Getting married can feel like the most incredible day of your life. But, if your marital bliss is slowly turning into a nightmare, you need to examine why. While some couples struggle with infidelity outside of their relationship, you probably never expected your mother-in-law to be the so-called “other woman.”
If your mother-in-law acts like she is married to your husband, they may both be involved in covert or emotional incest. Covert incest is a form of abuse whereby a parent relies on their child for emotional support that their own spouse or another individual should instead provide.
Having an overly-involved or possessive mother-in-law can put immense strain on your marriage and can often make you feel like you’re the one on the sidelines. By learning to understand her behavior and taking simple steps to fix the situation, you can foster good, healthy boundaries with your mother-in-law.
Related Reading: Considering Divorce Because of In-Laws?
Understanding How Your Mother-In-Law Feels
Your mother-in-law may act possessive and come between your relationship with your husband. But, before getting into the signs that your mother-in-law is jealous of you and how to navigate this situation, it’s important to remember that having an overly-involved mother-in-law may more common than you’d think.
Understanding why she is acting this way may be the first step to rectifying the situation. There are several reasons your mother-in-law may be having a hard time letting go of her son.
Firstly, she may be having a hard time accepting that her role as your husband’s caregiver is coming to an end. Mothers are naturally protective and loyal when it comes to their kids. So, it’s only natural that they become anxious when they are no longer able to care for their son.
The lack of contact may also be making the separation from her son harder for her. Since meeting you, your husband has spent most of his time, effort, and attention on you. This may be especially true if your husband lived at home for an extended period of time prior to moving in with you.
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While this is normal, it can be difficult for a mother to understand. And when they aren’t able to be in contact with their son as much as they used to, they may use any opportunity to cling on to them.
This may be why your mother-in-law is overstepping the boundaries within your relationship. In most cases, this intrusion into your marriage may be largely unintentional.
Lastly, your mother-in-law may be overly possessive and protective of her son because of your relationship. If you have a poor relationship with her, it’s like due to concern about you (or dislike for you) that your mother-in-law has become overly involved in your marriage. This display is her way to protect her son and assess your relationship with him.
Tips For Dealing with a Possessive Mother-In-Law
Other than being too close to your husband and coming between your marriage, there are other signs that may indicate that your mother-in-law is too possessive and that you need to set boundaries and remedy your relationship.
You can’t change the situation without recognizing that your mother-in-law is overstepping her boundaries. But, once you’ve done this, it’s time to work towards positive change and fostering a more productive relationship with her.
1. Talk To Your Mother-In-Law
The first step to exacting change is to open a direct line of communication with your mother-in-law. It’s important to let her know that you are willing to listen to her, that you respect her, and that her thoughts and feelings are entirely valid.
Similarly, your mother-in-law should also acknowledge that you need time to speak to air your own thoughts and feelings.
When communicating with her, it’s important to remember that you will have to be direct in acknowledging the problem. While it may be uncomfortable to tell someone that you don’t like their behavior, you won’t be able to change anything without hashing out the issues that you’re experiencing.
One of the most complex parts of communicating with someone you may feel frustrated or upset with is being empathetic to what they have to say. Your mother-in-law may need some support when expressing her feelings, and you will need to be willing to understand why she has been acting this way.
2. Include Your Mother-In-Law In Your Life
Often, a mother-in-law becomes overly attached to your husband because she is afraid of losing him. To help ease the shift in her relationship with him and to help her overcome any negative feelings she may be having, it’s crucial to foster a good relationship with her and keep her involved in your life. This is obviously only the case if the relationship is a net gain and overall healthy for you and your husband.
There is a difference between being involved and being overinvolved, though. By setting clear boundaries with your mother-in-law, you can decide how involved you would like her to be.
By having no communication or involvement in your life, she is more likely to take on the role of the wife in your relationship. This over-involvement is a way for her to try and gain back control of the situation.
Instead of cutting your possessive mother-in-law off completely, try to have contact with her as much as you feel comfortable with or as much as you and your partner have decided is appropriate and healthy for you.
3. Address Your Issues With Your Spouse
While you may have noticed that your mother-in-law has become jealous, possessive, or clingy with your husband, he may not have. The chances are that your spouse feels that his close relationship with his mother is a good thing. Your husband will, therefore, not do anything to change the dynamic he has with her, since he likely believes it is normal.
By addressing your concerns with your husband, you can work together as a couple to come up with solutions to help fix their entangled relationship. Marriage is all about teamwork, so you will need to have your husband on your side!
4. Avoid Escalating Conflict
It’s easy to say that you should avoid conflict altogether. But, as humans, this is not always possible. When emotions are tense, and tempers are rising, it can be hard to hold ourselves back. However, letting our negative emotions get the better of us can create even more tension and stress.
So, instead of avoiding conflict, you should do your best not to escalate the situation. Conflict is sometimes unavoidable, but how you react in a tense situation will pave the way for how you cope with an overly-involved mother-in-law.
You also need to pick your battles. Suppose your mother-in-law starts arguments over something arbitrary that doesn’t matter. In that case, you will need to stop yourself and think about whether the argument is worth having. If not, it’s best not to retaliate and respond with kindness and patience instead.
Responding to adverse situations with a calm demeanor can sometimes help to give people time to reflect on why they have acted a certain way. You’ll also diffuse the situation by not giving her the reaction she wants.
Continue Reading: Are In-Laws Considered Family Relatives? [ANSWERED]
It can be challenging for mothers to let go of their sons. Mothers may feel threatened, jealous, or anxious about the “loss” of their son. They can respond to these feelings by becoming overly attached to them. This is especially true when they get married and build a relationship and a new life with another woman.
Suppose you feel like your mother-in-law is overstepping the boundaries of your relationship. In that case, you will need to address this issue with both your spouse and your mother-in-law herself. By handling the situation with patience and empathy, you may even find that your relationship with your mother-in-law will begin to strengthen over time.