FMIL again… dealing with guilt trips

posted 2 years ago in Family
Post # 2
6173 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

sounds like my mom.  she lays on the guilt for everything.  it is pretty much just her (at least locally) on my side of the family.  she thinks now that i have this new family i am going to forget about her.  it doesn’t make sense because my mom is included in every holiday and important occassion (whether at DH’s families’ houses or our house) and i spend plenty of time with her.  i ask her for specific examples and she can’t give any.


Post # 3
1157 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I’m not in your shoes, because my MIL is an absolute peach. But I feel for your FI because it sounds like he’s getting pulled in a lot of different directions.

It’s thoughtful that you invite your FMIL over for visits with your family, but do you and your FI ever just make plans with her exclusively, without your folks? Is it possible that she declines those big family visits because she would rather spend time with just you and FI on occasion, and not your parents also? (who are lovely people, I’m sure, but are not exactly the “main attraction” when it comes to family visits, as far as your FI’s mom is concerned) Maybe she just feels overlooked. I only suggest it because we’ve got a similar dynamic in my extended family right now.

Just a thought?

Post # 4
290 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

I could not agree more. Some weeks my FMIL likes me, other weeks she hates me. FI is the middle child, always wants to please her. Which later turns in to arguements between fiance. I guess my coping mechanism would be, she is who she is. You can’t change her. You just have to tolerate her. If it gets bad, then your FI needs to put a foot down. Put your thoughts out there and say “Hey I really don’t like how she treats you, what can we do to make a change”

We live out of state, FI parents bought a condo (not exactly sure why….) just down the street from where we live so they don’t have to stay in a hotel when they visit… We see his family all. of. the. time. So I put it out there that when I plan to go back home, I will be spending a good amount of my time with my family. I think the more you let your FI know how much it hurts YOUR feelings, hopefully he will start understanding that this mothers tantics can’t go on forever. 

Post # 6
2367 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

My ex FMIL did that. I was on the receiving end of all sorts of guilt trips, and so was he. “You don’t visit often enough, I know you don’t love me, blah, blah, blah”. I stopped listening after a while. He explained to her what our work hours were (we both had weekend shifts), and that as much as we wanted to spend time, if we had plans or had to work, we couldn’t stop everything for her. Limited success. What helped the most was scheduling. It was the ” ok, so we have these two weekends free this month. You can choose the 7th or 21st, but the other weekend will be our time. Pick one.”

Post # 8
4638 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

blushingbride2bee:  I would recommend not taking on other peoples problems. Your FI needs to understand that his mothers behavior is her own, not his, nor is it a reflection on him or his actions. She clearly has issues and projects that on other people, is it fair? No, but your FI needs to set up boundaries. He’s an adult and doesn’t have to cowtail to his mothers feelings. Its not his job.

If he knew he didn’t do anything wrong, why does what she says matter? I’ve dealt with a similar issue with my MIL and my FI just doesn’t indulge her when she guilt trips.

She does it for a reaction and she gets one every time, if your FI takes a step back.. she may stop because she’s not getting the attention she wants from playing with people’s emotions. People take advantage of people who they think they can. If he stops taking her nonsense (ie. saying to her.. you were invited and chose not to come, its no ones fault but your own) then she may have enough sense to back off.

Alternately, he can sit her down and politelty voice his concerns and share how it makes him feel. Sometimes people who have their own issues don’t have the insight to understand how they’re actually making other people feel, they’re too wrapped up in getting what they want.

Post # 9
2364 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

blushingbride2bee:  Ugh both my mom AND my FMIL are like this.  The difference is, I know how and when to say no to my mom, and stopped feeling badly about it years ago.  FI and I are both only children so I think we both feel more obligation towards our parents than most.  But there needs to be lines drawn.  You gotta pick and choose your battles!  

Post # 11
1157 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

blushingbride2bee:  Ah, I see. In that case, if she gets the lion’s share of the time with you and your FI, there’s definitely not much for her to be butthurt about. 😉

I’m not sure that your FI shutting down communication is the best approach. Cutting off contact is more of a bridge-burning approach, IMO, and shouldn’t be used unless you’re deadly serious and plan to follow through, because it can be very hard to repair that damage. 

Has he tried just talking to her directly and setting clear boundaries? Sometimes a polite but firm conversation explaining the boundaries, and then following through when those boundaries are crossed, can work wonders. Then, when she starts up with the guilt again, your FI can take action by reminding her that those comments are unwelcome, and then ending the visit or the phone call. Follow-through is so important.

Also, I agree with PPs — this is your fiance’s conversation to have with her, not yours. You can help him by being supportive and encouraging while he tries to set up boundaries, and trying to keep a lid on your own frustrations with his mother, because fanning the flames does not usually help matters.

Post # 12
2803 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Warning, this is the wrong approach, but I did it at one point.  My ex-BF had a ridiculously controling mother.  My brother’s confirmation was on mother’s day.  I was his confirmation sponsor, so we had to go.  This was known about months in advance.  We lived 1.5 hours from my family, but 4 hours from his.  Due to us being in school, there was no way for him to go visit his family, so he came with me.  Where we went is notirious for not being able to get reception for cell phones, so while he tried to call his mom, the call kept dropping. 

When we got back into cell phone range he called again.  His dad started berating him for spending time with my family on a holliday that he should have honored his mother.  He was talking about how his mother was in tears all day.  And this lasted for half an hour with my ex in tears and me stuck in the car with him driving, before I snagged the phone from him.  I told his father that he was not allowed to talk to his son like that, that his son tried his best, that they knew there would be no visit, that his son had told them that we were going to be out of cell phone range, and that the conversation was done and hung up with out letting his dad get in a word in edge wise.  The guilt tripping stopped for a month until he moved back home. 

Again, I don’t think this is a good way to deal with it, especaily if you want a good relationship with his parents (I had given up by that point in time, his parents 100% hated me already) But I do think advising him to end the conversation when he is ready is a good idea.  Once his mom rolls into guilt trip mode, tell him to say “We invited you, and you decided not to come.  This conversation is over,” and if the guilt continues, hang up.  Not even your parents should be allowed to make you feel bad for something like that. 

Post # 14
112 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

Do we have the same FMIL??? Ugh I don’t know how to help you with this because I don’t even know how to help myself. We are CONSTANTLY hearing how we spend way to much time with my family, and how its not fair. She actually went as far to say that it’s MY job as the woman in the relationship to make the extra effort on behalf of FI, even though its HER son, its apparently MY job to make sure we spend equal time with both parents…  Its hard for me to deal with this and we had a sit down talk with her, (Silly me I thought being an adult would fix it) but it was just one large guilt trip and really ended without any sort of solution.

I don’t even want to think about how bad its going to be once there’s children involved.

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