MIL Troubles

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-13-2006
MIL Troubles
Thu, 07-25-2013 - 11:04pm

Hi Board -

I am having some issues with my future MIL who I also live next door to with my FI. In a nutshell she is very wealthy and all she talks about is how wealthy she is and how fabulous she is and how inferior and ignorant literally everything and everyone else is.  (My FI and I do very well for ourselves, I have two college degrees.)  I have tried on several occasions to invite her to dinner - but each times it turns into an absolutely miserable affair where she nastily criticizes and condemns everything about the restaurant. This past Sunday my FI and I thought it would be a good idea to take his parents to the restaurant that will be catering our wedding so they could try the food and also so we could all sit down and talk about the wedding plans. Needless to say she loudly condemned everything about it. It is a high-end restaurant by Chicago standards with a relatively well known chef. They gave us chef's table - which means it's a table where you get to watch the renowned chef work, they'll sometimes interact with you and let you taste food they're making - she hated it and wanted to move. The hostess acted fairly offended and because I definitely WANTED chef's table quickly said it was fine and we'll stay. She complained the entire time about the ambiance as a result. She was disgusted by the food, the wine, the service, the decor. In my opinion and my FI's opinion - everything was spot on as usual and we had no complaints. (Of course not everyone is going to like the same things - but it's expressed with such judgment, derision, and hostility you literally think she's going to punch someone) We brought up wedding planning twice and she changed the subject both times. When we're not out to eat we'll sometimes go to their house for dinner - then she'll begin ranting on politics when she knows that we have very different viewpoints. Pretty much everything I like she hates. I do respect our differences, however I don't feel like I get that respect in return. I was also raised to not discuss politics and religion. 

She recently purchased two puppies and is too good to housebreak them (she wants them to use wee wee pads in the apartment but they're not very good at it and are almost a year old) or walk them and let's them poop and pee all over her home and makes her legally blind husband clean it up. Recently she wanted us to dog sit for a week and we weren't sure we could for the entire week because we were going out of town - she flew into a rage and said that we needed to cancel our plans and do this favor for her. It ended up working out that when they needed us to dog sit did not conflict with our plans - but the dogs crapped up our apartment - until we realized they ARE housebroken to go outside. Oh and where my future FIL is concerned - she rips on him constantly about what an idiot he is and how embarrassing he is to be with (he's a doctor and he and I actually get along but, like my FI, he just let's her rant on and doesn't stand up to her). She also tears my FI down and tells him he's ignorant and lazy (he's neither - and I have high standards in the significant other department on both areas!). She does nothing for work, never has, so she sits at home and watches TV and Facebooks. As far as I can tell she has no physical friends and never goes out. Her dogs bark excessively and she will routinely leave doors and windows open so the entire apartment building has to hear them bark. Finally today several people called management and complained.

Her style of communication the majority of the time is pretty much full on verbal assault. To the point I don't even know how to calmly respond - so I end up not saying anything for fear of completely flying off the handle.

My method of coping to this point has been to avoid her as much as possible. When we do have to be together I just get myself in a mindset that I'm about to get hit by a short-lived hurricane and make the best of it. It is becoming increasingly difficult. She now calls and texts my FI several times a day - last night she called five minutes after we sat down to dinner at a restaurant I took him to for a mini-celebration. While on the phone, he started explaining the menu and I knew she was going to ask him to bring her something (this routinely happens when we're out to dinner or lunch - even though every restaurant delivers). He hesitated slightly at one point and she said "well don't over extend yourself or anything" and hung up on him. (I get that it's nice to take your parents food, but it comes across almost like an expectation that we will run her errands and deliver her food. She is perfectly able-bodied.)

Now we're trying to plan the wedding. She's made it clear she hates the food and she's seen pictures of the venue. Our budget for the ceremony/reception including food, bar, linens, tables/chairs, cocktail hour, etc. is $13,000. My FI and are planning on paying for that and hoping for help from my family on the rest (although that's a whole other story as they are talking about not participating for a variety of reasons, namely they don't want to leave their dog to come to my city for the ceremony). We are days away from signing the venue contract. This morning his mother emailed me a different hotel to consider. To be reasonable (even though we've already settled on venue and I knew this other place would be way out of our price range), I contacted the hotel and found out the minimum cost was $45,000! There's no way neither I, nor my family, can afford that - nor would I want to - that's crazy! Afterwards, however, I considered that maybe she just wants to feel included - so I did ask her to help with invitations and also to help us find additional hotels to book rooms at for out-of-town guests. She agreed and has made a few suggestions - but that was before the hanging up on last night. Tonight my FI went to their place to visit while I was out with girlfriends and I guess he had an extended conversation with her about what we "should" be doing with regards to invitations, honeymoon, clothing, decorations. This upsets me as I feel whenever I'm around and bring up wedding planning, the topic gets changed. So now he has all these ideas of what we "should" be doing but I feel like I wasn't even there to have a say in anything or participate in the conversation.

I'm starting to feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle here. My FI gets where I'm coming from but has absolutely no boundaries where she is concerned. After she hung up on him last night I said Boundary #1 is we no longer answer cell phones during dinner. If it's an emergency they'll call back. Dinner's our time to catch up on the day. I'm starting to feel like the other woman. Unfortunately I am not someone who gets talked down to and two hours later can then smile and laugh and pretend like it never happened because in my opinion when my FI acts like that with his mother its basically encouraging her to keep behaving badly. That's not to say I hold a grudge.... after Sunday night's nightmare dinner I still emailed her to see if she wanted to help with invitations - and was perfectly polite.

Sorry this feels like a mish-mash summary of what's been going on but I was wondering if anyone had any general advice or thoughts on how I can deal with her. I feel like I'm becoming part of the problem - but I also feel my FI needs to set boundaries.