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I think my MIL is killing our relationship

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We've been married for 20 years, have teenage kids and have had our relationship degrade to living like friends under the same roof in the last two years.


Ordinarily my wife is extremely volatile and the kids and I have learned to tread carefully, as situations go from happy to extreme from one sentence to another, and at that point we just duck for cover and don't attempt to try reason things through. She inherits this from her mother and her father warned me of how extreme it could get, when I proposed.


Her father died in 2008 and the family were surprised that as strong as he was, he just wanted to move on and not try prolong his life. My wife felt at the time that her mother had driven him to that point and it was a way out for him.


Her mother lives in Germany and is largely isolated herself from the rest of her family and friends and carries strong animosity to most of them, while we live in Australia. She is a cold person, who desperately needs the focus to be on her and will go out of her way to use all manner of passive aggressive techniques to get her way or impose her will. My wife feels extremely guilty that she is so alone and so we fly her over for three months every year and have done so since 2010, so she can have summer here with us and avoid the European winter. So she's spent around 25% of the last nine years living in our house.


The truth of it is that initially although this was initially trying for us all, the kids were younger and somewhat enjoyed having her around, despite her being far from a warm person. Now that we've had her here almost every year for the last nine years, the kids hate her hovering around their house for those three months every year. They're teenagers and she encroaches on their space, involves herself in every conversation and is visibly judgmental. I probably have it even worse, as she is in our space from early till late, affords us no privacy, is part of or listening in to every conversation and brings out the most explosive side of my wife.


Her mother's time with us reshapes my wife's behavior completely and after she leaves, it takes another six months before my wife begins to revert back to normal herself. I feel her visits are killing our relationship and at this stage we have lost all intimacy and closeness, and worse, with her sense of guilt and responsibility for her mother, we do not even have the ability to talk openly about the situation without my wife becoming defensive and explosive.


Am I being unreasonable in feeling having her mother stay with us for 25% of the year, every year, is too much and damaging our relationship? How do I put a reasonable argument across that is not just a red-rag-to-a-bull to her and accounts for the impact on the kids,too?

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I would say you're not being unreasonable, but I think you're completely trapped. If you come between mother and daughter, there will be hell to pay with both of them being controlling, manipulative and emotionally abusive if they don't get their own way. You and your kids would have to convince your wife not to bring her mother over, and I don't feel that it's going to happen and you will only be seen as a traitor if you organize a protest like this. I think you would be better off not saying anything and biting your tongue than to interfere with mom's "vacation." I feel for you, I really do, but if the situation is bad enough that "dad" decided death was better than trying to fight them, you don't have a chance. You might want to look into a 3-month mining job or taking up a hobby that will take up 3 months of your time while "mom's" around.

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Hey 33763,


I'll preface all of this by saying I don't really have a hell of a lot of in-law or any marriage experience, but...


I agree with DanZee here, stay away from the mother-in-law issue directly. I think you and the kids (and your wife from the sounds of it) are stuck with the visits, at least for the time being. The only suggestion I would make, is perhaps coming at the issue from another angle. If you can talk to her about wanting to have more fun together, enjoy each other, rekindle your love? Like, make her aware that you want the marriage to be good again, to be in love, not just friends under the same roof. Don't bring MIL into - even if she raises it bring it back to the two of you being more of a team. Maybe you can somehow arrange to go away with just her directly after you MIL comes to visit. Like a vacation directly after the 'long winter', somewhere you and her can relax, unwind, find some balance and have some fun. Or a joint hobby that you can get into to build a team mentality. I'm not sure - as I say I have very limited experience.


I would add, try to keep the kids out of it all if possible. It's great to be aware of their discomfort and do anything to alleviate that, but I wouldn't involve them too much in the actual discussions etc. If they feel like they need to pick a side (even if you totally don't mean to make them do so), it can cause a lot of issues (personal experience lol).


Good luck!



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Well this isn't a MIL with your new wife.


You have been together for a long time and have a family.


You have every right to be unhappy and you are not trapped.


You need to have a real honest talk with your wife about how unhappy you are and the root cause of it.


There is no "worrying about getting between mother and daughter". This is your wife of 20 years. Your partner.


Your MIL needs to get out from between you two.


I have a lot of in-law experience...


I have had to deal with crazy controlling in-laws. If my wife and I didn't put our parents in their place we would never be as happy as we are today.

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I agree with the alchemists. You only get one life, no way in he|| would I spend it dealing with this crap. I wouldn't like a NICE house guest for three months, let alone what you've described. And I'm not really understanding how you can be married to someone that wouldn't be able to consider your feelings, or their own children's feelings. Send your wife to stay with your mom for three months, but don't continue this torture for yourself and your kids. I can't believe your wife is so selfish...

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Sorry to hear this. Most saints would not put up with this much. It's telling that her own father warned you. Can your wife visit her instead. Is your wife an only child? Three months is way too long under the best conditions and these seem awful. Living like roommates isn't helping either. It seems wrong to ruin your marriage and your kids lives because this woman wants a free summer vacation for 3 months. Your kids should come first. What have they told you about this?

My wife feels extremely guilty that she is so alone and so we fly her over for three months every year and have done so since 2010, so she can have summer here with us and avoid the European winter.
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Thank you all, for the very helpful responses. I guess I misrepresented this somewhat and should have rather clarified that my MIL is invited every year by my wife. She expects to be invited and my wife invites her, without any consultation from the family.


I agree that this does need to be an issue resolved directly with my wife and to get her to somehow see it from my kids and my perspectives... despite her mum's age and time she may have left with her. My eldest actually sympathizes with her, but pointed out that she could linger for another 20 years and would that mean we have her in our lives every Christmas for three months for most of those.


Wiseman2: My wife is not an only child. In fact her sister lives closer to her mum in Europe, but she's learned to be unreliable and remote. The kids, like me, are reluctant to bring up the subject with my wife given her explosive and defensive nature, so we all just keep our heads down and grin and bear it.

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