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Advice Needed on MIL / DH Issue

I have an issue with how my DH reacts to me when I am upset / angry with things my MIL does that irritate me. He says he has my back and will allow me to vent, however, in the course of my venting, he eventually starts to say things that come off to me as him defending his mom and taking her side. Then we end up in an argument about that. Most of the things she does / says that irritate me are small and passive aggressive, so most get brushed off because it would be petty of me to try and address every issue. However, it eventually gets to a point where the small things add up or a larger transgression occurs.  My husband gives me the green light to vent, then we end up in the situation previously described. 

A recent example is: We have a goldfish in a small fish tank on our kitchen counter. The fish has grown much larger over the months we've had him and we plan on moving him to a larger tank in the near future (within the next week or so). MIL was aware of this, as we had mentioned it to her in passing once or twice before. Due to the upcoming move, we haven't cleaned his current tank recently since we plan on throwing it out after the move. My in-laws usually babysit at our house on Tuesday evenings for a few hours so they can have time with our toddler and my husband and I can enjoy a night out. We don't always feel like going out / doing anything, but we know they really look forward to their time with our child, so we usually find something to do. Anyways, this past Tuesday, we come home from dinner and a movie to see our fish in a brand new, smaller tank that MIL had and set up for him while we were out of the house. Conveniently, she had gone home already and my FIL said she had set the new tank up and taken our old tank home with her to clean it. My husband and I told FIL of our plans for a larger tank and to tell MIL not to be offended when we give her back the small tank.

After FIL left, my husband (who was not happy with the situation either) gave me the green light to vent. I told him that I didn't appreciate MIL coming into our house and changing anything, and was especially irritated that she deliberately did it while we were out of the house without speaking to us first. No matter how good her intentions may have been, it was a rude and inconsiderate thing to do it behind our backs.  She may have even endangered the fish's life since our sink has a water filtration system spigot (ok for the fish) and a water softener hooked to our tap water spigot (bad for the fish). Not sure which one she used, but we'll see how the fish does.

Anyways, during my venting, my husband eventually starts saying things in defense of his mom and trying to tell me it's not that big of a deal. I told him that if he's going to allow me to vent to him about the situation, he should either be venting along with me, or saying things to make me feel better and make me feel he's on my side. I tried to explain to him that venting gets the anger out so that a person can cool down and then handle the situation in a less reactive, anger-driven way. He just got mad at me that I was getting upset with him about the way he was reacting. How can I get him to understand that venting is an activity that involves saying things out of anger / frustration and expecting the other person to just agree to make you feel better? That once the venting is over, I'm not really going to take action on things I said like, "I don't want your mom in our house again." or "I just want to throw that tiny fish tank in the trash."?                

Re: Advice Needed on MIL / DH Issue

  • VORVOR member
    Eighth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    edited August 2014
    You need to find someone else to out and out VENT to.  You really do.  While your DH gets annoyed w/ what his mom does, he clearly doesn't want to hear you "vent" about it. 

    Put yourself in his shoes- what if he said this stuff about your mom?  No matter how justified - how do you really think you'd feel?

    My ILs are very frustrating and I vent alot.  DH is VERY much on the same page as me and he has the same vents.  99% of the time- it's not an issue.  But I've still learned over the years to temper the true level of my vents.  And part of this is based on when we're frustrated w/ MY parents.   My parents are a lot easier to deal with, but still - we have our issues.  I bite my tongue when he vents because I know how I am about his parents, but I do start to feel a little "HEY- watch what you say" when he vents about my parents. 

    No matter how much he gets it and is annoyed too- CLEARLY when it comes down to it, find someone else to vent to.  He doesn't want to hear it.  (Just realized I didn't finish that sentence before.  Doh.).
  • True. We've been married 4 years now, and most of our biggest fights have been related to his mom. Along the way, I realized what you mentioned; no one wants to hear a bunch of bad stuff about their mom.  So I cut it out, vent to others, and only bring up important issues (like if something she's doing involves the well-being of our child).  New lesson learned now: even if DH gives me the go-ahead to vent to him, I need to still keep it in check.    
  • VORVOR member
    Eighth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    To what you were upset about  - if what you wrote is what you said to your DH, in the future I would suggest doing something more along the lines of (since you say he does also get frustrated w/ this mom too)  taking a deep breath, look directly at him and say "I think you know that this bothers me.  All I'm going to say is that I don't appreciate her making this decision about our home w/o talking to us.", then move on to something else.

    If he actually says "no, go ahead, vent.  What else do you want to say?", just say "I appreciate that.  But I've said all I'm going to say.  You know what the issue is.".

    Then go into the bathroom and do the silent scream, write down what's on your mind, go email your best friend.... whatever it is that will allow you to get out some of the immediate frustration. 

    Then when you can, call up your friend (or whoever else you can vent to) and really let it all out! 
  • As someone much advanced in years from that kind of situation, I'd just say:  just try to get over it.  There are so many more important things in life.   My MIL and FIL are both gone, and they did some doozies.  Like paint our door sills with the orange paint they happened to find in the garage. Show up on Saturday a.m. w/ no notice and aunt in tow (we lived 45 miles apart).  My FIL had my husband paint the outside trim of some windows white, when the rest of our house and windows were natural wood (fortunately it was in the back of the house).  (Yeah, my husband was brain dead at the time).  But from my much older perspective, it's not a big deal.  Just LAUGH!  

    "How silly of her to waste all that time and money on bothering with the fish"

    And vow to be a better mother in law!
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