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MIL "I love you" issue

Let me start off by saying that I do not have a good relationship with my in-laws. I can't stand them. There are so many issues with the in laws...and MIL sits back and lets it all happen. She complains that she never gets to see us, yet she never wants to listen to DH when he tries to express his feeings over different family issues. MIL and FIL treat DH like a child, even though he's 28 years old, successful, married, and has lived on his own for years. They expect him to stop by their house at least once a week and they always have some task for him to do. They have no respect for him as an adult. MIL does not understand why we don't want to spend time with her. MIL says "I love you" but the feeling is not mutual. She has never said it directly to me; she says "I love you guys" to me and DH. Today, she left a voicemail on my phone and said "I love you and I miss you" at the end. I'm nervous about what to do when she eventually says "I love you" to my face.

Has anyone else dealt with his situation? How did you handle it?

Re: MIL "I love you" issue

  • People can expect/demand that you do a number of things - but in the end YOU have the power to decide what you will do. They probably don't respect you because you act in ways that don't garner respect. Why would they respect you if they say jump and you say how high?

    Why does your DH go over there every week and do their tasks?

  • Smile and say "thanks". 

    But beyond that... so, they "expect" your DH to stop by.  Does he?  If he does, then he's kind of saying to them "I'm your child and I'll do whatever you tell me to do".

    To a degree, he has to demand respect.  If he doesn't awnt to go over there every week, then he shouldn't go.  He needs to stand up for himself and say "Hey- this week isn't good for me". 

    If he wants to be treated as an adult, he kind of needs to act it!

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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  • Ditto ECB.

    She can expect all she wants, but he doesn't have to go over there. He's a big boy, he's allowed to have his own life and live it. 

  • DH does not go to his parents house every week. When he gets off of work, he wants to come straight home to see me. His parents don't understand that though. DH has a mind of his own, and he seems to be the only one in his family who is able to think for himself. He eventually gives in because his mom lays the guilt trip on him about not spending time with her. She seriously left a message one time saying, "I haven't heard from you in a while...just wondering what's going on..." and it had only been 2 days since he talked to her.

    His family has certain ideas on what a "family" should be and do. One time, DH tried to talk to his dad about how sometimes he I am not comfortable discussing certain topics that he (FIL) inquires about. FIL's response was, "Well, part of being a family is sharing information!" Part of being a family is respecting each other's privacy! My inlaws are so crazy.

  • Well, then your H needs to bolster himself up and call her out on her guilt trips. Every time she guilts him and he goes to visit, he's giving her some control over his life/behavior.

    The next time FIL asks you about something you're not willing to discuss, simply say "That is not something we want to discuss." and change the subject, if he persists end the conversation (by hanging up, walking away, leaving the house, etc.). 

  • image steve&heather:

    The next time FIL asks you about something you're not willing to discuss, simply say "That is not something we want to discuss." and change the subject, if he persists end the conversation (by hanging up, walking away, leaving the house, etc.). 


    It makes sense, but I guess I am afraid of causing drama. FIL is very socially awkward. I honestly think he has some sort of disorder. I've read a lot about Asperger's and I have been around a couple of children who have it. He fits a lot of the characteristics. He was never diagnosed with anything and the whole family lets him run their lives according to what is "right" or "comfortable" to him. He has no concept of personal boundaries. I try so hard not to cause any issues, but he's always telling me what he thinks I should be doing with my life. One time, before I was even engaged to DH, I was working in a daycare and FIL told me he had done some research(that's his thing...he researches everything!) on teaching jobs and salaries..He said, "...Not that you're in this type of position or anything...but when you are, you can let me know how much you make and I'll let you know where you fall in the statistics." I just said, "hmm..." He is so intrusive, but everyone just lets him do it! I don't know if I'm confident enough, being that DH and I have only been married for 6 months, to stand up to him!

    DH does stand up to him, but he's the only one.

  • I'm sorry, but this just seems silly. My MIL (who I get along with, but we're not extremely close) will tell me "love you!" to my face or on my phone all the time--it's just really NOT that big of a deal. Like someone else said, just smile and say Thanks, or heck, just say "love you too" and move along
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  • My mom "expected" me to visit once per week.  We had a lot of issues with it.  One day, she finally realized that I was an adult with my own life.  I do my best to see them once per month. 

    I told her that if she wanted to see me, she needed to come to my house because I couldn't make it to hers; she wasn't that interested in seeing me to drive to my house.  I started calling her after I ate dinner each night; due to work/school schedules, we typically eat at 8-8:30.  So I would call her at 9pm -- she was going to bed.  So I started calling her in the morning after SO left for work (5am) and before I started my day.  Guess what she didn't want to talk then either. 

    It wasn't that I wasn't giving her my time; I wasn't giving her my time when she wanted it.  We have a much better relationship now.  She now understands my busy schedule -- and with SS moving in, its only going to get busier.

    As for "I love you."  That's creepy.  My former MIL used to do that.  Just say "thanks" and move on.

  • Are we both married into the SAME family? JK :)  Your IL's sound scarily too similar to mine.  It was very comforting to read your post and to be able to relate.  The examples that you gave depicted a picture that was all too clear and familiar to me.  I posted a "Jekyl/Hyde" MIL post a while back, before DH and I were married.  I have even bought books on personality disorders just to grasp some understanding on them. 

    My advice to is very very important that you and DH stay on the same page about them at all times.  You are eachother's family now - everyone else is an extension.  You are not obligated to do tasks or chores for them, especially considering they're expected and not appreciated.  I was astounded at the types of things DH's parents used to ask him to do.  One time, they were having a garage sale at their house (note: DH hadn't lived there in 5+ years at this point) and expected him to come over to their house at 6am to help sort through things and set up.  DH simply replied, "I have to go to work".  Period.  No apologies and no excuses.  They still get upset when he declines, but he just moves on. 

     Distance is key.  You can't change people and control what they do or say, but you do have control how you react.  You have to "train" his parents to know that it won't be tolerated.  My IL's upset us both more than necessary that we just choose together to not see them.  If it is a holiday and we do see them, we keep the visits very short - no time for drama.  I have also tried to diffuse their behavior by having other people around when we do see them.  For instance, one time a few months ago, SIL was in town with her BF so we invited over the IL's as well as some of my family.  You mentioned that your FIL is socially awkward.  Mine are the same.  That said, they don't know what to do with themselves in social settings so they clam up and keep to's wonderful :) 

    I know what you're going through and it's no picnic.  Hopefully things will get easier for you!


  • I can't stand my in-laws and this was my actual, spur-of-the-moment fix for this very problem:

    Just as we're stepping out the door following what could only be the worst Christmas celebration ever for me, my MIL strokes my hair (like I'm six-years-old!) and says, "I just love you." I wanted to gag. Instead, I immediately, impulsively leaned in for a hug, with a brief, "oh!" and pulled away with a big, happy smile. She was none-the-wiser, only DH noticed how very out-of-character that was for me.

  • image ShannersLA:

    My advice to is very very important that you and DH stay on the same page about them at all times.  You are eachother's family now - everyone else is an extension.  You are not obligated to do tasks or chores for them, especially considering they're expected and not appreciated.   


    Thank you for this advice. I can definitely relate to your experiences as well! Just the other day, MIL casually mentioned to DH and I that FIL would be starting to build a deck in their back yard this past weekend. DH and I already had plans for the weekend, but we didn't say anything at the time because she didn't ask. Saturday rolls around and DH called his mother to tell her something completely non-related while we were on our way to a wedding. In the middle of the conversation she says, "So when will you be here?" DH said, "Uh..I won't be. We're going to a wedding." I just love how they never asked DH if he would be able to help or even if he wanted to. They just assumed that because MIL mentioned it, DH would be there to help. SO annoying. DH doesn't act on their every whim, which is great, but I can't convince him to actually stand up for himself. I guess it will take a while, but at least I know DH doesn't let them walk all over him. I will just have to let him get to that point on his own where he's ready to call them out on all their BS.

  • You are welcome! :)  I can't believe they would just assume you & DH would help them with a project (not to mention a HUGE one that would require multiple people) just because they mention it.  My IL's are EXACTLY the same way though.  My FIL invested in not one, not two..but THREE properties a few summers ago and without even consulting DH, assumed he would be over there day in and day out for free labor.  Amazing.  FIL was in way over his head and could not understand why my DH did not drop his life to cater to FIL's. 

    However, this does not work both ways - only in their favor.  For a while I was naive in thinking that if we did these tasks that they would do the same in return and we could somehow build a relationship with them.  Sadly, that did not happen.  DH has even tried talking to both of them and they just don't see it.  There comes a point when you realize that you cannot change them and they will always be this way.  DH likes to say "it is what it is".  I get more fired up about it, but then have to remind myself that it is his family and he will handle them how he sees fit.  My DH also has a hard time standing up for himself but what is important is that he stands up for you. 

    My MIL has no filter and is constantly making offensive comments and DH puts her in her place immediately.  Again, this usually does not stop her from future remarks, but at least she knows that she is going to get an earful back from him.  When it comes to a comment about him, he is so used to them from growing up with them that he can just block it out. 

    A good example...DH's younger brother (significant age gap) was graduating highschool and FIL & MIL had a party at their house.  They told DH they needed help preparing for the party and DH said he would come over exactly 1 hour prior to help set up some tables and chairs.  We have learned that we have to communicate precisely what we are willing to do and never leave things open-ended.  So, we kept our word and showed up at the time we said.  Upon arrival FIL would not even look in our direction when we walked in.  I tried to greet him twice and both times I was ignored.  SIL approached me and said that he was very angry with us both that we had not been there earlier.  Somewhere along the scheme of things, FIL & MIL created in their minds that we were going to come over earlier that morning and help them from the beginning.  There really is no winning with them.  I was incredibly upset and could not understand how a grown man could deliberately ignore his then FDIL when I had nothing to do with it - DH made the plans.  Just shows what kind of people they are.

    Anyways, bottom line - you have to do what is best for you and DH.  Don't worry about their opinions of you if you don't do something they want.  Chances are, your good deeds won't go unpunished and the favors won't be reciprocated.  Not even to mention, you will get verbally assaulted in the process.  Do not be vague when something is asked of the both of you and do not wait.  We have learned that the hard way.  The minute a task comes up, nip it in the bud.  Be clear, precise and short.  You don't have to give an excuse or apology and do not leave things open-ended.  Just say, point blank "We are busy".  Period.  If they further question or guilt trip, just repeat.  "We are busy".  You may have to drastically distance yourselves with them also to make this clear.  You do not have to treat their phone calls as time sensitive and leave visiting for holidays.  They are very hard personalities to deal with, so we have learned it's better not to deal with them at all when we can help it. 

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