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Help me ride this out with MIL

(32 Posts)
lostmyzen Tue 08-Sep-20 05:00:58

I’m not really sure why I’m posting this, other than I need to vent, and probably for reassurance that I’m dealing with this in the right way.

Generally I have a good relationship with MIL, we get on well day to day and she’s mostly friendly, helpful with DS(3) etc. She definitely has a bit of a controlling nature, but most of the time I manage to do things my way without upsetting her and we rub along fine. Since me and DH have been together though (around 10 years), there’ll be one or two incidents a year where she is clearly annoyed at one or both of us. We will be given the cold shoulder for a week or two and then it usually blows over. Sometimes we know what the perceived slight is. On a few occasions we’ve been able to see her side, others we’ve both felt she’s being completely ridiculous. There have been other times where it has been completely out of the blue and we have no idea what’s up, and once or twice where we know it’s not related to anything we’ve done at all.

The last time was around a year ago. They had offered some childcare but then couldn’t manage it. It was very short notice and pretty stressful, but we understood and neither of us made any negative comment. It was DH that was told about this and for some reason she refused to speak to me. Neither of us have any idea why. I was completely ignored for over two weeks. I went round to try to speak to her to clear the air but she was really rude to me and left the room as apparently she was waiting on a phone call. Just like all the other times, it all blew over, she went back to normal and all has been well since.

Until now. DS’s weight is pushing into overweight, and we’ve asked family to cut down down on the biscuits and sweets. My family have listened. She hasn’t. She’s undermined me twice where I’ve said he’s not to have anything else and given him something anyway. So I sent a message saying could she please cut down. She now apparently very upset at my message, I’m picking on her, I should have gone round to talk to her (because that went so well last time hmm) and not sent a ‘nasty’ text (DH read it before I sent it and agrees it was fine). He’s stood up for me and said we won’t back down on the junk food. So she’s told him she’ll see less of DS and doesn’t want to talk to me about it all.

So now I probably have at least a week of being ignored as ‘punishment’.

Yesterday this was fine. I know I shouldn’t engage with it. Let her get out of her strop, be the bigger person, no skin off my nose etc.

But despite this I’ve been awake most of the night. Frustrated that she won’t talk to me about it so I don’t get to get my point across. Annoyed that she’s using DS as a pawn to get to me - he absolutely adores them both, and actually just really upset that I’ve got to face being treated like this again. DH has been great but I’m hoping after this epic rant I can get some sleep as I have to get up for work shortly. Any advice from wise MNetters gratefully received!

OP’s posts: |
Finfintytint Tue 08-Sep-20 05:15:31

Let your husband deal with all communications.

BGirlBouillabaisse Tue 08-Sep-20 05:22:26

I don't communicate with MIL at all, because she's got the perspective and emotional control of a toddler, at times.

Your DH deals with her exclusively from now on. This is to protect you and to set boundaries. Toxic In-laws by Susan Forward has good insight into this situation.

I don't think your MIL is a healthy influence on your DS, not least because she feeds him rubbish. I would be rethinking how much contact you have with her.

Ynwa1234 Tue 08-Sep-20 05:34:42

Similar but not as immature as not talking to you for weeks at a time its disrespectful and you are trying to keep your child healthy what's wrong with that?? I have had to set boundaries we mil and more so fil in my instance. And sils actually. And most comms go through dh now. Makes my life a lot easier thats for sure and no waking up in night over thinking too! Win win. Glad your oh is sticking up for you though.

category12 Tue 08-Sep-20 05:42:57

If your dh was on board and involved in writing/checking the message, then why didn't he take ownership of it and send it!?

I'm sure it would be an easier pill to swallow from her son. And even if not, it's better he manages the relationship.

Going forward, he needs to be doing the hard bits.

lostmyzen Tue 08-Sep-20 06:02:15

Yes, I think I definitely need to stop communicating with her about anything important and leave it up to DH. It’s just that 90% of the time we get on fine. I see more of her than my own DM, and we’ll often chat/text or meet up. I genuinely did not think my message would upset her.

Category12. He’s already spoken to her in person and via text about it and got nowhere. I was arranging DS going for a walk with her and I saw an opportunity to bring it up, it wasn’t just out of the blue. I asked DH to check it before I sent it to make sure it sounded fair, and he agreed it was fine. He didn’t take ownership of it, because it was my words. You’re right though, I’ll be leaving it all to him in future and if she won’t listen he’ll have to firmer.

Thanks Bgirl, I’ll check out that book.

OP’s posts: |
olympicsrock Tue 08-Sep-20 06:35:36

I get where you are coming from - I get ‘earworms’ about this kind of thing’. You need to come up with a phrase that you tell yourself ..... MIL is being childish it’s about her not me and then put it to one side.
Let DH manage her form now on and back off a little . This will teach her that her behaviour is not accepted . In a funny way this is what she does to you but YOU have the power to manage your relationship too.

MagMell Tue 08-Sep-20 06:42:59

I think you’re being far too meek, accepting being ignored as a ‘punishment’ and trotting around there to apologise for imagined slights.

If she chooses to see less of your child because of this nonsense, that’s on her. I think she’s got you exactly where she wants you — meek, compliant, desperately waiting for her to come round when there’s a disagreement. Just stop engaging, let your DH handle all communication, and recognise that you hold all the cards here. She is 100% in the wrong here — your child’s health is the important thing, not her injured feelings. If she wants to see him, she needs to not feed him junk.

Sssloou Tue 08-Sep-20 07:09:55

She is yanking your chain by her random seasonal flounces so that you know she is in control - you will have adapted your behaviours over the years in many little ways (getting your DH to check your text for instance) to accommodate her volatility - so that you are now consciously or unconsciously tap dancing to her tune.

It’s like boiling the frog. But nothing will ever satisfy her - the flounces and stonewalling will becomes more frequent and more disruptive (dropping childcare at the last moment) - does your FIL indulge this nonsense?

She is manipulative and emotionally inadequate.

Know that. Don’t be drawn on her drama. You don’t need your sleep, headspace and lives hijacked by her or to be walking on eggshells. Just because she is blood you are not obligated to tolerate this. She doesn’t get to poison your family life.

Disconnect from her emotionally.

Drop the rope.

You are not here to pacify her tantrums and unreasonable, manipulative behaviour. It is futile and drains you of the finite energy and focus you need for your own marriage and family.

Know that you never have to justify, defend or explain any decisions to her. Step back to emotionally protect yourself. She will never change so withdraw and is a destructive force so push her out of your top tier connections - fade it slowly, don’t get drawn on her antics, don’t run after her and cut down contact and info.

Know that she is a negative unpredictable force on your family life.

Sssloou Tue 08-Sep-20 07:15:39

Also know that the “friendship” chats, meet ups etc are totally false and fake.

She is not your friend.

She doesn’t like you - she is always fizzing underneath and fishing for something / anything to hang you with and kick off to - so go grey rock and low contact - minimal info.

This isn’t how friends behave or people you respect you.

PaternosterLoft Tue 08-Sep-20 07:15:57

Imagine her doing this to your child. How is a 3 year old going to be able to cope with his granny suddenly not talking to him because he said the "wrong" thing?

Sssloou Tue 08-Sep-20 07:33:27

Granny is already doing this to OPs child. She is causing UNNECESSARY upset in her home. This little boys parents are emotionally preoccupied, saddened and focused on these tantrums - he will be absorbing and internalising this tension and will be missing out on fully attuned happy parents.

He doesn’t need this in his life.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 08-Sep-20 07:43:01

Please take heed of what these other posters have written here particularly the posts by Sssloou and MagMell.

Your boundaries need further raising because they are far too low and she has taken full advantage of your niceness and not wanting to rock the boat. Would you tolerate this behaviour of MILs from a friend?. Its not ok for your mother in law to do this to you and your H and the mistake you have made to date is to at all tolerate this. She has you where she wants you now; this being quiet, compliant and far too accepting. Manipulative people do this and she would have acted the self same regardless of whom your DH married.

You think you get on fine 90% of the time with her; you really do not (she hates your very being and sees you as not being good enough for her son) and its not you, its her. It will also do your child no favours in the long run for you as his parents to accept being this disrespected and otherwise walked over by his nan. No communication no matter how carefully worded would have been at all well received by her; such people never apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions.

Toxic people like this make out for being toxic as grandparents too.
She was not a good parent to your DH when he was growing up (controlling parents too are abusive ones) and she is not a good grandmother figure for your child either. I would keep your child well away from her going forward. Your DH may still want to have a relationship with her for his own reasons, perhaps based on FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) but that does not mean that you or for that matter your child should have to. If your parents are nice and importantly emotionally healthy then further concentrate your efforts on them.

Is FIL around at all?.

Do read "Toxic Inlaws" by Susan Forward.

lostmyzen Tue 08-Sep-20 07:47:41

Magmell that’s interesting, I’d never thought of myself as meek. I haven’t ever apologised (except once when I could see why she was upset and felt I did have something minor to apologise for) and I won’t this time. I’ve always gone more smiley grey rock, pretending I haven’t noticed, still waving as I pass her window etc. The time I went round it was “just popped in to check you’re ok, haven’t seen you for ages” rather than a “what have I done to upset you”. I think I probably do need to be stronger though, as it isn’t fair for me, and more importantly DS, to be treated like this.

Sssloou you’re so right. I think I’ve known this all
along really, but I get caught up in the friendly act. I hate confrontation and don’t hold grudges, but I can’t let her get away with it. I think this time round I have to stay cool with her even when she is ready to ‘forgive’ and tries to be friendly again.

I really appreciate all the wise words. Heading off to work now, a little happier knowing that it’s her not me!

OP’s posts: |
lostmyzen Tue 08-Sep-20 07:49:29

Cross post Atilla. I appreciate it, and I’ll respond properly later.

OP’s posts: |
NoMoreReluctantCustodians Tue 08-Sep-20 07:49:58

Dont be available as soon as shes ready to pick you up again. Take while before you let her "get back to normal". She might think twice about "punishing" you next time

42daystogo Tue 08-Sep-20 07:55:13

You need to make a decision that either DH deals with all communication with MIL or (as you said you get on with her 90% of the time) carry on doing what you do and when MIL tries to discuss it with DH he has to deflect it back to you. So if you text her and she then texts DH he should say something like "ive just forwarded that message onto DW to discuss" and be consistent, if she goes to him with 'issues' you have raised he needs to give you you place (not to take himself away but not to be used as a middle man)

mummmy2017 Tue 08-Sep-20 08:07:24

This time take her on.
Send her this message.
Your sulking and refusing to talk to me because I asked you to respect my wishes about my child has been acknowledged.
Let me know when you want to apologize.

Mintjulia Tue 08-Sep-20 10:01:35

What @sssloou says. My dm did this to my SIL for years. It was only resolved when SIL stopped trying, and communication ceased.

Take away your MIL's opportunities to be nasty to you.

Sssloou Tue 08-Sep-20 10:50:06

*My dm did this to my SIL for years. It was only resolved when SIL stopped trying, and communication ceased.

Take away your MIL's opportunities to be nasty to you.*

That’s exactly it - take yourself out of punching distance. The “90% nice” is a hovering tactic - “come closer so that I can thump you again”.

You could send her that perfect text that Mummy2017 has drafted - but KNOW it would be a fuel for her as she would weaponise it, erupt into histrionics and show it to everyone......she can’t reflect and act normally she would see this as an escalation in her eyes and point the finger at you. If you can be bothered to weather it throw that grenade - but standard assertive rules don’t apply with characters like this.

As Mintjuila said the nonsense only stops when communication stops.

MagMell Tue 08-Sep-20 10:50:39

Sorry, OP, I think I sounded more acerbic than I meant to -- but it's interesting that you don't think of your behaviour as meek or intend it to be, because that's genuinely how I read your account of your behaviour around your MIL.

It seems very possible to me that she does read your behaviour (however you intend it) as apologetic and deferential, even if you're not explicitly apologising. It does sound to me as if, when you say (as you do several times) that 'it all blew over', it 'blew over' only because you went around to smooth things over when she cold-shouldered you -- is it fair to say that you're always the one making the move to reconcile, and she's always the one taking offence and ignoring?

I do think you need to change the way you behave around her to a more assertive stance. And this difference of opinion is on an important thing. We've recently moved back to living close to both sets of parents after years in another country, and have had to be extremely firm with them all with giving DS (8) junk food. He's a skinny little wisp of a thing, but precisely because he has a naturally tiny appetite, it's important that what little he eats is nutritious, and that his small appetite isn't wasted on crap. It was fine to 'spoil' him with chocolate when they only saw him a few times a year, but now it's a few times a week, it needs to stop.

MadameButterface Tue 08-Sep-20 11:14:14

This blowing hot and cold with your ds will be very upsetting to him because as you say he has formed an attachment to ils during the times when they are ‘nice’ and will be missing them. So you need to distance from them permanently in order to protect him. See less of them and never let them have your ds unsupervised. I realise this will be a pain in the arse if you have previously relied on them for childcare but this is how it had to be from now on. Low contact, supervised, they cannot be allowed to upset your ds with the withdrawing of their affection.

anticon Tue 08-Sep-20 11:47:47

As per PP, DH handles all phone/text/email conversation from now on. We do this with my DH (each communicates with their own parents) and we all get on very well + DC have a great relationship with all grandparents. Admittedly we speak different first languages w DH so it is literally faster for us to handle things that way. I think it's probably the same if we all spoke English - we'd still use language differently, all families do, there are subconscious things (both content and/or manner of delivery) that are ok for your DH to say to MIL but not you, and vice versa for your family.

Even with all that, my MIL does a random strop over nothing every 5 years or so, last one was last year, so I guess I have 4 years sans sulk. I'm sure my own DM will find something to sulk about in the meantime grin ... I refuse to lose any sleep to it, it always blows over. I do wonder if it's a generational thing.

blanchmange50 Tue 08-Sep-20 12:27:52

It sounds like you rubbing long nicely is simply you making sure you dont do anything to annoy her, she cancels childcare and you say nothing even though it impacts on you. You and your DH are enabling his mother to behave anyway she fancies, ignoring you for weeks, cancelling child care etc etc.. As for leaving your DS unsurpervised with them as a PP suggested- absolutely not- you have asked her not to feed him rubbish and she ignores you. You and your DH need to start being firm and stop letting her away with this crap

Fozzleyplum Tue 08-Sep-20 12:44:43

OP, The first incident in your first post, is in my view the more telling. MIL offered childcare and then let you down at the last minute. You have said that you and DH were very careful not to show any displeasure at this.

You said that she chose to tell your DH, rather than you, that she was giving back word on the offer of help. Assuming that your DH did not say anything to your MIL to suggest that you were/would be angry or upset about this, then her ignoring you for two weeks after that, is completely illogical. It looks as though she was hoping to elicit a negative reaction from you, to give her an excuse to "punish" you. You denied her that opportunity by failing to react as she expected, but she went ahead with the punishment in any event.

She clearly has issues and sounds very unpleasant; I would leave all future interactions to your DH and "grey rock" her. If, in spite of this, her behaviour affects your family, or your DS, you will have to go no contact with her. Your DH needs to be on side with this.

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