How Mothers-In-Law Ruin Marriages? 7 Ways & How To Deal With Them!

How Mothers-In-Law Ruin Marriages

Marriage is considered to be a life-long journey between two people. Hypothetically. In reality, the family also takes up a major emotional share in your relationship, especially your mother-in-law, who can often see their son’s partner as a threat to them. When you’re wondering how mothers-in-law ruin marriages, you don’t have to wonder for long. You might have seen some examples around you or be a personal victim of how a mother-in-law can ruin your marriage. No matter the situation, we’re here to help you understand the subtle ways mothers-in-law do so and how you can deal with each one of them. 

#1 She Doesn’t Respect Boundaries Of Your Marriage

The first way how mothers-in-law ruin marriages is by getting involved too much in their marriage. They want to know everything – from where you two went out to eat last night to how you divide household duties to who will stay more at home when the children are born. It’s one thing to be interested in your son and daughter-in-law’s life, but a completely another thing to pry into someone else’s business and try to manipulate their decision. 

This can also lead to some unwanted discussions between the couple fueled by a third party, which sometimes they aren’t ready to have just yet! These types of mother-in-law also come to visit unannounced especially if she lives closer. It’s nice to have family members come and visit, but it’s not fun when it happens all the time. Plus, you should feel comfortable in your home, which becomes hard when you have to entertain your mother-in-law all the time. 

How To Deal With It?

The only right way to deal with your mother-in-law interfering too much in your marriage is to have a talk with her and let her know what you feel comfortable asking about and what she isn’t supposed to ask about your marriage. Before speaking to her, you should also let your husband know of the problem because sometimes MILs can go behind your back and tell your husband about the discussion with twisted words. It’s important that your husband also takes a stand for your marriage at this time. Do empathize with her though as this will help the conversation flow in a smooth direction. If she starts meddling again, tell her you appreciate the interest but there are some boundaries that need to be respected and maintained at all times. 

#2 She Gives You Unsolicited Advice 

How Mothers-In-Law Ruin Marriages

How mothers-in-law ruin marriages you ask? It’s by giving unsolicited advice on every small and big thing ever! It seems like when it comes to their daughter-in-law’s life they have an opinion about everything and they will not shy away from speaking about any of them. From professional life to how to manage the house to when to have babies and (worst!) how to keep their son happy, they feel compelled to share how to do things the right way apparently. Not discounting the fact that they can have great suggestions as they have to lead a full life, but these unsolicited opinions can feel too much at times, especially if what she says is in a condescending tone. 

Unsolicited advice and criticism can make a daughter-in-law doubt her decisions and constantly question herself. It can also cause resentment in the relationship as the couple begins to hit a rough emotional patch. In some cases, this over-involvement can actually cause the mother-in-law to become the reason for divorce. 

How To Deal With It?

You should stop this unsolicited advice as soon as possible before it starts affecting your relationship to a point where you feel getting out of it will require a lot of work. Start setting boundaries and let your mother-in-law know what type of advice you are comfortable receiving. Let her know that you appreciate her concern, but that you would prefer to make your own decisions. It’s also okay to assert yourself and say “no” to advice that you don’t want or need. Be firm but respectful in your communication. You might need to have several discussions before an actual effort is made by her, but all of them will be worth it in the end. If the situation becomes difficult, seek support from your spouse, friends, or a therapist. Having a support system can help you feel more confident in handling the situation.

#3 She Forces Her Son To Choose Sides 

Another way how mothers-in-law ruin marriages is by forcing their sons to choose sides on matters involving you and them. It can be small matters like let’s say where to go for a family vacation or important decisions like something related to your child’s education or any other important aspect of your child’s life. Nonetheless, this situation can become stressful for your partner as he may feel torn between his loyalty to his wife and his love and obligation to his mother, which can also affect your marriage. 

In such a scenario, it’s important to remember that your partner is also struggling, and making it all about yourself can amp up the negative effects on your relationship. You both should be aware that the problem is external and not internal, and the solution will also come when someone (aka your mother-in-law) other than you two changes their behavioral pattern.  

How To Deal With It?

When it comes to dealing with the issue where your mother-in-law forces your son to choose sides, it makes sense if your partner has a discussion with her. He can tell her how distressful it becomes for him to choose sides frequently and why it will be best for everyone involved if she becomes more accepting of her daughter-in-law’s opinions and choices. This conversation will take some time to come to a fruitful conclusion because stating the problem itself can make your MIL feel her son is choosing your side. Although, with patience, she will understand it’s just better to not get involved in your marriage too much and it’s best that you two solve some matters on your own. Side-by-side, you can also try to comfort her so she will able to make this transition easily and quickly. 

#4 She Is Jealous Of You

There are many reasons why a mother-in-law can be jealous of her daughter-in-law like feeling replaced in her son’s life or worried about she would have to compete for her son’s attention. No matter the reason, it’s not right if she projects this jealousy badly toward her daughter-in-law. Some of the ways include criticism of your life choices, personality, or looks, but it can also manifest in other parts of your life like how you manage the family and your parenting style. To get her son’s attention and approval, she can also try to sabotage your marriage and talk behind your back so as to gain sympathy from your husband and other family members as well. 

The mother-in-law can also project her jealousy by interfering in the couple’s household decisions and might even show up uninvited to portray that she wants to help you with something when you clearly had it all together on your own. This type of jealousy can cause a great deal of stress and emotional distress

How To Deal With It?

Honestly, the least dangerous way how mothers-in-law ruin marriages is this one. Jealousy is something that’s normal and we often experience it. Obviously, it all comes down to how you handle the situation though, and how you treat the person you feel jealous of! If you feel your mother-in-law is jealous of you, start by having an open and honest conversation with her. Be empathetic of her situation and try to understand her side of the story as well. You can also offer to help her get over the jealousy by scheduling to spend some quality time and letting her know that she matters just as much. If she is in denial of her jealousy though, you can ask your partner to step into the situation. His love and approval are what she is seeking after all! 

#5 They Don’t Value Your Opinion

How Mothers-In-Law Ruin Marriages

Many mothers-in-law just don’t want to give their son’s partner enough attention and value in the family. All they care about is their mother-son relationship and want to protect it without even considering there’s another person in the family whose values and opinions need to be heard and respected. Sometimes, this can be direct and sometimes the belittling of opinions can come as indirect taunts and subtle negative remarks. An example of such a scenario can be when the daughter-in-law suggests that she and her husband should spend the holidays with her family this year, as they have not seen them in a while. The mother-in-law insists that they spend the holidays with her, as they always do, and dismisses the daughter-in-law’s suggestions and feelings. These behavior patterns can make you question your worth and make you feel that your opinions don’t matter. 

How To Deal With It?

Not all ways in how mothers-in-law ruin marriages are quite direct, some are subtle and can happen in everyday life. This can be one of them. The first thing to remember in this scenario is that you matter and your opinions matter. Don’t let her get to you. You can seek support from your trusted friends or family, or seek a therapist so your self-worth remains intact even through the family drama. 

Next, you need to communicate with your mother-in-law and find some common ground. When she belittles your opinion, you should stand up for yourself and be assertive. Be calm and polite though and tell her why what you’re saying also makes sense. If things go out of hand, you can take the conversation private and have a one-on-one discussion of how you’re feeling and how to manage this situation going forward. 

#6 They Try To Emotionally Manipulate To Get Their Own Way

Emotional manipulation is a toxic way how mothers-in-law ruin marriages. This can especially be true when they are not happy in their lives or are generally alone, like say your partners’ parents are divorced and she is having a rough time dealing with the loneliness. It could also be a pattern she is using to get her way since her children are young. Whatever it may be, it can be an emotionally draining experience for you and your partner, as all the decisions you make in your lives face the challenge of getting through her. It can especially be difficult for your partner as he would always feel like he is letting her parents down and not able to meet your expectations as well. Dealing with an emotionally manipulative parent is not easy, but it’s also important he sees the manipulation and is ready to take steps to fix it. 

How To Deal With It?

When it comes to your mother-in-law trying to emotionally manipulate your partner or your life decisions, the best way to deal with the situation is to talk about it to your partner and let him see what’s happening and how it’s affecting your marital life. You can also choose to have direct and honest conversations with the mother-in-law, explaining how her behavior makes you feel and setting clear expectations and boundaries for future events. However, this can be tricky if she has been using emotional manipulation on her children for a long time. In this case, giving your partner support, helping him see things clearly, and asking him to take a stand for your marriage can work best. 

It’s important to remember that emotional manipulation is not acceptable behavior, and both you and your partner have a right to protect yourself and your relationship. By taking a firm and assertive stance, you will be able to improve the dynamic between you and your mother-in-law and create a healthier and more positive relationship for everyone involved.

#7 They Tell You How To Treat Their Son

This is a significant way how mothers-in-law ruin marriages. The worst part about your MIL telling you how to treat your spouse is that they will mask it by telling you she has the best intentions and simply wants to ensure her son is happy. It’s one thing to tell your daughter-in-law what your son likes or dislikes, but another thing to force her to do something based entirely on his preferences. This is also a very common approach to how mothers-in-law ruin marriages as they think it’s completely okay for them to tell you how to treat their son so he is happy with you. They also find it hard to let go of! However, it can be difficult for a daughter-in-law to accept unsolicited advice or criticism, especially if it conflicts with her own beliefs or values.

How To Deal With It?

I think it’s essential your partner knows about this and is able to have a conversation about this with her mother. Sometimes, it’s all about assurance. Your mother-in-law just needs to hear from his son that he is happy in his marriage and that whatever you do is best for him and your relationship. He should also be able to tell her that unsolicited advice about how you should treat your partner makes you uncomfortable and question your worth, which only harms your relationship and makes you unhappy, the opposite of what she is trying to achieve anyway. 

You can also try and have a conversation with her yourself, given you think the discussion will be productive and would not cause any further tension. You could explain your perspective and how you feel about the situation, while also being respectful and understanding of your mother-in-law’s point of view. By finding common ground and understanding each other’s perspectives, you may be able to find a solution that works for both of you.


How Mothers-In-Law Ruin Marriages

Can A Mother-In-Law Be a Reason For Divorce?

Yes, a mother-in-law can be a reason for divorce and a study conducted by the law firm Slater and Gordon actually backed it with data. In the study, it was concluded that around 1 in 10 people in the study divorced their partners because of their in-laws. A mother-in-law can contribute to the tension and conflict in a marriage and if not properly addressed, it can lead to bigger problems and contribute to the breakdown of the relationship. However, it is important to note that a divorce is usually the result of multiple factors and not just the relationship with the mother-in-law. It can stem from differences in values, expectations, and goals, communication problems, intimacy issues, and other factors. The relationship with the mother-in-law can contribute to dissatisfaction and frustration in the marriage, but it is not always the sole reason for a divorce – but if it is, it is important to address and resolve any issues with the mother-in-law in order to maintain a healthy and harmonious relationship. 

How Many Couples Divorce Because Of In-Laws?

If you’re wondering how mothers-in-law ruin marriages, there’s actually data that supports your belief. A study conducted by Terry Orbuch, psychologist and research professor at the University of Michigan found that women who are closer to their in-laws are 20% more likely to file for a divorce. She also gave a possible explanation for these findings as women seeing their in-laws being closer to their husbands and children as meddling. Women generally consider their identity as a wife and mothers central to their being and when in-laws become close, it can feel like an attack on their identity. 

A law firm Slater and Gordon also conducted a study and found that more than half of the married couples claimed in-laws caused troubles in their relationship. The study included 2000 married Britons of which almost a third claimed their partner’s parents are interfering and they had a crosswords exchange at least once a month with them. The most common reasons for tension included unsolicited opinions, partners’ taking their parents’ side, and disagreements over how to raise and discipline the grandchildren. 

Shockingly, 28% of those surveyed thought about divorce because of in-laws and around 1 in 10 actually divorces their partners because of in-laws. More than a quarter also said that they would have never gone down the aisle if they knew the problem would be so bad. 

Why Do Wives & Mothers-In-Law Don’t Get Along?

Wives and mothers-in-law may not get along for a variety of reasons, including differences in values and beliefs, conflicting parenting styles, and personality differences. Additionally, in-laws may compete for the attention and affection of their child (the husband), which can create tension in the relationship. Additionally, in-laws may also have different expectations or ideas about the role they should play in the family, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.

In some cases, the mother-in-law may feel like she is losing her connection with her son, who is now married, which can cause her to feel threatened and defensive. On the other hand, the wife may feel like her mother-in-law is trying to control or dominate her relationship with her husband, which can cause her to feel resentful and frustrated.

Additionally, the mother-in-law may have a history with her son that the wife is not a part of, which can make it difficult for her to adjust to the changes that come with the son’s marriage. The wife, in turn, may feel like the mother-in-law is trying to impose her own traditions and values on her and her husband, which can lead to further conflicts.

It’s important to remember that building a good relationship with your mother-in-law takes effort and patience and that conflicts and misunderstandings can be resolved through open communication and mutual understanding.

Why Do In-Laws Interfere With Your Marriage? 

In-laws can interfere in your marriage for a number of reasons. Some in-laws simply do it because of their overprotective nature with no harmful intentions at heart. They just have a strong desire to protect their child and this can lead them to interfere in your marriage in an attempt to help or guide you. Some kinds of interference can be an unhealthy attachment to their kids though! Like when they don’t respect their kids’ boundaries or feel it’s okay to emotionally manipulate their children to get their way. This can cause problems in their personal life as well as marital life as some in-laws may not understand or respect the boundaries and tend to pave way for conflict whenever there are disagreements regarding values, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds. 

At times, in-laws, especially your mother-in-law will also be jealous or feel competitive with the relationship between their child and their spouse, and can act in a condescending or sabotaging manner. This is a classic way how mothers-in-law ruin marriages too! You can work on any interference from your in-law’s side by setting clear boundaries, communicating openly and honestly, and seeking support when needed. If they are not yet ready for discussion though, it’s best to maintain your distance for the time being. 

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