So You Survived Christmas

With apologies to non-christians reading this blog, phew we have survived Christmas, just about, without having to see the MIL.

Because we are low-to-no-contact with the evil MIL Christmas hijacking this year was confined to the presents, as always. It has got so bad that my husband has started opening the presents she sends us before Christmas to check that she has not done the exact opposite of what we have asked and sent the children something wholly unsuitable or vindictive. She likes to send “messages” via her gifts. Like badly trained dogs leave little brown “messages” all over the local public playing field.

A quick recap – MIL sends gifts with strings attached like money with instructions on what to spend it on (here’s a good article on dealing with this, she wants you to have certain hobbies (which chime with hers, obviously) or she has a set view of the type of person you are (which is narrow, inaccurate and never changes, obviously) and sends you the items she thinks you should want to fit in with her image of you, she uses the monetary value of gifts to indicate her level of approval with you, or her total lack of empathy means gift buying is bordering on impossible so she gets someone else to tell her what to buy, where to buy it and ideally to just go get it for her so she doesn’t have to bother. All of this comes with long winded sob stories about how incredibly hard it is to find the things she asked you to tell her about.



So this year, as we did last year, we asked family to send one present to each child so we are not swamped with toys. She ignored this. Obviously. Not just one book and a toy and a shared gift, no four books, each. And the toy we had to tell her to get and where to buy it. MIL present foray number 1: I know what’s best for your kids.

Then there was the way she has repeatedly tried to get my husband to accept money from her to buy new clothes as she says he looks shabby, and for her to buy the girls all the clothes they might need for spring/summer. We have refused this demeaning and controlling imposition with the implication that we are incapable of providing for ourselves. And that is how she means it, accepting money from her is like opening the door to a vampire. The blood sucking and horror will begin if she gets a foot across the threshold. My husband unwraps the presents she sent and peaks in each one to see and finds a present addressed to all of us. Curious and slightly dreading what’s inside he looks and finds a load of kids toy money wrapped up just to prove she can send us money after all. MIL present volley number 2: ha ha I’ll do whatever I want,  here’s your money.

Lastly is the disparity in the amount of money she spends. One year We all got a small gift and then she included some cheques, £100 for husband, £50 for each of the kids, nothing for me. This year she gave £350 to husband and £35 gift voucher and a plastic box to me. A transparent 10 inch by 8 inch plastic box for storing beads. I do not make jewellery or have any beads that need storing. MIL likes jewellery and beads though. MIL present attack number 3: that’s what I think of you, got the message?




Now I refuse to see her (are you surprised?) but the husband feels obliged to see her so the kids can have some sort of relationship with her. I’m not sure why as in my mind if she is so unpleasant I can’t be around her so why should the children? But you know it’s his feeling that his family should not be excluded because that is unfair to him somehow. This recurring issue of balancing up everything so it is equal, as opposed to right or just or appropriate, is something we are working on. Thus a trip to meet Grandma has been mooted for New Years’ Eve, to meet her half way between her house and ours, somewhere near Bristol (UK). But she is having issues with the weather reports. She won’t drive if it is sunny because the sun on the motorway is too bright, she won’t drive if it is wet and windy as it is too dangerous, she won’t drive in fog, frost, snow…you get the picture. Calm, overcast and mild are the only conditions she is OK with. But not too late as she won’t drive if it’s dark.

I’m not sure what she thinks she gains by being so difficult. She has driven for years, never crashed, has a modern car, the roads are all major roads or motorways, well lit with various service stations. We are talking about 1.5-2 hours driving tops here. I don’t know if she thinks that the husband will relent and say “oh well we’ll drive all the way to see you then” if she complains like this, she will never come out and say what she wants. The more likely scenario is that he gets so pissed off by her antics he cancels the trip.

I am uncomfortable with the children spending time with her. I don’t believe children should have contact with adults who are dangerous, unstable, mean and nasty just because they are blood relatives. Family bonds only mean something if the family members mark that bond, that tie by ensuring the enhanced safety, security and comfort of those they are bonded with. That’s what the bond is – I am one with you, you are precious to me. Precious to MIL is more like Gollum clinging greedily to the One Ring muttering “my precious, my precious”.




Anyway please take the opportunity to relive your holiday rants and MIL moments and fill the comments below with the bullshit you’ve experienced over the last week of enforced family get-togethers. And can I just award this medal to anyone who had to have MIL over for Christmas lunch.






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41 responses to “So You Survived Christmas

  1. Luckily we live 2000 miles away, but MIL sent us, oh 4 packages of baby clothes (we’re expecting in march). Hubby and I weren’t impressed with her horrible tacky taste, but we figure free stuff right? He texted her the next day to say thank you for the package. Her response: “What package? Hello, what package?” Are we really supposed to believe she’s that stupid that she completely forgot about the dozen outfits she handpicked, wrapped in shiny red wrapping paper, and shipped over just a week ago? Hubby was annoyed by this and didn’t respond. She’s obviously playing dumb so that she can drag him back into grasp. Thankfully hubby has gotten too smart for this. Not sure what to make of the gifts yet, as the babt isn’t here yet. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, “Is she already competing with my mom for Best Grandma Ever Award? Is she trying to brand my child as hers by deciding her wardrobe?” I don’t know, I’m always annoyed by her but I’m just glad she’s far far away.

  2. Anonymous

    This was the first year EVER we did not have to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday ever with MIL!!! I would love to say it was peaceful but she still managed to inflict her emotional turmoil as best she could multiple states away!!!!! We tried to thank her for the cards and money but she was not home despite three attempts at reaching her. My husband finally spoke with his father at work to thank him. Here is what we got back: a rant as a cell phone message for not calling her cell phone. Which I might add she never returns a text message or uses her cell phone as her primary number. Not only does she rant ALL the time about the fact we don’t call enough then when we do call we use the wrong phone. She of course makes sure she does this right before the holiday or typically on a holiday which tugs at his heartstrings making him feel guilty about the son he is, guilty he enjoys our other side of the family unit. She repeatedly places her daughter in the golden child roll. I have gone little to no contact and do not feel a single bit guilty after 20 years of CRAP! That’s saying a lot for me. I have stood my ground and since I am no to little contact. I have not backed down and it has been a piece to the puzzle of our marriage healing. These NPD pray on kind, giving people. But kindness should NOT be mistaken for weakness! Guess who is getting the brunt of her “stuff”: husband, and it isn’t pretty.

    We have had something happen to save our marriage that was headed for disaster because I could no longer live in the toxicity given my health issues. We went to something called Retrouvaille for broken marriages. It is a beautiful program in 20 nations. It’s all about feelings, communication, with clear guidelines incorporating compassion. It has been lifesaving. It is like a 12 step program for marriages. It teaches you to have feelings, call the feelings what they are and accept each others feelings so that you can resolve issues or simply talk and enjoy each others company. It discusses your family of origin in a safe and kind environment. In other words it helped take me out of the equation in bringing things to light. It is also a weekend program so you can dig deep in a safe environment unlike a one hour therapy session that seems to end just when getting to the nuts and bolts of things. I highly, highly recommend it. It is put on by the Catholic Church but you DO NOT HAVE TO BE CATHOLIC!!!! It’s not about converting you to Christianity, but rather saving marriages and keeping families together.

    Our biggest issue in our marriage was a lack of empathy, dismissal of anything and everything because the only emotion allowed in their family was her rotten emotions and nobody elses. It all had to be a facade or you had to get over “it”. Mean doesn’t begin to describe this Grinch of a woman. As a result my husband built walls around him nobody could penetrate to protect himself including us and our children.

    I also agree with other writers, why bring your kids around a horrible beast of a person when you both can barely stand it? That just doesn’t make sense to me. I have asked my husband the logic. He is finally seeing the light.

    I hope all of “us” in NPD in-law land make continued progress in the New Year!

  3. Lacy

    This is the first holiday I have refused to see my in laws. Not only is my MIL a narcissist, my sister in law is as well – my father in law enables them. In his words, “they are high strung thoughbreds.” Lucky me! I put up with the horrible hurt for 8 years, with no support from my husband. (We are in counseling) The straw that broke the camels back for me, was the birth of our daughter, Mary. After our sweet, healthy girl was born, the first granddaughter in the family, my MIL & SIL demanded we change her name to Sarah (their first name) & didn’t see her or our son for two months after her birth. In the meantime my husband was spending thousands of dollars on a 50th wedding anniversary party for his parents which I was ordered to attend despite them ignoring their grandchildren, attempts at manipulation, rages, ect. Since then, my SIL has told me I’m stubborn, controlling, driving a wedge in their family & I make my husband miserable. There is a novel’s worth I can share, but in summary my Christmas was wonderful without them in my picture. My husband and kids saw them, but I stayed behind and don’t feel guilty one bit. My MIL did send me a present….a card that said, “may your Xmas be filled with joy & happiness.” My MIL underlined happiness. Along with the card a kitchen towel that had, “be happy” sewn into it. So message received. What my MIL doesn’t realize is she is the one who is miserable & not having her in my life makes me very happy!

    • My NMIL & enabling FIL have pulled similar things on me and my DH. They accused me of brainwashing their son, ruining their family, and tearing them apart. Well the brainwashing part isn’t true, but the other things technically are true. Before DH and SIL were enmeshed, living at home, DH was the golden child puppet and SIL was the scapegoat developing narcissistic tendencies of her own. Now DH (and I) lives far away, has his own life, his own family, and makes his own decisions. SIL finally moved out of her parents house a few months ago and is actually starting to make healthy decisions for herself. So yes, I did ruin their family — for the better! And now that we are far away, I can laugh at all of my NMIL’s outageous, childish demands because they no longer affect me. It’s so good to live far away! My only concern now is bringing a baby into the mix, like you mentioned. That’s a new can of worms to be dealt with in the months to come!

      • Lacy

        We unfortunately live less than 5 minutes away from MIL & SIL. I would love to move, but we are also close to my family who are functional and help keep me sane. Plus, I love for my children to be around them. Bringing a baby into the mix is a new can of worms, but as long as you and DH are on the same page, you’ll be okay. My husband is still stuck in the role of a child and is terrified to stand-up to his family. He’s just starting to see the dysfunction, but often beats his head against the wall. That is the main reason I’ve had to distance myself. Not having anyone in your corner is pretty lonely and maddening!…because being around narcissists will drive one mad! Congrats on your baby and I think if your husband is already standing his ground and protecting you, then adding a little one to the mix will only make him do it more so.

  4. RuinedDavesLife

    We had company, so I got out of the obligatory Christmas Eve dinner from Hell.

    No dried out and COLD turkey. No gluey glop potatoes, or listening to Her Highness brag about what a fantastic chef and hostess she is, and how she got ALL her grand kids the BEST and MOST EXPENSIVE presents.

    (I buy the gifts for my kids every year because she complains they are too difficult to shop for, and it helps ensure the gifts are somewhat comparable so neither child is put on a pedestal or feels passed over. SOMETIMES, she even reimburses us for the gifts!)

    I only had to put up with second-hand accounts of MIL’s meddling in relationships, from my very tired husband, who was verbally accosted by my SIL’s new significant other. Apparently, MIL let it slip that dear hubby doesn’t much like him. Dear, of Dear.

    A few days later, MIL called to find out WHY hubby hates the new boyfriend so. Don’t you know he’s going to be family, and we need to get along with him? (Two months ago, you couldn’t have said a kind word about the guy to her without her pulling a sour face.)

    Anyway, hubby says I MUST go next year, because he can’t face it alone. Fat chance! He’ll just have to practice telling her where his boundaries have been crossed.

    Oh, and not even a Merry Christmas to me, BTW. She didn’t even notice that I wasn’t there. 😉

  5. Al

    Dear MIL had a favorite grandchild for many years, and we somehow did not notice, until the non-favorite asked her to attend his birthday that year, since she comes to the other child’s birthday every year. That was when we woke up and realized that he gets crappy gifts and the favorite GC gets good gifts and treatment. We also noticed that in her presence the favorite GC becomes domineering and the non-favorite becomes even more self-effacing and tries to deny all his needs and wants. Since then we have been trying to go no-contact. But the gifts keep coming. We have made firm requests that the gifts be equitable. She has retaliated by sending equitable gifts, but he got the same T-shirt (yes, same pattern, same size) for two years, and also the same lego set for two years. You have to admire the sneaky deniability of her techniques. She will just say that she forgot what she sent him the year before. This year (our third year away from them) we explicitly asked for no gifts. Let us see what happens.

    • I have wondered if narcissistic grandparents also have golden grandchildren and scapegoat grandchildren. I guess your comment proves they do!

      • Al

        Unfortunately they do. Watching her mold my children into GC and SG was the piece of the puzzle that made it all clear to me why my husband and his sibling interacted as they did. And finally I put my foot down. She will not be allowed to do this to my children.

  6. Male in his 40s

    Where do I start… I am in a legal battle now to keep my kids. The MIL/My ex are trying to bankrupt me amongst other stuff. I will lose my home of 16 years there is no doubt. I would advise anyone that suspects that their MIL/FIL is a narc and their own partner shows no empathy, start your exit strategy. I didn’t. I was in denial. I thought I could beat it (and if you would read earlier posts you would be with me on that). I was wrong. I have gone grey almost overnight, and my emotional and mental health has suffered. These people are unrelentless. They are psychopathic. I agree with our host that our kids should not be allowed to spend time with these people. I applied for court orders for this, but my own legal team advised against it because she has worked as a teacher and that the court would go against me… Go figure… I had the kids for some of Christmas. They woke up at home, our home. That was nice!

    • Al

      Everytime I think of my MIL, I get mad at my enabling FIL. I have been tempted to call him up at 1:0 am and ask him, “why did you let this happen to your children”. Think of it this way, your children will not get mad at you like this. You can provide them some shelter from narcissism, and a loving base. I wish you strength and peace for doing all this.

  7. Mandy

    Our Christmas was quite benign this year, what a relief! I could tell that we are in better favour this year than last by the gifts received…I laughed when you made that point FCW and others commented along those lines. (sigh). MIL vacillates between treating me as a villain, an ally, or some shade in-between. I’ve come down from a long spell of being an intensely-hated target to a more neutral position in the family. I suspect the boundaries and distancing have helped. Very likely, it’s that another source of drama has taken higher priority, for the time being.
    I enjoyed reading your stories, because whether actively experiencing being a target or not, we all know far too well the behaviours of N. Thanks for sharing them, whenever possible, we may as well share a laugh…mission accomplished with all 3 of the graphics FCW selected.
    Male in his 40’s: my heart sank when I read your post. I do remember when you first posted here, and I can only imagine how difficult and absolutely mind-bending your current experiences are. I am thinking of you, and wishing you a boatload of fortitude in the days ahead. I am also hoping a special 2-pronged bolt of lightening strategically touches down in the new year and all your troubles go away ;p (just trying to make you smile).
    Wishing all a happy, healthy, 2016.

  8. amanda

    Can anyone say manipulative? Narcissistic? I am learning. We make amazon lists for the kids. Well MIL bought everything on their lists and told us not to worry about waisting any money this year. She lives directly behind us. We ended spending Christmas Eve with her. Wouldn’t have been so bad but of course since I stood up for myself about something she was criticizing about on New Years..that got blown right up in my face.. . I don’t even want her to babysit or even talk to her again

  9. I am so relieved to have found your blog! I have reached the end of my tether with my MIL, who appears to have a plethora of narcissistic personality traits. I met my husband 8 years ago and we’ve been married for 5 years. The more serious our relationship became, the more horrendous my MIL has been towards me. In fact with every significant event in our lives (our wedding, pregnancies etc), her vile behaviour has escalated towards me. I’m now pregnant with my third child and once again my MIL is making my life hell. If she doesn’t see my husband at least once a week, it’s my fault! If we’re out and she can’t get a hold of us on the land line, its my fault! If she wants to come over, but we have other plans, that’s my fault too! On New Year’s Eve, I missed a call from my MIL, who went on to leave a very abrupt and enraged message on my voice mail. She indicated that she expected to see us New Years Day and demanded that I call her back immediately! I have learned from experience that when my MIL is enraged it is not worth trying to hold a civil conversation with her. And so I sent her a text. It may not have been the best way to communicate, but I figured that absolutely no communication at all would only make matters worse. I explained that we had plans that evening to attend a New Years Eve party that our friends were holding, and reminded her that we had plans to see my Sister and BIL on NY Day, but that we would catch up with her very soon. I heard nothing more from her… I did however hear from my SIL who is very much the enabler. She asked if we’d seen my MIL over the festive season, and if not why not?! This is despite us making it perfectly clear to everyone that our plans were to spend Christmas with my parents in Scotland, and then NY with my Sister. I was then subjected to texts which were clearly meant to make me feel guilty – telling me how down and depressed my MIL is, how much my SIL feels sorry for her, that I should be looking after family members in need etc etc. My husband felt so bad that he tried to call his Mum, but she refused to speak to him. We didn’t get a Happy New Year (nor did I get a Merry Christmas either, but then I never do!).
    I could write a novel worth of stories about my experiences with MIL, but for now I just feel reassured to know that there are others out there who have similar experiences to me.

    • anonymous

      We experience the exact same thing as you! You are light years ahead of me with your understanding. It’s bizarre to me of how they think that bullying someone into a relationship or guilting people to that degree into a relationship is acceptable. Further, wouldn’t any NORMAL person be mortified at that behavior for a relationship???? That’s when you know it’s crazy.

      • Hi Anonymous, I’m sorry to hear that you are having similar problems to us. I can really empathize with how you are feeling. I’ve really only increased my understanding of my MIL’s behaviour by reading blogs like this, and via support from a friend who lets me vent when I need to! Coming from what I consider to be a healthy functional family, it took me a while to realise that my MIL had narcissistic traits. I knew that something was amiss, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what that was. As such I didn’t defend against my MIL’s behaviour and even started to doubt my own sanity at times. It was only when my husband and I got engaged and we were planning our wedding, and my MIL’s behaviour escalated to whole new level, that I really sat up and took notice. There is a very definite pattern to my MIL’s behaviour – she will do anything, including being overly sweet and helpful, in an attempt to gain maximum involvement in our family. She will tow the line for a time, but sooner or later she will ignore the boundaries we have set, and she will try to have things all her own way. When we raise a grievance about her behaviour, or say no to her, she becomes a really nasty piece of work; unleashing chaos and madness along the way. And almost always, she will point the finger at me. She will refuse to talk to my husband and I, sulk, bad-mouth me to her other (Golden) DIL (and anyone else that will listen) before becoming all sweetness and light again. I’m currently 5 months pregnant with my third child, and her narcissistic traits have escalated since we informed her of our good news (as it did with our wedding and other pregnancies). After our experiences with my MIL at New Year, I have told my husband that I’ll be keeping her at arms length for the foreseeable future. Her behaviour only served to reinforce that she is chronically jealous of my relationship with my husband, and our little functioning family unit. I simply no longer have the energy to continually cope with her toxic ways, nor do I see why I should have to!

    • Morag

      Mamahannah, its ok to be firm and even be rude to them and ignore all texts designed to prey on your caring nature. Protect your energy for your precious children not these emotional vile vampires. Tell them to speak to you like an adult and its none of their damn business what you choose to do with your time. And make it clear if the want your presence then they need to start behaving in a kind, respectful way or you won’t be there at all.

      You are worthy and deserve respect and need not justify yourself to these people who throw hissy fits/tantrums because they chose not to treat you as a human being, and somehow you failed in meeting their expectations that weren’t clear or discussed in a mature and adult way in the first place.

      My Mother (and MIL) have done this to me and I’ve put the phone down on her. Both women have rang back and I have explained over and over again that they will talk to me in a respectful and civil manner. If they can’t do that then I will put the phone down. Tantrums can continue and my my mother makes it out that I am the one who is out of order (complete mindf***) it is impossible to reason with adults who are experiencing life temporarily from a 2-7 year old perspective so don’t waste your energy. Set rules and consequences avoiding parentification/infantisation so they understand. Stay strong. Ignore silent treatment. It drives them crazy! All the best.

      • Absolutely agree, firm clear boundaries are vital. You do not have to be available to these people or reply to every attempt to stir up drama in your life. You get to choose when and how they are communicating with you.

        Mamahannah if you find you are struggling to be assertive to your MIL I recommend reading some books on assertiveness and then setting yourself some small tasks where you practice being assertive in other situations, like making a small complaint at a restaurant or disagreeing with a friend or colleague about something insignificant, your opinion on a film you’ve both seen for example. Slowly expose yourself to situations where you need to be assertive, volunteer to help at a mum’s group, go on a school trip with your children’s class.

        When you feel ready, even though your heart may be pounding and you may feel wobbly, stand up to your mother in law about something. You choose what. Make your point and don’t back down. It could be a small thing like where she sits at the table at a family dinner or whether you can see her on a certain day. Then try it again with something else. Gradually you will develop confidence in your ability to resist her pressure. There is no need to be insulting or aggressive, it’s about being absolutely firm and clear and repeating yourself like a stuck record if necessary.

  10. MariaD

    Thank you so much for your blog!
    I found it just 2 days ago and read every single post. Your observations and experiences are identical to mine! I could have written this!! My feelings and thoughts are completely validated now !
    I, too, have a NPD MIL. Unfortunately she has 4 kids and 3 DILs who she plays favorites with. As you might have guessed, I am the least favorite, and my husband had a Hero/Peacemaker role.
    Needless to say, the Christmas holidays were really hard. I had to cook the Christmas/ birthday dinner ( MIL’s birthday is on Dec 25) and serve the entire dysfunctional family while being completely ignored in my own house.
    Besides MIL, I have personality disordered or just outright nasty SILs, and rude BILs, so I am totally alone in this crazy family!

  11. anonymous

    hmmm! Time to make a chocolate pie???? Have you ever seen the movie or read The Help? Only joking. You have to find some humor in the insanity.

  12. sweetmaria

    Dear Fierce Cork Woman,
    I was wondering if you have any advice on how to deal with an NPD MIL who plays favorites to the extreme with her grown children (4 of them) and grandchildren (4 as well) , i.e. buys a house (!) for her “golden” son and his family, pays thousands and thousands of dollars of his credit card debts, continuously praises the qualities of the “golden DIL”, always available to babysit their 2 kids. However, she only calls my husband (her other son) in case she needs money or emotional support/help, either ignores me entirely or makes offensive comments, NEVER happy to hear good news about us, and constantly makes comparisons between me and the “golden” DIL, not in my favor of course. And never available to babysit our son.
    My husband and I are successful on our own, and do not need any material help, but her hurtful behavior has been really bringing me down!

  13. My Christmas went as many of yours. This was the first Christmas in 11 years that my NMIL wasn’t in my living room at the crack of dawn while our children opened their presents on Christmas morning. It was so wonderful. You see, my NMIL managed to worm her way into the house across the street for us and has cause a never ending amount of issues with our children and our marriage over the last decade. I tolerated her for years, thinking I was doing a good thing and supporting my husband by not giving him a ration of shit about his mother. I was only killing my self esteem and my regard for him. I grew to resent him and their sick enmeshed relationship. It wasn’t until our two girls (ages 10 and 12) reached the age of reason, about age 7 that the real “grandma” came out. I won’t even go into the horrible things she did, covertly, that harmed our girls. There was a nasty blow out in which her behavior was so horrifying that not even her son could ignore it. I went NC with her, and my husband continued to want to try and have a relationship with her and with the girls. However, we wanted to have a discussion with her regarding things she did that were harmful to the girls, and that needed to stop. Essentially she was told to STOP doing he harmful things she had done in the past and instead of apologizing and working to fix the relationship she had with her granddaughters, she lied and said that every single thing they said she did to them was not true and that our daughters were liars. Three months went by in which she did not see them, and then one day my husband brought the girls over with him to visit. My husband was still sure his mother loved our girls and meant no harm. She asked my husband to go into another room to fix her computer and while he was out of earshot, she pinned our daughters into a corner and hissed at them “how DARE YOU tell your parents LIES about me!! If you would quit lying we might have a better relationship!!!” This is the grandmother who insists she loves her grandchildren and wants a relationship with them. But after not seeing them in months the first thing she did when she finally got them alone was threaten them! She berated them up and down, and as soon as my husband came back out, she acted like everything was fine. My daughters ages 9 and 11 at the time were mortified and frightened. It took them 3 weeks to tell me what she did and when I found out I was LIVID. When I told my husband, it was like someone punched him. It was the wake up call he needed. Our daughters are pretty much NC with her. If grandma wants to see them, she has to do it with me or my husband and we know better than to walk five feet from them, because she WILL viciously attack them. But only when someone isn’t looking. NEVER leave your children alone with a Narc.

    After that my husband started learning about NPD, and has slowly begun LC. She ramped up the guilt and poor me weeks before Christmas and when she wasn’t invited to Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day went into full on pity mode, even saying that her “heart was bleeding.” My husband ignored every text on Christmas Day and her birthday a few days later. No child should have to be around someone that they don’t like, trust or feel safe around. It’s not acknowledging their boundaries and not letting a child have their own boundaries regarding someone they don’t like is very very bad.

    I had to pound that into my husband, but he got it. It’s not perfect, he still feels the guilt and he is still in contact with her, but their relationship will never ever ever be the same.

  14. Tilapia

    I’m do glad I stumbled on this blog… It’s great to know I’m not the only unfortunate daughter in law forced to deal with such an evil, nasty and manipulative woman.

    I’m actually only at the start of my journey, I’ve been with my amazing partner for 6 years! We got engaged 2 years ago and we’re getting married next week! :-D!!! I was actually really close with my narcissistic mother in law to be for 3 years, I actually saw her more than my own mum… I know, big mistake. My MIL was always really nice, but VERY controlling… However, Easter rolled round last year (as we know with NMILs holidays bring out the worst in them) she lost the plot, turned against me and spoke horribly about me, my family, my partner (mostly the influence I had over him), his job (which he loves, has done so well and I’m so proud of him) and our relationship. My partner tried his best to sort it out, however after 9 months of trying everything the abuse just kept going, it never stopped and all the while she continued to play the victim. At this time I’m in no contact with them, as she can’t even see me without getting highly abusive. My partner is in very low contact, he sees her for birthdays and Christmas (only 1 hour, that’s all he can cope with).

    I don’t mean to rant, but it’s so great to find a place like this and actually identify with people’s stories!!!

    Anyway christmas yes- my partner went over a few days after Xmas and gave them a book each. His mother gave him such elaborate gifts whilst being very cold and distant, I got nothing and did not get acknowledged. But I then got home to find all these gifts around our house from them… To say the least I wasn’t very happy, so they’re locked away so I don’t have to look at these guilt trophies.

    Also she still buys him underwear for Christmas…. Still!!!! No understanding of boundaries!!!

    Anyway, I’ve had my rant… I’ll be reading more blog posts here, so glad I found this place!

  15. annon

    Dear Fierce Cork Woman,
    We barely survived Christmas, we are still working on it and trying to pick up the pieces…We moved halfway across the world and my NPD MIL still managed to pay us a visit (for 45 days!) The whole thing was a nightmare, not just for me and my husband, but also for my family that was around and for the first time got a real glimpse of what we are dealing with.
    I guess the move made the MIL feel she lost control over her child, and I am being punished for it, she was particularly vicious this time around. By the end it got to the point she lost control and started screaming and insulting me for over an hour. She was screaming in my face and on the verge of physically attacking me (my husband acknowledge this after the fact), so it was good that I managed to keep my cool and not answer her provocations. I decided to go no contact, for the second time. Even though my husband rationally understands this, it still takes a tool on him. He is now generally mad at me, on how I handled the situation…Well, I don’t know, I think he is just mad, and I just happen to be here, but knowing this does not make it any easier.
    We have been together for over a decade, and the first time I went not contact with the MIL was a year and a half ago, after learning my husband had been molested as a child. She did not take part in it directly, but knew about it and let it continued. We did lots of therapy and after a while, my husband begged me to let her in again (he is the only child of a single mother, and he feels responsible for her). Although I tried my best to set strict boundaries, the MIL behavior worsen, it is like she thinks there is no longer a leverage on her after me and her extended family learned about the molestation and they were no real consequences.
    We have now to work on recovering from her last visit and explore what it means for me to go no contact, while my husband remains in low contact/ medium chill.
    I do want to make a point about the importance of diagnosis. Even though I always intuitively knew there was something really wrong with my MIL, it took me more than a decade and learning about the molestation to understand the extent of the problem. We endured terrible things from her and let her go too far. I found that therapists (my own, my husbands, and the couple’s counselor) usually do not want to engage in any sort of diagnosis of a family member as they consider the healthy thing to do is focus on their patients. However, it is not possible to properly deal with something if you do not know or understand what you are dealing with. I often oscillated between setting boundaries, feeling bad for her, trying to help her and mistaking her grooming behavior as real empathy, and this was very damaging for me and for our relationship as a couple. I had to do my own research, and only recently learned about NPD. After reading about it here and elsewhere, I have no doubt this is what is going on with my MIL. I finally got some tools on how to deal with it, and can be reassure that going no contact does not makes me a monster.
    I do want to thank you for that, and for making me feel I am not alone. One of the things that can be maddening about having a family member with NPD is their ability to maintain an appearance of normalcy in some contexts…It is hard to find someone that can understand and I cannot go around sharing my husband’s life story, as it it not mine to share. So thank you for the space to talk about it!

  16. Gosh it takes a long long time to untangle what the hell is going on in a narc in law situation.Especially when you come from a narc abuse family.
    In both I have been the scapegoat. The clear seeing, truth telling and therefore threatening/must be stopped at all costs daughter/sister/daughter in law.
    I grew up believing I was the worst person in the world – it’s taken a long time to see who I really am. And I like what I see.
    My mission in life – through trauma therapy, studying counselling, reading Alice Walker and every other person of wisdom On this topic of child abuse/narcissism/empathy – is to raise our daughter to be confident, resilient, treat other people with respect, able to express the full range of her emotions, and know that no matter what she feels/thinks/does, we will always love and support her. Ie the antithesis of my family of origin and my husbands.
    But Christmas has been a turning point for me. My husband had to set another boundary with his narc mother about refraining from continuously stroking our 7 year old daughter on the face and patting her on the bottom.
    Which resulted in what it usually does – total and utter hostility towards me.
    As I am mil and fils scapegoat – incredible how you carry that flag around with you until you decide to no longer.
    And I realised that the worse they treated me
    The more joking around/friendly/making nice I became.
    It clearly was letting them know l agreed with them – that their resentment was justified. That I was the one to blame.
    So when they came over with all their insanity, I decided to give them nothing but politeness. No aspect of my self, no warmth, no real interest. And what I got back was a whole bunch of nervousness and tentative “It was nice to see yous”.
    But it’s too little too late. It’s been a long time since I have given my mother in law anything but hollow politeness. But now I realise the infection is well and truly in her own husband – he is her most ardent flying monkey. And I can feel how the relationships around us in the wider family seem to point to them talking about me negatively behind my back.
    My mother in law had a serious car accident with another grandchild and told him if he told anyone about she would be very upset with him. And mil and fil dropped this terrified boy home and said, thanks for a great day! And that was just one incident in a long list of crazy incidents we have dealt with since the grandkids were born.
    We are moving to the other side of the world, partly for work, but more importantly, to set our lives up away from their orbit as we are much tighter as a family when they are not around.
    It’s been a long journey with my husband, who used to blame me and tell me his parents meant well (yes, I used to reply, they mean well for themselves), to him starting to observe their behaviour, to realising with horror what a nutter his mother is (his brother is the golden child and a horrible person), to finally accepting that his father is a part of the problem, to taking steps to see them only once per month (they wanted to see us twice weekly), to instructing me to never reply to their emails, to opening his mothers cards and letters to our daughter and choosing not to give her some of them, to stand up fights with his parents.
    But most interestingly, it was only when I refused to participate anymore or give anything of myself to his parents at all, it was only then that he was able to take full responsibility for managing his family. Up until that point I was managing all the blaming aspects. And now that I won’t, he and his parents are going to have to fight it out, as I am not participating.
    I don’t know if I have expressed that in a way that makes sense – but I feel a lot better now, knowing that I am not going to be walking away from every encounter with my scapegoat burden. I used to feel guilt as I was programmed to feel guilt and take responsibility for every emotional problem within a 100 mile radius, from my own childhood. And now that I reject that – I won’t be walking away from encounter in twisting turmoil about every last thing I supposedly did to cause this latest round of bullshit. It wasn’t me. It was never me.
    So I recommend disengagement. Taking account of who you really are. Not the person they tell you and insinuate you are.
    My in laws are the covert type. I have had a few physical shoves from my mother in law when she is really angry about something and blaming me, so I try to avoid hugging her. The two of them are extremely image conscious, into how perfect they are and therefore underhand. Eg fil is civil towards me in front of my husband but when are alone he lets out his rage and refuses to speak to me.
    in the past I would continually try to engage him. But walking away and not making eye contact has made far more of an impact.
    When we move away, they will have no grand children in the same hemisphere as them. I think it’s poetic justice that these two people who have no respect for their children or grandchildren will ride out their grand parenting years alone.

    • This comment is as if you are writing my story. Amazing.

    • Al

      This is my story, more or less. I was the caretaker in my family of birth, walked away from that to build a life and then walked into a similar dysfunction on the in-laws side. My therapist says that I should not blame myself for that. If you come from dysfunctional families you don’t identify similar dysfunction as abnormal in the new situation.
      A lot of water under the bridge for a lot of years, now all I want is for my kids to have better options.

    • JD

      You have described my life to at “T”. Every single thing you wrote has taken place in our lives! I no longer “Buffer” and it has been interesting to say the least. You are spot on when you say that laughing it off, etc, made it all okay. I no longer do that and in fact I can’t even make eye contact with them as it makes me sick to my stomach. The ‘politeness’ makes her crazy as it gives her nothing to work with.
      My children, now teens, see all the crazy and two of the three children can’t stomach it any longer, the other just wishes she had a grandmother because my mom died years before she was born.
      My husband now has to deal with them, as I politely refuse and have set clear boundaries, it’s really made the situation escalate. She is livid I won’t partake and she no longer has a rag doll to throw around (because I thought I was supporting my husband and being polite) It absolutely is poetic justice. Not necessarily intended to be mean, but just taking care of myself for once!

    • KB

      This is my exact story- everything you wrote resonated with me. I have a Narc mother and MIL and was the scapegoat for both. I did exactly as you did and let them blame me for everything- “incredible how you carry that flag around until you decide to no longer” as you have been groomed by your own mother to do so. We, too, have a Golden Child brother who is deeply vested in the dysfunctional relationship (he, his wife and children were the favourites). I, too, protected my husband and let him hide behind him. It took 23 years of marriage for me to disengage and draw a line in the sand “I will NOT be your punching bag any longer. You need to apologise for your (latest) appalling behaviour and stop blaming me for everything (and constantly bad mouthing me to friends and extended family). I left husband to deal with them. He couldn’t cope (“She’s a nightmare!”). He finally sent them an email (that he should have sent 2 months into our marriage instead of 23 years later) “I won’t tolerate the way your treat my wife (and children- brother’s children were heavily favoured). Treat her respectfully or we can no longer have contact”. She wrote back “You are choosing to have no contact with your family then”. His brother texted him and told him to “man up” (and put me back in my place). We’ve had nearly 18 months no contact and it’s wonderful. As you comment- all the anguish and turmoil I endured for years is now a memory instead of an ongoing issue. It’s like having a abscess on your butt finally heal. There is a scar there, but it is no longer continually painful 😊

  17. *** please can you remove my name from my post? I wrote anonymous in the name section and I have no idea how my name was included. Please do as a matter or urgency. Thank you.

  18. Mel

    When we lived in another country to my MIL she would send a big box each year full of gifts…normally something appropriate for my husband and kids and the most awful fat clothes for me… so large in fact that I wore one of the blouses in the late stages of pregnancy with twins! Now that we have returned to the Netherlands (where my MIL lives) she ignores the kids for christmas, Sintaklaas, easter … no gifts, nothing and cancelled hosted christmas at her house a few weeks after we returned to the country. My husband takes the kids to visit his parents twice a year but she has recently started to make phone calls to his friends and family members to tell them what an inflexible horrible person I am… its very frustrating to say the least

  19. Wow, I only just read this. It is so relatable. In some ways I just have to laugh at how much the other experiences listed here mirror my own. The politics of narc mil gift giving… I used to wonder how it was that the gifts she gave me were so, so irrelevant to who I am. And why over the years those gifts became increasingly cheap. And why she constantly laments to my husband that I’m impossible to buy for – yet even in times when I’ve given her a list of exactly what I want, she still claims she doesn’t know what I like. Or she buys things that are similar but the cheap version or, in the case of clothes, they’re always several sizes too big or too small, despite her knowing full well my actual size because she measured me up multiple times because she likes sewing (now there’s no way I let her touch me!!).

    Christmas 2015 I was all set to not attend the in laws’ dinner but my husband (who fills the scapegoat role for his family) last-minute panicked and begged me to attend. It was hours of psychological torture. Honestly, I can’t comprehend why they want me around when they don’t enjoy my company (and the feeling is mutual).

  20. nicola

    Hi folks
    I’ve had similar experiences to you all over the last 13 years, I would recommend this book, I think it actually saved my marriage – it’s easy reading too . Jenna D. Barry
    A Wife’s Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husband’s Loyalty Without Killing His Parents
    We are still trying to come to some sort of happy medium with the MIL………..😩😳😏😜😶 x

  21. Anonymous

    I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have stumbled onto your blog. I’m the only grandchild of a woman not unlike your MIL, who provided free music lessons in exchange for control of me on the weekends. My parents didn’t realise the extent of the problem until my resulting anxiety and depression came to a head during my first year at university. Ultimately, I had to start the conversation about the abuse she inflicted, and even six years later, my father (her son-in-law) is the only one who fully believes me.

    I thought I should mention that even only children can be the victims of favouritism. I was the only grandchild, but she more or less brainwashed me, claiming that teenagers, anyone who enjoyed popular music, and anyone who had sex before marriage were “bad people” and that I was a “good girl”. Last week she felt the need to make sure that my long-term boyfriend and I weren’t “doing anything we shouldn’t do” (you know, like mutually pleasurable, consensual sex). Please note that I’m in my mid-twenties. She also continues to compare me unfavourably to other students she has had, and she continues to use gifts as a form of manipulation.

    Thank you for doing better for your children. People like your MIL and my grandmother don’t stop just because the children grow up – they will back off only if firm boundaries are established. My grandmother still tries her old tricks, but when they fail, I see her for what she always was – a resentful, abused little child who never healed her own wounds.

  22. AB

    I am so happy I found your blog. I have been married 15 yrs. We have one child who was the first grandchild. We (me and hubby) we stupid and moved to same town as MIL/FIL and I have regretted ever since.

    My MIL is narcissistic domineering, cruel, vindictive, demanding, a bully and a liar. I won’t even go into everything she has done, let’s just say I am so happy our child is older and now sees just how insane MIL is. For the first time ever we didn’t have Thanksgiving together. (and this is a woman who had the most embarrassing and volitile temper tantrums when we broached goign to my parents for any holidays)

    She got angry she bought us something VERY VERY expensive. She knew we didn’t want it (we told her no on mulitple occasions) so she bought it and had it shipped before informing the child (not us) of what she did. Once delivered they came over and proceeded to rearrange my house in order to put it where they felt best. I didn’t want the damn thing much less where they put it but it was like talking to wall. Hubby said to leave it and we would move when they left. And that’s what we did. When MIL found out we were told we were horrible people who moved the item just to make her mad. Huh? Hubby tried to explain the location they chose wouldn’t work but she wouldn’t listen. She then told us maybe we shouldn’t get together for Thanksgiving. Boy, was she angry when we said ok and that was that. Of course, the story through the family grapevine was that we were keeping her grandchild from them because we obviously didn’t want to be around them anymore. *sigh* We had to do Christmas and she was ok though I didn’t have a lot to say to her.

    Recently she has begun becoming extremely critical of our child and I’m reaching the point of no return. Hubby has told her over and over to stop and she will for a little while then back to her old tricks. I know when our child graduates we are out of here but I’m not sure I can last another 4 yrs.

    • Al

      Please, AB, please protect your child from her. If your child is in high school or middle school they are particularly. Keep very structured contact, don’t leave her alone with your child. Take care of yourself too.

  23. Anonymous

    “Christmas lunch” would be a blessing in my case, I, along with my 3 children and husband, are currently living with his mother. And at the very least your husband has some sort of boundary when it comes to his mother, sadly mine dose not. It’s as if she has raised him as a sort of child/husband and it truly makes me sick to my stomach!

    Whenever I try and discuss this with him he comes up with some reason why it is not like that. I recently had to stay in the hospital, due to on going back problems, and when I came home my oldest child broke into tears. This beast of a MIL had told my children, after they started crying when I left for the hospital, that there was no reason to cry over me leaving because I wasn’t a good enough mom for their tears. She told my children, all under the age of 10, that I was a pig, lazy, fat, and unintelligent. That I did not take care of them because I did not want to take care of them and the longer I was gone the better.

    When I spoke to my husband about this he did not say one word to me! In fact he accused me of only telling him about it to see if he would react unfavorable toward his mother. Something she has drilled into his head, that I am trying to separate the two of them and get him to “disrespect his mother”. She tells me all I feed my children is junk when I let them have a couple cookies as a snack, then turns around and gives them 10 cookies for breakfast. I also just found out that she has access to our bank account and the information to look at his retirement plan including how much we can loan against it!! Taught my middle child to lie to me and ignore me and treats my other two as if they don’t exist.

    My husband spends every minute of every day with her, they won’t even talk to me. And if I try and talk to him about any of these things I am just making this up in my head, or he gets angry. I have put up with this for so long because I am terrified that when it comes down to it, he will choose her over me. I finally told him today that we are going to counseling, and I figure he has already chosen her over me up to now. At least at counseling I can feel safe saying exactly what I think and how I feel. Only he can change himself, not me, and I have to find out if he is willing. Fingers crossed. Good luck to all of you and thank you for sharing. It feels good to know I am not the only one……….

    • I think you are right, his first loyalty is to his mother not you and this is not how a marriage should work. He has already chosen her over you.

      No man with any backbone stands by and lets anyone insult the mother of his children in the way she has done. Shame on him. Get yourself as prepared as you can to have a way out if it comes to it, a job, some savings, somewhere to go. Get legal advice. Start keeping your own record of her comments to you, the dates, times, other witnesses just like you would in a workplace harassment case. Counselling is the way forward, I hope he attends the sessions with you but if not go anyway as you will find your own strength through them. Good luck.

  24. Anonymous

    All relatable cases and it’s like reading a book about my marriage.

    Sitting here on Christmas day and still wondering how my wife’s family managed to inflict there poisonous behavior into my home.
    A few months ago I wanted (and she agreed) our own Christmas and the beginning of our own traditions.

    Two years ago my wife and I lost our first child and all the nasty underlying behavior surfaced.
    I pinpointed everything to my wife and she defended their behavior and played the victim, so she didn’t have to take her responsibility.
    I was left to confront them on my own.
    Stupid as I was, I also agreed to try to have another child and now I’m stuck in a bad marriage, in a country I don’t like (I moved because my wife didn’t want to move anymore , even though we agreed she would move)

    Divorce is imminent and I think it’s for the better.

    Sorry for the incoherence, I’m a bit emotional right now.
    Too much has happened and I gave away too much of myself.

  25. Pen Childs

    Had to see mil in boxing day. Not allowed by dh to stay away. He got completely pissed and left me at the mercy of her and sil. Horrendous!! She slagged my eldest daughter off (because she did not go!) My younger daughter was shocked! My husband completely unaware! Hate her!

    • How is it that you have no choice but to see her, were you literally dragged to her house? You DO have a choice. You don not have to do what your husband wants you to do, that is controlling and wrong. I don’t care who it is, his mother, the Queen, whoever, you do not have to go if you don’t want to.

      If he kicks up a fuss, so what? And secondly if he kicks up a fuss the problem is with HIM not your MIL. No caring, loving partner makes their spouse tend court to someone they strongly dislike, without support, even if they are family. You are perfectly entitled to stay away, no this doesn’t make you a bad wife. You are married not glued at the hip. Sometimes separate activities are necessary to preserve everyone’s sanity. See if there is a way you can discuss this and make better arrangements for next year, did you tell him how abandoned you felt? How he let you down there? He can’t repeatedly do that or it will damage your relationship.

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