For the past six years I have done everything possible to try and improve my relationship with my mother-in-law.
I always assumed she had my best interests at heart, my family’s best interests at heart, and that, no matter what mistakes she made or offences she caused, it all came from a good place. A place of love and protection.
Last year, I came to the realisation that she doesn’t have my best interests at heart. Not one bit. After a huge family fight over the behaviour of her son, my brother-in-law, who had put my children in danger, she instantly came to his defence. I tried to understand her side of things. He is her son and she instinctively wanted to defend him. Fine.
For the next year I listened to her try and explain his actions, make excuses for them, encourage me to make contact and welcome him back into our lives. In response to this, I would nod and calmly explain that, while I respected her feelings, I disagreed and for the health and safety of my children I was choosing not to take her advice.
It wasn't long until I discovered that she had spoken about the situation to everyone in the family. She was begging them to help her get me on side, to persuade me to agree with her and do as she wished. She even approached my own family. I was so angry.
Once again, I asked her to respect my decision. Reminding her that I had my children's best interests in mind.
Then I said it a little more firmly.
I ended up yelling it at her. She just wasn't listening to me. "I'm not putting my children in danger just because you're worried your son might be offended. These are your grandchildren. You should want to protect them as well."
After that, she cut me off completely and started treating me coldly. This was a complete departure from her behaviour during past disagreements, when we've both tried to forget about it and move on.
This time she was so incensed at my failure to agree with her (or "obey" her) that she made the decision to only respond to my phone calls, texts and emails with the shortest and most cryptic of responses. She didn't bother to visit her grandchildren for months.