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DIL jealous of MIL relationship with SIL

Started by Mamiof2, February 08, 2012, 08:50:51 am

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I have two issues which i'd like to address. First of all I've never had the mother-daughter bond.  I am so jealous of my MIL and SIL (husband's sister) relationship and compare everything my MIL does for her daughter and her kids to what she does for my husband and our kids. It's just not fair the way she treats her daughter.Part of it is my lack of a relationship. I wish I could have a relationship like this. But the other part is my anger towards her because she makes it so obvious that she prefers her daughter to my husbnad. In her house she has about 8 pictures hung up of her daughter and husband and only 2 pictures hung up of her son. it's not until i said something that she put up pictures of us. I really don't know how to deal.I dont want to make my husband feel bad when i point these things out but it makes me so mad and ive told her before that she has two kids not just one. and if thats the what she wants is to only recognize one child than thats fine and we wont be in her life. She even cuts her daughter a bday cake every year and mind you her daughter is 8 years older than my husband and my husband doesn't get anything for his birthday. I would love for her to treat my husband the same way she treats her daughter and while i do believe that i am also a little jealous of the relationship she has with her daughter i don't think its fair to blatanly show a preference or show your kids that you have a favorite.
This whole thing with my MIL brings a lot of trouble to our marriage. We argue about it all the time. The solution for me is staying away. I don't go to my MIL's house anymore and anytime they invite us we make an excuse not to go. My husband is perfectly fine with this but my MIL calls me because my husband wants nothing to do with her and even changed his # not to be bothered. Im not sure if he did this so the arguments can stop between us or if he really wants nothing to do with her. My SIL on the other hand doesn't see anything wrong with what her mother does and just stopped speaking to me for taking my husbands side. Its just drama after drama. I don't even know what to do anymore.


Welcome -  My take is that what your MIL does is about her and has nothing to do with you. And, at the same time, how you react has everything to do with you and is not about her. I'd start by looking closely at that. Then, decide what your want to do and know that if you let the rest of it get to you...you are just hurting yourself. It took a very long time, for or me personally, to get that I am not helpless or at the effect of others. I'm in charge of how I feel and what I do...and thinking otherwise was a denial of responsibility that allowed me to blame them for my own shortcomings and the need to face them. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


There's a saying that might be helpful to apply here, "Fair doesn't mean equal."  I don't know if MIL put up exactly four pictures of each, and made exactly one cake each, if that would relieve your suffering.  I do know we give our power away when we make how we feel dependent on what other people choose to do for themselves.

I didn't see anything written here that indicates MIL is doing anything to be cruel.  When something was said to her about the pictures she chose for her home, she hung some more up.  She heard you, and she responded. 

QuoteI dont want to make my husband feel bad when i point these things out

Obviously there's a past that happened long before DH got married.  As a mother of adult children she's known for decades, MIL can probably sense what her DD needs, and sense what her DS needs.   In that case, "fair" doesn't mean equal in a quantifiable sense.   

From my own life as an adult child:  My parents have been loaning my sister a lot of money. My sister's in graduate school.  I am not.  I do not feel neglected because the way they can help my sister is different than the way they can help me.  I don't feel she's the favorite based on their efforts to make her life better for her.   I also don't feel that by doing what they can for my sister, they are in turn creating a debt to me to do the same.  We're all adults.  I am pleased that my sister is able to persue deeper study of what she's so good at, and I am grateful that my parents can and will help her do it.  At the same time, I am also grateful I don't need the same from them.  It makes me feel really, really good not to need their help.   As adult children, I've accepted long ago that we're as different as any individuals are.

My guess is your MIL probably can't sense the emotional needs as much with a DIL she hasn't known nearly as long as her kids.   I suspect MIL doesn't realize that a DIL would have needs expressed as being on behalf of her husband as her child.  Since DH didn't notice these things himself, he didn't feel neglected, and only feels bad about his M when a disparity is pointed out, then it appears MIL's instincts in regards to his needs as an adult were accurate. 

It's ironic because the very first thing I thought about the birthday cake was MIL would not make DH a cake out of courtesy, because she wouldn't want to risk stepping on his wife's toes!  If MIL tends towards traditional gender roles, it seems possible that MIL thinks her DD's husband probably would not bake a cake.  But her DS, he has a woman in his life who would take joy in doing that for him, and why would MIL do for him when he has someone in his life to do it.

There's only so much we can learn in one post of course.  Maybe your DH has expressed to you a lifetime of feeling neglected and second-rate, and perhaps that part wasn't touched on here yet.  But from what I read, it seems that there is no cruelty, or even rudeness, and that MIL, SIL and DH had been functioning in a way that worked for them.

Since the efforts you have taken with the IL relationship so far aren't working for you, (hence why you're here - and Welcome! by the way!)  I'm wondering if there's some exploring to be done more directly with your own mother-daughter relationship, in a safe way and maybe with supportive outside guidance, that could help you find the peace you seek.   

Bright blessings.


Welcome Mamiof2. Please read the two posts under Open Me First. One is the Forum Agreement which has to be a fit for this to work...and the other is How This Happened...our history. Nothing wrong with your post, we just ask all new members to do this. 

I love what Sassy had to say.  I was thinking a couple of things while reading your post.  One, you said when you pointed out to DH does that mean he wasn't thinking anything about it until it upset you?  The other thing that hit me was when you said you didn't know if DH wasn't speaking to her because of stopping arguements with you or if she did something.  That was very honest of you to think of that. 

I will tell you from someone that has a really close relationship with her Mother and has a brother, that my Mother did do more for me and my kids than he got.  It isn't that she loves me any more, or my children any more than she loves him and his children just as much.  My brother and her get along great.   It was the fact, just as Sassy said that she was trying to respect that he had a wife and didn't want to take anything away from him.  Birthdays she was assuming his wife would take him to dinner or cook for him, so she just sent a present.  Me?  She would take me to lunch at my favorite restaurant, show up with a gift and bake me my favorite cake since childhood.  She knew that my DH would probably buy me a gift and take me to dinner, but wouldn't really put anything much into making me feel special.  She and I also talk about everything.  From girl issues, PMS, childbirth, etc...things my brother would die if she brought up to him.  I just think it's easier for a Mother to ask her daughter, "So did your cramps ever let up?" than it is to ask her son, "So how'd that vasectomy go?"   There conversations are mostly about his job, car...guy world.  She also tells me all kinds of family stories, things about my aunt twice removed on my grandpa's side that married into the family  :o  I imagine my brother would run screaming with agony if she tried to tell him things like that and she knows it. 

I'm not downplaying how you are feeling, I just think since you started with you never had the Mother/Daughter bond that I wanted you to know, sometimes it's not about favorites, or love or meaning to come across that way, but about who they can communicate and share better with.  I would like to hear more of if MIL has really done anything to you personally or been purposefully cruel because I would also say if she picked up a tense vibe from you in the past, could it be that she didn't really know she was doing something wrong and thought maybe backing off in case she had overstepped her place?

I say that because I am sure my DIL thought I overstepped many times, when I wasn't doing it on purpose.  Some of us have a tendency to think we are helping when maybe we are not in the other person's eyes.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Another saying that might provide some insight and comfort is "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."  When SIL is squeaking, there's no reason for MIL to pour grease all over DH as well.  In fact, it could very well be annoying!

If my parents tried to give me money I would be angry, insulted and annoyed.  The message I'd hear is "You can't make it on your own".  Even if the "reason" they state is because they gave some to my sister.  I don't want their relationship with my sister to determine how they treat me.  To me, that's not fair.  I want to be treated like me!  I don't want to be treated like my sister, just because I have a sister.

I've got some thinking points I'm going to phrase as questions, not because I expect you to answer them all. They're phrased as questions merely as a result of my limited bloggy writing style.

What did/does DH do for MIL's birthday?  Did DH bake MIL a cake for MIL's birthday?    The concept of "the same" would make far more sense to apply to a mutual relationship with each other, than to relationships with other parties.  How many pictures of MIL has DH selected himself, framed and hung up in his house?  I am assuming at least two, since that was what was expected of him to be framed at MIL's house.

If the triangle of "the same" is applied to relationships with others, then that too would be mutual as well. Does DH treat MIL "the same" way SIL treats MIL?  Did DH call MIL several times as day, if he heard SIL was calling MIL that often?  Did DH ask MIL's opinion on how to decorate his house or about what shoes he should buy?  Did DH pick up little things at the market he though MIL would enjoy snacking on or cooking with?  Did DH make sure he had a 55 minute phone call with his mother, each and every time he learned SIL had such a call with her? 

That's a problem inherent in setting the standard as "the same."   In my opinion, if MIL and SIL go shopping at the mall, DH shouldn't have to go to Nordstrom's with MIL too, to make all "the same".   Because people aren't the same.  That's why every relationship is different.  (And it's why the world is so interesting!)

QuoteI would love for her to treat my husband the same way she treats her daughter

Does your husband feel this, too?  To me, how the two people who are actually interacting feel about it, would seem to take a precendence.  If it hasn't felt hurtful or abusive to DH or MIL, it is extremely hard, probably impossible, for a third person to attempt to orchestrate what two other people should do for each other.

I am very sorry to read this brings trouble to your marriage.  I think I need to know more to understand how it does. I am unclear about how youargue with your husband all the time about this.  What are the arguements about? Is it the same arguement over and over?  I can't tell if you're telling him he should feel hurt, or gypped and argue with him when he doesn't.  I can't tell if you expect him to feel the same anger you do.   

Again, please don't take all my questions literally as questions asked to you.  These are the things I am wondering about that could provide insight to what's going on.  Of course, share only what you want here, as always.


Sassy, I agree with you when you said "fair doesn't mean equal in a quantifiable sense." You are so right and I think I tend to make comparisons in this way. I think I am hurting my husband when in fact he hasn't felt as much neglect as I thought. Don't get me wrong he has mentioned to me the unfairness he feels and that his sister is the favorite, but I guess I was wrong for pointing out additional things to him that I picked up on. The birthday cake is something he mentioned to me and this was way before we were even married. I think it hurts my husband that his M makes such a big fuss, inviting people over to cut her DD a cake for her birthday and for her son she never did it even before we were married. I guess he sees some differences where there shouldn't really be one, whether it is a mother/daughter or mother/son thing. I just believe there are some things that if done for one child should be done for all your children. And i am referring to young aged-children not adult children. Now he is an adult and I can see why she wouldn't cut him a cake but would for her daughter. Because it is my duty and i love it. She is not a cruel person. In fact she is very kind to me but I just decided to keep my distance so that it wont bother me. Most of the time she treats me like a daughter but it seems that she will drop us the second her daughter needs her. MY DH and I go out our way to help and even help her out financially more than her daughter and I feel like why should we always give 100% if she can drop us the minute her daughter needs her.
I remember the time I just gave birth to my son and DH had to leave to work so she stayed with me to help me. Her daughter called for her to accompany her and the kids to the zoo and she left me. I couldn't walk up and down the stairs with the baby because of my stitches and had to stay upstairs the whole day until someone could stay with the baby. I hadn't eaten all day and that was my 1st day home with the baby. Another instance is when I broke my ankle and was in crutches  and my son was only 5 months old. She didn't come to help me. And she doesn't work or anything. Come to think about it she doesn't owe me anything but i just thought since the baby is her GC she would help me. There are many instances where this happened but now I notice they have nothing to do with her son just me and I am nothing to her so I shouldn't take it personally. Maybe it's me she doesn't like and just puts up a front to keep her son close because she knows in order to keep her son close she has to be nice to me. I don't know....

Thank you for your comment. You've given me such good advice and good feedback. You don't know how much I appreciate this. 

lancaster lady

Hi Mami and Welcome ,

My take is that if your DH isn't worried or upset about his treatment from his DM , then it shouldn't
bother you .
How does she treat you and your kids ?
My DS is married with a DD but my DD isn't .
However I'm sure that if and when she does get married I will be more involved with her
and her family than my DS.
Some DIL's on this forum don't want their MIL involved in their lives at all , it's just a way of life
IMO that Moms are more involved with their daughters than their sons .


POOH- Thank you for your comment. You bring some light into the situation.
Like i was telling Sassy she treats me like a daughter most of the time. We used to speak everyday and can even spend hours on the phone. We've talked about everything, from her family to my family to her daughter, to her son-in-law etc. I guess what bothers me is that she can treat me like a daughter for some things and for other things not.  My friend once told me its nice that she treats me like a daughter when its convenient for her but all the times i've really needed her she's never been there for me. And i find some truth in that statement because when it comes to taking her shopping, or paying her credit card bill, or picking her up from her daughter's house to take her home (after she just finished spending time with her daughter's family not ours), or giving her $ when she really needs it, or consoling her because she finds out her husband (who left her 10 years ago) is playing her again, i'm always there. I'm not saying her daughter isn't there because i am sure she is but I am too. But when I've really needed her for example recuperating from giving birth to my two children, recuperating from a broken ankle, etc. she has not been there for me.
I understand totally that she has a different relationship with her DD than she does with her DS, but she makes me feel like a daughter sometimes and others I just feel like a typical DIL.


Bless your heart.  I do think that was very wrong of her to come over to help you and then just up and leave to go to the zoo with DD.  She should have told DD she couldn't because she was helping you. 

I also think the more "needy" children seem to get more of some Mother's attention.  I was like Sassy, I never asked or got money from my parents once I was on my own.  I never asked for anything but when my brother moved out, I think he borrowed money from them at least 10 times but I didn't expect it because he got it.  I was proud of myself for making it and not having to ask.  Looking back now though, my Mother let him borrow money but yet she brought me "things" all the time.  She would come to my apartment with a laundry basket full of cleaning supplies and say she had hit a "buy one get one free" sale and wouldn't possibly use them all.  She would bring me diapers when the kids were born saying she found them dirt cheap.  She knew I would never ask and it was probably her way of contributing to me without me feeling like she was.  Ha ha...sometimes I realize I'm so stupid about things til much later.  She never brought him "things" probably because she felt like he needed to do better about managing his money.  So I'm sure I did get more stuff from her than he did.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Hi Sassy,
What did/does DH do for MIL's birthday?  Did DH bake MIL a cake for MIL's birthday?   
For MIL bday we take her out to dinner. Her DD didn't use to do anything for her until her mother complained to her that we take her out and she (DD) never does.

How many pictures of MIL has DH selected himself, framed and hung up in his house? He has one picture up of his M. Her DD has none.

Does DH treat MIL "the same" way SIL treats MIL?  DH doesn't treat her the same. He rarely calls her. But that might be because I call her everyday and let him know how she is doing and what is new in her life.   
Did DH pick up little things at the market he though MIL would enjoy snacking on or cooking with?  He doesn't but I do. I make a list of anything she needs or call her from the market and ask her if she needs anything.

Does your husband feel this, too?  DH feels this way to a certain extent but like I said I did point some things out to him which i shouldn't have. My MIL is obsessed with her daughter. She even told me that her husband left her because she was taking too much care of her son-in-law. She even told me that her son-in-law can't stand her now and treats her bad but that in the past she loved her son-in-law as much as her son or even more than her son. Those were her exact words. So you tell me if there is anything wrong there.

What are the arguements about? Most arguments are about how she treats her DD and DD's kids differently from us and his solution is to just not speak to them anymore. Other arguments are because he doesn't feel hurt when I think he should or he doesn't see the things that I see because he is hardly with them. I am the one they call to see how DH is doing, or when they need a favor, or when they want to invite us somewhere. Basically if it wasn't for me they would see DH twice a year and they are aware of this. That is just how DH is even before we were married. DH was in bad shape before we married and everyone in his family thanks me and tells me that he is turning his life around thanks to me. I've worked so hard to keep my family on track and believe that it is because of my MIL negligence as a child that he is the way he is.


He is the way he is...or he's turning his life around? Sounds to me like he isn't that way he was any longer. That's great. He's so lucky to have you and to experience your caring. Healing so often follows that.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Hi Pooh,

Sometimes I think its her ignorance that makes her the way she is. I forgot to mention that two years ago I made reservations for DD, MIL, and two cousins of mine to come to dinner for my bday. MIL told me that she had to go to a babyshower the day of my bday and that we all had to go to the babyshower. I told her that I already had my bday plans and wouldn't be able to attend but would take her off the reservation and she proceeded to tell me that my bday was not that important anyway and that we could celebrate it any time. Its things like this that have caused me to keep my distance and back off.
Thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate it. :)


I consider my birthday a National Holiday and don't expect the bank or post office to be open!  8)
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Louise, Our birthdays are always special and it proves who is really there for you if they can join in the celebration ;D
Seeing another year is something to celebrate!  :)


So it has always been this way between DS and DD?  Even growing up? (since you said MIL neglience as a child he is the way he is).  I was taking your posts to mean that since they have been adults.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell