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How to deal with a MIL who rarely says ‘THANK YOU’?

(63 Posts)
fizzy1234 Mon 12-Aug-19 16:15:15

I only started noticing that she rarely says thank you since the start of this year. For every 15 things I do for her on a weekly basis, I probably receive one ‘thank you’. Please don’t think I intentionally do things for other people only to receive gratitude for it or to make myself feel better about myself because that’s not the case at all. I am a naturally giving person and never want anything back apart from a simple ‘thank you’. I have known this woman for over 4 years and ever since, I have gone out of my way to please her, not because I felt I had to but because I wanted to! I will give you some scenarios that have happened within the past few days where she has not shown appreciation.
1)Cooked her a meal, served her and she just put the dish in the sink for me to wash
2)Brought her some of her shopping, again, did not say thank you nor offered to pay!
This happens on a weekly basis and I am really getting sick of it to the point that I’m starting to despise her. Almost every time we visit her (Me and my partner – her son), she moans about her hungry she is and hints that she wants me to get her something or cook for her! Foolishly, I do. She has plenty of food at the start of the week but eats it all by Wednesday! I’ve also started having arguments with my partner over this who thinks I’m being unreasonable. Of course I would be seen as the unreasonable one! The thing is, she says thank you to other people such as her sons, daughters, friends but me, nope! I don’t know if she’s too proud to say it or does it intentionally to annoy me now. I’ve known 2 year olds more thankful than her!
And if you want to know what she has done for me in the past? Not a lot apart from the odds gifts here and there. She’s the type of person that is only nice to you if you are only nice to her first. Obviously, with her being my MIL, I’m going to be nice to her regardless of how she is but just feel now that she’s taking the p*ss so unsure of whether I should carry on doing the things I have done for her on a regular basis.
It’s a difficult situation as it’s not like I can teach her manners or how to act! As the saying goes, ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’.

Please advise on what I should do?

Also, if I stop doing things for her, I don’t want there to be hostility between us.

lottiegarbanzo Wed 14-Aug-19 16:53:36

Ok, well the loss of her husband explains a lot.

On socialising, I mean that 'going round for a cup of tea' would be a different event from going 'to check up on her'. Also, if it's reciprocal and she comes to you sometimes, that reinforces the idea of you hosting in your home, her hosting in hers - so might help prompt her into being more of a host. If there's any way you could nudge her towards thinking of herself as a host (ask her to get some biscuits in for next time?), your visits might be more enjoyable.

Anyway, as everyone said, back away a bit, let her son care for her (and if that means skivvying for her, that's up to him).

Loopytiles Wed 14-Aug-19 16:39:58

Why is her dependency on YOU and not your DP, her son? He should do stuff for her himself, or not.

fizzy1234 Wed 14-Aug-19 16:01:00

@AutumnCrow Also, I just wanted to add that I think you really knocked the nail on the head with what you said about how food became so problematic in your father's life. I think my MIL is experiencing the same thing. As a widow, she's struggling to find her independence and think for herself.

fizzy1234 Wed 14-Aug-19 15:50:08

@AutumnCrow Thank you very much for your advice. I will take it on board. x

eddielizzard Wed 14-Aug-19 15:33:11

well if she can manage online shopping once a week, why can't she just order more for Thursday? Or even buy more in her weekly shop so that it'll last the week? It's all bollocks. a ruse to get you to look after her. Stop doing it and I guarantee she'll sort herself out. As she already does on a few days a week. You're actually doing her no favours, she's just being infantilised.

fizzy1234 Wed 14-Aug-19 15:28:34


We started 'checking up' on her because my partner's father, her husband has passed away. They were married for over 50 years'...
She had depended on him for a VERY long time so it was a big shock for her as he used to cook, clean, shop, you name it - he did it!
She does her shopping online but as mentioned in the first post, she eats all of it by Wednesday. She does have food in the freezer but can not be bothered to put it in the Oven.

I never mentioned we don't socialise with her, she goes out with her friends every few weeks and we have family meals once/twice a month. I believe her dependency on me has come from the death of her husband but still, it doesn't excuse her being ungrateful.

I am going to reduce the amount of weekly visits to once or twice a month instead and see what comes of that.

EL8888 Wed 14-Aug-19 15:05:04

She sounds rude and lazy. I know some people in their 70’s who do 4 or 5 night shifts a week. 70’s isn’t old. I would not get involved, your DH can deal with her. She needs to be more independent or what will happen when she is actually ill / old

AutumnCrow Wed 14-Aug-19 14:49:23

My father used to dislike freezer to oven, but was ok with fridge to microwave. He found this aspect of life (meals) hard as a widower and it became a focal point of his loneliness and his conversation. Food became a thing that was much bigger than it really was, iyswim?

He also like certain tins of soup, and I used to enjoy getting them for him when his local shop (rural, rather remote) had a shortage.

The other thing worth thinking about is that advancing In years brings with it a lot of invisible aches and pains, and some regrets and fears, and anger. Some older people do feel quite down a lot of the time, and come across as resentful and a bit rude. If your partner loves her, he should be looking for the underlying reason(s).rude

What does she do all day?

Best of luck.

Idontwanttotalk Wed 14-Aug-19 14:41:36

'She is well but makes everybody feel sorry for! Constantly moaning every time I go round that she doesn't feel well or is starving. Naturally, I am going to feel sorry for her."
Why do you say she is well if she tells you she isn't feeling well? Don't you believe her? You said earlier that she is lazy. Is she lazy or just not up to it health-wise as she has some illnesses?

fizzy1234 Wed 14-Aug-19 14:28:55


I could try this although she has a lot of food already in the freezer but simply can not be bothered to put it in the oven. Sigh So, I think it would be the same if myself or my partner were to start buying microwave meals. I think her laziness has come from being spoilt and doing absolutely nothing when her husband was alive.

fizzy1234 Wed 14-Aug-19 14:23:12

@headintheiClouds I was referring to Lund's MIL behaviour.

lottiegarbanzo Wed 14-Aug-19 12:05:00

The whole idea of 'checking up' on her makes her sounds like a patient in a care home.

Why don't you socialise with her at all? 'Drop in for a cup of tea', invite her to yours, or out, now and then?

Why doesn't she shop properly? Can't she do an online shop for herself? It's so easy once set up. You haven't said she lacks funds.

The whole set up seems to place her as 'housebound patient' who can't look after herself and you as her carer. Why? How did she live when younger?

If she needs to move to a care home, her son should be looking into that.

AutumnCrow Wed 14-Aug-19 11:58:07

I think OP was referring to Lunde's MiL and sympathising?

HeadintheiClouds Wed 14-Aug-19 11:44:16

Can you explain where the “sheer rudeness” is in Lunde’s post, op?

AutumnCrow Wed 14-Aug-19 11:42:16

Does she have the means to stick a ready meal in a microwave, @fizzy1234?

That could be a solution, on top of your detatching quite a lot from this. Your partner can take these meals to his mother so she has a supply in. They can be surprisingly inexpensive, as he'll realise when he buys them on the way over there.

fizzy1234 Wed 14-Aug-19 11:33:09

@lunde WOW, that is just sheer rudeness. I think kindness can quickly turn into expectations which I think what has happened in my situation. It starts with you doing nice things and then suddenly, it becomes a chore and there is no thanks.

fizzy1234 Wed 14-Aug-19 11:26:55

@Davespecifico tell me about it!

fizzy1234 Wed 14-Aug-19 11:23:59

@autumncrow She is well but makes everybody feel sorry for! Constantly moaning every time I go round that she doesn't feel well or is starving. Naturally, I am going to feel sorry for her.

WishingILivedOnAnIsland Wed 14-Aug-19 09:34:31

Stop reacting to hints. Just let the hint hang in the air and don't give into the awkwardness.

If she actually needs a favour from you, she should ask for it.

Stop going around so much. Gradually reduce your visits, send DH off with your best wishes for her- you're busy with work/hobby/house stuff

Nanny0gg Wed 14-Aug-19 09:06:20

So she's in her 70s with some Illnesses. Are they debilitating?

Is she short of money?

Davespecifico Wed 14-Aug-19 08:43:03

This lady is way too young to be waited on like this. She’s taking the mick.

thatwouldbeanecumenicalmatter Tue 13-Aug-19 20:20:52

but recently, he has been extremely busy!

Oh how unfortunate, what absolute bad luck that he can't partake in the 'womens-work' of caring for his own mother, but what a coincidence that he has someone with xx chromosomes to do his bidding.

As a PP said be busier. She doesn't respect you and clearly the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as neither does he.

SavingSpaces2019 Tue 13-Aug-19 18:45:30

I have gone out of my way to please her, not because I felt I had to but because I wanted to!

Ahhh, the perpetual martyr!
No sympathy from me.
It isn't difficult to have self respect and put boundaries in place - if you want to

Loopytiles Tue 13-Aug-19 11:20:55

OP hasn’t stated whether or not she’s married. Whether or not she is, his expectations of OP are unreasonable!

Could also indicate that he has some sexist attitudes.

Lunde Tue 13-Aug-19 11:16:49

I would say that your DH is at fault here - being "busy" - he has handed over responsibility for running around after his mother to you and made sure that you are doing the "women's work" for his mother. You work full time but he just waits for you to start cooking at his mother's house! If he cannot make the time to run around after her why should you? You should become "busy" for a few weeks and let him deal with it.

He needs to address the food issue with his mother. Why is she not buying enough food? (My MIL used to do this as a manipulative strategy to force visits). He could do a small online shop for her despite being "busy". He could sign her up for Wiltshire Farm Foods or similar so that she always has food in the freezer.

I would cut back on the visits if he is not going to be present to stop him from making you responsible for her.

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