Author Topic: My inlaw/dil dance  (Read 4485 times)

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Offline confusedbyinlaws

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My inlaw/dil dance
« on: December 17, 2013, 09:48:40 AM »
Reading about the MIL/DIL dance and who should lead brought about an emotional response in my.  I agree with some of the responses that in a relationship with 2 adults no one has to lead and that in itself could lead to problems.  However when it comes to the nuclear family,  the husband, wife and children, in my opinion, the husband and wife together are in the lead when it comes to the family and the inlaws need to respect that.  I wish I had realized this in my own situation.
My inlaws and I engaged in a very ugly dance.  We got into power struggles and competitions over things that in my opinion should have been ours to decide and not theirs. 
One example about a power struggle where FIL and I behaved very childish.  They came over for Easter celebration.  I had agreed to let FIL make a dish he serves over toast because my kids love it.  He made it for one of first Easters and it became a tradition because my kids then asked for it every year.  (I never liked it much, but  I love my kids) for this particular occasion, I had purchased several types of special bakery bread for the toast.  FIL brought a loaf of plain white sandwich bread and insisted on serving it instead of the breads I purchased.  I said I was happy to serve his white bread in addition to what I bought, but he wouldn't budge.  I literally pushed him out of the way to put some of my bread in the toaster.  This was my home and our gathering and I resented being told what kind of bread to serve.  I would never do that at someone else's party and never told them what to serve at their home. 
An example of the competing:  When husband had sinus surgery in his 40s.  It was outpatient and not life-threatening.  He told them I was there and they didn't need to come down to the hospital.  They came anyway and were sitting in the waiting room with me when the Dr. came out to tell us the surgery was done and went well.  The doctor addressed me and then my FIL spoke up and said we are his parents and made sure they were addressed as well.  When we were allowed to go into the recovery room, MIL was so busy doting on my husband, that there was nothing for me to do but stand there.  My husband finally became pretty irritated with her and fortunately said NO when they wanted to follow us home.
 I realize now that I didn't have to take all of this personally.  My MIL's behavior was more about her wanting to nurture her son, not about thinking I wouldn't do it well enough.  My FIL's behavior was about him wanting to be in control.  I let my ego get the best of me with them.   I should have respected myself and my feelings and not worried about saying no to them or whether they liked it or not. I am not a controlling person generally, but when it came to my home, my gatherings, raising the kids etc.  I had the right not to be in the lead, and not my inlaws.  I never wanted to control them, but when it comes to my own home, I had the right to be in control.  I wish I would have realized that from the beginning.

Offline Pen

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2013, 10:13:22 AM »
IMO we all, as humans, need security. We want to be assured of our place in the tribe and in our loved one's heart. Perhaps if people felt secure in these things they wouldn't need to fight about them or assert themselves.

My DIL turned our relationship into a competition, which I was doomed to "lose" because I wasn't going to compete for DS's love and attention (ewww!) She's still at it. Come to think of it, so is my SM (regarding my dad.) I am not at all competitive where relationships are concerned, so I was completely blindsided by both women.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline Pooh

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2013, 10:31:13 AM »
CBL I get where you are coming from.  I would plan a birthday party for one of mine and when MIL got there, she would start acting like she was the hostess.  She would be telling people, "Ok, let's play a game, then we are going to have cake..."  I would look at her and say, "Umm.....No, we are having food first, then cake, then presents.  There isn't any games as they will want to play with the toys people got them."  She would argue and tell me that we should have a game first, then grab a lighter and say, "I'll light the candles!"  It was a never-ending war between us anytime we had anything at my home. 

We are having my GS's first birthday party Saturday.  DIL asked us a couple of months ago if we would secure the same location that we had her shower since she's 15 hours away.  We did and haven't heard anything else.  I did tell YS a couple of weeks ago, "Hey.  I figured you guys wanted to do his birthday party so I haven't offered up anything.  You do know if you need me to do something, just ask?"  He said, "Yep.  DIL is really wanting to do it all."  I said, "That's awesome."

IMO, THAT's how it's supposed to work! Lol
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline confusedbyinlaws

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2013, 11:06:03 AM »
Thanks for understanding Pooh,  Your MIL sounds like a doozie!  And you even spoke up directly and she continued to ignore you! Wow!  It did seem like much of the time I spent with my husband's family, it would become a battle of wills and the strongest will (theirs) would win.  I know I was a big part of the problem too, but they just wanted what they wanted more than other people.    repeatedly took the path of least resistance and caused my own suffering in that way.  I I feel like they wanted to have my family and they didn't like the way I was doing it.  That might not have been how they felt but that's how it seemed to me.  It's clear that they loved my husband and our kids and they felt it so that's why all of them love my inlaws.  I feel bad for my husband because he is caught in the middle.  I trying hard just to bow out and not put him in the middle but he still feels that way understandably.  I feel like he does have some responsibility in this too though because he knew how I felt for many years and he didn't speak up to his parents either. 
It sounds like you are doing great as a MIL.  I am also happy to offer help and step aside for my kids and their families because of my experience with my inlaws and I agree that's how it should be.  And my daughter and DIL also like to do their own thing and don't want someone else taking over.  If I offer something and they say no, I take them at their word that they want to do it themselves and I don't feel insulted by it.  In fact, I kind of like it. 

Offline Pooh

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2013, 11:13:57 AM »
Me too.

Oh, I always spoke up to her, it did no good.  I did it nicely for a couple of years, then not as nicely the next three.  Five years in, we had a huge blowout and I unleashed five years of anger on her.  I refused for two years after that to see her.  Now I let DH take the boys as much as he wanted....which infuriated him because he had to do something....hee hee...side benefit.  It was only after my boys asked me why I didn't like their Nanny that it hit me, that's what they thought.  So I started going again.  She was nicer for about a year, then slowly started back her old ways.  I truly just learned that it was her, not me and learned to ignore her for the most part.

Want to know the stupidest thing I thought she ever said to me?  Sitting in my living room one day, she snarkily looks at my living room window and says, "Really?  Are those the same curtains you had up last month?"  I was all, "Ummm....yes."  She rolled her eyes at me and said, "My dear.  Don't you know you have to change out the curtains with the seasons?  I'll buy you some fall ones."

I can tell you to this day, I take down my curtains, twice a year and wash them....then they go back up!
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline confusedbyinlaws

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2013, 05:28:38 PM »
You mean there are people who change their draperies with the seasons?  I don't think I've ever known anyone who did? 
The worst thing my MIL said to me was this:  "Do you still know how to read, or do you just listen to books on tape?"  and then she actually said "oops"  This came about because my MIL was always passing on these stupid novels to me (not my husband) and I rarely read any of them.  I do read but not as much as my husband or MIL.  My husband probably reads 3 books a week.  MIL was a teacher and reading was very important to her.  At the time that she made that comment I was working and still raising kids and had very little time to read.  I had to travel to a nearby town about an hour away regularly so I started listening to books on tape while I drove.  MIL was always asking me what I was reading (even though often it wasn't anything) and I would feel like the bad pupil because I hadn't read any of the books she gave me.  I just stood there with my mouth open when she said that though.  I think it might be the meanest thing anyone ever said to me.  ( I know I am not very thick-skinned)
I did confront her about that comment later along with talking to her about the passing on books to me and quizzing me about my reading habits.  She laughed and said "Did I say that?"  She never apologized or even admitted to saying it.  That was probably about 15 years ago and I did talk to both of my inlaws about all of the issues I was having at the time.  I was proud that I was able to assert myself at that time with them without losing my temper and they appeared to listen and didn't get mad.  However nothing seemed to sink in... no acknowledgement or understanding or apology... just oh we love you, we never meant anything by it. 
We went on for another 15 years before I tried to address the same issues again and I regret that I even tried because this last time they were completely defensive and turned everything I said back on me and then I completely lost it with them.  All it did was hurt their feelings and cause me to behave in a way I'm not proud of.  I wish I would have realized it was them and not me years ago and learned to just ignore them while protecting myself and saying a firm no to anything I didn't want to say yes to.  But at this point since I have no obligation to my grown children or my husband to have a relationship with them, I don't see the point of traveling across country to have that kind of relationship. 
It sounds like your MIL was more blatant.  Mine tried very hard to be nice, but she blurted out these very insulting things at times and then other times she would gush with compliments.  I think she tried very hard to say nice things to me, but it never seemed heartfelt to me.  So it was hard to recognize that it was her and not me and hard to confront someone who was trying to be so nice.  But her true feelings came out in subtle little sugar-coated ways that to tell you the truth I still haven't figured out.  She is very confusing to me.  She can be kind and other people in the family like her.  I didn't take my FIL as personally even though he was worse than MIL in many ways but it was easy to see his behavior for what it was.

Offline Stilllearning

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2013, 05:56:01 AM »
CBIL, maybe if your MIL had said "do you still have time for regular books or should I start loaning you books on tape?"  That may have actually been what she meant.  Your MIL has spent how many years living with her DH who is worse but not confusing?  Don't you think that alone would make a really sweet person incorporate some really unusual phraseology?  We do pick up a lot of our language patterns from the people who are closest  to us.  Maybe the confusion is actually occasional misinterpretations and if you spend some time trying to figure out the nicest meaning you can from what she says and figure she meant that then the situation might improve.  After all "you are serving that" can be interpreted in many ways, some wonderful and some horrible depending on inflection and interpretation. Just a thought.

Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
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Offline Lillycache

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2013, 06:12:15 AM »
 Not saying thay you are guilty of this at all... but here is a different perspective.  It always amazed and baffled me that even my most innocuous statements were taken as insulting and rude by my DIL.  One can take ANY sentence and "hear" it the way one chooses to.  It depends on preconceived notions about that person and motives attributed to them.. whether based on fact or not.   I gave up even trying to talk to my DIL because I learned it didn't matter what I said or how I said it... it was taken the wrong way.. and not at all how I meant it.   The same thing was true for her FOO..   I was horrified that just about everything I said to them was considered "horrible"  "rude" and "Going off" on them..    So I just gave up.   Better no contact than to have to try to weigh words.. phrase sentences and make sure the tone an inflection of every sentence was perfect.  I wasn't going to win no matter what, and I'm getting too old to play that silly game.

Offline confusedbyinlaws

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2013, 07:40:12 AM »
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.

Offline confusedbyinlaws

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2013, 07:43:19 AM »
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? 

Offline Lillycache

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2013, 08:48:25 AM »
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.


Yes..  that was insulting.   How does your MIL talk to HER kids?    Does she regularly say stuff like that in a kidding tone?  Is that something she would say to your DH or other kids?  If so.. are they insulted?  OR do they just ignore it because "that's just how mom talks".     I think may of us MILs make the mistake of talking to a DIL like she was one of our own.  I think we expect them to understand our family dynamics.... when in fact.. they can't... because we are NOT our DILs mom.   I believe we sort of expect a DIL to meld in and be like one of our kids and cannot understand why they would be insulted by our idiosyncracies.   We have to keep in mind that our DILs are NOT ours and do not understand us the way our own kids do.  This is a big problem I believe expecially when we get comfortable with a DIL being around.... we forget.. she is not our offspring.

Offline Pooh

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2013, 01:00:50 PM »
I tend to base what I think about people on their recurring patterns.  If my MIL/DIL....whoever, said something that I found rude, I will just let it go.  Everyone says something wrong every once in awhile.  I've said things that sounded right in my head, but when they exited my mouth, came out totally different than how I thought it would.  Yes, I've followed that up normally with, "Ok, sorry.  That did not come out how I meant it to."  I've also said things that I thought were ok, they could be taken a different way I'm sure.  It's when the person continuously says rude or insulting things that I realize it is how they are, not an oops.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline Stilllearning

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2013, 01:44:47 PM »
So Pooh, once you realize that they are just that way (insulting or rude) do their barbs hurt you as badly as they did before or do you take what they say with a grain of salt?  Once I know someone is just rude I either just ignore them because their opinion does not matter or call them out.  Sometimes all it takes is saying "wow" and walking away.  Anyway I have a new favorite saying....

The past is just a story.
And once you realize this, it has no power over you.
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
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Offline confusedbyinlaws

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2013, 03:59:22 PM »
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

Offline Pooh

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Re: My inlaw/dil dance
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2013, 06:11:16 AM »
No, their barbs don't hurt like they used to.  I'm not going to sit her and lie and say that every once in a while, someone that is like that will say something that still ruffles my feathers, but for the most part, once I've made that conscience decision that they are just a jerk, it doesn't bother me.  I tend to actually think it's funny.  For me, once I take my power back, they have no power over me any longer.  I ignore them or just raise my eyebrows at them (I can raise only one at a time, always something I've been proud of) and kind of shake my head with a grin.  That usually gets my point across.

CBI, if you don't want to go and your DH is ok with it, then don't.  Don't be miserable.  If you can't go and just ignore it, or have fun with it, then go do something you enjoy or have some peace and quiet.  As much as the first years with my MIL were horrible, I usually had someone else around that I did enjoy.  Like my ex FIL.  I always loved him and he was so different from her.  She had a very young daughter that I enjoyed.  But if you can't find anything to make you happy while your there, I wouldn't go.  I was always honest with myself.  It probably made MIL and DH's visit easier, and maybe others, when I wasn't there because it relaxed the attention.  Although the older Sister did tell me one time that she wished I would come back because without me there, her Mother was back to criticizing her again.  We both laughed and laughed over that.  It truly wasn't just me that she did it to, she did it to everyone.  Although that doesn't make it ok, it made it easier for me to accept that it was on her, not me.

Just to give you guys a laugh this morning....my GS is here finally.  We are having his 1st birthday party tomorrow.  And guess who's coming?  Yep, my Ex-MIL and Ex-FIL.  They are the other great-grandparents to him.  My YS asked me a couple of weeks ago if I minded if they invited them.  It didn't bother me one bit.  They were always good to my Sons.  It's just funny that it's coming full circle. 
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell