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The MIL - beyond frustrated
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My Mother-in-Law is Nuts, I'll just start off with that first. I've been able to 'handle her' in the past but lately, it's just too much for me and I'm ready to write off my husbands family in its entirety. I'm at the point where I genuinely have no idea what to do. She is passive aggressive, manipulative, and truly obnoxious.

Recent goings on include:
  • EVERYTHING, EVERY CONVERSATION, EVERYTHING IS ABOUT HER
  • My christmas gift: overnight babysitting
  • My husbands gift: $50 Gift Certificate
  • My children's gift: a day with her to pick out a dress (individually) Note: she does this so that I can't say no, it's her passive agressive way to spend time with the children rather than just asking like NORMAL people do
  • Her "food-for thought" (aka my idea is better than yours and it works better for me) comments
  • Background info: My brother-in-law has 3 FELONY charges against him currently and is awaiting trial in January (charges include trying to set up sex with an 11 year old (aka "sharing") via her father (aka "Detective") online). Once my husband I became privy of the charges and details we immediately initated a 'new normal' with that side of the family to protect our daughters (ages 4 and 2 1/2). We have since been accused by the sister-in-law (and husband) of betraying them and have postponed any relationship with us until after the trial (As IF that will change anything for us). Anyhow, the MIL tells me "I can't believe he would be so stupid to joke like that" - WTF!
  • Just recently she jumped on her Huffy bike when I told her she couldn't come over to our house at the time she told me because it wasn't convenient for us (it was during the time my parents would be here celebrating Christmas with our daughters and the MIL would RUIN this time based on the 1st bullet).
  • Last summer my husband and I spent a great part of the summer enjoying our family unit of 4 (camping, swimming, playing, etc.) and were accused of IGNORING her all summer.
  • She insists every holiday is celebrated twice (so it can be at her house).
  • When she plays with my girls it's always on HER agenda. They get so frustrated being 'led' doing her activities (they are 4 and 2 1/2 let them just play for cryin' out loud) that when she brings them home they act out due to pent up frustration.
  • She puts THOUGHT into her son's gifts (down to the friggn' wrapping paper she chooses) - and no one else.
  • Everything she does is based on the guilt she feels for allowing her ex-husband to take her son (my husband) back to their hometown (across the country) when he was 5 years old (this lasted for 5 years).
  • I try to talk to her about how I feel (on certain items) and she either changes the subject or flat out ignores me.
  • She constantly bitches to me about her 'now' husband (who is really a great guy).
  • the list really could go on-and-on...

I think what has put me over the edge is the fact that she was suppose to be out-of-town for Christmas. So a reprieve. This Mother F'n Snow jacked that up and she is now home. I've been diggn' my heels in when it comes to 'her wants' (when they don't work for us) and I can sense the tension rising. I'm so fed up with it though. I'm honestly not sure what to do. My husband has had 35 years learning how to deal with his mom (which is ignoring her). I've had 12 and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier for me. What do ya do? I feel like I'm putting my husband in the middle because I'm usually pissed off at his mom for some reason. Yet at the same time, the woman is IMPOSSIBLE to be around most of the time.

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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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Sounds like you AND your husband need to set new boundaries as to when she is allowed over to your house, what events you are going to participate in, when and how your daughters will be involved with her. At the end of the day most of the enforcing is going to have to come from your husband though and just ignoring the issue will not be enough so he's got to be on board with whatever the two of you decide. You may not get everything you want but working with him you might be able to come to a compromise that works better for the two of you.

The best piece of advice my grandmother ever gave my father when he was getting married - which has since been passed down to me - is to "make your own traditions." Whether that's spending the summer camping with the kids, only doing 1 of each holiday, or maybe creating a special xmas eve (or insert holiday of your choice) with just the four of you where you let your kids open a very special present that night (assuming you can't totally get off the hook for spending time with her on Christmas/holiday of your choosing). Create traditions that are meaningful to you and your family and if MIL is pissed (assuming husband backs you up) then so be it - she's pissed. Tough, she has to deal with it. I imagine, like a 2 year old, she's going to throw a few tantrums but, like a 2 year old, she'll eventually come to realize that those are the new rules.

Easy to say, harder to enact I know. Plus my husband and I don't live near either family so it's not like they can just drop by. But we have instituted a 'no travel on Thanksgiving' tradition which, while it probably did upset the in-laws and even possibly my parents a bit the first year, is now the accepted norm.

Also - kuddos to you and your husband for not bowing to family pressure and keeping your kids away from BIL. That sounds like a horribly sad situation all the way around and your in-laws may never fully forgive you for your decision in that regards but, as you know, you have to do what's best for your kids.


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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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First hand knowledge of the MIL (we used to work together) and yes indeed she is nutty and obnoxious.

Les, I think lilpups has given you some great advice. Once she pouts, throws her tantrums, etc., if you both stick to your guns, she will get used to the new rules and hopefully your life will be easier.

Kudos to you for dealing with her for 12 years. I would have moved across the country or to a different continent by now. ;-)
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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MOVE!
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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I don't have much to contribute as both sets of parents live on the other side of the country. Makes in-law relationships much easier.

But, I can contribute humor!



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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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First of all, you need to stop expecting *anything* from her. If you lower your expectations to zero, then nothing she does will upset you. So, she gives crappy gifts - so what?! So, she talks about herself - so what?! If you truly don't expect anything better, then these things won't get you upset. She's never going to be the kind of mother-in-law you want her to be, so accept that and move on. I actually feel a little bad for her because she sounds miserable.

I agree with Lilpups - set boundaries and stick to them. If she gets in a huff because you can't bend to her wishes, just apologize nicely and move on. Hang up the phone and stop worrying about it. That's her life, not yours. You can't keep letting her get to you because it's going to damage the relationshiph with your husband and you're wasting your precious energy on her which isn't worth it.

Good luck with it.
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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No advice that is great, but I do appreciate that you make me feel better about my MIL. She talks like a valley girl and pretends to be this bubbly idiot. It wears on me a lot. She also starts 85.6% of her statements with "No". She's not even contradicting you, she can agree with you and start with "No".


Sounds like your MIL has some major issues (your BIL, although innocent till proven guilty) seems to reflect a lot of this.


My Uncle and his wife had some similar boundaries issues with my Grandmother (who is a sweet and well meaning lady). My Grandmother is at the age where she's a bit morbid, and worries constantly. She endlessly reference "them" and "they". She busy Xmas gifts in the summer, not to save money, but so that she has them wrapped by September in case she dies so people get a gift (it's sweet in a morbid way). She gets worried about driving from her house to my Uncle's (up in MN) so she gets there about an hour early. She used to knock and get invited in, but they had to talk to her about showing up so early (when kids are getting dressed, the house is being cleaned etc). So now she sits outside their house in the car. This is almost worse. And she always brings a meat/cheese plate from the grocery store, which is just weird given that there is no dearth of food at my Uncle's. Now, if she has to get there super early, she goes to a Starbucks and reads there.

They set up boundaries for her, that she complied with. Did it in a very "This is how it is going to be way". But my Grandmother isn't batsh*t crazy, so this might not apply to you.


Sounds like she desperately needs attention (she's never remarried?). Maybe you can try and refocus her energies? Get her a fun new hobby (or 12). Or have her spend more time with her son she seems to fawn over?


Or therapy. Or PILLS!


As a husband myself, I understand what it is like to be put in the middle a bit (my Dad is very off the cuff, will call and ask if he can stay with us for a day with 4 days notice; my wife is an uber planner and this totally spins her out). It's your husband's job to be frank. It sucks, but it is. Just like if your family were crazy or annoying, he'd tell you and it's your job to take care of it.


Finally, she can only win if you allow her to. Don't LET her guilt you. She's obviously nuts, so who gives a flying fig if she is upset with you? Tough noogies for her. So don't let the emotional part of her stuff impact you.
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [lilpups] [ In reply to ]
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Thank you so much (EVERYONE) for your thoughts and ideas. My husband and I talked a little bit about this last night and I have a couple of comments.

Lilpups - "Sounds like you AND your husband need to set new boundaries as to when she is allowed over to your house, what events you are going to participate in, when and how your daughters will be involved with her." - We discussed this exactly and will be sitting down to define what our boundaries and what OUR traditions are going to look like. No more with just doing what we've always done, because not everything works for us any more.

JenHS - You not contributing hit the nail ON THE HEAD. I think that my MIL is in love with her son and NO woman would ever have been good enough. That pic cracked me up!!

DawnT - "First of all, you need to stop expecting *anything* from her. If you lower your expectations to zero, then nothing she does will upset you." - My husband said this to me almost verbatim last night. He said, "Leslie, we know she's nuts....she is selfish and does stupid things all the time, why do you let it bother you, when you know its going to happen". I don't do New Years Resolution but this year I'm going to; "expect nothing from the MIL". I think that is going to make my days brighter indeed.

Tridot - "It wears on me a lot." Don't I know it.
"(your BIL, although innocent till proven guilty)" - unfortunately this doesn't apply because he is guilty. He is innocent of no physical contact but he is guilty of talking about setting up sex with an 11 year old (via her father/detective). I read the transcripts of the conversations and it is truly disgusting. His wife even said, "he had no intention of going through with it" - and in the opinion of my husband and myself, the conversations/the thoughts alone, make him guilty of a crime. So messed up. Especially the reasoning "I didn't have intend to have sex with an 11 year old, I just talked about it". An. Eleven. Year. Old. SICK SICK SICK!!!

- I grew up in a family where if you had a problem, big or small, you talked about it. You got face to face and worked it out, then moved on. We did it out of love (despite some yelling at times) and everyone always felt better afterwards. With my MIL, that isn't the case, so when stupid crap happens and I feel the need to discuss it, I find it nearly impossible to let it go and move on, when I'm so used to talking things through. Hell, my husband AT 31 YEARS OLD FOUND OUT HIS SISTER WAS HIS HALF SISTER....a small detail he should have been told as a child, but here again, the MIL deals with nothing and the pile underneath her kitchen sink mat grows and grows.

I've just realized though (and I'm quite embarrassed to say this because its such a DUH moment) that my focus is on the wrong thing. Rather than focusing on a woman that is never going to change I need to focus on my family (and each and every time I get pissed direct my thoughts back to them/us) and the legacy we are making as a family. It's amazing what a good night sleep can do a for a persons clarity.

Thanks everyone, each of you gave me a little smile - and I love those!

____________________________
Life is Short...Run Long
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [JenHS] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
I don't have much to contribute as both sets of parents live on the other side of the country. Makes in-law relationships much easier.

But, I can contribute humor!

Damn! That's the same look my MIL had on her face during our wedding. Took her 20 years before she decided it might last!
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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Yes really let it go, expect it, laugh about it if you can (and there is a lot of ridiculous-ness here!)
I've had/have some very annoying people in my life and I used to actually get angry and upset before things happened...like Id start getting worked up anticipating it, before it happened, imagining what the person was going to say or do, that my the time I did see them I was probably part to blame for the behaviour also as Id get worked up.
What a Waste of Time. And Energy!
Expect nothing/crap and shrug it off if you can. WHo knows, you may be pleasantly surprised one day!
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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Some good advice so far and I just want to share some other thoughts.

1) Your husband and yourself must be completely in sync with how to deal with your MIL, *especially* around her. You two must be absolutely united. It sounds like your husband agrees that his mother is a lunatic so that is a very, very good start. A lot of people can't admit that their family members aren't perfect as in the case of your MIL and your BIL. Your MIL may try to get your husband to side with her to divide you two and you two can't let that happen. You can't expose any cracks in your armor.

2) "My house, my rules". How many times has your MIL said that to her son? Now that you are responsible adults with a family to raise, you can say it as much as you want. Yes, you need to set boundaries with your MIL and stick to them. She won't listen to reason so you just have to stand strong and she'll eventually might realize what is going on. Your most important job in your life is to take care of your unit of 4 even at the expense of extended family. If they are a bad influence on your children, then you have every right to keep your family away from them.

3) You choose to let her get to you. She doesn't directly bother you; you actively choose to let her bother you. Counseling may not work for her but it may work for you and your husband and finding ways on coping with these issues. You can't change people and it is really tough to accept that. Sometimes, you can sit down and talk with someone and their faults but that is actually pretty rare. You can't do that with your MIL.

4) Use her as a role model. Yes, this may sound crazy, but use her as a negative role model. She is an example of what not to do. When she does something crazy, spin it around into something positive and vow to not do it.

5) Distance yourself from your BIL. I find a lot of things funny but one thing that absolutely is not funny is sex with a child. Doing things like what your BIL has done is absolutely fucking stupid. Even if he didn't intend to go through with it, he should still go to jail for being a moron. And he's married? WTF?!?!?!?

Focus on keeping your familial unit of 4 healthy and happy and do what you need to do to accomplish that. I don't have a family (wife and kids), but I have issues with my family and it is much, much better for me to keep my distance from them than to succumb myself to Teh Crazy. I get a lot of flack for not calling or seeing them much (1x/yr) and for not letting them in my life, but it is what I need to do to keep myself sane.

Good luck to you.

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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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Rather than focusing on a woman that is never going to change I need to focus on my family (and each and every time I get pissed direct my thoughts back to them/us) and the legacy we are making as a family.

Good for you, Leslie. Merry Christmas.
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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Heard on the radio a few days ago that a recent study claims 50% of married women have MIL "issues". At least you're not alone.
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [cerveloguy] [ In reply to ]
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My mom calls my wife, more than she calls me. They have a good relationship. We live 2 hours away from both sets of family's. I think if we lived in the same town as one of the rents, things might be different. Now if I don't give my mom and dad a grandchild within the next year I and my wife both might get shunned.
Last edited by: CycloneTri: Dec 27, 08 3:38
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [cerveloguy] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
Heard on the radio a few days ago that a recent study claims 50% of married women have MIL "issues". At least you're not alone.


Why should that be surprising? Don't the stats say something like 50 or 60% of married people will end up divorced? If you can't get along with the person you CHOOSE, why would anyone think it'd be a piece of cake to have a great relationship with someone who was "forced" on you?

By the way, no one can MAKE you be miserable on the holidays (or other times). You have to ALLOW them make you unhappy. Many of the posts above say the same thing, I just boiled it down to one sentence.

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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [TeamBarenaked] [ In reply to ]
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In the end all went well. The MIL and step-FIL came over and stayed for maybe 15 minutes on Christmas Day. I had a fantastic day with my husband and girls. Now that the holidays are over it will be MUCH easier to be conveniently 'busy' to minimize contact; which makes everyone (including my husband) much happier.

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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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My brother-in-law has 3 FELONY charges against him currently and is awaiting trial in January (charges include trying to set up sex with an 11 year old (aka "sharing") via her father (aka "Detective") online).

I'm sure you know this but it warrents saying anyway....Don't leave your pedophile BIL alone with your kids!

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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [squid] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
My brother-in-law has 3 FELONY charges against him currently and is awaiting trial in January (charges include trying to set up sex with an 11 year old (aka "sharing") via her father (aka "Detective") online).

I'm sure you know this but it warrents saying anyway....Don't leave your pedophile BIL alone with your kids!
Oh don't we know it. He will NEVER be alone with them again. It's so messed up. I do not get how any human being could actually think about harming a child. Knowing "one of those human beings" exists inside our family unit....words can't describe the feeling. The word "horrifying" doesn't even touch how I feel about it.

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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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she has no legal claim over your children. she has no rights whatsoever when it comes to seeing them.

i fail to see how it's important in any way, shape or form that your children see her. it's not like a child will somehow be damaged by not seeing one of her grandparents. as far as i can tell, she's a negative influence on your children.

your husband certainly doesn't seem to value her input at all (as you put it, he ignores her), so why are you keeping her in the loop at all?

tell her to piss off, and remove her from your children's lives.
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Re: The MIL - beyond frustrated [tegra] [ In reply to ]
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Not necessarily true, depends on the jurisdiction. Here in BC, if a couple separates, the ex's grandparents can actually petition for visitation rights and they usually get it. Funny thing is I agree with you that sometimes there is little benefit to a child interacting with a grandparent, sometimes it is better for the CHILD to not have regular contact. Another funny thing is that most adults forget it is about what is best for the CHILD not the various adults.

AP

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