How to handle a difficult mother-in-law

|by Thembi Hama |with 0 Comments

The strain that a mother-in-law can put on a couple’s relationship can lead to the collapse of their marriage …

Copyright: jackf / 123RF Stock Photo

In some families, the mother-in-law is jokingly referred to as a “monster-in-law”

The strain that a mother-in-law can put on a couple’s relationship can lead to the collapse of their marriage. For some women, the relationship deteriorates when they feel that their mother in law is controlling, belittles them or wants to run their home.

The following tips will help you handle a difficult mother-in-law effectively:

Assess the situation

Do not fight fire with fire. You must always be polite, approach the situation from a rational space if you are to constructively handle it.

Assess her behaviour and find out if it is done from a place of love and correction, or if it’s a case of clueless ignorance with no malicious intent  - or just plain evil.

Perhaps you or your husband are doing or not doing certain things and this aggravates her behaviour.

Have empathy: you may have to be the bigger person

Check where she is coming from, it could be a case of being over protective, thinking her son is not mature enough to handle his issues, or frustration over being disconnected from him.

Recognise and avoid the triggers, and find out if there is anything you could do that could pacify the situation, so that you do not continue antagonising her.

Try to fix things or manage the situation where you can

Pick your battles but do not ignore evil. Do not try to change her and do not change for her.

Communicate, let her know when something is bothering you, tell her how you feel, find out how you could resolve problems. Be bold, assertive and establish some boundaries.

Take criticism with a positive outlook: if there is some truth to it, gracefully implement change, if not, let it roll off you, and do not take it personally. Find other outlets for your anger like walking away.

Pick your battles but do not ignore evil. Do not try to change her and do not change for her

Kill her with kindness

Show her gratitude for things she does for you, and include her in all you do. If there are ways to make her feel important and needed in her own way, this could help.

Do things that she likes like make her favourite meal, ask her for advice and include her in family events or activities - but remember to only accommodate the needs that you can. This way, you get to win her affection and change her perception of you.

Get your husband’s help and support

Don’t blame your spouse for her behaviour. Learn to separate issues. Seek his help and keep a united front.

Remember, never drive a wedge between mother and son, never compete with her and never force your husband to choose between you and his mother.

If all else fails, you may have to cut ties

If it becomes apparent that she will never change, and if she intentionally and deliberately dislikes you, you may have to stay away physically, limit her involvement in your life and love her from a distance.

When you have done all you could, you need to reach a space where you are okay with not being liked or getting approval. You may have to look to your own family for support.