It is already hard enough to love your spouse’s mother, you have to admit it. But to put up with a narcissistic mother-in-law, you have no idea how to handle that.
Discovery that she has a narcissist mother-in-law turned Sandra’s marriage into a very challenging relationship. Almost destroyed it, actually. At first she was very confused, because when Sandra met that woman, while she and her husband Jim were still dating, her narcissistic mother-in-law-to-be was charming, funny and interested in her life. She seemed so friendly and easy to communicate with. Sandra would think to herself how lucky she was to find a true friend in her future mother-in-law.
However, she didn’t know back then that narcissists are good actors and master manipulators. It’s only years after that Sandra realized that her mother-in-law wanted to develop the relationship with her just to use her trust against her one day. Her narcissist mother-in-law actually saw her as a competition that has come to steal her beloved child’s attention and love.
It almost cost Sandra and Jim their marriage. Luckily, they fought hard to save their relationship and they made it in the end. Check out below the tools they used to cope with narcissistic mother-in-law that helped them stay together.
How to Recognize a Narcissistic Mother-in-Law
You will know your mother-in-law has a narcissist personality if:
She is overly involved in your partner’s life
Your narcissistic mother in-law is criticizing you (and your spouse as well) for everything you say or do
She calls/drops in too often
Your partner feels uneasy and frustrated by the frequency of her calls and visits
Your spouse keeps finding excuses for his mother’s behaviour and comments
She likes to play the victim
Your narcissistic mother in-law thinks she’s always right
She is controlling and manipulative
Always comes with the new demands
It’s hard to feel comfortable around her
To make your and your husband’s life easier, it may use to follow some tips on how to deal with your toxic mother-in-law.
1.Set the Limits
First thing to do when you figure out that you married into having a narcissist mother-in-law is to set the firm boundaries. These limits can include the amount of time you spend with your in-laws, the number of calls you will exchange or information about your life you’ll be willing to share with her. Be kind but firm over your boundaries.
Keep your marital life private and don’t share details of your relationship with your mother-in-law, even if she seems caring and supportive. Don’t allow your mother in law to be verbally abusive. Also, do not let yourself become a victim of your narcissist mother-in-law guilt trap. Remember, she will always play a victim. Especially in front of your spouse or other people. She’ll probably do anything to persuade her child that you are mistreating her. Stay immune to her provocations. Keep in mind that is probably nothing you do that causes her behaviour. It is just her narcissist personality.
However, make sure your spouse is aware of the limits you set and he approves them.
Keep in mind though, that even when you set the firm boundaries, it may not stop your toxic mother-in-law from overstepping them. If this happens, you and your partner may have to strictly limit interactions with her or to completely stop them.
However, the relationship with your spouse’s mother becomes particularly complicated if you have children. Try to find out the least interfering way for your kids to keep the contact with their grandmother.
2. Support Your Partner
Although it’s very hard for you to deal with a narcissist mother-in-law, remember that it’s probably ten times harder for your partner. He/she is the one who has to balances all the time between a person he/she loves and a demanding mother.
Being a child of a narcissist parent is not easy. He or she might develop coping mechanism in the form of denying or minimizing their mother’s narcissist personality. So, try not to get frustrated when your partner tries to find excuses for your mother-in-law. Acknowledge your spouse’s feelings instead and offer support.
Being a narcissist, your mother-in-law doesn’t see her children as individuals, but as extensions of herself. Therefore, she will never give up on trying to control her child’s life.
Stay united. Decide together what role your toxic mother-in-law is going to play in your lives and try to agree on how you will communicate with her.
3. Talk to Your Partner Openly
Ask your spouse for support. Because if you don’t have your partner’s support, your battle with your narcissist mother-in-law will be pre-lost. Let your spouse know how you feel. Make sure your partner is a main line of communication to their mother, not you. Your partner needs to make sure that their narcissist mother understands that you are their priority and that you have their support.
4. Don’t Encourage Your Narcissistic Mother-in-law’s Drama Communication Style
Your narcissist mother-in-law will probably criticize everything you do, from how you clean your house to how you raise your children. Don’t take what she says to heart. Remain calm when she starts her verbal abuse and remove yourself from a toxic situation as soon as possible. Don’t engage in endless discussion and argument with your partner’s mother. Always stick to the facts and avoid being equally rude.
Your toxic mother-in-law will probably use every opportunity to communicate to you that you are not good enough for her son and her family. She’ll never say it out loud of course, but she will make sure you get the clear message.
Furthermore, she will always find an excuse for her words and actions. And she will always be prepared to blame on you for whatever reason. Therefore, don’t allow yourself to get trapped in your mother-in-law’s drama style. Stay composed and ignore her attempts.
Also read: Dealing with the mother-in-law from hell!
5.Get to Know Narcissistic Mother-in-Law’s History
It may be a good idea to look into your mother-in-law’s personal history. Find out where she is coming from. Knowing the possible causes to her narcissist behavior can help you understand her motives better. Maybe she was raised by narcissist parents herself. Or a victim of some form of abuse as a child.
She may be frustrated with you for being disconnected from her child. Trying to see the things from your toxic mother-in-low’s perspective may help you better prepare for protecting yourself and your family from her attempts to harm your relationship.
6. Don’t Try to Keep Up a Relationship that Doesn’t Exist
On the paper she might be your mother-in-law. However, that doesn’t mean you have to fake a relationship that in reality doesn’t exist. If there is no warmth, understanding and mutual respect, you can consider your relationship with your toxic mother-in-law a non-existing one. Always make sure you emphasize the distance between the two of you.
7. Take Care of Yourself
Don’t let the toxic relationship with your mother-in-law negatively affect your overall well-being. Exercise mindfulness and relaxation techniques to keep emotionally fit. Do all those things you enjoy, alone or with your husband and kids. Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise regularly.
Taking a good care of your mind and body will strengthen your coping mechanisms and help you manage your toxic mother-in-law more constructively.
8. Stay in Control of Your Emotions
When your narcissist mother-in-law pushes your buttons, try to stay calm and composed. Take her criticism seriously, but not personally.
Find a healthy way to express your feelings of anger, frustration and anxiety. Let your emotions out through art or physical activity. Practice your self-management and social skills. Learn how to regulate your emotions and understand your mother-in-law’s verbal communication and her body language. Developing your emotional intelligence skills will help manage your narcissist mother-in-law better and stay mentally fit.
Regardless of how hard it is to deal with her, remember that your mother-in-law is in your life for a reason. You may want to blame her for everything, but don’t fall into that trap. Look inside and think of any work that may have to do on yourself. Your mother-in-law’s narcissist personality or behavior should not stop you from accepting the part of the responsibility for your toxic relationship.
If this is starting to get in the way of your marriage and your relationship with your spouse, speak with our marriage and relationship experts anonymously and get support from experienced counselors at Askmile.com.