Something we sometimes fail to realise when we fall in love with and marry someone, is that we are also joining ourselves with their immediate family. Some of us get lucky and build loving relationships with our in-laws too. Other,s however, are less fortunate and find they have unwittingly signed themselves up for a lifetime of misery and conflict, particularly if their partner doesn’t back them up. The key to establishing healthy boundaries with toxic family members is to nip it in the bud as soon as it happens, rather than establishing a pattern where they are allowed to ignore your requests for respect. Being polite but firm with people who are used to getting their own way can be difficult, especially if you are a people pleaser by nature, but having someone in your life who will regularly steamroll your boundaries will be a lot harder in the long run!
Writing into Reddit, one mum-to-be shared the story of how her manipulative mother-in-law publicly humiliated herself in front of all of their family and friends because she couldn’t keep the promise she made not to share the gender of the baby with anyone.
I didn’t really want a gender reveal party but my husband’s family made a big deal about it so I agreed.
My mother-in-law was convinced that I knew the gender and insisted I tell her. I totally didn’t and I told her that fact.
She wore me down after a month of bothering me about it. She begged me and promised that she wouldn’t tell anyone. This was all in texts. I told her it was a girl.
I figured it was a 50/50 chance and it would get he off my back.
Well she lied. When we cut the cake to reveal a blue inside there was a really awkward silence. She had told literally all of the guests from her side of the family so they could bring appropriate gifts.
My friends and family quickly gathered around to congratulate is on our son.
She came over and hissed at me that I made her look stupid. I reminded her that she had PROMISED not to tell anyone.
She said she had never promised so I showed her our text conversation. Some of he family were right there when I did that so they heard her admit that she lied and had never intended to keep that promise.
She said that it was a dick move and that I only did it to embarrass her. I again reminded her that I had told her on multiple occasions that I did not know the gender.
My husband wants me to apologize to keep the peace. I probably will but I don’t think I was an asshole like she seems to think.
There is so much to unpack here, right? Firstly, the woman is railroaded into having a gender reveal party that she didn’t want, and then her mother-in-law nags and cajoles her into revealing the baby’s gender. Even when mother-in-law was told that the couple didn’t know the sex of their baby she didn’t let up, promising to keep it to herself if only she told her. No wonder the poor woman just made something up to get her off her case! The worst of it was, thinking she had the classified information she told everybody which completely defeated the purpose of a gender party altogether. What on earth was the point, other than to make herself the centre of attention by being able to ring around all of her relatives and swear them to secrecy? Hilariously though, the whole thing blew up in her face – so, well played karma. Well played!
With regard to whether she should apologise to her mother-in-law people in the comments section were very vocal about why this would be a very bad idea.
NTA, but you and your husband need to get on the same page about her behavior ASAP, because this is just the first of many times she’s going to try and trample your boundaries regarding your child.
DO NOT APOLOGIZE. Do NOT set a precedent whereby she’s entitled to do whatever she wants and you have to agree to “keep the peace.” That’s toxic bullshit.
Have a long talk with your husband about why he’s defending his mother’s atrocious behavior — not just the lying, but the constant harassment prior! Where was he when she was hounding you about the baby’s gender? Why did he not put a stop to it right then? And why of all things does he think YOU should apologize to HER, and not vice versa?
If he keeps putting his mother first,- and yes, he’s definitely putting her way ahead of you – then you will never be able to set any boundaries with your MIL. (FeuerroteZora)
It’s always the reasonable people who are pressured into “keeping the peace”, which is code for “let the assholes do whatever they want and apologize for ever trying to stand up to them”.
The husband in this case needs to apologise for not defending his wife against his unhinged mother and for trying to make her apologise. (Helpful_Hour1984)
Others pointed out that the mother-in-law had orchestrated her own public humiliation all by herself.
She embarrassed herself.
“I’m sorry you embarrassed yourself by lying” is about the only apology I’d be willing to give.
NTA. it’s kind of hilarious how hard karma hit her lmao. she has no one to blame but herself for the embarrassment she’s facing. (lifeisntsirius)
Others were confused about how mother-in-law and her family thought it wasn’t going to be obvious that they ‘knew’ it was girl, if they all bought gender specific gifts.
How did they think this would play out?
‘Oh wow it’s a girl! What a surprising surprise we had no idea. Here is a bundle of pink frilly dresses as a gift that we brought!’ (anarmchairexpert)
So his side insisted on having a gender reveal, but all of them were under the assumption that they already knew the gender because of your MIL… Like what was even the point? NTA (SourKeys04)
Indeed! The whole scenario sounds bat-shit crazy!
Amidst all of the ‘not the assehole’ judgements, one commenter shared a nugget of wisdom that was handed down to her from a friend. We think it’s worth sharing here for anyone who might also be facing similar issues with boundary-stomping in-laws.
One of my work friends gave me some advice for dealing with my MIL when I first got married: “A little bit of crazy goes a long way.” It only takes one time for you to push back on their bad behavior, for you to call them out, publicly and politely, to show them that you are not the one they are going to f#*k with. My MIL knows that if she pulls any of her nonsense, I am going to say, “MIL, I need for you to stop undermining my parenting, please,” or [after she has loudly pointed out that there is dust behind my refrigerator], “If my housekeeping is not up to your standards, I will be more than happy to call HOTEL and book you a room.”
The incident itself you could let go. The 10,000 incidents that will inevitably follow are the reason you have to draw a line in the sand.
Have you had to deal with difficult in-laws?