Author Topic: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?  (Read 10275 times)

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doodlemor

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2012, 06:47:52 PM »
You and DH need to set your boundaries, and keep to them. 

Carpathia, you said.....

she's just got a lot of health problems right now, most of them mental health issues, and I am always happy to listen if she's in crisis

Be very, very careful with this.  I have known several people who have used this crisis thing to get attention and manipulate others.  Think about whether your listening [for long periods of time, I suspect] actually helps her to change and solve problems.  Or, are you caught on the phone for long periods of time listening to the crisis du jour?

YummyMummy66

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2012, 07:39:09 PM »
It got to a point in my household, that we actually had to put something like this on our answering machine:

"Hello, you have reached so and so.  We are unavailable at this time, but please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as we can.  Please no phone calls after 9pm unless an emergency".   We go to bed early and were tired of constantly getting late phone calls.  This message worked very well.

I think you need to do something along the same lines.  "Hello, you have reached so and so.  We are unavailable at this time, but please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as we can.  No phone calls will be picked up or returned during our dinner hour of 7-8.  Thank you and have a great day".

Marbles

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2012, 09:46:35 PM »
You and DH need to set your boundaries, and keep to them. 

Carpathia, you said.....

she's just got a lot of health problems right now, most of them mental health issues, and I am always happy to listen if she's in crisis

Be very, very careful with this.  I have known several people who have used this crisis thing to get attention and manipulate others.  Think about whether your listening [for long periods of time, I suspect] actually helps her to change and solve problems.  Or, are you caught on the phone for long periods of time listening to the crisis du jour?

I was thinking something along those lines, too. If she's in crisis there are many services she can call if she has to talk to some one *right away*. Otherwise, she can wait until it is convenient for you to talk.

Also, just because she's upset, doesn't make it your fault or your problem to fix. Her expectations are unreasonable. If she's having mental problems, then it's especially important for you to decide what contact is comfortable and reasonable for your family. Then stick to those boundaries.

Petticoats

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2012, 10:28:27 PM »
LOL @ artk2002!

Thank you all for the replies. Glad I wasn't rude. I do hate upsetting her but she gets upset so easily.

To answer a couple of points; we have told her before that if she calls between 7 and 8 we're likely to be eating but it hasn't stopped her - I don't think she looks at the time when she rings and then feels snubbed if we don't want to talk to her right then.  This annoys DH who has sometimes retaliated by not calling her back (which I think is a bad idea because it reinforces her belief that he doesn't want to talk to her).

I answered on the fourth ring partly because DH was about to answer and be really, really curt (causes more hassle in the long run) and partly in case there was a real emergency - neither she nor her husband are in good health. I thought that not passing the phone to DH as she wanted would count towards not getting her own way.

I don't want to give the impression that she's always been a nightmare to deal with - she hasn't, she's just got a lot of health problems right now, most of them mental health issues, and I am always happy to listen if she's in crisis. If I'd got any hint of that on the phone I'd have listened there and then but I want her to differentiate between calling because she's in crisis (instant conversation and a shoulder to lean on) and calling because she just wants to say hi (that's great, we love to catch up, but not when it's inconvenient for us to talk).

Just going by the bolded, it looks like she's really trained you and your DH to conciliate her and do what she wants so she won't subject you to her bad moods. I definitely second the posters who've recommended establishing firmer boundaries and training her to respect them. You shouldn't allow yourselves to be held hostage to her willingness to sulk. I'm not saying it's easy to be firm instead of conciliating her, but I think you'll feel a lot less frustrated if you aren't tiptoeing around her bad moods.

HonorH

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2012, 10:31:13 PM »
Since she's your DH's mother, he needs to be the one to tell her that you two will not be taking calls during dinner, period, and that if she leaves a message, you'll return it after dinner. And then, turn off the phones.
William wondered why he always disliked people who said "no offense meant." Maybe it was because they found it easier to say "no offense meant" than actually to refrain from giving offense.

--Terry Pratchett, The Truth

singingserpent

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2012, 12:29:18 AM »
If we say "Sorry, we're in the middle of dinner, we'll call you afterwards" she sometimes gets very upset and goes very quiet and does a bit of a snarky 'well I'm sorry for ringing' which because we know her, we know she's annoyed or upset but it's the sort of phrase that in the right tone of voice would be completely innocuous
VS
I may well have sounded slightly irritated when I said 'Hello?' (tried to keep it out of my voice but I was annoyed so it may have come through)

Do you think your MIL is sitting at home wondering if your feelings are hurt because she was snippy with you? I don't and don't think you should feel bad about reinforcing a boundary you (and your husband) have already discussed with her.  And, next time if your husband wants to answer the phone and be curt with her, let him! Why keep insulating her from natural consequences from her own actions?




christmascarol

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2012, 12:38:33 AM »
We had the exact same problem with MIL calling when we were eating.  When hubby said we were eating, she'd reply, "That's ok" in a `don't worry about it, I don't mind´way and just carry on talking.  When he said mealtimes were not a good time to call, she said, "But I know you're in then!" and kept on talking. 

The weirdest thing finally worked, I still can't believe it.  Hubby said don't call at x-time as we watch a TV programme then and we don't want to miss it.  That worked  :o 

Otterpop

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2012, 01:20:50 AM »
She doesn't understand that you're hungry and your food is getting cold?  OP, what is she calling to say anyhow?  I agree w/ the others who said turn off the ringer during mealtime.

CakeEater

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2012, 06:25:11 AM »
You've had lots of good advice as to how to deal with this issue. I just wanted to add that it's a really, really normal thing to not want to answer calls during dinner, and most people, when someone says, 'We're eating dinner, can I call you back?' say, 'Sure, no problem.' and think no more about it.

So it's definitely her problem, and not rudeness on your part in any way.

Pen^2

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2012, 07:35:07 AM »
You are not being rude at all. You are asking her to act appropriately, and she isn't. There's nothing rude in that (on your part, anyway).

I echo the thoughts of others that you have inadvertently trained your MIL to keep persisting in order for you to pick up the phone, and given her the message that she can control you through sulking. I'm sure she knows about your preference for her to call outside meal hours; it's just that she doesn't seem to see this as important. And if you've already explained things to her, then a sit-down and a talk might not do much.

I had a similar situation with my own parents--they used to ring me at all hours of the day for no reason at all except things like "I'm at the supermarket, which kind of cheese do you think I should get this week?". They tracked down my work phone number (not too hard to do through Google) which I had carefully not given them, and I started getting messages dozens of times a day from the front office saying that there was an "urgent" or "emergency" phone call--they would always be about something trivial. I found that if I said something like "I can't talk now; I'll call you back," they'd always just see it as an opening and talk more. It never made a difference if I explained things to them. So I'd just say "I can't talk now because I'm busy/eating/working/etc. and I'll call you back later, bye!" and hang up. There wasn't time given for a response, and they learned fairly quickly that ringing me at work got no further response, so they stopped doing it.

It might help to do the same with your MIL--say you can't talk and will call her back, and end the call without letting her start up a conversation. If she gets upset, that's her personal business, not yours, since you haven't done anything wrong. Just don't give her an opening to respond, since she's shown that she isn't going to respond appropriately. As for mental health issues: is she aware of other numbers to call when in crisis? If so, then you needn't feel so obliged, especially since she is clearly taking advantage of you and controlling you with threats of a foul mood.

Or you could get an answering machine and have your phone go straight to it during meal times. Just make sure it isn't one of those ones that plays the message aloud while it's being recorded, or it will be just as disruptive. Whatever you do, be consistent, or you'll simply give her the message that she has to work harder, and that's the last thing you want.

cicero

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2012, 07:45:05 AM »
I agree with what the PPs have said.

And i wanted to point something out to you:

you say you don't want to upset or annoy your MIL which is fine.

however, by *not* being assertive here, you are in essence annoying and upset yourself and your husband. i think that in this case, your family (you and your husband) has to come first. it doesn't mean you ignore your MIL forever; it just means you set boundaries and stick to them. Remember, as PPs have pointed out - every time you answer the phone during meals, you are teaching her that your answer the phone during meals. no matter what you *say* to her ("MIL please dont' phone between X and Y"), actions speak louder than words. It's like a toddler - they will whine and whine and cry and do all the things they need to do until their parents break down and give in. if you do't give in, eventually they learn how to ask for things.


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Sophia

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #26 on: October 06, 2012, 09:58:39 AM »
Both my parents and my MIL used to always call during my babies nap-time.  My MIL just kept forgetting (truly I think).  My parents thought she should just learn to sleep through the ringing phone. 
It wasn't until I started to unplug the phone when baby went to sleep that it stopped.  I sometimes then genuinely forgot to plug it back in.  Then we'd have this conversation

"We tried to reach you yesterday evening but you never answered"  (they were too smart to fess up to calling during naptime)
"We were home.  Oh, wait, I must have forgot to plug the phone back in"
"Why did you unplug the phone"
"Because you and MIL INSIST in calling during naptime, and I will NOT have her naps disturbed." 

Eventually we stopped unplugging the phone. 

AmethystAnne

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #27 on: October 06, 2012, 12:17:02 PM »
Sophia.......I love what you said during your conversation with your mother. The tone I got from it was, "I'm the mother, and I'm in charge of my household."

gen xer

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2012, 12:20:49 PM »
Are you my sister in law by any chance???? :)

My MIL is continually scandalized by family members who don't answer their phone every single bloody time it rings....and frankly I don't give a rat's patootie. Like another poster said - it is not a summons.  You are absolutely not rude to tell her you are eating and will call back.  In fact you have been exceedingly patient and polite.

 

Shoo

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Re: Think I've upset MIL - was I rude?
« Reply #29 on: October 06, 2012, 12:50:25 PM »
One way to keep your mother-in-law from calling during dinner time is to turn the ringer off on your phone(s).  If you don't hear it ring, you won't be tempted to answer it.