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The least wonderful time of the year

strugglingSM's picture

For those of you with high conflict, manipulative BMs, do you ever wonder how your DH managed to get into such a terrible relationship in the first place and why he stayed long enough to have kids?

I used to, but now I’ve realized that MIL had normalized all the vindictive, manipulative behavior so much for DH that he didn’t even realize that BM was treating him badly.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know how *wonderful* {eye roll} my in-laws are. This year, DH wanted to host Christmas. Before we could say anything, MIL sent out an email in early November saying that she talked to Silent SIL’s mother (yes, that would be BIL’s MIL) about the holidays and MIL would host Thanksgiving and BIL’s MIL would host Christmas. Mind you, we have had miserable Christmases for the last two years at Silent SIL’s - the first one we were actually ushered out before Christmas dinner because Silent SIL didn’t actually want us there. Also, why is MIL and BIL’s MIL making plans in early November for my Christmas without consulting me?

Anyhow, it was then decided after some wrangling on DH’s part that we would host Christmas on Christmas Day. We don’t hear much more, until today when MIL texts me and tells me that BIL’s MIL is hosting a big dinner on Christmas Eve and telling us what time to, what?! MIL then also tells me that she never sent out the email with the information she requested from DH to share with everyone else about Christmas Day. I tell DH and he calls and yells at MIL. Not the best plan, but again, she has dropped the ball.

MIL then sends DH an angry text saying that she refuses to be treated way and in response to his saying that he felt frustrated that his family insisted on celebrating on Christmas Eve, when his children are only ever with us on Christmas Day, she says “you wanted to host on Christmas Eve and I had to remind you that your children weren’t going to be around!” Um, no MIL. I just looked back at my email and *I*, not DH said “we would like to host on Christmas Day, since the boys are not with us Christmas Eve.” The request to host came from me, not DH, but thanks for trying. 

MIL then sent me an email explaining that it’s not that the family is ignoring me when they don’t reply to my emails, it’s just that they’re “poor communicators”. Too bad BIL always manages to reply to BM’s emails. He’s not a “poor communicator” with her.

Those of you who read my blogs might also know that DH’s family has not moved on from his divorce...and man, that makes holidays fun. 


tog redux's picture

My DH insists BM was not this bad until after he married her, which is consistent with having a personality disorder. And he too has a crazy mother who damaged his sense of normalcy. Difference is, he moved far away from his mother and never speaks to her. His siblings are fine and we see MIL if she’s part of a gathering, but otherwise he never speaks to her. 

strugglingSM's picture

My DH also said BM didn’t become terrible until after they married, however, they did fight a lot before getting married. Of course, they had known one another for less than 2 years before marrying. DH rushed into marriage because MIL told him that at his age (25 at the time) he should be married.

Once SSs are 18, DH and I will move away. DH is already preparing himself for MIL’s cries of “you’re a terrible father” and “you’re abandoning your children” when we do. There will be no notice that I’ve essentially been kept away from my family because DH has children and no notice that my aging parents might need me to help them.

DH’s sister lives part to avoid MIL’s meddling. At last year’s miserable Christmas, she told me that she will never bring another SO home for Christmas because when she’s done that in the past, MIL has given that person “the cold shoulder” because MIL wanted to spend the holiday with her precious daughter, and only her precious daughter, not some guy precious daughter was dating.

BIL does not live far away, but we rarely see him. I think he sees MIL more, but MIL still complains that she doesn’t see BIL’s kids enough.

BM is none too happy to take advantage of MIL’s desire to feel needed and see her grandkids. We regularly hear from SSs that they spent BM’s weekend at MIL’s. MIL doesn’t find it odd that she has more access to SSs than DH does. She probably sees that as the true order of things.

I do think DH’s relationship with MIL has become more strained since I have been around because I’ve been horrified at MIL’s behavior. The more I learn about her the more troubled I become. For example, DH recently told me that when he was a young child, MIL used to say to him, “it’s my fault you turned out the way you did, because I was in labor with you for 36 hours.” DH has a learning disability, but has still done fine for himself. Who would say that to their child?! When I gasped, DH said, “what’s the big deal?” And I said, “she’s been telling you that there’s something wrong with you for your entire life.” He’s also told me some other insults, some of which are really inappropriate, that MIL would hurl at him once he reached puberty. 

I’m sure I’ll get blamed for whatever issues MIL has with DH, because I am, after all, the wicked stepmother. However, I’m okay with that, as long as I get to move far, far away from both MIL’s drama and BM’s drama as soon as SSs turn 18. It would be good for both of them to get away from their own needy, meddling mother, so maybe they’ll follow our lead and move away.

Plantmom's picture

You areaao right inithat mothers prepare men to thinktabuse is normal. Reminds me of how my own mom calls every one "controlling" when they don't agree and go with her way. She's the one whose being controlling. My brother married a woman with a very similar personality because he was normalized to the overbearing female growing up. My mom has softened over time but my brother is stuck in what I expect is his starter marriage. 

My own husband was with BM because she was hot, but she was a bitch. His mom is sweet but raising him alone and I think he craved attention so the first girl that looked his way and refused to move in until they got married, well she got to be wife #1.

Curious Georgetta's picture

traditions? You do not need your M I L's  permission or agreement to do thst.

She may be obnoxious, but it seems that  you cede control and then complain.

If you wanted to have Xmas dinner with the kids , you could have done so. It might have been just you , your husband and the kids, but that could have been the beginning of your tradition.

strugglingSM's picture

DH is reluctant to change and gets caught up in MIL’s controlling ways by just going along with her. For example, MIL said to DH, “when we’re all at the family cabin for NYE...” I then said to DH, “are you planning to go to the family cabin for NYE?” He said, “I guess so..” I told him that MIL doesn’t make plans for me. Even this year, when I told MIL that we would be fine if we just did our own thing, she essentially ignored me. In a previous email about Christmas she told others “I know struggling and DH are around on Christmas Eve, because they don’t have SSs...” Um, you do, MIL? We may have plans.

I am going to be more heavy handed with MIL because I do cede control by allowing her to trample my boundaries, but it’s difficult to set boundaries with MIL, when DH doesn’t and doesn’t even see her behavior as boundary busting. And yes, I realize that DH is a big part of this problem.

strugglingSM's picture

Even this morning when I said to DH, "I really want us to do something that involves just us on Christmas Eve. I want to start our own tradition." His reply was "I know that you're right about my mother, but I'm not concerned about being right. Family is important to me and it's important to me to spend time with my family." Um, ok, DH, family is important to me, too, which is why I want us to create our own family outside of the meddling glare of your mother. He later conceded that it would be good for us to start our own traditions, but seriously, this is an uphill battle.  

thiscantbenormal's picture

She got pregnant within the first 3 months of meeting.  His family pressured him he should marry her since he knocked her up.  He doesn't believe in using condoms after 3 weeks of dating.  And he felt like he needed to rescue her from the trailer park and she had a sob story about her son's father abusing her.  He said the first 3 years were okay but she was inept about adulting even with being 4-6 years older than him.  He said in their first week of being married she lied about money.  He stuck it out for 10 years because he felt trapped and knew she would take the children away.  His family was not supportive about him wanting out of the marriage. 

Step-girlfriend's picture

My favorite thing to do when we are in the midst of dealing with some flat-out psychotic behavior from Crazy is to look at my SO and say, really? 16 YEARS??? lol. He was with her for 16 years and although her Crazy behavior escalated during the marriage, it was also pretty apparent at the beginning that she was a few fries short of a Happy Meal. SO's parents said right from the get-go it was nonsense with her.

Sorry you have to deal with PITA in-laws as well though. I got lucky in that department. I would probably just do our own Christmas thing if I were you, rather than worry about if you are welcome or not. Or if you will be "escorted out" (who does that???). You will probably have a better time on your own, anyway. Hope this Christmas is better for you!

Jcksjj's picture

Yep this is my DH exactly. His mom is awful and his dad is a doormat that just puts up with and makes excuses for anything. He was conditioned to think crazy is normal since it was his normal growing up so he was one of the few people that not only put up with BM but took her seriously.