MIL Returns - Mostly a vent...

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Registered: 12-31-1969
MIL Returns - Mostly a vent...
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 6:11pm

Hi All,

I used to post on here about my in-laws, but have been gone for a while, as DH and I finally found some peace/resolution around all of our issues with his family.  Unfortunately, nothing can stay perfect forever, so I'm back... :smileyhappy:

Quick background, my MIL and FIL live in the same neighborhood as DH and I.  DH's brother and his family live nearby as well.  DH's sister lives about 4 states away.  We get along great with FIL and okay with BIL and his family.  We're not super close with BIL but see him and family (wife and 2 kids) probably once a month or so.  MIL and SIL on the other hand, are pieces of work.  This is going to sound rude, but I just don't know how else to phrase it, MIL is in addition to being completely self-centered, incredibly dumb. She's just not very intelligent, and when you pair that with the fact that she's convinced that the whole world revolves around her, it makes it hard to be around her.  SIL on the other hand is pretty smart, but she's a hot mess.  She's diagnosed bipolar, but self medicates with booze and bad decisions.  She has 3 kids who all have different dads, the oldest my in-laws raised, the middle lives with her father, and the youngest is just a baby, but I don't have high hopes that she'll step up.

Anyhow - the point of today's story is when SIL had her baby last summer, my MIL went to help "for 2 weeks" but has been there ever since (aside from one 6 day trip home at Christmas when SIL and the baby came too - a visit where the first thing MIL did when she got to her house was take all of the other pictures of the grandkids off the fridge and put up only pics of SIL's kids).  The story is that she's there because SIL hasn't been well.  And I believe that she has had some health issues, but I've heard stories from people we have in common that SIL is telling people all sorts of different stories about why her mother is there, including telling one person that she has cancer. (I know for a FACT that SIL doesn't have cancer, but she's crazy enough to tell people she does...) So, my problem is, while MIL has been gone, she has completely blown off the rest of the family, forgets birthdays (DH's and nephew's), doesn't ever call any of the other grandkids, just generally doesn't care.  Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind her being gone, and I even think it's good for the new baby's sake that she's helping out, but I've spent the whole year SO frustrated that the other grandkids and DH and his brother have been completely blown off. That and having to explain what's going on to neighbors and my IL's friends who are very weirded out that after over 40 years of marriage my MIL just moved away one day. 

Now however, MIL, SIL and her two youngest kids are all coming for a weekend visit, and my MIL is irritated with us because we aren't willing to just drop everything to spend the whole weekend with them.  I've talked to BIL's wife about it too, and we just don't see any reason to change our plans because she's gracing us with her presence for 4 days.  DH and BIL are saying that they don't really care if they see MIL/SIL when they're here, but I'm sure they'll both get guilted in when MIL actually shows up.  BIL's kids are also already stating that they have no desire to see their grandma when she's here (they're older than mine, so this has hit them a lot harder).  Mine is still young enough that she doesn't really care either way, I don't think she's going to be all that interested in MIL when she's here either though, as she doesn't really know her that well. Oh, and the kicker for me is, when they're here, even though MIL has missed every single other grandkid's birthday this year, she wants to throw a big first birthday party for SIL's baby and she got mad at FIL when he suggested that they make it an "all family" birthday party since she'd missed the other kid's.

I know this is probably hard to understand, there's lots more back story that makes it make more sense (but I doubt anyone would want to read that book...) I guess I just needed to vent, and I'm curious, do I sound like a horrible person for not wanting to see MIL/SIL? I know I should just suck it up because she's my DH's mom, but when she's been so horrible and neglectful to DH and DD, I just have a hard time pretending we're this big happy family... On top of it all, the weekend that they're here, I'm going to be coming back from an international business trip, and we have a wedding.  I'm going to be so exhausted that all the extra drama that's sure to come might just kill me! :smileyhappy:

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008
Wed, 08-15-2012 - 12:58pm

Hi travelermom,

I think I'm going to post a copy of the letter I sent to my inlaws.  I replied to the post above asking me some similar questions but want to answer some of your questions as I can tell and of course I totally understand how important this is to you and to a lot of us.

I hope this isn't too long.  My MIL is not like most people I've known over my life.  Of course, like a lot on here, my own family we could talk things over - spill our guts and move on.  MIL is just so different and so are their family.  FIL is very self absorbed.  I wouldn't say he is self centered - he is a giving person but he is definitely and has always been focused on his self.   MIL is very strong willed - opinionated and controlling (but only when she feels it is necessary).  She was taught or has the mindset that she should do whatever for her DH (she's giving in that way) and she'll do a lot for her daughter.  She'd do things for her son also (I guess you could say that she's loving in that way).  But, that comes with a price.  DIL pays the price by letting her mom control her.  Same with the grandkids and her DH.  But, her son and myself/and our kids are quite different.  We are the type to be controlled and therein started the entire problems.  We had our own thoughts, opinions, ways of doing things etc.  and the first fight began. 


From there MIL became a vindictive nightmare.  And it was all back stabbing, passive aggressive nastiness which included cutting off the love to her grandchildren.  This has been going on for at least ten plus years.


Now, to answer your questions.  DH's reaction was quite mellow.  His only negative about the letter is that I maybe shouldn't have called her Passive Aggressive or that I shouldn't have put this in writing but instead have told her over the phone.  But, he was just dreaming because he knew that no one would have been able to get out the words that needed to be said in a phone conversation.  Plus, she'd probably have thrown the phone to fil and started crying and playing the victim before half o what needed to be said was said.  DH knew this because he's experienced it before from her.  As for the calling her Passive Aggressive - I said to DH "well, that's what she is so she needs to hear it and let it sink in."

We haven't had to talk about them since, except that this was two days before DH's bday and so the day after receipt he told me he had the voicemail from fil to call him and then he let me listen to the voicemail his sister left crying and acting like they were the victims.  He was very annoyed at their response and even commented "how it is so typical" it is always about them.  We laughed over his mom's card because of something she said - something about his name that I didn't even know was bothering him until that night.  She refers to him in the baby way of saying is name (like you are talking or addressing a toddler).  His comment was - I'm almost 50 years old for God's sake...


But that is it.  like I posted, I think he is happy that I stood up for our family.  It took the burden off of him.  Also remember, he, on his own has been distancing himself from them over the last few years (even more so since they moved to our town - to be close to sil (not us)).

Inlaws have not contacted me - not by reply on email, phone or otherwise.  I knew they wouldn't - didn't expect or even want them to.  That's their dysfunction.  If they try to respond to my letter especially in written form, it'll show just how horrible they really are - they'll have to answer why they did what they did to our family or justify it.  Either way - to real for their liking. 


I do have two older boys 19 and 21.  They are in college.  I told them both just quickly that I have cut them off and asked that they respect that I want no more contact with them.  I also told the boys that they should do what they want to do and that I encourage them to try and have a relationship with them.  But, my middle son especially, has been hurt by their treatment moreso than the oldest.  They are both at the age where life is pretty much all about them - so for now, I don't see anything happening.  Even before this, grandparents didn't contact our boys at school or make contact with them when they came home for breaks.  It was always if we made the effort and pushed the kids.

I do feel that this is their choice.  They know why I've cut them off and they see the favortism and know full well that our youngest has paid the biggest price. 

DH has a pretty small family.  I knew when I cut them off that I'd have to basically say goodbye to the other families.  But, the contact with the extended family was only once or twice a year and as for SIl and her family - we just were too different in terms of what our family likes to do/ talk about etc. verses theirs.  My sil and bil are very self centered people.  Everything is about how they look, their house, their toys, their youngest go there and seriously, listen for hours about bil bragging about one thing or another.  If there wasn't wine available it'll have been worse than getting a root canal.


When you say you cut off your mil/sil for 5 months, did they know they were cut off or did you just avoid seeing them?  Your situation about DH and you never fighting except mostly about them - same as mine. 

Who gave you the guilt trip when mil didn't see your dd when she visited?  Your DH needs to realize that this is your life also.  That is the key here and seriously take my advice.  You are young and busy and able to juggle things with a baby and all the activities now but as you get older, you really do realize that time is truly limited.  Don't give up these special moments and plans and activities to wait around on someone who is just self centered. 


How can you get free from the drama?  Well, for me it came down to the letter.  It may not be that way for you.  It may just be that you need to stand firm to DH about what you are willing to do and not to do with regards to his and your families.  There may be knock downs involved but here's another thought...

Resolve not to argue.  Your DH can get mad and of course sulk and do whatever, but you are a person also.  Be fair but be assertive.  That's what I did in my letter - I finally stated what I wanted.  I didn't ask for permission - I didn't need it. 


If this holiday DH starts in on my about the holidays and seeing his family - here will be my response.  "do what you feel you must do."  But, if you decide to spend any significant amount of time with them and not us, then the next holiday I will make my own plans that do not include you as well."


I don't think he would ever do that - but if he does...I will follow through with my plans and who knows, maybe my son and I will be sitting on a cruise ship while he visits his self absorbed family. 


For now, we are happy to have said what needed to be said and moving forward with our own family and lives....I hope you are able to do that also.


I'll post my letter in a new post...thanks for asking!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008
Tue, 08-14-2012 - 11:18am

I think I understand what you are saying...


She's so absorbed in this other family that no matter what you say - she'll not hear you.


If that's it - I totally agree.  The only thing for me was that I didn't care any longer if my mil got it or not.  I stopped caring and I stopped pretending.  After 23 years of going along to get along I decided that I lost nothing by not going along and getting along.  So, I told them how I felt and to leave myself and our youngest alone.  Now, that shouldn't be a problem for them as they had already left us alone (did nothing for us) but now, they couldn't come into our lives at the holidays and other times that were important to me (ignore us) and make me miserable.


It was good to say - no more contact.  Because for once, I had the last word!

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Fri, 08-10-2012 - 1:40pm

"I think the thing that I am focusing on is the fact that they are coming to town to throw this baby a 1st bday party. Plain and simple and could care less about acknowledging all the other kids that had bdays this year - her other family."

So, when you tell her why you aren't going to drop everything to give her 4 days and a bday party for the newbie, you tell her the above. Straight and simple. The thing is, she's so absorbed in her daughter and granddaughter's lives, she literally doesn't have an identity as your FIL's wife or your DH's mother (or mother to his siblings).

If you give her any time, I'd make it a few hours on one day she's in town. And repeat the above as needed.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008
Fri, 08-10-2012 - 12:28pm

I'm glad you have a plan and can see both sides of what you presented as well. 


Maybe in your case you are right to see how things play out.  Especially, since she's out of town right now.


For me, the inlaws finally moved to our area last year and I just had had enough.  I'm a pretty stubborn/ strong willed person (in the good way) as I happily accept people for who they are but I also am not afraid to stand up for what I beleive in.  It just feels so much better for me now to have said my peace to these people that have treated myself and my kids so badly.  They've also treated DH badly but that is his battle to fight.


I do believe that something good has come from all of these years of battling out with them.  Maybe even a couple of things:


#1 I know what to do and what not to do as a grandmother and a mil someday

#2 I know that even in the most difficult situations I am able to stand up for what seems right to me.


My kids may not always understand all the dynamics that have played out over the last decade with us and them and they will certainly have wished for a different outcome (as did I) but they will know that when something isn't right it is okay to stand up and speak out about it.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008
Thu, 08-09-2012 - 12:28pm

I think the thing that I am focusing on is the fact that they are coming to town to throw this baby a 1st bday party.  Plain and simple and could care less about acknowledging all the other kids that had bdays this year - her other family.


I think she's straight up telling everyone who is the most imporant.  I, for one would call her out on it.  I've let this favortism go on in my DH's family to the point that now - after 10 years of them treating my youngest like complete crap - no more.


I told them they weren't allowed around him or I and why.  I think you have every reason to refuse to be around her.  If she can't respect and acknowledge the others then why would they want to be there?


What does your DH say he wants to do?

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004
Tue, 08-07-2012 - 1:23pm

I totally get where you're coming from, and no, I don't think you have to be there to support your MIL's stupidity and over-compensation for her failed daughter.  I'm rolling my eyes at taking the other grandkids pics off the fridge because SIL is visiting and is sick?  Huh?  What do pics on the fridge have to do with illness? 

I can share with you that my MIL was NOT much of a grandmother and spent a lot of time comparing "the golden grandchildren" (my husband's brother's children) with "the devil's spawn" (my kids with her 2nd son).  Of course, the golden grandchildren won all the cudos.  In the end, my children grew up having no time for her beyond a "hi" at family funerals/weddings.  They simply didn't know her, had no reason to try to develop a relationship and, in the end when she was dying of cancer, she didn't even get visits from "the golden grandchildren" who lived in the same town as she did!  Children aren't dumb...they grow up realizing who loves them and who doesn't.  I always told my kids their grandmother was "just that way" and that it wasn't their fault.  The grew up just fine without her! 

Your MIL seems to have made her choices, so I see nothing wrong with YOU making YOUR choices as well.  See her when YOU think it's right to do so (perhaps to support your husband or your poor FIL), but don't go out of your way to "make nice" with these two nut cases!  JHMO!

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-11-2005
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 11:50pm

No you don't sound like a horrible person at all. We went thru this with the xmil & xsil. My 3 dd's don't have anything to do with their paternial grandmother for the same reasons.

~~Sam stitches well with others, runs with scissors in her pocket. Cheerful and stupid.