Re: Issues with Mother-In-Law - Please Help !
My dear, I'd like to give you background on me, before I give you my advice, so that you're aware of my "experience" with these things.
When I got married, I moved in to my husband's house which he owned with his older brother. We lived with his mom, sister, brother (and later, brother's wife and child). You can imagine the amount of limit-crossing and boundary-trespassing that occurred. My husband absolutely refused to move out, and our once-very-loving marriage turned into constant arguments. He always told me to leave, if I wasn't happy. After one particularly intense emotionally and verbally abusive episode, I did...leave, that is.
Two years later, I'm ready to file for divorce.
Here's what I've learned.
1. You cannot change his mother or father.
2. You cannot change him (although you most certainly should try to talk to him calmly, maybe go to counselling/therapy, get him to be more close and attached to you rather than to his parents).
3. You CAN change yourself.
I know it's frustrating to deal with intrusive in-laws. Having a new baby and seeing your MIL hover around is absolutely maddening at times. But that phase is over, and you know what not to do when the next baby arrives (don't live with your in-laws).
They live 4 hours away from you, this is good. If they visit too often and stay for too many days in your home, this is something you and hubby will need to talk about and set boundaries. Be firm. Tell him it's negatively affecting your marriage.
If they buy toys for your child or gifts for your husband, let it go. It's annoying, yes, but pick your battles. This is one of those things that will make them look like angels, and you like a jealous evil person, if you complain about it. What I'd do is tell hubby that you don't want the house cluttered with gifts you won't use, so put them away in the basement or give them away. Don't feel obligated to keep or display every gift. They do it out of love, so don't make an issue of it.
If their house is cluttered and dangerous, don't go and don't let your child go. Simple. Again - you cannot change them, but you can change your own actions and behaviour.
Your situation is NOT hopeless - they don't live with you, or even close to you. Allow the care packages, take a deep breath every time you remember their annoying past actions, and move on. Live your life. They don't control you, YOU control you. Set limits on visits, let the rest go. Having conversations with your MIL is futile if she acts like a victim...having conversations (calm ones) with your husband however, is important and is part of a healthy marriage.
Learn to pick your battles.
This behaviour is ingrained in your husband's family since he was born. If you can't stand them, avoid contact but be loving when you do see them. If you have to be fake, be fake. It's not a hopeless situation like mine was, where I literally had to leave my home because my husband and in-laws mistreated me and my child on a daily basis and I had no voice or opinion of my own. Now I live in my own home and make my own decisions. People hate me for it, and sometimes my self-esteem is absolutely crushed, but I know life will get better.
Don't let the small stuff become deal-breakers...your husband and child and you are a family unit, too. You guys are important. It would be a tragedy if you allow these annoyances to ruin your marriage.