How to deal with an interfering mother
Marriage is the union of two lives. Two individuals take all of their possessions, all of their money, all of their persons and all of their family members and combine them in a way that suits them. With those family members often comes a mother-in-law or two, which is not always a blessing. Mothers-in-law do not come about their reputation as interferer’s for no reason. Many mothers-in-law voice an opinion on or interfere with every aspect of a couple’s married life, some to the point of annoyance and aggravation.
Dealing with an interfering mother-in-law is not going to be the same for one person to the next. Some mother in laws will take the hint that they are not needed easily, while others will assert themselves into a marriage regardless of the way the couple receives their interference. Some will only interfere with small, easily dismissed things, while others may interfere to the point of undermining parenting rules or something equally serious. In situations where the interference from a mother-in-law is minimal, it is advisable to smile, nod, be polite and then carry on as you would have without the interference. This limits the chance of arguments occurring, while the married couple retains their independence as it pertains to their marriage.
If listening to a mother-in-law and being polite about their interference while maintaining independence does not work, it may be necessary to have a talk. Talking to a mother-in-law about her interfering is not an easy task. Nobody wants to be on bad terms with his or her mother-in-law. That is why it is a good idea to enlist the help of the spouse whose natural mother is causing the issue. Approach the topic together and gently. There is nothing wrong with saying, "We love you and appreciate your concern. However, we are adults and this is our marriage. We have to make decisions based on our needs." This should get the point across.
Unfortunately, not all mothers-in-law are willing to let go of the reins easily, even when they are being politely tugged out of their hands. That is when more drastic measures must be taken. Sometimes, an interfering mother-in-law has to be stripped of her ability to interfere for a married couple to be happy. Keeping a mother-in-law out of "the loop" may help accomplish this end. If she does not know what is going on, she can hardly have an opinion on it. Keep conversations light and off personal subjects. Another approach is to change the subject whenever she tries to interfere. If she tries to go back to her interfering topic, say something like, "We already told you that we appreciate your opinion, but that we are going to do things our way. If we are stumped, we will ask you for your opinion."
Some mothers-in-law interfere in a more physical way. Instead of using words to voice their opinion or interfere with parenting and things, they insert themselves into situations physically. It can be little things like buying toys for children that the parents have already said no to or making plans to do things that have not been agreed upon. In these cases, make it clear that approval has not been given and that a discussion must take place first. Do not give in simply because the imposing party is your spouse’s mother. If the interference is more inconvenient or even harmful to your peace of mind, it may be advisable to minimize contact with your mother-in-law. Nobody should have to put up with anybody attempting to control his or her life, no matter who that person is.
Not all mothers-in-law are prone to interfering. In fact, it is possible to have a wonderful relationship with one’s mother-in-law. However, it nearly always takes some getting used to each other and some compromise to have this kind of relationship. That is why it is important to be polite and conversational about interfering before taking sterner measures. Taking the polite road leaves the road to friendship and mutual admiration open.