7 Types Of Mothers-In-Law And How To Handle Them

You find the love of your life, get married, and then have...a mother-in-law. Whether you get along or not, how you interact with her matters to your husband and your marriage.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner3 min read
7 Types Of Mothers-In-Law And How To Handle Them monster in law

It’s not easy to develop a strong bond with a parent who didn’t raise you. They expect a certain amount of respect, even if they microwave all their dinners and you’re a gourmet chef. So it takes a certain level of maturity and understanding in order to get along. Here are the most commonly known mothers-in-law.  

1. The Jealous One

You met a sweet mama’s boy. He loves his mother so much that you know he respects women, but does his mother respect boundaries?

Jealous types see their daughter-in-law as a competitor. Someone to vie for her son’s attention. This is the kind of woman who will try to come along on your next romantic getaway.

2. The “I Know Better” One 

No matter what you do, your mother-in-law finds a flaw. Not only that, but she can do it better. After all, she raised your husband, right?

Know-it-all mothers-in-law undermine your authority with your home or your parenting style at every turn. They make you question everything you do and really chip away at your confidence. She may be wishing to help, but she’s constantly stepping on your toes and telling you not to wince. 

3. The Busybody 

The gossip, the motormouth, whatever you want to call her…it doesn’t matter because she’ll tell everyone what you said and maybe add in a few extra lines. This mother-in-law talks about you (and everyone else) behind your back. You can’t trust her with any info you aren’t ready to share with the entire family. 

This doesn’t stop and start with that time you used the last of her toilet paper. She might begin with that little subject, but it often unrolls into a bigger drama because she’s bored and needs something to talk about. 

4. The Attention Hog

She showed up to your wedding wearing a white dress. She burst into the room and demanded to hold your firstborn two minutes after you gave birth. Now she’s giving a speech at your anniversary party about how she worked so hard to help the happy couple stay together. 

No matter what’s going on, she must be the center of attention. It wasn’t so bad when she talked everyone’s ear off about her wedding at your bridal shower, but you’re getting fed up.

5. The Needy One 

If you don’t spend every holiday with her, doing what she wants, she’ll cry. Needy mothers-in-law always need a party on their birthday and throw a tantrum if you don’t call her three times a week. 

She may love you. She’s always nice to you. She might not be trying to overcomplicate your life, but she has too many expectations of what you and your husband should do for her. And quite often, he just does whatever she wants to shut her up. 

6. The Manipulative One  

“How could you do this to me?” If this is your mother-in-law’s response to your giving her a gift card for her birthday, she might be a tad manipulative. She always twists everything you do to suit her narrative. Especially the one about you being a horrible person who treats her like dirt. 

Manipulative mothers-in-law purposefully try to sabotage you with passive-aggressive tactics and get people to do whatever they want to avoid the consequences. It’s totally conscious and malicious. 

7. The Jackpot

Somehow you’ve struck gold. Your mother-in-law loves you. She loves her son. She respects your space and doesn’t meddle. This is a woman who is confident and caring; the kind we should all strive to be if and when it’s our turn. 

Your mother-in-law has appropriate boundaries, is supportive, and is a friend. To any woman who has this: Congratulations, you won!

How To Handle Your Mother-in-Law 

If your husband is on the phone with his mother every day, she’s always ordering you around, talking about you behind your back, stealing the spotlight, or manipulating you, you might wish you hit the jackpot, but at least you won’t be bored.  

Start by politely discussing and establishing some ground rules with your husband. This isn't a game of you versus her, but your husband's first loyalty should be to you and your family. It's important that both of you are clear about and committed to putting your marriage, your family values, and your parenting choices first. Then, boundaries need to be set and made clear to your mother-in-law. When someone crosses them, they need to know they were wrong and be held accountable.

Politely discussing and establishing some ground rules with your husband isn’t unreasonable. 

Respectfully addressing the behavior, and even thanking your mother-in-law for her concern is helpful. You can remain confident while recognizing that (hopefully) she usually just wants to help. 

This also means being honest and politely requesting space when you need it. It’s okay to express why you chose to deviate from her suggestions. If she wants a happy family, she has to accept that you are not her. 

If no amount of drawing lines, polite conversation, or reasonable attempts to appease her have worked, sometimes you have to distance yourself to keep the peace. Ignoring her behavior may be the only option for keeping your sanity and your husband. Let your actions and relationships with the rest of your in-laws be untainted by your mother-in-law’s interference.

Closing Thoughts

Mothers-in-law aren’t perfect, then again neither are daughters-in-law. We all have our faults. If you truly care about your husband – and want to have a healthy marriage – you’ll do everything you can to get along with his mother. If she doesn’t reciprocate that effort, keeping the peace may be the only compromise, but like she’s probably told you a million times: she won’t be around forever.

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