DEALING WITH A MOTHER-IN-LAW THAT IS OVERPROTECTIVE OF HER SON
Discover Ways to Improve Your Relationship With the Other Woman in Your Partner’s Life.
By Abby Patonai
Marriage is a lot of work. It is more than living together. It is more than loving each other. It is more than sharing life together. Marriage involves merging people together outside of the married couple. Families and friends will not always get along because everyone has different views, opinions, and life experiences.
One of the biggest relationships involved is between a mother and son. Depending on the health of their parental relationship, the merge can be a big obstacle and stressful for the husband and wife. In a lot of cases, a son will not always see the issues because he is familiar with his mother’s emotions and mannerisms. Therefore, he could be somewhat numb and/or blind to his mother’s responses and opinions despite how wrong they are.
If you are the wife dealing with an overprotective mother-in-law, you’re probably stressed and emotionally exhausted. In many cases, the way a mother-in-law reacts can feel like a direct response to something you said or did – causing a whirlwind of emotions to spiral. It is important to acknowledge how common an overprotective and overbearing mother-in-law actually is. It is easy to think you are alone, but that is simply not the case. Once you’ve recognized the commonality of your situation, here is what you should do next.
Stay calm, and don’t allow your inner being to be influenced.
Yes, when it comes to emotions and feelings, it is much easier said than done not to react impulsively. However, it is important to identify that your mother-in-law is the one with the attachment issues and not you. Allowing yourself to get caught up in her emotions can create unneeded stress and questions within your own existence.
You are not the one with the issue, so don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. You must voice your responses in a calm manner and try not to take anything said personally.
Talk to your spouse and express your concerns.
Remember, you are talking to your husband about the woman who gave birth to him and/or raised him, so be gentle. Talk about the overprotective observations you are seeing and explain how they directly affect you. Be prepared for your husband not to see the things you see initially. It is perfectly normal and okay for him to not be on the same page; however, it is important for him to listen and be willing to understand. Communication is always key to building a strong foundation for a relationship – this instance is no different.
Talk to your mother-in-law.
Get to know your mother-in-law and invest in quality time together. This time shouldn’t feel forced. It can be offering to help her cook while you’re at a gathering or inviting her over for lunch or coffee. Extending the olive branch could make your mother-in-law feel more comfortable with your marriage and less threatened. If her son was previously in an unhealthy relationship, that courtship might have created concerns, and she could still be dealing with those trust issues and insecurities. It is best to create a strong foundation of communication with your mother-in-law so things are less stressful.
Talk to your husband, again.
In some cases, your husband will need to step up to the plate and set things straight with his mother. Having your husband talk to his mom about the issues at hand can alleviate rude comments or backhanded banter. If a son can go to his mother and demand that she stop being overprotective, she may feel more at ease because she is getting that direct feedback from her son.
Encourage your husband to see the issues for himself. The conversation with his mother will go much smoother if he is able to recognize the overprotective and overbearing problems.
Take a break.
There is no rule that women must get along with their mother-in-law, so if you and your MIL are not seeing eye to eye, consider taking a break from family gatherings. Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend Christmas dinner or the next planned family outing, but it does mean that you don’t need to be present for everything and subject yourself to negativity. Give your mother-in-law space and take some for yourself, too.
Taking a time out can be a refreshing way to reapproach the mother-in-law relationship later. Think about it; sometimes, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Having time away from each other can help the situation feel less stressful. Before you decide to bail, discuss the need for space with your spouse. If you are honest and upfront, your husband will not feel caught off guard and will be supportive.
When it comes to relationships like a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, it is important to take the slow and steady route. Recognizing that both women are dealing with very different emotions and opinions is crucial. Always be honest and communicative with your spouse, and lean on them to help direct you towards a solution when addressing overprotective or overbearing issues. No matter what happens, remember that your mother-in-law is the reason why you have your husband. She is the woman who helped shape him into the person you love.