“My Mother-in-Law Has Driven Me Over the Edge”

I’ve been with my partner for eight years and we have two boys together. When my mother-in-law was able to see them, she never treated them fairly and my elder son began to realize how his grandmother treated him differently than his cousin. I explained to her how my son felt, but nothing seemed to change. After a few months, I told her again how upsetting it was seeing what was happening! After I told her my feelings, my sister-in-law began pointing out more things regarding how my MIL was treating each child differently, which caused more arguments between me and my MIL!

Over Christmas last year, I began realizing that my SIL was feeding me with false information and trying to cause conflict between me and my MIL. I ended up seeing my doctor as I became depressed. I couldn’t figure out why my SIL was doing this!! I recorded some of the conversations we had to show my MIL what had been going on. She couldn’t believe herself what had been happening, but I had the proof!! I thought finally I had an answer to my problems with the MIL, but then she told my SIL what I had done and my SIL then started bullying me, and I tried to commit suicide.

I was in a place where I knew no matter what I did my MIL was never going to listen to me. So, after a while of her not seeing the kids because I was ill and she would have made me worse if I had had any sort of contact with her, her mom died and I felt sorry for her, so I asked her if she would like to see my children. And she let them down!! So I, again, stopped letting her have contact with my children because I didn’t want them upset and let down again.

At my MIL’s mother’s funeral, she picked an argument with me and her family attacked me while she held onto my arms! And now I never want her near my children. She is a liar, a bully, a violent person and she has no interest in the kids’ well-being! I have received no apology for what she did, and she has continued to lie to everyone about what happened that day although I have proof of what she did. She has written me a letter saying I either let her see my children or she will take me to court. I don’t need this stress and I definitely don’t want her around my children or me!! What should I do? — Depressed Over MIL’s Behavior

Where is your partner/husband in all of this? His wife/ mother of his two young kids tries to kill herself over the way his mother and family are treating her and his reaction doesn’t even warrant a mention here? I mean, WTF all over the place. Your MIL and SIL sound like real treats, but the truth is you’re emotionally unstable and need professional help. There’s no reason a bitchy MIL should push you so far over the edge you try to commit suicide. There’s something else going on.

Please, please seek help. Get a referral from your doctor for a psychiatrist or psychologist. Sit down with your partner and express to him how anxious and depressed you are. Let him deal with his mother. There’s no reason you need to be in her presence if she makes you this crazy. Pass the reins over to your partner, and let him work out any visitation between her and your two kids. And if you absolutely don’t want her anywhere near your children, tell your partner to keep her away. His mother, his problem. And unless you have broken the law, your MIL — who is really only your mother-in-law if you are legally married to her son (or daughter, if that’s the case) — can threaten to take you to court all she wants, but she has no basis for any claim. Stop letting her threaten you!

But, really, get help. Immediately. Not only is YOUR life very important, but you owe it to your two children to get it together.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. kerrycontrary says:

    WWS. You need to work with a psychiatrist and/or psychologist to learn better coping mechanisms. Things can get a lot worse in life than dealing with difficult in-laws, so you need to learn how to deal. Just a note—the grandmother CAN request grandparent visitation rights through a court order. This happens rarely, but as she has an established relationship with the grandchildren it could be granted. Usually this happens if the grandparents and parents of the children can’t get along but the relationship with the children on both ends is fine.

  2. actually, i wonder if she is going to take her to court for visitation rights precisely because the father is not in the picture… whether by death or something else…

    LW, i have no advice for you. this is so fucked up. i just cant…. i have no idea.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      A lot of states actually have grandparents rights where they can petition the court to see their grandkids.

    2. Also, if the letter writer is unstable, that does actually give the MIL a really good case for taking away her kids.

  3. Please do what Wendy says and look after yourself first. Its like in aeroplanes when you are told to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. It is vital to your family’s well-being that you are healthy enough to take this on, especially if your partner does not seem to be much help in this area.

    Also, I use MIL and SIL and I’m not married, and so does everyone else I know. Its far more succinct than ‘mother of my partner’ and shows that the two of you have a relationship (however bad this one may be). I remember the day I told my SIL (brothers partner) that I considered her my SIL, and since they were never going to be married (by choice!) it was important to the both of us to acknowledge our own important relationship, separate from our relationships with my brother.
    I don’t know why I went there! It just seemed important.

    1. I get that, but the word “law” in “in-law” implies legal relation, and I think for a lot of longterm couples who decide not to get married, their reason is precisely because they don’t want the law involved in their relationship. So, I don’t know. It’s not a huge deal, but I think it’s funny when someone who is legally allowed to get married but chooses not to still uses the word “in-law” to define a relationship that is, in fact, not in-law/ legally-binding at all. Maybe there should be another word to describe what your partner’s family is to you when you choose not to be legally married.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        My (long term) boyfriend’s mom does this. She calls me her daughter in law all the time and introduces me as that. I always found it a little weird, but I guess its easier than saying my son’s long term girlfriend who he lives with and will stay with but isn’t married to? haha. Or she could just say my son’s girlfriend.

      2. kerrycontrary says:

        I think it’s similar to that article we all debated about calling someone your fiance or saying your engaged when you’re not, at least in the traditional sense. I just don’t call someone my fiance if they aren’t, and I wouldn’t call my boyfriend’s mother my mother-in-law right now.

      3. there should totally be another word for it! because thats the whole issue- there isnt a word other then in-law, thats why people use it even though its not correct.

        i like saying “my sort-of inlaw”. its long though.

      4. They could be in another country, too. In Australia, and some places in Europe, I think common-law type marriage is pretty common, where a partner is pretty well the same thing as spouse.

      5. Avatar photo the_optimist says:

        I don’t know too much about this and could be wrong, but could they live in a place where they’d be common-law married? Would that then warrant calling a partner’s parent an in-law? Hope I’m not thread-jacking, I genuinely have no idea.

      6. No, you’re right.

      7. Funny story about my weekend :

        I’m a native french speaker, and I remember a long time ago in english-second-language class, they told us that “belle-mere is mother-in-law and beau-pere is father-in-law”. The thing is that a lot of established couples here (in Quebec) never get married (they usually are common-law spouse) so belle-mere/beau-pere doesn’t imply marriage, it only implies “the parents of the significant other”.
        This weekend I was visiting my boyfriend’s mother for the first time. I accidentally said that I was visiting “the in-laws” while talking to my boyfriend’s sister and the first reaction I got was “OMG YOU GUYS ARE ENGAGED ????? OMG ! OMG ! OMG !” and I was just like “no no no, we are not engaged, this is just bad french translation, sorry !”

        Now they think we are engaged and just keeping it a secret.

      8. I always wondered why many French couples never get married. I’m right on the Ontario/Quebec border (Ottawa/Gatineau). I know a lot of French people who live together for decades, but a home, have children, etc but marriage is not in the cards. Why is that?

      9. Just because there’s a lot of things you can do as a common-law spouse (and you only need to live together for long enough or have a kid together to be considered a spouse. No contract or ceremony is needed). You can have a mortgage together, you can visit each other at the hospital, if you separate you can have child support (but not alimony), etc. Basically, it’s like being married, except for family patrimony. But society as a whole will recognize you as being legal partners. You aren’t just “friends” in the eyes of the law, you are spouses.

        Oh and also, a lot of people rejected religion as a whole. So it took a moment for people to realize that not all weddings had to be religious, and in the mean time a lot of people forgot about weddings in general.

      10. Oh and also : not a lot of stay-at-home-parents. So it’s less important to have family patrimony because both parents would have been working and would be able to support themselves if there was a separation.

      11. Oh yeah I get that. Same thing here in Ontario. It’s just the mentality. Like I don’t know a single English woman that would be ok with not getting married. It would be a Dear Wendy letter. “Been with a boyfriend for X years, he doesn’t want to get married, do I give him an ultimatum? Do I MOA?”

        Not that I think there’s anything wrong with not getting married. I just wonder why the mentality is different between the two provinces. Why is it not a social / emotional priority to so many French women (even if it’s not a legal priority)?

      12. I think the “relationship milestones” are just different from one culture to another. I’ll give you my personal list (which doesn’t hold anymore since my boyfriend is american…). So in chronological order, milestones could be : dating, becoming exclusive, moving in together, opening a joint bank account, buy a house together, be on each other’s insurrance/will/official documents, have children together. And then maybe eventually marry each other (most married couple I know had their kids 5-10 years before getting married).

        My personal “big commitment milestone” is the fact of having kids and raising them with someone. Because you can divorce from your wife/husband, but somehow, the parents of your children (especially if they raised them) will always be linked to you in a way or another.

        So the english women are writing saying “my boyfriend doesn’t want to marry me, what should I do ?” but the quebec women could very well write “my boyfriend doesn’t want to move in with me” or “my boyfriend doesn’t want to have kids with me” because those are seen as big milestones. It’s like “you’ve been together for 5 years and you’re still not living together ? omg, MOA ! He’s not into you !”

      13. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I see this distinction BIG TIME when I think of my French friends that live in France v. my American ones here. Of the 10 or so friends I have in France, only one couple is married. But all are co-habiting <– why can't I spell that word? And most have kids. One moved in with her boyfriend two years ago and she's pregnant now. She thinks they'll probably get married after they're done having babies. It is just a different way than people here tend to go about it.

  4. WTF all over the place is right. I can’t even follow this letter. Did the MIL die? Is the SIL by marriage and was it HER mother that died? What basis do they have to take you to court? And biggest question of course is, where the F is your partner in all of this?!

    1. The Maternal Grandmother-in-law died.

    2. “I mean, WTF all over the place.” was my favorite line as well!!
      will probably have to use it more often around these parts…

  5. it’s really hard to get grandparent visitation if the parents are still together, married or not, unless the grandparents at some time had custody of the children.

    I find the lack of mention of the partner very strange. That said, LW, I am in NO WAY victim blaming, but you seem to possibly be doing the same thing my SIL does… feeding the troll. She will actually call my stepmonster/adopted mom and argue with her about the crazy stunts she pulls. It’s just ridiculous. You can’t reason with crazy. I keep telling her “disengage, just disengage”. Don’t bother telling her she makes you mad. Avoid her at all costs. Tell her NOTHING she can use as ammo on you. And believe me, she’s the type who will. Give her only the most basic, limited, and necessary info about your life. A lot of nodding, mmm hmm, etc. That’s all. Do NOT get into big deep drama personal talks with her. That way lies madness. Think of her as a coworker, if you feel the need to see her at all.

    And yes, definitely see a therapist. And read the Inlaws and Outlaws board on babycentre. Trust me on this one.

  6. I just wanted to point out an important part of Wendy’s reponse: “And unless you have broken the law, your MIL — who is really only your mother-in-law if you are legally married to her son (or daughter, if that’s the case) — can threaten to take you to court all she wants, but she has no basis for any claim.”
    Maybe one of our many DW lawyers can chime in here, but can’t grandparents sue for visitation regardless? Even though the LW hasn’t broken any laws, I would think the grandparents can sue for visitation just because they are grandparents?

    1. Also, since the LW tried to commit suicide, maybe the grandmother would have a basis for her claim, since many would see a suicidal parent as an unfit parent?

    2. Not sure if it is the same state to state, but yes Grandparents can sue for visitation rights. After my parents divorce my paternal Grandparents attempted to sue for both custody and visitation. Luckily it’s hard to not notice they are bat shit crazy after being around them for long enough so they lost.

    3. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

      Grandparents can sue for visitation. Granted, it’s a tough road to traverse when one or both parents are still alive, but I’ve done it before successfully.

      So, knowing nothing about the parents whatsoever beyond what is in the letter, here’s how I’d do it if I were the lawyer for the grandparents (I’m assuming there’s a MIL AND a FIL, but it could just be a MIL for this scenario):
      1a.) Call Child Protective Services on behalf of my clients and raise concerns about the safety of the mother given the LW’s emotional outbursts and suicide attempt. She says it’s because of the MIL and SIL; I saw it’s deflection from deeper emotional issues.
      1b.) Call CPS on behalf of my clients and raise concerns about the safety of the father given that he’s apparently not preventing the children from being around a mother who is clearly unstable and, again, attempted suicide.
      2.) Upon the substantiation of the claim — because, honestly, I’ve seen claims substantiated for less — advise CPS that my clients are willing resources for an emergency placement of the children while further investigation is determined. Assist CPS in validating my clients’ home as a safe, appropriate, and well-maintained home for the children (i.e., enough rooms, proper food, no underwater mortgage, etc.)
      3.) Convince CPS to file an emergency placement order getting the Court to place the children with my clients and to limit visitation with the biological parents to supervised visits while further investigation occurs.
      4.) Work with CPS and whichever state authority handles such matters — be it the DA’s Office, Corporation Counsel, the Department of Health and Human Services legal counsel, or some other group — to file (what’s called in my area) a Child In Need Of Protection and Services (CHIPS) petition with the Court requesting the Court find that the children are in need of protection and services and ordering the parents to comply with court-ordered conditions and work with CPS if they want to be reunited with their children in their home.
      5.) While the CHPS process is going on, work with CPS to get a court order in place permitting visitation with the children even after the CHIPS dispositional order ends (or, if I really wanted to be a dick, file a Petition For Transfer of Guardianship of the children to the grandparents.)

      I know I sound horrible and like I’m capitalizing on the mistake of the LW, but I’m pointing out how it could be done.

  7. LW you need to get help….the real threat is that you would choose to try to commit suicide becuase of things your MIL and SIL are saying? you would leave your own children without a mother rather than just shutting out the MIL and SIL? that makes no sense at all and it is obvious that at the very least you are suffering from depression….there is absolutely no reason why you need these people in your life if they are indeed lying about you and it sounds like they don’t want anything to do with your children….the solution is to just have nothing to do with them….this letter makes me afraid for your children though, i think you need to get professional help as soon as possible both for your depression and how you choose to deal with negative situations

  8. Wait, what?!?

    Something doesn’t add up . . .

    1. Yeah, sometimes I wish that when people decide to write to Wendy, they would take a deep breath and re-read their email before clicking “send.”
      There are so many things the LW could have clarified that would have impacted the quality and content of the advice she received.
      Number 1: All she had to say was “my partner is no longer in the picture” (if that’s the case) and we wouldn’t all be distracted by that elephant in the room. The partner’s involvement or lack of involvement means everything when it comes to giving proper advice.
      Number 2: I’m confused about whether or not the SIL is still involved in any one’s life. Also, if the MIL is threatening to sue for visitation, did she talk about the basis for her claims?

  9. LW, you need to stop contributing to the drama by engaging with the these manipulative bullies. If you don’t engage with them, 95% of your issues with them will disappear. Don’t take their calls, delete their emails, turn down their invitations.

  10. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    I have two immediate responses/comments that I want to say and then I’m going to go read Wendy’s response. This is a new game I want to start playing to see if I get it right. 🙂

    1. For your own sanity, you must cut from your life any and all toxic people, whether they’re family or friends or coworkers – just figure out a way to remove yourself from the situation. Anyone that causes you such anxiety and fear and emotional breakdown is not worth it.

    2. Where the fuck is your partner in all of this and what is he doing and how is he helping or not helping?

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Um, hello, Wendy’s first sentence was “Where is your partner/husband in all of this?” That’s like just what I said – I am a genius!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Um, hellooooo, it was like verbatim. I deserve a cookie!

  11. Avatar photo something random says:

    WWS. I wonder if this letter writer has an immigrant background. The value she is placing on this extended family and the power position of the mother-in-law has this feel to me.

    1. Avatar photo something random says:

      Of course, I’m assuming this letter was written by someone in the States.

  12. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    Seriously, where is the father of these children/the person related to the crazy in-laws??

    If he is still in the picture- he should be dealing with them. Why is he allowing his family to bully his family! I would advise you stop talking to these women beyond “hello”. Cut them out of your life and let him deal with their drama.

    If he is no longer in the picture, and you do want to allow visitation- interactions do not need to go any farther than the who, what, when, where of the visit. PERIOD. Ask for a middle man if the conversations can’t be civil.

    Bottom line is- you don’t need toxic people in your life, and you don’t have to have people in your life just because they are “family”. Cut the bad out, get yourself to therapy ASAP!!! Your kids need you to be happy and healthy.

  13. This LW’s letter made me sad. LW for the sake of your children and your own mental well being you need to cut ties with these people. Totally and completely. I’m not sure where your partner is in all this, but if they are no longer in the picture (death) then maybe you see the in-laws as a connection to your partner or that continuing a relationship with them is something your partner would want. But your partner wouldn’t want that if this is the outcome. …If your partner’s still around then they have really let you down during this entire situation and i would suggest couple’s counseling.

    There’s a lot of steps to take to get yourself fully out of this, but the first one is to set up boundaries with your MIL and by that i mean cut her out fully and then start seeing a counselor for yourself. I’d also suggest move somewhere else if that’s possible just to get out of the toxic environment.

    P.S. In the future i wouldn’t tape conversations with other people without their knowledge to use against them by showing their mother. The mother has already shown an affinity for her daughter and her daughter’s kids so unfortunatly even with proof that outcome was expected.

  14. Why would the LW offer to let the MIL see her grandkids as some sort of condolence for the MIL’s mother dying? Seems a strange gesture to make at a very stressful time for the MIL.
    Why was the LW in attendance at the MIL’s mother’s funeral if she’s not particularly close with this family?
    Have all of the issues with the MIL and SIL only crept up in the last year, out of an eight-year relationship with the partner?

    The LW clearly needs help, but I’m having trouble even following her thought process through all this mess. It seems she sees herself as the victim of her MIL and SIL, which very well may be, but I honestly can’t tell how much the MIL and SIL have actually done and how much has been warped by the way the LW interpreted her story for us and perceived the events at hand.

    And I’m not trying to blame or finger-point, I know all too well how depression can completely distort normal thought processes and behavior. Something tells me this family chaos didn’t cause her depression, but that she might already have been depression-prone before this and this just ended up being a trigger.

  15. Bittergaymark says:

    LW. Get mental help — STAT!

    As everybody else has said — Where is your husband? Partner? Lesbian Lover? Which is it? Who knows?

    Unfortunately, you are so disjointed and so vague in you letter — you cast yourself as an unreliable narrator. You provide few details of your inlaws bad behavior — only your wildly over the top reaction to it. Sadly, much of this simply doesn’t ring true. For all I know — you could have a persecution complex… Honestly? This letter mainly left me scratching my head.

    1. Yeah, I really wonder what the letter would be like and how we would have reacted if the grandmother had written in. While I have sympathy for the LW if she describes her situation accurately, I can’t help but think there is a different side to this story. I have a lot of reservations about this request for advice. As you mentioned — unreliable narrator.

    2. Yeah, the fact that she just kind of glossed over a suicide attempt kind of worried/confused me.

    3. “unreliable narrator” <— yes

      "persecution complex" <— yes again.

      Those honestly were the first things that came to mind reading this. Recording the phone calls speaks to the latter, the complete vagueness ("the children were let down") speaks to the former (how were they let down? what?) and, just, yeah.

      I get that the LW has a mental illness, so I encourage her to seek help. That's all I can really say about this letter. PLEASE seek help, for your sake, for your children's sake, for your partner's sake.

      1. My first thought when reading this letter was Borderline Personality Disorder. I am NOT a mental health professional. I’ve just had several clients with BPD and LW reminds me of them a lot.

    4. This was my reaction too, pretty much word-for-word.

    5. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

      Amen to that. I simply can’t take this LW seriously. Maybe it’s because of all of the crazy clients I deal with on a daily basis, but this just seems like such a distortion of reality that it makes me inclined to think the truth is the exact opposite: that she’s mentally unstable and having outbursts, and the SIL and MIL are trying to calm her down. She tried to commit suicide; she is so convinced the SIL is trying to drive a wedge between her and the MIL that she RECORDS THEIR CONVERSATIONS. These are not the actions of someone sane enough to potentially care for children, at least not now. Maybe when she gets some help she can, but I’d be calling CPS immediately if I were in that family.

  16. Avatar photo the_optimist says:

    I’m not even sure what to offer this LW except hugs. Please, please for the sake of yourself and your children, stop engaging with these people. I know how frustrating it can be to feel as if you need to make people see your side of things, but this is absolutely not worth your life.

  17. Avatar photo meadowphoenix says:

    So my advice is
    1) Get long-term therapy. This isn’t just because you tried to commit suicide. I would suggest this even without that line. You are clearly suffering in this relationship and I think you could really benefit with someone who will hear you out and give you ways to cope.

    2) Talk to your partner. Any way you want to handle your MIL or SIL has to be 100% backed up by your partner. 100%.

    3) Disengage from both your MIL and SIL. Find out if there are any grandparent laws in your area, but your son getting hurt from the way your MIL treats him is a perfectly valid reason for not letting her have much contact with your kids.
    Okay, I hope I don’t sound harsh. But a couple things you wrote seem to suggest that you want to control how other people view people based on how you view them. For instance, I get the feeling that the reason you were so willing to believe your SIL was because you were bashing your MIL and you already don’t like her. And what could you hope to accomplish by telling you MIL that your SIL was lying about her? Were you trying to explain your reasoning for not liking her or were you trying to get your MIL to not like your SIL or to feel as outraged as you were about someone lying to you? Were you trying to get closer to her by telling her someone else deserved her ire more? If so, telling on your SIL isn’t the way to do that. LW, you recorded your SIL in order to get proof. That’s far and above necessary in order to warn your MIL about your SIL. I know you don’t think you had anything to do with your MIL’s attempts to start a fight with you, but considering this was at her mother’s funeral, wouldn’t this have been the time to not go? Or not responded? Or left (if she or her family physically held you when you tried to leave before responding, then that’s not cool and also usually illegal)? I don’t doubt that your MIL is behaving terribly. I do think that you are trying to get your MIL to view you in a certain way or at least to view you and your family with respect. You can’t get her to do this. Give that goal up.

    I think you’re very lonely, LW. I think you are not feeling connected with your partner’s family in a way you either expected or need. But it’s not going to happen with only your actions. You MIL and SIL have choices to make in their relationships with you and you can’t influence these ultimately. Find the support you need in your partner and your friends and family. I hope you do get the support you need.

    1. I too have a sneaking suspicion that the LW was very much NOT welcome at the funeral, and her presence there may have even started the fight if MIL isn’t fond of her and didn’t want her there. And I had the same questions about why the LW went to the lengths of actually recording conversations and showing them to the MIL … to what end? What did she hope to accomplish there? To become the favorite “daughter” by positioning her SIL as the bad guy who just wanted to interfere?

      The LW seems a little obsessed with having proof of her innocence. I don’t know what to make of that, but it stands out to me that twice in this letter, she’s all “I have been mistreated and I have PROOF!” BGM may not be far off with the persecution complex, which could be tied up into her depression somehow (as a symptom or a result).

      I also wonder exactly how the SIL “bullied” her. Seems legit to me that SIL would be upset about being recorded and ratted out to Mommy, but I don’t know to what extent she actually took that. Bullying, to me, indicates a longterm pattern of harassing and threats, but I don’t trust this LW’s sense of scale, seems she could be the type to feel “bullied” (even to the point of a suicide attempt!) by one very heated phone call from the angry SIL. I don’t want to doubt her story and her pain, but I can’t go beyond a reasonable doubt in any direction without more details.

      1. Avatar photo meadowphoenix says:

        I agree with you and BGM that’s there’s a mix of desperation and conviction, while actually not giving much detail that is really concerning.

        Frankly, a lot of my confusion would have been cleared up by a mention of what the partner thought in all this (I could totally see the LW going with her partner to his grandmother’s funeral, but that’s not really how it reads at all. I mean I guess it’s the kids great-grandmother, but idk).

  18. She can only sue for grandparent’s rights if the state has a grandparent right law on the books, and I’m not sure how many actually have that law on the books.

    Don’t worrry about the grieving blowhard. Worry about yourself. Let your partner deal with his mother. It’s more than his turn to deal with the bitch. You worry about you. Wendy is right when she says you need to take care of yourself. That’s the only way you can take care of your family. Your family consists of your children and your partner. They are important, which means YOU are important. Don’t let a wicked woman and her scheming daughter get the best of you.

    *hug* Take care of yourself.

  19. Wendy –

    You used “him” several times in your answer, but I would note that LW never ID’ed the gender of her partner. (At least I did not spot it in the letter you posted)

    If her partner is also female, then the source of the male genes for each one may explain why they are treated differently by various people. (“we have two boys together” … “than his cousin” –?)

    1. Even if the LW’s partner is not a “he”, it doesn’t explain why the partner hasn’t stepped up in between the LW and the in-laws, and it certainly doesn’t excuse the MIL’s behavior regarding the kids. If I were in a relationship where my own mother would treat my kids and my spouse differently because of our sexual orientation, I would be the first one to cut ties. I wouldn’t wait silently until my partner tries to commit suicide !

      1. Oh, I was not excusing the behavior; I was just trying to figure out if there were some contributor that would be obvious if we had the facts. If there is, it would really help to know it. For example, if the “favored” boy is a genetic relative of the MiL but the other is not, that could be the source of the MiL’s different attitudes.

    2. I find, as a writer, it’s easier to pick a gender pronoun and stick with it than to use “his or her” throughout. I did nod to the possibility that the partner may be a woman in my reply though.

      1. That is certainly fair. I wondered if you knew the partner was a guy based on info not posted here. If the partner were male, it might answer some of the questions I posed. The “his grandmother treated him differently than his cousin” phrase when the two boys were both the LW’s sons is still something I do not understand. I just cannot get out of my mind that the reality behind that phrase may be important to understanding the MiL’s behavior.

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