How To Deal With an Overbearing Mother-in-Law

mother-in-lawYou’ve finally met your Prince Charming and he has brought you to his castle (see the Top 10 ways to find the person of your dreams). Looks like you’ve reached your happily ever after. Wait, a fairytale woudn’t be complete without a wicked witch. In your case, it’s an overbearing mother in law. How do you deal with a mother in law who thinks no woman is ever deserving of his son’s love? Here are some tips you can do to deal with your MIL without having to resort to drastic measures, like giving her a poisoned apple.

The first thing you should try to do is talk to your husband about your feelings. Tell him how uncomfortable his mother makes you feel. 2 things may happen when you talk The Talk. First, he may agree with you and give you advices so you can deal with your MIL better. Second, he may not agree with you and tell you that you just don’t want to try to have a good relationship with his mother. When your husband does the first one, then you won’t have any problems. You’re sure that he’ll be there to back you up whenever your MIL gets in your nerves. If he does the second one, as bad as it may sound, you’re on your own. This is the best opportunity to try to do any of the following tips.

Live on the Safe Zone

Wives usually commit the mistake of picking a house as far away as possible from their in laws. What’s the greatest drawback of this? You’d have your in- laws stay for the night every time they come and visit you.

The safe zone is a place located not too near or too far from your MIL’s house. Living so near would give her all the chances for surprise and unwanted visits. Living too far would make each of her visits longer and would require her to stay over night. You won’t have any choice but to let her stay over unless you want to be called as a heartless wife.

new house

When you’re on the safe zone, she won’t be able to visit you all the time as this requires a certain amount of traveling. When she does, she wouldn’t have to stay long because she’ll be thinking about her drive back home.

Convenient right? Small doses of bad medicine won’t kill you. Besides, you can’t keep your MIL from visiting, she’ll come over every chance she can. Living on the safe zone will give you less visits from her and shorten her stay. Now all you have to do is deal with her in the short time that she’s in the house.

Get a dog

Having a dog would warn you of approaching guests. This way, you’d have a few seconds to prepare yourself before you open your front door, especially if your mother in law loves surprise visits.

A noisy and needy pet would also make conversations unbearable. This is a very good and effective distraction. Let your dog bark all he wants until your MIL starts to complain, then give your dog a treat. This will calm the dog down. When your husband’s mother starts talking and you don’t want to listen to her, pet your dog. Tell his mother that it’s time for your dog’s bath or that you need to let the dog out on the yard for awhile. This would cut the conversation short.

pet dog

If your mother in law likes pet, then let her play with your dog. This way, she’ll have all her attention on your pet and not on you.

Wrong Number?

One way of avoiding frequent calls from your mother in law is by frequently changing the recorded message in your answering machine. Record a message that would make it look like she dialed a wrong number. This may be a bit tricky as other people might think of the same thing, but most parents ,especially old ones would hesitate to leave a message if they feel like they’ve got the wrong number.

Make a Script

After a few meetings with your husband’s mom, you more or less have an idea what she constantly rants about. Take note of these and make a script. Prepare answers to all her complaints. When she starts to go into her long lists of complaints, mentally go over the script. This way, you wouldn’t have to listen to her as you already know what she’s saying. All you have to do is to answer in appropriate times. Go on autopilot and recite your lines.


cookingKnow the foods that your mother in law doesn’t like. Don’t ask your husband about this. It’ll give your plan away, instead, ask his mom’s favorite dishes and make sure not to cook those dishes. Come up with an excuse the day before the visit. A good excuse would be that you can’t find all the ingredients you need or that you don’t know how to cook the dish. Prepare the food that you think his mom won’t like. Make sure to give it your best. During meal time, everyone would compliment your good cooking except your husband’s mom. Of course, she wouldn’t be able to complain because everyone liked what you prepared. When she tells you that she doesn’t eat the meal that you cooked, say that you’re sorry and that you weren’t aware that she doesn’t eat, say grilled eel. Tell her that you’d take note of it so you don’t prepare the same meal again.

Kindness is your Greatest Ammunition

An overbearing and nosy mother in law can be gunned down with kindness. If she’s treating you the way she’s not supposed to, take a deep breath and continue showering her with love. This would require a lot of patience and hard work, but this is the most effective way to deal with your MIL. Let her know that your husband made the right decision of marrying you. She’ll eventually see your good points and make your life easy.

Keep that happily ever after within easy reach. Don’t let an overbearing mother in law make family life hard for you. With a little creativity and a huge amount of kindness and understanding, you’d be able to deal with your MIL and eventually have a good and loving relationship with her. For more information regarding this article, read how to deal with your in-laws.

3 Comments so far

  1. gisellerocks on October 4th, 2009

    establish a good relationship from the start

  2. Jane on October 25th, 2009

    Great post—do you think it would work with grown step-children?!?!?!

  3. aileen on October 26th, 2009

    Yes, I think it can too :D

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