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Would this offend you?

Started by Kjc04, June 05, 2017, 04:54:35 pm

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Hi everyone! I'm a daughter in law of eight years and I would like the opinions of mother in laws with an issue I'm having with my mother in law. We live 25 hours away from both our families because of of my husbands job. We see them once to twice a year so visits last about a week when they come see us. However when my in laws visit they see it as an opportunity to do projects around our house and completely take over our home. My mother in law will clean, try to do our laundry, and take over meals, dishes etc.  She has rearranged my kitchen and anytime she sees something she doesn't like about the house she will change it. She also never asks permission before she does it.  I honestly hate it and I don't like people messing with my house. They are coming back in September when I have my third baby and I want my husband to tell them to not mess with the house while I'm in the hospital. Would it offend you if your son told you not to clean his house because his wife doesn't like it? I don't want to hurt her feelings but I really don't want to come home to them making changes to my home. How should we approach this issue?


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I haven't had the experience you are describing. However, it makes me really mad. To me is it grossly disrespectful. What if you did that at her house? Yeah, sure! When I move through and past my anger, my guess it isn't going to do any good to have your husband tell her anything. Beyond that, I feel it's between the two of you. You're the one that is offended, and in my book, rightfully so. I don't see a chance that you can take a stand and not hurt her feelings...if my guess is right. My guess is that she thinks she is doing something wonderful by showing you how things should be...and working her tail off to leave you in decent shape by the time they go home. That's nuts...but still that's my guess.

OK, what would I suggest? I would let her wreck havoc and clean up the mess after she leaves. She is who and how she is and she's your husband's mom. I would put everything back where it belongs after she leaves and say a prayer of gratitude every day that she lives so far away! She's exactly the kind of mother in law that gives the rest of us a bad name. 

It's either that or take a stand. No matter how kindly you do that, it will be interpreted as declaring war and it's one you will never win. She will never listen and never change and you will be 'the bad guy' for even suggesting you have any rights regarding your own home. How could you be so inconsiderate? Blah,blah, blah. (Obviously, I'm still mad!

Also, your husband will get caught in the middle when none of it is his fault in my humble opinion. Hugs...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Hi, K!
It's unclear to me if your MIL is the main problem, though it also sounds like other in-laws are involved.  Since this is how your in-laws roll, and because you and your husband have not said anything in the past (I assume), I expect your in-laws will be taken aback by the request not to clean your house anymore.  I look at this situation a bit differently than Luise does.  I think these are possible reasons why your in-laws do this:  they don't want to be a burden while visiting so they are "helping" you; they think you have a busy life and they are helping you catch up on stuff; they have some "great" ideas to improve your life and home; they are industrious people who just can't relax and visit and do "nothing."  It shows a real lack of sensitivity on their part not to ask permission first, but is it possible they would expect you to speak up if there is a problem with what they are doing, otherwise they think it's okay?  If all this busyness is taken away from them, will they know what to do with themselves? 

As a MIL, I can't imagine being aggressive in "helping" my DIL, although I have seen DIL's mom step in and do things when DIL has already declined her help.  I would certainly expect my DS to say something (and he has) if my actions are not welcomed for some reason.  So as not to offend, sometimes I think I did too little to help out.  My DIL does not communicate very well, so I often had to guess.   

I hope your DH can explain and smooth the way with his family without their taking offense.  Whether they are offended or not, it is important that your boundaries are respected.  Your focus should be on welcoming the new baby, and not worrying about appeasing your in-laws.  I wish you well!

Things happens


I would never ever go into someones house and do things without asking. And if they say no, then I would not be offended. Maybe on this next visit since this is your third child, you could cut her off at the pass. Just say I know you mean well with doing things around the house, but I really appreciate it if you just concentrate you time to (enter kids names). They will need lots of extra attention while we settle the baby.

Now funny story, back when I was a young bride, my MIL would come in and would rearrange things (never cleaning or helpful things) and she thought she was doing it on the sly. Upon her third visit, I took her aside and said, I know that you are just trying to help, but I like my things right were they are and how would you like it if I came to your house and moved everything around, she said she wouldn't like it. So I then said why would you do it, she said habit and to feel needed. So I felt bad, and came up with things for her to do and help out. I usually put her in charge of her grandson and she loved it, and he wore her out so much she didn't have the energy to do anything else.

Now my mother on the other hand was totally different. I like to make things and would often display them around the house, after mom's visits I would find my items missing and Money on the hook they were on. (LOL). While I like money, I wanted my things back. Spoke to dad and he would send back anything missing. She stopped doing it when I started taking expensive things off her wall and leave her a dollar on the hook (LOL)

Good Luck


Is there any chance that you could post a list of "Things we need to do" somewhere?  The list could contain things that you need done but are not that particular about how they are done like "weed the front flower bed" or "clean out the refrigerator" or "defrost and rearrange the freezer" or "organize my recipes"....things that will not throw you out of step when they leave.  Then get your DH to suggest that moving things around and rearranging will cause you extra stress.  After all you will have three kids and if things are not where you put them, well, that is an issue regardless of whether the new place "makes more sense" or not.  The important thing for you will be knowing where they are, not how organized they are.  If you go to the freezer for your deodorant, well it should be there, right?

Anyhow I think you should use your MIL and FIL to do things (dust the chandelier or the baseboards) and let them feel useful but give them boundaries (don't move anything in my kitchen drawers or cabinets) and hopefully turn those visits into something you look forward to.

Good luck!  Wow, three kids.....you are braver than I ever was!!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Thanks everyone for the advice! My husband and I talked about this last night and we are going to have my parents stay at the house with my 2 older kids and have my in laws stay at a hotel since we only have one guest room. My parents stayed at the hotel last time I had a baby and my in laws stayed with my oldest at our house so we are just going to say we are giving my parents a turn. Hopefully that will help for this time around. Then in the future when they visit we will sit them down and explain why this bothers us and to please not do this anymore. We don't want to hurt feelings since we don't see them that often but this last visit had me ready to snap and my husband said it's time we say something. I think it bothers me so much because they treat my husband like he is still a child and is under their authority and it makes me mad to watch them treat him this way and he doesn't say anything because he doesn't want to hurt their feelings. But he feels very disrespected in his own home and that's not right.


I understand. I wouldn't like this either. Can't think of anyone who would. However...I really think the problem here is not enough communication. Everyone seems a bit too worried about hurting feelings. Communicate with them in a nice way. That is how families get over these things.
I love the idea to give them something to do. Sounds to me like they don't know what to do with themselves.

For now, the hotel thing has been decided. That's fine and I'm happy for them that this is their turn.

Please be patient and know you have never said a word to them about your feelings about this so they have no idea how upset you are. You've been keeping this inside a very long time.

Do some relaxing breathing and find some love and kindness for them and talk to them. As if they are your parents...it's ok...they will probably love you for that.
Always be honest and stop the quiet. Talk to them.

When they treat your husband that way, tell them to knock it off...he is a grown man, a husband, a father and they did good..you love him just the way he is.

I would of loved to of had a DIL Talk to ME, instead of everyone else and then using manipulation to get me out of their life.

I'm not saying you have done this or are doing this...just giving you something to think about instead of the anger you feel towards them.


June 06, 2017, 07:08:31 am #7 Last Edit: June 06, 2017, 07:22:28 am by luise.volta
I love the kind and helpful responses here. I'm stuck in anyone treating an adult like a child and treating his wife like a non-entity in their own home. That is unbelievably self-absorbed. It's 'mother-knows-best' carried to the extreme. She did once but/and she has to give it up and get a life. Otherwise, it blossoms into entitlement.

And I love the post about the art objects disappearing and the money hanging on a hook. That made my day! :D
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I agree with JustBreathe that a lot of misunderstandings could be prevented with just some communication.  If the relationship is loving and kind to begin with, then it is natural to discuss things with a positive attitude of mutual respect and cooperation.  If there is dislike or mistrust, then honest communication may not work at all. 



When I was pregnant with my second I could not get off the couch in the end. Maybe, you can let the housework go for awhile before the baby comes and let MIL take care of it when she comes. I wish I had had that really. The moving things around- just put them back when she leaves and the house is all clean.

The thing that might bother me is if she were an awful cleaner, like scrubbing the finish off the sink or the paint off the wall!


Your MIL may mean well and wants to help and may not be trying to be inconsiderate.  However if it is bothering you and keeps you from enjoying the relationship or the visits, I think you should say something.  By not saying anything, you are depriving her of the chance to have a meaningful relationship with you and depriving yourself of the same.  It sounds like this bothers you enough that you dread the visits.  Over time, I think the resentment might build.  It might not be taken well since it has been going on for awhile.  Perhaps it would be better taken if your husband was willing to approach them.

What if you said " I appreciate the fact that you want to help, but I would rather you didn't clean and rearrange things when you come to visit.  I would rather you spend time just visiting.  ii'm sorry I didn't say something sooner, but I didn't want to upset you.  However, it is upsetting to me when you do this and I would appreciate it if you would respect my feelings. " 

It might be upsetting for her to hear this, but I still think it's better to say something than to spend years feeling angry with her. 

I am both a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law.  I would rather my DIL tell me what's bugging her than secretly hating me for my behavior.  I think my MIL might feel the same, and I deprived her of knowing me and having a relationship with me because I resented things she did and never said anything.


July 28, 2017, 11:14:58 am #11 Last Edit: July 28, 2017, 11:18:25 am by luise.volta
I don't do well with conflict resolution, K., so I can only suggest what I do. I journal and when strong feelings come up...I stop writing and express them unilaterally. I live alone, so there is no one to witness my momentary tantrums except Rosa, my dog. She opens one eye and then goes back to sleep. So much for my winning an Oscar.

My point is that for me bottling stuff up and holding it in is unhealthy. What I have learned is that how I feel is about me, not the others involved, and that when I am willing to face the feelings, they dissipate and I can move on. How moving on looks is always different but I feel better when I get unstuck. That may not work for you. I have no idea.

We haven't heard from you for some time. How are you doing?
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Luise,  I don't do particularly well with resolution conflict either.  I struggle with being assertive and taking care of myself.  I feel like when I try to be assertive it comes off as aggressive and maybe it is because I have angry feelings behind it.  But I have realized for me that I simply can't continue to be passive and not take care of my needs.
In this situation, I would feel like I needed to create boundaries and protect them.  But I am also coming from a place of having tried being silent for 30 plus years.

I have been doing well for the most part


I can't help but wonder what K's MIL would do if she went to their house and changed their kitchen.  Don't you think her MIL would have something to say?  And if she did wouldn't it be wonderful to say "Really?  This bothers you?"  Kind of like putting the money on the wall like Things Happen did!!  LOL
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Kjc04 are you still with us? If so, please check in and let us know how it's going, OK? Your first post was on June 5th. Your last post in which you thanked us was on June 6th. I really liked the suggestion you just got to give your MIL a little help of a similar variety in her home... :D
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama