1. People & Relationships
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

What Should I Do about My Pushy Mother-in-Law?


Cheerful senior woman with daughter preparing food at kitchen counter
Hero Images/Vetta/Getty Images
Question: What Should I Do about My Pushy Mother-in-Law?
My mother-in-law and my husband are a little too close for comfort. It’s nothing creepy or anything, but she monopolizes his time and guilts him into doing stuff for her. It’s starting to cut into his time with me. I’m feeling a bit deprived of my husband’s attention and resentful of my mother-in-law. I don’t want this to interfere with my relationship with either of them. What should I do?
Answer: It can be especially difficult for moms to let go of their sons after they marry. You have to realize that until you came along, your mother-in-law probably viewed herself as the only woman in your husband’s life, whether that was true or not. She also probably feels entitled to her son’s attention and affection for all the years she nurtured and cared for him. In fact, she might even be jealous of you and your relationship with your husband – even if only on a subconscious level.

Having an understanding of why your mother-in-law might be behaving this way is only the first step to solving your problem. Next, you have to talk to your spouse. You have to tell your husband that you are feeling a bit neglected and you’d like to spend more time with him. Whatever you do, do not bad mouth or criticize your mother-in-law to your spouse. It will only cause tension and will hurt your husband. It could cause a rift between the two of you. This is his mother, after all, and he’s known her longer than he has known you. She gave him life. Never forget that. Also, be sure to still allow some alone time for mother and son. Your husband will still probably want to spend time with his mom – and that’s okay as long as he is willing to put aside some time for you, too. And you can also suggest spending time together the three of you every once in a while.

If your mother-in-law continues to come between you and your spouse, then you must be straightforward without being hurtful. Say something such as, “Honey, I respect that you need and want to spend time with your mom, but it’s really starting to cut into our alone time, and I’m worried for our relationship. What can we do to carve more time for just each other?” For extreme cases, where mother and son can not be separated and seem to have an unhealthy bond, suggest professional help in the gentlest way possible.

What kind of relationship do you have with your mother-in-law?

  1. About.com
  2. People & Relationships
  3. Newlyweds
  4. Family & Friends
  5. In-Laws
  6. What Should I Do about My Pushy Mother-in-Law?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.