How to deal with MIL in the first 3 months?

Katie - posted on 08/15/2011 ( 4 moms have responded )

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I couldn't figure out where I should post this, so I've used the welcome page...

My MIL and I have never had a stellar relationship and in the past it has caused grief between my husband and myself. The problem is that MIL is very emotionally unstable and needy and will say and do whatever she can to get support from my husband at my expense (including threatening suicide). We moved very far away from her and since then our marriage has been 100% better and now we are getting ready for the birth of our first child. Problem is that MIL wants to visit when the baby is small (within the first 3 months), stay in our house and have plenty of baby time. I don't feel that I can say no as my mom, sister and brother (all of whom I am very close to and looking forward to seeing) will be visiting during the first 3 months. The difference is that my relatives have stated that they will be here to help me with whatever I tell them I need help with, whereas MIL is coming for her 'baby time'.

My questions:
1. How long should we let her stay for? The flight to where we live is long - over 10 hours. I was thinking of 10 days, but every time I think of 10 straight days with MIL in the house while I am trying to get used to being a mother it does my head in!

2. What can I do ahead of time to make sure things go as smoothly as possible? MIL has already done and said a lot of things to let me know that she is not going to be helpful or supportive of my parenting choices. I am torn between having a set of rules that I know she will break and will drive me insane but give me proper reasons to tell her to back off, or just doing whatever I can to ignore her jibes and ride out the 10 days.

3. What can I do to keep my marriage strong despite this woman? She is manipulative of my husband and likes to complain about how much of a bitch I am to him privately. She has even made up things that I have said to her in order to instill doubt in his mind. We have made up so much ground in the time we have been away from her and I am scared that having her around again, even for a short time, will put us back at square one.

Thanks for any advice!

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Pamela - posted on 08/15/2011

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Oh wow. Okay for starters, 10 days sounds long enough to me. Second, one thing to always keep in mind when you feel you're going to lose it is that she does live far away & you do not have to see her regularly. Your husband will always love his Mom (no matter how crazy she might be), and she will always love him. As annoying & painful as it might be, smile, take the high road, kill it with kindness and just remember every day is one day closer to her leaving.
I can tell you, after having a baby, you feel very emotional... Your MIL might have some crazy suggestions for you to try etc that annoy you to your core. Even if you want to immidately tell her she's an idiot- just remember times have changed & this is your baby. She got to make her choices, and now you get to make yours.
Make it successful by TRYING to get to know her better- stay on subjects you both love- like your husband. Ask her all about when he was little... What was her day to day like, what was her birth story etc... What was his nursery like etc. You'll learn more about your hubby & she'll feel flattered your asking about the things she did.
Last, your husband married you. Have confidence in that. Your MIL will probably never be a big part of your life so feel good about that. Try to make your husbands time w/ his Mom as nice as you can- it's only 10 days, you can do it! Take the high road, don't play into her comments & next time she starts talking about you to your hubby, tell him to stop her flat & say he will no longer discuss this issue. You are his wife & that is not appropriate. He should say, "Mom, we come as a package now, it's all or nothing. I will absolutely not tolerate hearing anything negative about my wife. I want you to be apart of my life, & if you want to, this stops now.". All this back & forth gossip is immature & damaging & should no longer be tolerated.
Good luck Girl! You can do this! Hang in there & congrats!

Elfrieda - posted on 08/15/2011

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I agree with the first two posters. Just two more ideas:
1) don't have her come until the baby is at least a few weeks old and you have some sort of handle on the changing diapers/feeding/holding side of things, which is challenging. Don't feel like you have to entertain her, but when you need some space just take the baby and go into your bedroom with her to nurse her or whatever. If your baby ends up like mine, who cried all the time, you might actually be very grateful for an extra set of arms to rock the baby so that you can take a nap.

2) If your mom and sisters live nearby, maybe they can help by taking her out of the house to go sightseeing when you need a break from her. Or send your husband out with her, to take her out for coffee or on a daytrip. That leaves you stuck with the baby all by yourself, but it's only for a few days.

Congratulations, and I hope it all works out better than you think!

Valerie - posted on 08/15/2011

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I totally agree with Pamela because she is your MIL you don't have to like her but to help keep your marriage strong you should try to stay nice. If she does insult you your husband should stick up for you like mine does if he's not around my best advice is to take a deep breath smile and say im sorry you feel that way. If its about your parenting thank her for the advice and just tell her that you and your husband decided to do it this way. As long as you can find ways to combat her remarks with either ignoring them or being polite then there is nothing she can do to your relationship I know its hard but like Pamela said she won't be there forever so have faith and good luck :)

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Katie - posted on 08/15/2011

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Thanks for your advice ladies! I think you are all probably right in that I should just grin and bear it. Like water off a duck's back, right? I am trying to schedule MIL's visit to overlap a little bit with my sister's visit so that I can have a buffer for part of the time.

I have tried talking to my husband about sticking up for me when she makes rude comments but the problem is that she always says mean things that she knows will upset me in a joking way, then if I or my husband say anything she plays the poor wounded old lady who was just trying to make a joke. My husband does try but the woman is totally nuts in the head and plays the victim so well that he is more inclined to just ignore her, or worse, humor her by laughing at her 'joke' just to prevent her from throwing a tantrum.

I wish, wish, wish it was okay to take valium while breast feeding - that is what my doctor prescribed me to take when I used to have to see her all the time. That's how much this woman does my head in!

My mom says I should learn how to meditate as it helps you to ground yourself and focus on the positives. Not sure how much time there will be for that with a baby though.

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