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Jekyl/Hyde FMIL

I have been with my FI now for alittle over 6 years.  We are getting married this December.  My dad always creeps me out by saying "You marry the man - you marry his family too".  I always said to myself if my FI didn't have the parents he did, then he would be perfect!  My FMIL is of a different breed - I truly have never met anyone like her.  It's not just me either - everyone else that crosses her path says the same things about her.  She has no filter, says anything on her mind (usually negative & rude), is very cold and unfriendly and always wants to be in our business and overstep her boundaries.  My FI thinks the same way I do about his own mother.  It's so bad that we live approx. 20 mins from his parents and other than major holidays probably only see them a few times a year.  In the beginning, I used to urge him to call his parents and try to have a nice rapport with them, but now I have just given up.  It only seems to cause more harm than good - I hate that it has to be that way. 

The irony behind it all, which makes our situation very tricky (hence, the Jekyl/Hyde part) is that FMIL must be the only person on the planet that doesn't view herself the way others do.  She is always making us feel guilty for not calling/seeing her more.  She acts like she wants a good relationship with us and yet everytime, once we're 'reeled' in she just does something to anger/upset us.  She will tell me she loves me and can't wait until I am her DIL and even invited me to lunch a few months ago and the whole time belittled me and made me feel like less of a person.  I would put myself through it if my FI and her were close but he could care less.  He has even tried to talk to her about her behavior but everytime he does, she cries frantically and victimizes herself.  We just do not know what to do.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Re: Jekyl/Hyde FMIL

  • You do marry his family if he has ties with them. ?You'll see her for the rest of your life assuming that he doesn't cut ties. ?You need to stand up for yourself. ?Don't be afraid to put her in her place. ?You have to set a precedent for future behavior now. ?She may be hurt for a long time, but better to get it over with instead of agonizing over how to handle it.

    Make sure your H is on your side and backs you 100 percent when dealing with her.?

  • Your father is right, when you marry a person you marry his/her family. 

    What does your FI say about all of this?  It doesn't sound like he is really pressuring a relationship.  In fact it sounds like you are the one most interested in forcing a relationship.  You cannot continue to do this, they are HIS parents and it is HIS relationship with them.  Follow his lead, don't push, and stop trying to 'fix' things.  You know it will only make things worse.

    Is he protecting you from her?  Does he stop her from being insulting to you?  How does he react when she gets into one of her moods?  This is going to be VERY telling.  If he doesn't protect you now he isn't going to.  And you will get sick of it (I bet you are already getting sick of it actually).  Is this how you want to live for the rest of your life?  Think about it and be honest.  If you cannot say yes, then you should re-think marrying this person.

  • My advice would be to call her on her bad behavior when it is happening and don't put up with it.  If she belittles you or is rude, stand up (even if you have just ordered lunch and it has not yet arrived), and say "I will not sit here and let you criticize me.  I'm afraid I'll have to leave."  (or, ask here to leave your home).  Make sure you criticize the BEHAVIOR, and not her.  (As in, I won't allow you to call me a fat-arsed 'ho" vs. "You are so mean and hateful, I can't listen to you."). 

    If she starts to cry - leave.  Say "I can see you're not able to discuss this calmly right now.  When you feel you are able to have a conversation about this without crying, give us a call.  But we will not tolerate anyone calling Shanners a dumb broad, so unless you can put an end to that behavior, we are not interested in seeing you regardless of if you are calm or not."

    I do agree that if you marry a man, you marry his family - to a point.  Your dh obviously has a problem with his own mother, and that makes things easier.  You are under NO obligation to see her, pay her visits, chat with her during the day.  You are not her daughter.  DH is her son.  If she calls and cries that YOU do not call or visit (not you and dh), tell her "if you are lonely, speak to DH about arranging a visit/a call."  You ARE allowed to disengage from the insanity of your dh's family drama.  Let him make the decisions / do the work of arranging things.  Usually, when it's the guys job to take the lead on social calls, they don't happen that often!

     

  • I agree with SueBear - you marry his family... TO A POINT!  My MIL sounds a lot like yours.  You need to nip those behaviors in the bud or they will only continue.  If you and your FI allow them to happen, then you are enabling her.

    My MIL called us SEVEN TIMES on the first THREE DAYS of our honeymoon! It was awful.  We told her to stop calling and of course she started crying.  We just said "Fine, continue to call us - but we will not be answering the phone again."  She tried it a few more times until she saw that we were serious.  And we have continued that.  "MIL if you want to continue to call us that is fine.  You get one call per day."  You and your FI need to set some boundaries and stick to them!!!!

    I also completely understand when you say about being 20 minutes and not seeing her a lot... Thats the same with us, we are about 10 miles away and haven't seen them in about a month or so.  If your  MIL asks why, tell her the truth.  You aren't doing her any good by lying or saying "ohh, Im so sorry. We have been busy."  You need to say "MIL, it is x,y, and z and that is why we aren't seeing you.  Call her out on her behaviors and eventually you should start seeing some results... But as long as you continue to excuse the behaviors, they will continue. 

    Hopefully your FI is on board with you - because you guys are a team! If he isn't sticking up for you (and himself!) then he never will... My DH is amazing at when his family is awful to me/him/us/our family, he doesnt stand for it. He puts a stop to it immediately.  Sure, hearing someone cry is awful - but won't it be more awful if YOU are the one always crying because of this maniac MIL?

    My aunt knows how much trouble I have with my MIL, so she suggested I google "Mother in laws"  There is a lot of good advice out there on these issues!!! You are not alone in this!

     Good luck to you!

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  • image ictoana:

    Your father is right, when you marry a person you marry his/her family.?

    What does your FI say about all of this?? It doesn't sound like he is really pressuring a relationship.? In fact it sounds like you are the one most interested in forcing a relationship.? You cannot continue to do this, they are HIS parents and it is HIS relationship with them.? Follow his lead, don't push, and stop trying to 'fix' things.? You know it will only make things worse.

    Is he protecting you from her?? Does he stop her from being insulting to you?? How does he react when she gets into one of her moods?? This is going to be VERY telling.? If he doesn't protect you now he isn't going to.? And you will get sick of it (I bet you are already getting sick of it actually).? Is this how you want to live for the rest of your life?? Think about it and be honest.? If you cannot say yes, then you should re-think marrying this person.

    This. ?Especially the last paragraph!?

  • Thank you, Ruby for your advice.  It was very encouraging and empowering to know that someone has my back.  My father is very old fashioned and has told me in the past to let my FI handle his family and me handle mine, regardless of what is being said to me.  Eventhough my FI does indeed stand up for me, I would still like to assert myself (mannerly of course) and let my FMIL that this kind of behavior isn't going to be tolerated.
  • You're absolutely right about one thing: I have been 'forcing' a relationship between my FI and my FMIL.  I have always felt that there was a communication barrier and they could knock that wall down by talking more.  So, I guess I am to blame for that.  One thing my FI is vocal about: protecting me.  I am grateful for that.  You brought up some very good points and I agree that you should re-evaluate your relationship with someone if they don't deffend your honor.

  • SueBear:

    Thank you for your advice.  You used the word "disengaged" and I like that.  It intrigues me to think, "Hey, this is HIS family - not mine, therefore, I don't have to put up with it." 

    My question for you:  Our wedding is approaching - it is this December.  My FMIL has made it very clear that she wants to participate in the planning of it (I.e. going to bridal shows with me, wedding dress shopping, etc.).  Shockingly, only wants to invite herself along on things pertaining to me, not FI.  This again, is where the Jekyl/Hyde comes in where she only 'pretends' to be sincere and nice and then BAM squirms in her evilness.  I only want my friends and family and people who love me around me on these important and memorable planning times.  How do I not invite her along?  Or do I have to?

  • image ShannersLA:

    I would put myself through it if my FI and her were close but he could care less.  He has even tried to talk to her about her behavior but everytime he does, she cries frantically and victimizes herself. 

    The Jekyl/Hyde caught my eye.  If your dh stands up for you and is not pushing a relationship with his mother, I would step back and observe for a while.  The reason I say this is because there are a few characteristics you mention that make your MIL sound like she *may* have borderline personality disorder.  If that's the case, none of the appropriate recommendations (talk with her, etc., etc.) are going to work.

    Not respecting boundaries.

    Becoming defensive and acting victimized when you assert boundaries.

    The jekyl/hyde description.

    You might consider reading/skimming "Stop Walking on Eggshells - When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder."  If the shoe fits, then I would keep a polite distance.  The fact that your dh recognizes his mother's behavior is not always normal/appropriate will make your life ten thousand times easier, if she is in fact borderline.

    I am pretty sure my MIL is borderline and appropriate ways of interacting with her do not work.  If I'm off-base completely, I apologize in advance.  But the books on the topic do use jekyl and hyde to describe the behavior/demeanor of borderlines.  So your post definitely caught my eye.

  • Ohhhh Sunshine - Im going to get that book myself! :)
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  • For anything that REALLY matters to you, I would not include her.  If it's going to bother you that she tells you you are a fat cow when you try on wedding dresses, that nobody is going to want to go to your party if you don't have a band (b/c you want a dj) - don't invite her to those things.  She isn't OWED an invite to anything, and she has proven that she can't behave herself. 

    Don't mention you are doing anything.  Just go without making a big deal out of it, make sure your FI isn't a blabbermouth who will announce "oh, shanners is shopping for her gown this weekend!"  Avoid talking with her about it (should be easy enough to do if you avoid her altogether and let your fi talk for the two of you.  Tell him you don't want to go with her and don't want to talk on the phone with her.)

    If she pins you down, politely tell her "my mom will be with me" or "I just want to go with my bm's."  If she cries, pouts, tells you she will "always remember how hateful and exclusionary you are...." - let her.  It's your day, your experience, and you don't trust her.  Even if she were YOUR mom I'd advise the same.

    If you WANT to throw her a bone, bring some bridal magazines and ask her what she thinks about BM dresses.  Bring her a CD with your wedding songs. 

    Are your FILS paying for the RD?  If so, help her "plan" that party.  Bring your fi to the restaurant.  If she says its terrible and the food stinks and she won't waste her $, tell her "ok, well I guess you can figure something else out." and leave. 

    Or if your dj lets you sneak in to a wedding or is playing at a wedding show, take her (hopefully you can bring your fi with you, too).  If she misbehaves, leave.  Take separate cars to make it easier "I won't listen to you talk to me this way" and go.  Say it with a smile, but get the farg out of there.  And don't invite her anywhere else.  If she complains, tell her you "won't have a repeat of her bad behavior at the wedding show" and shoot her a dirty look.

    But read that book that has been recommended. 

    But ---- you DO NOT owe her any piece of your wedding experience!!!  Don't do anything to "be nice."  She doesn't deserve your niceness at this point.  If your fi complains that you are shutting her out (or tells you "my mom was crying b/c you won't pick out a bridal gown with her."), tell him to handle his mom, but you don't want to hear it. 

  • It sounds like to me she pulls passive-aggressive behavior for anyone who calls her own her sh*t.  It's almost like a show to her.  She puts on the water works and "feels sorry for  herself."  She'll call and give everyone a guilt trip.  Action speaks louder then words.  Stand up to this woman if she starts giving you ***.  It seems to me she's the type of person that likes to create heat, but can't handle the fire.  I bet you if you stand up to her and call her on her ***, she will back down, and will probably start her crying routine again.  Don't show emotion when she does this.  Don't be rude, but firm, and tell her her behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  If she truly wants to be involved with you and other people, she NEEDS to change.  Tell her that she's aware of her behavior and should seek therapy.
  •  I used to urge him to call his parents and try to have a nice rapport with them, but now I have just given up.  It only seems to cause more harm than good - I hate that it has to be that way. 

    Before I address your MIL problem, I have to take a moment on this line.  This speaks volumes.  Why, oh why would you try to interfere with a dynamic that has existed in his family for a lifetime?  He's the expert on the way his family functions -- not you.  If you think about it, urging him to try to have the relationship with his parents that YOU think is appropriate is highly judgmental.  It's like saying, "Hon, I know you have been dealing with them for a lifetime, but I think the way your family handles things is wrong.  Do it my way."

    Don't worry -- from what I've seen on these boards, this is a pretty common newlywed mistake.  Embrace this truth:  not all families work the same way.  Not all family members (or in laws) have to be friends, or even friendly.  Respect the way your DH's family has done things and insist that he respect your way as well.  But understand that your goal is to create a new family dynamic between the two of you that is comfortable for you both.

    Okay, now to your actual question:  I think establishing boundaries between the two of you and your MIL will help.  In your case, it seems like your DH is already well on the way to "getting it" that this is the answer.  Accept that she is who she is.  You and DH will not change her by "talking to her" about it.  Talk to each other instead and determine how the two of you will handle her AS A TEAM.  Know that you are in for the long haul dealing with her bizarre behavior, and make decisions based on what is best for the two of you.  But, most of all, keep talking -- and listening -- to each other about it.

  • image ShannersLA:

    Our wedding is approaching - it is this December.  My FMIL has made it very clear that she wants to participate in the planning of it (I.e. going to bridal shows with me, wedding dress shopping, etc.).  Shockingly, only wants to invite herself along on things pertaining to me, not FI.  This again, is where the Jekyl/Hyde comes in where she only 'pretends' to be sincere and nice and then BAM squirms in her evilness.  I only want my friends and family and people who love me around me on these important and memorable planning times.  How do I not invite her along?  Or do I have to?

    She is always making us feel guilty for not calling/seeing her more.  She acts like she wants a good relationship with us and yet everytime, once we're 'reeled' in she just does something to anger/upset us.  She will tell me she loves me and can't wait until I am her DIL and even invited me to lunch a few months ago and the whole time belittled me and made me feel like less of a person.  I would put myself through it if my FI and her were close but he could care less.  He has even tried to talk to her about her behavior but everytime he does, she cries frantically and victimizes herself.  We just do not know what to do. 

    No one can make you feel guilty without your permission.  You know perfectly well why you don't call or see her more often....because she treats you terribly! 

    So what if she wants to be around for these important wedding planning events?  It's not your job to make her feel included or loved.  I would tell you to make an effort if she were a nice, sweet, FMIL that you just don't have anything to say to, or if it were important to your FI.  But she's not nice, and your fi doesn't care.

    You are NOT obligated to have a special "MIL-DIL" relationship with her, and you're not obligated to plan a wedding with her tagging along and making you feel miserable.  Give yourself permission to exclude her, and remind yourself why - because she doesn't treat you well.  If she cries, let your FI handle her.  Fortunately, you can always fall back on the "my mom wanted to make this a "mother-daughter" trip."

    If she confronts you, crying, with your fi not around, tell her she'll just have to talk to your fi.  But don't feel guilty.  What would you feel guilty about?  Not having a horrible afternoon?  Not walking down the aisle in a bridal dress that your FMIL declared makes you look like the bride of Frankenstein?

    Assume that your FMIL will NOT change.  Apparently, her behavior has worked for her for YEARS.  That's why your fi doesn't care if you visit her or not.

     

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  • I thought I was reading about my own MIL.  I think they could be the same person.  WATCH OUT!  My MIL got much worse after our wedding.  It has been very, very, very hard. 

    I, too, would like to know how to deal with this type of woman.  I had someone recommend a book to me- it is called "Trapped in the Mirror".  It is on the way- so I don't know if I will find it useful or not.  Apparantly it is supposed to help explain Narcissism, which (from his experience) is what our MIL's suffer from.  Talking to him about this was VERY interesting- it made so much sense.  Her inability to see perspectives other than her own, inability to accept responsibility for her actions, inability to apologize, inability to CALL HER SON- and expecting him to make all efforts in the relationship.

    I guess the book is supposed to help explain  how we need to talk to these types of people to not them be in control of everything like they want to be.  Also- how being the child of a narcissist has effected our husbands.  They don't stick up for themselves to their mothers because they know that she will freak out and "play the victim".  Anyway- I feel your pain and I am glad you posted. 

    She will not change- it is just a matter of us learning how to "deal with her".  I wanted so badly to have a great relationship with my in-laws (my DH gets along GREAT with my family), it makes me really sad that they have chosen not to be kind or supportive.  I am still trying to learn this- but you have to learn how to not let her hurt you.  She doesn't realize that there is anything wrong with her behavior- and she probably never will.

    It SUCKS.  Hang in there.  I would love to chat with you more about it any time.

  • image Sunsh1ne:

    [The Jekyl/Hyde caught my eye.  If your dh stands up for you and is not pushing a relationship with his mother, I would step back and observe for a while.  The reason I say this is because there are a few characteristics you mention that make your MIL sound like she *may* have borderline personality disorder.  If that's the case, none of the appropriate recommendations (talk with her, etc., etc.) are going to work.

    Not respecting boundaries.

    Becoming defensive and acting victimized when you assert boundaries.

    The jekyl/hyde description.

    You might consider reading/skimming "Stop Walking on Eggshells - When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder."  If the shoe fits, then I would keep a polite distance.  The fact that your dh recognizes his mother's behavior is not always normal/appropriate will make your life ten thousand times easier, if she is in fact borderline.

    I am pretty sure my MIL is borderline and appropriate ways of interacting with her do not work.  If I'm off-base completely, I apologize in advance.  But the books on the topic do use jekyl and hyde to describe the behavior/demeanor of borderlines.  So your post definitely caught my eye.

    YES!  I agree.  I had the same thoughts. 

    I will also be reading that book.  I hope that your FI realized that his mother's behavior is not normal.  My DH gets it now (but only recently).  My DH didn't stick up for me to his mother- not because he doesn't care- it is because he has been raised by this woman and knows her behavior (consciously or not).  This has been a learning experience for both of us.  Hang in there- your FI should read these books with you- help you two learn how to do this TOGETHER. 

    There is NOTHING you can do to help her see that she is out of line on anything.  She will not- she will only turn it around and find some way to make it your fault (or FI's fault).  I agree with observing and reading about how to have relationships with these types of people.  All you can to is adjust YOUR behavior and the way you respond to her actions.  (I am right there in the same boat- learning what to do)  We have not seen IL's in almost a year because of all of this- and spent 6 months of that not even speaking to them at all.  Please keep me/us posted.

  • image Sunsh1ne:

    [The Jekyl/Hyde caught my eye.  If your dh stands up for you and is not pushing a relationship with his mother, I would step back and observe for a while.  The reason I say this is because there are a few characteristics you mention that make your MIL sound like she *may* have borderline personality disorder.  If that's the case, none of the appropriate recommendations (talk with her, etc., etc.) are going to work.

    Not respecting boundaries.

    Becoming defensive and acting victimized when you assert boundaries.

    The jekyl/hyde description.

    You might consider reading/skimming "Stop Walking on Eggshells - When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder."  If the shoe fits, then I would keep a polite distance.  The fact that your dh recognizes his mother's behavior is not always normal/appropriate will make your life ten thousand times easier, if she is in fact borderline.

    I am pretty sure my MIL is borderline and appropriate ways of interacting with her do not work.  If I'm off-base completely, I apologize in advance.  But the books on the topic do use jekyl and hyde to describe the behavior/demeanor of borderlines.  So your post definitely caught my eye.

    YES!  I agree.  I had the same thoughts. 

    I will also be reading that book.  I hope that your FI realized that his mother's behavior is not normal.  My DH gets it now (but only recently).  My DH didn't stick up for me to his mother- not because he doesn't care- it is because he has been raised by this woman and knows her behavior (consciously or not).  This has been a learning experience for both of us.  Hang in there- your FI should read these books with you- help you two learn how to do this TOGETHER. 

    There is NOTHING you can do to help her see that she is out of line on anything.  She will not- she will only turn it around and find some way to make it your fault (or FI's fault).  I agree with observing and reading about how to have relationships with these types of people.  All you can to is adjust YOUR behavior and the way you respond to her actions.  (I am right there in the same boat- learning what to do)  We have not seen IL's in almost a year because of all of this- and spent 6 months of that not even speaking to them at all.  Please keep me/us posted.

  • image ShannersLA:

    SueBear:

    Thank you for your advice.  You used the word "disengaged" and I like that.  It intrigues me to think, "Hey, this is HIS family - not mine, therefore, I don't have to put up with it." 

    My question for you:  Our wedding is approaching - it is this December.  My FMIL has made it very clear that she wants to participate in the planning of it (I.e. going to bridal shows with me, wedding dress shopping, etc.).  Shockingly, only wants to invite herself along on things pertaining to me, not FI.  This again, is where the Jekyl/Hyde comes in where she only 'pretends' to be sincere and nice and then BAM squirms in her evilness.  I only want my friends and family and people who love me around me on these important and memorable planning times.  How do I not invite her along?  Or do I have to?

    I liked SueBear's followup advice.  And you should also really consider if there is a personality disorder (someone else mentioned narcissistic personality disorder and referenced a book) because if you are truly dealing with mental health matters, behaving appropriately will not work when your MIL does not operate under appropriate rules.  That is so hard to understand.

    Since your dh seems to stand up for you, I would let him handle his mother.  Don't feel obligated to invite her to any part of the planning you'd rather not share with her.  You have no obligation to do so.  My MIL went nuts about stuff like this.  She gave me a laundry list of gripes about our wedding day - one year later.  They included her being angry with me for not inviting her to get ready with me before our wedding.  My mother is dead and I simply did not want her there.  I did not want her to replace my mother and I just wanted to spend that time before the wedding in quiet with my best friend.  (My MIL is loud and pushy.)

    Decisions like who you want to share that time getting ready before the wedding, who walks you down the aisle, who shares your dress shopping experience with you (call me crazy, but I don't need my MIL seeing me half naked in a dressing room) are your experiences to share with whom you feel close.

    Other wedding planning experiences are yours to share with your fiance.  Cake tasting, picking the officiant, etc.  (A caveat would be if your MIL is paying for the wedding.  You probably need to let her in more if that is the case.)

    I paid for our wedding myself and dh paid for our rehearsal dinner.  It created WWIII and required a year's worth of marriage counseling to deal with the fallout from my MIL's fit regarding our wedding (among other things - she got her feathers in a tiff when she did not get enough attention during a visit and left early - telling me she'd stay in a hotel next time because I am so awful - God forbid I was job hunting while unemployed rather than taking her to lunch and to Nordstrom everyday - but I digress).  But I do not regret not sharing the moments I did not want to share with her.

    Do what feels right for you and dh during the wedding planning.  Let dh handle his mother - you are VERY lucky that he does and that it is not a fight.  And for future reference, read up on mental health issues - specifically regarding personality disorders.  It will educate you regarding how to deal with your MIL.  (My modus operandi is to NOT deal with dh's mother because I can't handle the borderline issues well.  Not the healthiest - but I simply let him handle her.  She wants a phone call for our Christmas gift?  I send a written thank you - I won't be manipulated into talking with her.  I just keep a safe, polite distance.)

    In light of the fact that my own mother is dead, I wanted a nice MIL and hoped we could have a nice relationship.  Unfortunately, that won't happen for me.  Hope my rambling responses help.

    Figure out what you're dealing with in terms of mental health/personality disorder.  And don't feel guilty maintaining the boundaries (in wedding planning and beyond) that feel comfortable to you.  Boundaries are healthy.  It is unhealthy for her to push beyond your boundaries.

  • Sunsh1ne's advice is fantastic. ?WOW. ?I am in the beginning stages of what she is going through- and from where I stand she is SOOOO right. ?You cannot deal with her like you would a normal person- she will not be receptive to it, and you will be disappointed every single time (I am learning this). ?

    Be glad you have figured out that something is wrong at your stage in the game rather than where we did. ?Read some books, see a counselor? ?But most importantly- DO NOT let her behavior come in between you and your FI. ?

    Sunsh1ne- I sent you a PM. ?

    ShannersLA- I sent you a PM.?

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