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Need advice to deal with my Step-MIL

Started by spacecase1, August 03, 2010, 09:15:24 am

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I hope you all can share a little advice with me, as I think that my situation maybe unsalvagable.  I'm not sure that I am brokenhearted at that, but I guess I want to approach my SMIL in a way where I am trying to be soothing and not be an instagator.

I married my husband (her stepson) over 14 years ago, before she married his father.  I flew alone to meet them (he was deployed) for Christmas, I thought it only right they meet me before the wedding.  She was very cold and rude to me- I was told she had just gotten used to the prior girlfriend.  At the wedding, she made a small scence between herself and his mother, and also said some unflattering things to my sister about me.

She bagered me for year about working and not staying home- I was in the Navy and am now a professional in industry.  However, I do all housework, cooking, bills, etc- I take care of my husband very well and always have.  I have always bought all birthday, christams, Mother's day gifts, cards, etc for his entire family for our whole marriage.  And I wasn't ready to have kids.
Then I did have a pregnancy and miscarried.  I was depressed and she told me, point blank, I was better off and get over it.  I understand what she meant, but you don't say that.  Not right.  And once I did have a child, she told me, a breakfast in front of my husband and FIL and 9 month old (I was feeding her panacake) that breastfeeding was "disgusted and you might as well have sex on the floor of a resturaunt".  I BFed for 2.5 years- my daughter had a brith defect and her DRs all said it was the best thing I could do (another subject).  No one defended me.

That is the typical.  She snipes at me, for whatever reason, and I feel like I should stand up for myself.  My husband doesn't because, frankly, he hates her and won't say anything to make his Dad mad.  His Dad doesn't do confrontation, so that means I am on my own.  And I am very concerned that she will say things in front of my daughter, and regardless of wether or not she will understand- someday, she will.  And it's just not right.

And now, she wants everything left to her childern and told me point blank that my husband and his brother won't get anything in the will "over my dead body", so my husband feels if we don't visit, she will manage to cut him out of his father's life.  In short, she wins. (He could care less about $$ but feels this is a tactic to get rid of him althogether - and he won't speak to his Dad about it).

So, in order for him to see his Dad, I have to deal with the verbal abuse du jour.  Other than just walking out of the room whenever I am alone with her, I am not sure what to do.  I am afraid one day, I might REALLY tell her what I think.  That would be disaterous.


You don't have to have a relationship with the SMIL. It is vital your Husband has one with his father. Consider the source of her nastyness and don't take it to heart. If she were your MIL, not SMIL...I'd be more concerned. She doesn't spend alone time with your daughter, does she? Meet out at a restaurant for dinner or invite them to your home (this way you can set the perameters for the behavior)
Rudeness is Rudeness. It doesn't warrant ruining your sons relationship over the SMIL's bad behavior.
I have this thing about being a better person. Love with kindness and empathy. Maybe when you all leave...your FIL talks about you, his son, his GD. Maybe he is very happy when you are there and an old commuggen when you leave and she is jealous. The nicer you are the kinder of a person you are will always give you truth to stand on.
From a very hurt MIL....that doesn't deserve it.....Nothing good comes from family discord or confrontation. Even if she is not receptive and is still nasty, just avoid her and be the bigger gal.
You'll be o.k. Your husband will appreciate you, your FIL will love you even more and you will show your daughter some good things.
Blessings to you.


Do you have to go with him when he visits his father, since the main point of the visit is for contact between the two of them?  Not sure how old your daughter is now, but I can't imagine the visits are a whole lot of fun for her, and that could be a good excuse to stay home if you need one.
This too shall pass.  All is well.


ohboy...??-  They won't come to see us (FIL won't travel by choice) and they live an hour out of their town (5 hours from us), so really going to a common location to diffuse things insn't an option.  My daughter is 3 and has only been away from me for 3 nights before, so she doesn't spend time alone with them and probably never will. 

Believe me, I do try to be the bigger gal.  I bite my tounge until it bleeds, LITERALLY at times.  So I think perhaps just avoiding conversation and alone time with her is the only ting I can do.  I've not only offered the olive branch before, I have given the whole tree.  I just don't think she is a happy or truly nice person.

elieshaye- I encourage my husband to go alone, and I understand when he wants to take my daughter.  Unfortunately, at this age, that is not possible for her to go without me.  As I pretty much take sole care of her at their home (her food, baths, bedtime, play with her) while he "visits" with his father, there is not much for her to do later either.  Trutfully, other than acknowledging that she is there, they aren't really interested.  They have other grandkids who live there.  My husband also doesn't like to go alone because he doesn't like to be with his stepmom.  Go figure.


You're a good wife to go and support your husband. Bring some things to do with your daughter when you visit and try to make the best of it. Life is short and since they aren't too interested, you probably don't have to make the visit often.
Best of luck and my prayers are with you.


Sounds like you got the double-whammy:  The fairytale "wicked stepmother" and the nasty MIL all in one giant moster package.  Bless your heart!

I tend to disagree with the advice to ignore your SMIL.  That's initially how my DH suggested that his mother and I deal with one another, so that HE could maintain a relationship with her, but I didn't have to.  When we had our child, that ideology led to nothing but disaster as I felt like someone who treated me as "invisible" shouldn't have access to my child.  I'll let you guess how well his mother took that.   ;)

I think it's so typical for those boys to say "that's between YOU two, I'm staying out of it" in order to avoid that confrontation and remain neutral.  The fact is, your DH is there, in the middle of this, by default.  Whether he likes it or not, he IS your connection to this woman.  If it weren't for him, you could just say "ok buh-bye!" to this woman like a perfect stranger and never think twice about it!  Unfortunately, it's just not that easy because she is your DH's family. 

Your DH sounds SO much like mine used to be.  When his mom made snarky comments to me or around me, I told him how it hurt me.  He said "well, tell her about it!"  I did, it blew up, she called me everything in the book...and DH remained "neutral" and would not defend me to his mommy.  That hurt.  It took him some time to realize that the less he got involved, the more his mother tried to push me out.  She quickly learned that she could be as nasty as she wanted to me WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE, because DH conditioned her that way.  He reinforced her bad behavior by never holding her accountable.

Think of it this way:  A small child learns by both reinforcement and consequences (as do adults).  A child bites another child.  Mommy sees her child bite the other child, but says nothing.  The child bites the other child AGAIN, harder this time, seriously injuring the other child.  Mommy still says nothing.  The child bites the same child again, and another child, and another child and so on...because now the child thinks it ok to bite because Mommy didn't say it wasn't ok.  Mommy reinforced the child's bad behavior by simply doing NOTHING. 

My point is, if your SMIL wants to get rid of you by being repeatedly snarky and nasty to you she will continue to do so until there is some kind of consequence...YOUR feelings don't matter to her.  You're the person she's trying to hurt!  But she doesn't want to hurt her (step)son.  As long as it doesn't hurt HIM, she will continue to do what she's doing...because by doing nothing, he is reinforcing her bad behavior. 

Simply put, you standing up for yourself will make you feel better, but if he's not defending you too...you don't have a leg to stand on with her.  I'm not at all saying the two of you have to approach this in a bombshell kind of way, but he does need to (politely at first) tell her to keep her comments to herself.  And HE has to do it.  You confronting her is exactly what she wants, don't react to her!  You can't control her actions, but you CAN control how YOU react (or don't react) to it. 

Sending lots of hugs and prayers for you.     


QuoteMy husband doesn't because, frankly, he hates her and won't say anything to make his Dad mad. 

If the cruel idiotic remarks of a cold, uncaring woman that your DH openly hates upset you greatly, and considering the source does not lessen the pain for you,  then I think you should refrain from visits with cold uncaring people that your DH hates.  For yourself and your daughter.  If DH wants to see his father, he certainly should go.

QuoteMy husband also doesn't like to go alone because he doesn't like to be with his stepmom.

Then he understands that's the same reason you shouldn't go.  If DH visits, then he's with his stepmom, whether you go or not.  His rationale does not even make sense. 

Unless what is meant is, DH knows Step-MIL treats people poorly.  DH is fully willing and able to ignore the rude, idiotic remarks made towards his wife and child. 
However, he is less willing or unable to ignore Step-MIL's remarks made directly towards him

So he'd prefer you bear the brunt of her rudeness, just so he can be spared it.

Look, I suspect if your DH was willing to show support for you, on some level, in this interaction, you'd be able to handle the visits without great pain.
Not that he has to confront her per se, but he leaves you humiliated and feeling very alone after one of her verbal attacks.  If he simply said "I beg your pardon" or "I'm sure you didn't mean that the way it sounded" he would be both polite to MIL and FIL, and supportive of you.  By him saying nothing at all, you end up feeling he condones her shaming of you.

I like compromise in relationships.  It greases the wheels so we can go further than we can alone.
If DH is willing to begin to compromise, such as showing his support to you in a polite manner when he brings you somewhere he knows you will be treated rudely, then continue to go and support him while he visits his father.
If DH is completely unwilling to do anything to make you feel more comfortable while you do something to make him feel good, then realize what it is he expects
of you and ask yourself why you feel obligated to meet that expectation.

Please understand that you not being willing to travel just to be shamed and humiliated by step-MIL (and by FIL and by DH, as co-consipirators in silence), is not you somehow keeping him from his father.  DH is free to see his father, and if he wants to he will.  If he only wants to go as long as you will serve as the willing target for MIL's rudeness, then I have to assume he actually isn't as willing to maintain a relationship with his father as it appears. 

It's downright sad his father is barely interested in a relationship with him, and I understand your deep empathy for DH's situation in that regard. 
But in my opinion that paternal rejection does not give a spouse the right to exploit his partner.  DH can either step up and show you some support so you can handle what he himself is unwilling to, or he can learn to handle it by himself.  Whether or not DH persues a relationship with his disinterested father once some compromise is asked of him is up to him.


I would bow out and hand DH the reins. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama