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To consider cutting contact with mother in law

(35 Posts)
suzied Tue 04-Feb-14 19:38:25

I have never really got on with my Mil, she has made it clear I am not good enough for her DS, is hypercritical and cantankerous, often saying upsetting things. I cope with this by being polite but distant. I know she is my DH mother, is 93 and not in the best of health, even though she lives independently . I have tried to involve her in family events etc. DH takes her shopping, out to lunch, and she regularly has a meal here( at least twice a week). However, last night was the last straw. Nothing was good enough. The pasta was not cooked ( it was), her tv wasn't working ( it is), there are too many black people around etc, ,but when I asked her to stop being aggressive and angry when it wasn't our fault, she really went into one. I am the worst DiL in the world! she much preferred my DHs other girl friends, I dont put any photos of her on the wall, I am a rotten mother, why couldn't I be more like my sister, everyone loves her except me etc etc. when I said calmly that I was cool towards her because she had upset me on many other occasions and had never apologised she got even angrier. I didn't shout ( unlike her who shouts and spits all the time) and this makes her even worse. She stormed out saying she was never going to come to our house again. My DH calmed her down and took her home,she didn't finish her meal except for the wine! My DH feels he us still got to maintain contact,, although he is golden boy and never comes in for her bile, apart from marrying me I suppose! DH says we should just let her stew for a bit and she will be lonely and forget her anger. Should I insist on an apology? Just avoid her totally and say DH has to see her alone? Exclude her from family gatherings? Or just carry on as before and pretend she hasn't said such upsetting things to me? Excuse the rant, just writing it down makes me feel a bit better.

FlicketyB Tue 04-Feb-14 19:59:58

suzied, how horrible and what a difficult position to be in. Have you discussed it with your DH? I would have thought that would be where to start. How would he feel if his mother was made unwelcome in what is his home as well as yours?

If she is still living independently and your DH is taking her out to lunch at least once a week I would think you could reasonably limit the times she comes to visit you to once a week. If his mother is 93, I assume you and your DH have been married quite a while and for her still to be going on about preferring his exs, does sound rather pathetic.

Can you put mental distance between you and her rants? See them as nothing about you and all about an over-possessive mother. Remember if he had married one of his exes instead of you, she would be laying into them in exactly the same way and you as an ex would be being extolled to the skies. If you can put in that mental distance, then simple ignore her rants, do not listen, do not respond, go and do something else, wash the dishes, clear the plates, have a bath. If she gets no response and you just ignore her rants, they may ameliorate.

YaYaJen Tue 04-Feb-14 20:02:27

Sounds like Mil is the one with a problem....that thought may not immediately make it easier to cope with being around her but if you consider everything she says to actually be a criticism of herself (as per Jung and Freud) you might be able to feel sorry for her lack of insight and not let her get under your will not be for ever either.

mollie Tue 04-Feb-14 20:02:35

Having been in a similar situation I'd say wait. Let some time and distance pass before making any decisions. Calm down and let her do the same. At her age she won't change much but wait and see. Have to say it took me about six months to calm down and then I felt differently ... it wasn't easy and there was some swallowing of pride on both sides and some ignoring what had been said but we jog along. She won't be around forever...

JessM Tue 04-Feb-14 20:13:04

I'd say that you should not have to put up with rudeness and abuse in your own home. She sounds pretty hale and hearty and not in need of sympathy just because of her age.
And i think that your GH should not expect you to put up with it either.
In you shoes I think it quite reasonable if you only meet her in circumstances where you are the one who can leave the minute she starts.
Not worth asking for an apology though. Just set new ground rules.

suzied Tue 04-Feb-14 20:34:41

DH knows what she is like, she has always been aggressive and confrontational, so he is on my side. I have put a distance between us for a while, upsetting insults are nothing new. This distance was one of the reasons for the latest attack, ( I don't care about her unlike all those other lovely people my Dh could have married- btw we've been together 30 years and have 4 children and GC .) yes ,I guess I can continue in this mode but I will make it clear I will not tolerate insults , aggression etc especially in our own home. Of course any implied criticism of her is further evidence of my bad judgement, as everyone else loves her as she is so generous. So there is no easy answer.

absent Tue 04-Feb-14 21:03:42

Being old is not an excuse for rudeness.

My mother outlaw (first marriage) was much the same and when she exploded into a diatribe about how I was a bad wife, a bad mother and a bad person following my comment that I thought the windsurfers we had seen earlier in the day were pathetic – no I didn't see the logic either – I simply refused to see her again. It was a very embarrassing situation as we were staying in their house for the weekend when she listed my faults at length. Ex-absenthusband and absentdaughter continued to visit but I never did. That way I was spared her nastiness at first hand although she constantly told absentdaughter how wrong I was about everything and how she was absentdaughter's best friend and loved her more than anyone else (i.e. me) with the result that absentdaughter was always unsettled and a pain in the thing for a day after she had been staying there.

Ex-absenthusband thought I was unreasonable on the grounds that his mother should be able to say what she liked because he found my mother boring sometimes. He expected me to apologise. She wasn't the reason I divorced him but his attitude towards the situation certainly had something to do with it.

Kiora Tue 04-Feb-14 21:15:09

You have my sympathy. My M.i.L acts in the same outrageous way. She's always been very critical and outspoken. She's becoming much much worse. A few years ago her daughter went with her to see her G.P and said mum was in danger of loosing all her family support because of it. She was given something to help with depression/ anxiety and it has helped. She still has her horrible days. I'v always taken a very different stance than you. I bite back. She still tries it on and I still bite. Between her vicious barking and my quick snapping we get along reasonably well. I have watched as she has alienated almost all of her children and their partners. She can be funny and charming at times. She is perfectly lovely to my grown up children and their spouses. What I don't understand why these people do it though. Why would you think you have the right to be so rude. I would never speak to D.i.L or anyone else in this way. Is it frustration at getting old and infirm. Is it pain and suffering that lowers their tolerance levels. Is it because their world is shrinking or is it simply attention seeking. I'd love to know.

Mishap Tue 04-Feb-14 21:29:20

I hope I am fit enough to storm out when I am 93!!

Seriously - it is a total pain and you have had years of it, but, let's not beat about the bush, she can't go on that much longer.

My FIL was a total pain - I used to ignore it all as much as I could. I knew what he thought of me - he didn't have to say; but the feeling was mutual. I used to hate the effect he had on my OH, who would withdraw and leave me to it, thus brewing up problems for later when I would be cross with him!


She sounds grim, but I have to say, in your shoes, I would not change anything that you do - just keep seeing her as usual and make no mention of the row. Life's too short - it is just to stressful to go over old ground.

I bet your poor OH is p****d off with it all as well. Good luck.

You could always play the saint and then come on here and slag her off to all of us - you will feel better! - and our shoulders are broad.

Paige Tue 04-Feb-14 21:46:22

Im not saying its true in anyone's MIL but I remember Bill Cosby talking about his own mother. She had turned real mean and nasty very unlike herself so he had her at the doctor and found she had plaque in her carotid arteries...blood wasn't getting to her brain properly.shock

Kiora Tue 04-Feb-14 21:54:32

Oh that's interesting Paige and May very well account for some of my MiL outbursts. Though not when she was younger but certainly over the last 10 years. Thanks

JessM Tue 04-Feb-14 22:25:21

Yes I believe personality change can be due to central nervous system changes. But you stick up for yourself. Remember that a man of 102 cycled 17 miles the other day. She could be around for another 10 or 15 years.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 04-Feb-14 22:36:04

shock She's 93!!!

Cut her some slack for God's sake! hmm

absent Tue 04-Feb-14 22:55:14

Why? At what age are you "allowed" to be obnoxiously rude?

Elegran Tue 04-Feb-14 22:57:06

It does sound as though she has been unpleasant for years though, jings and she has had a lot of slack in her time. Or was that aimed at those saying she won't be around much longer?

Aka Tue 04-Feb-14 23:01:02

DH has the right idea. Just let her stew for a bit and when she comes out of her strop carry on as if nothing has happened. Also instead of inviting her to your house why not instead, occasionally arrange to meet her for tea and cakes at a local cafe. She might behave better in that sort of setting and it need only be for 30 minutes or so.

I knows she's a pain but she is 93.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 04-Feb-14 23:01:14

A bit of tolerance for someone of that age would n't go a miss. That's all.

durhamjen Tue 04-Feb-14 23:01:59

Suzied, my mother in law has always been like that. She is 92 now, and I just feel sorry for her. She had 3 sons, and none of them visit her very often because she has always made it clear that she does not like her daughters in law. My husband died two years ago, but her two other sons do not seeher very often. One of them takes her shopping once a fortnight, picking her up and dropping her off at the door. He lives half an hour's drive away from her.
It's not just family. She falls out with friends as well. She lives on her own, like I do, but her family rarely see her. When they do she's nasty, so they do not bother. She once fell out with her eldest son who lives in South Wales, over the fact that his wife did not cook anything to suit my 7 year old son's tastes. The first we all knew about it was when she and my father in law came downstairs with their cases and flounced off home. They never visited again for seven years.
I keep phoning her up and take my grandchildren to see her when I can, but I live at least an hour away and cannot drive far. I keep having to remind her sons that she is actually their mother, not mine.
Just accept that she's the way she is and is not going to change. It makes things a lot easier.

durhamjen Tue 04-Feb-14 23:15:40

My mother in law has been like that since my son was a year old, and he's just turned 47, so I cannot blame plaque in her carotid arteries.
She has seven great grandchildren and the only ones she sees are my grandchildren when I take them. My grandson puts her in her place. He asks her how old she is and tells her she is not going to die until she is a hundred. She finds that quite charming for some reason.

Kiora Tue 04-Feb-14 23:26:26

My MiL is very fond of one of my grandsons. He laughs when she has one of her hissy fits and says" oh great granny at least you not boring" for some reason she finds this very amusing and thinks he's the most wonderful boy!

durhamjen Tue 04-Feb-14 23:30:20

I dare you, suzieb. Tell her at least she's not boring. See what happens.

janeainsworth Tue 04-Feb-14 23:34:03

I think as people get older, they become disinhibited, and also less aware of the effect their words and deeds have on other people - a polite way of saying they regress into childhood, but without the redeeming freatures of most small children.
Suzie it's really hard for you I can see, but at least your DH is on your side. I would follow his advice, and try to rise above it.
Good luck.

durhamjen Tue 04-Feb-14 23:36:56

It's the when I grow old poem without actually having read it, Jane.
Hope she doesn't start spitting in the street.

absent Wed 05-Feb-14 02:09:06

I have known plenty of people in their nineties who never lost their manners, good nature or natural charm. It is not an automatic part of growing old to grow obnoxious. I think people just become more of whatever they already were as they get older, except in cases of dementia. I simply do not believe that there comes an age when it is excusable and acceptable to be rude to and insensitive about other people including family members.

Iam64 Wed 05-Feb-14 08:54:30

absent has expressed my own views on personality and ageing above. I agree with her that most people usually become more like themselves as they age. The exception is dementia, or other significant health problems that can change personalities.
Some people have unpleasant personalities. There, I've said it. They are likely to continue to indulge themselves, or even indulge their bad behaviour even more, with the excuse of age.