13 Not So Subtle Traits of a Jealous Mother-in-Law (2023)

Was it something you said, did, or didn't do? (It's usually the latter.)

You can't help but notice that your mother-in-law acts like she's married to her husband, like she doesn't trust you to be agood wifeto him.

And if that wasn't frustrating enough, your husband is unwilling to talk to your mother about it.

He would also rather you not say anything.

After all, what harm can a littlemother-in-law jealousto do?

Why are mothers-in-law jealous?

According to psychology today, jealousy “is often triggered when a person perceives a threat to a valued relationship from a third party. The threat can be real or imagined.

The silent majority of mothers-in-law deal with pain that their daughters-in-law have yet to experience. Do not dohorrible behaviorGood. But for those who ask: "Why do mothers-in-law cause problems?" it may be helpful to remember the following:

  • You may be afraid of losing your child or losing your place in his life;
  • She may feel less important to him now that she turns to you for comfort;
  • she can bemourning the lossthe close relationship he had with his son;
  • Or you might be frustrated with the changes you see in this relationship;
  • She may feel threatened if her son takes her side (instead of hers) in an argument.

Never assume you know what's going on in your mother-in-law's head. From himthoughts and perspectivethey are his, and reading minds doesn't help.

For now, we're focusing on identifying jealous behavior.

What you do about it is something you and your spouse should discuss.

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13 traits of a jealous mother-in-law

Watch out for the following 13 signs of a jealous mother-in-law. Whatever your reasons, it's best to identify the behaviors you'd like to stop.

1. He's quick to blame you.

She is blind to anything that might suggest that her child is flawed. Whatever is wrong between the two of you must bethey arefalla.

If things aren't perfect between the two of you, she wants to know all about it first. If you are unable to get the details from your child, you can challenge them to explain why.looks unhappy.

And he will turn any information he gets into proof that he was right about you.

2. Is rude or dismissive of you, or completely ignores you.

She seems determined to see him in anegative light. She is dismissive or downright rude in her responses, if she responds at all.

He might even ignore you to see how you react.

If you confront her in anger, she may complain to her child aboutthey arebehavior towardsthey are.Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page.

3. She expects her husband to side with her when he disagrees with her.

If you turn a disagreement into a battle between you, you expect your child (your husband) to side with you. After all, they faced fiercer battles together before you came into their lives.

If he's ungrateful enough to fight her, that's more proof that you've poisoned his son against her.Terdone that, as she will likely point out.

4. She plays the victim.

she couldto feelas a victim From her point of view, you manipulated her son to side with you against hers.

Either there are two victims, her and her son, or just one. And if she's the weird one, she'll probably blame you for it and try to win your son's sympathy.

(Video) 10 Signs Someone Is Extremely Envious or Jealous of You

If that doesn't work, you can back off in hopes that your child will come after you.

5. Criticizes you (often) to your face.

He will make sarcastic or subtly derogatory comments about your clothes, your cooking, your parenting or cleaning skills, etc. Nothing is prohibited. If she sees something that isn't perfect or that one of her son's exes has done better, she'll be sure to let you know.

Even if she doesn't openly criticize you to your face, she will find a way to put a sour taste in every compliment.

6. Talks bad about you to your husband.

It doesn't take long for him to talk about you behind your back. If her son doesn't shut her up right away, or if he tries to discuss all the negative points she tries to make, she will continue until he tells her to stop.

And even if you do, chances are she'll renew her attacks after a short break. She still sees it as her job to protect him or keep him in check.they areto control.

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7. Speaks ill of you to your children and then asks them to keep it a secret.

One of your kids confided in you that grandma said some things about you and then told them to keep it a secret. Naturally, you are furious. She hadNoright to put your child in that position.

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tell your husband. Then tell your mother-in-law that you cannot trust her to be alone with the children until shecan earn your trust.

8. She turns you on to make you question your grip on reality.

Call her about something and she denies it or explains it as innocent. Then he will use the guilt to corner you.

She will deny and then blame you for what you saw or heard. She will project exactly what you accuse her of.

And it will continue to do so until you start to question your own judgment.

9. It elevates passive-aggressive behavior to an art form.

Use sarcasm to embarrass or put yourself down. Or he'll use subtle (or not-so-subtle) digs to undermine your confidence or prey on one of your insecurities. She has picked up some things that she can use against you without being confrontational or overtly abusive.

Too bad that doesn't make your business any easier to support. In fact, you'd almost prefer it to be more direct.

10. She doesn't respect your boundaries.

Maybe she'll come visit me without even calling first. Or maybe they share your personal information with others without asking you first. She keeps pushing to see how far she can go before she draws the line.

And once you do, she won't quietly back down. He is likely to use his hardline approach against you and complain to your husband.

11. He excludes you from his social plans.

Your child and grandchildren are more than welcome, but you? Well, you probably have somewhere else to be. Or surely you wouldn't be interested in spending time withthey are.

After all, you have your child and grandchildren most of the time. She needs grandma's fix. And, as she says, it's not healthy for the kids.Alwaysbe close to your mother.

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Of course this does not apply tothey are.

12. She is always trying to take control of you.

It's you or her; they cannot be both. And how dare you try to change the dynamic between her and her son? She always knew what he likes and what makes him happy. you're new and it's getting in the way. Then you will regain as much control as possible.

And whatever you do, you will use your influence to persuade your child that he is right.

13. You're always trying to get your child's attention (yours, not so much).

She constantly calls him, invitesto himvisiting, and does what he can to maintain a perpetual presence in her life. However, she is not as motivated to include you. She would rather have his attention without you around to distract him.

The more she has his full attention, the more influence she can have on him.

How to know if your mother-in-law is jealous of you?

Now that you are familiar with the signs of ajealous mother-in-lawMaybe you already know the answer to that question.

If you're still not sure, look for the following clues that your mother-in-law is jealous of you:

  • She's always comparing you (unfavorably) to her son's exes;
  • When it comes to you, she always finds something to criticize;
  • Excludes you from family gatherings;
  • She's only polite when she has to be (and you can feel the struggle);
  • She ignores you and talks to others as if you weren't even there.

As jealous as she is of you, her negative behavior isn't really about you. You can only allow yourself to see the things you don't like about yourself, but it's the effect of this on your relationship with your child that bothers you the most.

It's vital to keep this in mind when you talk to her. If you make it personal, you'll just increase the distance. The more you know about her, the easier it will be for you and your husband to decide how to talk to her and what to do.

Now that you know the not-so-subtle traits of a jealous mother-in-law, which ones stood out to you? And what are you going to do differently this week?

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13 Not So Subtle Traits of a Jealous Mother-in-Law (5)


What makes a mother-in-law jealous? ›

Jealousy arises from insecurity and the sudden fear of being replaced by someone who has just become a member of the family. She fears to become a mere spectator of her son's life. You'll need to understand these insecurities of hers and give her attention.

How do you know your mother-in-law is jealous? ›

Signs your mother-in-law is jealous often come out in sarcasm and passive-aggressive behavior. You might not be able to stop her bluntly as she might not say anything directly to you. She might instead prefer passive aggressive behavior to hurt you and save herself from the blame.

Why do mother in laws get jealous of daughter in laws? ›

There are lots of other reasons a mother-in-law could be jealous of her new daughter-in-law that could include feelings of abandonment and loss, her feeling like her son stopped talking to her when he met you, and lastly, she could even feel intimidated by you.

How do you outsmart a manipulative mother-in-law? ›

20 ways to deal with a manipulative mother-in-law
  1. Understand her motives. ...
  2. Avoid triggers. ...
  3. Detach from her comments. ...
  4. De-escalate fights. ...
  5. Never start a fight, but be ready to stand firm. ...
  6. Outline and stick to the boundaries. ...
  7. Involve your partner. ...
  8. Take a break from the relationship.
Mar 22, 2021

How do you deal with a Gaslighting mother-in-law? ›

Here are eight tips for responding and taking back control.
  1. First, make sure it's gaslighting. ...
  2. Take some space from the situation. ...
  3. Collect evidence. ...
  4. Speak up about the behavior. ...
  5. Remain confident in your version of events. ...
  6. Focus on self-care. ...
  7. Involve others. ...
  8. Seek professional support.

What is an enmeshed mother-in-law? ›

Enmeshment. It's possible that one (or more) of your in-laws still thinks they are the most important person in your spouse's life. They may still be trying to parent your spouse—what to wear, how to behave, how to treat you, advice about work, etc.

How do you tell if your in-laws don't like you? ›

Here's a look at signs your in-laws don't like you that you might want to watch out for.
  • They have no boundaries. ...
  • They aren't kind to you. ...
  • They talk about you. ...
  • They make decisions about your life. ...
  • They try to control your relationship. ...
  • They give you the silent treatment. ...
  • Nothing makes them happy. ...
  • They blame you for everything.
Nov 17, 2022

How can you tell if your in-laws dislike you? ›

So, take a look at the following signs your in-laws don't like you, and see if any apply to your situation.
  • They forget to include you in plans. ...
  • They repeatedly cancel plans. ...
  • They drop passive-aggressive zingers. ...
  • They snub you. ...
  • They don't give you gifts, ever. ...
  • They always let you pick up the tab.
Jun 27, 2016

Can a mother-in-law Gaslight? ›

Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting and it can take many forms: a partner, a friend, a parent, in-laws or a boss. No matter where it is happening, it's important to be aware of it, recognise if it's happening to you and what you can do about it.

What is an example of a toxic mother-in-law? ›

She is too critical of you

A hostile negative mother-in-law will look for ways to put you down, and so she may judge your choices and everything you do. For example, she might not like your style, accent, the way you eat, or the way you talk to strangers. Nothing about you pleases her, so she could dislike you.

Why are relationships with mother in laws so difficult? ›

The majority of conflicts between spouses and their mothers-in-law revolved around financial resources and child care. This should come as no surprise, as finances and children are common among the top stress factors in many relationships, according to Marriage.com.

Why do mother in laws and daughter in laws fight? ›

'Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law conflict often emerges from an expectation that each is criticising or undermining the other, but this mutual unease may have less to do with actual attitudes and far more to do with persistent female norms that few of us manage to shake off completely,' she added.

How do you tell if your daughter-in-law is jealous of you? ›

If your daughter-in-law is creating problems at home, refusing to accept family traditions, showing hatred toward the family, and trying to put your son against you, these are signs of a jealous daughter-in-law. She can be a home breaker and you need to deal with the situation before it's too late.

What is a passive aggressive mother-in-law? ›

5. She's Passive Aggressive. Passive-aggressive behavior involves indirectly expressing one's negative feelings, rather than openly communicating them. With a toxic mother-in-law, this behavior may be evident if she agrees to come over for a family meal, but then picks at her food and refuses to eat.

How do you know if your mother-in-law doesn't like you? ›

She Excludes You From Family Events

More pronounced than the neglected invite, if your mother-in-law excludes you from family events, not only is this a sign she doesn't like you, it's downright hurtful and rude.

How do you tell if my mother in law is a narcissistic? ›

7 Signs of a Narcissistic Mother in Law
  • She is very Charming.
  • She Needs Praise and Control.
  • She is Nosy and Butts into Your Marriage.
  • She Bullies You.
  • She is Manipulative.
  • She Tells Lies.
  • She Disregards Your Opinion.
May 8, 2020

How do you deal with a narcissistic manipulative mother in law? ›

Rather than internalizing their criticism, it's important to enforce healthy boundaries, limit your time and energy with your narcissistic mother-in-law, and make decisions based only on what you and your spouse believe to be best.

What is narcissistic gaslighting mother in law? ›

A favourite tactic of the narcissistic mother-in-law is gaslighting. This is where she tries to make you question your perception of reality and memory of events by denying things that you know to be true. Did she say your bum looked big, then denied she ever said such a thing when you called her up on it?

How do you set boundaries with an overbearing mother in law? ›

However, there came a point when I had to set strong boundaries with her not only to protect myself but to keep my relationship healthy with my husband.
  1. Letting your partner handle the communication. ...
  2. Using the word “no” without guilt. ...
  3. Showing them affections will not be earned by competition.
Feb 8, 2021

What does an enmeshed marriage look like? ›

Enmeshed couples

According to Kimberly Perlin, a licensed clinical social worker, enmeshed romantic partners might be so connected that they make all decisions together. They don't do anything the other one would disapprove of, and they feel responsible for managing each other's problems and feelings.

What is toxic enmeshment? ›

Enmeshment often begins when one family member has a mental health condition or substance abuse issue. Enmeshment normalizes harmful behavior and can be a way to avoid treatment. Enmeshed families often view dissent as betrayal. Enmeshed families may demand an unusual level of closeness even from adult children.

What makes a good mother-in-law? ›

Perhaps, one of the most important traits a mother-in-law needs to display is respectfulness. Being respectful of the couple's time and relationship builds a sense of trust. It also communicates that you value and prioritize their needs as a family unit and are willing to respect their boundaries.

How do you not let in-laws bother you? ›

10 Tips for Dealing with In-Laws and Setting Healthy Boundaries
  1. Put Your Marriage First. ...
  2. Enforce Healthy Boundaries. ...
  3. Do Not Confront In-Laws. ...
  4. Let Go of Expectations. ...
  5. Keep Your Cool. ...
  6. Try to Be Flexible. ...
  7. Find a Way to Meet Their Needs. ...
  8. Avoid Hot Topics.
Dec 1, 2022

Is it OK to avoid in-laws? ›

The truth is, you may never like your in-laws. And that's totally fine. You don't have to. It's just important to keep the drama and the tension to a minimum as much as you can for the sake of your spouse and your children (if you have them).

What should you not say to your in laws? ›

Things I have learned you should never say to your mother-in-law
  • “No” Such a simple and short word yet so detrimental. ...
  • “It's not a big deal” ...
  • “That might be good for you but it's not for us” ...
  • “We're moving” ...
  • “Your son prefers it like this” ...
  • “Come over anytime” ...
  • “That's not how we parent” ...
  • “We booked a hotel”
Apr 5, 2017

What is mother-in-law anxiety disorder? ›

What Is Pentheraphobia? Macmillan Dictionary defines Pentheraphobia as “a strong dislike or fear of one's mother-in-law.” By this definition, many people might easily nod and say, “Yes, I have that.” However, Pentheraphobia is considered an exaggerated or irrational fear.

How do I know if my mother-in-law is controlling? ›

And that can be a wonderful thing.
  • She Shows Up Unannounced. ...
  • She Uses Her Cooking To Undermine You. ...
  • She Has Over-The-Top Reactions. ...
  • She Bombards You With Judgmental Questions. ...
  • She Is *Always* Right. ...
  • She Can't Take "No" For An Answer. ...
  • She Criticizes Your Home.
Jun 21, 2018

Can in laws destroy a marriage? ›

In many families, the mother-in-law is jokingly referred to as the “monster-in-law.” Yet, the strain that parents-in-law can place on a couple is no laughing matter. It can, in fact, ultimately destroy a relationship.

What are common Gaslighting phrases? ›

35 Common Gaslighting Phrases
  • "I did that because I was trying to help you." ...
  • "That's not what happened." ...
  • "This is why you don't have friends." ...
  • "That is hardly important." ...
  • "It's not that big of a deal." ...
  • "You're too sensitive."
  • "You're overthinking it." ...
  • "You're being paranoid."
20 hours ago

What is the painful truth about toxic mothers-in-law? ›

Psychologists say toxic mothers-in-law are not caricatures. They are women typically living with mental illness, many afflicted with one or more personality disorders that make it difficult for them to empathize with others or ever clearly see themselves.

How do you deal with constant criticism of mother-in-law? ›

6 Ways To Put Your Very Critical Mother-in-law In Place
  1. Never Ever Take A Thing She Says Personally. ...
  2. Laugh It Off. ...
  3. Turn Things Around. ...
  4. Silence Is Golden. ...
  5. Bring Your Partner Into It. ...
  6. If All Of The Above Fails, Speak Up. ...
  7. Other articles you'll like.
Jun 26, 2019

How do I prove mental harassment by my mother-in-law? ›

You should file A police complaint against the mother in law under section 406 ipc in the police station nearest your in laws house.. The police on your complaint can help you to get your articles by speaking to your in laws.

How do you hold boundaries with your mother-in-law? ›

Here are five stages to help you with building boundaries with your mother-in-law/in-laws:
  1. Become aware there is a need for boundaries. ...
  2. Know what your boundaries are. ...
  3. Communicate your boundaries. ...
  4. Stick to your boundaries. ...
  5. Review your boundaries.

What mother-in-law should not do? ›

She Doesn't Believe in Boundaries

One of the worst mothers-in-law moves a person can make is not respecting boundaries, whether physical, emotional or otherwise. She might have a place in your lives, but she doesn't get to be front and center with a microphone in your relationship.

What are the traits of a toxic mother? ›

Common Toxic Traits
  • They're self-centered. They don't think about your needs or feelings.
  • They're emotional loose cannons. They overreact, or create drama.
  • They overshare. They share improper info with you, like details about their intimate lives. ...
  • They seek control. ...
  • They're harshly critical. ...
  • They lack boundaries.

How should a daughter-in-law treat her mother-in-law? ›

Always try and convey a positive attitude towards her. The older woman is probably just trying her best to fit into her role as a mom-in-law. Try to treat your mother-in-law and your mother equally. For example if you give your mother a birthday gift, then give your mother-in-law a gift for her birthday too.

How do you honor a difficult mother-in-law? ›

How to honor your mother-in-law
  1. Drop the “in-law” from her title or replace it with a more loving term. ...
  2. Humbly accept her counsel. ...
  3. Be willing to provide for her needs sacrificially. ...
  4. Brag about your spouse. ...
  5. Don't tell mother-in-law jokes or complain about her. ...
  6. Allow her to share in celebrating your children.
May 1, 2017

What not to say to your daughter-in-law? ›

I can't stand it!' Complaining about your son, your husband, your co-workers—it puts her in an awkward spot, where she doesn't want to disrespect the other party. “And it makes you look bad,” says Goldstein. You may want to avoid venting to your daughter-in-law; save your spill for your hubby or best friend.

How do you resolve mother-in-law and daughter-in-law conflict? ›

Communicate with your mother-in-law by asking what the underlying issue is. Ask your mother-in-law out for coffee or lunch and explain that you don't want any bad blood and that you respect her. Calmly explain that you feel like she argues with you a lot and ask what you can do to help resolve the issue.

How do you deal with an insecure mother-in-law? ›

You can't be in a rat race in your own home!
  1. Give her attention. Jealousy arises out of insecurity. ...
  2. Understand her feelings. ...
  3. Keep her involved with the family. ...
  4. Strengthen the bond between her and her son. ...
  5. Extend a friendly hand. ...
  6. Help her with the transition. ...
  7. Give her surprises. ...
  8. Remember communication is the key.
Apr 20, 2018

What is the fear of your mother-in-law called? ›

FUN FACT FRIDAY | Pentheraphobia is a fear of a mother-in-law. The origin of the word penthera is Greek (meaning mother-in-law) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear). Pentheraphobia is considered to be a specific phobia.

Is it normal not to like your mother-in-law? ›

The truth is, you may never like your in-laws. And that's totally fine. You don't have to. It's just important to keep the drama and the tension to a minimum as much as you can for the sake of your spouse and your children (if you have them).


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