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RoseRed135

The MAIN cause of family rifts - Is the verdict in?

141 posts in this topic

A British study claims that MIL/DIL conflict is the cause of the majority of estrangements in families (google "drama between wife, mother-in-law at the center of most family rifts" to find the article). Yet, though many IL conflicts discussed here are MIL/DIL, we've seen, it seems to me, an increasing number of DM/DD issues, etc. And very often, the GVR cases posted about here involve estranged parents/PILs/GPs and their DD/SIL.

How do you make sense of all this? Or do you?

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There are "those" MILs and "those" DILs out there.  IMHO, when two of "these" women get together through a marriage, Katie bar the door...I think this might explain why one DIL has an issue with there MIL while a different DIL to the same woman doesn't have the same issue.

But, again both of these women were raised in a different situation with different expectations, so maybe it is mostly personality after all.

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Posted (edited)

I read the study referenced, and although issues related to a son's wife is a factor in why parent believes he/she is estranged from a son, it is not the most common reason.  The more common reasons a parent stated he/she was estranged (from a son or daughter) were mismatched expectations, divorce or a traumatic event. 

The common reasons that AC's (both sons and daughters) stated they were estranged from parents were: emotional abuse, differing expectations about family roles, clashes in personality and neglect.  Further, a DD is more likely to be estranged from a parent than a DS, although estrangements last longer with DS's.   It is also common for estrangements to cycle in and out, instead of one long period of estrangement.

The study stated that uniformly what AC's had wanted from their (estranged) parents and what parents had wanted from their (estranged) AC's was a closer, more positive and loving relationship.  AC's also wanted a more respectful and less critical relationship with their moms and for their dads to take more interest in them and stand up to poor behavior from their spouse or another family member, whereas the parents also had wanted more contact from their AC's.  In this study it was pointed out that (estranged) sons also wished for a better relationships between his parent(s) and his wife, but that was secondary to and not cited as uniformly as wanting a loving, supportive and respectful relationship with a parent. 

 

Edited by BSW
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I agree with the lead in statement. IME dealing with multitudes of wives over the years, the main cause of family rifts is MIL conflict. 

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I think what is interesting about this study is that parents listed the DIL as one of the reasons for estrangement with a son, whereas the son did not list his wife as the reason for estrangement with his parent(s).   Either DIL is getting blamed unfairly for the problems between a son and his parent(s) or the son is not willing to put responsibility on his wife for the poor relationship between him and his parent(s), but clearly there is no meeting of the minds here on the cause of the estrangement. 

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50 minutes ago, BSW said:

I think what is interesting about this study is that parents listed the DIL as one of the reasons for estrangement with a son, whereas the son did not list his wife as the reason for estrangement with his parent(s).   Either DIL is getting blamed unfairly for the problems between a son and his parent(s) or the son is not willing to put responsibility on his wife for the poor relationship between him and his parent(s), but clearly there is no meeting of the minds here on the cause of the estrangement. 

I suspect the parents in the study were not looking at what they brought to the fuss. IF parents have/keep good relationships going with their AC - I fail to see how ACIL can impact that good relationship. Why bother thinking DIL is doing something wrong when DS lives in the same house (presumably) and should be the one doing for his parents?

I know, beyond a doubt, I couldn't have harmed my husband's relationship with his patents, he loved them to pieces. And the same is true of me and my FOO. My PILs could have made him pull away I suppose, by bad behavior, but they loved him too much for that sort of nonsense. Nothing to do with me. I consider it ridiculous to to blame ACIL (or any IL, my XsisIL, for example) for shortfalls in the FOO relationship.

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IRL I recently became of a situation where MIL and DIL are at odds w/ each other. When MIL brings her concerns to DS, he "always" (according to MIL) defends DIL/his DW. MIL resents this. She still gets along w/ DS, overall, but blames DIL for the arguments between him and her (DS and MIL).

And I understand why. After all, as she points out, she and DS didn't have these issues between them before he married. Therefore, from her POV, DIL is "the cause" of their (MIL's  and DS') current conflicts.

But, IMO, as Janelle says, MIL is "not looking at what (she) brought to the fuss."  What's really causing the tension between her and DS is that she keeps complaining to him about DIL - and expecting him (or so it seems) to take her (MIL's) side. IDK the full story, so I'm not saying that DIL bears none of the blame. But MIL's inability - refusal (?) - to see any of this from any POV but her own is, no doubt, part of the problem.

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40 minutes ago, RoseRed135 said:

IRL I recently became of a situation where MIL and DIL are at odds w/ each other. When MIL brings her concerns to DS, he "always" (according to MIL) defends DIL/his DW. MIL resents this. She still gets along w/ DS, overall, but blames DIL for the arguments between him and her (DS and MIL).

 

I think this is such a mistake - to bring concerns (or complain) about your DIL to your son.   Of course son is going to defend his wife.  This is his wife, and in the order of things, she is primary and everyone else is secondary including mom.  

My MIL never complained about me to DH, but she sure created a lot of situations (that she admitted to doing) in which she wanted DH to choose what she wanted vs. what I wanted, so he would show his loyalty to her at my expense.   DH would side with me and this sure created a lot of resentment in my MIL that built up over the years.  But why even go there?  Why come between a marriage and meddle like this or complain about your DIL to your son?   What positive do you think will come from this?   How do you think this is being supportive of your son and his marriage?   

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

What's really causing the tension between her and DS is that she keeps complaining to him about DIL - and expecting him (or so it seems) to take her (MIL's) side.

1 hour ago, BSW said:

I think this is such a mistake - to bring concerns (or complain) about your DIL to your son.   Of course son is going to defend his wife.  This is his wife, and in the order of things, she is primary and everyone else is secondary including mom. 

I think it's likely what a lot of CO/ELC people do. They forget who is involved the DS-DW relationship.

Of course DS will take sides with his DW, he lives with DW. He made vows with DW to hold each other above all others.

I expect my husband to always consider me first, have me primary in his heart and mind, and I feel the same about him. Why wouldn't our kids feel the same about their spouses, the ones they made vows with?

ETA: to what BSW notes below, in case I mis-represented, I DO hold my relationship with my kids as primary/higher than their spouse. Our AC do come first/are always primary (for me/us) in their little family.

 

Edited by JanelleK
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35 minutes ago, JanelleK said:

I think it's likely what a lot of CO/ELC people do. They forget who is involved the DS-DW relationship.

Of course DS will take sides with his DW, he lives with DW. He made vows with DW to hold each other above all others.

I expect my husband to always consider me first, have me primary in his heart and mind, and I feel the same about him. Why wouldn't our kids feel the same about their spouses, the ones they made vows with?

 

Agreed.  DH-DW are primary and their relationship is sacred and above all others.  The article Rose cited, however mentions that sometimes a parent holds the relationship with his/her AC as primary and the spouse as secondary, so I can see where this could become a problem when an AC marries and now hold his wife as primary not mom although mom still holds her DS as primary.   I think this was an issue with my MIL. 

I am wondering too how well it would work out for a DH if he decided to go with what his mom wanted.  For instance with my MIL, I recall one time that she threw a huge fit when DH and I had to go to a funeral and take YDD as YDD was an infant and I was breastfeeding.  My MIL was visible upset and told DH to give her YDD as she would take care of her instead (she was at my home to watch my other 2 older kids).  How exactly was DH going to take YDD out of my arms, hand her over to MIL and have it all work out between me and him? and me and my MIL?  Another time, my MIL wanted to use our home to host a party for her sister and niece/nephew when DH and I would not be there, and I told DH 'No'.  If she wanted to host a party she could do it in her home.  Again, how exactly would that have worked out for DH (and for my MIL) if I would have been forced to let her use our home? 

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Maybe I'm not getting it.  How can someone say it's not the DILs fault and at the same time say that the son is doing what is wife wants because it is the primary relationship.

I agree that he should do what his wife wants (short of committing an immoral or "hill to die on" act), but it is still what his wife wants.  The son wants to please his wife.

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2 hours ago, skipped said:

Maybe I'm not getting it.  How can someone say it's not the DILs fault and at the same time say that the son is doing what is wife wants because it is the primary relationship.

I agree that he should do what his wife wants (short of committing an immoral or "hill to die on" act), but it is still what his wife wants.  The son wants to please his wife.

I don't think it is the DIL's "fault" when a DH/DW support each other in their relationship even if it means going against MIL's wishes.  

Reversing things a bit - what if I called up my FIL and complained about MIL and told him to get her in line as she was the cause of family disharmony, or if I called up my FIL and told him I wanted to use his home to host my sister and her kids and to tell MIL to get it ready for me.   Applying your logic, MIL is the problem here, not my disrespectful and entitled behavior. 

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In one word - the cause of most rifts -  Lies....

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23 minutes ago, BSW said:

I don't think it is the DIL's "fault" when a DH/DW support each other in their relationship even if it means going against MIL's wishes.  

Reversing things a bit - what if I called up my FIL and complained about MIL and told him to get her in line as she was the cause of family disharmony, or if I called up my FIL and told him I wanted to use his home to host my sister and her kids and to tell MIL to get it ready for me.   Applying your logic, MIL is the problem here, not my disrespectful and entitled behavior. 

Still doesn't answer the question.  Who decides the disrespectful entitled behavior.     Person #1 tells person #2 what is acceptable.  Person #1 isn't "allowed" to say no to person #2 because of the relationship.  Your examples are disrespectful and entitled.  What if they are a matter of opinion.  Over the years here here have been some complaints you have had about your MIL which I personally think are borderline/ just a matter of opinion, BEC ing.

Person calling the shots = control.  Control + responsibility.  Responsibility = blame.

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1 hour ago, BSW said:

I don't think it is the DIL's "fault" when a DH/DW support each other in their relationship even if it means going against MIL's wishes. 

Of course it's not a "fault" thing, whatever gave you that idea? I assume DH (or my DS) is NOT a mindless twit, he and DW (DIL) have worked out between them what they want to do, will put up with, can tolerate, etc. 
 
Whatever it is that a person outside the marriage wants, the couple discuss and decide together and present a united front. Say, your funeral example, you and DH came to an agreement, nothing whatsoever to do with your MIL. Same with her using your home as an event center. You and DH made a decision on that stupidity. No "fault" is assessed just because you aren't doing MIL's royal bidding.
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39 minutes ago, skipped said:

Still doesn't answer the question.  Who decides the disrespectful entitled behavior.     Person #1 tells person #2 what is acceptable.  Person #1 isn't "allowed" to say no to person #2 because of the relationship.  Your examples are disrespectful and entitled.  What if they are a matter of opinion.  Over the years here here have been some complaints you have had about your MIL which I personally think are borderline/ just a matter of opinion, BEC ing.

Person calling the shots = control.  Control + responsibility.  Responsibility = blame.

I think there can be subjectivity to this.  What I find disrespectful, another person would think was fine.  For example, I had a problem with my MIL doing my laundry when she was in my home.  I just found it invasive and didn't like it.  Someone else would call that a kind act on my MIL's part.  I think most would agree however, that once she was told not to do the laundry she should have stopped, rather than continue on until I put our pet rats (which she was fearful of) in the laundry room to keep her out.

So much of my issues with my MIL occurred in my home or involved the parenting of kids or involved meddling in my marriage - sorry but its hard to defend that as this was her coming into my sphere.  I could see an argument if I behaved poorly in her home or meddled in her marriage. 

P.S.  I agree however, that I did have some over-reactive BEC moments with her such as the gifts I received from her which I can see now were symptoms of a bigger problem between us. 

 

 

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I think it comes down to the personalities involved not roles. My mil is a bit controlling, passive-aggressive (she has said this about herself), and she uses guilt a lot. My husband is used to this and either avoids her or ignores her. This is harder for me to do since I'm not her child and I also feel protective over my children. So I point out the big things that bother me (undermining parenting, telling us what to do) and my husband deals with it in the moment as do I. This does not go over well and even if my husbands voices a concern or asks her to stop mil gets mad and tells him to stop. So really mil has a problem with anyone else but her making the decisions. So I think it's just a her problem and not because she is my mil. 

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On 8/30/2017 at 6:37 PM, skipped said:

Maybe I'm not getting it.  How can someone say it's not the DILs fault and at the same time say that the son is doing what is wife wants because it is the primary relationship.

I agree that he should do what his wife wants (short of committing an immoral or "hill to die on" act), but it is still what his wife wants.  The son wants to please his wife.

B/c you don't know what happens behind closed doors. And does simply blaming the CIL help anything? 

Example: Ds calls to say they're staying home for Christmas. His parents blame the DIL. Reality is, he wants to have a Christmas at home, it was his idea. 

One *could* argue that if DIL didn't exist, he'd not want to stay home, but is it actually reasonable or logical to blame the DIL? Or simply accept that when an AC gets married/long term relationship, things are supposed to change, even if they're not changes you personally like or agree with?

Sure, you can blame the CIL for any and all changes in your AC. But does it help anything? Does it improve your relationship w/your AC to blame their spouse for everything you don't like? Does it improve your relationship w/your AC to assume that they're merely a puppet for their spouse?

As much as a husband wants to please his wife, a wife also wants to please her husband, so it's not a one way street, either.

On 8/31/2017 at 9:38 PM, skipped said:

Still doesn't answer the question.  Who decides the disrespectful entitled behavior.     Person #1 tells person #2 what is acceptable.  Person #1 isn't "allowed" to say no to person #2 because of the relationship.  Your examples are disrespectful and entitled.  What if they are a matter of opinion.  Over the years here here have been some complaints you have had about your MIL which I personally think are borderline/ just a matter of opinion, BEC ing.

Person calling the shots = control.  Control + responsibility.  Responsibility = blame.

I don't understand why someone wouldn't be 'allowed' to say no to who ever, regardless of the relationship. Wolf tells me no. I tell him no. We tell our kids no. They tell us no (which can either lead to a discussion and renegotiation, acceptance, or 'Yeah, I don't think so. You were told to do your chores/clean your room/walk the dog, deal with it, depending on what the situation of the 'no' is.)

If someone is requesting your resources (be it time, money, energy, etc) then you get to tell them no. (Infants, etc excepted, of course).

And if it's a matter of opinion, it still boils down to, who's resources are in question? 

If we say no to overnight guests, we don't have to justify why. We just say no. Doesn't matter if someone else thinks these folks are God's gift to houseguests. Our home = our resources = our choice.

You might think SusieQ is a wonderful woman. I might think she's a snarling beast. We're both free to have our own opinions, but neither of us is free to impose decisions on the other. Example: I'm hosting a party. SusieQ isn't on my list. You don't get to ask/demand that she be invited. When you're hosting, I don't get to demand she's left off the list. My opinion is valid for my event, your opinion is valid for yours.

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OK Imp , I agree your opinion is valid.  But you still have to OWN YOUR OPINION!!

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I don't think anyone here is saying someone isn't entitled to their opinion. 

But there's some situations where one person's opinion outweighs another. It's my opinion that my MIL doing certain cleaning tasks in my home makes me feel icky and like my privacy is being majorly invaded. It's her opinion she's "just helping" and I shouldn't have a problem with this. It's my home, and my things, so my opinion matters more in this situation than hers. She's still entitled to it, but a normal respectful person would respect my opinion about my privacy in my own home. 

Fault and responsibility are two different things to me. Fault implies there was a mistake made. If I voice to my DH that I want to spend Christmas in our own home, there's no fault, because it's not a mistake. It may not make another family member happy, but it's not a mistake because that is something only my DH and I can assess. Sure, I'm partly responsible for the decision, but it doesn't mean there's fault to be found.

There always seems to be this underlying assumption that if a DH is saying yes to his wife, he must only be doing it to keep the peace and in no way possible could he actually agree with what his wife asked of him. 

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1 hour ago, skipped said:

OK Imp , I agree your opinion is valid.  But you still have to OWN YOUR OPINION!!

I'm curious: what does 'owning' your opinion look like?

I don't see the point in announcing, "SusieQ, I think you're a snarling beast." However, how I choose to *act* on my dislike, (for me, that's avoiding being trapped in social situations w/someone that can't be a quick nod hello) is absolutely mine to own.

I might think that someone's outfit is a crime against the fashion industry, but I keep my head shut. Just b/c you have an opinion doesn't mean that the world needs to be aware of it.

In my opinion, my MIL is toxic. The reason I formed that opinion is solely based on her actions. Repeatedly assaulting me, lying about a multitude of things, laughing about lying about them, no remorse, no apologies, and continued attempts at manipulation (which she also admitted to and laughed about).

So, yes it's my opinion, as she's not dx'd with any psychological or physical issues that would explain her behaviour. It is, however, an *informed* opinion, based upon facts and observed repeated patterns of behaviour. I didn't pull it out of a sock drawer, just b/c.

 

 

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42 minutes ago, NewMama said:

I don't think anyone here is saying someone isn't entitled to their opinion. 

But there's some situations where one person's opinion outweighs another. It's my opinion that my MIL doing certain cleaning tasks in my home makes me feel icky and like my privacy is being majorly invaded. It's her opinion she's "just helping" and I shouldn't have a problem with this. It's my home, and my things, so my opinion matters more in this situation than hers. She's still entitled to it, but a normal respectful person would respect my opinion about my privacy in my own home. 

Fault and responsibility are two different things to me. Fault implies there was a mistake made. If I voice to my DH that I want to spend Christmas in our own home, there's no fault, because it's not a mistake. It may not make another family member happy, but it's not a mistake because that is something only my DH and I can assess. Sure, I'm partly responsible for the decision, but it doesn't mean there's fault to be found.

There always seems to be this underlying assumption that if a DH is saying yes to his wife, he must only be doing it to keep the peace and in no way possible could he actually agree with what his wife asked of him. 

Or assuming it's always the wife asking him, vs his idea to start with.

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I don't think you get it.  I'm not assuming anything.  It doesn't matter if it's his idea to start with.  He is NOT ALLOWED to have an opinion.l  PERIOD.  People are saying, a husband HAS to abide by what his wife wants because she is the primary relationship.  That he is not allowed to have an opinion because their  relationship negates his opinion,

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I've been on this site a long time.  Once a DIL posted that if a DIL decided that she didn't like it that her MIL would wear green.  Her husband had to back her up.

I submit that maybe what seems like a MIL/ DIL issue, is really a DIL issue alone, it she is demanding enough to expect her husband to not let his mother in their house because she wears green, and doesn't care about his opinion, uses her relationship with him to dictate how he treats his mother.  It says enough to me about how she treats her relationship with him.  "BECAUSE I'M the Wife= Do what I say.

It's not a MIL DIL issue.  It's a DIL blowing off her husbands feelings, opinions because he has to constantly defer to her.

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1 hour ago, NewMama said:

 

There always seems to be this underlying assumption that if a DH is saying yes to his wife, he must only be doing it to keep the peace and in no way possible could he actually agree with what his wife asked of him. 

Or sometimes, DIL may have convinced DH that this/that issue should be handled this/that way. But then it becomes his opinion, too. Granted, MIL might feel, quite rightly, that if it weren't for DIL, DH/DS would not have this new POV. But isn't that part of what being married/a couple is all about - each influencing the other a little bit, each changing a little bit as they adjust to each other?

1 hour ago, ImpishMom said:

Or assuming it's always the wife asking him, vs his idea to start with.

 

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