The MIL strikes again

Once again the ship of Mother in Law has sailed into turbulent waters and this time it is threatening to sink altogether. What's the problem? I shall tell you.

Back in August I went with Mr Vicola to the far flung North to do the obligatory annual visit to the inlaws, after striking a deal that if I went up each summer for a week with him, I would not then be required to do the annual trip up there either for or just after Christmas which has been the routine previously but which had never worked well as Mr Vicola's family have difficulty behaving themselves at times of excitement. So anyway, off we trundle to the far flung north.

Mr Vicola's parents have been divorced for 30 years and on the first night we stay with his dad, which is a marvellously relaxed affair as his dad is a beardy eccentric with odd mannerisms, like my dad, so I'm familiar with this sort of place. Then the next day, having promised to return in a couple of days for another night and a full day out with FIL, we set off for the lair of the MIL and her husband, Asshat. She is insisting we spend most of the holiday with her, despite the fact that Asshat has flu and she is just recovering fron it. Resisting the urge to announce that I am not staying in a house of plague just to please someone else I keep quiet. 

The day and a half there passes relatively quietly, no major incidents to report. We go back to FIL's spend the night, go out with him the next day and return to the Lair of the MIL the following evening, at about half eight. Then the trouble starts. As we walk in the door are we greeted with 'hello, how was your day?" or "Evening, would you like some dinner?" No, we are not. We are greeted with "Oh, look it's Mr Vicola and Vicola, so it must be 6 o'clock. (looking pointedly at watch) Oh, no, look it isn't, it's half past eight because they couldn't possibly be 2 and half hours late for that man I had to beg to speak to his children for years but they could happily be that late for me" in the most sarcastic voice you can imagine. With a battle of wills you can't even begin to imagine I croak out "I'm going to put the coats away" rather than "Why don't you fuck off and stop giving us grief you selfish cow? We never said we'd be back at 6 and I don't dance to your tune" and flee upstairs to text my best friend before I explode.

By the time I go back downstairs she seems to have decided all is forgiven and is behaving normally again.

The next day we go on a day out with MIL, BIL, BIL's wife, me and Mr Vicola to a very nice beauty spot where I manage to get on fairly well with MIL, possibly because I'm now trying to ignore the barrage of insults aimed at FIL. On the way home we get to a cafe and stop for a coffee where MIL once again starts on about FIL and how his marriage is not in the greatest of health, in a very unpleasant smug tone. Eventually BIL objects and says it's making him uncomfortable, at which point she chucks a wobbly and throws her toys out of the pram. I excuse myself to go and look at the range of jars and cakes on a shelf because once again, my blood is rising. By the time I return to the table, peace has resumed (ie BIL has given in and apologised for daring to question what she's said) and it's time to go. We're in 2 cars so MIL, Mr Vicola and me get into his car and off we go. For half an hour she bangs on about FIL, how awful he was, how he destroyed her life, blah blah blah, a story so at odds with what I've been told by other family members and FIL's character that it's hard to believe she's on about the same person. I attempt to block it out by trying to remember all the words to 'Adeste Fideles' in Latin that we learned in school but as she gets louder it's getting more difficult. Eventually she comes out with "And he's just the evillest, wickedest, cruellest man in the world and I am so upset that you all treat him like some sort of god'. I can see Mr Vicola cringing out of the corner of my eye, he's not comfortable with what she's saying and with that, my patience ran out. Very calmly, very rationally (a surefire sign that I am really, genuinely pissed off) I say to her "I really don't think that it's fair of you to be saying all this. That's Mr Vicola's dad you're talking about and while you and him may not get on, Mr Vicola and him do. Your divorce was between the two of you, and not the children so dragging them into it and forcing them to choose sides is bang out of order. We don't treat FIL like a god, we treat him like a human, which is what he is and I don't believe any of us should have to apologise for that, least of all Mr Vicola".

For brief moment she is utterly stunned. She looks at Mr Vicola, clearly expecting him to slap me down for daring to question her behaviour. He doesn't. In fact by the look of things, Mr Vicola is trying desperately to pretend he's somewhere, anywhere else. She takes a deep breath….and then goes utterly ballistic. "DON'T YOU DARE TELL ME HOW TO SPEAK TO MY SON!!". I remain very calm and measured, "I'm not telling you how to speak to your son, I'm telling you that this constant barrage of insults to his father needs to stop because it isn't fair on him. He has a relationship with his father and making him feel guilty about that is completely wrong of you". Clearly she is losing control of the situation and she knows it so she reverts to the tried and tested system she has for controlling her children, she bursts into noisy tears and starts sobbing and babbling incoherently about how we have no idea how wicked FIL is and how Mr Vicola and BIL are breaking her heart by worshipping him when she gave up everything to bring them up as a single mother (something that isn't actually true but is a whole other post about training children to do your bidding in the manner of Pavlov's dogs) and how she's too emotional and broken hearted to go to BIL's for dinner now so when we get there she's just going to have to get in her car and go straight home. Mr Vicola, as he has been conditioned to do, replies in the required manner, that he knows she gave up everything for them, that of course they love her most and of course FIL is wicked and no, she simply must come to BILs for dinner. I listen to him being forced to dance to her tune to stop the tantrum and it's all I can do not to exit the car on the motorway hard shoulder to escape this bullshit. Eventually we get to the entrance to BIL's street and she's decided that he hasn't grovelled enough yet, and I haven't grovelled at all, so she's not giving in yet. "I'm just going to go home, I can't go in there, I'm too upset", "Oh we'll go for a drive round and talk about it, don't go home" says Mr Vicola. I know that if we go for a drive round and I have to listen to any more of her emotional blackmail and lies I'm going to say something utterly appalling so I request to be let out to go to BIL's house. Mr Vicola tries to persuade me to come with them but there's no chance so eventually he agrees to let me out. As I open the door, MIL says in icy tones, "And I would prefer it if YOU didn't speak of this to BIL's wife the minute you get into that house". Clamping my teeth together so hard that there's a chance I'll lose a molar I manage not to say "I just bet you would, you malicious bitch" I exit the car and walk down to the house.

45 minutes later Mr Vicola and the MIL return, where she proceeds to be civil but frosty to me for the rest of the night. Later on Mr Vicola tells me that his mother is very embarrassed that she got so emotional and would like to give me hug and say sorry. Surprisingly enough she doesn't actually get round to it. Then we go back to the FIL's house and in the morning return home.  

And it would seem she's still in a snit with me. I did speak to her very briefly on my birthday when BIL rang because she'd have had to explain why to BIL if she'd refused to but she was still frosty, she has stopped enquiring how I am when she rings Mr Vicola and she hasn't sent me a birthday card this year, for the first year ever. If she thinks this is going to shatter my world and make me beg her forgiveness then she's mscalculated badly. What I said has needed saying since I met Mr Vicola 7 years ago, no one should have to apologise for liking their father and their divorce was between them, the kids shouldn't be forced to take sides, it's not right at all. If she cared as much as she claims to then surely to god she'd put her children's feelings first and swallow her bitterness towards the man who she hasn't been married to for 30 whole years, longer than I've been alive, in order to allow them to make their own choices. If he was really as evil as she claimed then they'd have seen it and drawn their own conclusions. But he isn't, it's her selfishness and determination to have them round her the whole time, fawning over her and telling her how amazing she is to have given up everything for them that makes her say these things. And the fear that the more time they spend with FIL, the more they'll realise that everything she's conditioned them to believe over the years is crap. The whole family dynamic is a house of cards built on bullshit and the minute someone questions it, the house falls down and the kids get covered in shit. It really drives me nuts. And just to make my joy complete, she's launched a campaign to try and regain control, the first skirmish of which is to be a 4 night visit to stay with us in the middle of October. Give me strength. My tactic is going to be 'be the bigger person', in order to not put Mr Vicola in a awkward position I will be very nice and polite and pretend I haven't noticed she hates me. Plus it has the added bonus of really pissing off the person whose sulk you're ignoring, something which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…

If I could offer one piece of advice to any girl looking for a husband it would be this – Only ever marry a man brought up in a children's home or an orphanage. You will save yourself a whole world of trouble.


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5 Responses

  1. How awful! I feel your pain. The last time I stayed at the in-laws my MIL refused to get in the car with me on a planned day trip after I had responded to something negative she had said (I had been really good for 3 days!! and couldn't hold it in any longer). We had a lovely day out and last evening with FIL. She wouldn't come out of her room to say goodbye the day we left. I have not been back to stay with them since (4 years) – it is just better for everyone that the manservant goes alone……..

  2. She sounds totally and utterly manipulative!!! I've come across a few women like that and they make their kids lives so difficult by not being able to keep their mouths shut. Well done you for actually piping up and not letting her get away with it. I've been incredibly lucky on the in laws front I have to say! Good luck for October…

  3. My MIL held similar sway over her off-spring (for completely different reasons), and it pissed her to no end that I didn't crawl under her thumb along with the rest of them … and that I succeeded in dragging my wife out from other that thumb. The sad thing is that she died over a year ago and the others who were so used to her "leadership" are running about like chickens with their heads cut off, not knowing what to do with no one to tell them. (Reminds me of the Baltic states after Tito died.)Your MIL just needs to get over it. 30 years is long enough! I had to go back and read … and, yes, by God, the woman is remarried … and still bitching about the marriage of 30 years ago! Her new hubby must be an Asshat indeed.

  4. A 4 day visit in October (which is now)? Just tell her to fuck off. To ask Mr Vicola to choose or take sides is totally unreasonable and unspeakably evil.
    My son grew up with divorced parents and despite the acrimony between ourselves we both recognised that any behaviour of this nature would be horribly wrong and deeply distressing to our son.
    Is Mr Vicola such a wimp that he cannot lay down some ground rules? Like "Stop slagging off my Dad because I love him as well as you".
    Alternatively, don't feed the dog for a week before her arrival and then spray MiL with aniseed. She is sure to be devoured.

  5. IT really annoys me that Mr Vicola won't stand up to her but I guess he's been conditioned since being a baby that the only way to get her approval is to worship her. The mental carnage she's inflicted on Mr Vicola is minor league compared to the damage she's done to Mr Vicola's sister. If they're going to visit, fine, but I want it to be the weekend of the 16th / 17th. Because I've got a birthday bash on the Friday night and another one on the saturday, which only leaves me one night in their company, which I might fill with a work trip to somewhere else. I fail to see why she couldn't put her kids before herself in the whole divorce thing, other people manage so why can't she? She needs to grow up and stop being so selfish.

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