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How Do I Deal With Disrespect From My Mother-In-Law?

Dealing with disrespect from a mother-in-law can be incredibly challenging. Toxic behavior such as exerting unfair levels of control or manipulation can strain relationships, cause conflict in the family, and lead to emotional distress.

As a professional counselor specializing in Family Dynamics and Clinical Mental Health Counseling, I have seen firsthand how difficult it can be for couples to deal with an overbearing relative. Spouses are often at odds trying to figure out what steps they need to take to maintain peace within the family and keep their relationship intact.

It’s important for both partners to understand that although respectful boundaries need to be established, there also needs to be forgiveness. The Bible encourages us towards love and understanding, so this should form part of a coping strategy by all parties; however, if such methods fail, then more drastic action may become necessary.

However, it is ultimately possible to learn how to deal with disrespect from your mother-in-law in a constructive manner so you don’t damage your marriage or cause further stress for yourself. Read on below for tips on navigating this tricky situation!

How Do I Deal With Disrespect From My Mother-in-law

How Do I Deal with Disrespect from My Mother-in-law?

Understanding a Toxic Mother-in-law

How Do I Deal With Disrespect From My Mother-in-law

How Do I Deal with Disrespect from My Mother-in-law?

When dealing with a toxic mother-in-law, it’s important to recognize the traits of this difficult relationship. From criticism and manipulation to control and even jealousy, understanding how these behaviors manifest can help you find and utilize healthy coping strategies.

What is a toxic mother-in-law?

A toxic mother-in-law is one who exhibits manipulative, controlling, and demeaning behavior towards her daughter-in-law. She uses subtle methods of control and manipulation in relationships to assert her dominance over the family dynamic.

How Do I Deal With Disrespect From My Mother-in-law

How Do I Deal With Disrespect From My Mother-in-law

She often shows no regard for your feelings and finds ways to be disrespectful, regardless of the occasion or who’s around. Signs that you may have a toxic mother-in-law include constantly one-upping everything you say, disregarding your feelings, invading privacy within your marriage through intrusive questions or criticisms, making you feel inferior through constant criticism or negative attitude, creating drama with gossip and rumors about other family members.

Other signs of toxicity include ignoring boundaries and coming into the home unannounced or without notice, holding grudges for minor incidents, and displaying favoritism among children.

How common are toxic mothers-in-law?

Toxic mother-in-laws are more common than you may think, particularly in Christian communities. It is estimated that as many as 64% of married couples have experienced tension and discord with their spouse’s mother.

This type of toxic behavior can range from insulting comments and controlling remarks to demanding their own way when it comes to decisions regarding family dynamics or events. This behavior often has no resolution and can lead the couple to feel frustrated, disrespected, and exhausted from attempting to rationalize their relationship with the mother-in-law.

It is important for all parties involved in such relationships to remember that it is not uncommon for some mothers-in-law to overstep boundaries set by couples or display unfavorable traits rooted in a strong cultural foundation—expectations taught through religious values and attitudes passed down through generations.

Effects of having a toxic mother-in-law

Having a toxic mother-in-law can have a corrosive effect on one’s emotional and psychological well-being. Disrespect, manipulation, disagreements, and criticism from a toxic parent can cause significant strain in a marriage and within the family unit.

In addition to personal angst, couples are likely to experience tension that places enormous pressure on their relationship. This may threaten the stability of both individuals within the marriage, leaving them feeling isolated or undervalued by their spouse or partner, and potentially damaging not only the couple’s bond, but also leaving lasting effects on the mental health among other members of the family.

It is important for Christian readers to understand that experiencing disrespect from a mother-in-law should be addressed as a serious issue. Tangible boundaries must be put in place to prevent further damage caused by her presence. Boundaries allow for better communication between family members, while allowing individuals to still feel emotionally secure.

When attempting to cope with this type of situation, it’s important that your faith continues to stay at the forefront, ensuring that you work hand in hand with God, protecting the harmony amongst all parties affected directly or indirectly.

Signs of a Toxic Mother-in-law

How Do I Deal With Disrespect From My Mother-in-law

How Do I Deal with Disrespect from My Mother-in-law?

Identifying these behaviors can provide valuable insights into the nature of a toxic mother-in-law, helping individuals take proactive measures to protect their relationships. Keep reading to learn how you can handle disrespectful behavior from your mother-in-law in a respectful yet firm manner.

One-ups everything you say

A toxic mother-in-law can be incredibly challenging to deal with, especially if the behavior is rooted in a desire to compete or make herself feel superior. When a mother-in-law tries to one-up everything you say, it can leave you feeling inferior and demoralized.

This type of attitude makes you question your own opinion, judgment and feelings, which can have devastating effects on your self-esteem and sense of security in the marriage relationship.

Fortunately, there are strategies that can help you manage this situation constructively, as well as ensure that your mental health remains intact during interactions with such people. These issues and others will be addressed as you keep reading this guide.

It may also help if communication between partners is clear about how disrespect from either party’s parents will be handled by both spouses together, so that dealing with difficult circumstances becomes a joint responsibility, rather than the problem of one person.

Disregards your feelings

A toxic mother-in-law disregards how you feel, rarely considering your perspective or compromising on any issue. She may discount your opinion, make insensitive remarks, belittle your experiences and achievements, or deny responsibility for difficult situations.

Having someone who acts this way can be a huge emotional drain, as well as an assault on your self-esteem. It’s important to learn how to recognize and react assertively in these circumstances from a biblical standpoint—for both yourself and others being affected.

James 1:19 tells us: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”. As hard as it may be at the time, always practice Christian virtue by being patient when dealing with disrespectful behavior from anyone—especially family—keeping emotions in check no matter what has been said or done.


A self-involved mother-in-law can make it difficult to have a healthy family dynamic, especially in the Christian faith. This type of individual may be consumed with themselves and their own interests, often disregarding how they are making other people feel or the impact that their behavior has on those around them.

A self-involved mother-in-law may also invade into your marriage, creating challenges for you and your spouse by interfering with decisions that lie outside her scope of involvement.

She will likely display favoritism when it comes to others in the family, such as her children or grandchildren, even if it means being rude or disrespectful towards other members, ranging from siblings to spouses.

She can also interfere in a partner’s decisions by expressing opinions and offering advice, from marriage counseling to helping choose names for children. This type of behavior makes it feel like she is micromanaging your life together, as well as disregarding or disrespecting any attempts at a boundary you might try to set.

It can be especially difficult if your mother-in-law has strong religious beliefs or certain expectations regarding how the family should act; guilt could then become another tool they use against you when attempting to control aspects of your personal life choices, such as lifestyle changes due to moral convictions, diets predicated on religion, etc., making it all the harder not succumb to doing things her way.

In fact, she could make sure both you and your spouse understand that going against what SHE wants would bring on negative consequences, such as being removed from an inheritance, so using fear tactics instead of healthy communication strategies in an attempt to achieve what she considers best for them, while pushing aside anything else that might stand in her way—including you! 

Makes you feel inferior and criticizes constantly

If you find yourself constantly feeling inadequate while around your mother-in-law, it may be a sign that she is engaging in toxic behavior. Toxic mothers-in-law have the tendency to belittle or one-up their children and daughters/sons-in-laws by making them feel inferior.

This can leave people feeling invisible, worthless, unloved or unheard. In an attempt to appear important or valuable, toxic mothers will accuse others of not being good enough or having what it takes, even if they do something great.

It also ultimately leads to a lack of self-worth and confidence, as well as resentment towards her for creating this negative atmosphere between you two.

Toxic mothers-in-law often rely on criticism as a tool to control and manipulate. Constant criticism ultimately causes the individual to feel inferior, questioning their skills and worth.

This type of behavior can be extremely damaging, both psychologically and emotionally. Not only do individuals have to deal with the criticism itself, but they live in fear of what further hurtful comments their mother-in-law will make next.

Ignores boundaries

A mother-in-law who ignores boundaries often views her son/daughter-in-law as an extension of herself. She believes that she can weigh in on every decision or issue, no matter how personal it may be.

From picking out clothing to telling them what career they should pursue, a boundary-ignoring mother-in-law may make assumptions and dictate terms without considering the feelings of the other person or even asking for their input.

This behavior creates tension and emotional distance between a child and their partner by undermining autonomy over decisions normally made between couples or family members.

The Biblical viewpoint emphasizes that relationships operate within healthy boundaries where everyone respects one another’s perspectives and needs. 

Creates drama

A toxic mother-in-law may often strive to create drama and chaos, stirring up tension amongst family members. She might lob insults at everyone or be provocative in her statements, which can lead to stressful confrontations, arguments, or emotional outbursts.

It’s important not to get caught up in the heat of the moment, as it can drive a deeper wedge between you and your mother-in-law. Instead, take a step back by expressing your feelings constructively, without blaming anyone else for their actions.

As Christians we are called to act from a place of guidance, rather than responding with hurtful words or negative behavior. Suggesting treatments like family therapy or finding creative ways (e.g., games and bonding activities) to positively shift the dynamic of interaction is key in restoring peace within your marriage and extended families.


A toxic mother-in-law may spread rumors and gossip about their daughter-in-law’s family or background, which can cause strife both inside and outside the family—especially if what is said isn’t true.

This kind of dishonoring behavior usually seeks to gain control over the daughter-in-law by creating doubt in her family, community, and church relationships; this form of manipulation is not biblical (Romans 12:17) and should be challenged.

Furthermore, gossip from a toxic mother immobilizes her son, as she will often threaten to turn him against his spouse; such fearmongering tactics need to be exposed, for it has no place in a Godly household.


A toxic mother-in-law can sometimes be verbally abusive, using insulting language or mocking behavior. This type of emotional intimidation is harmful and must be addressed with grace and understanding.

To begin with, it’s important to understand that most insults are rooted in insecurity and fear—not necessarily intentional malice on the part of your mother-in-law. One way to counter this stress is by communicating calmly but firmly when you’re being insulted, focusing on solutions instead of blame or criticism.

It’s also important for both spouses to remain united in their stand against verbal abuse; if your spouse stands up for you while confronting her own parents, it sends a strong message that disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated.

How to Deal With Disrespect From a Mother-in-law

Despite the difficulty in dealing with a toxic mother-in-law, it’s important to protect yourself and your marriage by learning how to respond appropriately. The good news is that there are steps we can take to manage disrespect from our mothers-in law and help ease tension within the family dynamic.

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries with a toxic mother-in-law is an important step in maintaining respectful interactions and taking back control of the relationship. It can be difficult to talk openly about a toxic situation, but making clear demands for respect and having a solid plan in place can do wonders for protecting your emotional health and wellbeing.

Setting boundaries with a toxic mother-in-law is an important step in maintaining respectful interactions and taking back control of the relationship. It can be difficult to talk openly about a toxic situation, but making clear demands for respect and having a solid plan in place can do wonders for protecting your emotional health and wellbeing.

How Do I Deal With Disrespect From My Mother-in-law

Sit down with your mother-in-law in a comfortable setting, if possible, express how their behavior makes you feel, and then clearly verbalize what you expect from them going forward. While doing so, stay calm and composed; remember, this isn’t about her.

Establishing boundaries is also incredibly important when it comes to setting expectations between you and your partner. Decide as a couple who will manage which task or point so that there are no disagreements or unresolved issues due to miscommunication.

Communicate with your partner

It’s important to talk with your spouse about any feelings of disrespect that may be coming from your mother-in-law. By sharing what you’re experiencing, both of you can brainstorm how best to respond and the steps needed to resolve the issue.

Acknowledge any concerns or questions they have regarding potential approaches or plans. You also need to remember that it’s okay if their perspective on handling the situation is different than yours. Work together as a couple for an outcome that meets all your needs and expectations.

Sympathizing with one another can also be very beneficial, as it provides you both with emotional support when dealing with this difficult dynamic. Together, strive for open lines of respectful communication between everyone involved. Ensuring this respect throughout family conversations is challenging, but firm boundaries must be kept, especially when setting limits around intrusive behavior that breaches these boundaries.

Limit interaction

When dealing with a disrespectful mother-in-law, it is essential to take care of oneself by limiting the amount of time you spend with her. Invitations from a hostile parent can be politely declined without fear of retaliation and certain conversations can be gracefully ended before an argument erupts.

Finally, setting boundaries for what topics are up for discussion reinforces respect and creates logical limits that everyone involved must abide by.

Acknowledge the importance of self-care by making sure not to overexert yourself when seeing or talking to your mother-in-law—even if uncomfortable conversations arise—so that you can avoid coming away feeling drained and dejected.

Establishing these parameters also requires strong communication between both partners, ensuring that both spouses emit unified respect toward each other’s families, which ultimately prevents any underlying resentment from appearing later on down the line.

Seek professional help if needed

When it comes to dealing with a difficult or disrespectful mother-in-law, seeking out professional help can be an incredibly beneficial and essential avenue. Not only is this a safe space for those who may feel powerless in the situation, but it also helps build communication and provide resources for making healthier relationships.

How Do I Deal With Disrespect From My Mother-in-law

How Do I Deal With Disrespect From My Mother-in-law

Professional counseling from someone who specializes in family dynamics can help both sides of the relationship better understand each other’s needs and feelings, while providing strategies to work together peacefully.

This clinical guidance often includes empathy exercises, warnings about boundary setting, and tips on how to remain calm when things become tense. Additionally, therapists often assist couples by providing advice on creating realistic expectations, as well as understanding alternative viewpoints that your mother-in-law may possess that contribute to her behavior patterns.

Stay calm and composed

It can be very difficult to remain patient and amiable in the face of disrespect from a mother-in-law. The Bible speaks strongly about maintaining inner peace, even when faced with opposition or injustice (Romans 12:21).

Christ encourages us to respond with love and grace, rather than anger: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Take a moment to pause before responding in order to gain perspective on the situation and handle it maturely.

It also helps to practice empathy for how the other person may be feeling that is causing their toxic behavior. While it can be hard in times of struggle, seek positivity through prayer; asking God for strength and peaceful resolution will give you an anchor when facing emotional stress.

Focus on your own wellbeing and happiness

If you have toxic and disrespectful in-laws, all your efforts may be futile until you focus on your own happiness first.

This advice isn’t only applicable to relationships with our in-laws; it can also translate into daily life and even our relationship with God Himself. The Bible clearly recommends taking care of ourselves before caring for anyone else, as what we do affects other people; if someone does not have their house built upon the rock, then storms may easily overrun them (Matthew 7:24-27).

Prioritizing your well-being means understanding when enough is enough and realizing that some battles aren’t worth fighting; after all, this should be about truly being happy, rather than simply getting into arguments about every little detail.


It can be challenging to deal with disrespect from a mother-in-law, but establishing boundaries and limiting interactions are key steps for dealing with this situation in an effective way.

Emotions may run high, so try not to engage or respond angrily. Instead, calmly communicate your position and set clear boundaries. If needed, talking to a therapist or seeking support from family and friends can help you manage these emotions better.

Ultimately, you should focus on protecting yourself while managing the relationship as calmly as possible for everyone involved. Remember, it is vital both financially and emotionally for spouses to have each other’s back. No one has the right to come between two people who love each other!


1. What strategies can I use to deal with disrespect from my mother-in-law?

When dealing with disrespect from your mother-in-law, it is important to empathize and understand her parenting style and expectations. It is also beneficial to have the support of your spouse, but remain firm in setting boundaries when necessary.

2. Are there any creative solutions for resolving disputes with a mother-in-law?

Yes! Creative solutions like establishing clear communication guidelines or negotiating compromises can help defuse tension between you and your mother-in law before they escalate into bigger issues, enabling a more peaceful relationship. 

3. What should I do if my mother-in-law refuses to respect our boundaries?

If your attempts at compromise are unsuccessful and your requests for respectful behavior remain ignored by your mother-in-law, despite constant reminders – it may be time to enforce some distance both physically or emotionally as implementing consistent consequences firmly conveys the boundary messages across without hostility. 

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