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Tamara, Counselor & Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1073
Experience:  20+ yrs Private Practice; Cert. Master Therapist; National Board Certified; APA Board Certified
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Hi there, My mother-in-law is a 99% perfectly normal person

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Hi there,

My mother-in-law is a 99% perfectly normal person to everyone else but to his own husband, my father-in-law.

She shows extreme aggression towards him ONLY. To a state we see that she is abusing him mentally, sometimes physically. She would scold him loudly in open public or in private. However, to others, she is behaving perfectly normal.

When we tried to let her know her behaviour is not acceptable, she would hystercially saying that no one is appreciating what she has done. (the fact is, my father-in-law does everything at home. She would just criticize everything he does.) They are both retired and considering to be well-off, financially.

I am wondering if this is a behaviour problem or she has a mental condition?

Thanks in advance.


Tamara :

Hi. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm pleased to try to help you today. I'm sorry to hear about the issues

Tamara and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
OK, did I click on the wrong button? Because I didn't really see any answer here....
Sorry about that. Let me finish my answer - some glitch happened when I tried before.

It sounds like your mother-in-law is a very difficult person to deal with, and will not respond to reason. She clearly has a lot of resentment toward her husband, and takes every opportunity possible to put him down and degrade him. I know this is hard to be around and to observe. But the bottom line is that they are both adults, and they are both willingly participating in this dysfunctional relationship. Some people have a personality disorder which makes them very sensitive to real and imagined slights by others - and they tend to focus most of that on the person they are married to. This tends to be more an issue for women than for men. However, your father-in-law is contributing to the problem by allowing her to treat him that way. So my suggestion would be to stop trying to change her, because talking to her about it is actually reinforcing the behavior. Don't be on her side, don't be against her. If you feel you need to do something, then help your father-in-law see a therapist. HE really needs the help. Remember, you can't change other people. Do your best to keep her from affecting you and your relationship with your wife.

Best wishes, and please let me know if I can answer any further questions. Tamara