ask deepak: mother-in-law strangeness

20Sep10

Found this here

Question:
How can I deal with a passive aggressive mother in law? So far I haven’t stood up to her, but I am so close. She has overstepped her boundaries in so many ways. My husband has confronted her about her behavior but she continues to make snide comments every time we see her or by email, and when she does it , it is always with a smile. She has not only done this to me, but to my parents as well. I know she has never approved of the both of us marrying so soon after 9 months (We are over age 35yrs old and adults mind u).
My husband and I now have a one yr old together and my husband has a 6yr old from his previous relationship who visits from time to time. My mother in law shows favouritism towards the 6 yr old every time she comes to see us. Actually, she shows favouritism towards her son as well. He can do no wrong nor his other daughter. Recently she has even told my husband that the 6yr old is her favorite. My husband and I are moving to California, and when she asked about it, she didn’t show any support nor acknowledged that she is happy for us. We have had a horrible year financially, lost two homes, my job, my husband was injured at work. She knows all of it and instead she said nothing to support our decision to move. She is a strange woman but its her snide comments that gets me and her judgment. I want to set her straight and want her to know, she is out of line with her comments. My husband has two other brothers who’s wives have had problems with her as well. It has really affected our relationship at times. I’ve gotten to the point I can’t stand her and I hate to say that. I have been married before and had had a wonderful mother in law with no issues. But my current mother in law is a strange bird and makes my skin crawl when she is around. I have never met anyone like her. Usually my husband supports me , but recently he said, that I have to let go of my EGO. This floored me and now I’m more upset than ever. I know she will always be my husband’s mother, but how can I be supported by my husband and have her know he and I are a family now?
Answer:
I’m not sure about this being your ego problem, but I think it’s safe to say that you are not going to find peace in this matter if that depends on your mother-in–law changing to fit your expectations. She is who she is, and that is not likely to change. Moreover, you have no control over her anyway. What you do have a choice over is how you respond to her behavior. It’s up to you to find a way to maintain a sense of balance and inner harmony regardless of what she says or does.
As you and your husband are facing the challenges of creating a family while you are dealing with financial hardships, it’s natural enough to look for support from family, but if it isn’t given, then don’t worry about it and move ahead. The same applies to your mother-in-law’s snide comments and her favoritism to the 6 year-old. These are her limitations, and it does you no good to make yourself miserable over her social deficiencies.
Get on the same page with your husband and together explain to her in as nice a way as possible that her destructive and divisive action is felt and noticed for what it is. And that as long as she continues with it and pretends otherwise, then she should understand that as a mother you will naturally need to protect your family from this as much as possible. Tell her you are not asking her to change, she can do and say what she wants, but that your responsibilities are to your family and if she insists on undermining your relationships, then the consequences are that her influence will have to be minimized.
At the same time you are explaining in these simple terms where things stand, also give her a supportive option. Let her know what kind of a positive influence you would like her to have in your family. Offer her a vision of what it would look like for her to be a welcome family member. Finally, ask her to consider if this kind of a relationship with all of you wouldn’t actually be more enjoyable and rewarding for her personally than her present relationship as well. If she is receptive to finding an honest way forward with all of this, then ask her how you and your husband can help her in getting there.
Love,
Deepak

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