heartandhomeJune 20, 2010

This movie came on recently and my husband and I both found ourselves laughing at the exaggerated antics of Jane Fonda as she tortures Jennifer Lopez's character. Deep down, though, it's so true. And it's been bottled up inside over the past few months as my mother-in-law has made her flip comments, popped over unexpectedly, and launched guilt trips. Well, today I confronted her. My husband defended her. HENCE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Mother-in-laws wouldn't be so bad if husbands would shoo them off now and then, defend the wife he married. But they fall trap to the manipulations that the wife can see so clearly ...AND THAT TOO is party of the annoying whole problem of having an intrusive mother-in-law. THE HUSBAND DOES NOT AND WILL NEVER see the wife's side. INFURIATING! Especially when it truly is obvious that she is in the wrong. I wish someone had told me earlier the following message (and I think it would go quite well on a bumpersticker, don't you?) DONT MARRY A MAN UNLESS HIS MOTHER IS DEAD.

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Your problem isn't your MIL....she is who she is and will not be changing. Her bond with her son -- your husband -- will not disappear. That is reality.

DO NOT attempt to solve this problem by requiring your husband to "defend you" or choose sides!

Your problem is you and hubby. I encourage you to get on the same page with him about this. That "page" is not going to include sentences about excluding the MIL from HIS life. You WILL have to bend.

You can figure this out. MANAGE the MIL. (Yes, will likely involve some toungue-biting, but you can discuss this with your beloved later. He sleeps with you, not her.) KEEP the hubby. You can do this.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 8:21PM
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My intent is not to make you feel bad about the feelings you're developing yet I hope you know the difference between mother love and lover love...because this is not a competition.

I wonder what "biting" comments she's making? How often is she "dropping" by? And what "guilt trips" are you allowing?

I believe if you can learn to give your mother in-law a bit of grace it could be one of the greatest gifts you could give yourself not to mention your husband.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 9:32PM
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I agree my mother in law is who she is and won't be changing. Problem is, is she wants her son to be happy, she's going to need to come around a little. This is 2010. I'm a confident, young, attractive, hard working, caring, intelligent woman with a career. I don't have to put up with this. Other women he could marry for his second marriage don't either. If he wants to keep a marriage strong, he's going to have learn how to distinguish between the two women in his life. I agree there is a difference between the two relationships. And when I've been constantly giving, kind, loving, gracious, generous, pleasing, social, amicable, etc. etc. with her there's no excuse for her to act so silly, childish, and selfish when it comes to trying to control her son and thus have a negative affect on our marriage. He falls for her trap because he is a mama's boy, which SHE allowed to happen. There's a difference between being close and calling the shots for him. She knows this is what she's doing. And she relishes it. He can't see it because he's been around it so long. Usually I let things with her slide. Only ever now and then do I speak up. Tonight I spoke up and I'm not backing down till he sees the light at least a little bit. But he lives in his own little self centered world like she does so I'm sure he won't. So cheers to men and women not being able to co-exist!!!! I grew up with the message of marriage takes work and I'm all about that, except I work on it and he doesn't and it takes two to tango. So, in the case of the MIL problem, if he loves her so much maybe he should go live over there.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 10:41PM
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Sounds to me, then, like you've got a decision to make. Except, based on what you've just written, the decision makes itself.

What you've described requires adjustment. If you're unable or unwilling to attempt it, save yourself and everyone else a lot of trouble and get out now. It's not going to change and it's not going to get better. If that's a deal-breaker for you, fess up and do what you need to do.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 10:49PM
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You know, I actually did some scientific research in this area for a paper once. There wasn't actually a whole lot of research done in this area -- just the jokes. But what research there was tended to conclude that most MILs were truly well-intentioned and wanted close and loving relationships with their DILs, and that most problems appeared to stem from anxious and sensitive DILs misperceiving things their MILs did that were intended to be helpful in ways that were critical.

For example, if MIL, trying to help, offers to bathe the baby, DIL hears that MIL thinks the baby is dirty and neglected. If MIL offers to share one of her son's favorite recipies, DIL hears that MIL thinks she can't cook. If MIL asks about DIL's job, it means she thinks DIL works too much and should be a stay-at-home mom. If MIL never calls or never stops by, it means she hates DIL; but if she does, she's intrusive.

MIL may genuinely be shocked by your 'confrontation'. If she really didn't mean any harm, she could truly have no idea that you perceived her actions in such a way. And surely, your husband doesn't see his mother's actions that way... Even if she is Monster-In-Law, men can't see women's 'mean-girl games' unless they're really over the top!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 10:58PM
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what exactly does she do? provide some examples please, hard to say if she right or wrong if you don't specify what she says and what she does

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 11:17PM
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I agree that MILs can have good intentions. And when my MIL has good intentions, I'm grateful and appreciative and everything's fine. Really. Aside from what I'm typing here we really do have a good relationship. But when push comes to shove, like it did today, she throws her weight around and doesn't respect me. MODELS for her husband, not to respect me. MODELS that at the end of the day, she cares about herself above all else. (IE part of the reason my husband is the way he is)...Anyway, I MAKE things fine 99 percent of the time when she's being selfish and unreasonable, WITHOUT good intentions. I do that by reminding myself of all the GOOD things she does. By telling myself that it could be a lot worse, that other people have it worse and I should be grateful. In the case of the most recent incident, she was totally self centered in her intentions. Totally went against my wishes, when I had made them very non-threatingly, very sweetly and calmly clear. When she's like that, how am I supposed to be gracious and accept it as you all are suggesting? When she's like that, WHY is it so hard for my husband to stand up to her? Not in a competitive way of taking sides with me. But in acknowledging that she's being a little unreasonable. THAT'S IT! That's all I want. I don't act like my mother or father hung the moon. I love them very much, but I recognize their faults from time time. Why is that so hard for my husband to do? How are he and I supposed to move forward if this is how he will ALWAYS be? How he ALWAYS is when it comes to an issue with her. The men in this country get let off the hook too easy. None of you posting on here seem to be able to throw a crumb my way. I am an extremely dedicated, loving, well-rounded person. I get that his mother will always be his mother. But why can't she accept that her son is married now and she needs to be more flexible? Why can't she be more gracious to ME, recognizing that I love her son and I chose him above a lot of other choices that were out there. That I love him a lot better than tons of other women out there who are not nearly the kind of wife I am. Why can't she? Why do I have to do all the work and accepting and "realizing" her good intentions???

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 12:48AM
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You are STILL speaking in general terms, not specifics. For example, when you say "she throws her weight around and doesn't respect me", that could mean anything from walking in without knocking to cursing you to your face. See what I mean? Think of a couple of examples and give specific details. You spoke of a 'most recent incident', how about starting there... what happened? There's a lot of very good advice given on this board, but they first have to know exactly what you're talking about.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 8:14AM
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"In the case of the most recent incident, she was totally self centered in her intentions. Totally went against my wishes, when I had made them very non-threatingly, very sweetly and calmly clear. "

Like Vicki said -- you need to be specific.
Did she give the baby apple juice when you said you didn't want her drinking sugary drinks?
Did she take your family to the restaurant she wanted instead of the one you preferred?
Or did she make your husband a cake for Father's Day when you indicated you'd prefer that she didn't?

Totally different situations that could all be described by your phrase...

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 11:37AM
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I asked you on Sunday what exactly she does or says, and you keep giving general comments how she is disrespectful or selfish. then Vicky asked the same thing...Still no answer..what exactly does she do?

could it be the reason you are not saying is that you can't think of anything in particular?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 1:44PM
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Okay, here are some examples:

When we moved houses, I spent 3 days on top of a full time job, in the swealtering heat of Florida... packing close to 100 boxes of stuff, coordinating the moving truck, the last minute realtor requirements, etc. By myself. (Her son went on 3 hour trips to Lowes, coming back with a new roll of tape and a hammer.) I did all the hard stuff. Moving day wasn't scheduled till two days later, so there was still more to be done. I was exhausted. I was sweaty. My back was sore. All I wanted was dinner and a movie with my husband. She plans a family get together and I don't hear about it till 45 minutes ahead of time. She knows I've been working hard all day, and the past several days--moving. One of the most stressful domestic things besides getting married, getting divorced, and having a baby. One word for her expectations that weekend: SELFISH.

We've been going to several weddings for friends of mine lately. She makes comments like...oh I just know you'll be so glad when all of this slows down. When actually, I've had a blast seeing friends I haven't seen in a long time. But when we're busy going to social events with her son's friends or work activities, she says Oh I bet it was so fun, tell me about it. That's just great yall had the opportunity to do that.

And most recently...we've been out of town 6 weekends in a row due to various obligations. In the mean time I've been working full time, re-landscaping the yard, planning a retirement party for a close friend, planning a 60th birthday for a family member, etc. We had family get togethers Thurs Friday and Saturday this past weekend, for birthdays and various things, so with father's day I suggested to her that we do something low key. That maybe my husband could drop by his dad's, I could drop by mine, and by visiting and exchanging gifts for a bit, maybe it wouldn't be necessary to do another big family dinner...keep in mind, we had just had 3 in a row. Was it really necessary in that case to distinguish another separate evening for it?--one day later from the time she and I had this conversation, at the birthday party? Or was that her being silly? I definitely think "silly" fits the bill on that one. Keep in mind one of her mantras is "You can't please all the people all the time." Well apparently while I thought I was being perfectly reasonable, she was contacting my husband via text and phone calls the next day getting ANOTHER family get together organized, behind my back. Guilt tripping my husband. Trying to demonstrate her control over me. Why can't she for ONCE honor my wishes? Our families live within blocks from each other. Both families. We see each other and celebrate our dads year around and just so happed to see them 3 days in a row last week for various other things--birthdays, etc. Why couldn't Father's Day have been rolled into that this year,or like I said...the drop by for an hour and visit thing... given the circumstances of us totally being burned from 6 weekends in a row being out of town,etc. Father's Day is Hallmark's way of honoring dads and Macy's gets to sell lots of ties and t-shirts, but the day is supposed to be about relationships. We are very blessed to have close relationships. Why couldn't she recognize that I had been juggling a million things at once the past few weeks and needed a day just to say no and modify the day a bit for our family. Our family being me and my husband. That's what happens when families grow and marriaegs take place. Keep in mind I was also being sensitive to her son's needs, as for the past several weeks and especially the past few days he's been saying we have got to slow down.

I am just so totally urked by how insensitive she has been on these topics in particular. Note: they had us on memorial weekend a few weeks ago and they have us for july 4th coming up. It's not as if we don't see each other. The father's day guilt trip was totally out of line.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 4:17PM
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Does she punish you for saying No?

In other words, if your husband had said to her: "We've been on the go non-stop for the last six weeks, and since we just saw everybody yesterday, the nicest Father's Day I can imagine would be to sit home with my wife and do absolutely nothing" -- What would have happened? (FYI, that's what we did.)

Moving Day sounds more 'CLUELESS' than selfish. Perhaps she even thought she was helping my taking the cooking off your plate. Or was it at YOUR house? -- In which case, if it wasn't a work party, she was definitely unreasonable. Again, what would happen if you begged off and sent Hubby to be fed by someone else?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 4:28PM
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it seems more of a lack of communication than some evil intent on her part.

she is not a mind reader and cannot possibly know that you'd rather watch a movie with DH than have family get together. she probably thinks you and DH love get togethers.

also if you are too tired, why not say "no" and see what happens. she might not know you are tired. My own dad is always surprised when i tell him I am tired when i come home from work, some people just don't get it.

honestly she just sounds the type who loves family get togethers too much, doesn't sound like a selfish person.

she does sound somewhat annoying but certainly is not horrible or evil. if she wants too many parties i would just not go to everyone of them.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 5:25PM
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I'm curious, too. What happens when you just say "Thanks, but no can do...we have other plans"? Is this the point at which your husband wimps out? He's the one that compels you to acquiesce? He contradicts a position you've already staked out?

Going back to my first impression. 1) This is who she is. She's unlikely to change. and 2) I suspect your real problem is your husband. He's got to get off this idea of pleasing both of you and give YOU priority. Mom needs to become number #2.

How's your relationship with hubby otherwise?

Some people handle this kind of thing by precipitating a crisis that must be dealt with. Often works, actually, but also usually leaves hard feelings behind. Maybe a reasonable price to pay depending on the situation. My preference would be conversation -- with your husband. He's the one that buggers everything by kow-towing to mommy. Not the way to engender love and respect from a spouse. Maybe he's a slow learner. Many men are. Have you put it on the table with him yet? From what you've written, I think its time to get this straight between you. You don't have to dominate MIL, but you must be able to control your lives. It's perfectly OK to decline "invitations" you're not interested in participating in. "Sorry, mom. Maybe some other time. Thanks for thinking of us."

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 5:34PM
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One of the posts refered to why not just say no nicely and beg off. I must not have made myself clear. That's what I did say. Very nicely. Very in control, yet very nicely. That's what made me so mad. Was that at that point she then went behind my back further, to get what she wanted. Instead of accepting my answer. I agree my husband needs to learn to prioritize me when I am feeling pressured for to many family get togethers. He needs to be able to say no on some occasions. I've tried talking to him about it, but he defends her and says I'm being unreasonable. Maybe we can have some more talks this week and he'll come around. We'll see. Otherwise, we have a really great relationship. But if a pattern like this continues to develop with the MIL that will quickly change. Some sharing and understanding is definitely in order. People tell me often that I am an excellent communicator. And yet, dealing with them, his mother always interupts me, rambles on and on about herself, etc. (IE not a good listener.) And then as for him, he defends the opposite of whatever it is I'm saying, either that or shuts down and sweeps it under the rug. Communication is a two way street. I feel like I'm on a one way street with it. Somehow, it's definitely going to have to improve. I might have to get a counselor involved.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 9:34PM
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Been married 40 years, the spouses need to back each other up if there is an inlaw problem, their first duty is to each other. I can't imagine having a problem and having my husband side with his mother against me, never happened.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 9:39PM
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Your problem is your husband. Period.

I agree with pekemom's short response. You and me against the world, babe. In that equation, MIL is among "the world". Your husband needs to get this. He needs to recognize his mom requires management. His bond is with you. If he doesn't get that, start another thread. Maybe title it "dense husband."

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 10:43PM
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now with clarifications I see what's going on, agree with others...husband needs to get more of a backbone here.

but i think that it is OK for a son to go to mom's get together by himself if his wife is tired or busy. i don't think people always must choose their spouses over their parents. if he likes get togethers and wouldn't mind going to moms, why not go by himself once in a while?

we recently had a get together at my aunts, and my brother came over with my niece, my SIL was too tired after work and opted not to come and my nephew had other plans. Not a big deal. spouses don't have to be attached to the hip.

would MIL object if he sometimes shows up by himself?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 12:10AM
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Total lack of communication. What is so evil about a mother in law inviting you to events? No one can make you feel guilty. Just say NO THANK YOU. Monster? I hardly think so.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 12:50PM
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Thanks for all the responses. To respond to finedreams: I definitely think it's okay for a spouse to go to a family get together sometimes without the other one, who may be tired and needing a night off from an obligation. But in my case here, the point was that I declined an invitation after 3 nights in a row of in-law time and she persisted that her son be there. Normally in a spontaneous situation of her inviting us over for dinner and him going without me, I wouldn't have gotten hurt. But it was embarassing when he went without me in this case, because she knew how I felt about wanting a night at home with him just us and she got her way. I tried to explain that to him but he didn't get it. He defended her profusely. As for amyfiddler's response...I'm not saying it's evil of her to invite us to events. I'm saying it's insensitive of her to go overboard on the events, when my husband and I have very busy, full lives with tons of friends, full time jobs, extended family, other community organizations we're involved in. We make it very clear that family is a number one priority, as we participate in tons of family get togethers and plan some ourself. But, when I politely decline an invitation to one after 3 nights in a row, I just think she should understand and I think my husband should see where I'm coming from without it turning into world war III. I try to explain it calmly to him first, but then he defends her down to every last detail of how the situation unfolded and how I'm being unreasonable. And that's when the fireworks begin. I know I need to control myself with not going off on a tangent at that point. But it's unfair to not give me two inches of understanding and compromise a little or at least acknowledge that he can a LITTLE bit see where I'm coming from. It's him making me feel like I'm totally out of line that shuts down any hopes of good communication. I can only try my very hardest in the course of the conversation, but we all know conversation goes both ways. It's so unfair of him to not at least acknowledge my point of view has some bearing.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 1:38PM
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"I declined an invitation after 3 nights in a row of in-law time and she persisted that her son be there."

ok, YOU declined, so you didn't have to go but he didn't decline, so HE went. Why can't he go just because YOU declined? Did you AND him discuss it and made decision together? If not, why can't he go if he wants to?

"But it was embarassing when he went without me in this case, because she knew how I felt about wanting a night at home with him just us and she got her way. I tried to explain that to him but he didn't get it. He defended her profusely."

She wanted him to come over, he apparently didn't mind either, so what's embarrassing? If i want to go see my mother I don't need anyone's permission. If he would rather stay home with you, he would. I think not MIL got her way but your DH got his way. He makes decisions that contradict your decisions, but who says whose decisions have more value. You clearly cannot make decisions together because you mind these gatherings but he doesn't.

I still think that the whole problem is you and your DH not MIL. You have to make decisions together and stick to the plans. If you are the one who makes plans and decisions, then it is unfair to expect him to follow even if he clearly disagrees.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 3:45PM
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Maybe you've worked up a good head of steam being angry at your MIL because you haven't confronted your husband about his truly appalling behavior;

You did literally all the heavy lifting for the move & your husband strolled in with a hammer & a roll of tape, & you're mad at his mother.

"He defended her profusely"

when he could have defused the situation & apologized & said that he didn't realize what you wanted & how important it was to you...

& you're mad at his mother.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 6:11PM
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Very astute observation Sylvia --
Something to think about...

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 7:47PM
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To finedreams, I thought it was embarassing because I had specifically told my MIL he and I were not up for another get together and yet he went anyway. It was embarassing, you're right, because he did not stick to the plans we had made together. It was a total slap in the face. I supppose i'm more mad at his mother because she is a 60 plus year old woman that should know better than to interfere and go behind my back by guilt tripping him into going over. My husband is 30, we haven't been married terribly long, and he's still learning how to transition between his "original" family and our family as husband and wife. So, it's easier for me to give him the benefit of the doubt as he learns. We had a really good talk last night about the whole ordeal and I think for the first time ever we made progress on understanding where each other was coming from. Maybe that will help when the next hiccup comes along, whenever that may be.

to sylvia's comments: I totally agree and in the moving scenario, I was mad more directly at him, not just at his mother, I just didn't spell that out on the post. He KNEW I had been busting my butt doing all the hard work for the move and yet he couldn't see how I might prefer to just relax by going out to the movies instead of mustering up my already deflated energy to chatter with his family at dinner. I think part of the whole issue here is he doesn't understand just how intense his family can be, because he is so used to it. In his mind, being with them IS low key and relaxing. Whereas for me, when I'm totally exhausted whether it be after the move or following 6 weekends being out of town plus working full's not relaxing to be with them. If he was dog tired from a busy schedule, I would most certainly not expect him to go sit with my parents for a long, drawn out dinner. And as earlier posts have discussed, I suppose I should just opt out more often and let him go by himself if they want to get together so much. I guess it's just a little concerning that he always chooses them over me. And keep in mind, it's not like we don't spend PlENTY of time with them...I'm talking 3 times a week sometimes (hence part of the burn out.)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 9:04AM
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"We had a really good talk last night about the whole ordeal and I think for the first time ever we made progress on understanding where each other was coming from."

Well there's a beginning. Clearly a step in the right direction. I think your last post was pretty insightful, particularly about his transitioning from old family to new. If his wheels are meshing as clearly as yours I predict better times ahead.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2010 at 5:44PM
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that sounds promising! hope things get better. wow you go there 3 times a week? then it is excessive. and she wants more? the answer is "NO". good luck

    Bookmark   June 25, 2010 at 11:35PM
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Seems like you make assumptions as to what a person is thinking. Try to take things at face value.

You and hubbie need to work as a team, the fact that you did all the packing for the move is really throwing up a red flag. Why wasn't he there helping ?

Be assertive and ask for help, maybe you are huffing and puffing about what other people "should" be doing and then being a "martyr" by doing the work yourself. Then you get into this blame cycle...and it goes on and on.

I used to be like that, myself. I decided to see things from the other person's viewpoint, usually my DH's' and now things are easier for me.

Mind you, I always "ask" for help when I need help, now.

And I always speak up if I am annoyed about something. But I use my words carefully.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 3:24AM
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This message is for those who do know how to face the world. It is also true in some measures. But if every woman think about it, then I think 60% women could not get married until their beloved man may get 40-45 age. So I think it is not good to say.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 1:37AM
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