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My Mother-in-Law Is WAY Worse Than Yours

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Guest blogger Mom de Plume: Does my mother-in-law win the "suckiest" award?

I'm freshly married, so the whole "mother-in-law from hell" thing is new to me. I used to think it was just a cliche perpetuated by sitcoms like "Everybody Loves Raymond."  I was wrong. They're real. And they suck.

Last week my mother-in-law came to stay with us for eight days. Eight. Long. Days.

The first night, I made dinner -- which mind you is a feat, considering by the end of the work day I'm usually so exhausted I just microwave something for my daughter while simultaneously eating a bowl of cereal over the sink. But I so wanted to make a good impression. I ended up making chicken and broccoli mixed with rice.

At dinner I could tell my MIL wasn't happy. She picked at her food as if I had served her a plate of live snails. It was tense. Suddenly, my daughter happily asked:

"Grammy, do you like dinner?

Oh no! Now 'grammy' is going to have to lie to my face. I cringed, waiting for the fake praise. It didn't come.

"No," my MIL  said directly to my wide-eyed two-year-old. "I don't like rice."

Are you kidding me?!  Did she think I couldn't hear her? I was sitting right there! Can you say "triangulation?" I knew she had passive-aggressive tendencies but this was really too much. (And for the record: Who doesn't like rice?!?)

Still not convinced she's the worst? Here's a bonus example:

At one point during the week she came up to me, held both my hands and tenderly said:

"I am SO glad you and my son got together because he's a terrible housekeeper too."

Two questions:
1) How am I supposed to react to this woman?
2) Am I living in a bad sitcom or are all MILs like this?

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23 comments so far | Post a comment now
birdsfly October 12, 2008, 9:55 AM

OMG she sounds like my Grandmother. She pulled all of that on my mom the first time she stayed over. Her bonus round was the family reunion: She came up to my sister and I with some obscure relative and introduced me as her “only real granddaughter” because my sister is my halfsister. MY MIL is is different breed of MIL from hell. She makes plans and ditches you at the last minute without calling (like oh, say my birthday dinner) but expects you to show up for everything. She is a pot head. I kid you not. And she wonders why I never let her babysit, she’d forget the kids somewhere!

Magaly Lohnes October 12, 2008, 10:22 AM

I, too, had the MIL from hell. She expected my husband would never marry and take care of her to her dying day. We “produced” (her words)the first grandchild but she was not pleased as she wanted grands from her other son. She lived with us the last 9 years of her life and still acted as if I had stolen her son. As a result, I determined to be a “stay-away” MIL when the time came. My son-in-law treats me like a queen and I visit them for 5 weeks every summer. BUT I cook and do chores for them and have a ball doing this. We have great times together and if I say I cannot come one year they go into a tizzy. On the other hand my son’s wife thinks I am pushy even though I do not go to their home without “permission” or when only her Mom is there(she watche our grandson). I have worked hard to Not be the MIL from hell, but my daughter-in-law (who was extremely sweet to me for the first three years) sees something that is not there. You see…there are two sides to every story.

MaryEllen October 12, 2008, 11:24 AM

My husband’s parents divorced when he was quite young. His mother never bothered with him much and in recent years moved very far away. However, his father never remarried hence I don’t have a MIL from hell but rather a FIL from hell. He is a horrible, nasty, little troll of a man. I have always tried to treat him kindly and give him every chance possible just to save the peace but it is getting so bad that I don’t think I can take it anymore. I invite him over for every holiday dinner…we usually have both of our families there. I have a small home but still manage to fit everyone in and cook for at least 15. My dinner is never good enough for him. He actually tells me what I am allowed to put in the food. The one year he blew into our house on Christmas day like a tornado and there in front of everyone said “You better not have put anything weird in the f**cking mashed potatoes!”. He comes to our home at least 3 times every single day uninvited just to complain and b*tch. And one of those visits is always at our dinner time. He recently wrote a check out to myself and my husband and did not want to put my name on it because I am “not family”. Hello? I have been married to his son for alomst 18 years!!! He tells me how to raise my children even now that they are teenagers. He has only ever bothered with my son and never my daughter because “she is a girl”. All of my kids friends refer to him as “Grandpa A**hole”. Every time I see him he yells and swears. He wants to know where my husband is at every second of the day and gets mad when I wont tell him and say only “he had things to do”. My husband and I have already caught him peeping in the windows at us…even while we were being intimate! He stalks our house when my husband isn’t home and spies on me. Then he runs to my husband to tell him if I had anyone there, if they were male or female and he also lets him know if I went out at all during the day. The one time he told my husband I was cheating on him because I had strange men coming in and out of the house while my husband wan’t home. Those strange men were my older brother, one of my brother’s friends and a good friend of my husband that we are both close too. The list goes on and on. This man has overstepped the boundries so many times in such unbelievable ways. It is getting to the point where I just can’t take it anymore. I have even entertained the thought of leaving my husband over this because I can’t fathom having to live like this for the rest of his father’s life. The point of my story….in-laws from hell aren’t just limited to mothers…they can be fathers too. :(

Anonymous October 12, 2008, 12:04 PM

You are not alone! I think the majority of women have tension with their mother-in-law. My MIL rarely has anything positive to say about me and has always tried to make me feel inadequate. I have learned not to let this get the best of me, because I realize her attitude has little to do with me as a person, and is rather a result of her own insecurities. I think the wrath of the MIL (as I like to call it) stems from the MIL feeling replaced. They have a hard time seeing another woman in their son’s life. That is what MIL-DIL tension really boils down to. Just remember, she may never treat you as a “real” daughter, but you will probably never treat her as a “real” mother, either. It goes both ways. As Magaly said, there really are 2 sides to every story.

Uly October 12, 2008, 1:52 PM

Well, which scenario would you have preferred? You were “cringing” thinking of listening to her lying to your face, but then when she was honest - and she didn’t specifically blame you either, just said she didn’t like rice - you don’t like that either.

A.A.B October 12, 2008, 7:07 PM

She’s not being passive aggressive. Her granddaughter asked a question, and she answered her honestly. The way to then deal with it is apologize for accidentally serving her something she didn’t like, and ask her to give you tips on other things she doesn’t like. The other thing is just.. buh. Ask her what that means, and then tell her honestly that she hurt your feelings.

AuntBaaa October 12, 2008, 8:55 PM

I hate to break it to all of you, but I have you all beat, hands down. Ten years ago, my MIL was constantly broke, couldn’t keep a job and could no longer make her house payments. My husband bought the house from her (after she begged him to and under EXTREME duress), took on her and all her crippling debt when he could ill afford it. Last year, she decided, out of the blue, that he had in fact “stolen” her house and her equity and sued us for the house. We have blown through thousands of dollars fighting her legal aid appointed, high-price attorney. We are now bankrupt, my husband no longer has a family. My FIL (they divorced years ago) is basically drinking himself to death due to the actions of his ex. My husband has lost all contact with his gutless brother. We own our own business, have two small children (who thankfully will never know my husband’s family). Be happy if the worst thing your MIL does is complain about not liking rice, you could have it so much worse.

birdsfly October 13, 2008, 10:19 AM

Oh! that sounds like my grandmother again. My uncle was going to sell her house out from under her and leave her homeless so my father bought her house and let her stay there for the next 20 something years. At some point she decided that he had paid less then the going rate for the house and had cheated my uncle(FYI my uncle the child molester, but that’s a different “my dillusional grandmother” story). So she always gave dad hell about it. Gotta love gratitude.

Cindy October 13, 2008, 10:43 AM

Well, I have to say I have to live with my MIL and I deal with her every single day trying to raise my children and of course telling me what to do every single day and since I am a stay at home mom she expects everything perfect when she gets home… My husband is her youngest son and I know she has not been with any man and probably never will be.
She calls my house or my husbands phone every single day @ 6 p.m. to find out If I am making something for dinner so she wont have to stop and buy herself any food.
Recently my son who is 8 years old had mock voting at school to teach them what it means to vote and he told his nana that he was voting for Obama at school. She told my son that Obama murders babies and he is not a good person in my sons words. I got upset and told her that the school is teaching my son about voting and that she should not tell him that Obama murders babies just because he believes a woman should have a right to get an abortion if she so chooses. That was a heated discussion. My son told me he is still voting for Obama at school.. I want my children to make their own choices and she always interferes. I am happy that they always come to me and talk to me about what nana told them and any other issues they might have. They are great boys and I know she raised two good sons but they are not perfect and will make mistakes just like mine will too. I know there are two sides to each story but when it comes to raising your family she had her turn made her mistakes now let me raise my family. I have let her know that but of course MIL dont listen.. I have to deal with it because we all share the same roof and I am not employed so it is difficult budget wise. I am looking forward to having a wonderful life with my family eventhough she interferes….

Linney5680 October 13, 2008, 11:11 AM

mine is alittle of a pain in the butt, but not too bad. she just makes little comments everyonce in a while about not seeing the kids as much as she’d like, i just tell her all she has to do its call and i’ll be more than happy to get them to her…..and of course she NEVER calls and asks, and then the next time we see her she’ll make the comment again. other than that she is great. i think it has something to do with the mom’s of boys (i am of 2 boys). every MIL to men that i know is just wonderful….but the MIL to women, everyone one of them has problems with them. i just try to keep in mind that my MIL raised my husband to be the wonderful man that he is, and for that, i will forever be grateful. i think they feel that no women can take care of them the way they did. you may not realize it, but this may be you one day!!! i hope i will never be that way!!!

lucky October 13, 2008, 11:14 AM

Would you all hate me if I told you that my mother-in-law is really nice? I don’t see my own mom that much, but my MIL lives close by and spends time with our kids when she is not at work. After reading all of these stories, I think I should go buy her some flowers.

Natalie October 13, 2008, 11:23 AM

Eh, my MIL is just a big pain in the ass. She complains to my husband that she never gets to see the kids, and yet she doesn’t want to see me. Umm…hello! I’m their MOTHER stupid. And for the first few years we were married, she repeatedly tried to break us up (almost succeeding a handful of times). I swear, MIL’s are just nutso!

Suzanne Eller October 13, 2008, 2:09 PM

I think there are MILs that are much worse.

She did stay too long. She did say she didn’t like rice, which was an honest answer. She did tenderly hold your hand and say something she thought was good, though of course, it was the wrong thing to say. But MIL from Hell? It doesn’t sound like it.

It sounds more like a relationship that needs better communication. Can your husband step in here? He can ask what she likes to eat. He can suggest a time period that is better for all of you. But also maybe you could extend a little grace as you work toward a stronger friendship/relationship.

Suzanne Eller October 13, 2008, 2:13 PM

One more comment. I’m a mom to three and I love them like my own. I know what we have is rare and I work hard to be not just a MIL, mom, but family. I’m not discounting the terrible relationships that you can have with an in-law. I realize now, more than ever, that I have the ability to affect my children and their family in a negative or positive way. I don’t take that lightly.
But I’m also grateful for how they love us back, and call to ask to spend time, or want us to come hang out. They work on it, too.
I wonder if this relationship needs work on both sides so that it can be healthy and good.

seen worse October 13, 2008, 3:45 PM

I have seen worse. Yours is nothing to fret about. You haven’t seen anything yet.

Karla Akins October 13, 2008, 3:50 PM

I love my mother-in-law.

Lucky3 October 13, 2008, 4:19 PM

I am so glad that I am not the only one with in laws that are A-holes! I hate how they pretend to like me, but they really don’t. Especially my husband’s sisters! We need to blog on in law siblings-they (sisters) are such WITCHES!!!! They are so fake and many times I have caught them talking bad about me but I choose not to say anything because when I confront them, they denie it and say that they would NEVER say anything bad about me because they like me. Whatever! When we go over to the oldest sisters home for family parties, the 3 sisters treat me like such an outsider! They just say hi to me and then that is all. I have been married for 7 years and have 3 kids and yet, they still treat me like an outsider. One of the sisters really makes it a point to mention how she doesn’t like talking to my husband about “family things” because he then shares it with me.
I have tried for 6 yrs to get them to like me, but I have caught them talking about me for far too long that now, I just gave up on being nice to them. I dont call them anymore and when we go over for family events, I just stick to my kids and let my husband have time with his family. I stay away from them as much as possible.
I am so glad I have had the chance to vent my stress with my in law sisters.

Kelley October 13, 2008, 6:40 PM

My MIL thinks that my husband had an affair with me while he was married to his previous wife. Completely untrue.

August 2006, my dad was in ICU from major back surgery due to the stage four renal cell caricnoma. (If you look that up, it’s kidney cancer and it’s one if the deadliest cancers known.) While he was there, my MIL called and left me a message stating “If your daddy dies, it will be your fault because you are taking J****e’s daddy away from her.” This was in reference to my husband’s young daughter. I have never been so hurt in my life.

My dad passed away in November 07.

Needless to say, I do not go around that hateful woman and do not have plans to in the future. The funny thing is, my husband does not go around much either.

Red October 13, 2008, 10:59 PM

I would say to her, ‘Of course he didnt marry me for my cleaning skills. We have hot and crazy sex and thats why he fell in love with me.’

I am glad i dont have a MIL like that, but mine has done some pretty bad things, too, that just keep making things even worse. She has asked why i was so upset about the passing of my mom (this was within 6 months of losing my mom) because I hated her. WHAT? Thrown out food i have prepaired for family functions just because they were too fattening and no one would eat them. Blatenly igores me at family functions and talks about me right infront of me. Favors one of my children over the other and makes it clear. Screamed at me at my sons 2nd birthday party because i asked her to wear socks. (4 inch heels are not really appropriate for a gymboree party)…the list goes on.

But really, i feel for anyone that has a MIL that they dont get along.

soccermomj October 17, 2008, 11:38 AM

Trying to escape a difficult childhood, I had a teen-aged starter marriage than ended badly. My MIL and FIL were awful! They were racist, religious bigots that blamed me for how badly they screwed up their son. I worked, he didn’t. He got arrested repeatedly, he beat me…and It was always my fault. When my FIL found out I had enrolled in school, he got in my face and screamed I was to stupid to go. When I finally moved away to go to college, they to told everyone in our small town I left to get an abortion.

Does it make me a bad person because it gives me great pleasure to know that they are all still poor, broke, and stupid and I am educated, affluent and married to a great guy with a very nice mother?

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