5 Ways To Stay Sane While Dealing With A Narcissistic Mother-In-Law

Posted: October 4, 2019

Do you believe that you are dealing with a narcissistic mother-in-law? Here are five signs that she is a narcissist and five ways to deal with her.

How do you deal with a narcissistic mother-in-law?

Has this question been bothering you lately? Is it because you discovered you are living with a narcissist? If so, then let me tell you, you are not dealing with a person you are dealing with a type of a mental disorder. A disorder that is hard to curtail.

Narcissism is a type of personality disorder where the person feels superior about himself or herself. A narcissist is possessed with an inflated sense of self-importance and patronisation.

They crave appreciation, admiration, and importance for their physical and mental attributes. One cannot expect empathy or consideration from a person with such behavioural issues.

If you are living with someone like this and especially if that someone is your mother-in-law, then your question is completely valid and thought-provoking.

To deal with a narcissistic mother-in-law, you need to recognise her first. We usually think that a mother-in-law is being unfair to her daughter-in-law when we see narcissistic qualities in her. However, when you know the signs of a narcissist and see her interacting with others in the same manner, you have to know that this is just a part of her personality. There, also is the possibility that you are not the only one finding issues in dealing or adjusting to her overpowering nature.

Dealing with a narcissistic mother-in-law

In addition to a wife’s relationship with her husband, the relationship between a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law is very important for a happy household. Some are blessed, and they hit the jackpot while others don’t.

But you can always make ways to understand your mother-in-law and try to find ways to deal with the root cause of the problem. This will help you understand her and bridge the gaps in the relationship.

Do you know that there are nine types of mothers-in-law in India? From compassionate to greedy and fearful to needy, we have seen all, but the mother of all the mothers-in-law is the narcissistic mother-in-law. And before I tell you how to deal with a narcissistic mother-in-law, let me tell you that your mother-in-law will never agree that she is a narcissist.

A person with such traits is a great manipulator and love their image. They will stay good in front of others, pretend to be very compassionate but they are not how they appear to be. Dealing with such personalities is itself a very challenging job. Hence, we can start by identifying if we are dealing with a narcissistic with the help of the below-mentioned points.

5 signs you have a narcissistic mother-in-law

We cannot choose mothers-in-law, but we can try to make things work with what we have. Relationships are a great contributor in any individual’s life; a right relationship can help you bloom while a bitter one could completely destroy your mental peace. You know your mother in law is a narcissist when:

She needs constant admiration

A narcissistic mother-in-law is always hungry for admiration. She believes she is the sole owner of the house and that everything belongs to her. People should appreciate her for everything she does. It is sad for a daughter-in-law to get to live with a mother-in-law who is self-possessed and hellbent on ruining things. At the same time, other family members also might suffer because of her outrageous behaviour.

I remember an old incident from when I was newly married and my mother-in-law was cooking some authentic south-Indian food. There were several items of which, I could not eat one item, so I politely refused with a smile.

This somehow hit her ego, and she threw the serving spoon and said, ‘You think you are a better cook or what? No one ever refused to eat what I prepare, how come you have a problem?’

I was stunned, as from my point of view I just refused to eat something I couldn’t. This was not uncommon, because at my house, before marriage, there were a lot of food items which I didn’t like to eat. When my mom forced me to, I got annoyed and she always laughed, teasing me.

How situations change when you cannot even politely refuse to eat something you don’t like! And how does it define her cooking skills, when it is just a matter of choice?

We all have our own tastes and preferences, but living with a narcissist leaves us with no choice but to appreciate them in whatever they do. After this incident, I was labeled as someone who doesn’t like her cooking and I had no choice but gulp everything she ever made.

She cooks because I am not allowed to cook. Kitchen is strictly her area, and I might be a trespasser who was prohibited from entering her domain. I identified this sign and drew a distance.

She frequently demeans others

It is all about power for a narcissistic person. They enjoy dominating people, manipulating them, and even faking smiles to show they are pure and happy souls.

If you are an emotionally volatile daughter-in-law then, the situation would be worse for you as your mother-in-law will not only demean you but your parents and your children too. Taking over is their nature, they create situations where you look like a culprit and then they take advantage of the situation.

She could be sarcastic and belittle you in front of others. Looking at these warning signs, you might ponder even more than how to deal with a narcissistic mother in law.

In my post, why do Mother in Laws cause Problems in Family and Relationships? I have specifically tried to outline many reasons a mother-in-law causes problems and how her ignorant behaviour could lead to ruining the peace and harmony of the house.

She is very defensive about herself

Due to her overpowering nature, she can never take criticism. Even when a family member tries to take a stand for you, and if at all that person is your husband (her son), you make her your biggest enemy.

A narcissistic mother usually raises either a very sensitive or a narcissistic child. You are in twice the amount danger if your husband is like her, but if you find him empathising with you, then believe him. He understands, because he has been a victim of his mother’s personality disorder more than you.

To defend herself, she might go to any extent because her image is very important to her. In order to prove her right, she will blame others and manipulate things.

She is full of herself

Yes, they are. Everything is about her. Her life, her achievements, her story, and her parenting. Anyone listening to her will be lost in the middle of the conversation because a narcissistic person will leave no room for anyone to be a part of the conversation. All they want is to be heard and, moreover, appreciated for their story.

Whenever I tried to strike a conversation with my mother-in-law, as an attempt to let her get to know me as a person, I realised she was never interested. If I said I loved to dance, she would say she was a stage performer.

These inactive listening skills are conversation killers and you completely shut down yourself. You let things go out of your way because you realise you cannot win a space for yourself in her life.

She can never empathise

The worst thing about a person with narcissistic traits is that, they can never empathise, neither can they understand the amount of hurt and disgust their behaviour is causing.

They cannot love unconditionally, for them everything is an exchange. If they love their children, they want the kids’ success and achievements as their trophies of parenting.

As a mother too, a narcissistic woman lacks empathy for the feelings of her children and does not consider their basic needs. If you find yourself stuck with a mother-in-law who can never understand your pain, then know that she will never ever listen to your side of the story. She will criticise you behind the closed doors, but in public, she will show you as her prized possessions.

Tips to deal with a narcissistic mother in law

Now, with the help of above warning signs, I am sure you can identify if you landed with a narcissist mother-in-law. But I will share five quick tips to deal with one.

You need to deal with her with mindfulness and show her that you can live with it. This is how you can do it:

Become less accessible

How do you deal with a narcissistic mother-in-law?

By not being as available to her. Start by drawing healthy boundaries and becoming less accessible to her. The more you confront her, the more it will destroy your mental peace and well-being. Remember sign number three: you cannot win over a narcissist.

Don’t blame yourself

The most natural phenomenon, when a person fails to manage something, they doubt themselves.

No, you cannot be responsible for everything. Especially when you are dealing with an arrogant mother-in-law who is least interested in your feelings. You need to choose yourself over someone who cannot see things beyond her own self.

Give up on changing her

I insist that you leave all the hopes of changing her, you cannot change her. Understand that, if a person is a narcissist, then it is a part of their personality which can hardly be altered.

The more we urge on changing that person, the more they become defensive and things will go haywire. Stop making efforts to change them rather start taking efforts to maintain distance and stay positive to create a balance.

Stay assertive in your approach

Stay positive and assertive. It will help you fight the daily problems caused by your mother-in-law. The best part is that, in such cases most of the times husband and family members also know of the mother-in-law’s nature so you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

Involve your husband so he is aware of the frequent clashes. Just be yourself and be kind to others.

Don’t let her negativity enter you

It is a quite natural thing to happen when you are surrounded with so much criticism, bullying, and demeaning. You cry and you curse your situation, but just imagine what it could lead to? The decline of your mental health.

Dealing with a narcissistic mother-in-law is already a pain and now you decide to let her negativity enter you, you pass that negativity to your husband and your children. Think about this and regain balance.

Steps towards mental wellness

Dealing with someone who continuously criticises you, belittles you and demeans you is the most difficult part in anyone’s life. It worsens when you have to stay with them. Situations like these will only create a stressful environment and make things worse at a cellular level. Understand that you need to take care because things like these take a toll over our sanity and we go into a no-hope zone.

Here is what you can do to help yourself: take time out for yourself and indulge in some self-care. You can pursue a hobby, and also meditate. But most importantly, you need to learn to let go, as it will only help you.

A very important part of human life is that it has to go on despite what may come. You are allowed to cry and to complain, but giving up should never be an option for you. Working on yourself is something you can do while dealing with external factors like these.

Dealing with a toxic, narcissistic mother-in-law is the worst, but you can always take positive steps towards a healthy you from inside. This will help lessen the effect of the outside factors.

Take charge of your life. Don’t let your narcissistic mother-in-law get in your head!

Let no domination and overpowering behaviour of others rule your life.

A version of this was first published here.

Picture credits: YouTube

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