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Update on situation. How do I not turn holidays into circus?

Started by tangerine44, November 02, 2014, 03:38:59 pm

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In my post history you can read what happened. I just want to bounce my thoughts and reflections off of someone. Things have only gotten worse with her and I expected it to get that way but a huge part of me is apathetic about it all. The sad/good part is by me not going around my MIL anymore our marriage has actually improved TREMENDOUSLY because her constant drama was a strain on our marriage. I know as mothers of sons this probably is hard to read but maybe you can learn something from this??  His relationship with her has gone downhill as he has begun to see a side to his  mother that mortifies him. She is blaming me for all of this. However, the only thing I have done is decide, outside of holidays, not to see her. This is not out spite, it is a compatability issue and because I am done (what happened that lead to this point is in here). The sad part is if I werent her DIL we would get along famously. We did get along famously but once the dynamics changed and she started expecting and demanding inappropriate things it went downhill.

DH and I have been advised that the trick to dealing with pushy in laws is to put boundaries down. But what do we do when MIL refuses to respect them (they are reasonable ones) and gets offended and will not listen? What do we do when she says she is mother and doesnt have to respect our boundaries? What do I do when she behaves in very untrustworthy ways and as a result I dont want to be close to her? But she says things like "Oh Im family you should just sweep it under the rug and you're a bad person for not doing that"? Nothing will ever change no growth, no progress. Anytime she is confronted about anything she says we are attacking her. When all we are doing is trying to have an adult discussion on how family dynamics have changed. It is frustrating because she places great importance on our obligations to her but seems to be precluded from her own obligations to us or finds reasons why she is exempted. I dont get it. I have spoken with my women friends who are currently mother in laws with a DIL and the general consensus is she refuses to accept he is now husband first son second. Her own MIL treated her this way so Im so baffled as to why this is happening. Why wouldnt a mother want her child to be a good spouse?  My own mother's take on her relationship with her AC is that she knows how close and involved she is with me or my brother is based on how she respects us as adults. i think there is some merit to that because I converse with my mom a lot but she doesnt meddle or interfere. She treats me, my bro, and DH like we are adults and yea she reaps the benefits of it.  I never saw either of my parents go through what we are going through. I just dont get it.

Ultimately, if her or FIL are in the hospital yes call. The lines of communication are open. I told her a long time ago her that when FIL dies I will handle all the paper work and phone calls and basically the admin/logisitics. I will still do that because I think its important that my DH, MIL and BIL have that time together to grieve and not worry about a single thing except to show up when and where needed, or not and if they do something to upset other family members to go through me. Basically, be an agent. I will still do that. I will not be mean spirited at family events, in front of my own children I will never disrespect her, I will not speak ill of her to my children, nor will I keep them from her. But what I wont let her do is push me around either.

The long and short of it is this. On paper and to my face she has been the DEFINITION of what a MIL should be. But when I am not around she manipulates my husband, puts him in a position to choose between his wife and his mother (and not over light things), and she talks bad about me and blames me for a myriad of things that were the result of his relationship with me but not me directly. If that last bit makes any sense.  He gets upset with her for doing these things but she blames me for it. It makes no sense at all. In my own family the marriages of others are so respected its basically venerated. THis kind of stuff simply doesnt happen in our family. We respect the lives of our family members BECAUSE they are our family members. I think she wants us to make them, all of them (MIL FIL BIL), our focus in our life and I dont want to do it and I dont think thats anything personal I just did not marry them, especially if its going to be this way. I understand wanting to be included but the level she takes it is borderline strange and when we try to explain it to her she plays the "Im your mother!!!!!!!" card. Ugh so frustrating because she uses that card to get out of everything. She has even tried blaming my own mother for turning him against her when DH told her all the things my mom does and does not do. When she attacks my family it crosses the line.

DH has continued to visit her regularly and has tried explaining it to her over and over that he cannot put her first anymore. She says I know I know ..then sure enough she will expect him to do just that and is surprised when it backfires. Im actually and genuinely not trying to create a divide but by my DH and I standing our ground it has created one. Its very sad.

An example (Mods please dont delete this. Its not inflamatory. Just need an example so people can understand how far his family takes it) is my husband and I were going to go into business with his brother to create a general contracting business. Our first job was to be his mothers home and the ONLY reason we were doing this was to start saving for a child and she knew it. Well, when pay day arrived she asked "Shouldnt you do this for free because im your mother and you love me?" Well, the very last time I saw her (a few days before this) we were talking just her and me about how DH and my primary focus is saving for a baby, she says she understands and knows how expensive kids can be and then she goes and does that. When she was confronted about this she raged (full blown temper tantrum) about how she doesnt owe my DH anything and he still owes her everything (Keep in mind I was not there for that and she never says anything like that when im around so a part of me thinks she knows what she does is wrong otherwise she'd say it in front of me). The aftermath of that whole fiasco was we decided this wasnt going to work as a business if my BIL (who was perfectly willing to work for free and doesnt understand why we wont) and MIL are going to be incapable of professional behavior and if this is our livelihood should we continue down this path? It came down to that they couldnt afford to do it. So why not tell us the truth? And why expect us to continue to do so? I have genetically high blood pressure so if I am going to have a baby its got to be before 35 or it presents me with a very high risk pregnancy, Im 31. They know this and still expect us to put them first? They arent actually in need of it, the house is fine. Its out dated. SOmething about that doesnt seem right. But when she knowingly tried to interfere with our ability to produce a child its like some line in me was crossed that cant be uncrossed and it was the first time in my life I felt some level of maternal protectiveness is the only way I can explain it. i saw a side of her I cant ever unsee.  I lost all trust and personal respect that day.

Im beginning to see that my DH came from a dysfunctional family that is a bit codependent and him going off and being married has greatly upset their whole mainframe. I know marriage is compromise but I dont think I can ever do something or support something that is bad for the marriage.

I just dont understand why she has to continue to stir the pot? Im not her biggest fan, so what. He still sees her. So why all the fuss? I know she is a very family oriented person but if she behaves this way how can she expect everything to be idyllic? My own family isnt very fond of her because of how she ruined my wedding planning with her emotional instability (threw a tantrum because we didnt want to participate in her house flipping business idea, took that way too personally and as a result withdrew funds for the wedding. She repented eventually) and once told my own mother that as long as i give her catholic grandchildren she didnt mind giving my DH money for my engagement was quite $$$. but she keeps pushing for a mutual celebration of the holidays. Ugh, I just dont know how to handle that one because I'd be willing to bet my last penny double or nothing she is going to bring that up. How do I nicely say they just dont like you?

So here we are, holidays coming up and I will be going over there. As political as it sounds, if only to show we are an indivisible unit. I dont want to but Im going to. he last time I saw her was late april when we were talking about how we are preparing for a child.As far as extended in laws go I get along great with them. I still am in contact with a lot of them. We never bring her up. SO if she is saying anything, and I bet she is (she told a lot of people right before the wedding she thought i had a romantic connection with her other son...believe me he is not my type, all due respect), they either know how she can be or are faking it. Which if they are faking it, Im ok with that because they at least have the capacity to put personal feelings aside and be respectful to us because they love DH and dont want to be rude to his wife.

I understand 100% the mother respect thing, I have a mother too. I have a very close relationship with my mother to boot. So I get it. But my own mother gives my husband the respect he deserves. She never EVER criticizes him or even to me. If she has any problems with him I simply do not know about it. She has told me point blank she will never interfere in our lives because she wants us to be happy and create a life for ourselves. She also has a son so it isnt as if she is lacking the perspective of being a mother to a son. So going off how my own mother handles my marriage and my own spouse I do not see why MIL cannot give this marriage and yes me the respect it should be given? And why when we ask for it is it so awful and she is the victim?  Am I crazy? How do I handle this? The bottom line is that if trust is the foundation to all good healthy relationships and there is no trust how can it work? So any tips on what to do would be appreciated because Im clueless. My mom says to just talk to her woman to woman and that if I want her to treat me like an adult I have to go forth like I am an adult, even if she doesnt want to see/cooperate/believe it. But i have a feeling it wont go down so smoothly.


T - My heart goes out to you. It is difficult and sometimes turns out to be impossible to interact when our values are so opposed; when boundaries mean nothing...and imagined obligation means everything. There is no explanation. There is no 'why'. We look for logic and compromise where there is none.

You and your guy are on the same page which is wonderful. A long time ago I learned not to set boundaries I wasn't willing to stand by. You may need to do the same thing. You didn't marry a man who came with a built-in dictator who's job it is to run both of you. All I can offer is that you continue to face it together and put you new family unit first. Sending hugs... 

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I think rule #1 for ALL in laws should be not to criticize.  That means your MIL should not criticize you but it should be a two way street. It would be really big of you to get on that path first.  Maybe after a while your MIL will join you.
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


I think the way you are handling it now, is going to be the best you are going to be able to do to deal with her.  Letting your DH take the lead with her and letting him decide if he wants to continue the relationship with her.  Are you going to take the blame?  Probably.  People who want everything their way and will not accept boundaries are always looking for someone else to blame.  That's not fair to you, but it's going to be that way because she "feels" everything was fine with her relationship with him until you came along.  That's on her, not you.

It's obvious that the other family members know how she is.  I do believe that civility is all you will have to offer to her during events, and the rest of the time, let DH deal with her.  You don't have to deal with someone who is not respecting your boundaries.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Thankfully your MIL brought a son into this world who is nothing like his mother.  You will get through this.  You are capable of remaining stable and calm regardless of the holiday circus that may surround around you.  Keep that in mind and everything will be alright.  Build healthy memories this holiday season and discard the rest.


Finally confronted her. She was very apologetic but completely gaslit me. If you dont know what gaslighting is, it is the complete denial of any wrongdoing and saying "That didnt happen". I told DH that she denied most everything.   
All that stuff I typed, I confronted her about. She said most of it never happened. 
So, she either is saying that DH is a liar, which he is not, or she is just in denial.
She told me everything she thinks I needed to hear. 
I told her when I get preggo not to swarm me, but we'll see.
So, if it never happened, according to her then what was the apology for?
Cant have it both ways. I think she knows there is a problem and I made it very clear to  her that IF she wants a relationship with me she is going to have to respect my autonomy and independence (i.e. my role in my own life!!!). I also said that when she refutes any of my problems with her as "me being too sensitive" that I felt like my own opinions and feelings were instantly dismissed yet her own feelings are expected to be catered to. but that IF she cannot respect my feelings and autonomy of this marriage I will be nice to her on holidays and thats all she is getting. I put the ball directly in her court and she seemingly complied.
Her excuse for the incessant meddling was that she got 0 support from her in laws and now sees I do not want any unnecessary intrusion. This is about the 4th time Ive had this conversation with her.
This isnt typical MiL problems. I spoke in depth with my therapist about this recently and got out of it that I am dealing with a textbook narcissist and that even during cease fires NOT to get too comfortable or trusting. This is someone who probably needs deep therapy. And as someone mentioned about being nice and seeing if she will follow simply will not apply here because she is so manipulative and lost in a fantasy world.
I think she knew her goose was cooked and she now knows that DH and I tell each other everything.
I think she knows, from being a wife longer than Ive been alive, that if she upsets her sons wife the only bad things that will happen will be to her. Cold as that may sound, insitgating drama and meddling only causes problems for herself.
But I have a cease fire from her for the holidays which is all I can ask for.
PS...On a side note completely chromo auto fill knows without me typing that 16 + 13 = 29  ;) :P