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Inlaw Relations/Dealing with my mother in law


Dear David

My name is Hayley and I have been married to my husband for 14 months but we have been in a relationship for nearly 8 years. I've always had a shaky relationship with my MIL but it is getting to the point now where I feel physically ill from the anxiety she causes me. In the past she has weighed in on arguments that her son and I have had, criticized where we lived, asked questions about my finances and medical information and has bullied me into having a wedding when my husband and I had wanted to elope.

My Husband and I are currently living with his parents as we recently moved back to his hometown and it took me a while to gain fulltime employment, and we are unable to buy our own house because I am still on probation. We have been living with them for nearly 6 months.

My MIL acts inappropriately towards my hubby and this makes me uncomfortable, which I have discussed with her. He is 28 years old and she still cuddles him, plays with his hair, does his laundry and in general tries to tell him how to live his life. Although I do not like her doing this I usually keep my mouth shut as I am under her roof.

It was my husband's birthday this week but we had no plans to go out for dinner as he was at football training and wouldn't be home until late. My MIL asked if we had plans to go out for dinner which I said no. She then went on and told me that she had organized to cook him his favorite dinner and dessert, which she did not A) discuss with me B) ask if I minded or C) did not involve me in any way, shape or form. I was extremely offended by this because he is MY husband and I wanted to cook for him. I know that she had planned this all along because I found out that she had organized the meat well before she asked if we had any plans.

I decided to not say anything at that point because I didn't want to ruin his b'day by causing an argument with his mum. I was going to raise it at a more appropriate time because in my opinion she was COMPLETELY out of line and had no right to take over my role as his wife.

This weekend, one of her daughters and her 2yo son have come to stay for the weekend. Besides not letting us ANYWHERE near our nephew (because her affection has now transferred from my hubby to the grandson), I mentioned that I struggle to participate in big family gatherings because I am from a small, quiet family. I did not suggest that they 'change' their ways to suit me but she responded with 'well, you just have to suck it up because this family is not getting any smaller'. She said this in front of EVERYONE but my husband. I am so insulted and humiliated and have spent the remainder of the day locked in my bedroom.

How do I tell her in a polite yet firm way that she is not a party in my marriage and that she has no right to speak to me or treat me like dirt? I have always kept my mouth shut even when she has upset me but now enough is enough and I do not want her to push me around any longer. I have no idea how to show her that I mean business without yelling and carrying on. I am so angry and hurt that she would disrespect me like that and belittle me in front of the rest of the family.

We may be living with his parents for a few months yet but at this rate it is going to get very ugly very soon. My husband and I want to start a family in the next 1-2 years and I refuse to allow her to continue to get away with treating me the way she has all these years, especially when I have her son's child. Can you please tell me how I can start asserting myself and being tactful when I have to tell her that she is out of line?

Thank you.


This has NOTHING to do with MIL and EVERYTHING to do with your husband. Your MIL may be annoying to live with, but your husband is the one who is the momma's boy. He is the one who needs to stand up to his mother and protect you. You all have played into this MIL's hand by living with them and she is fully into the role of being the needed mommy to your husband. He is the one that needs to confront her, he is the one that needs to tell her what is acceptable and not acceptable. He is the one who needs to intervene. Any attempt by you to intervene will only cause more problems no matter how kind or mean you are. I would suggest you give your husband the following information. If he is unable to help create boundaries about his relationship with his mother then you will find another place to live until you all have your own place. This is how serious you should take it with him.

David Simonsen

Inlaw Relations

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Dr. David Simonsen


I can answer you questions clearly and straight. Let me help you get your in-law relationships figured out. They can really be challenging


I meet weekly with families that have in-law challenges.


B.A. M.S. Marriage & Family Therapy; Ph.D. Psychology

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