Learning a lot about MIL this week...vent!

nadastimerSeptember 24, 2002

Ok, I'm not married yet but after 4 1/2 years and a 3 year old, it sure feels like it! LOL The family considers me part of it so that's what matters...

This past week, I've learned a lot about my MIL...to the point where I find I can't believe a single thing she says! She's the type that always has something to say about others and their faults, or so she thinks they are. She doesn't like one DIL for being a little bigger and now I'm horrible because I lost weight...one of us worries too much, the other doesn't worry enough~if you work you're important, if you stay home with your kids your a bum...those type of things. The thing is to your face, she makes you feel like you're the only one she likes and the only one doing it right. To others, she says something different. My SIL's and I figured it all out and have come forward and have been telling each other what's going on and being said. While complaining about the others to us, she's found ways to say things to make us hate each other. It was at a point none of her boys really talked to each other and the SIL's hated to be around one another so family functions were weird (but the kids LOVE each other to death). We're now speaking up and finding she's done the same to all of us and really we have no reasons to hate one another because whatever she said the other said, we didn't...she made it up or said it herself. I can't believe a mother would try so hard to keep her family a part and at war! I just can't believe this has been happening all these years. I looked at this woman and thought she was a decent person and I liked her. Now I'm finding that I liked the person she let me think she was all while digging for info to use against me! The boys are all seeing through her,too. We're trying to handle things through distance and it pretty easy considering she hardly ever comes to visit or calls us. But once we put distance in there, she does tend to show up or call or something and we feel bad because she hasn't see DS in so long. But almost right away she's got her nose in our business (to the point where she figures out how much you make, how much your bills are and how much she thinks you paid for whatever you bought and tells you you can't be making it!) She knows WAY too much. She either figures it out on her own or finds out from others...like she's tried calling my family members to dig up info!

So have you ever thought you had someone figured out and found out you were totally wrong? What did you do when it was a family member or someone close? Should I feel bad that my son isnt' seeing her because that's his grandma? And my fiance' is VERY close to his step father but it's impossible to talk to or visit with him because of her. She won't let the man do anything and even if my fiance' calls just to talk to ask a simple question about the car or a house repair, she always knows what's being said and keeps commenting and telling fiance' what to do. So that means no contact with his step father, too and it upsets him...

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Sometimes you can figure out and work with their obvious strengths. Clubs, social organizations based around religion, culture, or hobbies for example, or even running their own business can really help for people who have a lot of (apparently misdirected) energy.

In the family, where people wrestle with contact or no contact and there doesn't seem to be much room in the middle of those extremes; a good therapist (you might have to try a couple or more) might be able to work with you and your fiance to figure out how to encourage the changes you need from your mother in law.

Off hand, it's good strategy to communicate with the people she talks to you about, just to make sure you have your facts straight. She is in charge of her behaviour, and part of what drives her behaviour will be limited by her genes, part will be based on her past life experiences and education, and her current environment (internal and out) will also have a significant influence. It's her project to undertake if she wants; in case these problems are widespread or in case she herself experiences some of her normal and seemingly natural behaviour as 'maladaptive' in some hurtful (to her) way. (Some people don't know that they can change. Some people don't know that resources and help do exist for this. And, depending on her view of her social and family experiences, she may not be interested in change even if it could reduce some pain that she feels.)

A counselor can even be helpful for you sorting out questions like you put at the end. 'Should I feel bad that my son isn't seeing her because that's his grandma?' That question alone covers a lot of ground. Who gets to define the 'shoulds' and why? Is there some point where a person's presence in another person's life is detrimental (even if that person is an 'adult' and a family relation)? These kinds of basic issues are extremely personal, and counselors are a confidential source of help for sorting things out and learning management strategies for 'difficult' people or life situations.

The project (and it sounds like it will be one) of how to allow and foster your fiance so that he can communicate meaningfully with his father (and avoid problems with your mother in law for you) is something else again. It sounds like you have an increasing awareness of your mother in law's style. That can help you predict 'problem areas' in terms of conversational subjects for your husband and his father. If the nature of their marriage relationship (his father's and your mother in law's) is such that she ends up knowing about conversational particulars, that needs to be considered prior to any conversation. You and your fiance need to work out reasonable conversational boundaries you both can manage and work within. It's difficult because in a more perfect world, of course a person could just talk to their parent without having to edit their thoughts or conversations-- things could just flow. Your, and your fiance's situation however sounds like more discretion will be required in order to avoid or minimize some predictable problems.

I think there is a point at which people's contacts to even close family can become detrimental. But, it is important that people work out this point, and any particulars around it (what kinds of behaviours or other factors can lead to that for instance) for themselves and their own situation.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2002 at 10:09AM
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Okay, I know MIL has to want to help herself. I wasn't really expecting to change her, after all she's like 47 and this has been her way this long...I just got to figure out how to deal. I guess the best thing is that everyone is talking now. We're sharing stuff and learning the truth about things. I may be taking a road trip on Friday with my SIL that I've been told hates me and I've gotten along with the least all these years. She asked my son and I to join her and her daughter to pick up our ex-niece so she can come visit over the weekend. I'm planning on going but we'll see how the week goes here at home. It will be weird being with her all day like that. I'm sure we'll talk and be fin but it will be akward at first. I feel bad for her right now because her husband was shipped over seas in July and it's just her and the kids. Her mother lives far away and they don't get along. I want to be close to her and we worked before on patching stuff up but then once she got around MIL a little more, she got funny with me again. Guess it's just time to fight back...well or at least stick up for ourselves and each other. Don't give her anything else to help feed the fire...

    Bookmark   September 24, 2002 at 2:03PM
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Amygdala always offers such good advice. My advice in this situation (and I have been there) is to promptly change the subject when MIL starts dissing the other inlaws. OR, if she won't change the subject, make it a point to mention the other DIL's good points- defend the other DIL is a cheerful manner. If you don't allow her to engage you in the subject matter, maybe she will find something else to talk about! I think she does this because in a weird way she thinks you'll consider her a confidant and friend.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2002 at 9:07PM
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Well, don't have to worry about any of this anymore. She found out I tried contacting the ex-SIL(through e-mail) and assumed it was because I was trying to dig up dirt on her. It's not that. Something happened and it reminded me of a story MIL told me about the SIL. Also, this SIL's daughters have contacted us and have been talking. I'm concerned about something I've been told by the older daughter who doesn't live with her mother. From all this, I've become a bad person and she thinks I'm trying to start a fight because she said stuff about things like my clothing (nothing wrong with what I wear, it's just not baggy t-shirts and jeans all the time). It's all assumptions and not knowing the whole story. Oh, and I"m also bad because my SIL's and I tell each other the truth now. For some reason she thought we weren't allowed to share the truth about what's being said or was said about the other. It's a mess but I guess she's written her kids out of her life over this little incident...I'm done...

    Bookmark   September 25, 2002 at 10:12AM
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You won't miss this witch, I swear. She could only serve as a rotten influence for your son and would probably drive you nuts over time. Your mother-in-law sounds like she could use a good counselor. She's using the "divide and conquer" method of keeping herself in control of her kids.

Someone sent me this quote from Nikke Giovanni a long time ago. I hope you won't mind me sharing it with you.

"There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well.

And while I do not expect you to save the world, I do think it's not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary, & remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect."


    Bookmark   September 25, 2002 at 1:26PM
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Thanks, Denise. While MIL is working on making me look like the one with the problem, I'm hearing much of the same from everyone...she's the one with the problem and we're better off..Sad to say but probably true.

Weird thing happened...ex-SIL suddenly e-mailed me. I have a gut instinct that something isn't right. Weird but MIL doesn't like this woman and gave me her e-mail addy herself....I have to do some checking before I believe it's her. It may be someone trying to fool me...

    Bookmark   September 25, 2002 at 2:21PM
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Man, I feel bad for you. She sounds like one of those narcissistic trouble makers that can't help herself. With them, you should watch your back, they scheme contantly. Unfortunately for them, what comes around goes around. She will get hers in the end. Hopefully, after a while, she will get bored with you. Honestly, I would confront her. Everytime she pulls something. You don't have to like her, you don't have to trust her, and you don't have to tolerate this type of behavior from anyone.
Good luck,

    Bookmark   September 26, 2002 at 1:08PM
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i bought a broom, and iam learning to ride it, so mil and i will have somthing to do in common. hahahaha

    Bookmark   October 8, 2002 at 3:50AM
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