We don’t all have in-laws that we adore. Unfortunately, too many of us are subject to the mothers-in-law of comedies and other fictional media.

So what do you do if you find yourself with a manipulative mother-in-law?

It’s not always easy to keep the peace when you and your spouse’s mother are constantly at odds, but this person is important to your partner, and fostering ill-will won’t help anyone.

Keep reading to learn our advice for handling an overbearing mother-in-law.

1. Keep a Healthy Distance

How often do you really need to see your in-laws?

If they live in the same city as you, you might be seeing your mother-in-law more often than you’d like. You don’t always have to bend to spending time with her, though.

When your spouse wants to spend time with their mother, suggest outings or day trips rather than bringing her home to hang out.

This will be more fun for everyone.

2. Consider a Mother-In-Law Suite

Many people move their parents in for one reason or another. Some people have a cultural obligation to do so, while others are in need of extra help when a new baby is born.

Some people just like to keep their family members close.

Most people choose to do this with a spare room or a guest room, but having the mother-in-law sharing all of that space with you can be too much.

Finding a house with some additional space specifically for your mother-in-law can be helpful. Mother-in-law suites tend to be similar to apartments. She may have a kitchen, a bathroom, and even a living space to herself so she doesn’t have to bother you.

3. Talk About It

Have you actually discussed your feelings about your mother-in-law with her or your spouse?

These conversations can be tricky, but it’s possible that your mother-in-law doesn’t realize that her actions aren’t okay, or even that they’re causing you harm. Opening up a dialogue may be difficult or scary, but you won’t be able to move towards progress until you start the conversation.

4. Set Boundaries

Boundaries are difficult in all relationships. Some people have no idea how to set them even with those who they’re close to.

Boundaries tell other people how to (and how not to) love you appropriately. They might seem mean or restrictive at first, but they help you build stronger and more fulfilling relationships.

Because this can be tense, having your spouse discuss the boundaries with your mother-in-law might be better than doing it yourself.

5. Be Kind

This one is hard, we know. When someone is acting out and making your life miserable, flipping the script and being kind in response feels impossible.

The alternative won’t do you any favors though, so you might as well try. Killing her with kindness might make her reflect on her own actions. It might not. Either way, it means that you’re taking the high road.

Manipulative Mother-In-Law? No Problem

If your manipulative mother-in-law is driving you crazy, there are some steps that you can take to soften the blow.

You can’t change people or choose how they act, and you can’t distance yourself from your spouse’s mother forever, but you can learn how to handle each other despite your differences.

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