Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Narcissistic mother inlaw

Community Member

2016 - thrown into turmoil again.

Father inlaw is ill

We've been offered half their property to live next door. Financially this would be otherwise unachievable.
I'm so worried about the MIL that I'm jumping at shadows and it's causing extreme tension in my otherwise loverly life

I can't get past the fear she is going to tear us to pieces again. I can only see her as dangerous.  

I want to stop this.

Here's my story

2013-16 set up a new home with our kids, live free, see my wife become open, happy and unguarded and loving of herself

We have friends together, kids parents at school, people drop in. Dinners etc

My wife can recognise her mother is narcissistic now.


We moved out

Discovered the word "narcissistic". Went to a psychologist and discover the term "intimacy".

Rebuild marriage. 
2011- split with my wife
2011- my life is hell.
-I have no family, no friends
-I'm demonised, I have no life anymore. 
-MIL takes the kids to pre school, all outings even weekend
-Then...Birthday. That was a cruel blow coming home to find your family is having your sons  birthday dinner without you.
-I knew something was terribly wrong but I couldn't see out of the bubble
-The rot really sets in hard. 
-Im portray as useless and uneducated.
-MIL steps in to "help"
-Second child is born. 
-I build decks,fences,irrigation, an award winning garden.  A major garden magazine did a full spead, she took all the credit. 

-Life is good
-My wife and I really loved each other

-Had a baby

I always wondered why my mother inlaw couldn't see our happiness. Why didn't she enjoy her childs happiness?

I started to do lots of jobs with my loverly father inlaw on their rather ramshackle house. They were both accounts.  I built a new kitchen for my mother inlaw... She criticised me ragged.  


She taunted about not having any university education. I just thought that it was her ethnic background that focused so much on this.


-We went overseas to show our baby to the relatives. The MIL lied to people about what I did for work etc. Telling them I was a manager in business.

The tell tail signs were right there. 

-We moved in with the in-laws to save some money and be close to their "help"
-I built a house. It was loverly.  
-My mother inlaw was very inviting and engaging at first. 


-Got married
-Travelled around the world for a year together
-Had a wonder relationship, with lots of great times.
-Moved out together
-Met my future wife
3 Replies 3

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Sandy welcome here.

We cant of course diagnose but I will draw some parallels.

Google "waif witch hermit queen"

A Dr Christine Lawson wrote the book "walking on egg shells". She came up with these four personalities/characters for chronic Borderline Personality Disorder. IF your MIL is narcissistic she could swap between characters to make life hell for all in her life.

Waif- this is the person that will cry to gain attention. Seeking a sympathetic ear she (more often than not its a she) will use her tears to gain an advantage. As a child I couldn't understand it. A naughty boy 8 hours earlier and all settle once dad drove into the driveway. Then in an instant mother opened the front door in tears. "Tony was such a bad boy (she didn't mention it was 8 hours earlier), what have I don't to deserve this". Dad belts me.

Queen- The queen personality owns you...usually a child of hers. eg your wife. She will divide to conquer, extend her ownership of your children by flooding you with her charms and good deeds only to throw them at you..."after all I've done for you". She will manipulate siblings against each other.

Witch- this person will go to the end of the earth to revenge you. She will report you to the police, withhold your property, be violent, tell lies, split families, rarely negotiate.

Hermit- this one will threaten to remove herself from your life when you are dependant on her (usually when you are a child). My mother did this often and once I got to 27yo she tried it again "I'll pack my bags and go away for 2 weeks if you don't split up from that girl"....to which I replied "great, I'll help you pack". She went, of course she couldn't be seen as making idle threats.

My sister and I (in our 50's) will never see our mother again. It's been 6 years now. We finally are close to each other after a lifetime of mother pitting us against each other. Sadly my sisters eldest daughter sided with her grandmother meaning we don't see her and her two children. Mother would like that..more weapons.

Chronic BPD is often the result of an event or event that interrupted the emotional development in young childhood...say 6 or 9 yo. Sufferers rarely get help. If they do they will in a short time no longer attend appointments on the basis that they would believe everyone is wrong about her having a problem.

Anyone of course that has BPD and is seeking treatment I commend you. It is a terrible burden on other people.

Tony WK

Community Member

Hi Sandy.  Not that it means much, but is your wife the only child?  My ex MIL is also narcissistic to the point we're separated.  Unfortunately, even though your wife recognizes the traits in her mum, the hold your MIL has over your wife is so strong, your wife is going to have to just about be re-programmed.  My ex could recognize in others the way his parents behaved, but he couldn't 'see' it in his own parents.  Tony once said to me that when you marry the child of a narcissist, the in-law sees you as 'the enemy', trying to take their 'baby' away.  The only way you're going to get through this is distance yourself from MIL.  I would advise STRONGLY against moving next to them.  I would not give your wife an ultimatum, MIL will use this against you by manipulating your wife into believing you 'have it 'in' for them'.  Your wife, you said, recognizes what her mother is.  I would say to your wife that you don't want to disrupt children by moving.  Don't offer to have them move in with you.  Could you suggest (gently) that they 'go into care', this way your wife is not responsible, she can visit whenever she likes, without you.  Your in-laws will 'kick up' about going into care, but explain to your wife, that, if they're in care and something happens, there is a Dr on call 24/7.  That way they wouldn't have to wait for an ambo (if they need one).  If something happens while your wife is looking after them, she would not be able to do anything to help them medically.

Explain it in such a way, that your wife (explaining it to them), will see it as 'her idea for their best interests'.

Best wishes on that.

Community Member

Thank you for your reply pipsy.

 She has a brother, but she is definitely the golden child.

It is amazing how deep this goes, my wife is a lawyer and an incredibly intelligent woman with a memory that is out of this world. But there is such a strong bond to her mother that reality is often rewritin to suit her mothers script. 

When it all blows up she is still ready to put our marriage on the line. It's crushes me to pieces. 

In contrast I'm the "bloke" AKA oger by her mother.

In reality I'm not an oger. I run a bespoke joinery shop. I make magnificent artworks in timber that win awards. 

My wife and I love each other and our kids dearly and we have a lovely life until my mother inlaw breaths. 

We did find an amazing psychologist and we have seen him for two years. This has helped a lot.

My wife again threatened to leave last week, due to the pressure I put on her because of the hate for her mother.

Unfortunately it's true. I do burden her with this. Instead of letting it all go to hell, I went to see the MIL. My wife has been the gate keeper for 6years now. I haven't spoken to my mother in law at all.

When I went into their home my father inlaw and wife were defending. It lasted an hour! I finally broke through the defence and got to talk to her one on one.

I stated my feelings honesty and without blame, with the hope she would show her cards in front of her daughter and husband. I also asked her to come to the psychologist together. 

Of course she wouldnt agree as there was nothing wrong with her! My wife stood up for us and demanded she come. I was so proud!

We went two days ago. Everything in English!!. Often its all in Thai and I'm completely boxes out.

MIL revealed her true colours to some degree, and my wife was able to vet some things in a safe environment.

The outcome was, my mother inlaw hasn't changed much. She would dearly love her daughter back as a 15 year old pet again.

But I know more about her. I see she is week, lonely and insecure. She left her country and family 40 Yeats ago and she has very little except her husband, son and my wife after all that time.

My wife can finally see this.

At this stage it very tentative but it's got hope and I'm going to tread on through.

Your so right  about the reprogramming comment. It's like convincing someone that everything they know isn't real.

I'm learning that I can only do it intimacy and openness without my own coercion techniques.

Thank you for your reply pipsy