January 21, 2021, 07:49:32 am


"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

Stilltrying2010,  I can related to what you wrote here.  I had the same experience with my inlaws so many years ago when my son was born and felt like my inlaws ruined my early days with my newborn son.  I never cut them off lost my temper with them and over the years just tolerated them.  I did sit down and talk to them a couple of times and it did make things worse.  The second time I tried to talk to them about my feelings was a few years ago and in the process I came to the realization that they never did care to hear how I felt or why.  Why would I trust them to be any different now?
When I ask myself what my inlaws could do to make it right, I find there is nothing they can do too and I am still estranged from them.  I don't feel good about it, but don't want to go back for more.  Have your feelings changed?   If so, how did it happen, what was the process.  Are you still estranged from your inlaws?
Grieving,  I hope you are able to move forward cautiously.  Perhaps your DIL lacked communication skills to relay her feelings in a way you were able to hear.  When people are angry it comes out one way or another.  If not directly then indirectly with passive aggressive remarks like you describe.  That is certainly not right, but there is a reason for the anger.  I don't think people generally get mad over nothing. 
I agree with Pooh. 
Stilllearning,  Thanks for the offer  :).  Since my inlaws don't know you, I could get away with visiting you without feeling like I have to visit them.  Funny I'd rather visit an almost complete stranger than my inlaws.  I feel bad for feeling that way but it's the way I feel.   
Stilllearning,  They (inlaws) live in the East and we live in the West.  My husband has flown out there once or twice per year in the past two years since they moved. It would take too many days to drive out there.  I don't know anyone else in that area but my husband's family  By not going,  I have only missed out on visiting his brother and family.   There are people between our house and theirs I would love to see, and there is no reason I couldn't spend the money for an airline ticket to fly to see them while my husband visits his parents.  I have close girlfriends who have moved away or that I have moved away from that I haven't had the chance to see in years that I would love to visit.  It would be a good idea to go and visit someone I look forward to seeing instead.  Not visiting my inlaws hasn't kept me from seeing anyone I am dying to see.  Not joining my husband for his visits actually could provide an opportunity to see someone I really want to see.  All these years, it's been about me doing something I don't want to do just to keep everyone else happy and I think it's ok to do what makes me happy now.  I don't like that they say they want me to visit and don't like that they might be hurt by the fact that I don't go with my husband, and don't like the guilt I feel about that, but I am so tired of doing things out of guilt.  And how could it be good for anyone for me to go and fake it when I don't have good feelings toward them.    I realize that I played my part in screwing up this relationship, but now after 30 years and all of these bad feelings and very little confidence in them behaving any differently and me reacting any differently, I just simply can't move forward and pretend it's all ok.   
Also I won't be happy when my inlaws pass away because people I care about, care about them, but that still doesn't mean I want to spend time with them at this point
Stilllearning,  It is not my family who lives close to inlaws, it is my husband's brother.  Although I haven't had a falling out with my husband's brother, we have never been close.  He used to come visit here a couple of times per year but he would run off doing this or that with my husband and his parents and I didn't usually end up spending much time with him.  I like him well enough, but he hasn't been a big part of my life.  He has recently remarried and his wife seems very nice but I barely know her and I haven't met their children who are not 18 months and a newborn  Although I would be open to them visiting or visiting them, I don't find myself missing them really.
The thing is that I am just a really bad fit with my husband's family and after trying to address the issues with them for the second time a few years ago, I realized that they have never had much concern about my feelings and never treated my much like family.  They are great to my husband and kids and I appreciate that about them, but if I ever spoke up about anything I was feeling that wasn't positive they just blew me off and showed very little concern over my pain. I know it's my pain and not for them to try to fix.  This is not a bumpy time.  The entire relationship has been bumpy.  I don't feel like it's breaking my family apart, because frankly they don't feel much like family to me.  My reaction to them is the big part of the problem, but I grew up in a family where people got angry with each other and eventually talked about it and reached an understanding.  I am not saying it's healthy to wait until you are angry to talk about things, but I think it's worse to completely deny that there are problems of 30 years.  There is no talking to them about anything like that.... there response is just ignore it or get mad and through it back on me. 
Stilllearning, I just don't understand maintaining a relationship with someone who you would later be honestly happy when they died other than he was married to your MIL.  If you could have spent time with MIL without her husband I am sure you would have opted for that. I have that choice.  I can spend time with the people who are important to me without having to endure my inlaws at this point
Pen,  As far as my husband is concerned, he is fine visiting his parents by himself and doesn't think I need to put myself back into that situation if I don't want to.    It's actually more relaxing for him to visit without me.  My BIL and family live near my inlaws now and I am missing seeing them but they will come out here for a visit at some point.  I could go visit BIL and family and not visit inlaws but that just seems like too big of a slap in the face to them.  Going to visit the inlaws would mean sitting in their house with just them and my husband and I and playing cards and putting up with my MIL scrutinizing my appearance and commenting both positive and negatively about what she sees, trying hard to compliment me while occasionally blurting out insults quite the opposite of the compliments.  I just don't have the tolerance for it any more.  I could be in a room with them if I had to, but I don't see myself traveling to the other side of the country to spend a miserable several days with them.
Lady T.  It isn't your job to give your MIL a sense of meaning and purpose and it's all right to politely refuse her help if you don't want it.  In my case it wasn't about not wanting my inlaw's help but it was about not wanting them to take over and they did so without even asking.  It sounds like your MIL does much the same.  If you cave on the things that are important to you, she will continue the same behavior and you may dread her visits.  This could be more of a problem as she moves closer.  My inlaws visited a few times a year until they moved close and hen they tstill had the same expectations.  I can tell you it's hard to change the rules so far into the relationship.  It's ok to stand firm on the things that matter to you.  I wish I had.  It doesn't mean you have to be mean about it... just firm.  I wonder how my MIL or your MIL or any other MIL would feel if we took over their kitchens and meals when we visited them.  I disagree with anyone who says you should just put up with it.  It's nice for someone to offer to help, but when you say no you don't want their help and they try to help anyway they are no longer doing it for you but to you.   It might make your MIL happy but it's not going to make you happy and ultimately it could destroy your relationship.  Would you want your DIL to just put up with you or would you want her to be honest about how she feels and what bothers her?   I would prefer the later.  Don't feel guilty about saying no to her.   That being said, finding ways for her to help that won't offend you like the yard work or whatever and complimenting her on that, could be a good way to handle her.  I am glad your husband is supportive, but  just sighing and saying what are you doing and then letting her do it anyway is just telling her he doesn't like it but he's going to let her do it anyway.   Apparently like with my inlaws, telling them you don't like it doesn't do the trick.... you have to say no.
I made the mistake of thinking that just because my inlaws were my husband's parents that I had to let them do whatever they wanted since my husband didn't object.  They were happy with me being that way but I wasn't.  I am just beginning to learn a little late in life that I don't have to be that way, and if someone else doesn't like it, so be it.
I had similar issues with my inlaws taking over when they visited and it wasn't ok with me.  Just because she is your husband's mother doesn't mean you have to allow her to behave in a way you wouldn't tolerate from other guests in your own home.   In my opinion if a guest asks you if you need help and you don't want help and say no, they should respect that.   If she doesn't perhaps you could explain to her that the meal you are preparing is a gift from you that you wanted to give your husband or guests and that by taking over she is taking that opportunity away from you.  I also think it's important for your husband to back you up on this.  I am not saying you have to engage in the competition with her, but it's your home and you are allowed to do things your own way in your own home.  It probably is more about her wanting to feel important rather than her feeling like you aren't doing it well enough, but it's still ok to expect her not to take over in your home.  It's great that you respect her and see good qualities in her but that doesn't mean you can't ask her to show some respect for you and your home.  I'm 30 years into and after 30 years I'm done!
Lillycache, my MIL views her two sons as perfect and wonderful and can do no wrong and I have never heard her say anything like that to either of them.  She tries very hard to hide her feelings toward me by gushing with compliments one moment.  It's when her filter doesn't work that I hear about how she really feels.  Ooops! she let it slip out.  Even though she is generally a nice person who tries hard not to offend other people, her true feelings have come across loud and clear. 
I heard her true feelings about my ex-SIL (wife of MIL's other son) but also saw that she kept them well hidden from ex-DIL.  That being said, so what if she did do that to her own kids, does that make it ok or tolerable for people outside the family who don't love you just because they are your parents.  If she punched me every time she saw me, I wouldn't tolerate it just because she does it to everyone.
Pooh, you are right.. that's just how she is.  Why would I want to spend time with someone like that  when even my husband and children are telling me I don't have to any more.
Stilllearning.  The past still has power over me.  Perhaps saying wow and walking away for good is the best answer for me.  Ours has been a fake relationship on both of our parts.  Both of us hiding our true feelings from one another in order not to offend and never being real with each other about anything.  I don't want a relationship with them any more, but in feeling that way I can't help but feel like I am doing something really wrong.  I can't seem to change the way I feel about them, but can't seem to feel good about bowing out of the relationship.  I feel guilty on the one hand but on the other hand is guilt a good enough reason?.  I think it's the guilt that keeps me wondering if I should go back into having a relationship with them. But the reality is, when my husband decides to visit and I'm faced with that choice, I think I "should" go but I don't want to.  There are people on this planet that I would love to see that I haven't seen for years.  Why not just use the money for me to go see them instead?  I feel guilty because I worry that it hurts them that I don't go visit with my husband.  I am just so done with doing things I don't want to do just because I feel guilty
Lillycache and Stilllearning,  I am not talking about you or anyone else who are mother in laws.  I am not attacking mother in laws in general. I am a mother in law too.  I am talking about my mother in law.  If your DIL said something like that to you and insulted you on a regular basis and then tried to make up for it by gushing with compliments how would you feel toward them? 
Lillycache and Stilllearning,  In that particular instance my MIL knew exactly what she had said and so did I.  She clearly asked me if I still knew how to read.   She said "oops immediately after she said it but the conversation ended there.  It was not a well-meant thing to say, but what she was thinking and her filter didn't work It's excusable to blurt out something mean, but wouldn't most people say "i'm sorry, that was a mean thing to say" when they realized they said it.  Am I really the only one who thinks that was very insulting?  And if confronted later about saying it wouldn't most people say I'm sorry, that was mean instead of denying it?  I know I am a very sensitive person, but how can this not be considered insulting?  I have spent the past 30 years telling myself she didn't mean anything by it and I'm being to sensitive, but I feel now that the some of things they said and did would bother anyone.   I  have NEVER had anyone try to take over celebrations and gatherings in my home but them.  I have NEVER felt as judged and insulted by anyone to that extent.  I need to know it's ok to protect myself from that.
Pen,  I know it's not always the MIL's fault and not always the DIL's fault that they can't get along.  It is by it's nature a difficult relationship.  I don't blame my MIL completely for our problems.   But I also don't think I was 100% to blame either.  I haven't had problems like this with anyone else.
Stilllearning,  I know what you are saying.  I tend to be overly sensitive to implications and hints, so I think I will sense if there is a problem, but the coming out and asking will be harder for me.  I agree that if I want the relationship to work that I'll need to work on that.  There are some differences between my DIL and me and  she does seem to speak up about what she wants a lot of the time. I like her.  She's genuinely nice.  And there are some differences between me and my MIL.  One is that I respect my DIL in her position as mother of my grandchildren and partner of my son and I respect that their life and their family and their home are  theirs and I am but a guest in their lives.  And if someone tells me something I am doing is hurting them or causing issues for them, I will acknowledge it and stop.  Having respect for other people's feelings has never been my issue.  It's been allowing others to disrespect me because I haven't had enough respect for myself  to speak up.   I have gone to therapy since all this happened with my inlaws and have figured a few things out.  I'm doing better... still struggling but better.  It's hard to change lifelong patterns. I guess I can thank my inlaws for bringing me to this point.