Mother-in-law help (AB)

Brooke & coaches,

I need help understanding why I am feeling resistance in my relationship with my mother-in-law. In a nutshell, our relationship has become distant over the years which I take much responsibility for. She has always wanted to be super involved with my kids & I’ve come to see recently that she simply just wasn’t following the manual I had for her. In my mind, she was constantly crossing boundaries but I now see that that is not the case at all. She was simply giving her unsolicited opinions whenever she came to stay in my house which she is totally entitled to do.

I had a really great realization before Christmas 2017 which was the only boundary that had been ‘mishandled’ in the past was me giving in to my husband whenever his family asked to stay with us every time my kids were on break and my husband was off work (several weeks a year) and to come on all of our family vacations. I now understand that I have a need for downtime with just my husband and kids for AT LEAST a weekend over the holidays and AT LEAST one vacation per year–and I don’t need to feel guilty about this! My husband is supportive of this, says he understands, and now if he makes a comment such as “we can’t go to XXX with the YYY family over the holidays because my parents are here for such a short time and they wouldn’t want to do that” I am understanding and am able to not feel resentment toward him either.

This year the holidays were MUCH better than they have ever been because I gave them an earliest date they could arrive which allowed me to have 2 full days with all 3 of my kids and husband before houseguests. I practiced being an observer whenever they complained about things and made comments about having to fly on such busy days, about having to pay more for plane tickets this year and only being here for a week. It was so fascinating for me!

I believe that I have let go of my resentment toward my MIL and I love her, but just like I choose not to be friends with people who have ‘requirements’ that I contact them at specific intervals or expect reciprocation if they do or give something to me, I am not interested in more than a cordial relationship with her. This seems to be problematic for my mother-in-law and possibly also my husband. He tells me that his mother now thinks I don’t like her and feels the fact that I don’t call her on the phone is proof of this. I am truly sorry that she feels this way but I have really never, ever called her out of the blue and don’t know if I should be calling her simply to make my husband happy and to follow his family’s operating manual which is something like: Sue (MIL) NEEDS to feel needed and wanted. She is sensitive and we should never, ever tell her anything that she doesn’t want to hear.

I am fairly new to SCS and think I need to do a model on this but not sure exactly where to start….