quiltdogFebruary 4, 2007

Does your Motherinlaw like you? share your favorite Motherinlaw story

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My mother-in-law died several years ago, but when we were newly married, she gave me one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received. She said she learned it from many years of marriage.

She said "I used to sit around thinking Alex should know that I need this, or that I like that. It took me years to figure out that he obviously didn't know and the only way he would know is if I told him. When I started telling him directly what I wanted, instead of fuming about what he didn't know, he was happy to oblige."

It works. When I find myself fuming about somthing that my husband of almost 40 years hasn't intuitively sensed, I remember her story.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 8:20AM
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Unfortunately, my present MIL passed away before I had a chance to meet her. From everything I've seen and heard, she was a terrific woman. My ex-MIL was a different story. On the day my family's business closed down in 1990 after almost 70 years of operation, my wife at the time called her mom to tell her that it was finally over, and her response was that my wife should leave me and take me to court so she could get as much as she could, and then move on to someone who could give her the lifestyle she deserved. I seriously wished this woman would have stepped in front of a mack truck.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 10:17AM
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Married first ML was such a pain and drain on our family. Greatfully she loved the kids, but disliked me so much that it was a constant complaining directly to the kids about how I raised them, did this, that or whatever...always negative. Her son would never support me and when she came to visit I was the one to host, take the time to busy her. He always found a way to go somewhere or find something of importance beyond her....leaving me with the stinging remarks.

My second ML was the most wonderful, kind lady. She never wanted or expected anything, it was a joy to do things for her and help when needed. My mom also became close to my second husband and they had the greatest time together...I believe he loved her as much as I did and she was a great ML.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 10:31AM
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As the mother of a son, I just want to say, please go easy on your MILs! I know it is often a difficult relationship and I think a lot of it has to do with a sort of female territoriality in some cases. I can see that now from both perspectives. A mother doesn't really have to give up her daughter when she marries. They can talk on the phone every day even, and no one thinks there is anything weird about it. But if a son marries and still calls his mother frequently, he is often known as a "Mama's boy." Why is this? I'm not trying to start an argument, just wondering why we have this double standard.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 12:57PM
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I am a mother in law ; I think the dynamic is difficult at times because you are embracing a total stranger and making her part of your family, you didn't raise this person so it takes time to establish the relationship and make it as comfortable as the one you have with your own kids. Patience, tolerance and knowing when to shut up are key !!

For example: my son told me recently that him and his wife would prefer to buy their son's clothes ( they don't have much money, we help support them); I had gotten into the habit of buying loads of wonderful clothes for him . Everything from top to bottom. He's 2. Some of the clothes I bought on my own, other times I would go with my dil. Did I take this personally ? YES. Did I say anything to my dil: NO. Will I buy any item of clothes for him ever, NO. Should I be miffed ? I will continue paying for his clothing, but I won't get to buy it, which I loved doing.
there you go, there's always 2 sides to a coin.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 2:13PM
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I spent a lot of sweat and effort trying to get my first MIL to like me, a futile task since she'd set her opinion of me pretty much the day her son told her we were getting married. I was young and thought that it was me and that I could and should be able to please her.

The thing is, it might well have been me! I don't know WHY she didn't like me. But in fact, it didn't matter. Because I am who I am and that's not going to change no matter how hard I try to please someone else.

Looking back, the lesson I learned was never again to try to be the person some else wanted me to be. Like me as I am or don't.

My current MIL is very sweet in her way, and we get along fine. She's not as judgmental or at least she doesn't make it obvious if she doesn't like anything about me.

My future challenge will be to treat my future DILs as I wished I'd been treated. I have two boys so I'll be tested! My goal will be to welcome them with open arms, accept them as they are, and hope that they will accept me in return. One thing I've told my boys repeatedly is that when they get married, when their wife disagrees with me (and you can bet it will happen) they are to do what their wife says. Shalom bayit -- that means, Peace in the home.

I sure hope I can cope with it when I have to! I have a friend who has a MIL she's not thrilled with and also two sons. We've promised to keep each other in line when the time comes.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 4:07PM
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My MIL was a fabulous mother to her children, but if you weren't her flesh & blood, she was brutal. My own mother was unkind to her only daughter-in-law. So I have two examples of how not to be when my sons get married. The main lesson I learned is: if someone loves your son & is good & kind to him, don't wish for more.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 4:16PM
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I have known my MIL for almost 30 years and though we are not close, we get along fine. The only story I have is when my DH and I were first married, they came out for a visit. I was at work all day and when I got home she had totally reorganized the kitchen. I didn't say a word, though my DH was fuming. (They fought every day when he was growing up - 2 control freaks!) I just waited till they left and put everything back the way I wanted it. I guess DH must have said something to her, I never did not - not even to this day, because she never did it again.

BTW, DH absolutely loves my mom and wishes his mom had been more like her. And she thinks the world of him and wonders how I got so lucky. I think she may like him better then me! ;>)

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 4:38PM
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My MIL did not like me when we were first married, but now I think she likes me better than she likes DH!

She has always been odd about presents. She'll ask for suggestions, then get the exact opposite. She'll buy awful clothes for us, or nice clothes in the completely wrong sizes. If it can be monogrammed so it can't be returned, all the better. If it can be monogrammed with the wrong initials, that's best.

One year she gave me a book for Christmas. It was porn. The title had to do with "Cooking in the Kitchen" but the summary on the back (which she obviously had not read) summarized it as a "veritable cornucopia of kitchen porn".

That was awkward.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 5:30PM
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Oh man-- I'd have LOVED to have been a fly on your wall!! That sounds like a comedy sketch from a sitcom!! Kinda like the sculpture in Everybody Loves Raymond!!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 8:31PM
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pecanpie, what a *hysterical* story.

My own mother adored her mother in law, my grandmother, and I'd always assumed I'd have the same relationship with my mother in law. Not so, but far otherwise. In fact my mother in law was so impossible to me at my first child's birth that at the party for the baby people kept asking me if she was my husband's *step mother* because she seemed to dislike us all so much. Everyone thought a very sweet woman my mother had invited (who didn't know us at all) was my real mother in law. I'll never forget sitting at the kitchen table one morning, just literally with my head on the table with exhaustion while my MIL dragged my husband off to show her something she thought needed seeing on the computer instead of offering to help with the new baby, or letting him help.

She's not a bad person, but she's not a happy person and she has behaved abombinably to my other sister in law on many occasions. One thing I learned from her though is that its all in your attitude towards life. One day she was, as usual, discouraging us from doing something while we were visiting them. The zoo would be too small, the animals not worth seeing, the children would be bored etc....etc...etc... I pointed out to her that we'd already been to the zoo and the children had liked it and said we were going. "Oh," she said, dropping her opposition "I just didn't want you to be disappointed!" I realized then that her whole life had been spent trying to depress everyone's pretensions, desires, joys, dreams and ambitions for fear that things wouldn't work out for them and that they would be disappointed. It was a powerful insight and I've never forgotten it--she's like a living lesson on what not to do, how not to waste your life. She reminds me of a salada tea bag fortune I used to laugh at, it said "If you don't try, you can't fail" and it was meant to be read as encouragement but of course it always sounded so discouraging.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 8:47PM
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I have this great fear, as I am now in my 50's, that it may well be something MIL's can't quite help. I swore a decade ago that I would sit down and write up all the things I had needed to be different from my earlier in-law relationships - so I wouldn't forget when I get there. I'd better get busy and write! I'm already getting oversensitive to the littlest things sometimes - and I don't have an official DIL yet.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 5:11AM
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I'm happy to say my mother in law is great. While we may not always agree, we've never fought or had any real tension in our relationship. When I first had kids, I was not real keen on advice from other people, except of course my own mom (always thought they were giving it because they thought I was doing something wrong), so I guess we may have had a few moments there. She still doesn't get that I don't want my kids eating tons of junk food and staying up to the wee hours, but since we only see them a half-dozen times a year, I can deal with that.

I didn't really know my inlaws before my dh and I married. I was 18 then and had pretty strict rules so I didn't spend much time with them. But we've become close over the past 14 years and I feel very blessed for that.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 1:31PM
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My XH's mother was a horror. She constantly found issue with me, which she would then discuss with her friends (XH found out about this because he overheard her). This in a town where my father was prominent, so things often got back to me. After seeing me in a bathing suit for the first time (one piece suit, I was 18) she said to her friend, "now I know why he goes out with her" (in reference to my bust size). Nevermind that I was an A student who would eventually go to law school (she didn't like that either). When we got engaged she told XH, "why do you want to marry a Catholic? They don't believe in birth control, you'll end up with 10 kids". She didn't like the fact that I am brunette with brown eyes (their family is blond, blue eyes) - I was ruining her future grandchildren with my genetics. She thought I was too short (I'm 5'7"). She and her husband and my SIL's husband would make police jokes at the dinner table when I was there, which I found very offensive (my father was the chief of police in the town XH and I grew up in, which they were well aware of). XH had an MBA, and when I got accepted to law school she didn't think I should go because it was not "proper" for a wife to have more education than her husband. This was 1991, not 1951!

XH knew what his mother was like. But he grew up with her and knew how to tune her out. I couldn't. I just stopped going to their house. Near the end of our marriage we had the opportunity to live in their house rent free (we'd pay taxes and utilities, etc.) because they were going overseas for a few years. I couldn't do it. I knew she would come back for a month at a time, and I knew that living under the same roof as her, in HER house, would kill me. XH moved out and lived there by himself until he met his new wife.

Would you believe that woman had the audacity to go to my mother's funeral?! I wanted to throw-up when I saw her. She ruined my marriage and I hadn't seen or spoken to her in 6 years, and she decides to make an appearance at my mother's funeral?

Shortly after that I saw XH somewhere, and he told me that he used to think I could have learned to "deal" with his mother better - until she started doing to his new wife (who is the opposite of me in just about every way) everything she did to me. The he realized it was her and not me. He told me he has almost no contact with his parents or sister because of the way they treat his new wife.

My "new" mother in law is a riddle. I like her very much. She is a good person and she is very kind. But she brings out the worst in DH. When she is around he loses all ability to function for himself. She deliberately stays out of our business, almost too much so. DH has done some real woppers since we've been together, and she would never say boo to him about it. My family is different - if I screw up my father would speak up, it doesn't matter how old I am. She also discourages hard work, she is always telling DH to "take it easy" (this is not a man who could be accused of working too hard!). It drives me nuts. He says she has worn all the ambition out of him. It's a long story, but he blames his mother for a lot of his issues (his father gets off free and clear for some reason).

The only thing that she has ever done to hurt me was she didn't give us a wedding gift, not even a card. Three years later and I still don't know how to take that. But I know she cares for me. She is just not one to get too close.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 3:07PM
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I've known my mother in law for 31 years. She likes me now and has for awhile. She didn't for the first few years. When DH and I were dating I can remember going to their house for dinner and she often referred to me as "whats her name" as in: What does "what's her name" want to drink with dinner..... I think she was hoping I'd disappear from the scene and that it wouldn't be necessary to remember my name..... I think she only committed it to memory after DH told his parents we were getting married.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 9:36PM
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pecanpie: HYSTERICAL story! I just shared it with my husband and we had a great laugh together.

Here's a story: for the first Christmas that my husband and I were married, his parents gave us both loads of gifts. But we had no trouble noticing that all (truly, ALL) of my husband's gifts were from Nordstrom. And all of mine? Costco! We still laugh about that one. This is an in-law relationship that requires a lot of work from us both, but we like to hope that at some level we're growing because of it...but who knows.... :)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 4:13PM
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In all fairness, I should mention that my own mother has had her moments as a MIL. Although she and my dad loved DH when I brought him home, she wanted to 'nickname' him. Excuse me? I suggested if she didn't like his first name, she could call him Mr. Pie. She went with the first name.

Then she suggested that he call THEM cutsie names. Along the lines of Bubbe (she's not even Jewish, for Pete's sake!) and PopPop. Whatever...

They also tried to name our first child, but that's another story.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 4:42PM
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The only thing that she has ever done to hurt me was she didn't give us a wedding gift, not even a card. Three years later and I still don't know how to take that.

Sue, the best thing for you to do is forget that and put it behind you. That statement reminded me of another thing about my exMIL. She liked to hold a grudge. The thing was, she didn't tell you something upset her at the time it happened but years later she'd bring it up. Example, she told me about 5 years after we were married that she was hurt that I didn't invite her to my bridesmaids luncheon. Not much I could do about it at that point except explain my logic to her. But she held that little tidbit in her heart for all those years. It's so unhealthy.

By the way, my mother was at the luncheon -- only because she cooked and served for us. She didn't sit at the table and socialize or anything. MIL knew what happened at the lunch simply because her daughter was one of the bridesmaids. And THAT was a concession on my part, XH's sister was only 13 at the time, really too young for a bridesmaid, but it was the politically correct thing for me to do. Shoulda just left her off the bridesmaids list and MIL never would have known a thing about the lunch! Oh well.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 5:54PM
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I like my MIL, and she likes me.

In fact, we're so comfortable with one another that:

when my DH had a kidney stone and I had to take him to the hospital in the middle of a night in which the accumulated snow was so bad, I knew I wouldn't get an on-the-street parking space in our crowded neighborhood, so I drove to her sparsely populated neighborhood and slept in their spare bed,

she assumed (when she saw our car out front and me sleeping in the spare bedroom), that I'd had a huge fight with her son, and had fled TO HER.

And what's even funnier is that, if I HAD fought w/ him bad enough to make me want to get out of the house, I *would* have come to her!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 2:02PM
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I hate my MIL. I have had no contact with her since July because I needed to preserve my and my childrens mental health.

My biggest regret is not cutting her out of my life sooner. I am married almost 19 years. My husband still speaks to her on his cell, but we never discuss her at all. It bothers me that he cant cut her out of his life also, but I try to understand because I would never want my son to do that to me.

When my son gets married, my goal is to make my DIL love me more than her own mother. I vow to never treat her as cruelly as I was treated.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 12:39PM
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I'm lucky. My MIL is a nice woman. She may make me crazy at times but she's very well intentioned and I don't think that she does anything maliciously. To add to that she's my husband's stepmother so during those times I need to vent I can do so to my husband without worrying that I'm badmouthing his mom.

Of course, she has her own, grown kids & they come first. I remember when my husband & I got engaged she never congratulated us, just said that her daughter had been hoping for an engagement ring that Christmas...well she got a ring but it wasn't an engagement ring. She was obviously happy & excited for us but her focus was on her own child.

Which just reminded me of the day we told my in laws that we were expecting a baby. We had been married nearly 10 years at this time & I was about 5 months along. So first she asks if the baby had been planned (future MILs take note...don't ever ask this question)since we had been married SO long without having any kids. I told her that the baby was a surprise (after countless 1st trimester misses it was more of a shock that this one was staying put, hence our reason for waiting until I was 5 months pf before telling anyone). So she proceeds to tell us (again, no congrats) that David Letterman is expecting a baby and that his baby is a surprise baby too. Mind you, to the best of my knowledge neither my husband nor I have any relationship or connection to David Letterman. So why this should be of any interest to us I have no idea.

Meanwhile my mother simply DOTES on my husband & cannot do enough for him. He can do no wrong in her eyes.

Like I said, lucky :-).


    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 2:03PM
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"So first she asks if the baby had been planned (future MILs take note...don't ever ask this question) since we had been married SO long without having any kids."

One of my best friends has the MIL from hell. When they told her they were expecting (this being her first grandchild, and all her children are in their late 30s), she said, "when did this happen?". No congratulations, no hugs. My friend was livid. This is only one of this woman's many transgressions. She has also argued with my friend about my friend's pant size ("there is no way you are a size 4. You must sew those tags on to trick everyone."). Witch.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 2:38PM
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My MIL and I got off to a rocky start, mainly because she didn't want her son to marry someone of a different ethnic background. She (and my future SIL) engaged in a campaign to try to dissuade him, telling him, among other things, that "mixed race babies aren't as cute."

It sounds really horrible, but I think it had a lot to do with his family being immigrants to this country and being afraid of losing their cultural identity. I didn't really take it personally.

It did hurt my parents, though, when we had a dinner for everyone to meet, and my MIL started crying and said: "I asked God for a nice [insert ethnicity here] girl, but he sent you instead, so I guess that's ok." I thought my dad was going to strangle her right then and there.

At any rate, she calmed down after we got married and now she is openly encouraging us to have children.

I think the ice started to thaw when, at my wedding, my mother presented her with a sumptuous basket filled with delectable and expensive bath goodies.

Apparently fancy bath salts can go a long way toward healing cultural rifts...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 6:28PM
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Don't get me started...

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 12:24AM
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sue, what an appropriate word, witch; I'm astounded at what some of you have to go through.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 6:05AM
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nina & talley sue, it's so great to hear some positive MIL relationship me hope that when it's my time to be my son's MIL I might be able to do OK! If there's anything redemptive about knowing my MIL, it's that I'm becoming more conscious and intentional about how I want (or, rather, DON'T want) to treat the people my own kids marry.

Mind you, this is the woman who went to see the movie, "Mommie Dearest," when it came out and left the theater telling her family that little Christina deserved the treatment she got! Dark, eh?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 1:33PM
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My MIL is wonderful, with a heart of gold. She's treated me like a daughter from the beginning. Which is fortunate, considering how we met!...

DH and I had been dating for about a month when I moved to a city about 250 miles away to take a 'dream job.' We decided to try a long-distance relationship, figuring if it was meant to be, we could make it work... Early on, I guess he had mentioned that his mother was staying with him temporarily, but I had totally forgotten. Anyway, I met her early one morning when I stumbled out of his bedroom wearing his bathrobe and into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. And there she was! Needless to say, I had all of my defenses down and was caught totally off guard - what could I do? (At least I was wearing his bathrobe!)

Her attitude from the beginning was that all she wanted was someone who would make her son happy. And I've thanked her numerous times for raising such a wonderful son. So we're on the same page --

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 10:00AM
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I'm quite sure my MIL hates me and given the chance, would hang me out to dry.

That said, she's very nice to me (NOW, she hasn't always been), does her best to keep her nose in her own business (NOW), and is a wonderful grandmother to my kids. And, that said, she's a Greek lady from the old country (literally), so I half see where she's coming from much of the time.

Dh and I started dating when we were very young, 18, and she did not like it at ALL. A, I'm not Greek, and B, I'm Jewish (meaning, not Greek Orthodox), and C, I'm American, so I had everything working against me. Love must have prevailed because dh somehow managed to cut the apron strings and we were married 5 years later - that was 14 years ago (we're now 37). There was a day and a time when she said every day that if he married me, she'd slit her wrists. No, I'm not kidding.

These days though his siblings are much more dependent on her (both adults, both single, both living at home) and I think she knows that I'm not so bad anymore. She's also a wonderful Yia Yia to my kids although I'd never allow her to take them in her car and her babysitting scares the heck outta me (it's always a catastrophe whenever she does it). She also threatened to kidnap my son when he was a baby and take him to Greece (when we told her that we were moving 30 miles away from her) and in the back of my mind I know she's really actually capable of such a thing. Bottom line, she's a nutjob with good intentions.

I've got stories you wouldn't believe. lol

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 12:35PM
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Bless all of you who have difficult-to-deal with mother-in-laws. The problems addressed here weren't just petty disagreements, either.

I am also fortunate to have a MIL who is good to me. Also, my mother was an excellent MIL to my DH, but my dear mother passed away 12 years ago.

I admire those of you who have gained insight into the reasons behind your MILs' nasty behavior. Maybe someday, these women will wake up and realize that good DILs are blessed additions that make families stronger.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 9:15PM
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"she's a nutjob with good intentions" snookums, you have a way with words !!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 5:45AM
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Our daughter's MIL had 3 unmarried sons until our daughter married the second oldest. Her MIL did everything she could to make the wedding not happen. She also did a lot to undermine the marriage. I just encouraged both of them to be polite, and do good things for her, but limit their contact to what they flt was healthy.

Much of the problems stopped when her youngest got married. Now our daughter just says "I'm the GOOD daughter-in-law." The younger son and his wife have moved to France. I wonder why.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 8:38AM
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