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My husband and I have been married 30 years and I knew my MIL (now 86) was a manipulative personality when we married. At the time, I was determined to build a relationship and treat her like I would want someone to treat my mother. I have put up with her drama, her inconsiderate behavior, her pouting, the snide, snarky comments to me when no one else is in the room, the demanding behavior, the lies and I have struggled to handle it all with as much grace as I could. I once drove 4 hours in the driving rain to spend a weekend with her and take her out to eat and the first words out of her mouth were a few very rude comments. I should have gotten back in the car and left, but I didn’t. I would not let my husband say anything because I thought enough grace would deal with it. While I did not say anything to her, when I got home, I told my husband I was done with it all because it is just hurtful after 25 years, she never calls just to chat or to see how I am doing, she just wants to talk to me when she wants something done (usually to save her money).


This past week she called me and said she had bought 3 pairs of pants and they were too long and would I mind hemming them for her at Christmas. I told her, I thought it would be best if she had them hemmed near where she lives because I have a bad knee and the doctor has told me to take it easy. Well, unbelievably, she said she would climb on a chair. Honestly, to keep me from squatting down, she would have to climb on my kitchen table and that is too dangerous (she is not very stable on her feet)plus the sanitary issue! Well she waited a few days and called my husband wanting to know why I wouldn’t hem her pants. My husband backed me up all the way and said it would be best if she had someone near her home do them for her. She wasn’t happy and said they were going to charge her $10 a pair and bless my husband he said well that sounds like a great price. She can very well afford $30. She wasn’t concerned about my knee or how I hurt it or if I even felt like doing it while hosting Christmas for several days at my house.


So of course, my husband and I expect her to “pout” at Christmas - I have 8 people coming for 4 days. I am not in a mood to put up with the drama, the pouting or her performance as the "victim" but simply want a quiet, enjoyable, stress-free holiday (for all my guests) and handle it without losing my cool. So, just reading this back it sounds so very silly but this has been 25 years in the making. I really just want everyone to relax and have a good time at Christmas but don’t want this middle school behavior to hold everyone hostage. My tendency is just to ignore her and not participate but is that the best way to handle it?

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I have to agree with Lealonnie. If she starts in, don't cover up for her. Stare at her silently as though she is an interesting insect.

In truth, this is for your husband to deal with . He needs to say "Mother, just stop or I'll need to take you home. You can't behave this way in MY home".
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ExhaustedPiper Dec 15, 2019
An interesting insect 😂 I love this analogy! An interesting and funny visual and I plan to use this in the future!
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Yup, that's the best way to handle childish behavior.....by ignoring it. I remember when my son was little and would throw himself down on the floor in the grocery store having a temper tantrum if he didn't get what he wanted. I'd tell him, "just let me know when you're done having a meltdown and if you don't hurry up, you'll also get punished in addition to not getting that candy bar."

The trouble with your MIL is that she's never been told to Sit Down And Shut Up. You're doing that very thing now by ignoring her pouting.

Enough is enough.

Enjoy your holidays!
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ML4444 Dec 18, 2019
Exactly right! Everyone has kowtowed to her so she will behave “this time” and it just enables continuing bad behavior!
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After 25 years I would not invite her to dinner. If you feel you cannot uninvite her, your husband needs to have a very frank conversation with her telling her, her behaviour will not be tolerated and the consequences are; she will be removed from your home, she will not be invited back, etc. Even now, if she had planned to stay at your house, see if you can get a hotel room for her. It may be challenging this close to Christmas, but I would not have her staying under my roof.

It is not easy to do, is your husband afraid of her? Is that why he has let her get away with acting like a spoiled child all these years? Is she a spoiled child, a bully or both?

I called out an uncle in a crowded restaurant many years ago for his ugly racist comments. Everybody was afraid of Uncle Jim's temper, but I refused to listen to the garbage he was saying and have my 6 year old son exposed to it. We were a group of over 20 and everyone was shocked at what I did, but you know what, he never spoke that way infront of me or my child again.

She has gotten away with abominable behaviour for years. Time to put up a boundary and say no more.

I refuse to see either of my parents on Christmas or any other holiday. Too many years of snide remarks, off hand comments, and criticism.
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Mahm22 Dec 15, 2019
@tothill, we live about 4 hours away, thankfully and so when she has acted up in the past, he has pulled her aside and told her to end it and I guess she forgets because we only see her about 3 times a year. I just always thought that if I handle it with grace she will stop, but that was a fantasy! My husband and I are prepared to call her out if she makes any rude comments. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to answer! Have a great holiday :-)
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All these comments put me in mind of my ex MIL. I was married to her son for 22 years. That was 22 years of sheer HELL she put me through, and he never stood up TO her or FOR me. Just one of the factors that led to my loss of respect for him and our ultimate divorce. Yeah, after 22 years........hmpffffff. Well. She was The Queen and I was the servant. Whatever I cooked she 'didn't like' and wouldn't eat. I'd take her shopping and she'd treat the saleswomen like dirt, tossing things around and refusing to hang up the items she'd tried on. She was a witch, plain & simple. Anyway, when I filed for divorce, she demanded the things she had given me over the years back!! She wanted the antiques and a couple of paintings, a silver tea and coffee service, tablecloths........things of value that she said were 'heirlooms.' I was LIVID! I gathered up everything she had ever given me individually and us as a couple, and piled it in the foyer. Called the ex and told him he had 24 hrs to COME PICK UP ALL THE CRAP or I'd donate it to Goodwill. I meant it and he knew it. I also told him I'd NEVER speak another word to his mother & I didn't. He hightailed it out to the house & picked it all up and she proceeded to SELL all of it at auction!! The 'precious family heirlooms' my Aunt Tillie's arse.
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Could I suggest simply not inviting her?  After all, if you treat people badly (and she has over a long period, not just an occasional "bad-hair" day, wouldn't you expect not to be invited?  I sure would. I'd enjoy the holiday I'd plan and leave MIL at home. And I WOULD NOT feel guilty at all.   Do your guests a favor - 4 days with MIL is no holiday IMO.
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Whenever my grand aunt would start this line of nonsense (why always during the holidays?), I used to tell my kids to treat Her the same way you would treat a wet dog.

think about it....you know that dog is coming over to you to shake off ... also, you know they stink...and once they shake off on you..you will also stink.

so..think wet dog and act accordingly.
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Mahm22 Dec 15, 2019
@Katiekate, interesting perspective and I will keep that in my back pocket as well. I intend to avoid the wet dog and enjoy my holidays. Thank you for your answer, it is much appreciated!
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OMG this reminds me a story about my MIL before she got "really bad",, lol ( she was never diagnosed as ALZ or dementia.. just "off" ) My BIL and SIL and their 2 kids came for Christmas dinner, as I always had the big family do.. she stood in the kitchen talking to BIL and SIL and said how much she always wished he had married his old GF.. Jaws dropped,, SIL ran upstairs and cried.. Her kids and my DD went with her, BIL said NOTHING.. and she could not "understand" what she said that was so bad. Now there is a holiday to remember! To make it funnier, she ended up living with BIL and SiL,, who could not wait to dump her in a MC..
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The very first thing you must do when she arrives is squint critically at her trouser hems and say "well! - I don't think much of that! They're nothing like straight. Why on earth didn't you let me do them?"

Should confuse the heck out of her and you'll have her on the back foot all Christmas.

Seriously - base ingratitude coupled with thoughtless and self-centredness are very, very hard to take. They wear you down until eventually you just can't bring yourself to care for that person any more.

If there are signs of a tantrum during peak periods, another thing you could suggest is that she goes for a nap. I don't even mean this rudely, I mean an enjoyable nap (silk eye shade and lacy pillow optional extras) that might perk her spirits up no end.
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Mahm22 Dec 15, 2019
Oh my gosh, I laughed out loud! I love the nap idea and I am definitely going keep that one in my back pocket to use. I didn't see it as rude at all but a well thought out suggestion. She takes naps at her house, she can take them here as well. Thank you for answering, it is much appreciated. :-)
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Tothill, this sentence rang a bell in my head

"I refuse to see either of my parents on Christmas or any other holiday. Too many years of snide remarks, off hand comments, and criticism."

This is why my exfriend has no interaction with her 2 boys. Its been tense with the oldest for a while, he lives in same town. Youngest lives 2 hours away but can be distant. She has told me things she has said when she has been invited. She sees nothing wrong in making comments to others like "well its nice to "finally" see P and grands. You know even living in the same town, I never see them". A couple of Christmases ago her youngest son told her she was not invited over to oldest son's house because they didn't want the drama. No, she still didn't get it. Its never her. She ends up driving people away and I am one of them. She is not fun to be around.

Mahm,

My MIL would do the same thing, make her little comments when DH was not around. She came off nice but I could read between the lines. Then there was taking something I said when her and I were alone and twisting it all around so she looked good and telling this lie to my DH. Who by the way knew better. She was passive agressive and lied a lot. Was told by her sister from childhood. I stopped going to her house alone or being alone with her at all. Different person when DH was in the room. Best thing, they moved to Fla, a 2 day trip for us.

TG u have your DH on ur side. He needs to talk to Mom before Christmas and tell her she needs to be on her best behaviour.
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Mahm22 Dec 15, 2019
JoAnn29, I swear we have the same MIL - all of those things resonate with me and in a funny way gives me strength going in to the holidays. My husband and I have put together a game plan: he is going to back me up if I call her out in in response to her snide comments, the suggestion for a "nap" he thought was an awesome idea and just knowing all that makes me feel better. He is prepared to talk with her about her behavior beforehand. I don't hate her, there is just no feeling there anymore, that is just gone. My husband is also prepared to tell his mom that she is not welcome at our house unless she behaves. I just consider that such a big victory and wish I had done all of this sooner. You know just a little vent here: my mom passed away at 42 y.o. and what I wouldn't give to take all that time and energy that I gave to my MIL and give it back to my mom. Thanks JoAnn29 for the insight, it is very much appreciated. I know this battle will continue but at least I feel I have a handle on it.
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She might still be bringing the pants?!!

...

Have you got any pinking shears? Cropped styles are very fashionable, I hear.
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Mahm22 Dec 23, 2019
OMG 😳 Countrymouse you are hilarious!
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