many people have nightmare in laws - how do you cope!?

mrssapphirebright Sun 15-Jan-17 19:46:48

I feel your pain op. I coped for 2 years then decided I wanted no more to do with the bitch so went nc with her. Best decision ever. Now my life is stress free.

My dh knows what she is like and is now low contact with her.

If you have you dh on your side then it shouldn't be hard to keep her at arms length. If you and dh are not on the same page then you rally have a dp problem and not a mil problem.

Good luck

Ilovecaindingle Sun 15-Jan-17 19:51:48

Maybe your dh needs educating about your relationship...
It should be private!!
Your entire life isn't her business - she wouldn't have anything to complain about if he didn't supply her with so much info!!

RunRabbitRunRabbit Sun 15-Jan-17 19:53:29

Is your DP happy with how things are with his mother?

schlong Sun 15-Jan-17 19:56:17

Revise your decision to marry him unless he vows to make her butt out. I speak from experience.

teaping Sun 15-Jan-17 20:00:28

He's not really happy as such, but more accepts it. He does push back on her a lot now and has improved hugely during the few years we've been together. he's adopted (which no one knows) and is an only child so has always been very close to his parents and particularly his mum. She controls the entire extended family through money and tries to do the same with us.

I think it's great he's close to his parents and I don't want to be the cause of a breakdown in his relationship with his mum (because obviously she blames me that they're not as close anymore) but I just am finding it all too much. She genuinely believes she has a right to know everything and a right to voice her opinion but if we don't listen to it she goes on about it for months and months and months and is really quite vicious. She said wasn't coming to our wedding for a while because we didn't choose the venue she thought it should be at!

RedGrapeCornSnake Sun 15-Jan-17 20:59:03

Don't back down, from day 1

I didn't (I was young and naive) my MIL came close to destroying my marriage. We moved literally half way around the world and now things are much easier.

Your DH to be needs to decide where his priorities lie and stop telling his mother every single thing.
I hope you've not changed your wedding venue (I changed my wedding date to accommodate one SIL - it wasn't appreciated, she still had a strop on the day because the cake she made for us wasn't the centre of attention)

munchkinmable Sun 15-Jan-17 21:01:15

Buy an air horn. Every time your husband reveals any private info on the phone, blow the horn.

Cherrysoup Sun 15-Jan-17 21:10:46

Your dp needs to learn boundaries and you need to push back at his DM. Every time she moans about something, you stop and ask her what damned business it is of hers. Do it now, OP, or the years will be tedious, especially if you have DC.

Mouikey Mon 16-Jan-17 09:54:46

Please by the air horn if only to hear what she says every time it's sounded 😆

CMamaof4 Mon 16-Jan-17 09:59:51

Get Dp to stick up for himself or run for the hills! She sounds a nightmare confused

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 16-Jan-17 10:12:10


Their relationship really broke down years ago because it is at heart a dysfunctional relationship. There is close and there is enmeshed; your man is enmeshed. His mother displays an unhealthy level of control over her son.

You likely come from a nice emotionally healthy family so you think some tips for handling her will help. It does not work like that at all. She will only play by her rules; any "normal" rules of interaction with family do not apply.

Controlling behaviour like this is abusive in nature. She will continue to abuse you both through her controlling your lives; you will be instructed to do as she wants in all aspects of your lives and that will also include childrearing. Any dissent from what she wants is not tolerated. You're already seeing her kick up a stink re the wedding venue because it is not of her choosing.

Your man may well end up wanting to maintain a relationship with her whilst you are no contact.

He is key here re his mother and he is clearly not up to dealing with her at all so you also have a fiancé problem. He has his own FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) to deal with and cannot. Unfortunately for you if this is what it is like now it will be no better if you do go onto marry. Infact it will get worse. His own inertia when it comes to his mother is also hurting him as well as you.

I would also consider whether you do want to marry him at all now because he cannot (and will not) stand up for himself here. There are plenty of red flags here already; this is really how it starts. His boundaries re his mother are way too low and he is telling her way too much. Inbuilt conditioning like the sorts he has received from his mother are very hard to break. He is truly enmeshed with his mother and those types of relationships are always but always dysfunctional and rooted in power and control.

Read "Toxic Inlaws" by Susan Forward to further understand the dynamics.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 16-Jan-17 10:14:35

Where is your fiancé's dad in all this, is he still around? What role is he playing here?

TeaCakeLiterature Mon 16-Jan-17 10:20:37

This sounds very similar.
The only bad part of our relationship was my MIL...eventually DH stood up to her and has agreed we have to have boundaries to protect ourselves.

We've finally got to a point where we see and speak to her every month but try to avoid more regular contact because if we do she will call all the time.

Although some men don't like to do this with their mothers in some circumstances having this distance and boundary for protection is the only way. My MIL was an absolute bloody nightmare and still feels she should be told everything, consulted on everything and that we should listen to her.
She found out a month or so ago our son was cows milk intolerant and phoned this weekend to tell us about dairy if we were so clueless we hadn't already looked into it. This is very minor really so doesn't really illustrate my point but I have a sleeping baby on me!! Lol

Talking of which - put boundaries in place as soon as you can - the longer you leave it the harder it is!

teaping Mon 16-Jan-17 11:09:29

Thank you ladies for your comments, which are really appreciated.

I appreciate those of you speaking from experience will think I'm mad, but I cannot and will not run for the hills. I love him to pieces and our relationship is so so good; I am 100% sure about him. Obviously the issue is his mother, and you're right, they do come as a package.

Atilla I will read the book you suggested, it sounds like it might help me understand and put things in perspective. Thank you. his dad is a mouse who just does whatever his wife says - never ever stands up to her. No one does!

I think it's fair to say DP has come a hugely long way since I met him - over the years he has detached himself significantly (i.e. Moved from daily 30 min calls to her to 3x a week, seeing her once every 3-4 weeks instead of at least fortnightly) but there's still such a long way to go.

It's hard because I'm super close to my mum and we are in touch daily - but out of choice! There are no demands, expectations or judgement from her. He chooses to spend more time with my family than his own because he doesn't get nagged and judged and dictated to by mine.

But we have a very long way to go to get to what I consider a healthy situation regarding his mum. I know she won't change (the older she gets the worse she is! Her entire world revolves around him and what he's doing - she needs to get out more) so it's how we - and more DP- handles her that's got to step-change.

Munch - love the air horn idea! Hahahaha. Better than my current (childish and unhelpful) behaviour of muttering 'tell her to F off' every 5 mins when they're on the phone!

SeaEagleFeather Mon 16-Jan-17 13:20:41

I think it's great he's close to his parents

it's great if mother-child are close if the relationship is healthy. If it's not healthy, it's much better if there is some distance.

I don't want to be the cause of a breakdown in his relationship with his mum

It's not you who's the cause of it. It's the fact there's another woman in his life. It could have been someone else; with this problem, who you are doesn't matter. The fact you exist, does.

(because obviously she blames me that they're not as close anymore)

Well yes, not surprised to hear that. She's wrong though isn't she? Your husband grew up and wanted a life of his own, and to share it with someone else. That's what's to 'blame' here. Don't go putting it all on yourself, because then the blame's in the wrong place. Also don't trying to appease her, not if you want a life and marriage of your own.

Your husband -has- to put you first or your marriage will have three people in it, and one of them will be the empress.

That book is great, it can help a lot. Good luck.

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