- Gender and Relationships
How to Kill your "Mother in Law"
Who is your Mother in Law?
You don't have to be married, divorced or widowed to have a mother in law... You don't even need to be dating or in an occasional relationship with someone... The Mother in law I am talking about is more common than a flu epidemic in winter, and you don't necessarily have to go to a family dinner to meet her...
You have just been promoted after years of hard work and you happily make the announcement at a family dinner, your mother butts in with "It is high time they realised how much you work, your cousin Martha had a promotion three months after she got hired, she is now the CEO of her company."
You are getting married in two days and a small zit appears on your forehead, Aunt Jane happens to be in the house and sees you - her comment is "I would do something about that, you don't want to look like a pepperoni pizza in the wedding photos."
You have worked hard on your kitchen and everything is spotless, You proudly survey your work until your sister decides to pay you an unexpected visit, " Oh God this place smells awful! Have you used Clorox on the kitchen counter?"
Every one has a Mother in law in his life... no matter how old he or she is, or his or her status in life.
Your "Mother in law" is that person who always manages to put you down no matter how hard you work, or what your achievements are.It is that person who seeks even the most minuscule imperfection and then makes it a point to highlight it in front of as many people as possible.
If it was a friend or an acquitance or someone who did not play an important role in your life, you would simply send them to Hell, but the other prerogative of the Mother in law is that she (or he) has an unsurmountable power over you and you are NOT in a position to fob her (or him) off. The end result is that the Mother in law's comments manage to spoil the joy of a new house, promotion, haircut or even your wedding day...
A dear friend of mine once confessed that her real mother in law had told her she should have chosen another style for her wedding dress, as she looked too thin in the one she was wearing. It would have already been bad in normal circumstances, but the dear lady decided to share her opinion at the wedding reception in front of a good number of guests.
What do you do when your Mother in Law attacks?
This is a tricky question and even the calmest person who has always taken in his stride, might rebel unexpectedly with an unheard of ferocity. It is difficult to predict how a person will react as there are a lot of things at stake here.
Let's say that your Mother in law is your boss. You feel like sending him to hell once every five minutes, he is hideous, arrogant and smells of cat piss but you still grin and bear his stupid comments because you are attached to your job.Same thing goes if your Mother in law is a close relative or a dear family friend, many times you have harboured the idea of stapling Aunt Jane's mouth shut, but you just smile back at her, because she is the only family you have left in the world.
But what happens when circumstances change, let's say you have been offered another job which pays you twice what you are getting now and you are harbouring the idea to leave. The minute your boss butts in with one of his stupid sexist remarks, you explode after years of repression and send him to do very naughty things to his mother... Same thing goes for your Aunt Jane who has overstayed her 3 day visit by twelve days, is complaining that your cornflakes are causing her constipation and that she just broke a tooth on the pit of the third olive in her Martini.
What are the repercussions of your actions?
This questions is simpler to answer - since many times the Mother in law is in a superior position, wheter you choose to grin and bear or rebel against the oppressor - you will always stand to lose.
If you do rebel - you have those sweet moments of victory when you see the Mother in law's face change colour and fade into the background, only to come back to haunt you after a few days with unrepressed cruelty.
Let's get back to the scenario when you exploded with your Mother in law.Your new boss called your old boss for references and he gave him a version of your performance which was horrifying - as a consequence of your actions, you lost your dream job... Your Aunt Jane has suddenly died of heart attack a few days after you showed her to the door, and she has left her million dollar fortune to her cat.
If you grin and bear - the situation will get worse. The Mother in law sees you as an easy target and you become the favourite punching bag when things go wrong. In addition your stress level and anxiety increase and this has serious repercussion on your hypertension and on the amount of twinkies you consume when you get away from her.
Why does she do it?
There can be several reasons why a person might become mean to you.
The first and most frequent reason is jealousy your real Mother in law is jealous of your beauty or the fact that her own son prefers spending more time with you than with her. Your sister might be mean to you. because she always felt overshadowed by your personality or Your Aunt Jane is already at her fifth unhappy marriage and you have tugged on happily with your husband for fifteen years.
Another common reason is that the Mother in law is an unhappy person and needs to make other people feel miserable. It might be the fifty year old maid who puts down the beautiful bouquet you received for valentine as cheap, or the millionare who heavily chastises his cleaner because she forgot to polish the ficus leaves.
The Mother in law could also derive a sadistic pleasure in seeing other people being hurt or angry and you happen to be a person who shows in his /her face what you are feeling inside.
Is there a way out of it?
Yes there is an easy way out of it and it is much simpler than you thought.
If you see a person getting perky by hurting you, don't let him do it. If your Mother in law happens to be someone of a much older generation. Be patient and ignore the comment. Most probably she is not a mean person, she might be worrying about something, or in pain, and you happen to be within her reach.
If it is a boss or colleague in a higher position, ignore the comment and try to limit your self to not more than a couple of catty quips to show that you will not be easily trampled on. If the boss or colleague insists, find an article about office mobbing and the results of the last lawsuit that reimbursed the victim of mobbing with a few hundred thousand dollars on your desk, so that the next time he decides to pass a stupid sexist comment he can accidentally see it.
You can also try to be assertive about it and tell your Mother in law that her comments are deeply hurting you, and that you will not take it any more. Explain to your Mother in Law what is hurting you in her attitude and give her concrete ways to stop. If you cousin Martha puts down your salary rise - speak to her privately and tell her that you have worked hard for this promotion and that consequently her remarks are not appropriate. Speak with conviction and look your enemy in the eye. I give you ten to one that your Mother in law will immediately change her disposition when she sees you mean business.
What type of relationship do you have with your "Mother in Law"?
How do I prevent an other mother in law to start attacking?
Prevent the situation from degrading.
Do not single yourself out from the rest of the group and put your self in awkward positions. If all the twenty employees in the office are complaining about the air con and you petition your boss to do something about it, don't be the wise ass who also proposes to repaint the office as the present colour is no longer in fashion.
Take the 'What's your problem?" approach - If you see that someone is developing a tendency to shoot at you when he or she feels like it, Tell him or her you need to speak privately and then tell your mother in law that maybe she is not aware of it but her comments are causing you unnecessary pain, and ask her to stop with this behaviour immediately.
Remember that you will be a victim only if you let other people over power you.Don't let people tremple on you just because you happen to be meek. Stand your ground when you feel that someone is trespassing the border of the occasional joke, and let him or her know that you will be give as good as you get. It doesn't have to be a real conversation, sometimes even an ugly look will speak volumes...
Finally remember that a mean person will always be mean. If Aunt Jane has been the grouchy pain in the bottom for all your life, it is pointless to still feel hurt about her comments.
Take it as a fact of life - just like acne at teenage and grey hair when you reach your forties - people who know your mother in law, will take her comments for what they are worth and those who don't know her will soon realise what type of person she is... so don't give your mother in law the power to hurt you... The moment she realises that you no longer care for what she thinks, says or does, she will look for another victim to prey on... if you don't like this approach, try adding cayenne pepper to her soda the next time she happens to be around - I assure you she will get the message...