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AIBU to think my mum-in-law should have given us more notice of her visit?

(64 Posts)
Bermeir Fri 01-Mar-13 13:47:35

She lives several hundred miles away. A letter arrived TODAY saying that she was going to visit us on sunday (!) and to ring if 'not convenient'. I am thoroughly hacked off with her about this. AIBU? I mean, why only a few days notice, why a LETTER and not what normal person would do and phone (email, even).

annodomini Sat 02-Mar-13 17:43:01

I agree, sunflower. I have a wonderfully friendly relationship with my sons and their OHs. I knew them both well before they all settled down to domesticity and child rearing which is probably a good thing. Each of them, at different times, stayed with me for a few months while working 'up here' when 'the boys' had gone off to jobs in the south. They were good company and I missed them when they left.

sunflowersuffolk Sat 02-Mar-13 15:43:55

Just a general comment - I always feel sad when people blatantly don't like their MILs. After all, they both love the son, and you would hope as adults they could both compromise a bit, and have a happy ish time when together.

It is always a little difficult fitting in with a new second family at first after marriage. For the MIL she has suddenly gone right down in her sons priorities, and it must take a bit of getting used to. Quite rightly her son now puts his wife and children first, but it's lovely if the wife and MIL can be friends.

I had 2 MILs and they were both lovely warm and helpful, and I miss them now. Some I know who moan about their MILs are so quick to take offence, and often take things the wrong way. When I hear what they are complaining about, I can always see the other side too, and think they are being a bit unreasonable.

Mishap Sat 02-Mar-13 14:06:00

OK - so we've established that MIL is a pain in the rear end!
So it's really about finding some sort of strategy for dealing with this.

Does your OH share your view of her? Is she generally seen as bit of a pain, or is she just not grert at being a MIL? - or at sharing her son?

I have to say that being a MIL is a bit of an art and takes some learning - so it may be necessary to cut her a bit of slack. But the priority is for you and your OH to have a joint strategy that does not involve you both falling out.

The trigger for your unhappiness seems to be her visits and how she arranges these - but that is not the basis of the problem - her relationship with you, and yours with her are the real problem.

Can you have a rational discussion with OH about this, or would it just cause more problems?

Elegran Sat 02-Mar-13 12:51:04

That last incident you mention was your chance, Bermeir did you say on that occasion that a letter was not the most efficient way of telling you that she was coming, and could she phone in future?

I do hope you told her that you were still recovering from arriving home late on the Friday, so you would prefer it if she delayed her visit - perhaps until you or DH phoned her later in the week when you had your heads straight again.

I feel you have now received enough advice, that is if you really wanted advice and were not just letting off steam, so I shall back out of this thread now.

Good luck.

gracesmum Sat 02-Mar-13 12:26:52

It is clear you do not like your MIL so maybe your DH should visit her himself. Driving "hundreds of miles "to visit is quite an undertaking if she is getting on a bit - how far? How old is she? Does she stay or just come for a meal or whatever? Does she come to see the grandchildren? You don't say so it is difficult to be clear as to what the situation is. Even a control freak has some rights to visit her family in my book - or agree to meet on neutral territory e.g. for lunch. But if you were to go to her you would also have more control over the length of visit.
If she is just winding you up - well she is succeeding!

Bermeir Sat 02-Mar-13 12:15:03

I am more than happy for him to see her without me. I do not mind 'sharing' him at all.

We can't escape her anyway. We went on holiday once and got in really late on a friday night and too knackered to deal with the mail. Apparently, a letter had arrived during our week away saying that she was coming down on the sunday. On the saturday, her DAUGHTER (my sil) rings to say that she (his mother) was visiting. Why on earth his mother didn't ring herself is anybody's guess.

JessM Sat 02-Mar-13 12:12:23

Wise advice elegran. It can be hard for mothers of adults if they never get any time alone with their offspring once they are settled into a relationship. This is most common for mothers of sons I suspect.
Mind you, sometimes it is the sons that want to always take their wives along when they go to see their parents...

Elegran Sat 02-Mar-13 11:11:03

You don't anwer my question on whether you have sons? Or daughters for that matter.

Elegran Sat 02-Mar-13 11:09:38

Hand her next letter to her son, and ask him to deal with it. It is his mother.

The ball is in your court. Decide what you want and make it happen. "Do what you will, then pay the bill"

But be prepared for the consequences, for DH as well as you. When the consequences happen, it is still his mother, and he will be torn between you and her.

Make sure you are quite certain that you are not being jealous in your possession of him and determination not to share him. If you and she don't get on, does he sometimes see her without you? If you can't allow that to happen without feeling betrayed - and showing it - then you are pulling him too hard in your direction. Unless you let him include his mother in a part of his lfe on their terms, not yours you are doing what she believes - taking him completely away from her.

annodomini Sat 02-Mar-13 10:44:02

A good example of passive aggression - see appropriate thread.

Bermeir Sat 02-Mar-13 10:30:33

Can you blame me for being intolerant towards her? Frankly, I would like to have chucked her letter but, no, I couldn't cope with the guilt of doing that. This letter is (yet) another attempt at emotional blackmail.

harrigran Sat 02-Mar-13 10:22:32

And there we have it, the really reason you are intolerant to your MIL. You should have just posted that you didn't like your MIL and didn't want her in your home hmm

annodomini Sat 02-Mar-13 10:21:23

hmm then you do need a good excuse reason not to have her there. I think you know what you want to do. Just do it - you don't need our permission!

Bermeir Sat 02-Mar-13 09:30:22

Foolishly as in telling her our business, I should add.

Bermeir Sat 02-Mar-13 09:29:17

I appreciate that she doesn't want to hear my voice, but she could ring my dh's mobile and/or email him.

I don't like her. She is vindictive, quick to bully when she senses a weakness, ALWAYS takes against me when my husband (foolishly, though he is getting better) and I argue, deliberately sets me up to fail (she insisted on buying me a birthday gift one year then refused point blank to buy it-basically humiliating me by saying in a loud voice how bad my taste was). Damned right I don't want her around.

dorsetpennt Sat 02-Mar-13 09:27:10

Unless I had a] other plans or b] other visitors, two days notice of an impending visit from a family member of friend would be more then welcome.

Stansgran Sat 02-Mar-13 09:16:13

My MIL didnt like me and unless I agreed with her very strong opinions she was always on the attack. Therefore I wrote to her with news of the children and of course her DS? I sent photos and then I didn't hear the criticism and antagonism. My DH worked dreadful hours and the last thing he wanted to do was talk to her on the phone to hear how badly done to she was(widowed)(son at a distance) this was the only way we could work it. Maybe your MIL doesn't want to hear in your voice how little your want her presence.your DCs have a GM give her a chance

Elegran Sat 02-Mar-13 08:39:59

So you need to be pro-active. Instead of waiting for a letter to annoy you, make sure that you invite her by phone often enough and get into the conversation somehow that you do prefer it if she phones you.

That is quite reasonable - you could quite easily be away from home from before the letter arrives until she herself arrives after a long and wasted journey. Be a bit unpredictable and play the "If only you had phoned you would have found out that we were away and saved yourself - and us - the disppointment"

Or if you are not confident enough for that, say that the post has been so erratic lately that a phone call would be certain to get you in time.

It may be, of course, that she is finding it painfully hard to see enough of her son (Do you have any sons? If so you might empathise with her one day) because of the attitude of his wife, who appears to find her presence an imposition.

Consideration is a two-way street.

Bags Sat 02-Mar-13 08:31:09

Good point, bermeir, about what I would do myself. Actually, no, if someone didn't reply to my letter in some way (letter, email, phone, text), I would assume it wasn't convenient and not turn up. But I don't think it's actually wrong for someone to turn up in the circumstances you describe. If your MiL is the sort of person who isn't very sensitive to what you want, then take her at her word and call her to say it's inconvenient when it is. It really is no use getting annoyed about er way of doing things. She isn't going to change, but you can make your behaviour effective. If you don't want her to visit, tell her that (politely as in "it's inconvenient"). Just be straightforward and cope with what you regard as her unreasonableness. Far less stressful than agonising about it and getting corss.

But from what you say, it sounds as if she just wanted to drop in on her way to or from something else. In the past, people would do that without any prior communication if it was family.

I've had a similar situation with one of my sisters-in-law. I lived a long way away from my brother and didn't see him very often. Once, when I was visiting my mother for a week, I rang SiL to ask if, since we were nearer, I could come over one afternoon so the cousins could play and I could see her and my brother. Her reply was that it wasn't convenient because she had to go shopping. That's code for "No, I don't want you to visit, even just for a cup of tea." I know that because it was my last attempt – there had been a few. I suspect that my brother never even knew I'd called.

It has become clear since then that it's not a personal thing with my SiL. She doesn't let anyone visit. She's the one with the problem. Perhaps if you view your MiL as having a problem (such as wanting to be in control, as you suggest), you will cope better. Good luck with your assertiveness.

Bermeir Sat 02-Mar-13 07:30:28

You say it's a standard device and I'll take you at your word, but how do you implement the line in reality? If you said in a letter, 'call me if not convenient' and you DIDN'T hear back from the person you wrote the letter to, would you just turn up anyway?

It's not really silly to complain when my mil has access to a phone, my husband's mobile number, his email address-that really irks as she is more than capable of emailing.

The truth is that she wants everybody under her thumb, she hopes that we'll get the letter too late to tell her it's not convenient and are emotionally blackmailed into meeting her.

Bags Sat 02-Mar-13 07:20:37

But the simple line "call me if it's not convenient" is a standard device and very easy to implement. Stop complaining. Taking against someone for writing a letter when you want them to call instead is silly. She is asking you to call (or your husband) and you are complaining!! You want her to call and she writes instead and you are complaining.

Net result: you are complaining.

Says it all really hmm

Bermeir Sat 02-Mar-13 07:15:52

Dh has called her and she is not visiting us. She is still coming down for another reason, but her schedule is tight and we won't see her.

The letter thing is, I think, a form of emotional blackmail on her part-she's very good at that- consider her words, 'If not convenient, call me'. That is, I'll come down if you don't contact. Who does that? I don't. I say, 'Let me know if this is OK with you'.

Yes, she is old and slightly deaf, however, my husband spent absolutely ages getting teaching her to e-mail (and she has done so many a time). Why not email now? She is well aware of it. She isn't a ditzy old lady! She's driving hundreds of miles for goodness sake.

Yes, I don't want her to visit, however, I've NEVER stopped her from doing so. Believe me, I am not the sort to take against people for no reason.

Bags Sat 02-Mar-13 06:35:09

Quite right, faye. On the surface all this is a complaint about the form the communications take. Hmm. Sounds like obfuscation to me. If your MiL communicates in a normal way, and writing letters is normal, then you have nothing to complain about.

I suspect that the real problem is that you don't want her to visit you.

Faye Sat 02-Mar-13 00:37:44

Instead of getting irritated Bermeir maybe you could realise your MIL writes letters and expects you or her son to phone back. It is not too hard, she sounds like she is getting old and not everyone has loads of common sense or a even dour attitude. Give a little and don't make problems where there are none.

seasider Sat 02-Mar-13 00:19:02

I love visitors and like my mum before me will always stretch a meal to accommodate them . We may not always be as tidy as we could be if we had a bit of notice but we always manage to find a bed for friends and family . We live by the sea so on more than one occasion have had day visitors who have been persuaded to stay over.