Question: Dear Luise: My situation maybe an odd one. I married my husband in 08′ and he’s been through a lot with his previous marriage. My mother in law has shown, quite often, that she favors his brother, who is in the military. My husband has three brothers and a sister, so you can probably see how this panned out once all these children were adults. Usually, she will show favoritism more so on Facebook.com and in letters around Christmas time etc, but sometimes she will email me or message me about him without literally speaking of him. What I mean by that is, she will consistently talk about the military and send me links about the military and the problems the people in the military suffer from (as if I dont know). She will always tell me she is sending him cookies etc and brag about how proud she is. Thats all good and dandy to be proud of him, what ever. What gets me is that my husband is the only one in the family who hasnt used his parents, and who has carried a steady job for more then 9 yrs and going. It bothers me most that she does this bragging or constant reminding of his brother because while my husband was married to his prev. wife, his brother had an affair with her while she was still married to my husband. This was not the first time either that his brother has pulled this. I’ve heard first hand from his other siblings that they would usually never bring their girlfriends or significant other around him because he would do this every time, or at-least try because he would get a thrill out of “taking” someone from his siblings, to prove himself. Now I will elaborate with the proving himself issue. This man is 5’3″ maybe,and very very skinny, and so he suffers from what I call “little mans syndrome” where since they don’t have the looks or height they try making up for it in their ego and will do such acts to “prove” themselves. Anyway, back to topic, my mother in law does not know about these situations that he has pulled. (he kisses up to her like no other) My husband and I want nothing to do with his brother at this point. When his brother came home from Afghanistan, instead of calling us or his other siblings, he called my husbands EX-Wife and stayed with her, with my husbands daughter. What image does this show my step daughter that her uncle is staying with her fathers ex-wife, her mother, and isn’t telling his family that he is home…… So As you can see, being a daughter in law with one of their sons, NOT that one, this is extremely irritating that I am constantly being reminded by her about his significance. I, frankly, don’t find him significant anymore to anyone. Well things simmered down a bit over the summer and then all of a sudden, his brother, decided he wanted to get married because all of his brothers are now married and do not want to “party” or drink with him. So he married. Well he married a women who coincidentally looks IDENTICAL to my husbands ex-wife. And here is where it put me over the edge with my MIL. As soon as they married, my MIL announced to the world of how proud she is of her new daughter in law and son and she spoke of it for WEEKS. But the funny thing is, I as well as my SIL were not greeted with such enthusiasm. My MIL acted almost as if this new wife of his, was her only daughter in law. It definitely bothered both of us and our husbands. This morning I received an email from my MIL again saying “i found this article I thought you might find it interesting” and then attached the link. OH! WHAT A SURPRISE, its a link to how sears is one of the few companies who continue benefits and replaces pay for militants who had to go on tour etc and come back to their old job. What i dont understand is why she is not emailing this to her son, my husband, or to her NEW daughter in law. Why is she choosing to send this to me? This is not the first problem we’ve had with her. For the past two years until this last June/July my MIL didnt acknowledge me or our son, but she did consistantly ask me where she can send my step daughter presents and cards etc. Funny thing is at this point I had not shown any disrespect or unkind feelings toward her. Finally, I had the last straw because in June she kept asking me about my step daughter and nothing about our two year old son who has done NOTHING to be treating like an outcast. She “claimed” she forgot his birthday the prev. yr…. His FIRST birthday. This women has nine grandchildren, she remembers EVERY ONE of their birthdays, but my son who’s birthday is on the first of the month she somehow cannot remember it even though he was born just two yrs ago. I finally told my husband and I had tried telling him before but he didnt see her doing this and didnt believe me, until June when i finally told him every small detail and incident.He agreed, it was not right and he was def upset and mad with his mother. HE confronted her, she then said she is sorry she let her insecurities get the best of her because she feels i treat MY mother better then her. MY MOTHER RAISED ME. Im sorry but there is a difference between mother and mother in law. Theres boundaries. And How am i supposed to like someone equally to my mother when shes treated like she has? My mother has gone through hoops to see my son and love him. My mother skipped chemotherapy sesssions to see my son. This women didnt do ANYTHING. not one card, not one gift, not one congrats when he was born. She expects me to treat her equally? First of all, she doesnt know how i am with my mom because she has never met my mother and never seen her with me or our conversation since they all are over the phone. So she used it as an excuse. At this point I decided to stop sending her photos and treating her well. I ignored her completely. I decided well if she is going to accuse me of things and treat us this way regardless of the respect I’ve given, I will show her what she wants to accuse me of. So i did. Then she tried to email me to apologize. I still ignored her because we are adults. I dont accept EMAILED apologies. Sorry but when you act like a child and then demand respect, then you need to own up to your actions and apologize like an adult. So I ignored it until two weeks later she got the hint and called me to finally apologize. Since then it had been good until she started the stuff about her son favorite son to me. Ive had it and I do not know what to do anymore. I could really use some advice. Sorry for such a drawn out explanation, but I felt you needed to know the details to see where I was coming from. Thanks, T.
Answer: Dear T.: I would like to invite you to come over to my Web-forum at www.WiseWomenUnite.com I started it because I got so many questions about extended families. It seemed to me that what was needed was a supportive community not just a question and answer venue. That was almost three years ago. Lots of caring and sharing has happeed there and lots of healing in that amount of time.
The painful truth is your MIL is like she is. She may apologize but it won’t last long because she just isn’t going to change. What you need to is find a way to deal with her so that your own marriage will be a happy one.
I like the saying, “What you think of me is none of my business.” That’s mostly because when people act like that, it’s about them, not you. Hang in there. You deserve so much better but you are gong to have to give it to yourself. Blessings, Luise