What do you do when you hate your in-laws, but your partner doesn’t know?
This husband can’t stand his mother-in-law and wrote in for extra advice. This is a sticky situation where you hate your spouse’s parents, yet you can’t cut them out of your life. Many people struggle with the family issue. Read the Q&A about how to cope when you can’t stand your in-laws.
I can’t stand my mother-in-law. She is always judging everything I do. She doesn’t make comments in a mean tone, I always feel like she’s laughing at me and doesn’t think I’m good enough. I have been keeping this to myself for 9 years. I never tell my wife because she thinks we get along, but deep down inside I can stand my mother-in-law! How should I deal with this situation? It is getting to be too much!
You have been keeping these overwhelming feelings inside way too long. You have probably asked your self what you should do if you hate your in-laws and now fully stuck by the situation. By holding it all in, you will become a pressure cooker and at some point you’ll explode like a volcano. You may want to reconsider why you are holding so much in and release the pressure in a productive way. I know in-laws can be a touchy subject, but it sounds like you are making yourself miserable by holding your feelings inside. You should talk to your wife about the “drama-in-law.”
Understand Your Feelings
Since you have many years of built up resentments and frustrations, turning to your wife without fully understanding your own emotions may quickly wind up in an argument. Instead, write down all your struggles, anger, frustrations, hurt, and pain. This will allow you organize your thoughts and pick out your main points of pain. Present these points to your wife, so you can seem thoughtful and not as if you are attacking her. And better yet, maybe you may be reading into your in-law’s behaviors. Think twice.
Be Mindful, Yet Honest
Once you have figured out the main points, set up a time to sit your wife down and be honest with her. Start with sharing how you feel judged. Be mindful that no matter how hurtful her parents have been, they are still part of her family. Do NOT attack her parents or blame them. This will only lead to a road of destruction. Simply share how you feel to your wife so she can be supportive. Present your wife with some suggestions on how you two can handle the situation as a team.
Her mom may or may not be a safe person to address the issue with, so don’t start a conversation your mother-in-law just yet. You need to make sure your marriage is strongly connected first, and then you can decide your next course of action as a couple. Focus on how you can lean on one another during the time you interact with the family, and come up with a game plan for actions you can take if any of your parents are rude, not just your mother-in-law. If anything, having your wife understand your position will allow you to adjust your visits or create game plans on how to handle her mom. If you feel it’s safe, consider talking to your mother-in-law in a non-attacking manner. Perhaps she doesn’t realize how hurt you are and can work with you to change the dynamic of your relationship. Again, organize your thoughts before you meet, and address the issue with your wife by your side.
Remember if you hate your in-laws, your wife learned how to live with them her entire life. She probably knows all the tricks to survive them in this critical environment. Her family may or may not ever change how they are with you, so be prepared to accept the fact that you may need to learn how to put on your emotional armor and have your partner step up to block the blows. And for those who are going to be walking down the isle soon, read my article about how to prepare yourself for future drama-in-laws or mentally preparing yourself no matter how irritating the in-laws may be.
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About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653