Have you just got married and realized that your mother in law is very difficult to cope with? Or have you been married for a while and have always had a troubled relationship with your husband’s mother?
Of all the familial relationships, the one that people have with their in-laws is perhaps always going to be the hardest. In particular, a mother in law can be very hard to get on with if she is narcissistic. Narcissistic parents are never easy to strike up a good relationship with, but the mother in law dynamic can make it extra specially hard.
Here, we look at a narcissistic mother in law in particular and how to make sure your dealings with her in the future are as easy as possible. Many of the ways we mention can also be used as a way to cope with narcissist parents as well.
Table of Contents
First, however, we look at the signs of a narcissistic mother in law. Many of these signs will be the same for narcissistic parents in general, but these signals will often be heightened when dealing with a mother in law. This is due to the relationship dynamic between her mother and her son, which then gets threatened when they marry.
A narcissistic person will often be very competitive and always likes to win things regardless of what they are. Even though it can be the smallest of argument or debate, a person with a narcissistic personality disorder will always want to make sure that their point of view is the one that wins. When this comes to playing any type of physical game, the narcissist will always want to win as well. This can be hard to cope with but be assured that being overly competitive is something that many people deal with within any relationship.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things to deal with when it comes to a narcissistic mother in law and yet is a key sign that she is a narcissist is that she never offers to help. The reason that this is a sign of this type of personality disorder is that they are too self-involved to realize that people may need help with things. Sadly, it can be the case that they never offered to help with the smallest of things around the house if they’re staying with you or even offering to help with bigger things like looking after children or helping you through a difficult time of your life.
Due to their overly competitive ways, one thing that a narcissist in a family will always do is put other family members down. This may well include you and in fact, no one is ever safe from a narcissist's acerbic words. With the in-laws, this can be very difficult to see as the relationship dynamic stops us from telling them that their words are hurtful. However, when it comes to in-laws if they are putting down other close relatives, remember that every family has complicated relationships within it.
Another key sign of a narcissist is the person repeating the same stories over and over again. The reason that this is a sign of narcissistic behavior, particularly within in-laws, is because it shows a lack of self-awareness. They do not realize that they have told a story over and over again to anyone. When it comes to family you are more likely to see them often, which is why you are more at risk of hearing the same stories a lot. It can be extremely tiresome, so try to think of ways to only listen with one ear.
A particularly difficult trait to deal with when it comes to narcissistic in-laws is how they like to control all situations and feel like they are in charge. This can be very draining on anyone’s self-esteem as it can make you doubt your own abilities. However, while they might want to look like they are in charge, remember that this need to be in control boils down to a lack of self-confidence.
Here, we look at ways that you can help yourself prepare for seeing and interacting with your mother in law or any in-laws that may display narcissistic tendencies.
Perhaps the hardest thing to do, with a person who is so self-involved like a narcissist, is to have patience. It may also sound too obvious and also something that you have tried before to help your situation. That being said it doesn’t hurt trying to extend your patience even further with the person who did raise the one you fell in love with. If you couple patience with a few other strategies below, you may find that your relationship with your in-laws improves behind all measures.
Of course, it can be difficult to cope with a person who is consistently rude due to their narcissistic ways. In any other scenario, you most likely would never arrange to see them again. It obviously cannot happen with your in-laws. Therefore to help cope with situations where you find it stressful being around them, plan with your partner, a way to remove yourself from situations before they get too much for you. This could mean you can have a signal to indicate that you need to go because you’ve had enough. Or it could be a plan in advance to leave at a certain time so that you know you have an endpoint to work towards.
It sounds a bit counterintuitive to ask a narcissist about themselves, but it can be a fantastic tool to help deal with their idiosyncrasies which can be so difficult to cope with. If you ask them about themselves you’re actually taking control of the situation and leading the conversation where you want it to go. Additionally, narcissists love to talk about themselves and will appreciate the person who gives them such an opportunity.
If one of your biggest bugbears with the narcissist in your life is that they never offer to help, just ask them directly to do something for you. Often a narcissist is too self-involved to realize that you have problems that you need support with in the first place. Tell them therefore how they can help you and they may surprise you with how willing they are to give you that much-needed support - however, you need it.
Perhaps the most obvious idea that a person overlooks when coping with a narcissistic mother in law is to talk to their partner. The reason that this can be so helpful and a key way to cope with this issue is that they know their mother so well and are most likely very aware of their flaws. The reality is they would say something in agreement with you about how irritating the narcissistic behavior can be. Sometimes just knowing that someone agrees with you is helpful enough.
A good way to cope with a troublesome and narcissistic mother in law is to give them responsibilities. This can materially improve relations with them as it means that they know you rely on them and respect them. They like to feel needed, wanted, and loved. If they, therefore, know that you need them to help in some way, they may start concentrating on the responsibilities you give them as opposed to simply displaying narcissistic behavior instead.
Just because a person is a narcissist doesn’t mean that they don’t find that their feelings get hurt from time to time. Plus, it is so often the case with personality disorders that something in a person’s past has caused them to be that way. If you show them empathy and sensitivity as to what has happened in their past, you may find that you at least start to build a better rapport with them which can help your relationship in the future.
As a narcissist loves to talk about themselves and is always looking for any excuse to do so, it can be very helpful to ask them their opinion on things. As said before, they will like to feel needed or wanted and will love to talk about their experience. Plus, you may even find it helpful to see something from their point of view, which can help you feel more familiar with them too.
When you are calling on their experience, as well as trying to be more sensitive to a person’s background, you are building up a picture of them that you may not have seen on initial face value. When you have a better idea of that picture, it can be good to try to understand it a lot better than you did before. That understanding can help you have a much bigger amount of patience with them when they inevitably display self-involved behavior that you find so frustrating.
It can be very hard to deal with a narcissistic mother in law. This relationship is never an easy one as you never want to put your partner in an awkward situation of being in the middle of you. Try to have patience and realize that there are other relationships in your life that are important too.
Dealing with a narcissistic mother in law is tough, but it can be done. You need to find your own way of coping as well as addressing the issues that cause it in the first place. Look at our list of ideas above for suggestions that can proactively improve your relationship with her.
A narcissistic mother is very similar to a narcissistic mother in law. They will talk about themselves a lot and put you or your other family members down in front of anyone and everyone - perhaps even more so if there is a crowd.
The relationship between a mother in law and a daughter in law or son in law is a tricky one to navigate. Living with them makes it more difficult as it means that neither party has a time out and it also puts a lot of strain on the husband or wife.
You need to find a way to be firm if you find your mother in law to be controlling. Be diplomatic and tactful, but also be as direct or blunt as possible to ensure that they get the right idea about how you should be spoken to.
There is no denying that a relationship with a narcissistic mother in law is very difficult. It can be trying, draining, and extremely frustrating. What’s worse is that you will naturally not want to put your partner in the middle of any tensions between you - but it can be hard not to at times, especially if her self involved behavior steps over the line at points.
This is obviously, however, not a relationship that is going to go anywhere. Your mother in law will be in your life for as long as you are married to her offspring. To that end, it can be good to tackle her behavior head-on and take a proactive stance in dealing with it. As such, trying to display a little more patience and understanding with her will often go a long way. Additionally, if you tie in making them feel important, you may find that your dynamic improves and her usual narcissist traits don’t irritate you as much.