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The MiL /DiL dynamic

(43 Posts)
NanaandGrampy Sun 14-Feb-16 13:48:42

A post in one of the other chats mentioned about how things have changed in the Mother in Law/ Daughter in Law dynamic and it got me thinking.

My Mother in Law hated me before we even met and I was never good enough for her boy. I tried really hard for about 20 years to be what she wanted and only really succeeded in making myself miserable ( she was miserable anyway grin ).

I only have Son in Laws and I think that the relationship is far easier to manage but have no experience of Daughter in Laws so wonder others have experience that its that's not the case.

From what I read it seems that sometimes Grandparents with Daughter in Laws really do struggle down to the point of being estranged.

I felt when I first married that i HAD to make my Mother in Law happy . Has that all changed?

I'd be very interested to hear your views.

pensionpat Sun 14-Feb-16 14:20:58

On a wider level than only in-laws, each new generation used to defer the the previous one. At some point this changed and our generation cared for parents/in-laws, often at the same time as our children and grandchildren. I sometimes think when will it be our turn! However, I am my own worst enemy. Do so much for my children, DILs and only grandchild. I really enjoy it and have lots of energy and no health problems. It keeps me involved in their lives. And I know they appreciate it. The day that I can no longer do this will be a sad one!

pat1876 Sun 14-Feb-16 15:31:47

I got on really well with my mother in law (better than I did with her son who I eventually divorced!) but I only have son-in-laws so can only comment about that dynamic. They are both pretty easy-going and blend into the background most of the time when I am with my daughters. I think they both like me but I am always careful not to judge or make comments which I know may spark problems between them and my daughters.

I have learned tact over the years. I am happy to help when required but don't over-stay my welcome or interfere in their lives. Like pension pat, I help out and get great pleasure from spending time with my grandchildren.

I'm not sure that either of the men try to make me happy though. Why should they?

Badenkate Sun 14-Feb-16 15:35:54

I have a good relationship with my 2 DILs and a reasonable one with my ex-DIL. I've always been there if they need me, but I 've never interfered or taken sides. I'll give advice if asked, but never offer it. We live an hour from one DIL and 4 hours from the other and so can't do the just dropping in bit. We always signed cards etc to them Paul and Kathryn, but we were told that it should be mum and dad because that's what we are to them - a second mum and dad. I tell them I've got 2 lovely daughters without all the hastle of teenage years! I am so pleased - but I' ve worked for it by keeping quiet when I maybe would have liked to interfere.
My MIL was a miserable so-and-so who never liked me, even though it was clear that her other son was her favourite. Anything I did or said was wrong, so I was grateful we lived a reasonable distance from her. Maybe the difference is that she came from a generation where it was less common for women to have careers and interests outside the home, so their children were all-important and gave a focus to their lives.

Leticia Sun 14-Feb-16 15:43:59

I think that you just need to be friendly from the start. Get to know them as individuals and not just through your sons.
I love the same books as my DIL - I don't think you can go wrong if you are both great readers and share books!

Wendysue Sun 14-Feb-16 16:10:57

I've heard of MIL/DIL problems all my life, so I don't know how much that's changed. I do think more young women, these days, are more confident and feel more on a par with the older generation than many women did years ago. So they are more likely to speak up about things that bother them and less likely to accept certain kinds of treatment, just cuz it's by their MIL and so forth. Because of that confidence, they're more likely to take action, too, if their MIL or FIL offends them.

Greyduster Sun 14-Feb-16 17:10:31

I think I may have said on another thread that my mother in law and I didn't get on. Fortunately we weren't thrown together that often; if we had been, we might have learned to like each other, who knows? My son's first wife was very reluctant to do the family thing; it wasn't in her nature - so she kept us at arms length from day one and we never really got to know each other that well before, sadly, she died. It was one of the greatest sadnesses of my life, because she made him happy and I think eventually, with care, we might have had a good relationship. My current d-I-l is totally different. She is very grounded, easy to talk to and seems happy to be in our company. I don't know what she thinks of me deep down - we don't have a lot in common - but it seems to work well enough. The things I don't like I keep my mouth shut about. She is probably the same!

annodomini Sun 14-Feb-16 17:23:30

I've probably posted previously that I have a good friendship with DS1's wife and DS2's partner. For various complicated reasons, they both lived with me (separately) for a few months while my sons went off to seek their fortunes in the south. Nowadays I feel very much at home when I go to visit, and have been on several caravan holidays with DS1, his wife and the GC. I am sure that the reason for our good relationships is that I got to know them separately from my sons when I shared my home with them.

PamSJ1 Sun 14-Feb-16 17:43:24

Although I love my MIL dearly, I have to admit I don't always like her. She tends to speak before she thinks and has admitted as much. However she is always great with her DILs probably because they make up for having 5 sons and no daughters. Fortunately I am good at biting my tongue when she says something she shouldn't.

Luckygirl Sun 14-Feb-16 17:46:03

My MIL was so under the thumb of her OH (ghastly man!) and took to the bottle eventually. It was a tragedy as she was highly intelligent with a first class degree from the Sorbonne that she achieved at a time when few women went to university. She was fluent in several languages and knew Latin. It was just as well that I had done languages and Latin in the sixth form or I would have had more trouble following her conversations, which were peppered with French, German and Latin, and full of poetry references.

What a waste of a life!

She never gave me any real trouble, except for hiding bottles of sherry round my house and drinking them in bed while smoking - when she was with us I used to stay awake until she was asleep - and I would go and check that the ciggy was out and she was not about to set fire to the place!

But she was kind to me and always pleasant.

loopylou Sun 14-Feb-16 18:05:36

My MIL made no secret of the fact she hated me....

My DDIL and I get on very well, and I am very careful not to interfere - I'm sure my DS would tell me soon enough should that happen ?

We've been on holiday together several times so I must be doing something right!

MamaCaz Sun 14-Feb-16 18:06:16

I have two daughters-in-law, and I wouldn't change either of them for the world.
That's not something I take for granted, because it wasn't always the case - one son had an earlier marriage, and when he first met that partner, it didn't take us long to realize that her 'niceness' was only skin deep. That said, I'm sure the feeling was mutual. Sometimes, you are such different people that it really is very difficult to do anything more than go through the motions of trying to get along. If one or both parties isn't prepared to do that, then things will never be great at best.

Luckily, we seem to rub along very well with our current DiLs, and I admit to feeling quite feeling quite happy last week when one DiL commented on the MiL / DiL problems that she often reads about on MumsNet, and said how nice it is that we don't have that problem smile.

Sadly, both age and distance meant that I never knew my own MiL well enough to have any kind of relationship with her. She certainly wasn't an easy-going woman, but we never really had the chance to get to know each other even though DH and I had been together for about 20 years by the time she died.

cornergran Sun 14-Feb-16 18:53:41

I think - hope - we have a good enough relationship with our DiL's. We love them and enjoy the company of two very different women who make our sons very happy indeed and are lovely Mums. We feel welcomed in their homes and hope they feel the same when they are able to visit us. My relationship with my MiL was very different. No sense of dislike but we lived a long way from each other and she was very much older than my own Mum, quite formal in many ways, not demonstrative or very talkative about herself, we seemed to have little in common other than her son and later our own children. I believe, though, there was mutual respect and I still vividly recall the lovely moment she quite unexpectedly referred to me as her daughter. Just the once in my hearing though. I'm sad that I struggled to know how to address her. Our DiL's call me quite naturally by my first name, which is fine by me, unfortunately 48+ years ago that wasn't acceptable, probably to either of us. I'm very embarrassed to own that once married I rarely called her anything, nothing seemed to fit, it is a great sadness that I didn't know her better as a person.

MamaCaz Sun 14-Feb-16 19:12:43

Cornergran, I know just what you mean about the problem of how to address MiL. Like you, I rarely (well, never, actually!) called mine anything, for the very same reasons you give.

Once when we were visiting her in the very early years, I was alone downstairs and she was upstairs when someone knocked at the door. I went to the bottom of the stairs to call her but then froze, as I couldn't think of a way to address her. To my shame, I decided to ignore the knocking and keep out of sight from the windows until the would-be visitor went away.

The problem wasn't entirely down to my young age, as I later discovered that her other DiL, some 18 years my senior, didn't know what to call her either, and only solved the problem after children came along, from which point on she was always addressed as Grandma, even if the children weren't present.

Sadly, some years down the line, MiL didn't know how to address me either - I've never forgotten the time when she phoned to speak to my OH, and when I answered the phone she'd totally forgotten my name, and had to ask if I was T's wife. sad

Anya Sun 14-Feb-16 21:17:01

I didn't like my MiL or my FiL. They held views I found repugnant but I never let on how I felt about them. They are both dead now, but to this day my OH has no idea that I disliked them both.

pollyparrot Sun 14-Feb-16 21:26:16

I like and get on with two out of three DILs. The one I don't get on with is rude, although I think it's just that she doesn't understand tact. I've known her the longest yet it sometimes feels like we've just met. She's a bit of a cold fish and a know all.

Judthepud2 Sun 14-Feb-16 22:49:57

I have only one DIL and she is just lovely. Warm, bubbly and she is so good for my DS? I couldn't wish for better. And her parents are such great people too. They came to stay with us for a week in September and were wonderful company. There are no children there yet, and I hope that the relationship continues to be as good when that (hopefully) happens.

Pippa000 Mon 15-Feb-16 09:06:09

My DiL has had a difficult relationship with both parents since they divorced when she was a teenager, it has improved but more with her father. We have always treated her as we do our daughter, holidays together, family Christmases etc. Even so I was astonished, in a good way, when she asked if I could be around when she and DS had their first and second children, especially as we live in Cyprus and her mother lives 2 miles away. We now visit for a few weeks at a time every year and although as with all daughters things can get tricky at times, we do see eye to eye on most things and when we don't I bit my tongue. I never had a mother in law as she died before DH and I met, so I have no comparison to make. As long as DiL is able to put up with DS and all his foibles I am a happy bunny.

Marmark1 Mon 15-Feb-16 09:06:56

I think in general,men are nicer easier going people than women,so easier to get on with.Not always the case,I know.But,(in my sons case) she likes her own way,and is not happy if she doesn't get it.I know my place,and keep to it.

Wilks Mon 15-Feb-16 09:52:16

We get on really well with our daughter in law and daughter's partner, for which I am very grateful. This was brought home to me when eldest grandson met a truly awful woman by whom he now has a baby and who has set about severing all his family relationships. Not so bad for us but I feel for his poor mum. Last time she visited the ghastly woman went to her bedroom and didn't come down until grandson's mother was about to go. I count my blessings!

Babyboomer Mon 15-Feb-16 10:01:50

I was lucky, as my husband and I were both very fond of each other's parents (now no longer with us). We have a son-in-law we get on well with, and my daughter is close to her in-laws too. They have also become friends of ours. So far so good. But I also have an unmarried son, so I am very interested in this thread and the advice re possible future DIL.

I was talking to my daughter about this, and she said she is in the minority at work, as all her colleagues hate their mothers-in-law! I must say, I noticed this too when I was working - and often hate did not seem an exaggerated word. I know different generations see things differently, but I do hope this isn't inevitable these days.

harrysgran Mon 15-Feb-16 10:34:24

My MIL hated me from the word go I was divorced with two young children and this in her eyes was beneath her son we later went on to have a son together but due to the horrible way she had treat myself and children she had nothing to do with our son as by then it was better to cut her out of our lives so I'm very aware when dealing with my own SIL DIL to bite my tongue as you reap what you sow.

RedheadedMommy Mon 15-Feb-16 11:02:48

My MIL didn't like me from the start. Didn't acknowledge me, talk to me, called me names when she knew I was in earshot..then I fell pregnant and the tables turned, but the damage was already done. She didn't apologies for the past things.

But I did try, because she was my OHs mom. Lots of things happened and her true self came racing to the surface. It was like watching a car crash. She ruined it for herself and she is the only one to blame.

I think as any relationship you both need to try. My DH and I bent over backwards for her however she is very maniplitive and selfish so it was never good enough.

It's been almost 3 years now and my DH has no intention of getting in touch. Shes missed out on so much. It has nothing to do with her being a MIL, she was always like it sad

annifrance Mon 15-Feb-16 11:14:54

I am so fortunate. I love my DSil and DDiL very much - they are wonderful people and I cannot imagine either of my children without them and I love their company, with or without my DCs. My first in laws I loved so, so much until the day they died and I still miss them dreadfully, even more that my own DM, father was always a no no. So I was taken into first in laws home at the age of 19 and treated like the daughter they never had, and this continued after I divorced their DS. My OH's mother was also very wonderful and felt very sad when she died, but no-one will ever be like first ex H's parents. I hope I have matched up to MiL for my own D&SiL.

Gaggi3 Mon 15-Feb-16 11:41:44

I have only sons-in-law, whom I love, so no experience of DiLs, except being one. Loved my Mother and Father-in-law as second parents, and they were most loving. and wonderful grandparents to my daughters. The last thing MiL said to me, as she lay in hospital, was "You've been a lovely daughter". I treasure that memory and miss them.