I've been married for 15 years and I have had consistent problems with my MIL. The things she does in and of themselves are not earth shattering, but it is the constant state of deception and lack of respect of me and my choices that is the bigger issue. We are very different people, she is very mainstream, and is much more consumer oriented than me, doesn't filter choices for my kids in the same way that I would, etc. I have let a lot of these things go, for example, she buys my kids an INSANE amount of stuff, and I nod and smile politely and then donate, donate, donate. She has also pressured me a lot over the years to baptize my children, and various other things like that.
I say "me" and "I" in all of that because NONE of this behavior is directed towards my husband. He is her youngest of three boys (and the only one she currently has a relationship with) and he is definitely more passive than me. I am not exactly sure if he would do all of the things she asks if it wasn't for me, but I am sure that he would do more than I do. He isn't a person who has really strong feelings about the number of things that I do, so he might just go along with her if it wasn't for me. That being said, my husband is a good person, and is more mainstream than me, yet not completely mainstream. He believes in natural foods, recently started to practice yoga, etc. He just is a pretty easy going person, and in his family, it's her way, or the highway- thus her lack of relationship with her other sons. One son has no contact with them whatsoever, and the other lives across the country and exchanges emails with her a few times a year.
Anyway, as an example of the sort of thing I'm talking about. Last night my ILs babysat while we went to see Wicked and to dinner. The tickets were a gift from them, so we didn't exactly ask them to babysit, they offered. They babysit about 3 times a year for us.
My DS (7) has been wanting to see Harry Potter and I recently researched the movies and decided that he could see 1 and 2, and ordered 1 from Netflix. It arrived in the mail yesterday and I told my husband to not show DS because I really wanted to watch it with him (today). When my ILs arrived, they had Harry Potter 1 and 2 with them because I mentioned in passing to them last weekend that DS was going to be allowed to watch it. When I saw that, I asked her very politely if they could please not watch them with DS, because we had just gotten them that day and we were really looking forward to watching the movie with him. She said that was fine because she had another movie that they could watch.
We were gone for about 4 hours, and when I walked in DS and my FIL are watching the second Harry Potter movie after already completing the first. My MIL comes downstairs and the first thing she says to me is "They've had so much fun watching the Harry Potter movies." Are you kidding me? I said "I thought they weren't going to watch them?" to which she replies "Well, they decided that they just HAD to." I told my husband separately and he just gives me this dopey look, in the classic style of his family-- "if we pretend nothing is happening than nothing is happening."
Ugh. DH and I had a blow-up today because he basically told me that he didn't mind that DS watched the Harry Potter movies, and I was like- "That isn't the point! The point is that I just asked them not to watch them and four hours later they've watched both of them?!" The fight concluded with him telling me that he'd rather me not go to his parents house with our family than to stand up to his Mom because standing up to her won't do any good, she doesn't listen to him either.
Like I said before, the events in and of themselves aren't the end of the world, but she does these destructive things constantly, and I feel like I'm constantly made out to be the bad guy, because no one else in the family has the exact same preferences that I have. I don't see how that matters, my preferences are my preferences, and they aren't very extreme, so if you tell me you will follow them, don't do the exact opposite when I walk out the door.
Anyway, I'm just broken hearted by what my husband said. I am trying to remain level headed, but I really feel like we decide on our standards as a family, and then stick together. If DH doesn't agree with my standards, than we can totally discuss them, but if he says he agrees and then isn't willing to stand behind them, I feel that he is honoring his mother more than me.
Thanks in advance for any insight you may have.
I highly recommend Toxic In-Laws by Dr. Susan Forward.
Your DH needs to learn to back YOU and stand up to his mom.
Ann-Marita. I deleted my usual signature due to, oh, wait, if I say why, that might give too much away.
Thank you SO much for that recommendation. I'm going to download it to my kindle in just a minute! The first review alone helped me.