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Frequent Fry HerTM
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Doing It Together
Age: 41 & 36       MIL Age: 65

Help The Two Of Us Back Into Our Marriage

frequent fry her - Doing It Together Frequent Fry Her TM - Doing It Together /Posted: 12-FEB-02
Our counselor has finally let us know that it is clear that my DM is clinically narcissistic.  I had suspected as much when I started doing some research a year ago, but maybe I backed off this line of thought, as it seemed maybe then too irretrievable, and I was looking for a "solution".  I just wondered if any of you have done research or received counseling in how to deal with a narcissistic personality in your family.  The essence seems to be that it is virtually untreatable, and one may as well accept it.  If this is so, maybe you have some advice on how behavior/boundaries/family relationships should be managed in these circumstances.  The irony is that, immediately after the counseling session, we got a piece of mail in which my DM said that she recognizes that my first mail to her was getting "my cards on the table", and that her reaction to it was inappropriate.  And, now she wants to "start again".  I do NOT want to go through it all again, nor does my family.  And, I have told her so by mail today.  How do you think a narcissist will react to that one?!

        Signed - How Do You Think A Narcissist Will React?

( I want my own Frequent Fry Her TM Page )

frequent fry her - Doing It Together Frequent Fry Her TM - Doing It Together /Posted: 10-JAN-02
We had a wonderful Christmas and New Year.  We were away from my mother, and spent some good time with my brother and his girlfriend, and 10 days with H's family.  There was one call on Christmas Day from me, and nothing else with my mother.  This was the first Christmas holiday in a decade where we were able to really relax.  Gifts were non-eventful.  My card from her was very abrupt:  "Fred from Mum" (!) and there were a number of snide references from my mother about us in our absence at the faaamily Christmas.  But, oh, the relief for me of accepting that I am under no duty or obligation to see my mother at Christmas time.  Other updates - she is in counseling (second therapist), as am I.  And, we have asked her to try to make progress in her own counseling before we try to find a "halfway" point or basis of communication.  She is too scared or hostile to call me.  I am accepting that the likelihood of her changing is low, and that I will likely need to accept, one day, that she has characteristics that make her controlling, negative, jealous and antisocial.  And, that I am not going to change that, only she can (and, then, only if she really wanted to).  I have also been reading "Emotional Incest".  It deals with the overly close and dependent parent, and the many resulting family effects, including, obviously, MIL and DIL issues.  Interestingly, my brother, too, is on the brink of addressing the superior attitude our mother shows to his girlfriend (the family is not good as good as ours, they have to learn proper behavior, etc.) that mirror what she has done to H (worse actually, as my brother is now the chosen child).  And, they are keen to learn from our mistakes and tackle these things early on.

        Signed - Likelihood Of Her Changing Is Low

( I want my own Frequent Fry Her TM Page )

frequent fry her - Doing It Together, 1 of 4 needed Frequent Fry Her TM - Doing It Together /Posted: 15-SEP-01
OK, here's an update from F and H , still doing it together.  We are well.  It's now a year since I started a mail correspondence with my mother, saying things have to change, and that she can't keep treating us this way.  As it went on, she denied more, and I tried to simplify the message:  Don't treat me like a child.  Respect me and my choice of wife.  If you have something to say that's negative about us, either don't say it, or say it to me directly.  I wanted to give her a chance to change, as H had given me the chance to understand how my attitude to my mother, and my attitude to H in front of my mother, were taking our marriage to the brink of terminal.  We put the saga on the message board, day by day, and finally my mother got to the point of suggesting counseling.  At last, I thought there was a glimmer that something could change - that this woman could see how she treated people, and us in particular.  Well, the ladies on this site laughed, "She's just doing it so she can get her DS back," they said.  "She just wants the counselor to justify how right she is.  If she goes at all, she won't go for long."  Well, you are 3 for 3 on that!  Exactly right!!  She just wanted the counseling FOR ME!  After 2 sessions, the counselor gave up on her.  But she said (to my brother) that there was nothing wrong for the counselor to work on!!  Meanwhile, she was too scared to call me to admit that she has stopped.  She is too scared to call me to ask if we will be arriving for Xmas lunch - it's all done via my brother.  So, in the meantime, we are having some wonderful silence and freedom while thinking of how great Xmas on our own with our kids will be - free of her incessant defensiveness, denial, and negativity.  A weight from our shoulders.  No more mails at my insistence, no calls to disrupt our flow.  Feels kinda great, feels like we got a bit of our marriage back.  You are right, H is an awesome lady.  We will keep you posted, but we have resolved to keep away from her at Xmas, unless there is clear evidence that she acknowledges that she has done wrong by us, and must change her attitude.

        Signed - Must Change Her Attitude

( I want my own Frequent Fry Her TM Page )

RESPONSE:  Must Change Her Attitude
Posted: 26-NOV-01
Unless you really feel the need to speak to her on Christmas, I would suggest that you unplug the phone.  She is going to call your house, most likely early, and try to ruin your day.  Unplug the phone the night before, and have a great holiday with your loved ones.  Cheers to you for opening up your eyes.

RESPONSE:  Must Change Her Attitude
Posted: 27-NOV-01
It sounds like the light has been seen, and the marriage may be saved after all.  Plan to spend Christmas alone, regardless of what your M contacts you with - the tension will return big time if you don't.  Your DW deserves one year just for you guys.

RESPONSE:  Must Change Her Attitude
Posted: 28-NOV-01
I'm still lost by your stories, but it sounded like you reached a good point.  Good for you.  But don't think if mommy dearest suddenly changes her ways that it's permanent.  Thing's don't change.  You will always have to expect the unexpected with her.

RESPONSE:  Must Change Her Attitude
Posted: 01-DEC-01
You know, I've read a lot of your posts and I think you're acting like a jerk!  You (and maybe your wife too) seem to want to lay the blame for your marital problems at the feet of your mother.  Well, guess what?  She's not to blame!  You are!  If you let her disrespect your wife, or if YOU treated your wife poorly in defense of your mother, then YOU and only YOU are to blame.  You are an adult, living on your own, and you have made your own choices in life.  If you now regret those choices, then fine, make things better.  But, at least have the maturity to accept responsibility for your actions, and stop blaming your mother.  I have been amazed at your stamina to recount here every last nit-picky wrong you can think of to stick on your mother.  Maybe she did some bad stuff.  I don't know.  But, trying to reopen arguments that took place years ago is an exercise in futility.  You seem to want to punish your mother, and have her grovel at your feet for forgiveness.  It ain't gonna happen.  If she behaves in ways that you find objectionable, then set boundaries with her instead of demanding an apology you're not going to get, or demanding that she change who she is.  That's hardly realistic, is it?  I've read what you've posted from your mother, and she does seem to be trying.  But, it is clear that nothing short of her admitting that she is "bad" and you are "good" is going to satisfy you.  Maybe you should leave her alone!  Bottom line - stop whining so much, be a man, and accept the mistakes YOU have made in YOUR marriage, and stop blaming your mother.  Maybe then it will get better.

RESPONSE:  Must Change Her Attitude
Posted: 11-DEC-01
To the 12-1-01 poster:  Go back to your rat hole already.  We all know who you are!  If you're trying to show how obnoxious one person can possibly be, don't worry, you're by far the front runner in this race!  "Maybe" the MIL in this post did something bad, you say?  If you never bothered to open your damn eyes and read the rest of this story, who the he!! are you to pass judgment on F or H?  Only a meddling MIL would try to clear F's mother of all blame for trying to break up their marriage.  It's ALL F's fault?  I don't think so, Psycho Mom.  It would never occur to people like you that love, affection, and LETTING GO OF YOUR ADULT SON OR DAUGHTER would be far more effective for building a close relationship than fear or intimidation.  Count on this, woman, the day will come when your sons and their wives will laugh in your pathetic, begging face when you cry your crocodile tears and ask why they no longer want any contact with you.  Poor, misunderstood MIL Dread - you're only trying to help, after all!  What a pathetic, miserable life you must have if you have nothing better to do than stir the pot of complete strangers!

RESPONSE:  Must Change Her Attitude
Posted: 21-DEC-01
To the poster of 1 December - get lost.  You are so judgmental.  You can only be a MIL!  LOL.

RESPONSE:  Must Change Her Attitude
Posted: 21-DEC-01
I agree 100% with the December 11 poster.  The Dec 1st poster is someone who shows up frequently on the message boards and always has a nasty comment to make people feel bad (but she's "just giving her oooooooopinion," right?!).  I've followed the original poster's story, both on the stories page and on the message boards.  He really does have a mother-from-he!!, and he's doing a wonderful job of learning from his mistakes, standing by his wife, and doing the right thing.  I wish more people were like him.  So, to reiterate what the December 11 poster said, I wish the nasty "ooooooopinionated" December 1st poster would just retreat to her dank rat hole.

RESPONSE:  Must Change Her Attitude
Posted: 21-DEC-01
To the December 11th poster:  Bravo, and well said!  Too bad MIL-dread is too thick to understand your very wise words.  And, to F and H:  You are an inspiration to everyone on this site!  I am so happy and hopeful when I read your posts!  Thank you for sharing your courageous (and sometimes painful) journey with us!  You guys deserve much happiness!

RESPONSE:  Must Change Her Attitude
Posted: 3-JAN-02
I have been following your story with interest (and prayers!), and I do hope you all will have a wonderful Christmas.  It is sort of sad that you have not been able to resolve the issues with your mom.  But, it is infinitely reassuring to know that between the two of you, things are much better.  Sometimes, I feel that not many people understand the simple concept of marriage - the act of choosing a life partner.  How can anyone expect you to be happy if they ignore or negate the most important choice of your life?  If you two are happy together, you will find in your happiness enough to squander, even on those who do not deseve it.  And, if not, why, even just affection for parents may be seen as something that threatens the security of the relationship.  All the best to you.

frequent fry her - Doing It Together, 1 of 4 needed Frequent Fry Her TM - Doing It Together /Posted: 6-SEP-01
This one makes sense to be posted on our Frequent Fry Her page - on "this weeks stories" it will not have any context or relevance. (Editor's Note: Happy to oblige.)

My mother's view - extracts from her mail to me - in date order of her responses to me F - starting with the first one.  I post this so readers of our F-F-H page can see the other side to the story:

I felt that I must not be too hasty replying to your mail, so have left it to the very end of the list - and have thought of every excuse to find something else to do instead of getting on with it.  I am glad that you have grasped the nettle, but, of course, extremely sad that you have been feeling all the horrors of being my child almost from the day you were born!  I actually believe you could have done worse, though I am sure you also could have done much, much better.  But, please give me credit for always being there for you throughout your childhood.  I can't help feeling that these are the sorts of things that should have cropped up during your adolescence.  Why I am finding this particularly difficult is that you say, "I ask you ... and please ask that you do not defend your own counter-views where you differ from mine."  Specially hard after you have blamed me for "letting things fester."  It's nice and comfortable for you, getting it off your chest, with no prospect of having to face up to any faults you may have, without giving me a similar opportunity from this end.  I always thought we had a loving and close relationship right through your childhood and boyhood.  I am totally shattered by your revelations.  About your being ill:  I really hope you don't blame me for that.  There is absolutely no evidence of it in my genes, or dad's for that matter.  Though, in the "bad old days", these things were so swept under the carpet that it makes it hard to trace.  Anyway, dad and I decided that it was of absolutely no worth to cast blame.  We just had to live with the situation.  I now have really tried (and I think very largely succeeded) to put this behind me and trust in your management of it.  When last did I ask about it, or even hint?  You must remember that we had lived and been deeply hurt by it.  And, now, I don't even have him for emotional support in crises.  But, thank you for saying that you have never blamed me for your illness.  At least that's something I'm not blamed for (Happiness is Having Someone to Blame!).  As to your choice of marrying H - that this was an issue you raised came as a severe shock to me.  I think that H was an ideal choice for you, and I promise, promise, promise you that is true.  What saddened me was the fact that you didn't "share" her with us, so that we were involved in your relationship, and really just brought her home when you were about to be engaged.  I was always so very touched that she let me "share" in the wedding, to see the fittings for her dress, and have some input in the flowers, etc., not having a daughter of my own.  There was absolutely no way that I did not approve of your choice.  I'd love to know just when that notion came into your heads, as I am obviously aware that it did.  Yes, there is something about you that I am not approving of, and that is the way you shut me out of your lives.  This I don't understand, as I can't see anything in your lives of which I would not approve.  This alienation has gotten worse and worse.  But how many HOURS in 2000 have I seen you?  How often have I been even TOLD of what the children are doing?  How many times have you remembered to phone?  Are you sure I am not being blamed for your conscience.  I really do NOT feel loved or welcome (real mother-in-law stuff!).  You raise the incident when you went to sleep at H's parents.  Here, I really had to dredge into the depths of ancient memories, for I promise you I haven't given that a thought for ages and ages.  Looking back, that must have been the beginning of the trouble - if your very birth wasn't.  Yes, I was hurt when you had said you would come here and you didn't, and then I found you had gone to H's parents.  But, you explained the conception thing at the time (though why conception could take place only at their home defeats me!!)  Was it so kinky you didn't want me (or was B around) to hear?  It was just the first symptom of "being excluded".  I realize in retrospect that this was obviously a time of deep personal stress between the two of you, but I had nothing to do with that and should not be blamed.  I have not only forgiven that incident, I had totally forgotten it!  You say H is incredible.  Yes, she is and I think you are lucky to have found someone who complements you so well.  She has a real gift for friendship and I think she has been a wonderful sounding board for B.  I would like further explanation as to why you say "she has been trying harder than any of us" about our family relationships.  I do enjoy her little emails, but I must admit I still feel I am just a nuisance when I phone or visit.  Please be HONEST as I am being.  Yes, she certainly is a great mother, and a much better disciplinarian than I will ever be!!  Hopefully, you will continue to have a lovely relationship with all your in-laws!  For women it is much more basic, instinctive, and unexpressed - in this, despite the latest findings about our genes being so much more advanced than men's, we lag a long way behind.  We always feel inadequate in the eyes of our MIL, and even in my case (as I have quite low self-esteem) in the eyes of our DIL.  I do honestly and truly love my DIL, but have, admittedly, been hurt by both of you.  I have gotten used to lovely, early promises being broken, and would like to reiterate that I am a person who truly appreciates absolute (hopefully not brutally expressed!) honesty.  I see you wrote your email late at night.  I just hope you slept after it!!  I haven't, ever since receiving it, but got some sleeping tablets - the first in my life!  Now, before I start crying again and feeling sorry for myself, I think I had better end.  I would now like some honesty from you.  Just exactly what is it that I have done that has triggered off all this stuff?  I love you both - and a mother's love is unconditional.  I might be hurt or cross or whatever, but I never stop loving.  I can't find in your communications anywhere where you actually say sorry in specifics, only in a very generalized and thus "easy" way.  Darling, I do realize that this is a huge problem for you, and always has been.  You have so many wonderful and caring qualities,, and I am so grateful for that, but I think you will admit that that isn't one of them.  I am really sorry for "letting things fester".  The problem, of course, with both of us is the immediate explosion that coming out with the painful thing brings out in the other.  As for the approvals you say that dad gave you and H, again, I am truly sorry not to have done the same.  I promise you that it was not done on purpose, and I was not aware I was holding back approval.  I had no example to fall back on.  I don't remember great "approval" shown to me!!  But I did approve - and do.  About telephone calls, I don't feel so guilty!  Often, in the past, I have felt my phone calls to be an interference, a nuisance, and have been cut short.  So I simply tried to save myself pain by phoning less often.  I don't think you can say the same about my reaction to your calls, which are a great joy.  As regards my attitude to S2, I certainly hope I can "give him as much" (I presume you mean love and attention, not worldly goods) as S1.  Yes, I am presuming that he isn't as "clever" as S1, but that has lots of advantages.  And with his looks, he won't need brains (of which he has a perfectly good supply!).  And his self-sufficiency is a real joy!  I loved being with him and close to him on holiday, and his enthusiasm was pure pleasure.  I am surprised that you hadn't realized before that I have very low self-esteem and self-confidence.  I have been aware of it always, the product of a super-confident big sister and a sitting-upon-me big brother.

The comments below are made more recently (2001), those above all were in 2000 (before Christmas).

I am sorry that you read my proposal that I come to see you and talk one-on-one with H as a desire to make attacks on H.  I promise you that that is as far from the truth as it is possible to be.  I genuinely felt, and still feel, that the only way to help H get over her distress about me is to speak to her one-on-one and let her have my full attention.  But, of course, I am totally happy that you be there too.  I absolutely promise that I have no recriminations or "blame" to attach to her.  I just wanted, and want, to be able to somehow show her how sorry I am that she has had cause to feel I disapproved of her over all these years, and to learn from her directly, and not through you, what these are.  I think that we are not alone in this.  Every DIL feels, to some extent, that her MIL disapproves, and it took me a long time to get over mine.  As I said to you on the phone, I really don't have anything to say.  I just want to listen.  Perhaps, when I have heard, I will want to explain.  But, as I see it now, I don't even think I would even do that.  Honestly, cross my heart, I just want to understand.  That is all that I can "put forward specifically", but, naturally, I will be happy to hear what you would like to put forward.  As for "reconciliatory rules" you say could come from our meeting to be laid forward, I don't even know what you mean.  But, again, I am happy to hear.  I guess you mean that there is some way of communicating hurts before they fester, and this would be great if you can think of ways and means.  I am not pretending that nothing has happened - like H, and you, I have been deeply hurt.  My request to talk is not to sweep things under any carpet, it is to enable me to understand where I have gone wrong and make sure I don't repeat it.  I think, as I have said before, that H is great - I really do.  I just don't know how to convince either of you of this.  I am finding it incredibly difficult that she won't communicate with me (and if she happens to answer the phone, it is an all-too-brief "hello") at all, which means she hasn't forgiven me.  I also have been deeply distressed to hear that I have been a major issue in your marriage for many years.  Why the he!! didn't you tell me?  You know, there are nice, unhurtful ways of doing so.  Just doing it with a smile helps, if one has the chance to be face to face.  B does it to me all the time, and I haven't eaten him up yet!  At this lack of being face-to-face, I share the "blame" - if blame it is.  I have also become too frightened to ask to stay and risk further distress, or to insist I see more of you all, as perhaps I should.  It just seems such a MIL-y thing to do!  But, instead, I am deeper in the sh!t.  So, I don't have an agenda, only an apology, and the wish to get past this and be real friends again.  Actually, there is one item on the agenda:  Just when did this begin?  If it's EGF, I said in my letter after Christmas that H is a much better wife for you than EGF would have been.  I thought H and EGF had got on fine, or else I would definitely not have gone on sending Christmas cards.  I presume it is a gradual snowball effect.  But there might be other specifics I can work on.  I assure you that my spirit truly is "positive, openhearted, and forgiving," as you ask.  I now need to know that yours is - truly.  I would love for it to be over for H as well as you and me!  Just give her my love, and I hope that her work is going well.  Thank you for taking the time to discuss my efforts, at what I thought was rapprochement, with great care.  I am not sure what you mean by "this" as the way forward:  To list one's grievances and have an agenda?  To meet?  Not to meet?  Or something quite different?  I will try and fit in.  I certainly don't see myself in a counseling role, rather than a participatory role.  It's all much too personally painful for that.  All I meant by "listening" is that I am not feeling the least bit accusatory, and if I spoke one-on-one to H, it wouldn't be remotely in that spirit, but just to hear her side.  I have just been through four days of a most intensive (and wonderful) healing course, and fully realize how necessary forgiveness on both sides is before we'll have peace.  I have (all the time I've been away, for months before, and now very intensively after my break) examined my own heart, and I know that I am totally "forgiving".  Though it would seem that I am the one in the wrong for whatever reason, so the forgiveness has to come from the two of you, and especially H (who I feel is still a long way from forgiving me).  So, now, tell me exactly what it is that I have done.  Yes, I think H has been "dishonest", but not in a bad way.  I do not regard her as a bad person in any way, but I do think that she has promised things that haven't been fulfilled.  So, now I don't much trust that side of things.  But, once the "airing" is over, I am sure I will again.  Just as you (plural) don't trust me when I say how sorry I am, I don't trust any commitments made until they actually happen.  It has been in things like saying that you'll come and see me or ask me to your home, and then it isn't on after all - that sort of thing.  Shall we say "soothing noises that don't come to pass".  I have had it explained to me that it is the way of H's home country, not to be totally frank.  I realize that I am probably sometimes disconcertingly honest myself, and perhaps expect too much in that regard.  I am a bad dissembler, and it is better not to try!  But I also tend to see through a lot of bullsh!t, though I don't necessarily show it (though perhaps I show it more than I ought).  And, so, I don't really understand people who, for want of better words, put a gloss on things.  That is all, nothing worse than that.  The other things you mention, that I don't feel welcome and would like a bigger share in your lives, are true.  But I think they have been thrashed out now.  Heaven alone knows what other "real issues" there are - just let me know.

        Signed - The Mother's View

( I want my own Frequent Fry Her TM Page )

RESPONSE From Poster:  The Mother's View
Posted: 7-OCT-01
As the original poster, I am concerned that the feedback to FFH pages is nil.  Does no-one read FFH, or is our story written in too long and convoluted a way to get a response??

RESPONSE:  The Mother's View
Posted: 14-OCT-01
F, after reading this, I am convinced that your mother will never want to resolve this issue.  Read this letter immediately after your wife's, and compare the two.  Your wife lists very specific incidents in which your mother said or did something offensive to her, with no objections from you.  Your wife also talks about your mother saying mean things to her with nobody else present.  VERY specific incidents.  Nevertheless, you downplay this by saying the incidents "might not be factual".  Whatever!  Just bury your head in the sand once again, F.  But, first, look at your mother's letter immediately afterward.  She's Miss Innocent.  "What did I do?  I had NO IDEA she felt that way!  I don't remember that ... I had forgotten all about that."  Then she plays the martyr: "I cried all night ... I had to take sleeping pills for the first time ever ... you know I'll always love you ..." blah, blah, blah.  But, the real clue about your mother's personality is the nasty little dig she sneaks in at the beginning: "You could have done worse, but then again, you could have done much, much better."  WTF????  Boy, this woman is just filled to the brim with remorse for her actions - NOT!  And, do you really believe that your mother has no idea that talking about the ex-GF and flashing pictures of her everywhere is TACKY, particularly when she has NO pictures of your wife in the house?  Oh, and let's not forget that she mixes up their birthdays!  And she forgets your anniversary is on her very own birthday!  Do you really believe that's accidental?  That's called passive-aggressive, hon.  Your mother is so two-faced it's ridiculous.  It's harder for a son to see through his mother, particularly one who coddles him so, but I assure you, these acts of your mother's are very calculated.  If you want to see her true colors, have your wife tape record a private conversation just between the 2 of them.  You've been denying your mother's cruelty for far too long, and I don't blame your wife for feeling fed up, not only with your mother, but with the marriage.  As I noted before, I am glad you're making an effort to save your marriage, but I have to agree with the poster who says you're coming off as somewhat condescending to your wife.  She is not just imagining your mother's hostility, all right?  How can you read about all of these incidents and tell her it's "not factual"?  The only thing that's not factual is your mother's so-called compassion.  Your mother wants you all to yourself.  If you doubt that, please reread the passage where your wife brings your child to see her, and your mother takes one look, then drags you shopping with her!  Why do you let her do that?  You're supposed to be a grown man!  I'm going to say this straight out - you have a lot of work to do repairing your marriage.  Don't mess this up.  Your wife sounds like a good woman.  Had I been in her place, I would have told your mother off years ago, and I sure wouldn't be spending my special holidays with her.  You need to stop questioning your wife's feelings, and start interrogating your mother about her actions.  The question is whether or not you have the guts to be a man and do it.

RESPONSE From Poster:  The Mother's View
Posted: 17-OCT-01
This is F, the original poster.  I have been consistently misunderstood about the "it may not be factual" thing, so let me explain.  I am not saying the incidents between H and her MIL didn't happen.  What I did was to rewrite the letter H had addressed to her MIL as if H was writing to me in order to make it clear to her and me that the real issue was that H blamed me for letting my mother do these things to her (rightly).  In rewriting it, I tried to get to the actual feelings she was expressing.  The "facts" thing arises because my letter was an interpretation of feelings, not a representation of what had actually physically happened.  Does that clear it up?  I am more than happy to learn to be criticized, but on this one I'm not guilty!  For anyone interested, the story has progressed greatly.  See the public message board.

RESPONSE:  The Mother's View
Posted: 18-OCT-01
I've got to say, your postings are so long that people probably can't get through them.  You can't make people respond.  We are counseling you!

RESPONSE:  The Mother's View
Posted: 18-OCT-01
BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH!

frequent fry her - Doing It Together, 1 of 4 needed Frequent Fry Her TM. - Doing It Together /Posted: 28-AUG-01
Having read H's note to me ("Memory"), I wrote back to her as below:  You say in your letter to me, " I must say that I find it hard to distinguish from my anger with her at that moment and my anger and distrust of you - they became one and the same."  Maybe then it is useful to rephrase what you have been directing at her and more explicitly address your feelings at me for what has happened.  The result is that what is written below may not be factually correct, but it is probably what you have really been feeling about me.  If you think it is not a useful way to think about this history, we can step back from this approach.  But what is written below, I think, highlights the real issues.  It's not about my mother, it's about me.  I love you.  F.

Memory - What I am really saying?  It is not easy to sit down and think through all the things that you have done and said to upset me over the last 13 years.  I suppose its not so much that you have "upset" me, but rather that there has been a continual underhanded manner of showing your dislike and disapproval of who I am, and what I represent, and what I am to you.  I will start at the beginning, and I think back to that first drink in your home when you introduced me to your parents. I sat with your Dad and he asked me a couple of questions about myself, and you were basically having a kind of laughing and joking, separate conversation with your Mum.  This pattern followed when we would sit down to a meal with them and you would let her continually interrupt me and draw back the conversation to things that I had never been part of.  I was interested in your family stories and went along with it.  Our first fight was about this very subject.  I tried to appeal to you to please include me in conversations and to please play the role of including me as your father had tried to do.  You were letting her be blatantly rude and nasty, and you knew that you were succeeding in this ploy.  We had conversations about my family and about me later on, and there was always some comment about me being "social "and too "emotional".  I was also always foreign and Catholic.  I had been labeled and placed in a box that did not fit, and you have kept me in that box ever since.  The day we got engaged and went to tell your folks was awful.  I thought you would all be happy and all you said was "I must phone EXGF".  You also then started telling me that I had a big responsibility regarding your illness, and did I understand any of it and was I prepared.  It was an awful conversation because I sensed that you thought I was not at all prepared and implied that I really had no idea.  I phoned my mom in tears.  My phone calls were not well received, and I started to shake every time I phoned because I had no idea what reception I would get.  I did not receive calls back, and I stopped phoning.  It was the beginning of really knowing that you did not like me, and were not interested in having a friendship with me.  No phone calls on anniversaries (despite the fact that it is the same day as Ma's birthday).  Phone calls on EXGF`s birthday for my birthday, and then the wrong day for about another 4-5 years afterwards until B put you right.  What do you think that was saying to me?  I'm not stupid.  It was saying that you really didn't care enough to get the day right because you were not interested in me.  I was not a family member.  The first Xmas we had after your Dad died, the whole family was there.  Your mom was sitting on the floor pouring tea, and we were all around her chatting and keeping her cheerful at a difficult time.  You let her talk about EXGF in the fondest and most loving terms.  Laughing about her and carrying on.  I have never felt so hurt in my life.  It was so horribly insensitive of you - I went and cried for 2 hours in the bathroom and all I wanted to do was leave.  You knew what you had done, and saw me get up and go to the bathroom, and never said a thing.  The following Xmas I gave you a filing system as a present - you actually laughed and looked embarrassed and made me feel like a complete alien for having given such a present.  It was so unkind, and I was mortified by your reaction.  It just made me feel small and different.  The conversations about me being too social and whatever carried on.  Then you had to go to work.  Not once while you were staying with her did she pick up the phone and ask me how I was doing , and you let her.  When I finally came down, you let her be very rude to me about the fact that we were staying at the hotel and said nothing when she proceeded to visit us ONCE during the whole time.  The incident about the sleeping at my parents has already been raised.  What it meant for me at the time was that you didn't care about me and that all you wanted was for you to be with her.  She felt I was taking you away , but you didn't back me by making it clear that you wanted to come away with me.  I told her, at the time, that my folks were not there and that I was trying to fall pregnant (she has conveniently forgotten that conversation and continues to want an apology from me about it).  You let her make such a fuss about my actions and didn't put her right when she continued (for years) to make snide remarks about double beds.  That is when I got the vibe that you really thought that I married you for the sex and for nothing else.  I started getting concerned that the sexual side doesn't last forever.  I was so hurt by those comments and you were implying that you had married me for the sex and how could it be for any other reasons (these comments were made at the same time as making insinuations about my character and my foreign upbringing).  I was then pregnant with S1.  Not once did you really ask or understand how my pregnancy was going.  You made me feel that I was bloody "foal" - it was the most revolting and hurtful thing.  When she came up to us when S1 was born, it was awful for me.  She was so false and held S1 for 1 minute and then dragged you away to go "shopping".  I was basically left on my own in the clinic, and I wondered why she had come at all.  Why did you let her do that?  Why did you leave me to cry my heart out all alone with my baby, with no husband sitting beside me.  It was meant to be the happiest time of my life.  Why did you go off with her and show no interest in your son?  You had your mum and B around, and weren't interested in me or our baby.  The incident, when we left S1 with her while we were away, was dreadful.  The most dreadful thing was that you let her blame ME for the fact that S1 cried.  You let her blame me and you probably agreed that I had not given her the access to her grandchild, and how was she meant to deal with him.  No matter what I did, it was wrong - when I took over looking after him because she showed no interest in bathing him or feeding him or baby-sitting him, I was blamed by you for not letting him go.  Then, when I did hand him over, I was blamed for not letting him go.  The cards from EXGF and the pictures of her and her family continued to be on display.  One time when she had been abroad, she told us of her visit and showed us the photographs.  And you looked and again let her.  That was hurtful enough.  The pictures that she had taken abroad to show everyone represented your family's view of you and B and our children, and I just did not exist in the scenario.  That is when I began removing all photos of her in our home to show you that I was so angry and hurt.  Conversations about EXGF with you have always been terribly painful because you have always implied that EXGF knew you better than I do, and she was really the only one who understood you.  She was the only one that understood what made you tick, and could take care of you.  She had looked after you while you were ill and I had not.  The incident at the fishing weekend is my next recollection.  I tried to say that really we should just make a decision about going to see our friends.  I was honest, direct, and open for the first time, and what I got was a completely debilitating response.  You had the attitude that I really had no idea how to behave myself, and that I had at last shown my inferiority in the family.  I was so humiliated and have never wanted to disappear from the face of the earth as much as I wanted to at that moment.  Not only was it disrespectful to my character, but it was a direct shunning from you.  I must say that I find it hard to distinguish my anger with her and my anger and distrust of you - they are one and the same.  You didn't come to me and left it to her to come to talk to me when I was in the room reading, and I was made to feel even more humiliated.  "What is the problem, H.?" you were implying.  What was the problem I ask myself?  The problem was that you had succeeded in making me the outsider that you have always believed me to be.  It hurt like mad, and I hated you for a long time afterwards.  You even tried to place me into the "outside" of your extended family by implying that I did not enjoy Xmas with your cousins.  I began having remarks passed that implied that I was not comfortable with your family.  Always trying to make me into a "problem" and always labeling me with actions and attitudes that were completely erroneous.  That is when I really started making all my effort to be great friends with all your cousins.  I made sure that I liked them and that they liked me.  The only person that you have given me credit for getting on with is B.  It has been in the context of being a sounding board for things that he could not talk to the rest of you about.  You have been unable to deny that relationship.  It was the one time that I was able to put you right by saying, "we talk about all sorts of things and I love talking to him."  The Roman Catholic comments and the foreigner comments have always been there, and I have slowly come to realize that it is just another ploy to make me "different" from you.  They are made to exclude me from the circle of your family on the basis of having different values and foreign attitudes.  You are all doing the same thing to FSIL now.  It is very painful and hurtful because I have married into your family and would have liked to feel that I was welcome for my input and my difference.  The fact that I am made to feel bad about that difference is disrespectful and nasty.  Then there is the Christmas stocking incident.  It was a symbol of that attitude.  How could I have possibly known what to buy?  I am not a member of the family and I never will be, and my efforts are not appreciated for a minute.  Every present opened from me has brought on a similar reaction.  The only time that any of you have ever acknowledged my effort was the photograph of D that I had framed this Xmas!!!!!  Your attitude towards my way of life has been aimed at trying to keep your own family values.  That I can understand.  But when comments are made to me, it is very hurtful because it simply tells me that you do not appreciate or respect or consider MY values.  The fact that I am not thought of as your wife is completely clear to me.  You have not referred to our relationship in a positive light.  The only comments over the years have been about my sociable and emotive personality.  How many times have I been told that I really cannot be having much fun.  How many times have I been to the bathroom to cry my eyes out because some nasty comment has been made about my personality, my character, and my role as your wife?  I have had no indication over the years that I was liked or wanted.  I have simply been tolerated.  The fact that you think I am a good mother has meant nothing to me when it is clouded by the rest.  I just think that you feel you have to say that because you cannot deny that the kids came from my womb.  You have never publicly acknowledged that I was a good wife.  By not saying it, you are implying that I am ONLY a good mother.  When I was pregnant with S1, it was implied that I could only be a good mother to girls.  That was so revolting and I really could not believe that.  It was simply to say that I really had no clue about dealing with a "boy" scenario like yours.  The fact that I had grown up with 2 brothers was never thought of because you have never wanted to know or understand or acknowledge me as a person.  Everything nasty that has been said or done has been calculated and underhanded.  I have no respect or trust in you at all.  I do not want to see you in my life again.  You do not deserve my loyalty, good manners, or socially acceptable behavior.  I am happy that I am not liked me because it means I am free to dislike you.  My hurt and my feelings of being unjustly and unkindly treated are deep-seeded.  I will never trust anything that is said or done to me in the future.  H.  Note from F.  Rewriting this was my way to tell H that the real issue here was within our marriage, not with her as an outsider.  I think this has helped us start to worry a bit less about her and more about us.  Right now we are still worried about both, but the balance is better.

        Signed - F's Reply: What H's Letter Really Said

( I want my own Frequent Fry Her TM Page )

RESPONSE:  F's Reply:  What H's Letter Really Said
Posted: 17-SEP-01
That was quite an eye opener - it took 13 years and that letter for you to see her pain?  I think you should let her go.  She (and your children) deserves better than you and your cr@ppy family.

RESPONSE:  F's Reply:  What H's Letter Really Said
Posted: 18-SEP-01
I hope I read your story right.  If I did, you should be ashamed of yourself as a husband.  How could you treat your wife this way?  It's not about you and your mother, or your wife and your mother.  This is about you and your wife.  In one entry you say family is important.  I agree.  You have to understand that your wife and children are your family now.  They have to come FIRST.  How could you disrespect your wife for the last 13 years?  How can you let your M treat her this way?  Do you love your wife?  If you do, then stand up like a man and start treating her with love and respect.  When you marry, you agree to put the needs, wants, and feelings of the other person above all else.  Have you done this?

RESPONSE:  F's Reply:  What H's Letter Really Said
Posted: 19-SEP-01
I have tried to read your stories, but they are so long winded I lose the point of what you are saying.  Are these even about your MIL?  What's going on here?

RESPONSE:  F's Reply:  What H's Letter Really Said
Posted: 24-SEP-01
I would first like to say that I think the two of you are doing a wonderful thing by trying to make things right between you.  I was hoping I could get your input on my situation.  I absolutely detest my MIL with every ounce of my being.  To make a long story short, this is a second marriage for both of us.  I have two children from my previous marriage.  He doesn't have any.  Although it has been made perfectly clear to me that she would not have chosen me for her son's perfect match, she does, however, enjoy my children.  She treats them as though they were her own biological grandchildren, which I can't fault her for.  However, on top of many other digs she has made, her most recent stunt has been with photos.  She takes pictures of my DH with my children, but purposely excludes me.  She mailed her most recent snapshot of DH and the kids with a note to DH that this was just a photo of his family.  I am nowhere in the photo.  There a pictures on display in her home similar to this.  My problem is, she is trying to sway the attention of my children away from me by buying them gifts every time she sees them.  She is always talking about what a great dad my DH is (in front of them, etc.).  It is like I do not exist.  My children are 8 and 10 (the 10 year old is special needs).  I have reached the point that I no longer feel I can talk to DH about how I feel, because my feelings have always been downplayed to my "misconstruing things".  He doesn't believe his mother could possibly do anything that would hurt anyone else, at least on purpose.  If I try to discipline my children, she undermines my authority, and lets them do what they want.  In her efforts to be the good guy and make me look like the bad guy, she has made subtle hints, even to my own mother, that I am a gold digger and that is the only reason I married her son.  I was doing quite well on my own before I even knew DH.  I guess what I need to know is, how do I come to terms with this?  Do I lay it all out on the table for DH and give him an ultimatum, or do I bite my tongue and live in misery around her?

RESPONSE:  F's Reply:  What H's Letter Really Said
Posted: 7-OCT-01
I agree completely with the respondent above.  What the he!! is the matter with you?  You left to go shopping with your mother just after the birth of your first child.  What kind of husband does that?  What kind of father?  I think you're using this board as a substitute for professional therapy - something you definitely need.  You sound like a complete jerk.  Your wife should pack up everything, including the children, and move 1000 miles away from you and your piece of sh!t family.

RESPONSE:  F's Reply:  What H's Letter Really Said
Posted: 11-OCT-01
Here is what I think you need to do.  Make your wife your #1 priority.  It seems that you are aware of the cause of your problems, but you're still pussyfooting around when it comes to solving your problem.  You and your mother both have been hurtful to your wife.  You didn't stand by your wife like you should.  Tell your mother that your wife comes first, that you have allowed your wife to suffer for entirely too long, and that YOU will not stand for it anymore.  Tell her that you will not have a relationship with her if she can not make an honest, heartfelt apology to your wife.  Let her know, in no uncertain terms, that her mistreatment of your wife has hurt you as well.  Now, be honest with yourself and face the truth about your mom.  If she does not see and understand what you are telling her and acknowledge what she has done, and if she is in anyway defensive or insincere, then you must cut her out.  Your mother is showing you how little respect she has had for you by the way she has treated your wife.  If you want to keep your marriage, then you must protect your marriage from harm, even if it is your own mother.  By the way, this also includes the subject of the EX.  Did you not have a clue that this was hurting your wife?

frequent fry her - Doing It Together, 1 of 4 needed Frequent Fry Her TM. - Doing It Together /Posted: 28-AUG-01
Here's H's story in her words.  This was a note H wrote to me to try to get out in the open, all the hurt that my mother and I had caused her.  I knew of each of the incidents, but one at a time I had been able to dismiss them as innocent.  When put together, they made a very strong case to me and confirmed that I could not avoid this pain any longer.  This really gives you H's side of our story.  Your advice is appreciated directly to her, and to me in responding to it the way I have.  In trying to seek an ongoing relationship led by me, not by H, with my mother, am I in fact denying her wishes?  Or am I taking my responsibilities more directly and relieving H of the directness of these painful attacks?  As a note to others on this site, I must recommend this writing down of the history - it helps to get it all out, and I had to read it all rather than be able to say, "Yes, but - " after each sentence.

Memory (note by H to me F) - It is not easy to sit down and think through all the things that your mom has done and said to upset me over the last 13 years.  I suppose its not so much that she has" upset" me, but rather that there has been a continual underhanded manner of showing her dislike and disapproval of who I am, what I represent, and what I am to you.  I will start at the beginning and I think back to that first drink in your home when you introduced me to your parents.  I sat with your dad and he asked me a couple of questions about myself and you were basically having a kind of laughing and joking, separate conversation with your mom.  This pattern followed when we would sit down to a meal with them.  She would continually interrupt me and draw back the conversation to things that I had never been part of.  I was interested in your family stories and went along with it.  Our first fight over your mom was about this very subject.  I tried to appeal to you to please include me in conversations, and to please play the role of including me as your father had tried to do.  She was being blatantly rude and nasty, and she knew that she was succeeding in her ploy.  We had conversations about my family and about me later on, and there was always some comment about me being "social" and "too emotional" for you.  I was also always foreign and Catholic.  I had been labeled and placed in a box that did not fit, and she has kept me in that box ever since.  The day we got engaged and went to tell your folks was awful.  I thought they would be happy, and all your mom said was, "you must phone your ex-girlfriend - she also then started telling me that I had a big responsibility regarding your illness, and did I understand any of it, and was I prepared?  It was an awful conversation because I sensed that she thought I was not at all prepared and implied that I really had no idea.  I phoned my mom in tears, and she said that I needed to make friends with your mom, and I must start phoning her from work and chatting and giving her news.  My subsequent phone calls were not well received, and I started to shake every time I phoned, because I had no idea what reception I would get.  I did not receive calls back, and I stopped phoning.  It was the beginning of really knowing that she did not like me, and was not interested in having a friendship with me.  No phone calls on anniversaries (despite the fact that it is the same day as MIL's birthday).  Phone calls on ex girlfriends`s birthday for my birthday, and then the wrong day for about another 4-5 years afterwards until B ( H's BIL) put her right.  What do you think that was saying to me?  I`m not stupid.  It was saying that she really didn't care enough to get the day right, because she was not interested in me.  I was not a family member.  The first Xmas we had after your dad died, the whole family was there.  Your mom was sitting on the floor pouring tea, and we were all around her chatting and keeping her cheerful at a difficult time.  She began talking about Ex-girlfriend in the fondest and most loving terms.  Laughing about her and carrying on.  I have never felt so hurt in my life.  It was so horribly insensitive of her - I went and cried for 2 hours in the bathroom, and all I wanted to do was leave.  She knew what she had done, and she saw me get up and go to the bathroom, and she never said a thing.  The following Xmas, I gave you a filing system as a present - she actually laughed and looked embarrassed and made me feel like a complete alien for having given such a present.  It was so unkind and I was mortified by her reaction.  It just made me feel small and different.  The conversations about me being too social and whatever carried on.  Then you had to go to work in your mother's home town.  Not once while you were staying with her, did she pick up the phone and ask me how I was doing.  When I finally came down, she was very rude to me about the fact that we were staying at a hotel, and proceeded to visit us ONCE during the whole time.  The incident about the sleeping at my parents' home for a night when we were staying with H's MIL has already been raised.  What it meant for me at the time was that she didn't care about me, and that all she wanted was for you to be with her - and that I was taking you away.  I told her at the time that my folks were not there, and that I was trying to fall pregnant (she has conveniently forgotten that conversation and continues to want an apology from me about it).  She made such a fuss about my actions and continued (for years ) to make snide remarks about double beds.  That is when I got the vibe that she really thought that I married you for the sex, and for nothing else.  There were comments about how the sexual side doesn't last forever and such.  I was so hurt by those comments, and I knew that she was implying that you had married me for the sex, and how could it be for any other reasons (these comments were made at the same time as making insinuations about my character and my foreign upbringing).  I was then pregnant with S1 (our first son).  Not once did she ask how my pregnancy was going.  The only comment she has had to make about that time was that I was bloody "foal" - as she so eloquently put it.  Yes, I laughed at these comments, but it was the most revolting and hurtful thing to say to anyone let alone your daughter-in-law.  When she came up to us when our first son was born, it was awful for me.  She was so false, and held him for 1 minute.  And then she dragged you away to go "shopping".  I was basically left on my own in the clinic, and I wondered why she had come at all.  Why did she do that?  Why did she make me cry my heart out all alone, with my baby and no husband sitting beside me every minute.  It was meant to be the happiest time of my life.  Why did she drag you away and show no interest in her first grandchild?  She had you and your brother B around her, and she wasn't interested in me or our baby.  The incident when we left S1 with her while we were out for the day was dreadful.  The most dreadful thing was that she blamed ME for the fact that the child cried because I had not given her the access to her grandchild, and how was she meant to deal with him?  No matter what I did, it was wrong.  When I took over looking after him because she showed no interest in bathing him, or feeding him, or baby-sitting him, I was blamed for not letting him go.  Then when I did hand him over, I was blamed for not letting him go.  The cards from ex-girlfriend, and the pictures of her and her family continued to be on display every time we visited her.  One time when MIL had been abroad and seen EXGF, she told us of her visit and showed us the photographs.  That was hurtful enough.  The pictures that she had taken with her to show everyone included photographs of you and B, and our children, - and none of me.  I just did not exist in the scenario.  That is when I began removing all photos of her in our home, because I was so angry and hurt.  Conversations about EXGF with her have always been terribly painful, because she has always implied that EXGF knew you better than I do, and was really the only one who understood you.  She was the only one that understood what made you tick, and could take care of you.  She had looked after you while you were ill and I had not.  The incident at a family fishing weekend away is my next recollection.  I tried to say that really we should just make a decision about going to see our friends nearby.  I was honest and direct and open for the first time, and what I got was a completely debilitating response.  Your mother had a SMIRK on her face that said that I really had no idea how to behave myself, and that I had at last shown my inferiority in the family.  I was so humiliated and have never wanted to disappear from the face of the earth as much as I wanted to at that moment.  Not only was it disrespectful to my character, but it was a direct shunning from you all.  I must say that I find it hard to distinguish from my anger with her at that moment and my anger and distrust of you - they became one and the same.  She then came to talk to me when I was in the room reading, and I was made to feel even more humiliated.  "What is the problem, H?" she said.  What was the problem, I ask myself?  The problem was that she had succeeded in making me the outsider that she has always believed me to be.  It hurt like mad, and I hated you all for a long time afterwards.  She even tried to place me into the "outside "of your extended family by saying that I did not enjoy Xmas with your cousins.  I began having remarks passed that implied that I was not comfortable with your family (and hers of course).  She is always trying to make me into a "problem", and always labeling me with actions and attitudes that were completely erroneous.  That is when I really started making all my effort to be great friends with all your cousins.  I made sure that I liked them and that they liked me.  The only person that she has given me credit for getting on with is B.  It has been in the context of being a sounding board for things that he could not talk to her about.  She has been unable to deny that relationship, and has made comments about it in recent years.  It is the only thing about me that she cannot deny, and sometimes she gives me the impression that she cannot really understand it.  "What he talks to you about, I JUST do not understand. "  And I must tell you that I have enjoyed her confusion and her inability to fit the two together.  The one time she said to me, "Well I suppose you talk to him about girls and sex and such stuff."  It was the one time that I was able to put her right and say, "We talk about all sorts of things, and I love talking to him."  The Catholic comments and the comments about me being foreign have always been there, and I have slowly come to realize that it is just another ploy to make me "different" from all of you.  They are made to exclude me from the circle of her family on the basis of having different values and foreign attitudes.  She is doing the same thing to FSIL (B's girlfriend of three years' standing) now.  It is very painful and hurtful, because I have married into your family, and would have liked to feel that I was welcome for my input and my difference.  The fact that I am made to feel bad about that difference is disrespectful and nasty.  Then there was the year I bought her stuff for a Christmas stocking.  It was a symbol of that attitude.  How could I have possibly known what to buy her ?  I am not a member of the family, and I never will be, and my efforts are not appreciated for a minute.  Every present that she has opened from us has brought on a similar reaction.  The only time that she has ever acknowledged my effort was the photograph of D (our daughter and third child) that I had framed for her this Xmas!!!!!  Her attitude towards our way of life has been aimed at trying to keep your family's values.  That I can understand.  But when comments are made to me, it is very hurtful, because it simply tells me that she does not appreciate, or respect, or consider MY values.  The fact that I am not thought of as your wife is completely clear to me.  Not once has she referred to our relationship in a positive light.  The only comments over the years have been about my sociable and emotive personality.  How many times have I sat in that TV room at her house and been told that I really cannot be having much fun.  How many times have I been to the bathroom to cry my eyes out because some nasty comment has been made about my personality, my character, and my role as your wife?  I have had no indication over the years that I was liked or wanted.  I have simply been tolerated.  The fact that she thinks I am a good mother has meant nothing to me when it is clouded by the rest.  I just think that she feels she has to say that because she cannot deny that the kids came from my womb.  She has never said that I was a good wife.  By not saying it, she is implying that I am ONLY a good mother.  When I was pregnant with S1, she said that she could only imagine me as a mother to girls.  That was so revolting, and I really could not believe that she thought that of me.  It was simply to say that I really had no clue about dealing with a "boy" scenario like your family.  The fact that I had grown up with brothers was never thought of because she has never wanted to know or understand or acknowledge me as a person.  Everything nasty that has been said or done has been calculated and underhanded.  I have no respect or trust in her at all.  I do not want to see her in my life again.  She does not deserve my loyalty, or good manners, or socially acceptable behavior.  I am happy that she does not like me because it means I am free to dislike her.  My hurt and my feelings of being unjustly and unkindly treated are deep-seated.  I will never trust anything that is said or done to me in the future.  H.

        Signed - H's Letter To F - "Memory"

( I want my own Frequent Fry Her TM Page )

RESPONSE:  H's Letter To F - "Memory"
Posted: 11-SEP-01
I admire the fact that you've finally found the courage to back up your wife when your mother needles her.  This means a lot to every woman in your wife's situation - to know that her DH is actually in her corner.  However, you are correct when you say that you're still hanging on to the apron string by STILL trying to talk this out with your mother after your other unsuccessful attempts.  She has shown herself to be completely unreasonable and unwilling to own up to any of the blame for the rift in her relationship with your wife.  It may not be as obvious to you because everyone wants to think the world of his own mother.  Nevertheless, you have already acknowledged that your mother refuses to accept responsibility for her own actions, that she is spiteful (the picture incident), stubborn, unyielding, will not give an inch, and is prejudiced against your wife for her nationality, etc.  My question:  Why do you think it's good for your children to be around someone like this?  Do you really believe that grandma doesn't make nasty little digs about the children's mother when she's alone with them?  And, what about THEIR nationality, for that matter?  They're of your wife's blood too, and I can't see how it would be good for them to have contact with someone who's prejudiced against their mother.  I commend you for trying to solve your conflict in a mature manner, but the problem here is that you are dealing with your mother, who happens to be extremely immature.  I'm sorry to have to say that, but everything in your post indicated that your mother is used to having her own way, and is not a giving person.  Her guilt over your childhood sickness has caused her to smother you to such a degree that she feels threatened by your wife, instead of feeling a kinship of any kind.  Your wife, as she knows, is now the most special person in your life.  And, rather than releasing the childhood bond, your mother is angry because she thinks of your wife as replacing her.  She should be admitting to herself that you are now an adult and don't need your mother the way you did as a child.  Even knowing this, bear in mind that none of this is any excuse for your mother's terrible attitude.  Sometimes, the ONLY way to get your message across is to NOT communicate.  Let her stew in her own juices, because it is so clear that she only wants a showdown with your wife so she can try to destroy your relationship.  She is NOT interested in reconciliation at this point, believe me.  To solve this problem, treat your mother as if she were one of your children who was misbehaving (because she IS acting like a spoiled child).  Would you be afraid to speak up to your child if he was misbehaving to get his own way?  No, and neither should you hesitate to speak up to your mother!  Let her know that her hateful behavior will no longer be tolerated, and that you will not feel the need for any visits, communication, etc., until she is prepared to make amends.  Don't make this ultimatum unless you are fully prepared to back it up, though.  Your mother has to know that you are deadly serious, and that your marriage is too important to you to tolerate any more of her meddling.  You said, in an earlier post, that you would have to risk "losing" your mother to help your marriage.  Well, your mother certainly isn't worried about losing YOU, is she?  It doesn't stop HER from trying to cause trouble in your marriage.  Ask yourself why that's the case (if she cares about you so much).  Would you do that to someone who means a lot to you?  If you stop playing her game, you can only achieve a win-win situation.  If she learns her lesson, apologizes, and tries to smooth things over, you've won.  If she doesn't learn her lesson, what have you lost?  Nothing.

RESPONSE:  H's Letter To F - "Memory"
Posted: 17-SEP-01
WOW!  What an emotional letter(s).  It brought back so many memories and pain for me.  I agree with your advice to write it all down.  That's the same thing I did (I still have it - nine pages!).  My counselor, at the time, told me to do that to get it all out in the open, and then destroy it.  But I never destroyed it.  Years later, when my husband finally "saw the light", I let him read it.  He cried.  It was the same reaction - each little piece of it didn't seem so big or substantial at the time it was happening.  But, all put together, it was a story of pain, shame, humiliation, jealousy, and evil.  Good for the two of you for deciding that your love is more powerful than that!  You're on the road to recovery.

RESPONSE:  H's Letter To F - "Memory"
Posted: 17-SEP-01
F, in my opinion, you are a pompous @ss.  What do you mean H's recollection of your marriage might not be "factually true"?  THEY ARE TRUE TO HER, YOU DINK,  And that's the only thing that's important here!  Wake up!  Smell the coffee!  Do you want to be right/wrong or happy/stable/understanding?  Your mom is a nightmare, and you've been enabling your mother's passive-aggressive treatment of YOUR WIFE!  You can bet your bippy that just reading this drivel makes ME distrustful of, and disappointed in you.  You are still PINING for EXGF (you remember EXGF's birthday?  You STILL called her?)!  And you're allowing your mother to pick up on this fact and RUB YOUR WIFE'S NOSE IN IT.  Sorry, partner, but you need to SEVER ties to your mother, and grovel at the feet of your wife to get your marriage back on track.  You say you want to "understand" what's going on?  I doubt it.  It is more like you want her to explain everything in great detail so you can grasp at straws and prove it's not your fault.  I AGREE THAT THIS IS MOSTLY YOUR FAULT.  But, you need to set your mean-@ssed, condescending mama straight.  And get rid of your patronizing, condescending tone with your wife.  Or kiss your wife good-bye.

RESPONSE:  H's Letter To F - "Memory"
Posted: 18-SEP-01
After reading this, I must respond to F.  Again, I commend you for trying to make things work with your wife and shouldering some of the blame for allowing your mother to openly trash your wife the way she does, but there's something else you need to do that is far more important.  Your mother needs to be TOLD that you will not tolerate her being disrespectful to your wife.  Don't ASK your mother this, TELL HER.  Then end it by saying that you have given her sufficient warning to mend her ways, and that if she doesn't do so, you will have no choice but to cut off all contact with her, because your marriage is the most important thing in the world to you.  Put the ball in your mother's court where it belongs.  Don't let her sidetrack you or ask if "H" brainwashed you.  Just repeat what you said and let her know that, until "H" receives a sincere apology, none of you will be seeing her.  That's the only thing that will possibly cure your mother.  If it doesn't work, you're better off without her anyway.  As I noted before, you will be creating a win-win situation for you and your wife instead of the losing situation you are stuck in now.

RESPONSE:  H's Letter To F - "Memory"
Posted: 1-OCT-01
Dear H, What do you do when you walk open armed, trust-wide-eyed into a relationship and find snubs and insults in return?  What do you do when you embrace a family as your own, and then each day, at each meeting, you struggle with a strange unreal feeling of alienation you can not account for?  Statements that hurt, gestures that baffle:  You wonder if this was meant to be like this, if it is really a put down, or are you being too sensitive.  Could you be wrong?  Could you really be something silly and catty and b!tchy?  After all, DH says they are nice people.  You can not think of such a behavior being possible, and you have known only people who have never ever been so underhanded.  So you don't recognize this brand of deridement.  It is all there in front of your eyes, and yet you do not see it:  You are lost in the pain and the hurt it is meant to generate, and you do not realize that it is so deliberate.  It takes a very long time to find out that, yes, this was, indeed, a put down.  The MIL is really so bad.  It happened with me.  And, reading your letter to F was like reliving it all over again.  Everything that you said, and said so well, I can feel.  That insecurity from being told, maybe not in words, but in the seating at a table, in the affectionate hugs given to your husband and others, in the turning of a conversation you were doing well in, in the changing of a channel you wanted to see, in the closed door mother-son conversations - the list is endless - that you are just somebody who is the OUTSIDER, the interloper, a pretender.  It is like a silent dare thrown to you:  Take him if you can!  No matter what you do, even if I have allowed him to marry you, he remains MY son!  And you feel it is true because DH, completely unaware of the politics (even of the conflict, and perhaps seeing only the need to comfort his poor mother who is feeling his loss now that he has chosen you), appears to be taking her side, proving her true.  You fight.  You want him to show that he cares for you, and he begins to believe in what his mom told him of you, "She is going to take you away from me, from your family."  What a truly knotted situation!  You need him to be the bridge to your assimilation in the family, to be by your side, easing conversations, pointing things in your favor, turning away the barbs 'til you are part of the family and can deal with it all on your own.  And yet, the way you have to ask for it, the tears and the misdirected anger and hurt, makes him suffer in his turn, uncomprehending, and blaming you.  The only way out is to recognize the manipulations for what they are.  Then you can either, if you are wily too, deal with it in the same way, and expose it using soft sweetness, or just get above it and not allow it to pain you.  It is a simple decision, difficult to make wholly.  She must become nothing to you, just a boss who needs to be tolerated for as long as you are in the office, and then she loses all power over you.  Remember, we decide if we are going to let someone be so important in our life that his/her words will carry the power to wound.  It doesn't heal, it doesn't make you forget, but it gives you back the feeling of being "someone", rather than the victim.  Both the options take away something from what you share with DH.  There is no sharing of love for these people so important to him.  There is deceit and dirty politics if you choose the former, and indifference if you choose the latter.  But if you do not survive, then who will he have left?  Time and again I have had this resolve of indifference tested severely.  I have been hurt and pained and have had to start afresh.  But now the hurt comes rather from the fact that it is DH who has been at fault, and with not even the shield of ignorance to protect him.  Willingly, he has shielded her when she has been wrong.  What will I do now?  I don't know.  Maybe one day he will see sense without my having to cry my heart out over it.  Or, maybe, in the gradual drifting to protect who I am from being abused and trampled upon, I will find myself at a place where I no longer need him to lean upon.  Who can say?  I need all my resources to stay equable, and have none left for a life of my own, for my career, for my family and friends.  Will it be worth it?  I don't know if it would be any help to you at all to post it, but I think I will because F might want to know that H is not alone.  I don't even blame my MIL now.  She is just that way.  It is I who has to become stronger and move on, with DH if possible.  But if not, then alone and away.  I wish both of you the very best.  I think you will be able to talk it out, because it is not you who is posting here, it is F.  If you two are together, respecting each other and protecting the other from so called loved ones, and if you know that F will be on your side, then you don't have to worry about anything.  And you know what?  Even the arrows and slingshots fail to hurt.  It is not impassable, this ravine which is at your feet, it can be crossed.  May God bless you.

RESPONSE:  H's Letter To F - "Memory"
Posted: 14-OCT-01
This is to the 2nd responder who called "F" an @Ss  Excuse me ... the fact that this letter is on his mind enough to share it with us shows that he is not.  This man is NOT your dh, which you obviously seem disappointed in.  This man is a man that is slowly but surely getting it.  This is what all of the wives on here, that have dh's that don't get it, want.  Don't discourage "F", and, no, he should not bow down to "H's" feet.  Marriage is a partnership.  I'm sorry if I am coming off just a little bit strong, but you were a bit harsh on a man that is trying.  And, if he keeps it up, and is encouraged to keep posting, he will see "H" a little bit in all of the wives who are suffering at the hands of their mil's and DH's who don't stand beside them.  "F", keep an open mind, and an open heart, and always put your wife and marriage first.  Show her that you can do this, and after time (it doesn't happen in a day) she will begin to trust you again, and hopefully be able to open her heart up again.  Take Care.

RESPONSE:  H's Letter To F - "Memory"
Posted: 14-OCT-01
"F", I think it is a miracle that "H" is still with you.  Perhaps it's because Catholics don't believe in divorce?  If you were MY husband, you'd be eating my dust.  How could you allow your children to grow up watching their mother being treated like this?  Your behavior, by your own admission, has been shameful.  You should be kissing "H"'s feet, because she must be a saint!

frequent fry her - Doing It Together, 1 of 4 needed Frequent Fry Her TM. - Doing It Together /Posted: 25-AUG-01
Well, here is our second submission towards our frequent fry-her.  But also, more importantly, our frequent rebuild for our marriage.  Firstly I must say how wonderful it is to read one's own story up on the site, and also some wonderfully supportive contributions.  From those contributions, I would like to summarize my feelings:  1) Yes, I agree that it is not ultimately possible to really change someone else.  So changing my mother should be far less important than us learning to handle, understand, and adopt our own responses to the interactions or skirmishes with my mother.  Thank you, yes, we are learning that.  2)  Yes, counseling was key to opening up this issue for us.  For the 32 year-old girl that is set for divorce because of a MIL problem (or rather her problem with her husband's reaction to his mother around his wife), I can only suggest you get him to counseling with you now.  Without counseling, I was thinking that I was responsible for my wife's unhappiness, and that she had a problem with my mother.  But, I had not linked the two to understand that, by taking responsibility for dealing with my mother, I could start to solve both problems.  So, in the last few weeks, we have had more progress and a bit of illuminating drama.  When my mother came back from a month's trip, I emailed her to say that yes, we wanted to talk to her about our problems with her.  And, that no, her request to meet one-on-one with my wife, H, was not acceptable.  I said that by requesting this, what she was doing was to confirm that she was blaming H for the problem, and thereby assuming (wrongly) that she had no problem with me.  She had eventually made it clear in emails last year that she blamed H.  I had raised the issue with her that we had a problem going back a decade.  And I raised a few issues - like the fact that she had never acknowledged us as a couple, and that she had never forgiven me for leaving home at a time I was ill in my early 20s, that she seemed to blame herself for my (genetic) illness, and seemed to have taken it far more badly than I (who had lived through it and overcome it) had.  And also, I raised some issues about our children:  A) That she had badly favored our one son over the other, and B) That she had been upset that we had not named our first son after my dad, who had died a few years before.  I also raised some other history - how she never seemed to have forgiven us for once staying the night at H's parents house, where we needed a double bed for some sex (planned to be procreative) when we had been staying with her in 2 single beds, 15 foot from her own.  And, particularly, I had said that we had to stop avoiding these issues and resolve them.  Well, the ensuing correspondence last year was a bit disastrous, as she was essentially in denial, and was in tears for days. And she said that she had always loved H, sort of apologized for the barney about my elder son's name, and she said that she had nothing against me.  She also said that she understood that this was just a normal mother-in-law issue, and asked what was all the fuss really about.  She had behaved abominably but subtly for years, treating my wife like she wasn't really good enough (and certainly never treating us like a couple).  In her home, she would just want to treat me like her little boy in the old days, and in our home, she was always tense, and sickly.  After 7 or 8 emails, in which I tried to get behind her attitudes, we eventually deduced that she felt unwelcome in our home.  She wasn't getting "her 50% share" of our time; she only spent a few days a year with her grandchildren, and then, finally, that she thought H was dishonest.  The principal example was that H would indicate that it would be nice to get us together for holidays and weekends, but then "break her promise" - and these things would never materialize.  Well, just to round off that piece of the history, we decided not to stay with her as scheduled over Christmas, because H just could not take it given the dishonesty thing, and the obvious blame being put on her.  We called in for an hour on Christmas Eve to swap presents and try to keep some kind of family relationship, but it was a disaster.  H was horrified to see photos of my ex-girlfriend's children on a Christmas card on display on the mantelpiece.  This was yet another year when the ex girlfriend's Christmas card was up in my mother's house (always subtly pointed out each year and pictures of her shown and mentions made - but I had always let this pass and not wanted to create a scene.).  We think it's because this girlfriend had looked after me when I was ill, and somehow MIL thinks that H couldn't take care of me if I were to relapse (I haven't for 15 years, but still!!).  Anyway, H blew up seriously for the first time in 13 years, after being told that these were the ex-girlfriend's children.  She screamed that it was time it was recognized that she was my wife, not the ex.  Well, I was already in the car when this screaming match went on, but I heard it, and again made the same mistake I had been making for a decade - I opted for peace, and didn't make it clear that I agreed with H and stood behind her.  I opted to give mother the benefit of the doubt that she had not done this intentionally, and instead we drove away to church.  For years I have known that H was getting progressively more tense about the way she was being treated.  She progressively hated the family gatherings, and particularly the stay every alternate Christmas.  This last Christmas, I had gotten halfway to my responsibility to H - I had at least bitten the bullet enough to tell my mother that we were not staying.  But, at the point of the conflict, I opted for peace, not resolution.  Mistake.  H was more confused than ever whether I could stand up for her against my mother, and I had been found wanting again, despite months of counseling and telling her that I supported her.  I was then, obviously, caught between my mind that was saying, "I supported H, and too bad about by mother," and the instinct for peace and avoidance, which was still around.  This incident affected us for months thereafter.  While I was feeling I had done the right things leading up to Christmas, by agreeing to counseling (participating in it actively and openly), and then breaking our plans to stay when H was desperate not to, H was looking at the evidence of Christmas Eve.  We took it up with my mother again this year - first by correspondence, in which she asked for, "forgiveness for whatever she might have done," and then we had half agreed to some kind of mutual forgiveness, under pressure from MY MIL.  But, it wasn't really there, because my mom still couldn't admit just what she had actually done/felt, either by mail or in person, when I sat her down for 4 hours to discuss these matters while H went away for a weekend's break at a kind of health farm - she had been stressing quite badly about this whole thing.  We covered much of the ground I had raised about my illness, my sons, etc., but I couldn't get behind what this was really about for her - it had to be more than just that we weren't seeing her enough and she was feeling unwelcome.  There wasn't a "why" there that I could understand.  So, we really left it for 4 or 5 months, focused on talking this out within our marriage, and not really trying to get deeper than her kind of denial that there was any kind of remaining problem.  Well, in a roundabout way this brings us back to the present.  My mother gets my reply that we didn't think it was appropriate to meet with H to talk about the issues, as, really, she just wanted to listen to H going on about the issues that she had had, without really putting her own sh!t on the table.  It was like she wanted to play the game again that poor H was just very young, confused and emotional, but that she could somehow condescendingly forgive H for all these misconceptions and then everything could be OK again.  So I said, "No, listening wasn't good enough," and we wanted to know what the agenda for a meeting would be, and all three of us needed to be there.  We said that, as a minimum, her agenda items needed to be that she felt H was dishonest, and that she felt excluded and unwelcome in our lives (frankly, until she is more positive about us as a couple, our lives, and our choices, she is not really welcome).  She responded by email to my work that, really, she had nothing for the agenda, but that she had been advised that H's dishonesty was probably cultural - H is from an immigrant family, and my mother said that she understood that it was a characteristic of H's home culture that issues were not openly discussed.  This is utter rubbish - H's family is far more open with issues and emotions than mine, and it is my mother and I that have not honestly stated and sorted out these things for years.  Well, I replied that this was not acceptable as some kind of "explanation" - frankly it is kind of racist/xenophobic, and reflects the fact that my mother has not come to accept H or her nationality - the same sort of sh!t arises when we get little comments when H's different religious denomination comes up.  This dishonesty thing is some kind of projection of my mother's inadequacies onto H.  It seems just convenient to blame the issues fundamentally on H being "different" (aka "not good enough"), and she can't really seem to face the fact that she hasn't had a good relationship with her own son for decades.  Well, it's now school holiday time, and H needs to spend time with her own mum, partly to get support and comfort from her, now that this issue has reared its head again, and more hurtful data about my mum has emerged.  So, H and my kids are with her mother (2 miles across town from mine), but I need to be at work this week.  So we decided that, yes, H will let my mother see her grandchildren this week, but the two of them must NOT be together alone without me.  H's instinct is that she never wants to see my mother again.  I am encouraging her to feel that I AM standing up for her, taking responsibility for our relationship with my mother, and that H can start not to focus on this issue, but rather on us as a couple, and on our kids and her studies, and that we can learn to mutually behave civilly between the two of us and my mother.  Maybe I am hanging on to some kind of apron string, but I feel that family does have some importance, that I would like my kids to know their grandparents, that I don't want to lose contact with my brother (I think to be the subject of the next Frequent Fry her submission) - but if I have to choose between H and my mother/brother, there is, in my mind, no question that I must and will back H.  I do acknowledge that the evidence, to date, of this choice is not very convincing to H, and until then, we still have this issue to deal with in our marriage.  I continue to hope that a constructive solution all round is possible, but I think the chances of this ARE greater if we don't strive to change my mother, but, rather, focus on our own reactions and our own mutual trust.

        Signed - Husband To "The Dishonest One"

RESPONSE:  Husband To "The Dishonest One"
Posted: 1-OCT-01
I just wrote something in response to the last posting of yours, the "Memory" thing, before I read this one.  You are on the right road, but I feel you are still dithering.  I feel for you, too, not just for your wife.  And, believe me, I can understand your desire to still have a family.  But I don't think you have understood and accepted your mother's behavior.  She need not be "bad"; and she herself may be suffering.  But, over time, these emotional blackmails wreck the entire family.  An overtly psychotic person can be recognized, and you can deal with the resultant family tensions.  But a lot of times, a slightly neurotic person will ruin the psychological health of the family as a unit, and of its members individually, without their coming to know that it is not "normal".  Look back to see where you acquired this habit of endless patience for your mom.  Check it out.  You may be surprised as to when you started making allowances for her, and in which contexts.  Probably, in early childhood, when you saw your dad doing the same - for family peace.  Of course, I may be completely wrong in your case.  But, by and large, this is true.  The mother, being so loving and nurturing, incapable of being wrong, is just slowly accounted for, excused.  And, because it is second nature, we never come to see that in a certain situation, the old ways of reacting to her by giving way is not right.  I think you still haven't reached that distance, when you suddenly look and say, "oh yes, this is what she is."  After that, it is easier, like correcting a child.  You still love her very much, and you care.  But, someone has to correct her ways of responding to stress so that she and others around her may be happy.  But, you still have traveled a long distance, and I applaud your effort.  Only, listen to what you are saying, "But, at the point of the conflict, I opted for peace, not resolution.  Mistake.  H was more confused than ever whether I could stand up for her against my mother, and I had been found wanting again, despite months of counseling and telling her that I supported her."  It is at times of conflict that your knowledge has to be brought in play against your instinct.  It is then that you fail, because in your heart you are still trying to avoid labeling your mom as the "cause", let us say, of all this mess.  You are still trying to hide from the truth, to not face it because it is so bitter to pull down the idols we create of our parents.  With most people, it happens automatically (with the teenage rebellions), and then later, we are free to be ourselves, and have a mature adult relationship with our parents.  But, as with my DH, and perhaps with you, the parent/child relationship is reversed, partly, right from the beginning.  She sees you as being responsible for her happiness, and you are the protecting adult, eager to avoid any pain.  Ask yourselves how many times would you think of going to her if your were in a jam.  My DH wouldn't ever.  He and my FIL, even his siblings, would prefer to avoid telling her anything that could cause her stress, because "she feels so much".  True, and yet, funnily, she has more strength than they give her credit for.  I think she could stand up to duress longer than even perhaps they can.  It is just that she is so emotional as well.  It is totally convoluted by now, the family dynamics, and I can not even begin to unravel it for you.  So, like you said, it has to come back to what you and F can do to deal with it.  But you can do it honestly only if you whole heartedly believe in what you are doing.  If you remove this soft corner for peace and stuff.  Sometimes thunder and rain are necessary to clear the air and allow you to breathe.  Halfway modifications of behavior only hide your attitude:  Rents will show again.  If you will trust F, then I can assure you that you will end up having a better relation with your mother as well.  It is a matter of trust, like leaping from the tree, not knowing if you will be caught by waiting arms beneath.  Do you think you can trust someone who has willingly chosen to spend her entire life with you, and has been with you now for ten years (I think that is what you said)?

RESPONSE:  Husband To "The Dishonest One"
Posted: 3-OCT-01
I agree with you that we are never going to change your mother, fundamentally.  We are not going to change her view of me either, which is basically that I am dishonest, Mauritian (which is not her idea of a good thing), Catholic, too emotional, and too social for you.  The truth has finally come out - her attitude that I suspected and felt for 14 years is now written in black and white.  And, it now should be clear to you that this is where all the negativity and snide remarks and hurtful comments have come from all these years.  I have been asking you to DEAL with this underlying attitude - to expose it, and to stand by your friend and your partner in life.  I have also asked you to do a very difficult thing - to look at your mother as a 41 year old man should, and not as her child.  I know that you have defended me on this Mauritian and dishonesty thing, and I have "started" to think that I may trust you again after all these years.  I'm just not sure that you have internalized that you are not doing anything wrong here - that you have a right to stand up to your mother as an adult, and that YOU need this respect from her too, that you are absolutely right in standing up for your partner, and your children, and the life you have chosen.  It's not only about me.  It's about "us" (you, me, and our children).  You say in your last mail that you don't want to "lose" your family - your brother and your mother.  Do you really think that by demanding the respect you deserve you will lose them?  You have set a new precedent for yourself in these mails to your mother - she (and your brother will follow in her attitude) needs to respect your views and your needs and your thoughts and your decisions and your beliefs - and your family (including your wife).  I, personally, feel that she has shown incredible disrespect to me in this latest attack on my heritage, and she has not apologized at all for it.  But, more importantly, she has shown disrespect to our children who are half Mauritian.  In terms of my dishonesty and lack of frankness, I cannot believe that she can ACTUALLY give any details - it is simply another excuse to find me different (like me being too social or too emotional for you).  Are you going to actually allow her to believe that you agree with her?  She doesn't have to apologize to me - she must apologize to YOU.  That is something you do not see yet.  And, she should know that.  I don't need her apology, because I don't really care if she never enters into my life again.  I don't know what I'm trying to say - I'm trying to say that she is assuming that you don't need an apology like that from her because basically she thinks that (deep down ) you agree with her - that you're her son and you cannot possibly not understand that she is right in her view of me.  I don't know what you do next - if anything.  I know that I need time to assimilate all that has been said, and I don't know when I'll be ready to face your mum again, other than briefly.  I suppose I'm really watching you grow up a bit - I'm seeing you take on your responsibility.  I am trying to trust you as a friend who will always stand up and defend "us".  H

frequent fry her - Doing It Together, 1 of 4 needed Frequent Fry Her TM. - Doing It Together /Posted: 7-AUG-01
In reading this forum, we both found it funny, and celebrated the fact that we were not alone.  I looked for a precedent in how the problems could be worked through, but didn't really find answers - wonderful support, yes, but with what end goal or result?  The stories seemed hostile, and so often they end in "FU" outcomes, where walking away is the solution.  We wonder if we can share a process of change with you in this forum, where we don't just tell you what happened, but also talk about how WE plan to make it work out, and indeed, over time, whether it did actually work!  Can this sick woman get over her feelings of her own inadequacy as a mother, her own guilt at the legacy of her genes, her own sense of social superiority and jealousy?  But, also, more importantly, can we, "F" (me) and "H" (dear wife), grow together to re-ignite our love and family life by learning what we have done to each other.  And, more importantly, acknowledge the pain that has been caused by letting this woman from a previous generation get between us.  Can I acknowledge, to my wife and myself (and this forum!), that by letting this woman disrespect my wife, I let her disrespect me.  And, that the same weakness of will and duty-ridden, apologetic, guilty, weak-kneed avoidance of my mother's behavior has caused me to look like an inadequate and uncaring husband in H's eyes.  You know, maybe it's me that needs frequent frying until I have addressed and redressed this issue.  Tell us how we are doing.  Tell us that there are others out there who have won back their marriages this way.  It will also be interesting to know if there are others of you that actually ended up with a positive MIL relationship once you have faced up to the problems it caused in your marriage, stood up for yourselves, and won the day.  Is it wrong for her little boy (41!) to feel that he can win a relationship between his mother and himself and his new family (12 years of marriage later!)?  Or, do I just focus realistically on winning my marriage back, and to hell with the old bag?!  The first step, at least, is to risk losing my mother in order to win my wife.  In avoiding and trying to disbelieve her behavior, I have felt avoiding contact is a solution.  But, it ultimately is not.  I know this is a support forum for the girls, but, please support me or fry me as you see fit.  H will write her stories too, and maybe you can understand both perspectives on history to help build us one shared view of our future.

        Signed - Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future

( I want my own Frequent Fry Her TM Page )

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 13-AUG-01
I admire your openness and willingness to deal with the uncomfortable emotions that accompany the process you are embarking upon.  In addition, even if it is 12 years into your marriage, it is wonderful that you realize the dynamics from your mother that are an insult to your love and priority, your wife.  My husband and I are 28 and have been married just 2 years (together and dealing with his mother for 5).  Fortunately, we realized the importance of handling the situation with the care it deserved from the start.  It wasn't always easy (and still isn't), and we certainly stumbled along the way, but its been worth all the effort we've put into it so far.  We started seeing a counselor about this issue this past winter.  I realize this is not for everyone, and that it can be expensive, but it provided us with some wonderful insights.  We are no longer seeing our counselor, but we set time aside every two weeks or so to discuss this issue and air our feelings out.  Anyway, there is one thing that we learned from our counselor that I'd like to share with you.  It was a hard piece of reality to accept, but a very simple concept that most of us already know to a certain degree (at first I thought it was a very negative view, but I slowly realized it was true in our situation).  Our counselor said, "People don't change, but your reactions to them can."  It was that simple.  My husband's mom wasn't going to change to fit our expectations (JUST as we were not going to change to fit her expectations).  So, the bottom line to us shifted from that point on FROM:  How can we get MIL to see her actions are hurtful?  How can we get MIL to see her son is a man, etc.? TO:  How can we not feel so stressed out by MILs behavior?  How can we protect our marriage emotionally from MILs actions?.  It has been wonderful advice.  Suddenly we felt so much more in sync when we were with his mom.  It was as if we had a protective shield around us keeping all her negative/threatening behaviors out.  I'm not saying all our problems are gone because we still deal with her.  It is at times a struggle (almost a discipline) to practice controlling our reactions and keeping in sync with each other rather than resorting to the usual furious reaction of asking "Why the hell did she do that?  What the heck is she thinking?  Why can't she realize her son is grown?  Why does she ignore her son's wife?"  At first I thought it seemed like she was "getting off the hook" for poor behavior, but actually we are getting off her negative emotional hook and walking away holding hands smiling.  If anything, it has really distanced her emotionally from us, and that is probably sad to a certain degree.  But it goes back to the original saying "People don't change".  If she realizes she has been distanced from us and ever decides to make changes in her life toward us, then we would welcome that.  But until that happens, we can't afford to sacrifice our bond.  It is the most important aspect of our lives.  And, not to sound like everything is perfect since we've discovered this advice, but it is a lot better.  Sometimes we still struggle with it when my husband doesn't realize a negative/sneaky behavior from his mom (because he was, after all, conditioned by the woman for 20 some odd years).  But, he is learning and getting better as time goes on.  Best of luck to you and your wife.  I applaud your courage to deal with these problems and save your marriage.

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 14-AUG-01
I really appreciate your point of view.  In fact, you articulated very well what I have come to strongly believe:  That when a mother disrespects a son's wife, she is, in reality, disrespecting her son.  I wish I had some better news regarding happy resolutions to the problems.  I have only my own experience to go by, and it's not a particularly happy story.  My husband and I have been married for four years.  We dated/were engaged for two years prior to our marriage.  I met my MIL about four months into our (DH and my) dating relationship.  Prior to meeting my MIL, I heard from DH about what a wonderful, loving woman she was.  As I had been told as a young girl, "Watch how a man treats his mother because that's how he will treat you."  I was pleased that my DH (at that time my boyfriend) thought so highly of his mother, and I looked forward to meeting her.  I won't bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that I was disappointed.  My MIL, from the day she met me until a month before our wedding, told me what a wonderful woman "X" was.  Who's "X" you ask?  "X" was a girlfriend of my husband's ten years before he met me (my husband is fifteen years older than I).  He had had two other girlfriends after her and before me.  "X" had fired my MIL's other son from a job, but she was fabulous in my MIL's eyes.  My MIL talked about this woman every time she saw me.  I do not exaggerate.  When my husband and I became engaged, my MIL called on the phone, ostensibly to congratulate me.  And, you guessed it, she talked about X and my husband's relationship despite the fact (or perhaps because of it) that my MIL knew that my husband never intended to marry this woman.  I can give you more - my MIL gave me a negligee that she had worn for her husband twenty years ago as a gift for my honeymoon.  The thing was old and yellowed, but completely sheer.  I mean completely.  And how did I treat my MIL you ask?  I took her to lunch and dinner on a monthly basis, planned a birthday party for her, and invited her entire church congregation to our home.  They all told me how beautifully we had entertained them.  I DID everything for that party.  I always remembered what she liked for birthdays and Christmas.  She collects teapots, so I constantly looked for those for her.  And her behavior only got worse.  Digs and insults continually.  About a year and a half ago, I stopped being alone with her, so she just said her catty remarks in front of my husband.  It was a mess, and I finally (after five years and the total realization that my husband couldn't or wouldn't defend me) called her on her behavior.  We were at dinner and my MIL made a nasty comment about my cooking - not to criticize my cooking (even she has to admit I'm a good cook) - but the fact that I do cook at all.  "X" was fabulous because she was a great cook, so MIL doesn't want me to cook.  Do you see that? "X" was fabulous because she was a great cook.  I'm a good cook also, but MIL wants me to stop cooking!  It boggles the mind.  I said, "MIL, there are many things I love and respect about you.  But when you attack my cooking, you hurt my feelings because it's something I like to do and it feels like you're attacking me."  I said this after FIVE YEARS (my mistake for waiting that long, I know).  Because MIL had not been called on her behavior in front of anyone (both her sons were present at dinner), she came back like a tigress and she said what I knew she had felt since the day she met me.  "YOU'VE TAKEN MY SON AWAY FROM ME," and it got uglier from there.  Now my husband has to deal with the reality of his mother - not so wonderful after all- and I don't deal with her at all.

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 14-AUG-01
Yah, there are a lot of FU outcomes as you put it.  This is not the world of Wally and Beaver Cleaver.  I can't quite see what your point is.

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 14-AUG-01
God bless you and your wife.  But here's what I think scares most husbands away from potentially creating negative feelings in their mommies:  They think they'll kill them.  Don't believe me?  Look at what you wrote:  "The first step, at least, is to risk losing my mother in order to win my wife."  Honey, your mom's not going to DIE if you focus on creating and supporting your marriage.  She'll just have to find something else to do.  She had a life before you were born, you know.  Don't let her tell you otherwise.  Encourage your mother to find that life by telling her to do so, and encouraging her to become involved with things OTHER THAN YOUR LIFE.  I'm so alarmed by the immature, juvenile behavior in these so-called adults.  I guess this is what the baby-boomer, me-generation has bred.  Flower-power mommies who won't let go.  God help us all.

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 14-AUG-01
First of all, the fact that you are even on this site tells "H" that you're trying to be a supportive husband.  I asked my DH to read some of these stories, and he acted bothered by them.  The only way I can answer some of your questions is to tell you how my DH needs to make our marriage better.  #1.  He needs to put me first.  His mother competes with me, and I need to win.  #2.  He needs to understand that needing this wonderful relationship with his mother won't come now, if it hasn't in 41 years.  She is not going to change.  He needs to accept who she is and where they stand, without ruining his marriage.  #3.  It absolutely is not asking too much of your spouse to ask that any digs towards her be digs towards you as well.  It shows that you are not separate, and that any pain directed to her hurts you as well.  Nobody is saying that you should give your mother up for your spouse.  But there have to be rules and limitations.  You cannot allow your spouse to be the "big" one while your mother pays no consequences for anything that she does.  My DH told me that he is also trying to find a relationship that he has never known with his mother.  But, in the meantime, he is losing that relationship with me.  These mothers, more than likely, will never change.  The biggest example of that is that she is intentionally hurting your marriage right now.  If your marriage breaks up, the only people who will be hurt are you and your spouse.  Your mother will be as happy as pie (if not on the outside, on the inside - outwardly she will be there to rescue you).  Keep up the research, and see how many posters sadly type ex-spouse.  And then really dig deep inside to see what is important in your life.  I hope to hear from you and your spouse in the near future.

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 14-AUG-01
There is only ONE, I repeat, ONE reason that the outcome of in-law battles ever ends up as a big FU to the old bag:  The MIL herself.  Everything hinges on the kind of MIL you have.  Some MILs will gain respect for you when you stand up for yourself.  Others are beyond repair since they are mentally ill, narcissistic, possessive, and sometimes just plain evil.  So don't be too tough on the DIL's who have tried every possible solution in the book, only to face an unyielding MIL (or FIL, SIL, BIL, etc.).  I have yet to see a submission from a DIL who didn't start out trying to get along with her in-laws.  I mean, come on.  We're not STUPID.  We WANT to be liked by our spouse's family, especially since we'll be spending holidays with them and bringing our children to see them.  People break off relationships when there is no other solution to the IL problem, or when the MIL is unbearably cruel, punishing, or selfish.  I believe saving one's sanity is far more important than wasting time trying to reconcile with an uncaring old hag.  Of course, people have sometimes tried and succeeded, but not everyone can succeed because of THE MIL.  Whose fault is that?  The MIL's, and when she doesn't see herself as the problem, the problem is insolvable.  The only POSSIBLE solution is to walk away in order to preserve your sanity, self-respect, and sometimes, safety.

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 15-AUG-01
I wish my husband were just 10% as perceptive as you are.  He continues to deny our problems as well as his mother's intrusive behavior.  He keeps blaming me for the whole shebang.  As a result, we have come to the brink of divorce.  I don't even like my husband touching me anymore.  I was mad for several years.  I'm not even mad now.  What's the point?  Nothing will change as long as we stay married.  He will continue to be mama's little boy.  Everything will always be my fault.  I don't know what would please your wife the most, but I know that I would appreciate my DH telling me that he failed to see things from my standpoint.  And, that he will try to understand how I feel.  I want him to tell his mother to treat me with respect, since I am his wife, the mother of his child and he loves me.  My husband will probably never say any of these things.  We will probably be divorced as soon as our business relations are straightened out (we co-own a business).  Our child will be miserable because she is very fond of us both.  I've thought of staying with him for the sake of our child, but I don't want to stay in a marriage where I will be miserable.  I am now 32, and will lose my chance at renewing my life if I don't act soon.  Keep up the positive behavior.  You are on the path of rejuvenating your relationship with your wife.

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 15-AUG-01
WOW - Excellent description of your current position.  I believe the entry you wrote was both thoughtful and realistic, and I do agree with you on your comments.  I also agree that this is a wonderful place to vent, share stories, and get a feeling that one is not alone in or strange for having their given MIL situation.  But, I have also seen few stories (if any that I recall)of a harmonious resolution with the MIL.  I have my husband's full support.  And after years of abuse, we have decided to not speak to MIL.  She is a very toxic person, and has done many cruel things to us.  It is fortunate that we do not have children yet, because that would surely complicate the situation.  I have looked at forgiveness web-sites for some internal resolution for this problem.  For me, that is the biggest issue.  I know that I am holding in a LOT of anger and resentment for her treatment of me over the years and at our wedding.  I have also spoken to some clergy members regarding my trouble forgiving her.  I believe the situation has been very destructive to my well-being and our marriage.  It would be so much harder (if not impossible) to overcome if I did not have my husband's complete support.  I am sorry that I do not have more answers for you, but it does sound like you are headed in the right direction.  I wish you and your wife the very best.  Good Luck!J

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 16-AUG-01
Sometimes, halting contact with the MIL, by both her son and her DIL, is exactly what is needed to get the MIL to realize that she needs to treat both of them respectfully (and keep all of her opinions and manipulations from ever becoming verbal).  If her son continues to jump every time she says "boo", she will keep on acting like she is in charge of everything, and only her opinions matter.

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 21-AUG-01
I only wish my husband shared your attitude.  He prefers to keep his head in the sand and pretend that the MIL and FIL problem either does not exist, or that it's ALWAYS my fault.  He cannot understand why I am so uncomfortable around his family.  I only wish he would try to win me back.  Right now, I want to run away from him until his folks croak, and then maybe we could have some peace around here.  I don't expect him to disown his parents, because I believe people should honor their parents (but not to the point of choosing them over their spouses).  BTW, he's 48.

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 22-AUG-01
To the respondent who begins the post, "There is only ONE --- ."  Well-said, Poster!  Your post was right on.  You articulated what most of us feel very, very well.  Thanks for your wise words!!!J

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 24-AUG-01
This is to the August 14 respondent who said, "I don't quite see what your point is."  My response is, "Lady, READ."  I've seen your posts here quite a bit (yes, you're that transparent), and I don't think anyone is fooled that your supposedly direct approach is really a mask for your own negativity and bitter approach to the world.  Again, it would be helpful if you would really READ others' posts before making such callous remarks.

RESPONSE:  Help Build Us One Shared View Of Our Future
Posted: 21-SEP-01
This is in response to the Aug 24 poster who blasted the woman who said, "I don't quite see what your point is," by saying she has a bitter approach to the world.  While the Aug 14 poster was abrupt in her response to the question posed by the supportive husband who wrote the original note, I can understand why she made the remarks she made.  While I believe the original poster wanted to share his inspirational story and give others hope that there is a positive solution to keeping up family ties and having a strong marriage, he seemed to imply that walking away from a problem IL shouldn't be an option (maybe he just meant in his situation).  I believe this is what caused a strong reaction from the Aug 14 poster.  Cutting off ties with a an abusive MIL (or other abusive IL) should ALWAYS be a last resort.  But I believe most people who post on this site who have come to that decision have exhausted all of their other options, and that is why they have an FU attitude.  Some posters ARE bitter, but with reason!  When an IL has crushed your self-esteem for years and wreaked havoc on your marriage and emotional well-being, it's hard to be forgiving and to not be bitter.  So, the Aug 14 poster made a valid point, this isn't the world of the Cleavers, where these problems can always be solved with a harmonious outcome.  When sons and their wives have tried everything, and a jealous, negative, mean-spirited MIL refuses to be decent, what should they do?  Continue to take the abuse?  I don't think so.  If the husband and wife love each other and are happy together, then it's the MIL who should lose if she can't let go of abusive and controlling behaviors.  It sounds like the husband who posted the original message cares a great deal about his wife, and that he has a mother who could ultimately be worked with.  Even he said he took a chance on losing his mother to patch up his marriage.  Fortunately, his mom came around and/or he and his wife found ways to cope with the problem.  I think most of us who come to this site would be happier, and have a positive attitude, if our situations could work out that way.  But, sadly, it often isn't the case.  I don't think any of the DILs on this site wished they had screwed up relationships with their ILs.  I know I don't try to be my husband's mother, and I wish my MIL would stop trying to be my husband's wife!

 


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