In Law Problems

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-11-2014
In Law Problems
Tue, 02-11-2014 - 8:42pm

DH & I have been together 7.5 years, married for 3.5. Our first baby is on the way and due this April! His parents are divorced and he has only had a realtionship with his dad, which is very strained at this point but I won't get into that now. His mom left his dad, him  & his sister when my DH was about 14. She hasn't really been around since. We got married in 2010 and he debated inviting her to the wedding, I left this decision up to him & he decided to invite her- and she came. When he saw her there, it had been years since they saw each other. He was hoping it would possibily build a bridge into some sort of relationship...It never really has since. And his sister is also another story which he does not have a realtionship with either. His mom, dad and sister all live in TX & we live in NC. Despite the failures his parents have proved to him, I feel there is this little voice inside him that desperatly wants his family to be normal & he will cling on to any false hope from them.

He mom was (is?) an alcoholic, was diagnosed as bipolar, spent time in a mental institution, failed him as a mother, etc. She has been in & out of the hospital in the past 2 yrs with back surgeries & infections. Recently had a surgery for a staff infection. DH has said he would never trust her alone with our baby.  She called DH yesterday & said she would like to spend a week with us after the baby is born to help out. I told DH this will make me uncomfortable, from all the things he has told me about her I am very uneasy with her around the baby (I met her once at our wedding for about 10min). He said he wouldn't leave her alone with the baby, but "let her help you with other things". He said she is excited about being a grandma. I said I despite her being his blood mother, to look at the picture he has painted of her to me. She can't help herself & I don't see her coming to do laundry, help cook or clean. Instead I know its going to be me watching her & stressing out. I said a week is too long, she can come for a few days & dh has to be home too. DH got upset about my reaction. He said I don't let his family be a part of us & I can't keep them from being grandparents. 

I have just been do can he call his family "the jerry springer family,"share with me horrible stories about his upbrinibg & basically how crazy his parents are & then when they reach out a tiny bit expect me to be daughter in law of the year?? We agrued about this first...then the next day had a more calm conversation. He said I am right, but they are still his blood and I don't understand and he will always give them second (or millionith!) chances. He finally agreed to my terms of 2-3 nights, but said "What do I tell my mom? I don't want to hurt her feelings?". This upsets me because I feel like "what about MY feelings?". He said I am the stronger and normal one...but I don't think I should have to take a backseat because I am normal. This isn't about me anymore either, my baby will be my (our) number 1 priority and frankly I don't care if I hurt her feelings. She has been hurting DH's feelings for over 15 years!! 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Wed, 02-12-2014 - 12:13am

Your husband needs to take off his rose colored glasses, and see his Mother as who she is, not who he would like her to be.  Where is YOUR Mother in all of this?  Is your Mother a part of your life?  If she is, see if SHE can come to help you out, which would mean no room for MIL.  If that's not a possibility, then maybe your husband should take a few days off work to help you out.  Also, you won't be an "invalid" and all you have to do is take care of the baby......the rest of the "housework" can wait for a week or two.  Your husband needs to understand that you will be under enough pressure for the first week or two, and you don't need your MIL to add to it.  Tell her to come for a few days in a month or 6 weeks.  Depending on what your religion is, if you have one, maybe invite her for a baptism.  She needs to be told that coming when the baby is born is not possible, and you'll keep her in the loop with pictures, etc.  And you'll let her know when you're feeling "up to" having a house guest.  My ex husband's mother literally ruined him when he was young, and I dealt with the same thing.  You have to understand that they are desperate (men) to think that Mom loves them, and when they've never felt loved, as you said, they will do almost anything to GET that love.  You know, and I knew it wouldn't work, but they keep trying.  Good Luck.....and if she actually comes, keep the baby with you, and give her something to keep her busy, and away from laundry, or vaccuuming.  You never know, she MIGHT have changed. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2010
Wed, 02-12-2014 - 3:08am

You have the right idea, and your husband is in fantasyland about his mom. Having his mother come visit right after the baby arrives is a bad idea for so many reasons. You will need to be very firm with him. Since you are the one doing the hard work of labor, delivery, postpartum recovery, and possibly breastfeeding, then IMO your wants and needs trump his desire to reconnect with his mother.

The first few weeks after delivery is the time for you and your H to bond with baby as a family and learn to be parents. You need to be as calm as possible because if you are stressed the baby will sense it and probably become fussy---not what a new parent needs. Anybody that comes to help you in your home should be somebody that YOU are comfortable with, and ideally someone that will do what needs to be done without a lot of instructions, and doesn't need to be entertained.

I think the visit should be postponed until the baby is at least a couple of months old. By then you will have some routines and confidence as a parent, and be more able to deal with a stranger staying in your home.

That is just the practical part. What does your H say about why his mother hasn't tried to come get acquainted anytime in the past 3.5 years so you two would know if she is someone that you can trust around your baby? Once she is in your house how is he going to keep her from "being alone with the baby"? I would be angry that she finally wants to blow in when it sounds like fun times with a baby to spoil. Hopefully you can convince your H to postpone the visit.


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-11-2014
Wed, 02-12-2014 - 10:52am

My parents (who also live in another state & have to fly in) will be there for the birth of the baby. My mom said she will stay as long as I want her too (my parents are still married, my dad may stay longer or may go back home after a few days). I come from a wonderful, stable family. They have welcomed my husband as a son & have always treated him as so. He has even said to my  mom "You are more of a mom to me then my own mom" and has told me he feels closer to my dad then his own. So, my parents always get first preference! But, they would never overstay their welcome and have already said they will be there for however much time we need them. 

I guess what upsets me the most is that I wonder IF my husband will ever take those rosecolored glasses off? He says I will never understnad because I have a wonderful, normal family. I know it deeply hurts him that his family is screwy and basically shows no interest in him (or us for that matter), but when is enough enough?? His dad especially hurt me- he is the only parent of my husbands that I have had a 'relationship' with since we started dating over 7 yerars ago. His dad has been single the whole time we've been together...he has said to me many times in private that my husband isn't good for me, that he doesn't treat me right, etc and always follows up with "let's keep this between us". I've always felt he has tried to break us up. He even had the nerve to say something to me the night before our wedding. My husband and I are very happy & love each other very much & I have NEVER felt he isn't good to me. How can a father say this about his own son?! His dad also hates my family and has said many bad things about them, I even overheard him once & called him out on it. He is jealous because my family loves him and treats him like a son. He went crazy once when my dad took my husband golfing because that's "his thing". He told my husband that he deserted and abdanoned him. It's taken a few years, but my husband finally sees his father for who his is..I held many things in for many years so I didn't hurt my husband. 

So, much hurt & pain have come from his father. His mother was never in the picture...but now she apparently is out of nowhere & now I have to deal with her too! Whenever I try to talk reasonably with him about his family he says "Yes, you are right" but he still always gives them the benefit of the doubt. And HE keeps getting hurt, and I am always the one to talk him through it. Like I've said his mom has not been around AT ALL. Since our wedding, they talk on the phone for a few minutes like once a month and it's very superficial. A few months ago she had a back surgery, which my husband had no idea about because no one told him she was going in for surgery. She called him after screaming at him at what a bad son he was, etc. He flipped saying "You have no right to call me that after all you've been me through"..etc. She wound up hanging up on him & my husband broke down a bit and cried. She has made him feel bad about things even though she walked out on his life when he was 14. She was not there for his graduation from high school, or college or recently his MBA (which we invited her too). So, WHY WHY WHY is is worried about hurting her feelings saying that a week is too long to visit us after the baby???!!!! It just infuriates me because he almost looks at me like "well, she wants to help- why won't you let her?" I don't know the woman and what I know from him is nothing positive. So, I always feel like the bad person in the end that has to say NO. I told him I just wish he would have said from the beginning "My mom wants to visit for a week, what would YOU feel comfortable with?". And when I told him he say "OK, whatever you need that is most important". Instead, he is worried about hurting his mom's feelings about telling her she can come for just 2-3 nights. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 02-12-2014 - 11:19am

I think your DH would really benefit from some therapy to deal with his family issues, but I know it's really hard to get people, esp. men, to go to therapy.  I think you should just say that you are not comfortable having someone that you really don't know at all staying at your house right after the baby is born.  You already have your parents to help you.  You are going to be feeling tired and not up to entertaining someone.  Also he could say that she is not going to be alone with the baby, but sometimes you are just going to want to get a nap and it would be convenient to have someone else around watching the baby while you sleep.  I agree with the others who said that it's better for her to come to visit after you are feeling better and used to being around the baby--then she can be more of a visitor and not a helper--face it, she's not going to be a help anyway.  You could use the excuse that you want her to be able to come when the baby is a little older so that you can enjoy her visit more and be able to go out and do things and maybe show her around if she has never been to your town before.

Obviously your DH is afraid to say no since he has such a tenuous relationship w/ his mother that he's afraid that she'll get mad and not talk to him anymore.  I think that being basically abandoned by your mother would leave lifelong scars, which is why he needs some therapy.  He still needs to be able to set boundaries and not let her control his life.  You and the baby should be his no. 1 priorities.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2008
Mon, 02-17-2014 - 3:58pm

I'm beyond puzzled how he can sound so sure things would be okay.  With all this history, of course you'd be terrified something awful could happen.  It's sounding like he does not want to believe what his own mother is truly like - that's a story many of us are all too familiar with, myself included.  What matters is your baby and if there is ANY chance at all that some iffy behavior MIGHT occur, then your DH needs to take this on.  MIL does NOT need to STAY at your home at all and it's your DH's responsibility to handle this.  If it's making you - his wife - uncomfortable, then enough said, for crying out loud.  Meet in a public place for lunch where nothing CAN happen - if you meet at all.  It flat out does not MATTER if it hurts his mother's feelings - her past behavior shows this is a bad situation.  Your DH knows better than anyone that this sucks and it's patently unfair that he seems to be dropping the whole mess into your lap and doing a guilt trip.  Many of us had unstable parents - if I look back I can see many ways to handle things than I did with my own mother, who clearly was mentally ill, but like your DH, you just don't want to believe what your own mother is capable of, even with the personal knowledge of it all.  Don't end up with regrets, that's the best way to live, and this little baby deserves his parent's very best here.  See to it that happens, your DH should not be forcing a visit here, he just doesn't seem to have the stones to handle it.  Well, guess what - he needs to grow up.