in laws hate me

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-25-2013
in laws hate me
Wed, 12-25-2013 - 11:53pm

I have been married to my husband for 7 years now and it seems with each passing year my mother in lass hates me even more.  Let's start by the fact she is from Italy and despite her being here for close to 50 years and quite capable of speaking English insists on speaking only Italian in front me.  I am the only one who does not speak Italian.  My husband, his siblings, and their sponge all speak Italian.  I have tried secretly learning but languages and I just do not agree.  I still do not understand a word.  Each year I loath Christmas Eve.  We go there for dinner and presents.  I do not eat fish and would be quite happy making a dish that I would eat but I am not allowed.  She wants no one to bring anything but what she cooks.  She acts like it is major effort to make me a simple pasta dish.  I am not asking for a lot.  Just plain pasta and sauce.  Then we get to the presents and everybody else including her other daughters in laws get personnel gifts accept me.  I get a gift for the house from some store she knows I do not shop at without any gift receipt.  Well, last night was the final straw.  I bite my tongue every year but yesterday was a very long day and thing were just a disaster at her house as always.  I opened my stupid gift of Tupperware, again.  She bought me the same thing two years ago and just had it.  I guess the look on my face said it all when she said to me you no like you gift.  I said no I have no need for more Tupperware.  After I found out what store she bought it from and she offered to return it.  I basically told to do so because I was not taking it home.  So she was mad, I was mad, and now my husband it not speaking to me.  He blames me for the issue.  I do not know what else to do.  I try to find her really nice outfits even though she is quite overweight and it is not so easy because she is very picky.  I always include a gift receipt in case she does not like it.  I have never seen her wear anything I bought her so I assume it gets returned.  I have tried so hard to fit in and please her but she clearly hates me.  What makes I worse is my husband and I want to start a family and she is so meddling to her other kids and their families that I fear things are going to get worse.  So my husband was not too happy today at my family and went to bed mad last night and tonight.  I really am at a loss as to what to d?  Anyone got an idea on how to deal with this woman.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 12-26-2013 - 10:26am

I think you need to discuss this w/ your DH.  First of all, if people are speaking a language that you don't understand in front of you it's rude for him to just sit there and say nothing.  Either he should remind them that you don't understand Italiand & please speak English or he should translate.  I think you were out of line about the gifts.  My former MIL never bought me good gifts.  My FIL would do his own thing and give each one of us money which was great but she would buy things like really cheap candy (Whitmans samplers) or she would buy all 3 DILs the same gift.  I knew she just didn't like to shop and I just didn't expect a good gift.  But besides this, why do you think your MIL hates you?  Have you ever discussed this w/ your DH and get his opinion and how you could get her to like you more?  Maybe she doesn't like you because she knows that you don't like her--did you ever think of that?  Oh my MIL was very interfering too--I learned very early not to tell her anything confidential because she was always telling me secrets about the other kids that I'm sure they didn't want spread around.  And I would just let her advice go in one ear & out the other.  

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 12-29-2013 - 7:19pm

I think you are being childish and self centered.  Christmas Eve in the Roman Catholic church was considered a day of fasting for centuries.  Many people still observe that tradition, and eat fish.  Observant, traditional Italians often eat SEVEN different fish dishes.

Making and bringing your OWN food is rude.  When you are invitied to OTHER dinner parties, do you cook and bring food, just in case the entree isn't to your liking?  Do you quiz the hostess about her menu, and then ask her to make something different for you??? Instead of demanding that your husband's family acommodate YOU,  I think you should embrace their beautiful tradition with grace and consideration.   I'm sure you could find ONE dish you could graciously eat.  If not, eat before you go, and pick at the salad.  Also, if this is the way your husband was raised, and is something he treasures, what are you going to do when you have children of your own?  Pitch HIS traditions because you don't like them?

As for the gifts, you have made no effort to understand your MIL, or ask what kind of gift SHE wants.  She obviously doesn't like gifts of clothing.  Not many plus sized people do.  And you know she is picky.  Yet after SEVEN years, you persist in giving her things she doesn't like or want.  And then you complain about the gifts she give you.  For many old-world Italians, food equals love.  Food is made in abundance.  Tupperware is ALWAYS in demand, since it disappears as fast as it is purchased, because you are sending leftovers to lunch with your husband, and home with guests.  Your refusal of a practical, necessary gift, is not only rude, but it tells your MIL that you do not care enough for your husband or family to feed them well.  *MY* daughter came over on Christmas day bringing a bag full of tupperware.  She said , "I noticed your cabinets were emptying out, and mine were overfilling.  Time to redistribute."

The best way to "deal" with your MIL, is to treat her with respect.  Be a gracious adult.  Most women realize that their husband's family traditions, and meals, are dear to them.  Spend a little UNnecessary time with your MIL.  Ask to show you how to make his favorite meals.  You might be surpirsed how what goes around, comes around.  Of course, that is already happening.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sun, 12-29-2013 - 9:48pm

I married into a Mexican family where Spanish is the first language, so of course at family gatherings that is their language of choice. Languages don't come easily to me either and I am not fluent in Spanish so sometimes I don't know what they're talking about---so I understand how you feel. But its no excuse for either of us, its our fault and our problem that we haven't worked harder at learning. My suggestion on the language issue is to ask his family to help you learn. They will probably be delighted to help you and it will help to draw you into the circle. You've probably heard the advice to learn some phrases in the native language when you're visiting a foreign country? Even if you make mistakes they appreciate that you made an effort. Same thing with your inlaws.

I also agree with the poster who suggested that you ask his mother to teach you how to prepare her recipes. Again, a way she can help you learn. It will help you in the language as you learn the words for foods, utensils, cooking actions, etc. It will give you a way to bond with your MIL. Maybe you can learn to prepare a non-fish non-meat dish to be served at Christmas Eve, that they will welcome as an addition instead of an accomodation. You might even be able to train your palate to like some fish dishes.

They probably don't really hate you, they just don't understand you like you don't understand them. They don't get why you are still stand-offish after 7 years of being part of the family. About that gift: because your MIL doesn't know your personality well, she probably gives you something that she thinks you can use because she doesn't know what you would like. And from her perspective a young wife needs to amass kitchen stuff because she will need lots when she has kids and/or is hosting get-togethers. I think you owe your MIL a big apology for making a scene about her gift to you. Two wrongs don't make a right---just because you were insulted by a gift that you considered impersonal and unwanted doesn't allow you to insult her back by publicly humiliating her and hurting her feelings. It was also disrespectful in a culture that believes older people are to be honored and respected because of their age. Your husband was probably embarassed and aghast to see you act like that to his mother, and in front of everybody (who did he marry?)--so yeah he's mad. That outburst was bad manners in any culture.

My idea on how to deal with your MIL is to grovel and beg for forgiveness for your behavior on Christmas Eve. Then work on accepting her for who she is and try to learn to embrace the differences. 

Just wondering, did you spend any time with his family before you got married?

Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Mon, 12-30-2013 - 9:28am

As a 100% Italian myself I take a little offense to this post so please forgive me, Lol :-). For starters, Pasta in an Italian home isn't "just" spaghetti with sauce, were the noodles made herself? The sauce? Pasta is very traditional in an Italian home and esp at the holidays, My family celebrates with homemade ravioli.  I'd be asking for translatilon when it comes to the communication as well, Maybe you could learn something.

About gifting, lower your expectations. Do you expect she shop like you? Why? Tupperware sounds like a pretty practical gift, maybe the woman attends parties and thinks of it that way too.  I'd talk to your husband but back off your MIL.  You both deserve respect but I don't think that means she has to change FOR you. 




Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 12-30-2013 - 2:30pm

Hi Reddy, 

Ugh, I can relate.  My x-family was not from another country, but I can relate in a general way.  The presents my MIl gave me were never personal to me or my children from my previous marriage.  She shopped all year for good deals, not for people.  It is more noticiable when you see other family members getting personal gifts and you don't.  If she was that way with everyone, it would be easier to not take personal.  And I personally believe that if someone has a dietary restriction, it should be okay for either 1) politely ask the hostess if there will be anything else served and/or 2) bring a dish that is suitable.  

So, here is the deal.  I can relate, I have felt the same way.  However, you cannot try and change people.  You can talk to your DH about the entire day being spent in Itialian.  You are in the United States, so I don't think that is too much to ask.  

But as far as everything else, this what I think happened.  You waited too long to address what you can change and accept what you can't.  And yep, we explode!  I burst out into tears one day because I was so tired of never getting to go out to eat where I wanted to eat.  I always felt buldozed by my MIL at the time.  (p.s. by the way, I have been divorced for years and she has not changed.  I was the one who changed.)  

If you and your DH want children, you are going to need to address this now and come to some kind of agreement with your DH.  Oh, and let go of the Christmas presents.  It's not worth it.  Maybe she doesn't care, maybe she does.  It doesn't matter.  Let it go.  Maybe if you want her to ask what you want for Christmas, start asking her what she wants.  I don't know, maybe you already do.  Just a thought.  

My only experience with Italians is from watching Everyone Loves Raymond; and Guliana and Bill.  And yes, poor Bill Rancic is pretty much fighting loosing battle with Guliana's family.  I don't mean that to sound negative, just trying to connect the dots between two different cultures.  Heck, even my x's family being from another part of the United States brought some challenges.  

Oh, and I know you don't want to hear this, but you do owe MIL an appoligy for the outburst.  Yes, I get it why you were so upset, gotta' make the amends.  

I guess in all my rambling I trying to say that yes, there are certain things you may be able to talk to your DH about and some things you will have to accept.  AND, some things you can change yourself.  You are passive agressive like I am and I am telling you, it is so important to work through this stuff or you will have another outburst.  

I hope something in there was helpful and I can't wait to hear an update!

Serenity CL making a second marriage work

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2014
Thu, 01-23-2014 - 1:00pm

I think that it is rude of them to constantly speak just speak Italian.  Just like it is your responsiblity to try and understand and learn their traditions it is their obligation to treat you with respect and to help you feel as though you are part of the family.  Any time I know someone has a special dietary requirement, when I host I make sure to have something they will like.  That is just common manners.  My friend does not like fish at all so yes, I would give her something else and maybe even a pasta dish.  You know the uncomplicated kind with noodles from a box and sauce from a jar :)  If you have someone who is a vegetarian you can't serve them a slab of beef and be offended because they won't ear or later offended because they want to bring their own dish or eat before hand or maybe not even attend.

As for the gift - okay so it does sound like you were a bit over reacting but quite honestly, after dealing with the back handed/passive aggressive behavior of my mil for 10 plus years, I say kudos to you for finally getting it out in the open.  So often, people who are passive aggressive don't show others their true colors.  They attack in a way that is only hurtful to the person they are attacking.  I could give you 100's of examples of this happening with my mil.  And, if I had lost it one day like you did then I would have looked bad to everyone else and mil would have gotten the upper hand.  Not saying that I wasn't capable of it - but I just didn't like the public confrontation.  However, sometimes I look back and wish I had done exactly what you did.  I can't say that the gift issue would have been the final straw for me but you know where you were and what pushed you to that moment.  

As for giving her an apology - I think that would all depend on whether she at all wants to talk about your feelings and listen and try to understand.  If she does, then I think to close you do apologize as should she.  My mil/fil would never to this day even acknowledge my feelings or the millions of things I finally had to put in writing that had hurt us for so many years.  So - if I had anything to apologize for it would be a cold day in hell before I did.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.  I hope this helps and maybe you'll give us some additional insight into what just pushed into the final outburst over the gift.