Does your hubby’s mom meddle or criticize you to no end? If you’ve tried everything to get in her good graces, but to no avail, what should you do? Of course, fighting back will only cause tension in your marriage, it could also jeopardise the possibility of you having a good — or, at the very least, civil — relationship with your toxic mother-in-law in the future.
One way to cope is be taking a step back, detaching and practicing “healthy selfishness.”
Professor and author Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright writes in Psychology Today that you need to remove yourself from the situation, allowing for “me time” in order to cope. For instance, if your MIL is calling, don’t answer. Just text her later when you’re more emotionally capable to handle whatever it is she wants to talk to you about. If you force yourself to be available to her, chances are you’ll just clash and you might snap at her and regret it later.
Distance is key. Regroup before you react.
What is the difference between being ‘healthy selfish’ and ‘unhealthy selfish?’
Learning how to prioritize and care for yourself so you can be the best version of yourself when relating to others is a form of healthy selfishness. When you don’t have healthy self-care habits, there is a chance that you’ll simply seek out what’s best for you with no regard for the feelings and needs of others.
For instance, if your toxic mother-in-law has a habit of intervening or undermining your authority when it comes to your kids, the first thing you must do is not to take it personally. Assume her point of view. Because she is of a different generation, her parenting style differs from yours. Try to stretch your patience and understanding, reminding yourself that she raised your beloved better half, so she can’t be all bad.
Another example of healthy selfishness is setting boundaries while still being considerate of your MIL’s feelings. For instance, if she is a widow and looks forward to Sunday lunches with you and your kids, don’t deprive her of that. But, if she is hurtful or disrespectful toward you, talk to her in a loving way. If she refuses to change or hear you out, do not retaliate.
Tune her out and try to compartmentalize, decompress and (if possible) compromise, in order not to deprive your family, whose relationships with her are likely different from yours, from bonding or spending time with her.
Do you have any experiences with dealing with toxic in-laws? Do share what you learned in the comments below!
READ: 10 Things to never say to your mother-in-law