- 1 year ago
- Wedding: December 2018
In a nutshell – I have an overbearing mother-in-law and in my attempt to set boundaries, my relationship with her has been disintegrated. Now I’m not sure how to proceed, but I’m fearful that my resentment is going to ruin my marriage.
When I first met my husband’s parents (while dating) I thought they were great. They were extremely involved in their two sons lives and very proud of that. For example, my husband was a student athlete, so on a weekly basis his mom would make trips to his college apartment to do laundry and bring him pre-made meals. Additionally, she and her husband attended nearly all of his ballgames over the four years – with the exception of about 9 or 10. This is somewhere between 200 – 300 ball games across the nation. In addition to ball games, their family is very involved in bike races. Both my husband and his dad race. They go to these races about 1-2 times a month. In short, there’s a lot of family involvement that typically consumes entire weekends.
My husband’s very close relationship with his mom resulted in her wanting to have a very close relationship with me. She often would give me calls to check in – and end up wanting to talk for long periods of time. I appreciated this and also noticed that — since she had dedicated all her time to her boys and husband — she didn’t seem to have any close friends or hobbies of her own.
I also felt sympathy for her because her other son and his new wife seemed to ignore her. (Let’s call them Anthony and Sarah.) Anthony and Sarah had been married about a year or two when I came into the picture, and I quickly learned that they were very distant. I frequently heard my husband become defensive about how indifferent they were towards his mother – and my Mother-In-Law was constantly upset when Anthony & Sarah could not come to family get togethers.
In comparison to Sarah, I was the golden child. In comparison to Anthony, so was my husband.
It was apparent that Anthony & Sarah were uncomfortable when around family and often bickered. In response to this, my future Mother-In-Law asked my husband to take Anthony aside/alone and find out if he was happy in his marriage to Sarah. This made me uncomfortable and I advised to my husband not to do this. My future Mother-In-Law was meddling in her son’s marriage. Anthony is a grown man.
When I moved in with my fiancé, I started to realize that my future MIL’s meddling wasn’t limited to Anthony’s marriage. I noticed that my fiancé and his mom had a “best friend” type of relationship – which included long daily phone calls and some over-sharing. I also noticed that our new home – an hour away from his parents – resulted in his mom planning endless activities for us to do.
We eventually discussed boundaries and my husband was very understanding, plus we both took some comfort in the idea that we would eventually be moving to Florida. We thought that the move would naturally remedy the situation by putting some distance. However, we were both taken aback when his mom announced that she and her husband would also be moving to Florida – to whatever area we chose.
At this point, we decided to try to talk to her. My husband attempted to start the conversation on the phone by saying, “Mom, we’ve never talked about this idea of you moving to follow us…” However, that’s all he could get out before his mom began screaming/crying “WHAT DO YOU MEAN? YOU DON’T WANT ME AROUND YOU? FINE.” Then she basically hung up.
After this terrible conversation we were both very frustrated and started going to counseling. We had also learned that the other son — Anthony and Sarah – were going to counseling to learn how to set boundaries with the Mother-In-Law and their new baby. They seemed to be having success, so we thought we’d try, too. Our counselor has been excellent… and has really helped my husband understand the ways that he can stand up for me and be unified. The counselor has also helped me understand that we have no control over where his parents move — but as long as there are boundaries, that’s ok.
However, even with the counselor’s guidance, each time we attempted to have a conversation with my Mother-In-Law to smooth everything over, she mostly responded by yelling and crying. After several of these episodes, our counselor has come to believe that my Mother-In-Law is suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder and has trouble with enmeshed parenting.
After things calmed down, we agreed to spend a weekend visiting them. Everything seemed to be going great, until one day my Mother-In-Law began talking about the area in Florida that we are moving to – and telling us that they had recently rented a condo to go visit. To be clear – I understand that she can visit there as much as she wants – but given that for the past 3 months my Mother-In-Law had been so extremely angry and emotional about the topic of where we were moving – it felt uncomfortable/awkward to randomly bring it up again. My husband and I excused ourselves and he immediately agreed that it felt like she was “rubbing my face” in this sore subject.
My husband wanted to approach his mom about it – and ask why she felt it was necessary to bring up such an uncomfortable topic. I did not think that it was a good idea to approach his mom – but he insisted.
When he did approach her, outside the house, he asked his mom very timidly, “Hey, why’d you have to bring up that subject again?” My Mother-In-Law immediately started screaming at the top of her lungs – even neighbors could hear. She was saying things like “Are you ******* kidding me?? I can’t even talk about the town now?? You’ve got to be ***** kidding me!!!”
Suddenly, my Father-In-Law comes running out of the house and starts screaming similar lines. He had an icecream cone in his hands and threw it at me, but missed. My husband saw it out of the corner of his eye and asked his dad, “Did you just throw that at her?” and his dad responded, “So what if I did??”
This escalation was all too much for me, so I turned to go in the house – and my Mother-In-Law followed me. My husband quickly came inside and his dad followed him, too. His dad storms over to me and throws his finger in my face, saying, “You’ve done a good ****** job turning our son against us! Getting him to move down there with YOUR people.” My husband attempted to stick up for us, but the screaming was insanity. I finally spoke up and said, “This is crazy – you both need to calm down. For the past two months, you’ve chewed me out for the topic of moving – so why would you continue to bring up the same topic today?” My Father-In-Law responded, “You haven’t been chewed out but you’re about to be!”
I had had enough and turned to go upstairs and get my things to leave. I heard my Mother-In-Law screaming, “Where is she going?? No! We’re not done!” —- but I proceeded to our room and started throwing everything in my bag.
Suddenly my husband enters the room and his mom is right behind him. He told her that she could not enter our room unless she calmed down. She did calm down, but then proceeded to sob and ask questions, which we had already discussed with her several times over the past two months – we both reexplained our feelings about her about monopolizing our time. I even mentioned that I did not like that she meddles in her sons’ marriages. She continued to be generally dismissive of our logic, but she did apologize for the FIL’s behavior. I explained that I wanted to leave, and on the way out my Father-In-Law gave a half apology.
After this, we left. My husband apologized profusely for their behavior, but a couple days later his mom was back to texting him repeatedly about trivial things – like nothing had happened. I explained to him that this feels like he is condoning their behavior and resuming “business as usual” – and that it has to stop. He needs to give them time to think about their crazy behavior and realize that this is damaging relationships — not just me – but also with their son. Realistically, I don’t think they care much about their relationship with me – only him. So he is the one who has to set the boundaries and put a foot down. This is something he struggles with — which is why we are seeing a counselor.
I’m not sure where to go from here. To be honest, I never want to be alone with either of his parents again. To me, it feels like being with bullies and I am ashamed to admit that I am scared of them. But I can already see that my husband is desperately wanting to mend his relationship with them – his mom, the best friend. Our counselor advises that I have to get over my feeling of anger/hate and move on towards indifference. However, that’s a lot easier said than done. Advice?
Please, don’t criticize – this situation has been hard enough. I understand my husband will always want a relationship with his parents, but it feels as though he wants to go right back to weekly/monthly weekend trips and daily phone calls – and that breeds resentment for me.