May 25, 2019, 03:18:56 am


"Welcome to -- 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."

Uninterested MIL

Started by TheDivineMissK, March 14, 2012, 08:53:51 pm

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Hi All!

I am having problems with my IL's and am looking for some advice.

Things have never been great with the IL's. Long story short, they have never like me since day one. There was a two year cut off from 2007-2009 due to their lack of respect for DH, Me and our marriage.

Anway. DH and I have been married 7 years and I am at breaking point with his family.

MIL & FIL show absolutely no interest in us at all. DH has one sister, who is older, and she has always been their favourite. MIL constantly talks about how hard she tried to get pregnant with SIL, and has told us that DH was an accident.

We live about 10 mins from MIL & FIL - yet see them only every couple of months. They never call, and rarely visit, we invite them over but when they come, or usually MIL comes alone, they stay for about an hour and then have to leave. We are never invited to their home. MIL spends several days a week with SIL and her kids. MIL also supports them financially. She is over involved in their lives. Personally, I think SIL is quite happy to trade some personal autonomy and have MIL involved in all her decisions, be at the birth of her kids etc, for the financial benefits. I feel sorry for SIL's DH. I have seen him holding his screaming baby, trying to settle her, only to have MIL rip her out of his arms. She does not understand boundaries.

We are the ones who always have to make the effort. DH calls her every week or two, and when he does, she talks about herself and SIL and the GK's for about 10 mins, then has to go. Never asks about his life. Just does not seem to care.

One part of all this that bothers me is that they will call if they want something. SIL is just as bad as MIL & FIL when it comes to do this. SIL never makes an effort either and anytime she wants a cake for a party, she will send me a message by Facebook - never call - to ask me to make a cake. When her last daughter was born and we went to visit (with gifts for both kids and lunch), she shoved a brochure in my hand that had a picture of a baby quilt on the front and said ' I thought you would like to make something like this for DN#2'. Gee thanks.

Holidays are another problem, MIL & SIL make all the plans and then tell us at the last minute what the plans are. They never include DH and I in planning.  We are expected to just come along and do as they say. Last Christmas was the FIRST ever (We have been together 12 years) that they all came to our house and let me cook (Even though I am an excellent cook and every year have offered to help but have been shut down) and the only reason for this was because neither of them wanted to do it this year, SIL had no time because she is too busy with the kids, and they both hate cooking - yet knowing how much I love to cook, they have never let me do anything before - I think they just couldn't be bothered so let me do everything. While I was in the kitchen cooking, they opened all their gifts. Nice.

In October last year, when I was going through some things with my own family, and I just couldn't face going to one of their parties for the kids (Dh went, with a gift and apologies for me) MIL actually called me that night and asked about my absence. I told her I was dealing with some personal issues, and then to my surprise, she asked if they had done anything. I was going to be my usual non confrontational self and say no, but found myself letting loose. I was nice though. I basically said the favouritism had to stop and that she needed to make an effort to get to know her son too, and that just because we dont have kids, was not a reason for her to never see him outside of things for the GK's and other holidays/birthdays. She went on about how she didn't want to lose her son again - okay, well then do something about it!

I understand it's different because we don't have any kids, and SIL has two, but it was like this before their were any GK's in the picture. She has a clear favourite. And it's not DH. I don't understand how someone can do that to their kids.  I also see this is happening with the two grankids. The eldest daughter is clearly #1 in MILs book. She goes on and on about her, how #1 did this and how bright she is and what she bought for her. She rarely mentions #2. It's disgusting really. I am not sure if SIL notices at all.

It's become beyond hurtful, to the point where DH has said that if either of his parents died tomorrow, he wouldn't miss them. He has had problems calling them on their bahviour in the past, and his way of dealing with it, is to just pretend they dont exist until we have to see them, then go and put on a face. I don't want to do that. I think he needs to say something. I did though, and it made no difference.

I am just sick of being the one who always tries so hard to be get their approval, and know that I will never get it. Yet I consistently put myself out there. I make the cakes and buy the gifts they want. I tell DH to call his mother and make an effort, and then see the way they reject him.

I need help. Why do I keep putting myself through this misery for such selfish people? How can I help my husband without being nasty about his family?

Thank you for reading.



Perception is everything.   Imagine if this MIL was always pushing herself into your lives!  Maybe it's a good thing that she isn't focused on you and DH.    If the favoritism ended and she started being up in your business like she is with her daughter, would  that be something you want?

"Why do I keep putting myself through this misery for such selfish people?"
Who knows, but since you are aware of this behavior pattern, you can change it.   I wouldn't worry so much about 'why' but just focus on redirecting your attention.

"How can I help my husband without being nasty about his family?"
I think your husband can be helped by providing a loving, cheerful home for him.  He has his issues with his family that you can listen to.  Maybe let him know that you want to move on from this misery yourself but that you want to know what he needs from you.  It's likely something simple.

"MIL & FIL show absolutely no interest in us at all."
This is your out, in my opinion.  You don't have to be a part of this.  If they are not interested in having you there, half the job is done.  Imagine if they were awful and were demanding  your attention!   Good luck!


It does seem simple on the surface - and I wish it were as easy as just to say, well they aren't interested in us, so we can just pretend they don't exist. The two year cut off for me was something I was completely at peace with. But DH is the one who made the choice to let them back in our lives and I have always supported his choices when it comes to his family.

Imagine if they were awful and were demanding  your attention!

I think for me, the biggest problem, apart from seeing how they treat DH, is that they do demand - it's all about them and what they want. I did mention this in my post, that the only time we hear from them is when they want something from us. This is what I don't know how to deal with. I know I should say no, and DH should too, but for some reason, I just don't know how. When we have said no before, it's met with passive agressive comments & dirty looks. I am a natural people pleaser, much to my own detriment.  They take advantage of me and I know it, but I let them - because I always have this hope that one day something I do will be enough for them that they will welcome us into their little club.

MIL has already told us that when we have kids she doesn't want to look after them when I go back to work - hey that's fine because #1 We never asked her to & #2 her house is disgustingly filthy and she smokes near the Grandkids she already has and inside her house.

It also seems to me like she doesn't actually want us to have kids, because every time we mention it, she says 'there's no need to rush'. We have been together for 12 years and married for 7. Hardly Rushing. However, this didn't stop her from asking us if we did have a boy would we make his middle name the same as Dh's and Fil. Right

If it were just about them not being interested in us, well it would be easy to keep away from them. But MIL is so cruel in the way she has favored SIL over DH. She leaves little crumbs for him. She raised her kids to complete for her attention by pitting them against each other. She actually wrote on Facebook once that her proudest acheivement was SIL.

Does anyone here have experience with this?


My take: MIL is how she is. That's her choice and she is going to continue to be how she is. Not wanting her to be how she is, gathering evidence that she is not OK as she is, chafing under the injustice of who she hurting you, not her. Move on without her in every way you can. Create your own lives beyond who and what she is. That's the only way I see to survive it. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Thanks Luise.

I think I was raised with this Family First Mentality. You know, your family comes first blah blah blah, and I guess for me, somewhere that translated into letting myself become a doormat.

I have always felt like if I just give up, I am a bad person. It's nice to get some validation that you don't have to allow it. That you can just let them go.


My take: You matter. You deserve respect. When we don't respect ourselves we set ourselves up. Most of us were raised the way you were and can't help but trip over our expectations. No one else is obligated to fulfill them. They are ours. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I don't have a very wide tolerance for mistreatment and so it's probably easier for me to let go of people that I don't like.  Maybe you just haven't reached your limit.  If it doesn't seem like something you can do, then don't worry about it.  When you're ready to make some changes, you'll know it and you'll have your own personal strength in place to take action.  Maybe when they make their demands, you can decide each time if it's something you want to do.  You don't have to make up your mind about how you need to act for the rest of your life.

As far as the favorites, I've experienced it from a sibling point of view.  My sis and dad have always been each others favorites  - always.  When my son got married, he was "too fragile" to come to the wedding but a couple of months later, flew right over us to go to sis's son's wedding.  It wasn't really a surprise, since he had been flying over us for decades to visit her family but never coming here.   What are ya gonna do?  They are who they are - at least your MIL admits it. 

I'm here to tell you life is too short to let mean people tie up your time and attention. 


Why do you and DH wait around for MIL and SIL to make the holiday plans?  make your own plans and then let them know what you are doing and how they can fit in.  If you want to host, host.  If they don't show up, that's less people to cook for.  Go on a trip.  Spend it with your family.  volunteer somewhere. 

If they make a demand, say no.  Or say you'll think about it.  Or ignore it.  Or promise them the moon then forget about it.  Or do a really bad job so they'll never ask again.\]\

If DH has been trained to compete for mom's attention and is used to being second place, it'll be hard to snap him out of it.  But if he's used to going along with MIL and SIL, he probably won't put up much fuss if you present him with a plan.  "Oh we can't go to SIL's for dinner, we're going to the theater that night."  "We're going skiing for Christmas, remember? I've invited theym over for New Year's day."

Good luck.


Welcome TheDivineMissK :)

Please read the topics in the category Open Me First.  We ask all new members to do so to get a feel for WWU and how we came about. 

DH and I have a similar situation with my in laws.  MIL plans everything with SILs and then tells us last minute.  Through time and trial and error we've come up with a few things that have helped US.  IMO, it's futile to try to change them, you had the conversation and now the ball is in their court.  But you can do things to make it easier on you guys.  Here's some things that DH and I came up with to make it easier on us.

1 - any invitation (or demand) issued with less than two weeks notice is an automatic no.  I didn't even like the sound of this one because it seems so rigid but I gotta say, it works!  It may not always get MIL to politely ask us to come to something with a good amount of notice but it does ease the stress on DH and I.  DH told her once that as a family our schedules are booked at least a few weeks out and it's best if she asks well in advance.  And now if he gets grief or a guilt trip, demand about x event he simply says "remember what we talked about" or "we talked about this" and says he has to go.

2 - we've also taken back holidays, we felt like sitting ducks.  They are there for us to plan, not MIL and SIL.  So we make our plans for the holidays and if we have time or the inclination, we might go to part of their celebration but they are a side issue.  Our family is the main deal and we make sure our holiday is fun for all of us.  Sometimes we'll plan something and then about a month out invite DHs FOO, we've yet to have them agree to come simply because it is not their tradition but that's their loss.  We tried.  And then we go on to have our own holiday fun.

IMO, it's up to you and DH.  DH and I took what seemed to be the most stressful and changed our mindsets about it and it worked.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


I know it hurts you to see DH not be treated well by his mother.  But, you can't make up for the fact that his mother is disappointing to him and hurts him.  He's the only one who can deal with that, or figure out when he's had enough.  The only part you have control over is your own reactions to her, especially her demands.  I think you've had some good insights aboutwhy it's so difficult for you to take that control.  I like Pam's advice about talking with your DH about what you each find most stressful, and coming up with ways of handling those specific situations that you can both agree to.  I would also add that for those situations that are up to you alone (when she asks you specifically to do something for her, or if there is any expectation that you have to call her/answer the phone when she calls) you can decide how you're going to handle each one, and then just go ahead and do that.  It's going to feel "wrong" at first, because of your desire to please, and your feeling that she might magically become a different person if you just can find the right approach or if you try hard enough, but that discomfort is something you have to work through, and doesn't necessarily mean that ignoring her or saying "no" is inappropriate in this case.  KWIM?
This too shall pass.  All is well.


My take: Having people be how they are is no easy task. However, it is the springboard to resolution. You have nothing to say about the other person's choices. What you have is your own ability to choose. Being at the effect of another is a choice and so is moving on and choosing not to be. Patterns often have to be broken; innate politeness and even, at times, hope have to be restructured. And it's worth it IMO. Partnerships can be strengthened and you can be role models in the process. Sending love...   
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama