Toxic Mother-In-Law (8 Stress-Free Tips)

Last updated on June 18, 2022 by April Maccario

Getting married is a wonderful thing, but having to deal with a toxic mother-in-law can quickly take the joy out of it. At first, she might seem like the perfect mother, but as she starts to unravel her true colors, you become worried about the latter years. 

Some of the traits of a toxic mother-in-law may include her dismissing your opinions, trying to prove she’s right in every situation, ensuring you abide by her guidelines of building a home, establishing her dominance, trying to control you, and imperatively, telling you that she doesn’t like you

There are more negative behaviors that a toxic mother might show, but the most crucial knowledge a daughter-in-law need is how to adequately handle these behaviors.  

In order to maintain the peace in the home, and find a balance between your marriage and co-existing with your mother in law, you would require some management tips. This article sheds light on eight insightful ways to handle a toxic relationship with your mother-in-law.

8 Ways To Deal With A Toxic Mother In Law 

1. Try to find out why she’s exhibiting toxic behaviors

The more you understand the root of a problem, the more you can effectively handle it. Without this, you would only be playing around your options, which may only aggravate the matter. All toxic behaviors are sponsored by one ideology or the other. For a mother-in-law, perhaps she wanted to play a major role in choosing a spouse for her son but didn’t get the upper hand in his relationship.

It could also be a misrepresented impression she might be having about you, which could be sponsoring her bad behaviors. More so, there’s a possibility she’s just an overbearing woman and everyone in the family simply overlooks it. The possible causes of toxic behaviors from a mother are enclosed around similar subjects and that is one reason why you have to find it out.

If you feel like talking to your mother-in-law could spur up strife and more quarrels, you could use family members, or even your spouse, to try to get her to reveal why she’s acting that way. Essentially, she would feel comfortable expressing her true emotions, when talking to close ones.

In whatever way you try to find out these, always make sure your approach resolves the bulk of the issue and doesn’t magnify it. Show concern when inquiring about these things, because this will make others embrace your empathetic side.

In a nutshell, the last thing you would want is to be viewed as an instigator, no matter how infuriating your mother-in-law is, be exceedingly prudent at every time, in order to gain support from the entire family.

2. Use the information gotten to your advantage

After following the first step, the information you’re bound to receive would either be positive or negative. There’s also a possibility that you’ll get no feedback, which is more or less a negative outcome. Nevertheless, in such a situation, all feedbacks are important in bettering the situation.

You might be wondering how negative feedback can possibly improve a situation, the truth is, not every toxic relationship can, and should be fixed. 

Perhaps you found out that your mother in law is naturally an overbearing woman, or you’ve sensed traits of a jealous mother-in-law, then making attempts to fix her, or the situation may only put you in a bad light. What you should focus on, to improve the outcome of the relationship, is making sure your feelings are protected, and that you always escape her toxic traps.

More so, if any other information you receive involves a somewhat unchanging factor, then simply stick to avoiding her toxicity and applying more of the prudent tactics listed below. Nevertheless, if it’s something that can be fixed, perhaps your mother-in-law has a wrong impression about you, then making efforts to show her your true personality can further improve the situation. 

Whatever tactic you use, know that this will not immediately stop her negative behaviors. You may feel like it’s only getting worse, but with time, you’re bound to notice some improvement in the relationship. Since no one can have a perfect relationship, understanding this about your mother in law will make you feel better about the circumstances.

3. Avoid conflict

The tactics of a toxic mother-in-law are somewhat endless, however, one proven method they would use is trying to stir up conflict in order to get a negative reaction from you. In such a scenario, doing this will give her more negative evidence about you to share with her in-laws and the family as a whole. This is why it is important to implement this step.

There are instances where you actually don’t want to give a response to your mother-in-law, but you find yourself unconsciously trying to defend yourself. This happens solely because that’s what she wants you to do. On the contrary, refraining from engaging in any conversation that might cause conflict is the best way to maintain a positive image for the family.

As inconsequential as maintaining a good image to the family might sound, understand that if everyone thinks you’re the cause of most arguments, even when you’re not, their impression about you would start to take a toll on your relationship with them. This indicates the need to be subtle and gentle even when the situation doesn’t seem that way.

The best way to accomplish this is by improving your conflict management techniques. In situations where you want to explode, learn to implode, and channel your anger away. The more you do this, the more your mother would become cautious about her actions towards you. If she’s the only one shouting and spurring up conflict all the time, then the bad light would be more on her, than on you. 

4. Detach yourself from situations

You don’t want to end up feeling bad about the circumstances, especially when you’re not expressing your anger the way you want – which is why it’s best to learn how to detach yourself from situations. Understand from a clear point of view, that the manner your mother is behaving is dependent on her own individualistic mindset and personality, and has little to do with you. 

Detach yourself from situations

You should also bear in mind that her personality has nothing to do with your home, and your relationship with your spouse, no matter how things may seem. Her toxic behaviors are her choices, and this shouldn’t affect yours in any manner.

The more you separate the toxicity of your mother-in-law from things happening around you, the more you can truly learn to live happily in your home. More so, the more she tries to make you affected by her actions and fails, the more she would channel her toxicity somewhere else. 

The best manner to implement this tactic is by giving quick responses in your head, whenever she exhibits any negative behavior towards you. Most of the quick responses should remind you why your toxic mother is behaving in the manner she is, in case you’re moved to react. 

More so, remind yourself that these behaviors are only demeaning to her, and they don’t affect your esteem or personality, more importantly, that her intentions to make you feel bad or react, are futile since you’re aware of the tactics being used. And with that, you can quickly detach yourself from situations.

5. Escape triggering situations

Now that you’ve learned some tactics that can easily get you away from the trap of your toxic mother, what more can you do to get away from these situations? In all common sense, the best you can do is to avoid being in situations where conflict is bound to arise. Even though these may be the things you love doing, being the bigger person, and preventing conflict is an easy manner to safeguard your peace of mind

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Try to be aware of the things or places your toxic mother might use to start a fight with you. If she reacts negatively, especially in the presence of family, always use a getaway card to escape these situations. If you notice this only occurs when you visit her, try your best to escape all the things that can trigger a quarrel.

Try to be one step ahead of your toxic mother-in-law, and elude any of the plans she might be making to trap you in her toxicity. If you notice a scenario that might be a triggering situation, quickly excuse yourself from the scene, to avoid partaking in her tactics.

In a nutshell, doing this will prevent a ton of emotional and mental work you would go through, trying to counter all the toxic games of your mother-in-law. You can also implore the help of your spouse as a perfect getaway distraction, to actively help you escape situations that can cause a fight between you and his mother.

6. Create boundaries

If your husbands’ mother has a nark of acting in unpleasant ways, especially in situations you can’t actively ignore, it’s important to create and establish some boundaries. If she displays these behaviors mostly when she comes over, try to limit her visits to your home. If her actions seem to be affecting your kids, try to limit the time she spends with them.

You can decide to implement these boundaries in a public manner, or even privately. If your spouse agrees with the boundaries, you should implement them publicly. However, if he doesn’t agree, it’s best to implement them independently and wisely. 

To avoid constant visits, try to engage your family in more activities, which would make it more or less difficult for your mother to be around as often as she would. If you want her to spend less time with your kids, you should also engage them in insightful activities, leaving visits for only the holidays.

In a nutshell, try to change the location of events more often, giving her less opportunity to display her toxicity. The less comfortable she feels in an environment, the harder it will be for her to implement her negative behaviors as much as she would like to. 

Giving her little to no opportunity to have the upper advantage in situations, is an easy way to create boundaries with your mother. In other cases, trying to make your spouse see the essence of these boundaries may change his opinions about everything.  

7. Never let her toxicity corrupt you

When someone overwhelms you with their toxicity, it can be quite tempting to engage in similar tactics, either to win or to express how you really feel. A lot of people have the impression that once you get someone to feel the exact measure of discomfort they’re causing others, perhaps they’ll want to change. 

Nonetheless, this only works with people who are emphatic enough to desire change. Most of the people exhibiting toxic behaviors are well aware of their actions towards others and would defend their behaviors if given the opportunity, to them, their actions are simply natural ways of handling events. 

In such a situation, playing at the same game would only start up more strife, giving your toxic mother more reasons to implement her negative behaviors towards you. In the event where her sole agenda was to put you in the bad light of the family, engaging in foul play would only accelerate her plans.

On the other hand, consciously ensuring that her toxicity doesn’t affect the way you behave with others, most especially with your kids, will determine the outcome of everything. As much as she would try to influence you with her negativity, use countermeasures to deflect possible effects of her behaviors off yourself.

Your major goal should be channeling away all the anger and resentment you might feel, from the ones you love. Generally, this will ensure you maintain the peace in your house and peacefully coexist with everyone.

8. Forgive her and move on

It might be hard to forget all the humiliating experiences your mother may have put you through along the course of your marriage. Expressing your emotion about the situation might even open up old wounds. Since living with a negative person takes a toll on people, it can greatly affect their perception of associating with others.

Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that your mother in law may or may not change, but that shouldn’t affect how you live your life. More so, understand that holding a grudge against her will have an unconscious effect on how you relate with those around you. This means that your actions might similarly start to affect others too. 

Though the scars might remain, choosing to let go of these occurrences by forgiving her and moving on, will not only give you peace of mind, but it will help you effortlessly radiate love towards those around you – and this will only make you happier. Even so, when you no longer dwell on hurtful emotions, you have more time to focus on those that truly mean the world to you. 

In such a situation, understand that even if you make her realize all her negative actions towards you, she may or may not change. Choosing to ignore her tactics, focusing on building relationships with people who matter, and neglecting the ones that cannot be fixed, will help you get the most out of your marriage and relationships with people.


What is a toxic mother in law?

This is a person that deliberately makes you feel bad by displaying several demeaning, controlling, or generally any negative behaviors towards you. Most times, they try their best to have the advantage in your marriage and try to prove they’re always right about everything. In other cases, they may even try to put off a negative impression about you to others.

How do you get rid of toxic mother in law?

You get rid of them by implementing certain strategies to evade their traps while trying to understand the cause of the toxicity towards you. In cases where you can’t find out, choose not to react to the toxicity in order to avoid conflict. Also, try to create boundaries and implement them to escape certain negative situations.

Can I ignore my mother in law?

Ignoring mothers in law, especially when they’re exhibiting negative behaviors, is a prudent method of avoiding conflicts. If you notice quarrels are bound to occur in certain situations, it’s best to ignore them, to safeguard your emotions, and avoid looking like a bad person to others.

Do mothers-in-law get jealous?

Some mothers tend to feel intimidated when their children take preference to their spouse over them. Not being the primary focus of love and attention makes them jealous. People who exhibit this type of jealousy have a need for constant attention, which isn’t quite possible for someone that’s married.

Who comes first wife or mother?

This solely depends on the people involved, a spouse may have the impression that his mother should come first, whereas his wife thinks otherwise. Nonetheless, irrespective of the decisions made, none of the parties should overrule the importance of the other or should disregard certain matrimonial laws.

To Sum Things Up

Did you enjoy this article on how to deal with the toxicity of a mother in law? Then try to remain positive throughout the situation and focus on beautiful moments, like when you got married. Though the situation might put you on the edge, direct your attention to other relationships in your life, rather than trying to fix one that may not be salvageable. 

Kindly leave a comment below and share this article if you liked it.

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April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

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