Q&A: Interfering mother-in-law


My mother-in-law won’t leave us alone. My husband and I have just married a few months ago, and she comes by all the time and calls constantly. My husband is afraid to talk to her because he doesn’t want to make her mad. I’m so disappointed in him and feel like he should be handling this. Do you have any advice?

Answer: Your situation is troubling because it involves two issues: 1) your mother-in-law’s interference, and 2) the wedge that this has created between you and your husband. We’d suggest that it’s critical to deal with the second issue before tackling the first.

More than anything, you and your husband need to be “on the same team” here. As a couple, you can’t expect to enforce appropriate boundaries with his mum while you’re simultaneously at odds with one another. So spend some time alone together and make sure you can agree on an appropriate plan of action. You’re right, the issue is with his mum, and so he needs to take the lead in addressing it.

If he can’t find the courage to do that, we’d suggest that you seek the assistance of a therapist or counsellor. Call our Family Support Services at 03-3310 0792 or write to support@family.org.my for a referral.

Once you and your husband are prepared to operate as a united front, our counselling team suggests that you sit down with his mum and lovingly but firmly let her know that her constant interference is not healthy—for her or for your marriage. Again, your husband should take the lead in this conversation. He should reassure her of your mutual love and respect for her, but also be firm about keeping healthy boundaries in place.

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