A jealous mother-in-law can be like a wounded lioness if she is hurt or upset with you, even if for no fault of yours. She can turn vindictive and difficult. We get stories almost every day of women dealing with the travails of a jealous mother-in-law not knowing what to do. Their irrational behaviour and impossible standards of expectations can poison a healthy marriage and even trigger its end. But what makes a mother-in-law so jealous of her daughter-in-law? What drives her to the point where she can even think of breaking up her son’s marriage just to deal with her insecurities? And most importantly what are the traits of a jealous mother-in-law?
What Makes A Mother-in-law Jealous?
A mother who has invested her entire life in the wellbeing of her family, especially her children wants to be at the center of it all. Remember she has been in charge of her son’s life decisions all through his growing up years, perhaps serving him food when he comes home or pick his clothes for him. And then you enter the household and things to slip from her fingers, she feels as if she is losing control over her family.
She, who was always like the main peg has now been pushed to the side, almost replaced by someone who is younger has more energy and one who her son showers all attention on. This transition needs time. Perhaps your father-in-law is as much a villain and is also giving you more attention and suddenly they ask you for opinions. If by chance the two of you have differing views and the son and her husband pick your side, she would feel even more intimated and annoyed. Perhaps with all the focus on you, the newlywed daughter-in-law she feels like an outsider in her own home!
Some reasons for her jealousy and insecurity could be:
- The son spends most of his time with his wife. She plays a major role in his decision making
- The daughter-in-law has skills other than the mother-in-law maybe in some even more talented than her and is complimented every now and then
- The daughter-in-law is everyone’s favourite
- It’s as if she doesn’t exist in her son’s life anymore
Signs Of A Jealous Mother-in-law
A jealous mother-in-law is not ready to throw in the towel. She will go to any lengths to show her daughter-in-law that she is the real boss of the house. It’s almost like marking her territory, showing her that she is in control and calls the shot. It could be her way of having you know that you should tread carefully or else incur her wrath. Watch out for these signs of a jealous mother-in-law:
- She will criticize everything you do or suggest a better way. That’s true, she hates you
- She will make a big issue out of everything, and not let anything just go
- She will always interfere in your marriage, signaling your son that he should handle you better
- She will keep seeking her son’s attention even for small things, sometimes feigning illness as well
- She will play the victim in front of her son, one classic case is that she is afraid of you, the daughter-in-law
This is an environment in many Indian households where the mother-in-law constantly finds ways to attack the daughter-in-law, verbally, emotionally or mentally, just to appease her own sense of insecurity and jealousy. While the mother-in-law might think that it is a tug of war where the son is her prize, it can cause great anguish both to the daughter-in-law and son. If you are the son stuck between your mother and your wife reading this we have some suggestions for you here. Remember you have to intervene and change things your mother-in-law turns into a monster-in-law?
12 Ways To Deal With A Jealous Mother-in-law
For a peaceful and happy co-existence, we bring you 12 tried-and-tested ways to deal with a jealous and envious mother-in-law. In most cases, this helps smoothen the strained ties, remember one positive experience paves way for many more. You can’t be in a rat race in your own home!
1. Give her attention
Jealousy arises out of insecurity. The sudden fear of being replaced by someone who has just become a member of the family is something that every mother fears. Sona shared that every time they sat for dinner she made sure they waited for mother-in-law and she often discussed her favourite cuisine and tried to bring her something every once in a while.
Now, this was something that the mother-in-law’s son had not done before and so she knew that the care was coming from the daughter-in-law and she began warming towards her. She even asked her mother-in-law to teach her special recipes and made it a point to compliment her whenever she cooked anything. You should ask her to teach her new recipes and build an affectionate bond with her mother-in-law from the start.
Instead of retaliating or fighting with her, you should first try to understand what is causing her ill-will. Women are emotional beings. each has their own way of dealing with issues, some whine and sulk while others choose to hurt others to teach them a lesson. Don’t resent the closeness your MIL shares with her son– that’s probably been like this since he was born. Try to observe her behaviour and look out for the triggers that provoke her and try and avoid them.
2. Understand her feelings
Once you understand the root cause of her insecurities and the actions which follow that you can take steps to reverse them.
3. Keep her involved with the family
She is the most important family member. She has spent her entire life keeping the family together. The man you have married is a result of her good upbringing. Make her feel special. It is indeed tough for her to let go of her son she raised for so many years. Keep her involved with the big and small decisions of the family. You can also pretend to be a bit dumb to make her feel better.
4. Strengthen the bond between her and her son
The most important thing for a mother is her child’s love. Once she feels that her son is always going to love her the way he used to, she will start liking you too. Show her that your marriage isn’t going to hamper the mother-son relationship. Encourage your husband to spend time with her, ask her how her day was or if she needs anything. Your mother-in-law will notice that it is you who is prompting such gestures. She will begin doubting her own doubts on you. She will soon start appreciating your qualities and also give you valuable suggestions. We have an interesting story from a girl on how she won over her boyfriend’s mother here.
Related Reading: My Husband Only Listens To His Mother And Keeps Me Away
5. Extend a friendly hand
Help her out wherever you can, pitching in the kitchen, taking care of her laundry, offering her accessories from your stock once a while. How about you become her gossip buddy? Observe the people she doesn’t like, gossip about that person with your mother-in-law. Tell her a few things that you do not like about the person as well.
Try and become the person she confides in and keep her confidence. Tell her about make-up, introduce her to a new hairstylist (without seeming as if you do not like the way she looks). Help her in Diwali cleaning. She will appreciate the gestures and will reciprocate the affection. And when you are doing everything right, your husband too would support you.
6. Help her with the transition
You are not the only one whose life is changing after marriage. Your mother-in-law is also going through a major transition too. As a newlywed, you will get attention from everyone, she will feel ignored.
Daksha wrote to us telling us about how her mother-in-law’s main trigger point was her father-in-law’s changed attitude. He had started asking Daksha for her advice on what to wear and praised her cooking whenever she whipped up a baked dish. Daksha caught on to this and turned the tables around, she began praising her mother-in-law’s house management skill, how beautifully she has brought up her children and how well she takes care of her father-in-law in front of him every time she got a chance. This brought about a sea change in the way the mother-in-law looked at her. Soon the two women became a duo against the two men. Normally the men do not realise how the woman of the house to needs help and you can be the one to sensitize them towards that. This particular fact is ignored by most people which makes a perfect mother into a jealous mother-in-law.
You need to help her from the start so that she doesn’t see you as a threat and instead, sees you as her confidant.
7. Give her surprises
Ask your husband or your father-in-law about the likes and dislikes of your mother-in-law. Give her surprises and make her happy. She will see a side of you that she didn’t expect and will welcome you with open arms. There are many ways to show your love to your MIL.
8. Remember communication is the key
If you can’t understand your mother-in-law’s behaviour, talk it out. Have a deep conversation with her. Be polite so that she doesn’t retaliate with anger. Ask her why she is behaving like this and ask her what’s wrong. You may be surprised by how a short conversation can make things so simple. You may realize that both of you were misunderstanding each other all along!
Related reading: My mother-in-law did what even my mother wouldn’t do
9. Avoid conflict
In order to maintain peace in the house, it is better to avoid fights and discussions that could lead to fights. The best way to do so is by setting boundaries early on for everyone’s peace and happiness. Fights will only make things worse by causing more bitterness in the family. It will make other family members unwittingly choose sides. Your marriage will be the relationship that gets most affected by all this. To identify the traits of a jealous mother-in-law and deal with it accordingly.
10. Talk to your husband
Having a conversation with your husband about your mother-in-law’s behaviour could turn out to be helpful. Don’t complain to him about her. Just tell him some of the things that are bothering you. Ask him to reach out to his mother and find the root cause in a friendly way. Stay clear of the fact that you are not complaining. The son might be able to get through to his mother better than you and help end the war.
11. Ignore her behaviour
After a point, you may have to accept the fact that your mother-in-law is not going to change. It is best to ignore her behaviour and focus your energy on things that are more important to you, your marriage. Let her know that you are tired of the constant tension and how draining it is for both of you and the others as well.
You must convey that you have tried everything possible to have a smooth and a workable relationship with her but it just doesn’t seem feasible anymore. Henceforth you have decided to not involve yourself in any issue she has with you and that it is best the two of you leave each other alone for the sake of the other members at home. Perhaps she too might realize how unnecessary all of it actually was.
12. Shift houses or move cities
If your mother-in-law’s jealousy has reached a point where you can do nothing more to change the situation and you have reached the end of your patience and goodness, shift homes. Do not let this poisonous relationship sour everything in your life. At times, distance is the only workable option to keep relationships healthy. Visit your in-laws with your husband on a weekly or monthly basis. Keep in touch.
Keeping your mother-in-law on your good side is very important. You need to accept the fact that your husband will always be sensitive to his mother no matter how badly she treats you. It is therefore important for you to be wise about the situation. Remember, you are married to an entire family and gaining every family member’s trust is as important as gaining your husband’s.