Deal with an abusive mother in law.

Many cultures have a stereotype of the difficult mother-in-law.A mother-in-law may feel that her child’s spouse is not good enough.An abusive mother-in-law can pose a danger to your marriage and your children.

Step 1: Discuss your spouse’s mother.

Your spouse knows that your mother is difficult.Your spouse might not know that their mother is abusive.They might not know how serious you are about the situation.If you plan to address the problems with your mother-in-law, your spouse has a right to know.This conversation is good for both of you.You should be able to have a private conversation.Ask questions.You can ask your spouse a question like, “How do you feel about your relationship with your mother lately?”This could lead to problems down the line if your spouse doesn’t see their mother as having any problems.Be clear with your spouse.They can understand where you are coming from if you give them examples of the abuse.Specific comments your mother-in-law has made can be mentioned.

Step 2: Do you want to take action without your spouse?

Your spouse may not agree with you about your mother’s behavior.They might understand your position but be unwilling to act on it.You have to decide if you are willing to act on your own.If your spouse doesn’t want to participate in your actions, ask if they can support you.This could lead to serious problems if you act against your spouse’s wishes.Let your spouse know if you want to address your mother-in-law’s behavior.They might be willing to compromise.If your spouse refuses to address their mother’s behavior, this can be a sign that the abuse is ongoing and will not ever be addressed.You may need to seek counseling as a couple in order for your relationship to remain healthy.

Step 3: Understand where your mother-in-law is coming from.

This step can be difficult if you are dealing with someone who is abusive.It is important to see things from her perspective.It can be hard for mothers to let their children go or to see their own children as new parents.If you have any, your mother-in-law probably wants what’s best for your spouse and children.This is something you have in common.At least you both have someone you love in common, even if you don’t agree on what’s best.Take note of cultural differences.It’s possible that you and your mother-in-law are from different cultures.Abuse is never an excuse for cultural differences.

Step 4: If it’s possible, role-play.

If you know your spouse’s mother, you can practice talking to her about the abusive behavior.This can be used to find out where you agree with your spouse on this issue.Your spouse may not like role-playing with you.You can ask if they would be willing to listen while you talk.

Step 5: Agree on a plan.

You must decide what to do about your mother-in-law after you and your spouse understand her behavior.Make sure your plan is clear and that you both like it.You may want to have a talk with your mother-in-law.Decide where you will have the talk.Will you both be present?Who will talk the most?It’s a good idea to write a script so that you’re not surprised in the moment.You can either spend less time with your mother-in-law or confront her.Decide how much time you can agree to spend with her.There is a backup plan.If she asks why you haven’t made your usual weekly visit, be prepared with an answer that you and your spouse have agreed to.You can either say, “We don’t feel comfortable with our children spending lots of time with you” or you can simply say “we’ve been very busy lately.”

Step 6: The specific methods and victims of abuse are identified.

The type of abuse will affect how you confront your mother-in-law.All of the forms of abuse are unacceptable.If the abuse happened in the past, you should have a conversation with your mother-in-law.Specific changes will need to be enforced if it is still ongoing.If your mother-in-law abused your spouse as a child, you should let her know that you’re aware of it.It’s possible to say, “I understand that this happened in the past.”We’re determined to create a healthy environment for ourselves and our family now that it’s been difficult for us to work through as a couple.If the abuse is still going on, and you or your children are victims, you can say to your spouse, “I understand that you didn’t have control over this as a child.”As adults, we have the power to stop this abuse and protect our children from it.

Step 7: Tell the truth about the relationship.

Don’t fake a close relationship with your in-laws.Being polite to your in-laws is perfectly acceptable.Don’t refer to your mother-in-law as “mom” or “mother.” She is your spouse’s mother, but not yours.You should only engage in physical touch if you are comfortable with it.There is no need for a long, drawn-out hug with someone you are not comfortable with.

Step 8: You should assert yourself.

People are becoming quiet around abusive mothers-in-law.This can cause the abusive behavior.Stand up for yourself or your spouse if your mother-in-law hurts you.Make sure your mother-in-law follows your parenting rules if you have children.You should remind her that you are their mother if she refuses.I know you have had a lot of parenting experience.If she says something degrading to you, you can say, “I don’t appreciate being spoken to that way.”Please stop.

Step 9: Limit the time you spend with her.

You should have already talked about this with your spouse.It is possible that your spouse will spend more time with your mother-in-law than you will.It is possible that your mother-in-law is happy to have some time alone with her child.It is possible to let your mother-in-law know that you will be spending less time with her.She could ask why.If you want to be completely honest with her, it’s up to you and your spouse.It might be possible to cut down on the time you spend with her.

Step 10: Accept disapproval.

Your mother-in-law is unlikely to change her mind if she already disapproves of you and your family.She doesn’t need your approval.It is possible to say this out loud to your mother-in-law.If she tells you that your home is too small and disorganized, you can say that you are very happy here.It is great for our needs that you do not approve of our home.

Step 11: The boundaries should be appropriate for the situation.

If your mother-in-law continues to be abusive, you may need to cut her out of your family’s life.She may still be triggering for you even if she is no longer abusive.It may be difficult to repair the relationship if your mother-in-law was abusive to your spouse as a child.Your spouse can let you know how much they want to save the relationship.If the trauma from the abuse is severe, a family therapist can help.If your mother-in-law is abusive to your spouse or anyone in your family, you should contact law enforcement.You need to contact the police if you know of any sexual abuse.

Step 12: Take time for yourself.

This can be a time when you won’t see your mother-in-law.Take some time to think about how the relationship feels in the moment.You can take a walk around the block or make a phone call at a difficult family gathering.Take some time to yourself before you see your mother-in-law.When you see your mother-in-law, you can use this time to reflect and relax.After spending time with your mother-in-law, you may need to vent to a friend.You can call someone if you need to.

Step 13: Be far away from her.

If your mother-in-law is abusive, moving may be the only viable option.People move based on proximity to in-laws.It is possible to prevent unwanted visits by living farther away.If your children are affected by your mother-in-law’s abuse, you should move away.You have the option of telling the truth about the reason for moving or not.

Step 14: If necessary, leave the relationship.

Sometimes a spouse is unwilling to admit that their mother is abusive.Sometimes this can cause the relationship to end.Offer to see a couple’s therapist together if your spouse can’t admit that their mother is abusive.Leaving a marriage shouldn’t be taken lightly.In order to preserve a marriage, you should never tolerate abuse.

Step 15: You should seek therapy if you need it.

If your mother-in-law has caused trauma for you or your children, you may want to see a therapist.Abuse can take a long time to recover from.Even if your spouse doesn’t see the abuse, you may still need to deal with it.Even if they are not aware of it, children can be affected by abuse.If they’ve been exposed to abusive behavior, make sure they have someone safe to talk to.