Parents-in-law

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Parents-in-law

Postby dragon_rider » Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:43 pm

Hi

I got married nearly a year ago to a wonderful man, and everything is fine with regards to that, but I struggle a lot with his family.

I'll be honest and say I don't really like his mum, or his sister. His dad is fine, a really nice bloke, although I get cross at the way he is incapable of standing up to his wife when she's rude, or the way he does everything for his daughter who is very selfish, but that's not really important.

His mother is quite rude, selfish and spiteful. She makes comments about my husband all the time, (his weight, whether he's shaved, what he's wearing) and demands that he comes to see her, to the point where we have had to rearrange plans to fit her in. She will not come and visit us, however, despite living ten minutes away. She does very little - volunteers twice a week in charity shop and that's it - but spends every visit telling him all about the random little things that happen and never asks him what is happening in his life. After some arguments, we managed to arrange for my husband to visit every Thursday after work for a couple of hours, which works in the main.

His sister is a selfish woman. She's 27 but refuses to leave home because she has it easy there - no rent, all food cooked for her, all washing done for her, her dad is her own personal taxi and takes her everywhere. She has tantrums when she can't get her own way and I mean toddler tantrums - lying on the floor kicking and screaming. She is however a very intelligent woman with a very good and impressive job. I believe she suffers from some sort of depression, but it is my opinion that she enjoys it because it gets her attention. She cries at the dinner table when I'm there when we talk about stuff that we're doing or have done. We recently went abroad with some friends and she asked us not to talk about it around her as it made her upset. We were a bit shocked, but respected her wishes. She then proceeded to ask us about it, and then burst into tears when we said what a good time we'd had. She also appears to be incapable of doing anything without her mother, although this might be inflicted by the mother - whenever we do anything, the sister always has to come, even though it's clear that it's not really suitable for her to be there, or something. We recently had them round for dinner and we had to change the night they came because the sister couldn't make it that night but they couldn't come without her. It is very frustrating.

My main problem is though that my husband and I have just bought a house on the other side of town. It's about a half an hour drive from his parents' house. My husband has decided that it's too far now for him to go round every week after work, so he won't be visiting so much. I was quite pleased about this, because although he's wonderful in lots of ways, he has a terrible habit of letting people walk all over him, just to keep the peace. He'd rather people (his mother in the main!) was rude to him and got their own way even if it upset him, than say something and cause an argument. However, he told his mother that he wouldn't be able to visit so often.

So she turned round and said that she would have to come and see us more often, and wouldn't it be lovely to have dinner in that nice bright dining room.

I hit the roof.

I hate, HATE having them round for dinner. They arrive way too early and then comment on what we're having for dinner and the way it's cooked ("Oh, I didn't know you cut ham like that" "That's an odd way to cook the meat" "That's an easy meal"), she pokes around our stuff (she goes to the loo and then opens our bedroom door and wanders round), she doesn't switch lights off (a small thing I know, but so annoying!) and so on. She also said that she would bring slippers to keep there - I can't bear the thought of her making herself so at home in my house.

I'm also getting worked up about having children. We are thinking of starting a family next year, but I don't want her to have much involvement with the children, which makes me feel like a terrible person, but she's done a great job of messing up her daughter and did her best to mess up her son, who thankfully can see through her. I don't want to leave her alone with my child. I can see her taking toys away just to make him/her cry, or giving them sweets just before tea time so they won't eat their dinner. I thought I was being silly and a bit of a b*tch, but when I told my husband this, he thought I had a point.

The sister is just not nice to be around, and I really don't want her coming round every time the parents do, because we have to watch everything we say, and she gets upset about the smallest thing. We all used to do am dram together, but she fell out with people in the group, and now we're not allowed to mention that in her hearing either, and so on. I would also be worried about leaving her with the baby, as I think she would take her frustrations out on the child (her frustrations being that she is single (and always has been) and is convinced she won't have children).

On top of all this, we get on very well with my parents who are very laid back and easy going, and have busy lives so they don't need us to be with them so much. We see my parents a couple of times a week, but that's because we do stuff together, we play in the same band, we go to the same church and drink at the same pub. My mum is really looking forward to being a Grandma, and my dad can't wait to kick a ball around with his Grandson. They are nothing but supportive without being overbearing, but I feel awkward that we have a better relationship with them and feel that I should treat both sets of parents the same, but it's almost impossible when they are so different.

I really don't know what to do, and I feel sick when I think about her putting her feet up in my house in her slippers, making herself at home and holding my baby (who doesn't even exist yet!). I can't really speak to her, because I don't think she has any idea of how I feel about her, and it would make things very, very difficult. I don't want to stop her seeing my husband, as I don't actually have an issue with it, I just wish she could see that he is a grown up and has his own life and sometimes finding time to see his mum is awkward and he doesn't need to be shouted at and given the third degree about it. I just don't know what to do, and the more I think about it, the bigger the problem seems. I've talked to my husband who agrees with me but doesn't see a way out of it - his mother HAS to see him, whether he wants to see her or not, and he can't really stop her coming round if she wants to and we can hardly shut the door in her face...

I guess, through this immensly long ramble and rant, that what I'm asking for is advice on how to make my peace with this, how to make myself ok with it, and how to do that for the next 20 odd years...
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Re: Parents-in-law

Postby Ticktock » Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:35 pm

I feel a bit sorry for your husband stuck between two women BOTH engaged in open warfare over his attention.

It isn't being weak to try and compromise between two people who are BOTH issuing silly ultimatums to prove who has won the battle. She is his mother that will not change, she may be unpleasant and a bit of a bully, but you simply can't have her out of your life completely. You are his wife and while he is agreeing with you I think you have to accept some interaction with his family, have you considered that your family gets on with him because he is obviously the more easygoing of the two of you.

He chose you, he loves you and is living with you not his mother, compromise a little and get him to support a reasonable level of visits (after all it is not unreasonable to say to anyone come round when you are free, once a month for a dinner is a good compromise, you do have a life beyond your parents).

The more you overreact the greater pleasure his mother will take in turning the knife, so stop rising to the bait.
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Re: Parents-in-law

Postby dragon_rider » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:25 am

You misunderstand me. I don't have an issue with him going round, as long as it doesn't clash with plans we've - not just me, but both of us - have made. I am happy for him to carry on seeing her, I just don't want her in my house. I was surprised that he suggested that he would no longer be able to go round every Thursday because it was too far - I would far rather he kept going round. I don't want to stop him seeing her, she is his mother. I just don't want to see her myself, we don't get on, she's not a very nice person.

I understand what you're saying, I need to back off. But I don't see why I am always the one who has to take a step back and do that. She never, NEVER, comes round to see us and I am not invited to their house, so why should I suddenly have to be delighted to have her at my house every other week, poking round my stuff in her slippers, with her miserable daughter dictating the conversation?

I realise that I am just going to have to live with it. I also realise that I am not going to be able to moan about it. I shall just have to bite my lip when she tells me I've put on weight or I should tidy the house more often. Hey ho.
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Re: Parents-in-law

Postby dragon_rider » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:37 am

Sorry Ticktock, I was rude there, bit of a knee jerk reaction.

I totally get what you're saying, and I realise I have to compromise - I am happy to do that, I do understand that I can't just never see them, and I am going to have to let them into my house.

The trouble for me is that it is always me (or us) that has to compromise. When they come for dinner, if the sister isn't free, we have to rearrange, when I don't see why they can't come without her on the odd occasion. I also can't get my head around the utter rubbish he gets if for any reason he can't visit. The last time he said he couldn't make it she rang him three times asking him to tell her why, as if she was trying to catch him out. I just get cross that she can't accept that sometimes he is just too busy.

We both work full time and have a very busy social life, both together and apart and we don't get that much time together. I guess I resent having to give him up for a couple of hours, as Thursday is generally the only night we both have free, but we don't get to spend it together as he is there. But it is better than losing him at the weekend, so I suppose it's the lesser of two evils.

As said before, I have no issue with him seeing his mum, as long as it doesn't mess with our plans. She doesn't do anything, so she is free whenever, so he could go round whenever he's free. I just don't want her to get into a habit of coming to see us. I can't really make an excuse not to be there every time they came round, that would be too obvious and I do try not to be openly rude to her (although the last time she told me I was fat, I did snap). I do realise that I'm going to have to live with it, which is what I was asking for help with. I KNOW I can't do anything about it, so how am I going to learn to live with it, and live with it graciously? I don't want to keep moaning, and I am going to try and stop moaning at my husband, but it just grates that I am the one who has to keep my mouth shut when she is the one causing me to get cross. Would you like to have to sit with a smile on your face while your mother in law suggests perhaps it would be better if you went without dessert?
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Re: Parents-in-law

Postby dayle » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:13 pm

I've been in a very similar situation to you & to an extent agree with Ticktock - it's extremely hard, but this is his issue to deal with. It sounds like he's making steps if he's saying that he won't be able to go as much. My MIL used to hit my husband (hard enough to leave marks) if he said anything she didn't like - which was normally anything to do with achieving things. I got so angry, I hit her back on one occasion, because he wouldn't say anything. Not proud of that, but I was only 18.

I didn't care that there was a stupid woman who would scream at us to do things her way, demand that we visited twice a week (we have 4 parents, all living separately), demand 'thank you for having me' presents on his birthday, ask to borrow money and then decide it was a gift, laugh at my cooking, nose around my house etc. I minded that he let these things happen. Two things changed - firstly, she had a huge go at both of us (for something and nothing) tearing our characters down and I walked out, which led to him telling her off and saying he'd ask me to come back and she could apologise to me and hope I accepted it, because if I went so did he. Secondly, I backed right off and didn't comment on anything she did.

Personally, I would talk to him about your boundaries - maybe only rearranging dinner arrangements if you haven't already made plans, maybe getting a lock on your bedroom door - and then let him deal with it. I honestly found that when I let him take a lead on it, she stopped bothering me. I'd reached the stage where I physically couldn't stand her but after that we got on reasonably well.

It's not about fighting over a man - she was treating him horribly and he's still scarred by the way she treated him growing up. But, if you fight the battles for him, then it's easy for everyone to pretend that it's mother-in-law / daughter-in-law jealousy.
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Re: Parents-in-law

Postby Bel Bel » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:32 pm

I agree with Dayle that you have to tell your husband he must take responsibility fo his mother.
He has to tell her he doesn't want her keeping her slippers at your house
You aren't prepared to change plans it will have to be another week you have dinner
Has he ever asked why your sister always has to come or explained sometimes he wants just his parents so you talk freely
Has anyone thought about what will happen to the sister when the parents die, if she isn't taught to stand on her own two feet you are likely to get her expecting to live with you or being a burden
Explain that he needs to make a stand and it will actually make things better in the long run
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Re: Parents-in-law

Postby dragon_rider » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:57 pm

Hi, thanks for your replies.

I've thought long and hard about what TickTock said, and I realise that my husband doesn't need me moaning on and on about his mother. He knows the score, he knows that she is a pain - believe me, this doesn't all come from me - and that it is an issue that needs addressing.

It's good to know I'm not the only one who has a MIL like this! It's really hard though, because sometimes she's really nice, and I tell myself I'm being a fool then the next minute she refuses to serve me pudding or something. She also does things like if she offers to make a cup of tea, we'll all say yes, and she'll say to my husband, "Oh, I didn't mean you." I know it's a joke, but she does it every single time, to the point where I now say, "Perhaps I'd better make them then." She makes it out to be a joke, because if you were to pull her up on it, you couldn't argue that it wasn't. But it's every time - sometimes two or three times in one tea offer.

I think my biggest problem, like Dayle, is the fact that my husband won't stand up to her. I could live with the inconvenience to a point, if only he would tell her that it's an inconvenience, but he never does. I can bite my tongue and smile through the insults if only he would say "come on mum, that's not on." He says all these things to me, he moans about her insisting he goes round, he moans about his sister being rude and selfish, he complains that she poked him in the stomach AGAIN and commented that he must be eating well, but when I tell him to tell her to stop it, or to say that the sister isn't invited, or whatever, he just says that it's better not to cause an argument, and just let her have her own way. I think when he was growing up, when he did argue back, his dad used to beat him with a slipper at his mother's insistence, and he was punished in way that totally out did whatever he'd done, so he learned that it was better to allow his mother to think that he was badly behaved, or that he had indeed spilt the drink, or whatever, rather than get the slipper. She also got rid of all his toys when he was 13 - he came home from school one day to an empty room.

I am going to insist that he tells her not to bring slippers, the sister, if she has to come, will have to come when we have invited them and not when it suits her, and I am going to suggest a lock on the bedroom door, and on my study door (I'm a writer and more than once I've found my notes all out of order). I am also going to ask him to say something when she makes rude comments, whether it is to me or him. Other than that, I am going to keep my mouth shut. For the time being anyway...

Thank you again to Dayle and Bel Bel, and Ticktock for your replies. I realised that I was being unfair on him by constantly moaning about it and really don't want to make him feel worse than his mother already does!
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Re: Parents-in-law

Postby Ticktock » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:04 pm

Dayle's story sounds very familiar to me, my mother can be a bit of a manipulative ogre. My previous partner hated her with a vengence because of the way she treated me, I was so busy trying to calm things down between them that I couldn't deal with my mother as an adult, rather than the intimidated child I use to be.

When my previous partner died then I quite quickly made the step up to an adult relationship with mother, and believe me I remain her most unpopular child but she does behave a lot better to everyone in the family...
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Re: Parents-in-law

Postby lovefool » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:59 pm

I think tik-tok gave you great advice. I am struggling with my mother in law. I have come to the conclusion that there is a lot of women who suffer from a bad relationship with MIL. My mother in law is a real pain. Like you sometimes I think she is great because she is nice to me and then she says something negative. My mother in law struggles with the fact her children are grown men and so treats them like they are still children lest she feel like she has no purpose. She can be very nasty . I have also come to the conclusion she likes to feel like the number one women in her children's lives so is critical of her children's partners because it makes her feel more important.

Take my advice. Do not nag your husband about his mum. Be as nice as possible to her when you have to spend time together and play her at her own game. In the end your partner will feel pulled between you both and you will be arguing over his mum whilst she is sitting at home oblivious to all the tension she is causing. In short she will drive a wedge between you and you will be helping to put it there. My mother in law makes my blood boil. Sometimes I vent these feelings at my partner. This just makes us argue.It also makes me look like I am just as bad. Let your husband see her behave badly towards you and then see what he does about it. He may deal with it himself in the end. Now I have decided to ignore whatever my MIL says and enjoy my life. Be a lot of counting to ten but whenever she is nasty to me, I am going to remind myself she has problems, she is like this with everyone and that I won't spend one minute arguing with my partner because then she has caused tension and won.

When you have children take them to see her , get your partner to do it , if you can't face it and don't let it put you of having them. Children aren't stupid. My nanna was a lovely nan to me but she was a pain to my dad and I always knew. People , even children will see her for what she is so you don't need to tell them .
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