Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Mother-In-Law Trash Talks Me to Everyone”

FYI: The forums are currently down until further notice due to technical issues.

My relationship with my husband is great except for when it comes to his mom. She has never liked me, which I’ve always just dealt with, but since I became pregnant, her behavior has become even worse. Her actions originally followed the typical MIL-from-hell activities — trash-talking me to others, passive-aggressive comments when I was around, and just seeming to try to undermine me at every turn. She would often try to align with my stepson against me, and she eventually blocked me on FB after I politely asked her to keep her political comments off my posts.

In June, my spouse planned a trip to a place near her home for a sports event and encouraged her to come see him, but she was not interested. When I got pregnant, I decided to come along on a babymoon, and we invited my husband’s adult son (age 19) who recently moved away. Suddenly my MIL wanted to join, and I told my husband that I didn’t want to be around her while pregnant as it was too much stress. My stepson actually told my MIL that she shouldn’t come because it would be hard on me, and she acted like she was fine with it but then started attacking me to other family members, even questioning my baby’s paternity.

While we were on the vacation, she requested photos, and my husband told her I was posting them on FB, knowing she had blocked me. She claimed I had blocked her, and when my husband told her he had known I was blocked and had seen my FB to be sure, she became mad and texted my stepson calling me “evil” and a liar.

At that point, I decided she was too toxic to remain associated with. I sent her a message asking her to stop bringing my stepson into the middle and letting her know that if she wants to be a part of my soon-to-be-born son’s life, she will need to treat me with civility and respect and agree to stop pulling other people into the middle of our disagreements. I told her I wouldn’t keep her from being in her own son’s life but that I would not be willing to be around someone who actively tries to alienate me in my relationships with others and thus she would not likely have the opportunity to interact with the new baby, as he would not travel without me for many years.

Her response was to say that she had not blocked me on social media. She did not say anything else and I took that as her decision to not be civil. Within a few weeks, she began telling my stepson that his dad had chosen me over her and had been cruel and rude to her, leading my stepson to ignore his dad for months.

At this point, she is not speaking to me and is only occasionally texting my husband. But she recently saw a photo of the baby in a shirt that she did not approve of (she is homophobic and racist, tbh) and proceeded to tell other family members that I was corrupting my son and hers. I told my husband that his talking to her and sending her photos after all that she has done is bothersome, as I feel like the only incentive she has to being nice to me is her desire for pictures and interaction, and having those things now, she can continue to trash me. He suggested he stop speaking to his mother entirely, which isn’t my goal either. I’m just not sure what to do. There are many other examples of other rude and cruel behaviors she has performed which assure me that she is not a nice woman, but she is his mother.

What do I do? I get along well with his father and stepmother even though they don’t share my political views. — Not a Fan of my MIL

It sounds like you mostly have what you want in regards to your nasty-sounding, manipulative mother-in-law: she’s not speaking with you, you don’t have to see her, and your husband is apparently not pushing you to share the baby with her or in any way accommodate her. And it sounds like the only interaction your husband has with his mother is the occasional texting and sharing of some photos. You claim that your husband’s talking with his mother and the sharing of photos of your baby kill any incentive your MIL has to be nice to you… but she was never nice to you! Your husband has offered to stop talking to his mother entirely, but you said that isn’t your goal. I guess in a perfect world, you’d have a wonderful, loving MIL whom you get along with fabulously, but the world isn’t perfect and, instead, you have a MIL you can’t stand who trash-talks you to other family members.

I don’t doubt that your MIL is awful – homophobic racists generally are. But I also think some fault lies with your husband—-and a little with you. You could have taken the high road and agreed to see her when you accompanied your husband on his sporting trip near her home instead of claiming it would be too much stress for you while pregnant. Did you not think that would get back to her? Did you not expect she would feel alienated and, given her history, trash-talk you to others? True, she’d already turned down an invite to meet up with her son and then changed her mind when she learned her grandson would also be going (I bet she doesn’t get to see him much and was enticed by the opportunity). You say you don’t want to keep her from seeing her family, but that’s essentially what you did when you said you could not see her while you were pregnant. It was a sporting trip and your stepson was going to be there; honestly, a different weekend away with just your husband would have made a much better babymoon. If you couldn’t handle the stress of being around your MIL, you could have just stayed home that weekend and enjoyed a little me time before welcoming a newborn to your world.

And your husband has been kind of a doofus through all of this, too. Telling his mom to check your Facebook for photos when he knows she blocked you? Why not just send her some photos?! Why create unnecessary drama – especially when you’ve already made clear you can’t handle additional stress while pregnant?! And why is he telling his son all the stuff you’re saying about his mother, knowing it will get back to her? Why is he not telling all his loose-lipped family members to stop telling you what his mother is saying about you? Why is he sharing photos with his mom of your baby wearing clothing with politically-provocative messages?! Are all of you just addicted to the drama or something?

Listen, you have very little to do with your husband’s mother at this point and there’s no indication that that has to change. Your husband isn’t pushing for more interacting with her and he even seems willing to cut off communication with her completely. If at some point he wants to see her in person and bring your son with him, you’ll cross that bridge when you get to it (although it seems your answer to that is “hell no” and if your husband knows that and isn’t arguing about it, maybe it’s not a bridge you’ll ever have to cross, and the occasional texts and photos will appease Grandma indefinitely). So, really, the only shit you have to deal with is other family members sharing the stuff your MIL says about you behind your back, so tell them to stop that shit (actually, tell your husband to tell them to stop that shit).

Other than that, enjoy the civil relationship you have with your FIL and his wife (despite the differing political views), and work on mending your relationship with your stepson by NOT discussing his grandmother. If he brings her up, tell him you haven’t spoken with her in years (or however long it’s been) and have nothing to say on the matter, period. If he keeps pushing it, let your husband deal with it. In fact, that should be your mantra for anything regarding your husband’s family: let him deal with it.

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

12 comments… add one
  • CurlyQue

    CurlyQue November 6, 2019, 4:28 pm

    WWS. LW, i also think any future contact with your MIL should all be through your husband. It’s his place to tell his mother to stop putting his son into the middle of disagreements. That whole long message you sent her should’ve come from him.

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    Sea witch November 6, 2019, 4:45 pm

    “He suggested he stop speaking to his mother entirely, which isn’t my goal either.”
    No, but it might be HIS goal. Perhaps he’s had enough of his manipulative mother as well. Let him deal with this in any way he sees fit, which could include him also blocking her from his life.

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    Anonymousse November 6, 2019, 5:59 pm

    Just stop interacting with her. Don’t trash talk her in front of anyone. She’ll either learn or she won’t. It’s no sweat off your back if she doesn’t grow up and stop it. Let your husband deal with her. When he said he could stop talking to her, that actually might be what he wants at this point. If my parents were constantly trash talking my husband and causing all this drama, that’s exactly what would happen.

    Your husband is the key. He needs to deal with her, never you.

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    dinoceros November 6, 2019, 8:41 pm

    There’s never a perfect solution. You say you don’t want him to stop speaking to his mother, but you guys can’t change her. Clearly, this situation is a big deal to you. There are only so many options. Don’t rule things out, because I’m not sure there’s a better option. It’s also his decision. I empathize because she sounds awful, but don’t be a martyr.

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    SubbyP November 6, 2019, 9:51 pm

    Did your spouse suggest that he cut off contact with his mother in a sort of “UGH, FINE, GOD I guess I’ll NEVER SPEAK TO HER AGAIN” passive-aggressive way? Or was it more of a “Frankly, I’d be fine not seeing her anymore at all” sort of way? If it was the latter, he might have his foot halfway out the door on that relationship anyway, and your fed-up-ness is simply the impetus he needs to make the NC decision.

    ….Also, what the heck is a “babymoon”?

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    • avatar

      Fyodor November 6, 2019, 10:06 pm

      Some couples take a last hurrah vacation before they are neck deep in infant feces.

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    brise November 7, 2019, 4:34 am

    Your MIL sounds terrible but I don’t follow your actions either. There is a lot of assumptions and interpretations (“she has never liked me”), which can be easily reversed: you don’t like her. Then there is a negative dynamics which can only lead to the collapse of any relationship, which is not for you to decide. To exclude her at this sport event was wrong and offensive. And it is wrong, in my opinion, to not even send pictures of the baby and to bar her to meet him. It is also wrong to state it as a position of power from you: this is also very naive. However stupid and petulant she is, and toxic, I think this is not for you to decide that and it is somehow cruel. Of course, her actions are superwrong. But your answers to her behavior just validate what she accuses you of.
    I think adults in a marriage should find a way to manage their in-laws, in a way that doesn’t consume their energy – unless they are abusive. She is abusive to you, so don’t deal with her. But don’t cut her from your husband and your baby. My philosophy is to not deal with jerks, but not to become a jerk oneself.

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    brise November 7, 2019, 5:22 am

    PS: and good for you if she blocked you on FB. Good riddance. You don’t want her to read your posts, do you? I wouldn’t. Don’t focus on that, let go and let her have a relationship with her son and her grandson in real life. During that time, have a spa or whatever lets you feel good.

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      golfer.gal November 7, 2019, 9:36 am

      I can’t say I agree with letting the husband take the child to see the mother in law. I don’t think racist, homophobic, daughter in law hating, Forever Trumper granny should get access to her grandchild simply because she wants it. I definitely think it is in that child’s best interest not to be exposed to that, and she’s proven repeatedly that she can’t be trusted not to lambast the LW, so they have every reason to believe she would do that in front of grandchild. I wouldn’t let my kid with 39 1/2 feet of that woman.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. November 7, 2019, 10:45 am

    Yeah, me neither. Grandma’s got to learn that her words have consequences, and if she’s going to trash-talk grandkid’s mother, then she doesn’t get to see grandkid until she stops it. That’s fair to me. I think the husband should be the one to lay down that rule, though. If LW does it will only feed the fire. Husband’s got to put his foot down and tell his mother her behavior is unacceptable. Being civil and getting along is a nice goal, but I don’t think she’s capable of that without a little incentive. I agree that being blocked on FB is a blessing and the LW should embrace it as such.

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    FYI November 7, 2019, 10:09 pm

    PSA to people who don’t get along with their in-laws …

    You cannot escalate the feud and then complain that the other party is unreasonable. Refusing to give her photos of her grandchild, disinviting her from a family event, threatening to withhold contact with a new grandchild — this is all escalating. You honestly think she is going to straighten up and fly right because you put her in her place?

    You have everything you want, LW — a child, a husband, etc. What does it cost you to be kind to your MIL? Not lunch every day, but you can’t share some photos with her!?! Really? Try to let go of your end of the rope.

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    Claire Hunter November 14, 2019, 4:50 am

    I wouldn’t let her see your child either. She shit talks you, that’s the consequence for her. Why should you have to suck eggs? I have the same problem with my mil. This year she went too far and is now having a big cry about not seeing my children. When she started causing trouble in April she rhought it was so funny, I guess the bitch ain’t laughing now 😂😂

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