From the forums:
My husband is not particularly fond of his mother, and his upbringing sounds neglectful and borderline abusive so that didn’t cast her in a great light initially. She was cold and distant when I met her, but I just chalked it up to social awkwardness. The turning point for me came when she searched my name on the internet and found an obscure reference to my marriage to a woman several years ago. We married in 2008 and split up in 2010, a fact I told her in person. I am very out about my sexual orientation and my past, so it doesn’t bother me that she “found” this information (it’s not a secret!). What she did, that I cannot seem to get past, is take this information to her church friends** where they came up with this fantastic tale that I married my husband solely to get pregnant before leaving him to be with my secret lover (not sure where or who she is). She then called several of her siblings to spread this lie! I was fine with just writing her off; my husband and I were both livid at hearing this but didn’t want to start a nuclear fight so we just don’t talk to her. I don’t think she will ever see that what she did was wrong.
Now there is a family reunion coming up for her side of the family. I suggested my husband go by himself, but he doesn’t like that idea. I don’t want to keep my husband from his family, and fighting with his mom will create a huge rift. None of these people know that I am pregnant and we could probably hide it (I am not really showing), but I don’t want to play nice with this woman and I certainly don’t want her around my child after the birth. What should I do? Call her out? Tell her that she will not be involved with our family (since my husband completely agrees that his mother should not be in our child’s life)? Just don’t mention anything and assume she will find out from someone else? Go to the reunion? Announce why I won’t be there? Any advice would be really appreciated! — Bisexual Mom-to-Be
**I don’t mean this to be negative toward anyone religious. I am not religious myself, but I come from a family who is and I know that an overwhelming majority of people who believe follow their faith and convictions to act kindly towards others.
First, congratulations on your pregnancy! Second: go to the family reunion. Go, because it’s the right thing to do. Go, because you support your husband, and with no siblings and no father and a crazy mother he isn’t close to, his extended family is his connection to his roots. Go, because interacting with a significant other’s family always gives a new perspective and often a new appreciation for him or her. Go, because being there gives you control of the narrative and takes control away from your MIL. Go, because if you don’t, people can fill in the blank your absence leaves with whatever lies or stories are said about you. Go, because even if you don’t care what those people think, your husband probably does. Go, because you may discover that despite the crazy MIL, the rest of the family are good people who welcome you because they love your husband and see that you love him (you wouldn’t go if you didn’t love and support him).
Go. And when you see your MIL, act civil and “play nice” as you say, even though you don’t want to. Because what does it really cost you? Playing nice can be as simple as smiling and saying, “Good to see you,” even though you don’t mean it. And behind your smile, you can rest knowing that your husband is on your side and that once your baby comes, he has no interest in inviting his mother to be part of your child’s life.
I don’t know why you MIL behaves the way she does, but I can guess that she isn’t a happy person and she doesn’t have much love in her heart. How sad for her that she has missed her chance to have a good relationship with her only child and now her only child’s spouse and any future grandchildren. You are the winner in this scenario, whatever you decide to do. You get the loving relationship with your husband and to look forward to having a child with him and creating the family it sounds like he didn’t get to have growing up. Nothing your MIL can say or do will take that away. She has zero power in your life and cannot touch whatever happiness you have in your life and with your husband. Remove her from all equations and do what you are able to support and show compassion to your husband. He’s the one who matters here.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.