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Mother-in-Law Issues

DENIP's picture


Recently, my MIL began stonewalling me, being pass aggressive, when we'd visit.  This has been going on for the past 3 weeks. Each time I attempted to give her a hug and engage with her, she'd act busy sweeping, organizing, making her bed, and would stay in her bedroom for a majorly of the time. She lives with her sister and one of her sons, so I'd just end up talking to my husband's aunt. 

This past 7/4/24, at a family gathering, I brought with me my electric toothbrush, toothpaste, and regular toothbrush, in a clear, gallon Zip Loc bag, to clean my Invisalign retainers after eating. There was no other place to put the bag other than the credenza so I layed it flat. Nothing to see that would be repulsive. His one aunt asked whose it was and I said mine, so that she could put it just a few inches back from where I put it, no big deal. MIL says aggressively, "You don't put that there where people are eating--- that's disgusting!" Mind you, there was an extra table in the living room for people to sit since to eat, but it was not in full, open view for people to see. No one had a problem with it but her. Everyone was already eating just fine with no issue. 

I told her that I didn't know where else to put it, that the car was too hot for it and my purse too small. 

I just think it was an excuse for her to be nasty to me, because she isn't being honest and forthcoming with whatever issue she has with me. I told my husband how uncomfortable it made me feel and what happened, and how I did not want to stay there any longer (we'd been there 4 hours anyway). He just said, "Ok." Nothing more. 

I think it could be that SD got ahold of her in some way since she and I are not on speaking terms since January and her DH isn't really conversing with her either, due to some very disrespectful, hurtful things she said and did and has not owned up to at all. SD has been targeting me to blame and saying her DH is not there for her, etc. The full details are in previous posts that you can find the link to on my page, if you are interested in knowing what happened.

The other thing I think it could be is a post in my FB account that my SIL could have twisted and told my MIL about. It was a post dedicated to my husband for his birthday. No ill-will at all in what I said. I said that he was "there for his family to give wisdom, comfort, to fix what is broken and never complains." I meant my family included. I just didn't say "our." I wasn't thinking "grammatically correct" at the time. It was the morning. 

My MIL doesn't have social media so, it was definitely a member of the family, more than likely one of my SIL. If that's the case, why did they not just ask me what I meant instead of assuming? It just irks me. 

So here we are, with my MIL who gossips about her own children, attempting to make me suffer and pay for something that is not wrong. This is not the 1st time she has done something like this. 










Rags's picture

Stop dancing around it and just ask her to explain what is going on. Reference her series of slights and side steps over the past month.  If you let it simmer, it will just get worse. 

Be direct, be confident, and do not let her weasel out of it.  Do it in front of your FIL and  your DH. That tends to make the point more firmly when you call her bullshit with others around. She can't make shit up about it that way and if she does, you can call her on that too. "MIL, you know that isn't how it went. Lets ask FIL and DH. They were there. Hmmmmm?"

My DW sKated around BIL1's toxic bovine bride for years. My DW is a heart of gold extremely nice person who gets her heart broken countless times before she finally confronts nasty people.   After a visit she would vent with me and with SS about the BB.  I finally told her that if she was not going to confront it that SS and I really did not want to hear about it.  She gave me the look, grabbed her phone, and called the BB to hash it out. BB put it on speaker on her end and BIL1 was there.  DW peeled the flesh off of the BB surgically, sternly and calmly.  She layed it out, called her on it, demanded an explanation.  BB went profane, DW sharpend her scalple and went back to work.  There was never an explanation given but that call reformed the geography of containing the BB and getting BIL1 to start moderating the toxicity of the BB.  BB still Z's out to her nasty nature but it is no longer her standard condition with the rest my IL clan. 




Harry's picture

You are being disrespected by MIL.  there is no reason for this,  I would not play her games.  You are in a no win situation ,  so just stop going.  

DENIP's picture

I agree. I want to confront her but I believe she will try and manipulate the conversation. 

MorningMia's picture

"MIL, are you upset with me for some reason?" If you feel she will try to manipulate the conversation, prepare yourself for that. What does your DH say about this? 
Also, as you know, someone who badmouths or gossips about her own kids is someone who cannot be trusted at all (which is why I also like the "stay away from her" suggestions).If she talks about them, she's talking about you, too. She sounds toxic. 

DENIP's picture

That's what I am planning to say when I see her next, and with my husband with me or within ear shot, because she can be unpredictably abrasive and dehumanizing. 

I've always known she was not trustworthy. She is the kind of person you just don't know where the "swings" will come from and when. I've always tried to keep the peace and being kindness and laughter. I will not be the same with her after this or with my SIL and will keep my distance as much as possible, unfortunately. I'm done. They don't get a free pass to disrespect me like that. 


Sadielady's picture

My MO is to deal with conflict head on, and my preferred approach is to have open discussions about things. But so many people just can't do that. They react poorly and it makes the situation worse. With my own MIL, my DH and I tried  to acknowledge that there were sides being taken in the family, and we even normallized and validated the impulse to do that. My MIL couldn't own it, and denied even speaking about our situation with other family members. She looked DH in the eye and "swore on her children's lives" that she wasn't discussing it. The reality was that she was having nightly phone calls with siblings (confirmed by 2 of the 3 siblings). When DH confronted her with actual proof of her involvement, she started accusing him of wrongdoings. I guess my point is, is your MIL someone you can have a direct conversation with? Ot is the attempt likely to make things worse? 

Rags's picture

My MO is the same as yours. 

Interestingly, in my family, it is my mom who I have had these direct conversations with. Twice in my life. First was when my brother and I were staying with some very close family friens as our home overseas was being packed and shiped to the US. I was in my early 20s.  My University GF had chosen to terminate a pregnancy my first year.  We got engaged. She was 2yrs my elder and graduated with her undergrad at the end of my first year.  A year later I ended the engagement. 

I had asked my parents not to discuss the abortion beyond our family as it was famly only business.  

Their eldest daughter and I are about a year apart, I'm the elder.  Their middle DD is between my brother and I, and their youngest is about my brother's age. 

All of us (5kids and an exchange student) went to a lake, rented canoes and went for a leisurely paddle. The eldest DD and I were in one canoe and were quite a bit ahead of the others just catching up and talking.  She proceeded to lay out in some detail the relationship I had with my XF including the terminated pregnancy.  

I was hurt and felt betrayed.  I had a talk with my mom when they arrived a few weeks later.

The next time, interestingly, was when we were visiting that same family for the dad's B-Day.  There was a big open house with a number of other families most of us were old acquaintances as families.  Mom was in the middle of all of the moms where were all talking about my DW. She had passed the CPA exam about two years prior and her MBA 3yrs prior.  The moms were all talking about how (I) get the beautiful smart ones.  Mom proceeded with "You know her story don't you........." Mom is extremely proud of my DW. DW does not like revisiting her teen mom and low income family background.  Mom layed out DW's whole history. DW was talking with all of the younger women but was within earshot of my mom.  My DW wa so heartbroken and hurt.

I had to pull mom aside and ask her to stop with the recounting of DW's life history.

Mom was wrecked that she had hurt my DW.

Sometimes parents, even with innocent intentions, can way overstep.  The need to be reeled in instantly.  

With a toxic IL, I am zero tolerance and they know it.  They go there at their own risk.

DENIP's picture

I'm not sure how she will react to me honest. But, I want it out in the open. I, like you, am assertive. I want open, honest communication and effective resolution to conflict. I don't play these abusive, manipulative games with people. I don't have to time or energy for it. I have zero tolerance for drama. Yet, here it is served up to me underservingly.

Gossip runs rampant between MIL and her children. I'm never a participant. This whole situation is repulsive to me and has changed the way I see them. Damage is done and I will have that convo sooner than later. 


Trudie's picture

...this is related to older generations? No matter how bad the level of dysfunction, my MIL says, "This is what we've always done and will continue to do." (Sweep things under the rug.) If she doesn't like what she is hearing she will avoid eye contact.

Rags's picture

I don't think that it is generational.  It is character, or lack of it, pure and simple.

If you confront the MIL directly, firmly, and with the facts and they play the "This is what I always do" card.  End of time to be nice. Those without character, even ILs or parents, address them accordingly.


DENIP's picture

You're right in that it is a huge character flaw. We think she may have a personality disorder with co-morbidities. 

Rags's picture

I don't really care what the why's are for these types. They make choices.  There are no excuses for that, when those choices are toxic, mean, evil, devoid of character., and hurt others.  Particularly others who are on the quality side of the character balance sheet.


Trudie's picture

This is interesting and something I need to think about! Perhaps it can be both? Those without character are those I tend to avoid. I do not have time for nonsense, and I do not apologize for that. I do not serve it up, nor will I accept it.

DENIP's picture

Most definitely, it's generational in that respect. She tells me all the time,  "I'm a pain in the a**." And "I am very picky." She knows she is aggressive and has not made any changes to her character. Other people are the problem, unfortunately. She is big at shaming as well. You screw up on one thing, she'll shame you well for it and even call you names. 

Rags's picture

Sounds like my SS's SpermGrandHag. I make it my personal favorite hobby to continually destroy these types, bare their asses publically, socially, and legally if necessary, and make sure that they think hard about crawling out from under their slime covered rock at the bottom of their shallow and polluted gene pool.

Trudie's picture truly ugly behavior. Hard pass. We all make mistakes. The good thing is, they are an opportunity for growth. I think my MIL is appalled that I am direct and call things out even though it is done with class and kindness. Her problem, not mine. (There is a lot of nonsense to be called out too!) I will not participate in dishonest harmony; for me, it's honest conflict all the way!

Trudie's picture

...above comment was directed at DENIP. I like your approach Rags!

ESMOD's picture

Denip.. there is really no point in having any conversation with your MIL (or your SIL).. you have said she has always been toxic.. so why do you want to try to wade in and try to fix things.. all it will do is likely bring veiled hostility much more in your face.

She is not going to change.

Stop trying to play a game with  her.. why on earth are you trying to hug and suck up to a woman that apparently things you are a PITA.. and picky.. and gross.

Leave her alone.  Stop attending these family functions.. or at the very least.. stop trying to suck up to these people that apparently don't have a huge opinion of you.  Bring a book.. busy yourself with something.. learn to knit.. IDK.. check your email.. stay glued to your DH if he is the only one to talk to you.. 

Be polite.. nothing more to these people when you are forced into a situation you cannot avoid.  

Don't complain about the food.. or leave your toothbrush in public.. if you have to go to these things.. you should probably just try to fly under the radar..  If you don't like the food served.. just eat sparingly.. "oh.. had a huge breakfast.. can't eat a bite"  No need to point out that they are serving pig intestines and you hate them.

You won't change into someone they approve of.. so stop trying.. and don't confront her.. just ignore

DENIP's picture

Thank you for your comment. The "picky and PITA" comments are ones MIL makes about herself. They are basically declarations acknowledging that she is difficult but yet does nothing to change. 

I'm no "kiss up" for sure. I'm just a kind, loving person who greets family that way. In the culture she is in, it is standard to greet with a kiss on the cheek. Which is why I've always done so for the past 11 years. 

I want to confront in a very strategic way because I want to know and I want my husband to know what the issue is. This way, when they barely see me anymore and are not invited to my home, they can't say it was my fault. They'll understand their abusive behavior will not be tolerated any longer and this is the consequence. I'm moving on.