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Daughters in Law... don’t suffer in silence!

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I met my bf 2 years ago. We were set up on a blind date. I was 38, he was 47. After a short time, we fell in love and I moved in with him. At the time, his brother and SIL lived with him, but moved out a couple months later to their own apartment. We were alone for 6 months when his mother came back to live with him (when I met him, she was living with her daughter 3 hours north of us). I didn't fully understand their family situation at first, but his mother has (for the most part) always lived with my bf or her daughter. They are definitely a family that is very much involved in each others' business. Before she moved back in with him (and me), she came to visit to meet me. I was making dinner for everyone, and MIL comments "Well aren't you a little Suzy homemaker". I smiled and just commented back how much I enjoy cooking for others. I didn't know her at all, so I didn't know to pick up on the condescending tone that was obviously there. Shortly after she moved in, comments started. I'll list them so it's easier to read:

1. She and I would go to the laundromat together, and she would tell me how SHE did his laundry...not drying his pajama bottoms because they'll shrink, adding the laundry soap after the water has begun running into the front loader to prevent discoloration on the clothes etc.
2. She will not let me wash dishes at night after dinner. I tried and she would say "it'll give me something to do tomorrow." I explained that I don't mind and I like to take part, too. I was by the sink getting ready to do them, when she annoyingly sighed after this exchange and then bf said to me "Let mom do them". I left the room crying and very frustrated.
3. We leave the house very early - before 6am. He sometimes forgets to bring things with him (like we all do)...a snack, beverage, whatever so she told me that it would be helpful if I reminded him because he forgets things. She also told me that it would probably be best to make our lunches the night before so that I'm not running late in the morning.
4. One hot summer day, he and I got home and she didn't have any windows open. We didn't have an A/C at the time. She commented that there wasn't a breeze anyway. I opened a window anyway, and sure enough there was enough of a breeze to help the hot staleness. She didn't talk to me for several days after that. When we did get an A/C, we had it on one night and I woke up and it was freezing so I turned it off. She commented the next morning to bf about how hot she got because I turned it off. This past summer, we got home and it was 80 in the house and she didn't have the A/C on, so I turned it on and she got annoyed. In the colder days, it's also a battle to use the heater. We live in a small house and have a propane wall unit that doesn't have a thermostat so we have to turn it on when it gets chilly. She never wants it on and it will be low 60's in the house! Soooo....she wants it warm in the summer and cold in the winter?? I feel like it's more a matter of control than it is the temperature.
5. Our dog is sick right now with mammary cancer. Her tumor is bleeding as we try to aggressively treat it naturally so we have to keep it covered. She will chew the bandage off if given the opportunity so we bought the cone to use on her. I can tell that MIL doesn't want to use it on the dog because every time we would talk about it before I bought it, she wouldn't say a word. Granted, I hate them too, but this is an extreme situation and I keep saying that we can't be held hostage in the house because the dog can't be left alone. So, we have the cone and bf and I have put it on her a couple times to get her used to it. Last night, we had the dog in our room with the cone on and I had to go into the living room for something and I told MIL "Lady's doing well with the cone on. She's relaxing and even eating some treats." I was trying to reassure her. She said nothing to me. When I was walking away she makes a noise "Hmmmm." That's it.
6. MIL wants to do everything. Take care of the house, go grocery shopping. I can't even look in a cupboard for something without her asking "What are you looking for?" Because she wants to tell me where it is. When I answer, she'll get up to come get it and I'll say "That's not necessary, I can get it." I feel like she's more controlling than truly wanting to help. We bought a new vacuum cleaner and she comments to bf and me at dinner "Now it'll be easier for Colleen to clean your bedroom with the new vacuum." As if that's the only room I need to be concerned about because she'll take care of the rest.

She's also a very moody person. We'll get home some nights and she's just miserable. I'm a much more optimistic, positive person and her energy drags me right down and I immediately get bummed out and feel kinda crappy. I have talked to bf about it, but there's not a whole lot that can be done. I've researched a ton online, and I'm trying to make comments and stand up for myself when a situation arrives. It's not easy for me because I dislike confrontation and will often put my own needs aside to maintain peace, but I'm trying to change that.

I feel like MIL lived in the house before I ever did, so it's "her" house and will never be mine. We are going to buy a new house in about 3-4 years, but I'm already stressing about having to stand up to her about how I want things done / decorated. I'm not sure I'll ever truly be the woman of the house. She buys a lot of things for the house and makes comments making me believe that she does so, so she can dictate how they are used. She bought a grill, and bought a pan to go on the grill for foods that might slip through the grate (or so I thought). I was grilling hamburgers and didn't want to use the pan. She commented "That's what we bought it for. We shouldn't have bought it if you weren't going to use it." I like to have food directly on the grill dammit! I can understand using the pan for hotdogs etc. Then she also made comments about how dirty the grill is getting...insinuating that by not using the pan I'm letting drippings get all over the inside. Isn't that what's supposed to happen with a grill??

Okay, I'll stop for now. Breathe.....

What does your BF think about all of this? Has he corrected his mother at all? He needs to be the one to reign her in, and if he's not willing to do that, you need to think long and hard about this man. I'm sorry, but after 1 failed marriage I simply do not have the patience for men who are happy to leave their wives to suffer because their families are horrid to them.

On some level, I DO think she is "trying to help", but I totally agree that she's a total control freak. Here's a little advise on how I deal with my horrible MIL...maybe some if it will help you:

1. If my MIL wants to do the dishes (or any other chore) I happily let her!! I did let my husband know ahead of time, however. I basically said "Honey, I'm tired of your mother always being passive-aggressive in regards to housework. She seems to insist on doing it as a way to make me feel inadequate about my own house-keeping abilities. You know and I know that my house-keeping abilities are just fine. Just for the record, however, whenever she insists on doing housework, I am going to LET HER. Maybe after doing so many of the chores, she'll get frustrated and stop doing them when she realizes I am enjoying her doing them. In the meantime, I get a break from all the I just wanted you to know ahead of time, Sweetie, because you're likely to hear her complaining that I don't do anything around the house. I just want to be sure you remember THIS VERY CONVERSATION....because sometimes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and I'm so tired of her issues with housework."

2. I told my DH in no uncertain terms that he will have a chat with his family about specific things that were bothering me. I kept them fairly brief, because I knew that being too demanding was not going to convince him to speak to them. I really just wanted to get him to grow a set and start getting them used to him defending me and letting them know who rules the roost (that would be me LOL). I started him out with: a) Please be polite and treat my wife with respect. If you have nothing nice to say, please say nothing at all b) This is our home. We're happy to have you here, but do not think that means you can dictate what goes on in the house. If you're hot, turn on an a/c...if cold, the heat (it helps if you have an a/c or heater right in your own bedroom, so you can retreat there when needed)

Those 2 things made a huge difference right off the bat!! Be prepared for her to throw a temper tantrum about it (mine certainly did), but you know what? He stayed firm, and she finally realized we mean business. She realized we're a united front.

He doesn't always defend me from every little thing his wretched family does, but that's OK because he had already set the precident for us standing up for what is right. I try to pick my battles carefully (ie. I am HAPPY for my MIL to do any chores she wants! Less for me to do! I don't care if she thinks it upsets DOESNT! Oh, and by the way, sometimes just killing her with kindness does wonders! I sometimes get that sickly sweet voice and say "Oh THANK you SO MUCH for doing those dishes! The sink looks amazing now!" That drives her crazy, because she prefers when I'm irritated by her. I'm not about to give her that satisfaction of thinking she's upset me and/or ruined my day by doing chores! Not on your life!

I hope when you get your own place, she is not going to be staying with you? I'd let your BF know at that point that she needs to be more polite if she's going to keep staying with you. I get it that if you're not married, it's harder to lay down the just work on getting him to speak to her about maybe just 1 thing at a time - start with "This is our place, please be polite and respectful"...and then over time he can add more if it is needed.

Cat commented 3 years ago

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daughters in law, don’t suffer in silence!