advice: when mother-in-law issues lead to divorce

 QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER: I have been married for 13 years and have lived in the same small town for 13 years. During these years I’ve become very frustrated with the dynamics of my husband’s family, especially my mother-in-law. She is a tyrant and a bully. She bullies her son and/or ignores him completely. She does the same with her grandsons. I have persevered long enough. I cannot seem to accept that my husband has no strength to face his mother about how she treats him and his sons. She acts like they don’t exist! They are a prominent family in the town, so there is a constant reminder of their presence. Since my husband doesn’t have the courage or strength to stand up to his mother and call her out on her actions, I have to do it. Now my in-laws and husband blame me for the family disconnect. I am tired of being the scapegoat and have encouraged my husband to change, but he is unwilling to make a change in hopes his mother will accept him one day. I feel like the only way I’m going to grow is to leave this dysfunctional family, which means leaving my husband. I am unhappy and have an emotionally void husband that has mastered blocking anything uncomfortable out. It is toxic and continues to crop up and poison me, no matter what. I am at a loss and feel my marriage is on the brink of divorce and do not know where to turn. I feel healing together without the presence of his family in the same vicinity would help us. My husband’s retort is basically "Suck it up. We are not going to run away. We have a nice home." I am at a loss and feel torn, as I love my home, as well. Do I present an ultimatum to my husband? I think this is the only way, but then he says I am threatening him. 

straight up advice

What strikes me most about your letter is that this is your problem. That is to say, it sounds like everyone else is actually accepting of the way things are. Maybe your husband is mildly unhappy about the way his family is, but it’s also what he knows. This has been the dynamic, I’m guessing, forever. It’s his familiar. It’s worth noting that you’ve been married for thirteen years, and this dynamic was always what it is, and yet NOW you’ve become very frustrated. I wonder, what is it that has changed in you, what has ignited this… hurt. I’m guessing that what you’re really feeling is wounded. It’s a gut instinct. Because you feel he’s choosing his mother over you. And you feel wounded that he doesn’t respect you enough to change. And you feel hurt that she treats you this way, too. And, quite frankly, I don’t blame you. It does hurt.

Yes, it’s frustrating as all h-e-double hockey sticks, and you wish your husband was a different man. But this is the man you chose to marry, a man you vowed to love in sickness and in health, and right now, that sickness is his infectious mother-in-law. And you’re letting it get to you.

I hear you. Been there, divorced that. But I didn’t divorce him because he wasn’t man enough to stand up to his parents. I actually accepted that it was one of his limitations in life. That is the world he knew, and it wasn’t going to change overnight. I just saw it as a flaw; no one is perfect. You know what I learned to do? I stopped complaining to him about his mother (not the world, I was fine with that, but to him). Putting him in the middle doesn’t help anything, and will actually only frustrate the fuck out of you because it’s highly unlikely that he’s going to change. It’s why ultimatums just don’t work. No one wins there. Because what you’re saying is, it’s me, or it’s her. Instead, there’s a way to soften it.

On a scale of 1-10 of importance, this is a 10 to me. I know you have lived and operated this way all your life, and I don’t expect it to change overnight, but if I’m important to you, you will at least show me that you care about how this is affecting me, and will make steps toward changing this dynamic. I know you’re okay with it. But I’m not. It’s a very big issue for me, and I need to know, that you, as my partner, want to work on changing this dynamic. I’ve helped to create this dynamic by not expressing how much it has affected me over the years. But things cannot continue this way. I don’t want to put you in the middle, so from now on, if I have an issue with your mother’s behavior, I’m going to speak with her about it, and I need to know that you will support me, no matter what, if she then goes to you to talk about it. I need to know that you will tell her to deal directly with me about it, that you, as my husband, are fully on my side.

I’ll also say this. A friend of mine began having mother-in-law issues as soon as she got married. She and her husband sought couples counseling, as the mother was making them fight constantly. The therapist told the man that if he wanted to make his marriage work, he had to realize that his wife was his family now. He said that a husband and wife should be a two-person team that supports one another 100%. If any outside force (his mother) were to try to come between the team, he should always choose his wife over the other. Although this is what his wife had been saying all along, the husband needed to hear it from an outside party. He didn’t choose his mother, but he did choose you as his family, and he does need to put you first. If he admits that he cannot put you first, that he’s incapable of respecting how important this is to you, then I would, in fact, think long and hard about what this marriage means to you.

"Now my in-laws and husband blame me for the family disconnect." They happen to be right. You’re the one who has a problem with it, not them. That dysfunctional way they live is what they know. Here’s what I would do, if I were you. I would tell your husband that YOU have found a therapist, that you’re at the end of your rope and need help. I would tell him that you plan to see the therapist whether or not he wants to go. You would like it very much if he went with you, so the therapist could hear both sides of things, so the therapist doesn’t only hear your ranting and raving, but if it’s not important to him, then you still plan on going. I would, in fact, make an appointment with a therapist who deals with couples therapies. And then, most importantly, I would tell your mother-in-law that you’re going. Tell her that you don’t want to live like this anymore, and that you welcome her to come to therapy, that you are going to discuss everything that goes on with her and your husband, and you welcome her to voice her side of things. Let her know that the dynamic has to changeand you’re no longer going to sit around and complain about it. You’re taking steps to do something about it.

go ahead, ask

She may laugh, she may ignore you completely. But she’ll fall asleep at night wondering what the hell you’re telling this therapist, and she may just want to put in her two cents and get into that therapist’s room. Even if she doesn’t, she’ll know, she’ll expect the dynamic to change.

That’s all I’ve got. Perhaps others will join in…

If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address.

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  1. If it were me, I’d talk to the therapist before I told my mother in law anything. If the point is to keep her from invading your marriage, dragging her into another situation seems questionable to me.

    But, I absolutely agree that therapy is needed. Lots of therapy, but since we’re only in control of ourselves, the best thing to do is get yourself there. At least.

    1. I actually had a three hour discussion with MIL, I talked about everything that’s been bothering me for years. Things got better afterwards once she knew that I’m aware of her doings and I’m not afraid of saying what’s in my mind . Just like any relationship, you need to talk things out. Even if they don’t listen, at least they will be aware of you and how you won’t take their BS.
      I used same technic with my own mom, she tries to manipulate me and when it fails, she sends her minions ( my dad, aunt , my brother ) . Unfortunately, her minions don’t have any power over me. :)

  2. There is an amazing book called “The Dance if Intimacy” by Harriet J. Lerner which is a wonderful resource in giving the strength, validation and resources to handle such intractible problems as yours. Read several times, and turned to in moments of despair and frustration as a guide, it makes an incredible difference. It’s a light in the darkness.

  3. You mean “She’ll want to put in her ‘Two Cents’ not ‘two sense’.. (no need to post this just edit this part)

    And V good advice..beat her at her own game and do not let her win. Well done.

  4. Long time reader, first time commenter!

    When you point out that she IS the cause of the family rift – holy cats – that blew my mind! I never thought of it like that. Brilliant. Definitely a way of thinking I can apply to my own life. Thanks!!

  5. I have a difficult MIL who “threatened” to go to therapy over our relationship – something she unfortunately hasn’t followed through on. I think there are people who are just plain difficult and you either have to learn to deal with them (by avoiding or decreasing contact) or break the relationship off with that person. Either way, you need the unconditional support of your spouse/partner and it sounds like this woman’s husband needs to man up and decide who he wants to have as part of his life. If he’s waiting for mommy’s affirmation and still hasn’t gotten it after all this time, that should be a warning to him.

    1. I agree with the “avoiding or decreasing contact” part. My MIL is very agressive and feels her way is the right way. She threatened to “disown” my husband when she found out we wanted to elope. I compromised for the sake of my husband. 3 years later, I limit my contact with her, ignore the passive-aggressive, and support my husband when he is a total loss of how to handle her. I choose not to get involved because I don’t have to and I’m happier for it. It’s between my husband and his mom.

  6. Yes, the wife is the cause of the rift in the family because she is the one causing the upheaval in the status quo, so there is that to take into consideration. I agree that a husband and wife must support each other as one team, however if one is expecting the other to completely banish a parent (unwillingly) to create this support, something is wrong and the person being pressured should run away very quickly. Both should be accepting of each other. I was in a similar situation and thank GOD I gave that diamond ring back before I married the sucker!

  7. Spot on, Stephanie! Good for you! I completely agree with the “leave and cleave” philosophy, though easier said than done. Thanks for giving all of us something to think about!

  8. This is not helpful advice, but I can say that one of the benefits of divorce is NEVER having to be anything but civil to my ex MIL ever again. God, I loathed that woman…and she, me.

    One thing that I advise anyone considering marriage to do is evaluate those family dynamics from a truly neutral standpoint. Watch the interactions with the knowledge that you cannot change them. Especially watch how he treats his mom and see if that’s how you want to be treated (I know that’s old advice – but it’s true!) Watch how dad treats mom too…that’s a biggie! I wish I’d listened all those thousands of years ago when I was warned “look how he treats his mom…he’s an ass!” and my reply “oh, that’s just his mom. He’ll never treat me that way.” Sigh.

  9. I’m not usually turned off by controlling people, provided I believe their heart is in the right place. I see their need to control as THEIR problem. In the end, I’m going to do what I’m going to do. I’ve been down this road…with myself. Manipulating and controlling others is what you do when you don’t trust the flow of life. It’s fear.

    I grew up in a family of strong women that controlled the flow of the family. Then I married a man who had a mother that was just like the women in my family. Is she a bit controlling? Absolutely, but it doesn’t bother me because it’s familiar to me. I see the the controlling nature and I see the fear and love that usually triggers it in her. I can’t make her change, so I choose to focus on the latter.

  10. Another book, looks totally cheezy but I think a lot of it could apply to this lady and her husband… Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley. I think I’ve given this title to Stephanie to check out because I would love her opinion on it too.

    Any way, I think Stephanie gave some great perspective.

    Good luck!

  11. Did anyone else notice that writer also said that the mother in law is also bullying and/or completely ignoring her GRANDCHILDREN?
    I agree that this woman and her husband need to work together to figure out how to deal with his mother, but in the meantime I think that she should keep her children out of the whole situation and until it’s resolved away from bullies.

  12. This was me before I talked to my husband (early on, mind you) and told him it was unacceptable. It turned out well for us and she’s been cut out of my life (he goes to visit her every few months without me and without sharing details of our lives with her).

    I think the advice about therapy is good, but I respectfully and adamantly disagree that you should tell her about it and invite her in. Her meddling in your relationship is the problem and validating her role in your lives is going to backfire if she chooses not to go (which she probably will, because really, who would?). You know her better than any of us, but think about it.

    As for your children being mistreated, this would be a big sign that your husband sees you and your children as the “extended” family. That’s so unfortunate. If he’s not willing to man up, perhaps ending your misery and divorcing him will be an excellent lesson to your children. You do not want them thinking this is normal family behavior.

    Good luck!

  13. What I am most struck by is “I am unhappy and have an emotionally void husband.” Now she is really getting somewhere with that statement. I wonder if the MIL issue is just a safe topic and distraction to vent about when the real issue is the relationship steadily growing more distant between the couple. To be honest, this post kinda took my breath away, as I could have penned it, right down to the 13 years. While opposites initially attract, emotionally expressive wives may eventually tire of being the only one in the marriage who is feeling anything. As for me, in hindsight, there is something to be said about marrying a man with similar emotional intelligence, which I didn’t do.

  14. i don’t know how else to say this except: you are brilliant. i have LIVED this. this is what initially connnected me to you, and your blog, is the mother-in-law issues, and being a young manhattan divorcee. reading your response has stirred some unpleasant memories i keep tucked away, and how i wish i had you to bounce around my thoughts with 6 years ago! thanks for the insights.

  15. That’s great advice, and especially timely give my post today. I completely sympathize with the author of the question as my husband’s family can be quite difficult as well.

    1. I would consider leaving. I doubt he will ever change. If he can’t even acknowledge that she is nasty to his own children, there is a real problem.
      It is probably to hard for him to admit it to himself that she is nasty.
      My MIL was cruelly uncaring. My husband would not let me complain to him or limit visiting. When I did get upset, he raged at me.
      He ended up visiting by himself & never missed a holiday with his family to celebrate with our family.

  16. Wow sounds so familiar. My MIL is toxic as well. In my case she has been allowed, by the family, to behave this way for so long that there really is no good solution. If you confront her she will block you out and blame you for any further problems. It would create a huge mess in the current dynamic. My husband did lightly confront her so she does not think things are sliding past us. But this is the extent of it. I have to just let her always have her way, have her say even if I don’t agree. This is the only way of dealing with her. At 80 years old she isn’t going to change. Sorry that I do not have a good solution.

  17. After 16 years of marriage I recently divorced my ex for many of the same reasons listed in the reader’s letter. His mother invaded every aspect of our lives and each time I objected or tried to reason with her the end result was always: “You are difficult and why can’t you just pretend to get along with my mother?” In his mother’s mind I wasn’t the wife she wanted for her son and I wasn’t the mother she wanted for her granddaughter. She found fault with everyone around her, including her spouse and dear son and anyone that stood up to her was subjected to the cold treatment along with insulting comments. She is the master of holding grudges and her son made it clear to me that he valued the material things she could give him much more than the emotional support I could provide.

    We did individual therapy, family therapy all together and marriage counseling and both my ex and his mother dropped out of counseling because they felt that the therapist wasn’t helping and I was the only one that needed to change. I was told that if I changed to suit them then their lives would be much happier.

    Well, I stayed in therapy for 4 years, working on rebuilding my confidence and self esteem and you know what? I did change! I looked at my ex and his mother and said, “You two are welcome to stew in your dysfunction but I can’t live this way so I’m leaving.” Imagine their shock but now I can breathe and feel so much more alive. My daughter sees me being truly happy now and much more relaxed. That is the best example I can set for her and sometimes it really is best to walk away.

  18. I have to say that you give sound advice, Stephanie.

    I’ve been there done that too, but I’m a lucky one as my husband chose me after all the hassles. Actually he chose to just cut off my in-laws all together – I always supported his decisions but it came down to his decision to cut them out of our lives.

    It was never a case that he’d take their side he just jumped when they called and never standing up for himself. Even the day that we were ‘offically’ estranged did they argue or anything, it was a quiet thing. We have great communication! This helps so much.

    Good luck, a MIL that sucks OR a FIL as was my case, actually both, is never an easy thing on a relationship.

  19. I am finally in divorce process and one of the main problems was the in laws, esp. mom in law from hell. I never got any cooperation from husband in handling her, and when i tried to talk to her several times, we got nowhere. Everyone in their family was used to the “status quo”, just how she is, she has always been “controlling” the neighbors and friends would even say in the small town, and only in the last year did my soon to be ex husband finally yell out “my mom was controlling my whole life!”, upon me finding out about his affair and lies and losing his job, etc.., he finally admitted it, a dysfunctional family , a controlling mom, a dad who was always going on hunting, fishing, golfing, men’s trips way too much, most likely to get away from her. So what i see now, after dealing with these people for 10 plus years, is that people do not change, and i saw many red flags early on, and i guess i thought it could change. The only time she was nice to me was when they finally found out about the affair and what all their son had done, for the first time treated me in a good way, but i think they just didnt want the problem son and his addictions back to handle, they were seeing I had to cope with it instead. so now, he has been back living with them in small town, and hating it, and so where they wanted to spend so much time with him, and everyone blamed me for keeping him away, etc.. now they can all have each other, i wont have to deal with them, and they wont have to look at me and i wont have to go to that god awful town ever again! So yes, look good and hard at the family, because that is very telling for your relationships!

  20. I’m so grateful for my husband! My MIL is nutty on five of the levels described in the Lifestyle article “The Nightmare Mother-In-Law: A Daughter-in-Law’s Guide” (…which a comment from that led me to this article). We moved into a house that she was ‘giving us’ (Free while we found jobs, rent for a while, then we would inherit it)… But sometimes Free is just too expensive. That carrot has so many strings attached it will never come untied. She is all demands and ultimatums, contradictions and one crisis after another. She stops by unannounced to tell us how to parent, how to potty train our dog, how to get a job and what job she knows we need to take. She alternatively insults us and makes my husbands skills out to be bigger than life. … and this is what I’m getting to: ****My husband decided she is causing too much stress in our family. We are broke but we are selling half of household to come up with the money to move back to California.*** He wants us to get away from her toxic presence. He is choosing us over her, though he is sad about it… he thinks its the right thing to do. Thank God that my husband cares about us or I’d be facing this issue all by myself.

  21. Wow! I could have written this! I was just like the writer of this question, that tried to seek a happy medium for 17 years. But my MIL continued getting bolder and bolder. She was controlling of my husband and just mean to my kids. And yes, my husband was OK with that. When she wouldn’t help after my husband had a hemiplegic stroke (in any way), I did it all. I was there for him for 6 months, totally devoted. But that’s when the MIL got the boldest with her mean words and ordering around. The stress was too much and I let her know that she could not do this anymore. My handicapped husband’s response? “She and my brother are my family first. You and the kids come second.” She then gave him 10K to move out. Although your advice seems practical, it is not practical for impractical people! I am guessing that the writer of this question had the same fate as myself.

  22. Yes, op is upsetting the status quo. That, however, does not make her wrong.

    OP…your husband is weak. Period and point blank. You either ask him to come to marriage counseling with you, deal with it as is (and I warn you it’s very, very hard to live with (much less even like) a man you think is weak and do not respect), or get out.

    I HATE answers like the above. Answers like that simply excuse bad behavior. Go along to get along, never mind that you’re being treated like garbage by your mil and everyone thinks that it’s okay because that’s just the way she is.

    Yep…that’s the way she is. Doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. Disengage. Drop the rope. Have nothing to do with her. Pretend as if she’s dead. Since she treates your kids badly…have them do the same. Don’t be the buffer for your husband. Let him deal with his bitch mother.

    1. I have the same problem..almost 12 years married to a man who thinks standing nearer to a wife is wrong in front of others.void emotions. No love or no lust. Once in a month or two months suddenly he pounces on me to make love.when I hate him he says that I am not a cooperating wife..ha ha. He is not gay but he doesn’t like women either.can’t live with him.but my mother in law who ignores my husband and my 4 yr kid has been telling since our marriage that I am a bitch who will dump him soon..she just wants him back without me and enjoy his salary.he is of course a born slave to her.she does not mind him do kitchen work when guests r there. I don’t talk with her now.but I know she is waiting for me to walk away soon and also take the blame that I am an unfit wife. Just for that sake I am still hanging on with this useless man. Waiting for her to die soon then I will kick him out of my life.but yea I got a worried expression permanently on my face and grey hair before reaching my thirties..I m living in hell but no escape..feels very sad that someone wants me to always label unfit in laws, all their relatives and my husband. I am sad.always sad.

  23. hey… these mother in laws can never change… i got divorce after 3 months of my love marriage.. my mother in law got that guy away from me.. who loved me the most.. that guy slapped me… being a lady… she publically showed my n_de pics with his son.. saying my slut…. she calls herself women…

    she is a WOE 2 HUMAN

  24. my shit started now
    before we got married everything was fine

    they treated me like a princess
    but now……she called me the devil in front of every one – my husband didnt open his mounth once – and i was just sitting there when she lost the plot

    i will never forgive him for this

    will it ever change?

    saddest part is that i stood by him when they abandoned him after a very bad accident

    she is the worst person I have ever seen – i hate her

    must i get a divorse?im not gonna life like this

    he didnt say one word when she treated me like shit

    may she burn in hell – for stealing some one I love away from me

  25. This post is worth reading, that issue does matter. Family or mother -in law issue does really trigger couples relationship. Even I had experienced that same thing too when both are you are arguing to each other because of your family or your mother in-law .What I can advise is that the best thing they can do is to talk each other to understand both sides.

  26. Has anyone noticed that only daughters-in-law are responding? Is that fair? I was a daughter-in-law and appreciate the ins and outs but now like overnight am a mother-in-law having 3 DIL’s and 1 sil. It takes two in every disagreement. It sounds like most want the MIL to disappear. Do you have sons? someday it will be reversed and sadly you will understand and learn what you don’t get now. MIL’s do need to step back and not interfere but Dil’s must understand the playing field has changed and MIL’s need time and patience with empty nest, mid life issues etc. One day they are helping with curtains for their son’s place and the next minute told to make an appointment. Yes couples do need space but MIL’s need to have their sons’ love. You will always be number 1 but allow him a space in his heart to love the woman who gave birth, nurtured and loved him. She can’t stop loving him but yes she can step back. Talk, understand, compromise because likely one day you might learn the hard way yourself what it is like to be at the other end of the spectrum. Drop the EGO and jealousy which we all have. We all feel pain when wounded and we hide it. Get along for everyone’s sake including your kids who gain great benefits with grandparents involvement. I love my 4 in-laws and each is different. They fit each of the ones they married. God Bless and think positive see the good rather than focusing on the bad. Pamela Reynolds I have a positive new book being launched shortly and hope you will read it so that marriages might be saved.

  27. I am having the same issues with my MIL and it has gotten to a point where I want to find no resolution. I know people here say to not make the husband choose sides but honestly, I’m so furious with my in laws that I don’t think I can ever forgive them or want to accept them with open arms.

    We have been together for almost 5 years and married for two and we are having a baby in a month and a half. In the beginning we had issues with my in laws who have absolutely NO boundaries. We moved, bought our own house and I thought things would get better. Well they just kept creeping in. I was living in my husbands condo when we were dating and I felt maybe if I had my own home they wouldn’t pop by all the damn time unnancounced. Yet they figured out a way to keep stopping by our house all the damn time.

    Early in my pregnancy I was throwing up all the time and being so tired and had headaches and they would pop by at 8 pm and 9 pm and just linger around. It made me so furious because they never once wondered how it inconvenienced is only that they wanted to come and that’s all that mattered. One time I was exhausted from working a long day and was finally sitting down at 8:30 and 14 weeks pregnant to enjoy my dinner and they walked through the door and had the decency to say to me “you guys don’t seem excited we are here.” I wanted to slap my MIL across the face.

    Fast forward to me being pregnant. Instead of being excited for our family to grow, my MIL has been such a monster. I tried to organize a big gift for my husbands bday and I messaged everyone. Everyone cooperated except her because she didn’t think my gift idea was “personal enough.” I got so upset and I went to my own mom and she said she is just doing it to fight me and disagree with me. There’s no logic behind it. Then a few weeks later his birthday rolls around (yesterday) she messages me and DEMANDS they come to our dinner plans that I planned and when I told her sorry that is our plans but let’s plan something the next day. It became World War Two. She said but I want to see him on that day is there a problem? I was in the OBGYNs office for my check up being 31 weeks pregnant and I got so upset I started crying in the office. It was so embarrassing.
    When my husband confronted her about it she called me selfish. And when he told her that she needs to respect me and not speak to me that way. Instead of making an effort she basically told him to leave her alone and that she just won’t talk to us. But then I see the next day she messages him trying to have a secret relationship with him.

    I looked at what he said to her and while he tried to defend me I also noticed he said to her “I’m always standing up for you ” and I felt so betrayed. I feel he’s being so horrible about it and I felt I could trust him yet he’s siding with both people here and telling them what thy want to hear.

    I’m so upset I packed my bag and want to go and stay with my family and just have the baby by myself. I don’t want to expose my daughter to this toxic family. It’s so sad because we had infertility for nearly two years and instead of enjoying my pregnancy she has made my life a living hell. All issues in our marriage stem from them. Because they couldn’t come to our dinner they made sure to poison everything to the point where my husband was in such a nasty mood at dinner he told me we shouldn’t have even gone and it took me a month to plan everything.

    Even when we told my in laws we were expecting. My FIL had such a poor reaction and they have done absolutely nothing to be excited for the baby. I feel they only care about themselves and seeing their own son and they don’t even care about their grandchild or trying to have a good relationship with me so that they can be in her life we well.

    I hate them so much. I woke up and imagined them being in a car accident and how happy I would feel to never have to feel bullied and verbally abused again.

  28. Back story: together for 14years, married for 2 years, with one child. MIL is rude and controlling, BIL has jumped to her defense and FIL just faded into the background)

    I’ve contemplated divorce, counseling is now on the table. However, I’ve been refusing to believe I was the problem. Maybe, I am. No, I have to be. Not everyone is going to do as I please; to each, their own. RIght? I have to remain responsible for me, my actions, and my emotions, even in my marriage. I even transferred the disdain to my husband, thinking of him as weak. Maybe I’m the weak one that is so bothered by other people’s actions. My thoughts after reading the comments/scenarios/perspectives, I think its best to let him maintain whatever relationship he wants with his mother, I don’t have to see her or speak to her ever in life. Yes, sure, big family-togethers will be different as I wont be present, but some things have to change while many remain the same Right? I don’t want to speak about her either to anyone anymore. I hope this is the last time I even mention her or them (all the immediate in laws) for my sake. No more evil from my mouth. In this world, I only have total control of me. So let me control myself. Best of luck DILs :-)

  29. I read most of your comments and I have a totally different view, which is mostly ignored in these type of discussions. I am the mil and we have a personality disordered narcissist dil. We have been married36 years and have always had a great relationship with our son. Now they ha e 14 month twins and she is using them as emotional pawns for power and control and with holds them and our son from us. She justifies this behavior by misusing boundaries, making false accusations and scapegoating on us for their serious, ongoing marital problems. Our son defends her to us but opens up to my sister in law and tells her she threatens him with divorce ( she is a lawyer) when he mentions seeing us and she will not let him bring the girls over . He will tell us every month or so, respectfully , that he cannot talk to us as we are the reason for his marital problems. We are broken hearted and when expressed that statement in a text 6 months ago, that is the last time we saw the giirls or our son.cbecauae she said we started a fight by saying that . So you see, things are not always what they seem.

    1. Has your DIL been diagnosed as a Narcissist by a licensed therapist? There are other cluster B personality disorders that cause the same types of behavior. Sometimes victims of narcissists are said to be narcissists as to deflect the true nature of the trouble. I see so many people throwing that term around and not knowing what it means. An armchair diagnosis will not help your son live his best life possible. In fact, it could prove very expensive in the event of a divorce.

      If she truly has a cluster B personality disorder (narcissism, borderline, histrionic, antisocial), get help for you so that you can stand strong for your family. Help your son get professional help so he can work on his self-esteem. Read all you can about the disorder so that you can offer your son support. Narcissists can be very dangerous when crossed, so it is wise to prepare.

  30. Anna. What has happened to your situation? Im divorcing after very similar problems with my mil. My husbands sister and brother also live in the same village and his sister has always been jealous of me and threatened by me so has treated me like my mil. I confronted my mil and it made things worse. My husband tried to speak to his parents but never stood up for me and would insist i saw my mil frequently and that i should take the kids to see them frequently. My mil refused to come to our house and fil droped in univited a lot. Husband blamed me for my mil not feeling comfortable at our house and he took it out on me passively agressively. Im gutted that i let it break down our marriage but i was being bullied and had to get out. I am not sure ive done the right thing but im not sure i could have done anything else. I think it caused me to have a stroke so take care of yourself.

  31. It seems this is a problem in most marriages. My MIL. Where to start…. She has continuously insinuated that I am a bad mother, she goes as far as to Google the medication doctors prescribe my kids, she questions my every decision with the children. She even boasts my kids call her mommy when I’m not there. She can’t do anything on her own to the extent that it feels like we owe her every second of our free time, she makes my husband feel guilty for doing things with me and the kids and not inviting her, when she is with us she makes snide remarks, if it does affect me and I react, my husband gets angry with me, if I don’t react and carry on being jolly, she retracts into a ball of self pity, and I get blamed for making her feel uncomfortable…. Most of our fights are because of her, yet she has the audacity to give advice to rather get a divorce. She is selfish, she stayed with us for 6 months while I was pregnant because she suddenly developed a fear of being alone, take note she doesn’t work, I had to work, cook and clean while they sit as if they where in the Renaissance. I am at breaking point….

  32. Pamela Reynolds, this is “fair” to be talking about toxic mothers/fathers in law because this is a thread about toxic mothers/fathers in law. Did you read the other posts? You make some really good points. I just wouldn’t go to an article or thread about, say, dog grooming, and say it isn’t fair that we aren’t talking about horse grooming. You make the point to the daughters in law, “You will always be number one”, but that is just the problem. Allowing a mother/father in law to mistreat your wife in itself says, “You are NOT number one.” That is the POINT OF THIS THREAD.
    Having said that, I came across this because after 22 years, I have had to cut contact with my mother and father in law. I wanted to see if anyone else dealt with this problem. Surprise! Since when is it ok for grown adults to manipulate, make passive aggressive, mean comments, throw tantrums, accuse and attack their son/daughter in law on a regular basis?? And it’s ok because they’re “older” and “it’s too late to change them now”? This seems to be a very ubiquitous problem and without some VERY strong boundaries, I don’t know how any marriage survives this kind of abusive behavior. I do not think any man needs to be mean to his mother, but he has to stand up for his wife if he expects her to support him. We must acknowledge that there ARE, unfortunately, parents who would love nothing more than for their child to get divorced.

  33. I my self am dealing with a narcissist mother in law. My wife has been in the hospital for the last few months, causing all these fights and putting my wife in the middle. My wife, the MIL daughter is a doctor and wants to control the care of my wife. My wife made the call, since that is what she wanted. When my wife is discharged from the hospital in the next few week, they will holder hostage or prevent me from seeing her. MIL did help us buy our house by gifting us $10K. Now she is forcing my wife and I to sell and the MIL will hire a divorce lawyer. For the last few months, I have been a supportive husband and stayed 6-7 nights a week at the hospital. The MIL blames me for everything that goes wrong in their life. I believe in Karma, since she is 71 years old, had her health issues and to old to change. No matter what I tried to fix the drama and issues she created, it was a loss cause to someone that will not listen and ramble about her medical experience in treating and diagnosing the illnesses for my wife, or her daughter.

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