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OK, Wise Women, What about this?

Started by phillek, December 13, 2011, 06:25:40 pm

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I got so much help with my last post and now I'm hooked on your advice!  I've read (and re-read and re-read) all the suggestions I got regarding my MIL and I'm starting to get it.  I can't change her feelings; I can't make her happy; I can only set appropriate boundaries and continue to take the high ground.  Getting it...

But, I wanted to get your thoughts on a side-effect of her behavior.  How do I deal with the fact that MIL is most likely making DH and me look like the bad guys to family and friends?  These are people I think are nice, and I care what they think about DH and me.  For example, SIL recently called DH and told him to call MIL because she was upset at the family Christmas party (likely in front of extended family that we respect and don't see very often).  MIL was saying that DH hasn't returned her phone calls and "doesn't love her anymore."  What she didn't say is that DH calls her every Sunday night, and talks with her for over an hour about whatever she wants.  She called him on Wednesday, and he hadn't been able to set the hour aside for her by the time the Saturday Christmas Party (which we could not attend because it was several hours away and interfered with DH's work).  If I am in the position of my extended family, I think "This poor woman, why would DH treat her this way?"  I suspect that this type of thing happens all the time with her, and would be shocked if she didn't single me out regularly, since I seem to make her so miserable.  I can just hear it "Why is DIL keeping me from my GC?"  (absolutely untrue). When I do find myself with extended family or family friends, I feel awkward.

There is no way I can connect with these people in an appropriate way to show that we are doing the best we can and are not intentionally hurting her, and she sees them much more than we do.  Can anyone offer any perspective on how I can see the situation differently, and maybe feel better?

Thanks again!


Phillek, we struggle with the same thing.  Just be yourself, don't buy into her hype.  It's likely most people know her style and what she is like, there's no need for you to say or do anything.  People like that can't hide their true colors and most people will likely know.

In the case of DHs siblings, we've just found to calmly say things like "that sounds like something MIL would say" or "thanks for your input, we got it covered."  Most know how their mother is and time will tell.

Just don't let her get into your head.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Quote from: phillek on December 13, 2011, 06:25:40 pm
There is no way I can connect with these people in an appropriate way to show that we are doing the best we can and are not intentionally hurting her,

How come?  If you like these relatives, why not get to know them outside of the family gatherings?  I can imagine that it would be a whole different conversation without the mom around.


My first reaction, generally speaking, is to say if these are people whose opinions of you and DH you are truly concerned about, then foster a closer relationship with them.  Make efforts to let them get to know you and DH for who you are.  If there's no desire or place in your lives to draw those people closer, then their opinions wouldn't matter any more than they do (or rather, don't).

I had to go back to remind myself of your story.  I only had to glance for a moment to recall the games and ongoing drama.  I can tell you this with certainty: They know, dear.  They know. 


I worry about this too.  One time, we attended a big birthday party for MIL and I was my usual charming funny self.  The next time we saw MIL, she made sure to tell me that her friends were "surprised" at how much fun I was.  Hmmm, why would they be "surprised"?  Unless they'd heard differently beforehand?

My theory is that all of these other people (friends, relatives, ect) are all grown up people who are smart enough, old enough and cute enough to make up their own minds.  If they let themselves be swayed by what my MIL says, well, that's THEIR problem, not mine.  And THEY would be the one missing out on knowing ME.

There will always be some who's NEED to be on MIL's good side will outweigh the TRUTH, but do you really want to know those people?

Bah, keep in touch with the ones you want to know and let the rest sort themselves out.


Good points.  I see these people at family gatherings, they came to our wedding and threw me a baby shower.  We exchange Christmas cards.  Generally nice, warm people, but I don't see myself making any personal phone calls any time soon.  I just have to trust that they know what's what, and if not, oh well, at least I know the truth.

That's what DH says!  Hmm, I should really listen to him more often....


I'm with the others phillek.  They have to decided for themselves and I'm a firm believer that eventually, no matter how hard a zebra tries to hide behind a tree, you will see their stripes.

Keep being you and those that truly want a relationship will seek the truth.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


If you don't really care about building relationships with them, don't bother worrying what they think about you.  Not everybody has to like you.


You've touched on something that constantly baffles me - why do extended family take sides without getting all the facts?  Whether it's a MIL/DIL issue, a Parent/AC issue, adult sibling issue, whatever, if you are not directly involved, shouldn't you get both sides of the story before casting judgement?  My own parents have many fine qualities, but if one of my sibs or their spouses were criticized by my parents, I would take it with a grain of salt. 

I am not geographically close to any family.  A few years ago I started sending out an email every 2-3 weeks to my sibs/parents/cousins just to stay in touch.  Usually less than 10 sentences about little things in our lives.  More people would use facebook these days, but I don't like that broad of an audience.  You could do this with your DH's family - just to stay in touch, mind you - and casually mention things like "While DH was having his weekly phone call with his mom Sun night, I decided to take out the trash; wouldn't you know the bag was overstuffed and everything spilled all over the front steps.  Last time I do one of his chores :)"  or "Wish we could see everyone at the Christmas party this weekend, but unfortunately DH's job has him working then; we'll be thinking of you!" or "GC had a great time at lunch with MIL on Wed; they loved the stories about their dad as a kid and of course, pizza is always a treat." 

I had a problem of being accused of "never" inviting my ILs to anything ("never" being defined as only every two weeks or so), so I started putting all my invites in emails that included my DHs siblings, too.  Not sure if it changed anyone's mind about me, but at least it undercut MIL/FIL's accusations of me cutting them out of our lives.   If MIL lives near other relatives, when you invite her to something, invite some of the nearby relatives, too "Hey, we're getting together for dinner on Sat with MIL at 6 at ABC restaurant - if you're free, why don't you join us?"

Good luck. 


Don't even get me started on taking sides!  My MIL and SIL (her DD) were feuding for a couple of years and MIL circled the wagons and got all of the extended family, and even my DH eventually, to shun SIL.  Now, they had both done regrettable things and since we were NOT cutting MIL off, how could we cut SIL off?  Well, *I* did NOT.  Every time we went to visit the IL's, I made sure to pop in and visit SIL, alone.  When her kids came along, I was the first and ONLY member of her 'family' (and an IL at that!) to congratulate them, visit them and give them gifts.

In fact, before the feud, SIL called us once and told us that MIL had told her that we said XXX about her  (i.e. stirring the pot).  Instead of getting mad about it or even JADE-ing, we told her flat out to please consider the source and really, MIL tells us a lot of baloney about SIL and we take it all with a grain of salt and to please give us the same courtesy.

Phillek, that could be something for you to say, if someone tries to get involved.


herbalescapes, good points.  My theory has been that anything that gets the heat off them is good, so if someone else is the target, great....they aren't for right now.  Like a dog pile or blood in the water, sharks start circling.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Without going into too much detail. there is a much older relative in our picture who in another city, and so does her grown son and his family.  DH and I called her one Thanksgiving morning to wish her a happy turkey day.  She cried to us how she was all alone, her son and DIL didn't invite her over for dinner. She'd just be going to McDonalds, she didn't need turkey and gravy, the whole bit.  At the time, DH and I were baffled why her son would do this.   

Later we found the grown son and his son had won once in a lifetime football game tickets for Thanksgiving Day.   So the whole family had planned and held their full Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday night that year, with older relative as guest of honor.  They sent her home with enough leftovers for herself and all her neighbor ladies.  We quickly learned to debunk her woe is me tales after that.


S - Thanks for that one. We forget that sometimes self-pity can be an attention getter and nothing else.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Sassy, for some reason, I think that was exactly the thing I needed to hear :)