Zero Tolerance

I have known my husband basically all my life. We went to the same church until my life took a turn in a different direction and I stopped going. We grew up separately, then, but in our early twenties we reconnected and eventually got married.

Everything seemed to be going well in the beginning, and his mother and I seemed to get along like old friends. But the more I "became a part of the family" (don't let the cliche fool you - neither she nor my brother-in-law have ever been anything but passive aggressive toward me) I noticed how angry she seemed to be all the time. She is an extremely conservative fundamental Christian, and racist to boot, though she veils it behind a thin veneer of what she calls "common sense." I, on the other hand, am dangerously open-minded and tolerant of just about any lifestyle that doesn't threaten me or my family with direct and deliberate harm. My husband was definitely a lot like her in these respects until we reconnected, and we have had our arguments, but I think that both of us have grown in our willingness to accept others in spite of philosophical differences.

This incenses her. At least I think it does. She's never actually told me so, but misses no opportunity to let me know just how differently she feels on just about every topic known to mankind. My brother-in-law consistently belittles and devalues my husband, as he does anyone who disagrees with him, whenever my husband states his viewpoint on pretty much any subject whatsoever.

My mother has tried to reach out to my mother-in-law, inviting her to our family get togethers at holiday times (or anytime, really), only be outright ignored or tersely rejected. Meanwhile, my husband and I run around like chickens with our heads cut off to be with her on important holidays, putting my family on the back burner.

When she visits, she makes it clear that she's only here to see our children and that if they aren't around she has no interest whatsoever in passing fifteen minutes over a cup of coffee with me. She's constantly complaining about me to her husband, and word gets back around to me via my husband, who appears to be the only family member willing to treat the poor man as though he matters, or with any respect and dignity, whatsoever.

The icing on the cake is that I discovered that she'd written to an old friend from the church about a year before our wedding (we were engaged a year and a half) telling him that she didn't want her son to marry me and that she feared that I would destroy the faith that he's already struggling with. Meanwhile, I've never prevented him from going to church, which he does every Sunday, and have even encouraged him to be active with the congregation. She also continues to write to an ex-girlfriend of his who she knows that I have a problem with (this woman made it very clear that she wanted to get back together with my husband after he and I began dating), telling her about our life and family together. In the early days of our relationship, he and I were even sent to deliver my mother-in-law's cheesecake to this woman, as it had been her favorite when she and he were dating and my mother-in-law had made her two of them.

She'll compliment me in one breath and then either turn around and seethe about me to her husband or make a passive-aggressive comment about my lifestyle in the next. Today, she even came to visit our girls without once looking at or speaking to me.

It does not matter how many kind things I do. She will always dislike me for the few things about me she doesn't care for. It doesn't matter that her son loves me, because in her mind I've ruined him (I don't dare tell her that he was a tad bit 'ruined' when I met him). I've gone out of my way to try to be as kind and loving as I am with my own family with her and my brother-in-law and all it's earned me is condescention and a scant tolerance that thins daily on their part.

I often have to remind my husband that she'll always be his mother, and that he shouldn't get so upset with her. Although I do often share my dejection over the situation with him, I never blame him or ask him to choose sides. When he gets upset with them I'm the first to talk him down.

I simply am not willing to play her little game and allow her to intimidate me into thinking as she does or sharing her ethical and spiritual values. And I refuse to indoctrinate my children the way the church attempted to indoctrinate me although, again, I do not prevent them from going. I will always leave the matter of their church attendance up to them.

I get so frustrated with this xenophobic, bitter, passive-aggressive and altogether stagnant way of life that makes her treat me like an obstacle. I really think that together she and I could be a great team and work together to make everyone in our family happy and whole. Yet I constantly feel as if I need to keep my mouth shut and allow her to spew her hatefulness and misinterpreted scripture, lest I be told why my worldview is "wrong." I shudder to think what's going to happen to the family when my children are actually old enough to understand what she's saying and I'm given no choice but to ask her to tone it down for their sake.
iheartlogic iheartlogic
2 Responses Mar 9, 2013

The longer and more deeply involved my in-laws and a couple of their kids became with a fundamental. emphasis on mental, church the worse they became. Seems the weekly Sunday meeting is little more that a thumb through the bible to find an excuse for why they had to behave the way the did and why anyone not in their church is a heathe, pagan , devil worshiping next of kin to satan. ( that would be me).
If you've been in trouble with the law for helping your ********* son jump bail. your car insurance rate is now in the 4 number figures per quarter, you've had animal control called on you like some of us dial out for pizza once a week, you're home and property are on the country inspectors nuciassance abatement list for a weekly threat letter, and you've had the sheriff out to tell you to keep your hands to yourself you should prob not be pointing that finger my direction .
I believe that for a narcisist the use of religion is one more weapon to make your life miserable.

I'm sorry iheartlogic that you too endure a life long relationship with a MIL who does not appreciate the value and wonder of another extension of her family. You speak articulately and your pain is well expressed.

A person who claims to be a Christian on one hand, then do what you have indicated is one of the dangerous - cruel minded hypocrites we face in today's culture. Her condemnation will be with God.

I have in the beginning of my marriage (we have an extended family/our second marriage) tried to have blended gatherings so that my husband and my family can get to integrate and know each other. Why, because in my mind I felt as family it was the right thing to do. My family was so engaging and willing to have these gatherings. However, my MIL did not appreciate them and caused so much trouble that I had to no longer have these particular gatherings. Now, although I do it separately they are few and far between. My MIL is very self-centered.

Consequences, limitations and ignoring those serious moments is a start. Keep us posted, good luck..Ugh...