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MIL Issue

This is my first post- I will try to keep it short but I need advice, please! :) My in-laws are living with us, which has been fine for the most part. The trouble is, I have asthma, and I have told my MIL several times that scented laundry detergents, some cleaners, potpourri, and all the smelly stuff really bothers my airways. Some cleaners candles are fine, but it just depends. We buy the kind of detergent that doesn't bother me, but my MIL uses heavily scented detergent, as well as putting potpourri in the living room. I'm not afraid to put my foot down, and my husband steps in and supports me, but for some reason this issue is just not being resolved. We haven't really had a "hard" discussion about it, just mentioning in passing what bothers me. I talked with her about it again today and she acted like I was making it up because I have stronger reactions to certain things and not to others. If only! I'm really dreading the winter, and being locked up with all this awful stuff. I would really like to have a more firm conversation about this with her- it's not too much to ask to breathe in your own house. She is easily hurt, so I was wondering what you think of this solution- if she reluctantly gets rid of the stuff, maybe a few days later I can give her a simmer pot and dried fruits and cinnamon sticks and things. I know for sure that doesn't bother me (I do it all the time on the stove), and I like scents just as much as anyone else. I am not wanting to hurt her, but I don't want to be sick all winter because of something that's really easy to fix. It's not so much the firm discussion part that I am having a problem with, it is making sure I do it in such a way that communicates that I don't want to break the relationship over it. I know her reaction is her own, but I find it tiring being "nice" when who knows if it will work anyway. What do you think? 

Re: MIL Issue

  • Are you all living in your in-laws house or are they living in yours?  Not that it matters in the end, but I would be a little more forceful with the (below) advice if it is your home.

    I would talk to her again but perhaps pose it more as a "working together for a solution" discussion.  For example, let her know that xyz detergents and scented stuff are really hard on your asthma.  Tell her that, while you hate to have her change the products she likes, can you all work on finding different products she likes that will also not aggravate your asthma.  And then give some the simmer pot.  Or ask if she has tried your all's detergent.

    If it's your own home and she still won't come around.  I'd get more firm and flat out not allow xyz products in the house with the stuffier months of winter coming up.  While I understand that will unfortunately offend her and possibly put a strain on the relationship, your health is more important than her sensitivities.

  • I think you AND your DH need to have a firm, sit down talk with her about this.  This shouldn't be on YOU because in the end, she'll be more likely to forgive her son than you. 

    We're talking about your HEALTH here.  You've got to put aside her poor, hurt feelings.  I mean... for someone so emotionally sensitive, you'd think she'd show a little more compassion for you! 

    My approach, in SOME effort to conserve feelings (I guess), would be to write up a list of what is NOT acceptable. And then sit down and have DH discuss how there has clearly been some confusion.  BUT that from this moment forward, the following items are NOT allowed.  Then he needs to stress that this is a matter of your health.  If anything if found in that house that shouldn't be, it will be immediately thrown out.

    And no, I woudln't offer to substitute things for her.  Just get rid of what you can't tolerate. 

    What you ahve to realize - usually when people "get hurt" really easily, it's because they KNOW IT WORKS - people coddle them and they basically end up getting their way.  You don't need to go in calling her an idiot or anything like that, but... you and your DH really need to have a firm discussion with her.

    And if she gets upset?  If she cries - LET HER.  You can't control her feelings.  You can't.  If she gets so upset that you can't continue, just say "Let's table this discussion for an hour until you can get yourself together" and then go do something else.  Then in an hour (or two, or five... whatever), sit back down and finish it. 

    And really- my ultimate message would be "bevlinda's health is the priority here.  If you can't abide by our rules then perhaps this isn't the best place for you to be living".

    Harsh?  Maybe.  But at the same time- if she's doing something KNOWING that it affects your health, she really shouldn't be living with you
  • Vor is right on. Look, your health and well being is more important than her feelings. Plus, I highly doubt we are talking about genuine feelings here. Sounds more like she is trying to manipulate you both. Don't fall for it. Those things are not allowed and she will have to deal with it.
  • I have a lot of allergies to cleaning products and artificial fragrances as well as asthma so I feel your pain. I would present it from a purely medical point, "when you use xyz, it does this to me. I know you like your products, let's work together to find ones we can both agree on"

  •  Plus, I highly doubt we are talking about genuine feelings here. Sounds more like she is trying to manipulate you both. 
    Seriously- this too.  You're talking about laundry detergent and potpourri.  She's really going to get HURT and CRY over you saying "don't use these products"?

    Come on.  She cries because she knows that people will coddle her and she'll get her way. 
  • Is this your home they are living in?

    Therefore they abide by your rules.

    And even so: wow, isn't it courtesy not to use something that will make a resident in the household ill?

    She should stop using that detergent now -- and if she doesn't, she's got another problem altogether.
  • If she cannot respect the fact that you have a medical condition one of three things needs to happen....either they move out  or you build an in law apartment so they have separate living space or you move into a house that has an in law apartment.  
    You need to tell your husband that these are the choices and if he chooses hi parents over you you are moving out until he can resolve the issue...
    BTW, if he chooses his parents over you, your relationship, statistically, is likely doomed...
  • Another vote that she needs to respect you. If there are certain scents you can tolerate when you sit down with her and talk to her about your situation, let her know what those items are. Maybe then you can come to a compromise because you respect the fact that she likes nice smelling things, but she needs to respect that certain scents/products make you sick. If she doesn't respect that, then she will need to find another place to live.
  • @bevlinda

    Gosh, I feel for you so much.  My asthma isn't as bad as my migraines.  I get migraines at the drop of a hat- perfume, smoke, candles, fresh cut grass, anything on my head, excessive heat, etc, etc.  And it is so incredibly awful to have to explain until I'm blue in the face why XYZ bothers me and why I can't be around it, so I really feel for you.

    I don't live with my in-laws, but there is always so much pressure for me to come and visit.  But the thing is, they smoke in the house, don't have a/c indoors (depending on who's house we're staying in- they live in the Dominican Republic), and wear strong perfume.  My reluctance to spend time down there has caused issues, and my FMIL has gotten the impression that I don't want to be around them; which is not the case!  I just don't want to be stuck in a house where I'm subjected to a large amount of my triggers.  The last time I went down, I had a migraine the entire visit.  (And apparently, in that culture, if I offer to stay in a hotel, it's considered extremely rude.)

    At any rate, I'm sorry you're going through this.  I wish I could give you better advice!  It sounds like you're handling it well, though, and aren't afraid to speak up.  I would definitely have a firm sit down with her and get everything out in the open, once and for all.  Its one thing to be nice and work on things with her.  Its an entirely different animal when your well-being is as stake.  Health should always come first!  Good luck!

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