How to deal with disrespectful in-laws when you love your husband way too much to see him get hurt by your clashes? You understand that his parents are an important part of his life, and that is the only reason you cope with them. But how to handle in-laws that don’t like you and make your life a living hell?
How to deal with a toxic mother-in-law who doesn’t want anything to do with you? And a father-in-law who doesn’t even acknowledge your presence? What you need is thick skin that doesn’t their petty remarks shatter your courage.
How I Deal With Disrespectful In Laws
Dealing with disrespectful in-laws is something that I have been doing for years, and have become an expert of sorts in the field. All you need to do is keep a cool head, don’t let anything they say get to you, and fake a smile. The happier you are, the more triggering it is for them. But it wasn’t always as easy for me as it is now. Let me take you a trip down memory lane to help you understand how I learned to cope with my disrespectful in-laws.
It was 25 years ago. I was at my in-laws’ house. At that point, I didn’t know what kind of people they were and hadn’t understood how to deal with disrespectful in-laws. I had just been married and entered my in-laws’ house for the first time. They ushered me into the living room.
Though my head was covered and eyes lowered, surreptitiously I took a quick look at the living room. There were some embroidered dolls in the showcase, some doctors’ prescriptions next to it, and an embroidered tea cosy.
And there I was, 22 years old, armed with the confidence which only unconditionally loving parents can give, wearing a beautiful dress, with my head covered. I was wearing a huge gold set, a hand-me-down, though I am sure my mother-in-law thought I was undeserving to carry the set forward.
The fan made a whirring noise but was of no help against the sweltering heat and I kept sweating profusely. I got the vibe that I was not making a good first impression but I was too young to know how to deal with in-laws that don’t like you.
Related Reading: How To Impress Your Future Mother In Law
She’s so dark and her lips are too full
My in-laws had called the neighbors and some friends to have a look at the bride. The tradition was that I would take their blessing and they would kiss me or hug me and give me some money. Faking a smile for several hours was already giving me a headache and I wanted to lie down and also attack the lovely meal being made.
Hushed whispers started, “Is this a love marriage?”
“No,” said my mother-in-law, horrified, “Why?”
“She is so dark.”
My mother-in-law nodded in agreement.
“Why did your son say yes?”
My mother-in-law just looked very sad. As if to say, what a sacrifice she had made.
I could hear a relative say bitchily they must have got a lot of dowry, but my mother-in-law pretended that she had instant deafness. She didn’t want to discuss her dowry problems and dissatisfaction with anyone.
That was my first encounter with my complexion being the judge of my worth. My parents had never commented on or mentioned my dark complexion. I was their little princess. I didn’t think people had such a backward mindset. Most of all, I didn’t know how to deal with rude in-laws and their bitchy remarks.
“Her lips are huge,” someone whispered. That was the era before silicone-pumped lips were the rage. I really had a huge mouth which I was embarrassed by. It always looked bee-stung, especially when I got up in the morning.
My in-laws turned out to be the kind of people who attached a lot of value to all things superficial – like beauty and look. Their idea of beauty was thin, mean, pursed-up lips, not the wide generous mouth I had. I was conscious of it before, but now I wanted to hide my face in embarrassment. Why couldn’t these people say all these things behind my back?
I was young and unexposed to unkindness
I was very young when I got married, with no exposure to the unkind world. The thought of how to deal with disrespectful in-laws had never even occurred to me before, and now it was the biggest concern of my life.
Their words and attitude dented and made holes in my self-esteem, leaving it shattered and fragile. And I believed their opinions on my ugliness. Even today, I can’t buy a foundation to match my skin, I always buy one three shades lighter.
The girl at the counter invariably says, “Madam, this shade is not right for you.” I nonchalantly say, “No, it’s for my daughter.”
“Then, it’s okay,” the friendly girl would respond, adding, “On you it will look very chalky.”
As for my mouth, I would first use the lip liner to thin my lips and then I would fill them up. I suppressed my features to fit into the beauty standards. I wore baggy clothes as a way to deal with body shaming.
Related Reading: How I Refused To Be An Evil Mother-In-Law And Unfollowed Tradition
A few years later we moved to a metropolitan city. My husband always complimented me, which I sometimes believed, sometimes not. I alternated between wondering whether he was lying or trying to make me happy. My emotional state about my looks was very fragile.
I joined a gym in the city which we moved to, and in the bargain made friends. I had children and became friends with their friends’ parents. That’s when my self-esteem started coming back because they would praise me, envy my complexion because it was flawless. But my lack of confidence remained.
I could never accept a compliment at face value; I always thought it was loaded. “Is she laughing at me,” I would wonder, “Or is she serious?”
Slowly building up my self-esteem
I started teaching at an NGO and began writing. My self-confidence grew and I did not need anyone’s validation about my looks any longer. How much ever you try to tell yourself, “who cares,” you always care. Scratch my skin and there would be festering scars.
When my toxic mother-in-law was on her deathbed, she called me and said, “You have been so nice to me, I am leaving these jewelry pieces for you. I have two new necklaces, one emerald one which belonged to my mother, that is for your sister-in-law because she is so fair, and the silver is for you because you are not fair.”
I had always coveted the silver necklace more. Was I happy that I got the silver necklace, or was I hurt because again there was that reference to my dark skin? How to deal with a mother-in-law who hates you, even on her deathbed?
I couldn’t make up my mind. I was astonished, but I chided myself for ever expecting any better from her. I wondered what kind of family values she had grown up with.
But I knew these barbs did not hurt me as they did earlier and I am hoping there will be complete closure when I can look back and laugh and wonder, “Why did I ever take them so seriously?”
Now that they aren’t part of my life, how to deal with disrespectful in-laws is not a pressing concern anymore. I am free, confident, and happy to be with my husband who loves my curvy hips and thick lips.
Try to be as subtle in your remarks as possible. Don’t confront them directly because this will give them another reason to tell the world how disrespectful you are.
Actions speak louder than words. Show them you are worthy of their respect and deserve more than their petty remarks through your work and household management abilities.
They will make it obvious with their sarcastic remarks and constant criticism of your work, your cooking, and your style of raising the kids.