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Toxic Family Relationships

The Toxic Mother-in-Law & a Band-Aid Grandbaby

By Amalah

Dear Amy,

This is probably going to be way longer than it needs to be but I’m desperate. My husband and I found out in December that we are expecting our first baby, and while we are extremely excited we have some problems. My mother-in-law absolutely hates me, that’s all there is to it. When my husband and I first started dating I just assumed it was the average “No one will ever be good enough for my son.” but as the years go by it gets worse. She has repeatedly told him he needed to leave me because “he could do better,” “she doesn’t have money like we do” the list goes on. I have tried everything in my power to make her like me, I ignore what she says about me, try to take an interest in her life, do things I absolutely do not agree with, all just to make her happy. It went on to where she banned me from their home because she “thought I might steal something,” mind you I have never given her a reason to think that about me. She has never tried to get to know me, all of her opinions are based on what others say about me. If it was just me I could handle it, I quite literally just avoid her. We haven’t spoken in almost two years and while it’s worked, there is now someone else in the mix. My husband knows that she doesn’t like me and he knows how she treats me, there have been several times where he has defended me to her but she just doesn’t care. She was forced by her husband to show up at our wedding and let’s just say all anyone could talk about was how rude she was during it all. (She was on her cell phone the entire time.)

My husband doesn’t understand my concerns about how she will treat our child. He thinks that she will forget her issues and be in mine and the baby’s lives now that I am pregnant. She wasn’t excited when she found out that I was pregnant and now I am at 11 weeks she nor anyone in their family has asked about me or the baby once. This will be her first blood grandchild and she acts like she doesn’t care. She even told him, “Don’t expect us to babysit. If you guys can find someone and can come out with us that’s fine but don’t expect us to do it.” He thinks that they (his family) will all come around. I don’t think that our child or myself for that matter should have to wait for them to decide that they are all of a sudden interested in being in the baby’s life. I am completely lost on what to do, I understand he wants them to be around the baby but I truly don’t think someone as toxic as they are deserves another chance. I truly just need advice from someone who isn’t a part of the situation.

A Hopeless Mommy-to-Be

I’m sorry. This really sucks.

I suspect that your husband is in for a major disappointment when his mother does not, in fact “come around” after the baby is born. I mean, I am An Optimist who really does believe in humankind’s ability to change and evolve for the better, but then again, how’s that long-awaited promise pivot to Presidential behavior working out for everybody? Your mother-in-law sucks and isn’t going to change.

Since you really can’t manage or control your husband’s relationship with his mother — I’m glad to hear he has at least attempted to defend you, and I hope he fully supports your decision to stop trying to improve an un-improvable situation — you can really only hold firm on YOUR relationship with her. Which is non-existent. And can and should continue to be non-existent. She banned you from her house because she thought you would steal something?? The hell?? She’s a weird, mean, spiteful person who doesn’t like you and doesn’t seem to care about becoming a grandmother. (Probably because she sees the baby as an extension of you and thus, more of a potential source for more disappointment/disagreement than a source of joy/happiness.)

I’m sure this is all very painful for your husband and it is legitimately hard to come to terms with the harsher truths about the people who raised you. (It’s like 99% of why therapy exists.) If they used to have a close relationship, it’s probably hard for him to accept that she’s gone too far off the deep end for the relationship to be saved. Thus, the “everything will be better once the baby is here! she doesn’t like my wife but she can’t not like my baby!” optimism. If she was always this toxic and manipulating, it’s equally hard to accept that they never even had the relationship he thought they did in the first place. It can be a deeply unmooring realization.

All that said, none of that is your fault, or your issue to fix. You can understand where his hopefulness is coming from while also knowing that it’s very likely misplaced. And as his partner and mother of his child, you have the right to tell him that you will not willingly put yourself in the line of abusive fire. You are done with her. Your foot is down. Continue on having absolutely no contact with her and try to get her out of your headspace, so to speak. She is physically and psychologically no longer welcome in your life.

If he wants her to meet the baby, he can take the baby over to her house without you. If he wants to send photos and updates, he can do that. It can officially be his relationship to manage, although you will need to use your mommy spidey-senses (don’t worry, you’ll get those) to ensure that her treatment of you doesn’t spread to her treatment of your child once he/she is old enough to be aware that Grandma is a weird, mean person. That’s when you put your other foot down.

For now, I suppose let him hold out hope that she’s capable of change, but he needs to respect that you do not share that hope, and have officially been put up with TOO DAMN MUCH from this woman. He can hope for the best, but he also needs to be on YOUR side here. (Maybe suggest some couples counseling as a good pre-baby relationship tune-up thing?) Her treatment of the mother of his child is unacceptable and irrational, and I hope he sees and understands that, fingers-crossed-that-things-can-get-better belief aside. I really do suspect he’s in for some major disappointment, and I also hope that he can be clear-eyed enough to realize that wow, my mom sucks and isn’t going to change.

Photo source: Depositphotos/Aquir014b

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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