Lana is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor who helps women to regain their power after experiencing toxic relationships.
How to Deal With a Narcissistic Mother-In-Law
Having a narcissistic mother-in-law is no picnic. It's not like having a "bad" boyfriend: you can't exactly break up with her. But there is something you can do, and that is: learn from her.
Because the truth is, she has important spiritual lessons to teach you. If you pay attention, you will learn a lot about yourself, and become a stronger, happier, wiser person. If you ignore her lessons, you'll be stuck in a perpetual cycle of hurt, resentment and misery.
Astonishingly, not everything is about you. When you take everything personally, you're feeding into the idea that you are the center of the universe, and, therefore, everything that happens around you is about you. That in itself is a little narcissistic, don't you think?
What your mother-in-law says or does is not about you; it's about her. You are just a mirror that reflects her own dysfunction, so she lashes out. Don't take it personally.
2. Healthy Relationships
Once you had an unhealthy, toxic relationship with someone, you'll never mistake it for anything else. You'll see the red flags from a mile away, and you'll be more aware of your own unhealthy relationship tendencies. We all have them...
That is a very important and valuable lesson that will help you have better relationships. It may not be with your mother-in-law (a healthy relationship with a narcissist is impossible) but it will make your other relationships deeper, closer and more sincere.
She's human. She's not perfect. Neither are you.
Just as you feel that she is intrusive, controlling and manipulative, she feels that you are hostile, ungrateful and argumentative. Or that you're trying to turn her son against her. Or that you're not listening to her valuable advice when it comes to her grandchildren. The list of grievances from both sides can go on and on, and it only proves one thing: we're all human. We all feel insecure at times. We all feel lonely. And we all have a deep need for love and appreciation.
Are you a people-pleaser? Then you might find it incredibly difficult to be assertive with your mother-in-law. Yet this may be what your MIL is teaching you - respect yourself enough to set boundaries for how you want to be treated. If you learn to do so, it can be very life-changing.
As you set a new standard for what you will and will not accept, you will feel empowered to change other areas of your life for the better.
Most in-law relationships are so wrecked with animosity and blame, neither side is capable of forgiveness. This is exactly what creates an emotional entanglement - holding on to grudges, inflating the ego, victim consciousness, etc.
So if you truly want to create distance from your narcissistic mother-in-law, forgive her. Holding on to hurt feelings ties you to her and you keep dragging her with you even when she's not around.
You may feel like forgiving your mother-in-law is contrary to self-love and standing up for yourself. But it's actually an act of self-love, above all else.
It's ok to be angry, frustrated or hurt; but don't dwell on those feelings. Holding a grudge is detrimental to your mental and spiritual health. So whenever you can, forgive and forget. But be sincere about it! Forgiveness is a powerful spiritual tool, but only when it's sincere.
6. The Power of Perception
Have you ever heard the expression: "Perception is reality"? Make it your mantra.
You have a choice:
- To come from a perspective of a victim ("She did this to me, she ruined my life, she ruined my marriage, she turned everyone against me")
- Or the perspective of a soul on a spiritual journey ("This is meant to teach me important spiritual lessons and to aid in my evolution, I'm grateful for the experience").
What do you choose?
7. Emotional Mastery
Your mother-in-law won't change, but you can. Change the way you react to her, and you will acquire a priceless skill that will serve you in nearly every difficult situation. Your own peace is in your hands. Don't let her take it from you.
When you're in control of your emotions, you're in control of your life. That doesn't mean being fake or suppressing your true feelings. Rather, it's recognizing your "hot buttons" and not allowing other people to control you by pushing those buttons.
If you learn to shift the energy when your narcissistic mother-in-law is trying to get a rise out of you, you will be well on your way to being the creator of your whole life experience.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: My mother-in-law is a full-blown hoarder. She also wears the pants in her marriage; always has. She is mean and manipulative. Is there a link between hoarding and whatever else she is? I can't entirely put my finger on it, but she definitely will never apologize for her bad behavior, and has her favorites in the family. She recently cut off my husband and I "until further notice." I'm just trying to understand how or if these issues tie in together.
Answer: That's an interesting question. Your mother-in-law definitely has narcissistic tendencies, and hoarding can be a by-product of narcissism. There's significant overlap with: the need to control, selfishness, emotional regulation, playing the victim, disregard for other people's needs and well being, angry lashing out when confronted, etc.
Question: My relationship with my mother-in-law is very toxic, as are all of her relationships. We've had no contact with her for about six months. My husband and I feel great about not having her and her negativity in our lives. What I'm struggling with: is keeping her out of our life and burning the bridge forgiving? I feel like I'm still holding onto things by doing this, but also that I'm protecting myself.
Answer: You can forgive her and still keep her out of your life. In fact, it's the only way to really keep her out because holding on to hurt feelings ties you to a person and you keep dragging them with you even when they're not around.
Question: How do I put a stop to mo mother-in-law's abuse?
Answer: Well, if you've read this article, you know that it talks about a spiritual...purpose, if you will...of having a toxic mother-in-law. Basically, this is about gaining a different perspective that will allow you to see her behavior in a different light. Not making excuses for her, no, but having a less personal approach to it and understanding where that behavior comes from.
What I'm saying is: she will never change, but you can.
Question: How do you find a balance between self-love and forgiveness when it comes to dealing with mother-in-laws?
Answer: I don't think it's a choice between self-love and forgiveness. You can forgive your MIL if you want (or not), but it has nothing to do with you standing up for yourself. At the end of the day, the most important relationship you're ever gonna have is with yourself. So don't let your MIL treat you we anything less than respect. She doesn't have to like you, but she has to respect you.
Question: How do you deal with toxic inlaws - MIL, SIL, BIL after spouse's infidelity?
Answer: You don't. If you're dealing with infidelity and not sure about the future of your marriage, this is a time for them to support you, or at the very least, to leave you alone. Take as much time as you need, and if you do decide that infidelity is a deal breaker and you want to move on, this is your decision and it should be respected, no matter what.
So if your in-law family is trying to get involved with "advice," politely express your thoughts to them and ask to respect your privacy and your decisions.
Question: My mother-in-law treats me poorly, and talks about me openly. She even told me straight that she doesn't want her son to marry me, and that she wants him to marry a girl from her village. Must I forgive her?
Answer: Do you want to forgive her? Is that how you feel? It's ok to be angry, frustrated or hurt; but don't dwell on those feelings.
Forgiveness is a powerful spiritual tool. Just remember: it has to be sincere to work.
© 2017 Lana Adler
CountryChick on June 25, 2020:
For Fifteen long years I was respectful until one day her mask fell down and a friend disclosed a letter she sent about my Husband. I was smart, knew the smearing campaign had be evident for years with everyone linked to her having a bad attitude towards us, I saw it as a mental illness and forgave. This one time, I could do nothing more than go completely NO CONTACT, that hurt regarding the letter about her own Son destroyed the respect I ever held. Thats the only way to deal with those who can cause so much damage and destruction to others. In my opinion, if you know someone like that, you will never change them you will always be in their web of drama if you stay! I have never looked back. Its her loss, she created a situation where she would never see us again. Another family member had been smeared and damaged her whole life by this person and I decided to learn about the odd behaviour too late to save a broken family unit all caused by the bitter, self centred mother with no empathy for others just a mask and underneath a nothing more than bitter onion. What a way to end a devoted 15 years of dedicated love and caring for someone you truly thought cared. it was all very superficial life for them but not for the victims who feel love and pain. Im glad the clever, calculated cruelty is over for all those that do not have to deal with it anymore. Read The Silent WarZone great book for children of Narcissists Parents. Go no contact, its the only way to save your soul x This article did indicate to me, I learned a lesson to identify cruelty hidden through love bombing and don’t trust a narcissist anything you say To them shall be remembered will be used against you! If you know someone going through this encourage them to get away and live a normal life!
WalkingThePath on September 24, 2019:
Thank you so much Lana, its so hard to remember that things come into our lives to teach us an important lesson, The situation with the NMIL was so toxic I lost sight of that. It felt so personal. Luckily my ex husband had dropped some serious bread crumbs that lead me to the issue from the start. I remember when I first met my husband he was already divorced and I asked him why his marriage ended, he replied 'My ex wife got really angry with my mother and me going to help her and she screamed at me I'm your family now' BOOM that was a huge hint, then the crumb trail got thicker and thicker once we got married. Spirit left me signs of hope along the path when I was feeling so lonely and so lost. I managed to find my way home to myself.
Lana Adler (author) from California on September 23, 2019:
thanks so much for your message. I can really relate to it on so many levels. My MIL is alive and well (relatively) but it's always a work in progress - loving yourself enough to stand up for yourself, learning to set boundaries and to regulate your emotions. Although you may not have done a lot of it when your MIL was around, you certainly learned a lot from her and since her passing, so don't be too hard on yourself. You did use that experience for growth, and you've made great strides. You are further along in your healing than you think. Every day it gets better :)
WalkingThatPath on September 22, 2019:
I am so glad by 'spiritual' chance I found this article!
This is exactly what I needed to hear. My ex-NMIL still causes me great pain and hurt from all the things that transpired having to be around this toxic women. She has passed away. In ways I'm overjoyed that she leaves and takes that toxic negative energy with her, but in ways I'm disappointed that I did not understand enmeshment, narcissistic mother-in-laws prior to her passing to the depth I do now. I wish I would have stood up to her, set by boundaries with her and the NSIL, NBIL long before I divorced my husband. I and working on healing this pain for over 5 years, it left a permanent scar. I am at a stage in my healing that I do see that I should have used the experience with her toxic behavior for my own growth. I have always been too much of a pushover and lived in so much fear of hurting others or disrespecting them, she showed up and enraged me so much it was there for me to learn to stand up. It was so blatantly awful that the situation was screaming in my face to love myself enough to say something to her to demand respect. I missed the opportunity because she passed, the marriage died but the battle wounds are still there because I did not stand up and fight for my self. My thoughts to anyone suffering through a toxic in-law situation, You have a right to be with your husband, he chose you you are his family now, they need to respect that they are damaging him more than they will ever understand, you are with him as a team. Stand up to them and show your husband that it comes from love for him that you want to demand that respect for the two of you, its not out of hate or anger from them, it truly is for your love for him. You met your husband before you probably knew his family, you did not come in hating them with bad intentions for them I guarantee they had their toxic behavior prior to you arriving on the scene. So IT IS NOT YOU! It is most DEFINITELY their issue. They will make your husband feel he is unhappy unbalanced he will believe it and he will believe it started with you, its been there his entire life, as long as he puts mommy first he can feel at peace that is how she will design the drama. Don't hesitate to take drastic measures, telling your husband to go no contact with the toxic family so you can both get some peace. Its serious child abuse from the mother what she is doing. She needs to find her own peer groups for emotional support and a life of her own, she needs to step away from the man that used to be her boy or she will ruin him.
The toxic mother in law also needs to be face to face with her motivations for controlling and manipulating so she can also grow spiritually, she is probably facing a serious fear of being alone not being loved, not loving herself, by you standing your ground and kicking her toxic butt out of your marriage she will have to face her own dysfunction which is what she needs to do.
Letat on December 25, 2018:
I almost did not make it past the first two years of my marriage. NMIL made it appoint to use me, abuse me, go behind my back after I would kindly agree to help her and call her son and shoot off her mouth that I was not doing anything to help her. When we were out with her to eat she would point out to him all the women in neighboring tables and amplify on their breast and bodies. She then sold her son into the idea that when we had an argument that he should leave the house and live with her... and once she had him in her house, she would throw a pity party victimizing herself and him. Ill talk about me and give him tips on how he had to control me and counted herself as the no. #1 in his life. She would brainwash him in several ways, but once always prevailed with her that he had to control me through imposing that I either moved in with them into her house or he would leave. This is but a tiny piece of all she did....
The last time he left after an argument he stayed with her about three months ... eventually contacted me by email that unless I moved in with them he was divorcing me!
I told him... to do it!
I toughened up!
In short order he freaked out and over a short time asked me to dinner, she came to the dinner and once he got off the table she began the victim cry. That she only wanted us to be happy. Blah blah!
We then saw each other again and eventually the love took over along with the sex and he was back home again. This time I took every chance to tell him everything he's mom had done and accuse her. At the same time I kept us busy going everywhere together, having lots of sex, fun ... and keep us busy. She would call him 10 times a day... and during this time threw a fit on Facebook when she saw we were out dining, claiming publicly that it was her who needed to be taken to dinner! and when he answered on FB that he would take her else where she become angry and threw another fit right on before all his friends! that she wanted to go to the much nicer restaurant we were at! I used strategic moments to continue to bring her down he started to agree with me. When he had left the last time from out house I changed my phone number... which I eventually gave to him. However she did not have it. Once he was back home I talked to him and slowly but surely he leaned in... and on our next argument he did not leave, and stopped leaving... and never left again.
Then over time NMIL started to lose control of the situation and he clearly understood that I was not going to engage in any relationship with her. She would ask him for my number and he would ask me if he could give it to her and I say no! She was very creative! She came up with all kinds of things.... during this period. That she was dying, that she was blind... she would call him at work so he could take her to the emergency room, while she had a hospital exactly two blocks away! Others time he had to rush to her house... and each and every time he would go... he would come back telling me that his mother seemed lucid and fine... and on a occasion to the emergency room after rushing out of his job 25 miles away he stated he found her lucid again and engaging in conversation. As time passed we became very busy as a couple and I would slate trips and ideas to live the city and she would still call but he would go less and less to her house. I kept talking in his ear... he even told her to call 911 next time she had to go to the emergency room. She kept trying and trying and trying... and trying to get me involved... and this went on for a good long time... for another 1 year. However, he would say my mother is in the hospital... I would acknowledge it however, I had no intentions of asking any further going to see her or anything else. i went to the hospital and he would tell her and she would call him 10 times I day pretending to be concerned until I stopped it. I told him I was a private person and I did not want anyone concerned for me and that he was to no longer share anything about me to her or other relatives of his. Now, I was down to only seeing her on holidays! Each time we saw each other during the holiday time she without fail would wait till he left the area to start her rant on that she needed my phone number for emergency reasons.That she wanted to call me so I could go over to her house. Each time I said nothing and smiled. Its now been 3 years. my husband had no intentions of leaving ever again... he says he is happily married. He said he's mother knows now! That I am "not fudging" around and that its a firm no! He has taken the position to not engage in any more back and fourth with her and her bs. She is still desperate to get my phone number and try to get back in the middle of our marriage... I have dis-empowered her. He sees her very little. He has found out she is not dying. That she sees better than she tells everybody. He finds himself to busy to talk and to do anything with her. It was her birthday recently and he told me was taking her to eat but had not mentioned it since he knows I do not like being around. As we were talking she called and asked him if I was going with them. He said no. When he hung up... I said sure I will go with you. He said great, get ready afterwards we will do a little shopping. Sure enough we took her.. she is the same broken record about the phone and I always have the same response... smile and stay silent. We dropped off her immediately after and we went shopping without her! We did not talk about her again and she longer is a topic of conversation. The better I made my marriage with him the less and less power did she have. I will never have a relationship with her again. Her insistence to get back and become as she put it "#1" in his life has become a desperate act. That is her problem! Should she continue to scheming to continue to interfere! I will do what I must to protect my happy marriage!
Lana Adler (author) from California on December 02, 2018:
Your MIL won't change but you can change the way you react to her. Your own peace is in your hands. Don't let anyone take it from you.
Hope on November 27, 2018:
My MIL hurts my feelings but i am actually getting stronger. i have been forgiving her but the next time she will say or do something else. i secretly hope we move farther it gets exhausting thinking every meeting with her is a new meeting just like every day is a new day. and then she does something else. oh well.
Lana Adler (author) from California on October 04, 2018:
you have to understand that this is in no way a unique situation. This is exactly what toxic (narcissistic) people are like. They don't know how to relate to others in a healthy way, so they have to use emotional manipulation to get their way or to feel important. The dad in this case plays the role of a "flying monkey," doing the mother's bidding.
The more you guys distance yourselves from her, the more guilt tripping there will be. Ignore it. Just know that what you're choosing is the wellbeing of your family.
P.S. You only have one mother - but you also have only one of you. Your spouse and children are also one of a kind, so that argument doesn't really make sense, does it?
kate00123 on October 02, 2018:
My MIL, Has never had a good relationship with her son. When we started dating he had just spoken to her after a year of no communication. I had two little girls from my previous marriage and she was not happy about that. He has never been close to her because she has always treated his brother like a son and he was treated like an annoying neighborhood kid. She moved out of state our relationship was perfect and she came back things went south- when we got married he adopted our girls which cause a lot of backlash from her, She ignores our girls or brags to them about what she does with her real grandkids- these girls age 2-4 when we met her, mean nothing! Fast forward 3 years and we got pregnant- again she was ticked off until the moment she found out it was a boy. She started calling my husband, texting him and the following Thanksgiving 3 mths later she had the family target me- I was accused of sending hateful texts to an adopted family member who I did not even know. I was not allowed to prove I was innocent or even talk to the said family member as I didn't even know who it was. She told me to let it go, Afterwords calling my husband to make sure he wasn't mad at her.. yeah! now my entire pregnancy she and her husband ( My husband's stepdad) tried everything they could to break us up! My husband still had me allow her to help with my baby shower and she made me miserable even making sure that we had mint cupcakes- ( I told her i was fine with any food but mint was a no go)she yelled at my mom and sister for getting me a cake! She haded the fact that i was going to breastfeed so much that all her and her mother bought was bottles, making sure to tell my husband to send them pics of him feeding the baby! I can keep going on how horrible she treats all of us and for the first time last year ( after my son was born, ) actually called and told the girls happy birthday promised gifts they never got but called. She asked him flat out if she was going to be in his life and our sons- She calls and starts arguments, she tells family members our daughters are stupid. We haven't been around her in almost a year - but that doesn't stop the drama and phone calls- telling him on the last one he needs to think of whats important because she wanted him to skip our daughters birthday to go to her stepdad's birthday party she was hosting. Now all she has to do is call his dad and his dad tells him you only get one mother- let what she says go in one ear and out the other! He didn't answer her phone call on his birthday ( mind you this is the first phone call on his birthday he has gotten in over 6 years) because he just wasn't ready for that drama ( only calls when it's about her) so she called his dad and now he feels guilty because his dad tells him that he only has one mother- So my question is, Why is it okay for her to make us all miserable and get away with it because she is his mother?
Lana Adler (author) from California on August 13, 2018:
Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll check it out.
Great tips too, I’m sure they’ll work for some, but I was never that good at manipulation ))
Lana Adler (author) from California on August 13, 2018:
Couldn’t agree more! That’s a great way to look at life. Thanks for reading!
Daughterinlaw on August 10, 2018:
My MIL has always been a big gossip and talks bad nonstop about everyone. So finally one day I couldn't take it anymore and interruped her bad talking someone and said, "Boy we sure wonder with the way you talk about everyone else behind their backs all the time, just what you must say about us behind our backs when we aren't around? She was embarrassed! If your MIL says nasty things to you in public or in front of other's, call her out on it, she'll do one of two things, duh duh duh cause she was just being nasty, or she will apologize due to being embarrassed in front of the group, and try to explain herself, and maybe change for a little while, maybe forever if you're really lucky, only fearing embarrassment by you in front of other's of course. Use their manipulation to your advantage, they gossip, only tell them things you want them to pass on... then they are doing what you want and don't even know it... They don't like your cooking, when they visit, take the week off and make her do all the cooking, she's so much better at it anyway! Give her lots of compliments on cooking and how excited eveyone is to finally get lots of good food for a change but thinking only in your head "cooking vacation", or offer to have her teach you since you need so much help, but disappear only later saying you sure didn't want to spoil her master techniques. What's for lunch, what's for dinner... If you're bad at cleaning so says her, have her do it, but watch for your personal items as they may snoop. Make the toilet sparkle like only a MIL can, here's all the cleaning stuff. Remember lots of compliments and be sincere. Remember: Some people never change, and if you're not careful they'll change you instead, and usually not for the better. So don't let them or anyone else have that kind of power over you. Read the book Trapped in the Mirror. It helped me so much!
Anthony. on July 26, 2018:
Lana. I can't believe you wrote this article. Speachless. How we deal with the attitudes of in-laws even life itself comes down to "INWARD" spiritual leasons. Our reaction to how others treat us are either "Stepping stones" or "stumbling stones" An opportunity to either stand or fall. But each time we rise from the ashes like the PHOENIX we become stronger each time.
Lana Adler (author) from California on July 04, 2018:
This isn't your fault. You have the right to choose what you believe is best for your kids. Having their grandmother badmouth their mother certainly isn't. Your MIL and FIL can still have visits with your kids when you're there, and maybe one day they can have unsupervised visits again. When they learn what's appropriate to say to your children. Good luck! :)
Spsal on July 04, 2018:
Hi ma'am, first when I used to go for work I left my kids with mil later got to know she was teaching kid wrong about me and my family.I took kid from her to another daycare...from then on she keeps telling around that I keep kids away from mil & fil and also curses me so much....what is my fault?
Tina on May 13, 2018:
Today is mother’s day. My own mom is really kind and forgiving. She is always encouraging me to give olive branches to my nasty mother in law. My mother in law has spread rumors about me. Won’t invite us to family events. She is jealous and selfish. She is also very unhappy with life. I will wish her a happy mother’s day today and know that it won’t make any difference. Or will it???
Lana Adler (author) from California on April 11, 2018:
I admire your patience and I agree, in many cases it's best not to engage, especially if the person is trying to provoke you. You know best what works for you, and if it's counting to 100 and walking away that keeps you grounded and calm, do it.
Sukrutha on April 11, 2018:
I have been married for almost 8 years and living with mother in law for almost 4 years.
The hubby I knew after marriage has changed entirely after his mother came in to the picture.
But I always feel it is our self esteem and will power that controls the fight. Any fight happens between me and my dear MIL, she will make sure that she will scold me my entire family and she will not spare even the dead people from my family side.
Initially I was astonished, later amused. I used to reply her back the whole day or whole week.
Now after years of experience I have realised I can never have a relationship with her.
But also I have learnt not to answer her back only when it exceeds the limit. Even if I start answering her back and shouting back at her, I will make sure I will count till 100 by then the silence of mine would have given me peace of mind. At the same time she would continued nonstop and as no reply from me, it would have evn more frustrated. But by then wit peace of mind i would either walk away from her or go back to my room a d lock the door.
By next day next week things would become silent....
So it's always better if we keep quite and walk away... and answer only absolutely when it's necessary... and over years you will realise no point in answering back and walking away was better...
Lana Adler (author) from California on March 17, 2018:
Thank you for sharing. It feels like you needed to get that off your chest.
It also feels like you have guilt about your partner's estrangement from his family, and you have taken responsibility for it, whether consciously or subconsciously. You say you're flawed, you apologize for having different beliefs and personality that clash with your in-laws, yet none of this is your fault.
I want you to let go of that. I want you to stop getting involved with your in-laws' drama. This is not your responsibility. This is not your karma. Whatever your partner wants to do with his family, let them figure it out. I don't think any extra encouragement is needed on your part. You've done enough. Whether they come around or not - it's out of your hands now. Let go. Don't let it infect your spirit.
Peace and light,
Ceo Seanchai 96 on March 15, 2018:
My MIL has done everything but #6 on your list of "signs of a toxic MIL" and I'm pretty sure that's only because my significant other and I have only lived together at least an hour away from her.
Not by my choice, but his. I encouraged him to call her every week, respond to her texts, go to every family gathering...even after I'd been so negatively impacted by them that I decided to stay at home. I made flower arrangements on mother's day, got cards so her sons had something to give her, made her handmade gifts, and put up with a lot of selfish, rude, cutting garbage from her (including insulting me like I wasn't in the room, right in front of her, and blaming me for his school/career/religious/political choices) before I gave up in my heart on that ideal relationship.
I've lost my mother and couldn't understand not wanting a relationship with my own...but my partner has fought my encouragement tooth and nail over the past four years. Doesn't WANT to visit "home", doesn't WANT to call his mom. He feels he's a trophy to her, and she takes everything he does as a personal affront. When he did go "home" while he was in school, he'd get anxiety attacks, every time. She was stressed, and made everyone around her stressed under her expectations.
I understand that his view is not the whole story, and encouraged him to reach out in hopes they would get along better after...whatever thing she was mad at blew over. But she's always upset about something. Every call. Every visit.
Recently, other family from his side who live with his mother (BIL and step FIL) openly verbally attacked me, called me vulgar names, accused me of an elaborate, manipulative ploy to seduce him and sever him from his family, of faking illness to gain his sympathy, of being a man-hater, that I had "torn their family apart" on and on...when they don't even know me- never took the time, never cared. It didn't sound like them, though, and I HAVE gotten to know his mom, have listened to so many of her conversations ...it wasn't their phrases, their eloquent insecurities...it was hers.
After trying so hard to keep things pleasant, being accused of trying to keep my love FROM his family -which I neither wanted nor was capable of- ...was hurtful. And I believe, is the straw that breaks the camel's back. I want to stop trying. Stop trying to be pleasant, stop trying to connect them, stop trying to be part of their angry, bitter, victim-complex family. I love my partner, and I choose my partner everyday...but he doesn't choose them.
I know I am flawed. I know my beliefs and personality clash with hers. I know I shouldn't have ever thought she'd be anything close to a mother...but I'm tired of the hostility, tired of caring about relationships that only hurt me...tired of shaking. I have my father, my spouse, and my young siblings who need my attention, and I feel like it's being wasted on my in-laws.
Is there anything I should do to support my spouse if he does decide he wants to spend time around them (because I don't)... Should I just give up?
Lana Adler (author) from California on March 03, 2018:
it sounds like you're pretty set in your decision not to have any contact with your in-laws. I can't tell you whether that is the right decision or not. In some cases, it's best to cut off the toxic people and move on. In other cases, it's never too late to make peace, especially if your marriage is at stake. Remember, if you're the first one to break the silence, it doesn't mean you're caving or bending to their will. It just means you're a bigger person who can rise above the petty squabbles.
Again, no contact is great when you and your husband are on the same page. But if you're not, it puts an enormous pressure on your marriage. You have to decide if you're gonna let your in-laws ruin your relationship. Hope things get better!
Liz on March 03, 2018:
It's been 30 years of marriage. My MIL & sister in law (She never had children, so she & my MIL think that my girls are my Sister's in law). They have always gone behind my back doing and saying things about me. In the past 9 months I have not spoken or do I want to speak to neither of them. Yes, my marriage is on the rocks but I'm tired of always bending my arm. I'm a very strong Christian women and I have extended the Olive branch over and over again. I happier not having to deal with them. It's been to many things and years.
I do want to save my marriage but at the cost of dealing with them No Way. Any advice??
Lana Adler (author) from California on February 01, 2018:
thank you for sharing. I know it can be painful when we are treated as if we don't exist, but I guess at some point you start developing coping mechanisms, a.k.a. "not taking it personally." You're right, it's not personal. But it's also emotional abuse.
I'm glad you've grown through this experience and taken it as an opportunity to stand up for yourself. The mishap with the texts - I think it's rare to catch a toxic person red-handed, but it does happen. And instead of taking the responsibility for it, she is listing excuses. Typical! But you didn't buy it. I'm proud of you! I wish you peace and happiness, and healthy boundaries with your MIL :)
Randi on January 31, 2018:
This article speaks so much truth to me. I have been married to my husband for 10 years and I hve never felt accepted by my MIL and have always internalized her treatment of me as my wrong doing. She pretty much acts like I don’t exist and that I don’t matter. Thankfully, over the past couple of years I have started not taking it personallly and stopped trying to be someone I am not. Despite all this, I have still worked to develop a relationship with her because she strongly wants to be apart of my kids lives. I have bit by bit picked up on actions of hers with my kids that have bothered me. I thought it was my own bias because of how I felt about her, or Thought maybe I was jealous because she accepted my kids and not me. And then yesterday, she was texting me and said something very nice in response to a question I asked. A few minutes later I got a text that she meant to send to a friend that completely bad mouthed me about the conversation she just. It was such a disrespectful devious act, to be happy towards me and then intend to go behind my back. I lost all trust and respect for her in that moment. She apologized but blamed it on a bad mood, said she wasn’t herself. For me this was the last straw, I accepted this as a gift to finally stand up for myself and set the boundaries I should have set a long time ago. Your article spoke to about the lessons I can learn from my MIL, how to be a better more confident me. Thank you!
Lana Adler (author) from California on December 20, 2017:
Dianna, I'm so sorry for your loss. This is the kind of relationship one would hope to have with an in-law, but I do believe your case is an exception to the rule. It also says a lot about you, to characterize your mother-in-law in such loving terms. And it's wonderful to know that this kind of connection is actually possible. Thank you for stopping by!
Dianna Mendez on December 19, 2017:
I was blessed to have a wonderful mother-in-law who taught me much through her actions. She passed away a couple of months ago and her last moments still demonstrated her unselfish love for those around her. I enjoyed your thoughts on this topic.
Lana Adler (author) from California on December 01, 2017:
Thank you MizBejabbers! You were indeed lucky, most women are not, I gather. But I don't think it was just luck. Your first mother-in-law disapproved but you were still able to turn it around and have a close relationship with her. I command you for that! It's heartwarming and encouraging to know that some MILs can be like mothers.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on December 01, 2017:
Very insightful, Lana. I never looked at it that way, but I never had to. I believe I'm the luckiest woman in the world because I've had two most wonderful MILs in the universe. My relationship with my first MIL was uncomfortable at first because we married so young, and I knew that she disapproved. I took it personally. She was a warm, kind, and loving person who understood that I felt insecure, unloved and unworthy (to use your words). She stepped in and, after a couple of years, she made me feel like the daughter she never had. After the marriage became abusive, she helped me divorce her son because she cared about the children and me. So I loved her like a mother.
My second MIL made no bones about her dislike for my husband's previous wife, and she let him know that she loved me. Maybe I learned well from my first MIL. Anyway, both have passed on, and both have a special place in my heart. I've had three daughters-in-law, and only one of them has had that kind of relationship with me. It was their choice, not mine.
Lana Adler (author) from California on November 30, 2017:
Thank you Larry! It sure is a good one to learn. Even though it's the kind of lesson that kind of goes against your nature :) Always good to hear from you!
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on November 30, 2017:
You don't write often, but it's always so intelligent and well done.
One of the hardest lessons that we learn is that we're not the center of the universe.
As shocking as that realization can be, it's also very freeing.
Lana Adler (author) from California on November 28, 2017:
Thank you McKenna! You're so right. Mothers-in-law are tough teachers but their lessons are priceless. Looks like you've learnt yours, and you're a better woman for it.
McKenna Meyers on November 28, 2017:
Wow, Lana, I hope every daughter-in-law reads this. It's all so incredibly true. I've learned these lessons, but it's taken me over 20 years and lots of heartache. There were so many times when I thought my mother-in-law was critical and unkind. But, honestly, she wasn't thinking of me at all. She has 6 children and 15 grandchildren and I'm really not very important in her life. That realization tapped into lots of my insecurities from childhood. But, what I came to focus on is that she raised an incredible son who's smart, thoughtful, open minded, and sincere—a marvelous husband and father—and that's why I need to honor my mother-in-law. She deserves that.