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How to get along with my F-MIL?

Started by Sassy, June 10, 2009, 05:59:11 am

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Hello to the MILs!
I have tried websites geared to DILs, but they all say the same thing - "run!"  Or, give up. And I don't want to run! So I hope the MILs here can help me learn how to get along with my Future MIL.

My amazing boyfriend/fiance was raised by a single mother who did a wonderful job.  The closer we get to our wedding date, the more she tries to get involved in our life. As it turns out, the more my boyfriend pulls back from her!

From wedding planning to house hunting to our weekend parties with friends, FMIL calls, texts, or just shows up.  She asks lots of questions about our personal plans, then if they change and she finds out we didn't tell her, she says she's hurt. She'll say "You didn't tell me you were invited to a baby shower, I had no idea."  We both work full time and as summer getting in full swing and the wedding nears, the busier we get, she asks for more and more info and time.  I end up seeing her more often than my boyfriend does.  He ignores her calls and texts more often, and he advises me to do the same.  He says things like "she needs to get a life" and "she thinks she's losing me, so she's holiding on tighter."

I will go shopping, out to eat with her, have her over for meals, and invite her in when she just shows up.  She wants to travel with me or us, and will plan trips - then tell us, then pout when we can't take time off work. She'll say "But I got free hotel rooms for us I can't believe you don't want to go."  We listen when she makes suggestions for our life (house hunting, wedding) and say "we'll think about it", but she will bring something up again and again if she sees we're not implementing her advice.

We've found out FMIL is telling relative on my boyfriend's side that I am trying to "take him away from her", that I care "only about money" (because of wedding and house-related things that have nothing to do with her or her money). The latest is that she told his aunt that she is "now forced to spend holidays alone" because of me.  This after he and I went away to a rented cabin for Memorial Day weekend. If we have her over and my parents are also there too, she gets very withdrawn, and my parents are warm, relaxed, friendly people who try and chat her up. 

My boyfriend tells me the only thing to do is do what we were going to do anyway, and not to let FMILs guilt or emotions get in the way.  This is what he does.  But I want a MIL who is happy with me!  I don't want her telling his family I am somehow "stealing" him from her - because I'm not.  If anything, I think she is driving him away (especially with the house hunting).  There is more but I have written enough for now.  Family is very important to me.  I want my future husband's mother to feel good around me.  I don't want to make her feel bad just because we are living our life.  I don't know what to do. I hope someone here can help us.



Oh boy, what a situation.  Poor you, poor her.  It sounds like her son is trying to get rid of her and the more he tries the more she clings.

This probably didn't happen before you came into the picture.  He might have needed her for something; I don't know his situation.  He might have been using her for whatever she'd give him monetarily and now he has you for that.

Some of us are bitter and worn out from trying so if that comes across in me, that's what it is.  Your FMIL can't make herself part of your family, which is all she wants to be.

Since you're not the one pushing her out but her son who's doing the job, I guess she has to cast blame on you right now until she can face the heartbreaking idea that it's her son.  Sometimes that's too much grief for one Mother to take all at once.

I'm sure your Parents are wonderful, why shouldn't they be?  They are no threat to you, they know they aren't being run off by you. I'm sure she can tell how great things are between you and them by being in the room.

We don't lose our senses when our sons get married but some of us lose our hearts by the feeling of not being wanted any longer.

You sound like someone who is willing or wanting to not have problems so that's good, Sassy. If he runs her off, like it seems he's doing, watch out.  He's a user. 


Sassy, I totally understand where you're coming from.  I have had the same problems and it will take your boyfriend to straighten this mess out.  I know you aren't trying to "get rid" of her, that's just what a bitter person who doesn't understand the independence of a couple might say.  Your boyfriend will have to tell her that he loves her no matter what and it's he decision as to what happens in his life and who he wants to tell about it.  Right now all you can do is take the brunt of her guilt trips and anger towards you because some mothers can't understand that their behavior could be the reason for the resentment towards them.  You probably just want her to respect your decisions and not be judgemental or take things too personally.  Believe me I really understand, you don't hate her and you don't dislike her.  She has this unrealistic view of your relationship with your boyfriend and can't figure out why she isn't the focus of his life anymore.  She probably feels like there is someone brainwashing her son as if he doesn't have his own mind.  I know it's hard for some mothers to understand but her child's life is his own.  Your boyfriend has the right attitude though, you can't change how she feels about you until she's ready to accept her son's life choices.

I truly feel for you.  I really wish you the best, I'm having my own issues like this.  I have spent so long disliking my FMIL that I have lost sight of why I'm even going through this situation.  I love her son.  Just from reading this board and others and seeing how petty, insecure, childish and unreasonable some mothers and daughters can be made me say enough is enough.  I'm going to let her past indiscretions stay in the past where they belong.  I will not let her make me angry anymore, I will not let her guilt trips get to me.  I will take her comments (that can be very snide unbeknown to her) with a grain of salt and remember I'm not around because I want to be in a relationship with her.  I'm around because I feel in love with a wonderful man who obviously loves me and he is my focus, not his mother.

Good Luck, I wish you the best.


Thank you for your replies already!  Wow, someone's out there.

My fiance/boyfriend is not a user, that is not the issue. I would not marry a user, LOL.  He moved out from living with FMIL when he was 19, put himself through college (no help from MIL), and has had a great job for a few years now.  He has helped FMIL with her credit card debt (she's quite a shopper) in the past sometimes when she would complain. I know he hasn't been able to offer her money lately because of our wedding and saving for the down payment of our house.  We both work full-time in the field of our choosing.  We both also budget and save and plan for our future. I think that's the responsible thing to do.  He knows that us paying for the interest on MIL's meals out and coach bags at 19% APY is not in our budget right now.

One of the "money issues" is that my parents, who are not wealthy people, budgeted and saved for decades for both of their daughters' weddings.  My FMIL wants to be listed on the invite to ours, but she is not a host.   We are buying FMIL her dress and shoes and jewelry for the wedding, that's what many of my shopping outings with her have been centered around.  We reacted politely ("That's interesting, thanks, we'll think about it") when she has made rather odd suggestions for the wedding. But she gets visibly upset after she'll pushes to get the answer that No, we are not doing them (no live dove release; no houseplants instead of flowers).  When she asked if she was going to be listed as a host on the invite, my fiance gently told her no and explained why, that he didn't think that was fair.  She said its not fair to her not to list her.  That's when she told relatives all I "cared about was money." Neither my fiance nor I think its fair to my parents, who did without for years specifically for this wedding, or to ourselves, who are also paying for the band and more pricey items we want.

I am pretty sure my boyfriend doesn't feel he is pushing her out, from his end.   Going away with his fiance for a 3 day weekend without phones and TVs is not "pushing his mother out" in his eyes, but I do think it is in hers.   It is sad.  He won't respond to all of her calls, texts, requests to see us, because he feels there are too many.  He responds to about half or less.   He also limits information he tells her, so she doesn't bring it up later.   If we do tell her we are going to something she knows is invitation only, like a work picnic, she'll ask to come and then be hurt when she can't.  So my boyfriend thinks its better not to take her calls on Thursday and Fridays, when the weekend plan questions ramp up.  He jokes that "she's planning her invasion," and he's not "giving her ammo."

My parents don't call very often, and they don't text anyone at all.  They don't ask about our schedule other than to work around it.  Like "You guys got Saturday afternoon free? Sunday free? Maybe next weekend."  My MIL used to try to tie up a lot of my Saturday nights as "girls nights" with me and her.  I had to tell her recently  Saturday night is usually BF-date-night, and since we both work all week, that's the only night we have to be together and not tired from our jobs.  She told me she'd be "happy with scraps." It made me feel so bad.  Then we invite her by when we're grilling a big cookout in the daytime, and that's when she's withdrawn.  But if we didn't invite her, we'd feel terrible.

There's so much more. 

My boyfriend has wanted to tell his mother to stop saying negative things about me to her sister and other relatives, but I have so far asked him not to say anything to her.  (Aunt tells their kids, BF's cousins, its how it gets back to us.)  I thought she would think I was making him do that?  Also, it's her own sister, I didn't think telling her to stop would make a difference anyway.  Is that what you think I should do?  Will that help the problem long term, do you think?  Or will it make MIL feel worse?


Your boyfriend has the right idea!!  You can't change her, apparently this is just how she is.  She sounds like my FMIL, takes everything way too personally even if it has nothing to do with her.

Seriously, PLEASE talk to your boyfriend and try to make him understand how uncomfortable it is to have to do all these things to avoid his mother's invasion's, lol (I thought that was cute).  Let him know that this has to be resolved some how, some way and that he can't turn a blind eye to it.  He has to start this conversation between his mother.  He has to tell her this is how is will be, we can come to agreements about visits, alone time, and other topics that have caused an issue.  If she stills acts like its the end of the world because she isn't in the midst of everything, swallow your pride (so you don't say something horrible) and let go of it.  You can't make her do anything and neither can her son.  All you can do is hope for the best and expect the worst and continue to love her son.  If she can't be happy that he found a woman who loves him and someone whom he's willing to protect to this extint, she's going to have to deal with the consequences of her actions.  And those consequences might be very limited contact until she gets a life and some hobbies, lol.

Good Luck!!!


Welcome, Sassy! I just responded and it disappeared! Will write later. Blessings, Luise
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


We have "lives", we have "jobs", we even have businesses, we have friends and hobbies. 

Some of us just got real unlucky and have gotten DILs who are hell bent on taking us out.  You don't understand, you never will until you get there yourselves.

I knew that the DILs would come out in force at some point when this forum was opened.  You're here.

I saw a survey done years ago asking if people had it to do over again if they would or would not have children.  I was stunned at the results.  A resounding "no" was the answer.

It was shocking to me because I couldn't imagine not having my kids, not having our fun home, not having our bonds together.

I wanted a DIL to love so much!  In walked one with enormous baggage who at every turn tried each trick on earth to not have us around.  She broke up our son's friendship with his brother, she threw things, she talked to us like we were dogs.  We let her.  We let her!

Yes, I'm bitter and resentful and angry that this thing of a person used us.  It's not understandable to you.  I don't expect it to be. 


I don't know if I made my situation clear?  My boyfriend (much more used to than "fiance", which sounds a bit formal for me for everyday use) is honestly not a user, of anyone.  I don't think my F-MlL would think that about him, either, I reallly don't.  But then, now maybe I am not so sure? He loves her.  I love her!  I thought she loved me, too, by the way she acts because she wants to be around me so much.  But then I hear the words she says about me to others, and now I guess I doubt that, too. 

I respect my F-MIL, too.  I want to make her happy!  That's why I am here. I do not want to invade your space on this site, I want your help on how not be the kind of DIL that hurts his mom. Is there a way I can be with her son, and have private time with him, and other parts of our life without her, and not hurt her? Or make her think I am the problem of her life?  Do you think that's even possible?

She's creative and funny and the artsy-type. When she and I are together, one-on-one is when I get to see the best of her. I like her and I love her.  But I also have friends from school and work I want to spend time with, as does he. And I have siblings I like to see.  I can tell she feels rejected when she learns we made plans or (worse) did things with others that didn't include her, or spend that time with her.

Sometimes, she'll just show up somewhere she thinks we'll be (we stopped going to Open Houses because of that one) or she'll just show up on the doorstep.  I let her in, of course.  My boyfriend says that encourages her to do it more. He tells me not to answer the door a few times, and that will take care of that. He thinks its rude to show-up. He points out its not something we would ever to do anyone, and we deserve the same respect we'd give any person. But I can't just leave her there, be hiding from her.  I imagine how sad she'd feel on the other side.

I do try and understand from her point of view.  Naturally, he used to have more resources in terms of time and money to devote to his mom, when he was younger.  That I understand.  He now works full-time, very long hours, in a demanding field, so he has much less free time and he has a girlfriend/fiance he wants to spend some private time with.   Plus his friends, and cousins.  He used to be able to paint her condo for her once a year (she gets bored with the colors), which would take a few weeks/weekends.  He used to be able to write her checks when she complained a lot about her department store bills. I never once stopped him from doing these things.  He just doesn't have enough waking hours or dollars to devote to only her, like he once did. I know that change must hurt, I try and see it from her side.  Time and money are finite.  If we're blessed enough to have our own children, I imagine there will be even less time and money for her projects. And aren't children supposed to grow up and "leave the nest" at some point?

And I know she wants me to be "the daughter she never had", but my own mom doesn't ask for, or do the things my F-MIL thinks a "Daughter" (in law) should do.

I read the "steps a DIL does." I am SO worried that if my boyfriend had "a talk" with her, that would be like Step 3, in her eyes??  We do each have our own friends, and mutual friends, and he still sees his cousins a lot. So we did not do that step.  But if he told his mother to call before showing up, or to stop saying mean things about his fiance to his relatives, or if he said anything or put any limits on her - would that be Step 3? She's NOT a terrible mother, she never was. Would she think I set him up to talk to her?  He's the one who wants to tell her to "chill out" but I am the one who has asked him not to, because of the fears much like you wrote about Step 3.

I don't want to be a DIL who makes his mom sad.  I don't want to make anyone sad.  What can I do?  As I read and re-read this thread, I wonder, is it worth it to even try?


You sound like a wonderful, really wonderful potential daughter in law.  You really do.

Your FMIL sounds like she's desperate and I do know that there must be MILs out there like that.  I felt desperate too.  I was desperate in that after all the abuse we took, I still tried to overlook what she did to us.

What do you think you should do?  The list of DIL issues is not set in stone.  Of course your FH doesn't have the time he had;  people get busy with their lives.

Yours is a unique situation like all of our is.  Each one calls for its own resolutions.  I wish I knew the answer......just one simple, "Mom, I love you and am thinking of you" would last me for years.

Mine can only call when he's in the car.  We quit calling her number, she doesn't answer.  My friends, his friends, all are heartbroken for us. My friends are so terrified that this will happen to them that they don't know what to do.

They've seen, first hand, the aftermath of one twisted DIL who ruined our lives.

Many blessings, Sassy... :)



Well, Sassy, thanks for joining us. This is exactly why our Forum was created. Not for bashing but for mutual understanding, support and brainstorming.

I would say you have a bear by the tail. It doesn't sound to me like your FMIL has passed the "letting go" test.

We moms must necessarily start out obsessing about our kids. If we don't, they won't survive. We have to monitor them 24/7 and the responsibility is awesome. As they grow, our duties change but they are still constant. As a result, it's almost natural to establish an identity in the mom role that may develop a life of its own, ego-wise. (This can't help but be intensified for a single parent, by the way.) Then there comes a time when we have to start shifting responsibility, a little at a time, to the emerging adult and for many moms that is very difficult because too much too soon, is as bad as not enough, too late. Tricky stuff.

If the transition doesn't take place, then we have an over-involved parent who may see a "we" still existing as marriage approaches, along with vacations and the possibility of grand children. If that isn't acceptable, who do you think is going to be blamed? As in, everything was fine "before!"   (However, if you ask your guy, everything was probably not fine and it's probably been a struggle for him for some time.)

I have seen this kind of super-attachment in friends of mine, who insist on knowing every detail of their adult children's lives and who want to participate in absolutely everything...even seeing it as their "right." Some of us have the opposite affliction, of course. Case in point, me. I can remember when my youngest son boarded the bus to travel to another state to enter a protestant seminary to become a youth pastor. There I stood at the bus station with tears streaming down my face, sure that his leaving would kill me...while at the same time, I knew that if the bus stopped and he got back off, I would Kill him!  ;D

And do you know what? That son now often introduces me by saying, "This my oldest friend...my mom." (He design and created this Web-forum for us, by the way.)

Occasionally, over-involvement can be readily accepted and highly valued. Some married, adult children thrive on it. I have a close friend whose two daughters wouldn't file their nails without calling her up and talking it over with her first. They both call many times every day. Give me a break, where's the chance to learn to make wise decisions or to face the consequences when that doesn't happen? I think a healthy separation the stuff independence and maturity are made of.

Think about this...what if your FMIL got a DIL that wasn't like you and wanted the guy all to herself/? What if she either attacked her MIL directly or went after her, under the guise of friendship, and subtly manipulated her husband into participating in a full-blown character assassination, as happened to Prissy? Your FMIL probably doesn't know it, but things could be a whole lot worse!

I see this as your to-be husband's problem. It's time that you make it clear that his "if I ignore it, if will go away" attitude isn't going to cut it. He's the one in a relationship with his mom and he's the one who is going to have grow through it with her, no matter how painful. Denial of the seriousness of the situation is only going to set you up. That in turn will complicate your marriage in ways you can't even imagine.

Good for you for addressing this in advance and thank you again for coming on board. Blessings, Luise
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Thank you everyone.  And thank you Luise and to your son for creating this welcoming place, too!

I am going to talk with my boyfriend soon, maybe tonight, about the best way for him to approach F-MIL, and what about.  I will let him know that "I love you, you're in my thoughts" is most improtant for him to say!

The saying stuff to their relatives is important to him, its what he's wanted to address for a while. Her calling before coming over would be so nice.  He doesn't think she'll listen, and he says he knows her and she'll do it anyway saying she was just driving by.   I don't know if asking her to call or text "less" would sound too hurtful?  Or maybe just not to expect us (me, he doesn't already) to answer right away every time? Or somehow not to ask us so many questions about our informal plans? Ooh, see this is exactly where I get scared!

Its gotten to where I dread the weekends, because it feels like we have to play defense, but in a way it doesn't make her feel bad.  She and I already have plans to go shopping Saturday and we'll both take her out to lunch first.  But she'll ask about Sunday, and we're going over my sister's to eat and I know she'll ask if my parents will be there. And then she'll get quiet for a while.  And I will feel like I ruined her time with us, when I wasn't even thinkng about Sunday, she was.  It's not right for us invite people to other people's houses for meals. And if we just say "we're not sure what we're doing" she asks us to come over, or if she can come over, so that's not practical, either.

OK, this has to be addressed, I realize.  Any other suggestions or ideas to make this conversation NOT a "Step 3" talk for her, would be very welcomed!  Thank you to everyone here, and for not making a future DIL feel bad for marrying a great guy.


We're so caught in the middle it's not funny.  If we call, we're calling too much, if we don't call, we don't care about them.

If we inquire about Thanksgiving, which I absolutely dread, it will be the tug of war of the century. "Would you like to come for Thanksgiving?"

First comes the "we will be there at 1:00"  The other one: "we can't come till 3:00"

Me: "would you like to have it in the evening?"

Them: "we're going to my Mom's house".

The other DIL: "we will be there at 3:00 on Thanksgiving and if that doesn't work for HER then we can't come at all." 

Me: "would you like to have it on that weekend?"

One DIL: "we'll be at MY MOTHER'S HOUSE"

The Other: "no, that won't work for us"

They do battle for supremacy. (sigh) 

The DIL who was like 'sugared pecans' when I first met her demanded that I throw every album I had of son at his proms with different girls.  I was so freaked out that I put them in the attic.  I couldn't throw away memories. Why should I have to do that?

I've seen her when some unknown woman walks into their path.  She must say something to son because he says: "please, calm down! I am not looking at her."  She huffs and puffs and sulks after that till he goes over and calms her down.

She stomps across rooms, barking orders.  I don't have many dealings with her but I've learned that when I do, just to be reading a book or something. 

Why couldn't I have had a normal person?  I know perceptions are everything but everyone perceives her the same way!

Ladies, if you have sons, take individual pictures of them to have around the house.  If you don't and one of them is a group photo?  You might have a DIL who points out that her DH is not showing up in the picture properly. 

Someone please just shoot me.


You are just the nicest person!!  I just had to say that....I can hardly believe there's a DIL out there who will go to this length to try to understand an FMIL.

Thank you for that from my heart. You have given me hope.


Hi Again, :D 

I think one great lesson that is surfacing here is that one-size-does-not-fit all. A DIL is a person and there are some really marvelous ones out there like there are some great MILs. 

I want to tell you, Sassy, that I have an ex-DIL that would take a bullet for me in a New York Minute. When she divorced my son, (because, believe it or not, she could she he wasn't thriving in the marriage), they remained friends and her now-husband and his now-wife are all at our family gatherings. (And what can I say, my ex-husband is there, too with his now-wife...who contributed to our break up.)

I come from a family where there never had been a divorce. My point here is that there are no rules...there is just life and we can make it up as we go along, if we have the courage.

I hear (read) your fear about doing and/or saying the wrong thing or being seen as a troublemaker. When you can, let that go because it can eat you alive. We can say the right thing and it can be interpreted as wrong. Just do you best...that's l anyone can do.

You are never going to fit the profile that Prissy has so accurately provided. You haven't go it in you. Blessings, Luise
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama



I wish I would have met you a few years ago!!  Maybe you could have helped me stay sane and my emotions in check.  I feel the same way you do but I didn't try to resolve it, I just let my hurt feelings turn into frustration and frustration into anger.  I regret that now, not just because I'm getting married soon but because I know I could handled things better. 

Reading your post has really given me things to think about.  I now I should have paid more attention to her feelings but I was caught up in having my daughter, adjusting to our new lives, and just wanting to prove to myself that I could be a great mother.  I dismissed a lot of her feelings as silly (after she asked me if I got pregnant to trap her son) but she is entitled to her feelings.  I think things went bad on both of our parts and neither one of us wanted to be the bad guy but we both ended up with the title.  I have asked my fiance to set a up a meeting so we can hash this out. 

You have helped me to see that it's ok for me to have feelings about his mother and still create MIL friendly boundaries that work for everyone.