Shortcuts: “My Mother-In-Law Keeps Bringing Us Unwanted Food”

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It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

My mother-in-law is a nice person, but I just can’t get along with her. She is doing too much for us and is a bit dumb, so she doesn’t understand when you hint to her not to do so much, and if you tell her straight to the point, she will cry in front of you. Every week, she brings fruit to our house, which is an hour drive away, but my husband and I rarely eat it and then it gets rotten and we have to throw it away. Besides, weekdays my husband and I are busy, and I really hope to have private time with him during weekends but this is ruined by her.

Additionally, she keeps buying clothes for my 2-year-old daughter, and most of them are not comfy to wear and are just kept in the wardrobe. She will bring all the ingredients from her house to my place to make soup for my daughter, but her cooking skills are really, really bad — the soup is basically tasteless. I end up having to finish it for not wasting food.

I ask my husband to tell her not to do all these things, but then we quarrel as you know she is still his mom. I really hate her for threatening my relationship with my husband. I rarely talk to her in order to maintain a distance from her. The last time when I was friendly to her, she started messaging me and calling me all the time to ask all sorts of things. I really hope you can give me some advice. I can’t vent this to my husband or my parents. — Over it

Nope, I have no advice for you, sorry. You will have to continue suffering with the awfulness of a mother-in-law who cooks for your daughter, buys her clothes, and brings food for you and your family. Or, if that is really too horrible to even fathom, you could, oh, I don’t know, invite your mother-in-law to your home on a regular basis — say two or three times a month — so she can stop inventing reasons to come by and stop being so desperate for a bit of your time and attention. Invite her over for dinner so there’s an end time involved, or, better yet, go have a day to yourself when she comes over and while she hangs with your husband and daughter. Or! Ask her to babysit while you and your husband go have that private time that you hope for every weekend. It’s not the end of the world if you have to throw out some food you don’t eat or donate some clothes that don’t get worn. Honestly, if this is your biggest problem in life and you HATE your mother-in-law because she brings you apples or whatever, you are in for a rude awakening the first time you face a true problem. Get a grip.

I have been dating this guy for over a year. I am a widow. He is divorced. Both of us have adult kids at university. Here are the challenges:

1. He is still sharing a house with his ex. He stays in the cottage and she stays in the main house according to him. I haven’t been there. I have not met his kids. He hasn’t told them about us yet.

2. He has been to my house many times and met my kids.

3. He has no plan as to when he is moving out and he is not sure when he tell his kids about us. I have not even met his friends. He gets cross and defensive every time I bring this up.

4. He spent the whole festive season – Christmas and New Year’s– with his family. We only communicated through text.

I feel like I am wasting my time with him. I feel like I am the last option and not part of his priorities. He only gives me attention when his kids are away. Please advise. — Bottom of the Priorities

He is not available to you for a real relationship and you are the other woman he only sees when he’s able to get away from his family. He is not divorced. He is lying to you. Please MOA.

My significant other for sixteen years bought me a case of wine for Christmas and nothing else. I am not an alcoholic; I generally have one to two glasses of wine on the weekend. His gift has insulted me. What should I do? — Not an Alcoholic

Throw a party (and tell guests that you have plenty of wine and, if they’d like to contribute something, to bring an appetizer or a fun game instead). And in the future before a special occasion, give your significant other some gift ideas or the names of or links to stores you especially like. You might even consider creating a wish list, and then if he asks, point him to that. Not everyone is a great gift-giver without some guidance, and after sixteen years together, maybe the poor guy just ran out of ideas for you. I wouldn’t read too much into it if your relationship is otherwise happy and going smoothly.


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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. LW1 – She is not threatening your relationship with your husband. You are doing that. Tell her how much you appreciate your bringing fruit, but that you and your husband rarely eat it, and you’d hate to see it go to waste. Repeat every time she comes over. If she cries, she cries.

    1. Right! I have never heard such rudeness and bitterness over a woman who clearly is quite kind and considerate. She does not deserve her mother in law. And to call her dumb! Dumb is treating nice people poorly.

  2. LW1, start drinking smoothies made with that fruit. They taste good, you get all the fiber and nutrients, and it’s easy to cut up fruit and freeze it in baggies.

    Also, hell, try eating more fruit for snacks. It’s good for you!

    Throw more salt into the soup. Or hot sauce or whatever. It’s freakin winter, soup is a nice, hot, complete meal, what’s the issue?

    Finally, take a pic of the kid in her new outfit, send it to MIL, then *donate* it, rather than leaving it in the closet.

    1. Juliecatharine says:

      Oof LW1 you really should follow Wendy’s advice. Your husband is certainly picking up on your distaste for his mom and it’s going to poison your marriage.

  3. Totally agree with Wendy. There is such a dislike in your letter. Being married means handling the in-laws and have a relationship with them. She feels insecure because of your hostility. Follow Wendy’s advice and it will amend, surely.

  4. LW1-This is really the definition of a first world problem. I wonder about your background because you seem to have a huge fear of waste which I think is driving your frustration here. You aren’t even paying for this stuff so if its not a budget issue. I think after you tell your MIL gently once that you don’t want things like X (fruit, clothes, soup etc.) then you should release yourself from the guilt of wasting the unwanted stuff she gives you. Donate the clothes, bring the fruit to the office breakroom with a sign that says its open for taking, and just throw out the soup if its so bad.

    1. Yeah, at my last office, we got fresh fruit delivered every Monday, and it would all be gone by mid-week. Any fruit salad that came with breakfasts would be gobbled up too. People like fruit, and it’s not cheap.

  5. LW1 – WES you sound very whiny and ungrateful. I am so delighted any time my MIL gets to come over and spend time with us…she also lives over an hour away. Does she do everything perfectly, the way I would? No! But it’s the thought and intention that I focus on, and how appreciative I am of her willingness to help. That’s what gratitude looks like.

    LW2 – he’s not divorced, separated, or living in the guest house. MOA

    LW3 – I get cases of wine delivered quarterly. I didn’t realize that made me an alcoholic, but thanks for the enlightenment.

  6. napoleon1066 says:

    I’ll happily take the case of wine off of LW3’s hands.

  7. Autumnrose says:

    LW1- you wanna trade MIL? Fruit is expensive and not sure why your family isn’t eating fruit ,that’s your prerogative, but it has lots of awesome nutrients. Maybe you should learn how to bond with your MIL. If she wants to buy your daughter clothes then schedule a time you can go together and shop so she can learn what you like for her to wear and learn how to make new food recipes together if you don’t like hers. You can be honedt in a nice way, like hey that soup isn’t hitting the spot with my tastebuds lets try something else. If she isn’t insulting you, putting you down, and trying to run your family then maybe its you. Alll those gestures sound sweet. I think she cries because she is trying to be good to you and form a relationship.

  8. LW1: You dislike your MIL, and that causes you to see harmless behavior as annoying, even malicious. If there was a specific inciting event to set off your dislike, perhaps try to resolve your feelings around that. Otherwise, fake it until you make it.

    LW2: Even if everything he told you was true, he’s being nasty by getting cross when you bring up meeting his children or friends. You deserve better.

    LW3: Is there more here? Did you buy him dozens of carefully chosen, thoughtful gifts, and he just got you a case of wine? Because you say you DO drink wine, every week in fact. Did he get you red and you prefer white? Do you normally drink boxed wine to stretch out how long it’s good for? Worst case scenario, you’re getting three months of (presumably) good wine, longer, if it’s a white you can refrigerate. Is there a history of alcoholism in your family, and this kicked off anxiety about your drinking? There just has to be more to this story.

    1. Regarding LW3 – agreed. There must be something more to the story. My boyfriend got me a half case of wine for Christmas, but it was a wine we had purchased while at a winery in OR on vacation this summer, one we really liked. It was a thoughtful gift. And he’s certainly not implying I’m an alcoholic – and neither is the LW’s boyfriend.

  9. LW1 – I think the idea of you taking control of your calendar would be better. So for me, my in-laws pick up my son from daycare once a week. They grab him around noon and bring him back around 6. Sometimes they go back to their home or to ours or out to do an activity. It works great because we then have an evening visit and they have one on one time with their grandchild. They normally give him dinner so it is one less thing for me to do. Our weekends are then left largely open and everyone wins. I would turn this frustration into something that is helpful for you. Utilize your tribe, rather than resent it.

  10. LW1 – your contempt for your MIL is sad and hard to read. She sounds like someone who is trying to make gestures of caring and is being met with coldness. Schedule times for her to come over on some weekends that won’t interfere with your private time. If she happens to make soup, there is salt and pepper. She buys your daughter clothes that she’ll never wear? That isn’t unique to her – lots of grandparents do that. Take a picture and donate them. It takes no time to respond to a text. She sounds like she’s being mildly annoying at worst, but nothing you’ve written seems to portray her as malicious or out of control–and your comments about her being dumb and how you really hate her for “threatening” your relationship are harsh.

    LW3 – I have 1-2 glasses of wine a week, and I get wine delivered regularly. It’s really useful to have bottles to bring over to friends houses for parties, or to have something nice to have with dinner. I don’t think getting a crate of wine signals “alcoholism” in any way, shape or form, and on the spectrum of gifts, it’s rather nice. I’m wondering what in the world was so insulting about it?

  11. I feel so sorry for the MIL in LW1s case. LW1, I know this is just a snippet of your relationship, but you’re coming across very cruel in your letter. Grandparents are valuable, even if they come with minor annoyances. And yes, these are minor. You don’t like fruit? I’m sure there’s a pantry nearby who would welcome fresh fruit. Or, I don’t know, try giving it to your daughter – most kids like fruit. You don’t like the clothes? Donate them and invite her to shop with you, or just tell her. My MIL used to buy fleece clothes for my son, so I thanked her and then told her that he gets too hot in fleece, so now she buys non-fleece items. Even if she doesn’t start buying more useful things, that’s ok. Accept the gift graciously, then donate it and be happy that someone less fortunate will have a brand new item for their child that they might not have been able to afford any other way.
    Your reasons don’t seem all that critical to me, but maybe she just annoys you in general. One thing that helps me deal with people who I find annoying is to start a gratitude exercise directly related to them. Try to be grateful for her contributions and frame them in a positive light. If you can find a way to appreciate the fact that she wants to help you, you’ll be more kind in your approach to guide it, and hopefully she’ll be more receptive. For example, my husband’s grandma gives everyone kind of off the wall gifts. She always has, and people will make fun it if when she’s not around. They started that with me and encouraged me to mock something, and I just said “she’s not obligated to get me anything, and it was nice of her to think of me.” And then I donated what I didn’t want. Don’t use up a bunch of energy with negativity towards her. It doesn’t do anyone any good. Be kind and set a loving example for your daughter.

  12. TheRascal says:

    I’m more skeptical of LW’s MIL. The red flag to me is that she uses crying to get her way; that’s manipulative. If someone tells her to pull-back, her only response should be, “You got it. Thanks for letting me know.”

    If my MIL, whom I ADORE, came over every weekend, I would be pulling my hair out with frustration. You need to get your husband on the same page so that you and your nuclear family can grow together and when you as a nuclear family want to share time with MIL, then you can invite her in. She should not be inviting herself over.

    1. Idk, if the LW comes off as harsh to the MIL as she in her letter then I’m not surprised the MIL cries.
      But I agree that not wanting her to come over every weekend is a reasonable boundary.

    2. Ele4phant says:

      Re the crying thing – eh maybe it’s manipulation.

      But given how frustrated the LW1 seems to be with her – contempt just seems to be oozing from that letter – perhaps the way the LW speaks to her MIL is nasty.

      Don’t know – but if this was my MIL I’d be cool with everything she’s doing.

      And even if she was a nightmare, it’s really on the son to backup his spouse and set limits with his MIL. If he’s not doing those things, LW1s problem is him not her MIL.

      1. TheRascal says:

        I definitely see the contempt from the LW buuuuut….I feel like the MIL might not be as “nice” as she seems. Any reasonable person who is told to stop doing something and does not stop, shows me that that person only cares about herself.

        I don’t think this is as clear cut as LW being an asshole and MIL being some poor, sweet, trampled on old lady by a jerky DIL. There’s more to this extended family dynamic that we aren’t seeing laid out in this letter.

        We are in agreement about husband backing up the LW and being the person to set the boundaries.

        What I can’t fathom is how many people are okay with the MIL coming over every weekend, uninvited. That’s flat out rude–
        which is another indication that there is more to this story from the LW’s perspective of other types of boundary-stompoing (Unless the LW’s husband is inviting her over? It’s actually unclear. I am assuming she is not specifically invited).

      2. Agreed! The first thing the LW mentions is the need for time with her husband. Sure, sometimes maybe they want to go out and the MIL can babysit, but having time just to unwind at home without anyone else is also pretty precious. It’s completely fair not to want your MIL in your home EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND.

        I imagine if this is cleared up, all the other petty problems will seem much less irritating and the LW may actually appreciate (most of) what the MIL does.

      3. ele4phant says:

        I mean, I’ve said on multiple occasions that she has a legitimate boundary in asking that her MIL not come over every weekend. So…I’m (and a lot of other people) definitely not saying it’s okay.

        And maybe if we could get the full picture of the MIL’s behavior, we’d have a different opinion. But based on what she wrote in (her opportunity to pain herself in the best possible light) my two initial reactions are a) let’s put this in perspective I see that your peeved but consider the behavior of lots other MILs out there – she’s far from the worst so let’s reign in the disdain here and b) this is really an issue with you and your husband – he needs to be on the same page as you – sounds like you guys aren’t in alignment here. Work on that.

      4. Thanks @The Rascal, for saying what I wanted to say. An in-law – no matter how sweet or well-intentioned – who invades your space too much, and a spouse who refuses to do anything about it, can be tough on a marriage. Yes, the LW’s contempt is very obvious here, and yes, too much food and clothing is a “first world problem,” but the fact that it doesn’t sound like the husband is willing to sit down with the LW and negotiate what works for the both of them in terms of parental involvement/visits, and convey that to his mom, is problematic.

    3. Northern Star says:

      I re-read that letter to see if I missed something—LW 1 doesn’t say the MIL shows up without warning. Most likely, the MIL talks to her SON (LW’s husband) to let him know she’s coming.

      Since this jerk “rarely” talks to her hated MIL, that makes the most sense to me.

  13. Yes, you have a child. You are very likely to be a mother-in-law someday. Is this how you want to be treated? Is this what you want your child to learn is the way to treat people, particularly HER GRAMMA? You need to rethink this relationship or you could well be on the other side of a cold, tense familial relationship in the future.
    And so unkind to your husband too. He doesn’t want to be in the middle of this and it’s pretty hard to stand up for you when he can see how unkind you are to his Mother. It’s so little effort to extend kindness compared to the burden of the anger and resentment you are carrying around.

  14. Damn. I wish I had LW1 and LW3’s problems.

    And, LW2, you know deep down he’s still married. MOA.

  15. Ele4phant says:

    LW1 you don’t have to adore your MIL. That’s not a life requirement.

    You guys have personality types that don’t mesh, you wouldn’t seek out her company if you weren’t married to her son. That’s fine. Smile, be polite, let your husband handle most of the interaction.

    However, you should recognize you’ve got it pretty good. Some mother in laws meddle in their sons marriages. Some mother in laws usurp your parenting decisions. Some mother in laws are outright nasty. You just have a mil that wants to be involved. It’s not the worst thing ever. Eat the fruit, or donate it, or just compost it. Let her cook one meal a week even if it’s not great. Maybe cook a side to add if you really don’t like it.

    The one thing where you might have a legit compliant is that she visits every weekend, and getting advance notice on when she wants to come over. I do think it’s reasonable to have weekends that are just for the nuclear limit. But that’s more of a husband problem. You need to work with him on agreeing what that limit should be, then you need him to set and enforce that limit with her.

    If she cries at that, it’ll be on him to deal with.

  16. LW1- I could have written this letter except I appreciate my MIL’s intentions and gestures. I have extra fruit every week. If we am not going to eat it I give it to others. I try to put my kids in every outfit she buys at least once and if she won’t see them in it I take a picture and send it to her. When we are done with the clothes I take them to a consignment shop and get money (AWESOME!).

    We do “family” dinners at their house every other Tuesday. My MIL is a good cook , but some meals are better than others. I always take a small portion of everything she takes the time to make. I even take home leftovers that we may or may not eat.

    I highly recommend learning about the “love languages.” My MIL shows her love by doing acts of service. I tell myself the more overboard she is the more she loves us <3 http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

    I work full-time and also enjoy my "family time," but my in-laws are my family too. My parents are also very involved with our kids too. Building relationships with other family members is good for kids. The more people who love my babies the better. Lighten up!

  17. Anon from LA says:

    LW 1: Donate the clothes and throw away the unwanted food. I know it’s wasteful, but you’re not obligated to keep food you don’t want to eat. And talk to your husband about setting boundaries around your MIL’s visit–you both need to agree on how often she can visit. And if she shows up announced, don’t let her in the house: “We’d love it visit, but we’re busy right now. See you next weekend!”

  18. Man LW1: your MIL is soo dumb! She doesn’t even no how to make soup! and then you have to add a couple of seasonings, and then get to eat lots of free delicious food. That is just fucking miserable! What a dummy! And lets talk about that barbwire clothing she’s buying your kid, get the fuck out of here with that shit. Who does that?! And then she goes and buys you fruit, fucking fruit are you kidding me! I mean if that’s not an evil dumb MIL, then I don’t know what one is. I mean you have it so so bad. I would pack up and leave that extremely unpleasant household right away.

    Dear Wendy, my MIL bough us a box of cheerios that have just been sitting there for a month, how do I get rid of this women? PS she loves my daughter too much so that’s annoying too. please help.

  19. I think LW1 has made one fair point: she wants to spend time with her husband (and presumably her kid) on their own. Everything else is pretty petty.

    It’s completely reasonable to have 1 or 2 weekends a month for just your and your husband and child. Tell her directly, remain calm, and don’t back down if she cries. Preface it by saying that you appreciate her dedication to your family, but the three of you really need some time for yourselves.

    Everything else is completely manageable. Don’t get into arguments about it because THAT is what will poison your marriage. Your MIL shows she loves your family by bringing them fruit and clothes. While it might be mildly inconvenient, it’s really not a big deal.

    1. WWS. That sounds like an amazing MIL. You haven’t faced true adversity in life if this is what freaks you out. Heck, I don’t think you could handle an actual evil MIL. Having to deal with your husband’s family is kind of part of the package.

      “Besides, weekdays my husband and I are busy, and I really hope to have private time with him during weekends but this is ruined by her.”

      Yes, it is reasonable to want alone time with your nuclear family, but it sounds like the LW expects to never see her MIL–she has blocked off both weekdays and weekends. But I agree that at least 1-2 weekends should be for the nuclear family. That is reasonable. I think taking charge and making plans is the way to go. So if she says she just wants to drop by with some clothes, tell her you’ll see her in 2 weeks (or whatever) for dinner we can get them then. It’ll be harder if she makes soup and then calls asking to drop it off, but maybe your husband can draw boundaries there (or swing by and pick it up on the way home from work the next day or something). And really, a couple of hours one evening doesn’t ruin the remainder of the hours in that weekend.

    2. dinoceros says:

      Those things are individually petty, I guess, (I mean, I don’t agree, but in theory they are), but getting food and visits that you don’t want DO create stress. I’m surprised that everyone loves their in-laws here so much that they’d be cool with them coming over every single week.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        And she isn’t just bringing over food. She is bringing over the ingredients and cooking the food in the LWs kitchen. That’s rude. She has found a way to intrude and displace the LW for hours at a time every single weekend. I think she has found a way to emphasize that she is the matriarch of the family and the LW just has to put up with it.

  20. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1 and LW3 should both die miserable and alone. Terrible people they are — and both stand as grim examples that nobody ever gets what they truly deserve. Honestly? Whiney people? You should all just go fuck off and die. The world would so not miss you.
    LW2. Get a fucking clue. You are wasting your time in this relationship.

  21. I really dislike how you called your MIL ‘a bit dumb’. And everything else you said about her paints an adequate picture of how impossible it will ever be for her to do anything right, including bringing you food, making you food, providing clothing for your daughter and attempting to contact you to build a rapport…the one time you stooped down to talk to her. If it’s evident to so many people who don’t even know you, I’m sure it’s blatantly obvious to your family. You don’t deserve the woman IMO.

  22. Teri Anne says:

    While I agree that LW1 sounds hostile and harsh towards her MIL, I am sympathetic to her feelings of intense frustration of being unheard in her marriage and in her own home. There are indeed worse problems to contend with than having to deal with unwanted food and clothes, but cleaning out the refrigerator of uneaten food and donating unwanted clothes does take time that a working mother would rather spend on other things. The real problem is that the MIL refuses to listen to the LW, and instead bursts into tears whenever the LW tries to set reasonable boundaries. That her husband refuses to step in and help is a serious martial problem.

  23. LW1: I wish I had your problem. We only have 1 grandparent available, who has to divide her time between all 4 grandkids. I would LOVE for someone to take off the pressure, bring us food (btw who doesn’t like fruit??), come spend time with her grandkid so at times me and my husband could have some one on one time. What the hell is the problem here?
    PLEASE appreciate what you have: an adoring mother-in-law who wants to be a part of your lives. DAMMIT LET HER.

  24. I sympathize with lw1 as I feel the main problem is that her boundaries are not being respected and neither her husband nor mother-in-law care about either her wish for less inundation of food, clothes etc, or that she wants or more alone time with just her husband and child.

    There seems to be a real lack of respect and kindness for letter writers here. Bittergaymark’s comment is particularly disgusting.

    Lw1 – you need to try again to have a serious conversation with your husband and communicate to him how much the situation is bothering you and that you need his support. Also therapy might help you to learn to enforce your boundaries, particularly with people who use emotional manipulation. If you can get some boundaries in place your relationship with your mil may improve, and hopefully you will learn to appreciate her efforts to help as you feel less threatened by them.

  25. Boy, there are some rude responders on here. I have a mother that brings me things constantly that I don’t want,can’t use.don’t like. She also brings them to my business and wants me to use/sell them there. I have asked,explained etc. either not to give me anything or tell her the kind of things I WOULD use. Nothing has worked,as she won’t listen and also nags me about the stuff-asking if I have used it etc. She treats me like I am a child,telling me how to run my business etc.
    Does this make me want to spend time with her? NO I think she is rude and disrespectful-I don’t need micro-managing.
    It may not be the exact scenario but I get where the L.W. is coming from. Some people do not respect other’s space and boundaries. Also,everyone is different and maybe not as social etc. There needs to be a balance here.

  26. dinoceros says:

    I think the reaction to LW1 is a little excessive. Sure, her problems aren’t the worst in the world, but little things add up. When someone comes over to your house presumably unwanted, it’s one thing. When they do it every week, it becomes really, really annoying. I’m a little confused why the LW thinks the MIL is ruining her marriage — just b/c she fights with her husband? If that’s the case, then learn that criticizing his mom is going to piss him off. Try doing other things to deter the MIL. Meet her out somewhere not at your home, give her the box of rotten fruit when she comes back, whatever.

    LW2: Yeah, he’s clearly still with his wife. These are sort of obvious signs. You’re his affair.

    LW3: What part makes you “insulted”? You wanted a different gift? A more thoughtful gift? You think he thinks you’re an alcoholic? If you’ve been together for 16 years, I don’t know how getting a gift you don’t like is the sort of thing you write in for advice about. Either you guys have other crappy things going on that make this seem like a huge issue, in which case, ask about and address those … or you have a good relationship, and in that case, why is this such a big deal? Tell him not to buy you a case of wine. Next time tell him what you want him to buy you.

  27. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    “She will bring all the ingredients from her house to my place to make soup for my daughter,”

    She isn’t just bringing over some soup and dropping it off she is making the soup in your home which takes far more time. Maybe she is being nice but maybe she has figured out a way to take over your kitchen for several hours and an excuse to stay in your kitchen for hours. I would be annoyed if anyone showed up to cook in my kitchen every week. If I was planning to cook something else and they were in my way using the utensils/pans that I needed to use I would be very annoyed. Even if I wasn’t planning to cook I don’t want to spend my time cleaning up after someone else who doesn’t belong there in the first place. I get this.

    The part about her bringing clothes that your daughter doesn’t wear because they aren’t comfy could be her trying to help out or her trying to push a different style of clothing on your daughter. I have seen people do that, give a gift not because they were being thoughtful but because they were trying to force someone to dress in a different way and felt that if they gave it as a gift the person would have to wear it as a show of gratitude. Which do you think you MIL is doing? When she gives you clothes that you know your child won’t wear I’d say, “Thanks. You know she doesn’t wear (whatever it is) because they aren’t comfortable.” I would not take a picture of your daughter in the clothes because that just encourages MIL to give more of the same. Take a picture if and when she gives you something your daughter will wear.

    I think the reason this is so frustrating for you is because your husband refuses to help set a boundary. You have a husband problem rather than a MIL problem. Currently you and your husband aren’t a team. Talk to him to find out what he thinks is appropriate. Is he willing to draw any line. I would at the least leave all of the dishes that his mother uses to cook soup for him to clean up and put away. If you mind and he doesn’t let him be the one inconvenienced by his mom. Go do something relaxing instead. If he doesn’t clean up leave them until he does clean up. If they are still sitting there dirty when his mother arrives the next weekend let her clean them before using them again. I would do that even if I had to buy some more pans. Tell your husband that since it bothers you to have his mom cooking but not him you will leave him to be the one to deal with his mom. He can spend quality time with her and clean up after her. The same with the clothes. If he thinks they are great let him deal with them. Leave them for him to box and give away. Let them pile up if necessary. Right now his mom comes over and you are inconvenienced. Let him be inconvenienced. Find a way to make her time in your home some time for yourself. When she arrives say something like,
    “Oh great, You’re here. I’m going to relax while you cook soup.” Then go do whatever you would find relaxing. Go watch TV in your room or read a book or garden or soak in a bath. Instead of becoming tense and angry remove yourself and use it to relax. This may not be the family time you want but it will leave you in a much better mood so that when she leaves you will be able to have some quality family time instead of you having to unwind from being angry.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I’d also leave the rotting fruit sitting there on the counter so that she sees it the following weekend. Your MIL needs feedback that shows her that what she is doing isn’t being used. Suggest something else that she could bring that you would eat. Leave the fruit there every single week. Let her be the one to throw it away or let your husband be the one to throw it away but don’t make throwing rotten fruit away one more chore that you do. That will only make you angry. Basically disengage. Back away enough that you aren’t angry through the week because of MIL showing up on the weekend. Don’t spend your time during the week dealing with the unwanted clothes or soup or fruit. Let your husband do that. Tell him that you know he appreciates it and so you will leave it for him to take care of it. Say that in a nice way.

    2. dinoceros says:

      I didn’t fully understand the soup situation — if the MIL just stopped making it before the end or if it was just bad, but either way — if she gives you half-finished soup or nasty soup, then just toss it when she leaves. Or make your husband eat it all.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        It says she takes all of the ingredients from her house to my house to make soup for my daughter.

        I would let her try to feed it to the daughter but not force the daughter to eat it. Children do like bland food so maybe the daughter would like it unseasoned. A toddler might not be very good with soup just because they aren’t very coordinated yet and mainly eat with their hands.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Wow. Once someone enters in an opinion, every other has the same.

  29. LW1 – I am in your boat and we don’t even have kids. MIL insists on making a meal for us every week. We have asked her not to on numerous occasions. She also likes to use our house as a dumping ground for items she no longer wants without asking if we would like them. Here is my advice for you: 1) You don’t need to be the point of contact with your MIL. I am a firm believer that he should deal with his family and you should deal with yours. 2) Don’t feel bad about throwing away the food. What more can you do? You’ve asked her not to bring additional food and she refuses to listen. At the end of the day it’s a power move on her part. My MIL has specifically said she wants to feel useful still. Noble? Perhaps. But find another way to feel useful – I don’t need or want to be cooked for. If she asks you about the food after the fact be honest and tell her you didn’t eat it. 3) Just quietly round up everything she has given you and your child that you don’t want and donate it. You won’t change her, so it’s easier to throw away some food and bring a box of stuff to goodwill every now and then than go through a divorce for no reason.

    But I know how you feel. You want to throw the food in the garbage while she watches. And it’s all because she has no desire to respect your wishes. She’s doing it solely for selfish reasons.

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