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Friday, June 21, 2024


How to deal with needy (and unreasonable?) mother-in-law?


My husband grew up in a single family and my MIL singlehandedly brought up two kids. Now that the two kids are grown up and married and not staying with her, she often badmouths them to her siblings/friends/nieces/nephews/anyone who will give her the time of day.

Her common gripe? My husband and his sibling don’t pay her enough attention or show enough concern for her.

Some background: my husband and I work regular office jobs. MIL works part time in the evenings to midnight three weekdays a week.

My husband and I currently go back to MIL’s place for dinner twice on weekdays on average, on the days she is not working. On weekends, on average we go back once every two weeks. To me, that is way more than my ideal frequency and I have discussed this with my husband before. I informed him once a week is my ideal frequency, as that would be my intended frequency for my own parents as well. He agreed and informed me that he understands if I do not want to follow him back home every time, which is fine with me. He is free to visit his mother any time he wants.


MIL is very dependent on my husband (in my opinion) and calls him for every single thing even when he is at work. Tried teaching her how to use WhatsApp voice messages but she refuses to learn. She does not text.

MIL used to throw tantrums when my husband asked if she wanted us to buy food for her. She would reply no, and throw a tantrum if we didn’t get food for her. I convinced my husband to take her word literally, if she said yes, we would buy food. If no, we would not buy and leave her be should she throw a tantrum. Over the years, she seemed to get the message and is now better at expressing if she wants food or not (sorry but sometimes I really feel she has not grown up).

Nowadays it seems like MIL will throw a tantrum whenever my husband does not call her and check in on her. Most recently, we went back for dinner on two weekdays. He then did not call her from on the remaining weekdays. On Sat, she hung up on him when he called to ask if she wanted to eat. On Sun, she called him asking where was he. When he answered he was outside, she then hung up on him again.

This has actually happened in the past before and has gotten worse. MIL likes to throw tantrums and expects people to know her expectations without ever voicing them out, like the food example above. I’ve tried suggesting my husband to speak with MIL to set boundaries and expectations but based on his knowledge of her, she will most likely refuse to participate in a meaningful conversation and it will end up in an argument. Which I agree.

Wanted to know if MIL’s unwritten expectations so far is reasonable??? My own parents are super chill and I have no such problem with them. I don’t know how to deal with MIL. I’ve tried asking my own mum for advice but she said different people have different expectations and I might not understand cos I don’t have the whole story. But personally I feel she is childish, needy, narcissistic and just plain selfish and demanding. I have half a mind to suggest counselling to my husband. Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.

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