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Layla

Is it possible to forgive?

81 posts in this topic

A few topics lately have made me think about MIL and her behavior and I can still feel angry by what has happened in the past.  I don't think my MIL is necessarily a bad person however I think she feared losing her son and she acted out. She would find a topic that DH and I didn't agree on and then push the button.  Eg she knew I didn't want presents for the house, yes I accepted the first few but then we also got furniture, wall paintings, cushions, chairs etc and it was monthly sometimes weekly presents for no reason, she knew I wanted to decorate my own house but kept buying things for our house causing trouble between DH and I.  We had massive arguments over this as I didn't think it was nice of someone to continue doing something once they know it is causing problems.  My DH argued that she was just trying to be nice.  This actually went on for a couple of years until finally I told MIL she was right and I was happy to accept all her gifts and then all the presents stopped so my reverse psychology worked.  My MIL has been rude when DH is not around however is all hugs and kisses when he is there.  If I mentioned her rude behavior she would deny behaving that way and tell DH I was causing trouble. For our last holiday I said I didn't want to go to India so my MIL tried to get DH to go to India. I did in the beginning plan family holidays and pay for them however gave up after the third holiday when my MIL still insisted it was her son to thank even when he told her that I had planned everything. In the beginning of the marriage I was told that I must visit them daily with their son - this didn't last, it was more than I see my own FOO but my MIL would ask DH what was wrong, didn't I like them, she is heart broken and hurt.  My MIL put a wedding photo up of DH and myself and then told me that her friends had visited and told her I looked ugly in the wedding photo.  When I got upset she cut me out of the wedding photo and just had her son up. There are so many other stories but hopefully this gives everyone a small picture.

 

I know I handled things poorly, I reacted to everything MIL did and that didn't help.  Finally I arrived at a point where I gave up, I rarely see her.  My DH still goes over once a week to visit on his own.  I have never tried to stop him having a relationship with his family but my resentment was so bad that I reached a point of not wanting to see her. I don't talk about her either. For the past couple of years my MIL has been fine, the odd thing every now and again but she has toned down her opinions a lot.  I guess the absence worked for me in that I didn't think of her too often.  However we are thinking of starting a family which means I will have to see her a lot more.  I guess sometimes I hear things or read things and it brings it all back and I can still get angry.  It angers me that my MIL knew it was causing problems between DH and I to buy all those presents but she continued to do it, why?  She use to smile at me when DH would accept her furniture.  It hurts me that she seemed to take pleasure in upsetting me, I didn't tell her to not buy us any presents I just told her not to buy presents for the house. I understand this is an issue between DH and I however why would someone do something for their son when they know it hurts their DIL and causes arguments.  Once my MIL found out that it no longer caused arguments all the gifts stopped. Apart from not understanding I don't seem to be able to forgive my MIL for trying to harm my marriage and hurt me.

 

Sorry I don't mean to make this so long.  I guess that distance has worked for me to find some apathy but I realize that I haven't forgiven my MIL yet.  So has anyone been able to forgive their MIL/DIL for their hurtful behavior?  How do I go about this when my MIL and DH will never acknowledge that it was a problem?  My DH is much better when it comes to boundaries now but so much damage has been done between MIL and myself, how do I move past this?

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A few topics lately have made me think about MIL and her behavior and I can still feel angry by what has happened in the past.  I don't think my MIL is necessarily a bad person however I think she feared losing her son and she acted out. She would find a topic that DH and I didn't agree on and then push the button.  Eg she knew I didn't want presents for the house, yes I accepted the first few but then we also got furniture, wall paintings, cushions, chairs etc and it was monthly sometimes weekly presents for no reason, she knew I wanted to decorate my own house but kept buying things for our house causing trouble between DH and I.  We had massive arguments over this as I didn't think it was nice of someone to continue doing something once they know it is causing problems.  My DH argued that she was just trying to be nice.  This actually went on for a couple of years until finally I told MIL she was right and I was happy to accept all her gifts and then all the presents stopped so my reverse psychology worked.  My MIL has been rude when DH is not around however is all hugs and kisses when he is there.  If I mentioned her rude behavior she would deny behaving that way and tell DH I was causing trouble. For our last holiday I said I didn't want to go to India so my MIL tried to get DH to go to India. I did in the beginning plan family holidays and pay for them however gave up after the third holiday when my MIL still insisted it was her son to thank even when he told her that I had planned everything. In the beginning of the marriage I was told that I must visit them daily with their son - this didn't last, it was more than I see my own FOO but my MIL would ask DH what was wrong, didn't I like them, she is heart broken and hurt.  My MIL put a wedding photo up of DH and myself and then told me that her friends had visited and told her I looked ugly in the wedding photo.  When I got upset she cut me out of the wedding photo and just had her son up. There are so many other stories but hopefully this gives everyone a small picture.

 

I know I handled things poorly, I reacted to everything MIL did and that didn't help.  Finally I arrived at a point where I gave up, I rarely see her.  My DH still goes over once a week to visit on his own.  I have never tried to stop him having a relationship with his family but my resentment was so bad that I reached a point of not wanting to see her. I don't talk about her either. For the past couple of years my MIL has been fine, the odd thing every now and again but she has toned down her opinions a lot.  I guess the absence worked for me in that I didn't think of her too often.  However we are thinking of starting a family which means I will have to see her a lot more.  I guess sometimes I hear things or read things and it brings it all back and I can still get angry.  It angers me that my MIL knew it was causing problems between DH and I to buy all those presents but she continued to do it, why?  She use to smile at me when DH would accept her furniture.  It hurts me that she seemed to take pleasure in upsetting me, I didn't tell her to not buy us any presents I just told her not to buy presents for the house. I understand this is an issue between DH and I however why would someone do something for their son when they know it hurts their DIL and causes arguments.  Once my MIL found out that it no longer caused arguments all the gifts stopped. Apart from not understanding I don't seem to be able to forgive my MIL for trying to harm my marriage and hurt me.

Layla-- to the bolded, my question is "why"? Why would you need to see her more, let alone a lot more? We tell people here all the time to look at the relationship BEFORE the baby and that will determine what it will be afterward. Your MIL may not like that, but so what? This falls into the category of reaping what you sow/lying in the bed you made for yourself. You don't get to take destructive action against another persons marriage and then play Granny of the Year, life is just not like that. 

 

It is possible to forgive a lot, but at least IMO, trying to intentionally drive a wedge between husband and wife is a very difficult (perhaps impossible) thing to forgive. Again, IMO, it's worthy of a complete CO because it basically demonstrates the persons utter lack of respect not only for the person, but for the relationship they're undermining. So yeah that's a hard one to come back off the cliff from, and I don't blame you. I do not know if I personally could forgive that.

 

But the part where it is just hurting you-- yes it's possible to forgive that. I suggest considering how sad and pathetic someone needs to be that they send passive/aggressive gifts in order to cause a fight because they're so insecure in their relationship with their son that they need constant validation that he's on HER side. That's...sad Layla. It's not the mark of someone with a healthy relationship with their son or themselves. How little and sad her life must be if the only way she can feel validated is by trying to cause a fight? Do you really need to hang on to resentment against someone that pathetic? Surely at that point it's hurting you more than her--she's probably beyond repair, but you can actually be happy! 

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Eowyn my DH and MIL have a good relationship.  She has been very good to him and treats him like a king.  It's hard for my DH to understand that she can be a loving caring mother but a lousy MIL.  So if we have children my DH will want to spend time with his parents and our child and that's fine.  It's then up to me to decide if I want to sit at home and miss out or be a part of it.  I already know that when a child is involved I would rather join in.  My MIL has been fine for the past couple of years so I just know that at some point I can't hold a grudge for ever and will have to move on.

 

My DH always stated that his mother buys gifts it's what she does.  He says she didn't have any malice involved, he can't see that in her.  I just think if you know your gifts are causing arguments why would you continue with them.  My DH asked her to stop buying him clothes and guess what, she did. Perhaps every couple of years he may get some socks or a shirt but she pretty much stopped with the clothes so I don't think it was a major thing to ask her to stop buying things for our house, it was a matter of storage as well, we were getting furniture such as chairs, wall paintings, cushions, lamp shades.  It was at the stage where for DH's birthday he would get two pot plants, then they would die so she bought him cactus's.  It was so silly. 

 

So yes I see her actions as trying to undermine our relationship, DH does not.  We have agreed to disagree because this isn't going to change.  I am fine with this however I need to move on for myself.  I do find it incredibly difficult to see DH standing up for his mother when I feel she caused us so much pain.

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Here's a little gem that Faramir used on his parents once--when you have an adult child, the way you are a good mother to them is by being good to their spouse. So no, she's not a good mother to him, she's trying to undermine his marriage. That's pretty crap mothering in my book.

I would think long and hard about this pre-children. If she tried to get between you guys on something as relatively trivial as furniture, imagine when there is a baby involved and she doesn't like your schedule/way of feeding/where you spend holidays. I would get on the same page with DH for Exactly what the post-child relationship is going to look like, and make sure he's ready to articulate and enforce it, before deciding that you just need to "get past it". Ask any of the DiLs here if ther relationships with their MiLs IMPROVED after baby arived...you'll find a lot of high-angst post-baby cut offs.

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Eowyn she knew my DH disagreed with me about the whole furniture thing which is why that was the button that she pushed, in the conversations we have had so far about kids DH and I are on the same page so for now that's a bonus. I have no idea how my MIL will behave.  I just know that since I gave up her, her behavior seems to have improved.  What I worry about is that if I am still getting angry over the past then it's just going to make things difficult in the future.  She will do the slightest thing and it could even be innocent and I'll react.  I guess I just want to forgive for me but I'm not sure where one even starts.

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Layla, I'm sorry your MIL is so unaware of the effects of her problem behavior. Or, she feels justified somehow. If I tried any of that stuff w/ my DS or DIL it'd be curtains for me.

 

I've had 2 MILs. The first was fantastic. The second, OMG. I didn't know what I was seeing until it was too late. Usually an overbearing MIL goes hand in hand w/ a son who is also too attached to his DM. They cultivate this over the years, so you have interrupted a love affair of sorts.

 

My advice to you is threefold: 1. Accept that she is not highly evolved or introspective enough to see that her behavior is WRONG. 2. Get you and DH to counseling, NOW. 3. If you have faith is a God of any kind, pray for your MIL. It tends to take the power out of her actions.  Good luck. You have work ahead of you.

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"However we are thinking of starting a family which means I will have to see her a lot more."

 

Work with your DH on this, either just together or in counseling.  You know your MIL will do things just to anger you, and there are many opportunities to push a new mama bear's buttons.  That protective instinct is pretty strong.  You need to prepare and set some boundaries for yourselves (or yourself) about what actually is going to happen when you have a baby.  For your own sake, do not assume it will go back to lots of involvement--don't do that to yourself, and don't let DH make that assumption for you either.  

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Forgiveness is a choice if you chose to forgive you'll find away to do that, if you really don't want to your find away not to forgive.

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Layla, is MIL trying to make your home look like hers? Just curious as years ago I had the occasion to be in YDIL's parents house and I saw what I thought was a red flag, identical pictures in the kitchen. I did comment and asked if it was a coincidence. DM said it was not, she purchased them at the same time along with identical towels and sheets. My opinion was there's something not right about it.

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Livingbelow I always did get the impression that my MIL didn't believe her behavior was wrong. She does have this attitude that I shouldn't be telling her what to do even if it's in my own home that I'm paying for, she got the green light from her son to continue the behavior and she would smile each time she got her own way.  It was competitive, I did drop the rope on a lot of things but the house was a sore point for me, it's the one thing I dug my heels in about.

 

Justagrandma, I find it hard to forgive her when she has caused so much heartache in my marriage that needn't have been there. However I do agree that it's a choice to let it go.

 

Elaine1954 my MIL purchases items that are tasteful to her but we have different tastes so what she likes, I don't. I like country themes so MIL bought square metal lamp shades, it just clashed. I more saw it as MIL perhaps marking her territory in our house.  A constant reminder of her or there may been a sense of wanting to decorate a house with her son.  She wants her son to take her along to choose dishwashers or a tv or a washing machine for our house.  She expected that level of involvement.  It has calmed down now but it's like she gets excited about what he is doing in his life and she wants to be involved with him but she excludes me at the same time. I think she was use to being involved in all his decision making and she couldn't really share that so she pushed me away.  Of course this is me guessing but she would get really upset each time we made a decision together without her, even if it was something as simple as buying a washing machine.  I guess I don't really understand her.

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You can forgive people and not want to be around them. I've forgiven my ILs for being toxic but I won't be around them willingly. Me being angry doesn't make them nicer people, if I can distance myself I retain my sense of peace. With the mild bonus of knowing it makes ILs craaaaaazy that they can't force me to be near them talk to them or have a relationship with them.

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When I read what happened in your situation, I can't help but think that your anger is still a bit misdirected. Your husband was clearly the problem, much more so than your MIL. Put yourself in your MIL's shoes for a minute. You want to buy gifts for your child, your child appreciates the gifts, your child has never indicated that he doesn't want the gifts, to the contrary, he's made it clear that he likes the gifts. DIL asks you not to get gifts for the house and you realize that your son and DIL aren't on the same page about the house gifts, but your son seems to really appreciate it and you like making your son happy and maybe you take a tiny bit of pleasure having your son on your side, as opposed to his wife's, so what'll another gift or 8 hurt?

 

Don't get me wrong, it WAS a b**** move on her part, I don't doubt that some part of her got a little pleasure knowing she was making her son happy at the expense of her DIL, but your husband CAUSED this problem. *HE* could've shut this down, but he didn't. He didn't respect you enough to agree to a very reasonable boundary and enforce it - that's all on him. She never could've made those b**** moves without your husband. And I think you have to take a little responsibility here as well. You allowed this to go on. If I had been in your shoes, I'd like to think that I would've demanded marriage counseling to address the fact that my husband was making decisions about our home without me, that he had such little respect for my opinions and my boundaries.

 

I think you still have all this anger towards your MIL because you and your husband haven't really dealt with *YOUR* issues in your marriage. I think you're right to be very worried about having children and the issues that may come up. It sounds like you and your husband have just avoided the issue, as opposed to actually getting on the same page. I'm not saying the two of you need to agree about everything but you need to feel supported by your spouse and you need to be able to have healthy boundaries and have your spouse back you up. I think that once you feel confident that your spouse will truly stand beside you and that you can make decisions about your home, your parenting, your child.....together, that your anger towards MIL will dissipate. She will no longer wield any power in your marital decisions. 

 

Think about it for a minute, imagine that the first time you started to feel annoyed by your MIL's house gifts, you went to your husband, and said that you'd like the ability to choose house furnishings as a couple and you don't want to be gifted those things. And your husband said, "that makes sense, I'll talk to my mom and make sure she doesn't get us any more gifts for the house" and then he followed through. Wouldn't you have much different feelings towards your MIL now?

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Forgivness doesn't mean to forget.........it's just letting go of the pain..........I am always amazed when I see a story of someone who's had horrific crimes committed against them or a family member and they are able to forgive and move on from the pain. I hear those stories and wonder if I could really really do that under those circumstances. It some times hard enought over the lttle stuff.

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I think forgiveness is something you do for yourself.  You let go of the feelings so you can be a happier person.  It doesn't matter whether it effects the other person or not.  They can take it or leave it.  That doesn't matter.  It matters as part of taking care of yourself...

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My DH always stated that his mother buys gifts it's what she does.  He says she didn't have any malice involved, he can't see that in her.  I just think if you know your gifts are causing arguments why would you continue with them.  My DH asked her to stop buying him clothes and guess what, she did. Perhaps every couple of years he may get some socks or a shirt but she pretty much stopped with the clothes so I don't think it was a major thing to ask her to stop buying things for our house, it was a matter of storage as well, we were getting furniture such as chairs, wall paintings, cushions, lamp shades.  It was at the stage where for DH's birthday he would get two pot plants, then they would die so she bought him cactus's.  It was so silly. 

 

So yes I see her actions as trying to undermine our relationship, DH does not.  We have agreed to disagree because this isn't going to change.  I am fine with this however I need to move on for myself.  I do find it incredibly difficult to see DH standing up for his mother when I feel she caused us so much pain.

So yeah, this really is all on your husband. I do think there's some mild malice there but I get why he couldn't/didn't see it. I'd agree with your husband that buying gifts may very well be her "love language" and there's no malice in buying gifts, but CLEARLY (by your example), he could've stopped those gifts by simply asking his mom to stop. It was not her responsibility to see that they were causing arguments and change her behavior. Her "loyalty", so to speak, is to her son and he made it clear to her that he didn't want the gifts to stop - THAT was the problem!

 

I can understand why you and your DH have decided to agree to disagree about whether his mom was trying to undermine your relationship (personally, I think your husband was undermining your relationship with him AND undermining your relationship with your MIL with *HIS* behavior). With all due respect, it was NOT his mother that caused so much pain, it was him that caused so much strife in your marriage.

 

Livingbelow I always did get the impression that my MIL didn't believe her behavior was wrong. She does have this attitude that I shouldn't be telling her what to do even if it's in my own home that I'm paying for, she got the green light from her son to continue the behavior and she would smile each time she got her own way.  It was competitive, I did drop the rope on a lot of things but the house was a sore point for me, it's the one thing I dug my heels in about.

 

Justagrandma, I find it hard to forgive her when she has caused so much heartache in my marriage that needn't have been there. However I do agree that it's a choice to let it go.

 

Elaine1954 my MIL purchases items that are tasteful to her but we have different tastes so what she likes, I don't. I like country themes so MIL bought square metal lamp shades, it just clashed. I more saw it as MIL perhaps marking her territory in our house.  A constant reminder of her or there may been a sense of wanting to decorate a house with her son.  She wants her son to take her along to choose dishwashers or a tv or a washing machine for our house.  She expected that level of involvement.  It has calmed down now but it's like she gets excited about what he is doing in his life and she wants to be involved with him but she excludes me at the same time. I think she was use to being involved in all his decision making and she couldn't really share that so she pushed me away.  Of course this is me guessing but she would get really upset each time we made a decision together without her, even if it was something as simple as buying a washing machine.  I guess I don't really understand her.

She didn't cause that heartache, your husband did. As you stated, she got the green light from him. I agree that her behavior was competitive and immature, but it wouldn't have happened without your husband's active participation.

 

I think you understand your MIL perfectly. She was used to being the #1 sounding board for her son. She liked that role, she liked helping him make decisions about his life, his home, etc. I actually don't find this odd at all. I think it's a pretty normal thing, as a parent to a relatively new adult child. I think until a person gets married, their parents are often their main sounding board (I can say that my parents were from the time I was 22ish until I was 27ish). The problem is that your husband didn't make it clear to his mom that HE no longer wanted that level of involvement from his mom. Yes, she should've realized that once you share a home with another person, that she (who doesn't live in the home) has to relegated to the #3 position, but as a parent she doesn't have much else left in her role, so I could understand her being reluctant to give up what little "parenting" she still got to claim.

 

 

Eowyn she knew my DH disagreed with me about the whole furniture thing which is why that was the button that she pushed, in the conversations we have had so far about kids DH and I are on the same page so for now that's a bonus. I have no idea how my MIL will behave.  I just know that since I gave up her, her behavior seems to have improved.  What I worry about is that if I am still getting angry over the past then it's just going to make things difficult in the future.  She will do the slightest thing and it could even be innocent and I'll react.  I guess I just want to forgive for me but I'm not sure where one even starts.

I realize that you and your husband seem to be on the same page about many parenting issues and that's great, but I still worry about those situations where your husband doesn't have a strong opinion....actually that's not it really. I worry about the fact that your husband doesn't seem to think that you should get to institute boundaries if he's alright with the behavior - THAT is a huge issue!! While he didn't mind his mom buying gifts for the home, he should've realized that your home is a reflection of the two of you, your opinion should've been just as important as his, and his mom's opinion should've been much lower on the totem pole - that's not the way it was. I think this was a situation where the 2 yes, 1 no rule should've been taken into account - sadly he didn't back you up here. 

 

Let's say MIL wants to buy your 5 year old child a video gaming system. You husband thinks that's a great gift, but you think your child is too young for video games. What should happen is that MIL's opinion doesn't matter one iota - you and your DH have to work out what you think the best parenting decision is. So you explain your point of view, maybe back it up with some articles, DH presents his thoughts and you come to a decision. Perhaps you agree that it's ok to get the gaming system so long as it isn't a gift for your child, it's a gift for husband and husband and child play it together. Or even if you and your DH can't agree on terms for the gaming system, then you don't get the gaming system because having a gaming system should be something that BOTH parents agree on, otherwise it doesn't happen. But is that what would happen in your home? Or would your husband tell his mother he like that plan, MIL buys the gaming system to her gift trumps santa's gift AND then you are extremely bitter because you either have to be the horrible mom who takes about her child's amazing gift or you have to allow the child to have the gift while seething at your MIL for trampling your boundaries. 

 

You need to deal with the fact that you need to be the #1/#2 decision maker in all joint decisions with your husband and that he needs to put you in that position.

 

I think forgiveness for MIL will be much easier when you put the blame where it belongs - 60% on your husband, 20% on you and 20% on your MIL. RIght now you probably blame your MIL 90%, imagine if you could reduce that to only 20%. Then add in that you actually TRUSTED that if a similar issue came up, your husband would take care of it 100%, well there wouldn't be all that much to blow up over, because it'd all be very insignificant things.

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Justa, I think in the case of a crime if the family wants to rebuild they can't without a certain degree of forgiveness. It's different in family , we're much harder on everyone. We can forgive those we love as long as certain lines have not been crossed, then it may be impossible.

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Good point.

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Sarah My DH also likes gifts such as gardening tools or car washing shampoos.  My MIL could have easily have bought him these and he would have been really happy. It didn't bring my DH pleasure in regards to the house gifts, after one gift I heard her in the next room saying to him "sorry sorry sorry". She knew the gifts were causing her son grief in his marriage and yet she continued. It's just that gifts are her language of love so DH saw it as her way of being nice so he was reluctant to say anything.  I had explained how I felt to her as well and she still ignored me and bought gifts for the house.

 

I agree with the rest of your post though.  I didn't allow it to continue, that's what we argued about. I tried to enforce my boundaries and my DH ignored me. I do think I would feel differently if my DH had stood up for me and not allowed his mother to get in the middle.  However I remember hearing her cry and say "I'm only trying to help, why doesn't she like me".  I think the manipulations were running wild.  It was a difficult time and that's why I said I didn't handle it well, I reacted without thinking. Things are different now, MIL is not involved in any of the decisions that we make now.

 

I do see that DH was a major problem in all of this.  He has gotten better over the years and he has in recent times supported me however MIL hasn't pushed him. I guess agreeing to disagree isn't a solution but if DH doesn't agree with me then I can't make him. I guess  I just think if my MIL knew it was a sore spot for us why would she continue to make our marriage hard, she could have stopped getting gifts for the house but she played it until the end and now we have no relationship.  Although I suppose she doesn't care for a relationship with me only her DS.  I would never do that to someone, keep doing something that hurts them, that they have told you hurts them, hurts their marriage and yet continue with the same behavior, it's this that I find really unforgivable.  I understand that it may seem trivial it's not really about the furniture more to do with my MIL's intentions, to keep doing something she knows is causing harm, that's the part that offends me so much.

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Make peace, Layla. The DIL is the one with the power. Be respectful to her and know that she was trying to be considerate and generous and was giving household items as signs of her love for BOTH of you. That's what we mothers- in-law do. It's not done in order to compete. Believe it or not, we want to love our DILs. Use the item for a couple of months, then say, "I know you must love this because you bought it for us, but I don't want it anymore. I wanted to offer it back to you rather than give it away. You can give it to someone else or save it for your grandchild. I really appreciate your thought and generosity." My MIL did that in regard to me years after I've given her things. It showed she acknowledged my generous intent. Having told my DIL about this, my DIL also has asked me if I want things that either she or other people have gifted her with. I have many beautiful things from her that I'm either using or storing for her DDs, many of them wedding gifts. I have never taken offense when she's respectfully asked if I want something back. That's the whole key: respect. Forgive her for giving you gifts you didn't want. You'd forgive just about anybody else for that. Don't hold her to a harder standard. Work for a great relationship, which you can have with mutual respect, and remember YOU have the real power over the relationship with DH and her future GC. Season your power with kindness, real attempts to understand, and mercy. You will have fewer sleepless nights and fights with DH.

 

 

PS: It might have been so much better way back if you could have told her you really didn't like it and asked her to take it back WITH YOU and to shop with her for something you really wanted.  When you have your discussion with her in the future about house things, maybe you could suggest that the next time she wants to buy something for you, she shop with you or send you a phone pic before she buys it and gets your okay.

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As I get older I have learned - take one day at a time. Please do not project what MIL "MIGHT" do with arrival of grandchildren. We do mellow as we get older.  You may be pleasantly surprised. Worrying about something that may never happen is sad and a waste of good time that is yours to enjoy not stress over. One day at a time one day at a time.....

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Sweet Betsy that's a lovely post.  I remember telling my MIL I was going out to buy cushions just to make conversation and the next day she went and bought me some.I kept them on the lounge for 6 months before swapping them and MIL was upset.  I have told her that I couldn't use an item and did she want it back or if I could get the receipt to exchange it and that was a hissy fit to DH well hissy fit being tears and she is heart broken.  I took others advice on how to deal with her but it was a problem at every turn.  I did ask her out to lunch/coffee and she refused, I have invited her to our house for dinner she has refused. She will go out if my DH invites her but not if I invite her and I mean for dinner with all of us together. Now no one ever goes out to dinner.

 

Annierobyn it's not all about children.  I just see that with starting a family I will be seeing her more, plus all the wonderful drama's of mixing a new baby with in-laws. I'm not sure I'm ready for the new set of drama's to come but you could be right maybe they will never come. I've come to realize that not seeing her doesn't mean I have dealt with it entirely, I haven't given it much thought until recently but I don't think I should still be angry. 

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Eowyn my DH and MIL have a good relationship.  She has been very good to him and treats him like a king.  It's hard for my DH to understand that she can be a loving caring mother but a lousy MIL.  So if we have children my DH will want to spend time with his parents and our child and that's fine.  It's then up to me to decide if I want to sit at home and miss out or be a part of it.  I already know that when a child is involved I would rather join in.  My MIL has been fine for the past couple of years so I just know that at some point I can't hold a grudge for ever and will have to move on.

 

My DH always stated that his mother buys gifts it's what she does.  He says she didn't have any malice involved, he can't see that in her.  I just think if you know your gifts are causing arguments why would you continue with them.  My DH asked her to stop buying him clothes and guess what, she did. Perhaps every couple of years he may get some socks or a shirt but she pretty much stopped with the clothes so I don't think it was a major thing to ask her to stop buying things for our house, it was a matter of storage as well, we were getting furniture such as chairs, wall paintings, cushions, lamp shades.  It was at the stage where for DH's birthday he would get two pot plants, then they would die so she bought him cactus's.  It was so silly. 

 

So yes I see her actions as trying to undermine our relationship, DH does not.  We have agreed to disagree because this isn't going to change.  I am fine with this however I need to move on for myself.  I do find it incredibly difficult to see DH standing up for his mother when I feel she caused us so much pain.

I've been reading some of the posts but this sentence just jumped out at me.

 

Where is your FIL?  Is your MIL widowed and is your DH her only child or only son?

 

I can tell you from my experience, if he is the only son, brace yourself.  My late MIL was widowed just one year after I married her precious son, and she never gave up  - she thought my tastes were wrong (for everything); said I didn't know how to take care of a home or family, was critical of the choices we (me and DH) made regarding our sons' education, heck, she even told us to get twin beds when the last baby was born cause she said we didn't need to do "that" anymore.

 

You can forgive some things, if those things happened a long time ago and no longer affect your day to day life, but this is on-going for you, you have to put a stop to it all before you can "let it go"

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Before bringing a child into a marriage that can be torn by a MIL's will to tear it, please go to marriage counseling. 

 

You have protected yourself by avoiding MIL's open disrespect of you, that's why things are calmer.  MIL has what she wants: DH all to herself once a week.  That's why things are calmer.

 

""He has gotten better over the years and he has in recent times supported me however MIL hasn't pushed him.""

 

You're right that MIL will probably have something to push him for if you have a child.  Namely, more time, access and influence over your child than you may be ready to give her.  Will DH be able to work with you regarding maintaining appropriate boundaries?  Will you be okay with DH bringing your child over there once a week without you?  What about when MIL wants more visits than that and DH feels pressure to accommodate her? Will you be at peace if DH wants to leave you alone on holidays while he takes his baby to visit his mother to celebrate?  What about travel so MIL can bring the child to visit other extended family?  How would you feel if DH wants to make decisions for your child based on his mother's suggestions?  Or if he wants to run your childrearing ideas past her for input first, and reports back? These are likely scenarios you can begin to prepare for in counseling before they happen.

 

Something about the way you described your MIL's past behavior suggests to me it was an attempt at a "power play".  That MIL wanted to show you how she has some degree of control over your DH (and your home) that you do not.  So you would do what she wants under the threat of her power to make trouble for you if you don't.  I may be wrong, of course.  My concern would be MIL wanting to once again prove a degree of power over DH (and your little family) via the children....and her being successful in proving it. 

 

Whatever her motivations, marriage counseling now can give you both tools as a couple to refer to when MIL starts having something to push for and when DH feels pressure to please her.  Talk about appropriate boundaries now.  .  The year after a new baby is can be the hardest year of a marriage (surveys show the first year after a baby is born is when men report feeling most unhappy). That is not the time for you and DH to feel even more divided.  Counseling now can help strengthen the marriage so MIL can't tear it, especially when it's under other stressors as well.

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I agree with others that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.  I think to get there, it is a process of setting boundares then letting go and choosing not to let it take up your mindspace anymore.  The resentment that you hold onto does not serve you.


I see similarities between your MIL/DH dynamic and mine, only I’ve been dealing with it longer, 18 years married, 3 kids.   First, you just need to accept the bad hand you were dealt when it come to what you wanted in a MIL, and realize it is mutual with her as well.   You will probably not have a friendly, adult to adult relationship with this woman.   So, let go of any lingering expectations and just deal with the reality that this is a somewhat difficult and largely incompatible presence in your life.   

 

Second, realize that when your MIL was buying furniture for your home in the taste agreeable to her only, some of it may have come from a good place, but it also had to do with her expectations of being a matriarch to your family.  She wants some power and influence over you/DH and your home, and the gift of furniture represents this.    I am glad you shut it down, and you need to continue to do so.   She can be in charge of her home, and you/DH are in charge of yours.

 

Third, to feel safe to let go, you and DH must be on the same page.  Both of you made mistakes with your MIL, and most of the responsibility rests with you DH IMO.  To avoid future mistakes, find out from DH what your MIL's expectations will be when a child arrives and set your boundaries that you both commit to.  You need to be prepared as the biggest MIL challenges probably lie ahead if/when a child enters the picture.  I think the stuff that has happened so far has been child's play in comparison.

 

You are so lucky to have a resource like this forum to help you in that regard.


 

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I agree with others that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.  I think to get there, it is a process of setting boundares then letting go and choosing not to let it take up your mindspace anymore.  The resentment that you hold onto does not serve you.

I see similarities between your MIL/DH dynamic and mine, only I’ve been dealing with it longer, 18 years married, 3 kids.   First, you just need to accept the bad hand you were dealt when it come to what you wanted in a MIL, and realize it is mutual with her as well.   You will probably not have a friendly, adult to adult relationship with this woman.   So, let go of any lingering expectations and just deal with the reality that this is a somewhat difficult and largely incompatible presence in your life.   

 

Second, realize that when your MIL was buying furniture for your home in the taste agreeable to her only, some of it may have come from a good place, but it also had to do with her expectations of being a matriarch to your family.  She wants some power and influence over you/DH and your home, and the gift of furniture represents this.    I am glad you shut it down, and you need to continue to do so.   She can be in charge of her home, and you/DH are in charge of hers.

 

Third, to feel safe to let go, you and DH must be on the same page.  Both of you made mistakes with your MIL, and most of the responsibility rests with you DH IMO.  To avoid future mistakes, find out from DH what your MIL's expectations will be when a child arrives and set your boundaries that you both commit to.  You need to be prepared as the biggest MIL challenges probably lie ahead if/when a child enters the picture.  I think the stuff that has happened so far has been child's play in comparison.

 

 

Standing ovation. Really.

 

Layla, I read books and blogs last year and the year before, trying to figure out how to forgive my ILs and move on. And of course, my DH and my ILs were standing around, rushing me, but here's the thing...

 

In most of my readings, forgiveness is more easily achieved when the offender actually makes a true, complete apology that acknowledges what s/he's done, expresses regret and empathy, apologizes, and makes attempt at reparation (including saying they'll try never to do it again). Unfortunately, that seldom happens. In some cases (mine) the offending parties not only refuse to apologize completely (or if they do, it's half-heartedly "for whatever I did"), they actually project blame and gaslight the person they offended. Which makes it even harder to move past.

 

You have every right to feel hurt. You have every right to take as much time as you need to forgive her. Don't rush yourself. I'm taking time to get over 12 years of IL hurt, and I'm discovering it's probably going to take a lot longer than I want it to, but to rush it would be a fake, artificial, "cheap" forgiveness.

 

I agree with the others, I would get to a counselor ASAP with my DH. It's important to hash this out now. If I had a crystal ball, I can see any number of nasty things played out by her. And if your DH isn't willing to acknowledge that she's capable of grinning in your direction as she does EXACTLY what you've asked her not to do (decorating your house), he needs his eyesight adjusted or he won't be able to protect you or his marriage. I foresee MIL undermining you to your kid and your DH, I see her taking liberties with your child, I see her playing games of guilt and manipulation and your DS offering up your child on a silver platter.

 

I hope you can get this figured out with him.

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