October 11th, 2016 | Mandi Mitchell
We’ve all seen some television show or movie about an overbearing, intrusive, critical, down right nasty mother-in-law. Generally, it is some type of comedy in which we sit there and laugh at the absurdity. How can someone’s mom really be that bad? Oh that poor girlfriend of his, never saw it coming. It’s all just so hilarious until you get in a serious relationship one day and realize your all too favorite funny movie where the MIL was a complete nightmare is now your reality.
One of my (used to be) go-to Netflix shows to watch before bed was Everybody Loves Raymond (if for some reason I felt I couldn’t watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S for the 900th time). I laughed at poor Debra and her dope of a husband who never supported her with her ongoing quarrels with the dreadful MIL. It USED to be funny, that is until I got my own daily dose of a fruity, sour, tart lollipop triple dipped in psycho. A mother in law who makes Marie Barone look like the Saint!
Let me give you a little taste of my Monster-in-Law. It all started out fine in the beginning, she ‘played’ the welcoming, warm, caring part really well. Very well, and in fact, she kept up her charade in front of her son so as not to show her true colors. This allowed her to treat me like crap without ever really getting blamed. If her son only ever saw her as being nice and concerning, why would he believe me when I would eventually tell him the horrific things she would say or do while not in his presence. See? Sneaky, sneaky.
This is a woman who told me I was nothing to write home about (to my face), a woman who called me while her son/my boyfriend was training in the field for the USMC 3,000 miles away to tell me to go to her house to pick up her dog shit because she couldn’t do such a dirty chore. This is a woman whose house looks like a hurricane hit it, who just so happens to be the same woman who had the audacity to come into my home and tell me to clean it before her uninvited daughter arrived because my house was a ‘mess’ and unacceptable for her family. The woman who still to this day (5 months after the birth of her first grandchild) still hasn’t said congratulations on the pregnancy or birth. This is the woman who decided to take over the day my youngest son was born and delegate who got to be in my hospital room. The woman who put down and taunted my other two children, questioning what was wrong with them. The woman who grabs her son’s ass in front of me and tries to kiss him on the lips. The woman who doubted my youngest son’s paternity even after shoving genetic testing results in her face. The woman who threatened to call the cops on me and falsely inform them that I hurt her son because he wasn’t answering his phone. The woman who told her son and her whole family that she couldn’t believe her son chose his fiance’s side over hers and referred to her first-born grandson as THAT and THING. Shall I continue? I see no need to, I think you all get the picture.
She is manipulative, overbearing, intrusive, critical, rude… I could go on all day. She has done such hurtful things and throws tantrums when she doesn’t get her way, making her son feel guilty and to blame for all her troubles. How could he? This is one woman who cannot cut the cord, a woman who apparently can’t handle relinquishing her matriarchal power.
Sadly, it’s reported that 60% of wives of used words like, ‘stressed,’ ‘depressing,’ ‘awful,’ and ‘strained,’ to describe the relationship they have with their husband’s mother. Unfortunately, these dreadful women aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Sorry! So how do you deal with a meddlesome MIL? I realize my situation is different from most, but when I thought I was dealing with a human being, I tried many of the survival strategies that I’m about to discuss (I had no luck but I hope you do!)
Trust your Instincts.
If your tuition is screaming “Red Flag,” listen. The first time my fiance took me to meet his mother, she seemed extremely outgoing and friendly. When it was time to leave and I hugged her goodbye, my spidey senses went off and I felt something in the pit of my stomach. Then, when she then hugged her son goodbye and smacked him on the butt, I knew something was a little off. Unfortunately, my senses were right on the money.
Kill her with Kindness.
Play the game right back. Sure, she’ll see right through your little facade, just like you see through hers. But here’s the upside, if your always nice to her and she finally snaps at your S/O, is he really going to believe you have been disrespectful to his mother by being overly nice? Be nice. Don’t let her work you up with her manipulative ways or rudeness. Her whole point in doing this is only to get you mad, have you snap and make you look like the bad guy and she comes out looking like the poor victim. If she no longer has power over your emotions, and you don’t snap, guess what? Her little game holds no value. Works both ways.
Sit Down and Talk.
Have a little sit down with your in-laws WHILE your S/O is there with you (this way no words get twisted). Let them know what’s bothering you. Ask them about why they feel the way they do. Why are they doing the things they’re doing. Try to have a civil talk like mature adults and see if you can put an end to your nightmare.
Don’t Worry About In-Laws Approval.
You wouldn’t worry about the gas station attendants opinion about how you live your life why worry about someone else’s mother? Yes, I know it’s different in the way that you need to see this woman at least a couple of times a year but you need to remember, she isn’t your real mother, she isn’t your real family. She isn’t related by blood. You don’t need anyone’s approval (blood-related or not) to live your life the way you want. Once you realize this, life will be so much better.
Get a Clue.
Not every In-Law is wonderful. Not only mother-in-laws live to babysit, compliment, and bake cookies with their grandchildren. Same goes for father-in-laws. They might not want to unclog your toilet, fix your landscaping or play sports with their grandchildren. Don’t have expectations. It only sets you up to get upset.
WORK WITH YOUR SPOUSE.
This is the most important thing you can do when dealing with a stressful in-law situation. Talk to your partner and let them know what’s going on and how you feel. You are in this together, after all. Having your spouse talk to their own parent to set them straight will be more effective than you going off about what’s bothering you. Just remember, don’t put your spouse in a situation where they feel they need to choose between you and their parents. Try to understand that, even if you think they spawned from hell, they are his parents and he loves them.
Distance Yourself. No really, Move Far Away.
I mean if you can. If it’s horrible to have to deal with your in-laws and you become anxiety ridden when you have to see them, put some distance in between you and them. If you live far enough away, they can’t just pop over whenever they want.
Detach yourself Emotionally.
Again, realize his mother is NOT your mother. She never will be. Don’t expect her to love you unconditionally or even like you. She doesn’t have to and most of the times they don’t. Don’t sweat it. If you’re not emotionally invested, her snide comments should roll right off your back.
This needs to be done. A lot of mother-in-laws like to take over once a grandchild is born. All their unsolicited advice, taking charge of holidays and events, and popping over to see the sweet little angel all the time can get overwhelming. Sit down and set boundaries. Be firm. She isn’t worried about telling you how it is, you shouldn’t be worried either.
Keep Her Involved.
If all goes well with talking and setting boundaries, try to keep her involved. Try to understand where she might be coming from. There’s a special bond between a mother and son and she may just feel like she lost her little boy. Her anger and resentment may all just stem from becoming second best. Invite her over for planned dinners, ask advice when needed, have her spend some mother/son time with your spouse.
Throw in the Towel.
When all else fails, fuck it. Murder is NOT an option so if nothing else works for you, there’s really nothing you can do. Keep your spouse clued in on how you feel and pick your battles wisely. As long as your husband takes your side and stands up for you when it comes down to it, that’s really all that matters.
In-law relationships aren’t easy. If such a relationship is stressful, strained and awful it’s going to affect your marriage. It’s going to raise the question of, “whose side are you on?” It’s essential, for a successful marriage, to not only balance loyalty but to set boundaries between us and the people we love.