I Don’t Like my Mother-in-Law

I don’t like my mother- in-law.

Really, I don’t. After ten years of marriage, a year or so of therapy, and many choice words and tears, I can finally admit it. I don’t like my mother-in-law. I am okay with that.

My first notion of a mother-in-law was the mother of an ex-boyfriend I dated for several years. His parents were friends with my parents many years before we were even introduced to each other. There was a common ground immediately. They shared similar views of my parents and were never invasive, or even remotely nosy in our relationship. This made for an easy-going relationship with them. I thought all in-laws were accepting, tolerant, and minded their own business.

I was so wrong.

It honestly started when the husband and I first started dating. I saw the signs. They weren’t red flags, they were gigantic banners waving in front of me. Our differences on raising children, politics, religion…you name it, were the complete opposites. It didn’t take very long to realize the future mother-in-law was, literally, no match for me. But yet still, her son was.

Realizing we were so very different was a hard life lesson from someone who is a bit of a “people-pleaser.” It’s certainly a hard lesson from someone who wanted nothing more than to have a loving relationship with a new family. But this isn’t just anyone in his family, it’s his mother. His mother. The woman who rocked him to sleep at night as a babe, the woman who kissed his boo-boos, the woman who helped him learn life lessons and support himself. There are bonds there I can never replace. It’s not like I can make him choose her or me. Nor do I ever want to.

Now hear me out, I am realistic; I understand the concept of marriage. Being blindly optimistic you take two completely different families with various backgrounds, environments, and religions, throw them with another family’s dynamics and congratulations! Here’s your new family! It’s a recipe for disaster. Once you realize the logistics presented here, it is quite astounding there are so many in-law relationships that actually work.

oil-in-water-1438348_640I have always been told oil and vinegar don’t mix.

On the contrary, for a short time, they do. Oil and vinegar can be mixed long enough to form a quick tasty treat; after that, they repel each other. That’s describes us perfectly. I can tolerate her in small doses, then I must retreat. I’m quite sure the feeling is mutual.

Enter children. Of course I want the absolute best for them. I want for every being in their lives capable of loving them to be present. My grandparents passed when I was young and I cherish the few memories I do have of us together. My children are lucky to still have both sets of their grandparents alive and are old enough to spend precious time with them. I had to decide I would never allow our personality conflicts affect their views and/or relationships with them. Sometimes I’d rather pull out my teeth one by one with a pair of rusty pliers than have to deal with her; but it just isn’t beneficial for my children to pretend she doesn’t exist.

I have found, for my sanity, a few remedies to help me along the way.

for-reading-813666_1280For starters, I bite my tongue. A lot. Some things are just not worth a fight. You have to pick your battles. When I do decide I need to speak up, I am firm and direct. I do not want any blurred lines on expectations or allowances on my part. This has been tough for me, (remember I’m a people-pleaser,) but it’s been effective.

Another tried and true method is to keep contact at a minimum. I let my husband deal with her primarily, especially when issues arise. That helps keep me out of the “line of fire,” and prevents situations from being blamed on me. I am cordial when I do see her, and I find we have more to discuss if we haven’t spoken in awhile.

Lastly, I try to utilize our relationship as a guide for the bond I want to have with my children and their spouses one day. I really try to learn from each situation, no matter how big or small. After the smoke clears from us dealing with an issue, I like to sit back and reflect in order to learn the best I can from it to remind me of the type of mother -in-law I will, or won’t be, when that time comes.

If anything I guess I should thank her for our differences. I can admit our relationship has taught me patience, tolerance, and the art of controlling my emotions (and facial expressions.) I still don’t necessarily like her, but for now I’ll raise my glass of wine, send a silent shout-out, and thank her for bringing this wonderful man to be in my life.

12 Responses to I Don’t Like my Mother-in-Law

  1. Anna August 22, 2016 at 7:14 am #

    Great read and attitude. I love that you have found positives in a difficult situation. I think that this is an important topic to discuss.

  2. Kj August 22, 2016 at 11:22 am #

    Oh sweet Lord. I can so relate. My MIL belongs to a very tiny cult-like church of only about 20 members which include divorcees, widows and my FIL’S money.

    The pastor was found in the woods “in the act” with a 14 yr old boy and subsequently died in prison after being convicted of MULTIPLE counts of indecent acts with MULTIPLE children. She testified on his behalf.

    She “stomps her feet “and demands to be included, then twists any plan into a hot mess so that she can “squeeze every moment of time we have together”. Showing up for holiday dinners 4 hours early….bringing multiple dishes after being told it wasn’t needed…then needing a place to put said dishes…then asking why you arent eating her dishes…..then sleeping on the couch while the rest of the guests remain in the wooden dining chairs.

    Decided to offer her our vacation condo out of town since we would have to leave earlier than it was reserved for. She showed up 2 days earlier than planned.

    I could literally go on for HOURS. So, I also steer clear as much as possible.

    Luckily my husband recognizes the cult-like brainwashing and we agree to avoid as much as possible. My kids have never been left alone with her and never will. It is a sad situation, but you have to at some point accept that she won’t change and adjust your efforts to reduce the amount of exposure as each encoubter is laced with complete ridiculousness and stress.

    • Ez August 24, 2016 at 7:20 pm #

      Thank you! Oh my goodness, the stories I cannot share but want to so badly!

  3. Shawna August 27, 2016 at 7:50 am #

    I have two mother-in-laws, birth mother and adopted mother. My husband was adopted when he was 12 . Birth mother is bat [email protected] crazy but she’s easier to deal with then adopted mother. His birth mother trys really hard and I love her for it. His adopted mother and pretty much that whole family hate me, we are like oil and water. After nine years of marriage it’s never gotten better. I’m just better at the good old “smile and nod”.

  4. Renee March 18, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

    Girl!!!! You are so not alone!!!! We should start a support group.

    • Me March 18, 2017 at 10:52 pm #

      Great article. Many can relate

  5. Laura March 24, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    Totally can relate! Thanks for putting it so elegantly! Good luck to all out there dealing with monster in laws! lol May we all take a page from your book on looking at the positives!

  6. Macy September 23, 2017 at 1:22 am #

    I relate to this post so much.
    When I first met my mil I actually thought she was really nice and liked her… that changed the more I got to know her. It’s not that she isn’t nice… we are just very different people and she has done several things that I struggle to “forgive and forget.” One of the worst happened when my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I had only been dating for a few months. Apparently when we were over their house one night she brought me in some lemonade and had secretly put alcohol in it to “make me open up so they could get to know me.” She told my husband about it later that night and he was mortified… he ended up telling me about it some time later because he always felt guilty for it happening since it was his mom. I appreciate his honesty, but knowing that pretty much was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me on an already strained relationship with his mom. Oh, also I was only 19 when it happened…
    There are several other incidents I could tell about as well as offensive comments she has made about me. What makes all this even worse is that we are just very different people so it’s hard to find anything positive in our relationship to help me move past the rude/crazy things she has said and done. She’s very traditional and often insinuates I need to be a good house wife and cook/clean and stay home with our future kids… I’m not like this at all so I struggle to make conversation with her… sigh. Sorry for the rant!

  7. Emma October 10, 2017 at 10:32 pm #

    i have the worst monster in law. she decided to turn last Monday and move in to our house! she even brought her other son to live with us too. mind you, her other son is 26 yeras old already! they have their own house which is a walking distance from our home. i don’t undersand why she just decided to live with us. now her own house is empty.

  8. Annie December 29, 2017 at 3:06 am #

    Really glad to see im not the only one in this horrible situation, not getting on with your mother inlaw puts so much strain on you and your relationship it most defiently has come between me and my partner, my mother inlaw is what only i can describle as a wolf in sheeps clothing .. acts very innocent and timit makes comments and laughs them off as joke to make it look like shes not getting a dig in, very distant and cold, at the start of my relationship with my boyfriend when i went to her home i would bearly get a hello off her which made me feel so uncomfortable i would bring her cakes just to be nice and i was told to stop there going to waste so i did i stopped everything, ive talked about this to my boyfriend as it makes me so upset, but of course he thinks theres not a bad bone in her body and i should forget everything and start fresh her, even dough he has admitted he sees the way she is with me, he wouldny dare say a word to her or have my back, i really want to forget and start fresh but its so hard for me to like her, she is soooooo wrapped up in boyfriend which makes me think its a jealously thing with her, unfortunally i dont think things will change between us which is sad for me, her my partner and our children …

  9. Sandy April 12, 2018 at 5:06 pm #

    Thanks for saying it out loud. Took me a long time to admit (pleaser too) than I really can not stand her. No matter what I do, I can’t make it better. She is passive aggressive and plays dumb so that I end up looking like the bitch. FINALLY (years later) my husband saw her true colors and stopped blaming me for not doing enough. I limit interaction with her as much as possible and thank the LORD everyday she chooses to live in another state, far away from all 3 of her kids. My kids are now old enough to recognize her behaviors for themselves, and I never had to say a word. Its sad, but not my fault (she says after lots of therapy)!

  10. Nolamom April 22, 2018 at 10:38 pm #

    I can totally relate. My mother in law constantly makes me into the bad guy and has even cried to my husband, her son, about me. Like actual tears….. always over the kids and me having actual boundaries. I now limit my interactions and if there’s a text, it’s always to the group. She says she’s available to watch the children, but when asked is always busy, then it’s my fault for not including her in the children’s lives. I work and need dependable childcare which I arrange for every day, I don’t need her help. The entire system cannot be disrupted because she feels guilty for not seeing the kids for a month. Every time she offers we have to move heaven and earth to include her in the routine. She can stop by whenever she wants, but cannot be bothered because of her social life. Don’t even get me started on after I had each of my kids. No help. No offers for bread or milk or a run to the grocery. Even when my husband would go out of town for days on end and I was home alone with several children under 5 years old. Not a phone call or text. I could go on and on….. it’s better to take the high road, but it’s so hard!

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