Marriage Missions International

Overcoming Conflict With Your Mother-In-Law

Pixaby.com

Pixaby.com

Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law are family partners fused together by circumstance and law. To be thrown into a close family relationship without giving consent or being consulted is a daunting challenge. But it’s a challenge that can be overcome. The mother-in-law/ daughter-in-law relationship is without question, complicated.

So much changes for a family when the adult children fall in love and marry. Suddenly there are new members who, by decree of law and circumstance, are expected to be embraced and included into the fold. By all means, the challenge is a daunting one, especially for mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.

Even though the mother-in-law may have had no direct input into her son’s decision of who and when to marry, other than years of intense prayer for her child’s mate-to-be, the fact remains that the family experience is definitely impacted by the soul-mate selection made by her offspring.

In the same way, the daughter-in-law who may have chosen to join with her husband in holy matrimony has to face the challenge of being joined in a holy alliance with the rest of his family. By the sheer nature of the relationship she is expected to melt into a household of folks that are often unfamiliar and at times very different from her family of origin.

The reality is that every holiday, every special occasion, even the continuance of the coming generations pivot on the choice to unite families through marriage. Whether the parents-in-law or the adult children realize it or not, the choices that are made are life-altering for the entire family.

For most parents, the grace to love and enfold these new family-members-by-law is a mere continuum of the parental love they enjoy with their own kids. However, there are those situations that may require an attitude adjustment. Inevitably, embarrassing moments and even outright conflicts occur in in-law relationships. Sometime the problem happens not out of a vindictive, hateful motive, but simply out of ignorance or insensitivity.

The following is an account of an older-but-wiser daughter-in-law who has struggled with her share of conflicting situations with an alcoholic mother-in-law. There are principles of conduct illustrated by the restraint and the positive actions of this woman named Amelia that will help in dealing with conflicts.

When my mother-in-law would come to visit us, I never knew who was going to show up. It all depended on how much she’d had to drink. Since she was an alcoholic, we soon discovered that her personality varied, thus her behavior was greatly influenced by how much liquor she’d consumed. In a strange way, it really helped to have something else to blame rather than to just assume she didn’t love her son or his family.

My mother-in-law was a very complicated person. Although I found it terribly irritating when she introduced me to her friends as her “fat daughter-in-law,” I tried to look past her steely, gruff, ill-mannered ways. It was mostly out of respect for my husband’s feelings that I was willing to put up with so much mistreatment.

I made a concerted effort to look behind the scenes at her behavior. Even though there was no excuse for being so rude, I had to acknowledge that she had lived a very hard life. She was widowed twice, raised by a mean, hateful father, and neglected by a distracted mother. Her children had all moved away from her, and understandably so. Still she was a sad, lonely old woman who had put up a thick wall to keep out the hurt. But to her detriment, the barriers that she erected to protect herself from harm unintentionally deflected any love that happened to come her way.

It wasn’t until after she died that I realized she’d never let any of us get to know the person she really was. Sadly she died very suddenly. We went into her house to tend to her affairs the same day she died. To our astonishment, we found posted notes all around the house. Over the kitchen sink was a notation reminding her to pray for her grandson. In the bathroom, tacked to the mirror was a reminder to pray for her granddaughter. On and on the notes were placed. Everyone in her family had a special spot, were she would lift them up to the Lord in prayer.

It’s so strange, we thought. As many times as we had visited her, we had never seen what was gong on in her heart and in her home after we left. Even though she put up a facade of distance, we now realize she really did love her family the best way she could.

After hearing Amelia’s account, I asked her, “What did you do over the years to overcome the conflicts you experienced with your mother-in-law?” She shared what I’ve come to call the 3 keys to overcoming conflict.

KEY 1: KEEP YOUR DISTANCE:

“As much as I desired for my mother-in-law to be a part of our family, to know her grandchildren and enjoy her life, I came to realize that there are some people you just have to keep at arm’s length. Try as you might when that person is a destructive presence in your life you have to take measures toward self-preservation.”

Amelia’s first step toward making peace with her mother-in-law was an excellent example of the biblical model found in Romans 12:14-21. That passage offers some incredible wisdom for all who encounter ongoing conflicts with others. It reads:

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This admonition from God’s Word offers some incredibly important wisdom for anyone who encounters ongoing conflict with others. God acknowledges that there are some people who will refuse to be pleasant and peaceable. This verse is not an excuse to stop trying to show love toward a disagreeable in-law. An individual can do all the praying in the world, but if the other person refuses to listen to God, then the fact must be faced that there is a limit to what can be done to reach her heart.

Even with this passage in mind, Amelia continued to keep in touch with her mother-in-law. She said,

“Our family sent cards on her birthday, gifts for the holidays, called her on a regular basis, and visited her as much as we thought wise. When we went to see her, we tried to keep her limitations in mind. Since she was used to being alone, we knew that bringing small children into her homemade her nervous. She worried about her knickknacks getting broken, so we decided it was best if we met in a more ‘child friendly’ environment. The McDonald’s playground became a comfortable spot for a short, noisy visit. The children could eat, play, and make messes, and it didn’t harm our relationship. Sometimes we would choose to meet at a local park. There she was free to watch the children play without concern for her flower garden, her pets, or her possessions.”

This daughter-in-law must be commended for her unselfish efforts at bridging the in-law gap. Much to her credit, she had learned that “keeping her distance” physically didn’t necessitate cutting the mother-in-law off from their love.

KEY 2: KEEP YOUR TONGUE:

Thankfully, Amelia’s story contains a second step to overcoming conflict. Along with keeping a safe distance and taking precautions to make what time that is spent together pleasant, it is also imperative that we keep a watch over words. Amelia continued,

“After my mother-in-law died, I was especially glad I had bitten my tongue on more than one occasion. Believe me, I can’t count how many times I wanted to blast right back at her when she said things to me that hurt my feelings. Of course, I didn’t like her critical spirit when it was aimed my way, but nothing upset me more than when she would berate my husband. Keeping my tongue in control was, and is, one of the most serious lessons in humility I have dealt with. There were times when everything in me would want to scream, ‘You can’t talk to me like that.’ However, I discovered that when I was willing to hold back revengeful, cutting words, God then would supply the strength to control them.'”

Amelia was a living example of one who wisely accepted the truth found in Proverbs 18:21: Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. When we’re willing to humble ourselves before the Lord and submit to the authority of His Word by obeying it, then we are in the best position possible. Isaiah 66:2 says, But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

KEY 3: KEEP SMILING:

When it comes to family relationships, what Amelia finally chose to do reminds us that we have access to a divine alternative that has the potential to heal weary hearts. Ultimately, she realized she could either learn to laugh at her unpleasant situation or she could lambaste the one who was stepping on her toes during her tedious in-law dance.

Though not always easy to find, Amelia managed to root out some lighter moments in her relationship with her mother-in-law. By doing so, the heaviness of tension was relieved somewhat.

“My efforts to bring some levity into the situation was sort of one-sided. Not much humor came my way. Instead, I was regular in delivering ‘the goods.’ I began to cut out funny stories out of magazines, cartoons out of newspapers, and copied humorous e-mails that others would send me. When I’d go visit, I’d take an envelope stuffed with funnies and give them to her. Sometimes she’d read them while I was there and, to my amazement, I’d hear her quietly chuckle at a few of the things. It was somehow medicinal to hear her when she tentatively giggled. To be honest, the humor I found from it all was just knowing that I really did ‘get to her.'”

We all have the same choice that Amelia had. The book of Proverbs gives us some good reasons to keep a sense of humor. Chapter 15, verse 13 reminds us that “a joyful heart makes a cheerful face.” Forget about the laugh lines and go for it! Also we are told in verse 15, A cheerful heart has a continual feast. It’s O.K. to keep laughing because a joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).

Keep in mind this truth I once heard:

  • We serve a God who is more than able to change our misery into a ministry.
  • He is able to transform our every test into a testimony.
  • And He is the Master of taking our helpless mess and turning it into a message of hope.

Don’t let a difficult situation with your in-laws rob you of your joy and sense of humor. Set up the boundaries of love and live by them, even if the other one keeps stepping over the line.

As we learn to get along with our extended families, we should be blessed to know that in-laws are another way God provides more folks with whom we can give and receive love.

The above (edited) article is found in the wonderful book titled, The Mother-in-Law Dance: Can Two Women Love the Same Man and Still Get Along? written by Annie Chapman, published by Harvest House Publishers. This book has so much more to offer than we could give you here in this article. I’ve (Cindy) always loved everything Annie has written but this is one of her best. I’d highly recommend this book to everyone to read who either is a mother-in-law or has a mother-in-law.

— ALSO —

The following is another article, which you may find helpful to read (posted on the Kubic.org web site) on this issue:

HOW TO MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW

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Comments

40 Responses to “Overcoming Conflict With Your Mother-In-Law”
  1. Mel says:

    (South Africa) Thank God for your website and I have really learned a lot from Emelia’s story. I have decided to take her advice and hopefully it will set me on a good path to dealing with my in-laws in a less stressful way.

  2. Tanyaradzwa says:

    (ZIMBABWE) It depends with the mother-in-law. Some don’t even appreciate.

  3. Ang says:

    (SINGAPORE) I believe it takes a lot to do what Amelia did. It’s easier to just choose to keep the distance. Some in-laws may be locked in their way of thinking and expect the younger generations to honour them without a question. It ought to be 2-way.

    My wife and my mom had a huge "fight" before my wedding; don’t think my wife will do what Amelia did as whatever my mom did was deemed extremely unreasonable. Guess I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my life.

    • Amber says:

      (UNITED STATES) All I can say man is support your wife and distance (but still visit) your mother-in-law. You have chosen the woman you married and put her at the top of your priority list. Don’t let that priority slip. Always encourage your wife to allow YOU to defend her when your mother mistreats her. You may have to deal with this for the rest of your life like my husband has thus far with my abusive mother in law but you can nip things in the bud that she could not. Fight for her. She’s worth it. Your mother must learn respect and boundries too. My heart goes out to you. Your in a very tough spot.

      Oh and always support your wife even if she’s in the wrong -correct her behind closed doors to show her respect and show an undivided bond between she and you to your mother. This too will help.

  4. Ilene says:

    (USA)  Amelia, God bless you. I am blessed to have found this web-site.

    My Husband and I have been married for 29 years, and still my Mother-in-law chooses to stir the pot. Always trying to divide us, my husband always runs to her… still trying to receive his blessing from her. Until recently, I’ve tried to win her approval. It took me a while to know I don’t need her approval, only Jesus Christ’s approval. I will honor her as my husband’s mother and our children’s grandmother (they very rarely see her… her choice). And try, try to let it go and let God. Thank you for the encouraging words.

    • Sissy says:

      (USA) My husband has betrayed me with his mother by telling her everything I do, when I go to the doctor, my medications I take, my brother’s trouble with the law. Everytime something is in the paper about my brothers, my inlaws will ask my husband about it and then he tells me about it. I have been married to this man for 26 years. For the first 17 years I put up with it because we have 2 children together. My husband’s parents do not visit them or acknowledge them, yet they play favorites with 2 older grandsons. Both my parents passed away when we had been married 17 years and I ask my husband why don’t mil/fil come and visit our children, but he refused to talk to them about it, until one day I ask him again and he screamed in my face and said “THEY HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING TO YOU!” He took off walking and came back later that day and didn’t speak to me for 2 days. This happened twice.

      I was so depressed one night I started drinking and drank myself unconscious. My husband told my mil about it. I don’t drink; this was a one time thing. I was so upset that he told her. My mil didn’t come to visit me after I got out of the hospital. This was at Christmas time. She didn’t even get our children anything for Christmas. She went ahead and had her annual Christmas Eve party and didn’t invite my husband or our family and gave gifts to all of her other children and grandchildren.

      She told all my husband’s brothers family about me drinking and now none of his brothers come around or call him. I’ve been so resentful towards my husband because he refuses to admit his mother/father is a problem in our marriage. He even told me that he would divorce me if I didn’t start getting along with his parents. We don’t sleep together anymore, because of all this. I don’t have any desire for him anymore because he refuses to stand up for us/his children. I have had enough and I told my husband if he wants to see his parents to go see them but I will not and don’t want them around me. So he goes to see them and I stay at home. I don’t regret saying that to him because I have put up with so much.

      We pretty much coexist together, because we don’t want to upset our son and get a divorce. He’s 11 and he senses the tension, so we try not to argue or make him upset. We love him and our grown daughter so we try to get along. My husband is also retired and just walks around pacing the floor pretty much all day. I just hope that we can get this marriage back on track. I still love my husband and I think he still loves me, but we have a lot of issues to work out. Please pray for us.

      • Gwen from United States says:

        Hi Sissy. This is exactly what is going on with me. I’m here if you would like to conversate. I’m in need of advice.

  5. Kay says:

    (USA)  I felt God brought me to this website as I am marrying a wonderful man in a few months that has a very domineering mother. I’ve been struggling for 2 1/2 years as my fiance hasn’t “seen the light” in her behaviors, etc. He cowers down to her & then I feel less important & left out. Very often, I feel SO alone & almost crazy because of my mother-in-laws control issues. I am very glad to see that there are Bible verses of which I can follow that will help me persevere through an upcoming marriage… for years!

    May God give us all strength to endure & act in a biblical manner toward one another! And May God give my fiance a “light” bulb moment that will last our lifetime!

    • Cindy Wright says:

      (USA) Hi Kay, I’ll be truthful, unless your fiance truly DOES “get it” as far as the problems his mother is bringing into your relationship, I sure wouldn’t marry him. You will only see the situation ramp up after marriage (and if you ever have children, it gets even more complicated). I can’t tell you what to do, but that is how I see it. We receive more emails than I could count that testify to this being true.

      IF you are to marry, NOW is the time for him to stop cowering and show that you are going to be his life partner and for him to let her know that she needs to recognize your importance in his life. She will need to take a back seat in his life. He will always love her, but he will not allow her to have control over his life anymore. YOU are his parter, not her. How she approaches your partnership will indicate how much she will be able to be a part of his and your future.

      The two of you need to clearly talk NOW about what boundaries you will put into place so you feel protected and honored by him as a marriage partner. We have a lot of quotes and articles on this web site, both under this topic and others (including “Dealing with Parents) that can help with this. NOW is the time to start changing these destructive power-struggle patterns. If not, heaven help you!

      • Amber says:

        (UNITED STATES) I completely back what Cindy said from my experience! The first time my alcoholic mother in law freaked out on me and degraded me for no reason was on the night of my bachelorette party (no one else was drinking -she stashed alcohol in her car). Had I taken that nights RED flag seriously, I could have avoided 5 years of pain, stress and heartache.

        I’m blessed because while my husband was a jellyfish to his mother also in the beginning, he is no longer but that took about 2 years of crying, begging and pleading with him to defend me. He’s very non confrontational and basically blew off the abuse she gave to him so he felt I should as well. I’m not built that way so he learned that my needs were his defense. But it’s a terrible place for you or your future husband to be and will only generate many marital issues.

        I would heed this red flag with all your heart. I’m telling you with a passion I cannot express through words – remember all I’ve gone through after thinking the same way you are.

        • Jenny says:

          (USA) I too had a major RED flag before our wedding day and wish I had paid it attention for what it was. Unfortunately, I listened to my then-fiance’s sister who reassured me that while their mother could erupt in anger and tears, grossly misinterpret meanings and be unreasonable often about many things, she still loved her children and meant well. After a year and a half of brushing off this behaviour and many, many tears over this, my husband finally saw it for himself when she openly directed her anger at me and tried to blacken my character with bogus claims. At least now we can create a healthy and respectful distance between us. I can be charitable but not in close proximity.

  6. Gretta says:

    (CANADA)  I love the scriptures that constantly bring me back to the truth in my relationship, through the word of God which sets us free.

    You see, I have learned that some things and some times, a person cannot share with others. Sharing can sometimes make matters worse. By talking to the wrong people things spread. I was in a new city and my mom in law was well known, so all the more I did not want to create an ugly situation among mutual friends. So through prayer, guidance and the word I made it out.

    With the help of these discussions, everyone let me know that I was not alone. It really helped me through some bad situations, and depressed feelings. It helps to write and reflect and mediate on the word day and night – Amen!

  7. Dierdre says:

    (USA)  My mother in-law includes my husband’s ex-wife in everything. They have a daughter together. After three years of dating and now 5 months of marriage I was allowed to meet the daughter, but only under the watchful eye of the mother in-law and ex-wife.

    The daughter was very quite, unfriendly and had to be told to acknowledge me by my husband. Whenever we were with her, the mother and MIL were present. The ex-wife sends inappropriate emails to my husband but acts so innocent in front of my MIL. My MIL always refers to the ex-wife as HER daughter in-law in front of me. When my husband is around they are kind to me. Away from my husband they ignore me and act as if I am not there.

    Thankfully, the ex and the daughter live out of state. Now they have gone home and my MIL tries to tell my husband to divorce me. I have severed all ties with his family we don’t go around them anymore. Yet I’m called the evil one and am told my husband is cursed for marrying me. The MIL wants him back with his ex and his daughter. This is very frustrating.

    • Amber says:

      (UNITED STATES) I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. That saddens my heart. I’m lucky I guess that my in laws can’t really stand my husband’s ex wife (mother of his two other children).

      I know it’s easier said than done but you don’t deserve that abuse and your husband’s responsibility is to YOU -no one else. He needs to stick up for you and now allow that abuse to come near you. Let them accuse. Are you more at peace since they are not in your life? Focus on that… not what they think. Obviously they have very messed up ideas and sense of reality and in their minds you will always be the guilty one. That’s them. Accept it -avoid them and move on. You deserve better. Live your life with your husband to it’s fullest but make sure he knows his devotion should be to you -not them.

  8. Holly says:

    (CANADA)  Interesting. Once again it’s the mother-in-law that is portrayed as the evil trouble maker! Daughter-in-laws are not always the so called innocent party that do nothing to contribute to poor relationships. It takes two sides to give and take to make a relationship good where both are shown honor and respect.

    • Amber says:

      (UNITED STATES) While I’m sure there are daughter-in-laws who are the main source of the issue, this webpage is directed specifically at this particular situation. It doesn’t mean everyone on here is innocent in handling issues, and it doesn’t mean that they’re on here just to have a bashing session on their inlaws. There are hurting and stressed out people on here who need the support of others in their situation.

      You may benefit much better by finding a webpage devoted to the opposite of this one but please don’t judge those on here as you have not walked a day in their shoes.

  9. Katharine says:

    (USA)  I don’t think I could ever be like Amelia in this example, merely for the fact that it seems her husband didn’t take the time to look at the emotional toll this took on his wife. The Bible tells us to “leave and cleave”… that means your SPOUSE is now your immediate family and the most important family member in your life, not your mother. Yes, we want relationships to be healthy with our parents, but as a married couple your number one responsibility is to your spouse. How sad that this example shows a husband who put his mother’s needs above his wife.

    And no, we do not enter into a union with our in-laws. As far as I can remember it was my husband who stood across from me when we said our vows and pledged to forsake all others, not my mother or his mother.

  10. Mary says:

    (USA)  It is so easy to forget that God is in control that there is NOTHING He can’t do. I was very stressed a minute ago with my situation, where my mother in law, well, she is not as terrible as Amelia’s, but curses and teases and screams at my son for her own amusement. She feeds him hot, salty junk food because it is tastier than the food I make for him. Also she some how believes that the salt and spice in a food disinfect the baby’s mouth. My son is only 10 months old.

    Unlike with Amelia, she lives far and when she comes she stays with us for 3-4 days. Plus, she spends money like water, constantly asking for money from us, or wishing to go some expensive restaurant. She always tells us how stingy we are and how we’re not enjoying life when we have so much more than her family does. I’m constantly telling her no and explaining that we’re not rich, just have a big house which consumes all of our income. It gets very, for lack of a better word, exhausting. She makes it sound like we’re lying to her so we won’t have to help them.

    Since we’re an Asian family, disagreeing and confronting with my in laws literally means forget you. I fully disrespect you and will never ever see you, ever.

    Right now, I’m giving the situation to the Lord. He can move the mountains; He’s the only one who can change one person.

    If anyone out there has any Godly suggestions on how to deal with her, would you please let me know? My in laws are coming over this coming Christmas and staying for a whole week. The three days of Thanksgiving with them was soooo stressful that even now, my body aches and voice still gone.

    By the way, we have a small business where my husband spends most of the time. So it’s hard for him to deal with the situation. I REALLY REALLY NEED SOME HELP! Please.

  11. Melanie says:

    (USA)  I have an ultra intrusive mother inlaw… His allegiance is to her, and to heck with me and my feelings. Whatever she wants she gets, he even goes to his parent’s house every single morning and night… it’s ridiculous and the stress is taking years off my life.

    We have had at it enough times, I’ve spoken my mind and then some, but not with the MIL. I have held my tongue for most of the past decade and it’s done nothing but seemingly allow this issue to continue to grow. Speaking up has not exactly helped either. Now I’m in counseling alone as he won’t go, and it’s obvious the change must come from him and him alone.

    I’ve turned to God so many times and I don’t know what more I can do. I will scream out “why won’t you help me?” This morning I cried this out, WHY won’t you help me?? What am I supposed to do, can you please tell me??

  12. Dudley says:

    (USA) Our marriage has been deteriorating for the past couple of months due to issues with my overprotective and disrespectful mother. My wife and I have been married for almost 6 years. Admittedly, I was not the best husband for the first three years. I had not left my parents emotionally, and I definitely did not cleave to my wife as I should have. Fortunately, I finally got the hint three years ago and finally stood up for our marriage and our “oneness”. In the past, I would not defend my wife and stick up for her when my mother would make comments about her perceived effectiveness as my wife. Now, I am quick to nip her in the bud before she gets started.

    Some background; I am visually impaired. Even though I consider myself very independent, there are certain limitations that I face where I have needed to rely on others, namely in transportation. My parents, especially my mother, have not been able to let go of me. She always checks up on me to make sure that I’m ok. She also feels that no one can “take care of me” as selflessly as she can. Over the years, her disrespectful criticisms have finally worn my wife down.

    My wife walks around with an emotional black veil weighing her down. She feels that nothing that we do will ever make the situation with my mother any better. She fears that confrontation between the three of us will only result in more hardship and pain. I try to assure her that I will forever stand up and protect her and tell her that she will never have to face any hardship alone, but to no avail. She believes that the only way for marriage to survive is for us to permanently close ourselves off from my family, which would also cause a separation from my sister and her two kids whom we love as our own.

    My wife says that she would never ask me to do this cause she knows that she couldn’t do it to her family, but she sees no other resolution outside of separation and divorce. To prove my love and commitment to our marriage, I tell her that I would, in fact, do this even though I know that it would cause pain of another sort. Plus, and I just realized this today, I feel like I would resent her for making me choose such a drastic and permanent solution. I would feel like “well, I’ve done this for you, what are you going to do for me?” I would feel like, in making me choose, she gave up her right to complain or upset me in any way ever again. Basically, she could never repay me.

    We have sought out Christian counseling and marriage sermons online. I’ve read tons of articles about “leaving and cleaving” and working out issues with your in-laws. I believe that my wife has to unshackle herself from the power that she has given my mother. A power that my mother consciously didn’t even ask for. I tell her that she is not a victim, rather a victor in Christ. That, through Christ, she is of immeasurable worth.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Has anyone been forced or chosen to permanently close yourself off from your biological family?

    • Amber says:

      (UNITED STATES) Dudley, my heart goes out to you. My husband is in your shoes right now every day as we speak. The only difference it sounds like is that the verbal abuse his mother gives is to he and I both, not just me (though it is to me more often).

      You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place and not a place you chose to be in! I know from what my husband has endured that it is a very stressful place to be. My mother in laws constant verbal abuse toward me has caused my husband to consistantly defend me and he is a very non confrontational person so it’s wearing on him quickly. But you mentioned the emotional black veil your wife wears – I wear that as well.

      One thing my father has taught me through my venting to him about my situation is that there are things he can say to his parents that no one else could get away with. There are boundries he can set that if set by anyone else would cause a lot of issues. It sounds like you need to evaluate your emotional attachment toward your mother and honestly decide to change that devotion to your wife as the Bible calls a man to do. Defending your wife and being her voice in this situation and every one from now on will help keep her less stressed out and give her the respect toward you that your there protecting her -even if just emotionally. A woman’s success is wrapped up in her emotional stability. If she’s struggling emotionally, her entire family will suffer as well, especially her husband. So keeping her as emotionally sound as you can is mandatory for your marriage to remain successful (in my unprofessional opinion – based on experience only).

      Coming from your wife’s feelings -I completely understand the desire to break ties with your family, yet feel for your feelings toward your family as well. I have put my husband in this situation numerous times but not to be mean or vindictive -for the survival of my sanity. I had on several occasions come to the conclusion in my situation that it was hopeless and when all other efforts failed, this was my end considered resolution. While your wife wouldn’t deep in heart want to do that to you, she sounds like she is to the point of desperation and that’s a dangerous place to be for her mentally.

      Maybe you could consider limiting things with your mother. Such as -if she calls 6 times a day, only acknowledge 3. Then slowly lower it to 2, then one, then take a few days between acknowleding phone calls. It’s not just you that needs to break away emotionally and realize your duty is to your wife -not your mother -your mother needs to realize this as well and by you distancing yourself. It’s not saying that you don’t care for her or appreciate her. It’s saying to your mother ‘look, I know you love me, but I’m a grown man, with my own family. My wife has now taken the responsibility to meet my needs. Thank you for your efforts but my wife’s got this now’. You know what I mean? But to your wife… it will be like a breath of fresh air. The space will give her time to recoup emotionally and will show her your devotion is to her which will strengthen her devotion to you. I cannot stress enough the importance of your devotion to your wife and letting go of that attachement to your mother. It will change your marriage!

    • Jacqui from United States says:

      Sissy, Wow, I don’t know where to start. I don’t know both sides of the story so I’m just going to address yours. It would be really hard to do much of anything toward your husband when he has betrayed you like this. He has invited your MIL into your marriage in a very unhealthy way. It almost sounds like he’s trying to gain her approval so he fills her in on your shortcomings. It proves his loyalty to her.

      The only way I could think of this being an advantage to him is if he never felt accepted by his mom and so he’s always trying to be in her good graces. He also may simply be not committed to your marriage and trying to paint you in a bad light so that when he does do something, everyone will take his side. Sounds like your marriage needs counseling. A lot of pastors and priest provide free counseling.

      Hugs, what’s happening isn’t right. I hope you can find a way to make peace.

  13. Michelle says:

    (USA) My husband feels his mother has the right to come over our house and stay for days. She lives 7 mins from us. When we first got married I invited my mother in law to come over and stay the night when we moved into our new home. My mother in law told me I did not need my house and she prayed against us staying there. As time went by my mother in law would come over to visit and end up staying for days. This caused a huge problem for me and my husband because she and I would always argue.

    For about two years I would laugh off her comments and just dealt with her bossing me around. She would tell me how to cook, wash and other things. So I asked my husband if she can stop staying over. He had a hard time with it but did it. After about a year of her not staying over he asked her to stay and if I was ok with it. He said it makes his mom happy to be with our family. I said yes, for tonight, and it turned into 2 days. I had to argue with my husband to get him to take her home. My mother in law has changed a lot but she is still rude and bossy. What should I do?

    • Amber says:

      (UNITED STATES) Ok, while I’m just another soul dealing with inlaw issues, I understand your stress. First of all, the Bible says that a man shall leave his mother and father and be joined with his wife. It sounds like there is some attachement your husband has to his mother that drives him to respect her desire over your feelings which is in no way biblical. While you cannot control what your husband does, and it sounds like you have been more than selfless in this situation, I would sit your husband down and get the deep reasons he desires his mother to be with you guys so much.

      For a woman, my heart heart goes out to you. The situation your in would be overwhelmingly intrusive -it being your house and you being told how to guide it. If your husband still insists on letting your mother in law stay (which living 7 minutes away just seems silly to need to stay in the first place), I would talk with your husband about setting some serious boundries. Those would be up to you but something has to change or this will drive you away before your husband can blink.

  14. Vicky says:

    (ENGLAND) Hi ya. I have 2 children and I’m very busy trying to fit my family members in. I do ring, send photos and get together sometimes. I’m trying my best to cook, clean, do the school runs, have time for myself and take care of my home. My problem is my mother in law. She feels pushed out of our family and has demanded time with us and cries and blames it on us. This has caused problems between me and my husband and he can’t seem to think how I feel.

    I don’t want to cause a wedge between him and his mum, but I can’t please her. In the past we were made to feel guilty of not going round. We were told they hadn’t bonded with our children (then we left them, which we didn’t want to do), just to please my Mother in law. Text messages started to come to my phone, which I felt I had to answer, and felt if I didn’t, I was being rude. It could be a message WE’RE AROUND THIS WEEKEND. Then we get messages every time they go away, which is a lot as they have a caravan and it’s to say “WE HAVE ARRIVED SAFE.” It goes on.

    I have had text messages where my mother in law is to buy my husband for gifts and I have had some insults verbally from her like “you look tired!” I feel I don’t want to see this woman anymore. There is nore and more to this. It started when I had my first child and got married. I am so miserable by it all. My husband stands by me, but I’m still made to feel guilty by her?? x

    • Amber says:

      (UNITED STATES) If there is one thing I have learned in my mother in law situation, it is to know who I am, what I’m about and what my desires are and to not let someone make me feel guilty because their expectation is something different than that of mine. You and your family have a life to live. You sound like you have much going on and while that is your business and no one else’s, I do believe it is still important in that time to make sure you take maybe a day every week or two to allow your family to visit with your inlaws. If they expect more, that is not on you. You make an effort to reach out to them but don’t allow them to make you feel like you should do or give more when you know you are making that effort.

      I understand that intrusiveness with the text messages. They make you want to say ‘who cares!’ lol. At least for me they do. My father in law used to drive me insane with texts similar to the ones you described. He also very seldom went much time without texting and getting upset if we didn’t respond. Your family needs your space. The Bible says the son shall leave his father and mother and be joined with his wife. At that point, you become one anothers responsibility. You become your own family. It’s nice to be cordial, but some inlaws are too much int hat area.

      I would just talk to your husband about setting up a time to visit or to have your inlaws visit a couple times a month and let him deal with the rest of the drama. I have learned life is much more peaceful if you let your husband deal with his own parents on issues. My father taught me this and I’ve been trying very hard to heed it in every situation. It’s made my life a LOT less drama filled and stressful.

  15. Lindokuhle says:

    (SA) The problem with my mother in law is jealousy. Her daughter is not as successful as I am and as a result she is trying to destroy me for that reason alone. I don’t know how we will make peace if her daughter in law never rises to the challenge? It can only mean that there will never be peace. How should I handle that?

    • Amber says:

      (UNITED STATES) You can never do anything about someone else’s jealousy. The Bible says that with envy comes every evil thing, so it is expected that your being treated terribly. I’m sorry to hear that. However, congratulations on your success and keep your focus on that in humility. Be encouraging and uplifting. It’s hard struggle (as someone who has struggled with jealousy) but from my experience, what goes around comes around. It came back on me much worse I believe.

      I would encourage you to mediate on the scriptures in this article the way I am!

  16. Latoya says:

    (UNITED STATES) I believe that God can change every situation in every way but sometimes it gets hard when you have this mean bitter old soul hoovering over you like she was created to make your life a living hell… I don’t want hate in my heart at all and I pray for strength every day in my situation. It’s much worse than others I believe!! She wants her son to be her man and he was not born to be her man.

    That’s why he went out and got him a woman. She feels like if he’s not at her beck and call he’s acting funny towards her and she believes I’m the cause of it. He’s a grown man. He loves me and it’s a difference between me and her. Our love is totally different and she gets the two confused like she wants her son to sleep with her. She’s jealous, bitter, and very hateful. I can’t see how she can say she has the love of God in her heart and she hates me. I never did one thing to this woman for her to hate me like she does. Her excuses are not even accurate. But I continually pray for her and once we’re from under her roof I will truly be keeping my distance far, far, far away.

  17. Amber says:

    (UNITED STATES) Through reading this, I cried. I too, have a very alike mother-in-law who is an alcoholic. While I know that I have not always handled the situations I faced with the verbal abuse in a godly way, my husband and I have been the primary ones who have tried to make and keep peace. What makes it worse is that my father-in-law enables her at almost all times to be the way she is toward us.

    I want to be the loving person Amelia is! I admire her so much for what she has reminded me of, but biting my tongue and not defending myself has been my greatest struggle. My husband has endured abuse by her from his childhood including physical abuse and it was always easy for him to let things she said and names she called him roll off his back. Lately, my most patient passive husband has been eaten up by the consistant abuse.

    God’s Word is perfect, and wonderful, but at times -such as this for us -incredibly difficult to follow. I feel with my handling of my mother in law it’s always one step forward two steps back in how I respond to the abuse. And as Amelia said, we too never know what to expecting with an alcoholics ever changing personality and attitude, so to avoid hurt and risk of sinning, I have secluded myself from being around her as much as possible. I don’t hate her. I actually feel love toward her. But handling her has been one of the biggest struggles of my life. I pray for her not against her. I pray about my own response to her rather than God changing her all the time. I try to keep in mind, I’m the christian, she is not. The way she is behaving is expected of her, but God calls me to a higher standard. I have learned much through this, but it’s not been easy at any time and at times it feels downright hopeless.

    I ask anyone to keep me in prayer. All it takes in a relationship is one person willing to keep peace at all costs even if the other isn’t willing. I’m willing, but need MUCH prayer and help to do so. While I do not ever expect to be friends with my mother in law as long as she treats people (her husband and his family included), I just want peace. I love the verses posted here! They are beautiful. They are perfect. I think about what Jesus endured all the time and wonder how he did it. He is my inspiration and I long to be like him.

  18. Kathyrn says:

    (UNITED STATES) My mother inlaw just passed away and I feel somewhat guilty for not feeling mournful but instead happy and free. Its been years of her and her daughters controlling our lives. Thank God for Amelia. I had lived my life in the same way as Amelia, always biting my tongue keeping things at arms length as much as I could knowing the situation would never be in my favor. I prayed to God everyday for strength. I knew in my heart no matter how unliked I was by my mother inlaw and her daughter I still respected the fact that she was my husband’s mother even though she belittled him many times.

    Over 45 yrs of emotional pain and stress has been lifted through her passing. So after reading Amelia’s post yes, I feel happy, whole, and free! God has taken her and has given me a Great Blessing in doing so. And yes, I forgive her. I’m hoping she enjoys paradise. We will all have to answer for our transgressions. Only God knows what truly is in our minds or hearts and why we act and do the things we do.

  19. Lolly from South Africa says:

    I hav a Mother in Law with 3 Sister in Laws n w BIL. My MIL used to contol my hubby, especially with money. She never really cared for him. The sisters are also a bad influence to the MIL. They used to be fine when we were still dating n the news of our marriage stirred problems. They pretended through the wedding preparations until after 2 yrs after the marriage. They started withdrawing 1 after another. No more calls ect. My FIL is the only angel in that house.

    My BIL ended up divorcing the mother of 3 kids because of their influence on him. I am happy because my husband stands up for me through all this. Now my MIL and sisters have over 2 years without calling. They stay about 4 hrs away and we used to visit twice a year and they never visited us. The only few times she came over our 7 yr marriage she would do so unannounced. So the last time she came was when my hubby was involved in an accident and they wanted him to come home so that they could take care of him. He refused telling them that he was were he belonged and was taken good care of by his wife. The MIL then came to see him unannounced still.

    She stayed for a week and by the time she came my hubby had recovered and I was on leave. We also took that time to prepare for our daugther’s 5 yr birthday, which we had planned before the accident. His family did not pitch in even after being invited and the MIL stayed for the party since she was there to see her recovering son.

    When she left we gave her bus fare and I called to see if she reached home safely and she was fine. That was the last time I spoke to her and to any of her daughters. Its been two and a half years now and she only calls her son. We have a 2 month old daugter and she has never called to even say hi. The only person that calls is the FIL. I have decided to make peace with this. I don’t even visit his home; he goes alone. You don’t buy love.

  20. Janie from United States says:

    Very torn up about my mil, fil, and bil, all them really. My hubby and I have been married 10 years with two kids who both have learning issues. My hubby has been in and out of jail this past year and I hid this fact from my kids for they could not understand this. However, they should have his family’s support and they don’t.

    You see, I’m the one his family hates, really. I mean hate, not that I don’t lash back in awful manners but to be told that I’m not allowed to call my hubby or see him due to this recent arrest is heartbreaking! I love him and I go thru the pain alone and try to be strong but I’m not made of steel! This whole down fall began in January. I just went to see him tonight and boy were they totally upset! I know he loves me and right now he can’t stand up much for me because he worries if he will ever be able to come home. He has always remained neutral and said if we can’t be nice to one another then just don’t look at each other!

    I try to understand his meekness but my flesh burns with anger towards them. They know, like his kids, he too is slow and easy to persuade. I have been told to never call his lawyer again and that they will take care of my hubby. I basically just need to but out. No one wants me around. I feel helpless. I just paid lawyers 20,000.00$ and have been there since I do. If I didn’t love him I would have left in January when this mess began and certainly would have been justified in God’s eyes but I chose to forgive the evil that had been done.

    Through tears of pain I realized I was forgiven and we have been thru so much that this offered a new foundation to build on. I have sprung for the cost of supplies and hubby has the tools to start the project but how can you raise the frames when your in laws are standing in your way??? I only wrote the most recent heartaches but if I went all the way back and put in every word I’m sure they say story is too long. I hurt alone as I have no family. The only one I had is in jail and faces a list of charges. I’m scared he won’t be home again. I worry about how to tell our kids if the fate is long. I don’t know where to go from here or how to feel. I put on my armour and smile and face the world, but inside I’m falling apart.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Janie, I don’t know where you are located, but is there a prison chaplain you can talk to or a pastor? You have a lot to sort out that is more complicated than I could help you with, or that most anyone could over the Internet. I know that there are many churches throughout the U.S. that help those who have been in and out of jail and the families of those who are in and out of jail. Your complications go beyond just that issue –especially because of your in laws, but you have to start somewhere. Please pray, and seek out a church and/or a ministry that is marriage-friendly that deals with prison families. There is the ministry of Prison Fellowship. You could look them up on the Internet and see if they have someone local that you could talk to. I hope you are able to persevere and do so.

      You have so much to sort out. You really need someone who can talk to you one-on-one, who isn’t toxic or quick to give “divorce him” advice and such. You need someone who knows the dynamics of working with those in jail –especially when family situations are complicated. That’s why I recommend someone in prison or jail ministry or a pastor and church that works with families such as yours. How I pray you find what you need, as far as competent, biblically-based, loving, forgiving advice. I wish I could say that we are that ministry, but we aren’t. But I can tell you that I’m praying for you and point you in a direction that might help you. I pray you are able to find the help you need, TRULY. I pray this for your sake and for your children’s sake, and for your husband’s. May you be blessed.

  21. Theresa from United States says:

    I have been married for 27 years. After 5 yrs of marriage, I betrayed my husband’s trust. My mil obviously had me followed, etc… She told my husband to be aware of this situation. After it came to fruition, I decided to stay and make the best of my marriage. Ever since then, my mil has accused me of other things, been very hurtful to me and it’s been like an emotional rollercoaster w/ her. She is very controlling and manipulative.

    My husband has always thrown my past up to me until the last 6-7 months. I know I’ve been forgiven for what I’ve done, but she can’t seem to let well enough alone. She lives by herself and has very little contact w/ the outside world except for her two sons and me, up until yesterday. I’ve done everything in my power to attend to her needs and to help out anytime I can; however, the past two times, my husband has stood up for me when she would degrade me or accuse me of things. I also brought up the accusations to her in front of my husband. I told her that I would no longer be calling her everyday and my husband agreed.

    I’m reading a book called Boundaries and it has helped me tremendously. I’ve had to set boundaries with her and today for the first time in 22 years, I feel peace. I only wish I’d done it many years sooner. I know God is working in our marriage and is control of every situation. We shall overcome the evilness through Him. PS -we also live next door to her -don’t ever make that choice.

  22. Deren from United Arab Emirates says:

    This article has helped me a lot… feel I was reading my own life story… Especially the point where it says hold back our tongue. There are most situations where I would want to lash out on her but somehow it just turns into sweet talk… I know God controls me during those situations and recently he has given me scriptures of 1 Thessalonians 5, Romans 12 and James 1, which all speaks of love and to love everyone just like how God will loves us.

    Many times it is really hard to abide by the divine instructions but I think if we pray to God more and more He will definitely give us the strength to hold on and smile at the storm.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Thanks for sharing your insights. There’s no doubt that it’s difficult to hold your tongue when we’re faced with an in law situation where we want to just lash back or lash out. But praying and taking a step back helps a lot to help us gain a better perspective of how we should truly respond.

  23. Claire from United States says:

    I just came across this site whilst surfing the net. On my wedding day my mother in law ignored me completely yet we were fine before and this has been hurting me a lot. My husband observed it too, but turned a blind eye. He said I am making problems if I ask, but promised to ask her why or if I’d done something to make her behave this way. Today, 2 months after our wedding, it got to me after he spoke to her but didn’t ask. I couldn’t take the hurt so I called and politely resolved it, yet she said she doesn’t recall it. Nevertheless my marriage is strained as I type this, because he feels I made an issue and we fought. Was it wrong to ask?

  24. George from United States says:

    My girlfriend’s mother is just one thing I’m dealing with right now. I feel like she kicking her unfulfilled goals through her daughter. She agrees to everything she says, making decisions for my son, which I have told her I have to make decision for my son. If that’s an issue, please advise me. She just told me three weeks ago that she doesn’t love me any more base on the fact that her mother is controlling my relationship.

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