How Should You Handle It When You Hate Your Mother-In-Law?

You like your marriage, you just don't like the meddler who's sticking her nose in it. 

Shannon Beador broke out in tears on Monday night’s episode of The Real Housewives Of Orange County after she found out her mother-in-law Donna started speaking to her castmates about her private life with David—while they were all in the same room. 

During a performance by Shannon’s daughters’ band LOCK, David’s mom introduced herself to Kelly Dodd and Tamra Judge, then jumped right to some personal beef. 

“I don’t get to see the girls very often…Shannon…Shannon hates my guts,” Donna told Kelly, who replied “she doesn’t hate your guts, she thinks that you hate her guts.”

Donna went on, saying, “No I don’t. I try and get along with her, but she’s always got something there.”

Kelly then reported the whole exchange back to Shannon, who called her mother-in-law a “problem” after Donna said her son "made one mistake and [Shannon] pushed him.”

“I have for 15 years [been the bigger person]…why is Donna talking to my friends who she’s never met before about private, intimate family details that by the way are completely inaccurate.”

Then David’s dragged into the whole thing, and Shannon ends up crying in the women’s bathroom. 

Mother-in-laws are a complicated bunch. It’s a delicate relationship to navigate when your MIL likes to meddle, protect her adult child, or won’t give you the privacy you need in your marriage. When you don’t get along with your mother-in-law, it can make for some difficult days and a lot of forced smiles during the holidays. 

Relationship expert and author of The Flirting Bible Fran Greene tells Personal Space three things you can do to diffuse a MIL who is “miserable, controlling, or nasty.”

“If your mother in law is critical, demanding, controlling, is always right, or tries to bully you the best thing you can do is not to react and get sucked in,” Fran advises. 

1.  Take a deep breath and count to five

You need to have a phrase at your fingertips that will communicate to her that you are not a doormat and at the same time you have respect for her.

Say the following: “(Her name) I see that you’re upset, how can I help you?” You are taking the focus off of you and placing it on her.  This technique is very disarming and will have an amazingly calming effect!

2.  I’ll think about it

If your well-meaning mother-in-law always knows better and her goal in life is to make you her clone here’s what you can do. Whenever she offers the perfect solution to everything in your life smile and say, “Umm, sounds like a possibility, I’m going to think about it, thanks so much for the suggestion.”

3.  Butter her up

Let’s face it, you both love the same guy from here to the moon. Compliment her cooking, tell her how much your husband loves her, ask for her expertise in an area where you are truly clueless and make her feel that she is needed.  

What not to do? Don't poke the bear. Really though, you will have to hold your tongue sometimes. Here's Fran's advice. 

4.  Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

You are in it for the long haul with your mother-in-law so don’t make an issue of everything she does or says that drives you crazy or makes your blood boil. It just isn’t worth it.

5.  Never respond when you are angry

Anger has a funny way of letting our guard down and your brain doesn’t filter what comes out of your mouth. So for everyone’s sake, don’t respond or react until you are calm and not foaming at the mouth.

6.  Don’t badmouth your monster-in-law to your husband

As much as you want to complain and bitch about your mother in law to your husband, it could unwittingly put him in the middle and have him chose sides. Instead ask him for his advice on how to best deal with her since he knows her the best and the longest.

After the recent episode of RHOC, Shannon did just that, saying she was "not proud of," her fight over Donna, but that her comment pushed her over the edge while dealing with the stress and exhaustion of moving out of their house. "The last thing in the world I thought was that my mother-in-law would say something to two women she's never met in her life," she said. "It's just so inappropriate."

Personal Space is Bravo's home for all things "relationships," from romance to friendships to family to co-workers. Ready for a commitment? Then Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates. 

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