June 26, 2019, 02:04:39 pm


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What to do

Started by wittsend, July 12, 2011, 06:34:22 pm

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  Seeking advice from MIL & DIL's. Long story short... My husband's family refuses to speak to my husband and myself.  About a year ago I twrote MIL letter stating she no longer can use guilt trips as a form of manipulation.  She has never really accepted me as her son is the baby of the family and was always there to take care of her.  She moved away but still continues to use guilt trips on my husband. 
  It all started when we had our daughter baptised and we did not plan it around when she was available.  Therefore, she did not send anything to our daughter for her special day.  She has also done that ew/my son's bday.  Refused to send present because she is angry with us.  Husband did call oher on that and told her not to take it out on kids.  So she finally sent present.   Even when I did apoogize... nothing. SIL/BIL, MIL refuse to speak to me.  I would like to resolve but  how does one do that when everyone hates me???
HELP any  advice???


Welcome - Just some thoughts off the top of my head. I would back track. Can you talk to her directly? Emails do not work. We have all found out that they are misunderstood. There's no body language, eye contact or chance to exchange ideas. No one wants to be informed that they are manipulative. She probably sees herself in an entirely different light. It's a judgment, no matter how well you document it. And presents aren't everything...they're just a small part of interacting. She isn't going to change. Telling her she's not OK isn't a way to resolve issues. Talk with your guy about what he wants. Look to see what your boundaries are. There usually isn't a right person and a wrong one. You are just different and not very compatible.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I have tried to talk to her and she won't return my phone calls.  My husband has tried and she gets defensive and still won't acknowledge  that she has created thisf situation.  I just finallry voiced my concerns after she continued to use guilt trips with my kids.  Husband agrees with me but she won't speak to us.  Sad.


Welcome Wittsend :)

Please read the Forum Agreement if you haven't already done so.  We ask all members to do this not b/c there is anything wrong with your post.

It seems to me this is the type of situation where you have to be the change you want to see.  Meaning, guilt trips only work if you let them.  In this scenario with the gifts, it would seem to me that the easiest way is to not accept any gift at all from MIL.  This does 2 things, you are standing up and your entire family without having to chase after MIL to do the right thing *and* puts MIL on notice.

One of my grandfather has never sent me a gift.  When he remarried his wife would buy gifts at Xmas but not birthdays.  As a kid, I truly did not notice that he did not acknowledge my bday ever.  In fact, I didn't even know when his bday was until last year!  And we have an enjoyable relationship. I think kids don't really perceive those types of issues to be problems as long as it is fair between siblings.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


It is sad. She probably does not see that she created this situation. She thinks you did.

I had this happen with someone and I decided to take all the blame to save the friendship. I asked for a meeting and told her that I was off-balance at the time and totally stopped defending my actions and my point of view. (She had accused me of stealing from her kitchen after telling to make myself at home. I ate an energy bar.) We had been friends for 25 years and I thought if I just took all the blame for reacting to her accusation, which I did, we could start over. She listened to my apology and never spoke to me again.

You can only cover your end. You could, and I would, apologize for the email that was critical. That doesn't mean it wasn't well-founded...it means you are sorry you asked her to be any different than she is.

That's just what comes up for me when I read your question.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

lancaster lady

Hello wittsend and welcome .....

I would just back off completely , you have tried your best to rectify things .
She was obviously very hurt by your letter , and perhaps hadn't realised what she had been doing
and refuses to accept that she was at fault .
We MIL , don't like to be told if we are in the wrong , and it takes a while before we can admit it.
Let the dust settle , if you are meant to be friends it will happen .
My kids never received anything from my DH FOO .....they didn't even know who they were .
It never bothered them , or me , as I had given up trying to be part of their family .


Welcome wittsend.  I totally understand where you are coming from.  I can not stand anyone that uses children to further their agendas.  To me, that type of person is the lowest of the low.  Children are little humans, not pawns.  I don't blame you one bit for standing up and saying that type of behavior doesn't fly.

Since you have tried to call and she is refusing to take the calls, then that's all you can do.  She's playing victim and until she decides she wants to rectify the situation, you have done all you can do for now.  I'm afraid if there is going to ever be any sort of relationship at this point, it will have to come from her end now.

I'm very glad you and DH are on the same page and he is backing you on this.  You let her know it wasn't ok, and now it's up to her to decide if she wants to abide by the boundaries.  Kudos to you for wanting to fix this even though she is being difficult.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


 Thanks for the advice.  It is a sad situation and BIL told husband that no one wants to hear from me cause I am the instigator.  Doesn't make much sense why MIL/SIL can't speak for themselves.  I did not instigate things but for some reason everyone seems to think that it's all my fault and no one will speak to either myself or husband about it.  We would like to establish a relationship w/everyone again, but what does one do when no one will speak to you????   
  Does husband confront his brother and tell him to stay out of this and MIL/SIL need to speak for themselves???   Husband thinks it will just get worse but I cannot see how it possibly can.  Besides, I don't like to have anyone accuse me and not saying anything.  Yes, it is a mess and MIL/SIL/BIL are all a nightmare.  I feel bad for husband because no one will speak to him because of me.  He agrees w/me on all the issues we have w/them but he still has not told his brother to stay out of it and his wife is not to blame.  Any advice?? Good or bad I am at my wittsend.  I have never been in a position where people hate me so much.  My family talks about our problems and work them out.   This family not so much. Refuse to speak where the silent treatment is their form of manipulation.  Husband is used to it but not me.  I would like everyone to get to know my kids but what is one to do.  ?????

Purple Room

As a MIL who has been called manipulative by DIL I would like to offer a different perspective.

It is very difficult to know the best way to approach a situation when you have been called manipulative. If you try to offer an explanation it can be interpreted as another attempt to manipulate. All you want to do is justify yourself because no one sees themselves as manipulative but that is also impossible. That leaves you in a powerless position so you say nothing.

It can be very difficult to know what someone else sees as manipulative. Sometimes the very best intentions can be misinterpreted.

I have heard it said that we judge ourselves on our intentions and other people on their actions.

I think if judgement calls on other peoples intentions could be left out of it and just the actions and how they make you feel could be discussed you might be able to get somewhere.


Hi wittsend, I am pleased you're shared your issue here,.  Wow what a wealth of wisdom in these ladies, even if a topic isn't my issue I read their responses because it is also meat in the realm of relationships and trying to decipher human nature.   As I have written before,  wittsend,  I have a similar issue with MIL, i.e. there was a past 'confrontation' and she didn't speak to me for nearly four years.  I haven't shared this yet on the site but -----  this July 4th we had a large cook out at our house, and the last minute I suggested DH phone his parents and ask them to come  THEY SAID YES   ---and I nearly dropped dead I tell you.  This was the first response in almost 4 yrs, my FIL couldn't have been more loving and kind, he was all hugs and kisses.  My MIL was cold, but she was there.  No, we won't be having a warm relationship, but I learned a lot of life lessons from this.  Some bridges are burned behind us.  Confrontation is the LAST resort in a relationship.  My MIL opts for the pretend nothing ever happened approach to life.  I wish now I had respected her style and just learned to live my life w/o buying into the power plays, etc., that were going on.  We don't have to participate in everything.  Sometimes you can just be polite and distant.  The relief I got from the confrontation wasn't worth the 4 yrs of hell it brought into my life and the conflict with my DH, and also the termination of the relationship.  I'd advise you to accept that this rift may take a long while to heal, and don't try any more to talk it out, if you get the chance to be with your MIL again, just be very sweet and polite, she may prefer not to talk about it.  Those of us who want closure and wide open communication are considered threatening by those who loathe it.  My mother falls into the latter category and we've always been on the outs also because she wants to talk about the weather and recipes.  Sorry this has been rambling, I understand with GC are involved its harder to manage this.  I think we are much too confrontative as a whole in this society now.  And we are also too intolerant of waiting for timing and seasons to pass.  I fully agree with Luise that emails are notoriously misunderstood. 


Wittsend - you can't *make* people like you.

I bet you that your MIL was not INTENTIONALLY using guilt trips on your DH.  They were reasonable requests to her, not guilt trips.  And I bet no one had ever 'called' her on them before either.

The mistake you made was putting it in writing, in a format that she could bring it around and show everyone and get everyone's sympathy.  I'm sure she's getting more attention out of that than she would if she made up with you.  She's obviously getting something out of it.  I'm sure she LOVES the idea that you're upset about this, and will continue to make you grovel and beg her forgiveness.  She has no intention of forgiving you, because then she wouldn't get all of this attention.

Your best bet would be to move on and live a good life.  Invite the IL's to your celebrations, but don't beg, and don't make arrangements around them.  If they can't make it, oh well, too bad, maybe next time.  If they do come, be civil and gracious.  If they cause trouble, have a back up plan in place.

As for the presents, no one 'owes' you or your children presents, ever.  If they are not given generously and from the heart, then why push for them?  It will hurt the IL's more than it will hurt the children.  At our house, we talk about the gifts that have been given and who they came from.  My IL's are notoriously BAD at gift-giving and as such, we don't have too much evidence of their gifts, and thus the IL's don't get brought up as much.  Too bad, so sad.


If his family just ignores issues and you are the type of person to actually G-d forbid address them, they could easily see you as an instigator. As hard as it is, this is the way they do things in his family. I agree with the others; just leave it alone and hopefully with enough time you can resume communications.  If you get a chance you could tell them that you are sorry if you handled the situation in a way that created hard feelings, that you are sometimes outspoken and that it sometimes comes across in a way different than you intended. This may make you swallow some pride but sometimes I find that this smooths things over. I myself am a more upfront kind of person with most people and it sometimes hurts their feelings. The truth is that those I confront are the relationships that mean the most and that I want to improve. Otherwise, I would just let it go. As for the kids, they probably don't notice. It's you who feels the pain of the slight. I would just ignore it and thank her for the gifts she sends. She is giving you the silent treatment because she either is too angry to speak to you or to get to you. Either way, trying to keep contacting her now is a bad idea. It may feed her anger or her enjoyment of ignoring you. Afterall, it sounds like the true loser is her. She has lost her son and grandchildren with her behavior. Based on some of the things you have said, maybe the silent treatment from the family is the peace and quiet you need.


Hi Wittsend and welcome.  I feel your sadness and frustration.  Here you want a good relationship with your MIL, and for your children to have a healthy one with her.  You want DH to have better exchanges with her, too.  You were trying to improve it and everything backfires and gets worse.  When really, truly all you wanted to do was make it better.  What's a girl to do?

I think you've already been given so many good things to think about.  Here's my 2 cents and keep in mind I don't know a lot of detail.

How MIL can no longer use guilt trips as a form of manipulation comes from you and DH.  I am not sure how telling somone her guilt trips won't work is to your advantage.  It comes from you and DH to decide as much as anyone guilt trips are going to work.    It has nothing to do with MIL.  As a couple, you know what you're willing to give, do, accept, devote energy to (work, time alone, time with children)... for yourselves and your children, no matter what anyone else wants.  You and he decide together, if you want to pack up 2 little kids and travel and visit folks on your one or two or five of your 8 Days Off a month (meaning weekends, I don't know your actual schedule).  You decide if you want holiday mornings to yourselves and how many dinner invitations you say yes or no to in a given week.  Check with each other before comitting the other to a visit, or to hosting duties, or to cook a dinner for 12 instead of 6.  If someone wants you to do "more", you learn how to say no thank you.     That way, the manipulation did not work.  You've got her number by now.   You and DH change your reaction to manipulation; it's not effective to command someone else not to be manipulative.  That's why its called manipulation.

At the risk of being the Poster who writes the same thing every time, sometimes when I don't know what to do, I just follow Etiquette. I forget it sometimes with close family.  I guess because it gets way more casual and feels more personal.   The thing with the gifts did work as a manipulation because it did get her lots of attention. It was a message for you not the child.  If your baptized child was under 2, I think it's obvious the no-gift was meant as a message to you because a child that young doesn't know she didn't get a baptism gift from grandmother.  You do.  Setting good habits before they're old enough is good in concept, but in practice asking MIL to send very young DD a gift, well, asking for gifts is not good etiquette and it creates unnecessary drama and stress.   Let gifts go.  They're not yours to control, they're for someone else to give because they want to give it.  Demanding gifts cannot improve any situation. 

Later I saw that MIL still won't acknowledge that she has created this situation.   I am not surprised.  If MIL accepting blame to DH is key to moving forward, I think you'll be at a stand still for a while. 

Is your MIL the sweep it under the rug and move forward type?  Right now she's not speaking with you. Is it possible it is because she thinks you are waiting to have a "talk" with her?  Is she avoiding the talk and has to avoid you to do it? Can you and DH make stronger agreements as a couple, against people who want "more" than is good for you to give  - in the form of MIL or the hot little trixie who moves next door, or his boss.  Can you work things out with you and DH, and sweep it under the rug and move forward, without any confrontation? I don't think DH should confront BIL, SIL or MIL.

The sum of my 2 cents of random internet thoughts.  Let some time pass, let the drama drop, bail on confrontations, in a few months invite them to dinner for an event, individually or as a group, and accept their RSVP with etiquette. If they say no, try again in a few months after that.


I think, for me at least, that a lot of my issues could have been handled with masking tape. At first, it seemed to me that it needed to be used on others...but as I age, I doubt that's where it would have done the most good.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


P.S. If you consider your troubles with MIL private, and don't want DH to discuss your private business with BIL or anyone else, let DH know.   When BIL brings it up, would DH be willing to not participate in the conversation, out of respect for your privacy, and say "Brother, let's talk about something else other than this."