MIL Question Again

Updated on May 13, 2016
C.B. asks from California, MD
27 answers


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answers from Houston on

Well my MIL is living with us right now. While temporary, its still hard. I LOVE and adore my MIL however, I do miss the privacy I had when it was hubby and I. She is living with us right now because she broke her right foot. She can't drive and lives 90 miles away from all of us. She will be with us a few more days and then she is going to Kentucky with us to watch her grandson (my baby boy) graduate from college. My BIL and SIL will have her for a couple of weeks because we are going on vacation.

She is looking to move over to Houston sometime this year which will make life so much easier.

My FIL passed suddenly in March. I would do anything for her. Its been so hard on the whole family.

I don't think you are wrong to not want to spend every waking moment with her; however, I think you need to remember she won't be here forever. Its a balancing act.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I agree Doris D. about this being an issue of an being an introvert. It is so uncomfortable being around someone who demands closeness and togetherness all the time....there is no recharge period for the introvert.

And, myself an introvert, I find it very invasive for someone to rearrange my house (my space). My MIL took this very personally.

Have you read the book "Quiet"? It is a great book and so informative about introverts, and it even talks about how to set boundaries with extroverts to try to keep the harmony.

Good luck

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

I read your earlier post. So this one makes more sense to me now.

You say she's wonderful but in your earlier post you say she totally oversteps. Rearranges your house. Plants your garden without asking.

I think you're leaving something out here. She irks you. Your husband not understanding irks you too.

Sometimes well meaning people cross boundaries - but they don't know they exist. I had counseling with my husband on how to clearly communicate boundaries with his family. It takes practice.

Figure out what you want. If you want to visit only once every week or two - specify this to your husband. If he wants her to visit more, then you take that time and go shopping, gym whatever.

Clearly communicate with your husband. That's key. Be mindful it's his mother. But that doesn't mean you have to see her as much as he does.

That's what I do with mine.

Honestly, I wouldn't want to see my mom twice a week either and I love her to bits. I'm an introvert and I find if we talk too often on the phone it gets tiring and we run out of things to say. So I hear you. Sometimes less is more.

You can be kind and say no. It's ok.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I have to be honest. I am the mom of an only son who is 13 and these MIL type questions always scare the ¢[email protected] out of me for the future. She is a wonderful person with a life of her own. I like to think I am a wonderful person. Her son seems to want to spend time with her. She is concerned for his health and also just invited the family for a nice weekend. I see these as all good things, yet her daughter in law would be happier seeing her twice a year? And she probably thinks you like spending time with her. It sounds like a lose/lose situation for her.

I am not saying you are a terrible person for feeling this way. I just see so many questions where daughters in law have such negative emotions toward their husband's mom. It makes me wonder how a MIL is supposed to act in order to have a good relationship with her son's wife and family?!

Please just figure out a nice way to tell her you don't want her around so she isn't in the dark.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Just keep in mind that one day YOU will be that MIL. Handle this the way you would want to be handled because, make no mistake, you will want to see your grown child as much as possible as well, especially if you are widowed. Take the time to really think and then do what feels right. But keep in mind, what goes around, comes around.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My MIL was over very, very often. And yes, it annoyed the hell out of me - especially since I had a young daughter and felt she invaded my space. Fast forward 5 years and she was in a nursing home for 3 and now dead two. And you know what - I miss her. I always knew that all she did was care for and about us. And now that is missing. So I am so glad that she spent too much time with us. It was great for my husband and even better for my daughter.

When I see you write that your "own parents live 500 miles away, I see them 2x a year and that is plenty," that makes me sad. I'm part of a large family and some of us see our parents often and some don't (we are all far away). Imagine if your kids say that about you in 20 years. Sounds terrible. Having regrets is terrible.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Some of this is how you were raised, being a military wife and being away from family, and how you like to keep your home.

You like to:
a. Have your privacy
b. MIL every week coming around (sometimes unannounced). Once a week might make it but twice a month would be better for you.

It might be time to schedule times for visits and timeshare. Perhaps a time or two without MIL at timeshare would be great as well.

I am a MIL who would like to spend time with my son and grandson and DIL. However, DIL has made it quite clear that we can come by "appointment" like scheduling you in on a calendar so that she can entertain us. As a retired military wife I bring my own entertainment with me and do not need to be entertained but that is how she was raised. I don't make the 5 hour drive very often because of her and it does hurt as I do love the scenery of Colorado.

So be careful of what you asked for. The fact that your husband is ill might have a bearing on why she is "here in our lives all the time," since she is a widow.

My son came home for Mother's Day as a surprise to me this year. We had a very pleasant time hubby and I.

Do have a talk and hash out a visitation schedule but don't be surprised if it does not work.

the other S.

PS When you married the man, you also married the family.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think this may be a case of perspective. I look at another parenting discussion site and many parents and couples there say they have in-laws who come to their homes (often uninvited) every single DAY, and who would find twice a week just fine. And some talk about how the in-laws have zero life of their own, no activities, no hobbies, no volunteering, and who depend utterly and totally on their adult children and grandchildren to provide 100 percent of their activity, all the time.

So to them, your situation would sound idyllic.

Granted, it's not idyllic to you. Can you step back from your emotions enough to try to think about why you're so wound up over her? For instance: How precisely is she "overinvolved" when she sees you those two times a week? Does she give advice on how to raise your kids (not sure if you have some), does she try to intervene in decisions about your husband's health issues, does she nitpick or make comments about your housekeeping or cooking, does she complain that you should see more of her, etc.?

If she does any of those things, it's your husband's job -- each person should deal with his or her OWN parents -- to talk to her kindly but firmly and say things like, "Mom, when we have health news to share we'll share it with you, so please stop asking; it increases my stress to be asked weekly about health details" and so on for each thing.

But if she doesn't do those types of things, can you pin down for yourself what is the exact issue, other than spending time with her weekly? You do mention that your own parents are far away and you see them "two times a year and that's plenty," so it sounds as if you arent' keen on anyone, your own parents or in-laws, seeing much of your and your husband. If your husband was raised differently and is fine spending time with her or other relatives, is it possible that he was raised with family around and takes for granted that folks will just see each other frequently, but your own upbringing was unhappy, or you just aren't close to your parents, then maybe his background and your background mean you don't understand each others' attitudes about spending time with parents. Neither attitude is wrong, and you can't help how you feel, but you can try to see another perspective.

And you can engage a lot of ways to see her but keep it more on your terms. If twice a week is too much, cut it to once; be too busy with an activity the next time she calls and wants to plan something. She wants to come over Wednesday? "Sorry, it was great seeing you Monday, but Wednesday I'm busy. Lt's meet next Tuesday instead." Say no, and then give an alternative that works for YOU so she doesn't feel cut out but also doesn't have a chance to say, "How about Thursday this week?" insteadl

You refer to her as "wonderful" and say you don't have a problem with her but seem to have a problem with spending time with her. You may just need more time alone than she does; she may be more social overall or the type who gets out and goes, goes, goes when you're not that way, but it doesn't make either of you right or wrong. She just may need some kind "No"s said to her. But take care you don't push her away or make her feel she's not wanted, especially if she is indeed a wonderful and involved person. She might be there for you someday if things get tough or your husband has health issues that mean you're swamped and need help. Just think about the things that you feel are wonderful about her and focus on those, along with learning to say no, which is easier to say when you do have other activities yourself.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I am an introvert as well and having MIL visit 2x a week would absolutely be viewed as an invasion of privacy. My home, my castle. I think what many people forget is that as adults, we do not owe our parents (or inlaws) anything. This includes how they spend their time and any emotional void they may be dealing with. What we do owe our parents (and inlaws) is proving to them that we are able to take care of ourselves, our spouses and our kids -- and being happy and safe. Having grandchildren is not a ticket for grandparents to overstep boundaries. It only builds resentment and issues down the road...for those that are lucky enough to have inlaws that are perfect and respectful, then hurray for you. But for many of us, the poster included, we need our space and time to enjoy our own family first. Make sure you and your husband go forward on the same page and set up boundaries.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

One day she will be gone and you will miss her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I'm wondering if you have hobbies, or volunteer anywhere. Maybe you could ask her if you could join her once a week, doing something she likes? Do you have a job outside the home, or are you a stay-at-home mom? Maybe you could get involved with something that takes you out of the home one day a week, and maybe that would be emotionally helpful to you. Volunteer at Navy Relief, or in a classroom, or hospital.

It sounds like your MIL is not unhelpful, but perhaps you view her helpfulness as intrusive, or offensive. If she washes your dishes or does your gardening, do you view that as "wow, I don't have to do the dishes tonight" or "I am perfectly capable of doing my own dishes, thank you. Are you implying my dishwashing is not good enough?" Evaluate how it makes you feel. How much of this is based on your relationship with your own mother?

And it sounds like you're really unhappy with your living situation. I get it. We've lived in some places that I hated and some that I loved (also Navy). It's just the way it is.

I just want to encourage you to be thankful for your blessings (a wonderful person who is the mother of your dh, your husband, his job, your home, your children). When you go to the timeshare on the Outerbanks, go for walks by yourself on the beach. Take time for yourself. Don't dwell on the negative stuff, try to meditate or sing a song to yourself, or pray or just enjoy the sand and the sea and the sky. Perhaps when your MIL comes over you feel obligated to entertain her and maybe you feel trapped. Try asking her to do something she's good at (cleaning the kids' closet, re-organizing the linen closet, figuring out how to store the toys more efficiently, making the garden look better) and just do what you need to do (scrapbook, shop, balance the checkbook, iron, whatever).

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I don't think it is "abnormal" to want less contact, but I would be oh so careful if you were going to try to change the parameters in this relationship. My mom (my husband's MIL) is here nearly every day. I see our 2nd oldest daughter and baby nearly every day. The men in all of our lives knew going in that they were going to be seeing ALOT of their MILs! I would be devastated if my daughter pushed me away because of her husband, same as my mom would be devastated if my husband forced me to. We all vacation together, hang out together, plan family functions together. Conversely, if MY MIL moved to our town, I would totally be OK with her here every day - and I can't stand the woman! Why? Because I know that it would be so important to my husband for her to be here as much as she wanted/needed to - especially if something happened to his dad.

I realize it is likely a bit much, but do you have to be home all the times she does come if you need a break? I will say one thing, I bet your kids are so close to gramma with all these visiting and vacations together . . . I know ours are WAY closer to my mom than hubby's because of the amount of time we all spend together.

This is a tough one! I hope you can find a way to make everyone as happy as possible - INCLUDING you :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I get it. When my ex and I moved from CA to AZ, my mom moved a month after us...and bought a house 2 streets over. Literally when she drove to her house, she would pass our street and look down to see who was over. Then she'd call me and ask who's red truck was out front. LOL A *little* too close.

What kind of visits is it? Where she pops over and hangs out for a few and leaves? Or comes over and sits around for a few hours and wants to talk? Do you have kids she wants to see all the time? I guess if it's a couple quick visits then that would kind of bother me. I would rather have her over every Sunday night for a "family" dinner and be done with it.

I think the key is with your husband. If he doesn't think it's a big deal and it's his mom then you will look like the bad guy. Maybe talk to him and see if you can get a reasonable schedule that will be easier for you. It's hard to say tho without knowing what exactly she does. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You answered the question yourself in your SWH when you said you're an introvert. I believe that you would feel this way about anyone who talked your ear off All. The. Time - not just your MIL. I have to think that the posters who think you are unusual either didn't know you are an introvert when they wrote their post, or they have no understanding of how an introvert feels about being around very talkative people.

Tell your husband to go to the Outer Banks with his mother. You stay home and doing something for YOU.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I don't think you are selfish at all, I get it. I am an introvert, too. For extroverts, being around people energizes them, for us, being around people drains us. So I can see why it's hard for you! Give yourself a break, and permission to feel this way, there's nothing wrong with that. So yes, it's totally normal- and trying to fight that will wear you out even more.

However, I also think you're kind of stuck. Most of all, if your husband doesn't mind (or even likes) having her around, and realizes you guys are all she has, I would hate for you to keep her away from him- when she's gone he will absolutely be bitter and resentful. There's no way around that.

If you come at it from a good place, I think you may feel a little more in control. Let her know that you are lucky to have a MIL who is such a wonderful person. Also let her know that you are an introvert and have a hard time when people are around too much, and that if you ever skip a visit, it's just because you need to recharge by yourself. She may try to understand you and your needs a little more, or she may not- but at least she'll know where you are coming from. And then do skip a visit or to and run errands or take advantage of that time! You'll feel a little more in charge, and she will appreciate your communication with her.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

i have a wonderful mil, i see her every week. (she watches the kids while i get groceries) i would loose my mind if it were not for the inlaws watching the kids once a week to give me some mommy alone time.
there are times when i see them more than just grocery day, and it does not bother me. but she knows her place and does not force us to do stuff we don't want to. they don't vacation with anyone though, if shes wanting to go out of town for a bit she goes and does not force anyone to go with (if ou want to go your welcome to but you ahve to pay your own way and help with gas if shes driving)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I love my MIL but two times a week? Yeah that's too much.
I guess you're kind of stuck, I mean it's kind of hard to say to someone "I don't want to see you so much."
Why not take off when you know she's coming over? Go to the gym or grocery shopping or go see a friend or whatever. She can visit with your husband and kids, you don't need to be there every time.
Not a perfect solution but it's something, good luck!

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answers from Norfolk on

Maybe you need to get some activities of your own going so visiting time does not always coincide with your MILs free times.

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answers from Wausau on

I wouldn't want to see my own mom 2x week for always, and I adore her. That's just too much together time for me and anyone that isn't my husband or kid.

Is your MIL dropping in uninvited/unplanned? Even my best friend doesn't do that because she knows I hate it. I like to plan my in-person socializing in advance, even with family. I was raised in a house where drop-ins were normal, as was my husband, but that doesn't work for me as an individual. I'm very honest with people about needing my space and alone time. I make it clear that this is what I *need* to function, and is not about who they are.

The key is to make your boundaries clear. MILs are not mind readers any more than husbands are, so you have to tell them what you need. If you haven't been speaking up for yourself, she may simply assume you're perfectly happy with how things are.

After 10 years of marriage it is going to be harder than had you done it first thing as a new bride, not just with your MIL but your husband too, since he is not on board. I think at this point you can only change how you participate and to what extent.

If you're home alone you don't have to answer the door. If you do answer the door, it is okay to say that it isn't a good time for a visit. If she comes over and your husband is home but you're busy he can entertain her. You're invited somewhere you don't always have to go. Etc.

If she tends to just walk in without knocking, keep your door locked during the day. If she has a key, then you will have to be more forthright and tell her it bothers you to be walked in on. If it doesn't stop then take the key back or change the locks.

I would not make any big changes while your husband is unwell. It is normal for a mom to want to hover about her sick child, so give it some time for his recovery.

I read your SWH. I would lose my sh*t if someone came into my house and rearranged my stuff. My pulse rises just thinking about it. Never mind husband saying anything, I'd have handled it the first time it happened. No one touches my stuff. My house is my domain.

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answers from Boston on

I read your prior question about her, and it seems that she rearranges and cleans your house, and that's a problem for you. I get that it sounds attractive at first, but there's an underlying issue with her "improving" your house with implies you aren't quite doing it well or aren't as organized as she is. She also doesn't have the stress of raising kids all day long so she may just have more energy for these "extras". Besides, some people just really like their privacy - I have a friend who had pretty strict divisions when her MIL had to move in due to a stroke, and they hired help so my friend had her own space. Maybe you're like that too. I don't think you're necessarily selfish so I don't know what some people are jumping on you for that - we don't know all the details.

Some people can be "wonderful" and still be pretty intense - is that what she's like? Do you just need time to breathe, and there she is on your doorstep? If you keep relocating due to military reassignments, maybe you have to work extra hard to make new friends every few years, and that takes its toll. Having to be home with MIL means you can't make a life as much as you would like.

If you don't have a super close relationship with your own parents, all this closeness may be more than you are used to or comfortable with. Your MIL thinks this is normal behavior for a MIL, and you don't.

It doesn't help that your husband isn't understanding. My husband's mother was very intense, constantly calling 2-3 times a day, expecting us to drop what we were doing. And my husband couldn't handle her, so he left a lot of it to me. It was a huge problem. If you have the added stress of your husband's health problems, which means more care taking and responsibility falls on you, you may not need one more person to have to work around.

My husband's ex wife was the type who hated his mother so much that she was always headed out the door when MIL arrived - that didn't work out well because there were never any other times together. I refused to treat my MIL like that and we had a good relationship. Still, she could be constant. But if you can exercise some control, either going out 1 day and thanking her profusely for babysitting, or if you can say the family is getting so much busier and "that day won't work" (suggested below), that might work as a compromise. As the kids get older, they just aren't going to be around all the time either - they will have activities and tons of homework. Maybe she can show up at their practices or recitals but not be lingering at the house - maybe that's easier if she comes and goes with her own car. I do think you have to try to get your husband on board for some support too.

Your MIL sounds like the type to fill every moment of her life in order to not feel so alone. It's probably keeping her younger in many ways, making her feel useful and needed. Happily many of those activities don't involve you - otherwise she would be wanting to be with you 24/7. So I would encourage her to keep doing her activities and letting her know how admirable she is and how vital she is to those groups and friends.

I'm not sure what you can do about this timeshare since it's coming up, but in the future you can say that the plans don't work for you - but again, your husband has to back you up at least some of the time or it will make you the "bad guy." I would hope that he could take your side and provide you with some support. Remember that children are learning from him.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I concur completely with Margie's response.

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answers from Washington DC on

I am thankful my husband loves my family. He drops everything when my parents need him and welcomes them in to our home for every major holiday and every single weekend for games and a meal. It wasn't always smooth, and I am so glad it is now.

A few weeks ago I asked him if he minded them coming over all the time, and he told me he absolutely did not, but would tell me if he needed a break.

He doesn't mind because he knows I am CLOSE to my whole family. My dad was in the Navy and I only had my 5 siblings and parents growing up. I cherish my relationships with them greatly - and he supports that.

I think you owe it to your kids to relax on this - they are lucky being military brats and getting to see so much of their family. I wish I had been able to have that growing up more than anyone can know.

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answers from Anchorage on

Just remember that to you she is your MIL, but that is his Mother, so while it is normal to not want to see your MIL every week, it is also perfectly normal to want to see your Mother that often. If my husband liked seeing his family that often I would accept it because, like others have said, one day she will be gone. Let him and the children have this time with her, every so often you can just have something else to do on those days.

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answers from Boston on

You sound like you want YOUR family all to yourself. Remember that SHE is HIS family.

Why not schedule a weekly class and ask her to babysit at her house while you are at that class.

She really would enjoy her son and his kids without you sometime.

You seem selfish.

ETA: "I was brought up to see extended family for holidays or important events. Every single week never happened and my family all lived one town over. "

Your husband was brought up to see family more often. So does he get a vote?

Again, I think you are being selfish to want it all your way.


answers from Santa Fe on

I think since you live near each other it IS normal to see her every week. She is a widow and lives near her son and I would expect she would do something with your family (like dinner) weekly. Are you an introvert? Would she understand if you told her that you are having a hard time with her coming over so often or would she take offense? Can you gently tell her that you know she is trying to help, but that it really bothers you when she cleans or rearranges things in your house? About half the time can you have your husband and kids spend time with her while you do something else? It does seem a little strange that you are happy seeing your parents only twice a year and that feels right to you. I'm not trying to criticize you because if my mom lived near me and I saw her twice a week it would be too much for me. But my mom can be very overbearing, she has no filter, she talks nonstop, etc. It's a hard situation you are in because it would be very easy to offend your MIL...I'd say start a conversation with your husband about this. And multiple small conversations with your MIL will be tricky though. Added: Definitely have positive, kind conversations with her letting her know you are an introvert ...and how hard it is for you. It will be hard for her to understand. She sounds like my mom...talks nonstop. It is very tiring for me when she visits or I visit her...I get exhausted. Last time the kids and I visited her one evening I was particularly tired after the kids went to bed so I went into my room to sit and read in quiet. She followed me and was puzzled why I was doing that. She sat on the bed and talked about whatever...till I finally told her I was going to bed. She really does not understand because she gets more energy by talking talking talking and being around other people.



answers from Orlando on

I don't think it should matter that you are an introvert. Your MIL probably already knows that. Based on what you wrote, your MIL sounds wonderful! I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you don't sit with her and listen to her talk all the time. Tell her you have things to do and let her hang out with your kids, if you have any (you didn't mention that). If you have kids, you practically have a built-in babysitter! Please view having your MIL locally to you as a blessing. She can be a big help to you and your kids, if any. She can also be a big help with your husband, since you said he has health issues.



answers from Phoenix on

Do you have to sit with her when she visits? Maybe do chores around her while she chats your ear off so you can at least get stuff done and feel productive and be distracted by this distraction. I feel for you.

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