Lana is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor who helps women to regain their power after experiencing toxic relationships.
When I wrote "14 Signs You Have a Toxic Mother-In-Law," I was happily married to the man I could see spending the rest of my life with. But our domestic bliss was tainted by his mother's disapproval of me, and her constant passive-aggressive attacks. Her negativity was seeping through every aspect of my life, and there was no escape from it. Sometimes I even wondered if it was all worth it.
Five years later I reflect on how the relationship with my MIL changed.
The Toxic MIL Epidemic
But first, let me tell you about the "14 Signs" article and the response it received.
Since its publication hundreds of women (and even men) shared their stories with me. Many were just relieved to find out that they're not alone. Others needed some advice.
I wasn't sure what to tell them. For me, the best attitude was accepting the status quo without ever expecting it to change. This is the path of least resistance, the one I took because it offered some peace of mind. "Take your situation philosophically, treat it with humor and find comfort in the fact that other people love and accept you" was my mantra to those with a toxic MIL problem.
As I wrote before, "she will never accept you, and you can never have a relationship with her."
The Glimmer of Hope
I do not recall having had any hope up until the day my daughter was born. Suddenly there seemed to be a new beginning, inspired by the new life that entered the world. Everything seemed small and petty compared to this terrifying, overwhelming, exhausting love you feel as a mother. So we were both mothers now. It leveled a playing field (somewhat) and gave my mother-in-law a new perspective on me.
She started treating me better. She'd said things she never told me before, like that I'm beautiful or that her son made a good choice by marrying me. We still disagreed on a lot of things, but we also made an effort to find common ground and to be respectful. The baby became the balancing force, something that kept both sides grounded and more focused on maintaining a positive environment. We had a common goal now: a nurturing loving family for the little one.
All of a sudden there was that light at the end of the tunnel. So I thought: finally!
But it's always one step forward, two steps back with her. All it takes is one fight to turn our fragile temple of peace back into shambles. She's still the same person. She still makes choices that are selfish and unreasonable. She's still demanding and overbearing. She still conjures up drama where there is none. She still injects her opinion into everything.
Parenting became another point of contention between my MIL and me, which was one of my biggest fears about having a baby. Being the arrogant know-it-all, my MIL is often critical of my parenting choices, just like she was critical of everything else. She gives out unsolicited advice like candy and practices new "divide and conquer" tactics.
So is there improvement? There is a slight improvement in the level of honesty between us, and a basic recognition of each other's strong sides. But in another way, it's become more difficult because I find myself being way more emotional when my child is involved. It doesn't take much for me to perceive her as mistreating my daughter, and that is something I find impossible to tolerate.
However, I still hope that we can be more honest with each other instead of shutting down, and that the communication will be there, even if understanding and acceptance won't.
Let's Get One Thing Straight
To reiterate, having a child is not a fix to a family conflict. Not at all! The only thing that made any difference for me is being more upfront with my mother-in-law.
At some point I gave up on trying to impress her or earn her affection. I've accepted that this was never going to happen. So I started being more honest. Say how I feel. (Politely) call her out on her bullshit. Respond to her passive-aggressive manipulative ways with direct communication. I thought: she already hates me, what do I have to lose?
I found that being more honest with my mother-in-law empowers me. If I've managed to let her know how I feel, that something she does bothers me (as calmly as possible), that's a victory to me, because in my family (and in many families) the status quo is sweeping things under the rug and moving on.
And that's the key: I don't measure our progress by how "nice" we are to each other; I measure it by how honest I can be with her.
Another thing is: boundaries. It's so important to have boundaries with a domineering MIL, otherwise she will take over! Say "no" when she goes too far, and make sure to be direct. Vague doesn't work!
Hope Springs Eternal
Keep Calm and Speak Up
The worst part about toxic MILs is that they make us question our self-worth. And we are often alone in that feeling, wondering why we aren't good enough.
Don't do that. Stand up to her. Because she will walk all over you if you don't.
I know that in some cultures you're not supposed to speak up or disagree with the elders. I come from a similar culture, and it's a struggle for me, too.
But you have to do it. You have to find a way to speak up in a respectful but firm manner. You have to find a way to be true to yourself - more or less - otherwise a relationship is impossible and you will always feel bullied by your MIL.
And I want to reaffirm that you're not crazy, you're not overreacting. You're not wrong for feeling the way you do. So have faith in yourself, and in your marriage. The relationship with your husband's mother might change for the better, or it might not. She will grow to appreciate you some day, or she will despise you even more.
But in the end, this is not about how she feels about you. It's about how you feel about you. Cultivate peace of mind, integrity and strength of character. It'll help you face any critic that comes your way.
Recommended For You
- 7 Spiritual Lessons From Your Mother-in-Law
Some relationships bring out the best in you. Others test you, drain you and push your "buttons." Ironically, the latter ones are more transformational, but only in the light of self-awareness.
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: How should I deal with my mother-in-law that totally ignores me and when speaking about anything of ours? She uses the singular by referring to my husband only. We have been married for thirty-eight years.
Answer: Perhaps you can laugh? If it's been thirty-eight years and she's still doing this petty passive-aggressive stuff, she's just ridiculous!
Question: How should I approach my mother-in-law who has been texting my husband regarding her dislike for me?
Answer: If his mother is talking badly about you to him, he should be shutting it down. That's unacceptable. I get that she's trying to triangulate and involve him instead of communicating to you directly but he, as your husband, should let her know that he won't tolerate her disrespecting you. That would address the situation on his end. And on your end, maybe just let her know that you know about the texts, and that you're disappointed in her. Couldn't she talk to you directly about whatever bothers her instead of complaining to your husband behind your back?
Question: What should I do if my mother-in-law is racist towards me and I'm worried she'll be racist towards our children? Her racism is her biggest reason for disliking me.
Answer: Have you tried talking to her about it? If you explain that certain comments are offensive to you, she might become more aware of how she comes off.
© 2017 Lana Adler
Lana Adler (author) from California on August 22, 2020:
no need to justify yourself. You didn't do anything wrong! It's perfectly fine to want to spend time one on one with a child, even if you have other kids, and even if they're all your biological kids! Don't let her make you feel anything less than an amazing mother.
Mama M on August 16, 2020:
My mother in law spent the first year of my relationship with her son bashing his ex and talking about what a shitty mother she was, then pushing and trying to force me to completely take over the mother role.. I loved his daughter like my own anyways and always treated her well but I knew I wasn’t her mother and wasn’t going to overstep. She then would tell his ex when she could drop off my step daughter interfering in every date or plan we had and when called out on it literally showed up to our house screamed in my face and left. Fast forward to having my daughter, she never came to see our baby unless we had my step daughter then when we moved to be closer to my fiancé’s work for him to be home every night, she started just about once/twice every year to send me nasty messages about how I didn’t treat her granddaughter right.. how I acted different after having my own kids. This all started after I took my daughter to see Santa the random day we decided to go Christmas shopping in the city. She was mad it was just the baby like I intentionally planned it that way. It was a Tuesday and my fiancé had a random day off.. his oldest was in school full time
Bree813 on July 18, 2020:
My husband and I have been married almost 32 years. We have 3 sons. My mother in law has lived with us on and off over this time... Totalling about 25 years of her living with us.
Everything I do is wrong. She sighs constantly
I can't say anything without her getting upset. Even when we were talking about her gallbladder having ruptured here at the house she said I'd be dead if that happened. I said they said you would have been dead had I not taken you to the hospital. They told me what happened to your gallbladder before any surgery because they had to bring in more surgeons. She suddenly yells out WELL I WOULD OF BEEN DEAD,. WOULD OF BEEN DEAD,.
I said if I had not taken you yes you would.
I just looked at my husband in shock. She got up and stormed into her room. This is the kind of stuff I deal with all the time. And I am tired of being told I talk mean to her.
God in Heaven help me... I can not take this anymore.. 25 years of her!!!
Wish I never took her to the hospital now.... I really mean that.
I'm bout to give up. And I don't care where I wind up as long as she's not there.
I don't care if it is on the streets or wherever
I give up
Donna Hatfield on April 20, 2020:
My Husband and i been together 31 years My mother in law has hated me since day . She has lied and threatened and even blackmailed me and her son this woman pushed me, said shed kill herself if we marry, pulled a gun on me, put me in the streets tried to set me up for Elderly Abuse, she messes with my food so much that i know have eating disorders. She has to be in control of everything how and when i do laundry take showers eat who i can be friends with even what time i go to sleep. She mumbles under her breath everytime i come into the room, if looks could kill I wouldnt be typing this. My husband does not see his mother manipulating or any of the abuse shes given me he used to stick up for me but now he just tries to ignore both of us We cant have a civil conversation especially if his mother is brought up.Shes constantly trying to get him to make a choice between her or me well now she uses the fact that we live with her and holds it over hersons head if he dont do what she wants she throws us out.Ive turned the other cheek ignored her tried to compromise, i lay low try not to be seen or heard the 31 years of this womans mission to get me away from her son have been nothing less than hell for me My mental state has been compromised along with my health, but what really kills me is How she treats her son so badly but is really fake as fuck when she says thats my boy i love him im his mother i will protect him blah blah blah, It is so discusting. My marraige is so strained I have resentment and complete loss of words to see my husband take her abuse and its ok to him cause thats his mom he says, I am devastated that he cant and wont see this woman for what she really is and have compassion and empathy towards me for what she does, he makes me feel like its ok with him thats she acts so badly he thinks i want him to be mean to her but I do not I just dont understand how he can be so loyal and loving to her never making her answer for her actions. I dont know I could go on forever my life should be a mini series a horror story to say the least .
Gabby on February 19, 2020:
I've been dealing with a toxic mother-in-law for going on 6 years now. It didn't get easier for me when my daughter was born either. She has always hated me. I won't say all of her past on here, she came from a broken family, abuse mentally and physically. So she has PTSD or bi polar stage 2 or 3. She uses Facebook, to justify herself and post mean hurtful things about myself, my daughter, and my fiance, (her son). My fiance and mother-in-law have never had a stable relationship, they are always fake to be around eachother and that's what i was doing the first few years of my daughters life, so everyone can be happy. fast forward years later, not one slight change. She posts about how shes kept from my daughter on social media, i think it's to get a reaction from us, because she will never reach out on her own. (pride) I feel like im jumping from everything, but this can be very draining on me. While i was pregnant, i got diagnosed with "preeclampsia" because of all her posts that she would say about my unborn child and myself. I had an emergency c-section because i let her get to me. Till this day i feel so awful, words cant describe what i feel because my daughter didn't deserve to feel that way. We've tried several times to have a relationship, but when i cancel plans or try to just mentally reset from her she starts with her threats for court, to see our child. Its ridiculous. Today, i've become stronger, learned how to just brush it off... but im marrying into this, it will never end. what am i supposed to do? I love my fiance, but she always tries to break us up. He hasn't said anything to her face, (last texted in December 2019).. if he doesn't have a stable relationship with her own mother, should my daughter? shes just so toxic and draining to be around. everyone feels so uncomfortable, like their walking on eggshells. I feel like i cannot talk to anyone because no one can relate.
GG on January 23, 2020:
Thank you for the article - as everyone has stated: it's nice not to feel alone in this conflict. I'm wondering about an online forum or community to connect with and support one another - does this exist? Thank you!
Frustrated Husband on January 13, 2020:
I have been married for nearly 18 years and have watched my wife and her mom get into the nastiest battles on a loop that repeats every few months. There have been times where I truly thought they were permanently done speaking. Then they start to talk again and it goes way the other direction where nothing is ever enough for them and it feel like the MIL gets worked into too many aspects of our life. It's been so hard for me to look at my MIL from a neutral point of view. After seeing so much I have formed opinions and drawn conclusions like I think any reasonable person would, and I just try to stay kind of distant and minimize interaction. But I do not like or trust my MIL due to these experiences. It's hard and it causes a lot of resentment and trouble between my wife and I. I think there's a real risk that our marriage is going to fail. It's truly difficult and I don't really think there is much I can do. I'm doing things like thinking about how long it will be until my kids are adults or how long it will be until my MIL is too old that maybe this won't be a problem. It's not a good way to live.
Lisa Blackwelder on October 18, 2019:
Thank you sooo much, I’m not ALONE!!!
Kayla on August 04, 2019:
Thank you for writing this article as I don't feel so alone now in my situation. My mother-in-law was toxic and hated me even before my husband and I got together. We met online and while we skyped she would come in and make snarky comments. When we got engaged and he moved out to be with me she did her best to try to ensure that wouldn't happen.When I first met her in person she did nothing but talk about my husband's previous girlfriends and how great they were. Worse yet, she started making visits to our apartment unannounced and walked into our apartment without informing us she was even coming. Luckily I bolted into the other room but I was convinced someone was breaking in. She has berated my husband in front of me, told both of us we shouldn't have children, and called me fat. Sadly she got away with most of this because I was raised in a family where I always had to act polite and kill people with kindness. But that changed once I became a mother. Like your situation she started acting kind for a while so I thought maybe I wouldn't have to deal with her constant insults. However,I soon realized this was not the case. She soon started saying things about my parenting. I was feeding my son too much when he was a baby. I didn't let him fall enough when he was learning how to walk. He would have bowed legs because I encouraged him to walk early and lo and behold he started walking at around 10 months no problems. Our apartment was too dark and there wasn't enough sunlight. Our apartment was filthy because we had a garbage can that we put diapers in. We didn't take the garbage out every single day (as if we're just supposed to waste trash bags and take the garbage out daily for no reason when our trash isn't full. Some people don't have four kids and enough garbage to fill a trash can every single day like she did). When I started brushing my son's teeth when he got his first tooth she said SHE never did that with her kids until they were about three, as if that were something to brag about. Then she commented on how I was going to ruin my son's teeth because I occasionally gave him watered down cranberry juice with no added sugars.Not related to parenting she tried to enter our apartment yet again and then complained that I wasn't opening the door when she dropped by yet again uninvited. Thankfully now that I'm a mother I always keep the door locked when inside so there was a nerve wracking moment of me sitting quiet with my son while the door handle turned back and forth. I finally figured out it was her but as I had not invited her I was not about to reward her bad behavior. Finally things came to a boiling point when religion got involved. I'm not one to push my beliefs on others but when she started saying lies about another group of people based on their beliefs I politely corrected her because not all people in said group believe one thing or are immoral as she would like to believe and in any case it was none of her business. Now her interpretation of what I was saying was that I must be a part of said group which I am not. I do not share the same religion as her but I also do not tolerate malicious comments that have no other purpose than to perpetuate hatred. So because I said something I was immediately texted about two weeks later by her telling me that I had to worship her god. I had to believe that her god existed. I was flabbergasted. I don't know why I was because it wasn't unlike her but I just wasn't expecting such an inappropriate response. Anyways, I politely told her I did not believed what she believed and I listed off the reasons. I was then met with a barrage of questions which were all disrespectful but I answered them politely yet again. When she saw that she could no longer debate with me because I answered her questions in a manner that made sense she then threatened me saying that she could call CPS on me for something that never happened. I'm pregnant and this happened while I was pregnant so I snapped. After years of abuse from her now she was saying she was going to try to get my child taken away for something that never happened. I usually handle matters tactfully but this time I cursed her out and told her she would not hear from me ever again. She mocked me and just kept saying more lies like she'd call cps because she saw diapers and food all over my floor (which didn't make sense to me because I'd never had diapers or food on my floor and she knew that. The only conclusion I came to was that she was trying to scare me). I finally told her to stop texting because it was now harassment. She backed off because she knew that legally she could get in trouble. But the next day she went to my husband and tried to convince him that I was a lesbian and that I had multiple personalities and that our son was demon possessed. She said she didn't know why I wanted my son to go to a certain school even though I'd never even talked about what school I wanted him to go to, as he's one. The school isn't even a bad one it's just the school that has the most black kids in it and no surprise there because she's made comments about how black people are ruining the park she goes to too, so there's an added on bonus to her personality that she's incredibly racist. She also texted my husband telling him I should go back to the state I was from and take my son with me, as if my child weren't my husband's as well and I was pregnant with his second child. Unfortunately because of unforeseen circumstances we had to see her again which meant that she thought she'd gotten away with things. No more than two weeks later she was talking to my husband on his birthday and started berating me over the phone. My husband who had, had his speaker on did his best to stop her and I did my best to stay quiet up until she started telling lies and saying that I'd attacked her because she'd responded to something I said which I never said. At which point I told her that I had the texts if she really wanted to get into it and then she switched the subject because she knew she'ed been caught. But then once again she started mocking me and said the problem was I believed something that she didn't. And I told her no, the problem was she couldn't keep her nose in her own business, she couldn't stop talking about me behind my back, she threatened to call cps for something that didn't happen, and maybe she should actually be a grandmother instead of telling my husband that I should go back to another state with our children. I eventually left the room and she told my husband "Well, I never called CPS." which I found an odd way to respond since I had just called her out for threatening to call cps for something that never happened. So at this point she's not just delusional, she knows that the stuff she claimed never happened and she's just trying to be manipulative. Anyways, things have gotten better since I've been ignoring her. She still sent a message to my husband saying she won't take being threatened because I told her because she was toxic she would not be seeing her grandchildren since she didn't care about them one bit. But little does she know that's not a threat that's a decision that's been made and has gone into effect. Since that message she sent a text masquerading as an apology while simultaneously putting the blame on her past and me for the way she was acting which she has done a total of about three times, the first when she realized that we weren't showing up for a holiday, the second when she realized her son wasn't showing up for mother's day (as if she thought I'd told him he couldn't see her anymore), and the last as I just mentioned when she realized that she's not going to be able to see her grandchildren anymore. And she never really apologizes, she says she's sorry and then makes excuses and blames stuff on me which is not doing her any favors. My husband still keeps contact with her with annoys me because she's trying to break us up and is threatening us but he's just convinced she's off her rocker. Anyways, it's nice to know I'm not the only person struggling with a nasty witch of a mother-in-law.
Sara on May 19, 2019:
Thank you for this space and for your articles. I continuously reread your writing for relief and support. I am not even married yet and my MIL has made my life a living hell. I am convinced that she has borderline personality disorder and many other psychological issues. She abused my fiancé and his siblings though emotional incest growing up. My fiancé is almost 30 years old and my MIL kisses him on the lips in front of me, sleeps in the same bed as her 27 year old son and 24 year old daughter, has control over every move they make [ for example, she has each of her children on FindMyFriends so she knows where they are at all times, made it acceptable for her kids to bring their sleeping parents home so she knows who her kids are having sex with, receives bank alerts on her phone so she knows what her kids are buying and when, cut all sources of other family members off so that she is the only person they can turn to for help, disowned her eldest daughter because she did not share similar beliefs as her, and was probably the cause of her husbands random heartattack because she is so unhealthy]. Point is, she wants control over me, and I don’t give myself to her. She wants me to let her into my life so that she can control me and I will not let that woman have me. She is filthy rich and maintains her control through money, she threw my fiancé and I an extravagant engagement party for praise and control but I saw right through her. Just recently, after 1 1/2 years, my fiancé started defending me and recognizes that she is the problem not me. We are planning on getting married next year but the thought of wedding planning terrifies me because of how controlling my MIL is. She is making it a point to pay for the wedding to maintain her control and my fiancé is allowing her to. She has good taste but I am the bride, it is my wedding, not hers. My mom is an angel sent from above and has been my rock through this all, and I want to plan my wedding with my mom, not my MIL. What do I do? How do I approach the process?
Lana Adler (author) from California on April 27, 2019:
Hi Meera! You are indeed not alone Many women, it seems, have been afflicted by toxic mothers-in-law. I'd like to think that my articles provide a safe space for sharing and connecting with other women in a similar situation...I am not aware of a specific forum or a community. But with time I will try my best to create it. Hang in there!
Meera28 on April 25, 2019:
I am so glad to have read your article and the many responses! I am not alone or crazy! i have tried many online support groups and have yet to find a community or group who suffered from a monster in law like myself. is there a forum ? how do i sign up?
Lana Adler (author) from California on April 09, 2019:
that's an interesting question :) No one has asked me that before. The answer is: I don't know. She certainly never mentioned anything to me. But I've tried to be discreet and not share it on social media where a lot of my family members can see it (I also use a pen name to protect everyone's privacy).
I did once, with the very first article, and some people got mad at me for "airing dirty laundry" in public and "attacking" my MIL. I took down the social media link, but not the article. And I will defend to the death my right to write about it, because that's what writers do - they write about the raw, painful stuff in their lives. And even if you don't consider yourself a writer, it's still your right to share your truth with the world. No one can take it away from you! Besides, after I started writing about it, I received so many responses from women in similar situations. And it made me realize that there's value in sharing it. My goal is for women who have this type of MIL to feel less alone, helpless or defeated. To remind them that the power is in their hands, always. So I don't care if someone doesn't like it.
Of course, it's different when it's your own kids. All I can say is...give it time. They will see her for who she is eventually. Good luck!
Debra Roberts from Ohio on April 03, 2019:
May I ask...has your MIL read your articles? I have all these issues with my mother and when I blogged about this dysfunction here and on my personal site, it made things worse..not just for me, but my kids are furious for "telling the raw truth about our family dysfunction to the world" and they protect and defend her like no tomorrow. It's maddening they can't see through her fakeness to the devil she truly is. Now that I have stood up to her and for myself, I'm the bad person. I'm just curious how your MIL reacted to reading your raw truth and feelings about her?
Lorna on March 18, 2019:
Thank you for this article! I think the idea that I need to accept the status quo and accept that things will never change is true for me as well, and I have started to realize that, but I haven't completely embraced it yet. I still feel like a seething ball of resentment most of the time, and I feel powerless to change anything.
My MIL is very passive aggressive, sullen and miserable around me all of the time. At family dinners, she always complains about the food.. this is too salty, she can't eat this or that, or she'll tell my husband, in front of me, that a dish I made was "too much" and I should only have made half of the recipe. She constantly criticizes the food I give my daughter.. not speaking to me directly, but telling my daughter that she shouldn't eat the food, or a snack is too salty and (literally) tells her to take a sip of water after every bite. She always wants to leave early, sometimes before my daughter and I are finished eating (my husband then drives her home.. she can drive everywhere in the city EXCEPT our house which is very easy to get to from her house, so my husband will pick her up and drop her off every time). When she didn't live near us in the past and would come and stay for a visit she would avoid me during the day when my husband wasn't around, and would barely say two words to me. Some mornings she would get up and go directly outside without even saying so much as "good morning". Most of the time, she would sit in her room with the door closed, or in the living room reading the paper.
The worst part though, is that my husband invites her on EVERY SINGLE vacation or weekend trip we go on. Wherever we go, she acts like she is unhappy the whole time, and I feel like I am constantly being judged.
I have tried to talk to my husband about how she makes me feel and he says that I'm "crazy" and that's just how she is. He tries to make me feel ungrateful or like I'm a bad persons for feeling that way. I think half the problem with my MIL is that my husband doesn't understand or support me at all. It really bothers me that she comes with us everywhere but when he books vacations, he just books a ticket for her as well, and it's not even a question whether she is coming or not. I'm afraid to even say anything anymore, because he is so sensitive about it that I know it would just turn into a fight.. and she would still come with us. Part of my "MIL" issue it is that I have to accept that my husband will never change.. and I think that's even harder.
I'm facing another "vacation" with her next week. I'm going to try to make the best of it.... but it sure is difficult sometimes!
Adele on March 17, 2019:
Ive had 3 serious relationship between the three mother in laws ive had all them abuse my kindness but yrs of abuse i see clear pure jelousy because there sons fall head over heals and so did i my current bf hes the baby boy family plus he has a illness blood clots factor 5 and i cream his legs and look after him he was her goat sheep getting him to ride everywhere shops the lot and my bf and i both have bad health we look after each other i had a liver transplant gentic from my mother who treats me so poorly she has had transplant she hates me and ive done nothing she beat from toung age leaving real scars her and my dad and every a family event including family heart breaking funreals my baby brothers wedding quess why cuz steel the lime ligth so ive been a people pleaser im fully aware shes a narrcissit and codpendcy people pleasing still ive relised the pattern my mother in law never visits only when she wants her hair make up a dress a bag yes the lot and we hit a low time money short she never helped but when she cries to us about same thing she gets 100 if bf i tell him she kerps doing im skint got nothing in cuboards an so on everytime she plays on him thinking im not ob her and when im left with her she starts telli g me get him to shave that horrid beard my bf keeps telling her my girl loves the beard she makez it clear its scruffy she likes clean shaved i left a botyle of pufume in hers after minding her home i tell john to get it she then says to my face ive kept that bottle pufume in front of my bf i ran out mine got none thougth u woyldnt mind my bf and i was figthing over this then she invites us for a cupper tea sandwich and yes i end up with me doing her hair make up only time shes on phone is for her needs he also has a sister who lives next door to his mother and his sister is so nasty rude full of dirty looks all 9ve ever done is be nice buy them amazing gifts they never txt after opening them a thanks id bougth them gifts my self cost a lot and a lot of time effort i have had her go to my childhood friends and ask if i was on drugs im not being big head whats so ever hear but men have always sed how amazing my curves are and how stunning i am that my natraul beauty migth be reason cuz these women who have problem migth just want to look like u that ots there insecurities i nod my head its only now ive had a spiritual awaking i see clear now its fun playing them at there own game gives me a good old sence of relief love your self be kind to one another id like to tell anyone whos intreazed in my past well recently experience id like to fill your souls with posstive answers as my child hood and adult hood has faced every abuse known i got a secound chance to live by a gift of life by a angel who wirh out her donating her organs i survived a livertransplant my mother has had one i got her illness i had few days left to live i got the call on my daugthers birthday and it was while i was having her few mths into my pregnancy i got told me her migth not survive i love hard but im not soft ive hit rock bottom few times but bounce bk im proud of me and my loving soul god is what got me threw hard times it started with a prayer from young age i rebelled do u blane me was on streets 15 because i had enough i ran away got with a 27 yr old man who beat me done extreme things his mother in law werid then went in womens refuge with two babys 24 i was then met a man who i was with for 10 yrs i payed for a hoilday the lot for his mother sister to be attacked in the end it broke us up over bearing they would sot from 9am till 12 am while i was on transplant everyother day saying a stole there brother and son few days sfter being home from my major teansplant she gor on phone sed she got her son tp stop all benfits and not to pick his daughter up from school i had to walk with tubes and staples and a bsg that was stiched in my wound i toom hours to get school then her son returned to me his sis and mum got on phone i was 6 stone yellow to be told your so jealous of us i sed nope im not just cuz ive had enougth of uses and me and ur son bro fell out over uses id say to him its cuz of the pair of uses dont make me jealous by the way when im well my looks come bk my butt and my curvez id say uses loved seeing me look like death but i finshed him in the end over them now i hace this mother in law same tricks they all was nice to me for my money clothes but left me to face terrible events id like to thank them all as its made me the lady i am today its there own jealous bitter ways they end up all facing karma next time they need me they will feel how lonely hurt wat its lije to feel like no one cares god has plans amen xx
Lana Adler (author) from California on March 04, 2019:
I understand completely where you're coming from and the pain you're talking about. I've experienced it myself and sometimes I wondered whether it was intentional or just thoughtless.
I'll tell you what I learned from the experience...no judgment... I think you have to approach this situation from a more spiritual perspective. Like: what are these emotions teaching you? Why do you feel so hurt when you MIL favors your SIL? Why do you try so hard to get her approval? Where is your original wound? Who in your life made you feel rejected or that you're not good enough? Whose approval, besides your MIL's, are you still trying to get?
As you become more aware of those issues, you won't be affected by your MIL's behavior the same way. This is an opportunity to grow! Use it!I know you can turn this around :)
Jenny on February 28, 2019:
I have been married to my Husband for 10 years things have gotten a little better but I think my mother in law favors my husbands brother. She thinks he can do no wrong. I am always trying to be a good Daughter-in-law. I’m the first to clean up at family events. I call to check in and see how she’s doing but nothing helps. She can be great and I think we are doing good and then all the sudden she just does something so insulting or embarrassing. Like putting on Facebook a happy birthday message to my sister in law “ Happy Birthday to my sweetest daughter “. I feel like any person would know that is rude. The last few months I find myself crying to my husband about how bad she hurts me. He just tells me it’s something we have to deal with but I don’t want to hurt anymore. Any advice?
Lana Adler (author) from California on February 22, 2019:
you've hit the nail on the head when you said: "I want myself to change the way I think and feel about this situation." That's the ONLY way you can affect the situation and take control.
You're on the right path and I'm proud of you :) And when you change your attitude about the situation, you'll find that the situation changes, too. Good luck, you'll be fine! :)
Melissa Santoro on February 19, 2019:
I unfortunately have an extremely toxic MIL. She’s passive aggressive, manipulating, intrusive, nosy, and very gossipy. I’m engaged to be married and my fiancé is her only child. She also has a drinking problem. We had a terrible falling out last year because we decided we didn’t want a wedding. We wanted a small ceremony with no reception and then we go to our honeymoon. That didn’t go well with her because everything is about what she wants. She cursed me out and said very hurtful things. As the respectable adult in the room I didn’t even answer back to the insults. She never apologized to me for anything she said. She’s very rude towards people when she drinks and makes nasty comments towards me. I feel terrible for my fiancé because he sees the damage is mother is doing. He’s extremely hurt because he knows his mom is toxic but doesn’t know what to do or say. I want to stop ruminating about this woman and continue to live my life with my future husband. I don’t want this to consume me anymore. I feel she will never change. I want myself to change the way I think and feel about this situation, i don’t want this woman to ruin my marriage. I’m starting to feel like I have to make a change but within myself to not let this bother me. I want to take this control back and feel better about myself.
Lana Adler (author) from California on February 15, 2019:
I think your situation is far better than many other women who share their stories here because you have the support of your husband. This is invaluable!
I think you haven't done anything wrong, and there's nothing for you to do here but leave this alone and stand behind your words and your husband's. If the MIL wants to pout, let her. If she wants to act like a victim, let her. Focus on your baby, on your immediate family.
If I learned anything from years of dealing with a toxic MIL, it's this: Stop focusing on her. Don't let it get to you, and don't give so much of your energy and attention to her shenanigans. There's always going to be something. In the end, it's not important. SHE is not important. And she's not in control: you are.
Jonita on February 15, 2019:
Thanks for sharing this. My son is only 4 months old and there’s so much I can relate to here. My MIL has been kinder somewhat post-baby...and then sometimes will be ruder than ever (eg she called me “lazy” the morning I gave birth because I had to have an epidural after an induction, while she was able to go all natural). Last week my husband and I had a hard convo with her because of a situation where she gave me unsolicited parenting advice, I responded and thought I had it handled (basically saying that I was simply choosing to follow my doctor’s recommendation instead), but then she called my husband behind my back to basically critique my parenting and to try and put a wedge between us. Neither one of us appreciated it and told her so. She was unapologetic and yelling and my husband asked her to leave our home. I don’t know where things will go from here. I feel like it needs to be his call (we both know she will not apologize or reach out on her own...and we don’t feel we need to apologize for what we said respectfully). Any advice? Is my best bet to just be supportive of him at this stage and not to encourage reconciliation?
Lana Adler (author) from California on February 08, 2019:
I understand your predicament. It's always difficult, especially in the beginning, to prioritize your feelings/desires over what other people expect of you.
Usually I would say: do what you feel is right for you. If you don't want to go, don't go. Don't attend these dinners and avoid the situation altogether.
However, that might make things worse. Right now your MIL said something rude and insensitive to you. If you stop coming to dinners, she might start questioning whether you want to be a part of the family. She might start talking about it to your fiancé, family members etc. What's worse, she might assume that you're an easy target and start treating poorly all the time.
So go to the uncomfortable dinner. If she says something rude again, say: I'm sorry you feel that way. I'm doing everything I can at the moment.
Then change the subject. You have to stand up for yourself in some way. If you back down now, she'll take it as a sign of weakness, and start attacking you even more.
Another thing is: if your MIL is rude to you, your fiancé should let her know it's not OK with him instead of just pressuring you to go to family dinners. He should have your back ALWAYS. I can't stand it when men just step aside and let their mothers behave any way they want to their wives. Be a man, stand up for the woman you love!
End of rant :) Seriously though, don't let her intimidate you. Go with your head high. If she does it again, politely cut her off and change the subject. But first talk to your fiancé to make sure you're on the same page.
Orange on February 08, 2019:
Hi Lana, i stumbled on your site and may i say “thank u” as it made me feel that i am not alone.
I am hoping for your kind advise on my situation.
Basically, i moved to another country for my fiance with whole new language to learn. It’s been 5months now; unfortunately during this period i am suffering from neck-shoulder injury which we are still trying to fix. But this affected my daily life and movement.
For almost a month now, i am forced to stop attending my language group class coz my injury caused me to be uncomfortable in travelling, walking and even sitting in the lesson. Also, the injury hinders me from doing most of tasks and concentration, hence all i could do is meet with physio, excercise at home and try to study at home.
However, last week, during one of the family’s dinner at my fiance’s mom, she was not welcoming to me anymore, she was asking me with accusatory look and tone “so what have you been doing for the past month, were you just sitting at home?” and i told her i signed up for virtual skype private lesson instead and she was like judging that it is not the best way to learn..etc etc. i cudn’t control my emotions anymore and i ran to the toilet and cried, personally i rarely cry in my life but with my disposition now i felt so vulnerable, insulted and misunderstood.
Her actions and words actually start to affect my relationship with my fiance.
As tonight is the weekly dinner, i decided not to attend to keep myself at peace for a while; however, my fiance said it is best to join and talk to his mom; but i felt that there is no point to do this as his sister-in-law herself has suffered from her and caused her to ignore and miss attending dinners too.
I really don’t know what to do, if i acted correctly or am i too sensitive etc, but i feel pressured and insulted by her.... would love to hear your advise on what’s best to feel and do moving forward
Lana Adler (author) from California on February 01, 2019:
I agree with you 100%. It never is completely toxic MIL's fault. It's also the people who enable her. Also, the signs...so true! The signs, the red flags are always there, we just choose to ignore them.
Thank you for sharing! I hope you find love and happiness in relationships, despite the tumultuous history.
Virginia on February 01, 2019:
The problem does not lay with the mother in law. The problem lays with their children who refuse to grow up. I have a toxic MIL who is now 96. She had 3 daughters in law and was on bad terms with all of them. She nearly broke 3 marriages. In hindsight, I am ashamed of myself for the kind of abuse I tolerated both from her and, indirectly, from my husband. I cold not go on holidays with the children and my husband for the first 10 yrs of our marriage because my husband would always spent his holidays with my parents in law; we never had Xmas or Easter at our house because it invariably had to be at MIL's, we never had a week-end to ourselves because my husband and his brothers/siblings would invariably spend all their free time with their parents. I was alone when my first son was born because my husband drove me to the clininc and then drove back home... to sleep. I cannot count the number of times I was on my own in bed with a fever, while my husband run to his mum for a game of cards or some other very important matter that required his immediate presence. Two of those times, it was New Year's Even.....My husband has always maintained that he loved me and I always wanted to believe him. Now, I understand he does not even know what the word means. I was 22 y/o when I married and had no mother myself. I was on my own, a little more than a teenager with a Monster in Law 42 years older than me. But, listen ladies (and gentlemen), the truth is, the Monster in Law could not have been so damaging to my marriage and to my life had my husband not been the incredibly puerile COWARD he is. Fast forward 34 years and my marriage is an empty shell. There's nothing there: I am full of resentment and want to kick myself for hearing all the alarm bells well ahead of the marriage and wanting to fool myself that it was nothing.... Idiot that I was.
PettyLebelle on December 05, 2018:
Am I the jealous one? Am I the real problem here? HELP!
a little back story. i have a 7 yr old son (dad is deceased) and my husband has twin 7 yr old (he dated their mom for 10 yrs but never married). my husband and i "eloped" on 12/16 after only knowing eachother for 6 months. when we first got married / began dating my MIL had her house filled with photos of my husband and the ex. also a 16x20 family photo that includes the ex. which i was okay with because i understand my husband and i spontaneously married and i couldnt expect her to remove or adapt as quickly as we did. i figured with time maybe she on her own would remove them. if she wanted. my husbands ex also remarried about 6 months before we did - 05/2016.
our first christmas together at my MIL's i was a bit hurt that my MIL decorated the christmas tree with photo ornaments of my husband and the ex. i understand the photos that were already up but to do it to the xmas tree after we had already gotten married. i cried a bit but got over it soon.
shortly after i found out my MIL had accompanied the ex and the kids to wedding of the ex's family. again i was still a bit confused but got over it.
around 03/17 my husbands ex had another child from her new marriage. and my MIL was with the ex at the hospital. according to her she was there as emotional support for my husbands daughters. it was very bothered by this and even more bothered that my MIL showed photos of the new baby to husband.
then we come to find out my MIL is babysits from the ex from time to time. all of her children. including the one from the new marriage. again i was bothered by this.
while still dating my husband i knew he had issues with his mom and him asking her to stop communicating with the ex so much. i figured it would all go away eventually and she would stop. but it never did.
we found out that my step father in law went on a camping trip for the weekend with the twins, the ex and the ex's new husband. while my MIL stayed home wathcing the exs baby. my MIL stated she did not attend the camping trip because she did not want to upset my husband. but instead decided to stay home and watch the exs baby.
my MIL doesnt agree with our way of thinking and vise versa.
lets fast forward to present day. the ex just had her second baby from her marriage. these kids refer to my MIL as grandma. my MIL watches them when the ex needs a sitter. they attend church every sunday together.
im to the point where i just dont care to be around my MIL or even interact with. i try very very hard.
christmas last year my MIL cancelled christmas dinner with my husband and i because she has not feeling well. so i tell my husband i want to do something nice for her. so i decide to take her flowers and a pie. well when we showed up at her house. she was having christmas with the twins and the ex. when my husband and i walked in my mother in law ran to kitchen and the ex ran out the front door. i left in tears. my MIL did text me apologizing and stated the ex showed up unannounced and that she was not going to tell her granddaughters they could not come in.
this is an email from my MIL to my husband : I’m sure our home has some sore spots that are causing Petty some grief. I don’t blame her… ie…Family Photo on the wall! I am going to look for a photo to replace the family portrait, it might just take me a little time but I’m working on it ......... its been 2 years and the photo is still up ..
i co-parent greatly with the ex but i know she is part of the blame too on the issues. but i cant block every one out. we recently started coming around my MIL again. after ignoring her for 6 months. but i just know nothing will ever change.
my MIL could never have kids. my husband is adopted. she remarried and could never give the 2nd husband children and they never adopted so i wonder if this is why she so clingy to the ex and the kids.
Lana Adler (author) from California on December 02, 2018:
thank you for sharing your story. I sympathize with you. It must be very frustrating indeed to deal with a hostile MIL along with an unsupportive husband. So if you feel like you've never done so, speak your piece and release this toxic emotional energy you've been carrying around. And then move forward.
Love and peace,
Chattymolly on November 25, 2018:
It has been very therapeutic to read articles like yours over the years. It seems mother-in-law issues are a problem the world over as I live in Australia. And as I approach my 35th wedding anniversary I do so with very mixed feelings.
My own mother was emotionally abusive as I was growing up and no one at home ever stood up for me when she was attacking me and I learnt that I had to suffer on my own without anyone to defend me. I recognise that I had depression and anxiety from my early teens. When I got married in my mid 20s it was a chance to start a new life under my own terms and build a future with my husband. We had both graduated into high rank professions and I was very time poor. My once friendly mother-in-law soon showed her true stripes after our wedding. She is a bully. It started with my purchase of a clothes dryer as I was working around 90 hours a week for the first few years of our marriage and it made life much easier for me. She objected to her son having to pay for the electricity and over the years I was even paying the electricity bills but we have continued to argue about it. She has been totally disrespectful to me in my own home and undermined my authority and my marriage throughout the entire marriage. I could write a book about her ridiculous demands regarding house work practices including ironing sheets and underwear and which I have always refused to carry out. She has steadfastly refused to ever acknowledge the impact that working outside the home in a very stressful job has had on my time and I have never given into her in this regard so our relationship has been difficult and full of tension for all these years. She objected to me demand feeding my children as it stopped me doing my house work and objected to my second child who had learning problems having therapy and she suggested that we were being conned by various therapists and the child had no problems and it was a waste of her son's money and if she never learnt to read well she could just become a hairdresser. At one point she talked to my husband into changing something to do with our child rearing practices which I did not agree with and it nearly lead to a tragedy as no-one considered my well being in the situation and I haven't forgiven either of them for this years later. She is also very tight with money and looks on her children's earnings and assets as not belonging to their spouses. The list goes on.
She herself had a very good marriage with no money or child problems and had the privilege of staying at home to look after her family. She was widowed in middle-age but quickly remarried and has had a wonderful life since of traveling the world, lots of social activities and lots of friends. But her chief obsession in life has been hustling to make sure her children get the best deal from their spouses. My husband is her number one son and everything revolves around him getting looked after like a lord or at least trying to force me to do this. She often speaks to me like I am some errant hired house servant who hasn't done some job properly. This is often in front of others but I do know that she spent years going to my husband's workplace to take him lunch and complaining to him about how I was doing everything wrong as his employees with whom I stayed friends were witnesses to this and told me many years later that they could not believe anyone would speak about me so disrespectfully and over such minor issues.
She treats my other married in sister-in-law the same way and has alienated both her and her other son in law. Which brings me to my own husband. He has steadfastly refused over the years to stand up for me and shut her down. He refers to himself as her golden haired boy and just to ignore her as if he is fearful she will disinherit him if he ever stood up to her on my behalf. This has lead to a lot of marital tension and unhappiness and resentment on my part and I really feel that I stopped loving my husband a long time ago over his refusal to have my back and how he hung me out to dry to defend myself against her all the time. I am almost 60 and I feel like I have spent my whole life defending myself from attack from the two most significant women in my life. I feel very sad about these aspects of my life when looking back at my life at my age. My mother-in-law definitely has never had my well-being and best interests at heart and white anted my relationship with my husband in trying to get her way. I feel it has led to my husband being at times disrespectful and disparaging towards me as he has heard nothing but bad stuff and complaints about me from his own mother for years. Her other son is somewhat alienated from her as he stood up for his wife and he avoids having too much to do with her. I confess I'm a bit jealous of how he takes his wife's side. I wish my husband would have been like that. It would have made all the difference to our relationship over the years instead of driving a wedge between us. It was very hard to sit there at her 80th birthday recently while she was praised and celebrated knowing what she was really like. I pretty much think she even complained to all her friends about me over the years as they barely acknowledged me instead greeting my husband warmly at the party.
Right now I feel like I am at a cross road with our significant wedding anniversary coming up and I have this strong urge to pay out on my mother-in-law and my husband and tell them in no uncertain terms about the impact that her behaviour has had on my well-being and my marriage all these years. I'm pretty sure he would be gutted if he knew how I really felt. Certainly no one had my best interests at heart. We have had other marital tension occurring such as his drinking and his bad influence friends and he can be very thoughtless but the chief problem with our marriage has always been his mother. I'm not sure where I'll go from here. I've had a very stressful life in many ways with a very stressful job and trying to raise children and run a home and the quality of my life was greatly harmed by her behaviour and the damage it did to our marriage.
I just hope that future generations of working women treat their daughter in-laws better as they must have some insight into how hard it is to do all these things even in the best of circumstances and must have something else to preoccupy themselves with other than torturing their daughter in-laws like mine has in order to justify their time wasting household habits.
Good luck to you all out there struggling with these issues. I know your pain.
Lana Adler (author) from California on November 12, 2018:
you are not crazy. Do what you believe is best for your son, and don't bother with those who want to attack you for it. The environment at your MIL's house doesn't sound safe, especially for such a young child. If you don't feel comfortable with him being there, don't bring him over there. If she wants to see her grandson, she's come around to respecting your wishes eventually. If not, her loss.
DD on November 11, 2018:
My son just turned one this week and my MIL has ruined most of the last year with him. She had 20 cats, now down to 11, 8 dogs of which 3 are closed off in the dining room and use the restroom there while the others are a pack outside and have bitten both me and my husband on the back of the leg multiple times, and two birds that poop outside of the cage onto the floor. She also has one bedroom with a screened door on it devoted to one cat that pees everywhere. She has bad knees and rarely cleans. We used to have a wonderful relationship, we just didn’t go inside her house as the stench hit you the minute you walked in. I dreaded speaking to her about our child not being allowed at her home since the moment I became pregnant. She is not the forgiving type and continuously writes family members off for years. She suffers from depression and I believe has bipolar disorder from her manic episodes. She started to plan his nursery in her home and I told my husband he had to speak to her about the issue. She got over it within a few weeks and she continued to come to our home and we went out with them very often. She brought it up a few months later begging us to let him come over. Again we said no you have too many cats. We left it just at that to minimize hurting her and upsetting her. She then brought it up just a day later and I was forced to go into further detail but still was as nice as possible explaining to her the conditions were not okay for a child as well as the dogs that have bitten us. She replied horribly and said she would never be a part of our lives again. I blew up. I have seen her do this repeatedly to her son and other family members and I had enough of it. I said some horrible things about her mental instability and the fact that she caused so much stress during his birth, crying to my mother in the waiting room because I wouldn’t let her in there (nor my own mother...) even though I spoke to her about it months ago. She doesn’t respect any of my wishes when it’s something she wants. Now she has turned the whole family against me saying I’m keeping her son and grandson away from her and my husband won’t stand up for me. Multiple other family members, even her own mother while I was still pregnant agreed with me that it’s not fit for a child and that she knew my MIL would never think it acceptable for a child to be in her home but now they are siding with her and not standing up for my son or me. They won’t even let me tell my side of the story. They just hand up on me. I feel so alone right now. I’m second guessing myself thinking maybe I am crazy. She stormed over to our home today unannounced and demanded to only speak to my husband to make arrangements to see my son every month. I feel sick to my stomach about all of this. My husband tells me it’s my fault that I should have just ignored her when she keeps pushing the issue. Finally her husband stood up for me today. He has always told me he understands and that some days the smell sickens him when he comes home. Her response to me today about her dogs biting us was well they’ve never drawn blood and my son never was bit by any of my dogs when he was growing up. Are you kidding me? I feel like my heart is going to explode from anxiety. And now the holidays are here and I don’t want to go to any of their family functions. Please tell me I’m not crazy for not letting my son go to her home. No one will stand up to her because they’re afraid she’ll get mad and ignore them for years. I just want to leave with my son and escape this horrible nightmare.
SD on October 09, 2018:
Thank you for this article. My MIL is just like you described except probably 1000x more manipulative & destructive. She did not teach her children good life skills(besides my husband, who taught himself) and this is why she is divorced and has 2 children(women, both over 50yo) who've had failed marriages & live at home, well except for the one who bounces all over from house to house, job to job, 1 horribly bad decision after another, with men who are in jail or on their way. In our 3yr marriage, she has moved that failure into our home(purchased before I was in the picture *she helped my husband at a time when he was divorcing, PRE-Me), I live scared and on egg shells AND might I add my FIL came with the house & marriage, which I knew going in and for whom I stepped up to the plate as a round the clock nurse/chef/caretaker when he had Quadruple bypass heart surgery, 6mos into our marriage. NO one came to see him, just called to make sure I was doing my job. It's been getting worse because the more independence I assert, she is not happy. After she moved this 1 daughter back into our home w/out discussion AGAIN, 2wks ago, I blew up at her, waited until it was face to face, not over the phone miscommunication, and told her it was BS that she keeps doing whatever she wants w/this house, just cause it's in her name (for reasons of his past divorce, which I understand), but this is supposed to be HIS home and she has held that over his head since day 1 and every day I've been w/him. So, as I "blew up" basically saying she had no right, it wasn't fair, her daughter is NOT OUR F'ING problem and I do not feel safe AT ALL(this "sister" is not a good person, a cheat, thief & terribly irresponsible & selfish, although, knowing her mother, I can't even blame her, she is as she was raised), her retort was to scream at me and say "What am I supposed to do, I'm her mother" *Also note, she has said sisters 15yo daughter living w/her & another 50+ daughter still living at home, with 2more bedrooms to spare & she's using our home like some kind of halfway house for her rejects or menopausal b*tch streaks. I'm 41, so we've earned a little time to enjoy our lives together & this woman is doing everything in her power to destroy the 1 relationship out of her 6kids and own failed marriage, that is actually working. It's miserable & I swear this woman enjoys life when NO ONE around her is happy, suffering is like her heroin. We are looking for a new home w/no savings because #1 -she uses this house at least 3x a yr to threaten us w/something new, "do this or get out, I'll just sell the damn house". Finally, after last weeks argument w/her and her disgusting manipulative ways, I told my husband, this isn't an ultimatum, I would never ask you to choose, I'm just letting you know I love you but I can't live like this anymore, your mom is your mom, and she's made it very clear that she is now out to get me because I actually stood up to her, so I have to go, for my own self preservation, she has put me in such depressive states over the past several yrs because of her disgusting behavior ( I just wasn't raised like this, I was raised w/love and compassion) that for my own health, I have to go. I've had some dark days in my life, but my general rule of thumb is that people who have such negativity and greed in their hearts, I don't have in my life because it's toxic. We have cur her off and are trying so hard to move fast, so we can be done. I was very clear w/him when this all started that I will never be able to get back to a good spot w/her, this is why most of her children have abandoned her, even w/an apology, I will trust her, so please think about if our marriage is more important, cause when either I or We go from this house, that's it, no more, she is done for good. I am so tired of crying.
A. on September 13, 2018:
When my husband and I were dating, and we dated for many years, his mother was so distant I thought he was an offer. Imagine my surprise when we married that this woman suddenly wanted us to change the date of our wedding, tell us where to on our honeymoon (in fact, she booked it and paid for it without consulting us). Then, when we were pregnant with our first child, she insisted this child should have a Chinese name--I am not Chinese, my husband's family is, but he's very disconnected from his culture at this time. Add in that the entire family hates their new country, Canada. So, I became the place to bring all their hatred and rage towards their new homeland, Canada. "We hate Canada. We hate Canadians. Why are you all this why?" Sister in law said to my face, "I hate Canada. I hate Canadians. I just keep my Canadian passport to travel." They hated the weather which they told me about. They hate the people here. They hate that we have too many brown people here! (if you can believe it) One time, my family and I were desperate to show how kind and welcoming Canadians can be. So we cooked an entire Christmas dinner, with an organic turkey, and all the trimmings, and brought it over to them (an hour away). Big mistake, it didn't help them like me or my family better, it made them hate us more. MIL and SILS have not once in all these years cooked Christmas or Thanksgiving. The last Thanksgiving we attempted to have became crazy as MIL asked me to bring the entire meal over to her once again. I said no. She then said I am a horrible hostess and I never roll out the red carpet when she or her daughter come over. This was laughable as I'm the only one who cooks. I'm the only who has hosted holidays. They come from Singapore and in Singapore MIL was very privileged, had maids, etc. So, she never hosts events. And oh yes, the battle of cultural foods. Chinese food is the BEST. One time, as they have dairy allergies that come and go, I made birthday cake for my FIL. Dairy free and I made 7 minute frosting with egg whites due to their dairy allergy. They all scraped off the icing, very deliberately, leaving large piles of icing on their plates. But then, they go out to the worst, most disgusting restaurants you've ever seen and will happily eat utter garbage (including at those buffets with the ice cream machines--their dairy allergy only shows up at my home). After 10 years+ of being told repeatedly they "hate Canada" I asked them to stop. I thought maybe they didn't know they were hurting my feelings--plus there were now children involved, these children being Canadians. Turns out, they knew. Turns out, I was just supposed to take it. So, then they shunned me. Completely shunned me. Very effective technique. Makes you feel crazy. I mean, they are walking around spewing hatred, I ask them to stop, and I get shunned. So, I encouraged my husband to continue having a relationship with his parents as I didn't want to be blamed for standing between them. So, he would go over there without the kids and I. This seemed to work just fine as my MIL just likes my husband for what he can do for her--he would spend hours and hours and hours there doing chores for her. She hates him the most in the family--younger brother can do no wrong but my husband is her slave. And now it comes out she thinks I am "punishing" her by not allowing her to see the grandchildren! She barely cares about those grandchildren, btw. For example, when I was pregnant with my youngest, I had a horrible pregnancy and was on bed rest. I asked MIL to come and help out a bit as my own mother was helping with my oldest child and getting exhausted. MIL huffed and puffed ans said, "No way, [she's] too busy to help out [she's retired and in great healthy, was busy travelling then]." So, you can see you can just never win. MIL couldn't care less about grandchildren, and felt entitled to express all the hatred of her new country that she picked to immigrate to, upon me and her grandchildren--when I finally had enough, I am still the bad person for protecting my children from this abuse. I read somewhere once that if you've been dealing with a toxic in-law situation for over 10 years there probably is no hope. I agree with that. At this point I wish my husband would cut them out of his life entirely. I mean, they care so little about us that they are barely in our lives except to phone and demand he does stuff for them. They don't remember the children's birthdays. Don't phone. We could be dead for months and they wouldn't care. What I regret is trying. All the meals I've cooked. The interest I showed in their culture. The hospitality I showed (one time my SIL, who says we "don't roll out the red carpet" stayed here. My mom was here. My mother did this crazy b's laundry. My mom left lavender on her pillow. My mom cooked for her. SIL ate all of our food, gobbled it all up, saying it was great--but then turned and said she "hates Canadians" and we're not hospitable enough). So you just can't win. I wish I had never had them in my home. I wish I had never tried. And of course, my husband's brother's wife can do no wrong. Insanity!
Mary P. on August 12, 2018:
What do you do when your mil basically makes you feel like crap over everything you do. My husband and I we have a close relationship with all of his guy friends. I would never cheat on him and I hadn't ever even thought of that. Then suddenly one day she feels its okay to talk to my mom about it. She said she feels like I shouldn't be around his friends that she's worried. And what she didn't know was that my mom n me have a close relationship, we tell eachother almost everything. And she hates that cause she has never been close with my husband. But anyways she thinks i will cheat on my husband. It really hurts having someone think so low of you. There are days where i dont know how much more i can take. The only thing that calms me now is smoking. And i am trying so hard to quit. I had gone 3 months with no nicotine and suddenly she started a whole drama fest and i just couldnt handle it. I went right back into it. Im the happiest when its just me and my husband. I just dont know what to do anymore. All i feel like doing is crying. I just cant seem to understand what i did to make her hate me this much.
musicproducermom on August 11, 2018:
I think i might start taking your advise by being honest with my in-laws in the future because like you said they already hate me so what do i have to lose? I don't know who to turn to about my in-laws issues and i'm just exhausted.
The main issue is my husband's sister. she's a narcissist, rude and crazy. I noticed her ridiculous behaviors even before we getting married to my husband. The sad thing is her parents would just keep taking her crap, mood-swings and yelling. it's like they're so afraid of his sister, they just let this unreasonable person run the show. Little backstory, his sister started making stuff up about me after we got engaged, called me a slut, also bailed on our wedding, she also yelled at her mother alot and my FIL never have once put a stop to that kinda behavior.
His sister didn't start reaching out until we had our first baby. The reason why all of a sudden she wants to be involved is because she wants her 4 kids to have cousins to grow up with i just knew it. ( i don't feel this person is sincere one bit )
My husband and me and the girls live in a different state than his parents and sister's family. Due to his intense residency schedule it wouldn't allow us us to go back to visit so during the last 5 years his parents came to visit a few times. Now he's done with residency, so we went back to visit for the first time in 5 years. I wanted to stay at a hotel ( to mainly avoid his sister ) but my husband said no because he wanted our girls to spend more time with his parents which i understand but i also didn't want his sister to just stop by anytime she wants and i just had a feeling she would and start drama somehow.
Of course right as we rolled into my in-laws house her and her whole family was already there. I had a pretty bad stomachache at the moment after being in the car for 13 hours and needed to go to the bathroom real bad but because they were there i stuck around and be social until they left ( I did small talk with her husband and played with her kids a bit but i didn't talk to her).
Sure enough the next day i was still sleeping in bed and heard her screaming at my husband in the living room. Later on i asked my husband what happened he said she stormed in and started yelling and said how we don't know how to forgive and are holding our kids hostage, my husband asked her to leave as we're not ready to talk i was still sleeping and asked her to come back at a different time she refused, my MIL also got woken up by her screaming and guess what my MIL told me to do? she told me to go talk to her immediately because that's what she wanted. I was shocked that my MIL actually told me to go talk to her when i was still in my PJ.
The next day she wanted to talk again the whole family were ready this time. I told her my opinion of her, that she's spoiled and controlling and if she wants us to forgive her we need time because not everything is up to her. Are you guys excited to see what's next after i said that? My FIL jumped me! He yelled at me saying he'd not let a new person (me) to divide his family up! The reason why we're at this point is all because of her spoiled daughter! (but i didn't say that). We checked into a hotel that night i asked my husband to drive us back home the following day and he did. But before we left, he said he wanted to stop at his parents house to talk to his mom (since his mom wasn't in the conversations she had to watch 6 kids in a different room), he said his mom would take our side. Well right when my husband walked in his mother started yelling at him saying she can't believe he did such a thing by upsetting his dad this much.
I don't think his parents is fair from day 1 and i think my husband finally see it. I'm sick to my stomach with his parents and sister and if i had a choice i'd love to not ever go back to visit. My husband wouldn't let me do that tho but he did say we'd stay in a hotel from now on. My FIL is very close to my husband, FIL loves fishing in Alaska but have no $ to buy a boat he's been asking my husband to buy him a boat after for years after he's done with residency. His family is his family of course i wouldn't ask him not to give his parents $ if that's what he wants but i wonder how my husband feel about the idea now after seeing his dad yelling at his wife in front of everyone.
Any tips and advise what to do going forward would help! thanks for reading my long message.
Schap on August 05, 2018:
It’s so hard. They favor one in law
Over the other.
Randy on July 31, 2018:
It kills me that grown adults can't let go grudges and ill-feelings. I have never disrespected mother-in-law. In the beginning I did everything to let her know that I am a good man. But slowly she began to dislike me for no apparent reason, my girlfriend said that she thought her mother was acting like that because I was taking her place as we began to get more serious fast-forward 2 years we had our beautiful daughter during the pregnancy and post pregnancy things got worse and worse to the point where we are no longer together and even after she got her wish and no longer she refuses to even keep things civil for the sake of my daughter her granddaughter. I am not invited to any of my daughter's events when they have them, we gonna have to have separate birthday parties for her. Her first birthday is coming up. I will invite her even though she wont come. My daughter doesn't understand yet but in time she will, what do i tell her without making her grandmother look like a bad person. And than there's the possibility of them making me look like the bad person potentially harming my relationship with her. I don't know what to do. Where's mom in all this, well that's the main reason I cant be with her anymore she refuses to call out her mom's bs even though she has admitted to me that her mom is wrong in all of this. I don't care anymore that this lady does not like me, its not about me. i'm worried about the example this will be to my daughter. She shouldn't have to be exposed to this. I can be civil and I have to let go and forgive the lady for the drama she caused between my ex and me.
Miranda on July 25, 2018:
Thank you for the response. It has not been easy. It is still difficult, again, I keep my distance and have my own interests, family, friends, and spouse. We do have to be with my husbands family for a celebration in a couple of weeks. I am getting a little stressed about, even after all these years.
Lana Adler (author) from California on July 25, 2018:
Your MIL sounds like a tool ) and I can tell she hurt you many times over the years. She also made you doubt your self worth. Perhaps, you still ask yourself: what was wrong? Why didn’t she love and accept me? Why couldn’t she see all the great things about me?
The answer is certainly not lie in your faults. From what I could gather from your story, it was never about you. Hopefully you realize that now.
That’s what I despise about toxic MILs - they can make us question our self worth, “she doesn’t like me so I must be less than.” But on the positive, you learn to recognize your worth, and you learn that you need to teach people how to treat you, and you learn to distance yourself from toxic people in your life. You’ve done a great job of that. Keep it up! :)
Miranda on July 24, 2018:
It would have been nice as a young bride and mother to have this support 33 years ago. I am a sensitive person, some wounds from childhood. As a young bride and newlywed, I needed love and support. My MIL and my husband always had a difficult relationship and when I was brought into his family she transferred her meanness to me, as well. We were not kids out of HS when we married. Both of us were established with careers and education. We became pregnant 2 months after our beautiful wedding day. We had a beautiful 10 day honeymoon. We were 28 years of age and very ready to be married and start a family. Two months after marriage we told the MIL we had some exciting news and she responded, "What you are pregnant, so whats the exciting news? Don't expect me to be a built in babysitter, and I am not excited to be a grandmother." I was living 2000 miles from my own family, lost my brother in a car accident as a teenager, took care of my older sisters kids when she was sick. I am attractive and fit. I have a teaching degree, kindergarten through 6th grade with an art endorsement. I just retired from 25 years of teaching art. I love kids. She would say such mean things to me during my pregnancy. "You are letting yourself go" This is after working an 8 hour day and doing chores. If I looked good, she would say you look good for once or where did you get something so nice? We have always lived in the same town, my sister in law has never had a nice thing to say about her mother or her other brother's wife, she also caused a lot of family division, but years later is now close to all of them and I am still on the outside. I have chosen to distance myself from the in-laws to protect myself. I think the MIL's behavior to me and my husband is abusive and confusing. Hot and cold. I am a successful teacher, avid outdoors woman, I hike alpine hikes to 12,000' elevation. The FIL was always wonderful and loved and respected, he is deceased and missed. MIL is remarried. I still stress when we have to attend family gatherings. We don't attend all get togethers. When in their presence I try to be polite and joyful. After 33 years of marriage I try not to allow them to steal my happiness. I have 3 wonderful adult sons and 2 fantastic daughter in-laws.
Anon on July 13, 2018:
I just had a second attempt at suicide and now I am fully cognizant of the fact I have a toxic M.I.L.
Otomita on July 12, 2018:
Ohh boy this this is also me. with the Golden child And perfect sumisive sister in law. I hate having them on FB I have them in restricted so they can't see my posts but I seriously wish I would delete them all or close my Account because of my mother inlaws hate they all hate me because I disagree with the way they gossip and their politics etc..
Should I delete them? When ever something bad happens to me I come back to why are things so difficult with them and just get all bummed up.
Lana Adler (author) from California on July 12, 2018:
This is so very familiar! I can relate in almost every detail. Silent treatment is classic, and the people trying to “enlighten” you about how to treat her, how to give her a pass on everything because of A, B, C.
So many toxic MILs think they’re entitled to time with their grandkids, and when they don’t get it on their terms, they take it as a personal attack on them. You are totally in your right to decide whether or not to visit grandma, especially since it’s not the best timing.
Still, the distance is nice. Also, with time you become stronger and less affected by her shenanigans. That’s nice too. So stay strong, my dear! She’s just mad that she can’t control you.
JanelMarie on July 11, 2018:
Lana thank you so much for writing about this. I thought I was the only one dealing with an insane MIL. I have been dealing with her for 10 years and she has made it clear that I am NOT who she would have picked for her son. When I had my daughter I thought I saw a light but it was very temporary. When my daughter was 9 months old I had so much anxiety about her visiting I developed shingles (I am only 36). After one too many comments and a week of misery I lost it. Basically had a coming to Jesus moment with her and told her she is at a crossroad and I am willing to walk whichever road she chooses but I have no problem tossing her in an old folks home and throwing away the key. Things improved significantly after our chat then my brother in law married the girl of my MIL’s dreams. At the wedding she pretended I wasn’t there, to the point I wasn’t in pictures until one of the groomsmen said something to the photographer. Then we moved to WV and she was supposed to visit in August. She informs me she will not come to WV because there is nothing for her to do (apparently hanging out with her son and granddaughter isn’t enough). Then tells me to pull my daughter out of school the first week and come visit her at her Cape Cod house. I say no that’s not happening and she calls my brother in law cryin that she is too old to travel (she travels ALL the time between her LA home and her Cape home, so that’s bs). I get the nasty texts from my brother in law and new wife that I am being rude and need to accommodate her. So once again I am the big bad person and she’s the emotionally unstable fragile person whom I should be catering to. Now I am trying to work things out with her and I am getting the silent treatment. I swear my 3 year old is more mature than she is. The part that kills me is NO ONE stands up to her and they don’t understand why that’s the way she acts the way she does.
Lana Adler (author) from California on May 18, 2018:
Your story is a good reminder that death doesn’t solve a conflict between people. At the end of the day you’re still left with the burden of all the toxicity that transpired between you two.
First, don’t feel bad. It’s perfectly natural. You’ve spent years avoiding and putting on a happy face so now that she’s gone all that suppressed anger is coming up to the surface. Let it! Don’t tell yourself: I shouldn’t be feeling this way. You HAVE TO let it come up and FEEL it.
You’re probably spoke about this with your bereavement counselor and s/he told you the same thing.
If I can offer a recommendation: write it down. Put it in a form of a letter to your late MIL. Tell her *everything you ever wanted to tell her but couldn’t. Don’t hold back. Don’t edit. Let it come out the way it’s coming out.
Then finish it but saying: “I take full responsibility for my feelings, and I let them go. I wish you peace and serenity. I forgive you.” Or something like that.
If you feel like you’re not ready to forgive - that’s ok. Save it for the next letter ) But do forgive eventually, it’ll help you let go of a huge weight you’re carrying around.
Thank you for the advice! I do limit my participation in family events to no more than once a week. That’s my boundary that lets me have a peace of mind, dignity and some control. I have never taken separate vacations but I can see the appeal )
Thank you for sharing!
CountessC on May 17, 2018:
Iam pleased I found your article as my berevement therapist said I had a toxic mother in-law (I've never heard that term before). My mother in-law passed away Feb 28th and it was drama all around. For me it was my liberation day (I was there when she took her last breath and I cried as seeing a human being in so much pain was hard to see and I wished we were able to have a great relationship as we had a lot in common creatively). Its sounds horrible thinking like that but for 14 years she was very cruel to me and tried everything in her power to end my marriage and to knock my confidence. What was upsetting was my husband, his dad and sister did nothing yet they know she was cruel. Now that she has died I am reffered to as her bestfriend and how wonderful she was to me. This women tried to make me miscarry while pregnant with my son. When I complained to my husband and father in-law I was told I was being disrespectful. All the key traits you place in the first article was spot on.Now that she is gone I am left with anger and why questions. I dare not disclose my true feeling to my husband as he and his family (he would immediately complain to them) would come down on me like a ton of bricks and it would be an ugly sight. My berevement therapist has been helpful and it has been a relief to get it all out and work towards healing. Any advice on my part? well, what i did was avoid, avoid, avoid as much as I could. so, family gatherings something always came up for me. Don't skip all of them but, most. work, mild illness, kids, appointments or just wanting couple/ family time are good excuses. When visiting her for long breaks I would amuse her by asking her to teach me new recipes or asking her about the 60's and what she use to do them. it would take the edge off her cruel ways for a day or two. It is a very difficult situaion to be in and speaking to your other half must be done if he is not receptive that's when going on holiday on your own, with friends or family for a period 2-5 weeks is good. I did that several times as I moved from the USA to the UK to be with my husband, going to the US for 5 weeks with our son several times a year allowed my husband to miss us enough to realize how much we mean to him. I call it reflection time.
Lana Adler (author) from California on May 13, 2018:
that's a great point. So how do we make sure we don't become monsters-in-law? Hopefully, by becoming self-aware, confident, secure women who don't obsess about their kids' lives because they have their own.
Donna on May 13, 2018:
Its amazing how many women complain about their awful mother in law yet have no problem inflicting the same drama on to their son/daughter in law. Its a terrible cycle.
Lana Adler (author) from California on April 23, 2018:
"never seeing them" definitely helps :) I agree, it's totally fine if your husband visits his parents on his own. I think you've got a handle on the situation. Keep up the good work!
Otomita on April 22, 2018:
Thank you Lana!
It's been hard but thank goodness we never see them. I read alot of Psychology about disfuncional families.e entire family have been really disrespectful to me. At the beginning I asked to my father in-law hey do you guys like me and he answered don't worry we will change you. He's grandma that I have not met posting on my friends wall because I critized a Republican idea.And saying shame on me.He's brother pushing me because I dropped he's phone and I was on the way. He's father jk I'm brainwashing he's son to be a liberal. I could go on all day long. Honestly just not having contact with them is what keeps me happy and sane my husband and decided that he will visit them and it's ok if I don't come and if they come here Ill treat them nicely but it will never be a great relationship.
Thanks for letting me vent.
Lana Adler (author) from California on April 22, 2018:
thank you so much! Yes, it's very common for dysfunctional families to have one sibling as a golden child and one as a scapegoat. Usually, the scapegoat is a sibling that chose to distance him/herself from the dysfunctional family, and s/he is punished for it in passive-aggressive ways. Meanwhile, the sibling that stayed with the parents (or that still largely relies on parents) can do no wrong.
It's typical, it's sad, it's ridiculous...Try to brush it off. But the racist comments shouldn't be tolerated, in my opinion.
Otomita on April 22, 2018:
Hi Lana and everyone,
This article is amazing. It has helped me a lot I was reading about the Golden boy thing and I related so much. the first time I met my parents in law I noticed the preferred the younger brother over my husband although my husband is such a nice guy and the brother is a complete inmature idiot that used to be a neonazi and drug addict that threw himself from a ceiling and almost died of brain damage. I feel bad for him but he is still very inmature and super rude and arrogant and I cant believe how they treated my husband like if he was bad because he was living far away. Then they started with me because I'm from Mexico they started with comments about how I was not white (although I'm super pale and from Scottish French decent
Lana Adler (author) from California on April 17, 2018:
I know all the advice on this subject is easier said than done :) but it gets easier with time, I promise. You're dealing with the same person (they don't change at all) but you're not the same. You grow and you learn and you begin prioritizing your peace of mind above anything else. And that means shifting your focus from a toxic MIL, no matter how much she demands your attention with all the outrageous things she does.
I sincerely hope you will be able to move to your own place soon and start a family.
Lana Adler (author) from California on April 17, 2018:
You are so welcome! Knowing that my experience has made someone feel better makes it all worth it :)
Lana Adler (author) from California on April 17, 2018:
WOW that's extremely meddlesome behavior that borders on malicious! She had NO right to do that. You have to let her know that it's not OK under ANY circumstances and that if she does it again, there will be serious repercussions.
April on April 16, 2018:
How do you deal with a mother in law contacting an abusive parent that I have had no contact with for over 3 years. She sent pictures of our child without our consent to this person? What do you do?
Thank you for making me feel better... on April 16, 2018:
You have made me feel so much better with your articles. I was so down because of my MIL of 10 years, she's getting worse. Worst she has ever been and it's started effecting me badly since the beginning of this year. I read your articles and you have lightened my heart Lana. So thank you so much.
Thank you Lana! on April 16, 2018:
I just wanted to say thank you for the follow up article.I often come back to your article to reread it and almost engrave it in my mind. Something you wrote resonated in me, "...she already hates me, what do I have to lose?". I have never thought about this like that. If I could just engrave that within myself I am sure I can get through this with most of my sanity intact until my husband and I can finally have our own home away from the toxic fumes.
My husband and I want to have children, but would rather do it when we are on our own so it is only us and the baby. Both our mothers are toxic so we want quite a bit distance for our sanity and the childs. I already know that if my husband and I have children my MIL will play favorites with my SIL children if that time comes. I simply can't tolerate that. My mom also did that with my nieces and nephews and it used to anger me so much. She would later tell the kids things about there parents that were inappropriate. I would get upset and correct her only to get verbally abused when we got home. It really is a never ending cycle and just thinking about it is so draining.
I read a comment from HADITUPTOHERE, and it shot me back to growing up. My Fathers side of the family including my grandmother always rejected my brothers and I. My uncle was the golden child and could do no wrong. We were always looked down on. Has not changed till this day,but I didn't grow up around them much after the divorce so it hardly affects me.My MILs golden child is my SIL and they are so similar to eachother. Luckily, it is only my MIL that I have to deal with on a daily basis. I think a war would start if it was all three of us.
Lana Adler (author) from California on April 04, 2018:
Hi HadItUpToHere ,
yep, this is classic narcissistic abuse. The hardest part is when it starts affecting your kids. I can't even imagine how I would react in this scenario, so far my MIL only has one grandchild - my daughter. I just know that if she started treating her differently, I would not take it well, to say it lightly :)
As for your dilemma, I can't advise but if it was me, I would not hang around these people. I would unfollow or block them on social media. And I would just live my life, enjoy my husband and my kids, and the company of people who actually do love and respect me.
Because the bottom line is: this is a sick dysfunctional family. They may not look like it to the outside world (and they all work very hard to project that perfect image) but this is what they are. Why would you want to be around that?
Good luck to you!
HadItUpToHere on April 03, 2018:
Forgive me as this will be long. My husband and I have been married for 25 years with 4 kids. My MIL has always treated me badly. I’m at the point where I don’t know how to handle it and I need to make a decision. She will belittle me in front of the other girls ( there is 1 daughter and 4 sister in laws, 1 doesn’t come around any longer). There seems to be a pecking order in the family, with 1 son being the golden child and 1 the scapegoat. I’ve guessed we are at the second to bottom and I’ve been treated as the scapegoat from time to time. There have been SO many hurtful things over the years I don’t even know where to begin. She will be sure the golden child’s family appears perfect. They lost their home and she bought them a beautiful home that they don’t have to pay her back for. Our son was in town for a visit (he lives out of state). We had plans for him to see her, I texted to confirm the plans and she said they were invited to another grandchild’s sporting event instead. She will take a group of grandkids school shopping, except mine, then post about it on Facebook. The golden child’s wife plans a bday party for him every year, that we’re not invited to. They will discuss the party at family get togethers then act like they’re not if we walk by. The golden child’s wife would say things to me when my kids were little like, “do your girls need any shoes/clothes? MIL buys my kids so much I don’t know what to do with it all.” One year we forgot one child’s Christmas gifts at MILs house and she gave it to another grandchild. She’s very controlling and manipulative. I try to talk to the other girls and they either ignore me or talk to me in a condescending tone. Most of their conversations revolve around bashing some other woman, so as I’ve gotten older realize I don’t want to be in their clique. I could go on and on with the abusive things they do. Failed to let us know that everyone was to wear a specific color to my in laws 50th anniversary to not including us in the planning. I’m at the point where I can’t even attend holiday gatherings, which is all we’ve been doing for the past few years. I guess I don’t know what to do at this point. My husband is very supportive and my children don’t even want to be around these people. Do I just stop going altogether? Disappear off the face of the earth? They take this to social media also; like each other’s posts, post pictures about social outings I was excluded from etc. I just want out. After attending a holiday event, I leave feeling hurt, angry, confused. My husband confronted his mom and she just cried and played the victim.
Lana Adler (author) from California on March 31, 2018:
thank you so much for your comment! I don't even know what to say other than to repeat...you're so not alone!! And you're not a bad person if you don't get along with your MIL. Chances are, the opposite is true...You're doing great. Keep it up, sister!
Sarah on March 29, 2018:
I am almost in tears of relief after reading the last sentence you wrote. You literally took the words out of my mouth. I am so relieved to hear that I am alone and that I am not the horrible person I’ve been made to feel like. You are so right, I will work on my character because she obviously has a never worked on hers. Thank you so much for writing this so perfectly.
Sally Rogers on March 26, 2018:
My daughter has a toxic mother in law and she handles her very well and vented her frustrations to me her mom. That was until her little baby girl was born. My daughter and I are very close and I will go help her out once a week with her baby just to give her a little break. The toxic mother in law seems to have turned her attentions to me now and doing her damn best to draw my daughter away from me. My daughter will come to my house only and within 10 mins the mother in law will ring her and say she needs to see her. So my daughter rather than make her wait will immediately leave for a quiet life because if she doesn't do as she wants, the MIL will ring her son and tell tales on my daughter. I don't really know what to do as I am not needy in anyway but I am now losing out because I don't see my daughter or my grand daughter even when they are in the same town because MIL gets priority and she "makes" them stay with her for as long as she can purely so they don't have enough time to come to our house. The MIL is so cunning and sly its baffling me. Of course I'm happy to share our grand daughter but she wants her all to herself and is not happy unless she has it her way. I cant say anything to the MIL for fear of upsetting her son and losing my grand daughter all together and also damaging my relationship with my daughter. Ive talked to my daughter about it and she just says oh don't worry about it Mom but I am seeing less and less of them and the MIL is seeing more and more.
Lana Adler (author) from California on March 22, 2018:
yes, it's so very exhausting...But your journey is only beginning. if you do have children, your in-laws will be meddling and intrusive on a whole other level! It's just the way they are. The less attention you pay them, the better.
Christine on March 22, 2018:
I know all about the toxic MIL situations. My in-laws are the definition of monster in-law. My husband and I got married in August of last year, every. single. day. after they would bug us about children this children that. Finally we got sick of it because most of our conversations started of with them asking about our “sex life”...
We finally told them that it may or may not happen, we are not actively trying for children right now.
They went unhinged! Claiming we were going against nature! How they wanted every gift they ever gave us back! They claimed I was “controlling” my husband and consistently ask why he would marry me knowing that I didn’t want babies immediately, as if it must just be my decision and not a joint decision.
Finally when they realized that they were not getting anywhere with their manipulative whispers of divorce or whatever it may be, they start threatening to disown my husband. I feel terrible for him because it is his family and they have been through a lot, he is very caring and despite the fact his family speaks ill of me constantly and threatens us both daily, he loves them and still wants them in his life. I’m fine as long as he is happy.
It’s a never ending battle with them.
It’s a constant flow of disapproval of how I’m not “womanly” enough, or they complain because I don’t do ALL of the cleaning.. things like that.
It will never end and I realize that but it is so exhausting. It’s nice to hear other women’s stories of monster in-laws.
Shayne Austin on March 15, 2018:
Lana, thanks for the response. I’d like to start off saying I am grateful for the free babysitting but it ends there. My issues aren’t with her taking parking spots or bringing food over. Her parking is one example of her destroying my property and I’m the one with the responsibility to make the repairs. She’s not even aware she’s doing it. I mentioned how much I spend in groceries each week that my wife and I have provided. My issue is the fact that she leaves dishes, dirty food covered dishes in my kitchen and about my house with no concern to pick them up and put them in the dishwasher. It’s hard to fully articulate all of this but it’s my attempt to depict how much of a control freak she is. I hopped on here the other day as pissed off as a hornets nest. She’s not bringing food over out of the goodness of her heart, it’s what she wants to feed my kids. Reading over your list of 10 ways I marked off at least 6 of them. It’s unhealt for me and my wife does nothing but brush it off because she is terrified of her mom at 35 years old. Always has, always will. I am stuck in the middle but it is my great intent to make it known to her that these are my kids and all she needs to do is be grandma and the caregiver when I or my wife is not around.
I appreciate the advice and I will persevere. It helps to at least write my complaints out here. Thanks again.
Lana Adler (author) from California on March 14, 2018:
thank you for sharing, it's a rare treat to get a comment from a guy so I'm thinking extra hard on how to respond :)
I gotta be honest...I'm sure you have legitimate issues with your mother-in-law but the way it's described, it doesn't inspire a lot of compassion. This woman babysits your kids for free, cooks meals, brings her own food over, and probably more - and you're complaining that she took your parking spot?
Taking care of 2 small kids is a big responsibility. Not every grandmother is willing to take that on. My MIL watches my child for a few HOURS at a time, if that, and it's only one child! Also, personally, if I'm with the baby by myself all day and I somehow managed to cook a meal, I probably won't have a chance to clean up. My hands are full. Literally.
But I do sympathize with you. I know it's hard, especially if you feel like you can't bring up any issues to her, so you have to deal with everything silently. But that's something you have to discuss with your wife, to make sure you're on the same page about your babysitting needs. Because if you don't want to hire a proper nanny, accept your MIL's help and be gracious about it.
Shayne Austin on March 14, 2018:
I would like to start off by saying I am a male and I am having these problems and issues with my wife’s mother.
Having found your original article I have discovered I’m not the only one with a toxic mother in law. My latest issues have come from her being at my house full time three days a week to provide me with free child care. I will say that I appreciate it but it’s getting to a point where things she is doing in my house are costing me money. I’m not even sure where to start this, I have so many issues on who she is as a person. Her entitlement, her demeanor, her attitude, her empty minded head towards anything that’s not her concern. If it doesn’t benefit her or make her look good in her own eyes, she’s not doing it. Like I said she watches my kids three days a week at my house. I know going home on those days that I have the responsibility of cleaning up after her, her husband and my two young children. I don’t know a better way to put this but she “half asses” everything. She’s lazy, extremely lazy. It shows from the state of her squabbled hell hole house. I’m sure she’s never cleaned there. She makes lunch but leaves the dishes on the counter or wherever. She changes the kids out of their pajamas but leaves them on the stair railing. I came home to her one day telling me the bag of used diapers in the garage needs to be taken out to the garbage because she filled it.
I buy somewhere near 200$ of groceries each week for myself, my wife and two kids. She brings over the food that she wants the kids eating. And then those leftovers are left in my fridge.
I had one issue when my son was maybe 2. I arrived home after work to her still there and her husband in my kitchen. My son was upstairs with her being out down for a nap. He wouldn’t settle, she needed to get to work. So she won’t leave a crying child, in her mind she came to the kitchen to grab some of the gummy candy she snuck into the house and was going to give it to him while he was laying in bed. This was her idea to get him to stop crying, let’s give a 2 year old a choking hazard while laying in bed. I stopped her and you could just feel the “you don’t tell me what to do” look on her face. I reminded her he’s my son and I make the calls.
The latest issue which brought me here is her entitlement to park in my 2 car sized driveway when I’m not home. But last night she came back over. I’m home, my truck is in half the driveway. I woke this morning at 4am for work to find new tire tracks from her suv on the other side of the driveway. Now typical she parks on my side which is already destroyed. I have a spring project to fix the turf she has destroyed but has no clue to it.
It’s eating my brain. I know she’s not gonna change and my wife is so terrified of her mother at 35 years old. I’m not allowed to confront her. I’m not allowed to say anything. I’m stuck to decompress here and with a close friend and my mom.
Micky Mouse ME on February 22, 2018:
Love your blog too! Toxic people make you feel like you are crazy!!
My MIL has always been the Queen of her family (widowed for many years, Head female of all siblings due to her own mother having a breakdown) and to top it all, she has two sons who are both either weak or lazy.
My problem with MIL became worse when we had our first child and it was a downward spiral. She critised me at every opportunity, had an entitlement that she could do whatever she liked as she ‘was the grandmother’, made lots of patronising comments, insisted that she wanted ‘her day’ with grandchild and it was her right. The final straw came after I went out with her for the day and numerous negative comments came out from her .... Afterwards we had a conversation about child’s 1st birthday party - I told her that I never had parties and I always wanted a novelty birthday cake (a Victoria sponge with sprinkles is all I ever had and I wanted my child to have nicer things). I went on to say I wanted a big party in the garden with paddling pools/sit on toys/bubble blower etc for kids followed by an adult party/bbq in the evening .... The novelty birthday cake would be the icing on the cake! ..... She snapped at me and said ‘I’m doing Xs birthday cake. I’ve always done A and Bs birthday cakes (her sons) so your not doing it!’. When I defended myself and put her in her place by saying ‘you’ve had your turn of being a mother, now it’s my turn’ she became even more toxic. The conversation ended with her having the last word by saying ‘well X will have to have two!’ Six months later when the birthday party arrived it all went to plan. The kids party, evening bbq, the novelty cake..... and all I got was multiple comments from her that the cake was ‘quite nice’, another cake that a friend of mine made was ‘soooo much nicer that the Madeira!’ And she told pretty much everyone that ‘they would need cream with the Madeira as it was quite dry!!’ Because I knew that she wanted to be involved I suggested she made some cupcakes for the kids party and she could do what she liked - hopefully that would keep her happy and also keep my husband happy that I’d asked her to be involved. How wrong I was!!
In numerous times when I stood up to her the waterworks would start - and then the lies. To my face she said ‘I know I may have done/said some of these things, but I’m not willing to admit it to my son ..... I don’t want him to think any the less if me’.
My husbands family stopped sending cards and presents to us and the kids and were totally on MILs side. Husband is upset that his family turned their backs on His kids .... but mother in law continued to send birthday, Christmas and Easter presents. After talking to one of his extended family I was told that MIL is only sending them as she advised her to and to try and keep things as ‘normal as possible’ - You have to keep up appearances or something to that degree.
She has smeared my name to anyone that would listen including my own boss (who was a friend of hers), my mother and husband. I emotionally detached from my husband at the time and only stayed due to having two young kids and good financial situation. Over time, my husband realised what she was like - when I was out of the picture she took her anger out on him instead and also caused more major issues (communicating with husbands child from one night stand 30 years ago even though husband wants nothing to do with his past errors and also inviting another ex around for coffee - the girlfriend that husband flirted between when we got together).
I tried on 3 occasions to try and repair our relationship mainly to keep our marriage safe and later for the kids. Each time she created at the first hurdle ..... She refused to accept that she was a visitor in our family and not the dictator, showed neither of us any respect, had no boundaries (barging into the bathroom whilst husband was having a soak and I was crying my eyes out to him due to her unpleasantness), either had a very poor memory or constantly lied, manipulated everyone around her - Why couldn’t anyone else see what she was like???
To cut a long story short, she was advised to seek help and saw a counseller. She has told me herself that she’s been diagnosed as Histronic and had CBT (talking therapy) and I believe this was because of anxiety and depression. She was told that her disorder was due to not being good enough stemming from her own fathers opinion of her - she is a perfectionist and ocd.
Her family is small but they consist of depressives, anxiety issues, ocd, suicide x 2, many mental health issues, sexual abuse from her father to one of her sisters and breakdowns.
The only way I can deal with this family is to stay away from them as they are ‘all sooooo perfect’ in their eyes and blame others for everything in their lives. Toxic family all round!! I always thought I could make them see other people’s opinion, but they are all show similar traits ..... lack of empathy, controlling, have no boundaries and self centerness.
XXXXLC on February 06, 2018:
Thank you so much for your blog Lana. I am so glad I am not the only one going crazy here!
My MIL ticks off all the boxes of a toxic mother-in-law. She is the type that has NO LIFE of her own and a shitty husband (my father-in-law is a selfish prick too) so she puts EVERYTHING in her two sons. She talks about how much she loves my husband and how much she has sacrificed for him and his younger brother, to the extent that she literally starts crying over her greatness.
Now I am not saying she isn't a great mum to my husband. But she uses her love to guilt trip us into obeying her and NEVER daring to leave her. She (and my obedient husband) made me LIVE WITH HER and my FIL and bother in law for whole 2 years! During this period she would feed me very well but it was constant emotional abuse - put downs, talking shit about my own parents for no reason, even saying i didn't have enough dowries or gold two years into the marriage after I have given birth to my son. I think i was too nice for two years and just held it all in and try to be appreciative of all the good things, like the food that she was paying for. But something snapped in me the other day when she talked shit about my parents again - i think it was the last straw - and I pretty much told her and my FIL to fuck off and then I moved out.
Only that the place we moved to belongs to my husband and is only five houses away. My MIL still insists that she sees my baby DAILY, she doesn't want to see me, but insists that my husband and my baby visit her every evening. I hate her so much for it. I also get angry at my husband for never standing up to his mum for me. It makes me wish I had never married him or had his baby. I feel stuck and I feel like I am a terrible person for not dealing with this well.
I know there is no easy solution. Life sucks right? Anyhow, thank you for hearing me out, at least we are not alone in this.
Lana Adler (author) from California on January 31, 2018:
I feel for you. Toxic people never think they're the problem. It sounds like your husband comes from a dysfunctional family with a controlling/narcissistic mother. In families like that one child will be a "golden child" that can do no wrong, the other is a "scapegoat" who shoulders the blame for everything going wrong in that family. The golden child's spouse and children are also untouchable, while the scapegoat's family...well, you know how it is.
It is absolutely not your or your husband's fault, and you're right to not want to be subjected to abuse. Stay strong. Focus on people who do love and appreciate you. Good luck!
DMC on January 31, 2018:
My story is a little different but still roots from issues with my mother in law. My finance and I got engaged back in November of 2016 and his pathological lying, cheating brother got jealous. Instead of congratulating us on the engagement he starting talking nasty about me to his mother which in turn made her hate me. Shortly after the engagement he decided to impregnate his current girlfriend of 1 month, which by the way always wanted to be a stay at home mom and has dropped out of 3 colleges because he wanted her to. The tables had officially turned and everything ended up being about them. Here comes the parties, celebrations, and the continuation of nasty talk about me because I didn't talk to them. I of course stayed away from the family, seek therapy to manage my emotions of truly not understanding why and how to handle my feelings. I invited my in laws to functions dealing with the wedding and instead of telling me the truth by mother in law didn't show up which in turn she told others it was because I was awkward and my family was awkward.A year later after my finance begged for an engagement party it happened. My wonderful future mother in law planned us a damn party but of course the brothers girlfriend had something to say about me and my family. The next day I got a 3 hour yelling conversation about how rude I and my family was and how my mother in law 100% believed everything the girlfriend said and were excited to say his brother purposed to the girlfriend. It become a war I couldn't win nor wanted to be apart of. I have stuck to myself and remained out of the picture to avoid getting hurt, or talked about. Sadly, my finance's grandmother was ill and was only given a few days to live. As any good women would do I traveled with him to say goodbye to his grandmother. Within days the mother in law showed up and had nothing good to say about me and even took my finance in the room of his dying grandmother to discuss my behavior of not talking to her as much. My finance did have choice to have the conversation with her in this setting and later informed her that after everything why would I? Why would I continue to be abused by her, his brother & girlfriend. She disagreed to all allegations and said she did nothing wrong. The next week the baby was born. My finance now hears the nasty talk about him not being a good person and not seeing his nephew enough but at this point we feel as if its a losing battle because his brothers girlfriend and brother wants us to have nothing to do with the kid. Its a constant game to which we are just puppets to them, punching bags even. After all of this though I feel the most for my finance. I wonder some days if its best for me to just leave and allow him to rekindle his relationship with his family. I just don't know what to do anymore....
Lana Adler (author) from California on January 23, 2018:
you have no idea how much this resonates with me. We're on the receiving end of a silent treatment right now and the family (a.k.a. the flying monkeys) are expecting us to "fix it."
Funny thing is, in situations like this family members often take the side of an abuser and the abusees are made to feel responsible for any conflict. I say stand your ground and even if you do let her back into your lives (which is totally up to you), make sure it's on your terms. Good luck!
SoCalledEvilDIL on January 23, 2018:
Everyone is pressuring us to just let her back into our lives, but they don't say "we'll help keep her in line" or "we'll make her understand boundaries ARE important." It's literally just "that's your mom and mil so get over it." WHY DO WE HAVE TO ACCOMMODATE HER? WHY CAN'T SHE JUST RESPECT BOUNDARIES???
Vicki Wood from Eldon, Missouri on January 12, 2018:
It's okay, I understand. I have found a way to get along and 23 years later, my kids aren't serial killers, they survived. I wish you the best of luck, I can't imagine would it would be like to have the situation be that bad. I'm glad you can write about it.
Lana Adler (author) from California on January 12, 2018:
Hi Vicki! My god, that is awful. The little minds are so fragile to that type of gore. And I think you’re right, more often than not things get worse when grandkids arrive. It got a little better in the beginning but then she started crossing all sort of boundaries, inserting her opinion into everything, giving unsolicited advice...You know, the works :)
If it was up to me, I’d cut contact with her. But the family is all up in arms, putting pressure on my husband and I to mend things with her. The whole situation is weighing heavy on me. After everything we’ve been through, all the ups and downs, to be in this place again - silence treatment, anger, resentment. And a little girl in the middle.
I’m just so tired of all of this. And this is my life. Can’t escape it. Nowhere to run to. I’m tethered to this woman. I’m angry at her but I’m also disappointed in myself that I can’t handle this situation better. Ah, sorry for venting. Usually people vent to me but I’m just at the end of my rope here. Thank you for a visit :)
Vicki Wood from Eldon, Missouri on January 12, 2018:
yeah, things can definitely get better when the grandkids come along, but they can also get worse. Case in point, my MIL used to let my four to six-year-old children watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Terrified that my kids were going to become serial killers, i wouldn't let them go visit her anymore.
Lana Adler (author) from California on January 05, 2018:
Hi Latina DIL!
My god, what a terrible thing to say...No wonder you want to stay away from her. It's funny how that works, isn't it? The person says and does hurtful insensitive things, and because you don't want to be rude to them, you decide to stay away from them. Then they judge you for that as well...You staying away also becomes your fault - you being standoffish, you not being respectful etc. It's a peculiar circle of blame!
Latina DIL on January 05, 2018:
My mil thought it would be funny to tell me, "It's a good thing you're not working in the fields with a baby on your back."
I'm latina. She's white. All because I said I needed to run home and change my shoes because the current ones were hurting. She's never apologized. And she wonders why I started pulling away from her.
snorris2684 on December 30, 2017:
I have a so called "MIL" that started trying to place wedges between my spouse and I. It started by her complimenting me, saying he couldn't do this or that without me. Then anything he did, she would say, I didn't know you were smart enough to do anything like that. I would confront her every single time and tell her she is not manipulating our marriage with her ugly intentions. I told her if she wasn't abusive and manipulating for her own selfish needy ways, she wouldn't always need to say things belittling persons. She is emotionally abusive and codependent on her two "adopted" children. She tells us every visit about being angry and hurt staying at grandmas during the day, while the boys worked on the ranch with her parents. She makes it known she despises men. She had no contact with her brothers after she married. My husband spent his entire life reminded it cost $6000 more to adopt him then his sister. He feels guilty and believes he is obligated to repay her the extra cost. There is more to the adoption issue, I will explain in a moment. When she could not succeed coming between my husband and I, she had his sister find a divorce attorney online, in our state. Then, she sent a $1500 check and letter telling the attorney her son needs a divorce and this is the down payment. My husband knew nothing about it until the attorney called our home and spoke to me. My husband came in from work, I told him about the call I got. He found out through the attorney, his mom sent the check and told the attorney he doesn't want a divorce. Then he called his mother to chew her out. She told him he had to get her money back or pay her out of his pocket. We sent her monopoly money the next day with a note that said, "This is all you get from us". "You sent the check, you get it back". So, her tactics failed and she began using his older sister to call, ask him a million personal questions. Then she would call my husband, using the information, to criticize him about our parenting/family decisions. He was emotionally suppressed and abused all his life and rarely speaks up to her. His parents are wealthy, but his mother never worked her entire life. His father earned the income and did all investments to become wealthy. His father has passed away, so she has control of all the money now. His mother has taken him out of the family will numerous times for him speaking up to her or "allowing" me to disrespecting her and hurting her. She informed me what she, his sister and my husband speak about regarding my marriage and family is none of my business, it is between them. So, I said I hope you know you can't walk all over me and get away with it, because it will cost you. She is the perfect manipulating controlling abusive "victim". My husband has 2 sons from previous marriage. I have a daughter from previous. We adopted a baby together. I have little use for conversation with the MIL and grew tired of dealing with her. At one point, she told my husband not to "allow" me access to his money, it isn't mine. So, his checks got deposited to our joint account and I moved half to my personal account and sent her notice every payday. Then is sister began calling saying mom was loosing weight, sick from worry he wasn't happy but felt trapped in our marriage. In reality, she found out about the adoption of our baby girl, and she was furious. She was visiting when the baby was 2mos old, ask if I was babysitting, I replied no. She asked who's baby was and I replied ours. She turned to my husband enraged and said, "You didn't tell me you got her pregnant". I spoke up and said, because he didn't. She asked, "Where did this baby come from then?" I replied, "We adopted her at birth". She turned to my husband, bright red face, anger all over her body, and said, "You adopted a child and never consulted with me before you did that?" She went on to say, "I am shattered you betrayed me for your wife to be happy like this". To which I responded, "He can't betray you with or for his wife, you're not part of OUR marriage, you're just his mom". WE didn't need your permission, we are adults. It wasn't your business unless you intend to pay for everything for her, including our mortgage. She stormed into the guest room and left the next day. As she left I was told, I am the absolute most evil disrespectful daughter-in-law she has even known. To which I responded, "Hey honey, did you hear your mom, she said I was number one to her". So when she went back home, she had his sister start on him about how depressed, betrayed and hurt she was we adopted and he is trapped with me forever, because she doesn't think he is happy. So, after a year or so, he moved out, taking only one of his two sons. His sister told him mom thought it best to just take the oldest, it is easiest for him this way. I let him move, kept his son and my two daughters and our life went on like it was our normal. She expected me to fall apart, become angry, say/do things to hurt/anger him and cause him to want a divorce. I wouldn't give her the satisfaction. After less than a month my husband moved home. It was under my conditions, regarding his mom and sister invading our lives. No answering their questions and talk to them only in front of me. His mother attempted to be the innocent concerned mom, telling him she always like me and was sad when his sister told her he moved out. He wanted to believe that in his heart. I told him she is manipulating him again. To prove it to him, she hates me, she was lying and manipulating him, acting innocent & make him guilty to blame him for moving out. I had him call his mother, ask for $5000 and tell her he was getting a divorce and needed to hire a lawyer. She began instantly bad mouthing me & expressed a check to him. So, upon receiving the check, I had my husband sign it, deposited in the bank, when it cleared I moved the money to my own savings. Then I called her and told her I took that $5000, put it in my account & he can't access it. She was furious. I told her she wasn't slick enough to manipulate me because I wasn't abused by her all my life like my husband, so I didn't fear her and I will not allow her to invade my marriage, family and home without paying one way or the other. I thanked her for paying $5000 in damages she did trying to destroy our family. I told her if she didn't want to keep paying, she better learn limits and boundaries and any psychiatrist could help her with the mental defect she has in that area. Phone calls to my husband were very limited following that. However, she and his sister began sending birthday and Christmas gifts only to my husband two sons, excluding the girls. So, my husband called his mother, put her speaker phone and told her he would not tolerate her treating the girls like that, if she isn't going to do for all the kids, not to send anything for anyone. At which time she stated, "Well, I just do not feel like those are my grandchildren because your blood does not run through their veins". To which I replied, "Who are you exactly?" she responded, "I am his mother". I responded, "That is a lie, your blood does not run through his veins, nor does his "alleged" sisters. I then stated, "We do not accept you as related to my husband or our four children". "If you or **** (his sister's name) call invading our privacy to harass our family again, I will sue you in court". She took a deep breath of disgust, (feeling ignorant for saying that about our daughters at that point), told my husband she was not leaving him any of "her" money in her will". I said, "You never worked, it isn't your money it is his dad's. She hung up. After five years of no communication following that, my husband called them. They ask him not to speak to them in front of his wife. He not only speak in front of me, he uses speaker phone to do so. He told them he will not disrespect his marriage to please them. He won't isolate calls so they can try to manipulate him to damage our marriage, he will not tolerate it. Phone calls are very impersonal and quick now days.
Lana Adler (author) from California on December 19, 2017:
good question. Why are some people toxic? I don't know. Maybe it's a personality disorder. Maybe they're our karmic challenges. Maybe it's just women who can't let go of their sons (some kind of subconscious attraction?).
But please don't let it affect your self-esteem. Remember the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
It was never really about you. You could be the kindest, greatest, smartest person on the planet and a toxic MIL will still find you unacceptable.
Chris on December 19, 2017:
I went through the same thing with my last relationship. I never understood why this women disliked me so much. She ruined our relationship because after a while I couldn't deal with her toxcity and smear campaigns. In the end, my ex broke it off. It was quite hurtful and it really effected my self esteem. Even my ex would make comments like maybe my mother sees something that I don't see. Why are some people like this?
what if on December 08, 2017:
what does a mother in law want .they etiehr let go or they don't this is hte problem , they raised thier son , now does the woman he married take care of him, the new marriage has to walk the walk and learn , to many time the mother thinks she should step in and show, it is worse if a husband goes to his mother for advice, ahh, here is the thing, the father should have been available this is what is happening the fathers are out of the pictures ,My advice to anyone who feels thier mother in law is interfering move far away and do it quickly ,stay in church in new town and find close friends ,beleive me years of being with a mil that would not accept ruined and scared my family now to turn it around before i die break the curse , mothers raise your sons, and let go , if he comes crying back tell him to stand up and take care of his problems don't nurse him
Hell and back on December 06, 2017:
I have chosen to stay away. My husband goes to family gathering but I can not handle the stress that she causes me. The worst part is we have not sad anything to the rest of his family but his oldest sister is now sticking her nose in the middle of it. Mind you this is the same women that is stay with her husband until the kids are out of the house then divorcing. The whole thing makes me stressed,sick,depressed and disgusted. I can not be present because mouth sometimes gets the best of me when backed into a corner. Like the old saying when it rains there normally a mother in law pissing on your parade. I know it is rains it pours but sarcasm is all I have left....
Lana Adler (author) from California on November 30, 2017:
Of course, Pat. We all need to vent from time to time, people with a toxic MIL especially :) I know it's a difficult situation. I wish you patience, strength and wisdom. Hang in there!
pat begg on November 30, 2017:
My problem is slightly different from posts I have read. My husband, his mother and I actually live under the same roof. We pooled resources and bought a property which I will come to love eventually. I believed her when my toxic mil said she was easy to live with. The opposite is true. She forever "huffs" and if I suggest an easier way to do something she throws a childish tantrum, and I really mean tantrum.
Lost count of the times I have retreated and cried my eyes out. And yes, my husband often turns on me.
I know I am not a bad person, I have friends....She has none, never has. She has the personality of a garden shed, extremely old before her time and of course, very set in her ways. I choose not to communicate with her if I can help it because everything is taken out of context. Stated she would do the cooking.....Most of my portion goes in the dog. Just a nightmare.
I could go on but won't bore folk. However, on reading the word toxic, this describes her totally. Thankyou for letting me vent
Virginia-Woolf on November 27, 2017:
Of the hundred posts I’ve read dealing with manipulative mother-in-laws, yours resonated immediately with me and is spot-on unfortunately in describing my mother-in-law’s behaviors.
I have been married for nearly 7 years and am in a bit of a self-awakening as I do take responsibility for not dealing directly with my MIL and walking away as opposed to setting those needed boundaries.
I could cite hundreds of instances of my MIL behaving beyond poorly and without class (as she has none) starting with the moment she stepped in to see me in the labor and delivery room years ago and commenting to my husband that he should probably just go home because it was going to be awhile to the days thereafter when she would stop by unannounced and criticize me for the clothes my infant child wore to the time she displayed my husband’s pictures with his ex-high school/college age girlfriend at his fortieth birthday party (which she held as our baby was just 3 months old) and went around telling my family that this was her son’s (insert name of girlfriend here) as if their relationship still very much existed. She prides herself on being a devout Catholic and being kind to others yet has yet to demonstrate said kindness to me. To this day, she goes out of her way to exclude me from family pictures. She is superficial and constantly first comments on a person’s appearance as if that aspect is critical to the individual’s instrinsic value.
While I was raised to be respectful of people’s beliefs, she can not fathom a world where other religions or beliefs exist outside of her own. She is incapable of intelligent, meaningful conversation because her days are dominated by playing victim to anyone who will listen about how her life and life in general is so bad.
I did try very hard to have, at the very least, a mutually respectful relationship with her and have been kind beyond what I believe she really deserved. This however has not gotten me very far. While we have moved far enough away to where she can not stop over unnounced, she continues to watch our child 2 days a week in our home. It has gotten beyond excruciating for me to have her here as I work from home and have grown tired of her constantly questioning my parental decisions/actions (she once said to me, “I don’t believe the problem is your child as s/he doesn’t behave that way with me.” She also insists on bringing food for my child to eat despite the fact that we have plenty of food that I would like my child to eat in our house. This constant “I know better, your child prefers me” behavior has gone on for too long and I would prefer an arrangement where she would not be my child’s babysitter but my hands are tied with my husband.
While I have come to a point where I have had enough and am setting new boundaries such as limiting access to information about our child and family (as all information is used by her to either slander me with her family and friends or used for manipulative reasons) and calling her out on her behavior, I also recognize and resent not having proper support from my husband over the years as he has failed in my opinion to recognize his mother’s actions and words and plays the part of being too busy or not concerned because he believes I am letting my emotions get the best of me. I am truly contemplating divorce because our days are riddled with arguments and I don’t believe it is a proper environment for my child.
While my husband has stepped up a little in having frank conversations with her about her behavior, I don’t believe it is enough And Is perhaps too little too late. I feel so stuck right now and am trying very hard to get to a peaceful place but am finding the right decisions very hard to make.
Thank you again for your article and sharing your story.
Lana Adler (author) from California on November 19, 2017:
That's awful! What a stupid thing to tell to a new mama. Anyway, she doesn't know what she's talking about, girls are the best!
Goodbutnotgreat on November 18, 2017:
Everything you said in part one is my mil to a T. I thought things were getting a bit better during the end of my pregnancy but it got worse because I had a girl and not a boy like she would have preferred. I was told I didn't do as well because of the gender, and told this within a couple hours of having her.
Lana Adler (author) from California on November 03, 2017:
This is unacceptable. She should never speak badly of you in front of your son. It just shows the kind of person she is. Hang in there! Your son won't be a teenager forever. One day he will understand, and he will make his own judgment.
Momof1 on October 26, 2017:
Sadly my marriage couldn’t survive my mother in law. My ex-husband moved in with his mom after our divorce, 14 years later he is still there and so my son goes there on his dads weekends. And my mother in law has manipulated my son also. My son loves me and we have a good realtionship but as with all teenagers when we fight things come out of his mouth that I know came from my mother in law. So I ask and she doesn’t deny. I ask my ex to speak to her but he doesn’t want to rock the boat with her and if I do then my son turns on me. It’s a no win situation with me. She is my nightmare.
Ynot on October 20, 2017:
After reading this, I realized that most women ( with age) are really just witches in denial. Scary stuff, and even scarier that they even had sons to ' raise' ( or should I say...'lower') Sure glad I was spared from this evil nonsense. Sincerly, mom of 4, grandma of 7. Peace!
Lana Adler (author) from California on October 17, 2017:
We're not at that point yet but at times I'm very open to this option! Thanks for the advice :) Always good to know when things work out.
Happy in Illinois ! on October 12, 2017:
After many years of marriage, watching her tear me down . Trying to be a "good" daughter in law , I decided enough was enough . It was divorce him or she had to go. The word toxic was such a nice way of putting it when it came to Brenda. The funny thing is it wasn't just me she had the issues with . It was anyone and everyone . She couldn't even get along with coworkers. She treated us like the black sheep of the family . I refused to let my child be part of such a "toxic" "narcissistic " woman's life . Funny my child never asked for her , my husband and I became much closer . Sometimes you just have to move on , and close all the doors . Best 2 years of our marriage so far! We will celebrate our 6th anniversary this year! Word of advice if this is your situation don't divorce your husband , divorce your in laws
Kristy on October 06, 2017:
Not sure if anyone else is experiencing the same thing I am. Something that is present with my MIL situation is that my husband and his mother behave more like spouses, as far as carrying on conversations and making decisions. I cannot get him to have a single conversation about our future without him getting angry. But he will discuss just about anything with his Mother. How do I break through that?
Andraya13 on September 15, 2017:
The problem is if I stand up then my husband gets mad at me that I should just let it go and not let her get to me so I'm the end either she is disrespecting me or my husband and I are fighting
Vj on September 14, 2017:
It's funny, mine got worse when I had kids. Moreso because she wanted to br around more. I dealt with her before kids by just not talking with her that often and now my husband makes me feel like I have to let her come around more and because she lives out of state they're sleepover visits. I ended them because she did some inappropriate things while here, but after 3 years since children I haven't found a balance yet, besides ignoring her. Oy.
Teresa on August 27, 2017:
When I first met my MIL to be, she was the most stoic, hard to talk to, and strange person I have met. I love to talk to people and do not have problems carrying on with people I don't know at all. I tried gain her acceptance for the first five years. She had an accident and I cared for her in my home. She was resentful towards me for her accident that she had and the fact she was having to change her life, which I understand that, but not my fault. I was trying to help my Husband out with her because of my love for him not her. She made it clear we were not going to be in a good relationship and I finally excepted that was the way it was going to be. She made it a point to call me by my Husband's ex-wife's name and telling me how great she was with her. I know different. I am told they had the same issues. She does this to try to get to me. I know what she is doing so I find it amusing and just change the subject. She would call me the help. I just laughed with her. She met her match with me. I will take the high road and always conduct myself with being better than to be manipulated by her. She was bedbound when I cared for her and I put everything into helping her get back on her feet. I thought we were getting somewhere, but instead it was like she hated me more. So okay you hate me, but I refuse to let you destroy my happy marriage. I have my own Mom I do not need another. Now my Husband does most of the errand running for her which I wish I could help him out with this, but when I go around her she brings out the worst in me. She stares me down, she makes mean comments at random. I told her not to bite me because I bite back and that we will get along if she wants to and if not, that is okay. The family will not help other then my Husband and that is why I have helped so much. They don't like her much because she has been so cold to them. When we go out to eat all together they get to the restaurant early so they can arrange to sit as far away from her as possible and I am always the one sitting in front of her. Won't happen again. I will be the early one. They come to the house and make arrangements to get as far away from her as possible. Her Grandchildren look terrified of her. Again leaving me with her. I am always kind to her unless she throws a random tantrum, then I stand my ground. She is not used to someone standing up to her as she has been a bully most of her life. I was bullied and stood my ground while growing up and put a stop the that happening. Finally after seven years I have come to know it does not matter what I do she will never accept me nor like me. I do not go around her, don't call her, don't answer calls, and consider her a non-person in my life. I will have to be around her during the holidays, but I will make sure I am not sitting as the primary conversation even though she does not jab while others are around any longer. I guess she did not like getting it back in front of whomever. She treated the only person who stepped up to help her in a desperate time for her terribly and I rearranged my life to help her. She has caused arguments between my Husband and I and we are a couple that never argued and have always been best friends. For my Husband I will do the same during holidays but that is all I will have to do with her any longer. She is the only person I have met that acts like she does and that caused such a negative impact on my mental health for a while. So for my health it is best for me to stay completely away from her. I have accepted that she will never accept me and that is okay because I am good with who I am. I know I did the right thing helping her so I can move on and live without the toxic MIL.
Victoria on August 24, 2017:
I am so glad I found this article and that I'm not alone. Thank you so much. I had a really bad day- my bf got a new job and told his mother he can't travel and help her move overseas. However today she flipped and accused me of selling my car and moving at the same time- like he's staying to help me? And that's why he's not coming? Amongst other abusive crazy things I ended up in tears. My bf sticks up for me and calls her out but she is so narcassistic and says crazy stuff to him too :(
Molly Magee62 on August 20, 2017:
I sent my comment about five days ago - the post affair comment/story. Will it get put here or on the one the preceded this. Hope so. Thanks.