How to set boundaries around a cantankerous, self centered mother in law?
Told me I was to care for my father in law, while she attended her class reunion- didn't ask if the dates were even free. I am so angry I cannot call her until I sort this out. "Just say no", leaves me vulnerable to future attacks.
How to handle the mother-in-law has been a topic of emotional debate since Eve became a mother-in-law. Comedy routines are based on the actions of the mother-in-law. Movies center around her actions. Marriages have been ruined because of her. What can be done about it? Set the boundaries for your mother-in-law and stand by them. read more
I have read a book by Henry Cloud named Boundaries. It was very helpfull in family matters such as these. Simply put, don't allow yourself to be dictated to. No is a perfectly acceptable answer. You don't have to explain. Has saying yes all the time gotten you better treatment? Probably not. We get what we tolerate. Where is your Husband in all this? Is he aware that his Mother is a bully?
Simply tell her that you will be unable to. You do not owe her an explanation; just say “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to”. It would be better if your husband were willing to back you up, preferably with the simple “I’m sorry mother, she won’t be able to”. If you absolutely must give, inform her that you are unavailable on the dates. This also needs no further explanation.
No. you can't just say no; however, you must not do it because she will believe she can always snap her fingers and you will jump. Go along the lines, 'you should have checked first, I'm going out that day, you'll have to get a carer in.' Don't argue, don't explain yourself, or where or why you are going out. You have to train her to ask, just like children really, and like children, they have to learn to live with disappointment.
The use of "I" statements takes the blame off the person you are addressing and asks for cooperation.
An example of an "I" statements for this situation is:
"I don't mind taking care of Dad. But I don't like it when you don't check with me to see if I am free first. If you do it again, you will have to find someone else to stay with Dad."
In-law conflict rates up there with money and sex related issues that cause marital distress and contributor to divorce. It's something I've dealt with many times in my private practice.
It's really your spouse’s responsibility to set the boundaries on his side of the family to protect your marriage.
Have sympathy for her. Consider her as a helpless case. But never tell her so. Never react to her insinuations. Face smilingly. Still love her, or act to love her. She will accept defeat and will become a fan of you. Take it as a challenge, and be the winner. Good luck!
Care for your father in law. Family first. Put your problem in perspective. People are dying. You can take one for the team.
85ThunderKeys got this perfectly right, it is your spouses responsability to deal with thier own family, and if your spouse lets his mother treat you in this way, i know darn well what direction my anger would be adressed.
Oh I feel your pain, my MIL is the same way, and it SO frustrating!! What does your husband say about it? Whenever mine pulls this kind of stuff, he is usually supportive and sticks up for me. Having him on my side makes it much easier to say no and set boundaries. That's a hard thing to do though, and if you're husband doesn't want to contest his mom, it's even harder. When situations some up like this, stay calm. It's hard to do, but it's really important. Tell her you can't do it, because she didn't give you enough notice, and you have plans. Then really have plans, so you won't feel guilty those dates, you'll be too busy having fun. Or, confront her, tell her you don't like the way she is treating you, and as her DIL, you deserve the same kind of respect. This is really hard, and I repeat it to my MIL often. She doesn't always get the point (usually she doesn't) but she'll at least back down from this round. Keep at it, eventually she'll understand you're her equal, not her servant. Good luck!!
Usually when someone behave in a manner that I do not like and when I say do not like I mean it is either childish, self centered or is insulting or repulsive to me, I won't say a word. I keep my distance and have nothing to do with them. Most would say talk, communicate blah, blah, blah but people like that are bent on getting their way. If they can't get it by bull dozing you they will get it by pretending to be nice and civil. First impressions are lasting, self centered individuals just become more disgusting
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