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

(36 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.

Rowantree Tue 02-Sep-14 17:21:53

I can't add much to the good advice and support here, but it does make me feel rather humble about my own MIL problems! I can't begin to imagine how I'd cope with what you've had to deal with over the years. But I'm not sure that 'biting your tongue' helps you feel better- it doesn't help much for me! Your MIL is a dreadful bully but almost certainly has serious mental health problems which she probably can't help, but you can't be expected to second-guess them or even respond to them. Your duty is to yourself and your own little family. I wonder if you'd find it helpful to have some counselling for a few weeks in order to find ways of dealing with her? I went to Relate a couple of years ago for support when a close friendship of mine went pear-shaped and I couldn't cope. Relate help with any relationship problems, not just marital. Good luck and please keep us posted on how things are for you. flowers

Eloethan Thu 14-Aug-14 00:41:55

I agree that her saying she loves you sounds, in the circumstances you describe, manipulative. It presents her as a "nice person" and puts more pressure on you to overlook her nasty behaviour.

You sound like a very caring person who understands that this woman has problems and who tries to make allowances for that. However, after overhearing such spiteful comments, I would do as others have suggested - maintain a polite relationship but try to limit how much - and for how long - you see her.

Faye Wed 13-Aug-14 23:52:45

I can't see how it is normal to be jealous of your DIL. I love my DIL and am very grateful she and my son have a happy marriage and are good parents.

ADV your are not unreasonable but you do need to stick up for yourself. I would have started at the wedding: NO it's not okay to wear white to my wedding and NO it's not okay for you to spend the night with us on our wedding night. NO it's not my husband's money, it's our money. Don't let her get away with this behaviour otherwise it just goes on and on. I know, I had a very spiteful MIL, my husband even warned me early in our marriage to be wary of her.

ADifferentView Wed 13-Aug-14 23:44:10

Someone asked earlier if MIL has other GC. She does not, also she is not single but married for 40 years - unhappily. Her husband was verbally abusive and controlling and still is sometimes. My DH is not her only son and she also has a daughter.

My DH is the only one with a partner though so everything she is experiencing with one of her children 'flying the nest' is a first.

2 of her children are still at home with her in their twenties.

I too don't think it's natural for a MIL to be jealous. My paternal grandmother was never jealous of my mother and really did treat her very well.

I think I would be happy to see a son of mine in a happy and healthy relationship. In regards to mine and dh's relationship, there is no history of us hurting each other. We have never separated or had any big problems. Nothing that would give my MIL reason to resent me.

Grannyknot Wed 13-Aug-14 22:26:54

I am not at all jealous of my DIL - I am just really pleased that my son found a partner. And a little relieved grin.

Elegran Wed 13-Aug-14 20:52:28

It is not automatic to be jealous of a DiL. Mine was not jealous of me, my grandmother was not jealous of my mother, I am not jealous of my son's wife. A woman who exhibits such jealousy is insecure. She believes, in her heart of hearts, that she is not lovable enough, that her son only has a limited supply of love to give and that if he gives it to his wife there will be none left for her.

Elegran Wed 13-Aug-14 20:47:43

What does she mean by love, I wonder? Some people cannot love without being possessive, or being controlling, or wanting to barter their "love" for attention.

thatbags Wed 13-Aug-14 20:45:27

If jealousy of the wives of one's sons is "only natural", I'm really glad I have only daughters.

Mind you, I don't believe it is "only natural" at all. Or, at worst, if it is, then women should be aware of its destructiveness and take pains to deal with it without any fuss and without their daughters-in-law ever noticing. As both my mothers-in-law did.

You do not have to put up with any possessive jealousy shit, adv. [Head up and growl emoticons]

Tegan Wed 13-Aug-14 20:32:03

I do feel something that I would call 'love' for my [sort of] DIL, but I know that that love would disappear instantly if she did anything to hurt my son, and therein lies the difference.

Crafting Wed 13-Aug-14 20:21:25

Adifferentview I have 2 DIL and they are both really good mums who love and care for our GC exceptionally well. They are also good wives to my sons. I care for them a great deal and care about their feelings and their happiness and am thankful for them loving my sons and GC but I don't love them like I do my own sons. I don't go round telling people how much I love them and am a bit surprised that you MIL puts so much effort into doing so. Actions as they say speak louder than words and I don't see much of the loving feeling in what she is doing to you. When you only have sons it is natural for a little jealousy to sneak in sometimes but I love my sons very much and their happiness is very important to me so I am grateful to my DILs for making them happy.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.


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.

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 12:23:56

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

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!!

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.