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View Full Version : Being a better person - what our MILs have taught us.



Cura2
Jul 9, 2014, 01:34 PM
I have been reflecting lately about all the chaos and misery I have let mil cause in my life and marriage. I have learned what kind of person I don't want to be or become as I get older. I have learned some valuable lessons from my mil and from reading about all the mil's on this board.

What I have learned that will hopefully make my life better and me a better person:

** The most important thing I have learned is that I can't change other people. I can only change my reaction to them. Most people don't change

I have learned to detach from hateful people and situations.

Playing favorites is never a good thing for anyone not even the favorite one.

Open family vs. Closed family- When someone in my family thinks enough of someone else to marry them or introduce them to the family I will treat them like family. No family is so much better that others can't enter it. All people are treated equally, blood related or not.

Everyone has been give a life to do with it as they choose. It's none of my business what someone else does or how they live. Live and let live. My way is not always the best way.

Enmeshment- not good for a family, friends or a marriage.

Respect - whether I like someone or not I will always try to treat them with respect.

Gossip- What someone tells me I will keep to myself.

Don't marry a momma's boy.

Religion- just because a it's a pray wrapped in bigotry ... it's still bigotry and the prayer has nothing to do with it. Your actions make you a Christian. If you have bad behavior your are STILL a bad person whether you pray about it or not...especially when there is no change.

Be direct- Passive aggressive behavior destroys relationships. Smiling through anger and then blowing up later is poor personal behavior management. (then my mil turns around and blames me for not being forgiving for the 100th time)

Apologize- If what I say has hurt someone I will apologize. I will not blame shift and consider that some kind of an apology. Even if I don't feel I did anything wrong but someone is hurt by my actions I will apologize. An apology is uplifting. I will admit when I'm wrong.

I have learned a lot from my mil about who and what not to be...and from other mil's on this board.

What have you learned?

Acorn
Jul 9, 2014, 02:48 PM
With my MIL's death, I've been reflecting on this too. As we looked through old photos to make a DVD for the service, I was struck by how happy MIL looked when she was younger. She reveled in her role as Mother and I'm sure that's a big part of why she had so many children (more than 5; less than 10--being vague for privacy reasons). The children are spaced over about 20 years, and there's at least one that I'm certain she had because the youngest had grown up some and away from Mommy. But, of course, you can't do that indefinitely.

Once the kids grew up and moved on with their lives (every single one moved away from Hometown, though MIL had fantasies that they'd all move back one day), I don't think she knew what to do with herself. She had no idea how to be anything other than THE MOTHER. She had limited outside interests, and for a number of reasons, thought of herself as not very intelligent. She didn't pay much attention to current events or read anything other than Christian books, much less even try to keep up with any technology.

So I've learned that I have to be more than just a mom. My role as mother is very important, of course, but that role changes over time and we have to adapt to that or we'll become bitter, angry martyrs!

Acorn

PS. My MIL did the whole "Christian" nonsense too, and maybe she lived it for other people, but not so much with me, and I heard all about how I needed to "forgive" over the years. I eventually let go of all the pain and anger, realizing it was never about me, but I also detached and kept only a superficial relationship with her. Dh, thankfully, realized that his "difficult" mother and his high-spirited wife were not a good mix and didn't push me too much.

caranfin
Jul 9, 2014, 03:32 PM
PS. My MIL did the whole "Christian" nonsense too, and maybe she lived it for other people, but not so much with me, and I heard all about how I needed to "forgive" over the years.

"Oh, I have forgiven you/her. Don't worry about my soul. Worry about your own." ;-)

dreamangel
Jul 9, 2014, 09:12 PM
The lesson of Ďwhat not to doí Iíve learned from both my M and MIL.

Yes, Iím a Christian, but have never claimed to be perfect. If I were perfect, I wouldnít need Jesus. I consider myself a Ďwork in progressí. He teaches/humbles me everyday. Churches are simply hospitals for sick souls. I donít judge those who arenít nor do I push what I believe unto others. All I ask in return is not to be judged because I am.

To accept the life choices my sons have made whether I agree with them or not. I did my job as a parent; itís now my job to be there for guidance, moral support, and advice but ONLY when asked for it.

I donít interrogate them; they tell me what they want me to know. Regardless of who/what it pertains to, I keep it between usÖ.. gossip does not build up a family; it tears it down.

I donít play favorites!!!! Never have, never will. It fills those involved with resentment

I donít say/do things to try to make them feel guilty for not making me a priority. Iím not supposed to be.

I donít treat them like children and berate them when they donít do what I say or expect. Theyíre grown men for crying out loud.

I donít constantly compare my sons to their brothers by calling them to brag about what the others are doing/spending. I praise them for who they are individually. If they want their brothers (or others) to know, theyíll tell them.

I accept who theyíve chosen to spend their lives with. For us, this oneís not hard as we have great DILs. MY motto : If I donít have a relationship with my DIL, then I wonít have one with my son either. Thatís the way itís supposed to be!!!!!

I take responsibility for my actions, and like the OP, I apologize if/when Iíve hurt someone.

Forgiveness has been thrown in our faces several times by MIL. What some donít understand is that forgiveness does not always equal reconciliation. It is for the victim; it enables them to process the hurt and go on. True forgiveness is a multi-step process: 1) Confession/Sincere Apology: you have to admit/take responsibility for your actions; 2) Repentance: turn away from/stop the behavior; 3) Forgiveness may be/ is granted. Reconciliation is almost impossible without step 1 and 2. We will never see step 1 and 2 with M and MIL. Theyíre too busy defending/justifying their actions.
One of my favorite sayings on this subject:

Forgiveness: The willingness to live with the consequences of anotherís sin - Dr. Linda Williams

purple_rain
Jul 9, 2014, 10:43 PM
With my MIL's death, I've been reflecting on this too. As we looked through old photos to make a DVD for the service, I was struck by how happy MIL looked when she was younger. She reveled in her role as Mother and I'm sure that's a big part of why she had so many children (more than 5; less than 10--being vague for privacy reasons). The children are spaced over about 20 years, and there's at least one that I'm certain she had because the youngest had grown up some and away from Mommy. But, of course, you can't do that indefinitely.

Once the kids grew up and moved on with their lives (every single one moved away from Hometown, though MIL had fantasies that they'd all move back one day), I don't think she knew what to do with herself. She had no idea how to be anything other than THE MOTHER. She had limited outside interests, and for a number of reasons, thought of herself as not very intelligent. She didn't pay much attention to current events or read anything other than Christian books, much less even try to keep up with any technology.

So I've learned that I have to be more than just a mom. My role as mother is very important, of course, but that role changes over time and we have to adapt to that or we'll become bitter, angry martyrs!

Acorn

PS. My MIL did the whole "Christian" nonsense too, and maybe she lived it for other people, but not so much with me, and I heard all about how I needed to "forgive" over the years. I eventually let go of all the pain and anger, realizing it was never about me, but I also detached and kept only a superficial relationship with her. Dh, thankfully, realized that his "difficult" mother and his high-spirited wife were not a good mix and didn't push me too much.

holy cow! do we have the same bitter, angry martyr MIL who claims she is "not very intelligent" when it suits her, but wants to run and control her adult children's lives?


i guess not, 'cos mine is still alive.

TexasDawn
Jul 9, 2014, 10:48 PM
I try very hard to "taste" my words before they come out of my mouth, and consider what affect they may have on those to whom I am speaking.

-Dawn

Pamme64
Jul 10, 2014, 09:27 AM
The most valuable thing I have learned from my M, MIL and xMIL is that no one else is responsible for my emotional well-being.

LittleMissStuffit
Jul 10, 2014, 11:40 AM
Religion- just because a it's a pray wrapped in bigotry ... it's still bigotry and the prayer has nothing to do with it. Your actions make you a Christian. If you have bad behavior your are STILL a bad person whether you pray about it or not...especially when there is no change.

It really irritates me when people try to use religion to cover up their bad behavior because it gives religion a bad name and many people perceive it as "hypocritical." A lot of people don't understand that it's not the religion that is bad...it's the person. Just because that person goes around spewing, "I'm a (religion)," doesn't make the religion bad. Anybody can claim they're anything. That's why I feel bad for Muslims. So many people think it's a bad religion that promotes hate, terrorism and killings, all because some crazies have claimed they've killed in the name of their religion. So not true. The Muslim religion is a peaceful one but those terrorists have given it a bad name for many people.

A friend's FIL claims to be very Christian but he's nothing but a crook. He has avoided jail for so many years but I wish they'd just throw him in. He's cheated on his taxes, refused to pay taxes, scammed thousands of people out of money with a phony business, etc. But if he's confronted, he just says, "Jesus forgives!" One day he'll have to meet his maker and you can't lie to Him.

caranfin
Jul 10, 2014, 12:30 PM
It really irritates me when people try to use religion to cover up their bad behavior because it gives religion a bad name and many people perceive it as "hypocritical." A lot of people don't understand that it's not the religion that is bad...it's the person. Just because that person goes around spewing, "I'm a (religion)," doesn't make the religion bad. Anybody can claim they're anything. That's why I feel bad for Muslims. So many people think it's a bad religion that promotes hate, terrorism and killings, all because some crazies have claimed they've killed in the name of their religion. So not true. The Muslim religion is a peaceful one but those terrorists have given it a bad name for many people.

Yeah, when I hear people saying all Muslims are terrorists, I want to ask them about the horrible things done in the name of Christianity, and ask if that means all Christians are terrorists.


A friend's FIL claims to be very Christian but he's nothing but a crook. He has avoided jail for so many years but I wish they'd just throw him in. He's cheated on his taxes, refused to pay taxes, scammed thousands of people out of money with a phony business, etc. But if he's confronted, he just says, "Jesus forgives!" One day he'll have to meet his maker and you can't lie to Him.

You should feel free to punch him in the face. Jesus will forgive you.

Whoever
Jul 10, 2014, 02:57 PM
A friend's FIL claims to be very Christian but he's nothing but a crook. He has avoided jail for so many years but I wish they'd just throw him in. He's cheated on his taxes, refused to pay taxes, scammed thousands of people out of money with a phony business, etc. But if he's confronted, he just says, "Jesus forgives!" One day he'll have to meet his maker and you can't lie to Him.

But Jesus had requirements for someone to be forgiven, repentance, changing their ways, atonement. These people who spout "Jesus forgives" need to be reminded of that.

Whoever

far far away
Jul 10, 2014, 03:00 PM
Off the top of my head, I've learned to let my kids go out into the world and find their own path. I've learned to give advice only when asked. I've learned to be a cheerleader and let them be their own leader. I've learned to encourage them to take vacations and not simply expect them to come home for all their time off. I've learned that holidays can be celebrated on any day we choose to do so. I've learned to appreciate the time we have together.

Pamme64
Jul 11, 2014, 08:16 AM
But Jesus had requirements for someone to be forgiven, repentance, changing their ways, atonement. These people who spout "Jesus forgives" need to be reminded of that.

Whoever



I told a very irritating and self-righteous person when she was spouting this carp at me, "I am not Jesus. I am the flawed person who God made me to be, and I can't forgive this, not right now. God and Jesus love me anyway and so should you, and since you are a better person than me and seem to be able to forgive at will, you should forgive me for not living up to your ideals and accept me for who I am, just like Jesus does." Never heard another word about forgiveness from that person ever again. The bonus was that she started to avoid me.

CookbooksRStillUs
Jul 11, 2014, 11:46 AM
It really irritates me when people try to use religion to cover up their bad behavior because it gives religion a bad name and many people perceive it as "hypocritical." A lot of people don't understand that it's not the religion that is bad...it's the person. Just because that person goes around spewing, "I'm a (religion)," doesn't make the religion bad. Anybody can claim they're anything. That's why I feel bad for Muslims. So many people think it's a bad religion that promotes hate, terrorism and killings, all because some crazies have claimed they've killed in the name of their religion. So not true. The Muslim religion is a peaceful one but those terrorists have given it a bad name for many people.



In the meanwhile, a frightening percentage of our domestic terrorists do it in the name of Christianity. Start with the Klan, who love to "light" crosses (it's not a "cross burning," it's a "cross lighting") in the name of racism, then see all the people who have bombed clinics and shot doctors. All in the name of a gentle Jesus.

Cura2
Jul 11, 2014, 01:04 PM
In the meanwhile, a frightening percentage of our domestic terrorists do it in the name of Christianity. Start with the Klan, who love to "light" crosses (it's not a "cross burning," it's a "cross lighting") in the name of racism, then see all the people who have bombed clinics and shot doctors. All in the name of a gentle Jesus.

I am reminded of a quote by Gandhi, It's not that I have a problem with your Christ, it's that so many of your people are so unlike your Christ. That pretty much says it all.

In my travels of the people I know well I would consider only three of all the people I know "Good Christians" I know more 'Good Jewish" people than Christians. I don't know what they are teaching in all those Christian Churches but it's not to be like their Christ. And let me say again this is just the Christians I know well and only in my travels. I have come to the conclusion that I will never step foot in a Christian Church because I have seen what they produce and I'm not fond of it. And no it's not all Christians.

If there was one person who could stop me dead in my tracks from going to church it is my mil...and fil for that matter. And by the way, who would Jesus like to 'joke' about poisoning? Nope my mil is nothing like the person she worships. But my ils have a saying.....the Devil has to work twice as hard on "Good Christians" that's why their behavior is the way it is. Yes my ils are full of excuses for their bad behavior but they never take responsibility for any of it and continue on because it's like a badge of honor when they act like crap...this means they are a 'Good Christian' I also used to have a 'friend' who also considered herself a good Christian. Her behavior was very much like my mil's. She used to tell me you get into heaven by the grace of God. So bottom line by her thinking it didn't matter how she treated others she was getting into heaven because she warmed a pew every Sunday and called herself a Christian. I know so many more people who are not religious who act more like Jesus than the Christians I know.

Whoever
Jul 11, 2014, 03:32 PM
I've seen some signs outside small Christian churches that say "God prefers kind atheists over hateful Christians."

Whoever

Pamme64
Jul 11, 2014, 04:13 PM
I am reminded of a quote by Gandhi, It's not that I have a problem with your Christ, it's that so many of your people are so unlike your Christ. That pretty much says it all.

In my travels of the people I know well I would consider only three of all the people I know "Good Christians" I know more 'Good Jewish" people than Christians. I don't know what they are teaching in all those Christian Churches but it's not to be like their Christ. And let me say again this is just the Christians I know well and only in my travels. I have come to the conclusion that I will never step foot in a Christian Church because I have seen what they produce and I'm not fond of it. And no it's not all Christians.

If there was one person who could stop me dead in my tracks from going to church it is my mil...and fil for that matter. And by the way, who would Jesus like to 'joke' about poisoning? Nope my mil is nothing like the person she worships. But my ils have a saying.....the Devil has to work twice as hard on "Good Christians" that's why their behavior is the way it is. Yes my ils are full of excuses for their bad behavior but they never take responsibility for any of it and continue on because it's like a badge of honor when they act like crap...this means they are a 'Good Christian' I also used to have a 'friend' who also considered herself a good Christian. Her behavior was very much like my mil's. She used to tell me you get into heaven by the grace of God. So bottom line by her thinking it didn't matter how she treated others she was getting into heaven because she warmed a pew every Sunday and called herself a Christian. I know so many more people who are not religious who act more like Jesus than the Christians I know.

I am not going to add too much more that simply agreeing with you, because this is not the place to debate such things. I, too, have known very few people who would fit any sane definition of Christian. They seem to be the people who understand that their relationship with God is between them and God. We are all just flawed humans, but for some reason, many Christians think that they have cornered the market on morality and meaningfulness. I know better, because I was a Christian for many years. I know that Christians are no different than the rest of us. These people feel they have the right to define what morality is and who can have it. The rest of us are just dirt or are being controlled by the devil. When many people find out that I am Atheist, they act like I have another head on my shoulders or have horns growing out of my head, then they act all righteous and happy, because they have to convince me that my life can be soooo much better if I were a Christian. I ignore their behavior and soon things go back to normal.

So many religious people never move beyond the cooky cutter morality they are handed as part of their membership information packet or they have been raised with. Real morality is the way one intentionally chooses to act in the world, but so many people don't really think about it. They just accept the moral code they have been taught. When your moral code comes from you and is simply an extension of who you are, you act consistently and are genuine in your interactions with people. The truly good people that I know, whether religious or not, have examined those cookie cutter codes and have created a personal morality they may or may not contain elements of what they have been taught about morality. These are truly moral people, because they act with intention and out of personal choice instead of simply doing what they were told they were supposed to do.

My M is the antithesis of a truly moral person. Like so many MIL's here, she talks the Christian talk, but walks a different walk when no one that matters is looking. She also knows how to twist the basic principles of love and forgiveness to serve her agenda and to justify her actions. It is so sad to watch those who are good people get caught up in her web for the first time.

mamaalanna
Jul 11, 2014, 07:58 PM
When many people find out that I am Atheist, they act like I have another head on my shoulders or have horns growing out of my head, then they act all righteous and happy, because they have to convince me that my life can be soooo much better if I were a Christian. I ignore their behavior and soon things go back to normal.We Pagans get that too, sometimes even worse. You, as an atheist, are seen as just not knowing about their Deity (as if somehow you have been locked in the basement all of your life); we Pagans are seen as worshiping the Devil. (Want to make Pagans http://www3.telus.net/smile/images/rofl-k2.gif ? Tell us that maybe we down in the lower echelons don't, but our "upper hierarchy" does.)

I've been told that I am a "good Christian." Since the people were elderly Catholic ladies who I had just done significant favors for, I just smiled and said thank you, taking for the kind of compliment that they intended.

In most election years, I work as a chief judge. Once another chief judge and I somehow got to talking about religion. (I think he was one of the evangelical sects, and he wanted to see if I was "saved.") He was rather upset that a woman who looked like a nice old cookie-baking grandmother could be a Pagan. But since he was willing to listen without immediate judging, we did have a nice talk. He just could not fathom living your life without a Holy Book to tell you what to do and how to behave, as if only People of the Book could be moral. He was also very troubled about what he saw as my lack of spiritual support. "But who do you lean on in times of trouble?" he said. I explained that my Goddess preferred her devotees to be adults who stood on their own two feet, rather than perpetual children begging for this, that, and the other. I hope I got through to him somewhat, to let him see that we aren't Satanists in disguise, but I've never been paired with him again.

exscapegoat
Jul 13, 2014, 12:00 PM
How do we nominate this to the Hall of Fame? Great thread and reply.

As for forgiveness, I hate when third parties or the perp tries to dictate forgiveness. The person who is wronged is the one who gets to decide if forgiveness will happen at all and when if they decide to forgive, not anyone else.

And IMO, it's a lot easier for someone to forgive when the person stops the abusive and/or bad behavior. With my NM I was accused of being unforgiving. Yet, I'd given her multiple chances where I'd forgive her only to have her repeat bad behavior. People wanted me to forget as well as forgive. Well how can I forget when she keeps doing the same thing and reminding me?

And when someone keeps hurting you, you can forgive without reconciling so you can protect yourself. I've forgiven my mother most of what she's done, except for the rift she contributed to with my brother. Even if my brother and I were to reconcile tomorrow, I'd still have missed my niece's early years. They had another kid, don't even know if it's a boy or a girl. I don't know that I can ever forgive NM for that. And I don't have to.

Whoever
Jul 13, 2014, 02:22 PM
I guess most of the people who spout forgiveness never saw the movie Frozen. She doesn't say "Forgive" she says "Let it go." Don't let it consume you, let it be gone from your life, let it (and the person) be dead to you.

Whoever

modfern
Jul 13, 2014, 03:01 PM
How do we nominate this to the Hall of Fame? Great thread and reply.
Do you want the initial post to go to the HofF, or the whole thread?

exscapegoat
Jul 13, 2014, 03:21 PM
Do you want the initial post to go to the HofF, or the whole thread?

The whole thread

freedomrider
Jul 13, 2014, 05:59 PM
I've learned that if you have people in your life who are causing heartache and turmoil, you owe it to yourself to kick them to the curb. Life gets better!