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Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)

Started by isitme?, November 18, 2009, 10:16:14 am

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Hi Ladies,

let me just say in advance - sorry for the super long post and thanks to anyone who takes the time to read it!  I have been reading a lot of posts on this site over the last few days.  I know this forum is geared more for mothers and mother-in-laws, but there have been a number of daughter-in-laws on this site who have also contributed to the discussion and received some support here as well, so I hope you donââ,¬â,,¢t mind if one more joins in. I think many people here have made some excellent points about in-laws and family relationships in general that have really helped me so thanks to you all already for the insight and wisdom you have provided me.  Thanks for sharing your stories and helping me to see the other side of the coinââ,¬Â¦

Basically, I am a rejected potential future daughter in law (RPFDIL?).  Iââ,¬â,,¢ve been with my boyfriend for more than a year ââ,¬â€œ we are both in our 30ââ,¬â,,¢s (me early, him late) and are starting to talk about getting married. His parents have said negative things about me behind my back from even before they ever met me.  We are from the same ethnic community, from the same home town ââ,¬â€œ I grew up knowing his parents, but our families were never close and I never met their son until we were both adults, and we never figured out the connection until a few months into our relationship!  My boyfriend takes this as a sign that we were meant to be.  Me?  Well, Iââ,¬â,,¢m sorry to say if I had know he was from this family before we started dating, I never would have gone out with him in the first place. 

Iââ,¬â,,¢ve posted my story and some comments on one of those ââ,¬Å"MIL hate sitesââ,¬Â already, and you ladies are right that there is a lot of hate and anger in those places.  People are very quick to suggest that I simply dump my boyfriend, or avoid my potential in-laws at all cost and win my boyfriend over to ââ,¬Å"my sideââ,¬Â. Though I received a good deal of excellent advice and support from these sites, thereââ,¬â,,¢s so much negativityââ,¬Â¦ I feel like Iââ,¬â,,¢m dealing with enough of that already!  To be fair, I understand where all this hate comes from though ââ,¬â€œ a lot of these women feel hurt, betrayed, and have been treated very very badly.  I turned to this website because I wanted to try to have a little more compassion and try to see things from another perspective.  After reading some of your posts, Iââ,¬â,,¢m somewhat reassured because I donââ,¬â,,¢t think I am that terrible a person (as some of the DILââ,¬â,,¢s described here), but Iââ,¬â,,¢m also recognizing that maybe my boyfriendââ,¬â,,¢s mother does have some kind of borderline personality disorder which is making her act this way.   A lot of the comments I have seen here have really rung true in terms of  how it might not necessarily be just a ââ,¬Å"mother in law problemââ,¬Â or a ââ,¬Å"daughter in law problem but rather how our struggles have more to do with power, control and unhealthy personalities/relationships.  I think thatââ,¬â,,¢s exactly whatââ,¬â,,¢s going on in my case but I just donââ,¬â,,¢t know what to do.

My parents died when I was 18, the rest of my family is in India and I have one twin sister who is also currently working abroad (sheââ,¬â,,¢ll be home in January). Iââ,¬â,,¢ve worked so hard to finish my education and be independent and to keep my connections with the rest of my family ââ,¬â€œ but I feel so alone right now. Everything has been about his family and how they need to scrutinize me. This family knows who my parents were ââ,¬â€œ they were educated professionals and respected pillars of our community.  In the short time that I was blessed to be with them, I think they did an excellent job of being parents - itââ,¬â,,¢s only because of their parenting that I was able to go on without them.   But my boyfriendââ,¬â,,¢s family seem to think that thereââ,¬â,,¢s something wrong with me because they died  One of the first things they said when they found out he was dating me was ââ,¬Å"you shouldnââ,¬â,,¢t date her because her parents died young, so sheââ,¬â,,¢ll probably die young tooââ,¬Â. Not a day goes by that I donââ,¬â,,¢t miss my parents but Iââ,¬â,,¢ve never missed them so much before. No one has ever been so cruel to me but I donââ,¬â,,¢t want to come between anyone and their parents ââ,¬â€œ I believe people should respect their elders. But I donââ,¬â,,¢t think that means I need to give up my own self respect.

Throughout our relationship my boyfriend has asked me to continue to visit his parents and talk to them in order to try and improve the situation. I have done my best to be gracious and good mannered during all of these times but they pretty much show no interest in getting to know me and continue to say really mean things about me behind my back.  Especially his mother ââ,¬â€œ at first it was all these objections to my profession (Iââ,¬â,,¢m a college professor so Iââ,¬â,,¢m educated but I wonââ,¬â,,¢t make a lot of money ââ,¬â€œ she thinks what I do is a waste of time), my height (Iââ,¬â,,¢m too short), the fact that I go back to India frequently for both work and family visits (they never go back ââ,¬â€œ my boyfriend hasnââ,¬â,,¢t been to India since he was about 12 and has told me he ââ,¬Å"wouldnââ,¬â,,¢t recognize his own cousins if they were walking down the streetââ,¬Â), I don't want to have children (I have never said that - I want children... but do I really want HER grandchildren?) the list goes on endlessly.  There will always be something wrong with me.

Iââ,¬â,,¢ve heard so many different kinds of advice ââ,¬â€œ from ââ,¬Å"just keep your mouth shut, grin and bear itââ,¬Â, to ââ,¬Å"donââ,¬â,,¢t have anything to do with these peopleââ,¬Â to ââ,¬Å"speak up for yourself and donââ,¬â,,¢t put up with this nonsenseââ,¬Â.  I just donââ,¬â,,¢t know what to do anymore.

For six months, my boyfriend's mom tried to break us up so he wouldn't let her talk to me.  Then he put me on the phone with her and she yelled at me for not calling her for 6 months.   Now his dad is pulling the same thing and they are both complaining that they just donââ,¬â,,¢t know me well enough and Iââ,¬â,,¢m not making the effort. I have said over and over again, they can have my number and they should feel free to talk to me anytime.  Iââ,¬â,,¢m happy to talk to them.  But they're not going to do that - they want me to go to them. I think his parents think it's proper that I reach out to them (to get kicked) but it's really just a question of control. Iââ,¬â,,¢m not trying to be rude ââ,¬â€œ I actually think that if you know someone wants to speak to you or ââ,¬Å"get to know youââ,¬Â itââ,¬â,,¢s polite to provide your phone number and say ââ,¬Å"Iââ,¬â,,¢m happy to talk, feel free to call me anytimeââ,¬Â.  Am I wrong about this? 

Our compromise is that when my boyfriend calls them, he will put me on the line.  After an initial refusal, his dad and I have spoken a few times on the phone ââ,¬â€œ it was really just casual conversation about his upcoming surgery (I sent him a card).  Then the other day, I was put on the phone with his mom ââ,¬â€œ she answered my questions and attempts at conversations with one word answers and then kept quiet.  It was obvious that she didnââ,¬â,,¢tââ,¬â,,¢ want to talk to me even though she has told both her sons that she really wants to.  How can you have a conversation with someone who isnââ,¬â,,¢t willing to participate?  Everyone in this family walks on eggshells around his mother ââ,¬â€œ they keep quiet about her tantrums and crying and just give in because itââ,¬â,,¢s easier.  So nothing has ever changed but now I feel like they expect ME to be able to change things?  I donââ,¬â,,¢t know if there is anything I can do.  I donââ,¬â,,¢t feel like anyone has an honest conversation in that family ââ,¬â€œ my boyfriend and his brother hide or keep quiet about anything important in their lives (even to each other it seems), and they NEVER share anything significant with their parents.  I feel very sad about this ââ,¬â€œ my sister and I often argue but we are so close and I tell her everything ââ,¬â€œ same with my closest extended relatives ââ,¬â€œ aunts, uncles, cousins and godmother.  I never hide things from them - I would feel ashamed of myself if I had to.

I could go on with lists of mean things that have been said, insults and slights, and my fears about the future.  I accept that my boyfriendââ,¬â,,¢s family is not going to change and that if I marry him, they will be a part of my life.  However, how can you deal with people like this and not let their negativity affect you?  Should I marry him?  Iââ,¬â,,¢m scared to right now for so many reasons.

Once I accepted that his parents were not going to change, or ââ,¬Å"warm up to meââ,¬Â (believe me, I have triedââ,¬Â¦.), my main fear has been that my boyfriend wonââ,¬â,,¢t stand up for me ââ,¬â€œ that was what was happening in the beginning and weââ,¬â,,¢ve talked a lot about it. I understand that this is difficult on him as well ââ,¬â€œ these are his parents and he loves them.  Heââ,¬â,,¢s also spent his whole life with them so itââ,¬â,,¢s hard for him to accept that their behavior might not be healthy.   I think their relationship is very unhealthy and sadly, I have to admit I have said that a few times to him when we were discussing our problems.  But I think itââ,¬â,,¢s not my place to do that.  Iââ,¬â,,¢ve never wanted to turn anyone against their own family and I have been raised to respect my elders.  Now I notice my boyfriend will occasionally make negative comments about his mother ââ,¬â€œ about how she has always been this way, how she has never supported him, how she poisons relationships etc. etc.   In some ways, this makes me feel better because he is finally seeing my perspective, but at the same time, I feel sad that he has to say negative things about his mother ââ,¬â€œ the woman who gave birth to him, raised him, and loves him probably more than anything else in the world.  It broke my heart when I read on this forum about how the DIL always plants the seeds of hate in the sonââ,¬â,,¢s mind and he always listens to her.   It has never been my intention to do this sort of thing -  I donââ,¬â,,¢t want to control anyone.  I donââ,¬â,,¢t want to destroy any family relationships or poison anyoneââ,¬â,,¢s mind against their parents.  I would fight tooth and nail for my own family if anyone ever said anything against them.  But at the same time, I DONââ,¬â,,¢T think whatââ,¬â,,¢s going on in this family is healthy ââ,¬â€œ I think my boyfriendââ,¬â,,¢s mother is lonely and unhappy, but lacks insight into her own behavior.  I feel sorry for her but at the same time, I donââ,¬â,,¢t want anything to do with such a person.  Am I wrong?  Please, if thereââ,¬â,,¢s anything I should do,  I could use some advice.  Itââ,¬â,,¢s easy enough to find support on an ââ,¬Å"MIL hate siteââ,¬Â, but if I can find some here ââ,¬â€œ among the MILs ââ,¬â€œ then maybe, just maybe... Iââ,¬â,,¢m not so bad after all?


Hi, I think there can be a lot of pathology in a family that isn't really acknowledged, faced or dealt with. People often just find a way to survive. Then those dynamics may get thrown out of balance when a new member is added to the mix, late in the game.

This isn't yours to fix. It is long-standing and they all have their own way of dealing with it. At the same time, to sign on for abuse and conflict isn't anyone's dream. All of the unkind remarks that have been made about you would have reduced me to mush. Her judgmental attitude is viscous, to my way of thinking.

My guess is that it doesn't really matter what you do, you have been labeled the enemy. Certainly the phone thing (getting it handed to you)seems to be making matters worse. And you don't call. Well, I sure wouldn't, either.

Is there a possibility that you could go to them and ask to talk about what seems to be the problem? You can't change your height, and your career path is your business. You could ask them if there is something they like about you that they might be able to focus on...like making their son happy, for instance. There is a strong chance, however, that they may never like any woman their son picks out. If so, his happiness isn't high on their list of priorities.

You are probably getting too much advice. You know what your options are and it's really up to you. You have written that if you had know who his family was, you would have kept your distance. And you have also said that they disliked you before they met you. There were hurdles in place before you even got started.

Look around you and you may see that some people with huge hurdles make it and some with very minor issues fail. To me, it looks like the odds are against you...but that's just me. I think marriage is getting to be more and more complex and to start out with such massive issues looks like a very tough way to go.

My take? Your future MIL is the way she is and second guessing her attitudes, behaviors, mental stability or motivation is a lost cause. You either choose a life that is going to have her in it, as is, or you don't. Neither option is trouble-free...you lose the guy or you get to have him and his mom. It's a package deal.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I think you're right and they would never accept any woman - I see how they treat their current daughter-in-law.  We have tried to sit down and talk to his mother about whatever concerns she may have.  We went to their house over labor day and I did my best to be open and friendly.  She denied ever having any problems or saying anything and then went back to ignoring me.  Once we left, the negative comments started again.  Now his father keeps insisting that we keep trying to solve the situation.  I am happy to talk, but I can only go halfway - if no one talks back there is no point.  I'm going to keep thinking about this.  I love my boyfriend and just want him to be happy.  He says "we can't let her win".  I don't think this is about winning or losing.  No one should have to lose anything - change is scary for a lot of people and marriage is a HUGE change for all parties involved - but you don't have to think of it as a zero-sum game do you?


Oi!  :o

Yes, I also think this is a family you will not be able to please -- and if you go into marriage thinking you will have to do that, you are going to wear yourself out.   

Do your in-laws to be live close to where you will be living?   What are your feelings about living near them either now or as they grow older? Does your fiancee agree?

My first thoughts are that there needs to be a lot of clarity between you and your future husband, and that your focus needs to be on that relationship.   He would need to be on the same page, so to speak.   Am I wrong in assuming that in the culture you both come from, a "traditional" dil would be somewhat submissive to her mil and the son/husband would not think that unusual? 

It might be difficult for a man who has been very close to his family or his mother (my oldest son was close to me) to emotionally "get" that marriage is going to mean he is going to be breaking away from his mother.  He may need pre-marital support from a counselor to see that, and to realize the ramifications that could have.  If your relationship is strong when it comes to knowing how you both are going to handle all of the verbal digs at you now, as well as years of them in the future, his parents may back down.

(I know my DIL has talked about me not just behind my back, but in front of it since I cannot understand her language -- so in some ways, I have to shrug and acknowledge that I cannot please her and she is going to kvetch in Turkish -- maybe you can also tell people you don't need to hear all the whining).

I guess I would say, if you haven't already, get thee to a marriage counselor to help you build those emotional muscles!  You need not give up your love or ditch the family...   


I always have to recommend a book called Toxic Inlaws by Susan Forward.  This book helped give me and DH the right tools in dealing with his parents.  They were and are rejecting towards me as well.  But I do have to say that your IL's to be are much more blatant about it than mine.  My MIL is nice to my face but rips me apart behind my back.  I guess because of jealousy?  A matter fact we saw her today.  I had a work  training in a town near where they live so we invited them for lunch.  MIL was nice to my face like she almost always is.  But since she making comments also to my DH about her disapproval of me, he and I have decided to limit contact with them and when we are with them we both limit information about our lives so that won't give them any ammunition.  So that's about all the advice that I have.


Besides the first time you talked to her, when she yelled at you for not calling her for 6 months, has she ever said bad things to you directly? Are most of her complaints, insults, said to your boyfriend and other people?

Because maybe you could ask your boyfriend not to tell you the awful things being said about you.

My DH won't listen to his mother say bad things about me.  He cuts it as soon as it starts.  He explains to her it is painful. He lets her know he feels disrespected when anyone talk that way about me to him.  If he finds out she said things about his wife (me) to other people, he calls her to ask if its true, and tells her how it hurts him.  He asks her to stop.  She usually doesn't stop.  But I'm able to feel ok, because I know the man I love is not a part of such talk in any way.  I think I would probably feel sick if I thought he would listen to people say horrible things and lies about me.

When something mean is being said to you, will your boyfriend get upset with you if you excuse yourself from the conversation?  When someone is worked up or raging, is not a good time to have a conversation with them.  Does your boyfriend ask you to keep listening to her insults and yelling at you?

Since you'll never have an actual relationship with her (she doesn't want one), the best you can hope for is some peace and awkward moments.  Maybe you would have peace, if you didn't have to hear all about the judgment and insults of someone who doesn't know you.  Ignorance can be bliss.


Hi everyone, thanks for the suggestions.  I realized when I read my first post that I sounded really harsh when describing this family.  I think thatââ,¬â,,¢s something I should work on but I donââ,¬â,,¢t think that means being a doormat.  Iââ,¬â,,¢ve reached a point where Iââ,¬â,,¢m not expecting any approval from these parents ââ,¬â€œ I accept that this is how they will be and Iââ,¬â,,¢m working on not letting that bother me and just focusing on all the good relationships I have in my life ââ,¬â€œ especially with FH.  Heââ,¬â,,¢s a wonderful wonderful person and we are so happy together  BUT, Iââ,¬â,,¢m worried about the effect this conflict with his parents will have on him ââ,¬â€œ I donââ,¬â,,¢t want him to feel like he has to choose sides , I donââ,¬â,,¢t want there to be sides! 

The insults have mostly been behind my back but when confronted by anyone, it is usually denied and covered up.  She doesnââ,¬â,,¢t say anything to my boyfriend anymore either because he doesnââ,¬â,,¢t tolerate it - I donââ,¬â,,¢t think heââ,¬â,,¢s as good at standing up to her as Sassyââ,¬â,,¢s husband but heââ,¬â,,¢s trying to get there - itââ,¬â,,¢s going to cause tension though but I think thereââ,¬â,,¢s no way to avoid it.  The insults and rude behavior doesnââ,¬â,,¢t bother me as much as they did at first because Iââ,¬â,,¢ve come to realize that the problem is not with me ââ,¬â€œ I try to acknowledge how Iââ,¬â,,¢ve contributed to any tension but there is only so much I can do.  What is really difficult is the way his mother sulks, cries and throws tantrums ââ,¬â€œ everyone in that family gives in to her because itââ,¬â,,¢s just easier.  Iââ,¬â,,¢m not willing to do that and Iââ,¬â,,¢m ready for the fact that this ââ,¬Ëœfailure to complyââ,¬Â will lead to negative repercussions.  But again, my concern now is more with the effect this is going to have on my boyfriend ââ,¬â€œ I donââ,¬â,,¢t want to control or be the one to dictate what his relationship with his parents should be, I think he should make his own decisions.  Even if I donââ,¬â,,¢t want to spend a lot of time with them right now, I donââ,¬â,,¢t want to keep him away ââ,¬â€œ I shouldnââ,¬â,,¢t have to ââ,¬Å"escortââ,¬Â him everytime he goes home and he shouldnââ,¬â,,¢t need my permission ââ,¬â€œ this is actually what the other DIL in this family does, and it sounds like what some of the other DILââ,¬â,,¢s being discussed on this forum do as well.

Right now we live a few hours away but he will be moving halfway across the country from them in about 6 months and he wants to get married before that.  So we will be able to keep some distance, but his parents are elderly and donââ,¬â,,¢t have many other people in their lives.  Itââ,¬â,,¢s definitely something we both take into account and discuss ââ,¬â€œ and weââ,¬â,,¢ve agree that if we canââ,¬â,,¢t sort thing out we will seek counseling.  I think the idea of a ââ,¬Å"traditionalââ,¬Â mindset here is actually a distortion that is used as an excuse to control.  Iââ,¬â,,¢m not trying to sound judgmental, but I come from a family background that is a LOT more traditional than his and this is definitely NOT tradition speaking..  (according to ââ,¬Å"traditionââ,¬Â ââ,¬â€œ I would actually be a model DIL).  My boyfriend once told me that he thinks his parents are bullying me because they think they can  - because my parents are gone.  But I donââ,¬â,,¢t think itââ,¬â,,¢s because my parents arenââ,¬â,,¢t around, itââ,¬â,,¢s because WE have let them..

Iââ,¬â,,¢ve read Susan Forwardââ,¬â,,¢s book ââ,¬Å"toxic inlawsââ,¬Â and also her book on emotional blackmail and found them both EXTREMELY helpful (I always recommend this book too!) I think a lot of the emotional blackmail is going to be directed at my boyfriend and I can that heââ,¬â,,¢s really trying to navigate through this situation while respecting both his parents and my feelings but he is suffering because now his mother is always angry with him.  This makes me really sad and it puts a strain on our relationship - but weââ,¬â,,¢re both working very hard to deal with this in a healthy way because we want this to work and we want to be able to have some kind of relationship with his family ââ,¬â€œ even if weââ,¬â,,¢re not sure what form that is going to take yetââ,¬Â¦.

ââ,¬Å"Toxic inlawsââ,¬Â is a great book but like many of those ââ,¬Å"MIL hate sitesââ,¬Â ââ,¬â€œ it is very much written for the perspective of the DIL I think.. Like many of the women on this site, I would have loved to have a close family relationship with my inlaws and was willing to put in my time and energy to work on that.  But it just doesnââ,¬â,,¢t seem possible with them.  The easy answer is to just ignore them, but I guess from this forum I was just trying to understand the perspective of the MIL and figure out what the best way to handle this situation would be.  But then again, maybe Louise is right and Iââ,¬â,,¢m already getting too much advice and thinking about this too much.  But right now I am getting the package deal and I just want to move forward with some clarity. I think weââ,¬â,,¢re both willing to keep the door open, but Iââ,¬â,,¢m not going to stand in it waiting for change..


The lesson here seems to be, and please jump in to correct me if I'm way off the beam here:

Toxicity exists. People who are toxic will cause trouble whether they are MILs or DILs or in any other relationship.

If it's a toxic MIL you limit your exposure and move on. If it's a toxic DIL and you limit your exposure you lose your son and your grandchildren. There's also the issue of transferrence (sp?) when the toxic person sees the non-toxic person as toxic. I haven't read the Forward books, but I've been accused of being toxic by toxic people who have (very controlling & toxic stepmom.) It's really creepy and crazy-making.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


I think that's very true and recognizing this toxicity has in some ways been the best thing for me in terms of how to understand this (negative) relationship and how to respond.  Transference is also an issue - another point made in Forward's book is that emotional blackmail can beget emotional blackmail - sometimes that's the only way another person knows how to respond.  I'm sorry you've experienced this toxicity in your life also - I think the lesson to be learned is maybe just not to let it turn YOU into a toxic person or emotional blackmailer.


penstamen:  Knowing what a MIL loses (son and grandchildren) versus what a DIL loses is what keeps that door always open for me.  MIL does not respect me but I still have respect for her.  She is my husband's mother!  Finally learned from the premarital counseling that protecting ourselves from crazymaking is not disrespecting her.  Knowing DH and I have built some protection is what lets me feel OK keeping that door open.   

isitme:  MIL's tantrums are your biggest concern.  How specifically are MIL's tantrums affecting you?  Do you have to listen to the tantrums yourself, or are you told about them by fiance and others?

Have you observed that the way your fiance treats you changes, or see him make life decisions that affect you, because he hopes to avoid a MIL tantrum?  The big Q: Do her tantrums, or the threat of them, control your fiance?

It would probably be healthier for fiance if he didn't listen to his mother's tantrums even if you weren't in the picture.  Like I said before, when someone is out of control of their emotions is never a good time to have a conversation.  Could your fiance excuse himself from when she is yelling at him, and talk to her later when she is calmer.  Could he ask his siblings to not share with him their own exchanges with their mother, as he is familiar with them himself already.  Or to change the subject to something else? That's like a double helping of vicarious distress.  It would probably be healthier for his sibling relationships to focus on stuff other than mother even if you weren't in the picture.

This getting out of the kitchen when its hot, and not gossiping about his mother with his siblings, is something your fiance could do. If he wanted to.  Why do you think he still participates. Anticipated guilt that his avoiding crazymaking equals disrespecting her could be.  Maybe he gets a sense of power to think his siblings are coming to him for help, makes him feel important?  Maybe the drama action is a way he feels emotionally connected to his family, so without the drama he'd feel he had no family emotion.  What other rewards might fiance get, or thinks he gets, from playing a role in the drama game.

My MIL has tantrums, too.  Right now her sister and her mother are the only audience she has for them.   My DH has told his Aunt and Grandmother that he will talk to them about anything but his mother's complaints with them.  He's told them he can talk to his mother himself, how he doesn't have to go through them to reach her and vica verca.  So unless its a warning or a medical emergency, his mother's tantrums and accusations are not an open topic.  DH does not discuss her problems with him with anyone else, not anymore.  The biggest change for him is he doesn't have to defend himself to them anymore, by revealing how MIL treats him.  He's told me he was suprised to discover that he feels like he is a more respectful son because of that decision. 

Neither Aunt nor Grandmother came to the wedding, but we respect their decision.  He still sees them both a lot.

Talking about each of MIL's tantrums wasn't helping anyone.  Not MIL, not Aunt, not Grandmother and certainly not DH.


I think it's guilt that makes FH listen to his mom and give in to her.  He's recently told me that he's used to standing up for her on the big things - school, career choices, me - but letting her control the little things because it was so hard to watch her cry when she had these tantrums.  He may stand up for the big things but that doens't mean he doesn't get ALOT of grief over it everytime he goes home or is on the phone.  I have fortunately been able to avoid a lot of MIL's tantrums and just hear about them indirectly.  Maybe it would help if I asked not to be told about these things - the problem is that for a long time I was seen as the CAUSE  of these tantrums and asked to change my behavior in order to fall in line...  Now that FH is starting to acknowledge these problems, I'm no longer asked to do that by him but his father (the one who has to live with all the crying day in and day out) still insists we "fix" the problem or find some kind of "solution".  I don't get the sense that FH is a willing participant in any of this - he hates drama just as much as I do.  But it's taken a while for him to realize how this behavior for what it is.  What I hate is that this involves a "me vs. your mother" scenario..

Tantrums don't help anyone - they just drive the people you are trying to control further away from you and build up huge reserves of resentment.  We don't tolerate tantrums in my family and I"m not about to start now!


I don't think this involves a you versus MIL scenario. 

This is man versus his parents scenario. 

I believe the less you hear about MIL's insults and tantrums, you will discover that this is a long story that you happened to walked in on.  It's not your story.  It's about a man realizing how his parents are controlling what he does even though he's not a child anymore.

It sounds like both parents give your fiance a very, very hard time.  Your fiance cannot fix his father's wife for him.  It would be a wonderful power to have, though! (That and making nonfat yogurt taste like ice cream would be two great powers.)

So sometimes fiance doesn't hear the tantrums first hand, his father just tells fiance to stop them for him. 

Probably the most constructive response your fiance can offer when FIL comes to him because he thinks MIL is broken, is for fiance to suggest FIL take his mother to a doctor to help alleviate her suffering.  Concern for her health is valid.  If fiance is concerned, he should try to get his mother actual help (or help his father get her help, if father is the one approaching fiance).  Doing things he doesn't want to do because FIL says that will make MIL stop crying is just a game.   Little children play that exact same game when they want candy. 

And we all know what happens when a parent gives in a few times.  The child learns that if they want candy all they have to do is kick and scream and make a scene and the tired, exhausted spent parents will eventually do what the child wants just to hush her.

How much fiance is willing to continue to play games and partake in the drama, is exactly what will determine how much MIL's problems affect you and your relationship.   Imagine if fiance stops telling you hurtful comments being said about you (or better stops listening to them).  Imagine if fiance stops playing I'll-give-MIL-candy games (because if the tantrums are to be taken seriously, then he should offer serious help by professionals).  FIL would learn that fiance is not a candy source.  If FIL wants to continue candy games, he will eventually leanr to find candy elsewhere. 

Imagine if fiance did not share how MIL uses the idea of you as a "tool" to control him.   It's as if, because he is with you by his choice, the price he pays is he now owes her something else by hers.  Its past that MIL would act the same no matter who you were.  It's my belief MIL would act the same towards your fiance if he was an enuch.  She'd just use trade out that tool for another one (his chosen work, his chosen location, his travel, his studies) as her collateral.  The tool's only value is if it's something he wanted for himself, not something she picked for him. 

She knows her tantrums control him; the subjects of the tantrum itself are theoretically arbitrary. (Like with the child; it could be candy, or not getting the red crayon, or bedtime. whatever the child cannot control will trigger the tantrum). If you agree, then you can see just how much this is not a you versus MIL scenario.

I know you care about your fiance and hate to see him suffer.  But he is not suffering because of what you're doing. He's suffering because there are other people in his life who treat him poorly.  It's painful for us to see our men in pain.  You are not a threat to his family - ironically, you are its hope!

I think you could be a much better to support to your fiance, if he did not bring you into the eye of the storm.  (I wasn't able to effectively get us help for my DH to face his mother guilt-drama-fears for what they are until I removed myself from the situation.)  I think your fiance would continue to learn how to recognize the pattern-traps so he can avoid stepping in them, and instead have a healthyish relationship with his parents.  By healthyish, I mean one that doesn't cause him ongoing pain and guilt and shame.  And he would feel like a better man.


wow sassy - that's great insight..  I think you are exactly right!  I'm doing my best to be supportive while FH wakes up and starts learning how to deal with this.  I guess I was always scared that MIL would succeed in turning him against me but that's not happening, and I didn't like that I was going to be made the scapegoat for all this negativity so I was very defensive.  We are going to visit them for one day over thanksgiving and then to see my godmother/family for one day - we've agreed on this plan but then when I added that I wanted him to be honest with his mother about the fact that he would also be going to visit my family he was initially hesitant (knowing mommy would probably throw one of her tantrums), but then agreed...  we'll see how it goes!  I never really understood why so many people get so upset around the holidays but now maybe I do - toxicity in the family..  Whether it's MILs or DILs, I"m beginning to feel a lot of sympathy for anyone who has to bring this into their life.  >:(


That does sound very hard and I'm sorry that's what your DIL is like.  I think that's what some DIL's are told - that they need to establish their OWN family traditions and if the grandparents don't go along then too bad they can stay home because "they've had their turn".  That really is too bad - holidays should be about sharing and in a healthy family, there should be room for compromise and the sharing of traditions.  I can see how certain situations are harder on the MIL - it's one thing for us DILs to just "disengage" and not have anything to do with people you don't really care about.  It's much much different I"m sure, if "disengaging" from a toxic person also means you have to stay away from those you love, like your own children and grandchildren.. I hope you are able to enjoy the holidays with your grandchildren - even if you have to do it your DILs way..


Why can't people compromise? I remember as a child loving Christmas at home, but sometimes we went to Grandma's and that was fine, too. We learned that Santa would come even if we were out of state and the tree was aluminum, with a revolving color light wheel, instead of fresh :)
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb