In-Laws: The Struggle and the Stories


I can still remember how nervous I was meeting my husband’s parents for the first time. What should I wear? What will we talk about? WILL THEY LIKE ME??!! I don’t think I was way off base trying to make a great first impression. I knew then that if my man was Mr. Right, these two people would be an integral part of my life. Today my in-laws are a huge part of my life–just not the way I had envisioned through my rose-colored glasses many years ago. And I know I’m not alone.

Get a group of moms together and it’s only a matter of time before the in-law bitching begins. Some in-laws meddle, others are MIA. Some are helpful, others don’t even offer. We swap stories about how they don’t do this or why won’t they do that. Cheeks flush and our blood boils because they are not only in-laws, they are grandparents now. It’s not just about us anymore, it’s about our kids, and anything involving our kids can make us (and them!) straight up crazy.

For the last few years, I have struggled with my relationship with my in-laws. I’ve spent just as many days feeling angry as I have in tears. I’ve vented to my friends and rehearsed mental confrontations, my arguments and one-liners are pretty impressive if I do say so myself.  I may have given my mother-in-law a piece of mind once or twice. When all else failed, I’ve tried the silent treatment because desperate times call for desperate measures. Yet nothing seemed to work because months later I was upset again over the same old things. Until now.

I have finally recognized that the only real solution to my in-law problems is me. I have to improve the way I react to their actions or lack thereof. It’s not a cop-out. It’s real life application of basic truths that make the world go round.

1. People Don’t Change: It is helpful to remember this truth when dealing with in-laws. Whether you confront them or not about your issues, you must realize that chances are slim that they will do exactly what you want in every situation. It’s just the way life is, and even we are the same way. You can spin your wheels wishing and hoping for new and improved in-laws or concentrate on a how best to handle the way they are. Oh and now that you know that, don’t overreact when they do exactly what they always do because you are the one let simmering and stewing over it. Elsa said it best, “let it go!”

2. Communicate Effectively: In-law issues invoke big emotions and if something is bugging you deal with it. Vent to friends or an unbiased counselor to get the problems off your chest. The spouse gets a little tricky because at the end of the day, wouldn’t you hope your own child stuck up for you?

Communicate only when you feel like your raw emotions are under control. To increase your chance of success, focus on what your in-laws can do to help you rather than what they aren’t doing. No one likes to feel like everything they do is wrong. A wise mother knows how to pick her battles.

3. Love Them Anyway: Bottom line, in-laws are your family and loving your family unconditionally is what we do. It doesn’t mean that you are okay with everything. It doesn’t mean that their actions won’t upset you. It simply means at the end of the day love them despite your differences because family matters more than everything being handled perfectly.

One day we will be in-laws too. Even though we think we’ll be awesome, we too will screw up. Our daughter and son-in-laws will hurt our feelings. We will wonder if we are doing anything right. The older I get, the more I understand that every relationship is complicated. I can’t control what others do. I can control how I react, and that can make all the difference in the world.

Sometimes we just need someone to understand. Whether these stories make you count your lucky stars or show that you are not alone, here of our some of our in-law stories for better and for worse!

“My sweet MIL told the rest of the family I “pressured her to drink” because I offered her a glass of wine. Eye roll.”

“My favorite is when, on my wedding day, my MIL, sitting in my house, eating some sort of chip, looks me in the eye and says to me “I never thought this day would come.” Now while one may think this was a cheery sentiment, I assure you the look on her face, and the tone of her voice was that of a disappointed, bitter woman. She attended the wedding mass and reception without speaking to either one of us, and left town the next day without saying goodbye.”

“Where do I start? The list is long and ugly. Mine invited us for Thanksgiving, refusing all of my offers to help her cook. She told us we were going out to dinner. Guess where they took us? A Chinese buffet.”

“While playing with her grandson in our loft, my MIL loudly asked if I ever had him clean up after he plays and if his mom had ever thought about organizing the toys, so they weren’t so messy. She knows good and well that I could hear every word since she talks to me from upstairs all day long.”

“My lovely MIL always has me take the family pictures. And no she doesn’t ask to take another with me in it. Just that one shot with her husband, her, the grandkids and her son. Happens every year.”

Tell us your in-law stories (anonymously if you want, we did :)!



  1. I’m new to the in-law game, but boy, do I already have a growing list of issues. My husband has a child from a previous marriage, and my lovely MIL has made her feelings pretty clear about that being HER grandchild – and our new baby is my parents. “I won’t be getting Little Timmy any gifts for Christmas this year, that’s your parents job.”

    • Mine does the same shit. It boggles my mine because they are all equally my husbands kids…it’s not like they’re her step grandchildren. I just don’t get it.

  2. The struggle is real! I get angry at my in-laws almost daily, but in the end I don’t know how I would do it without them!

  3. My MIL treats my step daughter better than her other two grandchildren (mine and my husband’s) She is only concerned with her. When we were expecting my daughter the nursery wasn’t even started since my husband was deployed for 8 out of the 9 months of pregnancy and she took it upon herself to re-do my step daughters entire room…new bed, dresser, painted the walls. My daughter didn’t even have a crib. Then ON my daughters first birthday they went out and bought my step daughter a new shelf. She bought the kids new shoes and had them each show me the pair they picked out. After they left I was cleaning my step daughters room and found an additional NINE new pairs of shoes…I guess she “forgot” to show me those. She sucks. This article is great for anyone who has a normal-ish MIL. I don’t.

  4. My MIL invited us to a family get together soon after we were married where she proceeded to show home movies of my husband and an ex, kissing and frolicking for the camera. I shouldn’t have been surprised. She did tell my hubby on our wedding day, “It isn’t too late to change your mind.” Ugh.

  5. Reading these posts really shows me that I lucked out in the MIL department! My MIL rocks! She is helpful and loving to our family. If I need her she will leave work to come help me with my son or will buy food or clothes or anything we need or are struggling to afford. Now, my husband however got the bad end the stick on the in-laws. My parents are pretty much MIA most of the time and when we do see them they just make us uncomfortable and on edge.

  6. My MIL talks bad about me to other relatives and then the other relatives tell us like it’s something great… not to mention she really doesn’t like me but I had a baby and she like my baby… so it’s a forced like so she can be around the baby…. I want to scream!!!!

  7. My Mother & father in-law treat me like I neglect my twin boys. I’ll be sitting right beside them and they’ll cough and my FIL will say “is he choking? Do we need to pat his back?” Yes, I’m just sitting here watching my child choke to death and doing nothing about it, thank goodness you were here! (eyeroll) No, he is simply coughing. Or, if they are fussing or throwing tantrums as 2 year olds sometimes do, they literally say “oh, baby, oh baby, what is it?” and ask me if they need to be picked up and walked around. I know fussing and crying is not the most pleasant sound, but sometimes I want them to know that they can’t just throw a fit to be held or because they don’t want to sit at the dinner table. This year, we decided to fore-go a bunch of gifts because our boys are the first grand babies on either side so they have LOTS of toys, clothes, books etc. Instead, we elected to use the gift money that everyone would spend on charity for our local community. We wanted to help the less fortunate because we really have everything we need. I think it’s important to teach children early the importance of charity and service to others. My in-laws were VERY offended and proceeded to tell my sister how my idea ruined their Christmas plans. They didn’t partake in the “giving to others” idea and have been sending my husband texts about gift ideas for our boys. I know the boys won’t remember this Christmas and that Grammy and Papa got them a bunch of gifts while they each only got 2 from mom and dad, but I wish they would respect our decisions and wishes. This is just one example of how they ignore our wishes for our children to do what they want. They had their opportunity to raise their twin boys, and now my husband and I would like the same opportunity. It’s hard to teach small ones when grandparents are constantly delivering a different message. Rant over… just needed to vent and didn’t want to burden my husband with this. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  8. My MIL is an “eccentric Christian artist”. While this might sound interesting, she is really just a habitually late show-er, unreliable, attention seeking, excuse making person who backs up her bad behaviors with “God told me to do it”. Her disrespect of our time, beliefs, marriage, and parenting styles, as well as conveniently “not acknowledging’ my entire side of our family has created more disharmony and arguing between my husband and I that I hate to admit it. Despite knowing how dysfunctional she is, she plays a big role in our lives, regularly pays for things we couldn’t afford, and pulls on my husbands time often. I try to realize that she is really very insecure, lonely and underappreciated in her own life, and that is why she can’t show up in ours without creating big issues. But it is hard and it def has caused lots of problems. over time I’ve gotten better at not taken it personally. I have tried to focus on what she “can” show up for and work our lives around that to reduce the confusion and disruption she can cause. She is also getting older, and I try to be sensitive to that and that my kids probably don’t have a lot of time left to spend with her. She has so many talents to share that I wish the drama would go away and we could all just enjoy eachother and the gifts we can share esp b/c she is an artist, piano player, etc.!


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