How to Deal With a Controlling Mother-in-Law
Sometimes, your mother-in-law can be overbearing, pushy, disrespectful of boundaries, authoritative, and wanting to interfere, which might lead to long-term stress and even destroy your relationship with your partner in the future. That’s why 5-Minute Crafts would like to tell you how to handle a difficult and controlling mother-in-law.
1. Give yourself a time-out.
✅ Before trying to resolve the conflict with your mother-in-law, give yourself some time to evaluate the situation better and make a plan that will work for you.
✅ Find a quiet place without any distractions and write down every event that has taken place to date. Pay attention to your feelings and your mothers-in-law’s behavior during these events as well as possible ways out of the difficult situations.
✅ Once you’ve let all your feelings out on paper, look at the list you’ve made again with a calmer mind. This will help you make decisions more rationally.
2. Express your feelings to your partner.
✅ If you feel under attack every time you see your mother-in-law, make sure that your partner is aware of what’s going on. Tell them about your feelings, using “I” statements (for example, “I feel hurt when your mother...”). This will help your spouse understand the problem better.
⛔ Avoid being critical of your in-laws, as it can only cause a protective response instead of empathy.
✅ If your spouse insists that their mother’s behavior is normal by using phrases like, “That’s just the way she is,” or “She doesn’t mean anything bad by that,” give some examples of what is considered the norm in your own family and explain why you think that this is healthier.
✅ Then give your partner some time to process everything and change their behavior according to your feelings.
3. Set the boundaries.
✅ When talking to your spouse, clearly identify the changes you want to see about your in-law’s behavior and what exactly you would like your partner to do about them.
✅ Explain your need for boundaries and define your limits and rules along with the things that you are ready to accept. For example, you can explain that you need your personal space and that you are not ready to see your mother-in-law in your house every day. However, you are happy to invite her over for Sunday dinner once a week.
✅ If your partner wants to handle the problem differently, try to negotiate and decide together on what parts of your lives your in-laws will be involved in.
✅ Encourage your spouse to take responsibility and deal directly with their parents. Your partner can convey your message either beforehand (for example, by letting them know what you will do on holidays several weeks or months in advance) or every time an issue comes up.
4. Open up to your mother-in-law.
✅ Try to talk directly to your mother-in-law, but don’t blame her. Open your heart and say how you actually feel and how much you desire to get along with her.
✅ Be empathetic. Try to put yourself in your mother-in-law’s shoes to find out what feelings cause her negativity or the need to cross boundaries.
✅ Instead of cutting off your mother-in-law completely, manage the time you and your family spend with her wisely. For example, you can start seeing each other less and even choose particular days for your meetings.
✅ Ask your mother-in-law what role she wants to play in your family life and try to involve her without destroying your own boundaries. For example, you can ask her to babysit your children while you’re on a date night with your spouse, and she’ll most probably be happy to help you.
✅ Stay positive — praise and thank your mother-in-law for what went right in the past and what goes right presently, for yourself, your spouse, your kids, and all other members of your family.
✅ Convince your mother-in-law that you are a good choice for her child by showing how much you care for your spouse.