7 Abusive Tools in Your Toxic Mother-in-Law's Belt

Updated on April 5, 2018
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Lana is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor who helps women to regain their power after experiencing toxic relationships.

A toxic mother-in-law is a master of covert warfare. Her methods are tried and true, and she's had years of practice. She's so good that half the time you're not even aware you're being manipulated. But you're smart. You're catching on.

Here are 7 abusive tools toxic mothers-in-law use to get their way.

Silent treatment is an act of contempt. It's meant to silence any dissent and remind you who's in charge.
Silent treatment is an act of contempt. It's meant to silence any dissent and remind you who's in charge. | Source

1. Silent Treatment

She is a queen of silent treatments. It's her favorite instrument of control.

Assert yourself, get out of line, challenge her sainthood - and you're dead to her. That's why they call it a "mental murder" - a toxic MIL "kills" you in her mind, communicating that nothing you say or do matters, and that you simply don't exist to her anymore.

By ignoring you (or your spouse, or both) she puts herself in the position of power, silences and dismisses you, but most importantly, punishes you. Punishment is what's at the heart of silent treatment.

Make no mistake about it - it's a form of emotional abuse. In fact, it's so cruel and destructive that it activates the same part of the brain (anterior cingulate cortex) that detects physical pain. But she believes it's fair. And the more you grovel and apologize, the more she's convinced that you deserved it.

2. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic aimed at undermining your perception, thus making you second-guess yourself and even question your sanity.

A toxic mother-in-law uses this technique to warp the reality in her favor.

For example, she'd said something that wasn't true, and you've corrected her. She will respond with: "I didn't say that." Even though she just said it and there's no way to misinterpret it, she will deny it without batting an eye. You might feel confused and bewildered by this turn of events, but to her it's like second nature. She will flat-out lie to avoid any responsibility for her words or actions.

In a different scenario, you confront her about her passive-aggressive behavior, verbal attacks and sabotaging your marriage. She looks shocked, then says: "I have no idea what you're talking about. I've done no such thing to you. I think you're just being too sensitive. We all feel like we have to walk on eggshells around you."

Gaslighting is also a form of emotional abuse. It erodes the very foundation of your being: your ability to trust yourself.

Gaslighting is aimed at destroying your sense of reality, making you vulnerable to self-doubt.
Gaslighting is aimed at destroying your sense of reality, making you vulnerable to self-doubt. | Source

3. Guilt Trip

Guilt trips are the bread and butter of a toxic mother-in-law.

"You never call or come over. I'm not gonna be around forever, you know."

"I've been sick all week. Do you even care?"

"This is the treatment I get after all I've done for you."

This method works best with her biological children, but daughters- and sons-in-law can also be targets for guilt tripping. She knows that if she can make you feel guilty, you will feel obligated to make up for the supposed transgression. Of course, the only reason you can be manipulated this way is because, unlike her, you are a decent human being with a sound conscience.

By invoking guilt and shame - two very toxic emotions, she achieves absolute compliance with her wishes, all the while playing the victim.

4. The Blame Game

While it's a normal human tendency to shift blame onto someone else, a toxic mother-in-law takes it to an extreme. It's always someone else's fault.

She feels that to admit error is to be weak, and showing weakness would undermine her superior status. Status is everything to her.

The blame game allows her to be instantly absolved of any wrongdoing on her part while remaining in control. It can range from casual finger-pointing to severe emotional outbursts such as rage, silent treatment, name calling and even physical violence. Yet again, this is a form of abuse.

Your attempts to make her "see" your point of view will be met with hostility and monumental denial. It's not clear whether she's unwilling or unable, but one thing's for sure: she won't take responsibility for anything.

The objective of the blame game is to put you in a defensive position, so the focus is on you, not on her.
The objective of the blame game is to put you in a defensive position, so the focus is on you, not on her.

5. Triangulation

Triangulation means involving a third party in a a two-person conflict, where a third person plays the role of a proxy, a messenger, a negotiator etc.

A typical example of triangulation in a dysfunctional family is when a narcissistic mother intentionally pits her children against one another (divide and conquer technique) to make them compete for her affection.

Or when a toxic mother-in-law uses her son (third party) to manipulate her daughter-in-law.

She'll put doubts in his mind about the way you handle parenting, housekeeping, finances etc. and try to influence him under the guise of "concern." After her talks he may start questioning your methods and suggesting his mother's alternatives, all the while innocently believing that they're his ideas.

Another way a toxic mother-in-law uses triangulation is by trashing you to other people, thus creating "alliances." Again, this is a way for her to avoid direct communication with you, yet still express her disapproval.

6. Projection

Just like a projector casts an image onto a screen, a toxic mother-in-law projects her own flaws, fears and wrongdoings onto others. It's a defense mechanism that allows her to maintain a sense of superiority while condemning others for the very traits she possesses.

Examples of projection are a legion.

Does your toxic mother-in-law accuse you of being dishonest, even though she is a pathological liar? Does she complain that you're rude and disrespectful, even though she'd never shown you an ounce of respect? Does she call you a drama queen even though every conflict essentially stems from her? Does she criticize your parenting even though she's been less than a perfect mother, to say the least?

Well, toxic people are not known for their self-awareness, and they're not interested in self-improvement either. They're already perfect! So the chances that your mother-in-law will take responsibility for her behavior are about zero.

7. Smear Campaign

The jig is up: you see her for who she is.

In this scenario her best course of action is to discredit you.That's why the smear campaign.

With the smear campaign a toxic mother-in-law aims to destroy your reputation while simultaneously elevating herself to the status of a saint or a victim.

Since she can easily transform from an abusive narcissist to poor old mom, she is able to manipulate other people (a.k.a. the flying monkeys) to question your character and to put pressure on you or your spouse to comply with her wishes. You may even find yourself ostracized or bullied by the family.

That is her ultimate goal - to humiliate and isolate you. There's no plan beyond that. Vicious gossip can tear families apart, but she doesn't care, as long as she comes up on top.

The smear campaign is essentially a bullying tactic designed to demonize and isolate you.
The smear campaign is essentially a bullying tactic designed to demonize and isolate you. | Source

What Can You Do to Counteract These Tactics?

When it comes to toxic mothers-in-laws, not much can be done to change them or even make them aware of their harmful behavior. Ideally, you would want to go no contact. But blocking your MIL from your life is a bit more complicated than dumping a bad boyfriend. It's not always an option.

Still, there is something you can do, and that is: educating yourself.

Knowledge is power.

Your mother-in-law thrives amid ignorance. The sooner you learn to recognize her tactics, the better you'll be at counteracting them, and the less power she will have over you.

But this isn't purely a mother-in-law issue. It can apply to anybody who has a toxic (which often means: narcissistic) personality.

Read the literature about abusive, toxic, narcissistic people. Look for the signs. Know the facts. Learn the vocabulary. It's much harder to gaslight someone who knows what gaslighting is!

In conducting your research you may realize that toxic people are more dangerous than you could have imagined. They're capable of inflicting real psychological harm. They can be the source of torment, anxiety, depression, marital discord and many other untold destructive consequences for the people around them. Yet they are so skilled at masking their pathology, they're usually supported by family members and their social circle. So the victims are left to fend for themselves.

Of course, it takes time to understand who you're dealing with, what they're capable of, and why the relationship with this person seems impossible or painfully demoralizing. Right now you may still be hurt, confused, ashamed, blaming yourself and desperately looking for validation from your toxic cesspool.

Or you already started connecting the dots and realized that you've been subjected to malicious emotional abuse at the hands of someone close to you. If that's the case, you've won half the battle.

Once you're able to identify the manipulative behaviors, they can't pull the wool over your eyes anymore.

It's not a solution (the only effective solution is no contact), but it's a start. The start of you taking your power back.

Questions & Answers

  • My boyfriend of twenty years has terminal cancer. I’ve become his primary care giver. He’s never moved out of his mom’s. I’m quite sure she’s a narcissist. I’m a devastated wreck. (He is still at his mom’s, so that’s where most of my time is spent, though I have my own place. What should I do?

    Maybe ask him to move in with you?

© 2018 Lana Adler

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      CC 

      3 weeks ago

      MC, your situation Was stunningly similar to my own, especially in relation to the expectations around her access to our daughter - which started in the hospital. When our daughter was 8, I went no contact because I was a wreck from too many years of her abusive behavior. My husband and daughter still see her occasionally (we now live on the other side of the world), but she isn’t allowed one on one contact with our daughter, and they meet on neutral ground, never at her house, where her behavior was always worse.

      You have the right to tell your husband that you don’t want to see her, and that you don’t ever want your child alone with your mother in law. You also have the right to tell him how you want it to be. That doesn’t make you a divisive person. It’s not an ultimatum. It takes a long time for sons of malignant narcissists to wake up. My husband unfortunately only started really waking up to the dreadful impact it was having on me, when I told him that I didn’t have a second child because I was so fearful of being vulnerable again with his mother in our lives, given what had happened last time from the hospital onwards. Honestly, it took him ten years to see through her completely, as well as his dad who behaved as her attack dog if she was in a sulk and not getting what she wanted (which was always). I feel like we are finally getting free from the toxic hold these people had over our lives and the toxic impact it had on our marriage.

      My biggest regret is not believing I had choices and that I had to support and facilitate my husband and daughters relationship with my mother in law. Once I stepped away from his parents things changed. I felt better for it and my husband was forced to deal with them on his own without me as the scapegoat. All of them were forced to deal with the fact that I had effectively been driven away.

      Please set up clear boundaries for yourself. Please communicate with your husband the effect it’s having on you. Communicate your fears for your daughter. It’s not your fault. Also look up Melanie Tonia Evans who has a refreshing take on narcissism.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      7 weeks ago from California

      It’s not an easy situation. I can see that you are really torn between doing what you feel is right and trying to be considerate of your husband’s relationship with his mom.

      Ideally, the decision to go no contact with her (if it’s in fact what’s best for your family) should be a mutual decision. Don’t push your husband into it, he might resent you for it later. He’ll come around eventually, he might not, but don’t make that decision for him. He has to learn on his own and meet you half way if you guys do decide to go no contact. I hope the situation improves, I feel for you MC :)

    • profile image

      MC 

      8 weeks ago

      This really hit the nail on the head for my personal experience.

      I struggle constantly with tons of anger and resentment towards my mother in law.

      And I'm not sure how to let that go and forgive her.

      My sister is a narcissist as well, it wasn't until i was older and away from home that i learned to love her from a distance and not deal with the emotional abuse any longer.

      However this is an entirely different scenario for me to adjust to, because my mother in law is not my blood family. She's provided life for someone I care deeply about but I struggle with the fact that I can't just say love her from a distance because this is my husband's mother and I have to consider his feelings.

      We didn't realize how much of a narcissist his mother was until we had our daughter [her very first grandchild]

      She wanted us to drop her off on the way home from the hospital. I wanted two weeks alone with my husband and brand new baby to adjust as a family, having time to bond. Because this was the most important and special moment for me as a new mom. She called every day arguing.

      She made a nursery for her at her house but never once asked if we needed anything.

      I let her in the delivery room and the only thing I requested was to not take pictures, she did and posted them on Facebook to people I didn't even know.

      Every boundary we have laid down, she has refused to respect, from the very second my daughter was born.

      It has been an endless viscous cycle of disrespect and guilt tripping. So much that she decided to put herself in the hospital so nobody from my husbands side of the family could attend our daughters first birthday party (she wasnt invited due to the fact that she constantly compares my family and has made them feel uncomfortable, as well as past confrontations that she has never apologized for)

      She's spiteful. She speaks to my husbands ex wife, referring to her as family instead of myself. Which she never spoke to her prior to our disagreements.

      Growing up I was surrounded by narcissism and wanted so badly to separate myself from the hurt and trauma that comes with it but never could. Which is why I want to protect my daughter from that behavior, but want to make sure my husband doesn't regret anything when his mother passes away. I know he wants to share his life with her and is hurt by her behavior and actions. He sees how she is, just as much as I do. But I don't know how to do both. Take care of myself emotionally, protecting my daughter, and considering my husbands relationship with his mother.

      Is it an extreme to want to cut all ties with his mother or ask for my daughter to not have a relationship with her?

      I understand that our daughter is OUR daughter and my husband has just the same amount of say who is involved in her life but he is just now getting familiar with narcissism and the affects it can have on a person. Ive had several years of healing and gaining knowledge and really evaluating the way narcissism has affected me as a person. I just don't see a positive thing she could bring to our lives.

    • profile image

      DEE 

      2 months ago

      Hi, I've dealt with this 27 years, have grown kids, and my MIl has spent most of her life messing it up with 2 husbands but all the while trying to control me and my husband. She didn't try as much with her other son because he was rich and she needed his money so they were treated differently. Now that rich son is divorced, has no money, was an alcoholic and his kids don't want to see him and is dangerously bi- polar. He has hurt and made up lies about family members, even broken the law and been put in jail. He's approaching 50, she's 70, and she is now triangulating me and my husband who i call her (good son), to have us ask her ex of almost 30 yrs to pay for the son that lives with her in way of his medical, food, beer and dip. She tries to get us to persuade his ex wife and children to see him. She makes her entire family and feel like her troubled adult son is the victim and makes everyone feel as if we owe him our time and attention because he has no one, because she is alerting him to live with her and she's freaking with his terrible stuff, she expects everyone else to. She is also irresponsible, used her inheritance up and lives in a big house with a crazy amount of stuff and asks her brothers and my husband to help her when she needs financial help. She hasn't ever worked, was totally spoiled by her first husband, they were rich. She did as She pleased then and still wants to at the expense of others. She use to dictate to me what to believe, how to raise my kids everything! All holidays were about her, and everything is her way or the highway. When I stand up for myself She gets real ugly, and has even told me She can turn her family against me if She wanted to.She is exactly what I don't want to be. Everyone in her family (big family) has issues with her, but they all end up excusing her because she's so good at guilt tripping and making everyone feel sorry for her, she was the only girl of 3 brothers and had sons. Are we (my husband & I) responsible for her financially? We are helping our college kids, are not rich and have no extra money for her bills and food. We have no 401K and after helping our kids need to save for our future. I think she talks behind our back and makes us look bad because we don't give her money. We actually have none to give. Are we to go in debt to help this women? I could go on and on about how irresponsible she is as well as controlling. I've never seen anyone in my life get help from others more than her. My mother is divorced and has worked her entire life to take care of herself and plan for her future so i don't have sympathy for my Mil. I do care about her, don't want her destitute or anything bad to happen to her, but where do you draw the line?

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      2 months ago from California

      KG,

      You’re so welcome! And you’re definitely not alone. Im not aware f anything specifically MIL related, but if you google “narcissistic abuse support group” you’ll find some in your area.

    • profile image

      KG 

      2 months ago

      Thank you so much for the information and guidance you have given on your website. I am so glad that I found it as I am at a real low with my own situation. I have been with my OH for 14 years now and we are getting married in March. My MIL as made it clear from the beginning that she doesn't like me and constantly pulls me and my family down to my OH even though she has never made an attempt to know us.It started off with silent treatment towards me, but as escalated in the last 6 - 7 years with her sending abusive text messages and phone calls/ voice messages to my OH. A lot of the time you can tell she has had a drink as her words are slurred and don't make sense. They tend to come through the night, especially if we have something important happening the next day or we are on holiday. It is exhausting. My OH can't change his number as his nan recently became very ill and he as no one other than MIL to communicate with about her health. MIL doesn't want anything to do with the wedding and as said she is not coming which is a relief for me, but I can't help feeling so bad for my OH. I also have this awful feeling that she will find a way to ruin it. I moved in with my OH 6 years ago and she hasn't been to visit us or see the house and as even expressed her jealousy over the time we spend with our dog. Before finding your website I thought I had tried everything and nothing seems to be working, but you have given me a few ideas that I can try and I feel a little better knowing that I am not alone. Not that I would wish this situation on anybody. One question I do have is if you know of any support groups that exist? I think it might help to talk to others in a similar situation.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      2 months ago from California

      Neena,

      Your in-laws sound like classic toxic people, so try to spend as little time with them as possible. When you are around them, keep it cordial but don’t try to please them. Just live your life the best way you can, enjoy your family, your friends, and don’t give your in-laws the satisfaction of ruining even one second of your day.

      Hope it gets better.

      Lana

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      Neena 

      2 months ago

      Adding to my orevious comment, im horrified by her abusive behavior also DH is not much help, what should I do if we visit them again? Or from this point on, how should I keep my relationshio with her?

    • profile image

      Neena 

      2 months ago

      Thanks for putting together an article, a summery of what my in-laws has put me through. So we have been distant since after my MIL & FIL slandered me and kids. They haven't applogized neither they are being nice. All I get is a birthday wish once a year. They make sure I don't make allies in the family. They only seem to complain about us out of the whole family. MIL has verbally abused me behind everone's back and FIL thinks I should babysit them and their insecurities without a single noise. MIL is now hanging out with our receny ally who's now telling my husband to visit his parents. My MIL has created so awkwardness for us that even if we start seeing them, it would be brutal for our self respect. We lived in with them, we visited them every weekend, DH doesn't really takes us anywhere because they said so in the beginning, we had kids because they said, and MIL took great advantage of my bridal luxury assets with no returns. Nothing pleases them at all, they find complains in everything we do. More over, they make sure we don't enjoy our lives like an average happy couple, they are extremely manipulative and nosy also, still living together after divorce for many years and no one knows this in the family.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      2 months ago from California

      Hello Deborah,

      I’ve been on a vacation with my in-laws so I totally understand where you’re coming from! One nice thing doesn’t make up for many shitty things/comments that are said with such carelessness and resentment.

      Concerning your question, I don’t think it’s petty. It’s important to focus on building positive relationships with other people instead on dwelling on negative ones. If you’re sincere in wanting to have these relationships, there’s nothing wrong with that.

      There’s also nothing wrong with wanting to have allies. Because when you don’t, you give your MIL an upper hand. She can spin her narrative any way she wants. She can turn people against you. She can affect your other relationships! So have allies. Be smart. But don’t let her negativity control you.

      Good luck!

    • profile image

      Disgruntled Deborah 

      2 months ago

      Hello Lana,

      Thank you for posting this! I've just returned from an awful weeklong trip with my MIL and have been ruminating over various abusive comments she made towards me and my husband. I was just about to send her an email saying "thanks for the great trip" because she paid for the vacation (and I'm trying to smooth things over), but honestly I want to tell her to F-off! The "vacation" week included the her giving me the silent treatment, her constantly ignoring me or sighing when I talk, telling me she thought my sister's husband was cheating, telling me she disliked my friends and saying things to my husband like "you know your grandma may die before you come home again". Like really?! So, my question is is it petty to play her at her own game? I'm really close with her other son, her ex-husband and her current husband and am essentially focusing all of my efforts of building stronger relationships with them, not just because I like them but also so I have allies in her house. Is that petty??

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      3 months ago from California

      Oh boy...Kim, I’m sorry you have to go through this. Wanting to be in a delivery room without your explicit invitation, or insisting on a visit right out of the hospital - that’s beyond rude and intrusive.

      However, you’re at a point where something needs to change. Try extending an olive branch. Invite her to see her grandson on a neutral territory, like in the park or a playground. Send her pictures of him. See how it goes. If she’s still acting disrespectful or trying to steamroll you, withdraw again. Until she learns her lesson. It’s not unreasonable for you to expect to be treated with dignity and respect even if she doesn’t “like” you.

      Good luck, hang in there! I know it’s tough.

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      Kimberly Nicole L 

      3 months ago

      Hi i feel like my boyfriends mother is alot like what is described here we lived with her for a while in the begining and she would complain her doughter cut off ties to her grandson and that her sister was an awful bitch i beleved her untill she did things to me like putting cat poop under my sheets borrowing my car and damaging the tires saying we didnt ask to have a dog when she was the one who brought me to adopt him we moved and i stopped seeing her cuz i dont need these type of things well almost a year ago we had a baby boy and from the day i was in labor has been manipulative kept comeing to the hospital wanting to come in i didnt want anyone but my boyfriend there it caused three fight between me and him saying im not going to let her see the baby well three days of labor later he kept leaving the hospital to console her and almost missed the birth the day we brought him home we stopped by for a min whitch turned into two hours and she got mad giving me a scoul when i wanted to go home i went to the car and she took him out of his carseat and started feeding him although he didnt need it when i asked why it was taking so long her sis stormed out and yelled that he threw up all over himsealf that day was only the begining she used to viset him untill five months old then she stopped he is ten months old now the only way she will see him is when her son is there or if she can take him which i told my bf i want him to know her better first but she is boycotting him untill she gets what she wants she has gotten her whole fam against me sometimes even my bf saying i dont let her see the baby but when im around her she treats me like im a parasite happly greeting my bf and son the says kim like jerry says newman i told my bf she can come whenever she wants but she dosnt but still blames me for not seeing him her whole fam does and treats me like crap because of her acting like the victom at christmas she didnt even look at me and her neace kept saying were famaly like five times to my baby this is just driving me nuts i just want her to be nice and fair to me its sad cuz i see old woman talking to my son and find mysealf wishing they was my bf mother i dont know what to do

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      Abigail Schuette 

      4 months ago

      Dealing with the mental murderer like you put it silent treatment mil today on fourth of July she invited all the adults to watch fireworks and told us not to bring our three year old son her own grandson because he's a burden to her when she watches him eactly 24 hours at a time twice a month than makes an excuse for us to pick him up she used the silent treatment game all day and I finally said can you please answer our txt so we don't have to spend the entire fourth of July waiting for you to txt back including our three year old why does the entire holiday have to be about sue reyes she then informs us she's moving to Texas because our son is a burden on her when she watches him a whole two days a month than proceeds to lie about everything she did and said to my husbands entire family who then turn into her minions and side with her no matter how many obvious lies she tells so many holidays are spent on her and her schedule nothing can be special or magical for our son it always has to be about 50 year old Sue Reyes so disgusted my son was even around her at all which he is disabled from being born premature and she tried to bully me into an abortion the entire pregnancy I feel like she is mentally fifteen or sixteen and we have tried so hard to make her love us and our son and if it's not about sue it just doesn't even exist in her universe she is so abusive and controlling my son's agency Alta dosent even want him around her two days a month because she left the patio door open to the 13 foot pool about five times my husband and I Alta and even my doctors office are all starting to wonder if its on purpose she is that Crazy so we again stood up to her today by refusing to silently accept her mistreatment she tried to bully me into an abortion when I was pregnant that's how psychotically jealous she is of younger women I wish there was a way to put her on a 24 hours mental hold and then her only argument back is using my vocabulary and saying to me eactly what I said to her about herself I said can you please get your own vocabulary it's like she's as stupid as she is mean I've had so many Medical professionals including my step mother who is an MD tell her she's got some really bad mental health issues about younger women and how she is just completely toxic and abusive and she says no that that's me it's so senseless she can't even make a valid point in a conversation than she goes and repeats what I say to her about her she repeats it to other people my own vocabulary even and says it about me like is she completely insane or what and the "good days" consist of just manipulation and gaslighting so we cut it off today for our sons sake having her blatantly flat out say she is more important on the fourth of July than a three year old and not even inviting her own grandson to her house but inviting the rest of my son's family I called it off today I can't have my son around someone like that at all she's completely off the deep end oh and by the way she flat out states she doesn't want reconsiliation because that would entail her watching our son two days a month again I just wonder if God is real why he even let's something so disgusting like this be constantly abusing people even targeting a three year old

    • profile image

      Otomita 

      4 months ago

      Yeah enjoy the moment that she's not talking to you. Niceeeeeee

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      4 months ago from California

      Hi MomMom,

      I am very familiar with what you’re describing. The silent treatments...they’re nice in a sense because you’re not exposed to that toxicity. However, there is an underlying sense of anxiety about the whole situation, and possibly relatives pressuring you to “fix it,” apologize etc.

      In my experience, whether or not you apologize, these things blow over eventually, and everyone is sort of relieved when it’s over. You just have to learn to keep her at a distance emotionally, so all her shenanigans are seen as nothing but unhealthy attempts to control and manipulate.

      Don’t rush it. Take your time, relax )) heal, recover. Then, when you’re ready, shoot her a friendly message. And definitely have that bottle of wine handy )))

    • profile image

      MomMomMomMomMom 

      4 months ago

      Wow, all these hit the nail on the head. I have dealt with this for 20 years. My husband and I have a young child and ever since we have to see her every weekend. We both work and our weekends are gold but we usually have her over and she will stay for at least 5 hours. I have dealt with underhanded comments for years "I bought you this bracelet, my friend is really heavy so it should fit you" or "You should have seen this lady she was SO fat, she made YOU look SKINNY!" which later she states "oh honey I didn't mean anything by that!"

      When we try to invite her to something it has to be changed to fit HER schedule. Every time she sees my son she says how long its been since she has seen him. Or she will say "you don't remember your uncle do you , you haven't seen him in so long" even though we don't get invited anywhere, this is all US having to host events, dinners etc.

      Well 3 weeks ago my young nephew past away unexpectedly. This was beyond devastating. We had to fly home to attend the funeral and on coming home Thursday night we spoke to her the next night. We knew she would want to see our son so my husband offered to bring donuts over in the morning (she lives about an hour away)

      She stated that she knew we must be exhausted and not to worry about it. My husband asked if she was sure and she said to call in the am. We called her and finally woke her up at 10am.

      ((Backstory. The mothers day before this I was sick all week. We canceled plans because I still wasn't feeling great and didn't want to leave. She asked my husband to bring my son over to her which would mean they would be gone at least 4-5 hours. My husband said no because it was my mothers day too and they didn't want to leave me.)))

      So back to the sat from getting home, my young son and his buddy really wanted to go to a new movie. He had been so good out of town at the funeral and it was all so hard on us so I called the MIL at the direction of my husband and asked if she would mind if they didn't go, that we wanted to take the kids to a move. Her reply was "Well you didn't come for mothers day so why should you come for this" Some back and forth and she hung up on me which she insists she did not do. We ended up texting the rest where I simply said they would be coming over to see her and we were not going to the movies. She told ME not to use my husband and son as Pawns in my anger. That sent me over the edge. I told her that if I wasn't angry before I sure am now. I told her that we always go out of our way to include her in everything and she then stated "whatever I say will be wrong because you are grieving" I then stated not to blame this on me or my grief. I told her that I am done with the stabs, jabs and passive aggressive behavior and that she could expect to see her son and grandson in a few hours. I have not spoken to her since.

      I am coming up on my third weekend without having to see her and honestly its been nice. She is a negative person to begin with so my anxiety has lessened because I don't have to have my hackles up.

      My husband is bringing my son over to see her this Friday and he has said that the weekly visits are over and she will get what we offer period. This is not the first time we have had a blow up (it's not just me it's my husband too) with her and we have sat her down but clearly it didn't work. Btw she is Now not talking to us even my husband. We have our son call her to chat but she won't call my husband anymore (where she did every day) and she has not called me to apologize (which she never will)

      The question is do I have to feel guilty about this? Do I have to accommodate her because she's older and won't be around forever? Do I have to just make sure I have a bottle of wine so when she comes over I can drink it and deal? Do I have to get right back in that trap that literally causes me heart palpitations? :/ Thanks

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      4 months ago from California

      Hi Tara,

      Silent treatment is a worst type of emotional abuse, and I'm sorry you have to go through this at the hands of your in-laws.

      I know from personal experience that the more you grovel, apologize and try to initiate contact, the more the abuser feels justified in their actions. So my advice is: leave her alone. She doesn't want to speak to you - fine, and thank you. Just go about your business and ignore her. She'll come around when she realizes that her "punishment" isn't working.

      Hope things get better! Stay positive and grounded, always.

    • profile image

      Tara 

      4 months ago

      My sons grandma has given me silent treatment for bout a week went to talk to me a little today then went straight back to silence and makes faces and his dad who’s suppose to be with me blames me and takes her side every time something happens advice please

    • profile image

      Stressed mama 

      5 months ago

      Thank you for helping me understand my own situation. It's difficult when the MIL exerts such influence , especially when she comes and visits for an extended time. She has no respect for me and will insult me without shame, looking always for a way to hurt my marriage. And yet I must put up with her every single time.

    • profile image

      Tara 

      5 months ago

      My bf mom has given me silent treatment for days now and course he blames me never changes on that one but I’ve even tried bribing and offer to get her a pack and still didn’t work want even answer questions about my son and she babysits him even makes faces at me what do I do I live with them so even harder I tried ignoring her hard though when I ask stuff about him to her even said today hey can’t we move past this but no answer

    • profile image

      Tara 

      5 months ago

      What if every time my bf mother argues he takes her side on it and always blames me and have gotten the silent treatment for 3 days probably will again tomorrow wouldn’t even answer questions about my son

    • profile image

      Ahmet Hakan 

      5 months ago

      Lana, Lana, Lana.... What a wisdom you have? İ used to see a nightmare since my childhood. A thief is torturing ne and nobody can see it. After getting divorced i started to see at least once in a week, there is a thief at the house, i wake up bu screaming.

      But you see what i could not see for years... Now i know what tortured my soul. You can see the thief who stole, my life, my family, everything which belongs to me. Thanks God there is someone who has such a wisdom...But unfortunately it is my own mom.

      İ am telling you guys, this can also ve your own mom, she can ve a perfect psychopath or sociopath...

    • profile image

      Otomita 

      6 months ago

      Yes Please and thanks again for your amazing articles!!

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      6 months ago from California

      Otomita,

      I can delete it if you want. Go ahead and post it where you want it.

      Cheers!

    • profile image

      Otomita 

      6 months ago

      Sorry that comment was supposed to go in a different article how do I delete a comment? I can't find how

      Thanks

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      7 months ago from California

      Hi angel,

      I'm not sure how to answer this question not knowing any specifics. But generally speaking, I don't think there's anything to do here. It wasn't meant to be heard by you. People talk a lot of crap behind other people's backs, especially when there is a conflict of some sort. Unless it's something serious or deeply offensive, I suggest you shrug it off. Good luck!

    • profile image

      angel 

      7 months ago

      what should I do when I have heard my mother in law calling me to my sister in law?

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      7 months ago from California

      Psychicmama,

      WOW she's using some heavy artillery here. Sounds like the case of malignant narcissism!

      I thought your husband's message to his parents was very well put and respectful. It would have worked with normal people. But the thing about toxic people is: they'll never see or admit their fault. It's almost unthinkable for them to be in that position (read: not in control). So of course she threw a whole bunch of emotional grenades at him.

      Still, I commend you guys for standing up to your in-laws. I understand your issue, and you're absolutely right: none of that stuff should happen in front of children. You have an issue - you take me aside and talk to me. Leave the kids out of this.

      She can play the victim all she wants but in the end, you had to establish a boundary for the sake of your kids, and for your own sake. Good job!

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      7 months ago from California

      Pam,

      So sorry you have to go through this, so close to your wedding. I know a lot of people experience stress before their wedding, but this is another level.

      You know, I didn't want my MIL to come to our wedding, but she was invited, of course, and she came. First she wanted to control it and didn't rest until she re-sitted everyone. Then she just sat there with a sour face the whole time, like she was at a funeral. It hurt me at the time but now I see that it's just her. She couldn't put her feelings aside for one day and just be happy for her son. So it's ok.

      Your mom, I suspect, won't be able to step outside of herself either. That's ok. Let her be. Invite her and leave it up to her whether she'll come or not. But most importantly, take control of your wedding. Nothing can ruin it. Nothing. Things can go wrong, people might be acting crazy, but they won't ruin it. It's the day you marry the love of your life.

      So deep breath. Exhale. Get excited about your future with this man! And don't let your mom ruin one more moment of your life. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Pam 

      7 months ago

      My soon to be husband sent me this!! 3 months out from our wedding and my mam has kicked us out of her house and mad us homeless because we wouldn't bow down and let her control our lives!! She has used every one of these tactics and made our life a living he'll for the last 10 months!! We only moved back in to save for a mortgage which was all her plan!! I don't even want to go ahead with the wedding now as it's been ruined by her she has not let us enjoy one minute of the build up and I don't want her there!! But then she will spin that around on us too!! I'm lost as to where we go from here but my relationship with her is done!!

    • profile image

      Psychicmama 

      7 months ago

      Thank you so much for this article. I've been dealing with back handed remarks, manipulating, crockidile tears, disrespect in front of Our Kids from Mil and Fil. Tonight...after 16 years My Husband messaged His Mom telling Her this IS NOT OK and whatever their opinion of His Wife was to be kept to Themselves or directly brought to Us the Parents. Not in front of the Kids. He added please do not call as I'm too upset and We will talk later adding He loved them very much but was really upset. She left 9 voicemails in the span of an hour. Then messages Him...

      That all that was said was out of concern for Me, the Wife and how He says that stuff to everyone and adds this is hurting My heart, I carried you 9 months, what if Either of Us died tonight...do you want that on your conciousness? Nothing about My feelings, just made it all about Her...ugh...

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      7 months ago from California

      Oh my god, she is going to absolute extremes! She is a very sick individual. I understand your decision to move away, but it's no guarantee that she will then leave you alone. I think this is harassment and you need a court-ordered restraining order to stop that behavior.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      7 months ago from California

      Fiona,

      this is an incredible feat to break free of a toxic person. I can tell it wasn't easy, and you're still dealing with the judgment, but you did the right thing. I don't even have to say it because you *know* it.

      Yes, most people only see the facade, and some even volunteer to be the "flying monkeys," but like you said, there's still a lot of good people out there who will love and appreciate you for the wonderful person you are. And I applaud you for having the courage to start over and protect yourself and your kids.

      Wishing you all the best!

    • profile image

      Lenyse 

      7 months ago

      My mother-in law is so toxic and manipulative. None of her children want anything to do with her. My husband and I have decided that we don’t want her in our lives or our children’s lives. So she decided to start her smear campaign. She even went as far as calling cps on us and accusing us of abuse.( which nothing came out of those claims) But now she is still accusing us of abuse and keeps posting it on Facebook , telling people that our children are gonna end up dead in our care. We are moving away from town because she is trying everything to have our children taken from us and labeling us as unfit parents when that isn’t true.

    • profile image

      Fiona 

      7 months ago

      Lana this article is so spot-on and reads like an account of my 15 terrible years, which led to the breakdown of trust, stability, marriage, reputation and health. Its taken 6 years to get over it, and thanks to your article it helps me to see that I did everything I could. Glad to say I did that shift away from caring what she thought or did, once I could see she thrived on hurting me and kids. My friends and family knew me better, even if the husband couldn't break free of her hold - he never cared what harm she was doing. I took steps to protect myself and kids, follow our own priorities to be free of abuse, and set up an independent life. It took 10 exhausting years of trying everything, with professional help, to be convinced it was the only choice apart from offering up the kids as victims. What's a shame is so many in Christian community see the facade only, and will probably always judge me for walking away from a family that is not what it seems. But at least my kids have grown up away from narcissistic abuse and have not been damaged. Good people surround as and the blessings keep coming in all our lives. We are much wiser on who we choose to be around, and thankfully there's many wonderful people out there!

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      7 months ago from California

      Griff,

      I love what you wrote. It's like that quote, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." It's true that ignoring or "gray rocking" them is probably the best tactic. Thanks for sharing your advice!

    • profile image

      Griff 

      7 months ago

      You can have fun with people who are like this. Simply ignore mist of what they do, and pay little attention to what they say beyond nodding in acknowledgement and even laugh or smile at their attempts to make you feel bad or somehow undermine you. You are dealing with a deeply list and unhappy person, it's that simple. They are not, nor never will be, worth what you are. They know this, and it eats away at them from the inside, slowly.

    • profile image

      Smg 

      9 months ago

      What do you do if the toxic parents in law manage to influence their son against you? It happened to me and it lead to divorce .

      Unfortunately my mother made it worse being toxic herself and today she was will sideline my importance over my brother’s. My own mother is worse because she calls to speak ill of her daughter in law for hours and then asks what she should do or say. Then stupidly I tell her not to do anything because she screamt so much at my ex towards the end of my marriage. That’s separate it was never great to begin with, it was an arrangement of a marriage. I was always studying and it’s taboo to find and date your own guy , even if I did I would be far more worse off . I am now a single mom with custody battles because of toxic shit holes on both sides of the coin. All this crap happened four years ago around my pregnancy.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      9 months ago from California

      Elyse,

      Thank you for the comment. That is some solid advice! I'm so glad and encouraged because this is exactly what I've been thinking since her last silent treatment. I decided I'm gonna stop paying attention to what she says or does. I'm decided that it's not important to me anymore. I've decided that I'm not gonna be bothered. I'm also not gonna discuss her with my husband or anyone else ad nauseum.

      Grandma doesn't think the baby is dressed properly? Fine with me, have nothing to say about that. She says the baby is too skinny and needs more calories? No comment. She has thoughts on when we should pierce my daughter's ears. What? I didn't hear anything.

      I think she's noticing and now trying to get my attention. But I'm just a gray rock. No eye contact, no sharing, no reaction. Sadly, this is the only way to have a semblance of a relationship with her.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

    • profile image

      Elyse 

      9 months ago

      Thank you for sharing - knowledge and awareness is the first step and self preservation is the next. MIL’s really are a piece of work and as DIL’s we need to learn how to work that piece with sophistication. It’s like having a hideous picture hung on the wall that your partner likes that you cannot take down. Stonewalling works well and focusing on how amazing your life is sans MIL may work to keep you occupied and happily focused on your life. Your MIL will notice and may try to compete to feel more influential but you take NO notice and she is right back where she started even if it doesn’t seem like it to you at the time. Feeling small and inconsequential is her driving force in trying to make you feel the same. Misery loves company and if she can make you feel bad - she won. If you don’t care what she says - you won. Keep going and keep living your life for you and your kids and forget about the small people because YOU and YOUR life are amazing!

    • profile image

      Elise S 

      9 months ago

      Thank you for your articles, they have helped me understand what I got myself into and I got help for that reason.

    • profile image

      MD 

      9 months ago

      Very well done article. It was practically verbatim of my experience with my mother in law.

      Like my husband, many consider their parents behavior normal until they marry. Looking at your parents from others people perspective can be eye opening.

      I was unwilling to participate in the dysfunction that feels normal to my husband. His mother who has always controlled him via an onslaught of guilt, manipulations and also expects to control me, and when this fails to happen, it often results in smear campaigns, silent treatment, gaslighting, and petty complaints designed to force me into abidance or get rid of me entirely via brainwashing my husband to divorce me.

      She appear to have a total lack of the ability to look inward at why her family are being driven away at such an alarming rate. Her only brother can't stand her and when we got married her bother told me to take my husband and run a far away from her. She always cast the blame outward. She rotate out her close friends, family and boyfriends every few years, when they become inconvenient, and make herself out to be the victim of everyone else's malicious intent. All the while, avoiding taking any responsibility for her own choices and actions. Of course, she keep a steady supply of superficial "friends" and socialites on hand to entertain her and make her feel “liked” and "loved". It is the ultimate form of self-deception

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      9 months ago from California

      Thank you Larry. Ah yes, it is an art, isn't it?

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      9 months ago from Oklahoma

      Nothing more psychologically devastating than spending time with someone adept at the art of passive aggression.

      That much I can identify with.

      Always enjoyable.

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