Author Topic: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?  (Read 3375 times)

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Laila9

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As DS says, "It's not you. It's her problem."

Just a comment on this point from another thread - although this doesn't apply in your case Pen as even DIL admits it's her problem.

With my brother - he is in the middle of a tug-o-war between my mom and his girlfriend....he plays both sides so as not to hurt feelings which i think contributes even more to the confusion and makes it worse.

He says to mom "It's not you mom.  It's her problem.  She's the one with issues and she has to work them out.  you've done nothing wrong".

and then goes to Girlfriend and says "No babe of course it's not you.  It's my mothers problem.  She's too controlling and can't let go.  It's her with the problem not you so just let her get on with it - you can't change her"

I've heard him say the same thing to both within the space of a half hour or so!  Just because he doesn't want to hurt eithers feelings or take sides. 

And I don't think it helps - the sons should be strong enough men to actually get to the root of the problem between his two most important women and then tell it like it is - tell each of them as gently as possible what their part in it is.  Then get them to come together and try to help them apologise for their mistakes, iron out the misunderstandings, set any necessary boundaries on BOTH sides and move forward. 

What he's doing with the "it's not you" comments is game playing and although he means well and thinks its helping by soothing the hurt feelings for one small moment it's just wrong in the long run and makes things so much worse!

As DIl then thinks "Well I'm justified in cutting her off cos DH says its her problem and she must hate me" while MIL is thinking "I did nothing wrong and its DIL that hates me. My own son says so and he knows her best!...what do I do now"

I think sons should have a responsibility to help solve the problem not make things worse by saying kind words to each behind the others back. 

Kind words only do so much - they don't resolve the issues for the benefit of both parties and allow a relationship to develop.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 09:39:38 AM by Laila9 »

Offline Pen

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2010, 09:44:23 AM »
Thanks for the pass, Laila. We actually told DS to work it out with his wife, that she came first now. He came to us very upset about her attitude, and it's obvious he wants us in his life (uh-oh, that's a no-no to say acccording to a recent post) because when she's not around he takes the initiative to send us goofy texts or to call us for a chat.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Laila9

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2010, 09:52:19 AM »
Thanks for the pass, Laila. We actually told DS to work it out with his wife, that she came first now. He came to us very upset about her attitude, and it's obvious he wants us in his life (uh-oh, that's a no-no to say acccording to a recent post) because when she's not around he takes the initiative to send us goofy texts or to call us for a chat.

I really do think it should be sons responsibility to step up and tell his wife that he wants you in his life, you're his parents and he loves you and that he wants to spend time with you because he WANTS TO not because you'r demanding it. (Because I know some of the more unreasonable DILs would see it as him bending to demands)

I mean...she loves him right? Warts (metaphorical obv) and all? Til death do they part?
Then he should be able to tell her anything! Even when she doesn't like it! If they're truly a couple then he should be able to express his views - I know I can tell my OH when he's out of line!  he should be able to tell her what he wants - what would make him happy in life.  Because making each other happy is surely what being a couple is all about! And she should love him enough to make the effort for his sake....which will then give the MILs the chance to show her she's wanted and part of the family.

And if he can't then he really does need to reassess his relationship with her.  If he's scared she'll leave then he doesn't truly believe she loves him and if it were me I would seriously look at getting some counselling either alone or as a couple to figure out why there's a communication block.


Laila9

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2010, 10:01:44 AM »
It must be so hard for the sons. 

Just a question but why is so it hard for sons? Why sons and not daughters?

I mean my mom has a daughter (me) and a son (my brother)....and yet we have no issues between my DH and my mom.  Or my DH and my dad for that matter.  There never has been and we all get along ok...although we do have disagreements as familys do....but there's never been any "boundaries" or "cut offs".

The same applies to my relationship with MIL....she may not acknowledge my cards but I've not cut her off and she always treats me just fine in every other situation..

So why is it so hard for MILs and DILs? And why is so hard for sons to negotiate this relationship when daughters have no problems!

In most of your stories the DIL is still close to her family - so she has no problem telling your sons what she wants.  Why can't he do the same?

As a girl I obviously find this difficult to understand if anyone can explain a little bit it would be great!??

Offline Pen

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2010, 10:17:59 AM »
Thanks, FS, you are too.

Laila, your post about sons stepping up is very thoughtful and balanced. I agree.

The big difference, IMHO,  between the DSs and the DILs is that men are encouraged from day one to not be seen as momma's boys, and girls are encouraged to stay close to their FsOO and remain daddy's girls. I was never lucky enough to be one, but that's how most of my friends & my DIL was raised. Even grown DDD is still her daddy's princess (he's a wonderful guy..some dads can't handle disabilities.)

Also, the wives are with their husbands day after day and have a lot of input. I know I'm a big influence on DH, where his parents aren't so much anymore. Fortunately I got along with his mom when she was alive, because we found common ground and respected each other even though we were quite different. I think that's what surprises me the most about my relationship, or lack thereof, with DIL...I just assumed we'd work it out. My dad gets along with DH, but DH limits his exposure to him and my stepmom because they aren't nice to me.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline Scoop

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2010, 10:43:42 AM »
Laila - I think it's partly because women are better at social interactions.  I believe it's part nature, part nurture for us to facilitate the social aspects of our relationships.  (Except for Anna & Penstamen's DILs - they were absent that day and no one gave them the notes.)

I also believe that a big part of the problem when the DS/DH doesn't/can't smooth over the relationship between his W and his M is that he never created an adult relationship with his parents.  I know in my DH's case, although he left home, he never forged a new relationship with his parents.  They talk and give advice and he says "yeah, yeah, whatever" just like he always  did.   And really, they seem okay with that, because they just don't want to hear "no".   You know the old saying "You give your children roots and wings", well I've always said that the IL's as parents did their children a disservice by not giving them "wings".

So how could DH help our relationship, he could work on his own relationship with his parents.  He could start being honest with them.  When they call, and they're negative (they always rag on him for not calling enough, not visiting enough, not calling sooner, not calling later, not calling when DD is awake - it's ALWAYS something), he could tell them to please stop and change the subject, instead, he just calls LESS and avoids the situation.  When they visit, and they press my buttons, he could intercede in a way that doesn't hurt anyone's feelings.  If they say something hurtful or controversial, he could (gently) call them on it.  And if MIL doesn't like being called on the carpet and reacts poorly, he can call her on that too.  (In this case, I'm thinking about her saying racist or mean things, or swearing, in front of DD.)

Because I've done all of these things to my parents.  I personally brought my Dad kicking and screaming into this century.  He stopped referring to women as 'broads', he made a big effort to not curse in front of DD, he didn't make racist or sexist comments in front of me (without being called on it).  I've introduced my parents to their first lesbians and totally put that prejudice of theirs on its ear.

As for smoothing things over for DH,  I've asked them to stop talking about something, because it bothered him.  I've told them what he likes, what his favourite foods are, and what treats he would appreciate.   I give them gift ideas for him.  To some extent, I tried to make sure my Dad couldn't get DH alone (for the first few years), because my Dad was a Character, and could easily be taken the wrong way.  Luckily, DH is very easy going.

Offline Pen

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2010, 11:11:03 AM »
Hey, Scoop, I actually think my DIL was raised to be a bit of a princess. Her family tends to be that way, too. She got the notes, but doesn't think they pertain to her  :D
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

dirtyglassgrl

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2010, 11:58:42 AM »
What truely helped me and my dh deal with the problems with his father's wife was for him to always be present when her and I were togethor.  There was no more she said this or that or no I did not say that because he was there to see and hear it all for himself only then, did he really grasp I was not exaggerating or being extra sensitive, that these things were not misunderstood on my part.  It helped alot when she would try to pass the buck on any conflicts.  I do believe the sons and husbands need to be involved in any conflicts.  I think the wives need to step back and let the husband see what is really going on and the mother's need to take a step back too and let the son do the same for them.  It is so hard for women in different roles to get along sometimes everyone has different experinces and cultures and backgrounds and it leads to different expectations.  That is a real problem I think.

Offline Pen

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2010, 07:12:29 PM »
I agree, DGG. It's not just between MILs and DILs either - in dealing with my abusive stepmom I had to ask my dad and my DH to be present. Even then she'd try to claim later that she never said what we all heard her say. DH had heard it though, so he would call her on it. Now that you mention it, I never should have participated in girl talk with DIL, DD and a friend away from DS & DH. I think some of the things I said have been twisted and are coming back to haunt me.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

jkm426

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2010, 02:18:37 AM »
I know for a fact my younger son does this with his fiance.  He want to hunt with hounds and run with the hares(so to speak) and doesn't get how hard it is to do this.  I know he tells me she is being unreasonable and tells her I am just stubborn.
Life would be so much better if he would own his feeling and "stand up" to both of us when he feels we are wrong. 
Will this happen?  Maybe someday.

MLW07

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2010, 09:14:38 AM »
I know for a fact my younger son does this with his fiance.  He want to hunt with hounds and run with the hares(so to speak) and doesn't get how hard it is to do this.  I know he tells me she is being unreasonable and tells her I am just stubborn.
Life would be so much better if he would own his feeling and "stand up" to both of us when he feels we are wrong. 
Will this happen?  Maybe someday.


It will happen when he is so fed up he can't take it anymore.  It took my DH 2 1/2 years to finally stand up to his mother.  Men just do not like conflict and want to stay out of it; they don't want to be in the middle, but they are and they have to be.  Unfortunately they are the mediator.  MY DH is so much happier now that he stood up to her and she wasn't willing to listen and to help fix things.  He is free and no longer dreams of being a happy family.  Their comes a point when you say I have done all I can.

justus

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2010, 07:33:40 AM »
Oh, it can be difficult for daughters, too. My mom is diagnosable. She so afraid of being abandoned that she is paranoid and controlling. She has to be the center of her children's and grandchildren's relationship with everyone else. She raised me to be responsible for her emotional well-being. It was me who had no life so that hers was good. I was supposed to live with her and dad for the rest of their lives and let them raise my children while I took care of them all.

When I moved out (I lived with my Ps after my the end of my first marriage while I put myself through college) one of mom's friends actually asked me if I was taking my kids with me. Mom began to undermine my parenting and to criticize me to my kids. I realized she was competing with me for my kid's affections.

She was partially responsible for the ending of my first M, so when I met DH I knew what I had to do. I tried to set up healthy boundaries, but she would not have it. It was a constant battle. She wanted to know about our sex life, about every argument we had, and she wanted me to hate my ILs. When she first met DH, she flirted with him, when he did not respond, she tried to get him to talk about how I was horrible to live with, when he wouldn't, she became very angry with him and from then on he was the devil.  She tried to turn my kids against DH and did her best to undermine the blending of our family.

This whole thing really hurts me. I just wanted her to be happy for me, but instead she was jealous and tried to ruin my second marriage. She told my kids that our marriage would soon end. Eventually it got so bad that I had to cut her off. I still grieve over this and it has been several years. I wish my mom could simply be proud of me instead of taking my success as an insult to her because she was never successful. I wish she could be happy that I am with a man who adores me and is totally committed to me instead of being jealous of me. I wish she could understand that my heart is big enough to love both her and my DH all at the same time. Unfortunately, the only way I can ever make her happy is to leave my DH, rip out my spine, quit my job, forget my education, accept only what comes out of her mouth as truth and let her totally control my life.  I just cannot do that, and I could not do that even if DH left me.  My mom can only accept me if I am not who I am.

During all of this DH encouraged me to work things out with her, to keep trying, yet according to her this whole thing was his fault. He very much wanted a good relationship with my family and let a lot of really bad things go because he was trying very hard. He also supported me when I made the decision to cut her off. He talked to me, asked me to delay, to really think about it and talk it through before I did it because he did not want me to regret doing it. But, all of mom's problems with me were because of him according to her.

My MIL is controlling and totally enmeshed with many of her children and grandchildren. Fortunately, DH is not enmeshed with her and puts me first. She respects that and she respects me and vise versa, so we get along pretty well when we see each other. Both she and I have made mistakes in our relationship, but we have been able to move past them. I wish my own mom could be more like her.

So, yeah, not all daughters have it easy.

cremebrulee

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2010, 07:54:29 AM »
What truely helped me and my dh deal with the problems with his father's wife was for him to always be present when her and I were togethor.  There was no more she said this or that or no I did not say that because he was there to see and hear it all for himself only then, did he really grasp I was not exaggerating or being extra sensitive, that these things were not misunderstood on my part.  It helped alot when she would try to pass the buck on any conflicts.  I do believe the sons and husbands need to be involved in any conflicts.  I think the wives need to step back and let the husband see what is really going on and the mother's need to take a step back too and let the son do the same for them.  It is so hard for women in different roles to get along sometimes everyone has different experinces and cultures and backgrounds and it leads to different expectations.  That is a real problem I think.

I think this is a great idea...we were telling someone the same thing a while ago in this forum...b/c it seems when you have someone with you, the controversial person, seems to behave themselves more....I think, it is a great idea....


cremebrulee

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2010, 07:57:27 AM »
Oh, it can be difficult for daughters, too. My mom is diagnosable. She so afraid of being abandoned that she is paranoid and controlling. She has to be the center of her children's and grandchildren's relationship with everyone else. She raised me to be responsible for her emotional well-being. It was me who had no life so that hers was good. I was supposed to live with her and dad for the rest of their lives and let them raise my children while I took care of them all.

When I moved out (I lived with my Ps after my the end of my first marriage while I put myself through college) one of mom's friends actually asked me if I was taking my kids with me. Mom began to undermine my parenting and to criticize me to my kids. I realized she was competing with me for my kid's affections.

She was partially responsible for the ending of my first M, so when I met DH I knew what I had to do. I tried to set up healthy boundaries, but she would not have it. It was a constant battle. She wanted to know about our sex life, about every argument we had, and she wanted me to hate my ILs. When she first met DH, she flirted with him, when he did not respond, she tried to get him to talk about how I was horrible to live with, when he wouldn't, she became very angry with him and from then on he was the devil.  She tried to turn my kids against DH and did her best to undermine the blending of our family.

This whole thing really hurts me. I just wanted her to be happy for me, but instead she was jealous and tried to ruin my second marriage. She told my kids that our marriage would soon end. Eventually it got so bad that I had to cut her off. I still grieve over this and it has been several years. I wish my mom could simply be proud of me instead of taking my success as an insult to her because she was never successful. I wish she could be happy that I am with a man who adores me and is totally committed to me instead of being jealous of me. I wish she could understand that my heart is big enough to love both her and my DH all at the same time. Unfortunately, the only way I can ever make her happy is to leave my DH, rip out my spine, quit my job, forget my education, accept only what comes out of her mouth as truth and let her totally control my life.  I just cannot do that, and I could not do that even if DH left me.  My mom can only accept me if I am not who I am.

During all of this DH encouraged me to work things out with her, to keep trying, yet according to her this whole thing was his fault. He very much wanted a good relationship with my family and let a lot of really bad things go because he was trying very hard. He also supported me when I made the decision to cut her off. He talked to me, asked me to delay, to really think about it and talk it through before I did it because he did not want me to regret doing it. But, all of mom's problems with me were because of him according to her.

My MIL is controlling and totally enmeshed with many of her children and grandchildren. Fortunately, DH is not enmeshed with her and puts me first. She respects that and she respects me and vise versa, so we get along pretty well when we see each other. Both she and I have made mistakes in our relationship, but we have been able to move past them. I wish my own mom could be more like her.

So, yeah, not all daughters have it easy.

I'm very very sorry your mother is missing out on knowing you as the person you are...she would be very proud if she'd allow herself to...


justus

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Re: "It's not you - it's her" Ideas for what HE could do to help?
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2010, 11:08:32 AM »


I'm very very sorry your mother is missing out on knowing you as the person you are...she would be very proud if she'd allow herself to...
[/quote]

Yes, she is missing out and not just with me, but with my DH, DD who won't speak to her, and my granddaughter (my step-daughter's child). DH and I are involved in many things that interest her and dad and it makes me very sad that I cannot share those things with them. But if I even tried, she would be insulted because I am not doing things the way she has always done them. I have given up on the impossible task of pleasing my mother.

As a mom to adult children, I have learned from her how not to be and so far, it has gone well. My children actually WANT to spend time with me.