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DIL Behaviour Puzzle

Started by Freya, January 04, 2018, 04:33:53 PM

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For as long as I can remember it has been difficult to communicate with her.  When I first met her I said "Hello.....I am looking forward to being your friend"  Her answer was "I don't need you for a friend".
This woman comes from a narcissistic and very closed family which I recognise because I had a narcissistic mother and borderline father.  But I worked hard at healing because I would not play the games.  Years of therapy have given me insight into this.   I have brought up two very fine boys, one of whom is her husband and a gentle soul.  They have been married around 15 years.  I am 70 years old.

Her parents will not let her go and she is practising the same with our grand daughters.  I have basically accepted this for peace's sake.

My DIL and I have had a couple of serious rifts, by her making mostly, but I have apologised for it even so for my son's sake.  This time she has found a criticism I made about her and her family to one of my friends as I vented in frustration at more passive-aggressive stuff from her that has hurt me so often.  I am totally guilty and have declared my horror at what I have done.   I have invited her to come and tell me her feelings about me and am sincerely prepared to cop all that I deserve for being careless.  I can only accept who she is  as best case, regardless.

Her approach is "silent treatment" - typical narcissistic behaviour and passive agrresssive of course so I am waiting..waiting..

Is there anything else I can do ?


Further, I am wondering if there is some sort of envy/jealousy at work here. Reading another posting I remembered how she was very helpful and so very patronising when I needed help with an injury requiring a hospital of a family member.  She jumped straight in and took control for which I am grateful.  However, she continued to treat me like a child and I felt ridiculous.  Could she be undermining in that sort of patronising behaviour to make herself look good against her perception of me as "better" - something I give her no reason to believe ?


January 04, 2018, 05:11:20 PM #2 Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 05:46:02 PM by luise.volta
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In my own issues with my DIL, I had to eventually get there was nothing I could do. We're all human and we blow it at times. When things were already strained...that, for me, was the point of no return...my own humanness. From there, I accepted that all I could do was to heal my own pain. I turned away from conflict out of self-preservation. I focused on nurturing and expanding the loving relationships in my life and removed myself from abuse and what it cost me. It was harsh, but for me, it was the answer. My son and I have reconnected. Eventually he made the same choice and for the last 15 years he's been in a very strong marriage. He had his lessons to work through, too, and I'm sorry it came to that. I wasn't a part of it. I had relocated and gotten on with my life. At 90, I look back and know we all did our best with what we had to work with involving perceptions, strengths and weaknesses. You matter. Remember that!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama



Hi Freya...it sounds like you have truly taken ownership of your part of the situation.  I love the support and advise that I have read on this site.  You are all tender and straightforward with honest words of wisdom.
Freya...I am struggling with much the same as you....I am praying daily for wisdom and grace in regard to my DIL.  I also see the need to step back and be quiet..(not silent).   
This is definitely a tough gig -- being a MIL!!!
Take care of you!


Thankyou Rosie, it's great to have the support here.

Having studied a lot of family dynamics and psychology towards my own  healing from family of origin dysfunction, I am (quietly) empathic and intuitive to what is happening with DIL as I see her family style where control rules.  But it's clear she cannot question her own background.   She sees me as competition to her for control of my son.

After 15 years of this  I have done all I can and being tolerant of her problems.  Enough now! 

Like you, I am meditating and looking for peace for myself.


Hi Freya, and welcome!  It sounds like you have your plan in place - good for you!  You may find by stepping back that you will enjoy the peace and lack of drama.  I found that when my DD decided to pull a weeks-long silent treatment on me, that I needed to call her on it.  She denied it and hung up on me, and I actually did enjoy the peace and quiet.  I didn't even wait around for her to get in touch again.  It was freeing.  You have given this relationship your best shot, and now is a great time to focus on yourself.  All the best  :)


Many thanks for the tip.  I am taking all this good advice   :-*


Hi All,
Turns out the DIL has an anxiety disorder/ocd disorder as magnified by the possessiveness, according to advice received from a professional I sought to cope with this problem.  In the possessive disorder the person with a problem seeks to sideline, demonise and ostracise her "competition".  I am advised to stay away, as I would anyway, and keep all interactions short.

And following this dreadful few days, my son rang me to advise he is doing all he can and accepts my humble apologies.   
He finished his call with "I love you ". 
A terrible load for him which he bears for his children's sake.   :'(


hi Freya.  so sorry you are going through this.  glad that your son is seeing some problems and trying to support you. 
i had a very long time with dil problems.  don't know if it was jealousy or just not wanting me around when they had a baby.  it was extremely hurtful and hard.  i get along with everyone.  it was impossible to understand the problem.  i have learned that i wasn't the problem.  just being here and being kind, things have improved over the years.  i always hope to continue on a good path, even though i feel like i'm walking on eggshells.  this forum helps immensely.  being with my family and good friends who listen and support gets me through.  wishing you the best


just to throw this out there.  over the holidays my dil said she really didn't know how to pronounce my husbands name.  we have known her for 16 years!  it is a name that can be pronounced 2 different ways.  but we have know her for 16 years!!!!!!


Thanks for your input gettingoldandcranky.  It sounds very passive-aggressive to not know your husband's name ?    ???

I have a theory that women born in the 60s/70s are struggling with how to live in the world.  Their lives are nothing like their mothers, and perhaps they even reject their mothers/MILs ?  They have more opportunities than we Baby Boomers ever had yet seem confused with it.   Feminism has given them a freedom they have possibly not known how to use when one was brought up by a woman of another time?  They are expected to be nice in one area and then assertive in another ?   This seems to be blurred into a lot of passive aggressive stuff...wanting to be liked but not feeling worthy perhaps?

Lots of questions for me.  But I do know that as mothers we brought our children up for the culture we lived in with them only for them to find they have to negotiate another.  Just as we had to make changes from our Depression era parents - though I suspect it wasn't quite a leap as these 40 somethings had to make.   Or did they miss out on learning any life skills altogether with their own (often dysfunctional) families

What seems missing is a value system that assures them of their identity ? 

What do you Wise Women on here think ?


I was born into an upper middle-class family 1927. The depression hit us in 1933 and the first thing to go was our housekeeper. My parents survived and eventually thrived but they never got over it. My sisters were 11 and 15 and had some understanding that it wasn't us...it was something much larger and poorly defined. At age 6 the contrast of before and after was totally confusing. I was the family darling one day and invisible the next. My identity crisis wasn't noticed and affected me for the rest of my life.   
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama