A Toxic Mother-in-law

 

I am finding it very hard to cope with my new husband’s mother.   It was obvious from the start that she wasn’t going to welcome me into the family but I have a good relationship with my own mother so it didn’t bother me too much.  What I find awful is how critical she is of him and never seems to be happy with anything he says or does. She also makes endless demands on his time and asks him to come round and fix things at the drop of a hat. I realise that she a widow and needs help, and at one level I feel proud that my husband  cares for his mother. 

But dealing with her is like talking to a brick wall. Instead of him popping round at the weekend to carry out a few tasks, she expects him to come almost daily. Last week she called at 11 pm one night to say that a light bulb had gone out in a cupboard and she wanted it fixed.  

He told her he’d come round after work the following day as it obviously wasn’t urgent, but she started shouting and insulting him. I told him I thought she was being totally unreasonable.  He agreed. But he seems unable to stand up to her and always seems to put her needs first.  We have talked about setting some boundaries as I worry about how this will work when we start our own family but so far nothing has changed. Do you have any advice?

It must be very hard for you to see your husband being mistreated by his mother, especially as you have a loving relationship with yours. Reading the myhorridparent.com  website might help you understand his difficulties, particularly those that are complicated and painful.  Perhaps you could gently help him learn how to step back. Try too not to let him to feel torn between you and his mother.  He needs to be confident in your trust and support.

    Keep talking about his plight so he knows you love him and are concerned and if he confides in you about some of his experiences, be understanding rather than judgemental.     One idea might be for you both to plan a weekend visit to his mother that is both social and gives him an opportunity to carry out some household tasks. If he has you by his side he may feel more able to be firm with his mother and  cut down on these daily visits.   It will take time but it will be worth it.

 

Keep talking about his plight so he knows you love him and are concerned and if he confides in you about some of his experiences, be understanding rather than judgemental.   

One idea might be for you both to plan a weekend visit to his mother that is both social and gives him an opportunity to carry out some household tasks. If he has you by his side he may feel more able to be firm with his mother and  cut down on these daily visits.   It will take time but it will be worth it.