Slow Burn

This week I was starting to feel a little guilty about not liking the MIL.  Dinner on Monday wasn’t as craptastic as usual and her company was almost pleasant.  This happens sometimes when the Monday dinners go reasonably well and I start to think that maybe I’m being too hard on her.  Maybe she’s not as bad as I think she is.  But then, something ALWAYS happens and I realize she’s worse than I thought.

Last night DH called her and early on in their chat it became pretty clear she was angling for something.  Turns out her BFF’s husband’s mother had died and the MIL, via the BFF’s husband, wanted DH to be a pall bearer.  Now, I’m sure this is going to get me flamed and I mean no disrespect to the dead woman, but here’s why I am angry and 110% against this. 

DH has never mentioned the woman who died EVER.  She  may have, like a whole bunch of other old Greek ladies, looked after him when he was a child, but in the five and half years we’ve been together her name has NEVER come up.  Which to me, means that she hasn’t played a big role in his life for at least 30 years.  Also, the MIL has never mentioned her.  And this is the woman who was the MIL to her BFF.  If they were close, my MIL would have talked about her.  Believe me.  So DH’s “family is important to me” refrain doesn’t ring true here.  More importantly, I could tell he was hesitant about agreeing to do this.  He danced around saying no until she basically dragged a “I guess” out of him.   This is another one of those “for the show” events.   Which means that everyone has to do something they don’t want to do because it will look good.  Damn the consequences, they’re providing a united front and making everyone else in the local Greek community jealous.  Please.

All that aside, and this is the real reason I’m aginst the pall bearer thing, DH does not deal well with death.  Not at all.  Even the death of a distant relative/family acqaintence he hasn’t seen in many many years will make him maudlin.    So he will be a mess for at least a week over this.  A hot-I’m-going-to-sit-in-the-basement-and-listen-to-The-Smiths-and-play-with-razor-blades-and-pout mess.  And I’m the one who will have to deal with it.  Who will have to try and jolly him out of his melancholy.  If this was a close friend of the family or someone who meant a lot to the DH I’d be ok with him being a pall bearer.  And I’d be ok with the whole basement-Smiths-pouting thing.  Not happy about it but I’d deal because that’s what marriage is about…for better or for worse.

But what really burns my ass is that MIL knows how DH is with death.  We’ve had a few discussions where I’ve told her flat out to stop asking him to do this stuff.  I’ve told her how upset he gets and how hard it is for him (and me) for days after the funeral.  She nods and agrees and then proceeds to keep asking him.  And I proceed to pull out all my hair.  Her excuse is that if she’s asked by a family for DH’s pall bearing services, she can’t not tell DH  because he’s the one who needs to decide.  Except he’s going to say yes because he’s looking for approval (which never comes) from his parents.  He wants to be the dutiful son, even when he doesn’t want to be dutiful.  It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone except his mother who gets to preen about her son and how devoted he is and all the rest of that crap.

I’m not against DH going to the funeral.  Fare from it.  In fact I’m all for it.  Especially since I don’t have to go.  What I don’t like is that his mother has completely disregarded my wishes and has bullied him into doing something he’s not really comfortable doing.  Plus she’s not going to be there for the fallout afterwards – the moping and complaining and pouting that will go on for days. 

But, I guess that second part is his problem.  He’s got to realize, that as his parents and their friends age, funerals are going to become more and more common and he’s just got to deal with it.  Death isn’t always sad and tragic, especially if the person has lived a long and happy life.  And if he doesn’t want to play an active role in the funeral, he’s going to have to speak up about it. 

As for me, I’ll bring it up with the MIL the next time I see her.  Another “gentle reminder” probably won’t change anything in the long term but my MIL is passive-agressive and doesn’t like it when people stand up to her.  And making her miserable pretty much always makes me happy.  Especially on this particular matter when it clearly upsets the son she professes to adore. 

Since I’m not going to the funeral I figure I’ll spend my day in the garden, surrounded by living and growing things, listening to happy,fun, upbeat pop music, doing something I want to be doing.  Afterall, one of us should be happy on this long weekend and it may as well be me.

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3 Responses to Slow Burn

  1. Jan in NoGA says:

    Sweetie, this is a tough one but your hubby needs to grow a pair. Ok, sorry to be so blunt, but you and hubby made a committment to each other. You & he need to honor that, she doesn’t. Why blame her for asking something that’s in her nature when you don’t get angry with him? It sucks, I know, took me 20 yrs to figure out how to stop playing my own Mom’s games with her and her (old-world Italian)family and letting them upset me. Your MIL is not a nice person, but you DO NOT have to deal with her if she’s so inconsiderate and a manipulative b**ch. Once you’ve made it clear, by consistently not playing along, or allowing yourself to get upset, that you won’t allow her to manipulate YOU, she’ll quit. (Because she’ll lose out with her son). She won’t ever admit it or apologize, but she’ll quit – at least with you. Hubby will have to man up on his own and will have to support you. Sorry, but family is NOT allowed to make you miserable just because they’re family and you cannot allow him to ask that of you. Best wishes from: been there, done that, succeeded! and I hope you do too….

  2. kayla says:

    Wow – your MIL is a piece of work! I’m so sorry you are in this position!

    I really appreciate your sharing. I have a huge challenge with my MIL and can honestly say I sometimes think “What is wrong with me that I can’t get along with this woman?” Your description here reminds me so much of the passive-aggressive manipulation that infuriates me. So thanks for sharing.

    Kayla

  3. Susan says:

    Yeah, you’re in a tough spot. At first I thought, oh so what if he does it. But when you got to the pouting part, I understood. Your MIL is a piece of work, but if her son keeps caving in, she’s going to keep taking advantage. This really is a lose/lose situation for you. You can always hide out here in Colorado. We’ll do a yarn crawl, and I’ve stocked up on wine. Bring some of those chicken potato chips.

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