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Mother-In-Law Stories
March 23, 2002
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MARCH 2002
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Worst gift:  For Christmas, my MIL gave me a bathroom scale.  Before I opened it, she stated that it was "something for your new house."  The worst part about it was that I had an 8 week old baby!

        Signed - Bathroom Scale

RESPONSE:  Bathroom Scale
Maybe you should give her some diet books for Christmas or her birthday.  You can smile and say, "The bathroom scale has helped me so much.  I thought I would share my positive experience with YOU!"

I've read through some of the archived stories, and I can't believe that there are other in-laws just like mine.  Needless to say, the relationship between my MIL and I has always been a bit strained.  Can you believe that she took several rolls of film at our wedding, and I was the only one missing from all of the pictures?  Things have gotten progressively worse since the birth of our son 2 years ago, and I'm searching for a way to deal with her before my husband's relationship with his mother is nonexistent.  She came to stay with us immediately after our son was born (my idea).  After 2 days of visiting, she began doing odd things:  Calling herself "Mommy" while caring for our son, sneaking into our room at night and taking our baby to sleep in her room.  She even had the audacity to push my hands out of the way and take over a changing.  She had complete disrespect for anything that I said, and she behaved as though we had given birth to our baby for her benefit.  Ultimately, my DH asked her to leave.  He, however, was not the object of her anger.  She became angry with me, and chose to spread lies about me to her family and friends.  Luckily, there aren't that many of them - it's odd how just a few people can bring so much stress into a family.  Fortunately, we now live 4 hours from her, so my irritation is limited to holiday visits, letters, and phone calls.  My SIL lives 45 minutes away, but she, along with several other family members, quit speaking to us a few months ago.  We have no idea why - these folks are "out there".  I'm very disappointed in my SIL, because her "family" has consistently disrespected her husband over the years.  At least they've never threatened to kill me.  He hardly ever showed up for any holiday events, and now I know why.  Three Christmases ago, he decided to go to my MIL's for dinner.  Several of these warped folks nastily "joked" about how they were going to kill him.  Was it going to be the carving knife used for the turkey, or the .22 on the back of one of their trucks?  This was just because he showed up for dinner.  Obviously, my BIL did not find humor in their antics.  I'm sure that anyone who reads this will ask if my DH has spoken to his mother about these issues?  The answer is "sort of", and I have mixed feelings about that.  My DH had tried to discuss the tension with her shortly after we were married.  It was a telephone conversation, and as soon as he brought up the topic, she became angry, swore at him, hung up on him, and quit speaking to us for several months.  Since our son was born, he hasn't approached the issue with her.  He intends on doing so the next time we travel to our hometown for a visit, but it's already been two years.  I know that when this conversation takes place, it will probably mean the end of the relationship between him and his family.  I feel responsible, even though they have a history of being "not so nice" people.  Oddly enough, I am not happy that my husband may have to sacrifice the family that raised him (he's adopted) just to rid our lives of this stress.  I would love it if we could all get along.  Just when I think that maybe they'll behave in a mature fashion, they do something else that's ignorant.  I'm more than willing to sit down and try to reason with these folks, but they don't talk about problems.  They're right about everything.  Can anyone out there give me some hope that these kooks might turn around and try to get along?  Am I fooling myself?  Any advice on an approach would be greatly appreciated.  Even if I don't hear anything, I feel better just venting to an audience that really understands my issues.  Thanks.

        Signed - Desperately Seeking Peace On The East Coast

RESPONSE:  Desperately Seeking Peace On The East Coast
You're fooling yourself.  Your DH knows how they are, and they haven't changed for the better since you came along.  You may be doing yourself and your family more harm than good by trying to keep this sociopath-like bunch in your life.  You've tried being nice, you've tried being reasonable.  Choose your metaphor:  Beating a dead horse, pissing in the wind, trying to befriend a rabid dog.  Talk to your husband about this.  LISTEN to his opinions (he has more experience with your ILs), and raise your child to know how to behave and to walk away from a losing battle

RESPONSE:  Desperately Seeking Peace On The East Coast
You can read my story that was posted on January 24, 2002 (signed Frustrated, Disappointed).  I have learned that you can only do so much, and you can't change anybody.  Your MIL may never be satisfied with anything you do or try.  The only person you are responsible for is yourself.  I, like you, wish relationships were different with my in-laws.  My MIL also said lots of lies and kept us away from the family.  She even had the SIL call me and really tell me off.  She told me some really nasty stuff about me and my family.  When our first child was born, the problems escalated.  I have tried, even over my own mother, to make her feel like a big part of our child's life.  It was never good enough.  I guess we were supposed to just turn the baby over to her.  For a couple of years I took everything very personally, and was very hurt.  I felt responsible.  Whatever problems your MIL is having is due to something from her past.  She is a grown woman, and she needs to take responsibility for her own happiness.  And, she should not take for granted what is right in front of her.  You just continue to do what you can, and what you feel good about.  Just pray that she will be more accepting, and that it is not always about her.  Also, be up front, ask or say what is on your mind.  This way, there is no guessing, and she will know exactly where you are coming from.

RESPONSE:  Desperately Seeking Peace On The East Coast
I doubt that you can find hope here.  Be thankful that your DH is NOT like them, and that he stands up for you.  It is sad that his family does this to him, and that he may have to, as a result, cut them off.  But it could be a lot worse.  Try to stop feeling guilty about it.  It's not your fault.  It's their fault.  And good luck for the future.

RESPONSE:  Desperately Seeking Peace On The East Coast
Let your husband make his own decisions regarding his family.  And let him know that, while you won't take any abuse from his family, you'll stand by him whether he chooses to see them or not.  Don't feel badly if he decides he has to break off contact, either temporarily or permanently.  Breaking off contact with his mother has been one of the best things my husband ever did *for him*.  I was brought up in a sane family, so I had the emotional resources to deal with her manipulation, guilt trips, and sheer nastiness.  But, they were *killing* him.  My DH is not the only person I know for whom a total breaking of contact has been a very healthy decision.  We have a very dear friend who was adopted, like your DH.  His adoptive mother was real emotional monster - she lives to criticize, thrives on starting fights, etc.  Deciding to cut her out of his life almost entirely has made him a much happier man.  He has a wife who adores him, and a 21 year old daughter who is one of the most wonderful young people we know.  BTW, this friend has just recently started researching his own past (the fostering process and the adoption process), and allowing himself to cry for that helpless little boy who was treated so badly.  It's been hard and scary for him, but very healing.  And, just a few minutes ago, my DH heard from our friend that he may meet his birth mother this week.  Anyway, I'm rambling a bit, but the point remains:  Simply support your husband in what he feels is best regarding his relationship with his family, while refusing to be treated badly yourself, of course.  And, realize that walking away from toxic people is often a very good thing, rather than a bad one.

RESPONSE:  Desperately Seeking Peace On The East Coast
People like your ILs rarely change.  I don't think your ILs are capable of sitting down and having a rational conversation.  I think that, if they decide to cut your DH off simply because he approaches them to talk, then good riddance to them.  You are not responsible for their behavior.  They have treated you horribly, and your MIL is wacko where your son is concerned.  Do you really want to expose your little boy to that?  I think that the only way you are going to get peace in this situation is to accept that you will never have a loving family relationship with these people, and limit your contact with them.  They only bring you pain and misery.  You, your DH, and your son deserve better than that.  Good luck!

I need advice.  My DH feels he should go visit his family.  It's not that he wants to, he feels obligated to.  He says he should be the bigger person.  We have lived in an apartment for the last 3 years.  The ILs have been to visit one time, for three minutes.  No joke.  I timed it.  That was when we first moved in, and they lived in the area then.  A year after the "visit", MIL and FIL moved about 3 hours away in order to live close to SIL and BIL and their families.  Wonderful.  Now, we go visit with them about every 4 months.  Every time we visit, one of us gets sick.  We both have severe allergies.  The ILs smoke and have cats, dogs, and birds in the house.  They "will not" understand that it bothers us.  We have to wait for a pretty day to go visit so we don't have to go in the house.  Then, we have to deal with the outside cats and dogs.  Last time we went, I came home sick.  I told my husband that I was not going back.  My husband is supportive, and says I don't have to go back.  But, he also gets sick on these visits.  Before a visit, DH will call and ask if anyone is sick.  The answer is always "no".  When we get there, someone is always sick.  BIL and his family come into our town at least once a month (this is where his wife's family lives).  SIL and her family come into town about every other month.  SILs in-laws live 2 blocks from our home.  We don't know that they have been here until DH makes his weekend "guilt phone call" to his parents.  Then, we get jumped on for not going to see BIL and SIL when they come to town.  DH tells them that we didn't even know they were in town.  "Oh, well, that changes everything.  They must have just been too busy to come see you.  Anyway, isn't it time for you to come visit us down here?"  Sorry to just go on like that.  Here's the problem:  Next month, we are going to visit my DH's uncle.  It's an eight hour drive, which is fine.  The uncle is in our age group, and we both love him and his boys to death.  Well, DH feels he should go visit the ILs sometime this month, before we go to the uncle's house (not because he wants to, but because he feels he has to).  If he doesn't, he'll feel guilty.  Do they feel bad when they come to town and don't visit with us?  NO.  Should I go with him?  I love my DH very much, and I want to be supportive.  How can I convince him that we could meet them at a local restaurant in their town without him feeling guilty about it?  On our last IL visit, my MIL tried to make DH feel badly, because we had been to uncle's house and stayed the weekend, and we wouldn't stay the night with them.  Uncle lives eight hours away.  You can't make it a one day visit!!  HELLO!!  We were supposed to visit uncle this month, but I got sick.  My DH will not tell the ILs when we go out of town.  He lies to them.  He says you have to lie or they get mad.  We have been married for 14 years.  We're not children anymore.  I say, "If they get mad, so what.  They'll get over it.  If they don't, so much the better.  Maybe they'll break contact with us (I can always dream)."  Oh, two years ago MIL and FIL gave SIL and her family a truck.  At the same time, BIL was given a car.  And more recently, BIL was given an SUV.  Do they ever think of DH?  NO WAY!!  They won't even call him.  He has to call them.  Before the ILs moved, their phone bill was $300-$400 a month because of the calls to SIL and BIL.  How can I get him to get over the guilt?  Oh, unfortunately we can't have children.  DH has a very good job.  If we don't buy expensive things for all of the ILs, we're "selfish".  One year, we went on vacation at Christmas time, so we just bought family gifts to save time.  MIL jumped all over DH because we're just so selfish.  We should just give them all of our money.  Sorry, I could go on and on.  I've gotten off track.  Is there anything wrong with asking all of the ILs to meet us at a restaurant in their town?  I was thinking that we could do it during the week, so that DH could plead that he has to work the next day.  That way, we wouldn't have to go to the house.  Please give me help.  Thanks.  This site is just wonderful.  I read it every day.  It really helps me blow off some steam.  Thanks for the help.

        Signed - To Visit Or Not To Visit

RESPONSE:  To Visit Or Not To Visit
The two of you need to grow spines and stand up to these people.  You have been married for 14 years, and these horrid IL's have controlled you for that long?  I apologize for being so abrupt, but I am one of those people who is immune to guilt.  You two have done nothing wrong.  You don't owe your IL's anything.  If you and your DH want to go see uncle, it is simple - go.  You don't owe his parents an explanation, and you certainly don't owe them an equal visit.  Just curious, is uncle MIL's or FIL's brother?  I bet uncle is perfectly aware of how horrible your IL's are.  You both need to take control of your own lives, and stop giving so much emotional control to the ILs.  You will both be much happier if you try to please yourselves and stop trying to please everyone else.

RESPONSE:  To Visit Or Not To Visit
Your DH may never get over the guilt complex without therapy.  You, on the other hand, have it in your best interest to avoid contact with these remora-fish ILs.  If they don't want to meet you for lunch, dinner, or even coffee, then they're not willing to make a small concession for your health, and they're not worth pursuing.  You may need to have a talk with DH, or accompany him to a counselor.  He's jeopardizing his health every time he gives in to their petty demands, and getting nothing but the illness in return, I might add.


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