Daughter-In-Law Questions & Answer

When I was introduced to my now mother in law it was a disaster and has remained that way every since.


 When I was introduced to my now mother in law it was a disaster. I had been dating my now husband for 6 years when he finally introduced me to his parents. So the day was filled with a lot of uneasiness from my side. When I got there and my husband started to introduce me, his mother just ignored him and left us to go greet her daughter who was taking luggage out of the car. When we got into the house the only communication I got was she asked me where do I work, the rest of the time they continued with their family issues and pretended like I was not even there. Me and my husband finally left then the issues started .

Firstly he did not communicate with his mother on how cold they came across and how unhospitable she was. He just pretended like nothing happened. That really made me mad because if roles were reversed and I was the  one who was rude to anyone he knows he would have expressed his disappointment and would have been told never to do it again.  There has been other incidents where she has said mean, despicable things, rude things and all she gets is my husband saying “mom you are not suppose to say that ” as if she’s a child. She’s doing and saying things on purpose. I hate my husband’s response.  I feel my husband should have told his mother from the first sign of trouble that he would not tolerate her been rude to his wife and ask her what is really her problem, sought it out from the start. But he has failed to do this as his mother continues being rude to me till this day. And I just don’t trust him anymore as a partner because he doesn’t see he has a responsibility to deal with his mother behaviour firmly. He continues to pretend like there s nothing wrong. I seriously can’t see a future with someone who does nothing effective to protect or stand up for his wife, instead he continuously exposes me to that environment. I really don’t know what to do anymore because this is really has created a wall between us , I really don’t feel secure now , I don’t feel like I m his wife since he sacrifices my feelings whenever his mother is involved.  Walking away seems to be the only solution because we are not in the same page when it comes to his mother.


It is clear from your email that you and your husband have a marital issue along with a mother-in-law issue. I know if feels hopeless, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a couple of ways to deal with this.

1) You and your husband need to work out your issues before you can really deal with the issue you have with his mother. So I would suggest that you get some marital counseling to address your lack of trust with him. The key will be to stick to the issues you have with him…not the issues you have with your mother-in-law. It is really his reaction or lack of reaction that is impacting the two of you.

2) You could also address the issues you have with his mother directly with her. However, to do this you will need his support – even if he doesn’t deal with the issue himself. He will need to back you up. I am not sure you have that, but it is something you can address in the marital therapy. There are different things you can do as far as changing your own behavior that will start to change her behavior. If you are willing to stand up for yourself (without challenging or confronting her), I would be happy to help you.

My mother-in-law seems to want to fight me on or ignore every request I have with my child.


My MIL and I haven’t ever really been close but things have become extremely difficult after giving birth to my daughter about 5 months ago. It seems like she wants to fight me on or ignore every request I have with my child. A few small examples would be when my husband and I ask her not to bounce her around or really play with her a lot after feedings. My daughter has acid reflux so we try to keep her from getting sick. My MIL will look you right in the eye and tell you she’s not bouncing her (while she’s doing it)! Which normally results in a puking baby. Then comes the baby swing. I’m not really a big fan of using it. It’s nice when I have to get things done and don’t have a choice, but I don’t want my daughter sitting in it all day. The swing is not a babysitter. Plus I’m really big on her not sleeping in it, I don’t want her becoming dependent on the motion of the swing for sleep. The very first time my MIL babysat our daughter, she had the swing pulled out ready to go and looked right at me with a big smile declaring, “there’s the swing you don’t like”. I felt hurt like that was a big screw you, I’m going to do what I want. Which she followed this up by posting pictures on Facebook of my child in the swing all night. All this time, I try to let my husband deal with her. It is his mother.

We finally came to a huge blow out when she fed my only 3 month old baby a spoon full of banana pudding without asking my husband or I. I felt this was extremely disrespectful. At the time we simply asked it not to be done again. Can you guess what happened next? Not even two minutes later she’s giving my daughter another spoon of pudding. At this point I felt like I had to say something. She is disrespecting my every wish. Everything got out of control and she thinks she has done nothing wrong. She claims that she raised her children just fine and knows what she’s doing, that she shouldn’t have to ask to do certain things. I’ve tried explaining that yes she did raise her kids fine but I would like to raise my child my way. Now it’s to the point that we are no longer speaking and she hasn’t seen my daughter in a little over month. I was considering trying to talk to her again until I found out she is now bad mouthing me to everyone one. I just don’t know what to do. Confront her or just keep my distance?


I can appreciate what you are saying. It seems that no matter what you do or say to her your mother-in-law does what she wants. I sounds as though you and your husband have tried to reason with her, however reasoning with someone like your mother-in-law is not possible. She will never see things from your perspective because she wants to do what she wants to do. Throughout her life people have chosen to not deal with her and so she gets her way.

My suggestion is that you and your husband need to set boundaries and consequences with her. Don’t worry if she is bad mouthing you. She will do it whether you set boundaries with her or not. She is doing that in an attempt to get you and your husband to give in to her. Setting boundaries/consequences can be tricky because the person needs to know from you in advance what behavior you want from them (not just what you don’t want from them) and the consequences. Then if she chooses to ignore you it is easy to put the consequences into place. This makes it her choice – she can abide by what you both say, or if she chooses not to, she will have to accept the consequences.

If you need help with setting boundaries/consequences, please let me know. That is something we can work on together. Also…remember…do not try to reason with someone like your MIL. It will not get you the results you want. Setting boundaries in a kind, loving way and sticking to the consequences you set is what will change her behavior.

My MIL makes no effort to be in our lives. She seems so resentful of my husband's relationship with his father. His parents are divorced and she says negative things about my FIL. This is affecting our relationship with her a lot.


My husband’s parents divorced when he was about 10 (he’s 33 now )and when he was about 15 he chose to live with his father.  Since then, his mother, probably subconsciously, resents him and his brother but constantly showers his sister with praise and love.  She even paid  for her college in full while letting the two boys pay for their own college tuition.  His sister has never had a relationship with her father because of the negative comments my MIL makes about my FIL.  When his sister got married, she paid for the wedding but didn’t even offer to help in planning ours-didn’t even help with addresses when I asked.  In fact, when save the dates went out she emailed (never calls me or my husband) to ask why her best friends didn’t get one and when I asked for their addresses for invitations, she didn’t send their addresses.  She made no effort to meet my parents when they drove five hours to meet her and her husband, makes excuses for not being involved in my husband’s life or his brother’s life.  It really bothers me because I am such a family oriented person and my parents are still happily married after 35 years so I don’t understand the family dynamic nor do I understand why his mother insists on saying things like “your stupid father” after so many years of being divorced.  I guess my questions are 1. How do I get her to be more involved in our lives? 2. How do I deal with her constant negativity in regards to his father when we are around her? 3. How do I get him to talk to his mother more instead of resigning himself to “well that’s how she is”?  Thank you so much for you help!


I agree, your mother-in-law seems to be hanging on to her bitterness toward her exhusband. She also seems as though she cannot get over her hurt/anger for her sons choosing to live with the father after the divorce. I know this is hard to watch and to experience, but she appears to want to continue to punish her son (and now you).

To answer your questions….This will really answer your first and third question…..

I would start by sitting down with your husband and talking about what is going on. It is not clear that he wants a relationship with his mother. I know family means a lot to you and your experience with family has been so different from that of your husband, but he has to want a different relationship with his mom than he has. It really is up to him. If you truly want his mom in your lives more than she is now, then there are steps you can take to help that along, but first you need to find out if that is really what he wants.

Your mother-in-law’s negative comments…

Setting firm, boundaries with consequences with your mother-in-law is key to getting her to stop with the negative comments about your father-in-law.


If you would like help with any of this please email me. I will be happy to help you with any part of these.

My mother-in-law and I were close for 30 years. Her daughter, who was estranged from her, is now back in her life and my mother-in-law completely ignores me.


My mother and I have been close for 30 years, thats was until the dysfunctional drug induced daughter I gave a job to for 12 years came back into her life after finding religion.  Now my mother in law does not communicate with me anymore.  I feel used and wrote her a letter letting her know how hurt I was being by her side all these years to be thrown to the curb.  she wrote back saying life is to short, the past us the past get over it, WOW  i feel that now she finally has the relationship with her daughter she is not capable of having both of us in her life.

Hurt and will get over it in time…. Any other suggestions on how to handle this.


I am sorry you are going through this. I know it is hard. From what you said, 30 years of a relationship… to end like this is painful.

The best thing for you to do right now is allow yourself to go through the grieving process. You are dealing with a loss…a very important loss. And right now you need to let yourself work through your grieving. Once you’ve allowed yourself to go through this process you will be in a better place to know what you want to do next. You are raw with emotions right now… understandable…also don’t try to rush this process as it takes as long as it takes…different for different people. I would suggest you set up an appointment with a grief counselor to help you. It will help move you through more smoothly and your therapist will be able to make sure you are working through the different stages.

My MIL likes to give "advice" on every aspect of our lives and I can't stand this anymore. We just moved across country to be 1.5 hours from her and my husband has insisted we spend ALL our weekends with her.


I am writing because I do not know how to deal with my MIL. She likes to give “advice” on every aspect of our lives and I can’t stand this anymore. We just moved across country to be 1.5 hours from her and my husband has insisted to spend ALL our weekends with her. We have been married for just over 7 months and I don’t feel we have time as a couple. All he wants to do is to go see “mommy”. She calls all the time, frequently on Friday nights which is our time alone and after every call he fights with me.

We plan on buying a house and she keeps sending me notes with houses SHE looked at for us and wants my husband to go check them out. All those houses that I DO NOT want (old, fixer-uppers!). He looks like a little boy in front of her and just says: “yes, Mom”. Now we plan to buy a new car and again she is interfering! We went to the car sale place on the weekend after a dinner with the in laws and who comes along???? Mommy! She gets off the car and immediately is calling my husband in his direction and he goes like a dog. If I wanted to follow fine, if not I wouldn’t be missed”.

She is a social worker and talks bad about everyone, other daughters-in-law, even grand kids! I can only imagine what she says about me. She Psycho-analyzes everyone all the time.

I complain to my husband who says his mother is the most loving, caring woman on the planet and I am overreacting because she is just excited for us! I do not want her opinion on anything! She has taken the fun out of house hunting and car hunting. Also my husband accepts all her ideas and doesn’t even ask me if I agree with them!

Now if I don’t want to go to her house he says I don’t have to but he will. I am foreigner and have no friends or family in this new city and I don’t think it is fair that he leaves me to see “mommy”. I am very irritated with this whole thing and I do not know how to behave.
I would appreciate your advice. Am the one overreacting?

Thank you!


Based on your email, no you are not overreacting. Before you can work on your mother-in-law issue it would be important to look at your marriage. You have a marital issue that needs to be addressed. Your husband sounds overly attached to his mother. It also seems as though he cannot see how his own behavior is hurting your marriage.

I would recommend that you first talk with your husband about the issues between the two of you. Do not bring up his mother because she really is not the issue right now. He is! I would also recommend you and your husband get into marital counseling to help you work though some of this. If he won’t go, then you go to learn how you can deal better with him.

Although your MIL may have good intentions with her suggestions and “helpfulness,” she is going about it in a distructive way. And yes, this needs to be addressed with her, but it cannot happen until your marriage is more on track and you and your husband are more aligned.


If you have any questions, please let me know.

My husband's Mom ignores all limits we set, and she selfishly controls and pushes verbally, in letters and in phone conversations. She overrides my husband’s few requests if he ever puts his foot down with what is important to parenting decisions etc.


Thank you for your time!  I just found your website.  After 14 ½ years of marriage, I am at a loss to know what to do in our relationship with my Mother in law.  She is very unhappy, clingy and manipulative.   My husband and I have always been respectful, but with his Mom there are no limits, and she selfishly controls and pushes verbally, in letters and in phone conversations.  She overrides my husband’s few requests if he ever puts his foot down with what is important to parenting decisions etc.  He was raised to ignore his Mom, as his father and sister had to do this to cope with her tantrums and absurd behavior.   But now he sees his enmeshment and is stepping back a bit and becoming more mature in how he relates with her.
Over the years, we have kept in as much contact as we can and it is important for our 6 children to know their grandparents.  My father in law is very kind but also caters to his wife, facilitating her narcissistic behaviors continually.  He hardly gets a word in edgewise.  He spends a lot of time flying to other States to be with his family and friends who enjoy hobbies together.  He throws himself into his work, and travels hours to his work and has his space when he needs it.   I personally feel stuck in between, as my mother in law ignores me and uses me as a pawn to get what she wants – communication and verbal veneration from her family.
Just 9 months ago we moved back home to Israel and the guilt and pressure has gone up 10 notches.  The heat is on us, the guilt is flung our way in the communications and we are made to feel badly by her comments that she does not have “her family” nearby.   Last week in an email, she complained about how lonely she is.   The odd thing is that we lived a great distance away, in two different States since 2008, and have not lived under her roof since 2002.    It is overwhelming planning for their next visit,  and she has said she wants to visit more often once she retires.  My husbands parents stay in our home and all routine is tossed aside as his Mom wreaks havoc.  She wakes the children up from their naps, re-does my kitchen, insists on doing my laundry that is not done yet, etc. and I have catered to her every need, being respectful, but now that our children are growing up and can see who she is and what is going on more clearly, what do my husband and I do to keep things as healthy as possible?
On Father’s Day we are skyping with them, and I never know what guilty comments she will aim directly at out children.  She has a short fuse and has yelled at our children and kicked them under the table and she continually shoves, grabs their hands and aims them towards where she wants them to go,  commanding them and pullings them, yet she totally ignores them when they talk to her.   My husband has asked her many times to take an interest in the children, but she has no empathy and keeps harping on herself.  It gets old fast.   She is a first grade teacher, and critical of their ideas, thinking she has the best ideas and that Grandchildren are there to adorn her crown as Grandma, not the opposite.  I wish she could be there for them, like my Grandma was. Our children’s art and ideas are not interesting to her.  She always talks about herself non-stop to our children and they tend to gravitate towards their Grandpa during the visits.
Thank you so much for your advice!


It sounds as though you and your husband are on the right track with your MIL. You both need to set boundaries and limits with her, however, what is even more important is letting her know the consequences if she does not abide by the boundaries you set and then follow through with the consequences. It seems as though this last piece – creating consequences and following through with them – is what has been missing. She will not do what you want if there are no consequences. (but you can’t set consequences if you don’t follow through with them.)

Your MIL sounds like an Off-the-Wall Wanda, and if this is the case there is nothing to be gained by trying to reason with her – instead just focus on changing the behavior. Also guilt and manipulation is how she has always gotten her way. Remember though, guilt/manipulation only work if you buy into it. Think of it this way – if one of your children tried to guilt you or manipulate you, would you give in? It is really no different with your MIL.

As far as her visiting you in Israel, it would be best (as hard as this might be) to have her stay somewhere else – either a hotel or apartment, depending on the length of her stay. Even when relationships are good, too much togetherness can cause relationships to wear thin. You can lovingly and kindly let her know you will get her a place to stay while she is visiting so that she has her privacy.

Setting boundaries, letting her know the consequences, and then following through is a very effective way to get the results you want. You will need to make sure you follow through every single time so that the message is really clear to her. My book goes into a lot of detail about setting boundaries and how to deal with an Off-the-Wall Wanda type of MIL.


Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

My husband and I are having trouble setting boundaries because my MIL just ignores what we say.


I can’t tell you how relieved I am to find this site. According to the questionnaire, my MIL is an off-the-wall
Wanda. She was nice and cordial until just before the wedding (2 years ago), then the snide remarks began about girls who wanted to marry my husband, how I never considered my husbands wants and needs like she did, and always chose my family over his.

The last straw was this past year when I was pregnant and all she talked about was how excited she was about a little baby boy who would look and act just like her son, bought baby boy clothes to complement the baby’s “coloring” (supposed to be red hair and freckles just like my husband) and talked about how she would sew the clothes for “baby Jack” ignoring our statements about wanting to wait to find out the gender. I had a girl. I always feel that this has disappointed her greatly.

There are so many more issues similar to that. After many discussions, my husband and I are a united front- he is very supportive and sees the vindictive things his mother often does. It is not uncommon for her to write over the top nice emails addressed and with subject matter related directly to me (“excited to see you, love you and my baby girl”- her grandchild) but CC them to my friends, husband and other family members so they can see how “nice” she really is to me.

Our main problem is boundaries and respect. We have attempted to set boundaries and they are ALWAYS met with difficulty – silent treatment, guilt trip, yelling, or we are “leaving them out.” I do not know how to set boundaries with my in-laws anymore. This is especially vital now that we have our baby and they will never ask us our wishes, or what we typically do for her etc…. They (mil and fil) will do what they want, because it is, of course, right. So I do not trust them with her.

The last time she emailed me (her only form of communication because she can control what she says better than when she slips with mean comments over the phone) to tell me she received a package addressed to us, opened it, and it didn’t look like something she ordered and “was it mine?” (a personal item). I wrote her and asked if that ever happened again would she please go ahead and leave our mail unopened and we would grab it when we had a chance? That was met with 2 weeks of silent treatment. I feel like we can’t win. How do I ask for simple boundaries when I will never get a positive response? Any boundary or “no thank you” is not acceptable to them. They don’t hear or acknowledge it. They smile disapprovingly as if we are imbeciles and say we are disrespectful. Help! They are planning a visit in 2 weeks. We already told them the (2) days we would be available to see them and they said they’d be here two days prior to go to church with us and evaluate our church community. We said that wouldn’t work, but they’ll be on our doorstep. I am close to having zero contact, but would feel bad as they are my husbands parents! Thanks in advance!


Off-the-Wall Wanda is the most difficut of MILs (as I’m sure you are well aware). And knowing that she will do whatever she can to get what she wants is just who she is….The thing about setting boundaries is that it is not just that you need to set them, but you need to have consequences if your bounaries are to work. That is the key. So when you and your husband set a boundary, e.g., These are the 2 days we will be available to see you. And when your MIL & FIL tell you they are coming in earlier to do _______, just tell them you will not be available. And then when they come in early. DO NOT be available. Please…if they were going to stay with you and they come in early, tell them before they come that if they come early they will need to stay at a hotel. And then make sure you follow through with that.

As with children, following through with what you say is what makes these things work. And yes your in-laws will pout, give you the silent treatment, etc. But don’t make that about you. That is their way of getting you off your game and getting what they want. (again, just like kids do).

The fact that you and your husband are on the same page helps as he need to be there with you and say these things as well. But remember…come up with consequences they will face if they don’t abide by what you say. Make sure you tell them in advance what the boundary is AND what the consequene is…then follow through. Ignore their acting out behavior…pretend you don’t see it.

Also do not try to discuss or get them to see your side of things and why you are setting the boundray…they don’t care. They want what they want, when they want it. And they will do whatever it takes to get what they want. You just need to stay firm, set your boundary, consequence and follow through. Hold fast to it. In time they will abide by what you want because they will not be getting anything if they don’t.

There is a whole section on Off-the-Wall Wanda in my book with the tools to deal with her…that may help as well.

If you have any questions about what I’ve written please let me know

I am writing in need of some tips with help for my mother-in-law. She is staying with us for 10 months from overseas, and she does not speak a word of English.


I am writing in need of some tips with help for my mother-in-law.
She is staying with us for 10 months from overseas, and she does not speak a word of English.
I feel that I have had to make many adjustments and sacrifices for her, and that she is oblivious to the problems that she creates, and has not tried to make any changes to make things easier on anybody else.
I have had to try and learn the language (communication difficulties are big, and she is often upset over something that I have said – because I cannot express myself very well in her language), I’ve had to make financial sacrifices (which really gets to me, as she has not worked in years, and I feel that I have funded this big overseas holiday for her, when I had to defer my overseas trip to be able to afford it, and for it to not clash with the dates that she wanted to be here), and we had to move house to accomodate her (but I am always stuck in one room, alone – because she dominates the home)
We don’t get to do date night at all, and if we go anywhere, it is a family outing – myself, my partner, his mother and his brother. All conversations need to be in slow-mo to be translated for her. If I even set foot near the kitchen, she flocks to it, and tries to take over.  I have not been alone in this house, since we moved in 5 months ago.
Can you help? I feel lonely – and like I am the last priority. I feel like an outsider in my own home, and unable to relax in my own space and I feel used…
I have tried talking to my partner, but he doesn’t think there is a problem, and that I need to stop being so upset.
I just don’t know…
Please help?


It seems clear to me that you need to set some very clear boundaries with her. She is in your home, which means she is your guest, not the person who should be running the household. (that would be you and your husband).

But before you can set boundaries with her you need to have a discussion with your partner. This is really a marital issue at this point be cause your partner is unwilling to see things from your perspective. So start there. Start with talking to your partner and let him know what you need to be OK with his mother staying with you for such a long period of time. He is going to need to accommodate you to some degree because of the circumstances.  Be very clear in what you need from him so that he truly understands.

Once you’ve done that, then the two of you need to sit his mother down and make some rules in the house. This is your home, your kitchen, your surroundings…make that clear. You can do this in a kind, loving way, but it needs to be clear, firm and direct. She may not like it, but this is not about that. It is about making the visit work for you, not just her.

I realize you have a language barrier and maybe a cultural barrier, but that does not change the facts of the situation. Your partner needs to be more respectful of your situation AND boundaries need to be set.


If you have any questions about what I’ve written please just email again.

In most aspects, my mother in law and I get along pretty well. She is nice to me but can be overbearing and passive agressive. Most of the time, I can deal with it by ignoring her attempts to guilt trip but recently, it seems we've hit another snag in our relationship, my husband's little brother.


I have a mother in law issue that actually stems from issues with my younger brother in law.
In most aspects, my mother in law and I get along pretty well. She is nice to me but can be overbearing and passive agressive. Most of the time, I can deal with it by ignoring her attempts to guilt trip but recently, it seems we’ve hit another snag in our relationship, my husband’s little brother. She gets very protective of her youngest and I understand that but she is protective to the point of insanity. She constantly complains to my older brother in law about my husband and I and she complains to us about the older brother in law but she never has a negative thing to say about the youngest. She tries to difuse and play down every negative thing about him and blames us for all of his shortcomings, insecurities and lack of a relationship with the family. This is a son that had spent 4 years in jail but my husband, his older brother and I are the awful ones.
Needless to say, I’m not his hugest fan and so avoid seeing or talking to him as much as I can but am polite during family gatherings. I just don’t have a friendly relationship with him like I do my husband’s older brother. My mother in law resents this and really tries to push me into being friends with her youngest and it makes me uncomfortable. I think she knows I don’t like him and that angers her because she thinks I didn’t give him a chance but I feel as though I did. The more she pushes me into having a relationship with the little brother, the more I am put off trying because everything good I hear about him comes from her, but his actions always contradict what she says so I don’t know what she is making up and what is true.
I want to have a relationship with my mother in law and I want any kids I have to have a relationship with her but I’m wondering if I can have one if I don’t have one with the little brother in law, not for lack of trying. We didn’t have much of a relationship before he went to jail and there is even less of one now that he is back. I don’t know what to do. I didn’t acknowlege this problem before because she was always friendly with me but lately she has been acting a bit colder. My husband is used to this behaviour and brushes it off, it’s even a family joke that the youngest is the “favourite” and can do no wrong but it really bothers me to be forced into a friendship with someone I don’t really like just to keep my mother in law happy. Again, I’m polite to him, I just don’t have any interest at this stage to have a friendship with him.


Feeling forced to have a relationship with your brother-in-law, or anyone for that matter, is going to feel awful. You can’t force yourself to like someone or befriend them when the feeling just isn’t there. Your MIL can want what she wants, but she cannot dictate your feelings or your actions. She does not have that right. Keep in mind relationships are two way…you would like a relationship with  her and on some level she wants one with you as well, but she has to treat you differently. She has always been able to get what she wants (or thinks she does) by pushing people into doing what she wants. You need to help her see that her behavior does not work.

My suggestion is this…keeping in mind that she is a passive-aggressive type of person, who can be overbearing…I would nicely and kindly say to her, “I know you want me to have a relationship with ______ and are upset that we don’t, but the more you try to force it the less likely it will happen. Whatever _______and I have is between us. Please let things unfold naturally. If it happens it happens…if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I need you to stop trying so hard.” And then just walk away…do not try to discuss it with her…do not try to reason with her or try to get her to understand…just state what you state….by doing this you are letting her know how you know what her actions are, what she feels about your situation with your BIL, but you are also letting her know you want her to stop…and setting the groundwork for future situations.

If you focus on just the facts and don’t try to debate this with her (as she will never see it your way), you have a better chance of having her back off. And each time after you’ve made our statement above she tries to say or do something about your relationship with BIL, (which she will)  you stop her and say…”remember what I said.” …say nothing more…just that…and then change the subject or walk away. You need to be consistent with this and keep doing it until she changes her behavior.

Also…as far as your MIL talking to you/husband about his older brother…to stop this vicious cycle of talking behind people’s back I would suggest this: You and your husband need to say to her…we love you, but we don’t want to hear your complaints about (older brother), if you continue to tell us these things, we will hang up as soon as you start..we love talking with you and will talk about anything else…just not (older brother…you might want to put in younger brother too…so you don’t have to hear about how “wonderful” he is)


Let me know if you have any questions about what I’ve written.

She goes around her town badmouthing me, and will not stop telling my husband that I am no good. She calls his ex-girlfriend and tells her she wishes he would have married her and not me.


Now it is four months later, and we just visited her for the first time since the issue.  Before the visit, my husband had called her numerous times.  She only had things to say such as she hates me, and that I am no good.  I didn’t include her in the wedding planning and she feels like she is not a mother.  She says that she still has a card from him that says that she will always be his mother.  (This is true, and he has never replaced her.  I wish she would understand that accepting his step-mother does not mean he rejects his mother.)  She said he was no longer her son and that no one in the family cares about him.  She has driven a wedge between his sister and us by saying things like “Maria said she wishes you were closer, so you could work out together, because she thinks you could stand to lose some weight” and “(My husband) doesn’t care about you and the kids.  He never visits, and he clearly doesn’t care about family anymore.”  Anyway, I have held my crying husband several times after he talks to his mother, and I am sick of it.  She thinks she is always the victim.  She goes around her town badmouthing me, and will not stop telling my husband that I am no good.  She calls his ex-girlfriend and tells her she wishes he would have married her and not me.  She is upset, because he walked his step-mother down the aisle at the wedding and said she “should have turned and walked out right then.”  I wish she could love her son more than she hates her ex-husband and his new life.  She tries to make us feel guilty, and I am so sick of it.  This visit was a complete waste of time, because no one talked about the issues at hand.  It was full of awkward silences, but is it my place to say anything?  I wanted to take my husband’s lead, but they seem to sweep unacceptable things under the rug.  How can I rectify this situation?  I can’t really have a positive relationship with her until she apologizes to me (and my husband) for the awful things she said to us.  How can I move forward?  What can we do now?  I think she needs to seek a therapist for help to get over her divorce, but can we be expected to accept that behavior?  Please help!!  We have only been married four months, and I cannot imagine having kids around her.  She badmouths my step-mother-in-law to my sister-in-law’s kids by holding a photo of her and saying “this is the witch.”  I will not allow that to happen with our children.  Our children will have three grandmas…end of story.  We are leaving to teach in China next month, and I really want to have healthy relationships before we go.  How can we move forward if she will not admit fault, apologize, and speak to us in a civil and calm manner?  I want to take the high road, but I have never dealt with someone like this.  Please help.


As you can see I did edit some of what you wrote out. Not because it wasn’t important, but because I wanted to keep some of what you said private. However, I will respond to all of it as it gave me a really good understanding of what is going on in your world.

Your MIL is who I call “Off-the-Wall Wanda” and it is important that you really get clear on the type of person she is. (Please take the questionnaire o my website as you will be able to download the information about this type of MIL). She has no desire to understand things from your perspective or your husband’s perspective. She wants to remain the victim as it serves her purpose, which is to get what she wants and have people respond to her in the way she wants. What you and your husband will need to do is to stop trying so hard. The more you try the more you get hurt. In the beginning it may also mean that you both need to stay away from her and just not have any interaction with her as she is too hurtful.

She will never talk about the issues. She truly has no desire to resolve things. Again, all she wants is what she wants and she does not care who gets hurt – as long as it is not herself. Both you and your husband are going to need to work at “letting” go of who you want her to be and work at seeing her for who she really is. As strange as this may sound, it is not personal…she treats everyone like this, particularly if they do not do what she wants.

There are a couple of tools that I recommend – set firm, clear boundaries and use humor. Both of these work really well with Off-the-Wall Wandas. You can learn more about these tools in my book and there are different blog posts on my website that touch on both of these as well.

Let me know if you want/need some help in really getting clear on who you are up against. She is one of the most difficult people to deal with because she really doesn’t care about anyone but herself. She is often hurtful, spiteful, and downright mean.

The most important thing for both you and your husband to remember is…it is not either of you…you are not doing anything to cause her to act this way…this is about her and her own selfish, self-centered way of being. Also, once you are able to put some emotional distance between you and her you will feel so much better (so will your husband if he does the same). And the reason for this is that you will not take her actions/words personally.

Throughout the first year of us dating I made an effort to try to talk to his mom since we have been together for a while. She seemed a bit "standoffish" at first, and it was really awkward. She never had a daughter of her own, so I figure "she may have the daughter she always wanted" Well, sadly, I was wrong.


Throughout the first year of us dating I made an effort to try to talk to his mom since we have been together for a while. She seemed a bit “standoffish” at first, and it was really awkward. She never had a daughter of her own, so I figure “she may have the daughter she always wanted” Well, sadly, I was wrong.

I didn’t know that she had a surgery from an aneurism she had experienced a long time ago, and according to my husband it caused her to be imbalanced (bipolar). I didn’t learn of this until the year of planning my wedding in 2011.

I tried to talk to her about anything and everything when I would visit as we hit year 2, 3 and 4 of our relationship, still nothing.

Finally, I gave up. I made up my mind if she really whats a relationship with me she will come to me and talk to me, but until then I’m not going to try anymore. In my mind, “You cannot help someone who does not want to be helped” right, so I applied the same principle “You cannot be friends with someone who does not want to be friends”. I do not believe I am wrong, so I gave her and I some space.

Now, we are married. We’ve been together for 6 plus years, and still no relationship with his mother. We spent holidays and birthdays together with his father, younger brother, and mother. I just assumed since she never called me or showed any interest in wanting to talk to me that I had just that kind of mother in law who I speak with at holidays and birthdays.  

Recently, my mother in law apparently yelled at my husband for not calling her enough, and I do not call her ever. I really never called her throughout my years knowing her. My husband just talked to me and asked me why I don’t call her. Of course my reaction is “What?! Why would I call her anyway?” He just scolded me for what she had yelled at him for not calling her, not hugging her and greeting her properly when visiting. I told him that I said “Hello” to her.

First of all I do not think that my husband should give in to one of his mother’s episode which she is obviously having. Second, he constantly compares me to his mother which is very upsetting. Finally, he will not take a side for fear of upsetting the other person. I really think he should stand up to her more since I am his wife, and I have been telling him for a while now, “I don’t think your mom likes me. Even after trying to have a relationship with her, she never acted like she wanted to talk with me, so I’m not trying anymore. I will wait for her to come around.”

I do not know what to do. I know my husband is a stressing about this matter which is the last thing he needs right now. I just want to ignore it and move on with my life, but I am a hurt because he relayed the message to me. I would have just said, “Mom, if you want to talk to her, call her yourself. She has been waiting for you show interest in her” Instead, he scolded me.

What should I do? I do not want to make the first move anymore!


Thank you for writing in…
It seems as though you have 2 issues going on here. One is between you and your MIL and the other is between you and your husband. Even though it may seem as though the problems are connected, they really have separate focuses. Let me start with you and your husband first…then you and your MIL.

1. Your husband’s mother calls him and yells at him for not being in contact with her more than he is…AND on top of that she mentions to him that you never contact her…

If you look at this it is clear that your husband is doing to you what his mother did to him…his mother probably makes little effort to reach out to him and instead of doing somthing different herself she blames him…deflects the focus off of herself…Your husband has done the same thing….instead of dealing with the fact that his mother is upset with HIM for not being in touch more often, he puts the focus on you…That is an issue you need to bring up with your husband…it is not really about his mother, it is how he chose to handle an uncomfortable situation.

You see his mother presented 2 problems…1) he doesn’t have enought contact with her in her eyes 2) you don’t make an effort to contact her. He is ignoring problem 1 and just focusing on problem 2.

So your issue with him is…why is he not focusing on how he feels about his mother being upset with him and how he feels about the way she talked to him….AND how his choosing to not look at those things is hurting his marriage…BECAUSE that’s what is happening…

2. You say “…he will not take a side for fear of hurting the other person.” That is actually not a true statement. He seems to have no trouble letting you be upset…I think what you may mean is…he does not want to do anything that will upset his mother. And again…HIS choice of behavior is hurting you and the marriage…

3. He compares you to his mother…Again…this makes it quite clear that he is struggling with issues about his mother and THEIR relationship…again…his not dealing with those is hurting you and the marriage.

Do you see where I’m going here…your husband’s choices…how he chooses to handle situations, his own feelings, his need to emotionally separate from his mother is affecting your relationshp WITH HIM….You can very gently and loving talk with him about these things…but you need to keep his mother out of the conversation because it really is not about her. She is just the person who is stirring all of these “choices” up.


Now let’s talk about you and your MIL

First…to ignore this and go on with your life is not going to work. If you ignore it, it will just get worse…a lot worse! Things between you and your MIL will get worse AND things between you and your husband will get worse…so creating a relationship with her that works for you is the key.

That being said, let me ask…does your MIL treat everyone around her…particularly family…the way she treats you? I would believe she does…maybe to varying degrees, but just the way you described her treatment of your husband leaves me to believe it. Then if that is the case, you know her actions toward you are not personal…it is who she is…and that makes things easier for you. She sounds like an Off-the-Wall Wanda…in my book I go into a lot of detail about this particular type of MIL and how to deal with someone like her.

Also remember…that she is going to be in your life for a long time so you will need to figure out a way to make a relationship with her work…now it doesn’t have to be a warm, fuzzy relationship…but a relationship that you can be OK with.

If you have any questions about what I’ve written, please let me know…I will be happy to fill in any blanks.

My fiancé and I have a 1 year old son together. I don't want my fiancé's mother to baby-sit our son when we go out. But I don't know how to tell him without hurting his feelings

My fiancé and I have a 1 year old son together. I don’t want my fiancé’s mother to baby-sit our son when we go out. But I don’t know how to tell him without hurting his feelings. I prefer to have my own mother baby-sit over his. I don’t like my fiancé’s mother. There are good things about her. She’s generous, funny, great cook. She’s a DV survivor too. I’m not sure why she chose to stay with her abuser all these years. But, I just don’t trust her. I think it’s ok to have some interaction with her, but to mostly keep my distance.
        Although it was nice of her to come to the delivery room, I didn’t invite her. I made it clear with my fiancé I only wanted him in the room with me. I would have kicked her out had I known my rights. Luckily she didn’t get to see anything anyway because I had a c-section. I’m still angry with her for asking me if Brandon is really her grand child. While I understand she is looking out for her son’s best interest, what she asked me was disrespectful!
        MIL kept our son when we went to the movies a few times. I’m still angry we knocked on the door for over 15 minutes and no one responded. I didn’t hear a  sound when I put my ear to the door. My fiancé’s friend happened to walk by. He knocked on the door and my fiancé’s younger sister opened the door. There was smoke all over the place because MIL’s grandson overcooked his hamburger. I don’t understand how none of them heard us banging on the door. I was scared for my baby I wanted to cry. MIL was in my fiancé’s old bedroom with door closed with our son when we came in. She told me I must have been worried, but he’s fine. I wasn’t!
        Another time my fiancé chose to leave our son with her because he had to go to a training. I had to  pick up our son from her house. When I got there his pamper was very full. I can tell she hadn’t changed his pamper all day because the pamper was swollen to the max. I was also annoyed because she always asks if I have enough pampers. I told her I would change him myself and go. I noticed she was watching me so I positioned the strolled in front of me for privacy. She kicked the strolled out of her way so she could continue watching. I felt very disturbed by the way she was watching me.
        Last year she called me to find out what I was doing for Thanksgiving. Then she told me she and her daughters were talking about coming over my place for Thanksgiving because they wanted to do something different. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was the one with the new baby, so I didn’t understand why she and daughters wanted me to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for them. I never had my OWN family over for Thanksgiving dinner. I told her I would talk it over with her son and  we hung up. I relayed the message to my fiancé and I noticed he didn’t seem thrilled to have them over. I cooked our own dinner. I MIL was on the phone with my fiancé while I was cooking our food. In the end we ended up having Thanksgiving dinner at my mom’s and uncle’s place. Then we went to have dinner with fiancé’s sister. I hope she doesn’t ask this year.
        I’m angry with her for being pushy about choosing this licensed baby sitter she knows who lives directly across the hall from her to watch our baby. She also said she would pay. While it’s nice of her to offer. I clearly told her several times before I didn’t need her help, but would let her know if I did. My own mother has come over to watch our baby if my fiancé needed to go somewhere while I’m at work. I also have a good job with childcare benefits. So I don’t need her to pay for our childcare. I cant see any reason why my son should go all the way in some strange woman’s house across the hall from HER when my OWN mother or other available relative can watch my child. I think she is sick!
        She also had the nerve to ask me if I thought it would be a good idea to live in a house together with her and her family. She said she was coming by to see the baby. I began to fix dinner. So she sat with the baby. I gave her his bottle with milk. Then she asked me if I had anything for the baby to drink like water or juice. I told her to give him what was already in his bottle. Then she asked said, “Hey wouldn’t it be a good idea if we all lived in the same house together?” I turned around from the kitchen sink and asked her, “With who?”. The she said, “Us. Me you R, F, and M”. Then I said, “No”. Then she said, “Oh you probably don’t want to live that close to us right?” Then I said, “it’s not about that”. Then she asked, “What’s it about then?” I told her, “I want my own house”. She nodded her head then she went to sit on my couch. She was looking at me from across the room. I told her she was welcome to stay for dinner. She didn’t stay because something happened at home with her younger daughter. I can’t believe she fixed her mouth up to ask me such a thing. Her daughter’s don’t even have jobs and MIL’s thinking of retiring. My fiancé doesn’t have a job. She didn’t mention her husband and youngest daughter. Where will they live? How will the bills and mortgage get paid? What if things don’t work out with my fiancé and I want to leave? I’m not going to let them live under the same roof with me so they can benefit from the fruits of my labor. We don’t get along now. I have no reason to think living together will make things better.
        Another time we allowed her to come over and watch the baby at our home so we can enjoy a much needed night out together. She decided to bring her youngest daughter along with her without our permission. First of all, I don’t trust his younger sister either. They told me someone stole their flat screen TV out of their living room while she was in the bed room sleeping. Quite frankly, I think she’s involved in the burglaries that take place at their home. So, I sure don’t want to be next. I hid all of my important documents once I knew his mom was coming over. But, I was even more angry when I saw his sister coming in the door behind MIL. Luckily, fiancé didn’t want his sister there anyway. I was in the room getting ready. I overheard MIL repeatedly asking fiancé if I would mind if his sister is there. I heard my fiancé say, “he minds and he would told her not to bring her over she would have said something ahead of time.” I don’t get a long with my brother. So he has not stepped foot in my home. I see no reason why his sister she be in our home either if they don’t get along. He told his sister to come with us to the movies. I was unhappy about her coming along. But, if he kicked her out while we went to the movies, she could easily come back in while we were gone. I took my fiancé’s lead on that issue. Needless to say, I did not enjoy myself.
I don’t know what to do anymore. :'(


I am assuming from your email that your fiance is in agreement with you about his mother. If that is the case I don’t think he will be hurt as it seems he is just as unhappy with her as you. If you are not sure about that then it will be important for you to ask him how he feels about his mom’s behavior with the 2 of you.

One of the things I would suggest is that you set really firm boundaries with her and stick with them. It seems you are getting really angry and frustrated, yet your MIL doesn’t always know that. Based on what you’ve written it does not seem as though your child is safe around his family and that is all the more reason for setting your boundaries with her.

When setting boundaries it is important to not get into discussions with her about “why” you are setting your boundary. She does not care about why, just how she can get you to change your mind. So, state your boundary and then make sure you follow through. So for example, if she asks what you’re doing for Thanksgiving, let her know you have plans already…you don’t need to state details…say you have plans then change the subject. Do not feel as though you have to do something you don’t want or feel comfortable doing.

Do not ask her to babysit, have a backup plan so you always have someone else to sit for you.

I have been married for 33 years to a wonderful man. Unfortunately, he came with a not-so-wonderful mother. Ever since day one, she has treated me like I am some kind of idiot. Everything has to be done her way.


I have been married for 33 years to a wonderful man. Unfortunately, he came with a not-so-wonderful mother. Ever since day one, she has treated me like I am some kind of idiot. Everything has to be done her way. She even wrote a nasty letter to my husband detailing what a mistake it was marrying me. Whenever I try to tell her to back off, she says I am “too sensitive”. Yet, when someone says something hurtful to her, she is all brokenhearted. I have tried to get my husband to back me up, but he chooses to ignore the whole situation. That is how all eight of her kids deal with her. They just ignore the horribly inappropriate comments she makes. My father-in-law (her husband) just passed away, and I was the only one who could drop everything and help her take care of him. I arranged for everything—from 24-hour care for him when he was sickest, to helping take care of her bills. She wasn’t the one holding his hand when he died—it was a caregiver I hired and instructed to never leave him alone. My mother-in-law was in her bedroom chatting on the phone with her girlfriend, even though she knew he was very close to dying. I have basically become her accountant and personal secretary. Every one of the siblings who wanted to come visit their father before he passed stayed at my house and used my car. My husband and his siblings were grateful, but my mother-in-law is a different story. She loves all this attention, and thinks she should be able to command our presence at anything she desires. She decided we should all go to her church for All Saint’s day and participate in the candle-lighting ceremony. We already shelled out a lot of money to host a memorial at her Leisure World condo (that we purchased for them). I told her I was tired and was not going. She told me that Grampy would be so disappointed. He’s dead, and certainly not concerned with her silly church ceremonies. Then she said I was a godless as my father was. I mistakenly told her significant details about my life, hoping she would get the hint and lay off. I am not godless. I pray every day that she will see the light and acknowledge how I have helped her over the years. She has never done one thing nice for me. I feel like a doormat. No, correct that. I AM a doormat. I am trying to do what is right from a purely human standpoint, and I am being used all over the place. I would cut off all contact, but someone needs to keep an eye on the old bird. She drives like a maniac and spends money like she has millions. Unfortunately, we are the ones who bail her out. As long as I have a financial stake in the outcome, I can’t foresee dropping all ties. Thirty-three years of this is enough.


It is clear your MIL is challenging…to say the least. You actually have your answer in your own question…as you said…you are allowing yourself to be a doormat. And that is the key to changing things. It is important that you start to set boundaries with your MIL – firm boundaries – that you stick to. If you don’t/can’t do something, then let her know that. You do not need to explain yourself because the more you try to explain, the easier it is for her to manipulate and get you to do what she wants you to do.

It may help to understand that your MIL (I refer to her as Off-the-Wall Wanda) is so afraid of losing control of things (which she doesn’t have anyway) that she pulls out all the stops and uses guilt and manipulation to regain a sense of control. As you can see her children have figured her out years ago and have chosen to not “buy into” her actions. They know their mother well!

I am not saying that you should write her off, as I don’t think that is necessary; however, by setting firm, clear boundaries with her she is not able to move you off your position. You may feel guilty in setting these boundaries…that is usually the case because you do not usually have to set such strict, blatant boundaries with most people. However, you are not dealing with MOST people…her goal is to get what she wants…when she wants. And she will do/say anything to make that happen (saying you are Godless like your father is a perfect example). The key is not to let your emotions get caught up in what she says as truth. Or you needing to prove her wrong. See her words/actions for what they are…manipulation…to get you to do what she wants.

So, just set your boundary – no explanation – and don’t feel guilty.

I need help talking to my husband about this without it ending in a huge fight (he is instantly on the fight if I bring anything up about his parents).


I don’t even know where to begin.  I’m 45, one marriage for 18 yrs, 2 daughters 15 and 12.  I have a PhD, but my husband and I decided when we had kids one of us would stay home – he spent one day with our oldest when she was a baby and it was decided that it was my job to stay home.  I love it and don’t regret that a bit.  I still get to use my degree consulting from home occasionally, so that makes me happy.  My kids are great and I love my husband very much.  His parents are mostly very nice and I really do care for them.  They are very good grandparents and my children really do love them.

I feel stupid for searching for help with my “great” inlaws when so many of my friends are going through separations/divorce, but I am afraid we could go that path if I can’t find help.  This is the situation; We live 22 hours from my inlaws which sounds like a great distance, right?  When they used to visit, it would be 10 days to 2 weeks and I could handle that – it made sense for them to stay after traveling so far.  Now that my father in law has retired, they generally stay 4 to 8 weeks but sometimes it is longer.  With the shorter visits I could handle the things they would do to hurt my feelings and irritate me, but these extended visits are too much for me to handle.  They plan huge family reunions here without asking me and his distant cousins just come out when they want without asking if its a good time to come.

I know it sounds easy – just make new boundaries for them, right?  The problem is my husband flat refuses to make any changes.  In fact, they could stay here and there is nothing I can say about it (which is really not true because this place belongs to my parents and has been in my family since the late 1800’s).  When I try to talk to him about how hard this is for me he gets really angry and defensive of his family.  I have made a rule for myself to not complain about the little things they do to annoy me (comments on how lazy I am, how I don’t take care of THEIR son and grandkids properly, and how stupid i am) that is just a whatever.  But when he attacks me after he talks with them about the above mentioned things I get hurt feelings.  He says he needs his dads help here because my dad doesn’t help much anymore (hello – he is 85) and I just won’t do anything around here that he wants done.  I feed, calve, hay and fence but I don’t work 5 – 9 every day on this place because I only have a few short years left with my kids.  The ranch is fine financially and the things that don’t get done wont cause this place to crash around our ears.  I really am not lazy.  I have asked him what I need to do to reduce the time his parents are here and he intentionally picks things he knows I can’t do alone – like rebuild the tractor engine or replace water lines or fix windmills.  

His dad loves to be here and runs over the top of me when he is here.  He is convinced he knows way more than me even though I grew up working here and I cant figure who he thinks taught my husband how to do everything out here (he was a true city kid when I met him).  I have tried to talk to my MIL, but  whatever my husband and FIL want, that is what is going to be done.  I just wished he would put himself in my shoes and I really want him to choose me over them just once.  I have begged him to, but he thinks I am ridiculous and he has made it quite clear that everyone fits with that family but me (oh and the other daughter in law) and because of this it is my problem and need to learn how to handle this because nothing is going to change.  He has even gone so far as to tell me I have no choice but to take care of his parents when they get of the age that they need that.

I feel I have been very giving and expected some respect of the boundaries I tried to set, but it seems all give on my end without any reciprocation.  I need help talking to my husband about this without it ending in a huge fight (he is instantly on the fight if I bring anything up about his parents).  I don’t want a fight, I dont want to exclude his parents – what I want is to have their visits and our interactions with some set boundaries and rules that my husband and I agree on and that he helps to enforce.  I just don’t know how to talk to him about this since I can’t mention it without him becoming seriously angry, refusing to speak with me and I know he does little things to punish me if I don’t go along with his thinking.  I really do feel he reacts to me this way because I always back off (mostly I hate wasting time bashing my head into a wall) so he doesn’t have to put some rules on his parents and family.  I think if I could have the tools to stick to my guns through his anger fits without causing us to move backwards.  I would love to sit down with him and rationally discuss this and come to some kind of solution we could both be happy with – with both of us giving in to reach a happy medium.

I don’t know, is he right that I just can’t see and appreciate all the great things they do?  Am I weird because I don’t want them to live with us?  Please help


Thank you for writing in…You definitely have a mess on your hands.

The real issue is between you and your husband. Your in-laws contribute, but it seems from what you’re saying your marriage is off-kilter. The best way to approach your husband is not to even bring up his parents, but talk to him about the way he is treating you. Does his behavior toward you get worse when he is around his parents or after they have just left? I ask that because it seems as though he gets reinforced for treating you this way. BUT, let’s not go there for now.

As I said in the first paragraph, your issue is how your husband treats you. And you are right he uses his anger to get you to back down. I would suggest that you talk with him…calmly…no matter how much he yells or gets loud and don’t back down. Preface what you say with the fact that you love him, but his actions toward you are hurting you. Let him know how his actions (nothing to do with his parents) impact you…ask him why he treats you this way (particularly if he hasn’t always done so…I’d want to know what has changed that he now is so hurtful). Really try to keep this about you and your husband…because truly that is the issue. When you ask him…then listen to what he says…do not defend…just listen..if he brings his parents up in the conversation…ask him to just talk about the two of you.

Also…if he gets defensive no matter what you say…let him know kindly, compassionately that you just need him to hear you…

The moment you focus on his parents you start to move away from the marital problems.

What I find interesting is that this is your family’s ranch…has he forgotten that? Is the ranch in your name & your husband’s name or is it still in your parents’ name? Why can’t the two of you hire other people to work the ranch instead of his parents?

Let me suggest you start with talking with your husband..let’s get your relationship in a better place and then we can move on to your in-laws.

Please, let me know how it goes with your husband…then we can move forward…

I’d like to see you address &/or have your thoughts about the truly toxic mother-in-law.


I’d like to see you address &/or have your thoughts about the truly toxic mother-in-law. I think that you need to address the truly toxic in-law situations where there is little or no possibility for “getting along” and where these people are truly psychologically damaged, abusive, mentally ill, alcoholic, drug-addicted (even if “legal” prescriptions). etc.

My daughter spent 20 years trying to “understand” someone who truly could not be “understood.” This has had serious reprecussions for her children.


You are absolutely right. This is the MIL I call Off-the-Wall Wanda. I will include my short write up for this particular MIL below. You can read more about her in my book that will be out in January, including how to deal with such a person. She is the most difficult of MILs.

I am so sorry for your DIL and her children. Yes, this type of person can create all kinds of chaos, havoc, and damage to everyone around her. And she doesn’t see herself as doing anything wrong. She is not someone you can reason with or get to see your side of things. Once you try you are caught in her web and it’s very hard to get out. It creates a lot of self doubt in whoever is dealing with her as well as guilt and pain. The tools I provlde are there to help you gain some sense of control when she is around and to regain your power.

Your Mother-in-law is: Off-The-Wall Wanda

This is what’s going on with her –

Your mother-in-law acts in ways that are very extreme or bizarre in nature. These actions often come across as really selfish, with everything needing to be about her. What you don’t see is what lies behind her actions – why she acts the way she does. The reality of the situation? She’s someone who is so anxious and so afraid inside that she can’t think or act outside of her very narrow comfort zone. That’s because doing anything different creates just too much anxiety in her. Therefore, all of your mother-in-law’s actions have to do with making herself feel better or, at least, less anxious. As a result, she really doesn’t put much thought into how her behavior affects other people, because in her mind, it’s all about her.

This is how these characteristics affect you –

Your mother-in-law can appear outwardly demanding and manipulating, or she can be withdrawn and sullen. No matter how she displays her behavior, it’s always about her and getting what she wants. What’s even worse is the fact she seems to have everyone jumping at her beck and call. You can only stand there shaking your head as she pulls their strings. She also has a way of “punishing” people who don’t give in to her, which can be very uncomfortable if you’re the one on the receiving end.

How this plays out between you –

This mother-in-law not only has a strained relationship with you, she typically has a strained relationship with everyone! People who behave like your mother-in-law don’t take other people into consideration before they make decisions and judgments, or give their responses. They just react based on what’s going on with them – what they want, need, or think they need. Over the years people who associate with your mother-in-law have learned to ignore her, work around her, or simply limit contact with her. But because no one really talks about it, you end up feeling upset, angry, and often bewildered – it’s like – “Don’t they see what she’s doing?” “Did you just hear what she said?” Their unwillingness to talk about her behavior only adds to your feeling of confusion in regard to how she acts. Again, it could be that they just don’t think about it anymore because they’re so used to it.

I have been struggling with my mother in law who has been living with us for the last 5 years. I am losing my patience with her and my husband for quite some time. It was my idea to have her move in with us and I regret that decision now.


I have been struggling with my mother in law who has been living with us for the last 5 years. I am losing my patience with her and my husband for quite some time. It was my idea to have her move in with us and I regret that decision now. Her husband died about 10 years ago and she’s been on her own. She’s in decent health. In 2006, our house was destroyed by a fire. we had to rebuild the entire house. His mom had been wanting to move in with us for a while. We were close and I figured that it would be good to rearrange our home to include her. That was a big mistake. We moved in to our new home at the same time. nothing has been the same since. She has told me twice, directly to my face, that I am a bad mother. She refuses to help me around the house. She does empty y dishwasher every now and then but can’t seem to remember where anything goes. I know it’s not just old age and her forgetfulness because she remembers everything and knows where everything goes that belongs to her. I could go on and on about my struggles with her but my question would take a few days to complete. I cannot stand to be around her anymore. She won’t eat the food I make. Refused to eat my first thanksgiving meal in the new house because I didn’t stuff the bird. I keep trying to please her but nothing works. It has been a huge strain on my marriage. My husband won’t ask her to move out. He feels like it’s his responsibility to take care of her. He’s frustrated with her too but he can let it go. I just don’t know what to do. My husband and I had a big fight and he blurted out that he was just going to go home and tell her to get out. I don’t want to ruin their relationship and I don’t wish to hurt her feelings but I don’t know how to go about asking her to move out without hurting her. Do you have any advice?


Sounds like you had good intentions at the time…

As you have figured out, this is now a marital issue and that is what needs to be addressed first. Your husband seems to think that being responsible means he has no choices…which is not true. He can take responsibility for his mother without sacrificing you and your marriage. It is clear this arrangement is not working and not just for you. It is not working for him AND it does not appear to be working for your MIL. She seems like she is not happy either (and may be taking it out on you). And of course he can let her actions roll off because it is his mother.

So, first sit down with you husband and talk with him about the fact that you want to find a solution that can work for everyone (allowing him to take responsibility for his mom AND help your marriage). How else can he provide for his mother without her having to live with you both. Whether it is helping her to get her own place that is close by or something else, there are options besides having to choose either her or you.

You could also have the 3 of you sit down and have your husband say…Mom you don’t see happy and we want you to be happy. So let us help you figure out something that works better for you. If she denies being miserable your husband can gently point out that her actions and words seem to indicate her unhappiness.

This is about finding a solution that works for ALL of you…again mention to your husband that it is clear his mother is not happy either and part of what you want to do is to make her happy too. You can remind him of her behavior change from prior to moving in to since she has moved in.

If you both don’t think you can have her move out, then it will be important to have you AND your husband sit down with her and talk about needing to get things to run smoother in the home. Just as with kids, everyone has tasks to do…she included…to help the household run more smoothly.

Please start with this…talking with your husband and if you need more help or are struggling with something I said, please let me know…and again, please both you and your husband need to be openminded when it comes to coming up with creative ways for him to feel like he is helping his mother without sacrificing you/your marriage.

My husband and I argue over his mother so much and how she treats me it makes me sick.


I need help understanding how to deal with my mother in law because this has been going on for to long and I don’t know what else to do. My husband and I lived with his parents for about a year and nine months so I saw how things were. I’m the kind of person who observes things and people push around because I try to be nice and don’t like drama. My mother in law was alright when it was just me and my husband. The only things that upset me was when she would come home from work and say where is the maid at and did not ever really visit with unless my husband was around.  since I lived there I took over some chores to help out and be respectful. Her and her daughter rarely helped or did much which is why it bothered me and she would only say it around me. She did not ask me to do anything with her that interested me only what she liked and I did them sometimes to be a good person but when I tried to find comfort in her or talk to her about something that was bothering me she would just sit and play a game on her computer or watch tv and not help me out or even look at me. When she would tell my husband to do something he would and put me off. Her and her husband were also intrusive and did not respect our privacy when we lived there, my husband asked them to be a little more respectful and they did for like a few days then it started again. Those are some of the things she did. Then my husband and I got married and had a little boy all in that year and nine months. When I was pregnant she would not help me do anything and never asked if she could do anything for me after doctor visits she would always call my husband and not me but when we got home she would ask what she wanted and then leave the room. She picked out baby names that she liked and when I would tell her mine she would just say o ok. She only took me shopping one time and it was at the cheapest store she could buy baby stuff at. Then the day my son was being born she kept knocking on the door trying to be the first on in and when my husband went to the door for like the fourth time she shoved her camera at him and said take some when he is out. My mom refrains from saying anything because she says its not her place that my husband should say something. She did not take one picture of me holding him but took plenty of my husband and herself holing him. After a couple months out of the hospital I wanted to start working on the baby pictures and when I went to look through my camera there were none my husband never took any with mine because his mom made him take all of them with hers. Well I got upset because she had not once offered me any so I got mad at my husband then he went to his mom and she told him fine I’ll give them to so she will quit stop getting mad at you. Then one day my boss from my old job that I quit because I was pregnant and my husband did not want me to work called and asked if I would like to come back and I told her respectfully no. Well I tried again to consult with my mother in law and tell her what happened and told her Colton doesnt want me to work and I wouldn’t make enough money to cover anything, well of course she only cared about herself she told me “well I think you should go back to work and my mother could watch Haden ( she has medical problems and was not fit to take care of my new born son) and then after work I could pick him up and wait at the house till you got off “after I had already told her what my husband and I decided and every other day she would ask me about it or be pushy towards it. The few times I went shopping with her she would ignore me the whole way because she always had someone else go to talk to and when I tried to ask what they were talking about she would act like she didn’t hear me or ask what is Haden doing ( my son) and then just keep on talking to whoever she invited that day like I wasn’t there. Then when we arrived at the store she got out shut her door and started walking to the doors of the store and would never ask if I needed any help because I had to carry a diaper bag and my purse. This what really broke my heart! She was going to college to be a teacher because she is an aid right now so the school was paying for her to go well in her english class she had to write an autobiography I think that’s what it’s called but it was about her family her husbands family and her kids but when it got to the part of her son she did not mention he got married but she mentioned my son and reading that paper made it seem like I never existed and she let other people. I let my husband read it first before I confronted her so he would know what was going on and how his mom really thought about me. Then that same night he asked his mom why did you write your paper like this and she said whats wrong with it like she didn’t know. Then she came to the room where I was and asked me what’s wrong with this paper. I asked her to read where she started talking about her son and a few sentences in she said “O because your not in it” and I told her yes and that it hurt my feelings that you did not mention you inherited a daughter in law or that my son had a mother and all she said was its just a stupid paper for school it means nothing and I told her when you write about family it means something. Then I told her everything I had been feeling and confronted her on how she was treating me since i moved in, in a talking voice, and then she just started yelling at me in front of my 6 month old son and i asked her to stop yelling i just wanted to talk and my son was crying and she would stop yelling for a minute and tell my 6 month old its ok no is going to hurt you and just started yelling against so finally after the third time of telling her to stop yelling I just walked outside. She followed me out there and I asked her one question ” if I would have wrote this paper and left you out of it would you be upset like I am now” and she thought for a minute then said yes, so then I asked her so it’s ok if someone hurts you for you to get upset and be mad but I do it and its not ok. I asked her why she wrote it like that and all she could say was I don’t know. I know when you write a paper for an English class you know who and what your writing about I wrote plenty of them back in school. She later told her husband who told my husband or his son that she thought I hated her so that’s why she wrote it that way. She also said if it would not have been for me getting pregnant she would of kicked my ass out a long time ago! Her and her husband also said things about my patents to my face in an argument when none of it was their business and blamed my family for the way I am when they dont even know my family because all they care about is themselves .  About a month later we moved out and since then she has not once tried to work anything out with me if she called me all she would say was hi and then just ask about my son. I dont like the idea that she wants to be called meme and I have asked her numerous times to pick something else because my son sometimes calls me that when trying to say mommy because of how the ending sounds. She does not respect the way we want things done with our son. They do not make time to come visit us but if we go visit at their house they have all the time in the world. They do not invite or include us in anything we have to call them and see what they are doing in order to know anything. When my husband leaves for his 2 weeks of work I do not hear from them, they do not call to check on me to see if I need anything and his mom nor his sister ever come out to sit with me or visit. When she comes over all she cares to see is my husband and my son and does not say anything to me except asks questions about my son. They only visit when they feel like it I have tried inviting them to do things with us but they always have some excuse. They are the kind of people when things are going their way and they are getting what they want they are nice to you and include you, but if things don’t go their way they think I’m a bitch and a horrible person….(cont’d)

My husband and I argue over her so much and how she treats me it makes me sick. I also would like to say that she has lied to me numerous times and if you try to ask her about what wrong she has done she just denies everything. She has not ever said what a good job I’m doing with my family or any nice comments at all. I do not l. I have tried but I don’t know what to do with her anymore. The only thing she cares about is my son and she wants him to like her the best and see that she does no wrong when clearly she is and he has two grandmas and she has even said she want my son to like her the best and not to like me. They do not come around all year ,and we just live across town , they only come over for birthdays and expect us to come over when they buy us gifts as a bribe. His mom and sister make no effort keep in touch with me and they think I’m a problem. (cont’d)



It appears that you have a couple of issues…

1. Your expectations of your MIL

2.  Your relationship with your husband.

I will take the 2nd one first.

You and your husband have a marital issue that may include his mother, but his mother is not really the issue. You and your husband need to address how you communicate with one another. It appears that the two of you have not really established yourselves as an adult couple. That may have been stunted by the fact that the 2 of you lived with his parents for a year and nine mos. That would have made it hard for you to establish yourselves as a couple & a family, instead of falling into the roles of children in his parent’s home. (That is not just you…whenever adult children continue to live with their parents, the tendency is to fall back into child/parent roles). Even though you’ve moved out, the two of you have continued to play out those roles. He has not separated emotionally from his mother…and you have separated from seeing her as a “mother figure.” I would recommend that the two of you get into marital counseling to address this issue. it will make you stronger and a more unified couple.


It seems as though your desires/expectations of what you want from your MIL is not realistic. From your email you seem to really want her approval and acceptance. Although it may not be the case, from your email it comes across as though you want her approval as a “daughter wants approval from her mom.” And that is what is not realistic. She does not appear (at least from what you’ve written) to have the capacity to be that with you…and maybe not with anyone. Again this desire you have for her approval may have been enhanced because you lived with her for so long.

It will be imperative for you to work at growing into your roles as an adult…a wife…a mother. That is who you are. Again, counseling/therapy could help with this. Because the best way to deal with your MIL is to set firm boundaries with her that you stick to and hold her accountable. But until you are comfortable in your different roles, this will be hard to do.

Now that my husband and I are expecting our first child, my mother-in-law is giving me mixed messages. She's made comment that she is afraid I'll not let her see our child, but then she doesn't seem interested in my pregnancy.


I am struggling a bit with my mother-in-law relationship. In the past, I’ve been able to use your techniques and advice when dealing with her, but as we are entering a new phase in our marriage (expecting our first child), I am feeling a little overwhelmed. As a little history, my husband and I have been married for  around 5 years and in the very beginning of our dating/marriage his mother and I were really close. After about 7 months of being married there was a huge incident where his mother became upset with us and distanced herself from us because my husband decided to set boundaries with his parents and siblings (they would come by our home unannounced, frequently, and during awkward moments). 

After that incident, I became her target. I would receive snide remarks and nit-picking about my weight, my career, how well I treat my family versus her family and just an OVERALL unwelcoming feeling whenever I was around. One day before we even thought about having children, she ‘jokingly’ made a comment that she “hopes I won’t keep her grandchildren away from her” and it hurt me deeply. I’d never given her the impression that I would ever keep our child away from her and my husband and I have tried extremely hard to give equal-balanced time between both of our families.  Lately, she has not been an active part of the pregnancy/planning for the baby… she doesn’t even call me and ask if I am feeling well. I’ve mentioned it to my husband and he makes excuses for her or says that she has asked him about me. Even if she has asked him, that makes me feel like she does not want to be apart and makes me want to refrain from including her.  I feel that as the parents-to-be we should be basking in this moment instead of trying to accommodate and include everyone else around us.  Please help.


It seems as though a couple of things are going on here.
Your MIL made that statement about she “hopes you won’t keep her grandchildren from her…” because in all honesty that is one of the biggest fears a MIL has. And her behavior has been anything but nice toward you & she knows it…so that may explain why she said that…not an excuse, just an explanation.

It also seems as though your MIL may be setting things up to play out her biggest fear (she may or may not be aware that she is doing this)…that she won’t be able to see her grandkids. I say this because she is being very passive right now, putting everything on you to initiate. Now, part of this may be because she isn’t sure what she should be doing…so she waits for you to set the rules. This puts a lot of work on you and your husband and doesn’t feel good to her either…but she may not want to make things worse…or she is sitting back waiting to see how you “include her.”(which is passive aggressive behavior for sure)

Let me give you a few suggestions. I would act as though you don’t notice her passive behavior and I would have you and your husband sit down with her..casually…lightly…and let her know what you want, expect, etc….again make it casual and light. On the other hand you also want to make sure you keep some firm boundaries so that she doesn’t go back to old behavior of just stopping by whenever she wants. (it seems as though she goes from one extreme to the other – either she comes over all the time with no consideration for you both…or she doesn’t come over at all)

For example…you could say…we would love to have you involved with our pregnancy…but where not sure how you’d like that to be…then ask her how she’d like to be involved…this is when you have the chance to establish your boundaries because you only  agree to what you’re comfortable with …but also you need to make sure you set firm boundaries around it. Having your husband involved will be important. If she balks at the boundary setting (which she might as she did before), that is her choice, but you need to stick to what you are comfortable with…as you remember it is not easy being on the outside, which is how she feels.

My point is to initially invite her to be involved, but with some parameters so she can’t just run amok.This let her know that you want her involved, but you want it to be reasonable.


Let me know if you have any questions about what I’ve written…

My mother-in-law did not approve of me from the first she heard of me. She hates everything about me.


I need some advice on how to deal with my mother in law. She did not approve of me from the first she heard of me. She hates everything about me. She hates that I can’t have kids. She hates that I’m not christian. She hates that I’m an artist. She hates that I have tattoos and piercings and unnaturally colored hair. She hates that I have birds. She hates just about everything about me that makes me… me.

She’s not much nicer to my husband either. She has been an over-controlling force all his life, demanding he do and be only what she wanted and never really caring about his hopes and desires. She chose what he would do all his life and when he got married she thought she would be able to choose a fertile, christian girl who fits the southern cookie cutter that she was when she was my age with poodles.

Honestly, my husband barely tolerates her and really only expresses distaste for her. He feels obligated to deal with her though, and this year he’s taking me to her house for xmas. I am really worried about how this will go. The last time we spent any time with her was at a reuion, I was pretty miserable. I was stuck all by myself most of the time as my husband kept being dragged away and occupied and nobody would talk to me. My MIL’s husband was the only person who tried to be nice to me. (He was really sweet to try to make me feel better.) Whenever my mother was forced to be near me, she would never even look at me. She actually pretended I wasn’t there and when she was asked about me, she would call me my husband’s “friend”. She wouldn’t even use my name. We’ve been together 3 years and it’s not like she doesn’t know. She just refuses to acknowledge I exist.

Most of the websites that give advice tell you to talk, try to be nice, get to know her… etc etc etc. But she refuses to talk to me, refuses to acknowledge me and won’t even act like I’m there, it’s kind of hard to do that. I’ve worn the most “normal” clothes I can, even went out and bought a whole bunch of stuff just to look acceptable. I changed my hair to a natural color and took all my jewelry out. It doesn’t help.

Honestly, I’m worried that if I’m forced to spend 4 days in her house, the last straw may be reached.

To make matters worse, his perfect sister, with her perfect husband and their perfect baby will be there… We made the mistake of doing holidays at my FIL’s house with his sister’s family last year. The entire time we kept being excluded, pushed away and treated rudely. Apparently being in our upper 30’s and having provided no offspring is a cardinal sin to these people. We were not given a seat at dinner or in the family room or even a bed to lay down on. We ended up having to leave, get a hotel and spend holidays with some college friends of his.

I have a bad feeling that we’re going to end up the same this year as well. If there is anything I possibly could do to try to make things work, or at least be tolerable. I am going to be with this man for the rest of my life. It’s not like I can ask him to give up on his family. He’s lucky he has one. I don’t. I need to find some way to get along with these people.


First, let me say, do not change who you are,Your husband loves you and married you for who you are. That’s all that matters.

I will also tell you that your answer is really in what you wrote. You said that your husband doesn’t really like her. He barely tolerates her. And this tells me that you and your husband are on the same page. The fact that she is so controlling, rigid, and determined to punish anyone who does not measure up to her harsh standards speaks volumes.

Whether this is good news or bad, your MIL is not someone you should even try to get approval from. I know this may sound strange coming from someone who believes relationships can change – which I wholeheartedly do- but with your MIL the more you try to get close to her or try to get her approval the less she will let you in. She feeds on your desire for acceptance…it gives her power. When you don’t feel the need for her acceptance, she loses her power…and the power is now yours.

Actually it sounds like you and your husband are in the same place with her…on the outside. I wonder why he feels so obligated toward her…does he seek her acceptance as well? The fact that his family truly treats you both with such distain and are overtly rude to you both, I’m not sure why either one of you would want to spend time with his family. I know family is important…I believe that too, however, if being with family creates such pain…why do that to yourself? Why put yourself in a position to feel bad, unwanted, and deeply hurt? It seems as though you and your husband need to figure out why you’re going.

It would be important for you and your husband tocreate a game plan – before you go -so that the two of you can protect yourself from the emotional pain of this visit. This may be that you plan to stay at a hotel; you only stay at his parents’ home for a designated number of hours; that you seek out the people who are nice to you and stay away from the others; divide your time between his family and some friends, etc.  The point is to find a way to make this visit worth your while and something that you can find enjoyment from. And based on what I said above about the power being yours, once you no longer need/want her acceptance you can find the humor in her outrageous behavior. And once she realizes she no longer has the power over you….she will change…

My mother-in-law makes no effort to be involved with her grandchildren.


My mother-in-law makes no effort to be involved with her grandchildren. She lives long distance and often uses that as an excuse for why she doesn’t see the kids. We have encouraged her to have them for a visit or to visit here, but she seems to only be willing to do this if we put in all the work and she doesn’t have to do anything. And yet she says she wants to have a relationship with them and tries to make us feel guilty if we don’t “make it happen.” We’d like her to have a relationship with her grandchildren, but we are tired of doing all the work. What should we do?


It’s important to look at this from your children’s perspective. Whatever relationship your MIL creates with her grandkids is the one they will remember. It is a relationship between them — your MIL and your kids. It is really up to her to create the relationship she wants. Your job is to make the children available within reason. You should also not let your kids ignore your MIL at important times; for example, they can send her a christmas card/present, birthday card, send thank you notes if your MIL sends a gift, etc.  By doing this they are acknowledging her and remembering her at the same time. As they get older and as adults they will just see this as the relationship they had with this particular grandmother. It is not good or bad…it just is.

My mother-in-law says such mean things to me. I think she likes to see me upset and I'm sick of it. What can I do?


My mother-in-law says such mean things to me. I think she likes to see me upset and I’m sick of it. What can I do?


There are a couple of things you can do to shift this for yourself. Your goal is two-fold — 1) to hopefully get her to stop, and 2) at the least, not be so bothered by it. The first thing to do is bring humor to the situation. When she says someting mean, laugh and joking agree with her, maybe even exaggerate things so it is clear you are not serious. If you can anticipate what she might say, say it before she can, again in a laughing, joking manner. By doing these things you take her “thunder” and she sees you’re not upset anymore. If you’re not upset, she isn’t getting the payoff she’s looking for. Also, when you do this you start to feel differently about the situation, putting less importance on her actions, and not giving her the power to impact you.

Is it OK that I don't feel a strong desire to "fix" this?


I saw your workshops adveristed in the paper and although I am curious about them, I don’t really think I need to come. My mother-in-law and I don’t get along, but as long as I don’t have to be around her it’s really OK. I guess it doesn’t bother me enough to put the time into coming. Is that a bad thing? Is it Ok that I don’t feel a strong desire to “fix” this?


I think there is a bigger picture to look at before you decide to come or not come to one of the workshops. Typically people don’t change unless it is more painful to stay as they are than it is to change. You state that you and your MIL do not get along and you are really OK with that. Let me ask you a question. How much do you and your husband argue in general? How much do you and your husband argue about things relating to his mother?

What I often find is that when a daughter-in-law has issues with her mother-in-law it affects the daughter-in-law’s marriage. And that makes perfect sense. The woman you have issue with is your husband’s mother, after all. Regardless of his own feelings toward her it still affects him if you are rolling your eyes when his mother’s name comes up, showing disgust or frustration whenever she’s around, getting angry at him when you’re really angry with her, etc.

And how would you feel if your husband and your mother were at odds to the degree that he avoided her, outwardly showed a dislike of her in front of you, or maybe openly clashed with her?  If you think about it, there would be no way these negative feelings could NOT affect your marriage. So is that OK with you as well?

I am not saying you have to get along great with your MIL. Sometimes that’s truly impossible. But if you have a chance to learn some things that could help you feel better about yourself, help you in your marriage, and maybe make this difficult relationship less difficult (and maybe even better), why wouldn’t you want to do that? So, it’s doesn’t have to be about fixing this relationship…let it be about you.

I married into a family business and have never had a great relationship with my Mother-in-law. Part of our problem is the difference in personalities and the other part is the control she has over us because she is our boss.


I really enjoy your web site and have learned a lot of valuable information. My question for you is regarding a Mother and Daughter-in-Law issue. I married into a family business and have never had a great relationship with my Mother-in-law. Part of our problem is the difference in personalities and the other part is the control she has over us because she is our boss.  Do you have any suggestions on how to have a relationship with an out of control Mother-in-Law? How can I mask my feelings towards her outside of work?  


This type of MIL can be very difficult as you already know. The best way to deal with her and to help you shift your feelings about her is to use humor. And not just any humor, but laughing at the absurdity of what she says or does. When she says something “off the wall” or just mean, laugh and say something to show the insanity of what she just did…like “Oh, you’re right. I can’t do anything right. I’m not sure how I’ve survived all these years.”  or “Why didn’t I think of that. Let me write that down” (you get the idea)   But it’s important to laugh while you’re saying it, and then just move on from the conversation. Also by using humor you can have fun with it and see it for what it is… because it’s not about you.

I really would like to see a therapist about some things that seem to be getting in my way.


I really would like to see a therapist about some things that seem to be getting in my way. How do I go about finding one that is good?


Just like in any other field there are really good therapists, mediocre therapists, and really bad therapists, so I can appreciate your question.

1. You want to be clear on what it is you want to achieve in therapy (as much as possible). By doing this you’ll have a better idea what “type” of therapist you’d want to work with. Depending on the therapist’s philosophy, the methods they use, and their overall style, some will work better for you than others.

2. Ask them questions. You want to get a sense of how this person thinks, how they run their business, how they treat clients, and how confident they are in what they know.

3. Set up appointments with different therapists and try them out. It will be important that you feel comfortable with the person you work with and you should be able to get a feel for this early on.

4. Training of the therapist can also be an issue. Are they trained sufficiently in the “type” of therapy you’re seeking? Do they seem like they are comfortable with your issues, your communication style?

5. Get referrals from people you know. Ask them why they liked the person; what made it work for them?

6. This is important – Do they call you back within 24 hours. (if not… move on!)

Good luck! And if you have more questions about this, please let me know.

Send In A Question

Although I won’t use your name, or identifying details, questions through questions@drdeannabrann.com will be answered on the website. If you prefer to keep your question and answer confidential, just let me know that you do not wish it to be put on the website and I will keep everything private.

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