Toxic mother-in-law

Ruth - posted on 09/03/2014 ( 3 moms have responded )

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Has anybody had to deal with a psychologically manipulative mother-in-law and husband who allows himself to be manipulated? While I have tried to raise this issue in conversation with my husband it just leads to arguments and I am starting to believe that my mother-in-law is driving a wedge between my husband and myself causing our marriage to suffer. She also knows my husband's temperament and how to push his buttons. It is almost as though she has raised him to be subservient to meeting her high dependency needs and resents the fact that I am a woman of an independent mind that she cannot influence. Now that we have a new baby my husband expects that I just be more accepting, tolerant and get along with her. However, I know that she just wants access to my child so that she can try and interfere and use the child as a "porn" in this dirty adult game that she is playing. Unfortunately, what makes this even more difficult is that fact that my husband is in the military and currently deployed. He knows how I feel about his family and subsequently, he has chosen to exclude me from all the correspondence he has with his mother so in essence I have no idea what is going on or what they talk about. His mother also does not include me in the emails she sends my husband and I find this type of liaison very deceitful. My parents include my husband in all their correspondence and treat him as a part of the family, however, this can not be said for my in-laws. I also feel isolated and excluded when my husband sides with her and does not tell me what is going on because he wishes to avoid conflict. He also has a false sense of hope that his mother will change when it is clear that this will not happen but despite this he continues to engage with her and not take a stand on her manipulations. I believe he is doing this because he is scared of being disowned (his father has already disowned him because he is not meeting the family's expectations and living close by to his son from his first marriage). I am really at a loss as to what to do and feel like a single parent not as a team that presents a unified front in terms of boundaries and values. I know my husband respects the values and boundaries I believe are important but he does not understand that he cannot always be a "fence sitter" to keep the peace when it comes to taking stand on how his mother treats me. I am very stressed out and at a loss as to what to do. Has anyone else experienced something similar or can offer advice on this issue? Help and Thanks

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Jodi - posted on 09/03/2014

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The word is "pawn", but anyway.....

Can I ask why you feel your husband can't have email communications with his mother without you needing to know what is in them?

It sounds to me like you are not trying to make any compromises yourself. This needs to go both ways. I understand you are an independent person, BUT this is your husband's family AND your child's family. It is time to look at making your own compromises in this situation. From everything you've said here, you are expecting your husband and his family to do all the compromising and make all the changes.

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Jodi - posted on 09/03/2014

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But I am still not understanding why you need to know what is going on or what they are talking about. You haven't been very specific about what she is actually doing that is so toxic. How exactly is this making you feel like a single parent? What is she doing? What has this got to do with your child? How is she using your child as a pawn?

Ruth - posted on 09/03/2014

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I have tried to compromise but my mother in law's view is "her way or the highway" . It also does not help that she does not approve of me as a match for her son.

I believe that I am excluded because my husband's family are not prepared to openly discuss the issue. I am under the impression that they would prefer to ignore problems instead of deal with them. I have been raised to communicate problems not live in the hope that they go away on their own. But communication involves two parties and both parties have to be willing to talk. I cannot take ownership of my mother in law's unwillingness to talk about it.

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