Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: secretrebel on July 23, 2013, 07:21:13 AM

Title: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: secretrebel on July 23, 2013, 07:21:13 AM
Did anyone see Emily Yoffe's recent column on this subject? Link is here: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/dear_prudence/2013/07/dear_prudence_my_husband_wants_a_biological_child_with_his_ex_wife.html

Text for anyone with link following issues in quote below:

Quote
Dear Prudence,
My boyfriend of three years and I are in our late 20s and we recently moved into a modest house together in the same town as his parents. Prior to that move, I had my own apartment and he lived with his parents. We recently were away for the weekend and I let my boyfriend give our keys to his mother so she could hang a photo for us that she had reframed. When we returned, our entire house had been redecorated. New photos on the walls, new pillows on the couches, new kitchen items and existing kitchen stuff reorganized. Upstairs there were new pictures over the bed and new towels. All my toiletries had either been replaced or rearranged, including my medicine cabinet. My laundry had been done, with my underwear and bras folded in my drawer. My closet was rearranged. She also went through my Facebook profile and printed off some photos I had uploaded and framed and hung them. I know this seems nice, but to me it just felt invasive. I feel completely violated. I am embarrassed at some of the things she came across (she went through my bedside table and all my drawers). My boyfriend doesn’t see the problem—she’s always been like this with him and I guess he’s used to it—and it’s causing a lot of tension between us. She spent hours and tons of money, so am I being crazy, ungrateful, oversensitive?
—Feeling Violated

The MIL's actions seem so completely over-stepping that it;s hard to think of a positive good etiquette approach for addressing this. Has anyone got any thoughts on how you could explain this is wrong to the MIL or is she just a lost cause?

Stories of over-stepping MILs and how to deal with them welcome! My MIL is lovely but I do find this a fascinating subject.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: MrTango on July 23, 2013, 07:23:39 AM
In her position, I'd change the locks and let my SO know that if he wants a copy of the new key, he has to promise that his mother will never, ever have a copy in her posession for any length of time.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Winterlight on July 23, 2013, 09:06:20 AM
Change the locks. Get counselling. If he doesn't get it, change the boyfriend.

Yikes!!!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Thipu1 on July 23, 2013, 09:07:45 AM
This is a case of 'too good is no good'. 

We have no idea whether MIL was sincerely trying to be helpful or if this was a subtle attempt to make your taste conform to hers.  Regardless, she stepped over the line. 

The LW has the right to feel violated and should have the locks changed. 
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: sammycat on July 23, 2013, 09:09:25 AM
Change the locks. Get counselling. If he doesn't get it, change the boyfriend.

Yikes!!!

I agree!

I can't think of a single positive way to spin this.  The MIL stepped so far over the line it isn't even visible from space.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: lowspark on July 23, 2013, 09:12:35 AM
The MIL did all this in ONE weekend?
And the LW is questioning if this is all OK?

I'm really having trouble believing this one, sorry.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Judah on July 23, 2013, 09:38:26 AM
Change the locks. Get counselling. If he doesn't get it, change the boyfriend.

Yikes!!!

This. My mother's sisters-in-law did this to her once. ONCE. The opportunity for it to happen again was never given.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: SuperMartianRobotGirl on July 23, 2013, 09:45:08 AM
It feels like she was snooping and thought "redecorating" would be her loophole. She'd have an excuse to go through everything. I mean, redecorating doesn't usually involve your medicine cabinet and bedroom drawers.

I would be livid.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Asharah on July 23, 2013, 09:51:04 AM
Somewhere in the old archives is a story where a woman's new MIL did something similar while they were on their honeymoon. She rearranged the kitchen & bathroom and opened all their wedding presents. Wife was upset, husband thought she was overreacting. She knew he had a large number of women working in his office and suggested he relate the story to them and ask their opinions. Being told by a large number of women that Mommy Dearest was way out of line forced him to face reality and forced him to lay down and enforce some boundaries.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: VorFemme on July 23, 2013, 09:53:45 AM
VorGuy's mother made & hung curtains in his house (master bedroom) before we were married - but he expected that and knew the curtains were coming as he had asked for them (broke college student who needed curtains for his bedroom in his "new" house - he was 22 and using the GI Bill after Vietnam - it would have taken a long time for him to buy any kind of curtains).

We lived with those curtains until we moved out and rented the house - for all I know the renter (who bought the house from us about thirty years ago) still has them in her bedroom.  Or replaced them after buying the house - I don't know nor do I care.

But - unless your MIL is one of the designers on a tv show whose taste you've enthused about (there are a couple of designers on HGTV that I would LOVE to have redo my house) and you haven't ASKED to have the house redone - then the boundaries that have been crossed are way, way too far out to be believed.

Seriously - her MIL is completely out of touch on how to treat her adult son and his SO - what would she have said to HER MIL thirty or so years ago if the same thing had happened to her house with FIL? 

The keys need to be changed, the moat needs to be stocked with alligators and piranha, and MIL needs to have everything that wasn't agreed to (the pictures that were mentioned) taken off the walls, the throw pillows off the sofa, etc. and taken back to her.

Going through the underwear drawer, the laptop, the nightstand, and tossing out the DIL's personal things (it sounds like some VERY personal things) is the kind of thing that STALKERS do!  NOT your SO's mother!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Cherry91 on July 23, 2013, 10:00:01 AM
WOW.

I would be furious. I have real issues with people being in my private spaces when I'm not there as it is.

The time and effort spent, and fact that she gave a reason to be entering the house all indicate that this was a completely premeditated thing - this wasn't spotting a stain on the curtains and deciding it'd be a nice gesture to change them so the couple didn't have to deal with it when they got back.

The changing of the pictures and other items was the MIL marking her territory. She is trying to take control of the couple's house now that the son is out from under her roof.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: doodlemor on July 23, 2013, 10:05:42 AM
WOW.

I would be furious. I have real issues with people being in my private spaces when I'm not there as it is.

The time and effort spent, and fact that she gave a reason to be entering the house all indicate that this was a completely premeditated thing - this wasn't spotting a stain on the curtains and deciding it'd be a nice gesture to change them so the couple didn't have to deal with it when they got back.

The changing of the pictures and other items was the MIL marking her territory. She is trying to take control of the couple's house now that the son is out from under her roof.
[/b]

Very sage comment.  Poddity pod pod.

The LW better be prepared for more battles - this is likely just the beginning.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: TootsNYC on July 23, 2013, 10:48:16 AM
I can see my MIL doing my laundry, thinking that she's doing something nice. She used to make my bed every time she was left alone in my house until I told her specifically to stop, that I didn't like it the way she made it (not enough covers in the right spot) and that (1) it was more work for me because I had to undo the bed to put the covers on correctly; and (2) it made me annoyed because it felt like a criticism, and I didn't want that dynamic between us.

Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Bookgirl on July 23, 2013, 11:08:12 AM
My MIL, on one visit, rearranged our Tupperware cabinet.  I got really upset about it and told DH so.  He was also bothered by it so he spoke to her and told her that it was overstepping and to not do it again.  And she hasn't.  It was a small thing and other people might be thrilled but it felt like a criticism to me.  In my head, I know that she was just trying to be nice. 

I can't imagine coming home to a house that has been completely rearranged like that. 
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Reika on July 23, 2013, 11:13:15 AM
Just reading that made me see red since I'm a very private person. What the MIL did was inexcusable and I freely admit WWIII might've erupted from her actions.

Talk about rude and intrusive!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: *inviteseller on July 23, 2013, 11:16:56 AM
Me thinks mommy has those apron strings tied real tight to her sonny boy!  An adult should know that his mother went above and beyond rude by doing what she did.  This would be a deal breaker in the relationship for me..my underwear drawer and facebook page are not for anyone to go through.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: YummyMummy66 on July 23, 2013, 11:37:47 AM
I think that I would be taking those items back that I did not want to my boyfriend's mom and politely thanking her, but it was not her place to decorate your home.  And then I would politely ask her, "Susan, if you went away on vacation, and I had your house key, how would feel if when you returned home, that your home was completely changed, new things added, other things taken away and I had gone thru all of your drawers, closets, etc?".  And when she gets that look on her face, "yeah.  that is exactly how I felt".  Please do not ever do that again.

And I don't see why anyone needed a key unless there were pets to take care of.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: kherbert05 on July 23, 2013, 11:46:53 AM
Get the locks changed, get any missing items returned, cut off mom, and throw out/goodwill the new stuff.


A similar thing happened to a family friend but
1. The DH hadn't given his Mom the key she fooled the housesitter into letting her in as he left for work the last day of the couples vacation. (Said she was leaving groceries for them - housesitter as a 17 yo friend of the family)


2. Every picture of a "stranger" was removed from the house. Not just taken down, put away but she took them to her house to throw away. These were almost 100% pictures of the wife's family and friends including deceased family members.


3. Art that she had given them that had not been put up because of racist overtones was installed on their walls.


3. They got home, saw the damage,  and the husband immediately called his mom and told her she had a hour to return the missing items are they were calling the cops and reporting her burglarizing their home. (Thankfully it garbage day was a couple days after this happened so the items could be returned)


4. The locks were changed. She was cut off.


I can see having a key to pick up the mail, take in the paper. People in my family don't have paper/mail stopped because 3 burglaries of family homes were traced to having the services stopped. Someone was either robbing home's themselves or selling the information depending on the incident. 
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: padua on July 23, 2013, 12:01:17 PM
The MIL did all this in ONE weekend?
And the LW is questioning if this is all OK?

I'm really having trouble believing this one, sorry.


my MIL attempted this. on a few occasions. when i talked about this with a couple of friends, they told me she was just being 'nice.' i can see how the poster could be confused as to how to take this.

*i remember her gleefully telling me as i was recovering from a c-section that she was looking forward to going through my garage and weeding out the boxes of books i have in there. no thank you! now we just have her sending us various things she thinks we need in the mail (such as a shower curtain she likes better than the one i have hanging up) and becomes miffed when i don't put it up. progress!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Xandraea on July 23, 2013, 12:17:16 PM
Unbelievable!  Not her house, not her things, style or business!  The boyfriend's mother was totally in the wrong, way over the line. That she went through the LW's computer, nightstand, medicine cabinet is absolutely appalling.  This is her son's girlfriend, not even a relation (not that it would be right in that case).  I'd be changing the locks, assuring boyfriend's mother was never again in possession of a key or any opportunity to be in my house alone, and if the boyfriend doesn't recognize and acknowledge what a serious overstepping of boundaries this was, he'd be out too.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Lorelei_Evil on July 23, 2013, 12:28:51 PM
POD.  This was mom doing the metaphorical "lifting of her leg" and marking her territory. 

I'd be out of there so fast you'd hear a sonic boom if SonnyBoy couldn't stand up to his mother.  Your read stuff like this on Mother In Law stories!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: MommyPenguin on July 23, 2013, 12:29:36 PM
We had a friend commit suicide the morning after our wedding, so things were... really messed up for a while in there.  We'd also just moved into a new house, so we didn't have furniture arranged, everything was in boxes, etc.  My mom was cat-sitting, and while she was gone, she did her best to make sure that when we returned home, it would not be to a house that was a disaster, but to a house we could relax in.  We returned from the honeymoon to find that my mom had rearranged boxes a bit so that we could sit on the couch, had bought me some cute new kitchen towels for my birthday, had bought us flowers and breakfast and put them in the fridge, had gotten photos printed from our wedding and put some of them in frames that were wedding presents, cleared off the dressers in our bedroom and set them up, bought a coverlet for our bed and made it look nice, etc.  Seriously, she did so much that when we came home, we were running from room to room exclaiming over new things we'd discovered.  So I have no problem believing that the mother-in-law, if a hard worker, was capable of doing what was listed... especially if she'd planned it ahead of time.

The big difference between my scenario and this one that I see is that my mother did it without any snooping (she didn't open any boxes, for instance, only rearranged them to make furniture accessible) and without doing anything permanent (even using some wedding frames to put pictures in, we could easily just put different photos in the frames or even put the original packaging back together if we hadn't wanted to keep the frame), etc.  Most things she did were *adding* something, rather than changing something or taking it away.  Also, she is my mother, not my MIL.  And no matter how much you love your MIL (and I do, dearly), there is a difference in relationship, especially if you aren't married or are newly-married, because you may not have known her long.  My mother knew me well enough to know that I would be happy with her doing the things she did... my MIL probably wouldn't have known that, at the time.

If I were the OP in that letter, I probably wouldn't have had any problem with the MIL if she'd, say, gotten photos from the *public* part of my Facebook page (or what she could access if she were Friended) and printed them and put them in frames, then make a cute little display of them without actually mounting them on walls.  The snooping aspects would have disturbed me (doing laundry without permission, going through clothes drawers, looking at my Facebook page from my computer where she'd get full access, etc.).  And changing things out sends a *definite* message of "my taste is better than yours."  It's very different from, say, buying a new set of linens, cushions, or whatever, wrapping them up with a bow, and presenting them with a receipt.  That says, "I thought you might like these!"  The other says, "I like these in your house so I'm going to put them there so it looks like I want it to."  That sort of thing should *only* be done with permission and when the relationship supports it.  My MIL has a much better eye for decoration than I do, so I often ask her for ideas and suggestions, and she loves helping me organize things.  But I wouldn't just say, "Hey, can you do my kitchen for me?" because even though she does have great ideas, sometimes they aren't things I'd want to do.  She often values the aesthetic over the practical, and I'm a practical girl all the way.  Etc.  So actually taking something away and replacing it with something else should never be done without being *asked* to do it, and even then should be done with care to make it reversible if possible until final approval has been given.  This MIL was *way* out of line.

I like the idea somebody else had of having the boyfriend/DH ask other girls he knows.  Girls, especially, because we tend to consider the house our domain more than men do, so we're more likely to a) want to make choices ourselves, and b) feel like our taste/abilities are being called into question by somebody making changes without our approval.  Maybe writing down a list of all the things she did, so the boyfriend can't gloss them over and then claim that people agreed with him.  That might help him to see that he might have been raised that way, but it's not normal.  Definitely need to change the keys, but I do think it's a real eye-opener for a relationship, and she needs to make sure that she sees how he deals with this before she considers him husband material.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: SPuck on July 23, 2013, 12:30:54 PM
(Said she was leaving groceries for them - housesitter as a 17 yo friend of the family)

How did the house sitter feel when she found out about this incident?

I think what shocked me most about this letter was reading the comments section from spinless people who thought Prudence was wrong and that the LW should be thankful.  :P
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: weeblewobble on July 23, 2013, 01:17:03 PM
This is a case of 'too good is no good'. 

We have no idea whether MIL was sincerely trying to be helpful or if this was a subtle attempt to make your taste conform to hers.  Regardless, she stepped over the line. 

The LW has the right to feel violated and should have the locks changed.

That's a really good point about "conforming tastes."  In Toxic In Laws, Susan Forward describes a set of truly awful inlaws who completely rejected their DIL, and one of the MIL's tricks was to completely redecorate the young married couple's home to resemble the inlaws' home, so her son never had to feel as if he'd left the inlaws' home.

Personally, I would tell BF, "I understand that you're "used to" this sort of treatment from your mother, but I am NOT.  I feel invaded and overwhelmed.  If this is my home, I have to have the right to draw some boundaries with your mom.  Otherwise, we're going to have to rethink this living situation."
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: weeblewobble on July 23, 2013, 01:24:55 PM
Also, if I was the GF, I would not be embarrassed by anything the BF's mom found in the underwear drawer/nightstand.  Frankly, if you are willing to stoop to that level to get information, you deserve whatever feelings of horror/embarrassment you may feel re: your discoveries.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 23, 2013, 01:29:07 PM
Also, if I was the GF, I would not be embarrassed by anything the BF's mom found in the underwear drawer/nightstand.  Frankly, if you are willing to stoop to that level to get information, you deserve whatever feelings of horror/embarrassment you may feel re: your discoveries.

Yes, but . . . a woman who sees no problem rearranging her son's house may also see no problem in making her DIL's personal toys a topic of conversation/rebuke.  Possibly in front of other people.  Even if she doesn't, I could totally see this kind of person dropping heavy-handed conversational tidbits like "Well at least my marriage is strong enough to stand on its own . . ."
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: gramma dishes on July 23, 2013, 01:30:35 PM
Change the locks. Get counselling. If he doesn't get it, change the boyfriend.

Yikes!!!

Good grief, YES!!!   :o
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on July 23, 2013, 01:41:21 PM
My cousin went through something similar.  First of all, at the wedding, we all noticed that the Mother of the Groom was sobbing, which should have warned us what her feelings towards her son were.

When Rhoda and her DH returned from the honeymoon, it was to find that her new MIL had completely unpacked all her stuff and arranged everything to MIL's standards.  Then, MIL said, "Well, Rhoda, I noticed that you don't have a lot of underwear, but you keep it laundered."

Rhoda snagged her husband's arm and dragged him into the bedroom.  "Get the key back from her, and she is not allowed access again."

Well, the last didn't happen, so Rhoda is now happily divorced, and exMIL has her hold still tight on exDH.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: weeblewobble on July 23, 2013, 01:50:07 PM
Also, if I was the GF, I would not be embarrassed by anything the BF's mom found in the underwear drawer/nightstand.  Frankly, if you are willing to stoop to that level to get information, you deserve whatever feelings of horror/embarrassment you may feel re: your discoveries.

Yes, but . . . a woman who sees no problem rearranging her son's house may also see no problem in making her DIL's personal toys a topic of conversation/rebuke.  Possibly in front of other people.  Even if she doesn't, I could totally see this kind of person dropping heavy-handed conversational tidbits like "Well at least my marriage is strong enough to stand on its own . . ."

True. But if the MIL is willing to go that far to rebuke (good word) the GF, the relationship is beyond salvaging anyway.

Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: heartmug on July 23, 2013, 01:50:43 PM
Unbelievable!  Not her house, not her things, style or business!  The boyfriend's mother was totally in the wrong, way over the line.

So much this!  The boyfriend might not care that his mother decorates his house, but it is not HIS house it is THEIR house and girlfriend gets a say in it.

My MIL bought us for Christmas one year a very large painting.  It was actually done by DH's aunt.  Did we need it? no  Did we ask for it? no  Was it our style? no.  But MIL could not believe I would not take down something I already had on the wall(s) and put it up somewhere in our home.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: VorFemme on July 23, 2013, 02:01:10 PM
VorGuy and I *like* the paintings that MIL has done.  As a bonus, she will show us several and let us pick one...it has been known to happen that we can't pick JUST one (to paraphrase a potato chip commercial in the States) and drive home with two in the vehicle!

She will also have some of them framed or have a frame that goes with your pick...but she doesn't hang them in the house while we're gone!  ((shudder))

The LW mentioned that her toiletries had been gone through and that not all of them were still there....I have to wonder if the MIL sorted through her makeup, perfume, and similar items - then discarded any that were "too old", "taking up too much space", or that MIL didn't approve of....
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: LadyClaire on July 23, 2013, 02:07:55 PM
My grandmother used to let herself into my aunt's house to clean and rearrange the furniture and such. So my aunt changed the locks. Didn't stop her, though. Nene literally broke into the house through the kitchen window. Pried off the screen and jimmied the window open and climbed in that way.

When my aunt was in the process of getting divorced, Nene let herself into the house and proceeded to throw away all of my aunt's soon-to-be-ex husband's belongings while my aunt was at work. It was trash day. By the time Aunt got home, all of her ex's stuff had been hauled away.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: snappylt on July 23, 2013, 02:25:50 PM
Get the locks changed, get any missing items returned, cut off mom, and throw out/goodwill the new stuff.


A similar thing happened to a family friend but
1. The DH hadn't given his Mom the key she fooled the housesitter into letting her in as he left for work the last day of the couples vacation. (Said she was leaving groceries for them - housesitter as a 17 yo friend of the family)


2. Every picture of a "stranger" was removed from the house. Not just taken down, put away but she took them to her house to throw away. These were almost 100% pictures of the wife's family and friends including deceased family members.


3. Art that she had given them that had not been put up because of racist overtones was installed on their walls.


3. They got home, saw the damage,  and the husband immediately called his mom and told her she had a hour to return the missing items are they were calling the cops and reporting her burglarizing their home. (Thankfully it garbage day was a couple days after this happened so the items could be returned)


4. The locks were changed. She was cut off.


I can see having a key to pick up the mail, take in the paper. People in my family don't have paper/mail stopped because 3 burglaries of family homes were traced to having the services stopped. Someone was either robbing home's themselves or selling the information depending on the incident.

(bolding mine above)

kherbert05,

Thank you for sharing that story.  I found it fascinating, for some reason.  When I hear stories like that, I find myself wondering what in the world was the perpetrator thinking?

I can sort of follow the thinking behind, say, unpacking and putting away the plates and glasses in a kitchen, thinking that one was "helping" the new couple get their kitchen set up.  (It would be wrong to do it without permission, but I can understand someone thinking, incorrectly, that that would be harmless and helpful.)

But I literally cannot even begin to understand the thinking behind removing pictures from the walls - and taking them away to be thrown in the garbage - as happened in your story above.  (Yes, I believe you that it happened, it is just that I cannot understand how anyone, even a pushy person, could begin to justify that behavior in her own mind.)  Good for the husband in the story for threatening to call the police, because it surely sounds like what the MIL did was stealing.

Your story happened to a friend of your family.  If you have time, could you please tell us what happened to that family after that?  Did you ever hear how the MIL tried to justify her behavior?  (Did she attempt to explain it away?)  Was she cut off for the rest of her life?  If she was allowed back in to the lives of her son and DIL, did she change her behavior?

Thank you!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: kherbert05 on July 23, 2013, 02:28:04 PM
(Said she was leaving groceries for them - housesitter as a 17 yo friend of the family)

How did the house sitter feel when she found out about this incident?

I think what shocked me most about this letter was reading the comments section from spinless people who thought Prudence was wrong and that the LW should be thankful.  :P


He felt awful - but to him the evil mother in law who hates her Daughter-in-law and does things like this was a Hollywood invention. His grandparents and great-grandparents are great people and get along wonderfully with their kids-in-law. He thought she was checking up on him - making sure the 17 yo kid didn't leave a mess. Once she stepped in the door he was at a loss how to get her to leave. Even if he had called the cops - who was going to be believed. The 50 yo woman with the same last name as the homeowner or a 17 yo who has no legal connection to either resident. 
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Outdoor Girl on July 23, 2013, 02:35:48 PM
If I moved in with my boyfriend and his mother did this to me?  He would either support me 100% in removing his mother's access to his our home or I'd be moving right back out.  And I'd be finding a new boyfriend.

If I came home from my honeymoon and my 'lovely' new MIL had done this?  Hubby would either support me 100% in removing his mother's access to OUR home or I'd be asking for an annullment (over divorce for monetary and legal reasons).  If he chose to support me and she pitched a fit?  I would cut off contact with her.  He could see her on his own but I'm not putting up with that carp.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Venus193 on July 23, 2013, 03:04:26 PM
There is a lesson to be learned in all this:  If you discover that the guy you're dating is a mama's boy, fly -- don't run -- as far away and as fast as you can and go back on the hunt.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: cattlekid on July 23, 2013, 03:28:28 PM
Stories like this are the main reason why my ILs did not receive a key to our home when they asked for one.  They ostensibly asked for one in  case of emergency and I knew that their definition of "emergency" and mine did not mesh. 
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on July 23, 2013, 03:41:11 PM
*making mental note to give my MIL a huge hug when I see her next!*   My IL's have given us things to decorate our home with in the past, such as a large, framed painting of a tall sailing ship.  They bought it for themselves as they have gone with a bit of nautical decor themselves, but once they got it home they realized there was really no where to put it in their house and asked if we wanted it.   I absolutely did and it hangs over our mantle.  :)

Now we did take in my GMIL's furniture when she had to move out of her home, and I don't really care for it as it's not really my style.  But no one really forced it on us, we agreed to take it in. 

And I'm with Venus193!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: SPuck on July 23, 2013, 03:45:24 PM
When my aunt was in the process of getting divorced, Nene let herself into the house and proceeded to throw away all of my aunt's soon-to-be-ex husband's belongings while my aunt was at work. It was trash day. By the time Aunt got home, all of her ex's stuff had been hauled away.

Did he still go back to his mother after that?
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: lowspark on July 23, 2013, 03:46:55 PM
Stories like this are the main reason why my ILs did not receive a key to our home when they asked for one.  They ostensibly asked for one in  case of emergency and I knew that their definition of "emergency" and mine did not mesh.

Eek. Just the idea of her asking for a key rubs me the wrong way. Both my sons and daughter-in-law have a key to my house because they're my kids so I want them to always consider my house as their house too. But it doesn't work in the reverse. If they wanted to give me a key for emergency purposes, fine. But I would never ask.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: wolfie on July 23, 2013, 03:47:35 PM
When my aunt was in the process of getting divorced, Nene let herself into the house and proceeded to throw away all of my aunt's soon-to-be-ex husband's belongings while my aunt was at work. It was trash day. By the time Aunt got home, all of her ex's stuff had been hauled away.

Did he still go back to his mother after that?

Why wouldn't he? It was his mother-in-law that tossed his stuff.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Coruscation on July 23, 2013, 05:00:19 PM
I think that I would be taking those items back that I did not want to my boyfriend's mom and politely thanking her, but it was not her place to decorate your home.  And then I would politely ask her, "Susan, if you went away on vacation, and I had your house key, how would feel if when you returned home, that your home was completely changed, new things added, other things taken away and I had gone thru all of your drawers, closets, etc?".  And when she gets that look on her face, "yeah.  that is exactly how I felt".  Please do not ever do that again.

And I don't see why anyone needed a key unless there were pets to take care of.

I'd be dropping my luggage on the floor and not sitting down until everything she's added to the house was in the garbage bin which I would put in the front yard. I'd sit down and ring to give her half an hour to have my things back. While she was coming, I'd be rearranging my stuff back the way I wanted.

I'd also toss all the stuff she'd given me that I didn't really like but kept for politeness reasons.

If BF didn't like it, she could take him home with her.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: *inviteseller on July 23, 2013, 05:21:46 PM
I POD Venus..from experience.  I married a mama's boy and she was like this.  She wanted a key to our house when we moved back from out of state.  I told hubby if he as much as thought about it he would feel my wrath.  She had the bad habit of moving pictures around when she would come to visit, either laying my families down or pushing them to the back of the mantle.  I would just laugh.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: cattlekid on July 23, 2013, 05:55:21 PM
My mom foisted a key to their house off on me a few years ago when I was there for a visit.  I didn't think it made sense because I lived several hundred miles away and my sister was a quick hour drive away.  I took it anyhow and then locked it in my firesafe because I didn't feel the need to carry it with my regular keys. 

Stories like this are the main reason why my ILs did not receive a key to our home when they asked for one.  They ostensibly asked for one in  case of emergency and I knew that their definition of "emergency" and mine did not mesh.

Eek. Just the idea of her asking for a key rubs me the wrong way. Both my sons and daughter-in-law have a key to my house because they're my kids so I want them to always consider my house as their house too. But it doesn't work in the reverse. If they wanted to give me a key for emergency purposes, fine. But I would never ask.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: artk2002 on July 23, 2013, 06:26:29 PM
But I literally cannot even begin to understand the thinking behind removing pictures from the walls - and taking them away to be thrown in the garbage - as happened in your story above.  (Yes, I believe you that it happened, it is just that I cannot understand how anyone, even a pushy person, could begin to justify that behavior in her own mind.)  Good for the husband in the story for threatening to call the police, because it surely sounds like what the MIL did was stealing.

Doesn't surprise me a bit. Humans are extremely tribal and it wasn't that long ago that a woman left her parent's tribe and joined her husband's tribe. That's all the MIL was doing in this case, making it clear that the DIL belonged to her tribe now. We like to think that we've advanced beyond that and we're "civilized" now, but it's just a thin veneer.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: lilfox on July 23, 2013, 06:43:27 PM
It wasn't a full redecoration, but this happened when I lived alone.  My mom came for a weekend-long visit and rearranged all the furniture in my living room while I was out for a few hours, "just because."  She thought her layout would work better than mine, so rather than consult me, she decided to show me.

The day she left, I moved it all back. It annoyed me, but it's nothing like if she'd changed my wall art or rearranged bedroom and kitchen drawers or whatever.  I'm glad I never had to deal with any more intrusive behavior than that.

I have to admit, my first thought about the Dear Prudence letter (assuming it's legit) was, get out of the house/relationship.  If the BF is even a little okay with that kind of thing, it'd be an uphill battle every time the (future) MIL crossed a line.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Thipu1 on July 23, 2013, 06:56:43 PM
MIL tried this once when she was visiting her DD's family.   The three children were teenagers and both parents worked.  MIL was alone in the house and felt a bit bored.  She thought it would be a 'nice thing' to neaten up her 16 year-old GD's room. 

This included putting the dresser drawers in order.  This was at the time when 'Flashdance' was popular and GD had used some of her baby-sitting money to purchase several artfully distressed shirts.  MIL found them, decided they were disgraceful and cut them up for rags. 

That was the last time that MIL was ever allowed to be alone in SIL's house.

Reading all these posts I have to wonder if we weren't marked by MIL (in the nicest way, of course).

When the ILs retired they were moving to New England and had a lot of furniture they wouldn't have room for in the new house.  Among the items we took were a pair of small armchairs. 

MIL seems obsessed with these very ordinary 1970s chairs.  They're doing yeoman service in our bedroom as a convenient place to put clean laundry.  To MIL, they should have become the center of our household.  Every time we visit we are told that we should have them in our living room.  Every evening we should brew a pot of tea after dinner, sit side by side in the chairs and discuss the events of the day.  That is what she and FIL did. 

She always called her DH 'Daddy' and he always called her 'Darling'.  Our marriage is a little bit different.   

Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: bonyk on July 23, 2013, 07:20:34 PM
My great-aunt did this to her DIL on more than one occasion.  DIL eventually filed for divorce and left.  Great-aunt moved in and spent the rest of her life caring for her boy. 
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: camlan on July 23, 2013, 08:05:12 PM
I think that I would be taking those items back that I did not want to my boyfriend's mom and politely thanking her, but it was not her place to decorate your home.  And then I would politely ask her, "Susan, if you went away on vacation, and I had your house key, how would feel if when you returned home, that your home was completely changed, new things added, other things taken away and I had gone thru all of your drawers, closets, etc?".  And when she gets that look on her face, "yeah.  that is exactly how I felt".  Please do not ever do that again.

And I don't see why anyone needed a key unless there were pets to take care of.

I'd be dropping my luggage on the floor and not sitting down until everything she's added to the house was in the garbage bin which I would put in the front yard. I'd sit down and ring to give her half an hour to have my things back. While she was coming, I'd be rearranging my stuff back the way I wanted.

I'd also toss all the stuff she'd given me that I didn't really like but kept for politeness reasons.

If BF didn't like it, she could take him home with her.

Pod. Except that you forgot the bill for the toiletries that were thrown out. MIL should have to pay for that, as well.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: onikenbai on July 23, 2013, 08:22:09 PM
This is entirely something my mother would do and for that reason I moved to the other side of the earth to get away from her.  She seems to have got the message and has now accepted her new boundaries with me.  Now that I have moved back to the same city it is understood the only times she is allowed into my place is when I'm in the process of moving house.  She may indulge in her cleaning obsession prior to any of my stuff arriving on site, or after the last box has left the building.  So basically, when the building is empty.  Any other time she cannot be trusted to clean something to destruction, refinish furniture when I'm not looking, or decide that the side of my desktop computer is really the best surface for my collection of super powerful rare earth element magnets (all been done).  My brother isn't as good at putting his foot down and, although she is not sneaking in the house to do it, she is doing her best to decorate his new house through constant purchases of towels, drapes, rugs, lamps, tables, etc.  Within 6 months of moving into an empty house, the place is bursting with stuff that he didn't buy.  She has since moved on to the garden and is now planting shrubs.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: misha412 on July 23, 2013, 09:31:07 PM
This is entirely something my mother would do and for that reason I moved to the other side of the earth to get away from her.  She seems to have got the message and has now accepted her new boundaries with me.  Now that I have moved back to the same city it is understood the only times she is allowed into my place is when I'm in the process of moving house.  She may indulge in her cleaning obsession prior to any of my stuff arriving on site, or after the last box has left the building.  So basically, when the building is empty.  Any other time she cannot be trusted to clean something to destruction, refinish furniture when I'm not looking, or decide that the side of my desktop computer is really the best surface for my collection of super powerful rare earth element magnets (all been done).  My brother isn't as good at putting his foot down and, although she is not sneaking in the house to do it, she is doing her best to decorate his new house through constant purchases of towels, drapes, rugs, lamps, tables, etc.  Within 6 months of moving into an empty house, the place is bursting with stuff that he didn't buy.  She has since moved on to the garden and is now planting shrubs.

 >:(  :o >:( EEEKKKK!!!!  Computers and magnets DO NOT MIX!!!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Minmom3 on July 23, 2013, 09:48:35 PM
Oh, do NOT be messing with MY GARDEN.  Oh, no.  No, no, no!  The unwanted items will go in the yard waste bin, and if something I planted left in the trash, you WILL be replacing it.  Possibly with a bigger version to get my point across.  There will be WORDS spoken, and they will be uncivil and curt.  You will cry.  (I might too, but they will steam off my face in the heat of my RAGE).  For realz. 

I'll be mad if you mess with my house, but I'll be UGLY if you mess with my garden and YOU WILL BE VERY SORRY you even thought of it.  There will be NO grandchildren named after you, and possibly after your entire side of the family.  You won't step FOOT on the property again.  Scorched Earth comes to mind....  If time permits, I may clean the ENTIRE house in a fit of fury, and it Will Sparkle and Be Perfect.  The cats will hide under the bed.  DH may join them there.  The pile of discards at the curb Will Be Large and comprehensive.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Library Dragon on July 23, 2013, 10:46:38 PM
Wow!  I'll have to thank my DIL for trusting me with her apartment key.  Last year I was in DS & DIL's area on business.  DS was in another state with Army training & DIL was here.  DIL gave me her key. I didn't even pick up DS's stuff mess as it was his responsibility to get it cleaned up before DIL came home.

I do admit to making meals and freezing them so that when they came home they didn't have to worry about something to eat when they arrived home. 

My MIL used to drive me nuts with her attempts to be nice.  She would do my laundry, washing everything on hot and drying everything on high heat.  I had many pieces clothing ruined.  It also took me weeks to find everything in my kitchen.  I would give her lists of things she could do if she insisted on being helpful, but she never wanted to do those (i.e., dust, sweep, etc.)
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Psychopoesie on July 24, 2013, 12:02:22 AM
Agree the locks would be changed and possibly my living arrangements, if this happened to me.

My mother has the spare key to my place which is under 10 minutes drive from hers. At first, she had some issues respecting my privacy.

She would let herself in (while I was home) without ringing the bell. Once I was sleeping in and woke to the sound of an unknown person moving through my home (not a happy way to wake up). Yes, I did talk with her about this - she just didn't get why it was a problem.   :o

The final straw was when I came home from work late and very very tired and realised that things weren't where I left them (usually very untidily). I'd had a burglary not long before where the first thing I'd noticed was that things weren't where I'd left them. So I thought that had happened again - really freaked out. Took a while for me to realise that my house had been thoroughly tidied (not usually something a burglar would do) and this was my mum at work. (very kind intentions but not great execution).

After a talk that involved some voice raising unfortunately (my hands were still shaking - I probably should have calmed down a bit first), we sorted it out. She's since earned my trust around having a key (still don't think she really gets it but knows it upsets me).



Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Cherry91 on July 24, 2013, 02:52:52 AM
MIL tried this once when she was visiting her DD's family.   The three children were teenagers and both parents worked.  MIL was alone in the house and felt a bit bored.  She thought it would be a 'nice thing' to neaten up her 16 year-old GD's room. 

This included putting the dresser drawers in order.  This was at the time when 'Flashdance' was popular and GD had used some of her baby-sitting money to purchase several artfully distressed shirts.  MIL found them, decided they were disgraceful and cut them up for rags. 

That was the last time that MIL was ever allowed to be alone in SIL's house.

Reading all these posts I have to wonder if we weren't marked by MIL (in the nicest way, of course).

When the ILs retired they were moving to New England and had a lot of furniture they wouldn't have room for in the new house.  Among the items we took were a pair of small armchairs. 

MIL seems obsessed with these very ordinary 1970s chairs.  They're doing yeoman service in our bedroom as a convenient place to put clean laundry.  To MIL, they should have become the center of our household.  Every time we visit we are told that we should have them in our living room.  Every evening we should brew a pot of tea after dinner, sit side by side in the chairs and discuss the events of the day.  That is what she and FIL did. 

She always called her DH 'Daddy' and he always called her 'Darling'.  Our marriage is a little bit different.   

I hope the MIL was ordered to reimburse her GD for the "rags". Because if I had come home and found that my GM had done such a thing with clothing I'd worked long and hard to earn the money for, I'd have been very upset and angry.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Nesca on July 24, 2013, 02:55:05 AM
My parents in law encroached on a few boundaries when my boyfriend (now DH) and I first moved out together. We had moved into a small townhouse that included a small garden. Because we were on a budget I had been using the fallen leaves from the trees as mulch for the garden, instead of buying the processed neat stuff from the garden shop. I had also planted a number of cuttings that I had propagated.

One day we came home from work to find that someone had been in our yard. They had raked up and disposed of all the leaves, leaving the earth bare, as well as picked out a few minor weeds and taken out most of my cuttings. DH and I assumed that the landlord had come over for a nosey and decided to tidy up. We happened to mention at a family dinner how annoyed we were that it had happened and that I was upset that my cuttings had been removed. That's when DH's parents admitted to coming over and doing the "work". It was the last time they came over to surprise us since it turned out so badly. I do love my PIL, they thought they were genuinely helping us.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: cicero on July 24, 2013, 05:05:34 AM
There is a lesson to be learned in all this:  If you discover that the guy you're dating is a mama's boy, fly -- don't run -- as far away and as fast as you can and go back on the hunt.
Oh. Yes.

It ain't going to get better unless sonny boy stands up to his mom.

I think that there are things a MIL /Parent can do for a couple that are nice - depending on the relationship, this could be buying groceries, watering the plants, taking in the mail, leaving a nice dinner for their first night back... but this? this goes beyond the pale
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: GratefulMaria on July 24, 2013, 07:28:21 AM
This is so timely!  DS1 just signed a lease with his girlfriend.  Apartment is within two hours' drive for us (where DS1 is spending the summer).  Girlfriend has a temporary job hundreds of miles away, and her family is in another time zone.  So she entrusted DS1 with the apartment hunt, with long-distance and online consultation.  Now they're working out what, how, and when to do the move-in.  We have some furniture we've offered them, and we can help buy and install a lot of things ahead of time, but he's running everything by her first, including whether she'd like him to wait on getting started until she's there with him.  I cannot imagine unilaterally presenting her with a done deal; that would feel so dismissive.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: VorFemme on July 24, 2013, 08:15:22 AM
I rather like the idea of allowing unlimited help from ILs - before you move in or after the moving van leaves....

I've gotten to ONE house (military family) two days before the moving van did - I vacuumed the entire place (twice) and dumped the contents of my tank vacuum into the trash (cups of scented baking powder or possibly talc powder - explained why the place smelled so *floral* that it was giving me a headache) both times. 

The second time we bought a new house, I did some vacuuming but not much else. I'd learned from the last time we had a new house - we had no vacuum cleaner, as VorGuy had ordered one from a catalog instead of buying one to have on hand....new carpet shed fibers to our knees on uniform pants.

I can especially see help with repainting, cleaning areas where furniture will soon be blocking access, or positioning furniture in the first place - more hands make it easier to move a couch or dining room table!

But not AFTER the residents have arranged things to their liking....
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: lowspark on July 24, 2013, 09:24:20 AM
My mom foisted a key to their house off on me a few years ago when I was there for a visit.  I didn't think it made sense because I lived several hundred miles away and my sister was a quick hour drive away.  I took it anyhow and then locked it in my firesafe because I didn't feel the need to carry it with my regular keys. 

Stories like this are the main reason why my ILs did not receive a key to our home when they asked for one.  They ostensibly asked for one in  case of emergency and I knew that their definition of "emergency" and mine did not mesh.

Eek. Just the idea of her asking for a key rubs me the wrong way. Both my sons and daughter-in-law have a key to my house because they're my kids so I want them to always consider my house as their house too. But it doesn't work in the reverse. If they wanted to give me a key for emergency purposes, fine. But I would never ask.

Oh. Well, my sons already had keys from before they moved out. DIL actually asked me for a key as there were reasons she needed to come over when I wasn't home. So it wasn't a matter of me saying, Here, take a key. It was a matter of them just figuring I'd be ok with it. And I am.

They all live in the same city as I, just a few miles away.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: gramma dishes on July 24, 2013, 09:25:37 AM
Oh, do NOT be messing with MY GARDEN.  Oh, no.  No, no, no!  The unwanted items will go in the yard waste bin, and if something I planted left in the trash, you WILL be replacing it.  Possibly with a bigger version to get my point across.  There will be WORDS spoken, and they will be uncivil and curt.  You will cry.  (I might too, but they will steam off my face in the heat of my RAGE).  For realz. 

I'll be mad if you mess with my house, but I'll be UGLY if you mess with my garden and YOU WILL BE VERY SORRY you even thought of it.  There will be NO grandchildren named after you, and possibly after your entire side of the family.  You won't step FOOT on the property again.  Scorched Earth comes to mind....  If time permits, I may clean the ENTIRE house in a fit of fury, and it Will Sparkle and Be Perfect.  The cats will hide under the bed.  DH may join them there.  The pile of discards at the curb Will Be Large and comprehensive.

This was my first 'reading' of the day and I must say I've never laughed harder while still half asleep.  Just got back now to respond, but thanks for the early morning giggles!!   ;D
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Lynnv on July 24, 2013, 10:35:43 AM
To be fair, my mom and my sister (and my dad before he passed) all had keys to my house.  And I have keys to theirs.  But they could all (even my dad, who had plenty of other issues) could be trusted with those keys.  And I have keys to all of their houses.  That has been true anytime we have lived within 2-3 hours of each other.  Just in case of emergencies.

Heck, I don't particularly like my MIL and FIL and they could have keys to my house if they lived closer-my problems with them are not on this level.  My SIL could have one too if she lived close.   

But if any of them even came close to crossing that kind of boundary, the keys would come back to me and it would take a long time before I would trust that person again.

I told DH about this thread and his answer was, "Even my family would find this out of line-and they are all really annoying.  Who does this?"   ;D

Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: miranova on July 24, 2013, 02:18:11 PM
I was SO worried about this when I was dating now Dh.  His mother would do his laundry and rearrange kitchen cabinets every time she visited, even after being asked not to.  I was very clear when we started talking marriage that I would not put up with that and that I didn't even want anyone but us to have keys to the house. 

It turns out it was just a sexist thing....she has never tried anything like that since we've been married because now there is a woman in the house.  She just didn't trust her son to do those things "right".  Either that or she somehow instinctively knew that I would flip out on her.  Either way.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: camlan on July 24, 2013, 06:19:49 PM
My brother Ted is deployed right now. He's single and he owns a house. So my other brother Fred and I have been taking turns visiting the house every other week or so, to do yard work and just check up on things in general. So we've been invited in, so to speak, by Ted. Fred has spent the night there a few times, when the heat or power was out in his place (thank you Hurricane Sandy).

Trust me, the half-squeezed toothpaste tube is still on the side of the sink where he left it. Ted's hopefully coming home in 6 weeks, and I'm planning a top to bottom cleaning of the house. And I'm worrying about that stupid toothpaste tube--leave it where it is or put it in the medicine cabinet?

I'll probably clean under and leave it where it is. Scrub the bathrooms and kitchen, dust and vacuum everywhere and put clean sheets on the bed. Fill the kitchen with his favorite foods. Because a returning soldier shouldn't have to come home to a dusty, musty house and he shouldn't have to run out the second he gets back to find food to feed himself.

But change anything? Move anything? It's not my place to do so.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Outdoor Girl on July 24, 2013, 06:24:56 PM
I'd throw out the tube of toothpaste and put a fresh one in the medicine cabinet.  Or if you don't want to go in the medicine cabinet, leave it on the counter at the back or something.  I don't think that would be over stepping.

And I think it is a very nice thing for you to do to have the house move-back-in ready.  I'm sure Ted will appreciate it.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: MommyPenguin on July 24, 2013, 06:57:21 PM
I don't think moving the tube of toothpaste to the medicine cabinet (if that's where it's normally kept--when I was a kid, the counter was where the toothpaste lived) is overstepping.  I think moving items a small amount, as long as they are kept near the same location, is okay.  My MIL tidied our counters the other day.  There were a bunch of papers scattered about, and she put them in a neat pile without looking at them.  That might be a little more "risky" since papers could contain information, but in general, I'd think that level of tidying up would be okay.  Like if he'd left a newspaper scattered across the coffee table, stacking it up neatly would be fine (but I wouldn't throw it away).  Wiping the counters, cleaning the bathrooms, wiping down the fridge and throwing away any old yucky stuff (or turning the fridge on if it were cleaned out and turned off), getting a few groceries, they're all nice ways to welcome your brother back.  You could even treat him to a DVD of a movie that came out while he was gone that you know he'd like, or a book, or whatever.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: HappilyInsane on July 24, 2013, 08:59:55 PM
My MIL had a key to our house for about 11 or 12 years. Never had a problem, until one day when DH went out in his workroom to get something. He noticed that several cans of paint were missing. (And these had been buried under some boxes BTW, that's why he didn't notice immediately that they were gone.) He came back in and asked if I had done something with them. DD happened to be in the room and said "Grandmother came and got those a month ago while you and Mom were at work.". I don't think I've ever seen him look that mad. He promptly grabbed his keys, went to the hardware store and got new knobs and locks and that was the end of that. That was over 10 years ago and she still doesn't have a key to the new ones.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: AvidReader on July 25, 2013, 06:31:26 AM
What a lovely thing to do camlan.  Ted will know that he is loved and cared for when he gets home.  I wouldn't sweat the partially used tube of toothpaste.  It is so minor in the grand scheme of things that Ted has been dealing with that I can't imagine that he has given it a single thought.  How hysterically funny would it be if he were to mention that partially used tube of toothpaste he left on the counter after all he's been through?  Toss it with abandon and replace it with a fresh tube.  And please, if he is so inclined, leave a six-pack of his favorite brew in the fridge on my behalf.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: TootsNYC on July 25, 2013, 07:56:18 AM
Camlan, I'd do exactly what you're planning.

Why toss a partially used tube of toothpaste? There's still perfectly good toothpaste in there, isn't there?


And I'd probably leave it out too, because that's probably "where he keeps it," at least on a practical level.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Redsoil on July 25, 2013, 10:24:36 AM
I'm with Toots on this one.  Why on earth would you toss out a perfectly good tube of partially-used toothpaste?  It's a waste of money, and not necessary.  Would those advocating it, toss out a half-used tube of toothpaste in their own homes?  It's not like it's particularly perishable.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Outdoor Girl on July 25, 2013, 10:41:14 AM
Toothpaste does have a best before date; it is usually printed into the crimping at the end of the tube.  And if it has been sitting on the edge of the sink since Ted left, it is very likely beyond that date.  If the cap was on and the date is close, sure, keep it.  But if the cap was off and it was well out of date?  I'd pitch it and replace it.  For a couple of bucks to replace it and leave Ted with a fresh tube?  I think it's worth it.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Zizi-K on July 25, 2013, 11:00:22 AM
My story is of an attempted redecoration from afar.

My DH and I bought a new house a few years ago that was significantly larger than our old one. It has an actual dining room, so the small round table we used previously was not nearly large enough. My ILs have a huge house and a bunch of old furniture that they keep in their basement. It's not their style anymore (having long since updated), but it is ours (what's old becomes new again!), so my DH asked them for the old dining room set.

They could say yes or no, that was totally up to them. But when they called us back to say 'no', my MIL added: "I don't want to give you that old set, it's too old for you, so I went to LocalFurnitureStore in TheirCity (5 hours from us) and bought you a beautiful new dining room set. You all just have to drive down here to pick it up."

What??! At this point she had never visited our new house, had no idea what it looked like or what style it was (mid-century modern) and she bought us this ridiculously decorative set with lots of upholstery and carving and inlay - totally and completely wrong for the space. AND, to top it off, we had to drive there with a trailer to pick it up! DH shut that down really quickly.

She did end up giving us the 'old' set from the basement (a beautiful set that they had bought in the 60s, perfectly suited to our house, which she no longer even liked), and she ended up keeping the set she bought to put down in her basement because "something needs to go in that spot."
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: RebeccainGA on July 25, 2013, 11:02:02 AM
I know that my parents are untrustable when it comes to boundaries. When we moved into our current place, they did buy us new bookcases (we had them scattered in our old place, and since they were all going to be on one wall in the new place, we wanted them to at least be the same size). and helped us assemble them. However, they also 'helped' load them up, putting all DPs Christian related books (she's a minister - there are a LOT of them) at the bottom of all the shelves, where she can't get to them, and put all my fiction paperbacks (mostly cheap ones that I am weeding through and discarding) right at eye level so it's easy for me to find them. *boggle*

My MIL, on the other hand, when asking what she could do while I was at work all day, was told if she wanted she could empty the large boxes of breakables stacked in the kitchen. She unwrapped them, neatly piled them up on the kitchen table (after covering it with paper to avoid scratches), hand washed them one at a time until she ran out of room for them, and left them on clean towels on the counter. I could have kissed her!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: camlan on July 25, 2013, 11:18:28 AM
I'm sorry to have sidetracked the thread with a tube of toothpaste. I think I was just trying to show that while there is an acceptable range of what friends/family/in-laws can do in someone's house, there are certain boundaries that people really shouldn't cross.

It's possible that if I throw out that tube of toothpaste, my brother will be momentarily upset. Actually, knowing him well, it's pretty likely. But nothing to how upset he'd be if I rearranged his living and dining room furniture, which, in my opinion, is currently arranged all wrong (not that I'd ever say that to him).

But most people would agree that a house that has been sitting empty for a year could do with a cleaning before the owner get back, especially if the owner will be returning tired, stressed out and a trifle grumpy from dealing with the demob procedures of the military.

I know I'm over-thinking it with the toothpaste. But I think it's better to err on the side of doing too little in these cases of being in someone's house, than doing too much. This past year, I've been alone in DB's house quite often. I have not been upstairs at all. I haven't been down cellar. The only doors I'll be opening when I'm cleaning are those on the kitchen cabinets, because the cabinets could probably use a cleaning.

And underwear drawers are off-limits to everyone but the owner of said underwear. That's a boundary I think most people could agree on.

AvidReader, there won't be beer because he doesn't drink. But there will be a six-pack of his favorite micro-brewery root beer. And brownies. And pizza.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: siamesecat2965 on July 25, 2013, 11:21:09 AM
I've always had a key to my parent's house after I moved out, and they to each of my apts. But none of us have any boundary issues. I think the one time my dad came to my one apt without me, was when I was either having something delivered or someone coming to look at something that wasn't working, and my landlord wasn't available. I honestly don't recall, or which apt it was. But I had asked him to do it for me, and he simply came in, made some coffee, waited, observed, adn then left.

Some of these stories make me VERY glad I'm still single!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: TootsNYC on July 25, 2013, 11:25:10 AM
I know that my parents are untrustable when it comes to boundaries. When we moved into our current place, they did buy us new bookcases (we had them scattered in our old place, and since they were all going to be on one wall in the new place, we wanted them to at least be the same size). and helped us assemble them. However, they also 'helped' load them up, putting all DPs Christian related books (she's a minister - there are a LOT of them) at the bottom of all the shelves, where she can't get to them, and put all my fiction paperbacks (mostly cheap ones that I am weeding through and discarding) right at eye level so it's easy for me to find them. *boggle*


That doesn't sound so much like bad boundaries as simply not thinking things through, or not asking for directions.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: yachtchick on July 25, 2013, 11:57:50 AM
I had an "interesting" relationship with my MIL, Eloise.  I think I would have laughed until I cried, called her and said "Oh, Eloise, you are so funny.  Now get over here and let's clean up this mess."  She had no boundaries to speak of and I always treated her as the funniest woman ever and about seven years old.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: BeagleMommy on July 25, 2013, 01:22:10 PM
My parents and brother have a key to my house and I have one to their homes.  I would have had no problem with my late MIL having a key (or FIL even though he and I never saw eye-to-eye).  They would have never crossed such a boundary with me or DH.

While I was recuperating from my latest surgery my mom came to help out.  She washed our clothes and left them neatly folded in the baskets for me or DH (or DS) to put away.  She always maintained that putting the clothes away was far too intimate.

She's not working for the summer and asked if she could paint our master bedroom while she was off (it needed a sprucing up).  I picked up the paint and she and DS did the job in one day.  I stress that she asked first and left the color choice to me.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: lakey on July 25, 2013, 01:39:48 PM
"She spent hours and tons of money, so am I being crazy, ungrateful, oversensitive?"

This is one gigantic Yikes!. She's not being helpful, she's snooping and crossing boundaries that no normal person would cross. Your boyfriend may have been willing to put up with her going through all his stuff and invading his privacy when he lived in his mother's home, but you are not her daughter and she has no right to go through your stuff.

You need to take a good hard look at your boyfriend and his relationship with his mom. If this can't be gotten under control early on it will only get worse.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: lakey on July 25, 2013, 01:42:14 PM
Also, sometimes people who are over-bearing and controlling mask their attempts to control you as being "helpful" or "generous", don't fall for it. Buying you things and then rearranging your drawers is a very manipulative way of controlling your life.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: daen on July 25, 2013, 05:29:43 PM
One year in college, my roommates would rearrange the apartment's living room every couple of months. They were home, had the time, thought "Why not?" and went ahead with whatever plan. I would find out when I came home.

They were householders and had the right to rearrange things, and had they asked if they could, I would have said "Do what you want" - but I was still slightly unhappy the first time they did this without notice.

If someone who didn't live with me rearranged my furniture, I would be considerably more than "slightly unhappy." And replacing my things - there would be some barely-contained fury.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: miranova on July 25, 2013, 05:34:36 PM
Also, sometimes people who are over-bearing and controlling mask their attempts to control you as being "helpful" or "generous", don't fall for it.

Oh absolutely.  I'll never forget a conversation I had with my MIL before I got married where she "warned" me that sometimes people get mad at her because she is too helpful.  I remember thinking at the time "I'm sure that was not their word for it".  I was right.  Everyone I've spoken to in the family has had their boundaries trampled by her, and that is always her excuse, she is just being helpful!  It's so unfair and mean to be mad at her when all she is doing is trying to do is help!  It is the battle cry of the emotionally manipulative boundary tramplers of the world.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: floridamom on July 25, 2013, 06:28:22 PM
WOW!!!! And I thought my ex MIL was bad, who is just like Marie from "Everybody Loves Raymond".  It was bad enough 5 yrs ago when I was having my hip replaced and she snooped thru my emails.  She saw that I emailed her daughter.  Ex MIL found out that her sister was in town (who she had been feuding with and not speaking to) and I had her over and spent the day with.  Ex-MIL refused to care for my son (her grandson) who was 8 at the time, while I was in the hospital.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: RebeccainGA on July 26, 2013, 07:48:49 AM
I know that my parents are untrustable when it comes to boundaries. When we moved into our current place, they did buy us new bookcases (we had them scattered in our old place, and since they were all going to be on one wall in the new place, we wanted them to at least be the same size). and helped us assemble them. However, they also 'helped' load them up, putting all DPs Christian related books (she's a minister - there are a LOT of them) at the bottom of all the shelves, where she can't get to them, and put all my fiction paperbacks (mostly cheap ones that I am weeding through and discarding) right at eye level so it's easy for me to find them. *boggle*


That doesn't sound so much like bad boundaries as simply not thinking things through, or not asking for directions.
Oh, no, bad boundaries. Mom and Dad are, shall we say, less than thrilled that I married a minister. And since I've toned down my dress style and go to church (well, I 'm not single any more, of course I don't dress like I did when I was single and looking!) that DP is 'trying to change me'. The books were a 'this is what you should be reading' message.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on July 26, 2013, 01:35:22 PM
Also, sometimes people who are over-bearing and controlling mask their attempts to control you as being "helpful" or "generous", don't fall for it.

Oh absolutely.  I'll never forget a conversation I had with my MIL before I got married where she "warned" me that sometimes people get mad at her because she is too helpful.  I remember thinking at the time "I'm sure that was not their word for it".  I was right.  Everyone I've spoken to in the family has had their boundaries trampled by her, and that is always her excuse, she is just being helpful!  It's so unfair and mean to be mad at her when all she is doing is trying to do is help!  It is the battle cry of the emotionally manipulative boundary tramplers of the world.

I know that type, in my own parents.  Martyrs who are just "trying to help because that's what you do for faaaaaaaaaaaaamily!"  ::) Often i didn't want the help, they'd push it on us and then whine about how put upon they are.  ::) If you refuse their help you're ungrateful and if you don't fall to the ground kissing their feet and/or their rings for help you didn't need or want, you're wretched and ungrateful. 

A dear friend of mine on the other hand, is a problem solver.  I recently just stopped telling her about problems I knew I could deal with on my own because she'd tell me how to solve them.  But recently she realized that she does tend to take over and micromanage and it was when she found out about something I'd not told her that it really made her realize that.

To be fair to her though, I've been told by others that I'm not always clear when I'm asking for advice or just venting so I do need to work on that.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Julia Mercer on July 26, 2013, 02:14:25 PM
When I was still living at home, in my early 20's, EVERY TIME I went out with friends, I would come home to find my bedroom repainted or redecorated somehow, with the rock posters taken down. Then again, DM used to intercept my mail and throw away any fan club packets I would order (she and I have a better relationship now), so I went and got a post office box.
 She cut a concert shirt into rags because of a word on the back, which was mostly starred out (it was Up All F&%)ing night (something like that) I never really wore the shirt, I kept it because it was my fave band. I had a band autograph my denim jacket, and she washed the autograph out.
 Just a few years ago, I had a tank top that I had made saying Proud To Be A Canadian Redneck Girl, she destroyed that because she didn't like the word redneck! She actually emptied my suitcase from my Nashville trip that year and did my laundry for me.
I had a big mug that said BSers on it, and when we were packing her place for viewings to sell it, she accidentally on purpose dropped it on the tile floor. Didn't apologize, and when I asked what fell, she nonchalantly said just an old mug.

Anyhow, I could regale you with a lot of other stories, but that is what my mom used to be like. Sorry for the thread hijack! Please continue to post!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Pandora on July 26, 2013, 02:22:33 PM
 I am also concerned with the boyfriend's response. While she was living under her roof was one thing ..... but he thinks it was acceptable for her to go into another person's home and re-decorate?  :o :o :o :o
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: unnalee on July 26, 2013, 02:47:44 PM
Someone up-thread mentioned this being about control.  That's my opinion as well.  MIL is finding a roundabout way to exert control over the new living situation and woman in her DS's life, all under the guise of "helping". 

My mom does this too, though nowhere even close to this level.  In some situations, she just feels she's the only one who knows the "right" way to do things.  For example, we recently moved house.  Our new place was about 30 miles from the place we were renting.  Rental place was just a few blocks from my parents.  My mom first poo-pooed our decision to move into the city (their house and our rental were in the middle of nowhere).  Then she made half-joking, but still guilt-inducing comments about how living in the city will be less safe for our kids.  We just ignored, and my DH and I made every effort to move as much as we could on our own, since we knew how we wanted things packed, knew where we wanted them put, etc.  We knew from past experience that the second we accepted mom's offer to "help" she would try to take over the whole process.

We cleared the house of everything but the biggest furniture that wouldn't fit into our car and things we couldn't lift on our own (I'm pregnant and limited on what I can do).  Then WE arranged with a cousin to borrow his trailer, and a neighbor to borrow his truck.  My dad and brother came to help DH move the freezer, couch, and bed and they had half the stuff out of the rental and on the trailer when my mom showed up and started telling my dad that it was arranged all wrong.  He's been a doormat for far too long and went along with it, even over everyone else's protests that it was arranged just fine.  I put a stop to that since we had to have the truck back to neighbor by a certain time.

As mad as she makes me sometimes, even she would NEVER think it was OK to trample as many boundaries as the MIL in the OP. 
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: magicdomino on July 26, 2013, 02:49:45 PM
Come to think of it, I have a relative who used to do that.  Normally, she doesn't have enough money for stealth decorating, but for a while, she had a sizable inheritance.  One time, we were chatting on the phone, and she mentioned spending $5000 on linens, curtains, throw pillows, etc. for a friend who was depressed.  Sounds very nice, right?

"Your friend must have had a good time shopping with you"
"Oh, she wasn't interested.  I decided she needed something cheerful."

Perhaps I should mention that this relative's tastes extend towards the foo-foo.  There is no such thing as too much lace, ruffles, and giant flower prints (in this case, pink roses).  I really, really hope Relative's friend shared the same tastes, because giant pink roses would make me even more unhappy.

Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on July 26, 2013, 03:13:06 PM
Come to think of it, I have a relative who used to do that.  Normally, she doesn't have enough money for stealth decorating, but for a while, she had a sizable inheritance.  One time, we were chatting on the phone, and she mentioned spending $5000 on linens, curtains, throw pillows, etc. for a friend who was depressed.  Sounds very nice, right?

"Your friend must have had a good time shopping with you"
"Oh, she wasn't interested.  I decided she needed something cheerful."

Perhaps I should mention that this relative's tastes extend towards the foo-foo.  There is no such thing as too much lace, ruffles, and giant flower prints (in this case, pink roses).  I really, really hope Relative's friend shared the same tastes, because giant pink roses would make me even more unhappy.

Gaah, me too.  Mind you, I like some feminine touches in decoration, such as sheets with lacy or embroidered edging.  But I don't go into the froo-froo-la-la, as a friend would say.  I don't do ruffles and while I do have a rose colored carpet, it's because it was there when we moved in and we intend to replace it at some point. And I do not do pink, not since I begged for a pink bedroom at 10 and had to live with it till I left for college 8 years later.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Vall on July 26, 2013, 04:23:29 PM
I'm so glad that I've never had any in-laws trample boundaries like this.  I've also never had any family that would come close to this.  My dad did do some cleaning occasionally when he came to visit for a few weeks but that was because he was bored.  Plus, he tried to be careful not to move anything from its position.

I wonder if this is just a female thing.  Do FIL's do this too?  Maybe with the garage or sheds?  Has anyone ever heard of a man redecorating someone else's home unasked?  My husband does all of the home decoration here (I'm not interested) but he'd never do it in his daughter's home.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: nolechica on July 26, 2013, 04:49:38 PM
When I was still living at home, in my early 20's, EVERY TIME I went out with friends, I would come home to find my bedroom repainted or redecorated somehow, with the rock posters taken down. Then again, DM used to intercept my mail and throw away any fan club packets I would order (she and I have a better relationship now), so I went and got a post office box.
 She cut a concert shirt into rags because of a word on the back, which was mostly starred out (it was Up All F&%)ing night (something like that) I never really wore the shirt, I kept it because it was my fave band. I had a band autograph my denim jacket, and she washed the autograph out.
 Just a few years ago, I had a tank top that I had made saying Proud To Be A Canadian Redneck Girl, she destroyed that because she didn't like the word redneck! She actually emptied my suitcase from my Nashville trip that year and did my laundry for me.
I had a big mug that said BSers on it, and when we were packing her place for viewings to sell it, she accidentally on purpose dropped it on the tile floor. Didn't apologize, and when I asked what fell, she nonchalantly said just an old mug.

Anyhow, I could regale you with a lot of other stories, but that is what my mom used to be like. Sorry for the thread hijack! Please continue to post!

CRUD MONKEYS! I'd have moved out over half that stuff.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Jones on July 26, 2013, 04:55:53 PM
I'm so glad that I've never had any in-laws trample boundaries like this.  I've also never had any family that would come close to this.  My dad did do some cleaning occasionally when he came to visit for a few weeks but that was because he was bored.  Plus, he tried to be careful not to move anything from its position.

I wonder if this is just a female thing.  Do FIL's do this too?  Maybe with the garage or sheds?  Has anyone ever heard of a man redecorating someone else's home unasked?  My husband does all of the home decoration here (I'm not interested) but he'd never do it in his daughter's home.
I had a FIL move in and attempt to rearrange my life...bud can't manage his own, he sure as heck gets no say in mine.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: twiggy on July 26, 2013, 05:15:12 PM
MIL does little stuff like that all the time. She tries so hard to be "helpful" but we don't exactly see eye to eye. For instance, I don't mind a bit of clutter as long as it's organized and I know where it is. So things like toothbrushes/toothpaste and DH's razor can live happily on the bathroom counter. DD's hairbrush and detangling spray as well. MIL sweeps everything into a drawer that I have to root through. .

This last trip she got to work on the front porch. All that was out there was a welcome mat. Now the kids have Adirondack chairs, there's a wind chime, and she put in a planter full of flowers that promptly died (it was the middle of summer and during a massive heat wave). I told her that was going to happen.

Luckily she doesn't get upset when things go back to normal. Within a day and a half I had my bathroom counters back to normal, and when her flowers died, I just kind of shrugged and said I wasn't surprised. There's a shelf and a set of curtains in the back of a closet that she bought over 2 years ago that I just never got around to hanging. Then again, I don't really care a lot about decorating. The only thing that really grated my cheese was when she painted DD's room. It was paint that I had bought and she put up the stickers I had picked out, but she turned the dots into ladybugs and drew their antenna on with permanent marker....on the wood plank wall  >:(
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: rain on July 27, 2013, 01:28:14 PM
My story isn't really bad -


after DH & I got married our closet was rather full - _____ decided to come in and rearrange/rehang my clothes in the closet.  I changed things back -

She has always pushed the boundaries  :(  - she always had excuses for what she'd done  (aka "if you hadn't done _____, I wouldn't have done _____."  Or "I'm sorry, but its ok because you did _______.")

and now - I only see her 2-3 x a year, not 2-3 x a week
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: whatsanenigma on July 27, 2013, 03:37:04 PM
Toothpaste does have a best before date; it is usually printed into the crimping at the end of the tube.  And if it has been sitting on the edge of the sink since Ted left, it is very likely beyond that date.  If the cap was on and the date is close, sure, keep it.  But if the cap was off and it was well out of date?  I'd pitch it and replace it.  For a couple of bucks to replace it and leave Ted with a fresh tube?  I think it's worth it.

I agree with this.  I wouldn't randomly throw out a half-used tube of toothpaste that I had actively been using, or if someone who was using it just left for a weekend, but how long has that toothpaste been sitting there?  And it's going to be at least six weeks more.  I think it would be nice to replace it.  Who wants to come home to dried out, gross, toothpaste?  I am thinking he'd prefer to come home to fresh toothpaste along with the fresh housecleaning, etc. Though I think I would go ahead and leave it on the sink where the other one was.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Venus193 on July 27, 2013, 08:40:31 PM
Just be sure to replace it with the same brand and flavor.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: JoW on July 27, 2013, 09:05:41 PM
Its nice to know that my mother isn't the only one who does that sort of thing.  She honestly believes she's helping me when she cleans out my closet, rearranges my cupboards, reads my mail, and goes through my financial records.  And she doesn't understand why she no longer allowed in my home. 
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Green Bean on July 27, 2013, 09:40:08 PM
While he was growing up, DH's grandmother (GIL) was one of those meddlers. She had ideas of how things were supposed to be (mostly rearranging furniture in her kids' homes,...). The story that really bugs me, however, has to do with painting.

GMIL believed that basement floors and walls should be painted. Yes, even unfinished basements! (And when the paint wore out on the floor, it needed to be reprinted. Who goes this?) Anyway, MIL and FIL purchased a new home and GIL was visiting to help out shortly afterwards. GIL said the basement walls needed to be painted, but FIL didn't want to. So what did she do? She rolled paint once or twice on each wall and stopped, knowing FIL would would be compelled to finish the job.

No, FIL did not have a good relationship with his MIL. How'd you guess?
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: LeveeWoman on July 27, 2013, 10:21:32 PM
My mother is one of the most soul-crushing narcissists around, but she would never do anything like this to me in any home I've had.


To me, this behavior comes from a kind of person I'd kick out of my life in a nano-second.

Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: jedikaiti on July 27, 2013, 10:32:35 PM
While he was growing up, DH's grandmother (GIL) was one of those meddlers. She had ideas of how things were supposed to be (mostly rearranging furniture in her kids' homes,...). The story that really bugs me, however, has to do with painting.

GMIL believed that basement floors and walls should be painted. Yes, even unfinished basements! (And when the paint wore out on the floor, it needed to be reprinted. Who goes this?) Anyway, MIL and FIL purchased a new home and GIL was visiting to help out shortly afterwards. GIL said the basement walls needed to be painted, but FIL didn't want to. So what did she do? She rolled paint once or twice on each wall and stopped, knowing FIL would would be compelled to finish the job.

No, FIL did not have a good relationship with his MIL. How'd you guess?

Reminds me of an old family story.

This takes place back when coal or wood fires were the more common method of indoor heating/cooking, and ceiling tended to be darkened by soot.

A door to door salesman came by my great however many times grandmother's house, selling a brush to clean the soot off the ceiling. He started his pitch, then took a quick swipe at the ceiling before g-?-g'ma could stop him. It worked - made a distinct clean spot!

She made him stay and finish the job. Don't know if she bought the brush afterwards, or not.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: alkira6 on July 27, 2013, 10:50:15 PM
Agree the locks would be changed and possibly my living arrangements, if this happened to me.

My mother has the spare key to my place which is under 10 minutes drive from hers. At first, she had some issues respecting my privacy.

She would let herself in (while I was home) without ringing the bell. Once I was sleeping in and woke to the sound of an unknown person moving through my home (not a happy way to wake up). Yes, I did talk with her about this - she just didn't get why it was a problem.   :o
The final straw was when I came home from work late and very very tired and realised that things weren't where I left them (usually very untidily). I'd had a burglary not long before where the first thing I'd noticed was that things weren't where I'd left them. So I thought that had happened again - really freaked out. Took a while for me to realise that my house had been thoroughly tidied (not usually something a burglar would do) and this was my mum at work. (very kind intentions but not great execution).

After a talk that involved some voice raising unfortunately (my hands were still shaking - I probably should have calmed down a bit first), we sorted it out. She's since earned my trust around having a key (still don't think she really gets it but knows it upsets me).

My mom did the bolded on a surprise visit when we lived across state.  She was greeted with a loaded semi automatic with a round in the chamber. We had a nice "discussion" when I realized who it was.

She hasn't done it again.

She also has been traumatized while housesitting for us since we moved closer.  When you are supposed top sleep in the guest room on the brand new bed that we bought just for you, don't go into the master bedroom and rifle in the bedside drawer or look in the large leather case under the bed.  I will laugh at you when you try to bring up the contents and then describe in painful detail what each item can be used for both alone and in conjunction with other items.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: TootsNYC on July 27, 2013, 11:07:09 PM
Toothpaste does have a best before date; it is usually printed into the crimping at the end of the tube.  And if it has been sitting on the edge of the sink since Ted left, it is very likely beyond that date.  If the cap was on and the date is close, sure, keep it.  But if the cap was off and it was well out of date?  I'd pitch it and replace it.  For a couple of bucks to replace it and leave Ted with a fresh tube?  I think it's worth it.

I agree with this.  I wouldn't randomly throw out a half-used tube of toothpaste that I had actively been using, or if someone who was using it just left for a weekend, but how long has that toothpaste been sitting there?  And it's going to be at least six weeks more.  I think it would be nice to replace it.  Who wants to come home to dried out, gross, toothpaste?  I am thinking he'd prefer to come home to fresh toothpaste along with the fresh housecleaning, etc. Though I think I would go ahead and leave it on the sink where the other one was.

The tube of toothpaste in my cabinet has the date of 02/2015. And I've had it easily six months, maybe more.

I think it's ridiculous to toss it--maybe he'd find it comforting to come home to the familiar, slightly crumpled toothpaste, sitting right in the spot where he always leaves it.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: VorFemme on July 27, 2013, 11:27:21 PM
Sweet tasting toothpaste open for months in an empty house?

Dried out and possibly nibbled on by bugs....throw it out and replace with same brand and size.  Bugs don't wash their feet or clean their mouth parts...

I don't like bugs, for the most part.  At least not in my house....
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: LifeOnPluto on July 28, 2013, 06:31:31 AM
Somewhere in the old archives is a story where a woman's new MIL did something similar while they were on their honeymoon. She rearranged the kitchen & bathroom and opened all their wedding presents. Wife was upset, husband thought she was overreacting. She knew he had a large number of women working in his office and suggested he relate the story to them and ask their opinions. Being told by a large number of women that Mommy Dearest was way out of line forced him to face reality and forced him to lay down and enforce some boundaries.

Asharah, I remember that story too. I also recall that the MIL went through the LW's birth control as well!

My advice to the LW in this situation would be the same - tell her boyfriend to ask all his female friends and co-workers their thoughts on his mum's actions.

And if he still refused to think his mum was in the wrong? I'd be breaking it off.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: cattlekid on July 28, 2013, 10:05:05 AM
My ILs crossed the boundary for the last time yesterday.  DH allowed them to come over and cut some branches of a tree that was brushing our roof, even though it was something that we could have easily hired someone to do at a more convenient time. 

Well, since I was not home to supervise, someone took it upon themselves to weed my front flower bed and because they don't know a weed from a plant, they tore out the six very expensive periwinkle perennials that I started this past spring. 

I am FURIOUS.  I can't replant them until next spring and now I have a bare flower bed and wasted money and time. 

I've told DH that this is the absolute LAST time that they are allowed at our home to do anything without MY supervision.  DH and his family don't know squat about landscaping as they don't have a single ornamental tree. shrub or plant in their yard and they shouldn't be let near anyone else's yard who cares about landscaping other than grass.

 >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:(
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: jaxsue on July 28, 2013, 10:58:33 AM
My ILs crossed the boundary for the last time yesterday.  DH allowed them to come over and cut some branches of a tree that was brushing our roof, even though it was something that we could have easily hired someone to do at a more convenient time. 

Well, since I was not home to supervise, someone took it upon themselves to weed my front flower bed and because they don't know a weed from a plant, they tore out the six very expensive periwinkle perennials that I started this past spring. 

I am FURIOUS.  I can't replant them until next spring and now I have a bare flower bed and wasted money and time. 

I've told DH that this is the absolute LAST time that they are allowed at our home to do anything without MY supervision.  DH and his family don't know squat about landscaping as they don't have a single ornamental tree. shrub or plant in their yard and they shouldn't be let near anyone else's yard who cares about landscaping other than grass.

 >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:(

I am livid on your behalf! What did DH say about this?

And, honestly, I would be upset if anyone not qualified and insured started pruning my tree branches. People are injured that way, and to avoid legal discussion let's just say that it's a risk I wouldn't take.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Outdoor Girl on July 28, 2013, 11:03:43 AM
I'm livid on your behalf, as well.

But, at least where I am, periwinkle is pretty hardy.  I wish I lived near you because I could give you slips off mine - I have both purple and white.  If you can find it, either from a friend or by buying more, you should be able to put it in.  If it isn't going in a shady spot, I'd wait to put it in until the temperatures cool off a bit but if you can get it in by the middle of September, it should get established enough to survive the winter.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: gramma dishes on July 28, 2013, 11:17:38 AM
Cattlekid ~~  Was DH there when they were doing all this pruning and "weeding"?  Or did they just come by when both of you were gone?

I'd be FURIOUS!!  Does DH also agree that what they did was out of line or does he just think, "Oh well.  You can always replant them.  No harm done."

I also agree with Jaxsue.  I'd leave any future pruning to someone who does it professionally -- and who is bonded and insured!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: cattlekid on July 28, 2013, 01:16:46 PM
DH's exact quote was "they are just plants".   >:( >:( >:( >:( >:(

I told him as nicely as I could that it is NOT just about the plants, it's about boundaries with his family.  I agreed (albeit reluctantly) that they could prune tree branches.  I did NOT give them permission to start weeding flowerbeds, again, because they don't know a weed from a plant.

I fought for MONTHS to not have my ILs cut down tree branches for the exact reasons you mentioned.  But it was an argument that I momentarily lost and now I have an iron-clad promise from DH that they will never work in our yard again.

I am livid on your behalf! What did DH say about this?

And, honestly, I would be upset if anyone not qualified and insured started pruning my tree branches. People are injured that way, and to avoid legal discussion let's just say that it's a risk I wouldn't take.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: cattlekid on July 28, 2013, 01:18:01 PM
DH was around but he also does not know a plant from a weed.  So he was no help and didn't even know that my SIL and niece were near the flowerbed until this morning when I got up, looked out the window and blew a gasket.

Cattlekid ~~  Was DH there when they were doing all this pruning and "weeding"?  Or did they just come by when both of you were gone?

I'd be FURIOUS!!  Does DH also agree that what they did was out of line or does he just think, "Oh well.  You can always replant them.  No harm done."

I also agree with Jaxsue.  I'd leave any future pruning to someone who does it professionally -- and who is bonded and insured!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: cattlekid on July 28, 2013, 01:23:22 PM
I'm going to give up this year.  No one I know has periwinkle, you can't buy it in the garden centers any more and it's too darn hot to put it in the ground without a lot of water, which is super-expensive in our village. 

I'm also aggravated not just because I have to replace the plants, but because they were planted by my mom and aunt, who did a lot of work around the house after I got my kidney transplant in April.  They both tried to give me a kidney and were denied so this was their way of pitching in.  Now, it's gone and while I can replace the physical plants, I can't get back the ones that THEY put in the ground for me on the occasion of my transplant.

Plus, it's just a huge boundary trampling.  I told DH that this is OUR house, not theirs and what would they say if I went to their houses and just started throwing out stuff that I thought they no longer needed?  I think that's where things finally started to sink in with him, but then he went off the deep end and called his parents and told them that they were no longer welcome to do anything around our home.  So now they will start going around and telling other relatives that they have been banned from our house and it's all my fault, which they did 10 years ago when a similar issue happened.  We had just finally gotten to a decent place and now this happened.  Ugh - I guess I'll have to take on the role of family shrew again for a while until this all dies down.   ::)

I'm livid on your behalf, as well.

But, at least where I am, periwinkle is pretty hardy.  I wish I lived near you because I could give you slips off mine - I have both purple and white.  If you can find it, either from a friend or by buying more, you should be able to put it in.  If it isn't going in a shady spot, I'd wait to put it in until the temperatures cool off a bit but if you can get it in by the middle of September, it should get established enough to survive the winter.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: gramma dishes on July 28, 2013, 03:13:53 PM
... 

I'm also aggravated not just because I have to replace the plants, but because they were planted by my mom and aunt, who did a lot of work around the house after I got my kidney transplant in April.  They both tried to give me a kidney and were denied so this was their way of pitching in. Now, it's gone and while I can replace the physical plants, I can't get back the ones that THEY put in the ground for me on the occasion of my transplant.

Oh, wow!

I already thought that what they did was inexcusable, but this really makes it a thousand million times worse!!  They should be glad you are not me!  I don't think they'd have made it out of there alive if I were in your shoes.

Edited to add:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know that killing relatives goes against etiquette.  It's bad form.  But still ...
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: VorFemme on July 28, 2013, 04:40:24 PM
... 

I'm also aggravated not just because I have to replace the plants, but because they were planted by my mom and aunt, who did a lot of work around the house after I got my kidney transplant in April.  They both tried to give me a kidney and were denied so this was their way of pitching in. Now, it's gone and while I can replace the physical plants, I can't get back the ones that THEY put in the ground for me on the occasion of my transplant.

Oh, wow!

I already thought that what they did was inexcusable, but this really makes it a thousand million times worse!!  They should be glad you are not me!  I don't think they'd have made it out of there alive if I were in your shoes.

Edited to add:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know that killing relatives goes against etiquette.  It's bad form.  But still ...

"But, Your Honor, they were asking for it!"
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: acicularis on July 28, 2013, 05:55:23 PM
My ILs crossed the boundary for the last time yesterday.  DH allowed them to come over and cut some branches of a tree that was brushing our roof, even though it was something that we could have easily hired someone to do at a more convenient time. 

Well, since I was not home to supervise, someone took it upon themselves to weed my front flower bed and because they don't know a weed from a plant, they tore out the six very expensive periwinkle perennials that I started this past spring. 

I am FURIOUS.  I can't replant them until next spring and now I have a bare flower bed and wasted money and time. 

I've told DH that this is the absolute LAST time that they are allowed at our home to do anything without MY supervision.  DH and his family don't know squat about landscaping as they don't have a single ornamental tree. shrub or plant in their yard and they shouldn't be let near anyone else's yard who cares about landscaping other than grass.

 >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:(

Ugh, I am so sorry.

Reminds me of the time my MIL hacked away at my climbing rose because "It was in the way." Now I admit that some of the branches were not very well restrained, and were spilling out into the yard. But it wasn't in *my* way! I rather liked the way it looked.

And she didn't even prune it correctly or nicely, she just hacked away at it and reduced its height by half. And then left the hacked branches there on the ground.

I think she realized she'd overstepped when my husband saw what she'd done and looked shocked and asked "Does acicularis know you did that?" She got very defensive and said again that it was "in the way" and she "was trying to help." Oh, and got in a little dig about all the weeds that were growing up around it. I wish I'd asked "If you were really trying to help, why didn't you pull the weeds for me and dispose of them?"

Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: acicularis on July 28, 2013, 05:56:11 PM
... 

I'm also aggravated not just because I have to replace the plants, but because they were planted by my mom and aunt, who did a lot of work around the house after I got my kidney transplant in April.  They both tried to give me a kidney and were denied so this was their way of pitching in. Now, it's gone and while I can replace the physical plants, I can't get back the ones that THEY put in the ground for me on the occasion of my transplant.

Oh, wow!

I already thought that what they did was inexcusable, but this really makes it a thousand million times worse!!  They should be glad you are not me!  I don't think they'd have made it out of there alive if I were in your shoes.

Edited to add:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know that killing relatives goes against etiquette.  It's bad form.  But still ...

Oh my. Oh yes, that makes it so much worse.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: nolechica on July 28, 2013, 06:34:42 PM
... 

I'm also aggravated not just because I have to replace the plants, but because they were planted by my mom and aunt, who did a lot of work around the house after I got my kidney transplant in April.  They both tried to give me a kidney and were denied so this was their way of pitching in. Now, it's gone and while I can replace the physical plants, I can't get back the ones that THEY put in the ground for me on the occasion of my transplant.

Oh, wow!

I already thought that what they did was inexcusable, but this really makes it a thousand million times worse!!  They should be glad you are not me!  I don't think they'd have made it out of there alive if I were in your shoes.

Edited to add:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know that killing relatives goes against etiquette.  It's bad form.  But still ...

"But, Your Honor, they were asking for it!"

Now I have Cell block Tango in my head....thanks. "He had it coming, he had it coming/He only had himself to blame/If you'd have been there, if you'd have seen it/I betcha you would have done the same"


Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: kckgirl on July 28, 2013, 06:48:42 PM
MIL and FIL purchased a new home and GIL was visiting to help out shortly afterwards. GIL said the basement walls needed to be painted, but FIL didn't want to. So what did she do? She rolled paint once or twice on each wall and stopped, knowing FIL would would be compelled to finish the job.

That wouldn't have worked at my house. My unfinished basement doesn't get beautification projects. If somebody tried that on me, when they were finally allowed to visit again, years later, they'd find the paint swipes they put there and the walls and floor still unpainted.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Cz. Burrito on July 28, 2013, 07:01:28 PM
Somewhere in the old archives is a story where a woman's new MIL did something similar while they were on their honeymoon. She rearranged the kitchen & bathroom and opened all their wedding presents. Wife was upset, husband thought she was overreacting. She knew he had a large number of women working in his office and suggested he relate the story to them and ask their opinions. Being told by a large number of women that Mommy Dearest was way out of line forced him to face reality and forced him to lay down and enforce some boundaries.

Asharah, I remember that story too. I also recall that the MIL went through the LW's birth control as well!

My advice to the LW in this situation would be the same - tell her boyfriend to ask all his female friends and co-workers their thoughts on his mum's actions.

And if he still refused to think his mum was in the wrong? I'd be breaking it off.

My uncle did the bolded to his DIL.  "You don't need this!" They were living with Aunt/Uncle to get on their feet right after getting married.  Uncle thought they should be giving him grandbabies (even though they could barely afford to support themselves).  Within 2 months they'd moved 4 hours away.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: LifeOnPluto on July 28, 2013, 10:30:52 PM
Somewhere in the old archives is a story where a woman's new MIL did something similar while they were on their honeymoon. She rearranged the kitchen & bathroom and opened all their wedding presents. Wife was upset, husband thought she was overreacting. She knew he had a large number of women working in his office and suggested he relate the story to them and ask their opinions. Being told by a large number of women that Mommy Dearest was way out of line forced him to face reality and forced him to lay down and enforce some boundaries.

Asharah, I remember that story too. I also recall that the MIL went through the LW's birth control as well!

My advice to the LW in this situation would be the same - tell her boyfriend to ask all his female friends and co-workers their thoughts on his mum's actions.

And if he still refused to think his mum was in the wrong? I'd be breaking it off.

My uncle did the bolded to his DIL.  "You don't need this!" They were living with Aunt/Uncle to get on their feet right after getting married.  Uncle thought they should be giving him grandbabies (even though they could barely afford to support themselves).  Within 2 months they'd moved 4 hours away.

Holy moly, that's terrible! I wonder if Uncle was willing to pitch in with the nappy changing, washing, and babysitting, should the grandchild have eventuated? My guess is no.


My ILs crossed the boundary for the last time yesterday.  DH allowed them to come over and cut some branches of a tree that was brushing our roof, even though it was something that we could have easily hired someone to do at a more convenient time. 

Well, since I was not home to supervise, someone took it upon themselves to weed my front flower bed and because they don't know a weed from a plant, they tore out the six very expensive periwinkle perennials that I started this past spring. 

I am FURIOUS.  I can't replant them until next spring and now I have a bare flower bed and wasted money and time. 

I've told DH that this is the absolute LAST time that they are allowed at our home to do anything without MY supervision.  DH and his family don't know squat about landscaping as they don't have a single ornamental tree. shrub or plant in their yard and they shouldn't be let near anyone else's yard who cares about landscaping other than grass.

 >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:(


I would send them an invoice for the cost of the periwinkles.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: jedikaiti on July 28, 2013, 10:41:58 PM
And time & travel for Mom & Sis
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: cattlekid on July 29, 2013, 07:20:31 AM
That would be one heck of an invoice because Mom had to fly out to visit me.   :D

After some pointed questions to those involved, it has been determined that it was my SIL and niece who took it upon themselves to pull up all the periwinkle.  There have been other issues with SIL so this is it.  Until she apologizes and UNDERSTANDS why what she did was so heinous and boundary-crossing, I do not plan on speaking to her.  She doesn't think she can do any wrong, so I think this is going to be a long standoff, but I'm fine with it.

And time & travel for Mom & Sis
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Kiara on July 29, 2013, 07:36:55 AM
See, this makes me want to go hug my friend.  She came to catsit while I was away for 3 weeks.  When I came home, she said "I was going to try and clean up the front yard, but I have no idea what's a weed and what's not, so I left it because I know your garden is important to you."  Leaving stuff alone isn't that hard!!!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: cattlekid on July 29, 2013, 07:47:11 AM
Evil Cattlekid wants to go to SIL's house and just randomly start throwing things in the garbage (on trash day, so they can't be retrieved).  Then when SIL protests, I want to say "oh, it looked like trash to me".   Maybe then she'll understand why what she did was so awful. 

See, this makes me want to go hug my friend.  She came to catsit while I was away for 3 weeks.  When I came home, she said "I was going to try and clean up the front yard, but I have no idea what's a weed and what's not, so I left it because I know your garden is important to you."  Leaving stuff alone isn't that hard!!!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: magicdomino on July 29, 2013, 09:40:38 AM
MIL and FIL purchased a new home and GIL was visiting to help out shortly afterwards. GIL said the basement walls needed to be painted, but FIL didn't want to. So what did she do? She rolled paint once or twice on each wall and stopped, knowing FIL would would be compelled to finish the job.

That wouldn't have worked at my house. My unfinished basement doesn't get beautification projects. If somebody tried that on me, when they were finally allowed to visit again, years later, they'd find the paint swipes they put there and the walls and floor still unpainted.

Same here.  Unfinished = industrial area = I don't care what it looks like as long as I can find stuff.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: TootsNYC on July 29, 2013, 10:25:01 AM
MIL and FIL purchased a new home and GIL was visiting to help out shortly afterwards. GIL said the basement walls needed to be painted, but FIL didn't want to. So what did she do? She rolled paint once or twice on each wall and stopped, knowing FIL would would be compelled to finish the job.

That wouldn't have worked at my house. My unfinished basement doesn't get beautification projects. If somebody tried that on me, when they were finally allowed to visit again, years later, they'd find the paint swipes they put there and the walls and floor still unpainted.

Same here.  Unfinished = industrial area = I don't care what it looks like as long as I can find stuff.

True.
But it would bug the heck out of me every time I saw it. "general homogenously unfinished" is one look; "random blotchy parts" is another.

So I would probably knock together some storage shelves and set them in front of it!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: VorFemme on July 29, 2013, 11:03:24 AM
MIL and FIL purchased a new home and GIL was visiting to help out shortly afterwards. GIL said the basement walls needed to be painted, but FIL didn't want to. So what did she do? She rolled paint once or twice on each wall and stopped, knowing FIL would would be compelled to finish the job.

That wouldn't have worked at my house. My unfinished basement doesn't get beautification projects. If somebody tried that on me, when they were finally allowed to visit again, years later, they'd find the paint swipes they put there and the walls and floor still unpainted.

Same here.  Unfinished = industrial area = I don't care what it looks like as long as I can find stuff.

True.
But it would bug the heck out of me every time I saw it. "general homogenously unfinished" is one look; "random blotchy parts" is another.

So I would probably knock together some storage shelves and set them in front of it!

Put an empty frame around it and claim that MIL painted an abstract on each wall?
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Free Range Hippy Chick on July 29, 2013, 11:14:25 AM
When the Younger Chick was three, we had a simply ghastly three weeks with him in hospital, and not necessarily going to come out again. The Elder Chick was five, and we had no family close by. First my mother and then my MIL came to stay (my FIL came too but he was about as much use as a chocolate teapot), and they ran my household for me, so that DH and I could be at the hospital, the Elder Chick could go to school, there were meals and clean laundry etc. etc. cont page 96. Boundaries simply had to be shifted, or indeed abandoned; if somebody didn't do my laundry for me, I had no clean clothes. If somebody else would make a meal and collect the Elder Chick from school, DH could make an appearance at work and at least tell other people what to do. My MIL eventually said to me, 'dear, I don't know how you do things, so I'm just going to do them the way I normally would rather than asking you all the time, all right?' and I simply nodded. There's a time to worry about somebody else cleaning your lavatory, and this wasn't it.

Afterwards? I could find nothing in my kitchen, because between them, my mother and my MIL had put things where they expected to find them - someone else's kitchen is never laid out precisely the way you would do it yourself. There were several things one or other of them bought because 'well, I know you must have one, but I can't find it, so it was easiest just to get another one.' I don't think I ever found where my MIL had put the potato peeler, but it didn't seem terribly important; I put it on the shopping list.

After it was all over, it wasn't the easiest to reform the boundaries. Easier for my mother - as somebody said upthread, it's different with your own mother to how it is with your MIL. On a visit to my ILs later, I 'helped' my MIL turn out a cupboard, and in retrospect, I think there might have been a degree on my part of... boundary pushiness, shall we say. She didn't hold it against me, but the degree to which either of us was completely 'at home' in the other's house, the things we could do without asking permission, was... odd.

Intent, in our case, was all, I think.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: gmatoy on July 29, 2013, 01:29:28 PM

Reminds me of an old family story.

This takes place back when coal or wood fires were the more common method of indoor heating/cooking, and ceiling tended to be darkened by soot.

A door to door salesman came by my great however many times grandmother's house, selling a brush to clean the soot off the ceiling. He started his pitch, then took a quick swipe at the ceiling before g-?-g'ma could stop him. It worked - made a distinct clean spot!

She made him stay and finish the job. Don't know if she bought the brush afterwards, or not.

I love this story! In my family we had a lot of strong-willed women and it sounds like something any one of them would have done!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: camlan on July 29, 2013, 02:00:02 PM
When the Younger Chick was three, we had a simply ghastly three weeks with him in hospital, and not necessarily going to come out again. The Elder Chick was five, and we had no family close by. First my mother and then my MIL came to stay (my FIL came too but he was about as much use as a chocolate teapot), and they ran my household for me, so that DH and I could be at the hospital, the Elder Chick could go to school, there were meals and clean laundry etc. etc. cont page 96. Boundaries simply had to be shifted, or indeed abandoned; if somebody didn't do my laundry for me, I had no clean clothes. If somebody else would make a meal and collect the Elder Chick from school, DH could make an appearance at work and at least tell other people what to do. My MIL eventually said to me, 'dear, I don't know how you do things, so I'm just going to do them the way I normally would rather than asking you all the time, all right?' and I simply nodded. There's a time to worry about somebody else cleaning your lavatory, and this wasn't it.

Afterwards? I could find nothing in my kitchen, because between them, my mother and my MIL had put things where they expected to find them - someone else's kitchen is never laid out precisely the way you would do it yourself. There were several things one or other of them bought because 'well, I know you must have one, but I can't find it, so it was easiest just to get another one.' I don't think I ever found where my MIL had put the potato peeler, but it didn't seem terribly important; I put it on the shopping list.

After it was all over, it wasn't the easiest to reform the boundaries. Easier for my mother - as somebody said upthread, it's different with your own mother to how it is with your MIL. On a visit to my ILs later, I 'helped' my MIL turn out a cupboard, and in retrospect, I think there might have been a degree on my part of... boundary pushiness, shall we say. She didn't hold it against me, but the degree to which either of us was completely 'at home' in the other's house, the things we could do without asking permission, was... odd.

Intent, in our case, was all, I think.

I've been on the other side of this, when my brother ended up in the hospital for a month, leaving my sister-in-law with the three kids--the 5 year old who was on a ventilator, the 3 year old and the one and a half week old newborn.

I drove out the 8 hours to help out. Didn't know where things in the kitchen went, didn't know what the kids were supposed to eat, barely managed to keep the various schedules for nursery school and kindergarten and therapy and music lessons straight. Heck, I didn't know where the nearest supermarket was, or what SIL would like for dinner. Since I live alone, I wasn't at all used to the amount of cooking or cleaning or laundry that needed to be done.

And the kids insisted on watching TV in their parents' bedroom, not the living room, not the family room. Looking back, they probably felt closer to their parents in there, but I was freaking out about being in their bedroom because I didn't belong there. And it was really weird doing SIL's laundry, but she did not have time to think about that sort of thing. I did my best to observe boundaries, but there were times when it was just not possible.

I did the best I could, with the guidance of the 5 year old. And I apologized a lot. And I have a very forgiving SIL. As she put it, we all survived to tell the tale.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Free Range Hippy Chick on July 29, 2013, 02:11:46 PM

I've been on the other side of this, when my brother ended up in the hospital for a month, leaving my sister-in-law with the three kids--the 5 year old who was on a ventilator, the 3 year old and the one and a half week old newborn.

I drove out the 8 hours to help out. Didn't know where things in the kitchen went, didn't know what the kids were supposed to eat, barely managed to keep the various schedules for nursery school and kindergarten and therapy and music lessons straight. Heck, I didn't know where the nearest supermarket was, or what SIL would like for dinner. Since I live alone, I wasn't at all used to the amount of cooking or cleaning or laundry that needed to be done.

And the kids insisted on watching TV in their parents' bedroom, not the living room, not the family room. Looking back, they probably felt closer to their parents in there, but I was freaking out about being in their bedroom because I didn't belong there. And it was really weird doing SIL's laundry, but she did not have time to think about that sort of thing. I did my best to observe boundaries, but there were times when it was just not possible.

I did the best I could, with the guidance of the 5 year old. And I apologized a lot. And I have a very forgiving SIL. As she put it, we all survived to tell the tale.

Just so - you get very good at triage. It's more important that something should go on the table than that it be the right thing. So the children are eating fish finger sandwiches again? Fish, that's protein, bread is carb, insist on them eating an apple afterwards and that's close enough to a balanced meal, and if they eat it every day it doesn't matter. So they want that particular cartoon character shirt every day because that's the one daddy bought them? Wash it every evening as it comes off. Not worth the meltdown, which as we all know, is actually nothing to do with the shirt and everything to do with the fact that mummy and daddy are at the hospital. Clean the bathroom, because a family attack of salmonella won't help, and leave the garden because nobody will actually die if the lawn isn't mowed. So you're sitting on my bed watching TV with the children and you don't belong there. Is anybody crying? No? Then put another Fireman Sam DVD in and avert your eyes from the dust on the dressing table. Nobody will die of it.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Addy on July 29, 2013, 05:03:51 PM

I've been on the other side of this, when my brother ended up in the hospital for a month, leaving my sister-in-law with the three kids--the 5 year old who was on a ventilator, the 3 year old and the one and a half week old newborn.

I drove out the 8 hours to help out. Didn't know where things in the kitchen went, didn't know what the kids were supposed to eat, barely managed to keep the various schedules for nursery school and kindergarten and therapy and music lessons straight. Heck, I didn't know where the nearest supermarket was, or what SIL would like for dinner. Since I live alone, I wasn't at all used to the amount of cooking or cleaning or laundry that needed to be done.

And the kids insisted on watching TV in their parents' bedroom, not the living room, not the family room. Looking back, they probably felt closer to their parents in there, but I was freaking out about being in their bedroom because I didn't belong there. And it was really weird doing SIL's laundry, but she did not have time to think about that sort of thing. I did my best to observe boundaries, but there were times when it was just not possible.

I did the best I could, with the guidance of the 5 year old. And I apologized a lot. And I have a very forgiving SIL. As she put it, we all survived to tell the tale.

You may have felt that you needed to apologize and that your SIL had to be forgiving, but to me it looks like she should have been thanking you profusely (I'm not saying she didn't) because you sound like an awesome, helpful sister-in-law.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Outdoor Girl on July 29, 2013, 05:09:22 PM
Camlan and Free Range Hippy Chick, I think the situations you describe are exceptions.  Crisis going on?  As long as you are being helpful and not aggravating the person you are helping, all bets are off.  Do things as you need to do them, regardless of how they are normally done; organize things to make it most efficient for you and when the crisis is over, or at least under control, help put things back to the way the person you helped would like them to be.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Free Range Hippy Chick on July 30, 2013, 02:47:07 AM
Camlan and Free Range Hippy Chick, I think the situations you describe are exceptions.  Crisis going on?  As long as you are being helpful and not aggravating the person you are helping, all bets are off.  Do things as you need to do them, regardless of how they are normally done; organize things to make it most efficient for you and when the crisis is over, or at least under control, help put things back to the way the person you helped would like them to be.


Of course that's true - but nonetheless, despite the crisis, despite the clear understanding that this is how it needs to be, that there is no alternative, there is still an underlying discomfort both for the person intruded upon and for the intruder, if the intruder, like both Camlan and my MIL (whom I loved dearly) has normal social sensitivities. People are territorial. MY kitchen. MY bedroom. It was less uncomfortable for my mother, who had done my laundry until I went away to university and who had given me space in her kitchen.

Although for sheer 'crossing boundaries! not happy!' 'this never happened and we do not speak of it' you have only to look at my DH. When the crisis overcame us, my mother arrived in a panic and at very short notice, having packed her suitcase while suffering from incapacitating fear for her grandson. She admitted later that she had no idea why she packed some of the things she did or why she forgot some of the things she did. While I was at the hospital my DH had to take her shopping for bras. He still shudders at the memory.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Outdoor Girl on July 30, 2013, 08:37:39 AM
LOL.  I imagine it was tramatic for your Mom, too.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Asharah on July 30, 2013, 08:37:46 AM
Camlan and Free Range Hippy Chick, I think the situations you describe are exceptions.  Crisis going on?  As long as you are being helpful and not aggravating the person you are helping, all bets are off.  Do things as you need to do them, regardless of how they are normally done; organize things to make it most efficient for you and when the crisis is over, or at least under control, help put things back to the way the person you helped would like them to be.


Of course that's true - but nonetheless, despite the crisis, despite the clear understanding that this is how it needs to be, that there is no alternative, there is still an underlying discomfort both for the person intruded upon and for the intruder, if the intruder, like both Camlan and my MIL (whom I loved dearly) has normal social sensitivities. People are territorial. MY kitchen. MY bedroom. It was less uncomfortable for my mother, who had done my laundry until I went away to university and who had given me space in her kitchen.

Although for sheer 'crossing boundaries! not happy!' 'this never happened and we do not speak of it' you have only to look at my DH. When the crisis overcame us, my mother arrived in a panic and at very short notice, having packed her suitcase while suffering from incapacitating fear for her grandson. She admitted later that she had no idea why she packed some of the things she did or why she forgot some of the things she did. While I was at the hospital my DH had to take her shopping for bras. He still shudders at the memory.
I assume to show her where the store was. I would guess she could handle the rest herself.  ;D
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Free Range Hippy Chick on July 30, 2013, 12:11:31 PM

Although for sheer 'crossing boundaries! not happy!' 'this never happened and we do not speak of it' you have only to look at my DH. When the crisis overcame us, my mother arrived in a panic and at very short notice, having packed her suitcase while suffering from incapacitating fear for her grandson. She admitted later that she had no idea why she packed some of the things she did or why she forgot some of the things she did. While I was at the hospital my DH had to take her shopping for bras. He still shudders at the memory.
I assume to show her where the store was. I would guess she could handle the rest herself.  ;D

He says will you please not use the word 'handle' in reference to this story because it brings him out in a cold sweat. And she was in a complete tizz (we all were) so he had to find sizes on packets for her. Although, as I said, it didn't happen, OK?
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Hmmmmm on July 30, 2013, 12:50:19 PM
Reading these stories, I think I have to accept that I probably trampled my MIL's boundaries a few years ago.

MIL and FIL were on vacation when a medical emergency caused them to have to remain out of state for 10 weeks. BIL had been staying at their house while they were gone then he and my DH flew up to help MIL and FIL travel back home. DH asked if I'd go by their house to make sure everything was in order, since we knew BIL wasn't the best housekeeper. And in recent years, MIL hadn't been able to do as much house cleaning as normal so things had already gotten a little out of hand, not bad but things like baseboards not cleaned, cobwebs in corners, doors not wiped down and rust in the bath.

When I got there, BIL had left a complete mess. Newspapers everywhere, pizza box on the counter, soda cans on the coffee table and it didn't look like any dusting or floors had been done since she was gone. When I checked the fridge it had a really bad odor.

So I ended up doing a whirlwind cleaning. After reading these I think I probably should have stopped at just throwing out the garbage, putting fresh sheets on the bed and dusting and doing the floors. But I cleaned out the fridge, throwing out things near expiration and cleaning it completely, cleaning all the doors, baseboards, and cabinets, cleaning all the light fixtures, light switches, and windows, vacuuming under the furniture cushions, and giving their bathroom a thorough cleaning, removing all the rust stains. And their bathmat had mildew I couldn't get out, so I went a bought a new one and some pretty hand towels to match. (I did leave the old one in the linen closet.) 

I don't remember MIL ever really mentioning it. I do seem to remember her thanking me for  stocking the fridge with fresh groceries and for "picking up after BIL" and for the pretty bath rug and hand towels. But now I wonder if I might have really offended her.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Asharah on July 30, 2013, 12:54:13 PM

Although for sheer 'crossing boundaries! not happy!' 'this never happened and we do not speak of it' you have only to look at my DH. When the crisis overcame us, my mother arrived in a panic and at very short notice, having packed her suitcase while suffering from incapacitating fear for her grandson. She admitted later that she had no idea why she packed some of the things she did or why she forgot some of the things she did. While I was at the hospital my DH had to take her shopping for bras. He still shudders at the memory.
I assume to show her where the store was. I would guess she could handle the rest herself.  ;D

He says will you please not use the word 'handle' in reference to this story because it brings him out in a cold sweat. And she was in a complete tizz (we all were) so he had to find sizes on packets for her. Although, as I said, it didn't happen, OK?
I profoundly apologize.  ;)
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Outdoor Girl on July 30, 2013, 12:54:33 PM
Hmmmmm, if you offended her, you can come offend me anytime.   ;D

The only thing that might have been overstepping, in my mind, is replacing the bathmat and hand towels.  But since you didn't throw the old one out and left it in the linen closet, I think you were fine.

Rather than being mad, I think I would have kissed your feet...
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: jedikaiti on July 30, 2013, 12:57:18 PM
Hmmmmm, I'd give you a pass on extenuating circumstances - no way should she have had to come home to BIL's (really disgusting) mess after 10 weeks away! And yes, you're welcome to offend me any time. :-)
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: *inviteseller on July 30, 2013, 01:01:15 PM

Although for sheer 'crossing boundaries! not happy!' 'this never happened and we do not speak of it' you have only to look at my DH. When the crisis overcame us, my mother arrived in a panic and at very short notice, having packed her suitcase while suffering from incapacitating fear for her grandson. She admitted later that she had no idea why she packed some of the things she did or why she forgot some of the things she did. While I was at the hospital my DH had to take her shopping for bras. He still shudders at the memory.
I assume to show her where the store was. I would guess she could handle the rest herself.  ;D

He says will you please not use the word 'handle' in reference to this story because it brings him out in a cold sweat. And she was in a complete tizz (we all were) so he had to find sizes on packets for her. Although, as I said, it didn't happen, OK?

I hope he was rewarded for this.  My ex husband wouldn't bra shop with me, I can only imagine him with my step mom. 
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: TootsNYC on July 30, 2013, 01:41:24 PM
Reading these stories, I think I have to accept that I probably trampled my MIL's boundaries a few years ago.

MIL and FIL were on vacation when a medical emergency caused them to have to remain out of state for 10 weeks. BIL had been staying at their house while they were gone then he and my DH flew up to help MIL and FIL travel back home. DH asked if I'd go by their house to make sure everything was in order, since we knew BIL wasn't the best housekeeper. And in recent years, MIL hadn't been able to do as much house cleaning as normal so things had already gotten a little out of hand, not bad but things like baseboards not cleaned, cobwebs in corners, doors not wiped down and rust in the bath.

When I got there, BIL had left a complete mess. Newspapers everywhere, pizza box on the counter, soda cans on the coffee table and it didn't look like any dusting or floors had been done since she was gone. When I checked the fridge it had a really bad odor.

So I ended up doing a whirlwind cleaning. After reading these I think I probably should have stopped at just throwing out the garbage, putting fresh sheets on the bed and dusting and doing the floors. But I cleaned out the fridge, throwing out things near expiration and cleaning it completely, cleaning all the doors, baseboards, and cabinets, cleaning all the light fixtures, light switches, and windows, vacuuming under the furniture cushions, and giving their bathroom a thorough cleaning, removing all the rust stains. And their bathmat had mildew I couldn't get out, so I went a bought a new one and some pretty hand towels to match. (I did leave the old one in the linen closet.) 

I don't remember MIL ever really mentioning it. I do seem to remember her thanking me for  stocking the fridge with fresh groceries and for "picking up after BIL" and for the pretty bath rug and hand towels. But now I wonder if I might have really offended her.

I think all the cleaning, especially in that emergency situation, is absolutely NOT the same thing as the gratuitous "redecorating" the letter-writer's MIL did.

And replacing something really damaged, again, is not "redecorating." Even though bath mats are sort of decorative, they're also not usually the thing that says "this is my home" quite so strongly. I'm wondering--did you try to get one that was somewhat similar to the old one?

I bet you didn't offend her at all.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: gramma dishes on July 30, 2013, 01:46:04 PM
...    But now I wonder if I might have really offended her.

I doubt it.  She no doubt knew the mess her son would make (and leave) so she probably had a pretty good idea what she would see when she got home.  Instead of that, finding the place immaculate would have been a marvelous relief and I expect she thought "Wow.  I must be the luckiest MIL in the world to have a DIL who would go through all that trouble for me."

At least that's how I would feel if I were your MIL.  And by the way, I'm open to adopting you should you ever find yourself in need of another mother or two!   ;D
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: Virg on July 30, 2013, 02:20:57 PM
Hmmmmm wrote:

"I don't remember MIL ever really mentioning it. I do seem to remember her thanking me for  stocking the fridge with fresh groceries and for "picking up after BIL" and for the pretty bath rug and hand towels. But now I wonder if I might have really offended her."

My thought is that you didn't do what the MIL in the OP did.  You didn't go in and change things to suit you, and you didn't go snooping for information.  You cleaned a lot of stuff but the only change was a bath mat (and you left the old one in case she was somehow attached to it) and cleaning out some expired food, which I presume you could replace if she was bothered by it.  So I don't see this anywhere near the level of invasion that the OP describes, and from your comment about her thanks I doubt your MIL did either.

Virg
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: cattlekid on July 30, 2013, 04:27:15 PM
I am of two minds on cleaning. 

My mom has cleaned my house on two occasions with no judgement.  I was on five day a week kidney dialysis for a little over two years, plus working full time and things got a little out of hand. 

However, if my MIL were the one doing the cleaning, she would do it with such an air of judgement and martyrdom that I would feel about this small for the rest of my natural life.  Intellectually, I know I shouldn't, but emotionally, it would be impossible.
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: sagiegirl on July 30, 2013, 06:26:28 PM
Several years ago I was on bed rest 2 1/2 hrs from home trying to keep baby #2 from arriving.  Although all is well now, she arrived at 26 weeks.  I was discharged, ordered not to return to the hospital for 5 days, and as such was absolutely heartbroken.  I also needed  to return to my 5 yr old. 

It was the dead of winter and I was so swollen that I could not get shoes on.  I cried all the way home, just wanting my bed and familiar surroundings.  I had been told my SIL and AuntIL had straightened up so I would be more comfortable.  I thought that meant run the sweeper, dust, make sure kitchen was clean, etc... However.....

The only room they had touched was my bedroom.  All my drawers were rearranged, tops of furniture rearranged, and the worst....the few baby clothes I had purchased for my daughter were stuffed in a grocery bag and thrown in the back of my closet! 

I completely lost all control.  I spent the next 6 hours on the floor, recovering from an emergency c-section, trying to put everything back in order...

What hurt the most was the baby clothes....it was as though theywere saying she wasn't coming home and just forget about it....

Boy, were they wrong.....she starts third grade next week!
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: gramma dishes on July 30, 2013, 08:34:47 PM


...   I completely lost all control.  I spent the next 6 hours on the floor, recovering from an emergency c-section, trying to put everything back in order...



Would it be mean of me to say that I hope your SIL and AIL were still around to see your response to their "help"?  I don't think I'd ever be able to look at them again.

I'm so glad that your story DID have such a happy ending though!!  That part is wonderful.   :)
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: sagiegirl on July 30, 2013, 08:53:52 PM
One of them was.  She kept asking if I had been checked for postpartum depression.... :o. As if that could be the only reason I was sobbing on the floor.....
Title: Re: Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house
Post by: gramma dishes on July 30, 2013, 09:01:59 PM
One of them was.  She kept asking if I had been checked for postpartum depression.... :o. As if that could be the only reason I was sobbing on the floor.....

And you didn't yell at her?  Good grief!  You're so much better a woman than I am!  I'd have let her have it!
 
Did you ever tell them how emotionally devastating their "helpfulness" was for you?  :-\