24 answers

Toxic Mother in Law

My husband and I have been married now for almost 4 years. I love him very much but I can't take the toxicity of his family. My MIL is constantly trying to get the rest of his family up upset with me. She lies about me and stirs my husbands family up so that they become spitting mad at me. My husband acknowledges her behavior and will confront her when she behaves this way but it always ends in a shouting match and her hanging up on her son. It is just an impossible situation. My husband just seems to blow it off and says that "she is never going to change." I know if the situations were reversed and my parents treated him like I'm being treated I would give my parents 2 choices; 1. Respect my husband or 2. don't be in my life at all. I feel hurt that my husband doesn't make that stand. It shows me that he values them more.

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What can I do next?

More Answers

Hi J.,

I had a toxic MIL while married to my ex and I felt the same way you did. However, asking your husband to choose sides is not the way to go. It'll make matters worse and it will not solve anything. Sons have a special relationship with their mothers that seems to transcend all her bad behaviors. Just continue to do what you know is right and don't play into her drama. By reacting, you're only giving her the attention she desires.

Good luck,


1 mom found this helpful

My MIL is the same...talks bad and tells lies about me behind my back. Then when her friends met me and the family grew to know me they realized that I am a good person and a good mother. So basically be your kind and polite self (especially to her...meaning don't even get your husband involved or say anything. Just nicely thank her for any form of kindness) and others will see through her eventually...and be sure to tell others of any form of kindness and always talk positively about her...and even if someone else brings up the bad, don't get dragged into it just keep polite or change the subject.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't know that he values them MORE. He just values them enough to not shut them out of his life. Such a hard position. And he DOES stand up to her in your defense! I'm not saying that I would not feel the exact same as you, but as an outsider I can say that he is in a really tough position. Try to be patient and supportive. Don't ask him to choose. A person should be able to have their mother in their life no matter what a toad she is!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,
My heart goes out to you. I know what it's like to have to deal with MIL drama. My advice to you is simple . . . love your husband for the man he is - his love and support will remain strong in spite of his mother. His comment about "she is never going to change" comes from a man who has had to deal with that behavior ALL OF HIS LIFE. You have had 4 years (not including the courtship)- be the breathe of fresh air that he needs. His family will base their thoughts of you according to your actions, not hers. Love your husband - unite with him and one day (might be years from now) he'll be strong enough to take a stance against his mother. It's an unfair place for him to be in the middle just as it is for you but if you are on one accord, things will go smoother. A very easy, yet effective tool I have come to use over the years (I'm going on 20+)is not commenting directly when the MIL says provoking things . . . I remain calm, casually change the subject and act as though she never said anything. It leaves her holding the drama she wanted to create - I just don't feed into it (not anymore :) ).

Hang in there J.! You'll feel relief as time goes by, join forces with him and stay strong together!

Wishing you the best of everything!

1 mom found this helpful

At least he is standing up to her. A lot of guys don't even do that... they just expect their wives to put up with it. He acknowledges it, stands up for you & is even willing to get into shouting matches with his mom over it. That counts for a lot, I think.

Maybe he blows it off because he grew up with her acting that way & knows it's just "how she is" and he's right, she'll never change. I think it's great he can see her behavior for what it is, some sons of toxic MIL refuse to believe their moms are anything but saints.

I'm not sure it's wise to put it into a competition with who he values more. Men value their parents one way & their own families a different way... but you're all family and equally important.

Have you given the MIL the choices 1. Respect me or 2. don't be in my life at all? Maybe if YOU cut ties with her, but don't expect your husband to, that might get her to act differently toward you. However, if you get her son to cut ties with her... then his family will REALLY hate you.

My MIL isn't a bowl of cherries, but I try not to put my husband in the middle of it because his loyalties will be divided. I just ignore most of what she does, defend myself directly to her if I need to and mainly just avoid her as much as possible. I keep in mind that my husband & kid love her and she is good to them if not to me.

Good luck. but be careful. How you handle this will affect your family for the rest of your life.

1 mom found this helpful

Get you & your husband into counseling fast! He needs a professional to tell him that her behavior is not ok!

I have been there and done that I have been married for 38 years and my Huband was the same way (thats just her ignore it) thats ok if you have been raised with all those years but the best thing I did to stop a little of it we went there for Thanksgiving one year and she started in on me no one said a word about it so I picked up the food I took and told me husband I was going home and if he wanted a ride he better come on and I went staight to the car got in on the drivers side and to my surprise he came with me and I told him on the way home if you have a problem with it tell now or dont say anything about it and he told me that he was proud of me for finally standing up to her. From them on he started to defend me on certain thing and worked out great.

What is it that she says you are doing that gets everyone so mad? Since you didn't say, I can only imagine that she says you are saying things about the family or doing things that would upset someone. Have you tried just not talking about or to them? Maybe you can't just not talk to them, but I know in my hubby's family, sometimes people will get upset with someone and then vent to me..."can you believe so and so did this?" If I don't engage, then they stop. Meaning my response is "to each his own." or "I don't" and move on to another subject, but if I engage "I can't believe it either. And the other day she did this..." then it's worse. Stories get told and the lines get changed from person to person and yes, you can end up looking like the bad guy. We moved away a few years ago and that has helped. Basilly, I don't talk to anyone in his family unless they call me. I send pictures of the kids via e-mail and I have a family blog where they can see what's going on with us so I know they are "in touch" with what we are up to, but I don't talk to anyone just so that there are no stories of what I said. Good luck. I agree that your hubby has to take a stand, but it sounds like he is. It would be very hard for me to cut my family out of my life, but maybe he might want to limit contact.

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