In your opinion, why is there so much tension betwen MILs and DILs? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just curious what other people think on this topic.  I really question myself a lot about this because I am usually kind, open and accepting of others...but find myself to be invariably negative and annoyed by my MIL, despite the fact that she is an overall thoughtful, accepting, and generous woman.  She is not a toxic person like many others I have read about on MDC.  I truly wish I liked hanging out with her and enjoyed her company, like I do with my other woman friends.  I make sure that we spend time with her once a week, which is easy to do since she lives close.  Yet I find that she just grates on my nerves.  Things that she does really irritate me, though I know it's me, not her...I finally realized this was the case when I thought about the fact that most of the comments she makes, things she gets us which I wish she didn't, etc. ...none of those would bother me if they were coming from one of my friends.  I really am trying to work through this issue so that it doesn't stain her relationship with our son.  I have noticed my penchant towards negativity with her has markedly increased since our son was born, but my time with her since then has also increased because I have tried to be very deliberate in making sure she sees enough of him (however, no matter how often we see her, she makes comments about not seeing him enough--recently, "If you brought him over more, I would childproof the house."  Ug.).  Both of my parents are gone and I wasn't close with either of them, so I know my sadness about not having parents I love with whom to share our son is a factor.  Thanks in advance for anyone's thoughts.


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#2 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 10:51 AM
 
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I've often thought that maybe there a biological drive that makes us want to separate from our parents and in-laws. At least, I tell my teenagers that when they don't like my rules anymore that the end is in sight. Tribal splits prevented incest before humans were so technologically advanced.

 

 

In my case though, my MIL has a favorite son. His wife got all the great family jewels. His kids have star status in the family and that son and that grandchild get the "best" places at the table when we are all together. Having seen favoritism in families go bad, really bad wrong in my father's family.. I don't tolerate this well. Thank goodness we live several states away so that we don't have to see her often.

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#3 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 11:16 AM
 
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I think that it's a few things. Firstly, I think that there is often an undercurrent of "My baby is perfect" from MILs, referring to our husbands. It's a lot easier to blame a pushy/annoying/aggressive wife than it is to admit that your son is an adult and able to make choices you might not agree with. I totally don't think it's a conscious thing for most MILs, but that it's still there.

 

I also think that there's a feeling that we, DILs and sons, make different choices means that we're accusing MILs of having done a bad job of raising kids. Sometimes that might even be true, but a lot of the time it's not at all the case. Still, I think it's easier to feel that way about DILs because we're not their kids and  they didn't raise us directly.


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#4 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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OP, I could have written your post word for word.  My MIL is a kind thoughtful woman.  She also drives me nuts and I can always think of something negative to say about her after I or DH have/has contact with her.  I know this is not entirely rational.  For me though, a lot of it has to do with boundaries with me and my own parents.  I love my mother dearly, but our relationship is far from perfect.  I know that when I'm having a particularly rough time with my mom, I have an even harder time with MIL.  There is definitely some competition too, and even with a good MIL, I feel judged by her.  These things put together mean that I always keep my distance just a bit. 


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#5 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 12:01 PM
 
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Could it be that men choose women that are very different from their moms?  I know that my MIL isn't that bad, but she and I are soooooo different that interaction can be difficult.

 

I know in my case it also doesn't help that DH has some baggage from how he was raised and it ticks me off that he has to deal with it.


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#6 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 12:22 PM
 
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My MIL is delightful--but spending time with her about once per month is just about right for me.  (She is free to see my little girl, 5 years old, whenever she wants--and sometimes she'll come up and take DD out to the mall or out for ice cream and that is GREAT!  I love that they have a close relationship.  They've always had regular sleepovers, etc.  MIL is really helpful on a special occasion basis.  We tried to do a regular date but that didn't work so well for her, and that's ok with me, too.

 

We had a little tension when DH and I first married, but I am try to be clear and polite when I have issues, and address them, and so far that's worked very well.  I'm also pretty laid back, so I don't have too many issues and that helps too.  She tends to walk on eggshells, so if she has issues I usually have to pry them out of her and by the time it is out I'm amenable to whatever she needs.

 

I don't know if you can really generalize and say "Mil's" are the issue--there are plenty of people who deal with Fil's who make them miserable, too.  But there is an added pressure for MIL-DIL to have an independent relationship.  It makes my husband really happy if I go down to have lunch with MIL or bring DD down there to do crafts.  But he would never expect me to just hang out with his dad.  (Who I also relaly love)

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#7 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 12:54 PM
 
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I think MIL's and DIL's have huge issues because MIL's often dont want to let go of their son and DIL's dont want another woman in their life that we have to answer to, explain things to, defend our beliefs to, and attempt to please. I know in my case, my MIL def. doesnt see me as her kid, but Im somehow supposed to treat her with the respect Id give my own parents.

 

 

 

 

 

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#8 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 01:03 PM
 
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For us, the tension began when we had Cecilia. Prior to that, I was the "golden child" in their eyes. I should have seen the writing on the wall earlier, as they would often make disparaging remarks about my SIL's husband and say things to my husband like, "Well at least you found a good spouse!" Horrible things to say!

 

When Cecilia was born, my IL's were there for her birth and my SIL came a little while later. They also came the next day to see her (and us, but really just her). When we left the hospital, we tried to enforce a 2 week babymoon, and they just pitched a fit. They were completely unwilling to give us the two weeks. It devastated me, but I didn't feel like I could keep pushing, and I tried to get my husband to do it. He tried as well and my MIL laid the guilt on him super thickly.

 

Then the parenting choices comments started. MIL was appalled that we were bedsharing. Now, she sleeps like the dead and won't wake up for most things, so I can sort of see her fear of herself with a baby in the bed. I, however, am completely the opposite; I wake at the drop of a pin. I tried to explain that to her, and that I bedshared with my parents until I was 6 (yeah, I learned my hippie ways right from the source! winky.gif). It didn't matter. She became very judgmental about that. The other big topic was "fairness" in relation to time spent with both families (both my family and my husband's live in town). If we were spending a certain amount of time with my family, we had to spend just as much time with his or she'd lay the guilt on again.


FIL was no better. He decided that his perfect son couldn't possibly be going against how he was raised, so clearly his wife must be making all the decisions and therefore must be the one to heap all the blame on! rolleyes.gif

 

Anyway, nowadays they've stopped telling us how to parent, but I have a kneejerk reaction to everything they say and do. Little things that I should let roll off don't anymore, but I am trying really hard. Like, for example, when I mentioned that Cecilia went to bed late the previous night so I was tired, MIL asked if it was because she napped late. I said yes, and she said, "Just wake her up next time." I should have taken that as a passing statement, but instead I took offense (internally, I didn't show it). So yeah, our relationship is strained now.


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#9 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 01:22 PM
 
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I can only tell you the problem between me and my MIL.  I blame her for most of my husbands problems and for hurting him and being a sucky mom and putting him in a place he doesn't want to be as an adult (I've known him since we were 13... I've seen enough first hand to go with the stories he tells me) and she blames ME for him wanting to grow up and be an adult and move out.  She also thinks its my fault he chose to join the army which of course took him even further away from her.  My husband's sister lives in New Zealand so that makes it worse because we are actually in the same country as her, although in a different state.

 

She is a codependent mess and although I tried to be sympathetic and like her for awhile, I just can't.  She is passive aggressive and basically every single thing that comes out of her mouth is a 'woo is me' depressing statement meant to get people to fall over trying to give her anything to make her happy.  She has decided to move to New Zealand to live with her daughter now that she is retired and although she has stolen money from my husband in the past (quite a bit too... and even let him believe it was his sister one of the times... ) he is very excited to help fund the trip (which is no small amount!) and I'm happy to oblige although we could really use that money.  We won't be able to visit for a long time... if ever.  and vice versa.  We'll only get her passive aggressive emails once in a while which is a lot easier to ignore than the crap she doles out during in person visits.

 

On the other hand, my mom is the MIL to my husband who isn't so bad but still seriously grates on him.  He goes between not being able to stand her at all to being glad there is a halfway normal 'mom' in his life.  She definitely has her issues (and gave me plenty!) so I don't blame him but sometimes his reaction is more than necessary.  not sure why... could just be that they are different.  They talk differently and deal with things differently and in the end, opposites really don't attract that well no matter what people say.

 

We both however agree that my grandma is basically awesome.  I envision her husband (my stepgrandma) dying well before my daughter is grown (I say that flippantly, but I don't mean to.  It is simply a fact albeit quite sad) and when that happens, I'd love to have her come live with us rather than living alone in their big empty house.  I honestly think he wouldn't be completely against the idea either.  My grandma also has annoying issues but she is such a loving and good person that its super easy to ignore.  Granted, that is half the problem (very little spine in her) but so long as the people around her don't take advantage, she is such a great addition to a family.  She refers to my husband only as grandson.  He isn't 'my granddaughter's wife' or anything.. he is 'my grandson' and has been since before we were even engaged.  She has also been my biggest help and inspiration since my daughter was born.  Everyone needs one of her I think.

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#10 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 01:31 PM
 
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I'm glad mine lives in another state. :D We get together a couple of times per year. 

 

My mother bugs the crap out of the two of us though. Boy, does she have opinions. 

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#11 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 02:08 PM
 
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So true. I especially like that this doesn't require either party to be "bad" in order for there to be some trouble. A very hurtful (on both sides) dynamic in my relationship with MIL is that she does not treat me like she does her own children but is very hurt and offended that I am closer to my own mother than I am to her. Thanks for reminding me of this; I can't make her feel differently but I need to remember not to get my feathers ruffled when she elevates her sons over me (while expecting ME to be there for her emotionally because I am a woman).

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I think MIL's and DIL's have huge issues because MIL's often dont want to let go of their son and DIL's dont want another woman in their life that we have to answer to, explain things to, defend our beliefs to, and attempt to please. I know in my case, my MIL def. doesnt see me as her kid, but Im somehow supposed to treat her with the respect Id give my own parents.

 

 

 

 

 

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#12 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 02:13 PM
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My MIL irritates me too.  I feel terrible about it.  She's a sweet and loving person, and unfailingly kind to me and our kids.  

 

A large part of the problem for me is that we have very different emotional styles.  She's effusive and I'm reserved.  I find her effusiveness overwhelming.  She interprets my reserve as a sign that she needs to be more effusive.  As far as I can tell, anyway.  

 

She also has a very different parenting style than the one I grew up with.  My parents were very understanding of conflicts between me and my sisters (which happened all the time).  Basically, they told us we were family and one day we would see that we really all loved each other, deep down, and meanwhile, we should try to avoid irritating each other too much, and use our own private spaces for the purposes for which they were intended (i.e., avoiding sisters when they tick you off.)  She, on the other hand, insisted that my dh and BIL had to be best friends at all times, since they were brothers.  My family is scientific, logical, and somewhat political about certain issues.  My MIL has a binder of "gifted parents" newsletters encouraging parents to keep their sons out of the arts because of AIDS risk.  (To her credit, I don't think this is why she kept them - they also have articles about summer camp programs, and she's kind of a pack rat.  But my mom would have fired off an angry and scientifically accurate letter to the editor and unsubscribed when the first "AIDS in the arts" article appeared.)  My mom would never, ever send me an email forward.  My MIL not only sends me forwards despite being informed that my email automatically deletes them, but when we get together, she asks my opinion of the contents.  Even though she really doesn't want to hear that forwarding an email and lighting a candle will not in any way advance efforts to cure cancer.  Just for example.  

 

My mother can bug me too, sometimes, but I'm used to her.  

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#13 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 02:31 PM
 
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Because as the DIL, I feel like my mom raised us well..as my husband's mother she feels like she raised them well..just different I guess? She's no longer the decision maker when it comes to "the kids" (being hers). I dunno.


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#14 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 02:37 PM
 
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I think, in general, some of the tension comes from the lack of an organic relationship.  The only reason I know my MIL is because I married her son.  DH and I met while he was out of state at college and she was 3 states away.  DH and I had time to forge a relationship slowly,  but I was forced into a familial relationship with my In-laws rather quickly.  There wasn't time to get to know each other bit by bit.

 

Along the same lines, DH doesn't understand some of the issues that come up between his mom and I because he grew up with her and knows how she is and has developed ways to respond to her.  I, on the other hand, don't have that history and tend to take her words and actions at face value.

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#15 of 43 Old 02-07-2011, 02:59 PM
 
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My MIL is nice to everyone but me...ok maybe she's nicer now but it seems forced. She was very mean when DH and I were dating. She wrote me a 2 page (front and back on college ruled notebook paper) telling me what an awful person I was. When dh would force me to visit, She'd go into another room and LOUDLY say to BIL "I don't like it when he brings her here."   She tried to intervene and break us up many times. I bent over backwards to please her (except eating her cooking because I just don't like collards) and but it was no use.  We had our first child and the inlaws tried to fight me on everything as if they had a right.  They convinced dh that we should live in a house they owned. They gave us no privacy and when dh left town on business several times, not once did they call to see if dd and I were ok.  After both of my kids were born, MIL insisted that she come and stay with us and did not lift a finger. I did the best I could and served a salad with brown lettuce for lunch because I just wasn't up to preparing lunch for guests. Even just stared at me trying to pick things up off the floor when I was told not to bend over by my midwife.  She undermined me when I asked her to please escort dd to her room (one minute per age for something that she shouldn't have been doing).

 

MIL has NEVER written me a two page letter (or any letter) apologize for her horrible behavior while we were dating (and I was trying to be NICE!).   I am pregnant again and her behavior after the last few births (being there and not helping AT ALL) has left me pretty traumatized. Not only have I finally stood up for myself on her visiting after the birth but I'm not willing to go see her while I"m pregnant because I know I'm upset with her and the pregnancy is probably making me feel angrier about it than usual. I wish I could forgive, but I just can't seem to.  They've offered to take the other two for a week starting a week or so after the birth and they are welcome to but I hope they don't expect to A. have a place to stay or B. see the baby.

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#16 of 43 Old 02-08-2011, 07:15 AM
 
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i think it's a lot about what other people have said.... the expected family feelings without any childhood memories or experiences, the lack of an organically developed relationship, the obvious differences in parenting styles etc.

 

i love my MIL, but i have a hard time liking her. she is a very passive, kind of "fake-dumb" woman. i don't think she's as silly as she acts, but she isn't interested in anything intellectual either. a lot of my issues with her stem from an equal dislike of some of her personality and traits, and a dislike of how the rest of the family treats her (my DH included, although he does try). my FIL and BIL are borderline rude and dismissive of her frequently, and it annoys me that she takes it. it's kind of like the weird kid in class... you hate how everyone treats him, but you also kind of hate him for being so easily mistreated. anyway, i used to dislike her more strongly, but i've recently become more aware of some glaring issues with my own parents that are making me look at her in a more positive light. and she is a complete angel to me as a parent, and to her granddaughter, so i can't complain about that.

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#17 of 43 Old 02-08-2011, 07:41 AM
 
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I was very put off with my MIL in the beginning of my marriage and it got worse for a bit when ds1 was born.  He was MINE and I felt like she shouldn't think she had any claim to him.  I don't remember exactly what the event was that snapped me out of it, but I eventually became the mother to 3 boys and I sure hope my DILs never act the way I did.  My MIL never had anything but the best intentions and I was a brat.  And just like my family adores my kids b/c they are mine, dh's family adores my kids b/c they are his and I hope I'm given the opportunity to adore my grandchildren one day.

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#18 of 43 Old 02-08-2011, 07:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cecilia's Mama View Post

I think that it's a few things. Firstly, I think that there is often an undercurrent of "My baby is perfect" from MILs, referring to our husbands. It's a lot easier to blame a pushy/annoying/aggressive wife than it is to admit that your son is an adult and able to make choices you might not agree with. I totally don't think it's a conscious thing for most MILs, but that it's still there.

 

I also think that there's a feeling that we, DILs and sons, make different choices means that we're accusing MILs of having done a bad job of raising kids. Sometimes that might even be true, but a lot of the time it's not at all the case. Still, I think it's easier to feel that way about DILs because we're not their kids and  they didn't raise us directly.



I think this is the case with MIL and myself. Any time I say something about ds MIL ALWAYS going on a 10 minute story about what *her* son did and how he did it better and whatever. It really gets old. DS has autism and there are certain things he needs to thrive. MIL is getting better about this but she used to go on and on about how ds was fine, he didn't need this or that or the other thing and that she did it X way with her son so I should do it X way with ds and if I just did everything the same way she did with dh then my ds would be perfectly fine. I think if I was able to say something, anything, without MIL comparing it to her parenting we wouldn't have so many issues. A perfect example- we told MIL over the weekend that I am pregnant. I cannot tell you how many stories I heard over this last weekend about what I need to do during pregnancy, or not do, because that's the way she did it. DH and I were going to Babies R Us and decided to invite MIL along. She had an opinion about EVERYTHING we picked out. It didn't matter what it was- it was wrong because it wasn't the same as she had with dh. We were looking at high chairs. We had already decided that we were going to get one of those that attach to a regular chair so we were looking at those. MIL started objecting and saying "you certainly don't want one of those. No way. You need one like this. This is similar to what I had with Jason and it worked great for us so this is what you need to get". Thankfully dh stood his ground and didn't let MIL bully him into changing his mind.


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#19 of 43 Old 02-08-2011, 08:55 AM
 
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I have a kind of hard relationship with my own mother. I moved far away and for more than 10 years only had to see her face to face once a year, if that. We get along great on the phone, it's just that when we have to be together a lot we drive each other nuts. Anyway, after being mostly free from a mother relationship, at least on the day-to-day level, to all of a sudden have a MIL expecting to have that kind of thing was just too much. So I was always cold towards her, and eventually did have a big talk about it and I told her how my mom was totally smothery and how the relationship with her (MIL) brought all of that up for me. She totally got it, and backed off. This was years ago, and by now I have really come to love her like a mother. She is no longer all in my face, and has been tremendously helpful since we've had the baby. She is also pretty respectful of our parenting decisions. I guess for us it just took time.

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#20 of 43 Old 02-08-2011, 11:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cecilia's Mama View Post

I think that it's a few things. Firstly, I think that there is often an undercurrent of "My baby is perfect" from MILs, referring to our husbands. It's a lot easier to blame a pushy/annoying/aggressive wife than it is to admit that your son is an adult and able to make choices you might not agree with. I totally don't think it's a conscious thing for most MILs, but that it's still there.

 

I also think that there's a feeling that we, DILs and sons, make different choices means that we're accusing MILs of having done a bad job of raising kids. Sometimes that might even be true, but a lot of the time it's not at all the case. Still, I think it's easier to feel that way about DILs because we're not their kids and  they didn't raise us directly.


 

My MIL is not really like this, but my own mom totally is! She is kind of horrible to my SIL, and she often makes comments about their parenting of my nephews in front of the nephews (and now she's starting with little comments to me). As some PP have mentioned, without the history and the relationship it's harder to understand where the MIL is coming from. My SIL has a really hard time with my mom (extreme dislike bordering on hate- my mom told my brother not to sign the birth certificate because there was a minuscule chance he wasn't the dad! In the hospital, in front of SIL's family!!!) and can't understand how my brother and I deal with some of her antics. We can only shrug and say "Well, that's just mom!"

 

My MIL is a very nice, friendly person, and we generally get along just fine; however, DH and I lived with them for about 4 months towards the end of my pregnancy and things got really weird. We were intending to stay for a while after DS was born (I'm in school and not working, we just wanted to save some $), but some strange combo of pregnancy hormones and overall frustration of living with other people took over, and I totally freaked out. We moved into an apartment exactly one month before my EDD and MIL took it pretty hard, and it was weird between us for a while. She let my DH have it, but never confronted me about it, which certainly contributed to the tension, but now that DS is here, and they are very involved with him, it's passing. She is actually the most supportive of my hippie AP ways, more so than my own family (if only she'd get over the fact that we're not circ'ing him - we're Jewish, it just doesn't compute). It's not perfect, and they still occasionally rub me the wrong way, but I'm much more relaxed in my own space so the little stuff doesn't bug me anymore.

 

ETA: this whole thread makes me think what kind of MIL I will be one day ... I think I'd go crazy if my DS married some idiot who didn't want to breastfeed or had an elective C-Section ... then she'd be bitching about how crazy I am, LOL!


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#21 of 43 Old 02-09-2011, 12:57 AM
 
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I'm increadibly lucky. I actually talk to my MIL more than DH does and consider her a friend, even though we are very different. I think part of the reason though, is she's had time to let go. DH was a 32 yr old divorcee when we married. She was nervous for him because of the situation, but long ago realized that he is a grown up and kept her concerns to herself.

  Now that I have sons ( a long way from dating) I understand the need to protect them. And the idea of some woman (that might not "deserve" him) taking my place as the center of his world stings a little. I really think a lot of it boils down to jealousy. The same jealousy and protectiveness that makes a lot of women hate their DH's ex, or their brother's girlfriend can make a woman resent the time he spends with his mother and vice versa. Heaven forbid that other woman hurts the man we love. Despite the fact that *he* chooses how to handle that other relationship we tend to blame her. It's irrational


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#22 of 43 Old 02-09-2011, 01:45 AM
 
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We are both alpha females and I have a very hard time with her constant criticisms. Her "helpfulness" while we are living with her makes me want to run screaming. Constant nagging and harassment about what my DS needs to do and the way she blatantly ignores how I want to raise him. She feeds him junky trash all the time and then makes comments about how fat he is. Every *single* day, she "reminds" me that I need to go pick up my son from school.

 

"Are you going to pick up DS today?" "Isn't it time to go pick up DS?""Doesn't DS need to take a bath?" Does DS need to brush his teeth?" "Shouldn't DS be outside playing?" "Doesn;t DS need a hat?" "Should DS be wearing that shirt?" "DS can;t jump in TaeKwonDo like the other kids."

 

I want to smack her. Instead, I say nothing. We are in her house, and she is a controlling critical woman who will never ever change. There is nothing I can do about it. I mostly ignore her because trying to please her and anticipate her thoughts and desires is exhausting and I am never able to do it exactly as she wants.


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#23 of 43 Old 02-09-2011, 03:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mntnmom View Post

I'm increadibly lucky. I actually talk to my MIL more than DH does and consider her a friend, even though we are very different. I think part of the reason though, is she's had time to let go. DH was a 32 yr old divorcee when we married. She was nervous for him because of the situation, but long ago realized that he is a grown up and kept her concerns to herself.

  Now that I have sons ( a long way from dating) I understand the need to protect them. And the idea of some woman (that might not "deserve" him) taking my place as the center of his world stings a little. I really think a lot of it boils down to jealousy. The same jealousy and protectiveness that makes a lot of women hate their DH's ex, or their brother's girlfriend can make a woman resent the time he spends with his mother and vice versa. Heaven forbid that other woman hurts the man we love. Despite the fact that *he* chooses how to handle that other relationship we tend to blame her. It's irrational

That is the most honest appraisal of the MIL/DIL relationship that I have seen. 

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#24 of 43 Old 02-09-2011, 03:07 AM
 
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I think a lot of people make valid points about issues that are likely with a lot of MILs, but I think that maybe a couple that have been touched on are the most basic/inescapable.  First, the fact that the two of you are in a close and (theoretically, of course) permanent relationship without having chosen each other or even formed each other in any way, and second, the inculturated (and probably accurate) feeling that on some level, they're always judging you and your adequacy as, essentially, their replacement.

 

Once we're adults, generally speaking there's no real reason for us to form a lasting, close relationship with someone that we're not fairly compatible with--except this one.  I say lasting and close because I think those both matter a lot--if the relationship were going to be temporary, we wouldn't care nearly as much--and if it weren't supposed to be close ("mother", for goodness sake), we probably also wouldn't care. If/when there are other people in my life--casual friends, neighbors, whatever--who are sufficiently different from me that we have to stay on the level of civility, then no one really cares.  That's fine and to be expected.  But with my MIL I always regret that we can't find our way to be closer, because dang it, we're family. But we don't choose our in-laws, and there's no guarantee whatsoever that we'll have anything in common or compatible belief systems.  My MIL is a saint of a MIL and grandma and a woman I can find plenty of reason to respect on a lot of levels, but we differ on too many fundamentals and I try to be accepting of the fact that ultimately, we'll never be "friends", just basically civil.  And there's no interaction between our differences, though I can't express this part well.  I differ from my mother on a lot of points, too, of course, some pretty basic, but I know what they are and I know how to just avoid them, without much extra effort on my part, because she raised me.  With my MIL, both of us are constantly walking on eggshells in an effort to not offend, and basically every time we're together, I have an amusing story of how I failed and almost certainly shocked my poor MIL with some statement or action or another to tell my husband when he gets home.  It's funny then, but it's also TIRING.  I think that actually all the same things irritate both my husband and I about both of our mothers, but, well, my mother is my mother, fundamentally, and his is his.  (Though you'll forgive me for being grateful that his mother figured out well before me that her son was very little like her and that she'd never really understand him and was big enough to just accept him.) 

 

The second thing I mentioned is the "judging her replacement" thing, which as far as I can tell is perfectly valid.  My MIL never says anything direct, never criticizes, not even passive-agressively, but sometimes the tongue-biting itself is palpable, you know?  I KNOW she thinks I'm not a very good housekeeper (which is valid enough on the one hand, and a good example of how biological and legal relationship is different.  My mother can understand that my standards differ radically from my reality because my health and energy levels are never what they should be, but to a MIL who hasn't seen these health problems up close, that's going to sound like an excuse at best).  She probably has problems with my parenting too.  Why wouldn't she?  I would, in her position.  We disagree, and while we can avoid it in conversation, it's gonna be obvious enough in practice.  Of course that's going to annoy her!

 

Those two points, for us, add up to a fairly tense relationship without need for any greater dysfunction, and those two dynamics are going to exist, I would think, in all but the luckiest of MIL-DIL relationships.  I wish it were otherwise.  My MIL drives up once a week (from an hour away) to help with Evelyn and around the house, and every time it's a mix of anticipation of the help and dread of the eggshell-walking for me.  Sigh.

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#25 of 43 Old 02-09-2011, 11:31 AM
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My mother outlaw is a culturally-inept drama harpie. She thinks her lifestyle preferences are the 'default' setting of humanity. You don't have to have a PhD in Ethics/Anthropolgy/Religious Studies to ask questions and adapt yourself a bit, but to meet her you'd never know it. When we told her of our first baby, instead of saying 'congrats', she demanded to know whose last name the baby would get. When I said 'mine', she stormed out of the room. She can kiss my butt. Does this provide insight to your original question? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#26 of 43 Old 02-09-2011, 02:45 PM
 
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Great post and replies. I think it often boils down to irrational jealousy. My MIL feels like I've taken her good son away from her. Our happiness upsets her and I think it's because she's not happy. She's pining away for a man (FIL) who she's been divorced from for over 20 years. She talks about him like he's the worst person on earth to anyone who'll listen but still has photos of him all over her apartment and when given the opportunity acts like they are still a couple.

 

In spite of the things she's done that have personally effected me, I would probably be able to be more friendly with her if I thought she had good qualites about her in spite of how she's treated me but truthfully, I don't like her. I don't think she's a good person and I think she's been a lousy mother to her children. Trying to make DH her defacto husband when her own husband left her. Normally, I feel a great deal of empathy for a woman whose husband leaves her but her personality is so insufferable, if I can barely take her for an hour at a time, I'm not sure how FL stood her for as long as he did and it's not like he's father of the year but MIL shared things with her children about their father that should really be kept between a man and a woman. Things that I am shocked my DH even knows. Exposing children to that info for the purpose of manipulating them is just horrible.

 

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#27 of 43 Old 02-09-2011, 03:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Adaline'sMama View Post

I think MIL's and DIL's have huge issues because MIL's often dont want to let go of their son and DIL's dont want another woman in their life that we have to answer to, explain things to, defend our beliefs to, and attempt to please. I know in my case, my MIL def. doesnt see me as her kid, but Im somehow supposed to treat her with the respect Id give my own parents.

  

 

This really is it for me, in terms of what seems to generally happen.  I have 2 MILs because DH's parents divorced when he was young, remarried and each had more kids.  So he's got mom and stepmom, dad and stepdad.  I'm very lucky because I love ALL of them, they really are all wonderful.

 

But I see it in so many families, the competition some MILs seem to feel with their DIL's because, as Adaline's Mama said, "No one is good enough for my perfect son!"  And also the mothering choices... seeing another woman parent MILs son's child I think brings up all this "Well, that's now how I did it, so it can't be right" competition.  I know some feel that from their own moms as well, but it seems rampant with MILs.

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#28 of 43 Old 02-10-2011, 12:20 AM
 
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Yeah, there is definitely a jealousy with my MIL.  She thinks I stole him from her.  If I hadn't come along, he'd still be living with her and would probably be supporting her financially now that she is retired.  This isn't true, this never would have been the case but I think she blames me for his joining the army.  I know she at least used to think (but probably still does think) that I am the reason he doesn't call her often.  I actually used to encourage him to call and email.  It was his choice not to.  No, had I not come along he still would have ran away to the military.  She doesn't know it but our getting together almost had him backing out of the Army because he didn't think it was right to leave me.  She ran him off and I could have made him stay.  She sees it exactly the opposite though.

 

As I said though in my last post, she is a sick woman who is seriously passive aggressive.  She can lay on a guilt trip literally just by saying hello.  It is the most ridiculous thing I have ever experienced and never would have believed is possible.  She just has this tone of voice though.. and it is her main tone of voice.  She has one other and rarely do you hear it.  It is a happier tone that actually sounds more normal and it only comes out when husband is in a good mood and willing to talk about memories and play her old games and eat the foods she is positive are his favorites because she doesn't get that he is no longer an 8 year old boy anymore.

 

She is stuck in the past and I think just blames me for it no longer existing.  For her sake though, I think she WANTS to like me.  She needs to be healthier I think to achieve that and she is unwilling to do what is necessary to be healthy.

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#29 of 43 Old 02-10-2011, 03:56 AM
 
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This:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adaline'sMama View Post

I think MIL's and DIL's have huge issues because MIL's often dont want to let go of their son and DIL's dont want another woman in their life that we have to answer to, explain things to, defend our beliefs to, and attempt to please. I know in my case, my MIL def. doesnt see me as her kid, but Im somehow supposed to treat her with the respect Id give my own parents.


And this:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodchick View Post

I think, in general, some of the tension comes from the lack of an organic relationship.  The only reason I know my MIL is because I married her son.  DH and I met while he was out of state at college and she was 3 states away.  DH and I had time to forge a relationship slowly,  but I was forced into a familial relationship with my In-laws rather quickly.  There wasn't time to get to know each other bit by bit.


I also think that MIL's are so used to seeing themselves in the role of mother, they sometimes forget that their children's children are not their children by extension.

 

My MIL is generally pretty respectful, but even so, there are times when she forgets that she is not the main decision-maker when it comes to DD. I'm talking little things - eg DD might ask for something potentially off-limits (eg candy), and MIL will say yes without asking me first, even though I'm right there. In my case, it's pretty minor, but I know many MILs do it on a much grander scale.

 

Annoying as it is, I think it's somewhat understandable - imagine you've been the mom in charge for several decades, then suddenly someone 30 years your junior is in charge of a baby and wants to do things their way, with no input from you. I can see how that might be difficult to get used to.

 

Another thing - I have a lot of trouble discussing issues with my in-laws. If my mother & I are getting on each other's nerves, we have no qualms about talking it over. If my MIL is bugging me, I feel like I have to be polite so I just grin and bear it.


Mama to a preschooler and a baby.

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#30 of 43 Old 02-10-2011, 01:28 PM
 
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OP, is it possible that you are irritated by the things your MIL does because she's doing them with an expectation of something in return?  An unwanted gift from a friend may be no big deal, but from someone who is seeking attention or gratitude or love or more time with you it can be very irritating!  Not really a gift at all in other words. 

 

I'm surprised by how many feel jealousy from their MIL's.  I guess I just didn't think it was that common.  I am blessed to have a very emotionally healthy MIL.  There are habits I have from my parents that I am sure drive her a little nuts when we are visiting them (as in staying at their house, we don't live close).  They are the same things that drove dh nuts when we were newly married but dh and I have had the chance to work them out. 

 

I do remember when ds was just a few days old, my MIL (who is an IBCLC) looked at me nursing him and sighed and said she was really relieved that I was breastfeeding!  She said she could handle a lot of different parenting decisions, but she'd have had a really hard time being polite if I didn't want to breastfeed. 


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