Question: Dear Luise, Thank you for this website! I have a MIL that I don’t like. She lives over seas but comes to visit once a year. Her visits used last three months. During these visits, she would sit on my sofa all day and wanted to go everywhere me and my husband went (to the beach, shopping, out to eat, ect). I’m a SAHM so I was the one left in the house with her. I talked to my husband and he told me he didn’t want his mom staying for such long visits, but didn’t want to hurt her feelings. He decided though to tell her instead of visiting for three months two weeks was enough (in my culture that’s more than enough!) My MIL now says that she wants to move to our city. My husband doesn’t want that nor do I. I think my MIL has a major problem with letting go, and as a result I’ve suffered for it. I think she blames me that she is not as close with her son as she was when he was single. Mind you, he loves her is a wonderful son, but he’s 35 with his on family now. Is it wrong to want to distance myself from her? I’m not trying to distance her son from her, IT’S JUST THAT I don’t care to be around her. She’s too needy. I also don’t like the drama, the mean looks, and the competitiveness that she has to offer me. D.
Answer: Dear D.: It’s hard on everyone when a MIL thinks it’s a package deal and she goes with the son to some extent when he marries; that she gets to vote and has the right to offer her input.
You have established a new family unit and you are in charge of making the rules and establishing the customs. You are adults. By being afraid you will hurt her feelings you are letting her control you. She is using your kindness against you. It’s called manipulation.
If you set limits and stick by them and she gets her feelings hurt it is because she has unrealistic expectations about her role in your lives. She needs to know that you are in charge of your home like she was in charge of hers when she was a young adult. And if for some reason that wasn’t the case, it’s not your fault, it’s hers. Your home is your domain. She needs to know that and get a life. That’s also her job, not yours, and if she fails to do that, the consequences are hers to face, not yours. You have been shouldering responsibilities that she needs to accept and address.
I would like to suggest that you come over to my Web-forum at: www.WiseWomenUnite.com . I think you will get additional support there that will help you. I established it for women who have issues involving extended families. I hope to see you there. Blessings, Luise