There is a reason for the term “political monster”; that is to say, it is that people have experienced them. When it comes to a toxic mother-in-law, your life can quickly turn miserable. This woman could be critical, controlling, authoritarian, and critical, and she could push you to the brink. If you are in this situation, the important thing is to recognize the signs so that you can protect your family and learn to understand it.
Your relationship with your spouse is important and you will have to learn to manage your mother-in-law to avoid division in her own home. Most of the time, a mother-in-law acts this way out of insecurity over the loss of her child. If these signs that your mother-in-law is manipulative ring a bell, you are part of the way to find a solution.
1. She is always right, no matter what.
Whether it’s how you arrange your furniture or how you dress your children, your mother-in-law always has an opinion and you don’t have to argue with her. She, in fact, will take little Johnny into the room to change him because he is not dressed as he should, or maybe rearrange the furniture in the family room. If you speak up, she will dismiss what you say and laugh that you don’t know any better.
Her manipulative mother-in-law is trying to show her son that she is still needed in her life. She may feel insecure about losing him and feel the need to prove her worth. The best thing she can do is thank you for her help and make her feel valuable. In time, he may be able to win her over and find a healthy role for her in her life.
2. She has no borders
A manipulative mother-in-law will appear without warning and will walk inside most days. This is extremely invasive and she can get old. She can invite herself when she has dinner or goes on vacation. You may come home from work and find her cooking in your kitchen.
The only way to solve this problem is to team up with her husband and establish some ground rules. Be polite when you have a conversation with her and let her know that she is very important to you and her child. It will be difficult to transition, but if you stick with it, you may see positive results.
3. She manipulates her son
This type of toxic mother-in-law is very difficult to handle because she is directly interfering with her marriage. This type of woman might call her child and tell her that she hurt her feelings by speaking inappropriately or using a harsh tone, even if you didn’t.
The first difficulty is getting her husband to see what is happening and defend her. She may need to gather evidence or wait until he witnesses this behavior himself. Either way, until her husband learns not to fall into the trap, it will be difficult to change.
4. She expects you to be perfect.
When your mother-in-law always has a comment about what you do wrong, she can get old quickly. If she prepares a delicious dinner, she will be sure to point out that her meat was not tender enough or that the potatoes are cold. This constant criticism can drive you crazy if you let it.
This type of mother-in-law is often manipulative because she feels that she is losing her child. It is almost an insecurity of her that leads her to feel that there is a competition between you about who can take better care of her child. If possible, you should try to win her over by ignoring her criticism and asking her to bring a dish that she makes of her because she makes it so much better. She will feel useful and necessary, and this may solve the problem.
5. She loves you, but only in public.
When you go out to dinner or at a party, your mother-in-law will do an act that indicates that you are very close to her. She will act kindly and she will congratulate you on everyone who is there. This is smart because if you express your concerns about her, people will think you are crazy. This can make you feel very lonely.
It’s hard to change this dynamic and you really need the help of her husband. The problem is not how she treats you in public; The problem is, she should always treat you like this. If her husband makes the rules with her, it can work because she doesn’t want to lose her child.
6. She gossips about you
This is a terrible type of manipulative mother-in-law because it is very difficult to repair this relationship. She will speak ill of you in the community and family. She will work to damage her reputation and she will also have private conversations with her husband.
In this case, she may need to distance herself. She needs to involve her husband and there should be a clear message that this behavior is not okay. If she doesn’t address this quickly, she will eventually try to turn her son against her, and things will only get worse.
7. She contradicts you with your children
When she has your kids, they’ll make comments like “Mommy won’t let us do this.” Instead of being an adult and making good decisions, try to drive a wedge between yourself and your children. This is very confusing for children and undermines their parenthood. This is another type of manipulation that you must stop immediately.
You must work with her husband and send her a clear message that if she continues, she will not spend time with her children. As long as you are serious and willing to enforce, she will have no choice but to change.
8. She lies to you about your husband
You may have a manipulative mother-in-law if she constantly tells you lies about her husband. She could be subtle, suggesting that she recently spent time with a high school girlfriend, or she may make something up directly about him.
If she has any indication that she may not be telling the truth, she should simply have a conversation with her husband. She should piss him off enough that she takes care of it. This should be stopped immediately because it can leave you confused and mistrust her marriage.
9. She spies on you
She may discover that her mother-in-law seems to know all the details of her life. It is possible that she is watching everything you do and that she is asking your friends and other people for information. This can be very unsettling, but it is generally driven by insecurity.
You may want to think about sympathizing with her. This type of mother-in-law usually wants to know more about you because they feel so insecure that you have become the most important person in her child’s world. The way to counter this is to let her know that she still has an important role in her life.
10. She Plays the Victim
Do you find that your mother-in-law always suffers from someone acting unkindly? This type of manipulation is difficult because she is trying to gain sympathy from her son. Her goal is for him to reprimand you and tell you to treat her better.
You should try to nip this in the bud quickly. It may be difficult for your husband to see it because she usually calls him privately to recount a situation when he wasn’t there. Be careful with this kind of mother-in-law because this manipulative tactic can truly test the strength of your marriage.
11. She Plays Emotional Games with Your Husband
She may tell your husband that she just can’t see him because he has chosen you. She will try to get him to invite her over so that she can say no. This kind of mother-in-law plays games with her son to make him feel guilty for choosing you over her.
She might be overly generous or giving with your husband’s siblings as well. This is something he needs to work out. He needs to let her know that he loves her and set strong boundaries for appropriate behavior. The truth is that he has chosen you, and if she can’t respect that, she needs to change. You can be supportive of your husband as he works to change this dynamic.
12. She Is a Narcissist
This is the worst kind of mother-in-law, and she probably wasn’t a very good mother to your husband either. The whole world revolves around her, and she sees everything as an extension of herself. Since she probably never allowed her son to make his own choices, she will resent you every minute of the day.
You can work this out, but only by holding a firm stance. Most narcissistic people are what they are, and the only way to get through to them is to hold your ground. You and your husband need to set firm boundaries and hold her accountable for her behavior. This may lead to a peace treaty later on.
Recognizing the signs your mother-in-law is manipulative is important for many reasons. She may be a part of your life, but you can manage the relationship and try to improve it. Manipulative mothers-in-law can take a toll on a marriage, but if you work with your husband, you can come to an agreement.
Most of the time, your husband’s mother is simply feeling insecure about losing her son. If you include her and show her that she is valuable, you may be able to work it out. If she is a narcissist or simply won’t stop, you may have to take more drastic measures. Set boundaries, and work with your husband to make it better.