How to handle your mother-in-law when all else fails? Find the answer below.
This is a remaster of my article published five years ago. The topic is still valid, although currently, I focus on more positive issues than toxic people. Nevertheless, for those who still struggle with a toxic mother-in-law, I have prepared this blueprint.
Howe To Ultimately Tame Your Mother-In-Law
1. Be Assertive
No matter what you’re communicating, this needs to be central in your tactics. The problem with being too polite, for fear of coming across as rude or pushy, is that you don’t establish necessary boundaries. Therefore, you are not able to communicate how deep the problems are, and how troubled you are by them.
However, remember that initial attempts to engage your mother-in-law should be courteous. Remember also, that you are not necessarily dealing with a person or people who are nice. Thus, you do not need to always play nice in getting your points across.
2. Never Stoop To Your Mother-In-Law Level
It is tempting to fight fire with fire, taking digs at your mother-in-law or calling her names or being equally rude. But never go there. No matter how heated is your discussion with your mother-in-law, stick with the facts. Interact taking the higher road without compromising how you will allow yourself to be treated and using mindfulness.
3. Never Amend The Relationship If It Does Not Work
Yes, they are legally your parents-in-law. But think about it: are they really family with the way they are treating you? Never refer to your in-laws as “Dad” or “Mother,” because neither is your parent and there is no intimacy or warmth that warrants use of the terms. Using these words also adds to the power dynamic of these elders being the ones on top. You create a more level playing field by calling your parents-in-law by their first names.
4. Channel Your Anger
You can hit the pool to blow off some steam or go for a walk following a difficult interaction. Another efficient way is taking to the golf course for some relaxation. Never allow the anger to consume you or else it will destroy you and your marriage. In critical case, find your outlets for working through the negative energy on a regular basis.
5. Never Take It Personally When Your Mother-In-Law Criticises You
Hilary Rodham Clinton said: “Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.” You will realize that your mother-in-law is just being her usual, ugly self In many cases. At the end of the day, she has to deal with herself and the consequences of her actions.
When your mother-in-law throws dirt your way, have a visualization exercise that allows the statement to roll off your back. For example, envision what she just said captured in a water balloon, that then rolls off your shoulders and down your back. Then it is smashing on the ground below your feet.
6. Unload Your Negativity To A Friend
Most often, your spouse may not always be in the mood to hear about how awful his mother and parents are. To turn to good friends and support groups in getting some things off of your chest then. Otherwise, your marriage will become even more strained.
However, never play a victim. Once you have unloaded your emotions to your friend, use some relaxation techniques or mindfulness to cope with negative emotions.
7. Limit Your Mother-In-Law’s Involvement In Your Life
You have every right to roll up the “Welcome” mat and say “Game over” whenever anybody becomes toxic to your marriage or family. You, your spouse, and your primary family have the right to a peaceful existence, with the people in your circle, i.e. family, friends, and relatives, who support you and bring positive energy to your life.
Your in-laws are not entitled to any of the special privileges that come with being family if you are being disrespected and mistreated. You have every right to draw and maintain strong boundaries in protecting yourself and your marriage. Nobody has the right to make your life miserable. Only you can make sure of that.
How can you limit your mother-in-law’s involvement in your life? Define strict boundaries. Decide and communicate her firmly that you will not see her as often as up to now. In more severe cases, cut any kind of contact or limit it to the minimum. You have to be strict and committed to applying the rules that you have established.
8. Cut Off Your Mother-In-Law
Some in-law situations never get to a better place. Christina Steinorth said: “…just because you are married, you are under no obligation to be emotionally abused by toxic people.”
Friends would tell you to dump your boyfriend if your mother-in-law bullies you. People would advise you to keep your distance and set limits. Just because she is your mother-in-law does not mean that you have to tolerate an abusive relationship.
It is not easy to make so dramatic choices, but if you do not respect yourself, no one will do that. Think: do you want to be a happy, respected person or a victim of abuse?
9. Practice a ‘Healthy Selfishness
Before you can take care of a situation, you need to take care of yourself. This involves not answering the phone when you know it is your mother-in-law or somebody you do not want to take to, excusing yourself from family gatherings for some quality “me time” and keeping your distance as a couple to take care of yourselves and your family, in spite of expectations, It is especially important at the holidays. When people practice this kind of “me” and “us” prioritizing that they reach their full potential, they start to be more respected and there is a chance to cure the abusive relationship. However, if the mother-in-law is a really toxic person, only cutting contact can help.
Think of an abusive relationship in your family. How could you improve the relationship by practising “healthy selfishness” and limiting their involvement in your life? Write your ideas down in the journal of success.