Author Topic: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!  (Read 8002 times)

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GSNW

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MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« on: October 16, 2012, 01:24:11 PM »
MIL is a bit of a pain and a problem, and after a period of relative dormancy, she has decided to start in with her nonsense again.  Sorry - this is kind of long.

As some background, MIL and FIL are divorced.  This was amicable when my DH was in high school (they apparently reconnected and "dated" for awhile again when DH was in college) and they get along fairly well - we can all sit down to dinner and no one yells or screams, which is nice for me, DH, and BIL.  MIL, however, complains bitterly about FIL behind his back all the time.  Every kindness he extends is met with ridicule and rants.  A few years ago, she moved from DH's home state to the city where DH and I live.  We did not encourage this, but allowed her to live with us for three months while she found a job and a place to live.  This was its own special kind of awful, but we got through it.

Since moving here, she complains to DH that we don't call her enough or hang out with her enough.  If we go see a movie she is interested in, DH gets yelled at for leaving her "out."  If we leave town on 2-3 consecutive weekends, we are ignoring her.  If we do stuff with my parents (which we do - a lot - ) this is also met with complaints and laments of how she cannot "measure up-" my parents do a lot of nice things for us, but that doesn't mean we expect that from everyone, certainly.  Basically, we do very few things right and this has boiled down into her view that I am somehow keeping her from her son.  He has told her that he does not appreciate her attitude, her snipes at me, etc etc, so it's not like he doesn't stand up to her.  She just doesn't seem to get it.

Presently, FIL was visiting for a week and staying with us.    BIL decided at the last minute to fly out so they could drive to a nearby city together (this week).  No one told us, MIL just told BIL it was fine to stay with us the night of his arrival and the night before their departure back to DH's home state.  It was then announced to us that BIL would be staying with us for those two nights.  We have two spare rooms that are furnished for guests so I can understand where the assumption came from, but the second room (first being used by FIL) was a bit torn up for an ongoing project of mine.  I basically washed my hands of the issue so DH tried to reason with MIL - why couldn't BIL stay with her?  She whined about how she only has an air bed, doesn't feel "comfortable" with the situation, bla bla excuses...

I really like BIL and while I wish he would make his own travel arrangements, he didn't know how MIL basically steamrolled us into it.  I knew if we went the "that's not possible" route MIL would complain to BIL, so DH and I rushed to get the spare room together for his stay, giving up an entire day of our weekend in the process.  This is the first issue I am annoyed about - our house was offered without our knowledge, and if we had flatly refused, BIL would probably be hurt and confused.

The night of BIL's arrival the five of us had dinner at our house.  We were discussing what time they would return from Nearby City and what time their flights are the next morning, FIL mentioned he wanted to try more local ethnic food.  I suggested we all get takeout from a fantastic local place, it was agreed by all (MIL remained silent) and we went on with the evening.  As MIL was leaving, she pulled BIL and FIL aside (I'm sure she thought it was out of my hearing, but I was around the corner in the kitchen) and mentioned that SHE didn't want to eat "so late" because of "working early."  She told them, "Come straight to my house when you get back in town, we'll eat around 5:30 because DS and DIL won't be ready to eat until 7pm and that is too late for me!" (DH and I run a late after-school activity most nights).  To my shock, FIL and BIL agreed to this change and didn't say anything to me or DH - I told him when we went to bed that night.

DH and I disagree about the purpose of MIL's actions.  I think she's sneaky, rude, and manipulative.  He thinks she's just socially/emotionally stunted and doesn't realize when she's causing offense.  He agreed to talk to her about NEVER offering our house up again without our prior consent and knowledge, which we do agree on.  Am I overreacting about the other stuff?  Is additional background needed to get an opinion?  I could go on for days about the stunts she has pulled but this is already long enough.  I feel like sometimes our history gets in the way of my opinions and I have a hard time with objectivity.

NyaChan

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2012, 01:34:04 PM »
I think that your MIL is out of line - but I really don't understand why the other members of the family don't communicate better.  When you heard about BIL coming, I totally understand putting him up for the night, but just tell him when he arrives, "BIL, we love having you stay with us, but in the future please set it up through us directly so that we know you are coming." And go ahead and tell him what MIL did!  She did something wrong, hiding it doesn't help anyone.  As for the dinner thing, I'm guessing this means you came home and found that everyone else already ate?  Why did you keep quiet?  You are allowed to ask people why the plans changed and why they didn't speak to you about them - they are staying in your house and should have said something.  It is very odd that they would sneak behind your back to have dinner and not tell you.

GSNW

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2012, 01:38:56 PM »
As for the dinner thing, I'm guessing this means you came home and found that everyone else already ate?  Why did you keep quiet?  You are allowed to ask people why the plans changed and why they didn't speak to you about them - they are staying in your house and should have said something.  It is very odd that they would sneak behind your back to have dinner and not tell you.

Sorry, I should clarify - BIL and FIL are currently in Nearby City, returning later this week, and dinner was supposed to happen the day of their return/the night before their departure.  The plans have changed, to my knowledge and now to DH's.  I'm going to let him handle it with FIL and BIL, we are just in disagreement over exactly how terrible MIL's actions were on that front.

And I agree, we should address it with BIL too.  "Just call us yourself, dude."

TootsNYC

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2012, 02:06:00 PM »
. . .   No one told us, MIL just told BIL it was fine to stay with us the night of his arrival and the night before their departure back to DH's home state.  It was then announced to us that BIL would be staying with us for those two nights.  We have two spare rooms that are furnished for guests so I can understand where the assumption came from,
. . .
I really like BIL and while I wish he would make his own travel arrangements, he didn't know how MIL basically steamrolled us into it.  I knew if we went the "that's not possible" route MIL would complain to BIL, so DH and I rushed to get the spare room together for his stay, giving up an entire day of our weekend in the process.  This is the first issue I am annoyed about - our house was offered without our knowledge, and if we had flatly refused, BIL would probably be hurt and confused.
. . .


This is a BIL problem. It's time to train BIL. Give up on Mom--it sounds like more work than it's worth.

Your DH needs to say to his brother, "Hey, look, Bro--Mom doesn't speak for me. It pissed me off that she told you that you could stay with us without even ASKING us. But it also annoys me that you didn't DOUBLE CHECK with me. Next time, you need to realize, Mom can't tell you what we're willing to do.
   "You need to say to her, 'thanks for the idea, Mom. I'll ask Brother,' and then call us. Because Mom doesn't speak for me or my wife."

And, I would have let him stay in the room as-is, without doing much more than shoving stuff over to the side. Or, find him a hotel and say, "Sorry, it's not going to work."
   Your brother is a grownup. Surely he can figure out how to stop being "hurt" and recognizing that his mom is pushy. You could have said, "Brother, we can't fit you in after all--our extra room is busy right now. Here's the name of an inexpensive motel not too far away. Or you can ask Mom if you can stay with her. I'm sorry--on another visit, it would be great, but we're in the middle of stuff and don't have room this time."

Quote

The night of BIL's arrival the five of us had dinner at our house.  We were discussing what time they would return from Nearby City and what time their flights are the next morning, FIL mentioned he wanted to try more local ethnic food.  I suggested we all get takeout from a fantastic local place, it was agreed by all (MIL remained silent) and we went on with the evening.  As MIL was leaving, she pulled BIL and FIL aside (I'm sure she thought it was out of my hearing, but I was around the corner in the kitchen) and mentioned that SHE didn't want to eat "so late" because of "working early."  She told them, "Come straight to my house when you get back in town, we'll eat around 5:30 because DS and DIL won't be ready to eat until 7pm and that is too late for me!" (DH and I run a late after-school activity most nights).  To my shock, FIL and BIL agreed to this change and didn't say anything to me or DH - I told him when we went to bed that night.


I think you absolutely can bring this up with them. Say to them, "Oh, I overheard your plans. Are you NOT going to eat with us after all? Or should we order less, since you'll be full from eating w/ MIL?"

Drag these things into the light of day. Bring them up. Matter-of-fact-ly.
And feel free to say, "that's not fair to us at all, to believe Mom when she tells you what you can do in MY and MY WIFE's house!" or "That's not fair to us, to change the dinner plans and then not tell us."



I don't think you need any more background. Just refuse to go along with stuff anymore, and be fact-based.
It doesn't matter WHY she does these things, it really doesn't.
What does matter is that you communicate to the other, supposedly more reasonable people, that you are real people with real schedules, a real home, and that they need to consider you.

Work on them.

O'Dell

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2012, 02:14:45 PM »
I think she's sneaky, rude, and manipulative.  He thinks she's just socially/emotionally stunted and doesn't realize when she's causing offense.

These 2 views aren't mutually exclusive. She is sneaky, rude, and manipulative...her actions show that. And she probably is socially/emotionally stunted and that is why she does these things. As far as knowing that she's causing offense, in my experience, there are self-absorbed people who are emotionally stunted and truly don't understand why it's offensive that they get what they want at the expense of others. They are happy and in their minds what else matters? Nothing!

I agree with Toots. Because she is *all* these things, you won't get far trying to change her. Try to work with the more reasonable people in these situations.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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TootsNYC

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 02:16:24 PM »
It's also possible that FIL and BIL don't plan to follow MIL's suggestion, and that's why they haven't said anything to you guys yet.

CharlieBraun

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2012, 02:17:33 PM »
So your MIL uses your house as a hotel, and your plans as her basis to strike against you.

If your DH cannot see that she considers you a convenience at best and a whipping boy at worst, then I'm not sure what would get through to her.

I think that you are going to have an uphill battle attempting to reverse this.

When your house was offered as a hotel, the response should have been - via email to BIL with a cc to MIL - "I'm afraid that's not possible; we were unaware of arrangements made without our input."

When the dinner plans were changed, an email goes to all parties - "We understand that you have made other plans for dinner on X night, of which we were not aware.  We will regret not seeing you that evening, but as your plans have changed, we will pursue our original plans for that evening.  BIL, we will see you next time you come to town, perhaps at dinner."

No more telling MIL what movies you go to.

"Where were you last weekend?  I was lonely!" is met with "We had some plans."

You have been giving her all the leeway and all the information that she only uses to make your life misery.  And it bothers me that DH cannot see this, although I understand that she knows all the buttons to push on him so he doesn't see - after all, she installed those buttons.

Unless your DH gets on the same page as you, I am sorry to say, this will be difficult and it will get harder with each passing month of her walking over you, and with DH's tacit approval.

Many hugs.  I've been there.
"We ate the pies."

Slartibartfast

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2012, 03:11:39 PM »
I think it's worth a word to your BIL in private sometime: "BIL, as much as we all love MIL, she's become really bad about trying to be sneaky and interfere with other people's plans.  When she told you you could stay with us this last time, she didn't ask us at all and didn't even tell us what she'd done until after she did it.  She arranged with you and SIL to have dinner with her instead of what we had all planned as a group, and if I hadn't happened to overhear, DH and I would have been expecting you all to do dinner with us because nobody told us.  When you make plans that involve MIL in the future, it's probably a good idea to confirm that everyone is on the same page - I don't know whether she's mangling plans on purpose or just because she's not paying attention to whether everyone knows what the schedule is, but it's going to be easier for everyone if we all just make an effort to go around her."

TootsNYC

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2012, 03:21:09 PM »
I think it's worth a word to your BIL in private sometime: "BIL, as much as we all love MIL, she's become really bad about trying to be sneaky and interfere with other people's plans.  When she told you you could stay with us this last time, she didn't ask us at all and didn't even tell us what she'd done until after she did it.  She arranged with you and SIL to have dinner with her instead of what we had all planned as a group, and if I hadn't happened to overhear, DH and I would have been expecting you all to do dinner with us because nobody told us.  When you make plans that involve MIL in the future, it's probably a good idea to confirm that everyone is on the same page - I don't know whether she's mangling plans on purpose or just because she's not paying attention to whether everyone knows what the schedule is, but it's going to be easier for everyone if we all just make an effort to go around her."


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wheeitsme

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2012, 06:49:25 PM »

DH and I disagree about the purpose of MIL's actions.  I think she's sneaky, rude, and manipulative.  He thinks she's just socially/emotionally stunted and doesn't realize when she's causing offense.  He agreed to talk to her about NEVER offering our house up again without our prior consent and knowledge, which we do agree on.  Am I overreacting about the other stuff?  Is additional background needed to get an opinion?  I could go on for days about the stunts she has pulled but this is already long enough.  I feel like sometimes our history gets in the way of my opinions and I have a hard time with objectivity.

She does appear to be "sneaky, rude, and manipulative".  It could be because "she's just socially/emotionally stunted", but not realizing when she's causing offense?  If she wasn't worried about causing offense, why doesn't she let you know when or before she does these things?  And how is she going to learn if her family doesn't call her on it.  It sounds like your DH and BIL are going to need to start calling her on this kind of stuff or be prepared to live with it forever.  And to force their significant others to live with it, too.

As for the choosing to move near you and then expect you to spend all that time with the two of you?  Kind of creepy.  And annoying.  I get that she moved to a new place and doesn't know a lot of people, but that was her choice.  And she needs to take responsibility for that choice.

scansons

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2012, 07:01:50 PM »
I think they are lucky you didn't step around corner when you heard her changing dinner plans and rejoin the conversation with an "I beg your  pardon".   I would  have paid to see those faces.  Especially MIL's. 


TootsNYC

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2012, 12:27:21 AM »
I think they are lucky you didn't step around corner when you heard her changing dinner plans and rejoin the conversation with an "I beg your  pardon".   I would  have paid to see those faces.  Especially MIL's.

I guess I'm not sure why one wouldn't do this--it's not like it SHOULD be a secret. And you don't have to make it a confrontation!

Just step around the corner and say, "Oh, MIL, is 7pm too late for you? I wish you'd said--we could eat earlier! Perhaps we should change our plans."

Maybe she made that a secret request because she's afraid of confrontation. Or she thinks it'll sound like a criticism of you.

buvezdevin

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2012, 12:44:05 AM »
I think they are lucky you didn't step around corner when you heard her changing dinner plans and rejoin the conversation with an "I beg your  pardon".   I would  have paid to see those faces.  Especially MIL's.

I guess I'm not sure why one wouldn't do this--it's not like it SHOULD be a secret. And you don't have to make it a confrontation!

Just step around the corner and say, "Oh, MIL, is 7pm too late for you? I wish you'd said--we could eat earlier! Perhaps we should change our plans."

Maybe she made that a secret request because she's afraid of confrontation. Or she thinks it'll sound like a criticism of you.

POD.

Or, if eating earlier is not an option for you, and this dinner is last possible shared meal for this visit "I'm glad I overheard this discussion, what will work best for everyone? ".

It sounds like MIL is doing what works for her, however undesirably - from an objective POV - she pursues that, but there is no reason I can see why you and DH cannot address your own interests, ability to compromise or let others proceed independently. 

Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
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LilacRosey

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!, lilacrose
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2012, 02:58:09 AM »
I totally agree with you I think your mother sounds mean AND sneaky an manipulating I'm so sorry that is not acceptable  :-*

scansons

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Re: MIL Strikes Again? Objective opinions solicited!
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2012, 08:47:35 AM »
I think they are lucky you didn't step around corner when you heard her changing dinner plans and rejoin the conversation with an "I beg your  pardon".   I would  have paid to see those faces.  Especially MIL's.

I guess I'm not sure why one wouldn't do this--it's not like it SHOULD be a secret. And you don't have to make it a confrontation!

Just step around the corner and say, "Oh, MIL, is 7pm too late for you? I wish you'd said--we could eat earlier! Perhaps we should change our plans."

Maybe she made that a secret request because she's afraid of confrontation. Or she thinks it'll sound like a criticism of you.

I think I would have been tempted  to use, "I  beg your pardon",  because  it puts the ball back in the court of the whispering group.  If I were the OP I'd want an explanation of the secret convo. 

Obviously, yes Toots is right, it dosen't have to be a confrontation.  If  it was me, and I'd been treated poorly by this MIL for this long, I think I'd rather be craving the confrontation.   I think I'd want the shock and the scrambling around for a explanation when they knew that I knew what was going on.  It's not nice of me. 

However, I will say, that I'm a person that prefers  the smaller confrontation.  I'd rather confront the parties in the act of disrespecting me, than save it all up for a big blow out confrontation later.  I wouldn't want to hold on to this situation and have to worry about it over say a week or two.  I'd rather deal with it in the moment. 

I don't see the logic in saying that she made the request in secret because she's afraid of confrontation.  What does she think is going to happen when the show up for the OP and her DH and have already eaten?  That's not  going to be a confrontation?  Also, MIL is not afraid of criticizing OP and her DH.  She does it all the time, just behind their backs, and to their faces when she doesn't get included in all she wants to.  Of course she doesn't want to be confronted.  If she gets caught, she may have to at least pretend to stop.