How to Deal With an Overbearing Mother-in-Law

lifestyle Dec 26, 2019
How to Deal With an Overbearing Mother-in-Law

Being married to your wife means becoming a part of her family, and sometimes, you don’t see eye-to-eye with your in-laws. Not getting along with your partner’s parents can spell trouble for your marriage, so you want to learn some tips to help you navigate your relationship with them.

At Dad University, we’ve shared a few things you can do to handle an overbearing mother-in-law. That way, you’ll gain new perspectives and approaches to ensure that your relationship with your in-laws gets better. 

The Extent of Your Responsibility

Before everything else, you’ll need to understand your standing as an in-law. In general, you do not want to get involved in issues of your wife’s family — that’s just a recipe for even more conflict. Your wife is responsible for her family, and you’re only there for support unless she asks you to help.

However, you can’t always stay on the sidelines. When you have a child, your in-laws will likely want to be involved, which can lead to the feeling that they’re being overbearing. In this case, it’s best to pick your battles. You don’t want to focus on every little thing they do and every issue they have. Sometimes, it’s better to look at the bigger picture and step back as they try to create a relationship with their grandchild.

Dealing With Mother-in-Law: Tips for Dads

Overbearing is a subjective term, but many of us associate it with people who are overly fussy, involved, and domineering. Navigating relationships with these personalities involves understanding, empathy, and a certain level of acceptance. Here are a few things you can do.

Understand That It’s a Package Deal

You’re not just marrying your wife, you’re also becoming an official part of her family. This means that you should be prepared for whatever comes along — even the people with personalities you don’t necessarily like.

Be Nice

A perfect relationship with a mother-in-law is not a requirement for a good marriage. You don’t have to create a fake relationship just to keep things civil. The simple act of being nice and respectful is usually enough to help you maintain a good standing with your in-laws. 

Set Boundaries

In this case, it will be your partner who needs to set boundaries with their parents. However, if certain things are bothering you, it’s your responsibility to start the discussion with your wife. Otherwise, setting boundaries like the time of their visits or what they can feed your child will just make you appear hostile. We also want you to understand that these boundaries may not always be followed, especially by an overbearing person. Look at this practice as simply a way to show that you are willing to communicate your needs to your in-laws. 

Don’t Take It Personally

A person can be hostile, intimidating, or too opinionated — that’s their issue. Your mother-in-law may comment on your parenting style or the food your child eats. While some of us may take these criticisms to heart, you should keep in mind that maybe she’s just that kind of person. Her opinions are hers, and you don’t have to believe or follow them. In short, don’t take it personally. 

“We’ll Take It Into Consideration”

When we say not to take things personally, we don’t mean you ignore what your mother-in-law is saying altogether — that would only lead to even more hostility. Instead, you can acknowledge her opinions and say that you’re taking them into consideration. This response shows that you’re listening, which is sometimes enough. 

Get To Know Her

Understanding why your mother-in-law behaves the way she does is possible if you try to get to know her. Ask her about her history, her background, and other things that could explain her personality. Getting to know her won’t solve her overbearing attitude, but it can help you gain a bit of empathy and a new perspective.

Take Responsibility for Your Own Actions

Sometimes, the reason why you have an overbearing mother-in-law has to do with you. You may have done things in the past that made her hostile or overbearing. Look back and see if there are things you could’ve done better and take responsibility for them. It might be the first step to easing her attitude toward you.

Stop Having Expectations

You have certain expectations about your in-laws, especially when it comes to their relationship with their grandchild. However, you have to understand that they’re not required to fulfill whatever assumptions you have of them. They have their own lives and they can make their own decisions. If you expect them to behave how you please, you’ll only end up disappointed.

Look at Their Intentions

Instead of examining the end result of your in-laws’ actions, try to look at their intentions instead. Let’s go over an example: your mother-in-law gave your child a piece of candy even though you’ve explicitly told her that your kid can’t have sweets. Sure, it’s disappointing that she broke your rules or boundaries, but her intention is not to irk you. She wanted to create a moment of rebellion with your child, which the latter will remember as a happy moment of scheming with their grandparent. 

Having this perspective helps take away the thought that your in-laws are being spiteful to you in particular. Instead, you understand that their intentions are coming from a place of love. It may have annoyed you, but as we mentioned above, you don’t have to take it personally.

Wrapping Up: Dealing With Overbearing Mother-in-Law

We don’t get to choose our partner’s parents. If they have domineering and overbearing personalities, we may have to adapt to ensure a civil and peaceful relationship with them.

Watch the "How to Deal With an Overbearing Mother-in-Law" video here

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