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.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Help please! Parents in law are going to ruin my relationship(186 Posts)
I really need some advice,. Here's a quick back story, sorry it's pretty long.
My partner is an only child to parent's in their late 40s, we are both 30. His parents live 10 minutes from us whilst my whole family life in a different country and my parents are in their 60s.
We had our DS just over a year ago. Before she was born my partner and I discussed our expectations for how involved grandparents would be, child care arrangements etc.
These were particularly important discussions as his mother decided to take a part time job with the expectation that she would have child care duties. When she mentioned this we advised her not to that we didn't want her to look after DS that we felt nursery would be the best solution for our family. She did it anyway and put considerable pressure on my partner to change our arrangements.
Since the day our DS was born she has been intrusive, selfish and immature. I had quite severe post natal anxiety, and my OH is self employed and was unable to take any time off. She called round unannounced everyday for the first two weeks, despite me asking her not to and explaining that I was trying to establish breastfeeding and needed to rest. For the record, she was not there to help she just wanted to hold the baby. Not once did she even so much as offer to make me a cup of tea but made it very clear that I was being rude not offering her one. In the second week she turned up and I refused to let her into the House.
This is where the issues started. She had expectations of having DS overnight in her first week of life. My OH explained to her that this wasn't possible because I was breastfeeding and asked her to back off and give me space. She had also been asked to not post pictures of DS on social media and a few other boundaries were established. She ignored everything.
My OH works solely with his father,and everyday he was getting told how upset his mother was etc. At first because he could also see how upset I was he stood his ground with our request for boundaries, but eventually as time went on he got worn down and started to give in to his mother for an easier life.
The ongoing issues his mother was causing (and he recognised she was the cause) almost forced is to break up on several occasions and I spent much of DS's first year at home in another country with my family.
Every time I came back we would re-establish boundaries and agree to support each other,. Continuing to work on our relationship as we were supposed to be getting married in July. His mother would respect the boundaries for a week or two and then everything would go back to square one.
Because of her inability to respect our boundaries and understand where she is in our family dynamic I do not trust her to look after our DS. During the course of the year it came to light that OHs mother is a very fake, nasty and manipulative person - another reason I am not keen on her having alone time with DS. I might also add that I am not biased against his mother. I don't see why anyone other than me and my OH should have alone time with DS untill she starts to ask for it. There is plenty of opportunities to bond without needing to have her alone.
My OH and I had agreed that once a month was enough to see his parents, with the exception of birthdays and other special occasions of course. This would allow us to get on with our lives and bond as a family.
The biggest issue is that because my OH and his father (who is fantastic btw) work together operating out of our house he is here 5/6 days a week. But he is here to work. Most of the time he doesn't even see DS or come into the house. However because he is here so often my OHs mother also thinks she should be here too and it's not fair because she is missing out.
So despite agreeing that we had no desire to spending that much time with his parents between the 3 of them they have orchestrated it so that his mother comes here 2/3 days a week. Not only is this FAR too much but they are working and I'm left to entertain her despite the fact that we have a very sour relationship and usually don't even speak to each other.
This is all happening during COVID lockdown too, whilst I am also trying to work from home and keep a house.
My partner can no longer see the issue, he thinks I have a Vendetta against his mother. And whilst it's true I don't like her (I have never disclosed this to him but he knows I don't trust her) the real issue is how involved his family are in our lives, particularly as we were about to become husband and wife. I have suggested many ways he could separate the business from the house so there was no need for either of them to see DS whilst they are at it for work which I genuinely think would help his mother feel left out but he refuses to listen.
Every time she comes round we have a huge fight which results in us not speaking to each other for most of the week. This is not the environment I want to be raising a child in.
have also on many occasions tried to suck it up and just get on with his mother for the sake of things but every time I do she sees it as a way to manipulate things to force her way further into our lives.
If this continues much longer it will ruin our relationship. We have already indefinitely cancelled our wedding plans to try and resolve things but they are just getting worse.
Please can anyone who has gotten through similar situations please suggest anything that might help!!!!
This a v toxic, confrontational and dysfunctional environment you are raising your child in. Your DC will sense, absorb and internalise all of this - especially your distress. They will be confused and anxious and this will leave them with emotional issues.
His DM is at fault - but your OH is THE issue. This is only going to get worse day by day. He has submitted to her - which he has done all his life.
He is not being kind and respectful to you. He is not honouring the mother of his child. I doubt he even likes his mother that much but her overbearing attitude makes HIM emotionally uncomfortable and he is putting himself first - his well-being and feelings - not your child or you. He is throwing you under the bus - time and time and time again.
Don’t marry him. HE is not respectful of you and your needs. Do not hand him control. Walk away - your baby needs a happy Mum.
If you don't want to walk away then I'd suggest intense couples counseling to establish boundaries otherwise I'd plan on moving elsewhere with your baby. Look up the thread "But we took you to stately homes" or Reddit has a section about MILs from hell
And your OH’s DF is NOT “fantastic btw” - he is another manipulative and selfish man in this toxic family system - he spends his days grooming your OH to manipulate you to accept and indulge wife’s ludicrous demands over YOUR child - again, like your OH just to maintain their own peace - not for his own son’s benefit or grandchild’s.
Don’t let these people dominate your motherhood and rob you of these precious golden fleeting moments - you should be high as a kite full of joy immersed with your baby - not fighting off a loon MIL, OH and FIL.
This is not good for bonding with your child and their emotional development.
Thank you all for your replies.
Gutterton - I guess in a way I always knew this but needed to hear it out loud. And I've never thought about FIL from that point of view
EKGEMS - I have suggested counselling on a number of occasions but OH doesn't think our problems are serious enough to go for it/can't afford it.
I on the other hand have taken your advice and will be starting solo counselling this Monday.
I use to get on really well with OHs mother before DS was born. And I do admit that in the early month's I did go out of my way to ensure I wasn't at home when I knew she was coming but massively eased up on this when my PNA eased up at 6 month's. Sometimes I do wonder if I am being unfair/blind to the other parties feelings but it's so hard to see things clearly when I'm still angry at how hard his mother made my transition into motherhood.
It was all I got during arguments - 'but this is her only grandchild' etc, didn't seem to matter how many times I said DD was my only child.
Also just realised I've used DS when I meant to be writing DD. DOH
Sounds like you both have control issues and your oh is stuck in between. I feel sorry for him, especially when working for the day business.
Why won't you let your mil look after your son just one day a week? It's a very strong message to give that you prefer to pay the hefty fees of nursery rather than her looking after her grand child.
Erghh I feel for you, she sounds awful. FIL sounds just as bad for going for an easy life for himself, rather than trying to help his sons life and marriage.
I would move away from MIL without a shadow of a doubt, it will only get worse as time goes on. Youve repeatedly tried to set boundaries and been ignored. Your DP is useless. I think this is one of those relationships that needs distance between it.
Whether that includes your DH or not is up to you. From what you've written he sounds like a crap partner but only you know what you are getting from the relationship and if you are happy.
With your DPs attitude about it now, it will soon switch to you being the problem, you are the bad guy etc. Just keep perspective and know that most DILs would not put up with her behaviour.
When you were in another country, did you have the baby with you? What was DPs reaction and why did it go on for so long? Just wondering if he would "allow" you both to leave if it came to that.
Please ignore PP. You do not have control issues. Your MIL has v serious boundary issues:
Wanted your baby solo overnight in her first week.
Went part time assuming she would be childcare.
Ignoring and trampling every single boundary you decide for your family.
She is a manipulative loon.
She wants to play Mum to your baby. She had her motherhood - don’t let her steal yours.
Why should the OP let her DP’s mum look after the baby one day a week? Especially given the way the woman has been behaving.
Just because a grandparent wants something, it doesn’t mean they should get it. It’s not controlling to want to decide on the childcare that works for you, rather than what suits your MIL.
I agree that there’s a huge DP problem here. He’s much happier to upset his partner (and mother of his son) than to have to stand up to his demanding mother. Even when this has meant that his partner actually leaves the country (with the baby, I assume) to get some respite, he’s still decided that’s the better option to telling his mum to back off.
I agree with @Gutterton’s suggestion about FIL’s role here too. He’s manipulating his son as much as his wife is.
Could they not run the business from the PILs’ house? That way your DP could go there and you could lock the doors and get some peace.
Don'tdisturbmenow, I will fully admit that I can be a bit of a control freak and I too felt very sorry for my OH being stuck in the middle so I tried to speak directly with his mother on several occasions. She manipulated the situation to make out I was bullying her so I was asked not to speak to her about it again. So if OH is still stuck in the middle that's not my fault.
I don't trust her to look after our child. She can't follow simple instructions, how would my mind ever rest letting her look after them for a day. She also have a dog that both my OH and I agree is dangerous.
And I would rather pay the nursery fees. Both my OH and myself believe that developmentally and structurally nursery is a better arrangement for our family. This is why we never asked for any of the grandparents to take on childcare duties. And please forgive me if I sound like I am boasting but I have a very well paid job, paying nursery fees are not an issue.
OP your situation sounds untenable, frankly. You need to get your DP and FIL work base out of/ away from your house. If they are not there everyday, won't that be a big step forward??
Your OH was not stuck in the middle.
There is no middle.
You have a baby. You are a new little family with your own ideas, values, hopes and dreams. That’s where his head and heart should be - in the thick of that.
He has stepped out of his new little family where is loyalties should be 100% and put himself alongside his unhinged DM.
Be clear that there is no middle.
Moving is something that we have discussed but I'm honestly not sure if I would make a difference. MIL doesn't have much going on in her life which I genuinely think is very sad considering she is quite young.
Yes I had the baby with me. They were exclusively breastfed (would never take a bottle) so there wasn't any choice. Being away made me feel awful. I was so sad that the situation was forcing my DS and OH to miss out on spending time with each other. I would never want to permanently separate them like that but I would if I felt it was the right choice.
She absolutely wants to play mum to our child. She has a pram and carseat before we did (they were gifted but still) she also used to do nothing but complain that DS was always alseep when she visited... Like I had any control over that
Unfortunately running the business from the in-laws house isn't an option. We specifically bought our house for its layout and land, but at the time we bought my OH ran the company by himself so I didn't anticipate any problems.
Why the fuck are you marrying this man? Seriously? You didn’t want to mil to cut her hours to take care of the baby, she wanted to cut hours to take care of your baby, so she cut hours to take care of your baby. You wanted space to establish breastfeeding. His family didn’t want to give you space to establish breastfeeding. So you didn’t get space to establish breastfeeding. You didn’t want your baby on social media, his family wanted the baby on social media, so the baby went on social media. You don’t want your mil to come round your house whenever she wants, she wants to come round the house whenever she wants, so she gets to come round the house whenever she wants. You don’t want your oh and pil to work from your house, they want to work from your house, so they get to work from your house.
Your future in-laws are twats. And your oh is fucking useless. He doesn’t love or respect you to allow this to happen. His mother and father will always dictate how you will live your lives. They will ALWAYS be too involved. You’ll ALWAYS have to deal with their attempts to control and plain nastiness. This is going to affect your baby. Your mental health is suffering. You’ve had to repeatedly flee the country to get away from these people.
So again- why are you marrying this man??
I'm sorry OP that it is so difficult. It is my experience that mothers of only sons can be quite tricky to navigate ( I'm not saying all are, just the ones I've experienced)
Unfortunately nothing will change unless your husband stands up to her. She will never accept boundaries from you because she will always think she knows best.
Also just to say that unfortunately you will have to
Allow MIL to see the grandchild whether this is supervised or not, and even for a morning a week.
As unhinged as she is, withholding the child is only going to make matters worse. Sometimes you just have to get on with it, but only on a schedule that suits you.
I have one of these special MILs who is so so lovely once you figure out how to play the game.
Your MIL is always going to be part of your family. You will never have the level of involvement you would like. Unfortunately, she comes as a freebie with your OH. If she doesn’t do as you ask then you have a lifetime of being ignored and over-ruled. She won’t do things with your daughter if she doesn’t agree with it (and may just do the opposite because you asked her). She’ll give her sweets, not do naps at the right time, get her ears pierced, not keep the dog away...those sort of things! Your son is t going to stop it, so things are as they’re going to be and you’ll have to decide if that’s something you can put up with. He may be the most wonderful, caring, funny bloke in the world but his mum is very involved in his life and that isn’t going to change. I bet she says the dog is lovely and if he growls/jumps/bites he doesn’t mean it!
What are the consequences when she tramples your boundaries.
People like her push and push - and do every manipulative work around and then sulk and tantrum until people like your OH and FIL give in.
If you plan to stay you need v overt boundaries that are communicated and the consequences of breaking them are crystal clear. It’s like having a toddler - you need instant and consistent consequences - time out and be ready to weather the storm of her raging tantrums.
So go back to your original plans. Communicate that boundary and the consequences. So we don’t want pictures on SM. If you do this once - we will unfriend you indefinitely and will not see you for a month. We will see you once a month on x date/time. If you turn up uninvited we will not be letting you in and we will be cancelling the monthly meet ups.
Our DD is going to nursery, she will not be doing overnights until primary school - if you continue to nag we will not see you.
If she is ever rude when you are with her - don’t row - just say “Stop that. We are not listening” - and just leave.
Actions every time. Reclaim your family life.
Tell your OH this is how it is going to be. You need him to support your stance. He may be unable to speak up and be assertive initially - but you need him to have your back and be clear he is not in the middle.
These things are best dealt with calmly and head on. Expect tantrums - but you might be able to put manners on her - if not she suffers the consequences.
She sounds v immature and appears entitled and deluded to want to relive her own unresolved issues with motherhood with YOUR baby!
Tell her to get some therapy or a teddy bear.
Your OH might be delighted that you are able to put her back in her box because he seems unable to do so. But do it with calmness and dignity.
You dont give a lunatic
who already fucked one child up unsupervised access to your own child to make them more lovely to you. FFS.
OP, you were able to go away to your family abroad with your partners consent. Could you do this again? Establish residency and not return?
These people, including your partner, are engulfing, gaslighting, parentifying, abusive nutcases. Their intention is to make your child turn into them - because they think they're great.
Alternatively, would your partner consider moving far away and going into business by himself?
As is often said on Mumsnet, you have an OH problem, not an MIL problem.
All of the issues that you have listed could have been solved by your OH simply standing by you and supporting you. Instead he is choosing to put his mum’s desires before your needs just to make his life easier, but marriage and parenthood are not about choosing the easiest route.
OP from what you have said I don’t see that you are doing anything wrong and the only way that things will get better is if your OH starts respecting you more and prioritises your marriage over pacifying his mum.
Thank you all for your replies I really appreciate them.
Currently not getting married. We had a huge bust up on mother's Day because my requests were sidelined for the day so mil could be involved. I wasn't excluding, just wanted time to celebrate being a mother without having to share it all day. I told him at that point that I didn't want to marry him if serious changes weren't made that I felt totally suffocated by his family and need space to establish our own family.
I also don't want to, and actually don't deny mil access to DS. that is not good for anyone and I would never prevent our child from bonding with their grandparents. Grandparents are so special. I just don't want mil visiting as frequently as she does. When pils visit together we all have a lovely time because the visits are every few weeks.
That's another thing - I'm not totally inflexible about them visiting. It just feels like every 3-5 weeks would be better all round that every week,and at that several times a week. For those of you that see parents/in-laws every few weeks how long do your visits last with them? Ours are generally round 2 to 3 hours which I really think it's a decent amount of time.
Gutterton her dog is called teddy I think that speaks volumes. As for consequences of breaking boundaries I honestly don't think there were any. The only consequence was that me and my OH had huge arguments. Every time I tried to speak to her about the impact it was having on us she ran off crying, and I mean she literally ran off crying like a child. Obviously OH didn't even discuss consequences or we wouldn't be in this situation.
Without sounding like I'm back tracking, it's easy to tell my OH how it's going to be but I'd be every bit as bad as his mother in that sense because I'm not listening to his feelings either. I know it must hurt him that I don't want his family as involved as they expect to be but I'm not trying to force them out. I just don't know how I can get him to see that. I see my family 3/4 times a year, and. I don't expect him to come. If he wants to great, if he doesn't also great as it allows me to have quality time with them. I would love to see my family more, especially as my niece was born 3 weeks after our DS, but because of work committments it's not really possible.
Oh and Mangofangadoon - he set up the business himself and ran it for a few years before fil joined. This was also something that had been on the cards for us, we were planning to move back to near where I'm from but suddenly it's not an option. He really lacks self confidence, and I think that he doesn't believe he could do it on his own since he's had help over the last 2 years. And the fact that he feels this way breaks my heart. I believe in him so much, I know he would have no problem setting up on his own if he wanted to