Question: Dear Luise: I have been trying very hard to get along with my mother-in-law but it’s pretty much a lost cause, even when she’s well. Right now she’s in a rehabilitation center recovering from a fracture. I have gone to see her every week and let me tell you, that’s a real downer! Then last week things piled up and I didn’t make it. This week she told me I could just leave. She didn’t want me there if I didn’t care enough to come “regularly”. I honestly think she keeps track of who goes to see her and how long they stay. My husband is pretty mad at her and says it’s up to me where it goes from here. Got any ideas? Mandy
Answer: Dear Mandy: What a great guy! She did one thing right!
It sounds to me like she’s spoiling for a fight that she can blame on you. Why not cut her off at the pass by calling her before you’re ready to go over to visit, and asking if she’d like company? If she starts in on you, just say that it’s up to her, you’re fine one way or the other.
Your mother-in-law is “trouble looking for a place to happen”. If you let her goad you, you are playing right into her hand. Conversely, if you can manage to not react to her childish posturing, she may become perplexed and bored with you.
Vendettas are hard to manage and cumbersome at group gatherings. Best not to get into one with her. Try to think of a way to co-exist with her. Something that often works really well is to appear not to notice that she’s mad at you or appear to fail to remember that you are in disfavor. Playing dumb can be fun. I think that’s what would cause you the least wear and tear.
You can make kind of a game out of it…silently wondering what she’ll come up with next and how you will defuse it. Anyone who behaves like she does, fracture or not, is a real witch with a capital “B”. Outsmart her, and have a good laugh. Blessings, Luise