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Problem Solving => Daughter in Laws and/or Son in Laws => Topic started by: isitme? on November 18, 2009, 10:16:14 AM

Title: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: isitme? on November 18, 2009, 10:16:14 AM
Hi Ladies,

let me just say in advance - sorry for the super long post and thanks to anyone who takes the time to read it!  I have been reading a lot of posts on this site over the last few days.  I know this forum is geared more for mothers and mother-in-laws, but there have been a number of daughter-in-laws on this site who have also contributed to the discussion and received some support here as well, so I hope you don’t mind if one more joins in. I think many people here have made some excellent points about in-laws and family relationships in general that have really helped me so thanks to you all already for the insight and wisdom you have provided me.  Thanks for sharing your stories and helping me to see the other side of the coin…

Basically, I am a rejected potential future daughter in law (RPFDIL?).  I’ve been with my boyfriend for more than a year – we are both in our 30’s (me early, him late) and are starting to talk about getting married. His parents have said negative things about me behind my back from even before they ever met me.  We are from the same ethnic community, from the same home town – I grew up knowing his parents, but our families were never close and I never met their son until we were both adults, and we never figured out the connection until a few months into our relationship!  My boyfriend takes this as a sign that we were meant to be.  Me?  Well, I’m sorry to say if I had know he was from this family before we started dating, I never would have gone out with him in the first place. 

I’ve posted my story and some comments on one of those “MIL hate sites” already, and you ladies are right that there is a lot of hate and anger in those places.  People are very quick to suggest that I simply dump my boyfriend, or avoid my potential in-laws at all cost and win my boyfriend over to “my side”. Though I received a good deal of excellent advice and support from these sites, there’s so much negativity… I feel like I’m dealing with enough of that already!  To be fair, I understand where all this hate comes from though – a lot of these women feel hurt, betrayed, and have been treated very very badly.  I turned to this website because I wanted to try to have a little more compassion and try to see things from another perspective.  After reading some of your posts, I’m somewhat reassured because I don’t think I am that terrible a person (as some of the DIL’s described here), but I’m also recognizing that maybe my boyfriend’s mother does have some kind of borderline personality disorder which is making her act this way.   A lot of the comments I have seen here have really rung true in terms of  how it might not necessarily be just a “mother in law problem” or a “daughter in law problem but rather how our struggles have more to do with power, control and unhealthy personalities/relationships.  I think that’s exactly what’s going on in my case but I just don’t know what to do.

My parents died when I was 18, the rest of my family is in India and I have one twin sister who is also currently working abroad (she’ll be home in January). I’ve worked so hard to finish my education and be independent and to keep my connections with the rest of my family – but I feel so alone right now. Everything has been about his family and how they need to scrutinize me. This family knows who my parents were – they were educated professionals and respected pillars of our community.  In the short time that I was blessed to be with them, I think they did an excellent job of being parents - it’s only because of their parenting that I was able to go on without them.   But my boyfriend’s family seem to think that there’s something wrong with me because they died  One of the first things they said when they found out he was dating me was “you shouldn’t date her because her parents died young, so she’ll probably die young too”. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my parents but I’ve never missed them so much before. No one has ever been so cruel to me but I don’t want to come between anyone and their parents – I believe people should respect their elders. But I don’t think that means I need to give up my own self respect.

Throughout our relationship my boyfriend has asked me to continue to visit his parents and talk to them in order to try and improve the situation. I have done my best to be gracious and good mannered during all of these times but they pretty much show no interest in getting to know me and continue to say really mean things about me behind my back.  Especially his mother – at first it was all these objections to my profession (I’m a college professor so I’m educated but I won’t make a lot of money – she thinks what I do is a waste of time), my height (I’m too short), the fact that I go back to India frequently for both work and family visits (they never go back – my boyfriend hasn’t been to India since he was about 12 and has told me he “wouldn’t recognize his own cousins if they were walking down the street”), I don't want to have children (I have never said that - I want children... but do I really want HER grandchildren?) the list goes on endlessly.  There will always be something wrong with me.

I’ve heard so many different kinds of advice – from “just keep your mouth shut, grin and bear it”, to “don’t have anything to do with these people” to “speak up for yourself and don’t put up with this nonsense”.  I just don’t know what to do anymore.

For six months, my boyfriend's mom tried to break us up so he wouldn't let her talk to me.  Then he put me on the phone with her and she yelled at me for not calling her for 6 months.   Now his dad is pulling the same thing and they are both complaining that they just don’t know me well enough and I’m not making the effort. I have said over and over again, they can have my number and they should feel free to talk to me anytime.  I’m happy to talk to them.  But they're not going to do that - they want me to go to them. I think his parents think it's proper that I reach out to them (to get kicked) but it's really just a question of control. I’m not trying to be rude – I actually think that if you know someone wants to speak to you or “get to know you” it’s polite to provide your phone number and say “I’m happy to talk, feel free to call me anytime”.  Am I wrong about this? 

Our compromise is that when my boyfriend calls them, he will put me on the line.  After an initial refusal, his dad and I have spoken a few times on the phone – it was really just casual conversation about his upcoming surgery (I sent him a card).  Then the other day, I was put on the phone with his mom – she answered my questions and attempts at conversations with one word answers and then kept quiet.  It was obvious that she didn’t’ want to talk to me even though she has told both her sons that she really wants to.  How can you have a conversation with someone who isn’t willing to participate?  Everyone in this family walks on eggshells around his mother – they keep quiet about her tantrums and crying and just give in because it’s easier.  So nothing has ever changed but now I feel like they expect ME to be able to change things?  I don’t know if there is anything I can do.  I don’t feel like anyone has an honest conversation in that family – my boyfriend and his brother hide or keep quiet about anything important in their lives (even to each other it seems), and they NEVER share anything significant with their parents.  I feel very sad about this – my sister and I often argue but we are so close and I tell her everything – same with my closest extended relatives – aunts, uncles, cousins and godmother.  I never hide things from them - I would feel ashamed of myself if I had to.

I could go on with lists of mean things that have been said, insults and slights, and my fears about the future.  I accept that my boyfriend’s family is not going to change and that if I marry him, they will be a part of my life.  However, how can you deal with people like this and not let their negativity affect you?  Should I marry him?  I’m scared to right now for so many reasons.

Once I accepted that his parents were not going to change, or “warm up to me” (believe me, I have tried….), my main fear has been that my boyfriend won’t stand up for me – that was what was happening in the beginning and we’ve talked a lot about it. I understand that this is difficult on him as well – these are his parents and he loves them.  He’s also spent his whole life with them so it’s hard for him to accept that their behavior might not be healthy.   I think their relationship is very unhealthy and sadly, I have to admit I have said that a few times to him when we were discussing our problems.  But I think it’s not my place to do that.  I’ve never wanted to turn anyone against their own family and I have been raised to respect my elders.  Now I notice my boyfriend will occasionally make negative comments about his mother – about how she has always been this way, how she has never supported him, how she poisons relationships etc. etc.   In some ways, this makes me feel better because he is finally seeing my perspective, but at the same time, I feel sad that he has to say negative things about his mother – the woman who gave birth to him, raised him, and loves him probably more than anything else in the world.  It broke my heart when I read on this forum about how the DIL always plants the seeds of hate in the son’s mind and he always listens to her.   It has never been my intention to do this sort of thing -  I don’t want to control anyone.  I don’t want to destroy any family relationships or poison anyone’s mind against their parents.  I would fight tooth and nail for my own family if anyone ever said anything against them.  But at the same time, I DON’T think what’s going on in this family is healthy – I think my boyfriend’s mother is lonely and unhappy, but lacks insight into her own behavior.  I feel sorry for her but at the same time, I don’t want anything to do with such a person.  Am I wrong?  Please, if there’s anything I should do,  I could use some advice.  It’s easy enough to find support on an “MIL hate site”, but if I can find some here – among the MILs – then maybe, just maybe... I’m not so bad after all?
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: luise.volta on November 18, 2009, 11:04:16 AM
Hi, I think there can be a lot of pathology in a family that isn't really acknowledged, faced or dealt with. People often just find a way to survive. Then those dynamics may get thrown out of balance when a new member is added to the mix, late in the game.

This isn't yours to fix. It is long-standing and they all have their own way of dealing with it. At the same time, to sign on for abuse and conflict isn't anyone's dream. All of the unkind remarks that have been made about you would have reduced me to mush. Her judgmental attitude is viscous, to my way of thinking.

My guess is that it doesn't really matter what you do, you have been labeled the enemy. Certainly the phone thing (getting it handed to you)seems to be making matters worse. And you don't call. Well, I sure wouldn't, either.

Is there a possibility that you could go to them and ask to talk about what seems to be the problem? You can't change your height, and your career path is your business. You could ask them if there is something they like about you that they might be able to focus on...like making their son happy, for instance. There is a strong chance, however, that they may never like any woman their son picks out. If so, his happiness isn't high on their list of priorities.

You are probably getting too much advice. You know what your options are and it's really up to you. You have written that if you had know who his family was, you would have kept your distance. And you have also said that they disliked you before they met you. There were hurdles in place before you even got started.

Look around you and you may see that some people with huge hurdles make it and some with very minor issues fail. To me, it looks like the odds are against you...but that's just me. I think marriage is getting to be more and more complex and to start out with such massive issues looks like a very tough way to go.

My take? Your future MIL is the way she is and second guessing her attitudes, behaviors, mental stability or motivation is a lost cause. You either choose a life that is going to have her in it, as is, or you don't. Neither option is trouble-free...you lose the guy or you get to have him and his mom. It's a package deal.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: isitme? on November 18, 2009, 11:26:32 AM
I think you're right and they would never accept any woman - I see how they treat their current daughter-in-law.  We have tried to sit down and talk to his mother about whatever concerns she may have.  We went to their house over labor day and I did my best to be open and friendly.  She denied ever having any problems or saying anything and then went back to ignoring me.  Once we left, the negative comments started again.  Now his father keeps insisting that we keep trying to solve the situation.  I am happy to talk, but I can only go halfway - if no one talks back there is no point.  I'm going to keep thinking about this.  I love my boyfriend and just want him to be happy.  He says "we can't let her win".  I don't think this is about winning or losing.  No one should have to lose anything - change is scary for a lot of people and marriage is a HUGE change for all parties involved - but you don't have to think of it as a zero-sum game do you?
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: AnnieB on November 18, 2009, 01:23:03 PM
Oi!  :o

Yes, I also think this is a family you will not be able to please -- and if you go into marriage thinking you will have to do that, you are going to wear yourself out.   

Do your in-laws to be live close to where you will be living?   What are your feelings about living near them either now or as they grow older? Does your fiancee agree?

My first thoughts are that there needs to be a lot of clarity between you and your future husband, and that your focus needs to be on that relationship.   He would need to be on the same page, so to speak.   Am I wrong in assuming that in the culture you both come from, a "traditional" dil would be somewhat submissive to her mil and the son/husband would not think that unusual? 

It might be difficult for a man who has been very close to his family or his mother (my oldest son was close to me) to emotionally "get" that marriage is going to mean he is going to be breaking away from his mother.  He may need pre-marital support from a counselor to see that, and to realize the ramifications that could have.  If your relationship is strong when it comes to knowing how you both are going to handle all of the verbal digs at you now, as well as years of them in the future, his parents may back down.

(I know my DIL has talked about me not just behind my back, but in front of it since I cannot understand her language -- so in some ways, I have to shrug and acknowledge that I cannot please her and she is going to kvetch in Turkish -- maybe you can also tell people you don't need to hear all the whining).

I guess I would say, if you haven't already, get thee to a marriage counselor to help you build those emotional muscles!  You need not give up your love or ditch the family...   



Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: just2baccepted on November 18, 2009, 02:06:17 PM
I always have to recommend a book called Toxic Inlaws by Susan Forward.  This book helped give me and DH the right tools in dealing with his parents.  They were and are rejecting towards me as well.  But I do have to say that your IL's to be are much more blatant about it than mine.  My MIL is nice to my face but rips me apart behind my back.  I guess because of jealousy?  A matter fact we saw her today.  I had a work  training in a town near where they live so we invited them for lunch.  MIL was nice to my face like she almost always is.  But since she making comments also to my DH about her disapproval of me, he and I have decided to limit contact with them and when we are with them we both limit information about our lives so that won't give them any ammunition.  So that's about all the advice that I have.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: Sassy on November 18, 2009, 05:35:50 PM
Besides the first time you talked to her, when she yelled at you for not calling her for 6 months, has she ever said bad things to you directly? Are most of her complaints, insults, said to your boyfriend and other people?

Because maybe you could ask your boyfriend not to tell you the awful things being said about you.

My DH won't listen to his mother say bad things about me.  He cuts it as soon as it starts.  He explains to her it is painful. He lets her know he feels disrespected when anyone talk that way about me to him.  If he finds out she said things about his wife (me) to other people, he calls her to ask if its true, and tells her how it hurts him.  He asks her to stop.  She usually doesn't stop.  But I'm able to feel ok, because I know the man I love is not a part of such talk in any way.  I think I would probably feel sick if I thought he would listen to people say horrible things and lies about me.

When something mean is being said to you, will your boyfriend get upset with you if you excuse yourself from the conversation?  When someone is worked up or raging, is not a good time to have a conversation with them.  Does your boyfriend ask you to keep listening to her insults and yelling at you?

Since you'll never have an actual relationship with her (she doesn't want one), the best you can hope for is some peace and awkward moments.  Maybe you would have peace, if you didn't have to hear all about the judgment and insults of someone who doesn't know you.  Ignorance can be bliss.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: isitme? on November 19, 2009, 09:08:52 AM
Hi everyone, thanks for the suggestions.  I realized when I read my first post that I sounded really harsh when describing this family.  I think that’s something I should work on but I don’t think that means being a doormat.  I’ve reached a point where I’m not expecting any approval from these parents – I accept that this is how they will be and I’m working on not letting that bother me and just focusing on all the good relationships I have in my life – especially with FH.  He’s a wonderful wonderful person and we are so happy together  BUT, I’m worried about the effect this conflict with his parents will have on him – I don’t want him to feel like he has to choose sides , I don’t want there to be sides! 

The insults have mostly been behind my back but when confronted by anyone, it is usually denied and covered up.  She doesn’t say anything to my boyfriend anymore either because he doesn’t tolerate it - I don’t think he’s as good at standing up to her as Sassy’s husband but he’s trying to get there - it’s going to cause tension though but I think there’s no way to avoid it.  The insults and rude behavior doesn’t bother me as much as they did at first because I’ve come to realize that the problem is not with me – I try to acknowledge how I’ve contributed to any tension but there is only so much I can do.  What is really difficult is the way his mother sulks, cries and throws tantrums – everyone in that family gives in to her because it’s just easier.  I’m not willing to do that and I’m ready for the fact that this ‘failure to comply” will lead to negative repercussions.  But again, my concern now is more with the effect this is going to have on my boyfriend – I don’t want to control or be the one to dictate what his relationship with his parents should be, I think he should make his own decisions.  Even if I don’t want to spend a lot of time with them right now, I don’t want to keep him away – I shouldn’t have to “escort” him everytime he goes home and he shouldn’t need my permission – this is actually what the other DIL in this family does, and it sounds like what some of the other DIL’s being discussed on this forum do as well.

Right now we live a few hours away but he will be moving halfway across the country from them in about 6 months and he wants to get married before that.  So we will be able to keep some distance, but his parents are elderly and don’t have many other people in their lives.  It’s definitely something we both take into account and discuss – and we’ve agree that if we can’t sort thing out we will seek counseling.  I think the idea of a “traditional” mindset here is actually a distortion that is used as an excuse to control.  I’m not trying to sound judgmental, but I come from a family background that is a LOT more traditional than his and this is definitely NOT tradition speaking..  (according to “tradition” – I would actually be a model DIL).  My boyfriend once told me that he thinks his parents are bullying me because they think they can  - because my parents are gone.  But I don’t think it’s because my parents aren’t around, it’s because WE have let them..

I’ve read Susan Forward’s book “toxic inlaws” and also her book on emotional blackmail and found them both EXTREMELY helpful (I always recommend this book too!) I think a lot of the emotional blackmail is going to be directed at my boyfriend and I can that he’s really trying to navigate through this situation while respecting both his parents and my feelings but he is suffering because now his mother is always angry with him.  This makes me really sad and it puts a strain on our relationship - but we’re both working very hard to deal with this in a healthy way because we want this to work and we want to be able to have some kind of relationship with his family – even if we’re not sure what form that is going to take yet….

“Toxic inlaws” is a great book but like many of those “MIL hate sites” – it is very much written for the perspective of the DIL I think.. Like many of the women on this site, I would have loved to have a close family relationship with my inlaws and was willing to put in my time and energy to work on that.  But it just doesn’t seem possible with them.  The easy answer is to just ignore them, but I guess from this forum I was just trying to understand the perspective of the MIL and figure out what the best way to handle this situation would be.  But then again, maybe Louise is right and I’m already getting too much advice and thinking about this too much.  But right now I am getting the package deal and I just want to move forward with some clarity. I think we’re both willing to keep the door open, but I’m not going to stand in it waiting for change..
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: Pen on November 19, 2009, 09:57:33 AM
The lesson here seems to be, and please jump in to correct me if I'm way off the beam here:

Toxicity exists. People who are toxic will cause trouble whether they are MILs or DILs or in any other relationship.

If it's a toxic MIL you limit your exposure and move on. If it's a toxic DIL and you limit your exposure you lose your son and your grandchildren. There's also the issue of transferrence (sp?) when the toxic person sees the non-toxic person as toxic. I haven't read the Forward books, but I've been accused of being toxic by toxic people who have (very controlling & toxic stepmom.) It's really creepy and crazy-making.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: isitme? on November 19, 2009, 11:43:45 AM
I think that's very true and recognizing this toxicity has in some ways been the best thing for me in terms of how to understand this (negative) relationship and how to respond.  Transference is also an issue - another point made in Forward's book is that emotional blackmail can beget emotional blackmail - sometimes that's the only way another person knows how to respond.  I'm sorry you've experienced this toxicity in your life also - I think the lesson to be learned is maybe just not to let it turn YOU into a toxic person or emotional blackmailer.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: Sassy on November 19, 2009, 12:00:51 PM
penstamen:  Knowing what a MIL loses (son and grandchildren) versus what a DIL loses is what keeps that door always open for me.  MIL does not respect me but I still have respect for her.  She is my husband's mother!  Finally learned from the premarital counseling that protecting ourselves from crazymaking is not disrespecting her.  Knowing DH and I have built some protection is what lets me feel OK keeping that door open.   

isitme:  MIL's tantrums are your biggest concern.  How specifically are MIL's tantrums affecting you?  Do you have to listen to the tantrums yourself, or are you told about them by fiance and others?

Have you observed that the way your fiance treats you changes, or see him make life decisions that affect you, because he hopes to avoid a MIL tantrum?  The big Q: Do her tantrums, or the threat of them, control your fiance?

It would probably be healthier for fiance if he didn't listen to his mother's tantrums even if you weren't in the picture.  Like I said before, when someone is out of control of their emotions is never a good time to have a conversation.  Could your fiance excuse himself from when she is yelling at him, and talk to her later when she is calmer.  Could he ask his siblings to not share with him their own exchanges with their mother, as he is familiar with them himself already.  Or to change the subject to something else? That's like a double helping of vicarious distress.  It would probably be healthier for his sibling relationships to focus on stuff other than mother even if you weren't in the picture.

This getting out of the kitchen when its hot, and not gossiping about his mother with his siblings, is something your fiance could do. If he wanted to.  Why do you think he still participates. Anticipated guilt that his avoiding crazymaking equals disrespecting her could be.  Maybe he gets a sense of power to think his siblings are coming to him for help, makes him feel important?  Maybe the drama action is a way he feels emotionally connected to his family, so without the drama he'd feel he had no family emotion.  What other rewards might fiance get, or thinks he gets, from playing a role in the drama game.

My MIL has tantrums, too.  Right now her sister and her mother are the only audience she has for them.   My DH has told his Aunt and Grandmother that he will talk to them about anything but his mother's complaints with them.  He's told them he can talk to his mother himself, how he doesn't have to go through them to reach her and vica verca.  So unless its a warning or a medical emergency, his mother's tantrums and accusations are not an open topic.  DH does not discuss her problems with him with anyone else, not anymore.  The biggest change for him is he doesn't have to defend himself to them anymore, by revealing how MIL treats him.  He's told me he was suprised to discover that he feels like he is a more respectful son because of that decision. 

Neither Aunt nor Grandmother came to the wedding, but we respect their decision.  He still sees them both a lot.

Talking about each of MIL's tantrums wasn't helping anyone.  Not MIL, not Aunt, not Grandmother and certainly not DH.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: isitme? on November 19, 2009, 12:39:16 PM
I think it's guilt that makes FH listen to his mom and give in to her.  He's recently told me that he's used to standing up for her on the big things - school, career choices, me - but letting her control the little things because it was so hard to watch her cry when she had these tantrums.  He may stand up for the big things but that doens't mean he doesn't get ALOT of grief over it everytime he goes home or is on the phone.  I have fortunately been able to avoid a lot of MIL's tantrums and just hear about them indirectly.  Maybe it would help if I asked not to be told about these things - the problem is that for a long time I was seen as the CAUSE  of these tantrums and asked to change my behavior in order to fall in line...  Now that FH is starting to acknowledge these problems, I'm no longer asked to do that by him but his father (the one who has to live with all the crying day in and day out) still insists we "fix" the problem or find some kind of "solution".  I don't get the sense that FH is a willing participant in any of this - he hates drama just as much as I do.  But it's taken a while for him to realize how this behavior for what it is.  What I hate is that this involves a "me vs. your mother" scenario..

Tantrums don't help anyone - they just drive the people you are trying to control further away from you and build up huge reserves of resentment.  We don't tolerate tantrums in my family and I"m not about to start now!
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: Sassy on November 19, 2009, 02:38:04 PM
I don't think this involves a you versus MIL scenario. 

This is man versus his parents scenario. 

I believe the less you hear about MIL's insults and tantrums, you will discover that this is a long story that you happened to walked in on.  It's not your story.  It's about a man realizing how his parents are controlling what he does even though he's not a child anymore.

It sounds like both parents give your fiance a very, very hard time.  Your fiance cannot fix his father's wife for him.  It would be a wonderful power to have, though! (That and making nonfat yogurt taste like ice cream would be two great powers.)

So sometimes fiance doesn't hear the tantrums first hand, his father just tells fiance to stop them for him. 

Probably the most constructive response your fiance can offer when FIL comes to him because he thinks MIL is broken, is for fiance to suggest FIL take his mother to a doctor to help alleviate her suffering.  Concern for her health is valid.  If fiance is concerned, he should try to get his mother actual help (or help his father get her help, if father is the one approaching fiance).  Doing things he doesn't want to do because FIL says that will make MIL stop crying is just a game.   Little children play that exact same game when they want candy. 

And we all know what happens when a parent gives in a few times.  The child learns that if they want candy all they have to do is kick and scream and make a scene and the tired, exhausted spent parents will eventually do what the child wants just to hush her.

How much fiance is willing to continue to play games and partake in the drama, is exactly what will determine how much MIL's problems affect you and your relationship.   Imagine if fiance stops telling you hurtful comments being said about you (or better stops listening to them).  Imagine if fiance stops playing I'll-give-MIL-candy games (because if the tantrums are to be taken seriously, then he should offer serious help by professionals).  FIL would learn that fiance is not a candy source.  If FIL wants to continue candy games, he will eventually leanr to find candy elsewhere. 

Imagine if fiance did not share how MIL uses the idea of you as a "tool" to control him.   It's as if, because he is with you by his choice, the price he pays is he now owes her something else by hers.  Its past that MIL would act the same no matter who you were.  It's my belief MIL would act the same towards your fiance if he was an enuch.  She'd just use trade out that tool for another one (his chosen work, his chosen location, his travel, his studies) as her collateral.  The tool's only value is if it's something he wanted for himself, not something she picked for him. 

She knows her tantrums control him; the subjects of the tantrum itself are theoretically arbitrary. (Like with the child; it could be candy, or not getting the red crayon, or bedtime. whatever the child cannot control will trigger the tantrum). If you agree, then you can see just how much this is not a you versus MIL scenario.

I know you care about your fiance and hate to see him suffer.  But he is not suffering because of what you're doing. He's suffering because there are other people in his life who treat him poorly.  It's painful for us to see our men in pain.  You are not a threat to his family - ironically, you are its hope!

I think you could be a much better to support to your fiance, if he did not bring you into the eye of the storm.  (I wasn't able to effectively get us help for my DH to face his mother guilt-drama-fears for what they are until I removed myself from the situation.)  I think your fiance would continue to learn how to recognize the pattern-traps so he can avoid stepping in them, and instead have a healthyish relationship with his parents.  By healthyish, I mean one that doesn't cause him ongoing pain and guilt and shame.  And he would feel like a better man.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: isitme? on November 20, 2009, 06:32:42 AM
wow sassy - that's great insight..  I think you are exactly right!  I'm doing my best to be supportive while FH wakes up and starts learning how to deal with this.  I guess I was always scared that MIL would succeed in turning him against me but that's not happening, and I didn't like that I was going to be made the scapegoat for all this negativity so I was very defensive.  We are going to visit them for one day over thanksgiving and then to see my godmother/family for one day - we've agreed on this plan but then when I added that I wanted him to be honest with his mother about the fact that he would also be going to visit my family he was initially hesitant (knowing mommy would probably throw one of her tantrums), but then agreed...  we'll see how it goes!  I never really understood why so many people get so upset around the holidays but now maybe I do - toxicity in the family..  Whether it's MILs or DILs, I"m beginning to feel a lot of sympathy for anyone who has to bring this into their life.  >:(
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: isitme? on November 20, 2009, 07:29:47 AM
That does sound very hard and I'm sorry that's what your DIL is like.  I think that's what some DIL's are told - that they need to establish their OWN family traditions and if the grandparents don't go along then too bad they can stay home because "they've had their turn".  That really is too bad - holidays should be about sharing and in a healthy family, there should be room for compromise and the sharing of traditions.  I can see how certain situations are harder on the MIL - it's one thing for us DILs to just "disengage" and not have anything to do with people you don't really care about.  It's much much different I"m sure, if "disengaging" from a toxic person also means you have to stay away from those you love, like your own children and grandchildren.. I hope you are able to enjoy the holidays with your grandchildren - even if you have to do it your DILs way..
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: Pen on November 20, 2009, 07:49:52 AM
Why can't people compromise? I remember as a child loving Christmas at home, but sometimes we went to Grandma's and that was fine, too. We learned that Santa would come even if we were out of state and the tree was aluminum, with a revolving color light wheel, instead of fresh :)
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: isitme? on November 20, 2009, 08:32:27 AM
I think some people have a "my way or the highway" attitude and some people don't understand that "compromise" means that everybody might have to make a sacrifice - not just one person.  What's wrong with USING the word "compromise"?  When we get attacked this Thanksgiving for not doing EVERYTHING the way FMIL wants, I'm just going to say "I'm sorry that's how you feel but we thought this would be a good compromise."  I"m giving something up by agreeing to spend ANY time with people who make us unhappy, and FH is compromising by limiting the amount of time we spend with his parents and being open about the fact that he should also be spending some time with my family.  This is the compromise we've reached and this is what we will present to his mother if/when she gives us trouble.  I don't know why it's so difficult - we all need to learn to be more flexible and accept change!
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: isitme? on November 20, 2009, 01:36:41 PM
Thanks Anna - I wish my FMIL could be more like you!  I think so many of us are struggling to deal with unhealthy family relationships - it's taken me more than a year to see that about my boyfriend's family and realize it's not me, it's them!  Now we just need to figure out how to handle the situation with some respect and understanding (I think some courage is definitely in order as well...).  DON'T let your DIL make you feel like you're good for nothing!  You have so much to share with your friends and family - not to mention the fact that you have helped at least one unhappy FDIL feel a little bit better  :-*
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: mom2 on November 20, 2009, 08:29:11 PM
it's one thing for us DILs to just "disengage" and not have anything to do with people you don't really care about.  It's much much different I"m sure, if "disengaging" from a toxic person also means you have to stay away from those you love, like your own children and grandchildren..           
                                                          Isitme,

You said so much here..very nicely written and thought through.
It is so hard for us moms because we do have to give our sons and grandchildren up in this process. A man will naturally keep peace with his wife and avoid confusion in his home.

What's so sad is when hearts start to harden because of all this. I am to the point ( after 10 yrs + ) that I don't want to argue anymore, hurt anymore, cry anymore or even try to figure it out anymore. There was just no reason for it.

I have lost trust and now it's hard for me to be close to anyone.. fear, fear, fear of being hurt again.

I do hope things get better for you, you sound like a good person.

Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: 2chickiebaby on November 20, 2009, 08:40:59 PM
I understand, Mom  Here's hoping good things for all of us  :)
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: just2baccepted on November 20, 2009, 10:51:23 PM
A man will naturally keep peace with his wife and avoid confusion in his home.

I think you are exactly right on this.  And I have to admit that this has always been in the forefront of my mind.  When DH and I first got married he wanted his parents to see him in a certain light.  Now that he's 40 he's not so worried about that anymore.  He's established and our relationship has grown and solidified since we have been married now for 12 years.

As I became privy to his mom's dislike of me I knew that it would be no competition at all.  I knew that we had a good solid relationship and are happy and I knew that he would never give that up to please his mom and dad.  Because I provide something that his mother could never provide and he knows that.  Now if I had found out about her attempts at damaging our marriage early in the marriage then I would have felt much more worried and concerned.  Being on this board has really helped me work out my freaked out feelings as well.  I no longer think about it constantly because I've realized that he's not going to leave me or disapprove of me just because his mom does.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: luise.volta on November 21, 2009, 06:22:52 AM
It is rewarding to read of healing taking place at times on our site. It feels like love and understanding are often present here and being shared back and forth. We have surrogate MILs and DILs present. Often nothing can be changed in our existing situations...but our hearts can be filled. I'm giving thanks, as Thanksgiving approaches...for all of you. What a beautiful extended family! 
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: just2baccepted on November 21, 2009, 09:27:32 AM
Luise that's very sweet.  And I'm glad that you're posting again.

Your site is very helpful and I glad you created it!
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: mom2 on November 21, 2009, 09:13:15 PM
I provide something that his mother could never provide and he knows that.  Now if I had found out about her attempts at damaging our marriage early in the marriage then I would have felt much more worried and concerned
                                                                                  J2B,
Yes, all you said is true and I believe the same way but I would also think that after that length of time the dil should be able to accept the mother in her husbands life ( especially if she feels like she is on safe ground ). I know the wife can provide things a mother can't but on the other side of the coin, only a mother can fill a mothers place in his heart ( a wife can't do that ).

Just like your husband no longer expects his parents to see him in a certain light, parents are the same way; we don't have any desire to have a 30 yr. old son sleeping our couch and being dependent on us for his every need.

I know there are in laws who do try to break up marriages but I was never that kind of mom.



Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: just2baccepted on November 22, 2009, 09:00:20 PM
Yes, all you said is true and I believe the same way but I would also think that after that length of time the dil should be able to accept the mother in her husbands life

And I did accept her from the very beginning.  I was only 22 when we married and was naive to much of this stuff.  I had no idea how she felt and my mom accepted our marriage and my DH just fine.  There things throughout the marriage that made me raise an eyebrow, but I thought they were just exclusive people that had a hard time allowing others into their circle.  I thought they accepted me but in fact I believe they were only tolerating me so they could continue seeing their son and potential grandchildren.  I later found out they criticizing me for stupid things.  My job, how many shoes I have, how much we eat out, how much we vacation, that we play tennis in the heat, that we moved  to my hometown, I haven't put flannel sheets on the bed yet etc....  you would probably have to read my initial story because I've explained in detail about this, which was before you were on here though.  She slams me for small things.  I think because she very much wants to damage me in the eyes of my DH.  That's just my opinion.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: lilyofthevalley on November 22, 2009, 10:43:45 PM
The comment about compromise made me think of something I learned back at one of the management and negotiation workshops I have to attend for my job.  People are willing to sacrifice small things for a bigger goal.  This is a compromise, and while it doesn't create a true "win/win" for people, it creates a positive outcome.  But to be able to get the other side to compromise, you have to make them believe in the bigger goal.  So to apply this to the MIL/DIL relationship, if the DIL doesn't want a relationship, or to see us on the holidays, or whatever the "larger goal" would be, then she's not going to compromise the smaller things (letting things slide with the mother-in-law, willingness to host the holiday a different way or at a different place, etc).  We, on the other hand, are willing to compromise because we have a larger goal that we want....to see our child and grandchildren.  While I usually think those seminars are full of junk, that one has actually helped me out in life. 

One thing that I think helps me is the ability to go with the flow and the lack of expectations.  I don't expect my son and DIL to come to every holiday on the day (or my other kids for that matter).  I don't expect them to include me in their new life together.  I don't expect them to entertain me.  And interestingly, because I'm not expecting it, I'm not disappointed if it doesn't happen and often they're wanting me to be included in those ways because they don't feel like they have to, they feel like they're doing something nice for me.  And they are.  I appreciate the time and energy they give to me and do what I can to give that same positive energy back to them.  Which makes them want to be around me, which makes them want to compromise a bit.  I don't know if these ramblings make sense, but I just thought it might help some folks who get worked up because things aren't going a particular way to think about relaxing and just letting life happen for a while. 
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: luise.volta on November 23, 2009, 06:25:48 AM
LoV - thanks. I found that useful. What you describe is one of the reasons my DH and I moved to a Senior Community. We have total support here, a full life and an incredible extended family. As a result our adult children don't feel the weight of obligation and do what they do from the heart. The only expectation we have had is that (until this year) a "sort of" daughter and her hubby always came for all of the holidays and we ate wonderful, traditional spreads in our campus restaurant. This year, they are in the process of divorce and opted out but another "single, sort of daughter" is coming. We feel so lucky.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: 2chickiebaby on November 23, 2009, 07:55:58 AM
Some of you seem so strong..I wish I was strong.  Because the DIL wants to come to town and stay with 'close' DIL and she doesn't want them to, close DIL will try to hurt me in some way by saying something like: "they are staying with XGX, her friend".  She wants to blame me for them being inconvenienced.

This is a nightmare that I'm dealing with.  I have no idea how to get out of it.  It seems much crazier than the rest of your situations.  One of the DILs uses me when she needs something and the other one just ignores me.

I talked to my friend who is 86...much, much older than I and a lot wiser.  I told her how I don't feel like I belong anywhere. I've never seen anyone so shocked.  She couldn't then, or now believe it.  I seem on the outside like I have it together but I don't.  I am at their mercy all the time.  I have tried to prepare for every scenario so it won't hurt so bad.  No family!

How do I get out from under this?

Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: Pen on November 23, 2009, 08:10:45 AM
  I know how you feel, Chickie. Some situations are more complicated than others. No matter which way you turn, the craziness blindsides you. You know I'm thinking of you and all those here who have heartbreaking situations to deal with. Keep listening to your wise therapist since she seems to have the most loving, reasonable take on your problem. For now, treat yourself with kindness.
   LoV, thanks for the take on compromise. It applies most definitely in our case - DIL had a reason to compromise before she got what she wanted - DS, help with expenses, transportation, help with a legal matter, help with moving. She has all that now, so we're not needed. All the compromising I can do isn't going to work. (It makes me laugh to think that we're seen as such disgusting people it's a compromise for her to be around us.)
  Expectations are hard for me to avoid, though I do try. We were part of lively, loving, family gatherings so I unconsciously expect that tradition to carry on. Advertisements and glossy magazine holiday spreads don't help, either. In our case my DS is on board, but DIL only wants to gather with her family and not ours. Traveling to one of our extended family gatherings is out because of DDD's living situation. Inviting friends to join us is out because if DIL does decide to show up, she hates our friends.
   When I first married I loved to entertain inlaws/family, even though we were struggling students/new parents living in funky digs, so I was a little puzzled when it came clear we were never going to be invited to DS/DIL's (unless of course it's the hottest day of the year and they need us to help them move.) I don't expect it now (d-uh!), but it still hurts.
  Even if expectations are reasonable, they're still expectations and since we can't control how others behave, we may (will) be disappointed. Story of my life from stepmom on. Got the bumps on my forehead (from banging on wall) to prove it.


Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: mom2 on November 23, 2009, 08:53:52 PM
J2B,

 I don't get around on this forum all that well  yet so I am sure there are a lot of original posts I have missed ( wish there was a section listed ' original posts '  just for the rest of us who take awhile to find things.  (  It does sound like your mil simply tries to pick at you for stupid things ! you have to feel sorry for someone like her because she will never be happy.

When I said that by now a dil should be able to accept her husbands mother, I really was referring to mine who has been married now for over 10 yrs. ( I wouldn't expect you or my dil  for that matter, to accept anyone that is abusive to them. That's why I am not around son and dil very often ( my choice)  because I shouldn't have to be treated that way either. I really didn't mean to sound as if I was questioning your situation and hope you didn't think that.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: 2chickiebaby on November 24, 2009, 04:17:54 AM
I don't want J2b to feel badly towards me either. The very fact that she is on here, makes me know that she has done everything she can.....you are a good person. J2b...
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: just2baccepted on November 24, 2009, 10:22:18 AM
Mom2, I have such a hard time figuring how to word things b/c my fear is that they'll come off wrong or bad.  I think its hard b/c we can only read and can't see the person's face or hear the tone of their voice.  But I meant nothing by my comment about my original post I promise.  I was just trying to state that I had written it out before if you ever wanted to read it, which by all means don't feel like you have to.  That wasn't my intention at all.

But yes I don't want you to feel like I was being snarky b/c your comments don't even deserve for me to be snarky.  And no I didn't think you were questioning my situation.  There's nothing bad on this end I promise!
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: mom2 on November 24, 2009, 08:02:51 PM
J2B,

Good.. I am happy that you are happy :)

I know what you mean about being careful with how things are worded  ( me too ! ).. the last thing I would want to do is hurt someone in my forum family ( we have all had enough of that from the people we love  ). I am one of those people who if I think I have hurt you, I fall all over myself trying to make sure you know I'm sorry.

I didn't invite DS/ Dil to Thanksgiving; not because I didn't want them but because it always ends in misery. DS called today and invited himself ( and of course DIL too ) and that's okay. At least they cared enough to want to come huh ? I do hope it goes well and who knows ? I may be the one with a successful story !! You have a happy Turkey day 
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: 2chickiebaby on November 24, 2009, 08:08:56 PM
Oh Mom!! they are coming?  I know what you mean about it turning into a crazy house.  At least we're getting together, huh?

I wonder if all families are crazy houses?  I wouldn't be surprised..it comes out this time of year, doesn't it? 

I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving...let's meet up again at "our place" and tell our stories.....may they be wonderful ones. 
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: mom2 on November 24, 2009, 08:22:50 PM
Chickie,
I sure hope it turns out good for all of us..
I was feeling pretty calm.. planned on a quiet little afternoon meal for hubby and I  with no stress ( except missing our children / grandson ). Son just called and asked what our plans are and I told him.. he said " well, we will be there " so what could I say ? I have had a headache since... stress is coming on !! I guess I will just try to love them and we will all meet here ( like you said ) the day after.. if we survive LOL.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: 2chickiebaby on November 24, 2009, 08:30:29 PM
Nothing should ever surprise us with them anymore but it does.  I make a huge stress event out of all of it.  I can't stop myself. It's crazy and I know it.

I wish son would come back to life as a human being but he's far into it that I know there's no coming back.

Wishing you the best.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: isitme? on November 25, 2009, 06:48:48 AM
I hope everyone here has a happy thanksgiving and is able to enjoy whatever time they can with their loved ones and even their not-so-loved ones.  I am going to do my best to be loving and respectful when visiting my FMIL but am not going to tolerate any tantrums.  I know she is disappointed that we are only going to be there for one day and she will be mad that I am not staying overnight at their house but staying for only one day is her son's choice, not mine.  Me staying in a hotel and not at their house is my family's preference given her treatment of me.  Her behavior has it's consequences but that doesn't mean I have to rub her nose in it or limit the time her son spends with her - but I hope she is able to enjoy the time we are there.  I don't expect that but maybe that's being pessimistic.

For the MIL's who are feeling stressed about having their DIL's visit or not visit over Thanksgiving - please don't feel stressed!  If your are not happy with having your DIL in your home, she may be able to pick up on your feelings and the cycle of unhappiness will continue.  I know it may seem hurtful if they don't stay with you - but take that as a chance to let go of some of the stress and just try to enjoy the time you do spend together.  I know I don't have as much experience as many of you on this forum, but I feel like I've learned a lot just in these past few months as I try to resolve some of my own in-law issues.  I think everyone here is trying very hard to find some kind of a happy compromise and we should take some comfort in that.  So I hope we all just try to make the best of what we have - maybe for some it will be easier than others - but life is short and we should appreciate whatever time we have with our loved ones - even if it means putting up with some unpleasantness for their sake (and our sanity). 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: 2chickiebaby on November 25, 2009, 08:30:22 AM
I wish you every happiness too, Isitme....many blessings
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: mom2 on November 25, 2009, 07:54:22 PM
Isitme,

Good luck on Thanksgiving. What you said about life being short is so very true and we just never know so I will  try ( like you ) to make the best of it.

I know that I am probably the only one who feels this way but if I thought for one minute that my dil was staying at my house.. I would lose it !  I am the mil who would want her to get a hotel and stay one night ( shoot, I'd pay for it ).   I know that sounds bad but so much has happened that I just can't help it ; there was a time when I would have been hurt if she had not wanted to stay at my house but not anymore ( and she knows it ). I would not treat her badly but I can't go out of my way to please either ( been there, done that and it didn't work ). I just hope we all survive this.
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: 2chickiebaby on November 25, 2009, 09:05:20 PM
I didn't want her to stay here either, Mom....not really.  It is just a surprise that my own son is 2 minutes from our house in a hotel.  I know that sounds about as weird as can be but when you know where it's coming from, you understand.  They've been with her Mother for almost a week.  It's not possible to stay here for her and that's what hurts, not that I want them.

I think distant DIL has done all the damage maybe she intends to dish out to me.  It seems like she's softening just a bit...maybe?  It's like she's done.  If she couldn't see that I'd been crying yesterday, she was not looking.   I guess we've been in a boxing match and she's easing up because she knows she won. 

I sure have been afraid of her. As I look at her, now that she's done, I see that there really isn't all that much to be afraid of.  She wants to be right, she wants total control and to do that, she had to get us under control.  We are; she can see that.   

I think tomorrow might turn out to be an okay day.  If you don't have a daughter, you are just out of luck and have to have leftovers!

Whatever they say or do tomorrow, I'll just take.  I will not be afraid.  I will not. 
Title: Re: Help for a confused potential future daughter in law? (CPFDIL?)
Post by: mom2 on November 26, 2009, 03:55:00 PM
Chickie,
That is so sad to think about being 2 minutes from your mothers home and feel the need to stay in a hotel. I will never know what is going on in their heads.

Every time, in the past, that I thought my dil had softened, she fooled me and came back full steam ahead !! I just wonder how they could think that things are suddenly ok when they decide they want to be friends/  family .

Good luck chickie.. I do hope she has softened up and acts like she has a heart.