The strain that most parents-in-law put on couples relationships is no laughing matter, especially when it comes to mothers-in-law. As a matter of fact, most women jokingly refer to their mothers-in-law as “monsters-in-law,” and they can very easily destroy a relationship. According to research, at least one in four women hated their mothers-in-law, and found them controlling. The majority of these women’ hatred stemmed from the fact that their mothers-in-law felt they were daughter-in-law in front of her.
Some women describe their mothers-in-law as interfering and judgmental while others go as far as moving just to get further away from them. Needless to say, the daughter-in-law is always likely to be the one taking the brunt of all this, and if you find yourself in a situation where your mother-in-law feels more like a monster-in-law, you need to learn how to manage things before you go crazy.
Table of Contents
- First Things First: Consider Where Your Mother in Law is Coming From
- Evaluate The Role You are Playing
- Drop Any Expectations You Might Have
- Be at Peace with Not Having Your In-law’s Approval
- Be Assertive
- Stop Taking Criticism Personally
- Find A Way To Deal With The Anger
- A Little Selfishness Never Hurts
- When All Else Doesn’t Work
Try to place yourself in your mother-in-law’s shoes and try to consider if her behavior is a symptom of other more significant issues that have to do with her relationship with her son. In some cases, the hostility comes from the frustration of feeling as if she lost her son when you married him. In such a case, you must ask your husband to work on things with his mother.
This might be a challenge to you but this is a very important person in your family’s life, and she’s not about to go anywhere. Be objective when evaluating things and ask yourself if she indeed has a valid opinion about matters. Consider if what he does is out of love and if you need to acknowledge it when handling your situation. Consider if she feels like she has lost her place and try to think of a way you can make her feel important again in a way that will appease you both.
Whether or not it’s warranted, there might be situations where you are causing your mother-in-law to treat you the way she does. Of course, there are mothers-in-law who are simply difficult regardless of how much the daughter-in-law tries to please her. However, maybe in your situation, there is something you are doing, or not doing for that matter, that makes her treat you in the way she does. Are you a victim or have been saying things that instigate negative responses. If you are at fault, rethink new ways to handle situations and how you react to them. Try not to induce antagonism.
Drop Any Expectations You Might Have
Expectations do indeed lead to suffering so stop yourself from suffering unnecessarily and drop expectations. Let go of any expectations you might have about how family relationships ought to be. What you must do is be realistic about your situation. If she is already difficult as it is, stop expecting that you will become close. This might actually be for the better. Try to work with how things are instead of trying for a perfect family relationship because it rarely happens.
Live your life the way you want without feeling the need to have your mother-in-law’s approval. If you keep trying to get her thumbs-up with everything you do, you will only drive yourself crazy. When you don’t care about what she thinks of you and the way you do things, because she never approve anyway, you will feel free and empowered.
First, try not to fake a relationship. If things are not right between the two of you, stop addressing her as “mom” or “mother”. This only adds to the power dynamic of her being the one on top. Calling her by her real name will level the field for you. In addition to that, you need to be assertive in all your tactics, regardless of what you are trying to communicate. While you should be courteous during the initial engagement with her, you should not be too polite just because you are afraid of coming across as rude. If you are afraid, you won’t be able to establish any boundaries.
Stop Taking Criticism Personally
You can take criticism seriously but never personally. If there is any truth to it, then learn from it and if not, just let it roll. In some cases, your mother-in-law might not be trying to hurt you intentionally, and maybe she would say that very same thing to another person, so don’t let her comments get to you.
You can take a short walk after having awkward interactions with your mother-in-law. You could also go for a swim or find a hobby that will relax you. Should your anger consume you, it will not only destroy you but your marriage as well. Find an outlet for all your negative energy. In addition to that, find a trustworthy person to vent to. You can even make it a support group because if you bear it alone, things in your marriage will go south.
A Little Selfishness Never Hurts
Practice some healthy selfishness and use it when it’s good for you. You can ignore your mother-in-law’s phone call and excuse yourself from family gatherings that are likely to end up with you in tears, Have some quality alone-time and keep your distance whenever you can.
When All Else Doesn’t Work
If your in-law is too difficult to deal with and you run out of options to make your relationship work, limit her involvement in your life. You and your family deserve happiness, and if she is suffocating it, then she needs to go. Draw and maintain very strong boundaries. You can even move further away from her and just tolerate her when you really must meet.
Even though your mother-in-law might get on your nerves quite often, remember that your relationship with her will last a very long time. Deal with the problems that arise wisely without create unnecessary conflicts or escalating them further. Of course, you cannot let her trample on everything you believe in or how you want to raise your family. The best thing to do is set boundaries right from the word go and always be yourself.