She Runs Our Life and It Drives Me Nuts

Before I married my wife, I knew that her mother was important to her. And I knew that she was a domineering cow.

Despite being an atheist, I went to pre-marital classes at church for the sake of my religious wife. The priest warned me that there might be some difficulty with my wife accepting the idea of "cleaving unto" me. In retrospect, I wish I had listened.

She tells us what to eat. She tells us what to do. She tells us how to do it. She tells us where to go. It's not that we listen ; but being treated like a child is galling. She imposes her values, her choices, her way. If I plan to cook dinner for my wife, I'll come home to find that she's already cooked some sort of awful slop, which reduces me to either eating it or wasting it, both of which offend me terribly.

Anything she doesn't understand or care about personally is ignored and disrespected. She goes into my office and "tidies" despite my repeated explicit request that she doesn't do it. She move objects into random and senseless locations (most usually things that were in a place because that's where I was using them - then I can't find them for months). She reorganizes my kitchen cupboards to how she likes them. She piles objects on top of each other until they are poised to fall at the slightest disturbance. The things you use the most are always on the bottom.

She's one of those people who always have to be working at something or they feel guilty, but are paradoxically really rather lazy, and do things in a sloppy, slipshod manner. The cupboard Jenga is one example. She wipes screens with a filthy wet rag instead of cleaning them carefully with a proper cloth. She cares about things looking tidy and being clean, but it doesn't matter to her that there is no underlying order to stuffing things randomly into drawers to achieve that. She doesn't care about how I like things, as long as it looks good to her. She pretends to listen when I ask her to do things a certain way, then mentally disregards this and carries on doing things in her own way.

I spent 6 months living under her roof due to my financial situation. Not for one instant did I ever feel welcome. I dared not breath on anything in case I "dirtied" it. I couldn't do anything right. I'm used to decent cooking - my mother is a good cook, and so am I. Her cooking is dreadful because only cares about how tidy the kitchen is. And I couldn't say anything about the living conditions (despite paying an exorbitant rent for someone sleeping on the floor), because my wife would take it as a personal attack, side with her mother, and sulk at me for days.

I left when my wife and I bought a  house, with the beginnings of an ulcer from the dreadful food and the constant stress.

The situation today? She looks after my daughter during the day. I am looking forward to the day my daughter starts to attend day school, which will reduce the amount of time she spends in her presence. I hate the thought of her turning out as mentally screwed up as my mother-in-law, or my wife, both of whom have serious self-esteem problems. But I feel they are probably erring on the side of caution - they are spoiling my daughter, making her far too egocentric. I consider leaving sometimes. One strong reason I stay is that if I leave, I'll be leaving my daughter to their mercy. I'm the only sane relative she has.

I would prefer to have a non-family member look after my daughter. My own mother is too far away and has a job anyway. Anything would be preferable to the MIL. But my wife wouldn't trust anyone else (an attitude heavily influenced by her mother). I can't trust her. She never does as you ask, only as she wishes. A nanny or an au-pair knows you can fire them if they don't do their job as you ask. The MIL is secure in the knowledge that I can't get rid of her because my wife will take her side every time.
This also discourages me from having another child. While it's not the only reason, it certainly doesn't make the idea appealing to realise that having another child would mean having her hanging around the house for another four years, giving me an ulcer with her miserable nihilistic bullshit. The woman cannot see the positive side of anything. If there isn't a negative, she has too make one up. And to share it with everyone else.

It's good to share some of this. It's not like I keep it bottled up all the time at home - my wife hears it from me. She just chooses to ignore it, which really only makes it worse. I feel superfluous in my own family, as nothing I say has any influence on how things are done. If I blow my cap about something, a token effort might be made to placate me for a while, then things quietly go back to the way they were (by tacit agreement between the wife and MIL).

It won't make any difference to me, because I'm damned if I stay (I'll have to put up with MIL for many more years, my wife refuses to move more than 5 miles away even if she's offered a prime job elsewhere). I'm damned if I leave (because I'll be leaving my daughter to be turned into another in a long line of mental defectives).

But maybe it will make a difference to you ; seriously. If you are at a stage of your relationship where you are not overwhelmingly committed, and your mother-in-law is screwing up your life, get out. It's never going to change. She has her claws so deep into her daughter by now that she will always have an ally in your wife. And I suspect it won't even end when she does ; by the time she shuffles off her mortal coil, it is likely that your wife will have started filling her shoes. Mine is already showing signs. If you're still young, if you have no children, run for the hills and either learn to love your own company or find yourself a good woman (not a little girl still tied to her mothers apron strings).
SilentJim SilentJim
31-35, M
9 Responses Aug 18, 2007

Your are describing my family but we are two daughters my sister is 27 but behaves like 13 complete looser, thanks to DGM and DM, my parents divorce for my dgm and their stupid religion, at the end, my advice is to believe in yourself you are the man, that is your family and house, better to be rude and place boundaries back then you didn’t listen the priest now listen to me, tell your MIL that you really really really dislike her noisiness , that you and your wife have problems because of her , that it is not normal that someone reorganizes others people houses, unless is a housekeeper if not that is codependency

I'm only a teenager and your situation is very complicated; that much I can tell. I can't offer any advice on what to do because really, what do I know? But I can tell you this. Don't stay with your wife for your daughter. My dad did and eventually, well, it cracked him. He ended up having an affair to satisfy everything he wasn't getting in his relationship and now things are more screwy than ever. Leave as soon as you can.

Not easy, I know, but you have got to be strong and STAND UP to her - this is your life, not hers, and your daughter's life too. I finally stood up to my own MIL 3 years ago and she hasn't spoken to me since - there IS a God, after all .....!!

Keep a diary of events concerning insane acts from your wife and mil, go back to the church and ask for advise, the minister should be able to back you up on this one, after all you are the bread winner in the family and you should be number one according to you wife, not her mother. All churches don 't like divorces, they don't condemn but will try to prevent if there is a way, so maybe to get an alley if there are two against you.<br />
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Reality, this will be in your favour should you attempt cusody for your daughter, to show them that your wife is incapable of minding her child, incapable of thinking for herself. That the trust issue will be detrimental to your child, she will eventually become social excluded which no one ever wants for their child.<br />
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The meditation between yourself, wife and church will show you have tried to find a way of making it work. Also maybe a shock tatic to show your wife how much she has to lose if she doesn't get out of the destructive life with her mother and start backing you up.<br />
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I wish you all the best, and hope for a good ending.<br />
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Hi Silverdragons! I'm sorry that you also have such a horrible MIL. Hang in there. At least you can come here and vent. It helped me a lot just to see that I wasn't alone.

My mil will never change cause she is insane. I wish she could just role over and di. Her own daughter once said that she leave distruction and chaos where ever she goes. I didn't believe her then I do now. As for me staying. Not sure if its worth it or not. Everyone is back to kissing her butt and just saying not sure what is wrong or what we can do. except me. I want to say suck a sour egg and die but i can't... yet. I am tired and i have finally closed my heart to everyone around me except my girls. until they see that they are as much part of the problem and only they can be the solution.

Your MIL sounds a lot like mine, in that she always has to be doing something and always has to be the center of attention. I'm getting ready to post my own stories, but wanted to get an idea of what other people go through. I think I could write a book! <br />
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But good luck to you. You can try doing what I did. I made a lot of "suggestions" to my MIL that she would benefit from therapy until she finally went on her own.

Hey - read your comments on my story and agree that our situations are somewhat similar. I really wish that it was easy to pack up and move on out. I guess in my mind the rest of the marriage I'm in is good enough that I can't yet decide my MIL problems are bad enough to give up the rest of the good things. And I'm guessing that a part of you thinks so too in your marriage, especially considering your daughter. My hope is by being tough enough, stubborn enough, and honest enough those in situations like yours can work out a way to block the negative feelings a MIL can generate and focus on the good things (children, spouse, etc.)<br />
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I read another comment on your story from a MIL about how they just try to protect thier son/daughter. I think that good intentions are a good start, but often the manner in which they are presented give results that are very different (especially on the other people like spouses and children involved) You are NOT a good person if you don't treat others with respect and honesty while you work towards your "good intentions".<br />
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I am not sure, but I hope that someday, if your MIL realizes that "Hey, this tension and conflict is not a relationship I want in my life" she will ob<x>jectively take a look at the situation and realize that no disagreement is only one sided, that she has blame in the situation as well. I think if (and only if...) both people work to resolve a conflict it can be accomplished. Self-help guru's talk about setting boundaries with in-laws but it is only useful if such boundaries are respected.<br />
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Hang in there,<br />
Enjoy your beautiful daughter,<br />
and Good Luck

maybe someday you can take off and take your daughter with you. I know its not often that a father has custody but it does happen. I hope for the best for you. I am in the oposite direction. my mom moved back to my home state to get away from my mil and my hubby