My meddling mother-in-law is ruining my marriage – Ask Evie

Hi Evie. My husband and I have been together for 7 years now (married for 2). At first, his mom was amazing, she was like a second mom to me. She’d take my side when my hubby was being unreasonable and often offered to look after our toddler if I needed a break. But, for some reason, she’s changed. I think it’s because her other children have now all left the nest, and she’s got too much time on her hands. She comes around unannounced, she gets into our business, and it’s caused quite a few arguments in the last couple of months. My husband doesn’t see the big deal, but I don’t like how she’s treating me (very condescending and like she knows best). This whole thing is making me lose respect for my husband, I don’t understand why he won’t stick up for me. – Jenny, FL

Hi Jenny, 

Thanks for writing in! 

Straight off the bat, I can see that there are boundary issues at play here. The problem isn’t that your MIL has too much time on her hands, it’s that she isn’t respecting your limits. 

But before you set boundaries, it’s important to have a frank conversation with your husband. He’s likely feeling caught in the middle – he doesn’t want to upset his mom, but he’s failing to take into consideration your feelings on the matter. Let him know that by setting boundaries, he’s “not choosing a side” or picking you over his mom; he’s creating an environment where everyone can get along and feel respected

So once you and your husband are on the same page, set some boundaries firmly and compassionately. Here are a few examples that you can adapt to suit your needs:

“We really enjoy having you over, but it’d be best if you’d give us a call first so we can establish if it’s a good time or not.” 

“We appreciate your help, but we need some space to manage things our way.”

“I don’t appreciate the tone in which you’re speaking to me, so I’m not going to engage in this conversation until we can speak with respect and courtesy.” 

The key is showing a united front. As long as your MIL sees her son’s reluctance to speak up, she’ll continue to push the limits. That’s why you need your husband on board. After talking to him, if he’s still unwilling to back you up, it may be worth exploring if there are any underlying issues in your marriage that could be causing him to dig his heels in. 

Wishing you luck and strength, 

Evie 

Do you have a question for Evie? If you would like advice from Evie, fill out the form here or send your problem to askevie@ideapod.com.

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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