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Age: 28        MIL Age: 50
Milwaukee, WI

So, after my MIL's tirade that crossed the line from passive-aggressive and into blatant aggressiveness, I decided to try another way of dealing with my MIL:  Doing my best to ignore her and simply have nothing to do with her.  The response?  (1)  First of all, she sent me a birthday card - the first acknowledgement I've had of my birthday in any way or form from her for the entire eleven years I have known her.  A nice thoughtful gesture on her part?  Well, she didn't want to be TOO nice about it.  It was over a month late, and all she did was sign her name.  If it really is the thought that counts, I guess this means she's back to the passive-aggressive B@#$S#@.  (2)  Since New Year's, my DH and I got cell phones.  For the past two months, she's been calling DH on his personal cell phone nearly every week, trying to get HIM to come over to her house (no, he hasn't gone yet, thankfully.)  (3)  Just one week ago, I got a job that starts when I'm done with school!  She hasn't said a word to me, but e-mailed my DH with a congratulations.  While my DH is very happy and excited to be leaving Milwaukee and moving to Cleveland (oh yes, this is the place where she knew someone who just HATED living there), it was ME who got the job and it is ME who is moving us there.  So I guess that's a congratulations to my DH for moving with me?  And my MIL's only comment so far about the job itself to my DH was, "Aren't they going to help you with moving?  Is it all up to you to do the actual moving and pay for it?"  As if to say, "What kind of job would expect you to move all by yourself?"
        signed - Passive-Aggressive MIL

It's been so long, and I've only just recently really found my voice, so it's hard to know where to start.  I met my husband approximately ten years ago, the summer before I started college.  We dated exclusively for about four years, after which we moved in together, and then got married.  We have a wonderful relationship.  Unfortunately, the relationship with my mother-in-law has been less than wonderful.  Actually, she didn't have a problem with me at first -- when I was shy and insecure and didn't know what I wanted to do with my life.  But, when I started "growing up", and (as I now realize in retrospect), when she broke up with her live-in boyfriend (and her son decided to move in with me and a roommate instead of helping her pay rent in a new apartment), things started getting unbelievably nasty.
        signed - Just Recently Found My Voice

My mother-in-law went back to school.  We were getting along fine until my sophomore year, when I decided to switch my major from psychology to biology (with the intention of possibly going to medical school).  She first started dropping these little comments, when we would visit, about how "frightening" genetic engineering was, and how scientists were doing all these harmful things.  Then, when she found out I was indeed applying for medical school, she went all out until, literally, almost every time we visited her she would talk about "how evil Western medicine is," and "how evil and terrible those Western drugs are," and "how greedy Western doctors are."  Her descriptions, exactly.  It continues to this day, with repeated, emphatic comments, stories, and examples blasting my profession.  She tells these things to my husband right in front of my face.
        signed - MIL Went Back To School

I took two years off between college and medical school, during which time I got my first full-time job as a secretary for the City (a B.S. in biology doesn't do you much good unless you want to do lab work!).  It paid great & had great benefits, as most government jobs do.  My husband and I were very happy and excited about it.  I soon found out, however, that my mother-in-law had also worked for the City many years back in a temporary job.  When my husband told her that he was also looking at City job opportunities, his mother gasped right in front of me and said, "Oh, no!  You don't want to do that!  Those people are so awful!  They were so unpleasant, so unfriendly and so nasty to work with!".
        signed - MIL Comparing Jobs

Also, during those two years off, my husband and I played in a band together (my husband went to school for Music Performance).  His family came to see one of our gigs in a bar.  Her comment to me afterwards was, "Oh, you were really good, I think.  I guess I wouldn't really know what's good or not."  A while later, when we were talking about wanting to play in other venues, she butted in and said, "Well, of course!  Why would anyone want to play at a bar like that one?  It was such a horrible place to play -- so tiny, so crowded, hardly any dance floor.  Why would anyone want to JUST play THERE?"
        signed - MIL Saw Gig In A Bar

These types of comments occurred almost every time we saw her for the next several years.  So, naturally, we saw her less and less often.  Finally, my husband went to his mother and told her she was being rude to me, to stop it, and that maybe she should apologize to me.  Her attempt at an "apology" was a two-and-a-half page letter explaining why she said what she did.  The closest she got to an apology was the opening two sentences, "I write things better than I say them, so when my son told me that the opinions that my husband and I had expressed over time had made you uncomfortable, I decided I should write you a letter to better explain myself.  I love you, and the last thing I'd ever want to do is hurt you."  It all sounded nice, until I read the rest of the letter.  It contained a long, detailed explanation of what she thought was wrong with my chosen profession.  She wrote, "About the Western Medical system -- there's a lot wrong with it and a lot right with it.  I could write a volume about what's wrong with it, but I think you'll discover it for yourself in school.  From what I've seen, there are many reasons propelling people into medical school.  There's always the standard one of family expectations, but also just plain greed!"  Then there were more details explaining, "the greedy ones are the ones who ...," and, "the lazy ones also can work against the well-being of the patients."  This diatribe went on for one-and-a-half pages, single-spaced, 12-point font type.  That was the apology I got.  Needless to say, we then limited our visits to several family reunions each year.  Unfortunately, things still didn't get any better.
        signed - Written Apology, Not Exactly

My husband and I finally tied the knot last year!  My MIL offered to help.  So, I asked for suggestions on things that might be done in the ceremony (e.g. poetry reading, music) since she had recently gotten married herself, and had planned her own ceremony & reception.  She said she'd think about it.  Then, the next time she saw me, she said, "You know, I really can't think of anything."
        signed - No Solicited Advice

My husband and I decided to go to Costa Rica for our honeymoon.  She never spoke to me about it, but, the day before the wedding she informed my husband about a couple who was murdered there a few weeks back.  She told him that she was worried that it wasn't safe for us to go there.
        signed - Worried It Wasn't Safe To Go

Anyway, to get on with it, my mother-in-law did not say a word to me during THE ENTIRE WEDDING OR RECEPTION DINNER.  Obviously, this also means I never received, not once, any compliment (or comment, for that matter) on the wedding ceremony, the reception, my dress, or anything.  What REALLY gets me is that we sat at the head table, with my husband between her and me, and at one point she began talking to my husband about what HE wanted to do with HIS life.  She COMPLETELY IGNORED ME during the entire conversation, refusing even to glance at me, even though I was facing her and directly in her line of vision as she spoke to my husband.
        signed - MIL Completely Ignored Me

RESPONSE:  MIL Completely Ignored Me
Don't feel alone.  My MIL, step FIL and SIL all ignored me during my wedding and reception.  The only person from H's gene pool that said anything remotely kind to me was an aunt of his who said, "Welcome to the family."  I thought to myself, was that sarcastic (like she didn't want to be part of this group either)??  It sounded like sympathy.  NOW I KNOW WHY.  LOL!!  Now I fully understand!!!
RESPONSE:  MIL Completely Ignored Me
My MIL did the same thing, and I'm kind of glad that she did.  Every conversation I've had with her is negative.  When I look back, I'm glad she didn't talk to me.  She probably would have pissed me off.  And just understand that you can't change her and she can't change you.  But be respectful towards her.  Remember the old saying "kill 'em with kindness".  Believe me, she will not know how to take it.
So, now here is the final story final because it was my last straw.  About three months ago, my mother-in-law stopped by our house to pick up my sister-in-law's dresser that was being stored in our basement.  We went out to lunch together.  I should have known better.  Here's most, but not all, of what she managed to cram into about a one-hour period:
(a) My husband had recently called his stepfather-in-law to ask his opinion about how hard it would be to install hardwood floors (our carpet is getting old and we thought the landlords might like a deal - if they paid for the flooring, we would install it.)  I had never spoken a single word to either of them about any of this -- it was a phone call between my husband and them.  The first thing that she said to me when we were alone at this visit was, "So, I hear you want to leave here?"  I looked at her in surprise and said, "You mean from this town?" ---   I'm almost done with medical school, and we have been looking at residency programs elsewhere, but we have not yet discussed this with her. ---   She looked at me and said, "No, my son said something about how you don't like the carpet here, so you want to move.  What's wrong with the carpet?"  I should have known better than to go to lunch with them.  I was so shocked that I didn't catch the full blow of the insult until later.
(b)  So, we're sitting at lunch and I was trying to keep out of the conversation (which isn't too hard, because she was only talking to my husband, anyway) when my husband mentioned a few cities that I am looking at for residency programs when I finish school.  She had a nasty thing to say about EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!:  "California?  I would NEVER want to live in California!  TEXAS?  I don't know ANYONE who's EVER moved to Texas and wanted to stay there!  East Lansing?  Isn't that right near Detroit?  That's the ugliest, worst city I've ever seen!  It looks just like Bosnia or something!  It's like a war zone there!  Cleveland?  I know someone who lived in Cleveland for a while, and he HATED it there!"
(c)  Throughout the lunch, she was babbling to my husband about her new part-time job driving kids to school on a bus.  "Those suburban kids are just SOO obnoxious," she commented, knowing full well I grew up in a suburb.  "Of course, I'm not making a generalized statement here," (she was looking pointedly at me), "I'm just saying, those suburban kids I drive to school are so much more obnoxious than the other kids."
(d)  As usual, she managed to squeeze in her insults at doctors several times.  "I FINALLY had my headaches diagnosed, by a chiropractor, of course.  Did you hear about that athlete in the race who collapsed?  It was because her doctor prescribed her some anti-inflammatory that makes you tired.  I don't know why her doctor would prescribe her that without telling her, or why he didn't know that."  Apparently one of the former bus drivers was stung by a bee and went into anaphylactic shock and died.  "They took him to the hospital, but it was too late, and of course the doctors couldn't do anything for him, anyway."  ARGH!  I've had it!  In fact, in writing this, I can't believe that, for the past eight or so years, I have held on to the hope that something will change.  I've been told that I am just being "overly sensitive" to her "opinions", that she doesn't mean to hurt me, and that I should just laugh it off and "be the better person".  Well, I give up.  I have resolved not to have anything to do with her anymore, and if she's the "better person" for it, all the power to her.  I am sick of wasting energy on frustration, hope, and disappointment in a relationship that will never be.  I will admit it will take energy to "let go", but in writing this, I hope I am taking that first step.
        signed - When I "Grew Up" Things Got Nasty

RESPONSE:  When I "Grew Up" Things Got Nasty
Hi - I really feel for you.  At one time I was where you are.  One of the last words you wrote struck me like a bell - Hope.  It sounds like you are looking for your MIL to approve of you, or better yet - you don't approve of yourself.  That's a hard one to acknowledge for anyone.  Don't shut her out of your life, either - if you love your husband.  It will make your relationship with him stronger.  Look inward, Honey, when she says something that hurts - ask yourself why it hurts - what has happened to you in the past that has left you wounded?  When you do something for yourself in total confidence it won't matter what she says.  It is just her opinion - we all have one.  Try to find something she likes and go with that - it will show your husband you are really trying to see her as an individual and that you care.

I used to try to get everyone in my life to approve of me and take care of me in some way.  I was so unhappy.  Joyless.  Until I realized I had to do those things for myself - I didn't even know how!  I learned, and now I'm full of peace and I know joy.  Good Luck Sweetie!
RESPONSE:  When I "Grew Up" Things Got Nasty
It sounds like your MIL is SO jealous of the fact that you're a doctor!  Being a doctor is one of the most respected professions in the world.  She's a school bus driver, and obviously feels inferior to you.  My own MIL constantly criticizes teachers because I am one.  She insults the profession with comments like, "Those who can't do anything else, teach," or, "Schoolteachers aren't very bright people," or, "The reason teachers aren't paid much is because they're really just working class with a fancy title," or, "Teachers are people who can't cope with real business hours,", etc., etc.  I've come to see that my MIL is very threatened by my profession because it's a caring one that gets respect.  She's never worked a day in her life, and has never done anything to make a difference in the lives of others.  In fact, she's a very destructive person.  I think your MIL feels very "out of your league", especially since you grew up in the suburbs and are now a doctor.  She's also probably threatened by the fact that you're making a difference in the lives of others, while she's just taking up air space.  It's her problem, not yours.  She's just showing her ignorance and insecurity.  I hope your husband can see that she is foolish.  Try to distance yourself and go on with your meaningful life.  She's not worth your time.
RESPONSE:  When I "Grew Up" Things Got Nasty
I have to say, I really disagree with the first responder's notion that you should not cut your MIL out of your life, at least for a while.  You've spent 10 years worrying more about your MIL's feelings and needs than you have about your own.  But it also sounds like your husband is wonderful, and that he admires and respects you and your ambitions (whether they take you two to California or Texas -- a great state, by the way! -- or Michigan).  Now it's time for you to start taking care of yourself, caring more about your own feelings and needs than hers.  You may be instinctively reluctant to cut off the relationship to your MIL; you sound like a really nice person who has tried so hard to get along with your MIL (asking her advice on the wedding, going out to lunch with her, ignoring her rude comments about your wonderful profession, etc.).  But stop being reluctant.  You sound like you've reached the point where self-protection needs to kick in.  Let yourself protect and care for yourself more than you care for her.  And don't feel guilty about it, either.  Far from being selfish or a "bad person," taking care of yourself is the most psychologically healthy thing you can do.  Maybe someday you'll come to a point of peace with your MIL, but if you need to cut off contact with her for now, you should do so quite comfortably, for it sounds like your husband would back you 100%.  Take care of you!

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