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Can I Mend This Or Is It Toxic (MIL DIL Relationship)

Started by seekingthesolution, March 04, 2012, 10:29:16 am

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Good afternoon ladies,

I am hoping that you will be able to share some of your wisdom with me. My husband and I just got married last June, and while our relationship has been wonderful, we have been having some problems with dh's mother, my mother in law. Right now, I am afraid that we are on the road to estrangement, which would be an enormous tragedy and makes me very sad. I don't want this to happen, but I am feeling hurt and not sure if I am thinking clearly.

So this is the situation. MIL seemed to like me well enough when we were dating though we did not see each other much. Then we got engaged. DH did things the old fashioned way. Got the permission of both sets of parents and their blessings. All seemed well enough. Then the first leaks started showing at the dam. MIL confronted me to know whether we would insist on having the wedding in my home town and how much she did not want it to be there. She then proceeded to make options, either DH home town or the current city we were living in. I of course had wanted to get married in my home town but after hearing how opposed she was and figuring that she just wanted to be a part of the process, DH and I agreed to have it in the city we were living in since to have it in. Apparently this was the wrong decision. She wanted it in DH hometown. She even tried calling my parents to get them to talk to me and call off the wedding. The conflict increased because we had a small wedding. My parents are not very wealthy and so I paid for the wedding out of my savings. It was a small affair, just the way that DH and I wanted it but not the way MIL wanted it. We did all that we could to make everyone happy but if it was out of the budget, then we just did without. (For instance, we substituted cupcakes for wedding cake.) But at the wedding, we made sure that there was no skimping on the special treatment of family. I got each of the moms and grandmoms a special gift with a handwritten letter thanking them for all they had given and special bouquets customized to them.

The issues have just continued to escalate. MIL and FIL and BIL showed up at our honeymoon and wanted to hang out, they showed up at our suite when we did not respond to their text (we were otherwise occupied and not paying attention to the phone), and were upset that we were not making more use of the hotel's facilities because apparently they had waited for us about two hours out by the pool without telling us they were out there waiting.

MIL goes after me on a lot of topics including my weight and my coordination. I unfortunately have several health issues which resulted in a weight gain problem and which I am gradually working off as well as early onset arthritis. These are not subtle comments but along the lines of "I don't understand why S could not have married someone thinner. All of his other girlfriends were." She introduced me over Christmas to the girl she wanted him to marry. That was sooooooo awkward and painful.

I have not been overly assertive on any of this. I originally thought that it would wear off, and all of the family members assured me that it was just "mom being mom and she doesn't mean it personally" but now the big bomb has come.

Both DH and I are in law school, preparing to finish our final year. We have been looking for jobs all over, and the job market is very tight. We have considered several states, including his home state, mine, the one we are in, and other nearby ones. We finally settled on my home state because I had a job offer and we could live without going into any more debt than we already were and even buy a lovely little house. (Combined we have about 200 K in student loans but no credit card debt.) DH is still looking but has not found any job yet. However, he has been offered the opportunity to partner with some of the other lawyers in town. He would only be paid what he earns on his own but he would have the benefit of their experience. She was furious when we told her because it means that I will be near my family and it will still be a day's drive for them. Apparently, we should have chosen a "neutral" city. She called me a conniving witch and accused my parents of being involved in a conspiracy to steal both DH and I away from her. She said that I was stealing her son and that this was the most disrespectful betrayal she could imagine and scolded the both of us for about thirty minutes before telling us not to call again until she is ready to talk to us. She told us that we will go bankrupt and that we are going to fail but that she will be there for us when we come to our senses if we aren't so stupid to stick with my family.

I am really, really hurt. I let DH handle the talking because I was too angry. In all of the parental boundary issues, we have had whoever's parents it is do the talking. There have been so many little incidences but this has culminated into the big one. DH has told me not to call her or write to her (before this I wrote them every other week or once every three weeks to keep them updated). She says that she can never forgive me for this.

So what should I do? What can I do? At this point, I want nothing to do with her, but I also don't want a war to erupt. I feel like the relationship is toxic. We promised to come see her, but that makes no difference. She is convinced that I have decided we will never move to Georgia (she was trying to get us to move in next door), and before, I could say that if a job opened up in DH home state near them, I would be happy to move there. Now I'm not. I do not want to be in the same state with her because I am afraid of what will happen. Conflicts with her have involved her yelling in my year, bringing up items from a written list where I and many others have failed over the past years (one entry dates back more than 20 years), and her telling me not to associate with FIL side of the family because they are horrible. DH and I broke the isolation by going to see FIL side of the family and found them to be great people.

I suspect that she is afraid I am going to cut her out the way that she cut out FIL family (she refused to have anything to do with them by her own admission because they were just not "her sort of people"). And right now I am at a loss. There are no children at this point, but she has already informed me that she will be in the delivery room with me so she can coach me (I told her no on that one and she became very upset) and a bunch of other things. I am terrified that when DH and I have children, the conflicts and tension will escalate. In particular, I am concerned that she will bad mouth both of us to the children and my family to the children. She already does that to me and whoever else is listening with FIL and BIL. DH is her perfect son and the only one who understands her. DH is afraid of estrangement also because he said that his mother has a pattern of this and that there has been too much.

Anyway, please give me your advice. What can I do? What should I do? I realize that she does not have a happy life or marriage. FIL called us to ask that we would please move next door to them just so that he would not be alone with her.




Oh boy. Do not move next door to your MIL! Sorry,'re on your own.

I'm glad to hear you are sorry about the loss of a relationship w/your MIL, but it sounds as if she's crossed one too many lines. Your DH is the key here; I agree with you that all further communications should be through him, if at all, until MIL's behavior improves. Best wishes.

Hey, I'm looking like a MIL sent from heaven right about now!
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Holy cow!  I agree, do NOT move next door to her...not even close to her!  Sounds kind of like she either has control issues, or doesn't quite have both oars in the water!  The problems about wedding would have been a major clue, as I'm sure you know already.  Let DH do all talking to his mother, probably nothing you say will matter any way. I too now feel like mother in law of the year compared!  lol  Keep us posted please...I would be interested in how she reacts to your moving etc.  She sounds a bit toxic to wishes to you.  J


Welcome seekingthesolution :)

Please read the topics in the category Open Me First.  We ask all new members to do so not b/c there is anything wrong with your post.  It also help you to get a feel for WWU and how we came about.

I agree with the previous posters, let DH handle it.  This would be too much for anyone and I think detaching from the situation will help you a lot.  Although it is much easier said than done.

My MIL has a diagnosed personality disorder and I'm not saying your MIL has one either, who knows.  But I think a lot of the material written towards dealing with a mentally ill family member would be beneficial to you and DH.  I think of it as just dealing with a difficult person.  "Walking on eggshells" is a book that really helped me understand my role and what I could/could not expect in a relationship with a person with those kind of difficulties. 

People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


My take: He married didn't. You married their son and have established a new family unit in which you make the rules...just like they did when they married. Protect your relationship. Set boundaries and maintain them. Simple but not easy. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Thank you so much for your kind welcome, everyone.

The last contact we had was just to let us know that she still is too angry to speak with us. But apparently we needed to know that.

I am very grateful that my DH is willing to handle the situation, though the poor man is mortified. I asked him if perhaps there was some sort of chemical imbalance, and he said he did not know of any.

It's great to meet you all, and yes, I will keep you posted. We have already contacted the realtor for our new house and asked him to please not let any family come in to see the house. DH thinks that there is a distinct possibility she will try to do something to make it so that we cannot move, but we're not sure what. I'm just so grateful to have found this site because I was feeling like an awful daughter in law.


So what exactly were you doing on your honeymoon that you couldn't immediately reply to texts and didn't use the pool for over two hours? 

lancaster lady

Hi Seeking and Welcome ,

When you took your marriage vows , I'm sure that your MIL didn't come into the equation .
you should have stuck to your plans and married from your home town .
I'm afraid you have given her an inch .....well cut that thread now.
You must set your boundaries  or suffer the consequences .
I hope your DH is strong enough ....good luck .


lol, Herbalescapes. We were learning techniques for....scrapbooking. Yeah, scrapbooking and gardening. ;-)

So true, Lancaster Lady. It's really hard figuring out the line between giving too much and being compassionate. I had heard all of the horror stories of evil DILs, even met a few. Sadly, it's set a precedent that is being used against us now.

DH is hanging in there. FIL is now lecturing him and has been lecturing him for the past hour on keeping MIL happy. So far, DH not showing signs of breaking.

Funny, we're both in law school with specialties in negotiation and family law. But none of the work we have done or been involved in has been so bad as this. I'm a much better expert when it isn't my own situation. ;-) It has been keeping DH very calm. He still hasn't lost his temper, but he is being good and firm and in such a way that his parents cannot accuse him of being disrespectful.

Who would have thought that moving was the deepest betrayal one could invoke?

lancaster lady

Its always hard when our kids move away , but I would never stand in their way , how else would they grow and evolve Into  adults. We get used to it , as long as we get a friendly text or phone call now and again. Stick to your plans , she should be delighted you have job offers , many graduates dont . Good luck to you both .


All I can say is what everyone else here has said.

FIL is not your problem.
It's your DH's mother. Let him handle her.
Set boundaries.
Enjoy the silent treatment while it lasts.
Get as far away from that leaking dam as you can. Like Siberia.
Good luck.