MIL - Am I being Childish?

Sue__WAAugust 17, 2005

Warning: LONG POST!

I dont like my Mother-In-Law anymore. We live in different states. Her visits are becoming harder for me as the years go by. Here is the background: I am 43 and have been married to my husband for 19 years. We have been together for 25 years. We lived together for almost 5 years before getting married. My mother in law was very supportive of our relationship and helped us out financially a few times in those days. After our son was born, we moved to the opposite coast. (Work). The first year was very difficult because my husband and I were very close to her. We talked a few times a week on the phone. As the years went on, our calls became less frequent, but she still visited at least once a year. We could never afford to fly back for a visit in those days. 5 years later we moved back home and were very surprised to find out that my husbands brother (who was 30 years old at the time and still lived with my mother-in-law. He has never been on his own) had his girlfriend and their two sons living with them and they had been living there for almost 2 years! To put it mildly, my husband and I were pretty shocked. Her reply to us was that it was up to my husbands Âbrother to share that type of information with us. My MIL was very close to his new girlfriend and her sons even called her ÂgrandmaÂ.

We moved on from that situation but I was always kind of upset about it. I didnÂt understand it. My husband and his brother were not very close, but they always got along fine. We had never had any fights or issues with his brother at all. It bothered my husband, but not like it bothered me. I expressed my disappointment with my MIL about everything but I got stony silence and "IÂm sorry you feel that way". Then I got angry. Even though we lived in the same town, I rarely saw my MIL after that. I also could never understand why a 30 year old man would still be living with his mother. But my husband told me that even though it was wrong for him to still be living there with her, that it bothered him to a degree also, it had nothing to do with us and that I should not let it bother me.

Two years later we moved again to a different state. (Work again). About a year after we moved, my husband was talking to my MIL on the phone and found out that his brother had married the girlfriend, and there was a huge wedding in Florida and she had attended. That made me sit down and cry. That really hurt my feelings. My MIL didnÂt think it was such a big deal. My husband was pretty hurt about it also.

Fast forward 9 years to today. They are all (MIL, BIL and SIL) still living happily together and their boys have grown up and moved out. I am still upset about this whole thing and my MIL knows it. We donÂt talk about it because  what is there to talk about? My MIL comes to visit about once a year and I dread it. I donÂt want her in my house. Every thing she says or does drives me insane after about 3 days. I asked my husband if he could ask Mom to limit her visits to 3-4 days. She comes for 12. She is semi-retired now. My husband doesnÂt have the guts to ask her if she can have a shorter visit but IÂm about to. My husband has told me to Âsuck it up for his sake and just deal with it. He tries to take off of work as much as possible so he can entertain her.

I feel stupid and childish that I just canÂt get past this. I resent her, my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law. I feel like an outsider and not part of the family at all. And because of that, I donÂt want to deal with her, them or any of it. My MIL knows, and it doesnÂt stop her from visiting. I guess in her mind, if she wants to see the grandkids, she has to come up here. Our sons are now 15 and 18. They are pretty clueless about all of this also.

My husband wonÂt hear about it anymore. To him, it is what it is and nothing will change the past so we have to accept the way things are and just move on. What happened does still bother him but he can put it on the back burner, so to speak.

So there it is. Am I being childish, or am I justified in the way I feel?

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One way to leading a happier life is to let things go - the things you can't control.

Your MIL can do whatever she likes and it looks like she does. You don't understand her behavior and her motives so you get frustrated and make yourself feel bad.

Don't attribute to malice what can be attributed to ignorance. If you think folks are doing things maliciously to hurt you, then you will be hurt.

If you re-think the situation and stop thinking that your MIL is doing what she does in spite of you, that she is just living her own life, then you may feel a little more at peace.

I say stop poisoning yourself with bad feelings, accept MIL for who she is and be gracious about it. She isn't here to serve you, (and you aren't here to serve her). Let bygones be bygones and try to find positive alternatives to your feelings and actions. Don't keep putting out expectations that folks aren't going to fit.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 11:56AM
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This is very hard for you, but if you can't manage to put it behind you, I'm afraid the relationship between you and your husband will suffer. Could you possibly get some counselling from someone to help you get a handle on it. I have had a lot of things to deal with in my life and I know that " to let go" is the only answer and also extremely hard to do. You really are hurting yourself very much and your husband as well.
All the best and know that we all care and know you can do it. ((hugs))

    Bookmark   August 20, 2005 at 5:01PM
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I can understand not wanting someone to overstay their welcome. I don't like to be near people without some private time either. We often have family visit, and although I love them, 3 days or so is about all I can handle. It's not them, it's the fact that I feel like i have to be "on" all the time. Being with people wears me out, makes me grumpy, and generally overwhelms me. I need breaks, but when they are staying at the house, you don't get breaks. So I can understand being short-tempered. My DH is a lot more understanding about my personal shortcomings and knows that everyone will be a lot happier if house guest visits are limited to 3-4 days. If you present the idea with a "it's not your mom, it's me" approach, maybe he can be more accommodating.
That said, I agree with the others, you are just going to have to get over it. After all, 9 years IS a long time to be mad, and to be honest the whole wedding thing was really the BIL's fault. I don't think MIL was very proud of the fact that her 30+ year old son had to move in with her and the GF and their kid, which is maybe why she didn't tell you. What mom would be proud of that? Being that you weren't nearby, what was the harm in not saying anything? But I sincerely doubt that she did anything to hurt you on purpose, and 9+ years is an awfully long time to hold a grudge, so I do think you are going to have to at least forgive if not forget the whole incident. Life's too short to worry about such things. Be glad that at least you know the woman obviously likes you- she WANTS to stay 12 days. Maybe you can plan some "self" time during her visit if it can't be shortened. Or maybe even plan a day for both of you to go to a spa and just relax. It will be a nice way for you to do something nice with her without actually having to talk to her etc. Be the first to offer the olive branch. I'll bet she'll return the niceness.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2005 at 9:11PM
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After 3 days fish and relatives stink. Personally I have a tough time after 24 hours and that's with ANY house guests. Both DH and I like our privacy and don't want overnight visits.

12 nights is a very long time. Maybe take Meghane's advise a step further and after 4 days you could go out of town so DH and MIL could have some quality time.

As far as the mooching brother, there is nothing you can do about it, and it could be worse, he could be mooching off you! ;~).


    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 1:42PM
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My MIL used to drive me crazy in a different way. She would call almost everyday, come over unannounced, and then proceed to tell me what was wrong with my house (as in "you really need to clean out that closet, paint the bedroom etc."). Then unfortunately, she died of cancer. I never really realized how much I missed those daily phone calls until they stopped. Yea, she was a royal pain, but she also cared enough about us to talk to us and be a part of our lives. A 12 day visit may be eternity to you, but it's probably making her happy, and if your kids like her, it's probably making them happy too. I would forget about my BIL, and concentrate on my own life and family. 12 days out of the year sounds tolerable to me.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 10:39AM
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I agree with the other posters. It's hard, but I think from reading your post that you know what the right thing to do here is. Get past these issues so that everyone in the family can have good time together while you can -- someday it will be too late. No matter how irritating the person, it seems like after they are gone, we wonder why we didn't focus on the good parts of the relationship instead of spending all the time only worrying about the bad parts. Emmhip's comments are far from rare. I am learning to focus on enjoying what I DO like about my MIL's (of 23 years) company while I can. We have always had a good relationship, but I let all kinds of little things drive me nuts, and I just made a decision to STOP letting that be. It was easier than I thought (I tried to picture how I would want my future daughter-in-law to say about me!). And I have to tell you, I am much happier, and I am sure she and my husband are, too. What was so precious about those annoyances that I wasted time and energy thinking about them?

I'm not sure exactly what it was that upset you so much about the relatives (and "pre-relatives") moving in with her a few years ago. That they did it? That they didn't tell you? That they weren't married? It doesn't matter that we can't tell. What is important is that YOU figure out what it was that bothered you. If it is that they did it at all, think about what an earlier poster said: it is their lives, and they have the right to make their own choices even if you think they are foolish ones (and even if you are 100% right). If it is that no one told you -- well, you need to ask yourself WHY they didn't want to tell you. What happens when they tell you something you don't want to hear?

The "right" length for a visit depends on so many things -- how often the visits come, whether you visit back, whether she has other things to do when she visits, how well she entertains herself, etc. But although we can all sympathize with a long MIL visit, try to think about how you would feel to be limited to only 2-3 days a year to see your own child, or to feel unwelcome, unwanted, and judged in his home. My MIL was here for a long time after one of the recent hurricanes knocked out her power. In a way, the extended visit was sort of easier, because she didn't expect anyone to drop what they were doing and entertain her. We actually had the best visit we've ever had. I am ashamed of all the times I rolled my eyes or complained to my friends about her.

You asked, "Am I being childish, or am I justified in the way I feel?" Do you think it has to be one or the other? You can certainly be justified in having whatever feelings you do. That is never childish. It is the actions we take based on our feelings that can be childish. A child thinks only of her own feelings and desires, and imagines that things can work out neatly, no loose ends. A grown woman knows that things aren't perfect, we can't control others, and sometimes there IS no resolution to be had -- so you just have to decide what you want life to look like, and do what you need to do to help make it that way, never mind what has happened before.

We all understand that this is easier advice to give than to follow! Hang in there. You won't regret it.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2005 at 1:43PM
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Your question was... Am I being childish, or am I justified in the way I feel?

Everyone has been pretty kind to you in their answers but I truthfully think childish is the correct answer...It seems almost like a jealousy issue more than anything else but without total knowledge, I'll only suggest that, the first thing you should do is get beyond all the hard feelings...and remember that your MIL doesn't need your approval to have her own son living with him no matter what his age...and if she chooses to welcome this girlfriend and her sons, so be it...her home..

I agree that 12 days is a long visit but if you all visit only once per year then why expenses are not cheap and she is probably taking advantage of the fair...Be the bigger person and try and relax and enjoy ...if for no other reason, do it for your husband.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 12:22PM
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