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?
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.
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