October 20, 2019, 10:44:37 am

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"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

16
I "sucked it up" like you for nearly 30 years with my inlaws.  To their credit, my inlaws were wonderful to both of our children and I don't regret that I put up with them for my husband and children's sake.  I do regret that my husband did not stick up for me and even more that I didn't stick up for myself. I could have put my foot down about many things, after all it was our home not theirs and our family and we had the right to do things our own way.  My complaints about my inlaws are much different than yours, but the dynamic sounds similar.  They were critical and disrespectful to me.  I think Pooh's and Luise's responses are perfect.  I wish I would have done more to take care of myself.  My MIL would have taken offense or pretended to take offense to my separating myself in that way, but Pooh's response "Well you always seem to enjoy your time with DH but not me so much, so I'm giving you that opportunity"  would  have been perfect.  I think that's what I wanted all along, was for my husband and children to have a relationship with them without me because although they seemed to enjoy having them around, I can't remember a time when it felt good for me. 
The end result of "sucking it up" all those years was that my inlaws seemed to like me reasonably well because my husband I allowed them to do whatever they wanted and say whatever they wanted to me, but I grew to dislike them very much.  So in the end I was the angry one with bad feelings about the relationship and they were not angry at all.  It doesn't have to be this way for you.  Speak up for yourself and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. 
17
Pooh, your friend's response to your DIL was perfect!  Sadly, I doubt your DIL will change.  But I hope your son will eventually stand up to her for the sake of himself and their children.  It's hard to have empathy for people who don't seem to have it toward others, but I feel very sorry for her.  She must feel very insecure inside.
18
Your MIL sounds a little like mine.  Mine is very sweet on the surface but said so many very critical and insulting and often very indirect things, to me alternating with over the top complimenting.  I didn't know how to handle her and wished my husband would.  Very much like Pooh, after almost thirty years I blew up and filled so much with resentment that I want nothing to do with my inlaws.  I tried addressing the issues once many years ago but my words apparently fell on deaf ears.  I agree with Pooh that your husband should talk to her and let her know that this is not ok with him.  I never felt like I should put my husband in the middle since the conflict was between me and them, but now I realize that they didn't have enough respect for me to listen to me and they would listen to my husband.  I feel like it's too late for my relationship with my MIL, but hopefully not for you.  I tried letting the comments roll off my back but was only able to do this on the outside, not internally.  Internally, the resentment just built until it became intolerable. 
I wanted to include my inlaws in our lives for my husband and our kids and to their credit they were wonderful grandparents in many ways, so I don't regret that.  But now that our kids are grown and my inlaws live across the country I don't need to accompany my husband or kids when they visit and don't want to.  I don't feel good about it though.  I feel like I am the mean and hateful one now, who wants nothing to do with them.  That's what happens when you don't take care of yourself and allow people to treat you in ways you don't want to be treated. 
19
Quote from: OptingOut on June 09, 2014, 03:34:20 pm
Quote from: confusedbyinlaws on June 09, 2014, 12:47:48 pm
Quote from: OptingOut on June 06, 2014, 05:28:21 pm
I have a MIL who is very critical and rude. She is very thoughtful and kind at times but mostly mean. She also does not like the fact that her son married a black woman. I won't go into all of the insults but she has made hurtful comments about my weight, my race and my clothing choices. Apparently I dress too "indecently" because I wear dresses above the knee and I spend too much money on clothes. I am also too fat to eat baked goods. It is also "disgusting" for my husband and I to kiss or cuddle in public.

In spite of her nasty behavior, I am still very polite and friendly to this woman. Even though I do not like her very much, she is my husband's mother and I believe that I need to bite my tongue for that reason. Though I am not close to my mother, my mom gave me some good advice when I got married: "When your MIL isn't kind to you, keep on being good to her. Do not talk back to your MIL or get into fights with her. She is old enough to be your mom and you need to show her respect at all times." Believe me, if she wasn't my MIL I would tell her where to shove her snide remarks.  ;D

My MIL becomes particularly upset whenever her sons do anything nice for their wives. She will complain that her DILs are too spoiled (We both work full time) and she feels sorry for her sons. When my MIL makes terrible comments to her DILs faces, her sons rightfully stand up for their wives. When this happens, my MIL likes to play the victim.  My husband's aunt told me that my MIL just doesn't like the fact that women have taken her sons away.

Is it common for a mother to feel slighted and jealous when sons marry? I do not have children so I don't know how it feels. I would think that it is normal for adult children to marry and shift allegiances to their spouses. What do you think?


I think it is common for MILs to feel that way, but that doesn't give her the right to insult you any way she wants.  Once when I was complaining about my MIL someone said to me "you teach people how to treat you"    I realized that by saying nothing whenever she commented about my weight or insulted me in other ways, I was telling her that it was ok for her to behave this way.  I am not suggesting you get into a screaming match or yell at her or treat her in a disrespectful way, but I think it's fair to let people know when they have crossed a line and that you won't allow it and your husband should back you up.   
I understand that when people grow up and leave home and marry, it's an adjustment for a mother.  I am also a MIL.  I feel fortunate that I was able to let go of my need to nurture my grown children before they got married.    I believe that adult children should shift their allegiance to their spouse.  It doesn't mean parents should be shut out necessarily but they need adjust to the fact that they are not #1 in their child's life anymore and learn to respect boundaries.


I understand what you are saying as it make complete sense. I agree with you under normal circumstances. However, my MIL isn't really a normal person.

I believe that blood talks to blood; it is much easier for a jealous MIL to hear a critique of her behavior from her adult child than her DIL. I also do not want to be stereotyped and that part is almost impossible to comprehend unless you live with the implications of being a racial minority yourself. My husband talks to his mother when she is nasty to me; she throws tantrums and acts like she is so hard done by. ::) My SIL has confronted my MIL more than once about her behavior since my MIL is nasty to her too. All it results in is more screaming. If my MIL was more rational and not racist, I would have calmly confronted her already.

I believe that toxic parents should be held at an arm's length, so that they don't poison their adult childrens' marriages. My parents live much closer to us and we see them once a month. I rarely call my mother unless she calls me and when we speak, I do not share anything private with her. I also refuse to have my parents in my home as I don't want my mother to make a scene and start insulting us. These boundaries sadden my parents but I need to protect my little family of two. My mother's behavior already cast a pall over our engagement and wedding. One of the big reasons we eloped is to escape her negative energy.

My in-laws live more than 12 hours drive away from us. We have made the trip twice, only to be subjected to nasty remarks and screaming matches with my BIL and his wife, along with more loud fights with his mother. My husband has decided that we will not be visiting again for a long time. I have also told my husband that when we do visit again, we will be staying in a hotel as I refuse to stay in my MILs home again as long as she is alive. We realize that it is pointless to try to reason with those who are very immature, impulsive and explosively angry.

I feel sorry for parents whose adult children have cut them off, however some (NOT ALL!) parents only have themselves to blame. If parents are disrespectful and intrusive, they shouldn't expect to have a close relationship with their adult children.


I agree with you that it's probably best for your husband to talk to his mother when she is nasty to you and good for him if he does this.  My husband didn't take my complaints seriously and never confronted his parents about anything.  I don't blame you for keeping your distance.  I have opted out of a relationship with my inlaws at this point too.
20
Quote from: jdtm on June 07, 2014, 05:24:39 am
Quote"When your MIL isn't kind to you, keep on being good to her. Do not talk back to your MIL or get into fights with her. She is old enough to be your mom and you need to show her respect at all times."


Your mother is a very wise woman. 

There is a mode of communication called "the medium chill".  Basically, one appears to be interacting (and you are), but one does not give personal information, opinions or display emotional feelings.  One does not react strongly to good information/news or bad information/news.  It is not "indifference" because the "medium chill" appears as if you are involved.  You're not.  If another person were in the room, he/she would feel that everyone is getting along just fine. 

Honestly, this is what I would try.  I would not try to win her over (you are not going to win) and I would not try to justify your opinions (no matter how right you are) or even involve your husband (this puts him in a no-win situation).  If your SIL fights with your MIL, well - that's not your problem to solve (or comfort her).  And if she comments on weight or race or other hurtful issues - that says far more about her than you.  It's hard to take such rude comments - frankly, I think if it were me, I would just leave the room. 



I wish I would have realized that my MIL would never truly love me the way I wanted her to and should have taken this approach.  I thought there was something wrong with me and took her mean comments to heart and continued to be kind until I had let so much anger build inside of me that I could hardly stand to be in the same room as her.  A detached approach would have been much better.
21
Quote from: OptingOut on June 06, 2014, 05:28:21 pm
I have a MIL who is very critical and rude. She is very thoughtful and kind at times but mostly mean. She also does not like the fact that her son married a black woman. I won't go into all of the insults but she has made hurtful comments about my weight, my race and my clothing choices. Apparently I dress too "indecently" because I wear dresses above the knee and I spend too much money on clothes. I am also too fat to eat baked goods. It is also "disgusting" for my husband and I to kiss or cuddle in public.

In spite of her nasty behavior, I am still very polite and friendly to this woman. Even though I do not like her very much, she is my husband's mother and I believe that I need to bite my tongue for that reason. Though I am not close to my mother, my mom gave me some good advice when I got married: "When your MIL isn't kind to you, keep on being good to her. Do not talk back to your MIL or get into fights with her. She is old enough to be your mom and you need to show her respect at all times." Believe me, if she wasn't my MIL I would tell her where to shove her snide remarks.  ;D

My MIL becomes particularly upset whenever her sons do anything nice for their wives. She will complain that her DILs are too spoiled (We both work full time) and she feels sorry for her sons. When my MIL makes terrible comments to her DILs faces, her sons rightfully stand up for their wives. When this happens, my MIL likes to play the victim.  My husband's aunt told me that my MIL just doesn't like the fact that women have taken her sons away.

Is it common for a mother to feel slighted and jealous when sons marry? I do not have children so I don't know how it feels. I would think that it is normal for adult children to marry and shift allegiances to their spouses. What do you think?


I think it is common for MILs to feel that way, but that doesn't give her the right to insult you any way she wants.  Once when I was complaining about my MIL someone said to me "you teach people how to treat you"    I realized that by saying nothing whenever she commented about my weight or insulted me in other ways, I was telling her that it was ok for her to behave this way.  I am not suggesting you get into a screaming match or yell at her or treat her in a disrespectful way, but I think it's fair to let people know when they have crossed a line and that you won't allow it and your husband should back you up.   
I understand that when people grow up and leave home and marry, it's an adjustment for a mother.  I am also a MIL.  I feel fortunate that I was able to let go of my need to nurture my grown children before they got married.    I believe that adult children should shift their allegiance to their spouse.  It doesn't mean parents should be shut out necessarily but they need adjust to the fact that they are not #1 in their child's life anymore and learn to respect boundaries. 
22
Quote from: PFORTE on May 13, 2014, 10:36:39 pm
Thanks Confused!  I think it's hard for everyone to bridge that gap from child to adult - and some resist more than others.  Mental health problems are a different set of issues altogether - thankfully we haven't had to deal with that on a lasting basis!

Not sure if I'm allowed to post this link here.  If not, go to Youtube and listen to the song "Daughters" by John Mayer.  I think there's a lot of wisdom in the lyrics;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZLbUIa7exE

PFORTE,  I love John Mayer and love that song and I agree with you that there's a lot of wisdom in the lyrics. 
23
Quote from: PFORTE on May 12, 2014, 08:22:36 pm
Quote from: marmark1 on March 26, 2014, 12:01:39 pm
Do any body recommend confronting her about what she dislikes about me.

  The subtleties of conversation are heart-wrenching.  She didn't grow up with you - she doesn't understand your nuances.  And You have to be willing to take a step back and see where your habits may seem offensive, as will she.  There's a huge chasm in between "You didn't do anything wrong" and "You've done lots of things right" - we need to build bridges across that chasm, one at a time, till a true loving relationship is there and can withstand everyone's various moods and differences.

But start with something EASY to solve. Something you can work together on.  Maybe some plans for your son's bday. Call her up "We'd like to take you guys to dinner to celebrate his birthday, but I don't want to interfere with any plans you might be making or he might already have - can you suggest any dates that would work?  I was thinking xx yy zz".  It will go a LONG way for her to see that you respect that she is FIRST in his life.  You're respecting her, acknowledging that SHE is the Queen in his life now, and including her as a welcome asset. 

I also think it's CRITICAL to re-affirm that it IS their life, and you whole heartedly respect that.  It's not "Your Granddaughter" - it's "Her Daughter" and until she's POSITIVE that you respect that that comes first, there will always be tension. "I'd like to get a new summer outfit for your daughter - but I'm never sure what you like her to wear - can we go pick something out and I'll pay?"

I think people are only spiteful when they're hurt and/or threatened.  As the "older / wiser" woman it's our job to toss a bone, and WORK ON making peace and a loving environment for our grandbabies.  Our children's spouse is not someone that we will ever win against in a battle of "who loves ya more" - so we have to love our children enough to let go, and love their spouse enough to hold on.

We all say and do things that are hurtful.  We seldom mean to.  Working to peace is well worth the journey.

Best of luck!  Don't give up - that "other woman" is someone your child thinks is the BEST person in the world - there's got to be SOMETHING of value in them! :-)  Try to see her(him) through your child's eyes - it might help.

PFORTE,  I love what you have said here.  i don't know that having a "chat" works well for everyone.  It certainly didn't help me much with my inlaws, but in other relationships it has helped me to talk openly when things feel bad.  But what I really love about what you have said is that it demonstrates respect for a DIL's role and place in her husband's life, rather than trying to compete with that position.   And it shows  an understanding that her ways and upbringing are different but you can still respect that.  I agree that people only feel spiteful or angry when they feel hurt and it's something we all need to remember.  Perhaps my MIL insulted me and competed with me because she was worried that her relationship with her son was threatened by my presence.  Ironically, her relationship with her son was never threatened by my presence, but it was damaged because her son was  angry with her about her behavior toward me.
24
Quote from: Footloose on April 24, 2014, 11:15:40 am
Confused,  I totally agree w/ open and honest feedback in a nice way of course!  As a MIL, that's what I wish for because I really can be clueless at times....


As a MIL this is also what I wish for.  As a DIL, I wished for a MIL who would consider my feelings when I did express them.   I didn't give my MIL honest feedback often enough, but when I did, she didn't listen or consider my feelings.  Her take was that if I didn't like things she did, I must have a problem and I need to just get over it. 
25
I am so glad things are improving PFORTE!     
26
Quote from: jdtm on May 01, 2014, 06:04:14 am
QuoteI have found for myself that every time I allow situations or say yes to things that are good for another person, but not good for me, that it ends up causing me to feel angry and become a person I don't want to be


confusedbyinlaws - what an eyeopener!  That's me - trying to please everyone and then when everyone is "fine", I will try to please myself.  Guess what - it's not working!  I have never put myself first, thinking that when this worked out and that worked out and so-and-so got back on his feet, etc., then "it would be my turn".  Guess what - my turn hasn't come yet - until today.  I won't be selfish, but I won't be a doormat or a problem-solver or feel guilty any more.  No one (except my husband and mother) has ever put me first.  I count too.  Thanks confused ...

I have functioned this way too.  This is one area where I have made a lot of progress in recent years.  I felt like I was being to selfish at first and still have to remind myself that I don't have to take responsibilty for everyone else's feelings.  I don't want to get what I want at someone else's expense, but I also don't want everyone else to get what they want at my expense.  I have always tried to live but the Golden Rule and treat others how I want to be treated.  Well I don't want others to do things for me if it's not what they want to do or if they feel resentful about it later.  My daughter told me during a conversation "No one wants you to do things for them if you are going to feel resentful about it later"  So in a way being a pleaser and doing things you don't want to do to please others isn't living by the Golden Rule.  Does that make sense?
I have found that I give more freely and lovingly to my loved ones  rather than begrudgingly since I have made this change.  I am glad this was helpful to you
27
Quote from: Pooh on May 01, 2014, 12:36:33 pm
Quote from: PFORTE on April 30, 2014, 03:20:32 pm


Is there really no way to get her to understand that she has to grow up?  Any daughters in law care to comment what would work if you were in this situation?  What would cause you to lift a finger vs not?

Thank you!
Patty


Well, I guess I still qualify because although I'm an MIL, I'm also a DIL.  My answer would be I wouldn't be in this situation.  If I ever found myself in a situation where I was having to rely on the generosity of others, you can bet I would be bending over backwards cooking, cleaning, mowing, laundry...whatever needed to be done to show my gratitude. 

My opinion is you can't make someone grow up, they have to want to do it on their own or be through enough hardships in order to gain maturity with their years.  If they haven't had to figure things out on their own and are always relying and expecting others to do for them, they may never grow up.


I am also both a MIL and DIL, but have had more difficult issues as a DIL.     I am grateful that I never had to live with my inlaws after I was married because I believe that would have been hell for me and probably not great for them either.  But if forced to, I would never have behaved this way.  I agree with Pooh.  As long as she can rely on others to do for her she probably won't change.
28
PFORTE,  You are a much more giving an patient person than I am.  I agree with the advice you have here from Luise and Pooh too.    I have found for myself that every time I allow situations or say yes to things that are good for another person, but not good for me, that it ends up causing me to feel angry and become a person I don't want to be, and it seems you are not happy with the situation. And I don't blame you!  I fear that over time, you will become more and more angry with the situation.   Taking in your son's fiancĂ© and 5 kids would be very stressful for anyone, even if she was helpful and respectful.   Like Luise said she has things on her terms and why would she want to change that on her own.  You can't make her change but you don't have to allow it in your home and if it were me, like Luise, I would have to give and ultimatum and mean it.  I was particularly struck by her passive-aggressive behavior.... being all sweet when you ask her to do something and then not doing it or waiting until the baby is miserable so that everyone would have to listen to the baby cry while she cleans. 
It's great to be a generous person and many of us like to be generous with our children, but like Luise mentioned, you are enabling her to continue to be this way.  I have learned that there are some people who wouldn't take advantage even if I would allow it, but many are not like that and it's important for my own well-being to look after my self and not feel guilty with those type of people.  I sort have taken the you take care of you and I'll take care of me approach with those type of people and that works for me. 
29
I don't think there is anything wrong with telling your MIL how you feel in an appropriate way.  Would something like this sound too harsh? : "When you tell me how to raise the children, it hurts my feelings and makes me feel angry.  I know you love your grandchildren and you are just trying to help, but it makes me feel like you think I am inadequate as a mother. "
I tried keeping my mouth shut with my MIL and endured and it didn't work out that well for me or my MIL.  I don't think "enduring" works for everyone, unless you have a very strong sense of self and are able to be detached and let comments roll off like water on a duck's back.   
30
Stilltrying,   I have wondered if my withholding myself from my inlaws is retribution and maybe that's why I'm feeling guilty about it.  On the other hand, if I could send a clone of myself (think Stepford wife) who could go in my place and smile and be everything they want me to be and make them feel good, I would. (I think that is what they want and sadly that's what I tried to give them over the years)  I just don't want to be there myself, but I don't really like that they seem hurt by it.    That's my dilemma.  Now that I am "getting real" with myself and others, I don't believe they are going to like me as much as they did before. 
 
But I am not in a position of withholding anything else.  My kids and grown and my husband and kids are capable of having a relationship with my inlaws without me. My disappearance from the scene shouldn't affect those relationships, so I feel good about that.

I can relate to what you said :" thinking I was there wanting to be there forcing false acceptance of the situation."  I did that for many years too.  Also I spent much of the time thinking they weren't as screwed up as me and that the problems I was experiencing with them were my own doing and due to my own insecurities.  There is some truth to that thinking, but I thought if I could just change and adapt to them, I would feel better.  I thought I had to change who I was and fit in with them and gain their approval because after all they were clearly superior.  Over the years, I discovered that they were just as screwed up as my family if not more so, but the difference is my family always knew they had problems, my husband's family just can't acknowledge anything like that. 


Pooh, you are too funny!