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How to Deal with a Meddlesome Mother-in-Law

Updated on February 15, 2017
ValKaras profile image

Val is a life-long student of psycho-philosophy of living, and a devoted practitioner of many techniques enhancing personal evolution.

Someone at Your Wedding Couldn't Wait to "Add" to Your Joy of Being Married
Someone at Your Wedding Couldn't Wait to "Add" to Your Joy of Being Married

Time to Wake Up, Girl

When the love of your life said that solemn: "Yes, I do", little could you know that he was also saying it on the behalf of his mother---who didn't waste any time to take an active part in your marriage.

Nothing looked overly suspicious about her eager help in the wedding planning and preparations. Actually you were so grateful for her willingness to take care of every detail. It also seemed alright that she asked if you guys could drop her at home on your way to the airport for your honeymoon.

And then, how could you see anything strange about your hubby spending some time sitting on the beach and talking on his cell to his mom, who wanted to share his joy of honeymoon while asking about, well, almost every detail of it.

However, like they would say it poetically, "filling the glass with wine looks alright until the moment it overflows". That moment came for you right after your honeymoon, when you found your mother-in-law in your new home with a big smile, open arms, and the table set for a dinner-for-three.

At that moment you didn't even know how you blurted out all confused: "I didn't know you had the key of our place." Well, she did, and somehow she also forgot to hand it to you on her way out that late evening.

There Are Loves Too Hard to Grow Out Of
There Are Loves Too Hard to Grow Out Of

Unholy Matrimony Triangle

Now, why is it that some, not all, mothers-in-law have that need to meddle in their son's marriage? My own, bless-her-soul, was nothing of that kind, but I have seen, or only heard of quite a few who would fall in that unholy category.

One in particular that I had a chance to see proudly called her daughter-in-law her "right hand" in that business of her son's marriage and household. I almost blurted out: "Shouldn't it be the other way around?", but I didn't want to lose the lasting friendship with the guy standing by.

Needless to say, a little of that friendship went sour at that moment in the department of respect, but that's not the only example when we keep some of those friendships "for sake of old times".

So anyway, the reason that seems most frequent and obvious, such mothers are having an awfully boring life, and their son's marriage is a breath of fresh air, somewhat reminding them of their own wedding and the rest.

But then, there are those a little more "sinister" motivations. The first that would come to mind is a notoriously old and strong tie between mother and son, which probably inspired those "fathers of psychology" to come up with the expression of "Oedipus complex".

In much milder form we can regularly witness it, and it's even accepted as cute and normal to see fathers and daughters, and mothers and sons as having a little more pronounced bond between them.

However, here we are talking about a "mama's boy big time", and her overly protective and possessive grip on that marriage---characterized by her unwillingness to share her boy with another woman.

How Many Times You've Been Tempted to Put It on Your Front Door---and It Was Not a Halloween
How Many Times You've Been Tempted to Put It on Your Front Door---and It Was Not a Halloween

Have Run Out of Names Yet?

Somewhat similar dark motivation would be of a mother-control-freak who tamed the last symptom of manliness in her own husband, and now can't stand the idea that her son has slipped out of her iron hand.

However, here we are not talking anymore about a mama's boy, but rather a mama's victim, who may keep appeasing her after marrying, while a kind of being brainwashed by her volition, and unable to mentally liberate himself from it. Not that he never tried; but very early in life he gave up after noticing how miserably his father failed while trying the same.

Usually such husbands suffer a great deal as they feel torn between the two women of their life and trying to make peace, while emotionally too weakened by mother's rule to put their foot down and once and for all start living a normal life.

Mothers like that can be extremely manipulative, and if they can't get enough attention by playing a boss, they may play a "constantly sick" card. They may actually get sick from something psycho-somatic in nature, so strong is their need to keep their sons' eyes on them.

So, other than constantly calling or visiting with her complaints, and lurking for a little opportunity to be "helpful" with an advice or a critic about his household, she will also need him to take her for her "regular" treatments. It's usually something to do with her arthritis, or her back pain, but can also stretch to other symptoms.

Unfortunately, over a time it's not only that she is the one with health problems, but her son may also come up with a diagnosis or two, needless to say: out of the enormous emotional strain and constant trying to be a good son and a good husband.

There Must Be a Way to Make That Face Smile at You
There Must Be a Way to Make That Face Smile at You

You May Be Younger, but You Could Also Be Smarter

So, what do you do with a husband and a mother-in-law like that, after having already said every version of: "You should have married your mom"? Your friends have run out of advices and you can even notice some signs of their becoming tired of your story---while probably having more than enough of their own soap opera at home.

Is there a way to get your husband back from that stranglehold of his mother? Is there a wire cutter sharp enough to cut that steal umbilical cord never properly severed at his birth? Of course, despite so many temptations, putting a drop or two of arsenic into her coffee is out of question; and so is strangling your hubby in his sleep on one of those sleepless nights.

And how could you convince your kids that grandma is just bribing them against you with all those hidden chocolates that you are not allowing---for more health reasons than saving on dentist's bills?

Well, you could try a couple of sneaky strategies to get your family back. So far you know that a direct confrontation doesn't work, and you came out as "ungrateful", "mean", and what not, sometimes not quite sure if your hubby is not falling for his mother's badmouthing you.

The ideal outcome would be if the change would come within him and without your pushing in that direction---at least not obviously. You would have to go sneaky about it, play it smart, so no one could possibly blame you for anything.

So, let's see, what could turn out to be effective. Of course, the whole idea is not that you "win" in that marriage after spending some time being pissed-off at him and his "mother-superior". The basis for that should be your love for him; so you are simply trying to help your husband to grow out of that emotional dependency to his overbearing mother.

"What's Making Her So Happy Now?
"What's Making Her So Happy Now?

An "Affair" with Female Friends

Like I announced, there are couple of things that you could do. The first one that comes to mind would be to "make your husband wonder". No, I am not suggesting that you make him jealous, but to re-activate and somewhat amplify your old friendships---with female friends, of course.

The rule number one is that through the whole thing you absolutely stop all your usual complaints, and even show a new "satisfaction in your life", as you are spending some more time on that cell yapping with your friends, or even going out for a coffee with them.

What bothers every man the most---other than woman's "cold feet"---is a worm of doubt that he may not be "enough of a man" in any meaning of the expression. By seeing you suddenly "happier than before" because of your friends will make him wonder if you were missing something that only friends could provide---and he doesn't have it.

He may also become suspicious that you are confiding to them, and his "mama's boy" status would come up, for everyone to have a good laugh over it. Well, as long as you don't overdo it, he can't have a legit excuse to confront you about it. Goes without saying: no matter what you do, bite your tongue before saying: "I have to have someone who understands me", or even worse: "My friends are more fun than your mother".

Again, use your female intuition to play it in a moderation. You can even start telling him about the "news" in the lives of your friends, or mention some funny moments from spending time with them. The idea is that he suddenly sees you "more satisfied with your life" since you are spending time with friends.

Initially, he will probably go somewhat confused between his not liking it and liking it because you are not anymore bringing his mother up for a theme of conversations. But then it will start creeping into his mind that you are giving up on him and not fighting for his love anymore. At that point the big question may start obsessing his heart: how much you mean to him, and how to give you that something what your friends are giving you.


And Then Comes the Time to Live Happily Ever After
And Then Comes the Time to Live Happily Ever After

It May Turn Out to Be Easier Than You Thought

One word of warning: No matter how tempted you may be to reveal your little game to your friends---DON'T! If you are not telling your friends about the details of your marital bedroom matters, this is another thing that they definitely shouldn't know about either.

At the same time while you are doing this little routine with your friends, start being extra nice to your tormentor-in-law. Yes, you heard me right. As a matter of fact, do your best to get on her nerves with your being nice. Call her about that pain in her arm, or neck, whatever. Google to find out about possible home remedies, and shower her with advices, not forgetting to say something like: "You, poor thing, it must be terrible".

Beat her with her own weapon, by constantly "worrying" if she is eating right, and telling her what she might change in her diet. Then play on her conscience by asking her at the first occasion "if she did anything about it".

Maybe she should skip that third coffee; maybe her mattresses are uncomfortable; maybe she could lose a few pounds; maybe at her age she should force herself to drink more water, because older folks don't register that their bodies are going de-hydrated. Keep nagging "for her own good". You see, no one can confront you for caring about the wellbeing of your dear "second mom".

Be nice, nice, nice...drive her nuts with your niceness. Then, sooner than you expect it, she may stop visiting so much, or calling so much, not wanting to catch you on the phone instead of her son.

In the process, she may also get disarmed by facing her own weapons turning ridiculously boomeranging and ineffective. The tactics I am mentioning here could be called "mental judo". In this martial arts you don't use your own force, but misdirect the opponent's force making him or her kiss the ground.

The process will not stay unnoticeable to your hubby, who will gain a new courage while seeing his mother's manipulative tactics collapse. Without any resistance on your part you are bound to get your hubby back.

And then the two of you may start living "happily ever after".

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    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 2 months ago

      Good points, Vlad. I've known families with mothers-in-law like that, and I even dated (for a short while) a man who couldn't untie the apron strings. I may not have been so lucky in the marriage department, but as far as MIL go, I had the two best in the world. when I cross over into that great beyond, I may look them up and tell them so.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 months ago from Oklahoma

      Great read!

      Not to flaunt it, but my wife and I both love one another's in-laws, lol. Guess we're just weird.

    • profile image

      ValKaras 2 months ago

      Larry---No, you are not "weird" - on the contrary, it's great to hear. I never generalize in my hubs, and in this one I also specified that "...some, not all mothers-in-law...". My wife and I also love (memory of) one another's parents.

      I'm glad you liked the hub.

    • profile image

      ValKaras 2 months ago

      MizBejabbers---Here, you are the second commenter with good things to say about your in-laws, and now it makes three of us so far. It's great to be feel appreciated and "approved" by them, and if on top of that they also love you, then it's a "bonus" that stays in heart forever.

      I've seen cases where in-laws were better than parents in the department of love and respect.

      But then, I've also seen quite a few of those that my hub is all about.

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