Question: Dear Luise: I have an issue with my mother-in-law, and have, since just before we married 30 years ago. There is this love/hate from her to me. Always a contest as to who is more important to my husband, me or her, but done in a very smart way. Always reminds others there is nobody more important to a man than his mother. Told more than 5 times she will always be his mother, but a man can always get a new wife. Phoney compliments, but whatever I cook, later on, she made it much better. Makes it a point to get the seat next to him, even if it puts me in the back 40. Never asks my husband what WE are doing today, or what did you two do today……it’s always just him like I don’t exist. My husband has to play into her because he knows what makes her unhappy, and that’s to see her children, mostly him, go nowhere, do nothing, and especially have a good time with his wife, me! So unfortunately when we do something fun and she asks what HE did today, he will say……oh nothing. If something bugs her about other people in the family that she doesn’t like, and we don’t hate the too, she remains distant with us for sometimes up to 2 years. Constantly plays on all her kids for sympathy, not enough money when she lives in a million dollar home, and has reminded me several times that my husband is supposed to be the one to take care of her when she gets old….not the daughter or the other 3 sons, but my husband! She will lie to gain power and love and attention, but does it in a very slick way that makes them feel sorry for her. She Tells them 100 times during one conversation how much she loves them. Will make no friends because she has 5 kids and that’s all she needs, so everyone is on a guilt trip. Expects the most, gives the least, but brags what a good mother she is. During her divorced years, the kids would wear the same old clothes and fight for a meal, while she dressed herself to a “T”, and still brags about herself being a good mom. I lost my Mother 3 years ago and she has never in 3 years spoke one word of my sweet mom, who was loved by everyone. She knew my Mom for 45 years and frowned at the beautiful memorial I gave for her. What do I do with this woman? Have tried talking with her but she will not admit to anything and has said that she can do and say what she wants because she’s the mother. She never took care of her elderly mother or father, but expects everyone to look after her. It’s one of those kind of sweet talking, but mean hearted situations that can make you sick to your stomach. I think everyone in the family knows that she would love to see my husband single, thinking he would move in with her and be her servant and loving son. No regard for his happiness, just hers, but claims she loves him more than anyone else does in the world, which I guess includes me as the “anyone else”. I have resorted to keeping my distance with her, but am polite and kind to her when attending a family event, or my husband will go by himself to visit her each week. Then she tells everyone that I will never come to see her and what is wrong with me! Then when I started to go with my husband to make some peace, she reminds my husband how much she enjoys being with just him. My husband knows exactly how this is, but doesn’t like to say too much or talk about it because I think it makes him nervous. She knows my husband is the most sensitive out of all 5 kids, and she plays him like a professional musician would play their instrument. They are all in fear of guilt that one day she will die, so don’t rock the boat. She is a very healthy, energetic, self sufficient 87 year old woman whose mother lived to be 108. She brings distruption between her kids if she is mad at one, because she wants all the others to be mad at them too. Never tries to fix the problem, just wants to win. She has cussed me out, she has cussed out my husband, and she has insulted others as well, but then turns around when they all try to get her back in their life, and starts with all the I LOVE YOU’s. My own sweetheart of a Mom always told me that Love is not a word, it’s an action with no words at all. If nobody could talk, how would you know they love you?????? By their actions, right? Helpless in Florida!!!! Thank you. M.
Answer: Dear M.: Your MIL is selfish, self-centered and self-absorbed. You are not going to change any of that, she is not going to listen to you and your husband and his siblings are going to let it go. The future is going to be like the last 30 years. I see no possibility of any improvement. She rules the roost and no one is going to challenge her reign of terror.
I think you might benefit from coming over to my Web-forum where there are a lot of wise women in a wise community that are dealing is issues with adult children and extended families. Misery loves company. I’m serious. Come on over: www.Wise WomenUnite.com . Blessings, Luise