Dealing with a narcissistic mother in... - Mental Health Sup...

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Dealing with a narcissistic mother in law

Frizzlybear
Frizzlybear

Grateful for ideas, please! My wife has depression, due in a large part to her upbringing. Her mother is narcissistic and what she wants, she gets. She was dead against our getting married (my wife was living at home with her and 39) but when she saw it was happening, she relented and on the surface it's all hunky dory. But the expectations and demands on my wife's time - and her mother's malevolent influence - continue. We both have demanding full time jobs; I have parents too (who are not in the best of physical health); a 98 year old gran and a teenage daughter who is now on the straight and narrow (lives by herself) but had been through a chaotic phase and needs ongoing support and guidance. All of whom live an hour and a half drive away and need regular visits. However, my mother in law behaves as though we are retired and have all the time in the world. She has always insisted/assumed that all day Sunday was 'for her' (church in the morning, lunch out and Sunday tea together) but now has expanded this into impromptu ideas for us to have days out together on Saturday; and expects my wife to phone her every week night, the calls lasting at least an hour. Now she is asking my wife to come over and visit weekday evenings! My wife finds her mother stressful at the best of times and feels she is walking on eggshells - if she says the wrong thing, disagrees with a comment, or tries to decline one of the proposed events or days / evenings out, the lower lip gets pushed out and she gets the silent treatment. It's a well worn technique from her childhood and it does no favours for her depression. It plays a big part in bringing on my wife's depression and causing tension/rows between the two of us. Sometimes her mother outflanks my wife by approaching me, and then we have disagreements because I've agreed to something I thought had already been discussed. My wife is exahusted by all of this on top of the day job, and by her mother's assumption that we have nothing better to do - ordinarily we would spend weekends catching our breath and catching up on cleaning and washing for the coming week, but that cuts no ice! I suspect that having had my wife all to herself living at home, she has been plotting a long term campaign to creep further and further into my wife's time and keep her influence over her. The point being, there is no negotiation with her. How do we maintain a fair distance and set some boundaries? Anything we come up with either results in an almighty huff or is bulldozed through. All ideas welcome!

16 Replies
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The word 'No' goes a long way with a narc....you will never have a life with this one manipulating the two of you. They are relentless in getting what they want and will never stop.....only you can stop it by saying...no. My mother is a sociopath and one of my brothers is a narc......it's always about their wants and needs, and my mother manipulated with fear and sulking.....blow it off.....no matter how much you do, it will never be enough until she breaks up your marriage and gets the daughter back with her to give her the attention she wants. Don't let her do it. I would strongly suggest the next time the MIL pulls an end run....tell her you have to talk to your wife first before committing to any plans. Start going to couples counselling to teach you both how to survive a narc...trust me...my marriage of 15yrs was largely in part broken up by the MIL from hell who was always running me down to my partner, and manipulating them....so get professional help....

Thanks fauxartist, it really is the case that it's her way or no way and she employs a whole suite of tactics and tools to get there, some very subtle and devious, some blunt and upsetting! A virtuoso at sensing which buttons to press, from accusations that my wife is a bad daughter, to tears, to the silent treatment. Very tiring and frustrating! Thank you

lived with it my whole life...I empathise with you....but I'll tell you ....the only way to deal with them.....and it may sound harsh....but it's to ignore them for the most part and put up a wall to shield yourself from the guilt tripping when you do see them. I always gave myself an out....meaning....when I did go to see my mother ....I always had a reason to leave when I needed to....another appointment or what ever...but then there was no major guilt tripping.....You have to become immune to it of they will destroy you.

Hidden
Hidden
in reply to fauxartist

I agree with u 100%! I moved in with my mother 4 years ago and realized my brother is a narc, and haven’t spoken to him since February 2016. Feels good to not deal with his ass anymore! If he want to be miserable he can be all on his own! My mother puts up with all his shit and follows all his rules and he doesn’t even pay rent! She has been abused all her life and can’t learn to ignore negative people, and enables them! I try to be nice but she always listens to him in the end. I’ve told him several times I’d call the cops if he didn’t leave everyone alone. He starts arguments over nothing and complains 24/7.

fauxartist
fauxartist
in reply to Hidden

that's the thing about these monsters....they are master manipulators...and any attention, even negative...is what they live for. They will never be wrong, everything they do is in the long run for their own benefit...and if they think they can get to you by pushing your buttons...they will never stop....you have to just stop talking to them...it drives them nuts to not get a response. Don't feed the beast.

Hidden
Hidden
in reply to fauxartist

Thank u! Exactly everything they do is all about them and what they want! My sister does her schedule based on what he wants not everyone else, I don’t get it!

fauxartist
fauxartist
in reply to Hidden

co-dependant people do what these monsters want...it's very common. The people pleaser in them is manipulated to give them what they want, and when they want it. Perfect match in hell. Eventually the co-dependant becomes angry and bitter, knows they are being a victim....but in a way...it's what feeds their needs, it's a disease....and the narc's are parasites.

Hidden
Hidden
in reply to fauxartist

In January we attended circus del soleil together as a family and all he did was complain the entire time! We were stuck in traffic on the way home and he was miserable as fuck. He calls me bi polar and all that shit cuz he makes me mad as fuck w his nasty attitude.

fauxartist
fauxartist
in reply to Hidden

well....then tell him at least you have a soul....and you don't care what he says cause he's a miserable f*ck and nobody cares or wants to listen to his crap, so shut up. And then say no more....let them stew in their own misery....because misery loves company....

Hello Frizzly

It sounds like She is lonely and is wanting companionship.

You are going to need to be firm but kind and explain you have other chores to undertake.

With my Mother in Law and my Parents we would meet them once a fortnight. We visited my Mother on Law on a Thursday and we would have her around at the weekend for Lunch and tea. We then would take her to the bus station. Some Saturdays we would go out for a day with my family, then return home either to theirs or ours and have dinner.

It worked well for several years. At Christmas we would visit on various days.

You need to see both families,however you need to be able to have you time and sad to say Mother in Law needs to understand other families have needs as well as She has, to be greedy and feel the world revolves around her needs to stop.

You will need to be firm and kind in equal ways as does the visit to other family members. She will also need to understand, sometimes a visit may be problematic and either you, your family and Mother and Law may need to change a date sometimes.

What may be nice on occasions would be bringing both families together for a meal or night out, Your wife at various times could meet the Mother in town to shop etc

Life is to complex and you may find a way better than above, it is all down to you, however you cannot be blackmailed by an upturned lip

BOB

Hi, Bob, unfortunately I don't think it's loneliness - she has a wide circle of friends and groups and is out and about most weekday. She has a busier social life than we do! I really do think it's more about control. It's getting to the stage where we daren't say if we are going to visit my family as she invariably invites herself along. I did resist a couple of weeks ago when she decided she was going to organise a weekend that the three of us would spend at my (ill) parents and I had to (patiently) explain that health wise it would be a real strain on them. She was petulant but has since dropped the idea - much to my relief. I suppose - as you say - it is about firmness and kindness. But we just find it really hard dealing with someone who is so self centred and has 'trained' my wife into complying with her wishes all those years. It's exhausting and almost a second full time job for my wife. Very appreciative for your supportive comments and perspective. Fingers crossed!

My Mother is/was very similar and generally we had to knuckle down to Her.

i seem to remember She was a real nasty piece of work, she had a thing against men and would prefer and help my two sisters who were grasping and just as bad as their Mother. Eventually, I had understood We had been disinherited so I by this time had enough, we walked away after my Fathers death. There was nothing there for me relation wise and all we were getting was verbal abuse, that had lasted thirty or more years. We moved away and disappeared of the face of the earth for all family members, even those we got on well with, we were concerned someone would slip up and tell where we had gone. The change was very liberating. There was a great deal of anger from those family members, however I was retired and needed our own time.

You both have to consider your best way forward, only you can do that, whatever you decide stick to it, do not be diverted from that decision. You need to live your life and no-one can do that for you, do not restrict yourself in life, remember the sky is the limit

BOB

Well I can honestly say that I think I am an expert when it comes to narcissistic behaviour. I grew up with a narcissistic mother who basically ruined my life. It has been a life of depression, anxiety, next to no self esteem and even wondering whether I "exist" as I was so attached to her in an unhealthy way and on my own I feel like nothing.

It's really good you have a handle on what is going on. They are never reasonable so appealing to their sense of reason as i'm sure you've already learned is a waste of time. The worst thing is when they act out and make out you're going to kill them etc by your "rude" behaviour. I fell for this time after time after time. Thank God your wife is now married and out of her grip. I am nearly 60 and never married. There is hope for both of you.

I would strongly suggest simply curtailing the contact to a point which you both can cope with. You are going to have to teach your wife to be assertive. She will feel she is being "cruel" and will have endless guilt about it but you need to tell her her mum is NOT NORMAL and THIS IS WHAT THEY DO! She will be afraid and in terror of losing her mum's love, but let me tell you something which you already know. Her mum doesn't love her hardly. She loves herself! It is hard to understand your mum doesn't love you much but maybe it will be freeing to her. It sounds to me like you are your wife's saviour in that finally she has a chance to escape this woman.

Cut down the contact. Convince your wife time and time again not to feel guilty and to reassure her. You are going to have to keep telling her and setting the boundaries first yourself as it will be too hard for your wife to do with with all these years of "training" she will have had.

Narcissists actually don't hesitate to be cruel and nasty and sometimes when you set the boundary they do make your life a living hell but ultimately if she won't stop I'd suggest cutting her off completely. Don't let your wife do what I did and waste her energy and life on someone who isn't worthy.

Best of luck , Gemma x.

Thanks, Gemma for your wise words and sorry about the delayed response. Sorry too to hear about your experience and it does seem clear that to expect any negotiation or reflection is a far from realistic prospect. She really does take the huff at any potential thwarting of her wants or perceived needs. She gets an idea in her head = it's happening. The infuriating thing is she presses my wife's buttons or sets her up to fail so dhe can smugly infotm my wife of her disappointment in her. I do feel there is a showdown coming if it's a choice between her selfishness and my wife's wellbeing. Thank you again.

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