Several years ago when I was still married, I had in-laws that were not very kind or inclusive. While they did many things that could include them into the halls of Etiquette Hell, there was one Christmas instance that stood out.
My son had just turned 6 months old and it was his first Christmas. My husband and I brought him over to my Mother-in-Law and Father-In-Law’s house Christmas day for dinner and family. My mother-in-law did not care for me and had made a point since my husband and I had married of never inviting me to family functions, only telling my husband that he “could bring that girl” if he wanted. It was Christmas, and we had a new baby, so my husband and I were hopeful that this would start to change.
The extended family was coming over that evening, and his brothers had also been by the night before. We had not been able to come to both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so had chosen to come for Christmas Day to see the extended family we rarely saw. We made sure to plan to come early so that we could visit with his parents and brothers, but mother-in-law had decided that everyone else would open gifts the night before. We arrived an hour and a half before the cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. (as planned, we were right on time) and put our gifts under the tree. After we had been there for about 45 minutes, I told my mother-in-law that I would need to nurse my son and excused myself, telling her that it would only take about 20 minutes.
The moment I was down the hallway, she drug all of the gifts out from the tree for my husband and baby and told my husband that it was time to open gifts. He was under the impression (somehow) that *I* thought he should get that out of the way while I was nursing our son. He thought that it was strange she was rushing him to finish, but just went along with it. When I came out of the back hallway and saw all of the open gifts 25 minutes later, my face must have registered shock. My mother-in-law threw me a smug look and walked out of the room while my husband’s face showed that he realized I had once again been cut out of a family moment. He came over and whispered how sorry he was as I focused on the baby and tried not to let myself get upset by yet another omission.
Later that evening as the buffet style dinner was being served, I realized that everything -and I mean EVERYTHING, even the side dishes- all contained noticeable quantities of a serious allergen of mine. Something she was well aware of as I had twice before been given this food item at her house (and that she had been told about numerous other times). It’s a serious allergy that requires me to carry an Epi-pen for potential anaphylaxis. It’s also not an item you would expect to find in everything including the macaroni and cheese. I went into the kitchen to see if there was anything else I could get. It’s a large galley style kitchen and she didn’t see a cousin come in from the other side as I explained that I just wanted to see if I could grab a peanut butter sandwich or something. She then handed me a quarter of a head of lettuce and a tomato and glared at me, before sniping that if “just had” to eat then I could make myself a salad with those two things. The cousin’s face was one of complete horror.
So that’s my Ehell Christmas story. Cut out of opening gifts, attempted poisoning, and an offering of leftover lettuce and a tomato for dinner when caught. 1006-15
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Wow!!! That sounds horrible. I’d have been in tears. And then I’d never visit their home again. And too bad if it meant they didn’t get to see the baby. Not that I am advocating depriving children of a relationship with their grandparents, but if they are going to be like that, then they have cut themselves off by their own design.
I do advocate depriving a child a relationship with this grandmother- as it is obvious she has issues to work through that young children (probably) should not have to be exposed to. I read this hoping that the author ended the story “and that’s why she hasn’t seen her grandchildren more than 3 times in 4 years”.
Yes. Also, kids aren’t stupid, and sooner or later, they’ll figure out the score, and stop wanting to visit with Grandma Toxic. That’s what happened in my family, anyway.
Agreed. Once the children get older they will realize what’s going on. It happened in my family. My Grandma and Grandpa are both extremely toxic. It takes every thing I can muster to handle a visit with them and my siblings feel the same way as well. We would completely cut them out of our lives, but we feel like we have to have to stay in touch because my Father (it’s his parents) passed away a few years ago.
I wouldn’t advocate depriving children of grandparents when the grandparents are decent human beings. It is more than OK to limit kids’ exposure to people who undermine their parents and their relationships.
OP: please please tell us that either MIL saw the error of her ways and figured out how to become a respectable human being… or, if not, that she is now unwelcome in your home and your lives.
OP began her letter by saying “when I was still married” – so I assume she no longer has to have any contact with the ex-MIL.
So did you pack everything up and leave? Or did you let your mother-in-law continue to ruin your Christmas Day and your baby’s first Christmas?
This seems very much like shaming the OP.
1. Why did your husband not speak up when the gifts were unwrapped?
2. Why the (e)hell didn’t he demand food for you when he realized you couldn’t eat any dishes. You were nursing for crying out loud. Feeding mommy that feeds the baby trumps Christmas peace.
3. Why on earth does he let his mother get away with this at all and why were you there at all?
Marie – That’s exactly what I thought, too. OP didn’t have a MIL problem, she had a husband problem. You marry your partner and the in-laws are included but on the sidelines; you can still be just as married without ever interacting with the in-laws, if that’s necessary.
In this case, husband should have said something right from the beginning; to start, if his mother couldn’t refer to his wife by her name then they wouldn’t be able to visit. Then he could easily have gone to nursing wife on the pretense he just wanted to see how she and baby were doing, and asked wife if she was okay with not opening the presents herself. And he most certainly should have taken his wife and child back home and fed them when he realized that she had nothing to eat.
Clearly, husband was as contemptuous of his wife as his mother was. And I would assume that was the main reason for the divorce.
When I was first married, my MIL and Aunt IL tried that stuff but at smaller events. My DH never let it stand. We share the same birthday. DH told asked them not to forget to put my name on the cake as well as his. They didn’t so he took a knife out of the kitchen and carved my name on the cake. This was before I even noticed. He told them, “Don’t be rude to my wife.”
The OP may have asked herself the same questions 1,2 & 3 and it may have impacted the marriage. It’s strange to read this. I just last night had to confess to my DH that I nearly left him simply because I wanted his family out of my life. Now that I’ve successfully put a great deal of distance between myself and them, they are now punishing him.
I wish in-laws would realize that when they try to damage or break up a marriage between loving spouses, they are showing how little love they have for their own children, in trying to bring unhappiness and loneliness on them. Possessiveness + Control Love
Yes this! I think what she has is a husband problem not just a mother in law problem . My husband wouldn’t stand for this
My total and complete sympathies, OP. Since your DH caught in all glory what his mom did to you, hopefully he will stand up to her. If not, then just the three of you make your own plans and see if she will change. Some will, some won’t. If DH doesn’t have your back after this, he never will… I lucked out in I got the best MIL and FIL, but the siblings, are the mixed bag. OP I hope this is the last time your MIL is allowed to do this to you.
Note that the beginning of this story is “when I was still married.” Hopefully she dumped her not-so-DH’s butt after this and his non-support.
Yeah, at five am I missed ‘when I was still married’. Still, that is absolutely miserable. Hope OP’s life is much better without that. I don’t carry an epi but am cursed with celiac so sending me into the hurt-bin with food is too easy.
The story begins with “Several years ago when I was still married…” It seems that, between the evil MIL and the husband not standing up to his mother, OP’s marriage was an unsurprising casualty. I wonder if this story was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Well, OP did note that it was when she was *still* married, so I’m guessing he never did have her back…
I’m really upset that your husband didn’t stand up for you. I once had my ex sister in law tell me I could wait in the basement until Christmas was over because “Christmas is a family thing.”
The way his family treated me was one of the major reasons I left.
That must be one of my sister in laws. She’s hated me since I started dating her baby brother and after almost 40 years *I’m Still Here* and she still hasn’t coped with it.
bahaha! I think she was at my wedding to her step-fathers step-son (from his first marriage, she is the daughter from his second wife), so no blood-relations anyway…
She turned to her under-age-drunk sister (and we’ll all guess who was getting her the cocktails, shall we?) and said I would be ‘no relation of mine’ – right in front of my very overprotective sister – who has a spine of diamond – who asked with the biggest of confused eyes and asked “and who would you be, anyway?” the not-s-i-l’s little sister then slurred that I was more a sister to her than the actual sister was… my dear darling sister then took the little sister off for non-alcoholic cocktails until she sobered up somewhat…
My mother and sister didn’t tell me about this for several months, thinking the not-s-i-l would come around, but were beaten to the jump by the little step-sister-in-law, who confessed, in tears, telling me how embarrassed and sorry she was by her sister, she seemed a bit happier when I found it hilarious…
I have better things to worry about, like weeds in my rose garden, she’ll come round, she has too – because I’m just delightful! 😀
oh Lady that is horrible I had to read that twice…what a horrible woman
When I first started dating my husband, he invited me to the family Thanksgiving dinner (which, in Canada, occurs in October). As it happened, his sister “Lucy” had brought her new boyfriend, “Ted”, as well.
Someone said “Hey, since we’re all here, let’s pick names for Family Secret Santa.” The younger sister, “Rachel”, said “Okay – but we’re not going to include Ted or Shalamar, right?” Lucy: “Um, why not?” “Well, because they’re not family. And maybe by Christmas …” She trailed off, suddenly realizing that all of her siblings were staring at her in dismay. (She had obviously intended to add “Maybe by Christmas they won’t be around anymore.” Joke was on her – it’s over 25 years later, and both Ted and I are still around!)
OMG, my FATHER said this to me one year. He told me not to come over on Christmas until they’d already had their family dinner. (He was remarried and had a replacement daughter who was much younger than me.) I was stunned.
Some families are just evil.
This is really terrible. Why do you guys continue to go to MIL’s house?
What are the consequences for her horrible behaviour? I vote decreasing visits until she can act like a proper host.
Where is hubby in all of this? Where is everyone? You say people look horrified at the things she says, but no one enough to call her out on it? This is exactly where hubby needs to step in. I mean, you’re breastfeeding her grandchild and she doesn’t even care if you get to feed yourself. On Christmas even.
Exactly! Why is everyone so cowed by this evil witch?
That mother-in-law has the emotional maturity of a 6th grader. And I apologize to any mature, thoughtful 6th-graders who might read this. I hope the OP does not have to go to that house again while her MIL is in hell mode. Sounds like MIL enjoys being nasty. It’s gonna cost her, eventually.
The OP says “when I was still married” so I’m assuming this is the ex-MIL. The fact that the OP is no longer married doesn’t surprise me at all.
*Kindergarten. You mean Kindergarten.
The OP did say that this occurred while she was “still” married, so I think it’s pretty safe to say she doesn’t have to go to the MIL’s house ever again if she doesn’t want to. 🙂
Careful reader me not.
I really hope that was your last Christmas with them.
And if it wasn’t, I’m not sure why you keep putting up with your spineless husband and his family. And yes, I am going to call your husband spineless since clearly he didn’t put a stop to any of this early, you don’t imply that he ever said anything to his mother (only apologized to you, that doesn’t count sorry) and is willing to let you be practically tortured and shut out of the family.
The sad thing is, she’s willing to cut her own grand child out of sweet family moments in order to be vindictive toward you (i.e., not even waiting for him to be there to see his new toys and enjoy that with him). If she’s going to be poisonous to you, don’t forget in the future that she will absolutely be poisonous to your child (even if not directly) to get at you. Don’t let this woman into your son’s life to do that to him. I’m so sorry that this has happened to you. No one deserves to be treated like this.
I just realized everyone talking about the fact that she is not around them anymore. Hopefully her son doesn’t have to be around them when he sees his dad 🙁
I swear, that dinner is just a couple steps removed from attempted murder.
ONLY saving grace was the allergen was visible. Being celiac, you can make me very ill with a very very small amount of flour. (the labels that say ‘processed in a facility that also processes wheat products’ is enough to curse me, I can’t see or taste the amount that will make me sick). Still massively rotten to do. Wonder what the additive was as OP said she mentioned making a peanut butter sandwich (peanuts are a common and can be very vicious) that was out of place in macaroni and cheese….
I’d hazard a guess that it was something like peppers, mushrooms, shellfish, or–assuming sweet–pineapple. All relatively easy to spot, and as far as I know all relatively easy to slip into most dishes even if they aren’t common in most.
Wow. I am not surprised you are no longer married to this person. Horrible doesn’t begin to cover it, that is genuinely criminal. What an evil woman.
Hope you have better luck with future relationships, and that you’re enjoying raising your child.
First of all, MASSIVE sympathy to the OP. I thought MY in-laws were bad.
I’ve noticed in a lot of horror stories about awful people over the years, that there’s a shared sense of the people around the awful thing happening that OF COURSE So-and-so is doing something awful, but we can’t say anything because we might upset So-and-so. Somehow, we’ve taken the idea of politeness and turned it into an inability/unwillingness to stand up to the most obnoxious person in the room. That person runs roughshod over the rest of us, but we don’t want “make a scene,” or “disrespect our elders.”
Maybe it’s time we started.
It’s called “enabling bullying”.
We, as a society, are really good at it.
There’s also such a thing as “proxy bullying,” where, by enabling the bullying and claiming to be protecting their feelings, people are really letting the bully carry out their inner agendas/fantasies of bullying the target … or just bullying anyone as a catharsis of their own inner problems.
Yes. This story is beyond “Assertiveness Heck” and well into the territory of letting the toxic person run the show.
No wonder you are not still married. What a horrible family. My condolences on the ending of your marriage. Also my congratulations for the same.
You didn’t have a MIL issue, you had a husband issue. Any husband and father that would allow his wife and mother of his child to be treated in such a manner needs a good arse-kicking himself. I noticed your post started off “when I was still married”, so I assume you figured this out and made the decision to end the marriage.
I don’t have the warmest relationship with my husband’s dad and stepmother (husband’s parents divorced and each remarried). Her family was always standoffish when we came by for the holidays, even though the stepmother had invited us. She was also standoffish when her children were around. I told husband we didn’t have to go there for the holidays since we were adults and her invitation was not a summons. We never visited at the holiday again.
Stories like this just reaffirm that no one really has an in law problem- more of a spouse problem. I would have declined the invite as soon as my mom told me I could bring “that woman” if I wanted.
Although it’s moot, as others have pointed out, that it appears the OP is no longer the DIL of this shrew.
Wow. Your mother in law’s behaviour is truly unacceptable, but your husband isn’t exactly bathing himself in glory here. Allowing the gifts to be opened while you are nursing his child? Allowing you to go hungry while you are nursing his child. At Christmas??
He needs to grow a spine (polite, or otherwise), and soon.
It looks like they’re divorced now.
Thank goodness for that!
OP, are you me? I’ve written before about how my MIL insisted that we get to her house for 10:00 a.m. on Christmas morning for opening presents – which meant a 2.5 hour drive with a small baby – only to find that she’d gone ahead and had everyone open their gifts without us. She, too, has a bad habit of serving me a food that I can’t eat. (In my case, it “only” makes me throw up – I’m not severely allergic like you.) It’s happened too many times for me to believe it’s a coincidence.
If your spouse had a spine then they’d tell their parents that they wouldn’t see their child or grandchild till they learned to behave.
My husband isn’t good at confrontations, but he was FURIOUS that day. He took his mother into the kitchen and demanded to know why they’d opened gifts without us. She said airily “Oh, the kids couldn’t wait.” (The “kids” she was referring to were my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who were 26 and 21 at the time.) Anyone else would have noticed how upset my husband and I were, realized that they’d screwed up big-time, and apologized. Not her!
About the only reason why we didn’t turn on our heels and march out was that it was a 2.5 hour drive home, we were tired and hungry, and we had nothing in the house for Christmas dinner.
I was chatting about this article with my other cousin (who no longer sees her in laws for more petty reasons like this story than I can list). She too has an intolerance (to eggs) rather than a full allergy. They last time they spent more than ~10 minutes with her in-laws ( I understand he see them sometimes without her but never goes to family events- he was apparently tricked into attending a birthday party for MIL but left after 30 minutes saying he’ll be back once MIL had apologized for her behaviour) was on her husband’s 30th birthday. For the 30th they had a party at the ILs house and MIL said something along the lines of she had “used eggs in quite a few thing but can’t remember what, probably safer for you to go get some fast food for yourself”. In other words get out, feed yourself while we go on without you. Cousin had enough and apparently said “this should be an interesting day for you then!” and proceeded to eat away happily. MIL then was in a huff for about an hour and then furious- cousin didn’t make it to the bathroom in time when her intolerance kicked in and proceeded to vomit all over the downstairs hall, stairs and upstairs hall… a drastic way to go but cousin is better off these days without that woman in her life.
Like the person that decided my banana issues were ‘if I would just TRY them I would LIKE them’ and managed to get some in me at her little party. I swallowed, got the o-crud look, bent over and unloaded a drink and half a plate on her feet. I came up, said ‘there were bananas in that’ and handed her the half a plate I had and left. Killed her party right there. She mended that fence later but I’m glad it wasn’t epi-pen or fatal reaction–just reviewing inputs rather instantly.
I have an intolerance to eggs, too – although I CAN eat them if they’ve been baked in something. If I have them “as is”, the smell/taste/texture make me sick. One time my MIL had us over for lunch and served tuna melts. I took one bite and said “Um, is there hard-boiled egg in the tuna?” She answered “Of course!”, as though doing otherwise was unheard of. I pointedly handed my plate to my husband and said “I’ll just have the soup.”
(My husband, God bless him, didn’t notice anything wrong. When I said later “Didn’t you wonder why I wasn’t eating the tuna melt?”, he said “I just thought you weren’t hungry.” Siiiigh. I love the guy, but he can be a bit obtuse sometimes.)
That was a brilliant decision! If they want you sick, give them buckets of sick to clean up and walk away like a boss.
As it’s become a bit of a “thing” in this to say why MIL’s are / weren’t nice. Her reason is my cousin and her husband don’t want kids, and MIL blames my cousin. They got together when they were ~25 and married by ~28. Shortly before the wedding MIL found out they did not want kids. She didn’t try to stop the wedding believing (wrongly) that they would change their minds. Apparently after the honeymoon MIL made some comment about them wanting to get on and have kids and cousin’s husband put her straight.
The irony is that the real reason he does not want kids is because of ILs: he was her first born and she had him at a very young age (18-20ish?) and FIL is apparently a typical workaholic, absent and ineffectual father. His parents were almost broke at the time and he was kind of “a burden”, 10-15 years later when they had money they had 3 more kids. Husband went to feeling like a burden but gradually getting nicer things as the family situation got better to not getting nice things because they needed new baby /kids toys etc and he was forced in his teenage years to stay home, instead of seeing friends (often staying home while MIL and FIL went out), and babysit until he went away to University, but she’d moan about constantly being stuck home every night with the kids and when he was home he’d end up babysitting again. Overall MIL kind of taught him that kids get in the way of you living your life how you want to- and he told her that. But MIL wants grandkids and blamed cousin generally for two years made her feelings known in various nasty ways (she was apparently perfectly normal before that) but has had little interaction with her eldest son since the sick incident.
And you still go over there? I hope not. I hope your husband has your back too because if he doesn’t then your husband is spineless.
Anon, if that message was meant for me, the answer is no – it took a few more years, but I finally put my foot down and said “No more Christmas Days with your family. We’re having our Christmas Day with just the four of us (husband, two daughters, and me).” And oh boy, did we hear about that. The first year we did it, MIL called our house on December 25 and called my husband a “bad son”. She made him cry. 🙁
Is this the same family where you previously mentioned “Rachel” wanted to exclude you and “Ted” from the Secret Santa because she hoped you’d both be gone by the holidays? I think I can see where she gets it from.
Amanda H, yep! Same family. As it happened, I got “Rachel”‘s name in the Secret Santa one year (can’t remember if it was that same year or not) – she’d asked for a plain red sweatshirt. Finding one was a bit of a pain, but I managed. She then threw a tantrum because it was “the wrong shade of red”. She was in her early 20’s at the time.
And you continued to see these people? You could justifiably accuse her of attempted murder, for putting something you were dangerously allergic to in every dish there. You should have left the house and never gone back, in all seriousness. I can give your husband a sort of pass for the gift thing, but there is no possible justification for him sitting silently while his mother attempts to poison you. It’s one thing to be cold and not very friendly, but this is outright malice and cruelty to a staggering degree.
I agree with everyone who has said how unsurprised they are that OP is evidently no longer married to the husband in question.
I can *just about* see how he could be railroaded into believing that opening their joint presents in the 20 minutes that she had to be out of the room was the right idea, especially since it does seem that everyone in this family meekly goes along with whatever Mama says without questioning it (it seems that FIL didn’t demur to the present-opening, and the cousin seemingly didn’t feel able to pipe up ‘For heaven’s sake, Aunt Jane, give Leila something decent to eat!’). But when the deliberately inedible meal was served, any decent husband would have stood up and said ‘We have to go to get Leila some dinner. Get your coat, darling, we’ll go home and fry some ham and eggs or something .’
I wonder if OP could have left with the baby at dinner time? I would have if I could, husband with me or not.
I would have waited an hour on Christmas for a cab if I could afford it. If I couldn’t get out of there, there would be no way I would be able to stay calm.
I don’t think I would have mentioned anything to MIL who is past hope, but my husband would have gotten a serious talking to.
>I would have waited an hour on Christmas for a cab if I could afford it.<
OP extends hand toward hubby. "Car keys. Now. I'm leaving, since it's apparent that I'm not welcome here. Are you coming with me? Anyone else want to join me?"
If hubby refuses to hand over the keys, *then* OP gets a cab.
Of course, this assumes that hubby, not OP, has the car keys.
Or there wasn’t a hidden key on the car? If there was then OP should have left with the baby to go find food, and maybe just go home and leave her husband there. His family would have gloated and he would have had to figure out how to get home… and he could have sorted all the nuances of that one (possibly even buying a clue) in person. A woman nursing needs calories, she needs fluids and she needs more calories.
This is horrifying all around.
Your husband should have had your back and told his mom to knock it off or he’d never darken her doorstep again.
It is hard for me to believe that people like the MIL exist in the world. Too many times things aren’t so black and white. A couple of points: nobody made a huge fuss about this behavior because 1. It’s Christmas, 2. Rarely seen and visited relatives are there, 3. trying to fit into an unwelcoming family – making a scene isn’t going to help. Perhaps there was nothing in the world the OP did to deserve this type of treatment – but maybe there is another side. Is there some pretty damning reason the MIL hates the OP so much??? The MIL just sounds so over the top evil that I’m wondering what deserves this type of treatment?
Nothing. Nothing deserves this type of treatment. Even if OK had done some awful unforgiven act, the correct course would no t be to passive-aggressively try to kill her. It would be to simply not invite them. Both of them, not just the OP.
The damning reason my grandmother hated me with a vengeance was because I had the nerve being born a female. My mother was never good enough for her precious son and no one was ever good enough for my wonderful brother.
My father’s mother’s reason for hating my mom?
She had a child out of wedlock. A child that my father knew all about (they got together after she was very noticeably pregnant) and he adopted that child, raising the child as his own because my father loves my mother so much and adores kids, it was just what he chose to do.
And I found out years later that even her own siblings thought she was a royal pain the toosh, horrible person who LOVED getting them into trouble from childhood through adulthood, just a meddlesome witch to the very core from the start.
Some people are just nasty evil creatures. You cross them because they don’t like your face, the fact you’re with their “perfect, precious son and no woman is good enough for your son!!!”…
This woman also hated women in general. She had all sons and thank God she did because she treated all women with nastiness in her jealous old heart.
Your Father’s Mom sounds like mine. She hated my mother because she came into the relationship with him with a three year old child (me). My parents were married for 30+ years before my Dad passed away. And, just as you said, my Grandmother’s only sibling thinks she’s a horrible person as well.
BH, me too! My grandmother hated both my mother and me for the same reason. When Mum and Dad got engaged, Nana told my mother “Roger is taking on a huge responsibility, you know.” Mum said politely “He’s a grown man, and it’s his choice.”
I guess you believe that all serial killers are good and decent people too and are just misunderstood.
Yes, there are people like this in the world, and it’s less because “evil” and more because “mental illness gone unchecked (such as narcissistic personality disorder) and since everyone has put up with it for years it’s become normal to them and they don’t have the guts to do anything about it”.
Sorry, didn’t mean that in reply to you Becca, that was in reply to Shoegal.
If someone did something bad enough that I would think about stopping them from eating in my house, I would tell them that they were not welcome in my home. If they were dating someone I would otherwise welcome, I still wouldn’t say “you can bring that girl around”: I’d either tell my friend “Darth Vader is not welcome under my roof, even though you’re married now” or I would grit my teeth, let the person in, and feed them. I wouldn’t put something that would poison Darth in everything I cooked, and when they tried to fend for themselves by going into the kitchen for a sandwich, imply that it was unreasonable for them to want to eat.
My grandmother hated her own son (my father). When asked by her son why she hated him, she replied “because of you, I had to get married to your father”. By extension, she hated anyone Dad loved – my mother, and his children (us). It does happen, sadly.
Good lord and he didn’t cut her off asap?
No. That conversation took place at Dad’s 21st birthday. It’s a complicated dynamic, and I don’t quite understand it myself (because my parents are both stable and normal people) but Dad was brought up in a very dysfunctional family (as was Mum) and there is a certain yearning, I think, to be ‘good enough’ for a parent’s love. By the time she (Dad’s mother) died he was completely emotionally divorced from her and had not seen her or spoken to her for several decades. But it takes time to come to that.
The Christmas that sparked the whole process (Dad’s journey to disconnect emotionally from his mother) was a ‘fun’ one. I only vaguely remember it but Mum has told us about it. Apparently all of us grandchildren were sat down in a row on Dad’s mother’s kitchen floor to receive our presents from ‘Nana’. My cousins were given large, expensive gifts. My brother and I were seated (be her) at the end of the row. I (about 8 years old at the time) was given a cheap, broken, plastic toy boat. To my 3 year old brother she said “I don’t have anything for you” and walked away.
That was the last time we (my mother, my siblings and myself) saw or spoke to her. Dad maybe interacted with her less than a handful of times between then and her death.
Bet she never figured out why she never seen you and your brother again, either. That was just horribly miserable.
My MIL was also the “No one’s good enough for my son” type. All I had to do was marry him. I wasn’t good enough, I was after something, I ‘must have had a lot of other men’ (I was 22 and DH was my first serious relationship, which she knew, she was just being nasty)…in company she’d make remarks about the other much more suitable women she wished DH had married. When she got me alone, the acid nasty remarks and verbal attacks were continuous, but they would stop as soon as DH or FIL walked into the room.
All you need to ‘deserve’ this treatment is to marry the son or daughter of someone who can’t let go of their child, someone with no other focal point in their life. Heaven help us, our son is going through the same thing with DIL’s mother. He’s after status by marrying her daughter (our families are of equal social standing, educationally and income-wise as well, so what she’s suspicious of is anyone’s guess) , her daughter could have done SO much bettrer, he must have tricked her into marriage, on and on and on it goes.
In both cases, everyone knows the mother is a piece of work, but they are all so used to it, and have given up so long ago that they don’t even register her remarks. MIL , once angered, would have hissy fits for days to weeks at a time, the whole point was not stepping on that land mine to set it off, ie. , let her say and do anything she wanted and just ignore it because it’s easier than dealing with triggering her rage, and the aftermath. DIL does the same thing, “She’s always been like this…I just ignore what she says” . Easy if you’ve been steeped in it for decades, but for a new member of the family, it’s a shocking fall down a rabbit hole. The original family members, after being conditioned to take it/ignore it for decades, aren’t fazed by it, it goes right over their heads. As soon as Mother starts harping, they all tune out.
There truly truly are people like this in the world. I have a mother who does those kinds of things to me and far worse. She isn’t allowed in my life anymore. When I tell people what she’s done to me over the years–including dragging bags of rotted garbage that had been sitting outside for months into my living room just be mean–people are stunned. They usually don’t believe me. Thank God for therapists and support groups. There are in fact mothers, relatives and other cruel people who DO do these types of things. Repeatedly.
Many of them probably have personality disorders. My therapist thought my mother was a narcissist and a psychopath. Fun stuff.
I notice that the beginning of the story says “When I was still married”.
I hope that OP is in much better company now, and that any present or future relationships she has don’t come with crazy in laws.
Putting the allergen in all the food could have KILLED OP if it weren’t obviously in there. That’s awful. I don’t understand how your husband couldn’t have said something.
Pretty easy to see why this submission starts with “when I was still married”. It doesn’t sound as though OP’s husband ever had her back on this. The FIRST time MIL came out with the “could bring that girl” stuff, Husband should have made it very clear that “that girl” was his WIFE, and that if MIL could not treat her as part of the family, then he would not be attending any family functions.
The part of this that boggles my mind is the whole buffet dinner situation. I can almost understand how someone could inadvertently put something in ONE dish that OP couldn’t eat. But to put that ingredient in EVERY dish – when you’ve been told multiple times that your DIL is dangerously allergic – speaks to a degree of malice that I can’t even begin to comprehend. Had I been the OP, that would have been the point at which I got my coat, bundled up my baby, told the husband “I’m leaving, you can stay if you want” – and driven home.
I’m pretty sure it was on this site that I read about a woman how was always violently ill after coming home from dinner at her in-laws. After she put that together with the fact that MIL was always very specific about which plate of food was hers, she realized that her MIL was in fact purposely making her sick! Don’t think she ever proved it, but I do believe she’s also divorced!
I can’t comprehend how anyone could be so cruel to their own son’s spouse. I thank God for my awesome MIL every day!
It was a Prudie letter. She ended up surreptitiously switching her plate with her husband’s, and when they got home he was violently ill and she was fine. At that point it became clear that he had known about the poisoning, and she got herself out of the relationship as fast as she could.
I recall that one, but I believe it was Dear Prudence on Slate.
And the LW got her evidence when she switched plates with her husband and he got sick instead of her. And despite that damning evidence, he still sided with mommy over his wife.
There may have been something like this on ehell, but the story definitely went down on Dear Prudence.
The OP’s husband ostensibly refused to believe that his mother was trying to poison her, even though she always got violently sick and threw up every time after eating at her MIL’s.
Finally the OP in this case was invited to a buffet at MIL’s, and figured it would be safe to eat there on that day. When the party started OP realized that the table was set with place cards, and each person’s place was set with a cup of special dipping sauce, in addition to the cutlery. OP secretly switched her sauce with her husband’s.
On the way home OP told her husband about the switch. He became enraged and said something like, “You’re trying to poison me!” Of course he became violently ill, and the OP filed for divorce.
I always wondered whether there was “the rest of the story,” whether the OP was extremely wealthy, or whether the husband had a large insurance policy on her life.
Yikes. I thought it was going to be that she always ‘swapped’ her food with DH from then on, BUT HE KNEW 😮 Some people deserve to be alone and miserable for their entire lives.
Here’s a link to the letter to Prudie.
The wife did not tell her husband on the way home that she had switched the dishes. She waited until the following day, after he got sick. He didn’t accuse her of trying to poison him. He just got very angry and full of hatred because she finally had proof that he couldn’t deny that her MIL was trying to make her very sick.
Thank you for the link, now I have a some hundred letters to read!
What an awful woman. If it were me, I’d console myself that if she’s that vindictive, then she lives every day in a hell f her own making. Leave her to it.
That sucks, OP. I have been married for close to 20 years and have had many similar problems with my in laws over the years. The final straw was when his family planned a big special event on a day that conflicted with a holiday that I celebrate that they don’t. When I pointed out that their event conflicted with my holiday they told me that they knew, and knew that meant I wouldn’t be attending their event, but they were holding it that day anyway. Luckily, my husband has my back and he didn’t attend their event either. And when I told him that my new opinion was that if I wasn’t good enough to attend their events, then I wasn’t good enough to throw them either, so they should never expect to come to anything in my house, he agreed to that too. It has been lovely.
Bravo on your lovely shiny spine, and congratulations that your husband is on your side.
One Christmas my husband’s daughter told her two children, in front of me, that they were not to call me “grandma” because I was not a “blood relative” and besides they already had enough grandmothers. They in turn asked me what they could call me then. I told them to call me by my first name. What else could I do at that point? Strange (and sad) aside – after the next Christmas I ended up as their guardian and raised them until they were adults.
My little girl told my step-MIL that I told her that she was a not a blood relative. I had to explain to SMIL that the conversation was about my dd’s various ethnic backgrounds. My dd thought she was Japanese as well because my nephew’s wife was Japanese. I them explained about blood relatives and relatives by marriage and ran off a list of relatives by marriage. I hope SMIL understood but I doubt it.
Your little girl’s confusion is very cute. It reminds me of a family that is close to ours. The white parents adopted a Korean boy when he was a baby. A couple years later, they gave birth to a daughter. There was an time when they had to explain to their daughter that she was not also a Korean boy like the older brother she adored.
I think I, too, understand that “When I was still married…” phrase.
Talk about a M-I-L from hell!
I’m seeing a lot of assuming going on about the reason OP is no longer married…
Anyways, my goodness. What horrible which of an in-law, can’t imagine how someone could behave like that.
The OP opened the submission saying, “Several years ago when I was still married”. It’s not assuming if it’s specifically stated.
I don’t see where it says this was the reason they’re no longer married.
How does it matter? Sometimes the desire to have something to say can run ahead of the ability to say something worthwhile.
I’m sorry you had to deal with jerks. Give it up. Now that you have a baby, stay home and make up your own traditions.
I always wonder what in-laws like this think they will get out of their behavior. My mother is like this with my sister-in-law which I find horrendous and baffling. When I ask her what the point is, my mother just huffs and puffs and says SIL is trying to separate my brother from the family. I try to point out that my mother’s behavior is the alienating factor but she shuts me down. For many reasons related to that kind of behavior, my mother often finds herself alone on holidays.
I have the same issue with my mother towards my b-i-l, nothing the poor guy does is correct – he’s a chef, but she still critiques his cooking, to the point he really doesn’t like cooking around her – not for her, as she won’t even eat it.
I have actually got to the point that I will swap out food on her plate (no allergies or anything like that) and when she compliments the other cook, which she’ll do while staring at my poor b-i-l, I’ll quietly mention it was actually b-i-l’s she ate. (okay, a small part of me enjoys the look on her face)
He makes such an effort, and my sister will not put up with her antics, but mother is missing out on her only grand children due to my sister saying if mother can’t behave, she will not bring the children for the holidays.
Not-so-DH should have nipped this behavior in the bud when OP was referred to as “that girl”. It is easy to see why she is no longer married and I hope this was the one that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.As for the ex-MIL. once a mean girl, always a mean girl.
This is absolutely sickening. My deepest sympathy to OP. I’m glad she is not married to that spineless “man” anymore. He did not stand up for his wife at anytime during this fiasco. In fact, no one did. Not even the cousin who witnessed her bad treatment in the kitchen. This MIL is beyond redemption. Hopefully, the baby will never have contact with her.
I’m just dying to know what the allergen was that now-ex-MIL managed to get into every single dish even though it wouldn’t usually be in some of them. OP, are you willing to share? I’m picturing your ex-MIL, like, sprinkling diced-up shellfish into the mac & cheese, or putting eggs in the green beans…
There’s only one way of dealing with people like this. Don’t go there anymore. If you think it would help, you could have a heart to heart talk that there needs to be an improvement of treatment. Change or no more visits. I believe in fostering good relationships with family, but when someone is blatantly insulting, if you continue put up with it, you send the message that what they are doing is okay.
If this is how Grandma acts, the child is better off not having contact.
And a husband needs to put his foot down.
The more of these horror stories I read, the more thankful I am to be an orphan, single and childless.
One wonders why these horrors choose Christmas as the perfect opportunity to spread hate and discontent among their relations, but their instinct for it is unerring and they hit the bull’s eye every time.
It reminds me of the time my cousin brought her twenty-one year old son, whom I have never met, to Christmas Eve dinner. He announced at dinner that he wished his grandfather’s life-long friend was “dead with a stake through her heart”-a woman he had never met, but who his mother was afraid her father would marry and decrease her inheritance.
At the opening of gifts, the lad told his grandfather he should defecate on my gift to him. He didn’t like my university although he had dropped out of high school. I had given uncle a university baseball cap as he collects them.
His mother was highly insulted that I told her sonny would not be welcome back until he learned how to behave in polite society. I don’t miss either of them.
What is it with parents becoming juvenile when their kids marry? And why do they bring it out at Christmas?!
I’ve been a witness to my bf’s mother dumping warmed berries all over DIL1; ‘forgetting’ to serve DIL1 and 2; cutting them out of photos (with scissors); slamming doors in faces; and intentionally serving them their allergens. She even went through DIL2’s phone trying to get evidence that DIL2 was having an affair. MIL’s antics are why her sons rarely visit (only when their beloved nana is in attendance) and why everyone leaves early. Only one thing protects me from her petty ‘wrath’ – BF’s father works for my great-uncle (a fact I didn’t know until we were together for 6+ months).
OP, I hope you and your son have made a lot of other happy Xmas memories; and don’t fret about your ex-MIL – she’s a sad, bitter harpy who clearly forgot the meaning of the holiday.
Yeah this story is utterly horrific. I too wonder what the allergen was. I can see how, say, onions might be in a lot of things and how easy it could be to forget. This seems like a deliberate plan, and what brought on such hate?
My guess is mustard. It’s one of the most common allergen and less known.
I thought the allergen in question was peanuts or nuts, until the OP mentioned making a peanut butter sandwich. Maybe dairy? I can see that–turkey glazed with butter, butter in the stuffing, butter in the rice, both butter and milk in the mashed potatoes, butter on the vegetables, croissants instead of regular rolls or bread, Caesar salad with the dressing already on, and dessert……too many to list, and the thing is, to someone who has no problems with dairy, it’d just look like a normal holiday dinner, but to someone who’s allergic, or to someone who’s vegan, like me, or to a Jewish person keeping kosher (can’t have meat and dairy in the same meal), the entire meal would be inedible. If someone deliberately put peanuts or nuts in every dish on the holiday table, then yes, that would look deliberate, but things like dairy and eggs are so easy to sneak into so many things.
I don’t think that the OP is allergic to dairy, since she said, “It’s also not an item you would expect to find in everything including the macaroni and cheese.” Because I would expect to find dairy in macaroni and cheese. I bet Annie or Rebecca is right, that it’s mustard or onions.
Maybe soy? It wouldn’t be that difficult to use part soybean oil in the salad dressing, add soy sauce to the macaroni and cheese… not things many cooks would do, but soy sauce probably wouldn’t ruin the flavor of macaroni and cheese, and most people without allergies wouldn’t notice if someone put a bit of soy-based margarine on the mashed potatoes along with butter or milk.
Oh yeah, I didn’t catch that. Actually, mustard wouldn’t be out of place in macaroni and cheese–I used to put it in Kraft Dinner before I went vegan, and it really added to the flavour, when it was mixed in well. So, I’m guessing it’s probably onions.
Eww, I’m surprised other people ate it if it was such a weird ingredient in mac and cheese.
I probably would have pointed it out. “Hey mom/grandma, do you usually put mustard in mac and cheese? So-and-so is also allergic to it.”
I’m serious, try mustard in Kraft Dinner. Just a little bit, and mix it in well, then add black pepper. It really kicks it up a notch. I hate to say this, but it’s one of my “guilty pleasure” foods that I miss since I went vegan.
It was mentioned that it was visible, so at least OP knew it was there. So that sort of knocks out mustard.
Oh, Honey…..been there!
I’m so sorry you’re treated so poorly.
I won’t.go into the MANY stories of my late MIL’ s antics, but she made it her purpose in life to treat all the daughters in law like absolute garbage.
My husband, (aka Norman Bates) NEVER stood up for me, so every holiday/birthday was a one/two punch from him and his mother.
Best of luck to you Dear! 🙂
Warning: I have nightmare ILs, to the point I think my MIL may have been partly responsible for a false allegation of abuse against me. But I digress. …
I finally dropped my In-laws. I tried to keep them at a polite distance, attending functions but not socializing one-on-one. After a gathering where one just really insulted me for the Nth time in a row, I stopped attending.
Here’s the warning: even after you dump people like this, no matter how quietly or subtly, it won’t be that easy. They are addicted to bullying someone, and right now you are that drug. My ILs continued to try to insert themselves into my life: monitoring my online posts, commenting behind my back to my husband, writing me, calling me, guilting my husband because I wouldn’t attend things (this is in reverse order, I realize). Extrication from people like this is never easy. They do not want to go to the effort of finding another target anymore than an addict wants to find another drug of choice. Be prepared for retaliation in varying and escalating forms, and be prepared that you may have to resort to some rather blunt tactics yourself to defend your boundaries because you just put them in a painful process of withdrawal.
Also, regarding having a husband “stick up for you:” last week my DH wasn’t invited to his sister’s birthday (a regular event since I’ve known them) party a month after he spoke up for me in a conflict. To add insult to injury, the sister didn’t tell anyone she didn’t invite him, so his mother “scolded” him (he’s nearly 50) for not coming or calling (he did wish her a happy b-day days earlier). Seeing how he gets punished over me, I no longer expect him to “stand up for me,” because I see what h3ll they put him through when he does. That’s also just a little word to the wise. For years I resented that he didn’t “stand up” for me, until I finally saw why.
That’s my SIL from h*ll. She repeatedly accuses me of ‘cutting her baby brother off from her’. About two years ago my DH upgraded to a ‘real phone’ and changed phone numbers (disposable flip phone to a slab phone). And didn’t bother to tell her the new number. For about 16 months she stewed and FINALLY she broke down and called me as that was the only number she had, and went off on this. I told HER that if I was trying to cut her off it would have happened (give the date of the night she nearly broke up our marriage well over three decades before) a LONG time ago. I would let him know she called. I did. He took MY phone to call her back and read her a riot act like I’d never heard out of him before. He didn’t give her his new phone number either.
I would still blame your husband. What your husband wants it to be around horribly toxic people who also treat him like crud (and I doubt it started just when he got together with you).
Honestly your husband should probably cut them off completely. He doesn’t deserve to be around people who hate his wife for no reason and who treat him like crud because they can’t bully his wife.
I have to speak up on this comment, with all due respect.
I realize Anon is talking about the OP’s position, but I want stick up for the couple in this.
First “was still married” may mean widowed. Please, let’s not assume divorce. Wouldn’t it be awful to celebrate the end of an otherwise happy marriage on an incorrect assumption?
I have no family. In two years, I my mother died after a long, debilitating illness (my last living relative), our children were lost in a painful custody battle to people with more money and no scruples. Then I even lost my pet I’d had since she was 4 weeks old. One spouse as a person’s entire family, no matter how much you love that person, cannot replace an entire family.
When I look back on my family’s dysfunction, and how hard I worked to please them even to my unhappiness, I try to have empathy and patience for just how hard a process that is. As toxic as DH’s family can be, they are still his family and the only people he’s known his entire life. As I posted earlier, the punishment and retaliation for separation or assertiveness may make it worse. It’s still necessary to assert boundaries, but not simple, or painless sometimes.
That’s a very thoughtful post from a new perspective, sillyme, and I’m so sorry about all of your recent losses.
It is easy to be an armchair quarterback, but very hard to navigate the real relationships in a healthy way.
Thank you. Your reply was very sweet, and I’m grateful.
I wouldn’t take that from my family and I would make it clear to all who are there just what mother in laws is up to and if they want to see the baby, make them come to you’re house! now hubby may not like that as it might cause a rift. but if she it that horrible then maybe its worth it, but you’re hubby and you must be on the same page! and if he isn’t on the same page, just say you have a headache and can’t go this year!
It is a moot point telling OP how to handle this since she has since been separated from the problem. I can tell you my DH had a similar problem on a much much MUCH smaller scale. See my DH and my dear ILs (yes, the dear does belong there) are night owls. To them going to bed at 1 am is right on time. I am a morning person. Going to bed at 10:30 pm is late for me. There have been numerous times that I was left out of things because they do not start get-togethers until I and my children are pretty much ready for bed. This spilled over into how I hosted- they would demand I start things later or not demand they commit to an arrival time so that they could stroll in when they wanted to. It tool a while but I put my foot down hard. There have been a couple to times DH’s cousin has strolled in very late (the longest was 4 hours) to cold food and the rest of us watching her as she ate. I finally made them uncomfortable enough that they now just run 30 minutes behind instead of 1.5 hours.
Now, I must admit this tactic annoyed my husband and was a source of tension until my parents came to visit. Now, to may parents, getting up at 7 am is late. My children and I were fine with may parents timetable because we usually get up between 6:30 and 7 am, but my husband likes to sleep until 9 am on weekends/days off. He was pulling his hair out by the end of a 5 day visit and regretting missing some of the jokes and games we played in the morning. I told him try 2 years of that- 2 years of people staying up late making noise, 2 years of tiptoeing around your own home because people do not have the same schedule, and 2 years of being left out even if it was by virtue of bedtimes. I told him at least my parents did not demand that he change his schedule for them (they ate a 10 am when we usually eat weekend breakfasts where as his parents would not allow us to eat dinner until they were ready). It is a small thing, but to me it was huge. With the shoe on the other foot he could understand my position better. Now he does not bother me about how I choose to host, and I try to host times that are a compromise for all.
Night owl married a morning person in my marriage. We were college students at the time, keeping those weird hours and it didn’t surface until about 4 months into the marriage. It took some time but we worked out having overlapping schedules and life, and. When doing long distance trips it was to our advantage because the bright eyed and bushy tailed DH could take the morning stint and when he got tired in early afternoon I was ready to take over to wee hours, if we pushed it just a little bit and had a place in the back for the off-driver to sleep, we could do 24/7 driving. We do have rules about noise, bed bouncing, and getting up if you can’t sleep and the other person IS sleeping. Only one still abused is TAKE YOUR PHONE WITH YOU else you might get left in a dumpster because the other person WAS sleeping until it went off. (DH’s friends like to call him pretty early in the morning, to me at least, it’s pretty early). I also have worked lots of second and third shifts so that was just the way life was. Working out the overlap time is very important!!!!!