Moms and Maids

New MIL Issue - Can't Find Help

My FMIL is the only parent still alive between my fiancé and myself.  There are no grandparents either as he is 35, I am 29, and both of our sets of parents had us a later in life.  Just for the sake of background info, my dad passed 11 years ago when I was 18, my mom passed 8 years ago when I was 21, but his dad passed in his sleep this past May (as in a little over three months ago).  So again I reiterate FMIL is the ONLY parent either of us has left.

From the moment I met FMIL over two years ago, we became fast friends.  Since I don't really have much family of my own and his is huge, I was just kind of quickly absorbed into the group and welcomed with open arms.  That is until we got engaged.  She went with my fiancé to pick out my ring.  She has been a "pinner" on my private wedding Pinterest board for a few months now.  I have openly wanted her to be involved in any and every way she would like to be.  The only clue there may be trouble eventually was when my fiancé and I started talking about rings and whatnot almost a year ago, she did get upset about how expensive my dream ring would cost.  He shared that cost information with her, not me.  I don't feel the need to justify my ring to anyone, but for the sake of full disclosure, my fiancé had my grandmother's diamond solitaire reset in a gorgeous halo setting.  The cost seemed very reasonable to him, particularly since he was handed the most meaningful one karat center stone in entire world in my eyes for free.  She still "insisted" I lower my expectations of her son.  He worked to save and pay for it in full, and he couldn't propose as quickly as he would have liked to but everything ended up working out beautifully.  She never mentioned it again.  Now fast forward to this year...

She seemed genuinely happy when we came to town to tell everyone we were engaged.  Then she started in with the "so when are y'all going to go to the courthouse" comments.  She's said over and over again that we aren't young, and it is irresponsible for us to spend such an extravagant amount on a wedding ($10,000-ish).  My fiancé is a homeowner, his car is paid off, and he has a very good job.  And the kicker is SHE IS NOT PAYING FOR ANYTHING!  I never expected her to though because she is older, on a fixed income, and has made her wishes known that she doesn't agree with our decision not to do a courthouse or backyard potluck wedding.

Fast forward to a week ago... up until this point, although she hasn't agreed with our financial decisions (we never even talked money with her in the first place because we knew it was a point of disagreement), she has at least been extremely interested in looking at venues, helping out with DIY projects as she is crafty and can sew very well - hello, custom table runners and other fun projects!  All of a sudden she said "I refuse to be involved".  I think I was more heart broken than my fiancé.  She has grown to be sort of a mother figure, and I know this is something she has enjoyed doing in the past with other family members.  I almost feel like not only is she adding insult to injury by her behavior, but that I am losing another adult figure in my life extremely unexpectedly.  She keeps saying that this wedding is going to drive a wedge between her son and myself.  And that I've done irreparable damage to her and our relationship moving forward.  Her broken record statement about me is that I'm just too sensitive, and she just can't say anything to me without me getting offended.  (What offended me was a forwarded email that included racial slurs, and as a teacher, I simply can't have my name or email address attached to that type of material regardless of how funny she or distasteful I thought the joke was.)  She has since said she has lost respect for me because of my political views and my lack of a sense of humor.  She has made very rude comments about "well I don't know how your mother raised you, but..." and comments about how I raised my sister who was 12 when my mom died who is now a senior in college with a double major, a minor, two internships, and a job all after losing both parents before she even hit 13.  This is only a sampling of the venom she has been spewing at my fiancé and me pretty much non-stop for about 10 or so days now.

So like I said now the broken record is that she just can't say anything around me so she wants nothing to do with any of this.  We don't know if that means she doesn't want to be involved with the planning or she's upping the ante to hint that she isn't planning on attending the wedding.  This has been just as perplexing to my fiancé as it has to me.  She literally flipped a switch when I asked to be removed from the political/racially charged email forwards.  This is also not the first time she has used this "line" about a significant other of my fiancé's being too sensitive which starts the passive aggressive victim act and ends up with her even angrier at mebut even more in love with her son.  He was engaged before, and she said the same thing about the other girl, and she literally drove her away.

My fiancé and I have sat down and set boundaries for our relationship and our slowly but steadily forming immediate family of two and establish a very clear line that she is not to cross when talking to me or about me.  His issue isn't that he is siding with his mom or that he is unwilling to stand-up for me and us.  She just always plays the victim and gets very emotionally manipulative and dramatic and at that point he is literally is at a loss.  She ends up in a melt-down over the loss of Jonathan's dad, and who can argue with that?!  I would say it was just grief, but like I said, she did this to the girl before me.

We spent about 3 hours today talking through things and came up with a game plan.  He is going to try to talk to her in person on Tuesday night without me there because I seem to be her trigger.  He called her this evening to make sure she didn't have plans because and asked if she would carve out some time to talk on Tuesday.  She was insistent he tell her what about, and she again made rude comments about me and was hesitant to even meet him for dinner.  If Tuesday doesn't go well, I'm not sure what we are going to do.  I'm not welcome at his family Labor Day event this weekend which is being held at her house, but because we didn't go for July 4th this year, he promised he would be there to help close out the summer.  This is the first time since my sister left for college that I've literally had nowhere I could turn for a holiday weekend, but I would never ask him not to go to a family function.  And honestly if he doesn't go, it will only make the situation worse which is the LAST thing I want to have happen.

I know no matter how flat you make a pancake, it always has two sides - anybody else love Dr. Phil as much as I do? ... but honestly I don't know what in the world I am doing wrong here.  Should I just let it lie and give up on having the only living parent involved which really hurts my feelings for both me and my fiancé?  Should we just wait it out and give it more time?  I can't sleep, and my anxiety is through the roof over all of this.  Please help!

***Gracious me, this is long.  So sorry, and if you got this far, thanks for sticking with me until the end. : )  I feel like there are just a lot of layers behind the situation, and I am trying to be fair to all parties involved.***

Re: New MIL Issue - Can't Find Help

  • I have said this many times before, STOP, take a DEEP breath, let it go.  This mom is losing her place as the most important woman in her son's life, soon after losing her husband.  The only way she knows how to get at you is through the wedding.  You are a telephone and she knows how to push your buttons.  At this point, another loss you face is the loss of a mother figure standing by your side through wedding planning.  Honestly, you did not deserve this at all. Take pleasure in the fact that you seem to have quite a wonderful man. He stood up and saved for the ring he wanted you to have and is going to sit down with his mother and set up some boundaries.  Please don't think she is going to respect any of that.  Boundary changes can take decades.  After his talk with her, she is going to find a new way to play the victim.  You and your FI can only get sucked in if you allow it.  Many decades ago, I married the youngest son of a recent widow.  Needless to say, she was "difficult" for all of our wedding planning.  What she so successfully did to herself was 1-alienate herself from her son and 2-miss out on the live of some really wonderful grandchildren.  Her choices, not ours.
    bahamabride2015erinlin25
  • I can't really help you with much, but my father died two years ago and my mother is having a hard time with some of the wedding planning.

    I know you said your FMIL was like this before, and I certainly believe you, but I have to think that her recent widowhood is exacerbating her tendencies toward playing the victim.

    Good luck. Stand your ground. I'm glad your FI is so supportive.
  • If he does not stick up to her now about labor day it will be the start of many lonely holidays!  He has to tell her you come together as a unit, if not what about if you have children?  Which parent do they get to spend holidays with if you can't celebrate together?  You can't give an inch with somebody like that, the only thing that may work is for him to be very firm with her, and tell her you come together or neither will be attending events. 
    djfivenine[Deleted User]
  • ecotime47ecotime47 member
    First Answer First Anniversary First Comment
    edited August 2014
    I'm so sorry you're going through this OP. She clearly has a lot of emotional pain going on in her heart right now and she just doesn't know how to deal with it all. Good for you for taking the high road. Your fiancée talking with her alone is absolutely the right move. He sounds like he is a man of great patience and reason. I'm sure their meeting will go well. Good luck to you all!
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    eshaney said:
    My FMIL is the only parent still alive between my fiancé and myself.  There are no grandparents either as he is 35, I am 29, and both of our sets of parents had us a later in life.  Just for the sake of background info, my dad passed 11 years ago when I was 18, my mom passed 8 years ago when I was 21, but his dad passed in his sleep this past May (as in a little over three months ago).  So again I reiterate FMIL is the ONLY parent either of us has left.

    From the moment I met FMIL over two years ago, we became fast friends.  Since I don't really have much family of my own and his is huge, I was just kind of quickly absorbed into the group and welcomed with open arms.  That is until we got engaged.  She went with my fiancé to pick out my ring.  She has been a "pinner" on my private wedding Pinterest board for a few months now.  I have openly wanted her to be involved in any and every way she would like to be.  The only clue there may be trouble eventually was when my fiancé and I started talking about rings and whatnot almost a year ago, she did get upset about how expensive my dream ring would cost.  He shared that cost information with her, not me.  I don't feel the need to justify my ring to anyone, but for the sake of full disclosure, my fiancé had my grandmother's diamond solitaire reset in a gorgeous halo setting.  The cost seemed very reasonable to him, particularly since he was handed the most meaningful one karat center stone in entire world in my eyes for free.  She still "insisted" I lower my expectations of her son.  He worked to save and pay for it in full, and he couldn't propose as quickly as he would have liked to but everything ended up working out beautifully.  She never mentioned it again.  Now fast forward to this year...

    She seemed genuinely happy when we came to town to tell everyone we were engaged.  Then she started in with the "so when are y'all going to go to the courthouse" comments.  She's said over and over again that we aren't young, and it is irresponsible for us to spend such an extravagant amount on a wedding ($10,000-ish).  My fiancé is a homeowner, his car is paid off, and he has a very good job.  And the kicker is SHE IS NOT PAYING FOR ANYTHING!  I never expected her to though because she is older, on a fixed income, and has made her wishes known that she doesn't agree with our decision not to do a courthouse or backyard potluck wedding.

    Fast forward to a week ago... up until this point, although she hasn't agreed with our financial decisions (we never even talked money with her in the first place because we knew it was a point of disagreement), she has at least been extremely interested in looking at venues, helping out with DIY projects as she is crafty and can sew very well - hello, custom table runners and other fun projects!  All of a sudden she said "I refuse to be involved".  I think I was more heart broken than my fiancé.  She has grown to be sort of a mother figure, and I know this is something she has enjoyed doing in the past with other family members.  I almost feel like not only is she adding insult to injury by her behavior, but that I am losing another adult figure in my life extremely unexpectedly.  She keeps saying that this wedding is going to drive a wedge between her son and myself.  And that I've done irreparable damage to her and our relationship moving forward.  Her broken record statement about me is that I'm just too sensitive, and she just can't say anything to me without me getting offended.  (What offended me was a forwarded email that included racial slurs, and as a teacher, I simply can't have my name or email address attached to that type of material regardless of how funny she or distasteful I thought the joke was.)  She has since said she has lost respect for me because of my political views and my lack of a sense of humor.  She has made very rude comments about "well I don't know how your mother raised you, but..." and comments about how I raised my sister who was 12 when my mom died who is now a senior in college with a double major, a minor, two internships, and a job all after losing both parents before she even hit 13.  This is only a sampling of the venom she has been spewing at my fiancé and me pretty much non-stop for about 10 or so days now.

    So like I said now the broken record is that she just can't say anything around me so she wants nothing to do with any of this.  We don't know if that means she doesn't want to be involved with the planning or she's upping the ante to hint that she isn't planning on attending the wedding.  This has been just as perplexing to my fiancé as it has to me.  She literally flipped a switch when I asked to be removed from the political/racially charged email forwards.  This is also not the first time she has used this "line" about a significant other of my fiancé's being too sensitive which starts the passive aggressive victim act and ends up with her even angrier at mebut even more in love with her son.  He was engaged before, and she said the same thing about the other girl, and she literally drove her away.

    My fiancé and I have sat down and set boundaries for our relationship and our slowly but steadily forming immediate family of two and establish a very clear line that she is not to cross when talking to me or about me.  His issue isn't that he is siding with his mom or that he is unwilling to stand-up for me and us.  She just always plays the victim and gets very emotionally manipulative and dramatic and at that point he is literally is at a loss.  She ends up in a melt-down over the loss of Jonathan's dad, and who can argue with that?!  I would say it was just grief, but like I said, she did this to the girl before me.

    We spent about 3 hours today talking through things and came up with a game plan.  He is going to try to talk to her in person on Tuesday night without me there because I seem to be her trigger.  He called her this evening to make sure she didn't have plans because and asked if she would carve out some time to talk on Tuesday.  She was insistent he tell her what about, and she again made rude comments about me and was hesitant to even meet him for dinner.  If Tuesday doesn't go well, I'm not sure what we are going to do.  I'm not welcome at his family Labor Day event this weekend which is being held at her house, but because we didn't go for July 4th this year, he promised he would be there to help close out the summer.  This is the first time since my sister left for college that I've literally had nowhere I could turn for a holiday weekend, but I would never ask him not to go to a family function.  And honestly if he doesn't go, it will only make the situation worse which is the LAST thing I want to have happen.

    I know no matter how flat you make a pancake, it always has two sides - anybody else love Dr. Phil as much as I do? ... but honestly I don't know what in the world I am doing wrong here.  Should I just let it lie and give up on having the only living parent involved which really hurts my feelings for both me and my fiancé?  Should we just wait it out and give it more time?  I can't sleep, and my anxiety is through the roof over all of this.  Please help!

    ***Gracious me, this is long.  So sorry, and if you got this far, thanks for sticking with me until the end. : )  I feel like there are just a lot of layers behind the situation, and I am trying to be fair to all parties involved.***


    As much as you want FMIL involved in the wedding planning, it will be best to not let her in on the details.  If you want to let her pin ideas, let her, it doesn't mean you need to follow her ideas.  Can you create a new Pinterest wedding board and keep it totally private for yourself?  Move over all the pins from your other board to this new one.  Then FMIL won't know about anything you are planning for the wedding. 

    I agree with PP that Labor Day should be the start of the new boundaries you are setting with FMIL.  Either you and FI attend the BBQ or neither of you do.  It might also be helpful for FI to point out to his mom that she started the same crap with the ex-FI and it drove her away.  But explain how he is on to her "game" and she will not see the same result.  I also think that at anytime FMIL starts in with disparaging remarks about you, FI should say, "Mom, I love you, but you cannot speak about my FI that way.  She will be a member of this family and you need to respect that and be civil to her.  I will not listen to you talk badly about my FI."  Then FI needs to either leave or hang up the phone.  FMIL needs to see the consequenses.

    djfivenine[Deleted User]
  • Thanks so much for the kind words and the advice about Labor Day! When you're right in the middle of it, it is very easy to get caught up in the crazy and start to think that you're crazy too. I do understand and recognize her grieving and that anger is part of that. But like someone picked up on, this has happened before. It makes it so much easier to take a breath and let it go to hear that others who don't have a dog in the fight think we are at least attempting the right thing. So thank you!
  • If he is marry you, you are a team now.  No matter what, he has to be on your team.  I wouldn't be comfortable with him going to her party on his own as that sends a message to her that he is on HER team which will only encourage her behaviour going forward.  

    It's his mother, it is his responsibility to manage her behaviour and expectations (in this case where she is clearly unwilling or unable to manage them herself)  
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