Toxic In-Law's-- Tips on Dealing with Mother-in-Law

It can be tricky navigating through relationships with In-Laws

By Fred S.
Toxic In-Law's-- Tips on Dealing with Mother-in-Law

What is a toxic person?

Toxic people make life miserable, and that’s the only significant impact they have on you, as unfortunate as that may be. The best way to realize that someone is toxic is to analyze your own physical and emotional reactions after interacting with them. If you feel significantly more anxious, tense, or angry after any of your encounters with them, they’re probably one of the toxic ones around you.

Here are some signs of toxic people that you can always look out for;

  • They’re super judgmental:

Toxic people always pass judgments about whoever they’re around, including you.

  • They’re in denial:

They’ll never own up to their cancerous behavior, and it’s impossible to get a heartfelt apology out of them.

  • They’re needy obsessively:

Your time and energy get stolen by their demands almost all the time, and it’s almost like they feel no remorse for it.

Toxic people will generally have qualities that make them controlling and sometimes disrespectful to others. They’ll regularly find ways to belittle you and play down your successes in subtle ways.

Usually, toxic people lack stability in areas like finances, professional career, physical appearance, or personal success, instilling and elevating their toxic traits. Since they lack control over their own lives, relationships, and minds, they’ll naturally try to find and exert power over other people in negative ways.

Toxicity can even manifest into parenting, in some cases, which means there isn’t any limit to how close a toxic person can be.

Is your partner a mama’s boy?

If your husband has a strong relationship with his mother, that might have seemed adorable to you when you first found out about it. It may have led you to respect your man, even more, considering he’s respectful and kind towards his parents and listens to what they say. However, upon marrying him, you may have realized that you’ve married a full-fledged mama’s boy.

It could potentially destroy your relationship. You’d be stuck between an immature husband who goes to his mother for every discomfort that shows up in his life and a mother who doesn’t want to share his attention with a newcomer wife. If you’re going through this and want to tear your hair out in frustration, it’s understandable. Before you call it quits, though, understanding your husband’s relationship with his mom and helping him set his priorities straight can help.

Signs Your Mother-in-law Doesn’t Like You

1. She encourages fights between you and your husband

If everything gets instantly turned into a round of ‘she said’ and ‘he said,’ through her involvement, she could be bringing negativity into your relationship on purpose.

2. She makes herself a part of your couple decisions

Some in-laws are always a bit too involved and pushy, even when a decision should be left up to you and your husband. However, they may act that way out of care and love, but it’s always annoying as long as it’s only a suggestion. Yet, if their input is supposed to be imposing or carrying as much weight as your opinion, you’ve got a problem. Whether it’s the decision to have a baby or buy a new house, a toxic mother-in-law will always make her influence known.

3. They make you feel bad on purpose

In-laws may be all grown-up, but that doesn’t mean they’re mature about their feelings. They simply might not like you, and your vibe may not fit with theirs, but their toxic personalities will make their displeasure painfully obvious in every situation. They’ll do and say things that get under your skin intentionally.

4. They treat you like a kid

It’s one thing to be pampered like a child once again, but this is different. A toxic mother-in-law will make big decisions on your behalf freely, assuming that they know better, and that’s unacceptable.

5. You’re the subject of their gossip behind your back

You may have heard through other people that your mother-in-law, and other people from his family, are talking trash about you whenever you’re not there. Friends, neighbors, and relatives, everyone’s being fed lies about you. This childish behavior is a clear-cut sign of your in-laws being seriously toxic.

How do you handle your Mother-in-Law?

In dealing with a toxic mother-in-law, these suggestions may be helpful;

  • Communicate your feelings to her honestly, in a powerful way. Use statements that are centered around the word ‘I.’ For example: “When you say/do ____, I feel _____. I’d like _____. I’m choosing to open up with you about this because I _____.”
  • Set healthy, clear, and strict boundaries.
  • Take actions to enforce and maintain those boundaries. (More on this later)
  • Focus your time and energy on taking care of yourself, and put your own needs first.
  • Find ways to counter their unhealthy behavior, and reduce the toxic impact of their actions on your mental health. You could do so through meditation, affirmations, or simply understanding that their opinions about you don’t amount to anything.

How to set boundaries with your partner’s mom?

Boundaries are essential to keep our relationships positive and healthy. It provides a clear range of what to expect from people, which helps us accept them in their roles. Without boundaries, it’s easy to get drained as people push beyond their respective roles and rights. They’d claim more of your time and energy than you owe them, which is unfair to yourself. An example would be a wife being stressed out due to her in-laws coming over without notice. Change their boundaries and make it so that they need a day’s notice to show up, and that’ll suddenly reduce her stress levels. Here’s how you should go about building boundaries between you and your mother-in-law.

1. Know what boundaries you need

Here, you need to come up with boundaries that help you bridge the gap between your current relationship with your mother-in-law, how you’d prefer it to be. You’ll need to choose boundaries and find ways to phrase them in an easier way. You might want to consider boundaries that relate to their visits, their time with your children, and financial decisions.

Make sure you keep other people’s priorities and needs in mind. You may be happy with seeing your mother-in-law only once a year, but that may not be true for your husband and kids. He’ll want to see his mother more, and the kids may miss their grandmother more often than you think. Keep them in mind while setting boundaries.

2. Communicate your boundaries.

From there, everyone who can be impacted by these changes in boundaries needs to be briefed. You should run it by your spouse and then your mother-in-law.

You can also discuss it with your spouse at this point, with an open mind to change anything according to his preferences. If you mutually decide that the boundaries work well for both of you, you should only talk your mother-in-law through them.

3. Maintain the newly set boundaries

This is possibly the most challenging stage, but it’s what makes the other steps worthwhile. Whenever a boundary is breached, there must be consequences felt by your in-laws, even if they’re indirect and subtle. For instance, if you’ve already established a boundary that requires them to only show up with a one-day notice, and they don’t, you shouldn’t go out of your way to give up your planned chores to entertain them. Go by your day as you planned and do what you need to do, and only tend to your in-laws in your free time if you choose to. They’ll understand that it’s not your fault, but theirs, to have breached an established boundary.

4. Review your boundaries

Are your boundaries bringing you the results you wanted? Are you pleased with how things are currently between you and your mother-in-law? Perhaps some boundaries are too restrictive? Review them as you go and see what works best, and change accordingly.

How does one cope with a toxic mother-in-law?

Take time to consider the relationship you share with her. Is it what you want it to be right now? Probably not; so, what’s missing? What would you like to change about it? Write down your answers and draft a clearer picture of what you think about the current scenario and how you’d want it to be.

Knowing the type of relationship you want to share with your mother-in-law is the first step towards getting there. Once the issues are clear in your head, and you know what needs to change, the rest requires patience.

If you’re already reading this article, you’ve probably realized that boundaries were missing between you and your mother-in-law, and following the steps above should put you on the right track to deal with your mother-in-law healthily.


In many marriages, the woman has to manage her relationship with her husband and his family. She’s expected to be an angel even if her in-laws are downright manipulative and toxic, and it introduces problems into countless marriages. The husband is in a pickle, stuck between his mother and wife, and can’t lash out on either one. In such a situation, the wife has to deal with it all on her own. In this article, we’ve discussed toxic in-laws in detail and the best way to deal with them!