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Mother in law issues damaging marriage

Bella-81
Community Member

How do I deal with my mother in law who is highly anxious, incapable of communication and only seems to have issues with me since having our child 19 months ago! I feel like I'm competing with her for my husbands attention!! I'm not sure if my husband is enjoying all this attention from his mother since it was lacking when he was younger??  

13 Replies 13

Doolhof
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Bella,

It is difficult to communicate with people who have anxiety and communications problems in the first place isn't it! Is it possible to gather up some of the family and have an open chat with your mother in law and ask her what the problem is.

I am certainly no expert, but I am wondering if somehow she may be jealous or finding it difficult to be around the baby.

She may be holding on to issues she had as a Mum. She may be wishing she had a different relationship with her own children when they were young. Who knows what hurts and pain another person is holding on to.

I may be barking up the wrong tree here, but it does seem that something has triggered this reaction in her since the baby arrived.

Keep telling your husband how much you love him, and if possible plan family moments with your husband and your child.

Does your Mother in law have sisters? They might be able to shed some light on why your MIL is acting this way.

From Mrs. Dools

pipsy
Community Member
Hi Bella.  I'm not taking your MIL's side, please don't for a moment think I am.  Looking at it from her point of view, perhaps she thinks she's helping a new mum.  I take it this is your first.  Have you tried discussing this with your hubby.  It's highly possible MIL thinks you have enough on your plate looking after toddler, maybe she feels she could do more for you by taking care of her son.  As I said, I'm not taking her side, MIL's always think they know their off-spring better than the spouse of said off-spring.  My MIL used to buy my hubby (her son) shirts.  I told her numerous times the shirts were too small and he wouldn't like them.  It caused many arguments till my hubby told her to 'listen to me as I knew him better now, than she did'.  Have a gentle talk with MIL, tell her while you're grateful (she doesn't have to know how you really feel), you are quite capable of caring for her son (your hubby) and child.  If this doesn't work definitely talk to hubby.  A word of caution though (be careful, hubby could defend MIL).  Is he the only child, sons quite often defend mum's without realizing they're undermining their own spouse.  Is she alright with baby, or is this causing you stress as well.  If she is trying to take care of baby, she is definitely overstepping the mark.        

Bella-81
Community Member
Thank you for your reply it is vey diffcult and my husband shares similar communication issues which can make me feel very alone. He defends his mother I think she uses an anxiety as some sort of power over him if this makes sense? It's almost like poor mum she is only worried when I can clearly see there is more to it than that. I too have felt that this is an issue related to jealousy. She is still with her husband and they are very unhappy but remain together for some reason. I feel as though she looks at our family and and its what should would have wished for hers. My husband said to me many years ago that before I came into there family there was no affection they may have hugged each other in birthdays! I found this crazy as I come from a family of affection....I have also felt that she is very jealous of how close my family is and how my husband has become close to my family sharing family holidays etc....I am just not sure how to get through to my husband and make him understand why she upsets me? We are going through counselling at the moment but I still find it a difficult issue to raise. Thank you again for your support x

Bella-81
Community Member
Hi there thank you for your reply and thank you for your different perspective which I am always open to unfortunately this is not the case. I wish it was. I have tried talking with her in the past and it didn't go very well at all completely back fired on me and she ended up in tears and I the wicked daughter in law. I have tried to reach through to hubby but I feel she uses anxiety and instability as a power over her son I also feel he has a great need to not disappoint her which obviously is a childhood issue. We are going through counselling at the moment but I still find this a difficult topic. Also to make a long story short my husband had a migrane and I was taking care of him got him an injection as he pain was quite severe. She felt the need to come over sit by his bedside and stroke his face whilst on the phone to their family doctor. This drove me wild - it just made me feel as though I was incapable. Perhaps this is my issue but she definately overstiod the boundaries to make matters worse as my husband was recovering she came over to our house crying that she feared it was something worse and he should go to hospital so my husband agreed instead of telling his mother to calm down I was so angry that she had worked him up. So we went to hospital it was a migrane! I was just baffled by the dramatic behaviour as my role as wife and mother its to ensure everyone is calm certainly not to panic hubby or bubby. Sorry for the rant I have really struggled to deal with her behaviour lately and must admit I was extremely short with her my husband said I was rude and I have also let loose at my husband. I don't know where to from here! X

pipsy
Community Member
Hi Bella.  Not sure how to respond to your situation.  I was in much the same situation regarding IL's both m & d IL.  My ex defended his parents against me many times.  Fortunately, we had no children, so in that way, your situation is different.  We've been married 25 years, I left him late last year because of on-going issues with his parents.  I'm not suggesting you leave, though, far from it.  Have you tried discussing this with your counsellor present.  My ex refused counselling, so in that way too you have a better chance.  Your MIL really needs to know she is overstepping the boundary.  I think it's possible your hubby is having migraines because of all the tension.  Would it be possible for you and baby to go out when MIL visits hubby?  If you could absent yourself for the time she's visiting (she's not living with you is she).  As I was saying, if you could absent you and baby, this could help ease the situation.  I realize it's a monstrous ask, it's your home, your hubby, but if you're not there, hubby and m could visit, she could 'mollycoddle' him to her hearts content.  It's possible hubby could get fed-up with his mum 'babying' him after a while, it could take several visits, but in the long run, he may get up the 'gumption' to tell her to 'get lost'.   Would you at least have a think about what I've suggested.  I hope I haven't offended you with what I've suggested.  The last thing I want to do is upset or offend you.  You need help and guidance.  It's just an idea.     

Bella-81
Community Member
You have not offended or upset me at all I appreciate honest feedback! I get what your saying I actually tried the whole removing myself from the situation in order to save my own sanity and well being and this too backfired causing major issues where my hubby demanded that I stop what I was doing to speak to his father as it was rude. I tried to explain what I was doing to him in private but this too did not go well. She usually too comes around to see the our baby...always at inappropriate times like dinner/shower time and bub is distracted and doesn't end up eating ive been busy all day and I don't have the energy to be nice?! I know this is wrong it is my husbands mother but my respect for my husband is dwindleling because my feelings aren't gaining respect. I guess we aren't in a good place at all, the frustrating thing is my husband is a good man, good father and I see the potential maybe I am too forgiving for this reason I need to start respecting my own thoughts/feelings and not let them be walked over. I think I will attend counselling on my own and suggest another couples session and see where we go to from there. Again I appreciate your opinions and advice 😊

pipsy
Community Member

Oh, Bella.  I really feel for you.  No matter what you do, it winds up going pear shaped.  Perhaps a trip to your counsellor either with your hubby or alone might be a good place to start.  Unfortunately, you're fighting hubby and parents.  Do you have family of your own.  Perhaps a time away altogether where you have time to think without pressure would benefit you.  Is there a chance where you could get away for a while.   Maybe discuss with your counsellor about time apart.  Not saying permanently, but your hubby needs a bit of a shake up to make him realize he's got a great wife and beautiful child.  It's your home, they're overstepping the boundaries, but they have his permission, so they're not going to stop.  It took me a long time to get up the courage to leave, but, for me, it was the best thing I could've done.   My IL's weren't coming here, we were visiting them.  They gave me Hell with my ex's permission.  My ex still visits them, but it no longer affects me because we're not together.  I had exactly the same as you, no respect from IL's.  My ex is basically a good man too, but his emotional attachment to his parents was more than I could handle.  Discuss with your counsellor before you finally decide.  I wish you all the best whatever you do. 

My ex would drop everything every time his parents cried.  He still does, but it's his problem, I don't have to be involved anymore.  Maybe one day we might get back together.  

Please let me know how you're going.  I know exactly where you're coming from with this, you feel like you're in a no-win situation. 

Hi Bella, Pipsy and anyone else who is reading this,

Oh dear. Relationships really are difficult at times aren't they. I'm really not sure what else to suggest, just thought I would share a little of my own experiences with you all.

My husband and I organised an overseas holiday. My Father in law decided that would be a wonderful trip and asked to see our itinerary. He then went to our travel agent and booked the identical holiday! They were coming with us...like it or not.

My father in law suffers from depression and anxiety, he also believes there is no way but his way. When I spoke with my husband saying I really didn't like the idea, I was told not to complain.

During the holiday, some of the happenings with my in laws were horrible. Father in law was so very embarrassing trying to chat up all the young ladies on the tour and demanding everything be done as he wanted it to be.

My husband stood up for his parents. I suppose there wasn't much else he could do, they are his parents!

I told my husband I was tired of trying to make sure everything went okay, that everyone was happy and I was aware of where they were when the tour guide moved on to a different place and they wanted to go into a shop to buy something. My husband told me to stop worrying. They could do what they wanted.

The next day, I tried to block out the family happenings. Husband came up to me and asked where his parents were. His Dad came up and asked me where his Mum was and so on. I told each of them I had no idea, I was listening to the tour guide. They all survived. I survived.

I had to learn to let go of the stuff I could not control!

Don't know if that story helps at all! From Dools

 

pipsy
Community Member

Hi Dools.  I understand what you're saying, but there was still a lot of emotional damage done on your trip.   Everyone's coping skills are different though.  With my IL's I got fed-up with MIL finding fault with everything I said or did, and hubby telling her she was always right and I was being rude and ignorant.  Just once if hubby had 'been there' for me, it might have made it bearable.  Since then I've learnt to never ask hubby for any kind of assistance because I don't get it.  I've had medical issues with a severely damaged right arm, when we found out what it was, MIL refused to accept what the surgeon told us.  Hubby told me to ignore her, my BIL in England actually sent some paperwork over in relation to what I had.  Her own Dr tried to tell her what I had was serious, but she knew best and gave me Hell for months.  Finally last October, I'd had enough and told hubby I was leaving.  If he wants to be their son and not my husband, that's fine.  Till he can look after me and put me ahead of them, he can do what he likes.  I've let go of the anger and hurt, but I can't and won't live in a relationship where m/d call the shots.  Bella's IL's seem to think they have the right to walk into her house and take over.  It's HER house, not theirs, they're way out of line, overstepping the boundaries, with her hubby's permission.  My MIL even did that once in my home.  It's a horrible situation when you can't call your own home, yours.  She has rights in her own home.  If she tried to do to them in their home, what they're doing in hers, there'd be Hell to pay. 

Sorry if I offended you, each of us think differently when it comes to dealing with family.