Experts and moms we consulted remarked that it is possible to handle difficult mother-in-laws successfully; they suggested various solutions, including therapy sessions as a possible approach.
Therapists can provide invaluable assistance by teaching techniques for managing conversations and setting boundaries, which they may offer individually or couples therapy – both services may be obtained with referral from your physician or searching online for one near your location.
1. Adjust Your Expectations
Realize that it may be impossible for you to change your mother-in-law, but you can alter how you respond to her and alter expectations accordingly – perhaps this will reduce tension between you.
If your MIL insists on continually checking for dust and dirt before leaving your house, take the behavior as her way of showing affection towards her grandchildren rather than taking it personally. If it becomes unbearable for you, seek professional assistance from a therapist as this behavior could indicate she wants you to return the favor.
BetterHelp’s network of over 20,000 licensed therapists will ensure they can find you a therapist to best meet your needs.
As it can help to recognize there could be several reasons behind why your mother-in-law acts this way, including mental illness or personality disorders that drive her actions in self-serving ways, trauma from previous relationships with your son, or history of abuse in her family – it may all contribute to how she acts in these ways.
If your MIL is manipulative and control-freak, learning how to deflect her attempts at controlling you may be beneficial. For instance, if she often gets defensive when you disagree with her, try shifting the conversation away by discussing something positive instead; this will make her less entitled to argue against you.
2. Recognize That She Is Who She Is
Remember, your mother-in-law’s animus may have little to do with you; she could just feel threatened or jealous about your presence – or it could even be related to mental health conditions like Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
As it’s possible to improve relationships with unfriendly or toxic mother-in-laws and turn them around into mutual tolerance or friendship, but you will require open communication and setting clear boundaries with her. In addition, finding both an individual therapist who can discuss it all with your partner as well as professional ones she can visit alone may prove valuable in this endeavor.
If she seems passive-aggressive toward you (such as refusing to go out without first checking for dust or dirty dishes in your house) it would be wise to politely let her know how her behavior is irritating. When she attempts to undermine your parenting decisions in front of the children or asks you for money or affection it might also be best to try and distance yourself.
Establishing clear communication and setting clear boundaries will allow your ex to recognize that she no longer owns your son or is his primary priority, thus helping her understand she needs to change her behavior if she wishes to improve your relationship. However, malignant narcissists typically cannot change themselves or learn healthy coping mechanisms on their own; she may continue treating you like property and using you against her son until she finally receives the message that she’s no longer the sole figure in his life.
3. Set Boundaries With Her
When dealing with a toxic mother-in-law, setting firm boundaries may be your best course of action. This might mean not answering her calls or attending family gatherings when she’s present; or asking her to be more respectful towards your children by not using derogatory terms in front of them and refraining from telling them she doesn’t love them.
Establishing and upholding healthy boundaries are an integral component of relationships, but when dealing with difficult in-laws they become even more critical. Remember when setting and upholding these boundaries that they do so not out of anger but out of a genuine desire to protect yourself and protect mental health and happiness.
An expert manipulator won’t respect your boundaries easily, so you should remain consistent when setting them. Begin by identifying any behaviors which upset you as well as past experiences wherein this individual made you uncomfortable, resentful or angry. Once identified, write out a list of concrete steps which you can take to improve the situation.
Similarly, if she tends to show up unannounced at your house, set an appointment so you can leave on time. If she lingers too long afterward, politely remind her that you have an engagement later that day and ask her to come at another time.
Attempt to set clear boundaries before her interference becomes an issue; this might help turn around your relationship and change its trajectory.
4. Talk to Your Partner
Idealistically, setting and enforcing boundaries with Karen Mother-in-Law should be achieved in tandem with your partner; however, this may prove challenging if either feels overprotective of his mother-in-law or doesn’t understand how her behavior impacts you as her victim. If neither partner can resolve the matter on their own, professional help such as family systems therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy could prove invaluable in managing complex relationships.
Before deciding how to handle Karen Mother-in-Law, discuss which behaviors are most upsetting to both of you. For instance, if her unsolicited parenting advice irks you, perhaps asking her not to offer advice but instead provide support and encouragement is appropriate.
Also, you could try limiting her presence by inviting her to meals and other events solo – this may help give you more control of your life while decreasing tension between you.
When discussing boundaries with your MIL, it’s important to remain calm and stick with facts. Reiterating your wishes more than once may be necessary until she begins respecting them – remember this process can take time! You and your partner should come up with a plan on how best to deal with her – write it down so both of you can refer back to it when necessary so there won’t be any future miscommunication and your boundaries are respected.
5. Practice Mindfulness
An unpredictable mother-in-law can be difficult to navigate, but there are steps you can take to find common ground and set boundaries if she mistreats you. Furthermore, it’s important to realize that their animus might have nothing to do with you directly; she could have mental health conditions such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder that is impacting her behavior.
Over time, even difficult relationships can often change to become mutually acceptable and even friendship-filled. Be kind and understanding toward your mother-in-law while remaining curious about her personality and behaviors. Seek professional assistance if her behavior causes stress or anxiety – such as family systems therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy as possible solutions.
While it is natural to want to please Karen mother-in-law, do so without compromising your own wellbeing. Engaging in self-care practices like journaling, meditation and mindfulness may help alleviate negative feelings and promote relaxation. Furthermore, exercising regularly, eating healthily and getting enough rest should all help in making things better.