Family Matters
Dear Community,

Our tech team has launched updates to The Nest today. As a result of these updates, members of the Nest Community will need to change their password in order to continue participating in the community. In addition, The Nest community member's avatars will be replaced with generic default avatars. If you wish to revert to your original avatar, you will need to re-upload it via The Nest.

If you have questions about this, please email [email protected]

Thank you.

Note: This only affects The Nest's community members and will not affect members on The Bump or The Knot.

How to deal with a difficult MIL? Help!


Re: How to deal with a difficult MIL? Help!

  • image EastCoastBride:

    Moving away is really only a band-aid.  Perhaps a huge one that will help a lot, but it will not solve the underlying problem.

    I really want to emphasize this.  Moving away will not solve the problem.  My dh moved 2000 miles away from his parents and they are a huge source of tension in our marriage.  Marriage counseling has helped.  My dh has also agreed to seek individual counseling to deal with some of the specific and unique issues in our situation (a MIL who likely has mental health issues).  I believe that will help.

    Your dh inviduating from his parents will take time.  But since so many people suggesting moving away, I just wanted to let you know it is NOT a long term solution.  Your dh will need to learn to stand up to his parents.

    What has been a wake up call to my dh is telling him, gently: "Your struggles with your parents existed before me.  That's why you moved 2000 miles away.  If I am not in your life, you will still struggle with your parents."  This is what has convinced him to seek invidual counseling.  I love him with all of my heart and the struggles we have with his mother make me want to run.  But I want the best for him.  And if I am not in his life, I want him to be okay.  And that means learning to deal with his mother as an adult, not a 12-year-old.

    I'm not saying that your situation will rise to the level of tension that exists in our marriage regarding IL issues, but this is a serious issue your dh needs to learn to handle.  And you both need to learn to handle together.  Moving away will not fix things.

  • image EastCoastBride:

    However, to even say "turn him against his family" tells me that you both see this in the wrong light.  This isn't about turning him against his family.  It's about him standing up and saying "I'm an adult who is going to make decisions based on works for ME and MY life - not yours (meaning his parents)".   It's about him realizing he doesn't need their APPROVAL.  He should strive to have their support - but that doesn't mean automatically their approval. 

    This, 100 times this.

    If the both of you truly feel that him standing up for himself and asserting himself as a capable adult is "turning him against his family", that says a lot more about the two of you than it does about his family........and it says that neither one of you have the maturity that you think you do, regardless of how many college courses you've taken.  Neither of you are adults yet.

    Until your FI decides that his parents' approval isn't the end-all be-all, you will keep struggling with this issue.  And honestly - him telling you that this will all change after the wedding is nothing more than his way of getting out of doing something that he doesn't really want to do.......and that's not a good sign for your future.

    Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers Lilypie Second Birthday tickers
  • I agree with Maybride and EastCoast on this one.  A lot of people have parents and in-laws like this, and changing the dynamic is a hard road but well worth it.  What I recommend is not engaging, ever, at all.  Learn the phrase "Well, you're entitled to your opinion," and practice saying it with a smile.  Also practice saying "Don't worry; we have it covered" when they fish for information about personal decisions you'll be making. 

    As hard as it is, it's easier than you think.  The hardest part is changing yourself.  As soon as you (and he) stop needing their acceptance and approval, really stop needing it rather than acting as if you don't need it, they'll start behaving much better almost as by magic.

  • "Well, you're entitled to your opinion," and practice saying it with a smile.  Also practice saying "Don't worry; we have it covered" when they fish for information about personal decisions you'll be making.


    The good witch--thanks for sharing how big of a problem this can become. I definitely don't want this to be something that puts a strain on our marriage, which is why my fiance and I are going to try to nip this in the bud now. 

    Again, thanks to everyone for their input, specially those that did it in a constructive and helpful manner, thanks!  


  • I feel bad for my fiance because he just wants to be treated like an adult, but still be a considerate son,

    Adulthood is not a prize that's given out to good children or considerate sons or daughters-in-law.  It's something you have to claim for yourself by separating from your parents, standing up for your own beliefs, and behaving as an adult.

    Your MIL will be powerless over you and your FI when both of you stop allowing her to have power over you.  She hates "gays" and thinks Obama's ruining America? Fine. Her opinion -- she's entitled to one.  You guys want to live together; she thinks it's the 8th deadly sin and is rallying the family to "shun" you. Fine. Her opinion.  She'll get over her shock/anger or not.  You guys shouldn't be jerks to her, by any means, but I would not let her opinion alter what YOU and FI want to do one iota.

  • image wlsalbion:


    The good witch--thanks for sharing how big of a problem this can become. I definitely don't want this to be something that puts a strain on our marriage, which is why my fiance and I are going to try to nip this in the bud now. 



    Any time, and its awesome that you want to get this solved now rather than later. I lost sleep over this kinda [email protected] and after going thru counseling/posting here, we realized that we didn't need to deal with it anymore. I always thought 'well it's his mom, just gonna have to live with it'. Nope, we both finally grew a pair and laid it out to them. You don't have to deal with it, being a newlywed is hard enough with all of the adjustments. Adding this stress on top of it is hard. Best of luck to you and your fiance

  • I fully ditto East Coast. ?Her advice was spot on!

    You talk a lot about how your fiance is hurt by his family's actions, and that's totally understandable. ?I just want to emphasize, though, that the process of drawing boundaries, redefining your role in family dynamics (aka, going from "good child seeking parents' approval" to "adult with own life, enjoying enjoyable company and maintaining boundaries for inappropriate behavior")- that process takes longer than you would imagine, even when the adult is motivated to change his/her relationship with the family. ?And the feeling hurt part doesn't automatically lead to a linear progression of drawing stronger boundaries and engaging less and feeling less hurt. ?Depending on the person, it may be more up and down- more going back and forth between wanting nothing to do with them and then wanting to "try" again and then getting hurt and wanting nothing to do with them...?

    Keep in mind, too- from the outside, this looks (and is) logical- he doesn't want to be treated like an errant child, so he shouldn't accept it. ?But the process for the person in question is going to be more complicated than that- some of this, too, may be part of his identity. ?As in- if he's not "the good boy Mom and Dad approve of"- then who is he? ?

    And the bottom line on all of this is that it really depends on who he is. ?For example, if there is a large part of his identity wrapped up in being a people pleaser, a "good child", etc., then this is going to be a very long, very hard road. ?If he tends in any way to be unwilling to take responsibility for bad feeling or be painted as "the bad guy", if he tends to try and avoid or downplay his involvement in any unpleasant or dramatic scenarios, this may well go the route of eventually becoming "I would still be loved and respected by my family if my wife hadn't insisted I not accept x, y, z..." This is especially true if you're the type to stand up for yourself and make a stand while he's the type to downplay and make sure nobody's angry with him. ?

    And at any rate, I do strongly recommend not marrying until he, by himself, of his own accord, is in a place where he's more or less happy and confident with his own ability to deal with his family. ?That's what's really going to make the difference between you two feeling like you're your own family that can and will manage his difficult relatives, and feeling like you're trying to make him accept or help him see the light about his family. ?

    Sorry for the novel. ?Good luck.?

  • You have different values than his mother.  It's important to realize that. As much as you want to be respected for your choice to live together, a strictly religious Catholic is NOT going to go along with it.  Deal with it.  That means doing it anyway or waiting.  But you can't stomp your feet JUST because you disagree. As much as you are entitled to the respect of your opinion - so is SHE.

    Much of this is going to be resolved with the wedding - something you agree on - so don't sweat it.  The rest is a matter of JUST LIVING YOUR LIFE and being willing to let the chips fall as they may.  This means making choices that make sense to YOU even if it pisses off dear old mom.  It's called adulthood and it does have its bumps.. but it also had its rewards- like the satisfaction of independence.. 

    Good luck.  

    My darling daughter just turned 4 years old.
  • I'm a lurker here too, but I just wanted to say that you've gotten some great advice from the ladies here.  I remember reading here a while back that a MIL problem is usually a DH (or FI) problem in disguise.  I believe that wholeheartedly.  Also, not answering the phone can give you some temporary sanity.


  • I don't normally post on this board but I had to respond to your post. I haven't read the other replies so I'm sorry if this is repeating what has already been said.

    I was a similar situation. My ILs are super conservative and catholic. Before we were even engaged we decided to move in together because my lease was up and we knew it was only a matter of time before we got engaged and married. ILs FREAKED out! They had a meeting with DH and basically told him what a horrible person he was and that they were disappointed that he would be going to hell. Well we moved in together anyway and guess wasn't the end of the world. Nobody really cared, except them, and they got over it.

    My point is, if your DH stands up to them, they may get mad and threaten him with whatever they can, but they'll get over it. Let me tell you, it gets harder when you have kids. It helped us tremendously to stand our ground from the get-go so that they know WE make the decisions that are best for US, not them. As long as you give in to them, they will always think they can control you.

  • The two of you are creating a pattern of behaviour. That is "we must tip toe around what FI's Mum and Dad want because otherwise they might be upset and be mean to us"

    It's very hard to change a pattern of behaviour. It doesn't happen overnight.

    Moving away won't solve this.

    Having your own set of beliefs is not being disrespectful to your parents it is called being an adult. If your parents want to blab stuff to the rest of the family in the hopes of getting you shunned then that's their choice.

    You/your FI needs to say to them, "We're moving in together. Feel free to tell who you want. Here's my new address and phone number"?

    You're not teenagers you shouldn't be sneaking around to keep Mum and Dad happy.?

    Your future in-laws are bullies and unless you establish boundaries with them then they will continue to be so.?


    Elizabeth 3yrs old Jane 1yr old
  • Relax, everyone goes through this.  She is just afraid she will loose her baby boy.  And that is what is happening.  My husband's family all went through this, and after 2 years, they can't take it still that I take most of his time/attention.  They feel they deserve it.  It is definitely something that takes time to control, just doesn't happen over night.  We did decide to buy a house 30 mins away from both families, never thinking we have an issue of drop in/visitors.  And when we started to we dealt with it.  Started to setup boundaries.  I have him deal with it, it really isn't appropriate for you the outsider to be talking to the in-laws, since you will get into trouble more and it will make you look worse.  We put down ground rules, and we stick by them.  If I have an issue I go to him and he then talks to his family.  Though they don't always listen and I just want to *** slap some of them, getting into a heated debate with the IL's never works out well and you will loose.  My husband and I also, have very different beliefs then our famlies, we also have differnt values, we put out relationship and work, before anything.  Just talk to your husband about what is important to you guys and have him talk to his mom.  It will be seen as something he has an issue with and not so much as an annoyance of DIL.  Good luck!
Sign In or Register to comment.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards