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Looking for advice on future MIL

Started by FruitistOfPebbles, May 17, 2014, 05:07:45 pm

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I'm going to try to condense as much as possible. But hopefully any MIL's or paternal grandmothers might be able to give me some insight.

Since me and my fiance have gotten engaged what was once a nice, kind woman has turned into the most manipulative, cartoonish disney villian version of a monster in law I could have imagined. She seemed to accept me just fine as his live in girlfriend of the past almost 5 years but now I couldn't even begin to understand what is going on in her head.

She's the mother of 2 adult children, her daughter ran off and eloped so we knew this was going to be the only one of her kids 'weddings' she was going to have. Knowing that and also wanting to have a close relationship with her (growing up my fathers mother and mothers mother were best friends, that is how my parents met, I never understood the 'two sides' of a family before, I was raised in one big happy one, the same kind I wanted to give my kids one day)

We live more than 4 hours away, my fiance is in the service and I work as well. He works rotating shifts each lasting 12 hours or more a day, his mother is retired. We have invited her to stay with us multiple times, a big reason we got a 2 bedroom apartment was so she could stay with us, she never has. I had invited her to gatherings with us and my family, she has always refused. She makes next to no attempt to call him or keep in contact, though she does not work she still turns her phone off at 8 pm even though she knows for half the month if her son wanted to speak to her due to his work schedule he could only call her after that.

She has made no attempt to be involved in our lives at all, our constant offers of hospitality don't just get declined they get ignored, she's been invited for EVERYTHING shown up for nothing. It became apparent the only thing she did want is for her son to drop everything and spend what tiny amount of time he has, one 4 day weekend a month spending 2 of those driving to see her and the other two sleeping on her floor. She doesn't want to be involved with me, my family or whatever family we are going to have together, she wants her son to come play house and pretend he's 15 again.

When we were planning our wedding we thought it would be a great idea to have our mothers officiate our wedding. I really wanted to include her in the highest way possible so that maybe I could have the close family for us I always wanted. She agreed, fast forward to a month before the wedding and she drops out. Blaming my fiance for everything, he doesn't call enough (phones go both ways and his isn't shut off half the time, and he did call, but she never responds to voicemails, if you don't call her until she answers its just as bad in her eyes as not calling at all) he doesn't visit (its next to impossible for him to get time off work they allowed him leave for the wedding and honey moon, nothing more, she's the one not working, who drives and lives right by a train station) his emails to her got ignored and on top of which she knows his schedule and that we were planning a wedding, but she has no consideration for others and takes no initiative to try to mend bridges on her own.

She eventually agrees to do it again after arguing with him, but as of now were set to get married in 2 weeks and she's ignoring everyone again. She's made it obvious my fiance is not her 'favorite' her daughter is a chip of the old block when it comes to manipulation and making everything out to be everyone elses fault, the same mother who wouldn't take a train or drive to spend time with us, flew her and her daughter to australia for 3 weeks just a few months ago.

The part of this killing me is how much this is hurting him. His entire life he's been blamed for everything from his sister and his mother no matter what horrible thing they were doing to him at the time. He lets his sister have his car while he's stationed elseware, sighed the papers over to her for insurance purposes, she sells it out from under him and doesn't even tell him and somehow my fiance is the one who is suposed to feel bad because she was going through some 'stuff' and needed the money, because the thousands of dollars in loans he cosigned for her to take a school trip to France she ended up not going on yet kept the money somehow wasn't enough. And then the mother who lost custody of him because she wouldnt ask her husband to move out after he assaulted my fiance holds it over my fiances head as though he left her when he was a minor taken away by cps. Yet it somehow his fault, he was raised to believe everything in the world was his fault.

As much as it's obvious to us who is to blame for the distance, she refuses to see it and implies to other family members that my fiance is just a horrible son who doesn't want to include her in anything, and I'm the reason there's separation there (they hadn't spoken for years before I started dating him until a family tradegy brought them 'back together)

She is obsessed with playing the victim, she needs everyone to feel bad for her and it doesn't make any sense. No matter what you do it isn't good enough, he sent her flowers on mothers day with an 'I love you' note, her email response the following day was how disappointed she was in him that MY mother attempted to contact her to work on the ceremony instead of him playing middleman. And "I guess you're still mad at me because you didn't call" even though she knew he was working the 1pm-1am shift and had made sure to call her his last day off because he wouldn't be able to speak to her. She isolates herself then blames everyone else for isolating her. But she wont tell it to YOU she'll tell it to everyone else and just treat you horribly. She's mad at the bridal party because they threw us a shower and she wasn't asked for anything other than a guest list, though she has shown ZERO interest or initiative in being involved with anything related to our wedding, she could have done a small engagement part for us months and months ago but again, she takes no initiative just complains when people, even strangers can't read her mind. At the shower as soon as she see's him is when she decided to back out of the wedding, doing it loudly, embarrassing him in front of my entire family, people he just met. She refused to be introduced to my mother (they had met once before, when my mom did a big favor for her which apparently didnt grant her any consideration but thats another story) because by my mother greeting her brother (who she hadnt seen in 2 years) before greeting her, the mother of the groom, his mother was slighted and wouldn't attempt to get over it. So my fiance walks up to my mother (who he has a fantastic relationship with and can actually rely on, tells her what his mother said and asks if she would walk up to his mother and introduce herself since his mother is refusing, which of course of mother did for him)

I don't care about gifts, but it's obvious by her not giving us one at the shower it was intentional, she brought his sister along to the shower knowing the two of them dont get a long and he didn't want her there. Sister also empty handed which really bothered the bridal party who threw the party. To bring the point home that it wasn't an accident the mother brought my fiances junk mail which had gotten sent to her house and left it on our gift table. She then made a very loud comment to inform us that she was not 'Ready to be a grandma', she's 55 and this isn't the first time I've heard about how much she doesn't want us having children. She then got up and walked out without saying goodbye to anyone. But still after all this and her insane behavior it's everyone elses fault.

We had rented a large house for our family to stay it at our wedding site, she refused to stay in the house with us. Yet she feels 'excluded'. In a phone conversation with my fiance recently he finally stopped catoring to her guilt trips and steered clear of her attempts to manipulate every little thing to make herself out to be pitied, at the end of the conversation after she still tried to blame everything else he tries to end it by saying 'Yeah I'm upset by the way that you've been acting and that you'd be putting us through all this so close to the wedding but at the end of the day you're my mother and I love you, we'll figure it out." Her response, "Okay bye" and hangs up the phone.

Her last attempt to blame someone else for everything is on my parents, they don't look well off, they lost their house to a hurricane 2 years ago and being as though they were in the forclosure system that was it, no insurance no nothing so there for my parents must be bad people and make her uncomfortable because they're so 'irresponsible' (bank+hurricane took my parents house away, cps took her kid away, you do the math) oh and my adult brother has a tattoo so he must be horrible also. She has turned into the most judgmental person I've ever met. Her house was hell with her drunk all the time and his father screaming and hitting all the time, but hey their lawn was way greener than mine was growing up so they must have been better people! Ironically she was completely broke, tens of thousands of dollars in debt until a surprise inheritance windfall (long story) 3 or so years ago. The only reason she and her husband afforded a house was living with her parents well into their 30's to save up for it, as a role reversal, my parents let my grandmother move in because she couldn't afford to live on her own, while they were in their early 20's until her death 15 years later.

My heart breaks for him, it's great that he has my family and he's been fully accepted with open arms, he has a great relationship with my mother, he's actually gone to my parents house to hang out when I was at work(my parents moved from our home town to be closer to us after their house was destroyed, I joked aorund with his mother many times she should come too, she never would but still she's jealous of my family because he see's them more, yet still everyone elses fault but hers) but no matter how comfortable and happy he might be as a part of my family or with my mother, she will never be HIS mother. He has some issues, or still has but worked on them very hard, and it's clear to see what that much rejection and constant guilt has done to him through the years. While he is far from a mamas boy up until these recent incidents he had always held her to a high pedestal, now we both see her for what she is.

My questions are many for anyone who read this, though due to it's length I imagine none. Is it just all cries from attention, so much so you'll allienate your own son to feel peoples pitty? Does she honestly not see she's the one to blame, how can you reject every invitation and then turn around and claim to anyone who'll listen how left out you feel? My fiance has more or less decided that unless she actually makes an effort to be a part of our life, accepts our marraige, the future grandchildren she doesn't want and accepts the fact he's an adult with an adult life that can't drop everything to go help his mother play pretend house he's done with trying to include her in our life. But I wonder how that would play out years down the line, when even though he has his reasons, she's gone off and continued to tell his entire family what a horrible son he is.

I have had the urge that once the wedding is over with to write her a very long detailed letter, she plays this passive agressive game I don't understand nor do I allow in my life. If you're upset or mad or hurt just tell me. But I think that just might make this worse because she will find a fault in anything she can, to twist and manipulate it into something negative. I am incredibly over protective of my fiance, I know what a hard life he's had and though I'll be the first one to tell him when I think he's done something wrong watching him be manipulated and treated like this by his own mother just kills me. I don't know what mother would treat their only son this way. What mother wouldn't be thrilled to be given an open invitation by your sons fiance to visit whenever she wants, invited to every holiday. I had thought before getting engaged I was going to have a decent mother in law, though a bit distant. But so long as I kept trying to make her feel welcome and including her in things eventually she'd actually try to be a part of the family.

As much as I read women getting annoyed at their mil's calling them too often or trying to visit too often or asking a bunch of questions, I can't help to feel jealous. I wish my future mil wanted anything to do with me, I wish she cared about this wedding, I wish my fiance didn't have to feel like his mother of all people doesn't care about him at all and is just using him as a pawn in her guilt game to tell everyone how bad she has it. As bad as it is to have the wedding ceremony weve been planning for months ruined weeks before the wedding with her being so horrible, I just can't imagine what he's feeling and how much it hurts to have his mother of all people acting this way.


Welcome, FruitistOfPebbles. I'm glad you found the site; I'm sure you'll hear from many MILs and hopefully some DILs as well. Please take a moment to read the pink-highlighted items on the home page under Open Me First. You'll get acquainted with site policies and vision. We ask this of all newbies to make sure the site is a good fit.

It's hard to know what goes on in the minds of some MILs (or DILs, for that matter.) In your MIL's case it does seem as though there are a lot of unresolved issues from before. Weddings, like other big events in families, often bring out the worst in people. If there are things that haven't been dealt with, there's nothing like a wedding, a funeral, or the birth of a new baby to get everyone's emotions going full blast. In my case it was my DIL who made a 180 degree turn to the dark side and suddenly wanted nothing to do with me. I'd be thrilled if my DIL cared as much as you do about keeping the mom/son relationship intact.

Trying to figure it out can be crazy making! All you can do is control your reactions to your future MIL's behavior but you are powerless to control anything she does. You seem to have done your best to give her the opportunity to feel included in wedding plans and beyond. The rest is up to her. I do think your fiance should stand beside you and firmly set boundaries regarding her treatment of you. The sons have a huge role to play and often tend to leave it to wives and moms instead.

Oh, and best wishes :)
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


May 19, 2014, 09:11:48 am #2 Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 09:13:42 am by Pooh
Welcome.  I too wish I had a DIL that wanted a relationship so kudos for you for trying so hard. 

It sounds like you have made very valiant attempts to include her in all kinds of things.  It also sounds like she's a revengeful person.  I too think you should just enjoy your wedding and not fret about the choices she is making.  It truly is in her court and sounds like her daughter is probably her best ally in playing the "whoa is me" card.  As long as she has an audience that is agreeing with her, unfortunately she will continue the behavior.

It sounds like your fiancĂ©' has a good handle on how she is, although it's hurtful to him.  I so wouldn't write her a letter and just let him handle her how he sees fit.  Anything you write is going to come off as "See how bad she is for him?" when you have someone like her.  Get through the wedding, continue to issue invites but don't plan on her coming.  If she shows up fine, if she doesn't fine, if that makes you feel better, but don't let her rule your household and how you do things.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Woah! That was a longy!  ;)...I bet it helped to get it all off your chest.  I hope so.  :)

What your MIL needs to learn is  that it's normal for  sons to  call less, visit less, and even think less of their Mommies. They are  big boys  now,  and it's the law of nature for them to turn their undivided attention to their new wife and family.

Have you suggested to your Fiance' that he talk to  his mother  about this? He should leave you completely out of it. As a mother of two sons, I too had to learn to let go. And I hate to admit it, but  I thought  maybe my  DIL was  a little at fault that my son never came around anymore. But it wasn't her fault at all. My son was simply following his instincts. Maybe some neutral  friend could speak to your MIL about this.

Whatever, give her time. Give yourself time...and it will all work out. What a wonderul  DIL you can be. And if your MIL hasn't  fallen on her head or something,..she will realize how lucky she is.

Wishing you all the best for your wedding and future.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
            -- Michel de Montaigne


WOW!  Hopefully writing it all out has helped you be able to take a breath!  Especially so close to the wedding!!  My advice to you is handle her "Matter of fact".  She never had a close relationship with her family (from the sounds of what you wrote) and so that entire concept probably feels uncomfortable - and perhaps suspicious.  The more you push / reach out etc, the more she'll pull back.  If she uses email and you're so concerned that others think that your fiance' is mistreating Mommy, I would send your invites via E-mail, to a whole group of people - so that they can see that she IS included.  If you're inviting her to stay with you, cc: his sister on it, so she'll know what's going on as well.  It's hard for a pity-party person to deny this public kindness.  If she continues to lash out DO NOT ENGAGE.  That's really the best advice I have - refuse to get your heart/emotions wrapped up into it, because it is NOT going to turn out well.  "Hey - we were wondering if you'd like to spend the 4th of July holiday"  "Well, you know how {whatever} I am - and this is such a terrible time/idea/etc, you know I don't like it when xyz" you can just say "Oh.. I'm sorry about that - does that mean that you don't want to come visit?  It's the only time that {fiance'} will have a chunk of time off this summer"  Or better yet have him call.  Don't even ADDRESS her whining - just stick with the invite with the single goal of getting a level-headed, matter of fact, answer out of her.  If she says No, that's on her.  My mother is all about the passive-aggressive "poor me!" card.  Any invite would be a 20-30min conversation that I was roped into listening to, and then the eventual answer.  Now it's more like "Do you want to?"  "Uh huh - well Mom, I'm cooking dinner - just wanted to let you know about it.  Do you want me to call back?"  Cutting her off was the only way to get to the point - and actually has vastly improved our relationship - she knows I won't stand for the whining.  At the end of the day she DID want to spend time - but also just wanted someone to whine at.

Also - I don't know what it is, but parents seem incapable of understanding how BUSY people are these days.  They just seem to brush it off.  It's not just a 12 hr shift - it's also getting there and back, showering, time to eat and when you do the math, there's BARELY enough to sleep. 

Tell your fiance' - Thank You for his service!!



Pforte, I'll be honest.  I am one of those parents that brush off the "busy" excuse when that's what you hear constantly but strangely enough, they find enough time to visit the other side of the family consistently. 

It's not that I'm incapable of understanding, it's because I get tickled that people think we weren't just as busy.  Yes, 12 hour work days, raising kids, cleaning house, laundry, ballgames, tournaments, PTA, dinner, baths, friends, meetings, etc....the list is just as long as it is today.  I'm not knocking that parents today aren't busy, I know they are.  I remember how exhausted I was all the time and how I had to fit everyone in. 
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Wow!  So sad to hear of your trouble!  Do not walk, run!  LOL!   Elope!?  I did!  Too much drama from my own family so we just did it in a private.  You are doing everything the best way possible but you will not be able to help this woman better relationships w/ your to be hubby or anyone.  To not protect her child against an abusive husband says it all!  You may very well be better off for her to let her get angry all by herself and leave you both alone. You also have every right to tell her that your original plan to have her officiate has changed because she is too busy and hard to contact so thanks but no thanks.  Be absolutely polite but clear.  Please dear sister, set those limits now.  Do not be like me and take it to keep peace.  you matter too!



I am a DIL who got married a few years ago, and I just want to send you good thoughts and hugs. I've read this forum for a while now, but I've never chimed in. However, in hearing about your experience, I heard so much of what I went through and wanted to share my thoughts.

My husband and I were together about three years before we got married, and knew each other several years before that. Like you, my MIL was wonderful until we became engaged. She had lost her only daughter, so my husband and I thought it would be a wonderful bonding and healing experience for us all to plan the wedding.

Very quickly, she became very controlling and possessive of my husband. Suddenly, he didn't call enough, visit enough, etc. Like your fiancé, he was also in the military; as you know, finding time to do all these things while deploying, training, etc., can be incredibly difficult.

The details aren't important, but ultimately things got very tense and ugly with the in-laws before our wedding. It was so difficult because a) I saw how much it was hurting my husband; b) I so much wanted to please everyone, especially this new family; and c) I had envisioned this beautiful, wonderful wedding experience.

Ultimately, I smiled, tried to be kind to her despite her obvious unhappiness and most of all tried to make it a beautiful day for both my husband and me. In the end, I still look back and feel a bit cheated out of the pure bliss of that day (I was nervous and stressed out about being around her during the whole event). But, she was the one who showed her true colors (she looks visibly mad in all of our wedding pictures and several guests commented on her unpleasant demeanor afterward).

Some advice for your day and thereafter:

1) Enjoy it as much as you can. Try to concentrate on you and your amazing new husband and block any unpleasantness out (easier said than done).
2) This is more easily accomplished if you surround yourself with a fortress of people who love you. My bridesmaids and several family members knew about the situation beforehand and were charged with buffering interactions with her. Best. Wedding. Gift. Ever.
3) Be sure to come off being the bigger person. Smile, hug her, whatever it takes. Your husband (and everyone else) will see you acting with grace, and this will do wonders for your marriage.
4) Remember it's YOUR wedding. It belongs to you and your husband, and you are kind enough to let everyone else be apart of it. Do what makes YOU happy. If you can include some elements that make others feel good, that's awesome. But ultimately, it's your day.
5) There's a great book called "Toxic In-Laws." It helped me a lot. You may want to consider reading it.
6) Encourage your husband in his relationship with his mom, no matter how bad things get between the two of you. I encourage my husband to call his parents once a week (Sunday is check-in day for him). At the end of the day, she then cannot point fingers at you for the deterioration of their relationship.

I feel so much for your situation because I know how stressful all of this can be! I hope you and your husband can enjoy your day and, more importantly, the rest of your lives together! Maybe things will improve after the wedding ... I really think these events are triggers for the crazy to come out in some people!

Best of luck!


Welcome misspriss.  When you get a moment, please read the posts under "Open Me First".  Nothing wrong with your post, it's our forum rules and standards and we ask all new members to do this.

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


MissPriss, welcome to our site! Love your post. I hope your MIL figures it all out very soon. Your attitude is great, your intentions are the best, and she will be the one who misses out.

In my DS/DIL's wedding photos/ceremony/reception it was DIL's mom who had the sour face. "Our" (very few allowed) guests all asked about her demeanor afterwards. Apparently she didn't like us, still doesn't.  DS says everyone is afraid of her. However, she's the mom who gets all the attention. Go figure  :P
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Hi fop,

Misspriss had some good advice.  I wish some mil's new how lucky they were.  Letting this mess put a damper on your special day will only mean she succeeded.  You and your fiance sound like a nice couple and you deserve your special day surrounded by the love of family and friends who support you and want to share in your happiness.

  My dil didn't involve me in any of the wedding plans.  I felt hurt and left out, but she had my son tell me that "I have my own daughter and I could plan her wedding when the time came, this is something she wanted to do with her mom".  I graciously stepped back, but I did write them a nice cheque to help pay for the wedding and also paid for half the cost of the bridal shower. but............that's another story.

Like your fiance said,"you're my mother and I love you, we'll work it out".  He is hurting.  Just continue to support him, love him, and don't speak against his mom.  Believe it or not, even if she is evil, it's hurtful for him to hear it from someone else.  How wonderful that your parents embrace him.  This may be a jealousy thing for his mom too.  She sounds like a woman with alot of pain/issues.  Unfortunately, it sounds like she may have rubbed off on her daughter too

As you start your new life together, remember to enjoy your wedding day.  You won't get to "redo" it.  Enjoy each other and all the firsts that you will experience as husband and wife.  You have a wonderful family, and you, bless your heart, have tried to include his family.  Now let it go.  If it's meant to work out, it will  We can't control other people's action.

Wishing you love and happiness!


I have been in this exact situation. We are now longer together, as I reach the conclusion, that he could have simply put a stop to his mother's malpulutive behaviour at the beginning by saying ' this is the women I have chosen as my wife, my life partner, the future mother of my children/ your grandchildren, when you disrespect her, you disrepect my ability to make life changing decisions. Accept it, or don't be apart of my life anymore.

I know that this sounds harsh, but unless you can achieve a harmonious environment now, there is really no point in getting married, and introducing children into the situation, and it will only get worse.

My ex partners mother went out of her way to stop us from being together. She put a stop to several weddings by throwing trantrums to the point that my partner couldn't handle the stress and would cancel. I was particularly angry at the last one because we knew that my mother had terminal cancer, and it was the last chance I would have to have my mother at my wedding. His mother throw a fit over guess list, and called everyone on her side and told them that the wedding was off. She would alway say mean things about me, my family. She once tried to run over my dog. (she is a beautiful cavalier King Charles spaniel). She locked me outside when I was at her house and I spent the night on the front yard. (My partner was given a sleeping pill). When my mother got cancer, she said to me 'that's ok, you mother has lived a long life'. My mum was 52 at the time. When the wedding planning wasn't going her way, and I said that we would have to check with mum as she was paying for the whole event she said. 'I wish we could wait until your mother was no longer a problem, that way I could have the wedding I want'.   I know that things would never be right between her and me when she came to my house a year after my mother had passed. She just stood there justifying her reasons for why she stopped the wedding. I couldn't help but think that this women is very selfish. Her son is very unhappy, I will never have the opportunity to have my mother at my wedding, and my parents were left with a large bill of deposits they couldn't get back. It was that day I decided that I needed to find another man.
I really hope that you both manage to find a way to overcome these problems before you become married. Most mil forget, that they are not losing a son, they are gaining a small family of love.


QuoteMost mil forget, that they are not losing a son, they are gaining a small family of love.

I got both - one son I lost a family and one son I gained a family.  Unfortunately, in neither case did I get a vote.  But, we so love our one DIL; the other - eventually she left our son and abandoned her children.  My point - it is not always the about the MIL.

By the way, you were smart in getting rid of your ex-partner.  If there are problems before a marriage, I guarantee you that there were be more after a marriage.

When I reread this posting, it sound kind of "preachy" - not meant to be - just years and years of experience.


I'm not sure I agree that "most" MILs forget that they aren't losing a son but gaining a family...but there are some who do, definitely. In my case my DS was absorbed by DIL's FOO and we were left high & dry. I gained nothing.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Quote from: Pen on September 29, 2014, 10:36:30 pm
I'm not sure I agree that "most" MILs forget that they aren't losing a son but gaining a family...but there are some who do, definitely. In my case my DS was absorbed by DIL's FOO and we were left high & dry. I gained nothing.

You bring up a good point Pen.. and I think this is where a lot of MILs make a mistake.. they believe they are gaining a daughter...  and many times the DIL does not WANT to be our daughter, and does not WANT another mother.... in fact doesn't want us at all.   Many times... not even as a friend.   However many of us have a hard time believing that, even when the obvious facts are staring us in the face.  We start treating DIL as a daughter.. or how we treat our sons, forgetting that our family dynamics may be completely different.. and not understood and resented by DIL.   I know that this post was started by a DIL, but my advise to other MILs is to tread softly and keep politely neutral until you see which way the wind is blowing so to speak.