Final straw drawn by MIL

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anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
Final straw drawn by MIL
Fri, 08-17-2012 - 3:10pm

I have a situation that while even though I have a psych degree, I still have no idea what to do about it.  My husband and will have been married for two years in December and the path hasn't been one of pavement but we are strongly united due to our past experiences.  I came into the marriage with children of my own and not being able to have anymore, but he accepted that part of me and has graciously accepted the role of a father with our children.  I had met his mother fairly early in the relationship as he is an only child and we seemed to hit it off, in fact his entire family seemed to be accepting of my children and I.  My husband's father walked out on him at a young age and he has dealt with traumatic abuse from a step-mother prior as well as self esteem struggles from his father abandoning him.  Nonetheless, he is a very loving and giving husband as well as son and family member.  I had been fortunate enough to come from a secure, two parent home but had felt the low self esteem as well from a biological father abandoning me and a past abusive marriage.  While some may say that was a recipe for disaster, we have actually been there to pick each other up and support each other in a postive way as nothing seems to settle down in our surrounding environment.  About three weeks after we were married, we chose to spend Christmas with his family just like we had at Thanksgiving due to my family having some already prescheduled plans and him having to work.  We were joking around with each other on Christmas Day in the kitchen and me being a dry sarcastic person made a comment to him in which he laughed but his aunts chose to cause a scene embarrassing me in front of people I had never even met before.  I blew it off as a misunderstanding and promised to watch my comments as they probably did not understand our combined sense of humor.  As time went on, things went from ok to bad to horrible with his family.  Social networking was used inappropriately and while it was not right, I did participate in retaliation, something I apologized for publicly.  However, his mom chose to jump on this one incident and kept creating situations.  What I mean by situations is the need to plan a family event but not tell him about it so that when all the family came around, we did not show up and I was blamed.  My family all lives out of state and frequently ask to visit the kids, which is fine and somehow everytime they showed up or we decided to get away, one of his family members would announce last minute they were coming to visit thus creating another issue.

The biggest blow up was over Thanksgiving of this last year in which supposedly a family reunion took place with his mother's family.  We had been told a week before that it was possible not everyone would make it and he informed them that we had already made plans to be at my parents house.  OK, we THOUGHT we were right in taking turns as we had been with his family the year prior for both holidays and many minute ones in between but they threw a fit saying that I only allowed for him to visit my family.  The straw that broke the camels back was a picture his mother sent saying,"Wish YOU were here".  Well, gee thanks for thinking of my children that you claimed were yours as well.  By the time this had happened she had quit calling our kids and didn't even bother acknowledging first days of school, etc. A blow up ensued and ended with me being referred to as my husband's step-mother in which I confronted her on the situation and she tried to apologize a month later via text message. I had laid the laws for the children and I down then with my husband and agreed to try to make the relationship work as he informed me of the mental abuse that woman put him through since his dad walked out on him.  When I say mental abuse, I mean screaming obscenities over something a child could not have done and even things a grown man could not do to his own mother; I mean for heaven's sake, she's the only parent he has and he knows that.  Things went ok for awhile and she even came to get one of my children for a sleepover but passed out on the couch while my child ran unsupervised around her home in the middle of winter...this child was 5. 

I still bit my tongue and told my husband that I felt something was wrong and I was not comfortable in the children being alone over there and he perfectly understood.  About a month later, she had issues with her house and asked my husband to come help as she always does.  She never calls him at home but in the mornings when she thinks he is not around me and guilt trips him into coming over there after work.  Sometimes he doesn't get home until seven at night and she expects him over there for hours while never apologizing for it and then a week later will call him screaming at him because he ruined something or got mud on her floor in the MUD ROOM.  So anyway, she came over complaining that she couldn't handle caring for her home anymore and she does live on a substantial amount of land for one woman.  My husband and I discussed buying some of the land so that it would help her out and she could stay in her home...yes I offered knowing what it would result in.  She asked what her land was worth and well it was quite a bit after 20 years so she wanted to know what we where planning on doing with it and that was to build a house.  The next week she stops by, during our dinner, and states she's selling her house and building a brand new one.  Ok, worked out better but this always happens with her.  My parent's were going to buy me a kindle for christmas, so she bought one.  My mom got a new iPad, so she went and bought one.  We remodeled our house, so did she and then bragged about finishing her's before we finished our's...who cares?! We bought a new range and refrigerator, she went and bought new appliances...the list goes on and on and on.  So all this leads me to our next and final blow up...

Last week she basically got busted lying on her final inspections of her house and didn't pass a certain part.  Earlier in the week she had called to ask him for help with the inspector and that was the conversation.  However three days later she called attacking my husband at work claiming it was his fault when she knew about the problem and he told her to fix it (she bought an iPad instead). Well after the Thanksgiving ordeal, he had told her how he felt and she had broken down bawling and apologized, swearing to get help; well it happened again seven months later.  We had also been dealing with some issues with my ex-husband going for about the past month, something she did not know about and I had no idea about her calling him at work the day before so I had asked if I could go with him because I was scared to be home alone.  So we get to her house and walk in, she never asked where the kids were or how we were and proceeded to instruct me to look at all of the house and was angry that I had not looked at the pictures of her house online when it was up for sale.  Why would I? I had so much havoc going in my life, it was honestly the last thing on my mind and besides that I knew what her house looked like.  Anyway, while pretending to be impressed, she started screaming at my husband about this repair that cost her money and was in his face with her finger inches from his nose.  I know my husband's limit and saw the redness in his face so I knew something had happened that I was not aware of and bless his heart he was too busy being there for me to bother me with her crap (sorry but that's basically what it is). While he tried walking away, she went after him so I tried to stop the screaming by saying "He really can't be blamed for this and the company should have spoken to you as you are the homeowner and you chose to be on the phone with a friend instead of where you needed to be which was outside listening to that worker.", these where level headed words that where not yelled nor where there any profanities which may be hard to believe.  She then informed me it was none of my ******* business and that I was a ******* *****.  I then said the situation was ridiculous and I was going to our car thinking that she was right and I needed to be outside but she chased me outside while screaming profanities at me and about my character as well as my children.  Because I wouldn't stop, she then grabbed me and yanked my towards her while screaming at me.  I calmly (thank goodness for my degree) said "I will not stand for my husband being spoken to this way, it is not ok."  I was simply told that he is HER SON and to **** off and never come back because I never to be on her land I could have used about two hours prior to going out there.  When he asked why she was doing this she said because your wife is a ******* *****.  She then told him she never wanted to see him again and to get the hell out.  This was seven days ago and now she is calling him, knowing this is our weekend time and I don't know what to do as he has been in tears every night this week.  He reached out to his family and they all say he has to fix it because he is all she has....I can't live this way and he did not cause this so what do I do?  What does he do?

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004
Sat, 08-18-2012 - 1:07am

Since you have a psych degree, you must realize this whole thing is "crazy".  You aren't going to be able to "fix" anything by yourself.  You and your husband should get into counseling and talk this out.  An uninvolved professional can help you sort it all out and help your husband realize he doesn't need to continue being abused by his mother and should help you two making a workable plan with regards to any dealings with her.  Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-18-2004
Sun, 08-19-2012 - 10:51am
She "passed out on the couch"? Her behavior sounds like she's drinking. Does she?
Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Sun, 08-19-2012 - 8:11pm


The truth is, if this were a total stranger who did these things to you and your husband, you would avoid that person and/or get a restraining order against them. 

You and your husband need to cut off contact with his mother. And for God's sake - don't buy, build or let her move in with you!

She sounds like she suffers from any number of mental illnesses or she's an addict. The very fact she claims she "passed out" while watching your child would be enough for me to shut the door permanently.

Your husband needs to see that he's not responsible for his horribly dysfunctional mother. She's a classic example of passive-aggressive personality. Scream in his face one minute about something that's not his responsibility and then call up the next week to invite him to a birthday party like nothing happened? She's nuts. Period.

If you want any peace in your life, you two must agree that you both get some counseling to deal with her, set boundaries, keep them, and stop letting her guilt him into things. She's certifiable. She can be nuts on her own.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008
Mon, 08-20-2012 - 3:00pm

You've gotten some great advice - I just wanted to touch on the issue of substance abuse.  Anyone who has a 5 year old at their home for a sleep over and passes out on their couch - clearly has some issues with abuse.  My bf in school (and I didn't learn this until years and years later) her mom was an alcoholic and very violent towards her.  From the outside looking in, I didn't have a clue.  I thought her mom was odd but I only saw that she drove the nice car she wanted, was given lots of money for clothes - that kind of stuff.  So, when I learned what her mom was really like, I was definitely surprised.


The getting in your face, pointing the finger, calling people such ugly names, grabbing you and all the stuff you described must be a combination of a lot of things.  But, like everyone else said - this isn't something you can change.  What you have to learn is how to control it and how to live with it or how to live without it.

What you did by leaving and not engaging this lady was perfect.  I feel very sorry for you both.  I don't know what to tell your DH to do except that he needs to stop engaging with these people that feel they have the right to tell him what to do. 

Mostly though, I think that your DH needs the counseling for how to stop her from effecting his life and your life.  People who don't want to change - will not.  And sadly, this could be a mom or a dad.  It hurts.  But, your DH has to learn that he cannot allow someone to treat him in the manner that she is treating him. 


If I were you - personally, I would not go around her. 

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Tue, 08-21-2012 - 11:01am
It sounds like you have a lot going on right now with your ex & MIL. Hopefully things will improve in the future.

Where the term "passed out" came from. Was this the 5 yr olds version of what happened? Having a 5 yr old grandson, I know how exhausting but rewarding it is to care for them & therefore, I know that I can't even have a small glass of wine when he is with us or I will get too tired. I am lucky that my husband & I can tag team our grandchild but I know that if one of us goes off for a short rest or do to something else then my grandson says we are missing for hours when it's only 10 or 15 mins. I'm not suggesting that falling asleep is a good idea but I am saying that unless it was an adult who said your MIL passed out then you shouldn't be using this term so losely.

I'm an only child of a verbally abusive Mother. I have done lots of counseling & it's almost impossible to break the cord between us. I suspect like me, your DH has taken care of your MIL since he was very young & it has been taught to him that he is responsible for her. I suspect that being a male, he was told by many that he was the man of the house when his father left & he feels this way. He needs counseling alone to learn to decide on the type of relationship he is most comfortable having with his mother. Once he does this then he can ask her to join or maybe there will be a need for you to join him/them. But he needs to start this process alone with his counselor. This is a personal decision he needs to make. You don't have to be part of the relationship if he choses to have any further contact with her.

<"you chose to be on the phone with a friend instead of where you needed to be which was outside listening to that worker.", >

I would suggest that it's always a good idea to avoid telling someone what they did wrong when someone makes a stupid decision & it backfires making them angry. It just adds fuel to the fire which isn't what you wanted to do.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004
Thu, 08-23-2012 - 1:21pm

I'm not disagreeing with the rest of your discussion about her, but I wouldn't automatically assume "my 71 year old grandmother manages just fine, therefore so should a 53 year old grandmother."  

People are individuals and just because the 71 year old is more responsible and "together" doesn't mean the 53-year-old doesn't have some disorder, addiction, personality quirk or makes poor choices that makes her a total nut case! 

...just saying...

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-11-2005
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 6:27pm
I'm a 54 yr old grandmother, I have 3 grandkids (8 yr old gs & 7 & 4 yr old dgds) yes I'm tired after watching the 7 yr old. This child is like the engerizer bunny, she just keeps going. I work a average of 47 to 65 hrs per week (yes I am really a bus driver) I can work over 12 hrs & come home feeling less tired then I do after having oldest dgd over night. I also have heart condition & auto-immue disorder, so if she catches me on a night that I'm wiped out, I've been known to fall sleep watching tv or knitting (with grandpa asleep right next to me)
~~Sam stitches well with others, runs with scissors in her pocket. Cheerful and stupid.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 10:33am

Geek - Wow!  What an awesome statement and so very true and forthcoming.


Do you write for Dear Abby - you should.  That was a very good statement to Cognitivie....thank you so much for making it and letting us all see a clearly defined opinion of why we shouldn't put up with some of the behaviors we've been taught/programmed to put up with.


I can't wait to read more from you....glad you have joined our board!