Phoenix, AZ

"She rearranged my house while I went to see my sister," woman on mother-in-law

Amy Christie

*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission

Keeping a close relationship with your in-laws will need some effort and patience, and sometimes they can give you surprises you didn't expect. How would you react if you went on a short trip and your house didn't look the same when you got back?

And if your in-laws had done it all because they couldn't stand the way you kept it before, would it be a good thing or just tiresome to put everything back the way it used to be?

My friend Miranda, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has been married to Jack, her husband, for five years. They have two daughters together and bought a new home in Phoenix last year.

"We had to keep working and saving to be able to get our place. We were renting an apartment when we got engaged and throughout the first four years of our marriage. But we could finally afford the house we'd always wanted, and our relationship improved because of it, too," Miranda said.

The mom was excited to have more bedrooms and use one as an office as well as organize the others for the kids. The couple wants a big family, so they're happy with having more space, a backyard, and the chance for their kids to grow up with pets.

"I wanted that for my girls and for the kids that we'll have later on. It's not great not being able to have a cat or dog when you're a kid, and I know they were sad when they saw their friends playing with their pets in their yards, and they couldn't do that too," Miranda said.

Her parents have been supportive throughout the couple's relationship and have often given them money when costs were higher or when Miranda had to switch to part-time work after each birth. Her in-laws, however, are still not that pleased with their marriage, even if they do want to be close to their granddaughters.

"I can see Jack's parents love our little girls, and I'm happy about it, but they still don't like me. And Tina, my mother-in-law, won't waste any chance to criticize my cooking or my parenting ideas. That's why I rarely visit them in their home in Phoenix. The girls can go with their dad anytime they want, but until we can have a more positive relationship, I won't be going there much," Miranda said.

The mom has been trying to keep up her relationship with her in-laws, even if they're mostly just polite to each other for her kids' sake. Her grandparents passed away when she was very young, so she wants her daughters to know what it's like to have all four grandparents.

"I think it matters for kids, and they're going to remember these things later on. Being loved by your grandparents and having a special relationship with them can't be replaced by anything else," Miranda shared.

Unfortunately, her efforts went unnoticed by Tina, who keeps telling her son he might want to reconsider staying married each visit he pays her. She also talks about Miranda with her neighbors and mentions that she's not a great mom because she keeps working and can't put her family first.

"She keeps saying they had to save for their house, but we offered to lend them the money. She's just stubborn and doesn't realize a mom needs to be home and look after her kids and her husband. How she expects this relationship and marriage to last is beyond me," Tina said.

Miranda has one sister, Lia, who lives in a different state, and she recently got engaged. Lia invited both Miranda and Jack to her engagement party, but he couldn't get time off for it. So, Miranda took their daughters and went to celebrate with Lia and the rest of her family for four days.

"I hadn't seen her for over six months, so it was great to have fun together, and I liked her fiance Scott a lot. We grew up together, and I was sure they'd be happy together," Miranda said.

The mom packed everything for her and her little girls and left last Wednesday. Just two hours after she was on her way to her sister, Tina, came to the couple's home in Phoenix and told Jack she'd be staying for those four days since there'd be no one to cook or look after the house.

Jack agreed, and his mom started making lunch and cleaning a bit. As it turns out, what began as an idea to keep the place tidy ended up making their home look completely different. Not only did Tina rearrange the carpets, put things on different shelves, and move around what they had in the kitchen, but she also replaced their couch and some of the living room furniture.

Tina didn't particularly like their curtains either, so she took them down and put them away. Then she added thicker curtains to make the rooms cooler.

"I think their house needed someone who really looks at details. I expect Miranda never gets the time to do that and just chooses things randomly. That's why I felt I should come over and get them organized," Tina said.

When Miranda got back from her trip and saw her home, she didn't share Tina's opinion at all. Instead, Miranda felt it was very rude to come and do something like that without asking her first and checking in with her if she wanted to get rid of anything or even try different colors.

"She rearranged my house while I went to see my sister. She spent money on changing our home, and it was all for nothing. I don't want those things, and Jack should have realized what she was doing and prevented it. I'm very particular about my home in Phoenix, and I don't do things randomly as Tina thinks. I actually put in the time to decide on the furniture and the right colors for each room. I won't have her come and get rid of things like my decisions don't matter. She wasted money, and I can't even thank her because I feel it was interfering beyond anything that makes sense," Miranda said.

Tina was very surprised to find out Miranda didn't like what she'd done around the house. And when her son told her she should apologize, she said she'd spent a lot of money and wasn't going to say sorry for that.

What do you think about this situation? Was it fair for Tina to come and take over the whole house while her daughter-in-law was away and make it look the way she wanted? Should Tina apologize even if she spent money arranging the couple's home so she can still have a close relationship with Miranda?

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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