Mother-in-law's interference is driving me insane
My mother-in-law is driving me mad! I know that they are always the butt of every comedian's jokes, and I used to laugh at them, but now life has intervened and I don't think them funny any more.
The basic problem, I think, is me. She never really understood why 'Maire' (my wife) wanted to marry me and I am sure that she tried to stop the wedding - although neither of them said anything to me. I think she thought that I was not quite good enough for her precious daughter and that she had hoped for a more socially advantageous match for Maire.
Nothing was ever said but there were audible sniffs whenever she felt that I did something that was not quite perfect at the dinner table; any present I ever got for Maire was "quite nice" but she never enthused; the wedding preparations were a nightmare so I eventually opted out and left it to the two of them. About a month before the wedding I exploded at Maire and threatened to call the wedding off. Only then did I discover that Ma ire has been driven mad by her mother for years. I calmed down immediately and we actually made our bond stronger through this.
We are now two years married and three months ago we had the inexpressible joy of a daughter who is the light of our lives. But her mother lives just two miles away from us and disapproves of the way that we are rearing our child. She feels that it is her right to call into our house whenever she likes and criticise practically everything that Maire does. I am afraid that Maire is going to go crazy and do something that will split the family up and I want to prevent this at all costs because her Dad is a great guy and she adores him.
Any advice you can give will be much appreciated.
ADVICE: Congratulations on the birth of your daughter and I hope you both continue to enjoy her as you watch her develop over the years. Having had the experience that she has had with her own mother, I'm sure Maire will be particularly anxious to have a very special relationship with her.
I don't think the problem is you, because you are not the only one that displeases your mother-in-law. She seems to have a lot in her life that makes her unhappy - very definitely a glass-half-empty sort of person. Some would indeed classify her as Borderline Narcissistic and there is quite a lot written on the internet about this.
She seems to have got away with her cavalier treatment of people unchallenged, and at this stage she is not going to change. However, it is very important that you set something up to stop her interfering with how you raise your daughter - and indeed any subsequent children you may have.
If you don't stop her now she will see this as a licence to continue and both you and your children will suffer in the long-term. I'm glad that you and Maire are in agreement with regard to her mother, because otherwise it would be very difficult for you to criticise her without offending Maire. So you should look upon that as a big bonus.
As your mother-in-law is not going to change it is up to you both to change in your acceptance of her. She observes no boundaries at all with her frequent dropping in, and so decide between yourselves which of you is going to tell her, and then inform her that in future there will have to be set times for her visits. Tell her that you are trying to establish some sort of routine in baby's life as well as your own, so that is why things have to change.
She should also be told that you do not appreciate hearing her criticisms of your baby-rearing - or anything else for that matter - and that you would appreciate it if she kept her views to herself. This is obviously going to cause tension but you will have to stick to your plans and stop her whenever she starts. Maire's father has obviously worked out his own way of dealing with his wife and you must put your own happiness ahead of his when talking to Maire's mother.
If, as you suspect, there is a subsequent breakdown in communication between mother-in-law and yourselves then you will have to work out some way of maintaining a relationship with Maire's father. You have your own family now which must come first, and ahead of both of your families of origin.
I'm including a link which may be of interest to your wife, and indeed to you: www.daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com