Malicious Mother-in-Law

9 Feb

Letterbalm Mean MomDear LetterBalm: To all those wives who try to be nice to their mothers-in-law and can’t understand why they’re tortured all their married lives, well, let me tell you my tale. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my mother-in-law has been deliberately mean to me since my husband-to-be and I announced our engagement 13 years ago. She excludes me from her family gatherings and holiday parties, she promises our children will have fun play dates and trips then doesn’t follow through. She spreads lies about me that I’m not interested in the family – they’re never serious enough for any family member to challenge her. My husband, her only child, says I should just suck it up and ignore her.  I feel he should defend me, but after so many years, I have no interest in even spending time with her.  Advice?

–Tainted Daughter-in-Law

After all these years, has your husband once spoken up in your defense? Has he told his mother that continuously breaking promises to your children makes them resentful of her? Has he ever asked his mother why she dislikes you, lies about you and undermines your position in the family? Until your mother-in-law understands that you have every right to be a full member of her family, she will continue to exert her power.  As Ms. L.B. sees it, you have several options, all of which require you to gird your loins and be strong. You can decide to disregard her banishments and criticisms, show up with her son and grandkids, be unfailingly sweet and try to have a good time. (This will take considerable self-control.) Or, you can tell your husband that you will have limited contact with his mother. (You certainly are entitled, but you’ll continue to have no legitimate position in her family and you’ll stand alone.) Or, you can sit down with your husband and try to make him see what he must take on for your sake. (This is long overdue.) Do this calmly when he’s not distracted and the kids aren’t around:

Angelo, we’re going to have one more conversation about your mother. You say that I must suck up her bad behavior and soldier on. This is unacceptable. I want you to do something for me. I know your mom can be a handful, and you don’t want to provoke her. But can you ask her a couple of questions for me without telling her I put you up to this? I really want to know the answers. Can you ask her why she resents me and undermines my position in the family? Does she think I don’t love you, because you know that’s not true? Can you ask her if she realizes that her repeated promises to give our kids a special time and not do it is creating resentment? Darling, please tell her that I am with you and the children at her family events because, as your wife and mother of your children, I am deserving of respect. If you can’t do these things for me, it’s ignoring the problem, treating your wife with disrespect and causing me great pain. Can you help me? Will you be my champion?

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