How to deal with jealous mothers-in-law

Updated April 17, 2017

When children grow up and get married, the transition into adulthood can be quite hard on some parents. Some mothers-in-law may develop jealous traits where they are constantly overstepping boundaries and meddling in their child's marriage. Once the most important female in their child's life, the mother now has to get used to taking second place. Many marriages suffer because of jealous mothers-in-law that don't know how to let go of their children. Take measures to keep the peace and to protect your marriage.

Set boundaries for your mother-in-law. If she is constantly checking on what you are doing or calling and coming over unannounced, put a stop to it. Tell your mother-in-law the appropriate times to call and visit. If she ignores them, don't answer the phone or the door and eventually she will get the message and her behaviour will stop.

Stand your ground and stick to your boundaries. If your mother-in-law is trying to make you feel guilty for your behaviour toward her, ignore it. Allow her to be angry and get her to realise that you are both adults.

Identify topics that push your buttons and don't respond to them in a negative fashion. If your mother-in-law's jealousy triggers her to constantly put you down, respond in an unexpected manner or don't respond at all. This will signal her that she has no power over you and whatever she is trying to achieve is not working. If you get angry, it only stimulates her to keep putting you down.

Talk to your spouse about your mother-in-law's behaviour and make sure you are on the same page. Let your spouse confront your mother-in-law about her jealous behaviour. Avoid complaining too much about your mother-in-law because even though a spouse's first loyalty needs to be with his own family, it may trigger his defence mechanism and create a bigger problem.

Move away if you live near your mother-in-law. Moving to another city or state can limit your mother-in-law's interfering in your marriage. Have her come over for visits and put up with her jealous behaviour, knowing in the back of your mind that she will be leaving shortly.

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