Advanced search

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.

Do you have close female relatives with no prospect of having children? Does this cause problems in your relationship? (sorry, long)

(46 Posts)
MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 21:42:57

My DH's aunt (age 56, single, no kids) has been through a huge amount in the past 10 years or so and my DH and I have always supported her. She would have loved to have children but was unable to. When I first had DS and she first met him, I sensed a sort of 'possessiveness' over him - nothing alarming, but definitely tangible. Since then she has seen him fairly regularly, taking him out for the day from time-to-time - she always says she's doing it 'to help us out' but it's clear that she desires contact with him for herself and we're happy for her to do so. I say this to her every time, in fact.

However. A few weeks ago she tried to dump a load of heavy stuff on me, accusing me of treating her badly. It was a complete bolt out of the blue, and personality-wise I tend to be very tuned in to my and others' feelings/ behaviour so I wasn't convinced that what she was saying was true. However I gave it a great deal of time and consideration and consulted close friends on whether I fit the description she had painted (they all agreed it was utter bollocks). It's clear that she is masking her frustrations with her own life by trying to push her issues onto me - there's lots in her life that she is deeply frustrated about, and it's highly probable that she sees that those areas of my life are 'sorted' (oh, but appearances are always different from reality, aren't they?) and feels inadequate, hence making me the focus of her problems. She is doing the classic 'comparing her insides with my outsides' and finding herself wanting, but unable to make herself vulnerable to herself so that she can start to work through her problems. By the way, DH, who's been close to her all his life, agrees with my interpretation of the situation.

I have refused to take responsibility for her life problems, however I feel incredibly hurt by this episode and now find it very hard to see her - her behaviour towards me and others has shown that she's capable of misinterpreting people's behaviour and words in utterly bizarre and unreasonable ways, and so I now feel paranoid about everything I say and do around her.

She still wants to see my DS regularly (by the way, two other friends separately noted the 'possessiveness' thing in her when DS was 18mos old - so clearly my instinct when he was born was not misguided). On the one hand I am still happy for her to continue her relationship with DS, but on the other hand I feel a huge amount of hurt, as well as annoyance that she is refusing (yes, refusing - I've challenged her) to look at the real causes of her 'issues', and so this just complicates the way I feel about her relationship with my DS.

DH and I have been incredibly supportive to his aunt for many years, and on many occasions I have told her how wonderful she is and that she devalues herself - in complete contrast with the things she accused me of. It's as though she's completely ignored the years of kindness and support I've given her. I refuse to feel guilty about being able to have children, and I refuse to allow any kind of 'tug of war' situation to develop between us over my children, to whatever degree. Though I haven't yet raised the fact that I feel her childlessness is part of the problem she imagined between her and me, I feel that if I don't mention that at some point - sensitively, of course - that she will continue to see me as a focus for her inadequacies.

<<grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr !!!!!!!!!!!!!!>>

I just wanted to moan, actually, but would welcome your thoughts.

skidoodle Mon 24-Aug-09 21:49:38

Maybe ease off contact between you for a while and see if it blows over? Your hurt will dissipate in time and I think from what you've said you'll get over it evev if she can' ever see it from your point of view.

Let your husband do more of the facilitating of the relationship with ds, but keep it up.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 22:04:28

Yes, that's a good idea - I'll discuss with DH if there's any way we can achieve that. The main problem is that when she comes to babysit it's while DH is away at work, so on those occasions I have no choice but to spend time with her.

blueshoes Mon 24-Aug-09 22:24:54

MrsMH, I am not sure from your post what she accused you of and how that is related to her relationship with your ds or your ability to bear children.

It sounds like everyone else is vindicating you, so that is good. But I don't get a feel from the scant details you are divulging (you don't have to) why you are in the right.

mrsboogie Mon 24-Aug-09 22:32:03

"comparing her insides with my outsides" never heard that before - what a great saying!

I'm not sure that raising the issue of her childlessness being an issue between you is a good idea or that it will stop her seeing your "successes" as a mirror image of her inadequacies. No matter how sensitively put , she might perceive it as an accusation and it may make things worse if anything.

If she is unable to face her own problems or the roots of her behaviour there's not much you can do to change that.

This is my answer to a lot of things but I would be tempted to write her a letter outlining the case that you have so eloquently laid out above and explaining why you think she has been unfair and how she has hurt you and repeating why you think these issues do not originate with you and why you feel have done nothing wrong.Leave the ball in her court.

There's always the possibility that she would read it at her leisure and take a more open minded approach to it than if you are standing in front of her saying it.

AngryWasp Mon 24-Aug-09 22:37:00

My Ex used to point out to me that I devalued myself. I found it incredibly patronising and actually thought more of myself than he did, which is why I dumped him.

He was kind too btw, and very generous, but ultimately it drove me crazy and I dumped him in an unprovoked burst of frustration.

themoon66 Mon 24-Aug-09 22:38:49

Hi.. I have been a very similar situation, but with my own sister. There are many parts of your OP that mirror how she has been with me. She reduced me to tears so many times I lost count. My daughter was used terribly by her to get at me.

In the end I had to cut the ties. I haven't communicated with her now for almost six years.

I don't trust her not to hurt me again.

I could write a massively long post, but would end up identifying myself in RL.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 22:41:49

Yes, I'm deliberately avoiding detailing it in case it somehow gets back to her - not least with the whole DM thing (some of our relatives read DM, you see).

If you can take on trust that my judgement and the judgement of those I've consulted is correct, the connection with her relationship with my DS is that I and others sense that she feels a bit possessive over my DS because she's not been able to have children. Part of her accusations against me related to the time she spends with DS, and I (and my DH) believe that her inability to have children is, to state the obvious, a sore point, and so she is hyper-sensitive about being able to have a close relationship with my DS.

As I've said I'm more than happy for her to be close to him but not happy that it's tainted by this 'possessiveness' thing. Until recently I turned a blind eye to it but now that she's launched these missiles at me it really hurts and makes me wonder whether to challenge her about her relationship with DS - just to get her to think honestly and openly about herself rather than trying to make me responsible for her problems. Had she not made the accusations I would have continued ignoring the 'possessiveness' but now, being on eggshells around her all the time, I suppose I want to take back some ownership of the situation. I should not and will not feel guilty that I have things that she doesn't/ can't have, so I am wondering about how honest to be with her about the elephant in the room.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 22:47:00

AW - interesting to hear your opinion. On the many occasions when we've talked about the 'issues' which she raised, she's never mentioned that as a problem. She also has always agreed with us that her self-esteem is a huge problem. I think if she felt like you did she'd have said it by now.

themoon66 - I don't know what to say except thanks for posting. It's heartening. My default is to always absorb hurt and try to ensure that the other person is not hurting. In this case I am clearly in a position to learn to do the opposite - I have always been blunt with myself about my failings, so if I'd done anything to hurt her I would have faced up to it a long time ago. She clearly needs to do the same in order to move on and I need to be willing to leave her with the mess of her own life to sort out by herself, instead of trying to make things better for her.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 22:47:45

AW - out of interest, why did your ex-P keep telling you this? Did you spend time considering whether or not he might be right?

AngryWasp Mon 24-Aug-09 23:00:01

LOL no! He thought I underestimated my typing ability and should work hard and get a job as a receptionist. I wanted to be a Management Consultant!

He told me that I did very well at social gatherings hmm

Both of these things had the effect of 'reducing' my view of myself and I began to ask him after each gathering whether or not I performed okay etc.

He would take me shopping to get designer dresses even though I had perfectly nice non-designer dresses and hate shopping.

He didn't mean to be that way, but he just didn't 'get' me!

AngryWasp Mon 24-Aug-09 23:01:33

I'm sure you are right about your Aunt btw, but the devaluing comment did strike me as a little bit smug.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 23:02:34


Ambitious, then, wasn't he?! He sounds like a crap listener - more focused on what he wanted than on who you actually are.

How awful that you ended up not trusting your own judgement about yourself, though.

Sounds like you did the best thing by chucking him!

MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 23:03:50

The devaluing thing has been said like this:

'You are such a wonderful, warm, caring, intelligent person, yet you seem not to think so. You talk about yourself as if you don't think these things are true.'

I don't think she could reasonably take offence to that!

AngryWasp Mon 24-Aug-09 23:08:10

Ah he wasn't THAT bad. He had money for one thing. My DH hasn't wink!

So now I'm a badly dressed Management consultant with a poor DH, when I could have been a designer-dressed receptionist with a rich but annoying DH.

Do you still think she is warm and caring btw?

Platesmasher Mon 24-Aug-09 23:08:40

Your aunt is a loon.
Don't bring up the kids/no kids issue, it could come across as you biting back and possibly where it hurts her most.
She obviously has issues, but try not to absorb her problems especially if she's been rude to you.

Sounds to me like there's something else going on with her.

Dominique07 Mon 24-Aug-09 23:12:54

I think its great that she wants to continue having a relationship with yr DS.

I have an aunt - no DC - and I believe she regrets this. She was my fave aunty but has only seen my DS twice, once when newborn, and once for his 1st birthday. She has missed his 2nd and is not replying to my emails... I believe she is trying to distance herself from the realisation that she has missed her chance to be a mother.

If you can get your husband to arrange for yr DS to spend time with her, I'm sure the other problems will begin to be solved in time.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 23:13:22

grin But you're poor and happy. Food and shelter is for wimps!

I do still think she is warm and caring, however I now have also seen this completely bizarre, incomprehensible side of her as well. I really wish I could give you details, but I feel that I have to be careful on a public forum.

There was a time recently when we were both talking to someone (perfectly normal convo, nothing out of the ordinary) and afterwards she told me her interpretation of that person's behaviour - it was utterly, utterly bizarre, maybe even slightly paranoid, but just weird. I kept trying to reassure her that the convo had been perfectly normal but she insisted that there was this 'odd' aspect to it. In the end I couldn't be arsed to try to persuade her.

I have an early start tomorrow so will have to dash - good to chat, though!

MaggieLeo Mon 24-Aug-09 23:19:27

Feel like I dont' reall understand but, she's criticised your personality, or said that you've let her down somehow, but she expects to openly lay that criticism on you and you have to just suck it up, and still let her spend time alone with your son.....

She is not at her best right now I'm guessing...

56 is a bit old to be not 'over'not having had kids. I know it's easy for me to say that having had them, btu i think by 56 i'd be workig more on my relationships with nehphew than with nephew's child....

MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 23:24:16

Hi, Smasher! I am not going to mention anything unless she goes off on one again. If so, I shall roll up my sleeves and <<POW!!!>> grin

Seriously, though, if she dredges it all up again, which, knowing her propensity to completely misread behaviour, is fairly possible, I feel that I will have to defend myself, i.e. be blunter than I have been so far about what I (and others) see as the real causes of her upsets. I'm not willing to let this drag on with her trying to make me the baddie, so if that leaves a rift between us I have to be willing to say so be it (totally against my nature). After all, she has already created a rift between us based on untruth, so I think I should, as you said, not absorb her problems but leave them at her door instead.

Dominique - that's so sad, I hope things improve with your aunt.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 23:25:38

I might have ever so slightly fudged the bio details, Maggie, to cover my tracks...but 56 is not far off.

Platesmasher Mon 24-Aug-09 23:28:43

Repeat after me...
"it is not my responsibility to make sure everyone is happy".

drosophila Mon 24-Aug-09 23:31:03

I can relate to this and I too have cut ties. For me it was an instinct thing. I started to worry for my dc's safety cos I seriously believe my relative has mental health issues.

I must say it feels good to know that I am not the only one with strange relatives.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 24-Aug-09 23:32:43


Okay, here goes:

'it is my respon -' D'oh!


'it is my-' Gaaaahhhhhhhh!!!

Can't manage it.

Don't worry, I'm not that bad, it just stems from a childhood of never being allowed to answer back - I always ended up having accept that I was 'wrong' no matter what. So my default is always to assume the other person is right and to help them to be right. I have nearly purged that demon from my being, though - perhaps this is the last push to get it out of my system.

Platesmasher Mon 24-Aug-09 23:34:32

it's my mantra from years of counselling.

now i just tell everyone to fark off.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now