17 Jan
The Inappropriate Mother-in-Law

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

To make a long story short, my mother-in-law has long history of ignoring personal boundaries. On multiple occasions she has tried to convert her son and me to her religion, told us to lose weight, and “diagnosed” us with new diseases. (Note: she has no formal medical training and our family doctors say we’re healthy.)

Due to this, we are understandably limiting contact with her. When we do see her, she will sometimes take hugs and kisses by cornering us and not taking no for an answer. I’ve literally been kissed (on the cheek) by this woman while backing away and saying, “no.”

Would it be okay for me to refuse to visit her? Is there any way to get a creepy person like this to *listen* to us?


Kissed Off


Dear Kissed Off ,

Ah, the joys of the in-law relationship! I know very few people who find it easy to navigate, and I firmly believe that daughters-in-law get it *way* worse than sons-in-law. It’s like we are conditioned to be polite and take whatever our husbands’ mothers dish out. Fuck that noise! Your MIL sounds like a real peach. But, still, she raised your husband and you loved him enough to marry him, so she had to have done something right.

From your letter, it sounds like you and the hubs are on the same page, and that she’s driving you both nuts with her intrusions. So, why hasn’t he stepped up and dealt with it? The first line of defense is having your husband talk to her and lay down the law. He needs to tell her to mind her own business about your religion and keep her fat yap shut about your weight. Those two boundary-busters are the major offenses in my book. If he says he won’t do that, then you will need to do it yourself. As for the “diagnoses,” I would let that go. Make it something you and your husband laugh about. Or, make a game of it, and before visits, research obscure diseases, tell her you have the symptoms, and then see if she gets it right! Alternatively, anytime she starts telling you have this disease or the other, look at your husband, raise your glass, and say, “Drink!” I’m not sure I understand what is so awful about getting a hug and kiss on the cheek from her. If she was slipping you the tongue and copping a feel, it would be a different story, but if you are really bothered by her show of affection, the next time she comes in for the kill, tell her you have a cold.

Karen, TMH

15 Responses to “The Inappropriate Mother-in-Law”


Comment by Kelly.

Great advice. Your MIL sounds like a handful. Have you ever tried responding in a neutral tone with something like, “Hmmm…you might be right about that…” and then change the subject? People can’t argue back against that response and you can use the break in conversation to redirect them…It works with my MIL, whom I normally would complain about, but will now count my blessings. She doesn’t kiss me!


Comment by bitsy.

My step-MIL told me that the electric blanket that I got for Christmas was going to dry out my skin and give me cancer. She’s so fun! There is only one thing worse than an awful MIL and that’s the step-mother-in-law.

rojopaul Reply:

I have to say, I have an awesome step-mother-in-law. My MIL passed away 10 years ago this year and while I do miss her and regret that my youngest has no memories of her own, she was hard to keep up with. The step-MIL is THE BEST. More like a friend than my MIL, who I felt judged me more.

bitsy Reply:

I’m lucky the real MIL is really wonderful. I love her like my own mom.

Kelly Reply:

She sounds like so much FUN!!! I assume you are getting her an electric blanket for the next three Christmases and working on your clueless, don’t-remember-that-conversation face!?!?

bitsy Reply:

Ooh! Good idea!


Comment by Ginnie.

Go here. Read. Soak it in. These women are brilliant.


Karen Reply:

Yikes! Those women scare me. One of them isn’t speaking to the mother-in-law because the MIL called the hospital while she was in labor. That’s right. She didn’t show up there, she merely called. Apparently, that went against the rules the couple set out for everybody ahead of time. Fucking insane.


Comment by Bonnie B..

When I went back to work part-time after my first was born, my mother-in-law put her arm around me and consoled me by saying “It must be so hard being a part-time mother.” Ishityounot.

Karen Reply:

Nice! It’s like they all read a book called “How To Win Imaginary Points and Alienate Your Son and His Family.”


Comment by sonirox.

I have spent years and many, many dollars trying to figure out how to explain boundaries to my OWN parents!! Short story – it doesn’t work. They are who they are and I have learned how to cope and how to keep their over-steps from upsetting me, which is all that I have control over. Remember this: it IS okay to continue trying to gently remind her of your boundaries. And as far as the touch-feely part, I think it is very important to set limits! Our bodies are our own, not others to grab or kiss when it suits them, whether we be male or female. That was one hard line I drew with my own parents – my husband does not like to be hugged. It took a lot of reminding but they don’t even try any more and you know what? It’s okay!!


Comment by Help! My Mother-in-Law Thinks Kids Should Act Like Mini Adults | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] Relationships with in-laws can get complicated. You mention that you and your husband are on the same page but isn’t it time for him to stand up to his mother? I understand she’s old and means well but what exactly does she expect your kids to do at her house? Play mahjong?! (Although I think that’s what Marinka’s kids do.) […]


Comment by Just A Small Town Girl, Living In A Lonely World | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] you don’t have to be in each other’s daily lives. For the most part, when it comes to problems with in-laws, I firmly believe that if it’s your mother/sister/brother causing the problem, then you need […]


Comment by conestadistica.com.

Hi there, just wanted to say, I liked this post. It was funny. Keep on posting!


Comment by My Bossy Sister-in-Law is Getting On My Last Nerve | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] I’ve actually given this advice before. If you cave, and have them over to your house, every time your SIL does one of her […]

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