Now what, MIL outburst at family event.

pinkpeoniesJune 11, 2008

We had christening for our child recently. We had to travel to get there. My family was in attendance with only parents, and my siblings. Then a family friend. My in-laws flew out for it along with us.

During the dinner afterwards my MIL said they would be taking myself and my husband (their son) to dinner that week. That week we were going to be vacationing with my family. My in-laws were going to be an hour away but planned to drive up to take us to dinner.

Back history. My in-laws live in the same town and never have taken us to dinner since daughter was born. Have not offered to do so. We rarely see them. They live ten minutes away.

I had told my husband that since we rarely see my family, given they live 2300 miles away, that I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them. It was the first time my siblings were meeting our daughter in fact.

MIL chewed my husband out after dinner on the front steps of the restaurant. It was his birthday that week. So granted I understood they may want to see him. But, in the past they have actually been in town and didn't even see him for his birthday. To me it was more of a power struggle. MIL had not (nor had FIL) even mentioned wanting to go to dinner. I would have thought they would have brought it up in the weeks before we all flew out.

MIL threw a fit. FIL walked away leaving my husband to deal with his mother again. This is not something new.

She ended up saying some nasty things. Then upon leaving was rude to my parents. It was really uncomfortable for them. My parents were upset for my husband.

Since returning home MIL and FIL have acted like nothing happened. Do I need to do the same? I don't like their bad behavior. I would like to put some space between us for a few months. I get tired of this drama. It's too much. The day was about our daughter. MIL once again made it about her. I knew she was going to act up. Once she saw us with my family and how we interact.

She has done so many hurtful and back stabbing things that her own family does not get along. She has helped create it. so I knew she would not be happy when she saw all of us laughing and just being happy to be around one another.

What would you do? My husband wants to talk to them again. But, this will make the 100th time that he will attempt to make them see that acting like this doesn't do anything to help the situation.

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I know of two situations similar to this. My sis was in a second marriage and her steps treated her badly. She opted to not see the steps again. She told her husband "They are your kids, see them without me" and he did for 30 years. I thought she was wrong for doing this and I couldn't do it to my husband and didn't really have a good enough reason to do so. Now that we are both widows, I think she made the right decision. I'm 71 years old and I don't go around anyone who causes me undue stress. My older sister is in town staying at my Mom's and I don't go over there when she is tin town. I found out my other sister goes but only stays about 30 minutes and then makes her excuses.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 1:38PM
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I wanted to add to my above post. I think a lot of people will do anything they can get away with, because they are not called on it. If we speak up I think they will behave better and if they don't, you really haven't lost anything.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 1:40PM
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"During the dinner afterwards my MIL said they would be taking myself and my husband (their son) to dinner that week."

In the first place, normal, decent folks - with good manners, don't usually "tell" somebody they are taking them to dinner - they ASK!
That was rude.
They've not invited you to dinner since your child was born, you say - I agree with you; it's a power play by MIL to make the day about her. Sad...
Not surprised to hear your FIL enables her. That's usually the scenario.
"She ended up saying some nasty things. Then upon leaving was rude to my parents. It was really uncomfortable for them. My parents were upset for my husband."
Kindof enlightening; YOUR parents were upset for your husband. They were probably appalled.

Your MIL is eaten alive with jealousy and she couldn't stand to see everyone laughing and having a good didn't center around her.

NO, I would NOT go near her again. I simply would not. Her behavior was rude and unacceptable, and you say this is a chronic pattern.
If your husband wants to see them, let him go ALONE.

Once YOU are out of the equation, and no longer serve as buffer, he will start to open his eyes at how vicious she really is.

There's no reason you should have to go. Let him go alone.

I wouldn't go near her again until she had apologized to both me, AND my parents, but I would take at least a 6 month break from her, at the very least.

More than likely, you are heading towards, and will be forced to do, a formal cut-off.

Sorry she ruined your sweet day.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 2:00PM
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Ok, I think you should have been able to fit in the in-laws for one dinner on your vacation week. If you were just in town one or two days, fine, but if you were there a week and it was your husband's b-day, I really think you made a mountain out of a mole hill by complaining about this.

I find in these situations there's always more sides to hear... like maybe the in-laws do ask your husband every year, but he just doesn't tell you, or they feel it could interfer with your jobs and free time so they don't normally ask but feel you could fit them in on vacation. Maybe they thought your child was too young to handle a restaurant dinner before or think you have easy access to a free babysitter (your family) to be able to enjoy a dinner out. Or maybe they feel they flew out for an occasion for you so you can at least fit in a dinner. I'm sure your husband or his parents could just as easily judge why your family/siblings have never come out to see your child. Why must you travel to see them? There are always different ways to look at things.

I'd let the matter drop, and in the future and if relatives fly out of town for an occasion with you, I'd plan on spending some extra time with them (even if they live next door and see you everyday) especially if they want to take you guys out for their son's b-day. You're really looking at this all wrong, IMHO.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 3:53PM
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Not to excuse your MIL's unpleasant reaction, but Carla's got a point about making a bit of time for them since you were all so far from home. And inviting you all to dinner doesn't exactly qualify as 'stealing the show' and making the day all about her.

If you really didn't want to miss the time with your parents, you could have suggested "Since we so rarely get to see my folks, why don't we all get together at Such_&_Such a place instead?"

I'd also suggest you let the whole thing drop. If MIL is really inclined to be nasty, she'll badmounth you to your hubby and possibly child later if you're not around to keep her in line.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 6:30PM
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To clarify.

We live ten minutes from my in-laws. They never call us or plan anything with us.

A year ago for my husbands birthday they went to their cabin and invited their other son and never invited us even. They didn't even come back to town and make a point to go to dinner or anything. So for me it was odd that they wanted to do dinner when we were on vacation. Especially since we vacation in this spot once a year if we are lucky and the plans for my husbands birthday were what he asked. He wanted to go to dinner at this restaurant that is only there. We only had one night where we could go to dinner alone.

My family lives 2000+ miles away. They do visit when they can. But, with the new baby a sibling had yet to meet since he has been in Iraq. That is why he had not traveled.

My in-laws had told us how they were going to visit friends while there. They never even broached the subject of spending time together.

My parents invited them over and my MIL said no. This was after her arguement.

You are all correct. FIL enables. He never says a word. My MIL is out of control most of the time. She is the type that doesn't plan family meals or time together. Then when it's Christmas expects us to be in her family photo (when nobody is even speaking to one another) and be there for Christmas. She has actually said to me before that she was sad my husband and I were not going to be with family at Christmas, when we were spending it with my family.

I don't want to cut her off. But, she was a tyrant. I don't want this going on in front of our kids. As it was our daughter had a ring side seat and MIL didn't care how ugly and cruel she was. Daughter doesn't know what is going on yet. But, that behavior is not going to be good as she gets older.

There are two sides. But, dang it. When a DIL lives clear across the country from her family and only sees them together once a year at most, I would think that my in-laws would be a bit nicer about planning with us.

And we went back there because it was the family minister who does all special occassions for us.

That is why we flew back.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 6:55PM
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There's no excuse for your MIL's behavior.
You don't make a spectacle of yourself at an event like a christening - have some respect; have some decency.
Even if she was "upset" with your husband (and I don't see HOW, or WHY, since they never want to go out to dinner with you all), but even then you don't chew your adult son out in front of people on the front steps of a restaurant.
You don't treat people rudely because you aren't center stage and you DON'T cuss and carry on in front of a tiny child.
NO excuse.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 8:44PM
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Would there be a possiblilty that MIL was just inviting you for show? And if you had said..."Oh fine! Let us know and we'll see what we can arrange" that would have been the end of the story?
I know a woman like that....greets you warmly and says..."I'll give you a call next week, I want to take you to lunch, we have so much to catch up on"...and then never calls. I suspect MIL is all about showing "how caring" she is.

Ignore her...don't call her....when she says I want to take you to dinner...say "um hum"...when she calls to arrange a time...."sorry I really can't then as so and so has invited us to the grandopening of...."
Don't get your panties in a wad....she's evil....stay away from just polite but no more. If she turns out insulting....say..."Sorry I must leave now"...or of it's at your house..."Sorry, I have to ask you to leave now."
You can't change her....but you can change how you react to her.

She's a sad, evil, jealous old biddy with a very poor opinion of her self. Pity her, but don't allow her to rule you or any of your family.
BUT....she is your husband's every 4 or 5 months, bite the bullet and ask her for dinner or whatever and make up your mind that you will just suffer her "stuff"...for that one event of a couple of hours....but no more.
You will have salved your concience, made her the star for a few hours and shown your husband what a classy dame you are!
If she doesn't show...or can't come when you invite her....say "Oh!~ I am soooo sorry" and let it go. Make it on YOUR terms.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 9:24PM
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Substitute 'wedding' for 'christening' and 'Hemmingway House' for out to dinner and you have an incident with my MIL. Complete with the dozens of other accompanying bad behavior over the period of a couple years involving kids, my famiy, friends and neighbors, replete with the enabling family members, and topped off by the pretending nothing happened, and our situation is exactly the same.

This is what I did, with the guidance of a family counselor: she was told clearly and simply verbally and in writing what our grievance was, told she must apologize, and told that she was never to repeat her behavior again, and if she did not apologize or did repeat her behavior, she would be cut off (given advance warning). She whined how she did nothing wrong and how mean everyone was to her, said it was all embroidery of fact and made up allegations, and said she was sorry I was the way I was. This was not good enough, so she got cut off for three months.

Then she was given another chance. She hadn't learned a thing, felt more abused than ever, and started recruiting family and friends to 'take her side', hoping I guess that they'd punish us for being 'mean' to her. This got her cut off for a year.

She was given another chance, 5 hours in a restaurant and a museum. She still couldn't keep from saying bad things about people (she bashed the kids', aged 7 and 10, grandfather in front of them and lied about him--absolutely forbidden; revealed that their college-aged cousin had been arrested for drinking in public, completely inappropriate, altho it give me the opportunity to bring up Grandma's arrest for shoplifting, since she so badly wanted to discuss people being arrested ; bashed their babysitter and gave her opinion that she was a lazy deadbeat; and criticized two more people). My husband and I pretty much let all this inappropriate nasty gossip go. This was actually a pretty successful visit as far and MIL contact goes.

But MIL was miserable. She went home and informed my husband that she was cutting him off because he caused her so much pain (altho a couple weeks later when it became apparent to her that he didn't care, she emailed him and said, I just want to hear your voice). She complained that she had wasted $800 since we didn't let the children stay alone with her in her hotel room, something she knew before she came. When neither cutting him off or begging to hear his voice worked, my MIL then informed her son that he was 'just like his father' and had abandonned the family. Once again proving her confusion between the roles a husband and a son play in a woman's life and ignoring the inconvenient fact that he had cordial relations with all his siblings. She spends her entire life trying to bully, coax, lie/manipulate, or shame her children into her need for attention, pity, and drama. She's succeeded in driving almost all of them away, even her previously most staunch supporters.

One of our primary therapists said something that completely changed my husband's mind about his mother's relationship with the kids.

The therapist said:

"Someday your mother will, WILL, treat your children just like she treats you and just like she treats your wife (me). Maybe you are willing to put up with it for yourself, maybe you think your wife should be the 'bigger person' and just take her antics, but one day if you permit this relationship to go on as always, someday, that will be your child she's screaming at, crying to, manipulating, lying about, punishing, running about recruiting other family members to gang up on, shaming, guilting, blaming, etc... Your mother WILL treat your children just like she treats you AT BEST, and like she treats your wife at worst; she cannot help herself, she does not know any better way to act. And YOU, daddy, YOU will have set your child up for it."

My husband's attitude towards his mother changed almost immediately. Because he'd been saying for years, "That's just the way she is", "she can't help it", "she's just a weak person, but she means well", he knew it was true: she didn't know another way to behave and she WOULD treat the kids the same hateful way she treated him and the absolutely nasty way she treated me and her ex--and my husband couldn't stand that thought.

( all you estrangeed parents who are sure you are only estranged from your precious child because of the spouse-in-law, my MIL says the same thing about me. But she's wrong, wrong, wrong. It was a lifetime of her own behavior, interpreted by a counselor and overlaid on the children that changed my husband's attitude. He couldn't bear to see his children played with and treated the way his mother had treated him. But she'll forever claim it was my fault, and I brainwashed him or bullied him into cutting her off.)

Anyway, pinkpoenies, we have almost no contact with MIL anymore and it's lovely for us. My husband calls her on occasion, and the kids say hello on the phone on birthdays and holidays, but that's it.

See if your husband can understand that the way his mother treats him will be the way he treats your daughter. See if he can imagine his little girl being chewed out in public by his mom, and see if he's willing to subject her to that? And suggest investigating family counselling to find healthier ways of dealing with his mother.

Me, I'd just tell husband he can do what he wants, but you and daughter will be staying away from MIL and no longer interacting with her until you have reasonable assurances that MIL will not be repeating her ugly behavior.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 12:15AM
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I think your husband should bring up the subject to his mother. If he doesn't say anything, she'll just do it again! He should mention the fact that she lives 10 minutes away and has never invited him to dinner. Now, with your family, she invites him!

I'm the one who tells hubby to call his mom now and then. He's the one who doesn't want our daughter alone with his mom cuz she says the most unthinkable things. He doesn't trust his mom with our daughter.

Example... when my daughter was 3, our dog (husky) was just about to give birth when she ran under my husband's truck as he was leaving. The back wheels ran over her and he had to put her out. She was suffering so much and there was no hope for her survival. This devasted him!

About a day or 2 after, we went to my husband's brother's place where his family gathered to celebrate the brother's birthday. My MIL was holding our daughter and said "So I here that your dad is a murderer." and she's laughing! My mouth dropped open and I said "Irene, you don't say that!" She didn't here me so I actually yelled it out. Everyone stopped and looked at me and I told her "You don't say something like that! What's the matter with you?" She says to my husband "Well I thought you didn't like that dog?" My husband says "Holy geez mother, you don't think that I have a heart?" My husband was practically in tears because he loved that dog so much and had to put her out. I was so appalled at my MIL!

My opinion with people like this is you say it as it is! My "motto", if you will, is "We are all adults. I have something to say and if you can't understand where I'm coming from, then it's your problem." Then I say what I have to say. If the person does not wish to discuss it like mature adults, then it's their problem not mine.

I'm known to be blunt but not rude or ignorant. I just speak my mind as I see things. I don't believe in "beating around the bush". It's a waste of time, IMO. If you beat around the bush, the person you're talking to can misunderstand the point that you're making.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 8:40AM
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Yes, it's upsetting. It is hard to be the better person when she, the elder of you (and who should set the example), is acting like a horse's patatootie. And you should want to protect he who wants to protect you. But Carla and LindaC are right. My MIL actually settled down when I started asking her to lunch, just her, me and the grandson... like I thought of her as my mom (instead of how she was viewing it, competition). When I set the terms, I felt free to ask her. And she felt comfortable, that I was accepting of her. Worked for me and it can for you. Do what Linda says, bit the bullet and ask her. You (and all of your family) will be thankful you did.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 10:31AM
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What you are teaching your children, Cindy.... will come back to haunt you. Interesting that you indicate your family has several therapists: "one of our primary therapists..." Confirms just what I thought: there are more issues in your family than your MIL.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 10:44AM
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Well, I certainly don't know about "all of the issues" in CindyLou's family -- but some of what she said rings very, very true:

That people who consistently treat others badly to meet their own needs will turn around and do that to their "current favorites" some day as well. True, they're sick. True, they don't know any better. They can't help it. They ARE to be pitied, in a way, because they are doomed to lives of unhappiness. And yes, there are reasons for their behavior. They may have been abused in their own childhoods, abandoned through death, divorce or just plain abandonment. So yes, there are reasons.

But in the end, whatever the reasons -- these people sow misery and discord wherever they go and leave a trail of confused and wounded victims.

We ALL have psychic wounds and scars.
And it's my responsibility as an adult and as a parent to fix my issues if I can, and to not to let my issues damage my husband or my children.

And it's her responsibility to fix her issues, and to not allow them to continue to inflict pain on others.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 12:59PM
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"And it's my responsibility as an adult and as a parent to fix my issues if I can, and to not to let my issues damage my husband or my children.

And it's her responsibility to fix her issues, and to not allow them to continue to inflict pain on others."

Well said.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 3:46PM
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"I think a lot of people will do anything they can get away with, because they are not called on it. If we speak up I think they will behave better and if they don't, you really haven't lost anything."

This is well said...too, by Stargazer. And I agree with her.

"FIL walked away leaving my husband to deal with his mother again"

Sounds like MIL has been "allowed" to act like a child, she knows her tantrums will get action. Perhaps FIL needs to say a few words, or SIL needs to cease trying to placate her, or calm her down. If everyone had left her on the steps she would not have had an audience.

Sounds very much like dealing with a toddler.

Her behavior upsets people and someone should tell her.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 6:40PM
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"Posted by njtea (My Page) on Thu, Jun 12, 08 at 10:44

What you are teaching your children, Cindy.... will come back to haunt you. Interesting that you indicate your family has several therapists: "one of our primary therapists..." Confirms just what I thought: there are more issues in your family than your MIL."

As I explained in another post: we had two therapists to deal with MIL because WE MOVED OUT OF STATE IN THE MIDDLE OF COMING TO TERMS WITH THE PROBLEM. So we had a therapist in NJ and then we had a therapist in AZ. It took almost a year to give MIL all the chances she had. Then she ran out of chances, we'd done all we were willing to do and dedicated all the energy to working things out with her we were willing to commit to the endless problem that used to be his mother, and we stopped needing therapists. So no there aren't a whole host of family problems like you ASSUMED.

However, it amuses me to point out that now that we have successfully blocked MIL from causing problems in our family, she is now causing problems in her youngest child's family, and they now have a therapist. Youngest child used to be very critical and nasty about my husband's drawing boundaries with their mother. Now that MIL is concentrating her neediness and emotional disturbance on her youngest child's family, they understand, and they too got themselves a therapist, and they are starting to do the same things with MIL that they used to criticize us for doing.

Have you heard what they say about people with personality disorders and therapists? They themselves never go to counseling themselves, they just drive everyone around them to seek professional help.

My MIL exactly.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 8:03PM
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so true cindy, disturbed people don't want to seek help but everyone else around ends up in therapy, and then the disturbed one says: you seem disturbed, you need therapy. well, yes, you drove me nuts so of course I need therapy to deal with you!!!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 8:19PM
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Are you, pinkpeonies, the same poster as ilovepink, or are the similarities all just a huge coincidence? If you are different people, you should really get to know each other. LOL. You have a lot in common.

In short, I advise letting it go. But I tell you the following long version so you know that I have "been there, done that" and know how complicated it can be.

My parents live in central Florida, age late-50s and both still working full time. My inlaws are older, retired, live 6 months in Ohio and spend 6 months in Florida; by coincidence their winter home is 30 minutes from my parents (and literally on the way, I pass their street). I live in north Georgia. This spring I loaded my 4 kids into our van and drove the 9 hours to spend a few days w/my parents. DH stayed home this time. This trip is routine for me. So MIL knew I was coming, and was told I would call when I arrived to arrange a time to visit them when I had a better idea what we were doing (this is a quick family tour of Florida when we go, lots of family there). When I got to my parents, she had called and left the urgent message that I should call as soon as I arrived and my mother said she sounded upset. So I called. MIL "thought" I was going directly to their home and staying the night. Don't know why she thought that as I've never done that, wishful thinking maybe. I let it go, said sorry, no. She wanted us to go there the next day. I told her we were driving to Tampa to see my grandparents and that I had hoped she would be availabe Thursday. She was in a huff, said no, absolutely not, her retirement community had a farewell potluck on Thursday that she just didn't want to miss, she had tee-times the rest of the week, and only tomorrow would work for her. OK. I sensed she was manipulating me (ya' think? LOL) so I called her bluff and said "Oh, that's really too bad. I hope we'll see you next time." She let it go for the rest of the week, then she called me at 8am Thursday morning having "changed her mind." I gave her my best wide-awake-and-glad-to-hear-from-you voice and said "Sure, we'll be there in an hour." She told me we'd have to leave by 4pm so they could "get to that potluck." LOL. So I told my parents I'd be back by dinner. After spending the day with ILs, MIL asked us to stay for dinner, she would "forget the potluck." That was my line. I told her I'm so sorry, but since you said 4pm I told my parents we could go to dinner with them, they are expecting us and it would be rude to change that at the last minute. BUT they were welcome to join us, we could go somewhere closer to them even. They declined, we left at 4pm. They made it to that potluck afterall. ;o)

But they were miffed anyway. Because their son was not with us, because it wasn't on MIL's terms, the kids weren't gracious enough, we drank too much of their bottled water, I don't know. Now, they would normally stop at our house to spend the night on their way back to Ohio. We are 15 mins off the interstate they drive and at the 1/2-way mark for milage. It's as convenient as a motel with the advantage of seeing their son and grandchildren. They never stay to really visit, arriving at 5pm, having dinner, leaving at 6am next day. They did not stop at all this time, even though they drove through town the weekend of DH's 40th birthday.

I roll my eyes, vent to girlfriends over coffee, and let it go. Her behavior will not change how I behave. I will continue to behave in a manner in line with my own standards and values of kindness and respect for others. If I go to Ohio this summer to see my family (reunion on my side; my parents will go, too) I will still take the kids to see them, with or without DH. I will give them the same respect I give my family regardless of past "offenses." I'm even trying to convince DH to go, that he needs to see them.

In my opinion, my MIL's actions were similar to your MIL's. Annoying, yeah, pretty much what I've come to expect. But really, not worth being angry or offended over. It looks bigger to you b/c you are viewing it as the top of a pile of offenses against you, not by itself. So she thought she'd go to the ceremony and be off to see their friends. But once they were there, she felt a little left out and wanted to be a part of what she saw between you and your family. She maybe didn't go about it the right way. That's not a bad thing, consider it a compliment and have some compassion.

So my advice to you is take a deep breath and let it go. It is not worth the anger you are letting yourself feel. You can draw boundaries lovingly. You can behave to your standards *and values* even while tolerating someone who does not. You cannot go wrong when you act out of love for others. Stop letting her get to you. Stop piling up grievances against her. She's not showing up drunk or telling lies, she's not causing trouble intentionally. She is acting of a sense of loss, trying to find her place in this changing family. So she's not graceful about it, cut her some slack.

And the next time she annoys you (which will probably be the next time you see her) don't put that on top of the pile, either. In fact, get rid of the pile. She's not ever going to be the person you want her to be. My MIL is always going to be tactless, judgemental, and a little manipulative. (Bless her heart. LOL) It's always going to be a complicated relationship to manage, one that takes work and doesn't come easy. No one is perfect, we all have personality traits that annoy others. I am always going to be a little too independent for my MIL, and have flare-ups of that trait when I'm around her. The way to manage the relationship is NOT to manage your MIL (good luck with that); you can only manage your role. Try to find some insight into MIL's feelings and respond to her feelings not just her behavior.

Unless there is intentionally hurtful, abusive or dangerous behavior I don't get this "cut them off" mentality. How is that a solution? You can't cut off family b/c they annoy you sometimes. You have to work things out, forgive transgressions (sound familiar?). Be the best you that you can be, make compassion and humility more important values than being right.

Oh, and I also advise inviting your inlaws to dinner and a nice visit at your house every 3rd Sunday of each month (or some mutually convenient time). They just want in your life and don't know quite know how it is supposed to happen yet. This is not easy for anyone, don't assume it is not equally difficult for them to navigate. Extend an invitation and smile. (Monday morning you can call a friend and vent.)

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 11:42PM
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Stephanie you are my idol. I wish I could handle my MIL like this. I have to work on it.

I don't want to cut them out of our lives. I don't know how people do that. I know they aren't my parents. It has been said that MIL wants to be close to me and be a part of my life. I can't do it though. I wish I could trust her more and let her in. But, she has done so much in the past that I know I have to keep her at arms length.

She talks about me behind my back to family. I try to let it go. It's hurtful though. My husband knows about it and I use to expect him to do something about it. But, in reality he can't control her. Nobody can. When FIL walked off and left her to rip into my husband that was the end of any hope that he would say something to her. He too lets her run around out of control.

In the last day I have received an email or two from MIL and the latest is wanting to see us before they leave town at noon on Sunday. It's Friday and my husband has packed the weekend full of plans. His own. With it being Father's day I made it clear that I would do whatever he wanted. He asked to go out on Sunday to a place about two hours away. Then Saturday he has a hike planned with his friends that they planned months ago. He also is running a race in the a.m. It's rarely like this. He saw his dad early this week for Father's day and played golf.

I told him his mother was asking to see us, and his reply was that they should have said something a week ago when he saw them. Why was she emailing me? Why didn't his dad say anything when they golfed for five hours?

I didn't reply. It is so frustrating. I don't understand them.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 10:21AM
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frustrating and I don't understand them... OH, the times I have said that about my DH and his parents! It's not all her fault. DH isn't exactly trying, he avoids them. I understand why he does, but it makes MIL more hurt and angry. I have to tell him to call her, nag him. I'm telling ya, I just want to sit these people down and straighten them out. LOL.

If a better relationship is what you want, and you stay focused on peacefulness and respect as your own goal, you will get there. When faced with her antics, take a moment and think. Don't act out of momentary emotion. Do the right thing for everyone and you'll at least have done your best. For me it was so hard the first year DS was born, I would just fume and rage to DH. And I was younger, so I was trying to define myself and get respect for that. But it's been almost 15 years, it's not a short road! LOL. I'm starting to think it's a never ending road. But it will end, ultimately, they won't live forever. And I don't want to have regrets at that point.

I know my MIL talks about me, too. I'd bet on it b/c she talks about everyone else, why not me? LOL. She talks about SIL (her own daughter) to me, so I'm sure it goes both ways. I know who I am, and nothing she says changes that. As long as she doesn't say things to my kids or about my kids, cuz then I turn into Momma Bear. LOL.

I do have a big advantage: we live 500 miles from her. That will take the tension out of things. LOL. I can put up with anything for 3 days.

I understand your need to vent and figure this whole thing out, especially when something that should be simpler is so darn complicated it's exhausting!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 12:52PM
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Stephanie, that is a nice example. Does your MIL also throw fits in public and dress down adults?

"...MIL chewed my husband out after dinner on the front steps of the restaurant. It was his birthday that week...
MIL threw a fit. FIL walked away leaving my husband to deal with his mother again. This is not something new...She ended up saying some nasty things. Then upon leaving was rude to my parents. It was really uncomfortable for them. My parents were upset for my husband..."

Has your MIL lost all self control and aggressively verbally attacked adults, treated her grown child so disrespectfully, and been rude to strangers for no reason...and all at a special occasion belonging to someone else?

A sulky, manipulative person can be handled as you described; but it's a horse of a different color when you are dealing with grown adults who throw public tantrums.

I am older than stargazzer, and I second her opinion that it's not worth your time coping with difficult people. Life goes by so fast; you don't want to look back and realize you spent it juggling difficult people. It's neither rewarding or noble. Just tiring.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 3:02PM
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I am tired from the non-stop drama. It's always a darn if you darn if you don't with my MIL.

It's always something with my MIL. FIL never says a word.

She also has a knack at making it where her kids are either being the 'good ones' or the 'bad ones' at all times. But, there is never a time that you feel like everyone is being good. She plays her kids against one another. My husband sees it. His brother doesn't and unfortunately it's damaged their relationship. They rarely talk or see one another. MIL use to send my husband letters in college complaining about his brother to him. My husband is very nice and has a zillion friends. Everyone likes him. He once said that growing up he always felt like he had to be good because his brother never was. Kind of telling for the future. I didn't realize it then.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 3:38PM
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Sounds like my DIL, someone is always getting raped, robbed assaulted, etc..

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 4:19PM
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She plays her kids against one another.

My MIL still tries to do this, and she is over 80 years old!! Still trying to agitate any lingering sibling rivalry.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 9:53AM
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It seems that you are having lots of issues with your MIL and you are looking for the bad. Try thinking more positive regarding her. She may not have ulterior motives at all. A word to the wise... if you love your husband, you will do everything within your power to get along with his Mother. We only have one Mother and while she may not be perfect, your husband loves her also. My advice is to "try harder".

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 8:36PM
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If you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't--choose 'don't'; it's less trouble.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 9:48AM
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I had a friend with a MIL similar to yours and she lived next door to boot. My friend tried everything until one day her mother told her to kill her with kindness so she tried it and it worked. If your MIL is as negative as you say she won't be able to make a drama if you don't engage. When she says I'm taking you to dinner say "great thank you, what night, I'll make plans." When she starts trouble say "you seem upset, maybe you should sit down and calm down, I'll get you a drink or FIL- I'm worried about MIL maybe you should take her home to rest:)"

If you hear something that she says about you address it..."so and so said that you told her that you didn't like XXX- I wish you had told me directly so we could talk about it...what's bothering you????" or "Wow it really hurt DH's feelings when you said XXX about him- you should talk to him so he knows you aren't mad."

My friend made a big production out of everything and eventually her MIL didn't start things because she didn't get the type of attention she was looking for.....

of course she got her digs in too and it is awkward I was at their house for a baby shower and my friend said to MIL--oh remember when you were telling me that you were mad at SIL about XXXX- well I told her and she sid she would talk to you today and work it out so you'll both feel better." The room went silent! Her MIL is usually a big mouth and that day she was quiet.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 1:14PM
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magicgran, I avoided making a laundry list of my MIL's past behavior b/c I know some of you will tell me we are too forgiving of her. Yes, she had done some outrageous things. They disowned their daughter, did not speak for 3 years and re-wrote their will w/out her, b/c they didn't like her first husband's nationality. That only ended when the marriage ended. She has had some screaming matches w/her own sisters. She left home once several years ago, withdrew a large amount of money and "ran away" for a couple days. No word, FIL called everyone they know and then the police. That was a scary phone call "It's Dad, have your heard from your Mom? She's gone." Her worst moment for me, though, was when she came to help after baby #4 was born. I heard a yelling match from DS's room (he was 5!) b/c she ripped his bed covers off, scolding him, verbally belittling him, for not making his bed "right." ("If you had done it right Grandma wouldn't have to do this.") He was on the floor in tears and she didn't stop. I scooped him up, pushed her out of the room and shut the door. It was a long time before any of us trusted her again. That wasn't about the bed-making, that was her taking out whatever emotions she had on a child.

I asked DH if she was always like that. He said she was always dramatic, emotional, unpredictable. But for a few years she hit a peak. Family changes + death of her parents, a sibling, friends + menopause + the fact that she was always emotionally high maintenance = one difficult MIL.

I don't want to think about what our relationship would be like if we didn't live so far apart. LOL. She is the one person in my life about whom I will say "I love her, but I don't like her." She is the most difficult person I have to get along with. Of any tips I can offer about getting along with someone like that, I admit the one thing that makes the most difference is that we live 500 miles from her. ;o) So one thing she doesn't do that pinkpeonies has to put up with is surprise drop-in visits.

She hasn't done anything so dramatic in a few years. She's still difficult, like walking on egg shells. I try to be very kind to her, sympathetic. It helps. And when she says something judgemental to me (either about me, or about someone else) I just ask her "Why would you say that?" If she asks me a question that I know is leading up to a bad end, I just don't answer it, I ask "Why do you want to know that?" It make her stop.

She doesn't want to difficult, she just doens't know how else to be. I don't get the feeling from her that she plans anything out, there is no master plan to bring anyone down. She just doesn't think about other people's feelings when she is so consumed with her own feelings. She acts out of her feelings at the moment, which are usually negative. She just really does not know how to be happy. Seriously, if she goes somewhere exciting and I ask if she had a good time the best she'll ever say is "It wasn't bad."

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 3:02PM
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My former mother in law put a butcher knife to her throat saying she was going to kill herself in front of every one in the family, including the kids. You can't reason with people like that. When we visited there we couldn't visit the people she was "not speaking to" because she would go with us. We started staying in motels or camped out when we visited.

She used to find a ride to a small town near our city, call us and want us to pick her up, without letting us know ahead of time and regardless of our plans. She always did this on a Monday, my husband would work everyday and I had to chauffeur her around town to shop. We got an unlisted phone number.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 3:22PM
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Ah, MILs!

I actually don't have a complaint about my MIL. She lives in another country (probably part of the success of our relationship) and is a very sweet person.

You don't hear many husbands complaining on message boards about their MILs, but I imagine my DH would have a lot to say. He told me this year (now 6 years into our marriage) that he almost didn't ask me to marry him because of my mother, who is controlling and narcissistic. I can't say I blame him, in retrospect.

My mom would hug everyone in the room goodbye and shake his hand. She wanted to take me out to dinner for my birthday (on my birthday) and asked if DH (then my fiance) could pay for himself if he wanted to join us (he said, thanks, but no thanks, as did I). When DH and I (thankfully) moved to a different state nearby so he could pursue a business opportunity, my mom told me she thought he wanted to move away specifically to take ME away from HER.

She has made all manner of rude comments and controlling efforts in his direction over the years. When I gave birth, she made a rude comment to my OB about DH (he was out of the room at that time, but I was there, laboring away).

My DH remains polite and dislikes her so much he cannot bring himself to speak much to her when she visits. It's very clear where things stand. And yet, she still WANTS to come visit and tries to make me feel guilty she's not here more regularly. Her extraordinary capacity to deny reality (and believe that she's a "damn good" mother-in-law) amazes me!

MILs out there, remember that if we could hear the other side of the story, it might appear far different than you think. You may have an uncommunicative son/daughter, but for all you know, your child's spouse nags them to call you. My husband has a fine set of parents (certainly they have their faults), but I regularly tell him to call them.

How to bridge the gap between son and parents once he is married, I don't know, as my son is only 3. My brother is not yet married (although he already barely speaks to my mother and not at all to my father).

My plan is to build a life of my own and not rely on my children to emotionally support me when I am old. It's a gift. I have no wish to be the emotional lifeline for my parents (yet admittedly, I already am for my father, who has no friends and no family, so I know what I'm talking about). I hope i am never one of those mothers inducing guilt because their son doesn't call or visit enough. I figure, it will be his choice. You can't force people to do things. I have been "guilt-tripped" into doing things for my own mother, and it only makes me want to run away.

Plus, importantly, young people in their 20's/early 30's may still be discovering who they are apart from their parents. It may be important to them at this time to maintain more of a distance (certainly not always true, but in my case, this was true). If they go on to have children, I find that is typically when families may start to "reconnect" and the value of extended family is better understood by the new parent. Again, not always the case, but certainly true in mine.

My mother now focuses all her controlling and needy love on my son, which is fine by me. He adores her. They are very close at this stage in his life (we'll see once he gains more independence), and I'm now expecting a girl which is exciting for all, particularly my mother.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 12:59PM
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