Gransnet forums


Not to like my MIL?

(26 Posts)
suzied Mon 22-Oct-12 07:30:50

My MIL has many positive qualities, but has always made it clear she doesn't like me and I am not good enough for her DS. She is very self centred and thinks we all want to hear endless tales of her past and gossip about everyone she knew from 60 years ago or so. she is also unpleasant and vindictive and makes unwelcome racist remarks about neighbours, doctors etc She also chain smokes and is very grumpy that we make her smoke outside when she visits us. she is in por health, probably because of the smoking and drinking but would never admit it. I do feel sorry for her as she is lonely with most of her friends and siblings dead, and few want to visit as the smoking means her house is an unpleasant place to sit for any length of time. I feel guilty that I don't visit her and when we have her over to our house I mostly sit with gritted teeth while she regales us with wartime stories centred around her or her latest unpleasant rant. My lack of help/visiting I know is more grist to her mill but should I just pretend I wish to listen to her on the grounds she is lonely and old ? My DH does take her shopping at weekends and her DDs do have her to stay, but I am the only one around on weekdays so what would you do? It's no point challenging her on the racism or unpleasant gossip as she would never admit to being in the wrong or apologise for any of the unpleasant things he has said to me in the past.

suzied Mon 22-Oct-12 07:33:24

That last line should be "she has said to me in the past"

vampirequeen Mon 22-Oct-12 08:21:34

You're not being unreasonable. My ex MIL was a horrible person.

I don't see why you have to do anything for her during the week if her children look after her at the weekend.

JessM Mon 22-Oct-12 08:28:27

She has kids that are very good to her by the sounds of it.
My first MIL was a mixture of lovely (when sober) and nasty (when she had been secretly swigging the sherry in the kitchen.
Number 2 is a bit improvement and I am very fond of her. But she is in very poor health and needs a lot of support. Again, she has several DDs. who do their bit smile
But when i do things for her it is either
1. because i choose to be kind to someone i care about
2. because i am taking over my DH's share of the responsibility and i want to support him.
If she was like yours I would probably stay away.

shysal Mon 22-Oct-12 08:34:56

I was in an anusual position in that my MIL thought I was wonderful (she can't have known me very well), and could do no wrong , until I became the ex-DIL. Unfortunately I didn't feel the same about her! She was very manipulative and tried to use emotional blackmail and bribery to get visits from the family. Little did she know that it actually put us off going go see her as often as we could have. In her later years, as my marriage was failing, my husband would have been happy to leave dealing with her to me, but I had my own ailing parents to see to, so I backed right off, so that he had to step in. His mother never forgave me for divorcing her son, but I kept in contact despite the icy reception.
I think the MIL/DIL relationship is usually a precarious one, and we should not blame ourselves if things become a bit strained.

Greatnan Mon 22-Oct-12 09:00:20

I don't believe that being old or lonely is an excuse for being unpleasant. I would limit my visits to a bare minimum.
I don't have sons, so I will never have any DsIL but I have five grandsons, one of whom got married in August. His wife is a little gem who has civilised him and is a wonderful mother to my great-grand-daughters.
I have a son-in-law in New Zealand who is one of the nicest people I know, so there are no problems there. He knows I think the world of him and as he asked me to join them there, I presume he quite likes me too. His mother has been a wonderful MIL to my daughter.
My own MIL was a racist, homophobic bigot and I really detested her, but we never quarrelled because my ex-husband and I agreed right from the start that he would deal with his family and I would deal with mine (not that my mother ever caused any problems.)

annodomini Mon 22-Oct-12 09:50:43

suzied, You married your husband, not his mother. There is nothing in the marriage vows about taking on his family. My MiL was garrulous but affectionate and if I'd had to take some responsibility for her care, I guess I'd have done what I would do for a friend. Not so my FiL. Fortunately neither needed my care.

FlicketyB Mon 22-Oct-12 17:18:07

I was fortunate, I loved my MiL, but my paternal grandmother did not like my mother. My mother was pretty, bubbly, wore make-up and went to the theatre to see Noel Coward plays. My Grandmother saw this as nearly tantamount to walking the streets. My ister and I had to spend some of our school holidays with Grandma when my father was stationed overseas. Unfortunately I was too like my mother, not pretty, but lively and a tendency to talk a lot and I can still remember, and smart under, the many put downs I received.

Elegran Mon 22-Oct-12 17:36:31

I was very fond of my Mil, and she of me and her other Dil. She had just two sons herself and no daughters, so there were vacancies. She did not interfere, though at times she was mystified by "modern" ideas. She was not all that demonstrative, but when she was in her 80s and clouded by Alzheimers, she one day looked me in the eye with sudden clarity and said "You and I always got on very well, didn't we?" which I found very moving.

ginny Mon 22-Oct-12 23:23:12

No, you are not being unreasonable given that she does not seem to be a particularly pleasant person. I get on with my in-laws, would never knowingly upset them or be unwelcoming to them. However I feel quite guilty because I don't really have and feelings toward them other than they are my husbands parents. If this were not the case and I met them otherwise they would just pass through my life without a second thought.

suzied Tue 23-Oct-12 06:31:49

Thanks for all the comments I feel less guilty about not visiting , even though I know it will demonstrate to her that I am not much cop as a DiL, which isn't how I would like to be thought of, but I am just reacting to how things are. I have let the family know I am there for emergencies and if she needs any shopping etc, but I can't do any lengthy visits.

Bags Tue 23-Oct-12 07:59:28

I think it's perfectly natural and healthy to keep one's distance from unpleasant people and, if you don't like smoke, to keep away from smokers. You sound very normal, suzied. If your MiL wants to define you as a bad daughter-in-law, let her – her thinking it doesn't make you one. I don't think there's any reason why you should feel guilty. flowers

Beachee Tue 23-Oct-12 10:39:25

Suzied, you shouldn't feel guilty. You have your own life and family and they must come first. Annodomini has it "You married your husband, not his mother."

Sook Tue 23-Oct-12 14:24:15

I keep threatening to write a book about mine as therapy!!! She is her own worst enemy and yours sounds much the same. Don't feel guilty!

Beachee Tue 23-Oct-12 14:46:34

Mine is a nightmare. I've inherited this awful woman (my husband died 12 years ago). She is manipulative, nosey, narrow-minded and nasty, and has been so since I first met her in 1973.

Unfortunately she has no other family apart from myself and my grandchildren so we get the lot

GrannyHaggis Tue 23-Oct-12 18:36:58

Glad to know I'm not the only one who had an awkward relationship with MiL. I never felt welcomed from the beginning as DH broke off his engagement to be with me. Didn't go down well at all especially as I was completely different to other girl. Dared to answer back and not be cowed especially by FiL. When he died MiL became much more demanding and in the latter years put a lot of pressure on DH even when she knew he was coping with cancer and its treatment. Always felt her nieces and nephews and their families were much more important to her than her grandchildren, even though she moaned about them behind their backs!
Don't feel guilty about not visiting. It sounds asif she has close family to take her shopping etc.
I've resolved to make my SiL and DiL ( when I get one!) feel welcome and as much loved as my own children. Hopefully, I'm succeeding....though SiL can be a difficult b*****!

Deedaa Tue 23-Oct-12 21:45:02

I don't really dislike MiL, but I do find her hard work. My husband is an only child and has hardly any contact with her anyway so it is me that visits every week. T he lack of contact works both ways as she isn't really interested in him either. She is in a home now as she can't walk and spends all day in her room - preferably in the dark. She refuses to have a television, doesn't read books or listen to the radio and doesn't mix with any of the other residents because they talk too much. From things she has said I believe most of her problems (attitudes?) go back to her childhood, but it doesn't make her any more fun to visit. After a hysterectomy in her 40's she embraced old age. In fact she is only 17 years older than me - but seems like someone from another planet. Every week we sit and have basically the same conversation that we have had evry week since FiL died 11 years ago and then I go home and wait to do it again next week.

JessM Wed 24-Oct-12 07:41:14

She sounds depressed deedaa - has anyone checked?

baubles Wed 24-Oct-12 07:47:24

What an awful existence for her Deedaa as JessM said it does sound as though she is very depressed.

granjura Wed 24-Oct-12 13:33:33

My mil was a tough cookie- and I found it very difficult at times with her. But I never ever wanted my OH to feel split - and that he somehow had to make a 'choice'- it would have been too unfair. So I often took a bib breath and counted to 10 or more- and I am so glad I did. In the end, she suffered from Alzheimers and we had a very long journey to visit her - but I always encouraged OH to go and visit her (with me for company). She had a tough life, and often had to fight her corner to keep the family together, and I realised that she just had to be tough to cope, and learnt to respect her. Again, I am so glad I did. I know so many families where the wife (or t'other way round) asks her OH to make a choice, or refuse to visit, or even forbid (yes- this is what my older brother's wife did after she fell out with mum) them to visit or to have any contact. Tragic- and perhaps, what goes round comes around, eventually?

Sook Wed 24-Oct-12 15:38:31

Wise words granjura

suzied Wed 24-Oct-12 16:12:28

I would hate to be one of those DiLs who split up families. I don't ask my OH to choose between us- she is his mother after all, and he knows all too well how difficult and domineering she is (she has always been like this - not just because she is old/unwell.) I guess it could be a generational thing- she was brought up by strict domineering parents so thats her model- but fortunately her children don't seem to have turned out this way. Possibly because their father (her husband) was kind and patient( he would have had to be!) and showed them an alternate way of behaving. Its really upsetting to read of families who have cut off contact etc. I guess thats why I felt a bit guilty for not wanting to visit, but she comes to our house for a meal on a regular basis- and I do try not to let her irritate me too much when she starts to light up at the table and we push her out of the door! Fortunately my OH is in agreement with me over this one! Nothing in family life is ever straightforward is it?

tiggercat Wed 24-Oct-12 16:17:12

My MIL was an old bat (changed it to be more polite) she favoured the boy grandchildren over the girl grandchildren. The son who was in New Zealand was the best son in the world and the daughter, son and my OH, who visited her every day, were no-where near so good. However she was their mother and they did all they could for her.

One of the saddest thing I have ever heard was at her funeral where MIL was described as a loving grandmother , whereupon my adult DD said "are we are the right funeral". She had only gone to support her Dad.

Deedaa Wed 24-Oct-12 21:24:32

JessM and baubles I think she has been depressed for many years. I am certain she had post natal depression after my husband's birth, home birth, breech, ancient Italian midwife with the bed end raised on books to slow the birth !!! She once referred to my husband as an "evil" baby and said his father took care of him a lot. Apparently when she was born her mother spent a long time in hospital with rheumatic fever and she was raised by her godmother, so there are huge emotional gaps in her life. At 83 I think that little will change her now. She is very settled in the way she is and sure that it's other people who have problems. Sadly my husband still has problems with personal relationships because he has never had any sort of relationship with her.

JessM Thu 25-Oct-12 07:34:57

Oh what a sad story. I just wondered as some older people get depressed and can benefit from treatment.