Marital Woes

Discussion in 'The Hens' Nest' started by Rico Suave, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. Comet

    Comet Chicken

    TL;DR I have reached the end of my rope with Smother-In-Law and my husband's lack of a spine with her and am planning a come to Jesus talk with M about it. I'm not sure how many of my issues are BEC or due to my anxiety versus how many are legitimate problems. We have to get some boundaries in place and he needs to get on board with setting and enforcing them or I am going to lose my ever-loving mind..

    PART 1-this is gonna be long, sorry!

    We got into another argument about her yesterday because she is coming 10/5-10/13 and M thinks it is not enough for her to see C four times in that period and. He says I'm being unreasonable. I say this is already more visiting than I am happy or comfortable with. I feel like every interaction with her turns into this slippery slope situation (start with one day and somehow that turns into a full week or more) and I am never able to stay in my own comfort zone.

    We have an adults only event on 10/12 that I was fine with hiring a babysitter for, but M said his mom would love to come over and take care of C that night. Ok, fine..I agreed to having her over for the weekend with her staying in a hotel because we have no guest space and I'm not dealing with her on my couch. I figured we'd hang out all together Friday and then Saturday night she'd babysit C, then probably breakfast or something Sunday am before she goes home. Then she tells M she'd be happy to come over for our anniversary on 10/3 so we can go out to dinner just the two of us, and she'll just get a condo rental and stay through the next weekend for our party. I shot that down because a) our anniversary is on a Thursday and we both have to work Friday so I'd want to be home relatively early anyway b) 10 days is eight too many for her to come in my opinion and c) nothing screams romance like a MIL in your house who won't just leave and we all know that's what would happen.

    So then M proposes to her that she just come that Saturday (10/5) and we will celebrate our anniversary that night by going out to a nice restaurant we wouldn't take C to. I reluctantly agreed to that (I know, I know). M said he told her he'd meet her at daycare "a day or two that week" to put C into her car and she could come hang with him at our house until I get home. I said she can do this one day max, but I'm debating whether I'm even comfortable with that. That Tuesday is school pictures and that Thursday our housekeeper comes so I don't want MIL and C all up in her way. That only leaves Monday/Wednesday/Friday as possibilities and I don't want to disrupt his schedule/routine too much, plus I want my privacy and time alone with MY family. I KNOW she won't just leave when I get home from work and we have a lot of stuff to get done on weeknights so we are prepped for the next day. She will already see him the first Saturday night (and probably most of the day since I'm assuming she will show up early in the day), Sunday afternoon (my girlfriends and I have plans for a Mean Girls showing...I was going to bring him with me because BFing, but I said he could stay with M and MIL even though that means I'll have to pump during my "time to myself" :roll:), potentially one day that she gets him from daycare around M's lunchtime and probably stays all the way through dinner at our house, and then the next Saturday for the party we are going to. When M told me he'd proposed coming the first weekend and staying through the next to her (why would he do this without consulting me first???), I told him very directly that we have jobs and responsibilities during the week and other obligations and I was not rearranging any of our routine or playing hostess to her all week. He agreed when I said that, but now somehow four fucking visits over 8 days is not enough. "But she's driving all the way over here to see us/C." "I'm not going to ignore her all week." etc, etc.

    We also keep having heated discussions about Christmas plans because it is very important to me to have our own nuclear family traditions for Christmas. He grew up visiting his grandparents and extended family in PA for two weeks every year during the holidays because MIL was a teacher and had the time off. I want to spend Christmas morning just the three of us in our own house (or whatever other location of our choosing - a mountain cabin or whatever). I want to do our own gifts and the whole Santa thing with just the three of us. I have told him that I am willing to host literally anyone who wants to come after lunch that day, but that I don't want to have to load C up in the car as soon as he's done opening his presents to haul him across the state and I want our alone time that morning. I feel like this is a good compromise, but M thinks we should either go to her house or let her spend every fucking minute at ours. I'm not sure how much of this is because he actually wants to spend time with his whole extended family and how much is because MIL is in his fucking head about it and he's just trying to make her happy.
     
  2. Comet

    Comet Chicken

    PART 2


    • The way she acted when I had the miscarriage - crying over it, generally making our tragedy her own, telling people about it, repeatedly bringing it up even though we'd asked her not to.
    • Smothering/nagging her adult children and me about things like going to the dentist or dermatologist. Even though she let a small cut on her foot get so bad that it required multiple hospital stays, surgery, etc.
    • Inviting herself or others to events/holidays/our home - saying "Oh, I'll just fly out there too" when we mention the possibility of doing Christmas in the mountains. "You can't keep me away, hahaha." Yeah, I'm not laughing; I know that's not a joke. The whole renting a condo in our town in general. Texting us that "aunt and uncle will be stopping by to meet C on Thursday" when no one had cleared that with us first. Saying she will just "stop by" in our town for the weekend on her way to/from her lake house (it's not even on the way).
    • Bugging us for IVF updates all the time. Then pregnancy updates after that.
    • Crying when I told her that we were thinking about just doing Thanksgiving with one side of the family and Christmas with the other because it's exhausting for us to try to see everyone twice in a five week period every year.
    • Oversharing other people's medical info - not just mine, but also other family members and family friends. People have asked me about C's kidneys and I know I didn't tell them anything about him (smalllllll chance M did, but I think it's her).
    • Sharing her judgmental comments about our friends and their parenting choices based on things she sees on Facebook. Which just makes me think about how much she is judging me as a mother.
    • Showing up at the hospital while I was in labor (that's somewhere in the family thread if you want to refresh yourself on it).
    • The constant guilt trips - crying to M on Mother's Day this year, sending us some really over the top texts when we decided mid-hurricane evacuation to turn around and go back home, etc.
    • The overdramatic texts we get at least weekly about missing C and NEEDING pics of him. Acting as if her happiness is his duty. She does this to M too and I am not about to let her fuck with my kid's head the way she did with her own.
    • The constant "MY GRANDSON...." and her general obsession with him. Basically begging to see him all the time, even if she just did. I actually went through all of our texts and shared calendar to mark down all the days she has seen him for this discussion with M. She has seen him for some amount of time on AT LEAST 22 days in the last five months. I thought it help M to see on paper just how much she has gotten to see C.
    • Begging to be our childcare for C for the month of July and then flaking on us with no notice (also in the family thread). Not being upfront about the stairs at the condo she almost rented.
    • Weaseling her way into our house/seeing C by offering to pick something up from the store for us, dropping off a gift for C (it's NEVER just a quick drop off), etc.
    • Guilting Her Sons into doing something major (family vacation, NEVER AGAIN) for her 70th birthday..."I'll only turn 70 once" blah blah blah. She's already made comments to the effect of "I wonder what they will come up with for 75."
    • She refers to me as her daughter (nope) and tells me she loves me all the time. This probably is heavily BEC on my part, but I've never once said it back so maybe take the hint and stop making it so awkward for both of us? I am not into a lot of sentimentality, displays of affection, etc. and it makes me very uncomfortable.
    • She never, ever can be quiet - she talks constantly (she is what I call a narrator - every thought she has gets said out loud), interrupts conversations with irrelevant statements, will ask you a question and then not let you finish answering before changing the subject. Having a conversation with her is infuriating for me.

    • She kisses him on the face a lot, even though we have asked her not to. Admittedly, we are not always good about saying something in the moment when she does this - I have tried to put M in charge of correcting her, but he does not do a good job.
    • She is very smothering and overstimulating - up in C's face a lot, really loud, etc. Just generally doesn't give him any personal space or quiet time. Subsequently, he does not nap well at all when around her. Now that he is very easily distracted when eating, I don't foresee that going well when he's with her either.
    • I don't feel comfortable with her ability to safely carry C, especially in his car seat, based on her general physical abilities and her history of problems with her feet. I worry about her tripping and falling while carrying him (in or out of car seat).
    • I think she may be having some memory problems and I worry that she will not remember the rules on safe breastmilk storage/preparation (when she kept him three days a week for the first two weeks I was back at work, I had to remind her about this stuff several times and that was when it was supposedly fresh in her mind) or our instructions/rules/routines/etc with C.
    • I worry that she will refuse to acknowledge her own limitations because she is so obsessed with C and would not tell us if she was uncomfortable with something to preserve her access to him.
    • I worry that she would not be honest/forthcoming if she did something that caused harm to C because she would worry it would mean not getting to babysit any more or see him as much.

    • "She just loves him a lot. She's just excited about him. She just wants to spend time with him. She means well." Etc, etc.
    • "Are we just never going to be able to leave him for more than a couple of hours then?"
    • "Well maybe she'd be better with him if she was able to spend more time with him."
    • "At least she cares/is excited about C/whatever, YOUR parents have only seen him twice/never call/whatever."
    • "I like spending time with family, you just don't like being around people."
    • "You just don't know what it's like to have family that is close because your family is very distant with each other." Usually followed up by "when's the last time you even talked to your sister/dad?" or something along those lines.
    • He acts like she is doing us all these favors by watching C for us (and that means we owe her or something), but I don't need and didn't ask for this help. We do stuff to allow her the opportunity to babysit, not the other way around. And I am completely fine with hiring a babysitter when we need to.

    Help me wise chickens. Where do I need to lay off a bit and where should I stick to my guns? How can I get him to understand that this is not a healthy mother/adult child relationship? How do I get him on board with setting boundaries for her? How do we enforce them? Am I missing a heinous thing she has done (and I have vented about to you guys) that I need to add to my list when I lay it all out there for him?
     
  3. deet

    deet Chicken

    I think the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Although you are attempting to compromise, he is not seeing what a struggle that is for you. My husband and I have very very similar difficulties w/the difference in our closeness to our families, and it took some time for me to realize that I was being unreasonable at times. On the other hand, it took some time for him to understand and separate us as a family from his family & he's really good at it now.

    It took some shitty situations to get through it. Have you thought about seeing a counselor?
     
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  4. Comet

    Comet Chicken

    @deet I started seeing a therapist on my own a couple of weeks ago because of my own medical stuff, but this came up at my last appointment. I think I've seen her three times now. I definitely think we could benefit from seeing her together and plan to throw that out as an option during this conversation. I think M would be open to trying it.
     
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  5. LouiseBelcher

    LouiseBelcher spampants

    Is C the only grandchild? Is M an only child? (Or only male child?)

    When my daughter was born, she was the first grandchild for my parents as well as for my ex's parents. His mother was already a total bitch to me about "taking her Bobby away" so she just amped that crap up about not seeing my daughter enough etc.. Thank you baby jeebus that we lived on the other side of the country at that time. We still wound up flying out to visit them way, way more than we ever should have and his mother would criticize every. single.thing. I. did. They came to OR to visit us and stayed for 16 days. We did not have any guest space but my ex PUT THEM UP AT THE HOTEL HE WORKED AT. We paid for it. Thank goodness (for me), his serial cheating came to light soon after and we split up, never to live together again so I was clear of his parents. Even though he did not exercise his visitation with my daughter, I did allow his parents to pay for tickets for her to visit them occasionally- like once every 2 years.
    My family lived much closer but maybe we are more like you and your family are. We don't smother each other but if we need help, we ask. My mom helped out with my kiddo a few times while I was in grad school, and we saw them for some holidays, but she wasn't begging me. We also lived with my parents for 9 months while I went through chemo.

    I think the problem really lies in the difference of the relationships that you have with your family versus his relationship with his. Some families are just all in everyone's business and have no boundaries. I think that leads them to not respect boundaries that are set out by someone who isn't that way. I agree that you have compromised and that some of the time/plans that M and his mom have made are just not going to work while you are working and trying to keep a baby on a schedule. I also agree with you about your concerns.
    I think that prefacing the discussion with the goals of not disrupting C's schedules or your own, as well as your understanding that the families are different and you get that, might help. Laying out your concerns is very important too- but I would also offer to write things down for MIL, such as the breast milk safety and napping. (Maybe even a schedule for him to have quiet time, etc).
    Putting all of the proposed times on an actual calendar that has hours marked on it might help M to see how much time you are actually agreeing to.
    I think that if M can't get behind you and support you and some of your concerns, seeing a counselor who could help to mediate might be a good idea.
     
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  6. whatchyagonnado

    whatchyagonnado Chicken

    First I want to just say I think all of your feelings are completely valid. Its your family and your life, you deserve to be comfortable. I think M and MIL need to appreciate she had her time to raise her kids, now its your time. Their priority roles are no longer mother and son but grandma and husband. Her season of life has evolved and that can be wonderful, but its going to be different, same for M. There has to be compromise from them and recognition on who is most important in this equation (you and C).

    1. Christmas- A feels the EXACT same way as you. Ideally I’d love to spend tome with family because I didn’t have that growing up but since our family all lives elsewhere that’d mean travel. He has said its very important to him to spend Christmas morning at home with our kids so they have their own traditions. My mom cries about this constantly. I support A by just firmly saying “A doesn’t ask me for much. This is important to him and so this is how its going to be.” No further discussion is allowed. We’ve finally gotten my parents to agree to a weekend cabin rental on a random weekend in December with my siblings and that will be our new tradition with them. Can M come up with an alternative time in December to celebrate with her? The date shouldn’t be so important for adults and MIL needs to understand the KID (your child, M is not a kid anymore!) gets priority to be in his own space with his parents for Christmas. Also- A has agreed to start traveling to one family for Thanksgiving each year which helps me feel like we will still get a big holiday gathering. Maybe you could agree to spend a few days at Thanksgiving or Easter or some other event they have with MIL’s family?

    2. It IS hard to hear harsh criticism about your own parent, even if its valid and true. Can you try compliment sandwiches when you discuss her? Basically just saying what you are saying but making sure to acknowledge good things you (or at least M) see in her so he feels like its not a you vs her but rather a valid conversation about someone respecting your space and watching your kid safely.

    3. In the same vein as 2, he needs to lay off your family. We all know Carol makes your family relations tricky and you can’t control how often your dad and sister reach out. He needs to lay off and realize hes being retaliatory and not productive and I’d tell him as much.

    Good luck girl!

    Eta- also SURELY she can lay off the texting. M and MIL can maybe create a joint shutterfly account where he uploads pics of C (so its private and accessible without hed texting)?
     
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  7. deet

    deet Chicken

    FWIW - I am not sure that, given how knee-deep this dude is in his mom's BS, listing out all of her transgressions is going to get you anywhere. In fact, I think it'll probably make him take a harder stance in support of his mother, because he'll see it as an attack - not as a defense of your baby. That's why I would really recommend a third party - and if you like her & he's willing - that sounds like a great start!
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
  8. Honey

    Honey Historian Staff Member

    :star::star::star::star::star:
     
  9. Lh718

    Lh718 Chicken

    M is being an ass about your relationship with your family. Like wut? Does he seriously believe that y'all aren't close because that's just how it is and not because of past issues and ongoing bullshit?

    I do agree that making his mom out to be the bad guy is not going to work with him. And really, the root of the issue isn't MIL but M and his reaction to her. The fact that he's trying so hard to make her happy at the expense of your comfort is a problem. The focus of your conversations right now should be more about developing your routines and traditions as a new-ish nuclear family, that you're uncomfortable with your decisions as C's mother being second-guessed left right and center, and that you don't feel supported by M as a partner parent-wise and within your marriage.

    • "She just loves him a lot. She's just excited about him. She just wants to spend time with him. She means well." Etc, etc. That's great, truly, that C has such an...enthusiastically loving grandparent. That does NOT excuse her ignoring you and your boundaries. Would he be so nonchalant about a daycare worker doing whatever the hell she wanted despite your rules and whatever?
    • "Are we just never going to be able to leave him for more than a couple of hours then?" 1) Fuck off with your strawman. (Obviously not to his face, but yeah.) 2) Not with someone that you, as C's mother, cannot trust to respect your very reasonable rules and needs. Turn it around on him. If there was somebody HE didn't trust with C, would he be comfortable with you just handing him over?
    • "Well maybe she'd be better with him if she was able to spend more time with him." Again, if she proves trustworthy, maybe she'll get there. Also, C will get older and make it easier. Why force it right now??
    • "At least she cares/is excited about C/whatever, YOUR parents have only seen him twice/never call/whatever."
    • "I like spending time with family, you just don't like being around people."
    • "You just don't know what it's like to have family that is close because your family is very distant with each other." Usually followed up by "when's the last time you even talked to your sister/dad?" or something along those lines. To all of this...low fucking blow, dude. Just seriously. And even if you are more of an introvert than he is, that is totally okay and NOT a good reason with which to attack you to make a point about...what exactly? These have me livid for you. In a less angry response - he needs to leave other people out of this. They aren't a part of this specific situation and therefore do not need to be brought up. The fact that you may prefer to keep to yourself has nothing to do with how MIL disrespects you as M's wife and C's mother.
    • He acts like she is doing us all these favors by watching C for us (and that means we owe her or something), but I don't need and didn't ask for this help. We do stuff to allow her the opportunity to babysit, not the other way around. And I am completely fine with hiring a babysitter when we need to. This is all just to justify getting her/his way in the visitation arguments. Whether it's for his benefit or yours doesn't matter, but I believe he's trying to convince himself as much as you about this being a favor to you.
     
  10. MagnificentCat

    MagnificentCat Chicken

    While I’m sure compromising is somewhere in the middle, the most upsetting thing is that it reads to me that M isn’t looking for compromise but is trying to convince you that your feelings are wrong. They’re not.

    I wonder if she would back off if M actually had your back in this. At this point it seems like she’s using him to lobby for what she wants.

    As for the alternating Thanksgiving and Christmas— my childhood was this and I felt like it worked great. I have memories of both Thanksgivings and Christmases at grandparents and at home.
     
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  11. Honey

    Honey Historian Staff Member

    This is true, but I think the same can be said for M. His feelings aren’t wrong either. If he enjoys spending time with his mother and wants more (big if), then he may be feeling defensive too. My family is more hands-off while D’s is so demonstrative I find it cringey. But neither way is right or wrong, they’re just different ways.
     
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  12. Kimmers

    Kimmers Chicken

    I don’t know what the answer is but I have all the sympathy. N is totally like M even though it’s MY family that’s generally pushing the boundaries.
     
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  13. hellohelloagain

    hellohelloagain Chicken

    Yeah I don't really have good advice because my family is the kind of over bearing lovey dovey type and R's family has always been more hands off. My mom calls R her son and tells him she loves him, but he's never called her mom or anything. Also my baby will be her 6th grandkid but she's still as obsessed and excited as she was the first time around. I think the major difference is my mom is more respectful of the differences in upbringing? She's still gonna do what she wants to do, but she doesn't get offended if R doesn't come over when I do or by the fact that R doesn't call her mom.

    So yeah, I agree with previous chickens that any criticisms of MIL will likely just succeed in making M defensive of her, instead of seeing it from your side. I think if you try and focus on the points of building YOUR family and traditions together. Because ultimately (I don't think anyway?) your goal is not to cut her out completely, but just make the focus on you guys and then she fits in wherever there might be gaps?

    I fully agree with you about the holiday thing though. Spending your holiday bouncing around to multiple households is stressful and exhausting enough on its own, and now you have a baby to add to that. You should definitely have your own time together, at LEAST for part of the day
     
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  14. CoolWife

    CoolWife Chicken

    I think we can all relate in some way. D’s family and mine are both pretty close but in really different ways. It’s been a 13-year struggle that we’re still fine tuning. Like it’s taken me a long time to accept the shit his parents do as love. And we’ve grown closer and are able to have frank conversations about what’s ok and what’s not.
    Your MIL probably pissed of HER MIL when she started found family holidays at her house. Everyone can fucking deal, you get start your own family traditions.
     
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  15. Comet

    Comet Chicken

    Yes, no, no, has an older brother that just got married.

    Thank you all for your input. You've all given me some good advice and some things to think about. <3
     
  16. Zombie Llama

    Zombie Llama Ain't no corn bitch

    Late to the party...

    First and foremost, it is complete and utter bullshit that M made plans for 8 days without checking with you. You all are a team and big decisions should be vetted by both. He put you in a terrible position.

    Also, doesn't she live like two hours away? Short trips should be the norm. She didn't need to stay all week. It's not like she's flying or driving a long distance. Hell, my mother used to drive 90+ minutes down I-95 just to have lunch and go shopping with me. MIL can go home for 5 days in between weekends.

    That being said, I think you are a bit BEC with her. It's only natural that she wants to see her grandson. But there needs to be boundaries that work for you, not just mass chaos when she visits.

    Maybe you all could meet once a month in the middle for a few hours to lessen her need to visit. That way it's limited to a short time and not in your house.

    On a related note, when C gets older, M could take C to go visit grandma a few times a year so it is not as overwhelming for you.
     
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  17. ClamJam

    ClamJam Chicken

    <3 @Comet. Rooster and I also have very disparate family backgrounds and expectations about what our relationships should be like.

    I think she is trying so hard to force a closeness you will never want, but M thinks he craves. Like other chickens, I think a detailed airing of grievances will hurt more than help. Could your therapist help you work through expressing the boundaries you want to set in as positive a fashion as possible? And pre-identify some areas where you are most comfortable being flexible?

    Anything relating to the safety of childcare are areas where I would want to be very firm, but then I might expect that would mean more time with the four of you together if MIL isn't robust enough to be left on her own with C.

    I'm not sure how your physical PP recovery is going at the moment, but I can solidly recommend fucking off with C in the jogging stroller for a walk/run when MIL is in your house and you need a break. Even if it's Tuesday and there are bottles to pack and pump parts to wash (M can do it and MIL can supervise!).
     
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  18. Zombie Llama

    Zombie Llama Ain't no corn bitch

    @Comet somehow I missed part 2. I think you two might need to see a therapist to work through some of this in a safe place and find a balance. Some of M's comments are really fucking enmeshed.

    As for the constant narrating, my MIL does it too. I have learned to just let her do it, and I insert a random one-word response here and there so she thinks I am listening. I actually learned that strategy from S.
     
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  19. nym711

    nym711 THIS IS MY LIFE NOW

    The only thing that has really helped us was seeing a marriage therapist. We were having the same fight over and over and over again, and we have mostly worked through that.
     
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  20. Canaligator

    Canaligator Barbie Police

    You know I am right there with you. I don't have any concrete advice to offer at the moment, but I have SO MUCH empathy.

    Regarding this:
    This was a hard one to pin down for me, too, and I think it's really important. M probably doesn't know himself whether he actually wants to see her this much or he's conditioned to make her happy and that this much togetherness is "normal." Obviously if he truly wants to spend every holiday with her and to have her stay with you for 10 days (I would die), then he has a right to want those things and you will need to work to find something in the middle to agree upon; if he doesn't want those things but just thinks they are what people do, then you (with the help of a therapist or other neutral) can help him figure out what he actually DOES want and maybe it's closer to what you are comfortable with.

    The other thing to remember (for both of you) is that you don't need to make a decision now for the rest of your lives. While C is tiny, I would err on the side of not disrupting your routines, but that doesn't mean that you'll never be willing to drive somewhere for a holiday or to let him stay with grammie overnight. Maybe it will take a little of the pressure off of both of you if you think of this as an ongoing conversation, rather than that you need to make a stand now that will never change.

    It's hard. I'm really sorry. All the time, W and I talk about how much more difficult it would be with his mom if we had kids. She would have moved up here for sure, and she'd be lurking outside our doorway on a regular basis.
     
  21. Fitz

    Fitz Leslie Knope Monster

    Ok, these two are the biggest red flags for me. You need to feel comfortable and confident with the care provided to your child, whether that care comes from a relative or a daycare provider of some sort.

    I don't have a ton of advice that is different from others' advice. I do think counseling/therapy for the both of you together will help you and M figure out how to better communicate about this. There are things about this where you two can compromise, but C's safety isn't one of them.

    YES this is so true.
     
  22. Zombie Llama

    Zombie Llama Ain't no corn bitch

    One idea that I don't think has been mentioned - there is nothing wrong with getting a babysitter to "assist" MIL when she is watching C for short periods of time.
     
  23. megatron

    megatron Wordsmith

    Yeah....that is in no way going to help mend things. How offended would you be if someone hired a babysitter to watch a child while you are (grandma is) there and supposed to be watching them?
     
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  24. Zombie Llama

    Zombie Llama Ain't no corn bitch

    Yeah, you're right. I was thinking it could be couched like they were testing our the babysitter, but it probably would not work.
     
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  25. moose

    moose RINGWORM GIRL :(

    @Comet I obviously have no great words of advice, you know that I am in a similar boat with my MIL. Obviously I take issue with things that your MIL does and says, but I’m really disappointed in M and his reaction. At this point, he should be trying to find a middle ground so that you are happy. It seems like he’s prioritizing her happiness, not yours, which is very concerning to me.

    Does he recognize that this is what he’s doing?
     
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