Hi everyone. I came across this website by searching on Google for answers to how I feel. I read through the answers many of you gave Maybell, a poster who had similar issue of being fed up of living with her mother in law and was going nuts about the situation. After I got married, my husband started getting new roles at his place of work, which took him outside the country: I eventually go to join. Upon return, hoping that he gets a new role, we move to his mothers house temporarily. Just before COVId hit, he had to travel to start a new role and I was left with his mother and our son. She had lived with us for a few months when I had our first child. It was a time of anxiety for me as I didn't know what to expect from having to live with a MIL and I was overly nice. I allowed her do things how she wanted and to be fair to her, she didn't overstep her bounds. In fact, I think I welcomed her to go a few steps in.
During the first stay at her house while my husband went on his assignment, I felt she was beginning to intrude on my privacy. By the way, I didn't have work cos my husband was posted on short assignments also during which I had children and couldn't have been able to get a job. (I call myself a trailing spouse) I eventually went to meet my husband on this assignment after being with his mother for 9months. It wasn't easy but I managed through. It felt like being parented all over again and I loathed it. Something happened during this time. From being fed up of living with her and just needing a change of environment, I called my husband to let him know I was going to visit my parents for a few days. His reaction shocked me! He flared up saying we didn't discuss that bla bla and essentially made sure I didn't go. (He even mentioned that he had thought I had a fight with his mother was why) He also made sure I only spent a few days at my parents'. I must let you know, I've been so scarred by that event that I feel a lump in my throat if I ever want to mention to him that I want to go visit my parents. Upon return from the country he went on an assignment, together, also with the knowledge that he might be posted outside the country again, we returned to his mother's house. I returned with another child this time, making two kids and I specifically mentioned to my husband that I'll need a maid to assist around the house because 1, I know his mum doesn't like the idea and always says she can do things herself. 2, she's 75 and can only do so much with a handful 2 under 2s. He said he'll talk to his mum and make sure we get a maid. Once I got back to the country, my mil also asked me if I'll need a maid to which I replied yes and let her know why. Long story short, 14months and there was never a maid. My husband barely assisted with chores anyway as he is 'the man' and culturally should be served. I resented him the whole period cos there was neither privacy and he also didn't deliver on his promise. My daughter fell in her care someday and bled. Only then did he have the nerve to tell her 'we need a maid you're getting too old and can't do these things'. They both had an argument where she denied ever not asking him to get one but made a statement, mockingly that when you get to your new country go and get a maid.
Now, we're moving to another country and he made the decision she'll be coming with us without even informing me, I heard from her. When I called him to a private meeting to confront him on that, he called my thoughts 'rubbish' and talked about how we'll need her help bla bla. I have resented him and her all these while and can't get over it. We're(mil, myself and kids) now in the new country and he can't come with us yet but I can't get all the resentment behind me and I'm really being nasty (imo) too her. (Silent treatment, passive aggressive etc) cos she always wants to be in my business. Am I acting out of place? Are my feelings normal? Am I a bad person? I have parents too but they respect the union but
I know its none of my business and this is between u and ur husband, but I would not have anymore children for now. I think you need to work out a lot of problems. He needs to have a job where he is home more than gone. He needs to be there for his children. He needs to be there for his mother. If him traveling is going to be your life, than you will be raising the kids and being responsible for MIL. You will need to make decisions for you and kids.
It might all make more sense if you could set out what culture you grew up in, the same for your MIL and for your husband, and where you are living now.
For me in these circumstances, I’d think about 2 options:
1) Tell your husband that you don’t want to live with his mother. Ask him to arrange somewhere else for her to live. This is one you can’t force, but you can make it very clear. Your husband appears to think that if you and his mother spent more time together, you would be closer and get on better - the opposite of what you want. This is not about particular annoying incidents, make it clear that it's the whole arrangement.
2) Get a job yourself, and send the children to day care. I don’t think either MIL or DH can stop you doing this. It will give you time on your own, get you some financial independence, and get MIL out of a large part of your children’s lives. Day care can (and often does) refuse access for other family members. It isn’t the outcome you want, but it will change the situation a lot.
As is so often the case, the only person you can change is yourself. Hoping that either MIL or DH will ‘understand’ and ‘co-operate’ isn’t going to work, and you know it. These options may be more ‘saleable’ to the members of your family who wouldn’t be happy with separation or divorce.
At least think about what actions you can take yourself, besides getting angry.
Best wishes, Margaret
For context, I'm from West Africa, Nigeria and currently residing in Canada.
Thanks for being brutally honest. I particularly appreciate you reminding me that the only person I can change is myself because, indeed, I'll keep dying inside of I think I can change anyone. I'm setting up a new routine that will give me a chance to work on myself and be away for a longer part of the day and will serve as a distraction for the time being. It's. It that I can't deal with having to live with my MIL, my issue is that, my husband seems to want me to do this, while moderating/controlling my wishes to spend time with/at my parents as well. It's the injustice in that that I am upset about.
I can't tell from your posts - sometimes I feel like your husband is incredibly controlling and you don't have the space to breathe without his permission. And other times - I feel like you have some autonomy if you can just sit down and talk to him without his mother around. That he is a "mama's boy" and the cultural significance has compounded that. Additionally, by virtue of your culture you have been relegated to "last place" as a woman and a mother - which is ironic - because you are not HIS mother so you are not on the pedestal.
So can you shed a little bit of light on exactly how much freedom to influence you have? Is he open to having conversations with you? Is there room to improve the communication between the two of you? Is he just used to getting his own way and you asserting yourself is new to him and he is not processing it well?
(I get this, I have always been the "go along to get along" type and my own DH got very used to that in the first 25 years we were married, and I hit a certain age and my entire personality sort of upgraded - still me - just with a new assertive side that decided I was done with putting my own needs last. And my DH (and everyone else that was used to me always saying "Sure, I can do that for you" has struggled quite a bit with me pushing back all the time and basically demanding more balance and having higher expectations of them now. It has taken my DH quite a while to get used to the "No". )
If you have the autonomy to safely be more assertive in your culture and in your marriage - maybe it is time to sit down and really clear the air with him. Tell him what you told us. Explain that you have an expectation that you will see your parents when you want, if he expects you to take care of his mother. That it is a trade-off. That you are managing the entire family when he is gone - on your own. That you don't expect to be micromanaged. That you will include his mother in some things. But that you don't intend to include her in everything and that it is unreasonable to expect you to. But make sure this conversation is away from her, away from the kids - just the two of you. Hear him out on his thoughts - but temper them with your expectations. If he expects you to continue to take care of her, especially without his help half the time, then he owes you the respect and the autonomy to run things the way that works best for you.
It seems that you are strengthening your spine now - both with him and with her. Just be careful not to go too far the other direction. Sometimes it is a very heady and empowering feeling to take control and it can go to your head fast and sometimes go too far. You have every right to stand up for yourself and take control of your life, just make sure you keep it in balance. Know where you are prepared to go with it and know your stopping point. Especially culturally - if you cross certain lines it is hard to come back from it - so know those lines before you cross them and know IF you want to cross them. Because you know the repercussions in your own culture far better than we can.
and for the question on my background/culture, we are west Africans (Nigerians). I recently moved to Canada. With my husband, yes, we do have discussions and he is open to communication as he calls it, but culturally, as he usually refers to, he makes the final decision and I must tel you I don't feel some sense of equity many times. Also, I think it's also because of the way I've enabled it: by being a "go along to get along" as you described yourself for the earlier part of your marriage. Now that I see that it's not going to be on my interest to be that person, I'm trying to be more assertive. And be more direct with my needs.
Your husband may have apologized for past hurts, and you may be trying to let go of them. That's a good goal.
Try to focus on now and positive "I" statements.
"I wanted to spend time with the kids without your mom inserted herself where she doesn't belong. The kids need to be our highest priority right now.
I don't WANT to provide care for your mom. I want you to understand that and find a placement for her".
Let me give you an example. We live in a multi-generational home. Well - under normal circumstances we do. When mom is not taking care of my grandmother and when our oldest daughter is home from college. Right now we are down to three of us. But for over 3 years before COVID, caregiving and college 2 1/2 hours away - we all lived under one roof. It was a decision that we all made after my dad passed away - to allow mom the freedom to travel and come home to people, have someone in her house when she was gone, give our daughters the exposure to their grandmother, etc. Anyway - the house is plenty big enough to spread out and not be right on top of each other - we could be together when we wanted and apart when we wanted. (my grandmother apparently believes that we were all breathing down my mother's neck and also apparently very loud for some reason - instead of being just normal people living our lives LOL - she said she couldn't imagine "Living with that many people" - She has lived alone in complete silence since my grandfather died 16 years ago - so maybe we are too loud for her?)
Anyway - my point - sorry ;-) Five people under one roof. At any given time - I could hang out with mom - without anyone else. I could hang out with DH without anyone else. My daughters could hang out with my mom without DH and me. Any configuration - no one had any hurt feelings around it. If mom wanted to hang out she was welcome. But she also felt it was important to give us private family time. And we felt it was equally important that she have time in the main living room that was just her time - whether it was just her alone or for having people over.
Did you overreact?
Let me ask you this. Was it a case of "I have never said these things to him before and I blew my top out of nowhere and he had zero context for what was happening"? (It doesn't sound like it from your description)
Or was it a case of "I have told him this same thing a million times and he never seems to hear it, so when I get upset the million and first time - he thinks I'm a lunatic because I'm blowing my top because I'm sick of trying to get him to listen to me and I don't know how else to get my point across"?
LOL - the reason I ask is that so often - the people we love seem to ignore us as we are telling them something until we lose our cool. There is a Tiktok video right now of a mom that is handing her kid a hot pot and she says softly "It's hot on the bottom." and the kid literally tries to grab it by the bottom. She jerks it back. Softly but firmly. "It's HOT on the bottom". The kid tries to grab it by the bottom. She jerks it back and then "IT'S HOT ON THE BOOOTTTOOOOMMMM!!!" and the kid looks at her like WTH is wrong with you?
Is it possible that you overreacted? Maybe. You used the word "triggered" which means that a lot of what he is doing and has done are still very fresh and painful. I agree with Barb, you need to get someone to help you work through what YOU can work on - if you plan to stay. No it wasn't bad that you didn't take his mom with you. But sometimes people can be dense when they aren't right on top of a situation. Especially some men about their mothers. And I get the feeling especially your husband about his mom.
But at the same time- sometimes bringing up everything that he has ever done wrong doesn't work in your favor either - and that's a hard lesson to learn - I think I learn it over and over in my own marriage and have to learn to let things go frequently because it is hard not to bring things up when they pop into your head. My best advice - deal with the issue that is right in front of you - try not to bring up the past while you are trying to solve the present - it just confuses things and derails the conversation.
by the way, I appreciate everyone's opinions, suggestions and advice. The most helpful thing is being able to share I feel and find people to even at least empathize and validate my feelings.
You certainly deserve to have time for yourself and time alone with your children.
One of my favorite things to do with my children when they were young was to take them to the park. it’s fun and great exercise for everyone!
I would be honest with your mother in law and tell her that you are going to the park to spend time with your children and that you will see her when you return.
I am curious about her relationship with your children. Do they get along or does she smother them as well?
Does she socialize with anyone else?
Please share your feelings with your husband. He isn’t being kind or fair to you or his children by imposing his mother into your private lives.
You have a right to feel the way you do.
What happen to playpens. I see it all the time where mother's claim they can't get anything done because of having small children. The house does not have to be perfect, but you clean as you go. While the kids are sleeping. I have a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house which includes a living room, kitchen/dining area, a family room and a laundry room. I have worked full-time and part-time raising two kids. My house may not have been spotless, but it was not dirty either. My MIL was 71 when my FIL passed and on her own in a different State for 20 years.
I cannot say I loved my MIL but I respected her because she was my husbands Mother. Her living 900 miles away was a God send. You can set boundries with MIL. Your husband is head of household, not her. You are entitled to your privacy. Your entitled to leave the house without her. She can't get into your business without you telling her about it. Talk on the phone where she cannot hear you. If she does and makes a comment, ignore it. Or say as nicely as possible "my house, my choice".
Since you really don't go into detail about how your MIL is personality wise, you may want to look up "The Grey Rock Method" and see if it can be used in your situation. Also the book "Boundries" by Townsend and Cloud may be a good read. It's Christian based so the Honor your Father and Mother is touched on. Even if your not Christian, it may help with cultural situations too.
Your MIL has to be made aware that your children's needs come before hers. In the US culture, the wife should be #1, once children are raised and old enough to go to College or hold down a job, parents should be moving on with their lives, finding new interests. Children should not be made to feel that they owe their parents. And not that we should not be there for out parents, but it should not be expected that we give up our lives to care for them either. You will read a lot of posts where the OP has a similar problem to yours, they are here trying to find help. I think there are more parents that realize that its time to let the chicks fly the nest than those who expect their kids to do everything for them. I so hope you can set boundries. It's not easy, especially when you have been raised that you don't have any rights but it can be done little by little. Good Luck.
Which brings up a good point. 75 in even reasonably good health, with access to good medical care, her MIL could be around for a long time. Honestly, in many ways with people living so much longer, elderly is as much a state of mind as it is a number. My grandmother is closing in on 100. Strictly speaking it is ridiculous to define ¨elderly¨ by the post-retirement age now because honestly I work with a lady who is 75 and basically said that they would have to pry her away from her desk one day. Not to mention quite frankly, our idea of what is elderly...the needle moves the older we get I think. It is about perspective.
But in any event, I think she needs to consider that her MIL could be around for a long time and that any issues they have need to be ironed out or she needs to really think about the future.
Your wants and needs aren't unreasonable. You have been repeatedly misled, lied to, and used. I don't know what country you are in now, but surely there must be help for you to stop being their slave.
In most western countries, a woman has the right to come and go as she pleases from the home where she lives. She does not have to provide unending care for in-laws. She earns or is allotted money from the household funds so that she can buy things that she wants or needs for her children and herself. Yelling at her, financially abusing her, physically and emotionally and psychologically abusing her is illegal. Restricting her from certain areas of the house or her own children is illegal. How many of these things have been done to you?
Please research the laws where you are. There may be legal services at no charge to you. I am sure that in a western country, there are associations to help abused women - house them, keep them safe, help them leave the country if that's necessary.
If you can't find free services, save some money and get legal advice. Hide the money in a safe place where husband and MIL won't find it. Then do something to help yourself and your children.
You don't have to live that way.
Your MIL is not living with you....you are living in her house.
I have to ask how did your husband "make sure you didn't go" to visit your parents? Unless he kept you hostage or threatened you with bodily harm you should have been able to leave to visit.
If he did threaten you with bodily harm or threaten you in ANY way you need to take the children and LEAVE. Get to a Women's shelter if you have no other place to go.
Your husband seems to be controlling.
You might want to talk to a therapist or spend some time with a marriage counselor and your next step might be a divorce attorney. This does not sound like a "happily ever after" marriage to me.
Without financial freedom but WITH the responsibility of the children.. it is hard to up & go. The OP is putting stability of the children's lives first at this time. I get that.
But from my view (most probably different cultural background) I see male control issues, quickly spilling into financial abuse & freedom restriction. Preventing the OP from contact with her own family is now against the law here. Coersion Control.
I would strongly advice the OP to seek therapy, preferably someone who would understand her culture/faith. To discuss, learn to stand up, move forward. (Or even move away). The alternative is to allow that man to enslave his Wife. This also teaches the next gen.. daughters taught they have no value, son's taught they can abuse women. Stop it now. Teach your children better!
This marriage will need a lot of change in order for the OP to flourish & grow as she should.
Aside from making the decision to bring his mother with you as you move, unilaterally. He has controlled when and how long you can visit your parents when he is not even in the same country with you. I am operating with a very US mentality, so I know that my perspective is very ¨girl power¨ biased, but to me that is just unfathomable to me that you are managing the entire home on your own and being expected to run every request by him for permission to do things.
I am running under the assumption that at least your husband is from a culture that mandates caring for their mothers as they age over all else? And that they bring them to live with them permanently? I could be off on this, but I am going to go with it. The nature of his job takes him frequently to a number of countries, you move often, and he is frequently out of the country for his job even when you are not moving. If he expects his mother to live with you for the remainder of his mother´s life, and he expects he will continue to have complete control over you - you have to do the math and know that his mother is also playing spy.
I know it is also a very US mentality to jump quickly to walking away from an unhappy or untenable marital situation - and I rarely jump to that right away personally - but there are definitely situations where a woman is in a relationship that seems too controlling or potentially abusive that is worrisome. Do you have any power at all in your marriage? What is the hierarchy? I am getting the sense it goes something like DH>MIL>Your Kids>Annike. Now I am not talking about the way YOU prioritize people´s needs in your head or how you take care of people or respond to them - and I doubt that you would do it the way I lined it up anyway. That would probably be more like Your Kids>DH>MIL>Annike - because let´s face it - most of us rarely prioritize ourselves. But I am guessing that the way things run in your home is that your husband thinks the first is how your home should be run.
I think if you can not have a heart to heart talk with your DH and have him genuinely take your feelings in to account, and if your DH is not your partner, but is instead a man who believes he is your dictator or your ruler in some way - and that you are in fealty to him, a subject to do his bidding, and he treats you as if your part in the marriage is not important, it is a problem.
But I am not from your culture, and I do not know how women who are part of your culture deal with things like this when they come up. If you are considering divorce and this is something that you can process culturally or religiously, and that is what you want, then I think it would be empowering. Because you mention you have at least one daughter. I often think of things through a lens of what my actions teach my daughters. And what my husband/their dad´s actions teach them. But then again, I have the luxury to think more freely about those things. But if you also consider the things your daughter sees, how her father and her grandmother treat you and how she is learning that it is ok to be treated that way or that she should accept being treated that way because that is how women should be treated. That sounds like I am putting pressure on you and I am not. I know you are in a tough spot because this is not something that would come easy for you or lightly. And the support system that would be available to a lot of women is not readily available. It is just another consideration.
The choices you have to make either way are not easy. Stay and figure out how to make it work. Decide to leave and figure out how to adjust your whole life to a new dynamic. Either way, you have to take a deep breath and figure out what works for you, not your MIL or DH. But you, and your kids.
It might also help to pick one issue to stand firm on. Perhaps the issue of “how long I can go visiting my parents”. You don’t have to argue about it. Just ignore any comments, whether from DH or MIL. If you must reply, pick something like “I can see you disagree with me about this”, then repeat repeat repeat. You don't have to obey orders.
You can try the same tactic with MIL. Don’t argue, just ignore her comments whenever you can, and repeat something similar about not agreeing.
You are in a difficult position. You have married a man with different cultural expectations, and have effectively ‘married’ his mother as well. You have two very small children, you are fully supported by your husband, you have little choice about where you live, and your MIL is not nice. To some extent, you were probably also brought up with the same cultural expectation, which is why ‘major family members’ would not support a separation. You have a lot to lose, even though very few of us on this forum would put up with it all.
My suggestion would be to take it slowly, which is why I suggested finding local support and making a stand on one issue first. “I want to be clear about how I feel about the whole situation” may get clearer if you take small steps and see how they go. If you bring on a major confrontation and then find you have very few options, it will be even more difficult to live with.
I am all for breaking the rules on cultural craziness! Have you considered divorce if this situation continues?
Do they have facilities for seniors wherever you are currently living? I think you should tell him to move his mom or that you and the children would be moving out.
What do YOU want? That is what matters. It isn’t about what your culture expects from you.
Will he pay alimony and child support?
to be very honest, I'm very scared of considering divorce because, forgive me, I dont see it as a resort just yet. Major family members won't even support me to do that. But is there a way I can put my foot down without towing that route??