The Mother-In-Law

This post has been lingering in me for about a month. It took awhile for me to realize it for what it was, but now I do, and here it is.

My mother-in-law is visiting. Actually my husband’s parents are visiting, but his dad is such a non-issue, I only notice my mother-in-law. She was terrible before we got married, she wasn’t great during or immediately after either. We have been married for nearly one year and they are coming for their first visit and are staying for one week.

I think the main problem is that my husband is not honest and real about his family. When I ask questions about why, how, and what the hell is going on that such rude things are being said to me, his response is insufficient to say the least.

So, it is true, that she can be really terrible to me, and nice to him and he would be happy with that. Just as a side note, he is the only child that gets along with her out of five children.

In reality I should have blogged about this all along because there are so many stories to tell to bring you up to date, I could be here all afternoon!

Let me give you an example of something my mother-in-law has done. Just recently, my husband was talking on the phone with his mom and after awhile he passed the phone over to me because his mom said she wanted to talk to me. I answered with “hello” and her first words were “Your behavior is unacceptable! You call me “mamma!” I was floored and hurt and just wow, I don’t know how to respond but I don’t want to be rude to my mother-in-law. So, I said, you mean “Ama”, which is the name we all agreed on. To be honest, I can’t form the words “mamma” and keep a straight face. I’ve called my own mother, “mom” all these years. It feels really weird and I’d actually like to just call them by their first names. But I don’t, I call her “Ama” except when I’m answering the phone, I say “hello” to anyone, not just her. In fact, that is not calling her a name, that is greeting someone.

But somehow my behavior is unacceptable! Nobody has said that to me in my life, until now, she has.

She is Chinese, from China and in Chinese families, it is customary to call people by their relational title, instead of their name. So my husband calls his sisters by their Chinese name for “sister”, which means that he must call them both the same name.

When she said this to me, it was the straw that broke my back, if you will. I really have not liked her since and unless some joy is found in our interaction, I don’t see a way for me to like her.  Apparently, this is not an issue for my husband. He would just prefer me to take the abuse and just not say anything because he doesn’t want to deal with it or me. The problem is, my husband does not understand. I can’t even fathom how he doesn’t see that I should be treated with some semblance of respect, but he always sides with his mom. It makes me feel alone, and unsupported in the face of drama and conflict. What is the point of having a husband if this is how we face the world.

So now she is visiting at the end of June and I am finding myself really dreading their arrival. I’ve spoken to my friends about this and they all agree that he should at least say it like it is, instead of his subtle distilled remarks that he doesn’t even remember saying when I need him to it would be helpful if he would say, “my mom is wrong when she does ………” I know by my dreading their arrival that I am doing my part to perpetuate the situation. I need to find someway to resolve my baggage before they bring theirs.

So, I set out to talk to my husband. It didn’t go well. He immediately turns everything into an attack on him and brings out all of his armor. He immediately reacts by saying that I am trying to force him to take sides against her. I suppose this reveals his view of women and how moms and wives interact. Frankly, I don’t want to have a conflict with anyone. I’m a drama-free person. I tried to clarify to him, that I was instead looking for a consistent story that explains her actions in a way that I can understand so that I could start to find a way into some sort of friendship with her. I’m needing a perspective because mine isn’t working. Most of the time when I ask him why she said something to me, or if she even likes me, he says “I don’t know.” So, he is really no help at all and proves to be very immature and unloving towards me in this regard.

Last night when I did my best to find out how he deals with her, it didn’t go well. After I was honest about my feelings about the situation, he said that he liked me less.

When she comes, I know she will comment on things I have and say that I buy too many things. She has said this to me when she sees my luggage. Now, let me clarify, I don’t even wear makeup or do my nails. I am utterly low maintenance. What she saw in my luggage was body lotion, shampoo and conditioner, face moisturizer, and maybe sunscreen. There might have also been a bottle of perfume I keep in my luggage.

When she complains to my husband about me or to me about me, I can expect him to immediately follow her guidance in viewing my bare-bones-femininity with prejudice, which already feels shitty. Honestly, I don’t want to deal with it.

She will also try to start an argument between us, so my plan is to leave when she does this. As soon as I recognize it, I will just take the dogs on a walk. I just will not be apart of her drama. Then when I leave, she will say something about me that will always stick in my husband’s subconscious even though he may not remember what she said exactly. He doesn’t seem to remember much of what people say, unless he wants to use it later as a weapon against that person.

Before I got married, I thought long and hard about whether to run, or just love my husband. I chose to just love him, hoping that his mom would come around. She hasn’t and because she seems to love drama and control, I no longer expect her to.

What should I do? Go over to a friend’s house for the week?

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