I think I am being set-up for failure by MIL for this weekend

pinkpeoniesJune 13, 2008

She sent an email that said it would be nice to see us before they leave town.

That came last night.

Today is a work day so obviously my husband is at work. Tonight family flies in and my MIL and FIL are taking them out of town. They will be back tomorrow night.

Sunday is Father's day and they are leaving that afternoon I believe to go out of town.

In the email MIL said she supposed I had something planned for my husband (her son) for FDay. Well, I do. But, my husband also did something with his father earlier this week since they knew he would be busy leaving town. My husband also has a run that morning.

I haven't responded to the email. I don't know what to do. I'd like to say "Is this a set-up so you can pout and gain attention b/c we couldn't see you before you left town?" I feel like if I ignore the email it's bad and if I don't email her back it's bad.

What should I do?

Myhusband said this morning he didn't understand why she was just asking now.

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Email or call her back and say: yes, it would be lovely to see you, too. We do have pre-existing plans for Father's Day -- perhaps we can go to dinner tomorrow night after you get back in town? Or maybe have a short visit if you don't make it back in time for dinner? Put the ball in her court.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 2:20PM
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We have plans for tomorrow night. Actually from 11 in the morning until that evening. So that is out. I had thought of that too!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 2:28PM
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Has she apologized for ruining the christening?
If she hasn't apologized to your DH, you, or your parents for her appalling behavior, I wouldn't even feel like I had to see her.

I certainly wouldn't go out of my way, after the way she treated everyone at the christening. Just my opinion.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 2:55PM
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I would certainly reply politelly stating that unfortuantelly you already made your own plans much ahead of time. Ask her if there is any other time that she is available? And if not, there is nothing you can do because you make all plans ahead of time. I would apologize and continue wiht my weekend. If MIL suggests other times, it is fine if not, oh well. No need to argue and get upset but the fact is the fact: you have other plans.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 4:23PM
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Quit reading stuff into it...just act like someone else (like your mom) sent the e-mail and respond according. Second guessing what people are after or why they are doing something almost always backfires especially if you're reading negativity into something that may not really be there.

Without seeing the entire e-mail, I'm not really sure what she's asking... but if there are no times to meet, tell her that. Would it be too much to include them in your father's day plans? That's what most of the people I know do...their father's are included on that day... (same with Mother's day). I know it seems like it should be a day for your husband and that he already did something with his dad earlier, but if it would work out easily, maybe it would be nice to include everyone especially your husband's father on father's day. Just a thought...

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 7:20PM
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Whooo wah. I read the other thread too.

Read up at NAMI.org about Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorders. Its all about them! You are reading her 100% correctly. Stephanie has started giving you tools to deal with it, get the book 'Stop Walking on Eggshells' to get more ideas or keep reading us. I would NOT include her in your father's day plans based on how she behaved at the Christening - that would be condoning her behavior.

Let your husband deal with the email and future correspondences - write her back, copy him, and say 'I'm letting DH decide, please contact him.' This isn't your battle - and it doesn't even have to be a battle, just a polite 'so sorry!'

Your husband should deal with all the future stuff too. Just gently send the emails and phone calls to him.

I have a mentally ill sister who sounds just like your MIL. These disorderes are more common than you think. Yes, I have compassion for her and see things from her point of view - her disorder involves a huge need for involvement, validation, control, and neediness. I accept them, but don't let them control me.

The only other thing you mentioned I wanted to address is that she is talking about you behind your back? That can be dealt with by making her the 'identified victim' of the family. When you hear the bad stuff she is spreading, just sigh and say 'yes, I know, but cut MIL slack because I think she has a touch of [mental illness]'. Like Stephanie said, don't let it get personal!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 9:16PM
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Just be straight with her. You all have busy schedules this weekend, not just you. Their weekend is just as booked.

Reply, because not to reply is rude. But refer her to your DH. It's up to him to include them in your dinner plans or make other brunch plans, or make an invitation for something another day soon, or whatever fits your schedule. So if it were me, I would email her back that she should give her son a call as he is the one with all the plans this weekend and would know better what time he has free. Saying "whatever the two of you decide works for me" and follow through, go along with with the father/mother/son decide. I would ask my DH to call his mom (so she won't ask me again!), but I won't dial the phone for him.

I think it is somewhat common that the wife is expected to make plans and communicate. I find that very frustrating. I just feel like a middle-man. Jeez, folks, go to the source! If I make plans to see DH's family, that is just a good-deed on my part, not an obligation.

Detatch yourself from any hint of drama. It's hers, not yours, don't make it yours. Just be respectful. I know it's easy to feel like you're in the middle of some sort of test, graded pass or fail. LOL. Don't try to pass it, you won't. Just focus on doing the right thing by your values.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 12:35AM
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Well, I replied and copied my husband on it. I also said in the email that in the future when they need to plan with us feel free to go direct with their son. He is so busy that it's usually he who can say yes or no to something.

Also, found this funny. I don't know who asked if MIL was the type to plan in front of others to make herself sound good. But, maybe they hit the nail on the head.

I got a message from one of the famiy members in town right now with MIL and FIL. They wanted to know if they could stop by on their way to dinner. You know if they really wanted to take their son to dinner for his birthday then I would have thought by now they would have asked now that we are all home.

But, this is icing on the cake when you get asked if they all can stop by in the middle of the evening if we are going to be home on their way to or from dinner. Would it be difficult to invite us?

Interesting to say the least.

Thanks for the advice.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 7:55PM
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It gets better and better.

At 9 a.m. the doorbell rings. I tell hubby I'll check to see who it is.

Guess who!


She didn't call or anything and she knew we were busy this morning. She is standing on the doorstep with family.

I am in a nightgown. DH is in boxers. We had pulled stuff out to get ready for the events of the day. So in a word the house looked bad. Which normally I don't care. But, my MIL advertises this to everyone when her DILs have a messy house. So I always get stressed over it.

Then before I can make a move, she is taking the famiy to our backyard.

We didn't open the door to them. I am feeling bad for that. But, at the same time I am glad I didn't have to open the door with this nightgown only on.

The baby had gone down for a nap five minutes before. So it's not like they would have seen the baby. Who drops by a house early in the a.m. with a new baby? Without calling?

Especially when only a month ago when their son had a long talk with his parents, MIL said she does not ever feel welcomed in our house. She was trying to lay blame on us for something that happened a month ago. It's funny that in a month since then when she has thrown a nasty fit, that she feels comfortable enough to come by without a call early in th emorning.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 1:19PM
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If she doesn't have the decency to call first, I wouldn't feel I had to open the door.
She is being rude, to put it mildly. (To say nothing of
her behavior at the christening. She really needs to make amends for that before she assumes she is welcome anywhere. She most certainly wouldn't be welcome at my home).

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 4:38PM
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U seem to have hard feelings about anything parental sirens. Mils & Mothers U hate them all. Plus U keep posting comments to estranged parents. Man U have some issues.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 6:35PM
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"Hard feelings?"

Establishing boundaries isn't hard feelings, it's just good, common sense when dealing with the likes of these types of people...interesting that you would comment on it, though.

Are your toes sore?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 7:11PM
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So what happened? Did you acquiese? Did your husband go out and say, "It's not a good time. I'm sorry but you will have to go? We've already talked about this kind of ambush?" Did you ignore them and they went away without seeing any of you?

Me, I would have replied to the first email: "I'm sorry I'm still recovering from your dreadful behavior at my child's christening. I'm not up for visiting for a while. Husband or I will let you know when we are ready to risk social encounters with you again."

But that's just me. I have very little patience with unpleasantness. Co-dependent I'm not, rescuer I'm not, doormat I'm not, young and anxious to please I'm not.

When MIL showed up at my door unannounced in the early morning, I would have first asked my husband, "Were you expecting your mother and a bunch of other people?" Just to make sure there wasn't a misunderstanding.

And then I would have opened the door just wide enough to poke my head out, "Can I do something for you?" without a smile. She better have an emergency to report.

If not, I would have said, "This isn't a good time. We've talked to you about doing things like this." And I would have looked at the other family members and added,

"I'm sorry MIL dragged you over here. I don't know what she told you but we had no plans to entertain the family this morning; in fact, we have other plans, are not dressed and I need to get moving. I hope in spite of whatever MIL led you to believe was going to happen this morning, you have a nice day."

And I would have shut the door, hoping MIL had the good grace to be embarassed. But if she wanted to play the victim card and get all wound up with indignation and self righteousness and involve herself in contacting everyone she knows to cry and complain, I would be able to shrug it off.

Standing up for yourself against unreasonable behavior is how you separate the decent people in your life from the indecent. If you allow people to walk all over you, they will.

But that's me. Some people don't care, they'd say, "Wow, great, want to tag along with us today."

One way is not better than the other. The wrong way to handle the problem is to cope in a way that leaves you resentful and irritated and feeling trapped and angry.

Fences make good neighbors. Boundaries make good relationships. Deeply insecure people hate personal boundaries, their goal is to merge into other people's lives like siamese twins. If you want to be a siamese twin, no problem. If you don't, don't feel guilty about sticking up for yourself. But also don't wait for the other person to be happy with your decision not to merge with them.

Think of it this way: If your neighbor's dog keeps causing havoc in your yard, you can nag and moan and fuss over him putting up a fence and get yourself all wound up trying to get him to do what you want. Or you can put the fence up yourself and solve the problem. If he doesn't like it, it's his problem.

If you are going to wait for your MIL to impose boundaries on herself or give you permission, you will wait for eternity. You can't turn a night owl into a morning lark, you can't turn an extrovert into an introvert, and you can't turn a person without internal boundaries into one who respects the personal space of others. They don't value the same things and are that way by nature.

Neither of your ways are inferior to the other's; and you need to respect your own orientation on the matters of closeness versus autonomy as well as hers. What she wants does not trump what you want. And when it's your house and your time, what you want DOES trump what she wants.

A therapist skilled in family dynamics would be a good investment, because if you don't learn healthy ways of negotiating the closeness versus autonomy problem now, resentments and anger are likely to build up to the point that you feel forced into that cut-off you say you don't want. You cannot ignore your own needs in any relationship and expect that relationship to survive.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 8:54PM
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You think you are being set up for failure. Why would her behavior have anything to do with you?

Most likely it has everything to do with her. This is what she wants, so she goes forward with it, to heck with you. She figures it's your problem to deal with and don't bother her with your problem.

And that's how you should handle it in return. Not dealing with her this weekend is what you wanted, so go ahead and not deal with her, and if she has a problem with it, it's her problem.

If she's one of those people who will attempt to punish you for not putting her wants first, then I have to warn you, you have an uphill battle, but it's worth fighting. Demand respect and hold her accountable for her behavior and rely on truth.

Whenever in life you aren't sure what is the right thing to do, rely on truth. The truth was you did not want her there, did not invite her, and did not have time for her. 'Why' she did what she did is her own business; don't get into it.

If she causes another scene and you intimate she is prone to scenes, don't argue, just leave her, or in the case of her showing up at your door. Shut the door and ignore her. Respecting your parents does not include allowing them to abuse you.

Difficult people are that way because 1. they don't know better, and 2. it has worked for most of their lives.

Make sure it does not work. Impose a demerit for unpleasant behavior and a reward for good behavior. When she comes over on invitation (and make sure this happens too), make it a wonderful experience for her. When she comes over uninvited, make it and embarassing and cold experience.

She was very rude and sounds like she's been rude on many occasions. You are going to have to teach her how to treat you.

There are lots of people like this in the world. Deflecting their unpleasantness is a valuable life skill.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 9:18PM
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Excellent advice, Magicgran. Thankyou.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 3:54AM
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Shut the door and ignore her.

What about the other family members that were at the door? Is it fair for you to be rude to them too? How would that make you look?

I would have said something like "Oh shoot! Sorry, I wasn't expecting anybody this early in the morning so my house is upside-down right now as we are getting stuff ready for our busy day. Don't mind the mess!". Being polite and welcoming to ALL your guests would be the way to go. It would have been like a kick in the butt for the MIL knowing that you handled the situation as best you could and she didn't "get your goat". Your other family members wouldn't have felt unwelcomed. If they're from out of town, it's not like they could drop in anytime they wanted.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 7:32AM
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If they're from out of town, it's not like they could drop in anytime they wanted.

Even is a person is from out of town, they could still call and give notice that they're coming...showing up on a person's doorstep, unannounced, at 9 am is rude.
Most people could've called, or called from their cellphone. Of course, sometimes things happen and you can't call first.
Most likely, the other guests said something about calling before dropping in and the MIL shushed them...
But this lady wasn't rude to them, she just didn't answer the door.
I can't say I blame her.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 8:40AM
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Well, the family that was with MIL had called us on their cell the night before. So they could have called. My in-laws chase us down via the home phone or husbands cell most of the time.

I think they knew if they called ahead my husband would possibly have said no. Or if we had at least been given a call I think we could have tried to do a quick pick-up job and be dressed.

Also, the baby had gone down for her nap only minutes before. We could have told them the right time to come by. If I had been dressed and would have been ready to meet the challenge of the in-laws yesterday, I would have been more than happy opening the door to say "sorry. Baby is sleeping. We are on a schedule. You should have called."

My MIL is a bulldozer. She doesn't care about anyone other than herself. I'm sure when we didn't appear to be home yesterday,that too became a pity party for herself. I didn't know until later yesterday that FIL was in the car driving them. I was surprised that he let her do a drop by. But, then again he doesn't stand up to her anyway so it shouldn't have surprised me.

My husband called his dad to say Happy Father's day and FIL said they had stopped by. My husband acted like he had no idea.

But, of course he didn't say "why didn't you call." He was kicking himself when he got off the phone. In the future I am not going to feel bad about not opening the door again if they pull this again.

I can't believe that MIL thinks after how she acted at the christening that she is on such good terms to be allowed a drop by. Again, I truly don't think she has any boundaries and understands how to have a healthy relationship if she isn't the one running all over everyone.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 11:04AM
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Agreed, and your FIL is a very LARGE part of the problem.
I've noticed that - most of the time, these out-of-control women are enabled by a whipped husband who just wants to stay out of the line of fire and live the rest of his life in "peace," not caring about the wreckage left behind....

There's nothing worse than a whipped, ineffectual man.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 3:42PM
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