MIL and SIL toxic behavior

posted 2 weeks ago in The Lounge
Post # 2
1855 posts
Buzzing bee

My husband tried to reason with her, but she is not having it, and as of right now they are not on speaking terms. 

I don’t see how this is a bad thing.  It’s about time that they learned that their actions have consequences.  Let them have a time out until they’ve cooled off and understand that they have to respect you as an adult couple and family of your own.

Go on your trip, see the family you haven’t seen in forever, and let Mother-In-Law and SIL sulk in their corners.  They enable one another with their toxicity and you don’t have to be a part of it, even if it means cutting them out for a while.  If you don’t address it, I promise you it will get even worse – especially if your husband had a talk with them and you don’t stand your ground.  They’ll think they can bulldoze you and that will get ugly.

Post # 3
776 posts
Busy bee

Stick to your guns on this. So what if they’re not speaking to you. Let them see that you will not tolerate their bad behaviour. Go on your trip as planned, see who you planned to see and ignore your Mother-In-Law and SIL.

From now on do not tell them any of your plans and do not make any plans with them. 

Post # 4
2796 posts
Sugar bee

View original reply
@anonanonb33:  Are your Mother-In-Law and SIL still planning on going to visit the brother? If so, I would reschedule and go a different time to avoid seeing them. If they’re not now that your husband confronted them, then yes, you should still go. Don’t let them ruin your vacation. The main thing moving forward is to stop the flow of information. Your husband can’t let your plans come up in casual conversation with his mom. His mom is now on a need to know basis. If you’re going somewhere without them, she doesn’t need to know. 

Post # 5
1993 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

View original reply
@anonanonb33:  My husband tried to reason with her, but she is not having it, and as of right now they are not on speaking terms.

Ummm yeah that’s what happens sometimes when you set boundaries.  You have now entered the phase where you’re changing bad behavior into better, more respectful behavior.  Its painful but necessary.  Trust me Mother-In-Law & SIL aren’t going anywhere.  They’re simply fighting back for the control they once had.  Don’t give in or you’ll be back to where you were.  “Grey rock” all angry outbursts, guilt attempts and silent treatments.  Give it time and in the end you’ll achieve results.  You might even get to start visiting OP’s IL’s without a lot of fuss. (maybe)

When you make clear that you won’t stand for shenanigans then you no longer get exposed to shenanigans.  Oh yeah I agree with pps that the information train should stop.  Mother-In-Law & SIL should be on a need to know basis from now on.

Post # 6
2051 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

Oooff that sucks I’m sorry Op. the good news is it sounds like your husband sees the disfunction and is able to stand up to it. That’s key here. The in laws can only make your lives hard if your husband allows it. 

You and husband should sit down and make boundaries together. I would say the first one is that you two have been doing what MiL wants for vacation instead of what you want for a very long time. And it isn’t even appreciated by her when you go on vacations with them becuase they always push for more. So discuss what you would do with your vacation time if it was purely what you two wanted. Then commit to doing that for one year. 

You no longer discuss with MiL your time off schedule or anything about how much time you get off or what your plans are. She is on a strictly need to know info plan. The way you two have been operating is as if she gets an equal say. So that stops now. That means that she doesn’t get long explanations from you about why you can’t do things she wants or why she can’t tag along etc. you simply tell her that. “That doesn’t work for us” and don’t elaborate.

Whenever MiL or SIl gets upset in person or on the phone you calmly say, ” it sounds like you need some time to process, I will be in touch when you have had a chance to do that.” Then you hang up or leave immediately. This teaches Them that they are responsible for their emotions not you. That they are not a 3rd person in your marriage. It also is the only chance of them learning and seeing that tantrums don’t get them anything. If they get no reward for a tantrum they might stop. 

If you visit them at some point and they complain about not getting to see you very often while you are spending time with them you say, well If us visiting you now isn’t good enough we will have to try again another time. And you leave. 

If you two plan on having kids this is super important to handle now because it’s going to rachet up when that happens. So in anticipation mil shouldn’t know when you are trying, due dates, or allowed to throw a shower etc. 


Post # 7
117 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

I feel like I could have written this about my inlaws. Unfortunately, like you guys, my husband realized it after decades of poor boundaries and disrespect. When my husband finally said that we need boundaries, his mom actually said “When it comes to family, the word boundaries scares me” which I reminded my husbands is reinforcement that we need boundaries. 

My Mother-In-Law threw a similar fit. we let her throw her tantrum and guess what? She was still there when she was done. By sticking to your guns, you are showing her that you are independent adults. We had to remind my Mother-In-Law many, many times that our boundaries are for our independence, not to hurt her. And if our independence hurts her, SHE needs to figure out WHY. I’d suggest when it’s appropriate your husband should have a similar conversation with her. Just remember, boundaries are only a bad thing if you only care about yourself and your needs. If you truly care about the other people, you take the time to understand why the boundary is so important to them. 

Post # 9
1855 posts
Buzzing bee

View original reply
@beekeeper2018:  I read this quote somewhere:

“Boundaries are the distance from which I can love both you and myself simultaneously.”

I plan to use it on my Mother-In-Law if the need ever arises.  The people who balk at boundaries are usually those who benefit from you having none.

Post # 10
1000 posts
Bumble bee

I can understand why there might be a period of “shock” following this confrontation, as Mother-In-Law and SIL have gotten so used to doing whatever the hell they want over the years. Absolutely go on the trip, stick to your guns, and when you come back, politely offer to talk to them over lunch or something. They will likely think you are going to apologize for being “rude”, when instead, you take that opportunity to lay down the law: Some version of, “We appreciate how tight-knit this family is and value our relationship with all of you, but we have lives apart from the family and need to set some boundaries as a couple” then state the mutually agreed upon boundaries (not planning every trip or event in tandem without your permission being a big one). Even if they behave like toddlers, throwing tantrums or bursting into tears or stonewalling, you said your piece calmly, respectfully and honestly, and they can’t say you didn’t. They can’t resort to the whole innocent, “I don’t know what we did wrong/they’re crazy” argument. Their only option going forward is to respect those boundaries or to deliberately violate them (which should probably result in complete withdrawal). Either way, you will have made a decision that forces them to make a decision. What do they value more? Their relationship with you and your husband or their ability to control you?

Until they get the hang of this new system, PPs are right, absolutely withold any details about travel or event plans, anything that they could intrude upon. Just don’t give them the opportunity. I know this is hard, because mentioning plans is often just part of small talk, but it’s necessary, especially if they’re reluctant to accept your boundaries at first (or at all). 

I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I wish setting adequate boundaries was something we were all taught in grade school, but as things are, these unpleasant negotiations are just part of life. 

Post # 11
1003 posts
Bumble bee

I am sure there is a bigger history (i.e. the inviting your husband after you told them about the surprise party) and lots of things building tension, but I would be really hurt if I heard two of my sisters were getting together for the weekend, I said I could join and they told me I wasn’t welcome. I see it’s just you and your husband going, does your brother have kids? If it was framed as a “kids – free” weekend I could understand. I can also get behind “hey mum, sibling catch up time only”. 

Anyways, I am sure there is a lot more below the surface that I’m not sensitive to, but SIL trying to come along on a sibling family trip doesn’t seem to be the end of hte world.

Post # 12
6942 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2016

View original reply
@anonanonb33: In regards to this upcoming trip, where is your husband’s brother in all of this? It sounded like he was pissed at Mother-In-Law and SIL about the whole situation as well but has he said anything to them? Told them not to come? It’s a bit confusing in the OP but is everyone staying with your husband’s brother (like at his house?) or are you all just meeting up in the same city? If you’re all just meeting in the same location, unfortunately nobody can really tell your Mother-In-Law and SIL they can’t come, but your husband and his brother can make it clear that this trip was and still is about the two of them spending time together without the others. 

I also agree with PPs about Mother-In-Law and SIL should be on a need-to-know basis for the future. Stop letting them know about trips and plans unless it directly relates to them. This is going to be difficult and they are going to try and “punish” you in whatever ways they can in order to get you to remove these boundaries. Don’t let them! 

Post # 13
126 posts
Blushing bee

Yikes Op it sounds like your Mother-In-Law is controlling and by extension your SIL is too. They seem to want to monopolize and dictate your vacation time but also control your relationship with other family members thats not fair. You are allowed to spend your vacation time how you want and you shouldn’t feel obligated to go and visit them at every opportunity. Your family matters too and you both need time as a couple. It sounds like your DH understands that and sees that MILs behavior is unhealthy. You guys just need some boundaries in place and need to stick to them no matter how much SIL and Mother-In-Law whine, complain and fight you on it. If you plan on kids boundaries are must or it will only get worse. 

I don’t think you guys should go on the vacation to BILs. You have a right to a relationship with them without any managing or interference from your MiL or SIL. It sounds to me that they are trying to control it. If you go I would expect SIL and Mother-In-Law to absolutely show up and  expect you guys to forgive and forget their rudeness if you don’t then you will look like the difficult ones. It will put you in a super awkward position of having to pretend to be happy aound everyone else when they put you in a bad spot. I think you should go on a vacation just the two of you or to see your family. You’ve been more than fair with them I wouldn’t allow them to dictate this one last thing. I think you should put your foot down now or it will only get worse. 

Post # 15
7847 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

I agree with PPs about putting MiL and SiL on an information diet. If they don’t know what flight you are taking or which hotel you are staying in they can’t join you. In the future if there is now way to avoid staying in the same hotel you can ask the front desk to make certain you are on different floors. 

Maybe this is a good year for you and your husband to visit your family or to go on an independent trip. While family is important not every vacation has to be all about family. 

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