February 27, 2021, 02:06:44 pm


"Welcome to WiseWomenUnite.com -- When adult children marry and leave home, life can sometimes get more complex instead of simpler.  Being a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law can be tough.  How do we extend love and support to our mothers-in-law, adult children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren without interfering?  What do we do when there are communication problems?  How can we ask for help when we need it without being a burden?  And how do our family members feel about these issues?  We invite you to join our free forum, read some posts... and when you're ready...share your challenges and wisdom."

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Messages - confusedbyinlaws

Thank you Luise   There is one thing my inlaws and I have in common  We both love my husband and think he's the greatest....and our children too
Wilsonmary,  I am so sorry about your daughter
Luisa,  My husband is angry with his parents because of the way they have treated me, but he they are still his parents and he still loves them.  I feel supported by him, when we are alone, but he rarely confronts his parents.  He is wise enough to know it does no good.  His brother is a Psychologist, and advised us in recent years that they have some kind of disorder that prevents them from acknowledging fault.  I have a problem with forgiving when the offender won't admit to wrong-doing. When I've tried to be honest and talk about how I am feeling they become indignant and throw it back at me.  They are his parents and he will forgive them.  I tried again for him, but now I"m stepping out for him.  IF I am out of the picture they won't be fighting over me  so he will visit them without me.  I even suggested that he tell them not to talk about me, so he doesn't feel the need to defend me and start an argument.  My husband argued with his parents after this last incident and it's hurting their relationship.  Also I think it's been hard for him to face the fact that his parents have this disorder and behave this way.
I feel like we are as much on the same page as we can be.   He loves me, he loves his parents.  I love him, but honestly I have no love for his parents. I care for them in that they are his parents and grandparents of my children, but they have never been my friends. 
Their feelings of superiority extent to their son because he is a reflection of them, so no one was ever going to be good enough.  And for me with my feelings of inferiority, I like you, do better with people who support me. I think everyone does.  Since my self-esteem has improved and I have been more assertive, all of my other relationships have improved. 
In spite of my feelings, when my kids lived at home, I never excluded my inlaws from holidays and kept the peace for my family.  It was after my kids were grown that I tried talking to them about my feelings and things went south. 
My relationship with my inlaws has always been difficult  They have been critical and controlling in the past  In the beginning all I wanted was their approval and therefore did all the things they wanted me to do and never confronted them when the insulted me or were too intrusive. I wasn't true to myself but we got along at first  I was very much a people pleaser   As my self worth began to improve so did my behavior   I began to object to their criticism of me and controlling behavior  It seemed that my words always fell upon deaf ears or they reacted angrily  This led to a big argument  After things calmed down we had a therapy session in which I apologized for losing my temper with MIL but she did not reciprocate  I learned from my husband's brother after the fact, that there is something clinically wrong  with their parents, where they are unable to acknowledge wrong doing and that they were a fragile facade of superiority.
They moved away shortly after and I chose not to accompany my husband to visit them but instead donated my airline tickets to our grown kids so they could visit. Still my inlaws complained that I didn't visit
They eventually came back here for visits and stayed with our grown daughter and I joined in some of the family activities  This went well for a couple of visits.
Their last visit however did not go so well.  We recently moved to a different house and they wanted to come and see it.  I agreed to let them stay with us for the first 2 days because my daughter was unable to accomodate them the first couple of days 
As my husband and I showed them our house we told them about things we planned to change   For instance "We plan to extend this patio"  MIL responds "this patio is plenty big "  Similar response to each thing we planned to do.  I wish I could say I was a confident enough person to just let these little comments roll off my shoulders but I am not.  Even into the next day they were saying things like "everythings already perfect "  MIL then went on the next day to say she liked my flooring much better than wood floors (I already told her I planned to get wood floors"  I reacted and said "We may do some things you don't approve of or don't think are necessary" 
Then she went off about how she would never tell me what to do.  I never said she was telling me what to do.  (wasn't she expressing that she didn't think any of what we were doing was necessary?)  She wouldn't leave it alone and I lost my temper and so did she.  I left and when I came back my husband was about to take them to the airport.  I stopped them and said I thought we could talk more calmly in the morning. 
One thing my MIL said that was true was that I have a low self esteem and I am too easily offended  That is my part of the problem in the relationship. 
The next morning I apologized for losing my temper and admitted that due to my self-esteem struggles I was more sensitive than other people   I admitted that I am particularly sensitive to her and that in the past she actually talked me out of doing things I wanted to do with my house, hair, clothes etc.  Then she said in a condescending voice, almost baby talk " I really want you to have a better self esteem. 
I went on to say that when she repeats an opinion contrary to mine over and over again it comes across as you trying to talk me into your opinion.  Her response to that?  "ok  I'm not to give opinions. "
She did not admit that anything she did was wrong and let me take the entire blame.
I did not respond because I just wanted to get through the weekend without another argument, but after this weekend I am done!
I don't think my reaction to her responses after I was vulnerable with her, is just me being sensitive.  She has been unkind
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
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.
The women here have given you some excellent advice.  I agree that it's best to start with how you feel.  If the behavior persists, remind her again how it makes you feel.  If she cares about you she won't want to do things that you feel bad about.  I agree that it would be best if your husband could talk to her and enforce boundaries.  It doesn't need to be a confrontation.  A simple and firm no, but in a loving way could be enough.  I feel like your husband needs to understand your boundaries and at least back them up.  If the problems persist even after expressing your feelings and saying no, perhaps it would help to seek counseling. 
Please just don't let things go and avoid addressing the problems, because you don't want to be unkind.  It isn't unkind to decide not to do what someone else wants or expects of you.  You can be assertive without being unkind.  It's when a person holds things in and doesn't express their feelings and allow the feelings to fester, that a person becomes unkind. 
My relationship with my inlaws was never great, but over the years our relationship deteriorated to the point where I could hardly stand to be in the same room with them.  My husband was much like yours and didn't want to address the issues with his parents.  So I endured a similar situation for almost 3 decades.   Eventually I pushed back and hurt my MIL and I will never feel good about that. And now after all these years I just have no desire to spend time with them because my memories of spending time with them are mostly bad.   From your post, it seems like you wouldn't like things to end this way either.  I'm afraid if you let things slide, you will be too angry to address things in a loving and kind way. 
I wish that I would have sought out help decades ago.   It could have prevented a lot of heartache for myself and my MIL.  I also with I wouldn't have taken so much of what my inlaws did and said personally.  Their behavior was a reflection of them, not something lacking in me.  I finally talked to a counselor about my problems with my inlaws but only after I tried to address the issues with them and things did not go well.  My approach was not a good one and my husband was no help at all. 
Do you see how not addressing things can be unkind?  Please don't be like me :(
I agree that it's hurtful to be left out and the OP also feels left out because she hasn't gotten to see the baby but 7 times in 5 months and has to wait for an invitation.  And it's hard to guess the reasons for that.   They may have called her mom first as she was going to be in the delivery room and things may have happened fast and no one thought to call OP until afterward.  Or it might have just been thoughtlessness or intentional.  Who knows the reason?  Also who knows the reason OP has to wait for an invitation.  DIL may feel overwhelmed as a new mother and just doesn't want company too often... or other reasons.  We can't make assumptions.  It sounds like OP wants more time with her grandbaby, and I don't blame her.  I am realizing how lucky I am that that has not been taken away from me. It's not right.
For me my problems were more with my inlaws than they have been with my DIL.   But feeling hurt and bitter about things my inlaws said and did, hindered my ability to assert myself to work things out with them.  In fact they probably sensed my feelings and that in turn caused them to have bad feelings toward me that probably caused some of their bad behavior.  It becomes a cyclic thing, even when people aren't terrible people, the bad feelings can go back and forth and escalate.  That's how it has been for me with my inlaws.  It does take two to Tango. 
So I try to follow my therapist's advice and consider what I want to accomplish.  If I want to have a relationship with my grandchildren, I need to try to have a good relationship with my DIL.  It is unfair, because she holds the key to your grandchildren, but that is the way it is. It's not right for any DIL to keep her children away from their grandparents unless they are abusive or mean to the kids.    My inlaws were basically good to my children and my children enjoyed being with them, so I never would have kept them from them.   But I could have taken better care of my needs rather than allowing my inlaws to do whatever they wanted in my home and I should have defended myself when they were critical. 
If OP's DIL is an introvert, she might not be speaking up about what she needs.  I wonder if it would help to open a conversation with her and ask if there is anything you can do to help, like babysitting so she can run to the store or whatever.  I know I would have loved that as a young mother.  Let her know you don't want to interfere but you would love to see the baby more.  Ask her if there is anything bothering her about you if you are willing to hear it. 
I agree with you Stilllearning.  It's about what the mother needs during that time.  I feel like my inlaws interfered with my bonding process, and I wish I had realized that I had every right to decide how my early days with my newborn were spent and told them they could come visit later. 
Also a question my therapist used to ask me was "what is it you are trying to accomplish."  So as a MIL, what I want is to have a decent relationship with son, DIL and grandkids.  I know that some of the MILs here have very unreasonable DIL and that is truly a sad situation because they are the ones who determine who gets to be involved in the grandkids lives.  For me, in order to have a decent relationship with my DIL, is to respect her boundaries, offer to help with kids and try not to be too intrusive.  So far that is working in our relationship. For others, it might be not allowing hurt feelings to cause bitterness toward DIL, because that won't help the relationship.  People often pick up on the feelings of others, even when they are not said out loud. 
Luise,  I am actually more like how you describe you than your friend.  I do take things personally, and did take things my MIL and FIL said and did personally and that only caused me more pain.  So I am working on not taking things so personally because it does help things not hurt so much, especially things that aren't deliberately meant to hurt me. 
I am sorry if I offended anyone by saying that.  It wasn't my intention.  I am a mother of a son and MIL too.  I chose not to take it personally when my DIL wanted her mother there and not me because I understood.  I felt the same way and wished I had said something.  I do understand that many DILs have not been fair.   I am sorry if I haven't been more understanding.  I am trying.
I do understand that it hurts.  I didn't mean to give the impression that I didn't understand that.  I was just trying to suggest that it might not hurt as much if you don't take it personally.  It's my opinion that childbirth is mostly about the mother and what she needs.  It is about her.  But it's not fair to cut the MIL out of the children's lives just because you don't like her or don't feel comfortable, unless of course there is a concern for the child's wellbeing. It doesn't sound like any of the MILs here have been cut out because of concern of the child's wellbeing and I understand that is not fair. 
I felt more comfortable with my own mother than my MIL and I think that's natural.  I wanted my own mother's help after my child was born, but she was not able to come due to her mother being very ill at the time.  My inlaws started driving the 7 hour drive to our house the minute they found out I was in labor.  My husband had said it was ok, and they were so excited that I didn't want to deny them.  This was their first grandchild.  I did not have a minute alone with my baby for the first 3 days of his life and I resented it.  I should have spoken up and I didn't. 
My family and my husband's family are very different.  I am an introvert and it takes me awhile to feel comfortable with people, but I usually get there with time.  I never got to a point where I was comfortable with my inlaws, but included them anyway.  I'm not saying they are the sole reason the relationship has always been uncomfortable, as I know my own issues have played a big part in the problem.
I'm not sure, what I am trying to tell you exactly other than, sometimes families are very different.  Daughters usually stay closer to their mothers and sons typically don't stay as close.  Unfortunately this doesn't seem fair to mothers of sons, but it's not personal.  I got to spend more time with my daughter and her children after they were born.  There is a comfort and ease in our relationship, more honesty, more love, etc. than in my relationship with my DIL, but I think that's natural.  My DIL is naturally closer to her own mother.   It doesn't mean I can't have a good relationship with her and I'm willing to take what is offered and respect their space.  I think the more one tries to push the worse things could be, so I think you are wise not to do that.  I have been lucky that our DIL is receptive to letting me spend time with their kids, though, and I have them both once a week for the day.  It saves them a day of daycare costs so it is a win-win.  She and my son spend some time with us when they have time.  I do feel bad for the MILs here who have been denied a relationship with their grandkids.  That is certainly hurtful and unfair.
By the way your DIL does sound like a good person.  I hope with time she becomes more comfortable with you and that you can spend more time with your grandchild.  Perhaps as the baby gets older you could offer to watch her so your DIL can do some of the things she would like to do.  Or offer to watch her for a weekend so that they can have some time together as a couple. 
Daughter in Laws and/or Son in Laws / Re: Who can say?
August 10, 2015, 07:02:45 am
Monroe,  my comments were not directed at you and Pooh.  I was just speaking of my own experience.  It's a different experience when the son is not yet grown and you are still responsible for them. 
Daughter in Laws and/or Son in Laws / Re: Who can say?
August 03, 2015, 01:28:44 pm
I am with NewMama on this.  I am both a MIL and DIL.  I have never enjoyed spending time with my MIL.  So far I seem to have a good relationship with my DIL.  None of us is 100% good or 100% bad and sometimes the mix of two people is not good.  And there seems to be built-in problems with the MIL/DIL relationship.  I think I am more sensitive to the plight of DIL's because my relationship with my MIL was so difficult.  One thing I have learned from my relationship with my MIL is that as a MIL, I am a guest in my children's life and their family and not the other way around.  It is their family, their home and their way of doing things and if I get to be a part of that it is a privilege.    I don't have the right to dictate to them how to run their lives, even if I don't agree with how they do things. That doesn't mean they get to tell me how to live my life or what I should do for them either. 
When I entered into marriage with my husband, I was eager to please my inlaws.  However they viewed the situation as I was joining their family and needed to adapt to them, and so I tried.   When I didn't adapt to all the things they liked and believed, I was criticized. I wish I would have realized that the criticism should not have been taken personally, because it was about them and not me.   When we were all together, it was about what they wanted.  I felt like an outsider who didn't fit in.  When it was just my husband and I and our kids, I felt fine.  I felt like my husband and I made joint decisions with the kids about what we wanted to do, eat, etc. and live our lives.  When my inlaws were around, they wanted to take over in my kitchen and made comments about the way I did things that were different from them.  I think my inlaws were good parents and did a good job raising their kids, but they didn't make the transistion very well to being parents of adult married kids with lives of their own and because of that I was the one that suffered.  However I could have avoided a lot of suffering if I hadn't been so eager to please them, and had been more assertive.  My husband and I should not have allowed the criticism and should not have allowed them to take over when WE invited them to OUR house.  I will never do that to my kids and their spouses.