Hi. I'm new here. I actually just signed up, hoping that some stranger out there might read this and offer some advice/perspective/comfort … Anything! This will probably be a long post, and it's about a problem that is very serious to me. I really don't know where else to turn to, so here goes.
I'm a young woman in my early twenties, and I have been in a committed relationship with my boyfriend for almost 6 years now. I won't claim that our relationship is perfect, but we are very happy together. There is one big strain on our relationship, however: my MIL. Well, she's not technically my in-law yet, but I'll be marrying this man one day. And that day, she becomes my mother in law.
There is a lot to say about this woman, and I won't even try to go into it all. What I can say is that she's had a very difficult life, dealing with tragic losses, and she seems to be struggling with abandonment issues to this day because of it. I have always thought of her as quirky, over-protective and moody, but also very fun and loving. She has told me several times how much she likes me. Unlike my own mother, she has all of her adult children (and a few grandchildren) living within a short driving distance of her home, except my BF who lives an hour away in an apartment together with me. She comes every few weeks to visit. She brings wine and she takes us out to dinner. I don't mind spending time with her (and her very quiet husband) at all, but I think it's a bit too often. I'm a very busy person and I don't necessarily want to spend every other weekend this way, with them sleeping over in our small apartment and giving us no privacy (our bedroom isn't even properly separated from the room where they sleep). In addition to these frequent visits, my BF visits her whenever he gets time off. The few times he goes somewhere else with me for the holidays, she makes him feel bad about it. One summer we decided to spend a week in Greece, and she ordered tickets and followed us there (!). A different hotel a few miles away, but still…! What's extra sad is that my BF doesn't consider himself too close to his mom. He loves her, of course, but he's having difficulties communicating with her and their relationship feels kind of strained to him. This means that I have extra responsibility for keeping the conversation going most of the time she's with us, and it's a huge strain on me. She looks at me when she tells stories and jokes, she looks at me when she asks how things are going with us, she tells me "remember that he's allergic to this and that"…. She calls on late Friday nights and if he's out drinking with his buddies she says things like "you're making sure he gets home safe, right?" etc (with no joking tone). She expects me to be his 2nd mother. She thinks I have some kind of authority over him, when I obviously don't and shouldn't have.
Now, I am trying to be patient with this. I'm trying to put myself in her shoes, imagine how abandoned she must feel because of all the tragic losses she went through in her childhood. But I haven't even gotten to the worst part about this, which is: she's trying to control the major decisions in our lives. She throws a tantrum every time my BF mentions moving away to a different city. We have long wished for a change of scenery, to try living somewhere else, because we're not happy at our current location. She does everything in her power to make us change our minds. We already postponed the move for a year, to let her have some time to process the idea of him moving. But she's still against it, and she tries making up excuses all the time. Now, this is generally a difficult decision that involves a lot of stress for inexperienced young people like us: finding somewhere new to live, finding part-time jobs next to our studies, lots of uncertain factors. She's using these factors against us, trying to force us into choosing the "safe path". Because of this, I'm finding it extremely difficult to be strong and confident in my own choices. I'm only 21 and in many ways still new to the adult life.
I've been able to cope so far, but now I feel like it's getting more and more personal. She's earlier told me she likes me and approves of me, so till now, I have found comfort in the fact that the problem is within HER: it is because of HER psychological problems that she's acting this way. I know that, my boyfriend knows that, and she probably knows it herself somewhere deep inside. But she has no contact with reality. She expects her youngest son to be around all the time, one hour drive away. She's suspicious of me and claims that I want to move only to be closer to my own family. I have always had a very special and tight bond with them, but I only see them twice a year because we live so far apart. They are not the main reason why I want to move; but if they were, she out of all people should understand that. But she doesn't, because she only thinks about herself. She now sees me as the big bad wolf who's trying to steal her little baby away just for my own profit, and I feel like there's nothing I can do to change her view on that.
I know the standard answers; try talking to her, make your BF talk to her, be strong and confident and try not to care about the way she acts. Well, I've tried talking to her. My boyfriend has tried talking to her. Her husband has tried talking to her. I can't talk to my own parents because despite of all this, I don't want them to judge her/be angry with her. And I don't want them to judge me for my decision to stay with my boyfriend either. There is no getting through to my MIL, because she's developed a kind of personality disorder, and I honestly think this is the way she'll always be. Nowadays, she acts all bitter and resentful every time we meet, and we meet so much more often than I'm comfortable with. The last time we met she started speaking in this very mocking and hurtful voice all these conspiracy theories about how she always knew that my mission was to take her son as far away from her as possible. Saying things like "I know your motives girl, you hide them well, but I always knew your motives" etc. After trying to shake off her remarks, reassure her, ignore her; after trying every trick in the book, I had to get up and go to my bedroom to cry silently. My BF downright told her to shut her mouth and listen to herself, but she just kept on going. Afterwards she pretended it didn't happen, like always.
This is getting so bad. I don't want to have a bad relationship with my MIL, but I just don't know what to do anymore. I'm starting to dread the future, having babies, I can only imagine things will get worse then. Breaking up with my BF is not an option, and having him break all bonds with his family is not an option either. How do I live with this? Can anyone even relate to this?