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MIL moving in - coping strategies please

(349 Posts)
LifeOverAlready Mon 13-Jul-20 09:04:53

Hello, so sorry in advance this is long but i really need some advice on this issue which will affect the rest if my life.

My mother in law will be moving in with us in January next year. She is retired, doesn't drive and has no hobbies and only one or two friends. Although she is not very likeable, she is very caring and i think means well so i feel selfish saying this but I feel like my life is over. I know how hard this is going to be and that I am stupid for agreeing to this at all but MIL was widowed a few years ago and unfortunately DH and I although both UK-born are from a culture where it's completely normal for "elderly" parents live with and be "looked after" by their adult children and it's unheard of to leave them to live on their own especially if widowed. DH would literally be disowned by his mum if we didn't go ahead with this and i would be seen by extended family (who are lovely people) as the evil DIL who caused all the trouble. Seriously we can't escape it. Plus i don't want DH to resent me for putting him in an awkward situation with his mum. So refusing this just isn't an option. Also just to be clear DH is an amazing, selfless and caring man and everything i could ask for in a husband so i don't want a divorce to get myself out of this situation - I just need advice on how to make this work.

I know i need to just suck it up and I'm trying to find some positives in my situation, like these:

1 - it is mine and DH's house that we bought together 3 years ago, not her's
2 - our house is huge where she will have an ensuite bathroom plus we have 2 living rooms. Only the kitchen will be shared.
3- we'd get live in childcare once we have kids
4 - she loves to take over the kitchen (obviously) and said she would do most of the cooking which will benefit me once i have kids and given that i work full time with long commute.
5- DH is hiring a cleaner right now so no extra cleaning for me which is good as i refuse to be her skivvy
6- she will keep her house but rent it out so will have an income so we won't be financially supporting her. In fact DH pays her bills at the moment so will be financially better off once she's here.
7- DH does speak up to her and put her in her place all the time. He's not a mummys boy and always has my back.
8 - she makes an effort and takes me out for nice meals and days out etc and does have a nice side to her
9- when we go and stay at her house she loves feeding us and waiting on us so she does have a caring side to her and I've never had a single issue with her when staying at hers. its always been lovely.
10- we can afford holidays so DH and I will go off on holidays for breaks from her

Now here are the issues:

1- she is only 60 so could be with us another 30 years (i know i sound like a horrible person but I'm sad i could be in this situation until I'm well into my 60's)
2 - she's very argumentative (with my DH and other extended family, not me yet).
3- Although she is great at her own place the issues really do start when she stays at ours for holidays etc. She makes comments about my cooking (in front of others too) and about basic food (i mean i know I'm not Delia Smith but ffs i know how to boil a fucking pan of pasta!) so i thought i'd just let her do all the cooking when she came to stay and just relax but then i just get subtle comments about how i should be cooking. I've also tried a different approach by complimenting her cooking loads and getting her to teach me recipes but that's a nightmare as if we cook in the kitchen together then apparently I'm not using the spatula properly, chopping the vegetables correctly, set the table too soon etc etc.
4 - im worried she will come and rearrange my kitchen to her liking and just take over, i dont know why that bothers me so much. I know i should just let go and accept all the "help". DH has already told her that its our house and she has no say in anything but i cant bring him in the middle of every little argument day to day. Also i don't know if I'm being unreasonable by insisting on having kitchen set up how i want it given she will cook more than i do.
5- she is constantly telling me what to do and my DH and his brother (so its not personal to me, just irritating). I mean constantly. How to sweep the floor correctly, how to comb my hair correctly, how to drive properly even though she doesn't drive etc. She follows me around the kitchen and watches everything im doing and comments on EVERYTHING. I mean i know how to fucking put leftover food in the fridge and pour a glass of juice for fucks sake!
6- DH has 2 brothers. One left home when very young and doesn't speak to them. The other is single and lives in a small flat so doesn't have space for her. Once he meets someone and buys a house then she apparently will go and stay there sometimes (however, i will believe this when i see it and i know that our house will become her home by then so she will be reluctant to go stay there often)
7 - i have issues that she is the female parent so i as the woman will be expected (by her, not DH) to drive her around for errands and food shopping and cook with her and keep her entertained. DH has assured me this won't happen and she is his parent and therefore his responsibility but I know she will look to me for all this and follow me around rather than DH. It's just what happens in our culture.
8- She wants to move some of her furniture here and i dont want it here. Her and DH had a huge argument about it. i will probably get told i need to compromise but why should i be the one to adjust when she is the one who wants to live with us? Surely she is the one who should do the adjusting and compromising given she is the one who doesn't want to live alone. But then i feel bad accepting cooking and chilcare help and then not compromising on certain things if u see what i mean.
9- She thinks she's always right. About everything.
10- She sticks her nose in our business.

I'm sure there will be other things that will annoy me when she turns up here. But i know my situation is impossible and we are stuck with her. Also i try and put myself in her shoes and realise she is lonely and it's hard to be old and unwanted. So i dont want to treat her badly.

All i need are some coping strategies for when she moves in. How do i stop myself from being bothered by her comments? I know it's just noise and they are just words and that i should pick my battles and not get frustrated over small things.....i mean who gives a crap about some rice, chicken etc?! Sometimes I can just ignore it and laugh things off but other times i want to scream. I've tried talking to her about her comments before but she always genuinely thinks she's done nothing wrong and was just giving "advice" and says I'm being too sensitive. She is not very self aware. Please help. Thanks in advance. x

OP’s posts: |
Anordinarymum Mon 13-Jul-20 09:12:22

Al I can think at the moment is not to let her get out of hand as she will take over when you have children and stop you from disciplining them, and that is a given not just a possibility.

Ground rules. It's your home first and hers second. If it were her home you would be put in your place and no mistake.

DropOfffArtiste Mon 13-Jul-20 09:20:30

I know you say you have no choice, but you only get one life and 30+ years is a long time to be so miserable in your own home.

ineedaholidaynow Mon 13-Jul-20 09:27:26

It will only get worse when you have children. Will you still have room for her if you have children?

I couldn’t do it, culture or not.

She is only 60. Why doesn’t she have friends?

MingeofDeath Mon 13-Jul-20 09:30:53

Sounds grim. you say that your husband has your back, in that case then you and him need to decide on the ground rules, discuss with MIL and stick with them. As for her constant criticism you are going to have to firmly shut her down, tell her to shut up and mind her own business.
I feel sorry for you, it's going to be horrendous.

HollowTalk Mon 13-Jul-20 09:30:56

I think you're insane. I'd encourage her to remarry.

LatteLover12 Mon 13-Jul-20 09:33:30

I think I'd move out 😂🤯

I understand about what you say the cultural expectations are but is there really no other option? Is your DH an only child? Does your MIL have any brothers or sisters?

You're a better woman than me, I really couldn't do this. I lived with my (ex) MIL for 6 months and I could have quite happily throttled her and I'm sure she get the same about me.

RainbowDash101 Mon 13-Jul-20 09:35:39

Just a big nope from me. I loved my mil , sadly she passed away just over a year ago, but living together would be too much! Could she not move closer to you ? 60 is really not that old.

DameFanny Mon 13-Jul-20 09:36:20

Grey rock is a technique for dealing with narcissists, and I'm am absolutely not equating that with this situation. However, it's also an excellent technique for dealing with unwanted advice. I know this, because I've been accidentally practicing it most of my life (oh Fanny you're in a world of your own) to the point where I've MASSIVELY lowered e.g. MIL's expectation that I'll take her advice on anything ('you're turning down free shoes just because they're a colour you don't like?' got a genuinely bemused stare).

So do practice not reacting, and looking puzzled at being advised to put a lid on leftover rice or whatever.

And I think it might be good practice for if you do have kids - same principle of letting things slide for an easy life coming back to bite you on the arse after it becomes a habit.

Also, don't be afraid to express discomfort with her. If you have friends over and she's sitting in a corner tutting, you can (privately) tell her she's making your friends uncomfortable so she might be more comfortable in her own sitting room. Just assert your boundaries as calmly as you can remembering that of course this is a reasonable thing to be doing, and any awkwardness is not of your making

Bmidreams Mon 13-Jul-20 09:37:19

You have to start out hard and firm. If she follows you around, you tell her there and then not to etc.

You buy another property for you all with a self contained bungalow where she lives.

hellsbellsmelons Mon 13-Jul-20 09:41:09

You need to set out your house rules and ensure she agrees to them before moving in.
Sit down with your DH and get them set and discuss them with her.

Poppinjay Mon 13-Jul-20 09:43:15

Could you move house and buy somewhere with an annex so she can be with you but not intertwined in your lives?

I agree with previous posters that this could get an awful lot more stressful when you have children. Having someone constantly telling you you're getting everything wrong could be very damaging when you have a newborn.

I would try to find an arrangement whereby you have clear boundaries and there are set times when you and your DH have your own time and space away from her.

AppleKatie Mon 13-Jul-20 09:43:39

If you’re going to do this (and I don’t think I could!) then you’ve got to forge a better relationship with her as an individual.

It’s great that DH has your back but you’re right he won’t be there for every interaction.

You’ve got to draw lines in the sand and say what you think in your own home. How would she react if you said,
‘No MIL, I’m quite happy with the way I am chopping the vegetables please don’t criticise?’

Assertive all the way.

Equally also you want her to be comfortable so let her have her furniture in her sitting room- if it makes her more likely to go in there it’s worth it!!

Tlollj Mon 13-Jul-20 09:43:58

I honestly think you have to say no.
Culture or not it’s your life, she’s only sixty. She could sell up and move closer maybe. I think you are making a massive mistake and you will rue the day. Sorry not helpful really but that’s my honest opinion.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 13-Jul-20 09:47:02

There is no one strategy here that is going to work because the situation is unworkable anyway. This could well end up in your marriage ending and or you becoming depressed and anxious. Grey rock could be tried here but that technique can be itself exhausting.

If your husband really does have your back here then why is she moving in with you at all ?. Why has no one used the word no here?. After all 60 is not old and once she is in yor home, it’s going to be bloody hard to get her out of it. Cultural values are one thing but I would also think that amongst your friends, their parent is not planning to move in with them.

Wilma55 Mon 13-Jul-20 09:48:07

Buy her driving lessons for a start. Insist she uses her own sitting room and only comes in yours by invitation.

LittleDonk Mon 13-Jul-20 09:49:42

Can you have one room near her rooms converted into a separate kitchen?

ladykuga Mon 13-Jul-20 09:50:14

Two queens cannot sit on one throne. You will need to respectfully assert dominance in your home from the off otherwise life will end up becoming strained and difficult. Just make sure your DH has your back.

pickingdaisies Mon 13-Jul-20 09:50:23

I was expecting a fierce little old lady, not a 60 year old! Well first, not unreasonable for her to have her own furniture in her bedroom. Anything else, say no. You already have furniture. If she's giving you unwanted advice when you're cooking, keep saying, I don't need your advice thanks, I'm happy doing it this way. Repeat repeat. Every time. As for ferrying her around. Learn to say no sorry, that won't work for me. Be firm, don't get angry or emotional. And please, don't let her take over all the cooking. You'll hate it, and you'll feel resentful. You're going to have to stand your ground from the very start, and don't give an inch. If she doesn't like it she can go home again.

kenandbarbie Mon 13-Jul-20 09:51:50

The child care might be really handy!! Don't underestimate how great it is to have someone there so you can take a shower or nip out somewhere quickly.

The kitchen and furniture doesn't sound great though. I think a granny flat would be ideal? Any way that could be arranged? Sell her house and buy a bigger house with an annex or granny flat?

I found as I've got older I am much more tolerant of the older members of my family and appreciate them more. The shared love we have for the dc / dgc is very bonding. I would try and forge a good relationship with her. Shopping trips or other activities together. Accept her help and compromise on some things. She might actually have useful advice on cooking and house things.

I'm not from a culture where it's expected, but my family do tend to have our parents living with us or next door literally. I've always loved it and the children are very lucky to have their dgp so close.

Loveinatimeofcovid Mon 13-Jul-20 09:52:23

I come from a culture where this kind of set up is normal and it’s fantastic ... when nobody behaves like an arsehole. If you are he’ll vent on doing this then I would recommend you all get some counselling before she moves in and continue it until after you’ve had children. She needs to understand that you are adults (so telling you what to do would be extremely patronising) and you aren’t obliged to do anything for her. And you need to understand that if you do this this will be your joint home and you need to act accordingly. If you don’t all accept this you will all be miserable until she dies, it’s better just to not do it if you can’t do it in a reasonable way.

MotherofTerriers Mon 13-Jul-20 09:53:37

I wouldn't start off by letting her do all the cooking and take over your kitchen. Start with your house, your kitchen. Your territory. Then later, let her do some of the cooking, so she is doing it in your space.
If from day one the kitchen becomes hers, she will feel she can tell you what to do in her kitchen, and look to expand into other areas of the house.
So - start with where is her space - bedroom, bathroom, maybe her own sitting room.
Rest of the house is yours. No rearranging of your kitchen stuff. Be firm to begin with and you can relax a bit when things have settled

eaglejulesk Mon 13-Jul-20 09:53:52

I'm shocked that a 60 year old is considered "elderly" tbh. I'm 61 next month and if anyone suggested I was elderly I would be horrified, and I would be appalled if anyone suggested I needed to be "looked after". I'm trying to find a job, and your MIL is moving in with her child to be cared for?????

LoafingLiz Mon 13-Jul-20 09:55:02

it's hard to be old and unwanted

60 is not old 😱.

I couldn't compromise my happiness for 30 years. This will affect your marriage.

If you are both of the same culture what happens to your DM if she becomes widowed? Does she move in aswell?

neonjumper Mon 13-Jul-20 09:57:23

There is no strategy .
This is not going to work .
You are effectively giving up your prime years : your only years as a couple before you have children ,enjoying having children, enjoying being a nuclear family , being a family with teenagers .
She is going to interfere, she will take over your children, your husband will eventually take her side , it will be easier .

60 is no age .

She is already pushing the boundaries, it will get worse when she is there as you will have no space to breathe or vent .

I am from the culture you are talking of...your marriage is pretty much over if she moves in .

If you want to save your marriage she needs to stay in her own house . If it's far away , let her sell up and move into her own home closer to you ... but not too close she does not give you space to breath.

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