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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Hi, my husband allows his mother to make negative comments

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Hi, my husband allows his mother to make negative comments about to me. He says that's it's just her way of talking and that she doesn't mean anything by it. However, i do feel quite hurt by her comments. He also tells her everything that goes on, sometimes about us but mostly behind my back but mostly with our financial dealings and things that go on in our daily decision making. She is one of those "always advice giving" and knows everything about everything which is really tedious when you have to deal with her on a daily basis, as we do because she had to skype everyday even though this was not the case when my husband lived alone but now that he is married she sees it fit. She is also very mean to my mother which I do not understand. On our wedding day, she told her that my husband would never refer to her as "mom" as this is customary in our culture. It is also an insult. When he confronted her, she said she did not mean for it to be insulting and this is actually her remark for everything that he has asked her and he accepts it and thinks that I need to forgive and just let her be because it is his mother. I have come to the point where I cannot ignore it anymore. I do not want to be rude to her. We had an "open communication" session once, just me, him and her and I explained to her how I felt and she totally negates that she is ever in the wrong...infact she gave us a self fulfilling prophecy of how good she and her intentions always are. I had to live with her for two years, without my husband as I migrated to Canada to live with him but because of his job and we didn't quite settle in, he suggested that I stay with her. Even though I was not in favour and asked him several times for me to move as I knew it would be better for everyone's health, he refused as he thought the financial benefits were much more valuable that my mental health of having to put up with her everyday. We have finally moved 18 hours away and she is still in my life everyday. I am not saying that she is a bad person or that I want my husband to hate her, because i would be upset if the shoe were on the other foot so to speak as both our moms are single parents and we cherish them. I just want him to admit that she has hurt me, and that it is not okay for her to constantly "put me down" even infront of him while he allows it to slide or completely denies that she even said it! While I lived with her, she constantly told people that I shouted at her and she even told me that I caused her sugar to raise so high that she could have died.I do not want to be the cause of his mother's illness as I know how important it is to take care of our mothers but it has come to the point where I can no longer taker her criticism quietly.....I am even beginning to despise my husband for not sticking up for me...thing is, I can't change him or his attitude towards this....What do I do?


Am I being too stubborn? I just want a diplomatic way of dealing with this as she is very conniving and can really play games with your head. She is very concerned about her always looking like she is the good one.

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your mother in law is playing psychological games with you to not only hurt you, but to seem like the "good one" with your husband, her son.

I am sorry that you are going through this with your mother in law. It can be very painful when you have to cope with a family member who is determined to hurt you.

When you married your husband, you not only gained a husband but also his family. But in some families, the in laws do not recognize the gain of another daughter (or son). They see the new person as a threat to their family, especially if that family is used to doing things in a dysfunctional way which it sounds like your mother in law is used to doing. Your presence may threaten her way of doing things, including her status in her son's life. Preferring your husband is one sign that things are not emotionally healthy in his mother.

But no matter the reason for the way his mother treats you, what she does to you hurts. And it is meant to. She wants to make sure that you feel bad for "stealing" her son and for replacing her in her son's life and that you allow her to dominate your life and your husband's. She refuses to recognize your status as her son's wife and seems to be trying to take over so she is not excluded.

The key to dealing with this situation is to see what she is doing as part of her own emotionally dysfunctional way of doing things. What she thinks and feels has nothing to do with you. She is trying to make you feel bad, but by refusing to accept her behavior, you remove yourself from getting hurt.

The next time you hear your mother in law say something untrue or hurtful to you, say to her "it sounds like you are unhappy with (then fill in whatever their complaint or lie is)". Then say "I'm sorry to hear that you believe that about me". By saying this to her, you acknowledge that you heard the lie or hurtful remark and you put the blame on her for saying it. It also keeps you from defending yourself. Do this as well with other people your mother in law has spoken to about you. Let them know that you care for your mother in law, but that she seems unhappy with your efforts. Always speak nicely about her with others. This helps them see that you stand out as the one who is being kind.

Also, you may want to discuss this further with your husband. Let him know that you feel his actions are hurtful (use "I" statements as in "I feel....") and that you are having trouble in the marriage because of it. He does need to be defending you with his mother and should never be talking to her about the situation without you being there. You are his wife and you come first. If he does not respond well to you, then suggest counseling. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside of the situation to explain how hurtful in laws can be.

Here is a very good source for dealing with in laws-

I hope this has helped you,

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