MIL crosses the line when she involves herself in disagreements

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-11-2003
MIL crosses the line when she involves herself in disagreements
Thu, 11-29-2012 - 6:49pm

Have been thinking and thinking about HOW to deal with this in a civilized way...   this has happened twice recently and i want to stop it and nip it in the bud right now.  Recently, on 2 occassions my DH and I were having a minor disagreement and his parents were within "earshot" - MIL happens to be the type that says whatever is on her mind at any given time whether it offends someone or not (dare someone ELSE do that - then it would be wrong, wrong, wrong and she would have no problem jumping all over you!).  The recent disagreement with DH was about something, a habit, that he does that really bothers me that is very inconsiderate and he had just done it again so i called him on it just to make him aware and his mom jumped in and decided to put her 2 cents in which entailed:  belittling me and totally downplaying what just happened and turned it all around on me like i am some idiot because it bothers me - of course she NEVER accepts that what DH is doing/or has done is a problem, just attacks me instead!!!  She isnt aware of the pattern or what has happened in the past and jumped right in.  For one, she doesnt know the history behind the problem (and SHOULDNT - its none of her business!) and two, she shouldnt involve herself! 

I try to chose my battles wisely and given the chance, i would NOT try to discuss a problem in front of anybody but i had no option at that time (unless i was willing to wait a week since we were traveling with DH's parents.) 

Without getting into specifics - MIL even gets defensive about some comments i make to DH (that are civil but i may be asking him about why something happened, etc..... not even an argument!) - comments that dont involve MIL at all - but she has to attack me with her 2 cents (that i must be an idiot for something bothering me or feeling the way i feel....)    With the xmas holiday quickly approaching - and that means family gatherings! - i need some good, insightful ways on how to stop this in its tracks!    Whenever she involves herself, i just dont say anything...... i feel that its my DH's battle to handle but im sure he doenst want to say something to her when she just was basically defending him  - so what do you feel is the best way to handle this?   I will say that, yes, optimal thing to do would be to bring it up later when we are alone but i dont always have that option - and again, sometimes im just making a statement or comment and she will belittle me and say some snide remark - after all, in her opinion, SHE is allowed to do that, but all heck would break loose if anyone else does it....   

Any info on how to handle this is welcomed!!!!  thank you!



Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Don't get confrontational in front of MIL, even if it's over some minor little thing! It's often just the opposite for us, Inlaws are so full of themselves and they find any opportunity they can to rave or rant about memebers of the family.. Moreover, DH's dad gets drunk all the time (classic alchoholic but nobody talks about it, Lol) and spews a lot of stuff I'd rather not hear. Chose your battles carefully and save any spats b/w you and your husband for a time when she's not there!



iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008

Hi Debbie,

I personally don't agree with not saying anything or waiting until a different time.  here's why and what I know fro experience.  If you wait and try to bring it up with her later - she'll deny anything - forget the whole thing and make it sound like you are now attacking her which is not the case.  She attacked you.  I also think that yes, if you could wait to say something to DH in private you should - but here is a good example of when you cannot.  And, as you said - she is criticizing you often when you are just being a couple and it is none of her business.

I also think it is wrong for you to wait for DH to come to your rescue.  I think you should stop her immediately as she begins to interject her opinion and say  "MIl, this is between DH and I and I am not interested in hearing your comments, advice or opinion."  Then change the subject.  If she continues - the let her know again it is not her place.   Don't try and aruge why you are right - just simply know that it is between you and DH and she should not be involved.  

I think if she continues - I would again in a much louder voice say that you are not interested in her opinion or comments and leave the room.  

This idea that people need to bite their toungue - bugs me because MIL is clearly not biting her tongue.  Yes, protocol dictates that we have decorum but when you are dealing with a bully you have to be tough.  Bullies know when someone is afraid to stand up to them so the attacks continue and often increase in severity.

The best thing that I've ever done in my life and marriage is / was to stand up to my inlaws!  I can't tell you how much better my relationship is now because of it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-30-2007


I noticed this discussion and I thought I maybe could help.  I have been a DIL for 28 years and more recently a MIL, so I've been on both sides.  In the 28 years dh and I have been married I don't remember really ever criticizing or correcting him in front of my MIL.  There's a reason for this.  It's not necessary.  All it does it make her mad, and in turn, make you mad.  I do not like it when my DIL or my other son's girlfriends do this to my sons in front of me.  If you do not like something your dh is doing talk to him about it in private later.  IMO if you say something in front of her that it critical of her son, she can "butt" in if she wants because you said it in front of her.  I might butt in too if there was anything my son's wives/girlfriends were saying that I felt was unfair or mean.  It depends on what it is.  If I feel it's a truly bad habit and I feel they were justified then I'd let it go.  If she said something cruel or embarassing (so far I don't recall them doing this in front of a group of people) then I might feel the need to say something, if not to her, then later to him in private.  I think it is disrespectful of you to criticize/correct your husband is front of anyone of anyone else.  It makes him look like a child.  Probably not what you want to hear, but as I said, I've been married for 28 years, there's a reason my marriage has lasted this long. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003

No, it is not okay for a MIL to get involved because it was said in front of her or with her within earshot.  ILs (or anyone else for that matter) do not belong in the relationship at all and if you value the peace and don't want to jeopardize the relationship with the DIL and possibly your son and g-kids, stay out of it.  You are not aware of the back history; you are not a party to their relationship; and your child is old enough to handle his relationship issues himself.  If you overheard anything egregious, then speak to your child one-on-one, alone, and express your concerns. 

OP, do try to keep the disagreements in private conversation.  It does invite meddling ILs (or other people who've heard) to give their two cents where it's neither welcome nor appropriate.  You have to understand a mother's nature in wanting to protect their kid regardless of age, even though it's inappropriate and can cause issues in the future, so don't tempt it.  However, if it's something like you reminding your DH not to do something because you've discussed it previously and he knows it's rude/disrespectful to you, then you can reiterate that to him and if MIL gets involved then IMO it is time to tell her, as diplomatically as you can, to refrain from commenting on an issue that belongs to your M.  It's incredibly inappropriate of her to comment at all and if my MIL did that to me, it would damage the relationship we had.  She's not like that, though, and actually is the one to tell my s/o to smarten up!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008

Hi Mom_julsie,

You said "you might butt in too if there was something said that you agreed with"  Doesn't that sound unfair?  Doesn't it sound like you get to be the judge and jury and IF you feel it is bad then it is okay to say something publicly but if YOU do not feel it is then it isn't?

I agree with the other posters that said MIl's need to butt out.  Maybe the DIL shouldn't say anything to DH but it is between them not anyone else.  

Avatar for ribrit
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2001

Tell her to butt out. Try to find a way to turn it back on her, why she feels she must interfere in others lives, what is wrong with her, what is she trying to compensate for, etc? Sorry I am not much help.