The relationship that a woman has with her mother-in-law is usually far from simple and more often than not, is fraught with tension and even hostility. There is a sense of two women competing for the affection of a man.
The relationship that a man has with his mother-in-law also may be problematic. With some forbearance and a lot of tact, it can be possible for a person to have a cordial, if not affectionate relationship with their mother-in-law:
Physical proximity and regular one-on-one contact can be the reason why certain problems start. If it is possible to do so, tactfully suggest to your spouse, a residential location that will not entail direct one-on-one contact as often.
It is important to do this without seeming to be trying to cut the mother-in-law out of one’s life, which could give rise to further complications.
Get spousal support
If you feel that your mother-in-law is impinging on your privacy or is interfering in other ways, it is up to your spouse to be firm about setting boundaries. Explain your position and your difficulties to your spouse so they can handle their mother in the best way possible. After all they have known her far longer than you and know best how to handle her.
Donâ€™t think you can change her
If your mother-in-law is judgmental, critical and condescending, chances are this will not change, no matter how hard you try to please her. In fact bending over backward to please her will probably earn you even more contempt.
So be polite but firm in your dealings with her, and distance yourself as much as possible, so that she does not get the chance to jibe, and taunt. Identify triggers or situations that are most stressful for you and try and prevent them.
Be calm and composed
Try not to get emotive in a stressful situation and hold on to your temper. Try and be the bigger person. This will also demonstrate to the mother-in-law that she is being childish, which may perhaps cause her to tone down her behavior as well. If you must retaliate, do so in as civilized and rational a manner as possible; losing your temper could cause the situation to deteriorate further.
Define and enforce boundaries
It is not unreasonable for a married couple to want privacy, to spend time alone and not have to suffer interference in matters that concern only them. Enlist help of your spouse and make it firmly but politely known what is acceptable and what is not.
Be considerate too
Be willing to consider the point of view of the mother-in-law as well â€“ it could be that her point of view is not completely unreasonable at times â€“ when this is the case, you can try and be accommodative. If it is insecurity or a yearning to be a bigger part of her childâ€™s or grandchildâ€™s life, see if it is possible to accommodate her.