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Mother-in-Law Is an Alcoholic

Group Therapy: Future Mother-in-Law Is Driving Me Crazy

This question is from a Group Therapy post in our TrèsSugar Community. Add your advice in the comments!

My future mother-in-law is starting to drive me crazy. She drinks to the point of being hammered every weekend, and because of this she constantly relies on us for help. The other day she called the next morning after taking a cab home to get a ride (from me) to her car. She didn't even directly ask me, she asked my fiancé who then had to relay the message to me. I tried to be as polite as possible saying no, but I really don't think it's my responsibility to drive her to her car after she gets hammered — she could just as easily have called another cab (she DEFINITELY has enough money). Now, if she had called me in an emergency or in a situation that was out of her control (e.g. her car battery died and she needed a jump, even if she was arrested and needed a ride home), I would have been there to help, but this was not an emergency.

Now since I said no, she has this really sour attitude towards me and my fiancé. She has been calling leaving nasty messages on his phone. She even posted on his ex-girlfriend's picture on Facebook saying how her picture was "so cute!" the day I turned her down (this was posted to my news feed on Facebook).


I'm getting sick and tired of this situation. Good news is we're getting married and moving far away soon. I have been trying to speak as little as possible with my fiancé about the issue because I just don't think it will do me any good to complain to him about his mom. He knows the issue and agrees with me on the matter — but the conflict has been bothering both of us. Any comments or ideas on how to handle this issue? Anyone been through a similar situation and have any tips/hints? Thanks!

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davisonkat davisonkat 5 years
Whenever your healthy behavior interferes with the patterns of an addict, the addict will point the shame finger at you (or anyone else). It's all right for her to get smashed and get you to mop up, but it's rude for you to not take care of her. Hmmm. You can speak honestly to her, and say, look, if you really need help i'm there for you, but i don't want to subsidize your drinking bouts - that's honest and kind. Or you can be in an avoidance pattern. There is no easy solution to addiction until or unless that person faces their issues head on. In the meantime, just recognizing that your own healthy boundaries are the key to your own peace of mind, and not interpreting her statements as true, will help you disconnect from useless reactions and drama.
Choco-cat Choco-cat 6 years
I totally understand where you're coming from. I disagree, however, with the comments that your fiance should "grow a pair". It is hard to be the child of someone who is so obviously an alcoholic - he has his own issues regarding her that he'll need to resolve. Now, that said, I do hope he tends to agree with you and be as supportive as he's able (and not constantly cave to her every whim). I don't think there is a good solution to this - hang on until you get to move, then it at least won't be quite as in your face. I have a similar situation and I have tried, over the years, to simply disengage from the individual. I, basically, tune her out and don't take anything she says or does with any regard at all. I put a limit on how often I'm willing to see her (once a month) and, unfortunately for my husband, she only calls him, not me, so I don't have to deal with the phone calls - only the after effects. I can't stress enough to not let her suck you into her drama. Treat her like a co-worker that you don't like but have to work with (civil but removed).
Helen-Danger Helen-Danger 6 years
Agreed with GregS. She's going to be unreasonable in lots of ways until she decides to get help. Ignore her lame attempts to punish you for non-compliance and continue to do what you think best in each situation. You're handling this very well, in my opinion. Hang in there until you can move. If the problems continue from afar, meaning long overwrought phone calls to your fiance etc, do try al-anon as Ianwa suggests. You'll get support and advice from people who know.
GregS GregS 6 years
I'm totally in your corner with this. She was rude and her acts uncalled for. But... You're dealing with an alcoholic. I am one, too, though I've been able to control myself well over the past entirely too many years. There is no dealing with a drunk even when they're "sober". Her behavior was sophomoric at best and certainly uncalled for and vengefull. You both need to talk to her. Note that she will not listen, but you still have to talk. And keep talking even when she does these things; and she will continue to do so. Her son, your bf, has to stand up to her and be unbending. He needs to tell her in no uncertain terms that she crossed the line. It's difficult to do because she is after all his mother. She needs to learn that certain behavior is unacceptable and will have negative consequences. Hopefully she'll see how her acts harm her relationship with her own son. It is doubtful since there's a boat load of ex-spouses of alcoholics in the world, why should it be different with her own son? Tell her what you told us here. If you're in trouble, we'll be there in a minute. If it's like this one and it's a convenience, she's on her own. It's part of the consequences of her acts. Also know that even though your intended abhors her acts, she still is and always will be his mother. That tie is very strong, and may be difficult to attenuate. He will need to know he's doing the right thing even while it may hurt. Good luck. You both will need it.
Lenay Lenay 6 years
Drunks can't be reasoned with. Alcohol and the need for alcohol does away with basic logic and rationale (and people skills, for that matter). Limit your interaction to necessary family gatherings and holiday correspondence (Christmas packages, New Year's Greetings, a timely card on her birthday).
medenginer medenginer 6 years
I can understand giving her a ride if needed once but not constantly. Her son needs to set boundaries and follow them since that's his mother. Inform him not to put you in that situation with her again. If you push the issue too much he will feel like he has to choose between the both of you. This will be no way to start a marriage and it will lead to resentment.
lilegwene lilegwene 6 years
Darn. I was hoping for a real monster mother-in-law story. I think you should have given her a ride. It doesn't sound like you were busy or at work, so what's the big deal? I don't find it notable that she is still friends with your fiance's ex either. If it hurts your feelings, tell her. I don't see why it should bother you though. A lot of people and their families stay close after breakups. Even though you didn't pick her up, she shouldn't be angry at you about it. But here again, it's possible that she's not angry with you about that at all... you haven't spoken with her. It seems like you're just as bad or worse at creating drama as she is. Communication will solve 100% of these "problems."
Vanonymous Vanonymous 6 years
Well, the good news is you're moving away so it shouldn't be an issue much longer. Personally, I would have just sucked it up and gave her a ride. She's going to be your family soon and family can be a pain in the butt, but you should be there for them. I would talk to her and clear the air. And feel free to mention that it's hurtful that she's complimenting his ex... that is just rude. Talk to her... you'll feel better, she'll feel better and your fiance will feel much better.
BiWife BiWife 6 years
Not talking about it is the opposite of what you need to do. Keep your fiance updated on how you feel, he should be in your corner & be part of a mutual agreement on how to treat your MiL. Once you're working as a team, you'll have the support you need to keep you patient til you guys can move away.
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