Post # 1
Hey all! First time posting here but I have this question that keeps bugging me. Have been together with Fiance for about 6 years. I have slowly come to the realization that his mother is very passive agressive and condescending. She doesn’t do it in an obvious way, and I know that there are certainly worse MILs out there, but for a long time, I noticed she would get under my skin and it is only recently that I realized why – it’s her passive agressive tone and occasional condescening manner. For example, my fiance has three sisters and one younger brother (YB). The younger brother married last year and now has a baby girl. Mother-In-Law will occasionally make remarks to me about YB’s wife, stating that she doesn’t understand why the baby girl is not getting baptized (Fiance’s family is Episcopalian, his family in general is not very religious, and I never thought his mom was strict about religion but I guess now she is?) then she confessed to me that she would occassionally (without asking the parents) bring the baby girl to church with her on days she was saddled with babysitting duties.
Finally, she also mutters under her breath that she dislikes that her son and wife aren’t church-goers. I’m a Catholic and she doesn’t seem to mind that fiance and I are different religions as long as we have a “Christian life” (Fiance is converting), but it does make me worry about what she will be like with our kids if she doesn’t agree with the way we are raising them.
Finally, she says passive agressive things that I find very hard to explain to my fiance. For example, she will say something to suggest a way to do things and I will say “oh I just did it differently and this way works for me” if I do it another way and she’s just shrug and say “OK” but the way she says it seems very condescending. However, when I say this to my fiance he wont understand the condescending undertone because technically she just said “ok”. Incidents like this happen often and i always struggle to explain to him that it’s not about what is said, but how it is said. He doesn’t seem to grasp this.
Finally, she always makes comments about how I’m doing at work, like how “it’s been years and they haven’t promoted me yet”, again in a condescening tone.
These are all little things that make me dread visiting his family. Every time he says we are going for a visit, I get extremely stressed. He finally got upset about it once and it broke my heart because I don’t want him to think I hate seeing his family – I just dont like dealing with Future Mother-In-Law and feeling like he is completely overlooking these things. To complicate things, I find it really hard to explain to him that she just has a condescending and passive agressive way about her. He knows what it means to be passive/agressive and condescending but doesn’t see it when it comes to his mom.
What can I do? I’m stressing more and more about this as the wedding approaches.
Post # 2
Honestly you just have to grow some thick skin and work on helping your husband see your POV so he can run interference/speak up for you if needed. It doesnt sound like she is dictating things, just voicing her annoying opinions somewhat rudely.
My Mother-In-Law is nice, but has a big thing about “respect” and being the matriarch. She can sometimes make weird ass comments or rude comments that we all shake our heads at. But I cant really confront her bc that would be “disrespectful” so I just sort of laugh and move on. If she ever really crossed a line my husband would have my back so i dont stress about what she says. Id say its better to keep the peace as just laugh off the things she says if you can.
My Mother-In-Law spent our wedding day asking if I was pregnant. Then she asked is BIL’s girlfriend was pregnant (no and no!). Then she complained that her wedding day meal at dinner was “some meat thrown on some salad” (she ordered a steak salad!). Husband is black and Im white and she makes comments to me about the history of white women getting black men lynched by making false accusations. Yes, some of these things are funny and some are hurtful… but its not worth going to war with your family over the little stuff. Ive learned to ignore the bad stuff and we mostly get along well!
Post # 3
My Mother-In-Law is pretty great but things she says that I’d never dream of taking the wrong way like my SIL’s will sometimes do.
I can give you this advice though. My own mother used to drive me BONKERS with stuff she’d say. She once said something (I forget what) and I almost lost it but just went mmm hmmm. An hour later I was talking to a friend and she said exactly what my mother had said and I didn’t have a reaction at all. I quickly realized I hadn’t reacted to my friend and had taken the advice (or whatever it was) how it was intended, but had been offended by my own mother saying it (who obviously loves me more).
Now I make a conscious effort to hear my mother say things and pretend a friend is saying that thing to see if I’m offended by it. Now it’s become a habit so I rarely get offended.
Now I know what you mean by her tone getting your hackles up. You could be 100% right and she’s a passive aggressive PITA. But then the question arises, what are you going to do about it? You could continue to get offended (completely normal) or just assume she doesn’t mean anything by it. I think it’s gotta be pretty hard to be a Mother-In-Law and walk that fine line of being helpful but not irritating. Maybe less time with her will help too. I know it’s not easy.
Post # 4
I’d have a talk with your fiancé about boundaries with his family. Specifically about his mom. Especially the example of her taking your niece to where-ever she wants because she thinks she knows better about raising her (even if she’s a baby and won’t remember it). Not ok. I feel like my Mother-In-Law would pull the same stunt if we were to have a kid. I’m not ok with it and if she did it, she’d be getting little-no contact. You have to have those tough conversations now or you may be walked over later. Best of luck!
Post # 5
Yes, that’s definitely a red-flag right? She says she does away with it by stating that she would be going to church that day anyway, so what’s wrong with bringing her grandchild along? And if it really were that innocent, I would think less of it, but we all know how she feels about the child being brought up without a religion and how the couple feels about it. Besides, they way she talked about it was as if it were a joke and like she was doing it with the purpose of converting the kid. It definitely felt like crossing a line.
Post # 6
also getting super annoyed about the questions Mother-In-Law keeps asking about the wedding. All of these are very basic questions about the wedding that are conveyed on the invites and are repetative. She also told Fiance and I that we need to walk through the church ceremony with YB and Wife because they “have probably forgotten what it’s like to go to church and pray”. (eyeroll)
Post # 7
Your Future Mother-In-Law sounds hella irritating. I think your best bet is going to be a combination of techniques.
1- “Every time he says we are going for a visit . . .” why is your Fiance telling you that you are going to visit them? He can certainly ask if you’d be available or open for a visit (to which you could say no, if you do not want to do said thing), but you are an adult and he should not be telling you anything about your plans for the day.
1b- that said- I would keep the amount of time I had to spend in her company to a minimum as much as possible. This is your fiance’s mother. Not yours. You are under no obligation to become buddies, chums, besties or even close like family with his mother. You are only required to be polite and respectful (within boundaries that honor your own need for respect and well being- meaning- do not bend over backwards to accommodate toxic people, even if they are loved ones of your loved ones).
2- Her passive aggressive comments sound like the kind of “leaking” weak and insecure people do. They don’t have the confidence or courage to address a matter directly. They also don’t have the restraint to keep their mouths shut. So they “leak” their real thoughts all over the conversation in a way that makes sure what they have to say gets said and also that no one can really call them out. I know and love someone who does this and, since he doesn’t really direct those comments toward me, I just ignore them. It comes across as cowardly and sad, imo.
3- The thing about subverting her kids’ parenting and lifestyle choices by taking her grandchild to church is something that I would address, though. But not until you have a child of your own. I would absolutely make it clear to her that I recalled her behaviors with the first grandbaby and that if I needed to be concerned about her not respecting my wishes regarding my child, she would not be left alone with my child and all of her visits would be supervised. And I’d leave it at that and be sure to enforce what I said.
In the meantime, I think it’s important that you continue to discuss these concerns with your FH and be able to explain WHY what she is doing is problematic for you. Maybe he can’t hear her tone or understand that she’s being condescending, but he should be able to understand why her comments about Younger Brother and his wife and their parenting choices are disrespectful and concerning for you.
Post # 8
She doesn’t sound passive-aggressive to me (and I have experience with one of those MILs!) She seems like she is running seriously low on self-esteem. She constantly seems to have the need to have her thoughts and feelings validated. Where is the FIL? Seems like he isn’t doin’ his job. Lol!
On a serious note, you need to learn to ignore her COMPLETELY. Start changing subjects or only talk to her about ‘fluff’.
Post # 9
I didn’t take it that deep when the OP said her fiance said they are going to visit the in laws. Most long term couples living together go together to go have dinner with family. I mean I hear my friend say to her husband all the time hey babe I just off the phone with my mom we are going to have dinner with them on Sunday evening. I never thought omg how controlling she made plans for him. It wasn’t like she said her fiance said too bad whether or not you want to your going. I do agree if though that if she needs a break from Mother-In-Law her fiance shouldn’t force her to go.
OP I don’t know how close you live to your in laws but I would speak your fiance about maybe you don’t go with him to every visit since the passive aggressive comments make you uneasy. When talking to him i would definitely focus on the big issue such as raising your future children and say under no circumstance is his mom allowed to bring your children to any church unless you and your fiance ok it. That’s a big issue and I would make sure that is nipped in the bud.
Post # 10
I wouldn’t ever marry a man who cant stand up to his family and put his new family (you) first. I’ve seen how that plays out and it is one of the biggest causes of divorce. Sit your fiancé down and outline boundaries. Make it clear to him that mil will not be going against parenting rules with your future kids and if she does she isn’t going to be spending time with them. Ask him if he understands that and is going to back you if that happens. I’d also start shutting down mil in the moment when she talks shit about other people. She says something like the comment about taking the child to church or complaining about their church attendance? Say something like, when or if they go to church is none of my business and not something I’m comfortable discussing. Then change the subject. Or, mil I’m not comfortable discussing them when they aren’t here.
I would also seriously consider limiting the info you give mil. Not just you but fiancé as well. Discuss and outline what topics are not to be shared with her. Church attendance or religion, medical info, pregnancy Information etc. she has proved she isn’t safe with information so don’t give her any.
Post # 11
I’m content with having different perspectives and experiences.
My husband and I have been together for almost 13 years and if anything is going on, he says “So and so is having this event/party/gathering. Do you want to go?” He would not speak with his sister or his mother and then turn to me and say “We’re going to this event next weekend.”
I think some of the issue, too, could be that OP’s SO is still deferring to his mother on things and that is contributing to some of their challenges.
Post # 12
Yeah that is fair it shouldn’t be just assumed that the spouse is ok with going because then if they are not they will feel like an ass being like no I don’t want to go see your family that night.
That’s defintely a problem because once someone is engaged or married the needs of the new family unit should come first. In this case i feel OP’s fiance needs to have a better united front and be more aware of the passive aggressive comments his mom is making towards his fiance.
Post # 13
Having dealt with a Mother-In-Law who could be like this, and having had many arguments with my ex-husband about it where he “just couldn’t understand” what I was talking about, I think a lot of men feign ignorance about these issues because they just feel that it keeps the peace to put their heads in the sand.
Funnily enough, when his second wife started having these same issues with his mother, he did think maybe there was a problem.
If I could go back in time, the way I would deal with it would be to limit my time with my mother-in-law significantly and maybe only get together with her on important occasions like Christmas and birthdays where you can be polite and warm but there are plenty of other people so you don’t need to be cornered.
The problem when you see your in-laws often is that the resentment from all these little comments and slights tends to build up and it starts to create tension between the two of you, which just makes things much worse.
Limit your time with her, and even more importantly, limit the information which you share with her. Be vague and seem happy with things in your life so that she has nothing to attack. Don’t tell her about them not promoting you at work, for instance. Tell her you love your job and are very happy (even if it’s not true).
I agree with TwilightRarity :
that she seems to be “leaking” all over you because she is insecure. People like this try to “position” others so that they can feel better about themselves and they can become quite toxic. The only way to deal with people like this is to limit their influence in your life. Be kind, but firm, eg. When she says you should walk fiance’s brother and his wife through the ceremony, you can laugh and say “Oh, I won’t have time.”
Post # 14
My mother is passive aggressive to the max and it’s 100% because of her own insecurities. You can’t chnge these kind of people. I’ve developed a thick(er) skin over the years to deal with it but some issues you just have to let go of.
i.e. her comments about your job, just acknowledge it politely and move on, try not to take it too personally even though it’s hard, I know.
Huge red flag is her taking the kiddos to church without permission. I would definietely let the parents know what she is doing or have your fiancé do it because if that was me I’d be downright angry with her. I don’t know the whole situation but I can definietely see her causing problems and doing whatever she wants with your kids in future if you decide to have them.
I don’t know how old your Mother-In-Law is but my mom is 70 and I know no matter what I say she’s not going to change. I’ve learned to remove myself from the situation when I’m super upset that way it doesn’t turn into a fight, so my suggestion to you is if she’s really upsetting you, just step outside for a moment or two and regroup.
I am in no way excusing her behaviour but sometimes it’s best to just ignore and greyrock and maybe it will lessen.
Post # 15
So in response to the comments about my fiance “telling me” that we are going for a visit. I don’t actually mean it in such a deep level that he is “demanding” or even just “telling me” in the way I think it was interpreted. In these instances, he’s saying “we should go for a visit” or is floating the idea of visiting. To add context, he and I live pretty far from his family so when he mentions visiting, I do admi tthat I feel obligated to agree because he mentions it when it comes to major family holidays or some big event. He’s can never say it in the context of “we are visiting them tonight” because any visit we have with them is inevitably planned long term because of how far we are from them. They are in a state 10 hours away from us.
To compound on this, whenever we visit them, Fiance obviously wants to stay in his childhood home with them. It wouldn’t be so bad if we visited and stayed in a hotel or even if we visited and just had some place else to go but given the nature of our visits, it just doesn’t go that way. Of course, these visits only happen on special occasions, so they are significantly limited but when they visits do happen, they just feel concentrated.