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How to deal with SIL and MIL?

(9 Posts)
FarkinFuddled Mon 06-Mar-17 01:52:58

I've NC for this as I've spoken about this IRL.

Well here goes...I'd really like to have a great relationship with SIL and MIL but it is hugely strained by distance (they are at the other end of UK, DH moved here to start a life here before we met here) and MIL's belief that I am the reason DH doesn't see them as much anymore - one of his explanations to me was that my PIL used to pay for tickets for him to visit so he was obligated to whenever they asked and had no commitments before he met me. MIL is very generous when it comes to treating me and DH and has made me feel welcome in her home on the surface of it but other instances have made me feel like she has an issue overall. MIL wants us to visit every other or monthly where possible, each time spending £90 to get there and back (although they offer to pay, I feel uncomfortable about taking anything, DH usually accepts half of the cost when we do) and stay with PIL for 2 or 3 days (when work permits but at least a weekend) at a time. She has said and done some things in the past that made me feel she was 'off' towards me; I wouldn't understand certain things because my parents divorced and half siblings didn't grow up in the same household whilst I lived at home, she's told me some of my fears/thoughts are just silly which I have shared with her in order to bond and she sulked when we hadn't consulted her before booking our wedding venue at the time, etc. However, she doesn't seem to do this with DD's partner and DD is not much older. We've had a few good times where we've spent time together alone and they go well but as soon as we haven't seen the family in a while, I feel as though I get blamed for it again.

FarkinFuddled Mon 06-Mar-17 01:53:52

Sorry, wasn't finished blush, bear with me.

Me and SIL used to get on OK, we used to chat on the phone and go out together with just her, her DP, DH and I when we would visit or they would visit us. SIL and DH had a falling out one year due to him not visiting him when they wanted him to. I tried to contact SIL to discuss it initially, whilst still under the impression I'd done something to upset her and that it was about me, and she ignored me. I was told was by DH it was about me and MIL also slipped during conversation that it had been, it turns out SIL's problem was not me but MIL's problem was (to my face with DH in the room, MIL said something that alluded to the fact she didn't think I understood the importance of family considering my own). I have found it incredibly hard to forget the whole thing and how SIL dealt with me and the words MIL said which were so hurtful. I have continued to try to spend time with MIL on her own as she is receptive to it and feel it takes a bit of work as we don't have regular contact.

I was later told by FIL that SIL felt I shouldn't have reached out to her as it wasn't any of my business which I felt was fair but she continues to ignore the majority of contact I have with her now, in fact she has started to respond to my texts by texting/calling my DH and covering anything I've asked/said to her (normal things I text her about because she doesn't answer my calls - asking how she/her DP/DN is,baby question, etc.) She has never invited me to her home, will only ask DH round if he goes to see them alone (which I suggest he does from time to time as I do value 1:1 time with all of my family and don't think I always need to be there to just get in the way). If I message her to 'do lunch' whilst there, she will ignore it and at times has said she hasn't received my texts. I don't pull her up on it because I only ever get to interact with her at PIL's home where we stay when visiting or whilst out with them and she does not like head on confrontation (even if it's, 'hey, I hope you know if you had a problem, whether about me or not, you can talk to me about it'). I've got no sisters and see a SIL as someone I should be able to bond with, especially as some of the things she has gone through, I have too.

We've got a baby on the way and I feel like I will always be on the outskirts of the family, not allowed in or to comment on family things. Has anyone got any suggestions on how I can try to improve these relationships with MIL and SIL now before things get more complicated??

FarkinFuddled Mon 06-Mar-17 02:26:57

I know it's long. I'm just hoping someone can help me with this.

April2013 Mon 06-Mar-17 03:36:45

I've had similar criticism from MIL about my own family, it is not nice behaviour, to put it mildly. It sounds like she is doing the classic MIL thing of blaming the DIL for not seeing her son more frequently because DIL has 'stolen' him from her, she has turned it into a power struggle of you V her over your DH. She should of course be having a grown-up and respectful conversation with your DH about frequency of visits and understand that things have changed since he met you. She should have realised that her behaviour is putting her son in a horrible position and that the way to encourage you both to visit would be to be really nice and understanding. A monthly visit of a few days with a baby/toddler/child is probably only really something you would want to do if your in laws were really lovely and accommodating, not passive aggressive and selfish. I think they will have to start visiting you but stay elsewhere and after their treatment of you and because you will have a young child I would expect them to do the visiting from now on, maybe you could make the trip to theirs once a year at a push. It is possible that they will be more respectful towards you as mother of their grandchild but unfortunately it's more likely given their past behaviour towards you that they will want their position as grandparents to dominate over your role as mother, you will probably have to be very firm with them and that will probably cause more passive aggression, sulking etc. You need to speak to your DH about it - how she behaved when you booked your wedding venue without getting her approval first is probably how she will behave when you don't do exactly as she wants with the baby - she might not like the name, she might not like the pram, she might be very annoyed you aren't going to visit every month with a young baby, she might be annoyed you want to do things according to current baby safety advice not her advice. You need your DH to be on your side and for him to manage her so that she can't see you as the problem and to shield you from them, I would stop dealing with them and let your DH do all the contact. I think the SIL sounds to be treating you similarly to MIL. I would try and forget about them and see them as little as possible and stop being anything more than polite and civil, they are being rude and disrespectful towards you, be thankful they are the other end of the country!

GoodDayToYou Mon 06-Mar-17 09:50:31

I agree with April.
Be greatful they live a way away and never move closer.
Think carefully about the life you want and adjust your boundaries accordingly.

Nocabbageinmyeye Mon 06-Mar-17 11:02:27

I'm genuinely wondering why you want a relationship with them so badly? Putting everything above aside for a second why do you want to have a close relationship with them? I know people who have the type of relationship you want with their in laws but it happens naturally, like with all families/friends/work colleagues, some relationships happen naturally and others don't. I think you need to accept yours isn't a naturally close relationship and let it go and accept it for what it is, niceties when you meet but not friends or confidantsconfidants, there is nothing wrong with that and you'll probably happier once you accept it as that, IMO

bastardlyandmutley Mon 06-Mar-17 12:42:42

It is sad that you don't have the relationship you would like with your ILS especially given that perhaps your own family was unconventional. It is spectacularly cruel of your MIL to use it as a stick to beat you with. It seems as if it has become almost like a self fulfilling prophecy for your MIL now. She believes and has told everybody, presumably, that you don't understand/"do" family, this has made you feel horribly uncomfortable and unwanted so you withdraw, she is proved right, you don't "do" family.

My advice is to be happy to be out of it. Like the poster above says, you can't force relationships and sometimes, sadly, they aren't what we would have hoped or deserved. I wouldn't flog this dead horse though. I would withdraw, nobody has to put up with rudeness. Put in place strong boundaries. Like GoodDay says, never move closer. I always think of the MN phrase, not my circus, not my monkeys when I think of my ILS. From experience I would caution against the approach of keep trying with your ILS. Withdraw while things are still civil and icily polite. I kept trying and things ended up going sour with a bang and now any kind of contact, icy polite or otherwise, is practically impossible.

You do need DH onside though. Don't underestimate how this kind of thing can eat away at an otherwise happy relationship.

SeaEagleFeather Mon 06-Mar-17 15:35:20

I'd really like to have a great relationship with SIL and MIL but...

This is the crux. YOU want a great relationship. But it takes two (or three) to have a great relationship. For whatever reason, it's not clicking. It may be just that you are rather different people.

At this moment you're trying very hard though and maybe it might help to back off. if you don't want to go every other month - don't. Work out what works for you, compromise to some degree but back off a bit from doing all that they want.

Perhaps in time it might get easier, perhaps it won't. But for now, I thikn you have to accept that it isn't what you want, but it is the way that it is.

congratulations on tinyFarkin =)

...out of interest, how is your relationship with your own family? you don't mention thme at all.

FarkinFuddled Mon 06-Mar-17 17:16:47

Thanks for the replies. I will hold on the the advice of: Think carefully about the life you want and adjust your boundaries accordingly.

I try so hard because of my DH, I've told him how I honestly feel and he says he feels unhappy about it too even for himself. Before we got married, I nearly left him due to this but I love him so much more than that and felt sad at the satisfaction MIL would get from her DS needing her again in spite of his pain. The unreasonable behaviour was in tenfold during our engagement, my DM saw me in tears many times. However, I want everyone to get on because I see no valid reason for not getting on, we do have common ground that we don't explore. I just wondered if for anyone out there, it got easier for them. I will have to take a step back, continue to be civil and leave it at that.

As for my family, my DM lives nearby, she loves to take the lead and at times can be difficult in her own way. She is fine for big things and doesn't demand at all but her advice is free and you have to hear it, I can tell her to eff off (figuratively) though when she's being unreasonable and that's that. She treats DH well but he has not learned the art of the word 'no' or say he needs to go when she's on the phone with her, etc., so it can be overbearing at times for him. I only ever visit her home once or twice a week for a couple of hours but MIL seems to take issue with my DM being close by which isn't a conscious choice, she's always lived there, and we actually moved 45 minutes away by car due to house prices.

The rest of my family and siblings are close in bond but not proximity and don't always have time. The trips to ILS have got in the way of me seeing my own family and friends on plenty of occasions before because we book time there a month or so ahead, they get the prime free time. I've suggested DH visit alone more, MIL said "but we want to see you too, you need to be part of this family"!?

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