Mother In Law Has Plans To Move In & Pilates Fee Is Off-Balance

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

DEAR CAT: I would like your opinion about a situation with my mother-in-law. She is in her 60s and my husband is her only child. It began at our wedding nearly seven years ago: She told people that she would live with us. Since then she’s continued to say this. My husband and I have talked about it in the past and he’s used it as a negotiation tactic with me when buying a new house. I explained that she shouldn’t expect or feel entitled to that type of arrangement. He claims she doesn’t feel that way yet she continues to hint at it to others. I feel like I’ve been duped into marrying him and his mother. I work full-time and we equally pay for household expenses. Through self-discipline, I’ve managed to become successful and financially stable. I don’t mind working hard for most of my life but I plan to enjoy our blessings with my husband, not his mother. We plan to have a child and he thinks we’re going to need extra hands, physically and for saving on daycare. I told him a once or twice per week visit from grandma is okay as I’d like both of our parents to be actively involved in the child’s life, but her living with us would create undue pressure in our marriage. Currently she lives about four hours away and visits every couple of months. On a recent trip, she invited a friend to our house without asking (or even telling) us in advance. I was surprised when the guest knocked on my door because we had recently moved, with lots to be done. While my parents devoted several days to helping us move in, my mother in law sat and visited with her friend for five hours while I worked around the house. Sadly, my husband not only disagreed with me about her not informing us of the visitor (“It’s no big deal,” he said), but he joined them and didn’t do any work himself. Her lack of common courtesy is disrespectful and her expectation to live with us, presumptuous. I realize the relationship between a mother and son is a special one, but thus far I haven’t felt like my husband has conveyed my feelings to her. I don’t want to create tension by speaking with her directly, but enough is enough. What would you do? — DISRESPECTED DAUGHTER-IN-LAW

DEAR DISRESPECTED: Your sense of respect to your mother in law is honorable but it has manipulated you into silence and that creates more tension than anything. You should speak to her directly because this is not just your son’s marriage or house; both are yours together. I’m not sure which is more appalling: that she would invite someone to your new house without informing you, then sit for a five hour visit without lifting a finger to help, or that your husband said nothing and also didn’t help. Why do you let him be a perfect son but mediocre husband? I can understand that he doesn’t want to hurt his mother but he needs to stop being a milquetoast pantywaist mama’s boy and establish some boundaries with her. Remember, this is the future father of your children! Give him a serious talking-to, then speak to his mother alone, respectfully but unequivocally. Take charge of your home now….Cat’s Call: Before you have children.

DEAR CAT: I have done yoga and pilates off and on over the years but I still consider myself a beginner/moderate beginner. I remember the basic poses but little beyond that. Recently I decided to try pilates again at a yoga/pilates school. When I called to inquire about beginner classes the receptionist informed me there would be an ‘assessment.’ I didn’t mind until she said it was $25! That’s more expensive than one class. She explained they don’t want new people ‘disrupting’ the class, so a proper evaluation is required. To which I said, “just put me in the most beginner class.” Cat, I am a fit, athletic woman who has taken numerous dance classes, tennis lessons, weight training classes, etc. and never had to do anything like that. Is this the norm? My one friend said yes. I am beginning to remember why I stopped taking yoga and pilates years ago…people who are supposed to be so Zen are just complete elitist a**holes. Your call? — NO OHMMM IN PHILLY

DEAR NO OHMMM: I called a few yoga/pilates studios and there were no fees or ‘assessment’ charges for beginners. I suggest you do the same, i.e. call around, because that rigmarole is clearly not the norm. I spoke with two studios that required consultation appointments if you want to join intermediate or advanced classes, but that makes sense. I can’t comment about the “elitist a-hole” nature of yoga/pilates people because I don’t do those exercise regimens. Even if I did….Cat’s Call: It’s unlikely I’d openly agree with you.

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  1. Don’t know what to say to DisDaughterInLaw, many red flags. This marriage is already in trouble, if they share the expenses equally, he negotiated the MIL angle while buying a house/planning children, only sharing her blessings with the hubby, husband obviously taking mother’s side over wife’s side, etc… Sounds like all three of them have issues. To me, when you get married, it’s an “all in” situation: money, time, effort all go into the marriage “pot”, and you devote your life to your spouse, forsaking all others including parents. While you still love and respect them, you do not side with them against your spouse. The husband sounds sneaky and wimpy, the mother in law manipulative, and the wife controlling. I see bad things happening here unless someone grows balls and takes charge of the situation. They need more open and honest communication right now, or it will end badly, and soon. I hope they don’t have any kids until after it is all worked out. I agree with what you say Cat, but there are people trying to take charge, they are just all doing it behind the seens in a passive agressive way.

    — wertzro in pittsburgh    11/01/2011    Reply

  2. Cat, four hours away sounds good to me.

    My first thought is setting up a meeting in someplace neutral in between.

    Can you tell who lives with us?


    — Danny DeVito    11/01/2011    Reply

  3. Disrespected has nobody to blame but herself. She had to have known that her husband was a mama’s boy before she married him, yet she decided to walk down the aisle with him anyway. Talking to the mother-in-law will accomplish little to nothing. She needs to have a serious talk with her hubby, assert herself, and lay down the law. If he doesn’t wake up and put his wife first, she should be prepared to walk…..and by no means make any babies with him.

    — Matt in Pittsburgh    11/01/2011    Reply

    1. Sorry Matt, Disrespected must speak to her mother in law and now! Agreed she has to talk with hubby too but she’s got to lay down the law with the mother. I have seen this type of situation where the wife is like a third party when it comes to important decisions. I’m stuck on the part of using it as a negotiation tactic when buying the house. Huh? The husband said way back then that his mother would live there and Disrespected said what about it? Did she ever just say “no”? This happens all the time, then the couples have kids and the mother goes crazy with the MIL’s two cents put in about everything. Cat, loved “milquetoast pantywaist mama’s boy” that’s awesome!

      — Kara, Pgh    11/01/2011    Reply

      1. Kara – Agreed that she should tell off the MIL and put her in her place. My point is that she can speak to the MIL all she wants, but it will have little to no effect (especially after letting this go on for several years) until she is able to get her mama’s boy hubby to stand up to his mommy.

        — Matt in Pittsburgh    11/02/2011    Reply

  4. “My point is that she can speak to the MIL all she wants, but it will have little to no effect (especially after letting this go on for several years) until she is able to get her mama’s boy hubby to stand up to his mommy.”

    So, what you are saying, Matt, is that there is only one way to solve the problem – talk to the husband?

    Again, your advice is lacking. There are two different “main” approaches to solving this issue. One, speak with the husband. Two, speak with the MIL.

    Either one can work depending on the people involved and their personalities, traits, temperment, upbringing, etc.

    The wisest approach is to speak with the MIL first. Why? Because we already know the husband is a, what did Cat call himi… “pantywaist momma’s boy” and it appears to be true. Knowing that, going to him first most likely won’t solve anything.

    However, the MIL hasn’t been told how she is interferring yet, and maybe a good “sit down” talk with her will solve the problem, or at least allow the MIL to be aware how the wife feels, and by reading what was in the letter and only having that to go on…

    it is DDIL’s best option.

    Maybe you should stick to construction.

    — LeBron from Pittsburgh    11/02/2011    Reply

    1. LeBron – your reading comprehension is severly lacking. I never advised against talking to the MIL, I just simply and clearly stated my opinion that I don’t think it would achieve any positive results, and the root of the problem is the hubby and DIL.

      Maybe you should quit trying to play amateur psycologist and refrain from making personal attacks on others just because they don’t happen to agree with your point of view. Your adversarial response isn’t surprising though, considering it is coming from an ex-military, stereotypical NWA.

      — Matt in Pittsburgh    11/09/2011    Reply

  5. DDIL sounds high strung. Her wimpy husband sounds as if he’s caught between two very assertive women – maybe he married a woman like mom. If MIL and son didn’t bother to mention to DDIL, until the day of the wedding, that MIL would be living with them, then shame on both of them. Living with one’s children should be a last resort with most families, in my experience. I’m not sure what “negotiation tactic” husband used when buying the house, but maybe MIL gave them a gift of $ toward their down payment? In any case, husband should not be using that as leverage to let MIL move in. A gift is a gift.
    The bad news is: they are planning to bring a child into this mess. I don’t see how DDIL expects MIL to “be actively involved in the child’s life” with visits “once or twice per week” when grandma lives four hours away, therefore it sounds like MIL is planning to move. When that happens DDIL will have to stand her ground and tell MIL in no uncertain terms she will not be living under their roof. The inviting-a-friend-without-asking-permission is just plain rude under any circumstances. The husband’s lack of assertion in this instance just underscores that he is afraid to stand up to mommy.
    DDIL is doing a bit of a superior dance re: her own parents “helping”. It spells nothing but trouble for the future when a person starts making snippy, comparative, petty comments like that. Everyone in this scenario needs to grow up. And please, please do not drag a child into it.

    — Paula PA    11/02/2011    Reply

    1. DDIL sounds high strung. Her wimpy husband sounds as if he’s caught between two very assertive women – maybe he married a woman like mom…”

      Cuckhold alert! But then it would be a very strange one, indeed.

      — LeBron from Pittsburgh    11/02/2011    Reply

  6. On the Disrespected situation, I see a number of problems: 1) She evidently doesn’t trust the husband enough to have joint finances with him 2) At the same time they are looking at houses with the idea of starting a family 3) The MIL situation is out of hand. She must talk to BOTH the husband and MIL to clear the air and find out where she stands. If she doesn’t like the idea of the MIL inviting people over to their residence, think how she’ll feel if the MIL actually lives with them, or even if she moves to the area without living with them! I’m assuming that the same rules apply to her parents as it wouldn’t be fair if she thinks it’s OK for her parents to drop by unannounced, have a key, or whatever but it’s not OK for the MIL. BTW I wonder about someone in their 60s, which is not that old, who wants to uproot herself and move in with her married son. It tells me that the MIL really doesn’t have her own friends, interests, etc. Bad news all the way around.

    — PB from NY    11/02/2011    Reply


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