When you’re dealing with a crazy mother-in-law, all bets are off. A difficult mother-in-law can create marital issues that can steer a solid union off course if you let it. No promises about easy solutions, but you can learn tips and suggestions for managing a troublesome mother-in-law.
Talk to your partner about your mother-in-law. In an article on his website, Dr. Phil explains that when you’re dealing with in-laws, the person with the primary relationship to the in-laws should be responsible for stepping up to find a solution. Dr. Phil says in his article, "Managing Your In-Laws", that you should give your mate some real-life examples of the issues that are bothering you or making life difficult. In other words, avoid using generalizations that can present ambiguous scenarios.
Brainstorm solutions and create boundaries after explaining your issues to your mate. For example, if your mother-in-law calls at inappropriate hours and you can’t stand waking up to her voice at the break of dawn, it’s time to talk to her about those early morning calls. Perhaps your mother-in-law buys your children inappropriate gifts — a diamond tiara for my 3-year-old? Really, mother-in-law? In this case, it’s time to have a clear conversation about appropriate gift giving. On the other hand, if your mother-in-law is a control freak who wants to dictate visits, you will need to turn the tables on her and dictate your boundaries.
Ask your spouse to have a candid conversation with your mother-in-law after you make a game plan. By having this conversation come directly from your spouse — your mother-in-law’s child — you lend credence to the conversation and give the message more power. The purpose of this conversation should be to lovingly lay down some boundaries and limits that you, as a couple, will accept and expect from her.
Move forward from this conversation expecting her to respect your boundaries. Remember, though, she’s the crazy mother-in-law, right? It’s likely she’ll push back and try to find a way around your boundaries. When this happens, remind her of the boundaries you and your spouse set. For example, if she gives your youngster another inappropriate gift, thank her but tell her that you can’t accept it and then give it back. She’ll probably become offended, but that’s the nature of the beast.
Consider limiting your mother-in-law’s involvement in your life if she becomes toxic to your marriage. Parents should be a part of your adult life when they are a positive and supportive influence, and your marriage needs to be the first priority. Consider delivering a firm message such as, “Thanks for caring about us. If we need your help in the future, we’ll definitely ask for it.” Don't be afraid to repeat the message. This is your boundary, and you will need to be clear and consistent so that she gets the message.