A toxic person is someone who has a negative attitude towards you and hurts you mentally or physically. For example, in your life, if your mother-in-law is inconsiderate of your feelings and often makes unwarranted rude remarks, then probably she is toxic to you.
It is tricky to deal with a toxic mother-in-law as you are not sure if you should put up with her demeaning behavior or keep a distance from her. Sometimes, some aspects of her past could be the reason for her negative behavior. But if you are determined, you can resolve the problems and get along with your mother-in-law.
If you are not sure of how to handle the situation, read this post to know some signs of a toxic mother-in-law, and explore ways to tackle the situation.
27 Signs Of A Toxic Mother-In-Law
Life becomes smooth and easy when you get along with your mother-in-law. But, at times, she could be challenging to deal with. Read these signs to know if your mother-in-law is toxic or it is your assumption.
1. She is too involved in your married life
A toxic mother-in-law seeks ways to create trouble in your married life. Does she get involved in your family by giving you unsolicited advice, such as what career path to follow, where to live, and when to start a family? It shows she wants to be actively involved in every decision you make as a couple.
2. She is always around you and your partner
Eavesdropping is one of the signs of a toxic mother-in-law. She will somehow be around you, so she can get free news about what you are up to or how your relationship with your spouse is going. She is nosy and enjoys getting secret access to the tidbits of your life.
3. She is too critical of you
A negative mother-in-law will look for ways to put you down, and so she may judge your choices and everything you do. For example, she might not like your style, accent, the way you eat, or the way you talk to strangers. Nothing about you pleases her, so she could dislike you.
4. She speaks ill of you
A toxic mother-in-law may have something wrong to say about you. She makes no bones about her feelings towards you and complains about everything you do. Speaking ill of you behind your back reflects her attitude towards you.
5. She argues to win
There is no use trying to reason out when she fights only to have the last word. No matter what you say or do, she shows that she is right. She might not admit her mistake even if it is clear to everyone, including herself.
6. She snubs you most of the time
To make you feel unimportant, a toxic mother-in-law may ignore you most of the time. She may not consider you when planning for the family, and she may even ignore your suggestions, even if they are good.
7. She wants you to comply with her wishes
To be on good terms with you, she may expect you to be docile and submissive. She may want you to adopt her lifestyle and follow her orders. And when you refuse to do so, you become a bad daughter-in-law in her eyes.
8. She refuses to give you personal space
You may have a separate house with your spouse and children, but your mother-in-law doesn’t like it. She may arrive at your house anytime she pleases and leaves whenever she feels like it. She may even comment on your lifestyle and point out flaws in maintaining your house and caring for your family.
9. She offers unwanted advice
Giving advice is one of the best ways for a toxic mother-in-law to prove her superiority over you. She offers her unsought pearls of supposed wisdom for everything under the sun. She may tell you how to keep the house spick and span, how to tutor children at home, and even how to keep your spouse happy. She tries to highlight your inefficiencies and show off her multi-tasking skills.
10. She gifts expensive gifts to your family
Does she try to beat you in every way possible, including the gifting department? She may spoil your spouse and children with expensive gifts. It is one of the ways to ensure that your family loves her and feels that she is more thoughtful than you.
11. She gets you gifts, with conditions applied
When a toxic mother-in-law buys something for you, she wants you to praise her choice and use it the way she wants you to. For instance, she buys you a set of wine glasses, and the next time there is a party at your house, she may expect you to use those glasses for your guest and tell them that it was her gift.
12. She likes to bring up the past
Perhaps you found it difficult to get along with your spouse’s family and made some mistakes when trying to adjust. You might have forgotten your mistakes, but your toxic mother-in-law may remind you of your sloppy first days. She could joke about your nervousness or bring up any of your embarrassing incidents.
13. She sabotages your image
This may not be easy to detect, especially if your mother-in-law acts friendly to you. She may make you do stuff knowing how badly you might fail at it. For instance, she may ask you to make apple pie for your child and then manipulate your child, saying it is not tasty and she could do better.
14. She remains unimpressed by you
No matter what you do or how hard you try, she may find faults and seldom be impressed by what you do for her or others.
15. She acts differently in front of your spouse
What may seem like a dual personality to you could be your toxic mother-in-law acting differently with you in front of your spouse. Around your spouse, she may be cordial and amiable, but the moment they turn their back, she could give you the cold shoulder.
16. She plays the victim card
A toxic mother-in-law may be mean and rude to you, but she becomes the victim when you protest. How does that happen? Well, while narrating a certain incident, she may change her tone and demeanor in such a way that the listener feels that you are the one who hurt her while she was right in doing whatever she did.
17. She plays manipulative games
Playing mental games may come easily to a toxic mother-in-law. She may give you backhanded compliments, dish out sarcastic remarks, guilt-trip you for something you did accidentally, and blame you for anything that goes wrong in her child’s life. And she does it in a way that will earn her the sympathy of her family and your spouse.
18. She is self-centered and controlling
She wants everything to be about her, and that makes her behavior toxic. She wants to be the decision-maker for her children. She does not approve of you and will try to break your relationship only so she can choose the supposed right person for her child.
19. She tries to turn people against you
If, at any point, a toxic mother-in-law feels that your presence in her family threatens her place, she may try to tarnish your image. She may try to turn her family and friends against you by either exaggerating instances or even lying about you.
20. She makes you feel uninvited during family gatherings
Often, she is likely to ‘forget’ to invite you. Even if she remembers, she may do it at the last minute, so you have no time to prepare for the gathering. When with guests, she may talk to everyone but you and may even enjoy teasing you in front of them. She makes you so uncomfortable that you regret coming to the gathering.
21. She mocks your family
If you are from a humble background and your mother-in-law is toxic, then she may use it to mock you. She may disrespect your family and also ensures that your children are granted more time with her than your family.
22. She compares you with other daughters-in-law
If your toxic mother-in-law does not like you, she may constantly compare you with the daughters-in-law of her friends. She may complain of how her friends are lucky, while she fell short on luck. If that isn’t enough, she may even compare you to your spouse’s ex and sigh about the lost opportunity at a good marriage.
23. She holds grudges and seeks revenge
You may accidentally do something that might annoy her. One wrong move from you, and she will find all kinds of ways to spite and insult you. She may keep doing it until she feels vindicated. And only then, she may try to forgive you.
24. She keeps changing her behavior with you
It does not matter if you are in the company of others or alone with your mother-in-law. She changes her behavior around you constantly, making her highly unpredictable. The joke she laughed at yesterday becomes insulting today. You may feel you are walking on eggshells when you are around her because you don’t know how she might react.
25. She seldom apologizes
Firstly, there is no way a toxic mother-in-law apologizes to you. And even if she does, she may do it in such a way that it makes you feel bad. She may say something similar to ‘If you felt insulted, then I will apologize’ or ‘I’m sorry I was only ensuring that my child gets the best.’
26. She harbors jealousy for you
She may not admit this openly, but deep down, a toxic mother-in-law is jealous of you, and it is her envy that provokes her nasty behavior towards you. She may downplay your achievements and success because she feels insecure about you.
27. She does not mend her ways
If she misbehaves with everyone, then there is hardly any hope for her to change herself. Her toxic behavior is probably deep-rooted, and she may not change for you.
How To Deal With A Toxic Mother-In-Law?
If you feel your mother-in-law exhibits all or most of the traits listed above, then know that she is a toxic person. And if you wish to be easy and want your relationship with her to go smoothly, then here are some ways you may try.
1. Identify the reason behind her behavior
There is no justification for toxicity, but when you find out why your mother-in-law is negative towards you, it makes it easy to understand her and go forward. It may also help you predict her reaction to specific instances, so you can avoid ugly confrontations.
2. Show her how happy her child is with you
Tell her what your spouse has been up to and how you have been supporting them. If she feels that her child has a good partner, she may not bother you too much and be happy with her child’s happiness.
3. Avoid trying too hard
You may be a friendly person, but winning over your mother-in-law may seem difficult even for you. After trying hard, if she won’t budge, then let it go. Do not try too hard to impress her, as trying too hard may only annoy her more. And sometimes, time is the only solution.
4. Detach yourself from the negativity
In many cases, the negative behavior of a person has less to do with you and more to do with the person themselves. So, do not bother yourself too much about your mother-in-law’s bad attitude towards you. Also, it doesn’t mean you act the same way. Try to have a positive approach towards her.
5. Avoid reacting to her
Most of the time, toxic people behave the way they do, only to get a reaction from you. Perhaps your toxic mother-in-law also thrives on reaction. So, try not to react to her. If she passes a snide remark, do not retort. Do not react in any way that can give her a chance to call you out in front of others.
6. Defend but don’t attack
When you feel that matters are getting out of hand, you can be vocal about how you feel. Talk to her as calmly as possible and make her understand your feelings. She may or may not understand you. Whatever happens, do not seek revenge. After all, she is your family.
7. Note and avoid trigger points
After spending some time with your mother-in-law, look for triggers that evoke sharp remarks or rude comments from her. When you know how she behaves in certain scenarios, avoid it as much as possible.
8. Put some distance between her and you
When someone makes you unhappy, it is best to stay away. You may not completely avoid your mother-in-law, but try to avoid being in her company. It is okay to skip a family gathering that is not too important or an occasional family dinner when you know you cannot take on any negative energy from her.
9. Seek help from your partner
If you think you cannot handle the negativity, try talking to your spouse. Make them aware of the situation and seek their help. But do not turn them against their mother. Doing so will only create discord between your partner and you.
10. Forgive her
Lastly, forgive your mother-in-law for all the wrong that she has done to you. Do it not for her but for your peace of mind. There is no point in having a war with your relative as you will lose either way. So, you should let it go and not take her bad behavior to heart.
There is always a reason why some people turn negative in life. Your mother-in-law may have also experienced something in life that has made her a toxic person. Some experiences may have led to her insecurity, and perhaps she is projecting it on you. So, do not dismiss her as a bad person. But also, do not compromise on your self-respect.
The best you can do in a toxic situation is to avoid her as much as you can. Stay away from her, so there is no exchange of hurtful words and equally painful responses.