Huge Bust Up With Future Mother In Law And Still On Going

I've been with my partner for almost three years now, and we moved in together about 18 months ago. We're really happy together in most regards, we've had our ups and downs like any couple of course, and we've discussed marriage and possibly kids one day so we're serious.
At times, a major issue throughout our relationship has been his mother. She's had a tough life, abusive childhood etc, an unhappy marriage with my partner's father, lost her first son who died suddenly when my partner was 3 years old, divorced my partner's dad when he was 15 or so and has been single ever since. She's never really had any fulfilling relationships with men at all although dated men briefly after the divorce. She's leaned a lot emotionally on Joe (my partner) after the divorce (and probably before) but when he left home at 18 to go to university she had real problems cutting the cord and has been this way ever since (hes 27 now). Before I came along a few years ago she used to fall out with him all the time because she would put him on guilt trips and demand he come home all the time to visit her, and claiming he didn't call her often enough, and that he didn't support her enough. It was almost like she expected him to be a surrogate husband in a way and when he refused or told her no to her excessive demands, because he likes his independence, she would get offended, put the phone down and give the silent treatment for a few months at a time until she got back in touch and the cycle would start again ie things would be OK for a while, she would demand he do something, and then when she didn't get her way she would cut off. She refused to accept any kind of boundaries of independence he set as an adult and would get very upset and angry. This pattern of blowing up and then going silent has persisted, and has got worse since I came along. We had troubles in the beginning because she clearly saw me as an obstacle to her son. She appeared jealous and kept making a point of telling me how close she was to HER son and she didn't like it when he started making me a priority in his life and wanted to spend holidays with me etc.
When we moved in together she really cranked it up, at her first visit she was very pushy and domineering, taking over our house, overstaying her welcome because she thought as family she should be able to stay as long as she liked with us, and acting like she was in charge of my home. I put my foot down as due to it being our first home together I found this behaviour very difficult to deal with and despite my partner's difficulties in divided loyalties from the beginning he chose to support me and we didn't speak to her for a good few months because I wouldn't tolerate her behaviour. I didnt think it was all her fault, I acted quite defensively too, and so I apologised to her but despite saying she was okay with it she criticised me behind my back to my partner, saying I was trying to break up her relationship with her son and that it was all my fault they weren't close anymore like they used to be. Joe refused to accept her criticisms and told her she needed to respect his choice of a partner, boundaries and our home if we were to get along. Eventually she seemed to (very grudgingly) accept we were a couple and respected our wishes and she came back into our lives for a while, coming down often for visits which were fine and we were all getting along really well. She was respectful towards me and I to her, and seemed to have accepted we were a couple- until she started to slip up and push boundaries again after a while. She started invading our privacy, going into our room without asking whenever she felt like it, and going through our cupboards and re arranging stuff without checking with me first. It was hard not to feel resentful of her sense of entitlement despite me trying to let it go and not make a big deal out of it. Of course I tried to dismiss it as a one off and kept quiet but it only carried on escalating.
Last time she visited she acted really dominant, treating me and the house disrespectfully and ignoring any kind of boundaries of courtesy and privacy. Her behaviour reminded me of a dog when it's trying to assert its dominance and eventually I lost my temper and confronted her about her not respecting boundaries. My partner was a bit reluctant to upset the apple cart at first because of her history of getting nasty when you try to define limits with her and he didn't want to argue with his mother so I got very frustrated and felt unsupported. Naturally when I confronted her although I tried to be respectful she turned very nasty and aggressive, slagging me off to her son and accusing me of being a control freak, pointing a finger in my face, saying things like "well he has to live with YOU but i dont know how he does" and saying that one day he won't listen to me anymore. She screamed at me that she wasn't going to see her son for a very long time because of me and despite Joe imploring her to stay and talk it over calmly, packed her bags up to leave and drove off making a dramatic exit. At the time I felt very violated, angry and hurt from her outburst and her cruel words which affected me quite badly for some time. My partner has had a very difficult choice to make and has chosen to support me 100%, he's now realised he can't have divided loyalties if we are to make a life together and that he should have been the one to enforce the boundaries with his mother, since he agrees with me. He admits he was trying to bury his head in the sand because he was so tired of arguing with his mom over the years and that he didn't want to fall out with her again, which I understand. He's disgusted with his mother and hasn't called or spoken to her since she walked out. He won't attempt to contact her until she approaches him and wants to make amends. This was almost six months ago and she hasn't spoken to her son or me since it happened, not a phone call, card or anything, not even at Christmas. I'm not really sure how to handle her in the future, because as difficult as she is, she's still his mother at the end of the day but her behaviour throughout our relationship has caused a lot of stress and heartache.
sparklystar sparklystar
26-30, F
2 Responses Jan 18, 2013

i think we have the same mother in law

Please reply to my story, as they have many similarities! But wow, I feel for you. His mother definitely sounds like she is not mentally OK, in the sense that she thinks her son is responsible for her happiness, having been let down by men and situations. However, this is NOT OK to both depend, and control your son in this way - He has had to play an adult role in consoling her, and had to grow up sooner than he had to and carry that responsibility. In contrast, he is being controlled like a child. She likely knows that she is NOT reasonable, although it doesn't stop her from feeling how she feels. Parents feel that children are indebted to them for raising them and all the sacrifices they made. Of course one should always keep that in mind, however that's not an excuse to just treat and expect their children to bend at their every whim. Its so good that he is on your side - I don't have that luxury in my case - So at least you can both agree there IS a problem, which is half the battle! My advice would be to reach out to her, mutually. The longer you ignore her, the more her resentment builds. If you both have also been ignoring her, didn't send her a Christmas card, don't call, etc. her hatred will continue to build. She will be forced to either accept the boundaries and play nice, or to be not included, its very simple. Maybe keep in min that she is mentally sick will help you to have more compassion for her situation, but I know its hard to have empathy for someone whom you feel is sabotaging you.