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Mother In Law Causing Tremendous Strain

Community Member

Hi there,

I know that I am not alone in experiencing issues with their in-laws, but I feel as though things have hit a crescendo of late.

Issues with my MIL started to surface just before I was married. We were visiting her house for the weekend and her partner inquired about my husband's employment situation as he had recently lost his job. I told him that my hubby had been exploring applications to the police force. My MIL overheard our conversation and came into the lounge room and pulled a face at me. I followed her to see what was going on and she walked over to me and hurt me. She had a couple of drinks at that point, but I later found out that I wasn't supposed to talk to her partner about my husband's interest in the police until it 'actually happened'. My hubby had just forgotten to inform me.

As the years have gone on and we have kids, things have continued to go sour. I am British and she has a strong jealousy of the relationship we have with my parents, despite them being in England.

A few of the issues we have had over the years; she blanked my parents at the wedding as she felt we had sat them on a more superior table (which wasn't the case), she has refused to have celebratory drinks with us on the birth of our son because my parents were there and we hadn't invited her in the 'right' way. The most recent issue we have had was over the name of our baby daughter. We told her the name whilst I was pregnant and she was very vocal about her dislike of it. We thought this would change once she was born but it didn't. Instead, she starting calling her 'B', her initial. Both my hubby and I were offended by this and so he raised it with her which resulted in a row. She later text him to say for us to not contact them again to which he followed up with a kind, but focused email the next day. She replied with a list of issues she has with me and the time spent with my family . She denied her nicknaming of our daughter as being anything other than affectionate but later states that my hubby's father was just as disappointed in our baby's name as she was. We suggested group counselling which she ignored.

She has since blanked my husband for 9 months, ignoring texts and emails. And now she wants contact again, but we want this limited which has angered her into silence again. I suffer anxiety and cannot bear to be in the same room as her. Can I justifiably put some space between her and I? I feel like I am suffocating.

2 Replies 2

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

These family issues are difficult but I don't think you've done wrong at all. There are some telltale issues in your post that alerts me to some behaviours that are unacceptable.

The first is that she should not have passed on your husbands fathers comments, that is troublemaking and it isn't her place (it could also be inaccurate). The second is being angry for you both telling her to use your childs full name and the third is secrets like your husband applying to join the police...those "secrets" aren't fair on others to keep and she has set herself up for controversy by creating them. I wonder if she is jealous of you?

This all seems like she is toxic to you and that is confirmed by you not being able to tolerate her.

I'm a strong advocate of grandparents knowing their role. That includes not venturing over the fence to any parental issue..that's what parents do. Grandparents should have an attitude of - nurturing the grandchildren, guiding subtlety their children with soft examples, enjoying their grandchildren and being their for support if asked. Not interfering, judging or any other action that causes problems.

One of the biggest threats to a marriage like yours is division. Your husband however is used to his mothers persona and being blood wont likely see the impact you are experiencing let alone your anxiety being a real factor.

Ironically my sister and I had similar issues with our mother all our lives but came to a head 9 years ago when our mother complained aloud at xmas that our adult children were getting gifts from us (like laptops, mobile phones etc) that "I didn't get in my day". Her "day" was during war time WW2 and we knew her farmer father bought her a grand piano then so this fixation was not only interfering but unfair and unnecessary. We both broke off contact and haven't seen her since and never intend to. Google

Beyondblue topic fortress of survival part 2

Traits like the ones my sister and I put up with is explained in a book called "stepping on eggshells" by Dr Christine Lawson. Or google witch queen waif hermit …..but that's doesn't mean your MIL has that, it just might interest you.

At the end of the day your MIL will want to "win" with this conflict. As she has caused the conflict it is a precedent that should be set on this one, give in now and it will always be expected you will.

If you have any marital issues to do with this I'd recommend family counseling for you and your husband.


Thank you so much Tony.

I will check those books/links out you suggested.

We have booked in to see a psychologist about this but it's a few weeks away and she is pushing to come to our sons birthday next week. I said I didn't want her there because of the stress she causes but agreed hubby could take my boys to see them the following week.

Now, both my husband's father and her are giving him the cold shoulder again because according to them, 'nothing has changed'. I am not sure what they expected after ignoring him for the last 9 months. This is a reminder to me that this is never going to stop.

We are coping well together but it does get between us sometimes and I know it will again. So some coping strategies that we both agree on for when it does will be really helpful.

Thanks for your supportive comments. It's nice to know that I am not going crazy!