Gransnet forums


Problems with MIL that need resolving. Please help me understand her view

(35 Posts)
ADifferentView Wed 13-Aug-14 00:03:27

Hello. I am posting on Gransnet as a DIL that would like to try and understand how to move forward with my MIL. Also to try and understand her behaviour and whether I am being unreasonable. I would really appreciate some advice from other MIL's.

My DH and I have been together 8 years and have a child. My mother in law pretends to me that she loves and supports me but it has never felt very genuine. Despite this, over the last 2 years I have started to trust her and believed she had grown to love me in some way. Obviously I'll never be one of her own and I know that, but I felt we had a good relationship.

Yesterday my friend and I overheard her making some horrible remarks about me (we had taken my child to visit her at her place of work, and she thought we had left when we were around the corridor after using the bathroom). We overheard MIL speaking to her sister (my Aunty in law), she said that I wasted her son's money (I don't, and one third of our household income is from my earnings), and that I should be more than happy with my lot as I've done so well in marrying her son compared to the rest of my family who have nothing.

Just 5 minutes beforehand MIL had told me she loved me. I feel so hurt and depressed by all this. It's as though we've regressed back to 6 years ago when I first became pregnant and had DC. MIL found it very difficult when DC was born (extremely emotional, a lot of crying), and accused me of keeping her from DC because I wouldn't let her give DC first bath, let her look after DC alone and stay the night at her house at a couple of weeks old etc. I felt at the time very threatened by how much MIL thought of herself as 'mother' to my child. She even referred to my DC as her 'firstborn'.

DH is very supportive of me however it's difficult for him to act on this. The last time he did catch MIL speaking in this way about me, he confronted her but she burst into tears and sulked for one month whilst we had numerous phone calls from my sisters in law pleading for DH to apologise to MIL and stop her feeling so sad. In the end we gave in.

If DH or I confront MIL with this latest event it's 100% likely she will again sulk and make herself the victim. I obviously feel like I want I give her a very wide berth for a while but there's only so long I can avoid her before she notices and starts to send messages through my SIL and FIL that I haven't called or visited.

To put all of this into context, I generally feel my MIL has no respect for me as a mother and ignores my wishes when caring for my child. For example, co sleeping, giving her inappropriate gifts like make up, far too many sweets and junk food.

She also created problems leading up to and on our wedding day, she was against me buying a wedding dress and insisted I hire one, she bought herself a white dress to wear, complained to everyone that she was losing her son (DH and I had been living together for 6 years and with a child for 3 years already). She didn't compliment me or speak to me on my wedding day although I invited her to spend some time with me getting ready. She just got quite drunk instead. She asked on 3 occasions to stay in our hotel room with us on our wedding night to look after our child (our daughter would be asleep and never wakes in the night, she knows this).

I feel drained after seeing my MIL because I often have to keep my defences up and be vigilant with my child. My MIL always wants to take her away from me and into another room, and once told her that Mummy doesn't let her see her enough. Am I being reasonable to keep my distance and only see them every month or couple of months? We live fairly close by and they are used to seeing us about once a fortnight or sometimes once a week.

whenim64 Wed 13-Aug-14 00:42:21

Please help you to understand her view? ADV I wouldn't contemplate it. She has a big problem if she has been treating you like this, and all I would advise is that you draw very clear, reasonable boundaries about how you and your DH conduct your relationship and care for your child. Then, if she's prepared to respect that, you can have a civilised MiL/DiL relationship. The balls in her court. Meanwhile, keep your distance and don't react to her tantrums. Good luck!

ADifferentView Wed 13-Aug-14 01:04:13

Thank you for posting. I am doubting myself at the moment. I sometimes wonder if I shouldn't just put up with it all to keep the peace.

I do think we need boundaries in place and I need to reduce how much time I spend with her.

penguinpaperback Wed 13-Aug-14 07:28:04

Oh my goodness ADV your MIL sounds incredibly possessive, controlling. I'm lost for words after reading she called your first child her firstborn.
No wonder her behaviour is exhausting you. I agree with whenim set down some boundaries, ground rules and make sure you and your husband present a united and consistent, most important, front. Good Luck. flowers

Grannyknot Wed 13-Aug-14 07:51:23

I agree this woman has serious issues.

When you say that if she was informed* that you had overheard the conversation you mention, that she would sulk and make herself the victim - that's manipulation. She should be embarrassed and apologetic in that instance. *It doesn't have to be a confrontation, you could simply let her know that you overheard her talking to her sister. I wouldn't even get my husband involved if I were you.

Your long and carefully written post indicates that you spend a lot of time thinking about this matter and trying to manage it. Time to take the focus off this woman, and focus on you and your family and - echoing when - put the ball in her court and don't react to her tantrums.

Good luck, she sounds like a nightmare.

NfkDumpling Wed 13-Aug-14 07:54:50

I agree about the need for boundaries. If you let her have her way things will only get worse.
She may well be quite fond of you but jealous too. Jealousy is a terrible thing and very difficult to deal with or acknowledge.
Are there other GC? How is she with them?
Is she a widow on her own? This may be a reason for her being this way - but not an excuse.

thatbags Wed 13-Aug-14 08:05:01

Wide berth sounds like a sensible plan to me. In your shoes I'd try to remain civil but I wouldn't be making friendly overtures like visiting her at work. From what you have said she sounds very self-centred. All the best.

ADifferentView Wed 13-Aug-14 08:38:15

Thank you for your replies, and the codependency suggestion. I've read a little bit and recognise lots.

Difficulty with boundaries, not knowing where their needs end and the needs of another person begin.

Repression within the family and a need to keep up the family lie of pretending the alcohol problems are not there. Anyone who doesn't toe the line is excluded!

My sister in law is also often is the position of being responsible for her maintaining her mothers happiness or state of mind. MIL says her daughter is her best friend and relies on her emotionally a lot.

sunseeker Wed 13-Aug-14 08:50:32

Do you have a good relationship with her sister (the one you overheard her speaking to)? If so perhaps you could mention to her that you heard what she said and she could then let your MiL know that you had heard, then wait and see what she does.

She sounds a lot like my mother and the only way to deal with her is for both you and your DH to be firm about boundaries. Is DH her only son because it does sound as if she is jealous that you have "taken" him away from her. My mother would try lots of tricks like your MiL with my brother until he made it quite clear to her that if she forced him to make a choice between her and his wife and family - she would lose. Her behaviour with him and his family have improved greatly (although her behaviour towards me still needs work!!) Good luck

rosesarered Wed 13-Aug-14 08:55:51

Hello *A different view*what a problem for you. It's easy for others to say 'lay down ground rules' and hard to do. Your husband knows his mother has problems letting him go [it's a common thing, mothers and sons.]Plus she has other problems [alchohol.]I would allow your MIL to see your daughter often, as long as she is not drunk, and be pleasant with her, she is still your DH's mother after all.She is unhappy, and being bossy with her and not allowing her to see her grand-daughter will make things worse for all of you.Don't worry about her 'loving you' maybe she does in her own way anyway. Disregard anything you overhear, she clearly is unhappy.You hold all the cards here, so unless things get worse, allow her to be a close part of your family.Grandma's often buy chocs etc for their DGC and a bit of junk food won't hurt.Good Luck!

suebailey1 Wed 13-Aug-14 09:06:38

I don't think you will ever please this lady who as others have said is manipulative to a destructive degree. Just be polite and keep her at arms length.

Mishap Wed 13-Aug-14 09:49:54

"She asked on 3 occasions to stay in our hotel room with us on our wedding night..." - well, that about sums it all up!

I think that you should keep your distance in an informal way - I do not think that any formal attempt to set boundaries would be a good thing to do, as it would precipitate a scene and a sulk and pressure from other members of the family who are also being manipulated.

Just be polite, as Sue says and keep her at arm's length.

You do not need her to love you - sometimes that is too much to expect of in-laws. You have your OH and your family to do that. A lot of MILs do not love their sons/daughters-in-law; but they keep good relations. After all, we did not choose who our children decide to marry - they may choose someone whom we feel is not someone we personally are compatible with, but it is our job to be friendly and supportive regardless (well - not regardless of abuse etc.). Do not seek to make this lady love you - she probably doesn't, but so what?! - you can't make her and why should you? All you need to do is to maintain some sort of relationship with her that does not give her the chance to overstep the mark, but keeps her reasonably sweet, without creating a scene.

I do not envy you this situation - but remember it is not of your making and you must just hold your head up high, be gentle but firm about what is acceptable regarding your daughter, and let her gossip away about you to her heart's content - you sound a very thoughtful caring person, and if she does not like you, then that is her loss. Rise above it!!

Grannyknot Wed 13-Aug-14 10:12:01

mishap - good post.

Also if your MIL is dependent on alcohol - which wasn't clear from the first post (I thought she had overstepped the mark on a particular occasion), then don't waste your time and energy, because dealing with an alcoholic is like trying to blow out a lightbulb or hoping to catch a rugby ball that is thrown in a bounce.

I agree with not trying to set formal boundaries - there is only one thing that I wouldn't do and that is to enter into any "family conspiracy of silence". I would let her know - with much compassion - that I am on to her if she tried to manipulate me.

ADifferentView Wed 13-Aug-14 10:42:34

I'm glad to have all this good advice - thank you. Setting boundaries quietly and informally makes much sense in this scenario. The last thing I want to create is more drama.

Also true that I don't need her to love me. I suppose what I find hard to reconcile is that she began very early on in our relationship telling me how much she loved me like a daughter and wanted to be like a mother to me. She often tells me she loves me and I feel I must reciprocate because it's said in front of the rest of the family. I've realised over time she says I Love You a lot when she's had a drink.

So it's all so false, and I'm not used to being like this. In my family we all speak our minds!

Mishap Wed 13-Aug-14 11:31:22

Saying you love someone can be a manipulative act - as you have no doubt noticed! You don't have to reciprocate in kind and tell her you love her - I doubt it is true! - and why should you love her? - she doesn't sound very loveable! Just say "I'm glad of that" and leave it at that.

She sounds a sad and needy lady, but you cannot let that rule your life. You only get one go at this joyous time of bringing up children. If I could turn the clock back and do it all again, believe me I would! Enjoy!

whenim64 Wed 13-Aug-14 12:22:44

Wise words, Mishap. I have seen children 'trained' to say 'I love you' and it is meaningless if not spontaneous and genuine. I'd rather hear 'I know' than have it parroted back at me by a child, and I wouldn't expect a MiL to use that phrase to extract compliance from her DiL. Not a loving thing to do at all.

ADifferentView Wed 13-Aug-14 12:23:56

Well yes, in the early days I would feel terrible guilt at being unhappy with some of things she was doing. I believed her when she said she loved me and that stopped me thinking badly of her and just taking whatever she threw my way.

Tegan Wed 13-Aug-14 12:37:21

Seems to me that you're the 'adult' in this relationship and just have to keep remembering that when she acts in such a ridiculous way. I can still remember hearing something horrid that was said about me over 40 years ago so I can understand how hurt you must have been. At least you now know that her new persona as a loving MIL is a facade and can act accordingly. Just put up with her, knowing secretly what she's really like; in that you have the upper hand. Silly woman, she doesn't really deserve you. Good luck.

ADifferentView Wed 13-Aug-14 12:38:39

She says it to my husband all the time - "I love your wife so much, she's like a daughter to me". She also says it other family members, and it makes me look all the worse for not seeing her as often as she would like.

jeanie99 Wed 13-Aug-14 12:50:41

It's the classic problem, I never had any relationship with my MIL we had no common interests basically she had no interests other than playing bingo. I was never good enough for her son and our children were never as good as her daughters whom she adored. I've been married 44 years and the old dear died last year at 91 so I know what it's about.

Now your problem, she is trying to control you and her son and you will never be good enough for him, that's a fact and it will never go away.

Knowing that you can go forward but you need the support of your hubby.

Allow the children to visit her on your terms NOT HERS, the sooner she gets this the better.

Make your own arrangements for babysitting without asking her for help.

Don't visit unless it's absolutely necessary, don't let the family pressure you into doing anything IT'S YOURS LIFE.

If your hubby wants to visit her that's no problem smile and say ok I'll see you later I have something to do like taking the children out.

Even though my MIL favoured my SIL my husband visited my MIL weekly I never asked him not to go it's his mother so don't complain.

Make your life with your family, children and hubby as good as it can be, when they look back years later on their childhood they will remember what a lovely fun mother you were and see their grandmother for what she is. DON'T SAY ANYTHING BAD ABOUT HER TO THE CHILDREN.

When my children were older it was only because of me that they visited her because they wouldn't have done, she never spent any time with them all their growing years.


Tegan Wed 13-Aug-14 13:11:48

Just visualise her nose growing every time she says it and feel superior wink.

sunseeker Wed 13-Aug-14 14:22:56

The rest of the family are more than likely aware of what she is like and that she says things when she doesn't mean them. I doubt they are judging you (probably just glad its you getting the flack instead of them!).

You must live your life the way you want to, making a good life for yourself, DH and children - everyone else, and their opinions, come second. Continue to be polite and as friendly as you can and ignore anything she says, then you will at least have the moral high ground.

J52 Wed 13-Aug-14 16:56:59

I cannot add to any of the excellent advice posted here. My MIL made an art out of manipulation and sulking. I tried always to be as polite as possible and access to GCs was always in my or DHs control. Good luck with such a difficult person. X

ADifferentView Wed 13-Aug-14 18:30:55

I really appreciate all the advice, thank you everyone. The comment about her nose growing made me laugh.

I know she is sad and unhappy and I do feel sorry for her. I've been surprised by how much worse she became after we got married, especially since we had been living together with a child for years. Did she think our relationship was a temporary thing?

She is unhappy and I do feel sorry for her. I just can't be on the receiving end of her behaviour anymore, and it's so unnecessary when we could all get along if she would let go of her resentment/control issues/whatever it is she feels towards me.

littleflo Wed 13-Aug-14 18:35:42

I feel so sorry for you. Your MIL is a bully. I have put up with this behaviour from my mother all my life. (I am 66) All you can do is bite your tongue and try not to let it get to you, easier said than done I know. Most of all, have faith in yourself and limit the time you spend with this poisonous woman.