The Straw That Broke The
Age: 40 MIL
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- Straw That Broke Camel's Back 1 of 4
This is a classic story which illustrates my MIL's
gall, and the degree to which her sons are spineless. One spring,
DH and I received an invitation to share Easter dinner with MIL.
All the ILs were invited, as well, to go to MIL's small, cramped,
rented apartment. Nothing suits MIL more than to have all of
her "boys" together in one room, at one time. We went.
The dinner was actually pleasant, and I was almost going to silently
scold myself for thinking she had something up her sleeve. We
were nearly through dessert, when MIL stood up and asked for everyone's
attention, as she had an announcement to make. She proceeded
to inform her sons that she had decided that she had gotten tired
of paying rent and the electric bill. At her age, which was
about 75 at the time, she felt it was the duty of her sons to take
care of her. She informed all of us that she had not signed
the lease on her apartment, and within two weeks she would be putting
all of her furniture into storage. Furthermore, she would rotate
visits between all four of her sons. End of discussion.
She sat down with a smile. Not one of her sons had been consulted
about this arrangement, and not one of them stood up to challenge
of this obviously twisted, manipulative plot. Sure enough, within
two weeks she had all of her stuff in storage, and began a 15 month
odyssey of being the bag lady MIL. She traveled from one son
to the other. From the get-go, one son opted out, because this
announcement was the last straw for his wife. She filed for
divorce, and refused to let MIL set foot in her home. That left
3 sons to share the duty. MIL would simply show up on the doorstep
one day and plop herself down with her belongings. She'd make
DH go to the store and stock up on her favorite foods and necessities.
She never let us know how long she was going to stay, or when we might
expect her back the next time. This incredible invasion of privacy
ended after 15 months. It ended only because my BIL's wife and
I had HAD it up to here with the arrangement. Both of us leaned
hard enough on our husbands that they finally got together, weak knees
knocking together, and told her she'd have to get her own apartment
again. She got her own apartment again, but not without raising
the heat towards me and BIL's wife. That was almost 8 years
ago, and I still pay the price for that one!
Signed - Been There, Done
That, For Far Toooooooo Long!
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- Straw That Broke Camel's Back 2 of 4
Before I go into the exact "incident", I
need to provide history on some other relationship issues that existed
at the time. We have three children, our oldest (15) son and
DH were having relationship challenges. They would argue loudly,
yell and scream, and there where times when the argument became physical.
Pushing, shoving, and wrestling unfortunately were not uncommon.
I will reserve comment on this, since it is a side issue. I
began to look at my response to their relationship. I realized
that part of their battles were to get attention or draw me into their
argument (a long explanation could be inserted here, but I'll refrain).
I will also add that visits from MIL are never welcomed by anyone
in our household. DH gets tense, and usually becomes "busy"
with chores in the yard, shed, garage, etc. MIL ignores our
kids, or makes derogatory comments about them to me. They are
expected to "kiss her hello" and be "respectful",
but she never engages with them at all. I, of course, get the
"low down" on my BIL's wives - how much she dislikes them,
what the other grandchildren are doing, and her negative opinions
about their activities (great young adults, BTW, with education, nice
significant others, successful careers etc.). I look forward
to MIL's visits least of all because I'm usually the one who is left
with her all day! Consequently, when MIL is expected to arrive,
the whole atmosphere in our home changes, and the stress is ratcheted
up many levels. I have recently taken on a volunteer position
in my community which requires a lot of extra work at home.
I had been dropping this work whenever I was "needed" by
someone in the house, but before long, subtle power struggles began
to pop up. In fact, it became very difficult for me to accomplish
anything without someone "needing" me for something.
On this particular Sunday, I had done a lot of preparation, the day
before, for the dinner. The house was clean, laundry done, etc.,
and I had announced to my family that I was going to be busy with
some reading material, and that I did not want to be disturbed (in
other words, I set boundaries). I informed DH that I was going
to be in the finished basement, reading, and I might possibly still
be there when he arrived home from picking up his mother. I
was not going to come up until I was done. So that sets the
stage for you. This is what the dynamics were on the day of
MIL's visit. DH arrived home with MIL. She opened the
basement door and yelled down, "Hello, I'm here!"
I said, "Hello, I'm busy with some reading, but I'll be up in
a little while. DH will make you comfortable." I
went back to my reading. Sometime shortly thereafter, our son
entered the picture, and there were words exchanged between him and
DH. It became an argument, and the argument escalated to yelling
and screaming. MIL opened the basement door, and demanded that
I come upstairs to settle the argument. I calmly replied, "This
is not uncommon for them, they will settle it." I did not
get up, and she closed the basement door. I am proud of myself
for not getting sucked into the dynamics between DH and our son.
I felt that they are "acting out", trying to pull me into
the dysfunction by upping the ante and fighting in front of MIL.
I also am proud of myself because I did not responding to MIL's demands.
Unfortunately, the action was elevated to the physical. DH and
son were apparently engaged in some sort of pushing, shoving match
when MIL opened the door and started yelling for me to, "Get
up here right now, they are fighting with each other."
Again, I did not bite the bait. I said," Yes, this behavior
is unfortunate, but they have to settle it themselves. Stay
away from them." Of course, by now, I was not reading anymore,
but I was determined NOT to go upstairs and involve myself in settling
this horrible display of family dysfunction, especially in front of
MIL. The fighting and shoving stopped in a short time, and all
was quiet. Did they kill one another, I wondered? I waited
about 10-15 minutes. I did not hear talking or discussion, nothing.
So, I calmly went upstairs. MIL was outside, smoking her cigarette.
The smoking issue could fill up 10 pages. Son was watching TV
in the den, hubby was close by watching TV in the kitchen. I
spoke to son and prohibited him from attending a party at his friend's
house that evening because of his behavior. Hubby clearly heard
me say this, because DH had a satisfied look on his face. Son
did not argue, just huffed and got up to go to his room. Just
a word here about my son. He has a temper, at times, but is
much more verbal than physical. He is a straight A student,
he gets along fine with his peers, and is respected by all adults
in his life as a mature, caring, fine young man. I went into
the kitchen and began to arrange the final preparation of dinner.
I said nothing to hubby, who continued to watch TV, because I do not
want to start a marital argument while MIL is lurking around.
MIL entered the house from having her cigarette. Now, mind you,
besides the exchange of words from the basement, I have not spoken
to MIL. MIL entered the house and walked right up to me.
She began to shout at me. She spewed a litany of comments that
began with how she raised four sons who never treated their father
the way my son treated his father (which is untrue, because she had
her thumb broken one time while trying to break up a fight between
one of her sons and her husband). She ended her tirade by commenting
as to how I should pack my son up and send him to live in another
state with my family (whom she referred to as "your people").
After 20 years, you'd think I'd be used to this. But I am dumb
struck. I had no involvement in the argument. I wasn't
even physically present. I was standing in my own kitchen, being
yelled at like a child by a woman who has no business passing any
comment at all, never mind suggesting that I send my son away.
DH was just sitting there. He did not get up and come to my
side. He did not make a verbal comment. He simply stared
straight ahead at the TV and did nothing! I felt something click
in my head. I said nothing, but my emotions propelled me to
do one of two things: 1) Reach out and physically strike
this woman across the mouth or, 2) Leave. I chose
to leave. I would never strike her, but for the first time in
20 years, I swear that I really felt like it. This prompted
my husband to get out of his chair and follow me outside to the car.
His statement, made with an incredulous look on his face, was, "I
can't believe you're going to leave the house over this!"
I told him that I was going to my friend's house, and I left.
Five hours later, DH called me at my friend's house. The phone
call was not to apologize or enter into conversation about what had
transpired earlier. The phone call was to ask when I thought
I was coming home. The reason for wanting to know what time
I was coming home was not to ensure that I was coming home.
The reason for the call was to find out if I would pick up our son
at his friend's house. The same friend I had prohibited him
from seeing earlier in the day after the argument with his father.
It seems that DH let our son attend the party after all, because DH
didn't want to have to deal with our son by himself, since I wasn't
home! For the first time in my life, I was twice dumb struck
in the same day. DH never attempted to enter into a conversation
with me over the events of that day. I was so angry with him
that I couldn't see straight for nearly two weeks. Finally,
I approached the subject with him. I pointed out that he had
failed to defend me AGAIN! He failed to speak up for his own
family. He ate the meal MIL finished preparing for him and conducted
the visit even though I was gone. In short, he let me leave
and he let her stay. To add insult to injury, he then overrode
the punishment I set for our son (because DH never sets boundaries).
I have never recovered from this incident. DH never offered
me any kind of apology for his behavior. Six months after the
incident, MIL did call to apologize for her behavior that day.
However, since the call came six months too late, I feel that she
was coerced into the apology. I do not believe, for one second,
that it was sincere. I have stopped interacting with MIL, completely.
I do not answer the phone when she calls. I keep my conversations
short, curt, and to the point, when I am spoken to in person.
All intimacy has been lost in the marital relationship. I do
not trust my husband. And, quite honestly, I don't think I ever
will again. I believe that he has chosen his mother over me,
and perhaps always has. I stay in the relationship for financial
reasons. Lately, that hasn't even been enough for me not to
consider the real possibility of divorce. I am writing this
for all those young brides-to-be. If you are detecting an unwillingness
on your DF's part to wake up and smell the coffee, gracefully back
out now. He has already chosen the main woman in his life, and
sorry, it isn't you.
Signed - Sorry, It Isn't
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- Straw That Broke Camel's Back 3 of 4
Here's a great story to further paint the picture of
my MIL. BIL was getting married to wife #2. They picked
a wedding date that happened to be the same day as my DH's birthday.
It was a very small civil ceremony with just the very immediate family
from both sides in attendance. My MIL had offered to purchase
and bring the cake. The wedding was over, dinner was over, and
out came the cake! It said, "Happy Birthday DH"!
She's a piece of work!!!!
Signed - MIL Offered To
Bring The Cake
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- Straw That Broke Camel's Back 4 of 4
I was 7 months pregnant with our second child.
MIL invited DH and me over for lunch. We were advised to leave
our 3 year old son with BIL because she wanted to share some private
time with us as a couple. Big red flags should have gone up
here, but they didn't. At this time in our marriage, DH and
I had very little precious time alone. So, to go to this woman's
apartment on a mutual day off, without our son, was a major sacrifice.
We rang the bell, and she greeted us at the door. This was unusual,
since she usually just buzzed us in. I noticed that, as we walked
up the stairs to the apartment, she locked the door behind us.
She served us lunch. There was small, insignificant chit chat
all through the meal, and I was wondering if this could possibly be
all she wanted - a real lunch with DH and me. WRONG! She
served tea and cookies. Out of nowhere, she looked straight
at me and said, "I think it's very ugly of your mother not to
invite me to her Tupperware party." I tried to behave calmly,
and I said, "Well, you should call her and tell her that you'd
like to be included next time." I was really thinking,
"This woman is a total loon bag." She then launched
off into a diatribe about my family. DH didn't flinch or raise
his voice to defend me. Now I'm feeling doubly hit upon.
First, by this wacko woman, who is my MIL, second, by the fact that
the man who is supposed to love me, is sitting there as a spectator.
After realizing that nothing I would say would stop this verbal whipping
that I was receiving, I got up and headed for the door. It was
locked, and I couldn't get out. I yelled for her to unlock the
door, but she didn't move. I yelled louder, and she still didn't
move. Finally, I started pounding on the door, and I was crying,
"Let me out." She didn't move. DH finally got
up to come to me. He told me that I should calm down because
I might "hurt the baby". I told him to $%#@ off and
let me out of the God #$@% apartment! By this time, I was definitely
behaving like a caged animal, because I felt like one. He finally
started to yell at MIL to get the keys and open the door, which she
finally did. I left the apartment and began walking away in
a blind rage, very pregnant and crying. DH went back into her
apartment and closed the door! He actually let me leave, and
he went back to her!! So much for worrying about "his unborn
baby". My BIL's wife, who had my son for the afternoon,
finally pulled up next to me in her car, and brought me and my son
home to our house. I guess telephone calls were exchanged after
I stormed out, and she knew where to find me. This incident
happened about 12 years ago. At the time, I was still blaming
MIL for all the problems. I should have kicked DH out on his
@ss for that one, but it actually never occurred to me. Hindsight
is always 20/20!
Signed - Hindsight Is Always
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