Author Topic: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?  (Read 9407 times)

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Lindee

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2012, 07:09:17 PM »
It's time to be more forceful. You may feel you have to put up with this nonsense for some reason but it is a bit much to expect your mother to sit through an evening of this. Did she know she was to be a designated audience to this woman or did she think she was invited to socialise with you? 

The Wild One, Forever

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2012, 07:35:25 PM »
One of my aunts has these tendencies, which have only gotten worse as she has aged and the progressive disease she has has worsened.  She was always very self-centered and there was no "conversation" with her, only her long, boring monologues, particularly about the minutiae of whichever ailment was plaguing her at the time.  (Even before she got MS, she always seemed to have something *wrong* with her that involved a full-length explanation.) 

However, the hand-outs bring thi behavior to a new level.

To be honest, I think you are doing the best you can as it is, by limiting your contact with her.  Clearly, you have tried to address her behavior and she doesn't see anything wrong with it.  You could try gently steering the conversational subject in another direction, but I have a feeling she will turn it right back around to talking about herself.

Out of curiosity, what is contained in the hand-outs? 
Soft silly music is meaningful, magical

GratefulMaria

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2012, 08:12:55 PM »
OP here.  I don't know how to multi-quote, so I'll answer questions or elaborate as best I can.

Escalation and consequences:  Oh, yes, as her behavior has gotten more overbearing, we've stopped inviting her to birthdays, graduations, other gatherings.  Only reason Thanksgiving was still an option is the boys were too far away to come home, and the moms had always gotten along all right before.  This was the first time MIL didn't have a give-and-take going with my mother.  It was unexpected, and we were appalled.  We would never have asked my mother to sit through something like that.  Very sweet footnote:  day after Thanksgiving, I called my mother to apologize, and her response was "Well, you didn't do anything wrong.  I felt so bad for [DH's name]."

The handouts (aren't they great?) almost always refer to medical history, conditions, or situations.  OK, I know you'll love this, it's why I joined E-Hell:  At a situation this past spring she called us over to give DH some medical records from an episode in his childhood.  To get the file, all we had to do was give her time to read us seven single-spaced pages of an overview from her notes at the time.  We expected that, and figured let's make her happy for an hour.  Top of page five, she asks one of us to take over reading!  (What shot through my mind was, "Oh, your arm is tired from beating me, and could I just wield the strap on myself for a few swings?")  Stunned, non-participatory silence from DH.  Then MIL asks me by name to read it, and I found a polite way to say no.  Undeterred, she carried on.

All the responses are definitely helping me fine-tune this.  Those who mentioned narcissism nailed it; her behavior pegs every quiz even when we try to minimize the answers.  She will not change.  But the observations posted about taking the lead in this dance, and all the direct and polite responses suggested, will give us a chance to cope with it should she behave this way again.  We're also ready, sadly, to stop any contact with her that isn't necessary for her medical, legal, or safety needs.  I feel so bad for her.

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2012, 09:35:50 PM »
How about preparing your own handout that lists items like . . .
- Ask Uncle about his trip to Florida
- Ask Mom about her promotion
- Ask Cousin about the concert he went to
- Ask DH to tell that funny story about the puppies
etc.

Whenever MIL pauses for breath, you say, "Oh, let's do one from my list now". 
It takes two people to play tug of war. If you don't want to play, don't pick up the rope.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2012, 10:08:18 PM »
It's time to be more forceful. You may feel you have to put up with this nonsense for some reason but it is a bit much to expect your mother to sit through an evening of this. Did she know she was to be a designated audience to this woman or did she think she was invited to socialise with you?

I agree. Why not figure out a way to tell her to STOP this selfish nonsense? I'd stop pussy-footing around this horrible behavior. And, I'd do so not just for my other guests but also for myself. There's a way to stop being a door-mat politely.

jaxsue

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2012, 10:14:16 PM »
She's doing handouts?  Is she performing the Festivus Airing of Grievances?

"On Page 9, you will find a list of the ways you have disappointed me this year?"

Just what I thought of!  :)

Edited to fix spelling.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 11:40:54 AM by jaxsue »

Sophia

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2012, 11:28:02 PM »
Sometimes when I have run into this, I have fallen asleep.  Not intentionally, it just happened.  Both times I woke up and the person was still talking.    I know it was a greater than 2 hours once and greater than 1 hours another time. 

kkl123

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2012, 11:40:12 PM »
My aunt's MIL had similar "center of the universe" behavior, but she liked to insult people in addition to boring them to tears.  Aunt had had enough and then some and laid down some rules before they left MIL's retirement home, which included "If you're mean to cousin X, I'm stopping whatever I'm doing that instant and taking you back.  And that will be the last time you'll visit my home."

MIL lit into Cousin X about the time the turkey was coming out of the oven for dinner.  Aunt asked someone else to take over, went and got MIL's suitcase and coat, boosted MIL out of her chair and got her as far as the front step before MIL burst into tears and announced she would apologize to X and be good.  Aunt told her it was her very last chance.  MIL apologized, X graciously accepted (though her jaw scraped the floor), and MIL acted like a reasonable human being for the rest of that visit and all that followed.

Don't know if it would work for you, but it might.

O'Dell

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2012, 10:00:56 AM »
My aunt's MIL had similar "center of the universe" behavior, but she liked to insult people in addition to boring them to tears.  Aunt had had enough and then some and laid down some rules before they left MIL's retirement home, which included "If you're mean to cousin X, I'm stopping whatever I'm doing that instant and taking you back.  And that will be the last time you'll visit my home."

MIL lit into Cousin X about the time the turkey was coming out of the oven for dinner.  Aunt asked someone else to take over, went and got MIL's suitcase and coat, boosted MIL out of her chair and got her as far as the front step before MIL burst into tears and announced she would apologize to X and be good.  Aunt told her it was her very last chance.  MIL apologized, X graciously accepted (though her jaw scraped the floor), and MIL acted like a reasonable human being for the rest of that visit and all that followed.

Don't know if it would work for you, but it might.

I think this is what it will come down to. This isn't a situation for reasonable graceful etiquette because MIL is not a reasonable graceful person. But there is nothing much wrong with letting someone know the consequences and following thru on your promise. Plus, sitting aside and letting her be disruptive is rude to your other guests. It seems to me that etiquette demands that you take whatever measures you need to to get this behavior of hers under control.

I don't know if this will help at all, but I seem to remember something about Narcissists respecting people in positions of authority...or at least being willing to go along with what they say. You said she claims that she has the authority. Maybe it is time for your husband to claim the authority as the pater familias and lay down the law for her. At the very least, when she is in your home, he and you are the authority per etiquette, not her as mother of one of you. Either of you should be reminding her of that. Your house your rules.

Good luck. Narcissists are PITAs.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman

poundcake

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2012, 03:52:40 PM »
Quote
she's alienated almost everyone else in her life, and frankly we'd feel terrible if she lost us.

I'm going all the way back to the beginning of the thread, because this is where I keep getting stuck. Why? She sounds like a terrible person, and brings you absolutely nothing of value at all, so why should YOU feel terrible? She brought this on herself.

GratefulMaria

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2012, 09:32:37 PM »
Thank you for all the encouragement, observations, and options; your responses have all been so helpful, especially those that have me reexamining our prior assumptions.  At the rate we socialize with MIL, an update will come late fall, but I do promise one!

Calypso

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2012, 10:43:40 PM »
Quote
she's alienated almost everyone else in her life, and frankly we'd feel terrible if she lost us.

I'm going all the way back to the beginning of the thread, because this is where I keep getting stuck. Why? She sounds like a terrible person, and brings you absolutely nothing of value at all, so why should YOU feel terrible? She brought this on herself.

Because the OP is a kind and compassionate person.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2012, 10:54:23 PM »
Quote
she's alienated almost everyone else in her life, and frankly we'd feel terrible if she lost us.

I'm going all the way back to the beginning of the thread, because this is where I keep getting stuck. Why? She sounds like a terrible person, and brings you absolutely nothing of value at all, so why should YOU feel terrible? She brought this on herself.

Because the OP is a kind and compassionate person.

One can be a kind and compassionate person without forcing oneself or one's other guests to be subjected to a boor.

LadyStormwing

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2012, 12:32:38 AM »
Two other, non-etiquette related things are waving red flags that might be worth checking into for your MIL's sake. If they were mentioned and I missed it, I apologize or the repeat.

Because your MIL has always been an extremely difficult person to interact with, it might fly under the radar more easily, but it seems as though you describe her behavior as getting worse, that she has alienated nearly everyone, etc. Is this list-making a relatively new behavior as well? If any of that is the case, I would encourage her to go to her doctor for a full checkup and physical because as off-putting as her personality is, it could be worsening as a result of Alzheimer's or dementia.

Until then, all I can picture is your family sitting around the turkey while she stands and delivers one of Hamlet's soliloquies or something.

poundcake

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Re: Handling MIL's monologues; graceful interruptions? Other ideas?
« Reply #29 on: July 01, 2012, 04:07:22 PM »
Quote
she's alienated almost everyone else in her life, and frankly we'd feel terrible if she lost us.

I'm going all the way back to the beginning of the thread, because this is where I keep getting stuck. Why? She sounds like a terrible person, and brings you absolutely nothing of value at all, so why should YOU feel terrible? She brought this on herself.

Because the OP is a kind and compassionate person.


One can be a kind and compassionate person without forcing oneself or one's other guests to be subjected to a boor.


Exactly. It's like saying you don't confront a bully because you are kind and compassionate. Once it's causing you more harm than good, it doesn't make you less kind or compassionate to draw a line and say "no more." It's like I said to the poster who was concerned about the 80 year old classmate suddenly wanting to be her BFF and calling her all the time, people, especially women, have to get over this "but I'm not being NICE!" fear when people walk all over them. Insisting that people not treat you abusively or take advantage of you does not make you less kind and compassionate.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 12:02:07 PM by poundcake »