Help! My Mother-In-Law Is A Narcissist; How Can I Deal With Her?

Last updated by Katie M.

In popular fiction, mother-in-laws (MILs) never seem to have very flattering roles, but yet, when we think about many of our experiences with our ‘second moms’, these diabolic character associations don’t seem too unrealistic after all. Whilst getting along with our partner’s mom isn’t always an easy task, it’s made even tougher when her narcissistic traits shine through and leave you feeling intimated. Reluctant daughter-in-laws of the world, here is your ultimate survival guide to dealing with your fire breathing, toxic MIL.

Help! My Mother-In-Law Is A Narcissist; How Can I Deal With Her?

Every fairy tale love story seems to start the same, and it goes like this. You marry your Prince Charming, everything is fine and dandy, and then suddenly, his once seemingly sweet mom lets her mask slip and becomes your worst nightmare! (Cue dramatic music) Plus, to make matters worse, all the red flags point to a narcissistic personality disorder… Now you evidently can’t pretend to be a model daughter-in-law for much longer, and aren’t prepared to lose your partner, so here’s what you need to do.

Are you dealing with a narcissistic mother-in-law? These 10 tips will become your survival kit!

1) Set boundaries with her

When faced with a toxic narcissist, this is perhaps THE golden rule. Being able to establish boundaries, and drawing a line and where your comfort zone ends, are the basis points for any good relationship. Now, it’s not a question of stepping on someone’s toes or even making them feel bad, but rather a safeguarding mechanism for your mental healthTo fix these rules, you need to make clear what you are comfortable with, and what you are NOT prepared to accept or tolerate. Taking the time to think about healthy boundaries will lead to you feeling more secure in the long run.

2) Stop trying to please her

It’s only natural that when we take on the daughter-in-law role, we want to please. There’s no denying it, we all want to be liked and appreciated, especially when joining our partner’s family, but our need for acceptance shouldn’t make us change who we are. That’s right, toning down our personalities, or pretending to be something we are not, won’t change the issue here. The fact of the matter is your mother-in-law is a narcissistic person, and unfortunately, nothing you do, or change about yourself will improve your relationship with her. So, with this in mind, carry on being your authentic self, and do your best to ignore her catty remarks about you.

3) Act as a team with your partner

Do you remember making the promise to love and support each other during your wedding vows? Well, now is the time to put that pledge into practice! By acting as a united front, your toxic mother-in-law will no doubt back off and treat you with more respect. Seeing her son side with you will act as a warning sign that she has a lot to lose because of her toxicity and manipulative ways. Besides, as a married couple, you should always be there for each other in your hour of need.

>>> Discover the secrets to maintaining a happy marriage

4) Favor good communication

I know it can be tempting to yell at the top of your lungs whenever your narcissistic mother-in-law gets to you and criticizes, but that’s just not the solution! Fighting doesn’t solve anything, in fact, it only makes things worse, and could even allow her to paint you out as the bad guy. So, whatever happens, do your best to remain calm, and rise above her provocations, all whilst expressing to her what you feel, and why.

5) Focus on her positive traits

Whether she makes a mean apple pie or is always punctual, she must have some saving graces. And, I’m not saying they have to be serious things either, (baking can’t exactly be classed as a positive trait), but focusing on something other than her being a narcissist will help you get past lots of your issues, and may even offer you some calming space too.

6) Stand your ground

When faced with a manipulative and devious family member, you should never back down. Now, I’m not suggesting that you enter into a full-blown argument with your mother-in-law, but you’ll need to defend yourself and your point of view. Remember, just because you are up against a gas lighter doesn’t mean you have to cave in and comply with their every demand.

7) Don’t take things personally

Over the years, lots of my friends have given me this advice, and I struggled to apply it, but when I finally did, everything changed for me. Letting other people’s words and judgments wash over you without paying too much attention to them will certainly make you feel a lot lighter, plus it will give you the perspective you need to analyze how harmful they are.

8) Share your experience

I can’t stress the importance of this point enough! Being open about what you are going through is such a refreshing and healing stage, plus, it will no doubt bring you closer to some of your friends who are experiencing the same problems. Sharing tips and feedback will give you newer insights on how to deal with your mother-in-law and her toxic baggage.

9) Analyze her triggers

This might involve you taking a step back to analyze the full spectrum of her behavior. By doing so, you’ll not only gain peace of mind, but will also understand what types of situations amplify her tendencies and what pushes her buttons. These key insights will aid you in avoiding future altercations with her.

10) Accept that she won’t change

The sad truth about narcissists is that they never change. Despite their promises to do better and to tone down their behavior, their inherent traits are just too powerful and can never be truly buried or forgotten. This should also act as a sign for you to stop wasting your energy on getting her to accept that she needs to do things differently.

How does a narcissistic mother-in-law behave?

To achieve her goal, the narcissistic mother-in-law can manipulate in a variety of ways. She'll use them to establish her own vision. Most of her trump cards are based on staging. Means such as blackmail are the most common, so here are a few examples:

  • Crocodile tears: Your mother-in-law may show herself in a sad state. She'll make sure that her son and daughter-in-law are moved by her condition so that they feel compassion for her. Tearful scenes recalling the past, well-crafted lies. She'll do her best in dramatic acting to soften your heart.
  • Using financial pressure: Your mother-in-law may try to lure them with financial help. But this is often tied to a quid pro quo of doing what she says at all times.
  • Emotional blackmail: This is a really useful weapon when she feels a situation is getting out of hand. But it's also useful when the couple seems to have little influence. The narcissistic stepmother will turn the children against their parent. This weapon enables the stepmother to exert considerable pressure on the couple as an emotional manipulator.
  • Transferring guilt onto your relationship: This technique is well-known to narcissistic perverts. It consists in making the victim feel guilty about the pervert's situation. The mother-in-law's children will therefore feel guilty. She may even use hurtful language, calling them ungrateful and heartless.
  • Using her role as a mother: She can use this tactic on her child to turn him or her against you. This means you will no longer have the support of your husband or wife.

Editor’s opinion - Think before acting drastically 

Problematic family members are never easy to deal, but narcissistic parents are arguably the worst of the bunch. Even though your mother-in-law may drive you crazy, and at point worry you, that’s not to say she is a terrible mother or grandmother, in this case, you may need to back down and bite your tongue for the sake of peace. Although, if on the other hand you DO believe her actions are dangerous, cutting her off may be the only solution.

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!


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