Dealing With A Monster-In-Law


Q: My mother-in law and I always have had an amicable relationship. She can be opinionated, overprotective of her three sons, irrational, and a tad misogynistic, but she usually makes up for it with her generous and caring spirit. Last week, however, I was the victim of one of her vicious, unwarranted attacks—which my sisters-in-law had warned me about. She accused me of being unsupportive of my husband's career, selfish for wanting him to accompany me on visits to my family, and dismissive of some of my nieces and nephews. For the record, when my husband was transferred overseas, I didn't hesitate to leave my job, a new house, and our family and friends—nor do I grumble much about his constant travel and long hours. We see his family more than mine. And I remind my M.I.L. of my nieces' and nephews' birthdays, and inquire about them every time I speak to her.

So now I know: Avoid touchy topics when she's into a bottle of wine, and never vent to her about her workaholic son. But she hasn't apologized, and is just pretending it never happened. I have a hard time doing the same, considering some of her comments were really cruel and unjustified. Also, I'm unhappy that my husband has not come to my defense. (He sympathized with me, but didn't follow through on speaking to his mother.)

Aside from my declaration that we won't be moving to my husband's hometown until his mother is six feet under, what should I do? What should I expect him to do?

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—Irritated Daughter-in-Law, a.k.a. Mrs. Mama's Boy