Deal With Intrusive, Needy Mother In Laws

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Qanda.jpgDoes your mother-in-law try to run your home like it's hers? Does she question your every decision and thinks she knows it all and you know nothing? Does she barge in unannounced and think it's perfectly normal, and turns a deaf ear? Has she made your life her life? Here's how to handle the situation.


  1. Remove things that make it easier for MIL to intrude. Does she have a key and uses it without permission? If so, don't retrieve it since copies are easily made. Change the locks.
  2. If you don't have an answering machine or voice mail, get one (or both.) Screen calls — you should be the one to decide when you want company — not the other way around.
  3. Make a list of her offending behaviors and come up with workable solutions.
  4. Speak to your husband about his role in your relationship with MIL. He is a defining part of the future you are facing with her. He should sit down and explain your expectations as "ours" not just "yours." This will ensure that her reaction is not focused on your desires, but on the respect of a relationship and/or family. Do not allow yourself to be guilty or bullied into submission. Your life is your *own*, and you have a right to live it the way you want to. Try to be calm as you explain that you need your space, that you are old enough (and wise enough) that you can plan and live your lives without interference.
  5. Encourage her to 'get a life'. She should discover her own interests and pursue them. One can't live vicariously through the lives of others, and make sure you know that you will no longer allow her to run your lives for you. If none of the above works, consider moving. That might be an extreme step on your part, but the happiness of your own family is important, and no one is responsible for the happiness (and the life) of someone else; especially one who chooses to forgo their own life to try to intrude upon, and sabotage, someone else's.


  • Try to be kind, yet firm.
  • Stop any and all attacks on your spouse. Let it be known that you will not put up with personal attacks or guilt trips.
  • Make your needs and wants clear. Put them in writing and make several copies. She might claim she "lost" hers or "forgot" she wasn't supposed to do something in particular.


  • Sometimes, spouses might shut down when you try to tell them that their mother has crossed the line. This may be a sign of underlying serious issues. If they still choose to not acknowledge that a problem is occurring, it might be time to think about getting an unbiased opinion from a counselor or friend.

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