The term: ‘Mothers Know Best’ should have its limits. Especially once their children have left the nest and started families of their own. Annoying mothers-in-law can spoil any marriage if couples aren’t careful enough to establish boundaries. Here, people share the times they had enough of their mother-in-law and set things straight.
All stories have been edited for clarity.
Tit For Tat
“We were at The Cliff House in San Francisco, my stepmother-in-law looked my husband dead in the eye and said, ‘Don’t get a vasectomy! Just because she will get too old to have children, doesn’t mean you won’t!’
There was a dead silence at the table. I could’ve knocked her through the glass windows onto the rocks below, at that moment. Her husband, my husband’s dad, instantly shrank in their chairs from embarrassment.
‘So are you saying that at some point he should trade me in for a younger model? One who can have children if I can’t?’ I inquired, seeing if she wanted a chance to redeem herself.
My stepmother-in-law stuttered a bit but didn’t even try to apologize for her inappropriate comment. Without another word, I got up, left the table, and went out to the car.
Well, later during the visit, I got her back.
We were at dinner after touring Wine Country.
My in-laws started regaling us with tales of their exciting trip through South America to Columbia. What a wonderful adventure that was.
After waiting for just the right moment, I looked at them and asked, ‘When did you guys go again?’
My stepmother-in-law cheerfully replied and that’s when I laid into her.
I leaned toward them across the table and said in a terse voice:
‘While you two were galavanting around South America, your son was sixteen years old, living on the streets, because his mother had kicked him out. He had nothing and nowhere to go. You never bothered to find out how or where he was.’
I bit the inside of my cheek so I wouldn’t laugh at my stepmother-in-law’s face. They knew it was true.
Shortly after they returned home from that trip to visit us, my husband’s father bought him a beautiful Ford F150 truck. It helped us a lot, because we had a fledgling construction company, and the new truck made him look successful to prospective new clients. Our business quickly picked up after that.
Later, his father reached out to my husband in some tender ways he had never done before, writing love letters to him. Some people have to be knocked upside the head to see the light.
No, I would never apologize for what I said. They are both deceased now.”
“When my ex and I divorced, he moved in with his parents. Our three kids would stay with him two days a week as part of the custody settlement. My ex-mother-in-law can be very manipulative. Instead of my ex looking after the kids during their visits, she was the one always taking over. My ex-father-in-law told me my ex acted more like their sibling than their dad, so that’s why my former mother-in-law felt the need to step in.
After a while, my oldest daughter would call me every time she went to her grandparents’ house because my ex’s mother expected them to clean the whole house while she didn’t lift a finger.
Despite this, their dad wouldn’t say anything against his mom because she is disabled. Even though she can work in the garden and perform other physical tasks she claimed she couldn’t clean the house on her own.
During one visit, I saw the inside of the house and saw there was crap lying around, everywhere. My children’s rooms were a disaster. I couldn’t believe the living conditions they were exposed to while they lived with their father. Their dad and his mother wouldn’t help my children because cleaning was ‘their job.’ The junk lying around was way too much for children to clean, but they would constantly yell at them to clean like they were molly-maids.
Then it was brought to light that my ex’s mother was talking poorly about my oldest daughter, who was about twelve at the time. She said things my daughter would never amount to anything and constantly called her fat, lazy, and useless to her face.
After countless phone calls from my oldest daughter crying and begging me to come get them from their grandmother, I had enough. When I went to pick up the kids, I told my ex-mother-in-law if I ever heard from any of the kids that she said anything to them, she would never see them again.
When I threatened this, she tried to deny ever saying anything or making my children clean. I told her to save it.
My ex-mother-in-law eased up for a few months. Then one day while I was out, my phone started blowing up. When I answered it, I was horrified to hear my daughter screaming on the other end.
‘You have to come get me out of here! I’m going to run away from this place!’
I asked her to slow down but my oldest daughter kept crying and said she was going to run away.
I raced like a bat out of hell back to my ex-mother-in-law’s house. When I got there, my daughter and son ran out of the house and grabbed me, sobbing as they begged me to take them home.
When I asked what happened, my oldest daughter explained my youngest daughter was trying to reach for a cup in the cabinet but couldn’t reach it. She asked for a stool to reach it, but their grandmother refused to get one, so she climbed on top of the counter instead.
Instead of asking her to be careful or to get down, or getting the cup for her, my ex-mother-in-law grabbed my youngest daughter by the neck and yanked her down. I was trembling as my oldest daughter cried telling me what happened.
My ex claimed he didn’t see it so didn’t intervene. Struggling to keep calm, I told my children to get in the car. At that moment, my ex-mother-in-law burst out of the house and screamed at me.
‘You’re a horrible mother raising a bunch of entitled brats! Those kids are all lazy, and useless!’
She stumbled down the stairs as she continued shouting at me in front of my kids.
‘Take the kids then! I don’t care! Get out of my house and never come back!
I was heartbroken to see her talking to my kids that way. I couldn’t even bring myself to speak to her because if I said something, I knew I would go to jail. My children needed me.
I turned around and got back in my car. Even after slamming the car door, my ex-mother -in-law’s voice could clearly be heard bad-mouthing her own grandkids.
As I started the car, I calmly looked in the backseat and told my kids, ‘Don’t worry about it.’
Then when I was backing out, I rolled down my window and told their grandmother, ‘I will be filing a police report and you’ll never see the kids again.’ And we did just that.
My ex then tried to take me to court claiming I was unfit and that his mom deserved to see them. However, after the incident, the court order stated my children couldn’t live with or visit their grandma’s house.
I kept my promise. My children haven’t seen their grandmother since that day!”
“My husband and I were staying with his mother while shopping for a house in another state. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law is very nosey and controlling.
Thinking back on this incident, I should have put a password on my cellphone, but at home, I didn’t think there was a need to.
At one point, I had suspicions that my mother-in-law was meddling in our relationship. There were times when I found her going through my things when she thought I was still in the shower. It was so infuriating because even after confronting her she kept doing it.
One day I was talking to one of my girlfriends and sent a text message about how I felt that said: ‘Now I know why her first daughter-in-law didn’t like her.’
I left my phone in the room to go to the restroom while my husband was at work. What I didn’t know was that my mother-in-law was going to snoop through my phone and read the message.
Once I left the restroom, my mother-in-law disappeared for the rest of the day. I later found out from my husband that she came to him crying about the message she technically wasn’t supposed to see, and shouldn’t have. Still, my husband expressed his anger toward me when he got home pretty.
Their argument was that they felt I had no right to say what I said while staying in her home. My mother-in-law demanded I apologize for what I said in the text.
She even refused to talk to me until I apologized.
I, however, did not feel the need to apologize and never did. I did feel sorry that her feelings were hurt, but I was not sorry for how she completely violated my privacy after I asked her several times not to. She got exactly what she deserved.
I am an adult and entitled to my opinions and feelings. I can say whatever I want to in a private conversation with my friends on my own phone that I pay for.
In the end, I ended up apologizing for hurting her feelings, but I never apologize for what I said and never will.”
Robbed of Motherhood
“My mother-in-law has never liked me. As soon as I gave birth to my first child, she not only disregarded me but treated my child as if it was hers!
My mother and law would not let me hold my own baby. She was feeding, bathing, changing, and putting my baby to sleep. It was like she was trying to rob me of my motherhood. She even moved the crib in her room!
Despite my cries, my husband would not show support because he was afraid of his own mother. When I questioned her, my mother-in-law declared that because I was a new mother, I did not possess the skills to properly look after the baby.
She continued robbing me of my motherhood for two weeks. I cried, sobbed, and felt extremely depressed because I couldn’t see my baby in my own home.
One day, I finally gathered the courage to put a stop to her selfish and overbearing behavior.
I packed a baby bag, walked into her room, and grabbed my baby from her despite her protests.
‘This is my baby.’ I said in a quivering voice. My whole body was shaking but I had never felt so sure of anything in my life. I then called my husband and told him he could live with his mom for as long as he wanted, but I was moving out and taking my baby with me.
My mother-in-law then had the audacity to tell me I was free to walk away, but I had to leave my baby. She was so toxic. She then said she only cared about my baby and could care less what happened to me because I was useless.
‘I’m leaving with my baby!’ I yelled at her. ‘If you try to take my baby I will call the cops.’
Thinking back on this story, I know there were tons of hormones raging. I was hurt because I had not held my baby all because of my mother-in-law. Seeing how serious I was, her face suddenly strained with worry. My mother-in-law warned me that if I walked out of the door with the baby, my husband would leave me.
Not caring, I walked out and kept walking. It was the best decision I ever made. My husband stayed with me and has supported me ever since. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, never apologized for her behavior.”
Why Can’t We Be Friends?
“My wife and I acquired an awesome mini-Goldendoodle puppy about a year ago. He’s funny, sweet and intelligent.
We brought him along on vacation last summer which included a visit to my mother-in-law and stepfather-in-law’s house.
These two in-laws are not animal lovers. At all. I asked my wife repeatedly if she was sure they her parents would be fine with us bringing the puppy. My wife insisted it wouldn’t be a problem.
The moment we got there was a different story.
My mother-in-law tried her best to tolerate the dog, but I quickly got tired of her shrill screams as she watched our dog wander around the living room. My mother-in-law obsessed over what the dog was doing or even what he might do.
Our puppy had a habit of standing on his hind legs to put his front paws on your waist to say ‘Hi’ and give hugs. The first time he did it to my mother-in-law, she acted like she needed smelling salts and a fainting couch even though it was clearly a sign of affection.
My stepfather-in-law was even worse.
He was snarly and rude and refused to even let the dog sniff him to get to know him. My father-in-law stomped around acting like we were such horrible people allowing our dog to chew up shoes, pee on the carpets, and steal food off the table. Our dog on the other hand was an angel and only wanted to show affection.
I dreaded being around my in-laws for the rest of the vacation. I tried my best to avoid being in the same room with them because I was terrified the puppy might do something they didn’t like and they would lose his mind. My father-in-law in particular would get angry if our puppy even wandered near him.
I sternly told my wife we were never bringing our dog back to my in-laws’ house again to endure their babyish behavior. She agreed.
Everything quickly escalated when I stupidly texted my wife’s sister. Any other time she was trustworthy in keeping our grievances private. This hadn’t been the first time there was friction between my in-laws and I.
But this time, my wife’s sister blabbed to my mother-in-law.
I was embarrassed but I told her honestly: ‘You’ve tried your best to accept the dog and I appreciate that, but you and your husband are genuinely making me uncomfortable and the dog hasn’t done a thing to him. I’m not bringing my dog back here and if it means I stay home while the rest of the family comes out, so be it.’
I would not apologize. I would not back down. I would not change my mind.”
All Bets In
“My father-in-law was the best, but my mother-in-law was a totally different story.
She adored her first daughter-in-law and would usually find a way to bring her up in conversations, in front of me.
I remained respectful regardless because I knew my husband loved and adored me. So it was okay that his mother was in her feelings most of the time.
That was until it simply became too much.
The deal breaker for me was when my mother-in-law casually announced how she bet our marriage wouldn’t last a year. This angered me, but I set her to the side and let it go to keep the peace. I decided the best way to do that was to distance myself from her. My husband being in the military helped as well and made things easy for me.
I told my husband I would never go back but he could, whenever and however long. I made sure to remain cordial whenever his mom and dad would call to check in, but I had nothing to say to her.
Things don’t always have to be confrontational, but I say taking your own personal stand in a dignified manner and never making your spouse choose a side can go a long way. It was my refusal to fall for her antics that put her in her place.
Now my husband and I have since celebrated thirty-five years of marriage and look forward to many years to come.”
“I’m an introvert from a small family. We had our own rooms growing up and both my parents allowed believed strongly in our privacy.
After my husband and I were married, we moved into a brand new home of our own. My in-laws visited and stayed over almost weekly. I didn’t mind at all. There were all sorts of DIY projects and many hands made light work while my mother-in-law cooked us some awesome meals. On some days, I had to go back to work while the in-laws stayed on.
One fine day, I came home from work and found my five-year-old niece wearing a ring that was given to me by a dear friend. It was not expensive because it was just a souvenir, but I had a thunder-struck look on my face.
It dawned on me that my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece had been in my room and gone through my things!
My mother-in-law welcomed me home and told me they folded my laundry and went in our room to stow it all into my cupboard. While they did this, they took the opportunity to reorganize my things so that it would be ‘neater.’
My mother-in-law then shared how she found the ring and gave it to my niece because she liked it. I think the look on my face said it all. My mother-in-law went back to the kitchen to finish cooking dinner while I struggled with this invasion of my precious privacy.
Even my mother had not seen the inside of my cupboard!
I went upstairs and found my husband, looking mortified. He knew how touchy I am about my stuff and immediately consoled me. I showed him how I felt about this ‘reorganization exercise’ by throwing around the folded clothes and knickknacks.
They did a wonderful job, but I felt so violated. I just shook out the neatly folded t-shirts, skirts, shirts and shorts and stuffed them all back. Then I locked myself in the bathroom for a cool shower to cool off.
As I was drying off, I heard my husband bring his sister into our room to show her my ‘handiwork.’ I heard her gasp in shock. My husband then explained why nobody touches my stuff – ever.
It never happened again. No harsh words were said, but there was no apology from me.”
What Am I Here For?!
“During our first year of marriage, my husband had to have surgery to remove a HUGE lump on his upper thigh. The doctors removed some muscle and skin which resulted in him being in extreme pain for the weeks that followed.
During a visit, my mother-in-law dropped off his teenage sister for the weekend to help us out. She said her son needed to be taken care of and pointed out other things that needed to be done around the house.
I had a lot on my plate, and with my lupus, it was hard on me. I was silent as my mother-in-law continued her rant with my husband, who was bedridden as he healed. I was normally outspoken, but being around my mother-in-law drained my energy and confidence because of her constant nagging.
Then she explained that the reason my sister-in-law was there was because we needed help. As she spoke, she continued criticizing my ability to take care of my husband until suddenly her exact words were, ‘Son, you can come stay with me and I’ll take care of you, instead.’
This made something snap inside of me. I never cuss at people, but I was filled with so much rage I couldn’t help myself.
‘What the hell am I for, then?’ I stormed out of the house and got in the car. We were getting ready to go to the doctor so it was the perfect exit.
After that, my mother-in-law never brought it up again. She magically understood her boundaries and only came over and helped whenever she was asked.
But, I will never apologize for defending my position as his wife.”
No Means No
“After our son was born, we quickly realized we needed to move into a bigger house. We were living in a two-bedroom house, so with the new addition to our family, we found ourselves suddenly in the market for a three-bedroom house.
When my mother-in-law found out we were looking for somewhere bigger, she expressed that she wanted us to get a four-bedroom home instead so she could move in.
Now the issue wasn’t only that she wanted to move in and invade our privacy. My mother-in-law wanted to move in and demanded we get rid of our dog as well.
We had an Akita that was like family to us. Hearing her say this angered me because not only was it ridiculous, but it wasn’t the first time she voiced her displeasure about having a dog.
Frustrated, I told my mother-in-law that getting rid of our dog simply wasn’t an option. We were going to purchase a three-bedroom home and she wasn’t moving in with us whether she liked it or not.
My mother-in-law became visibly upset with me and stormed away. I do love her, but we did have a rocky start because we both have strong personalities, We’ve clashed on more than one occasion throughout the course of the eleven years I’ve been with my partner. Despite our differences, I have much respect for my mother-in-law setting aside her friction when she interacts with my daughter from a previous marriage.”
You Don’t Say?
“One thing I learned early on about my mother-in-law, was that she was extremely manipulative. She always criticized my husband and I for mundane things. It drove me absolutely nuts!
Shortly after we began dating, my mother-in-law would find excuses to call me. It was pretty obvious she was trying to scope me out, and if possible, run me off. Despite this, I could hold my own with her.
At some point, my mother-in-law would start putting her son down. She would raise her voice and say extremely negative things about him that I knew were untrue. My mother-in-law would ramble on and on without even waiting for a response from me.
Rather than argue with her or feed into her negativity, I remained silent. The last time I did this, my silence became uncomfortable for her. Seeing that I wasn’t going to budge, my mother-in-law changed the subject before abruptly ending the call.
If I had argued with her, my mother-in-law would have considered it disrespectful and confrontational. Then she would have complained that I was not worth her son’s time. She was baiting me, and I not only wasn’t taking it, but I was teaching her that stuff wouldn’t fly with me. After the last time, she never tried it again. Over time, my mother-in-law grew to grudgingly tolerate and respect me.”