Judge Jay-Jay’s advice on dealing with a monster mother-in-law

More FM radio diva Jay-Jay Feeney delivers her verdict on your biggest dilemmas

Save me from my monster-in-law!

Hi Jay-Jay,

Here’s a tricky one for you: Since we’re spending the holidays with my family this time, my husband and I will have to spend an upcoming long weekend with his mother. We don’t see her much during the year because she lives in another city, but every time we do, she makes cutting, sarcastic comments to me. I get the feeling she doesn’t like me and I don’t know why. My husband never notices and when I tell him about it, he brushes it off like it’s no big deal or insinuates I’m being too sensitive. I have bad anxiety about this and really wish I didn’t have to go. How can I get through this?!

Worried, Southland

Hi Worried,

Your mother-in-law sounds jealous. Was your husband a mummy’s boy? I suspect your MIL doesn’t like sharing her son, so she tries to make you feel less just to make herself feel better. That aside, how can you survive these potentially tortuous days with her? If you can’t fight back with equally sarcastic comments – you probably shouldn’t stoop to her level – then kill her with kindness instead.

Every time she puts you down again, respond with a smile or a compliment. Or ignore her. Don’t let her think she has affected you in any way. When she says something like, “Ooh, you’ve put on a few pounds, dear,” reply unexpectedly, like “Thank you so much. My husband loves me like this!” Or distract her by changing the subject: “Can I make you a cup of tea?”

It’s no fun spending time with people who don’t build you up and make you feel valued, so protect yourself from the digs by putting up boundaries. And if you think you can handle it, maybe you should just confront the MIL. (Take a swig of wine first if it helps!) Tell her straight up, “I’m sure you don’t mean to be hurtful, but some of the things you say feel like a personal attack on me. Is there something I have done?” She will probably deny it and back down. If she doesn’t, then she really is a true beast!

Also, have a word with hubby about not supporting you. A happy wife means a happy life, after all! If all else fails, pretend you have COVID and stay home. Surely two days alone is better than two with that battle-axe!

A problem shared is a problem halved! Share your issues with Jay-Jay at [email protected]

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