Ending My Toxic Relationship With My Mother-in-law


mother-in-lawMy husband and I fell in love fast and hard. It was a whirlwind of instant chemistry, becoming best friends and being inseparable. After five months of dating, we were engaged and so excited to blend our families. He seamlessly became a part of mine, and I was eager to feel the same love from his. I can still hear the excitement in his voice as he proclaimed, “You and my mom are going to be so close!”

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes because you’ve heard this story a thousand times: beloved son gets married, his wife tries her best, and his mom despises her for no reason. You’re partially right, but usually, the daughter-in-law is the outcast, while the son and grandchildren are seen in a positive light. In my life, the kids suffer too.

Her behavior has escalated over the years, but she started out being unkind. When I began dating her son, she told me stories of his ex-girlfriends, comparing them to me. My body wasn’t as fit, my face was not as pretty, and I wasn’t as successful in my career as any of them. She insisted that my husband still had feelings for them and “always will.”

When we got engaged, she reminded me of how lucky I am to be with him and how unworthy I am of his love. During our wedding, she was an hour late because she was “avoiding the inevitable.” When I got pregnant, she distanced herself even more.

My mother-in-law made up multiple excuses throughout the years to avoid meeting my children. Recently, she finally admitted why she was apprehensive; she is scared that they will remind her of me. What kind of grandmother refuses to meet her grandkids? I see the emotional toll this is taking on my husband, and it breaks my heart.

I believe she has an undiagnosed personality disorder. She speaks a mile a minute, has a grandiose sense of self, and believes the people in her life are jealous of her. In every scenario, she is the victim who only has good intentions. I’ve stayed silent as she insulted my looks, assassinated my character, and blamed me for “using” my husband financially.

Raised to be patient and forgiving, I continued to treat her kindly. I prayed for her, discussed her in therapy, and read several self-help books on toxic mother and daughter-in-law relationships. Naively, I had hope that we could turn a corner. Those hopes were eventually shattered.

Last year, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and I became her primary caregiver. When she was in hospice, I spent a great deal of time helping with her end-of-life care. My husband, as always, was supportive. He never made me feel guilty for spending time away from the kids.

His mother did not have much to say to me. She spoke encouraging words to my husband and emotionally supported him. When my mother passed away, my MIL sent a condolence gif on a text message thread with my husband. I texted back immediately and said that I deserved an actual phone call.

That was silly of me.

She called me, started the conversation with, “The problem with you is—” and I promptly hung up the phone. My mother-in-law is blocked from my phone, email, and all social media. I told my husband very plainly, “If she cannot be kind to me while I’m grieving, she will never be kind to me.”

I wish things were different. Both of my parents have passed away, and I wish I could lean on her for advice or wisdom. Sadly, she has proven time and time again that she will only cause me pain. It feels pathetic to admit I love her, to admit that I wish she loved me, that she saw me, really knew me. I have to push past these feelings, though, protect my peace and love her from a distance.