How to deal with a possessive mother in law?

How to deal with a possessive mother in law? The bond between a mother and child is such that a mother is always possessive of her child. No matter how old you become, she will never like to share you with anyone else. 

We have seen how a mother has always been the favorite human in a child’s life, even above a father for many. Things go fine till you are single but the day you get hooked up with that someone else in your life, your life takes a different turn. 

On the contrary, a daughter’s mother will be always on the lookout for someone who can be completely reliable and could take care of her daughter but a son’s mother feels insecure and jealous when another woman enters her son’s life. 

How to deal with a possessive mother in law

The real problem occurs when that child outgrows your lap and is no more in your control. This happens specifically with a mother and a son relationship, the sight of another woman taking over her, shatters her from the inside.

On the contrary, the same is not the case with the mother of a daughter; she feels secure when she sees a caring husband in her daughter’s life. We are talking about two different worlds here, no matter how much they are interlinked with each other, they prefer to stay ignorant.

Loving someone is not wrong and when you love someone so deeply you are bound to feel possessiveness towards that person. But anything which is too much and which hampers other relationships needs to be handled right there. Till the time mothers are dealing with their sons alone, they do not realize the future scenario, as soon as someone enters their son’s life they do not accept that change and as a daughter in law, we need to deal with that change. Why does a mother in law cause so many problems in her own son’s life, I wonder.

How to deal with a possessive mother in law and manage things smoothly? Let’s discover some helpful ideas in this blog.

Seven ways to help a possessive mother in law overcome her negative thoughts

How to deal with a possessive mother in law

We might help a mother in law to reassure her that her son belongs to her and you are his wife; both have different roles to play but very important ones. We can handle our mother in law and yet remain stress-free. We can never control people and their behavior but we can certainly work on ourselves for our betterment and sanity. Below are a few ways in which you can make a wise attempt from your side to help your mother in law, the rest is up to her.

1. Make her feel secure
2. Ask your husband to talk
3. Set boundaries in relationships
4. Don’t take criticisms personally
5. Plan outdoors
6. Involve her
7. Be kind

1. Make her feel secure

It fills every mother with deep love and a sense of belongingness toward her child. Although she may know that one day some other woman will enter his life, the thought, that the other woman will take away the son from her life is the problem. Here we are dealing with a mindset, a pre-conceived notion, or a general mentality of the mother in laws and they are totally unknown how much stress their behavior could cause to a daughter in law.

An important point to be noted here is that she has come to this point through the same process, she also married someone’s son, but people forget things when the reality strikes them. As a daughter in law, we can help her soothe her thoughts. We cannot change her thought process by arguing or putting blame on her but yes as a mother, and a daughter in law, we can try to work on things that could help her ease with such dominant thoughts.

2. Ask your husband to talk

Your husband is someone’s son and this fact can never be changed. Only he has the capability to alter her thoughts to some extent. How to deal with a possessive mother in law? By giving her what she wants, all she wants is an assurance that her son is still there for her. Which a daughter in law cannot do, only talking to a son can help her mother to overcome such negativity.

In the long term, such possessive behavior troubles the relationship between the wife and husband, because as they advance in their marriage, they get more close and develop a unique sense of togetherness, which sometimes a mother in law presumes to be a threat to her relationship with her child. Only her son can help her draw the difference by frequently having a healthy conversation.

3. Set boundaries in relationships

A mother will be a mother forever, no one can replace her but things go haywire when mothers deliberately put themselves in trouble by crossing the healthy boundaries. Every relationship needs a space, a healthy distance to bloom and flourish in all the positive aspects.

Here, more than a daughter in law, it is the son who needs to set such boundaries with his mother and wife. I have seen a husband talking about becoming a sandwich between a mother and wife. It is just because they cannot disrespect or disobey anyone of them. But right from the beginning of the marriage if a husband and a son take their stand through their own perception, it can help define the limitations of a relationship. 

4. Don’t take criticisms personally

I know this is very hard to do, but trust me it will only help you. A possessive mother in law will criticize you because somehow it irritates her with the divided attention and care from his son’s side and feels you are getting all the attention now. Just like a kid does. When a toddler does such a thing we find it cute but from a mother in law, who is a learned and experienced person, such insensitivity only creates a bad taste in a relationship.

She might criticize you to show that she is better than you, to get attention from her son and other family members she might even manipulate things but do not let it hamper you because a possessive mother in law is blinded by her love for his son. Mother in laws even get jealous of their daughter in laws, which is hard to believe.

She is struggling herself and in that process, she sees you who is causing this mess in her life and she is not able to handle it. Do not take any criticism personally. Because if you do so, you will not be able to minimize the effect of her possessive behavior it could cause in the future.

5. Plan outdoors

Just a movie, family picnic, or lunch can help to build a happy outflow of relationships in families. Families which eat together laugh together and roam together are the ones who stay together happily. One more effective way to deal with a possessive mother in law is to take her out for lunch, or shopping, and ask your husband to take the lead. 

A daughter in law could be a major support for a mother in law for overcome her possessiveness but sometimes she might have to work from the back end because it might backfire. How? If your mother in law comes to know that this was your plan, and only after listening to your son agreed to take her out she will be more furious and annoyed with you. So what if you will not get the credit, at least your husband knows that your intentions are good, and you have been trying to normalize the things between you and your mother in law.

6. Involve her

Now when you know that your mother in law is a possessive one and sees you as a threat, who could steal her son from her. You will never want to provoke such negative thoughts in her. The more you get annoyed, the more your mother in law will turn arrogant towards you. Ultimately, this little insensitivity will lead to bigger damage in relationships. Involve her in your conversations.

Mother in laws has the habit of imposing their thoughts and beliefs which you might not approve of. I would suggest listening to her calmly and then if you don’t find her ways suitable for your needs, you can politely decline without even letting her know. We do not have to confront her with each and every thought and decision; We should involve her, stay respectful yet be clear and concise. No matter how they try to disapprove of you, stand your ground.

7. Be kind

Never lose your kindness because of others’ ignorant behavior. There could be so many reasons behind a person’s way of handling a particular situation or dealing with life but in this process, if we forget to stay kind, we can never be able to restore what we lost. Try to build positive interactions with compliments. Do not please, but a little appreciation could be helpful.

There are nasty, hateful, and rudest of all the mother in laws. I have written about how we can deal with a mother in law who hates a daughter in law. But how to handle a possessive mother in law? It is a different question, the root cause of her irritability is not exactly you but her own insecurities and fear, maybe with your kindness you can help her believe in herself and make her realize that you are not a threat to her.

What if your mother in law’s possessiveness troubles you

It can be quite irritating for a daughter in law to face the same insecure behavior of a mother in law daily. You may try your best to make things work also to bridge the gap between your mother in law and your husband but the rest depends upon them as well.

You need to stay very assertive and clear about your intentions. All you need is a peaceful environment in your house and in your personal life because it has been clearly reported in many such cases that an over-possessive mother in law ruins the beauty of the relationship between a husband and wife, especially if the husband is a mama’s boy. Her overbearing nature could easily take a toll on your mental condition; you could overthink and start taking a lot of stress.

Here you need to remember that you can only make attempts and try to help her out overcoming her insecurities, you cannot control how she decides to take it in her stride. On a healthy note, I would suggest you few measures for yourself.

  • Emotional detachment
  • Fewer expectations
  • Keep yourself busy
  • Clear your stand
  • Learn to let go.

At the end of the day, we all want a peaceful sleep at night. On a practical level, we already have a lot of things to deal with, we just cannot afford to take such negativity in our thought and just sleep over it. Take charge of your life and help your mother in law realize you are not her threat, rather you could be her friend. If all your efforts go unnoticed, learn to detach and focus on what matters.

How to deal with a possessive mother in law
Priyanka Joshi is the founder of Sanity Daily. Host of ‘Mental Health First” Podcast. A digital nomad, published author and an NLP practitioner, helping you prioritize your mental health.

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