Imagine marrying into a family and realizing your mother and father-in-law are hellbent on destroying your entire life, relationship, and self-esteem. It may sound like the plot of a psychological thriller, but toxic, narcissistic in-laws are a reality many people live with.
Narcissistic in-laws can ruin a marriage, Thomas said, especially if the son or daughter is oblivious to the games their parents are playing. Thomas said it's probably because they are in denial about the level of toxicity their family has. The child of a narcissist will sometimes already be wise to their parent's behavior, but other times they have to be made aware of it by seeing them through their partner's eyes. If the child from the narcissistic family is oblivious to the harm being caused, it can slowly tear apart their marriage.
Or is there something a lot more poisonous going on? Narcissists often act like they're reading from the same instruction manual, so there are some telltale signs that a toxic in-law is what you're dealing with. It can sometimes take grandchildren to be in the picture for the narcissistic in-laws to show their true colors. For instance, in one family Thomas knew, two grandchildren had the same name. I meant to text the other grandchild of the same name.
She did this to show she's available but is purposefully ignoring the grandchild of the spouse she doesn't like, Thomas said. Certain patterns like this emerge, particularly when there are several siblings within the family.
5 Ways To Stay Sane While Dealing With A Narcissistic Mother-In-Law
The narcissistic parent tends to choose a favorite golden child, while the others are left to fight for attention in different ways. Some become "flying monkeys" and aid the narcissistic parent in their manipulations.
Whatever the dynamic, the narcissistic parent is always working to feed their supply of adoration, all the while pitting the siblings against each other. When siblings start their own lives, their partners can slot into the toxic chaos in a number of ways, either being accepted or rejected, depending on how alike they are to the narcissistic parents.
It's common for most of the members of narcissistic families to follow a similar career path, like law. But when one of their children brings in an outsider who goes against the theme of the nuclear family they can see it as an attack. It can even rile them up if a newly-introduced spouse has a different taste in food.
Thomas said they will serve them food they clearly won't eat then "turn around and act like the victim. For example, a woman recently sent an absurd and disturbing letter to The Cut's "Ask Polly" columnwhere she explained that her in-laws refused to stop serving her mushrooms even though she is deathly allergic to them. But Thomas said it was never about mushrooms specifically, it was about control.
Narcissists are so desperate for control they favor it even over the safety and well-being of another person. You can't even choose your own food.What is she called? A loving daughter. And what of her children? Of course, there are many other players too.
But this article focuses a laser beam on how narcissism affects multiple generations of females. The best way to understand this dynamic is to watch how Mother Superior treats Mater Secondus.
Of course, it started decades ago when Mater Secondus was an adorable tiny tot in diapers. She learned early that the purpose of her existence was to please Mother Superior.
Show individuality, creativity or even an innocent difference of opinion from Mother Superior at your peril. Having already been alienated from her father by Mother Superior, who denigrated her husband at every opportunity, her daughter had only two choices: conditional maternal love or no love at all.
What choice did she really have? She was only a tiny, vulnerable little girl. Of course she chose, however unconsciously, to worship at the Maternal altar. Oh, her hard-working husband was so mean to her. He was so stingy. She belly-ached all year long and ramped it up for Christmas when she donned her victimhood as surely as she wore her red-and-green Christmas apron.
Look at the abuse she suffered at the hands of her miserly husband when she wildly overspent to give her babies a good Christmas. As her children grew up, Mother Superior mourned their growing maturity. When her son married, he moved his new bride into the maternal home. And when her daughter married, Mother Superior kept the claws in. Perfectly legal, but a little tricky. Still, according to the law a gift is a gift is a gift. Not with a narcissist! As she aged, every ache, every pain, every physical challenge was magnified, sobbed over, talked up and otherwise played-to-the-hilt.
Ah, woe is her! That was a tragedy. A pacemaker in an old person is blessing. Dad is so mean to her. Now, you would assume that Mater Secondus was the Golden Child.The Destructive Narcissistic Parent creates a child that only exists to be an extension of her self. It's about body language. It's about disapproving glances. It's about vocal tone. It's very intimate.
And it's very powerful. It's part of who the child is. Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers. Everything she does is deniable. There is always a facile excuse or an explanation.
Hellish World of Narcissistic Mother-in-Law
Cruelties are couched in loving terms. Aggressive and hostile acts are paraded as thoughtfulness. Selfish manipulations are presented as gifts. Criticism and slander is slyly disguised as concern. She only wants what is best for you. She only wants to help you. She rarely says right out that she thinks you're inadequate. Instead, any time that you tell her you've done something good, she counters with something your sibling did that was better or she simply ignores you or she hears you out without saying anything, then in a short time does something cruel to you so you understand not to get above yourself.
She will carefully separate cause your joy in your accomplishment from effect refusing to let you borrow the car to go to the awards ceremony by enough time that someone who didn't live through her abuse would never believe the connection. Many of her putdowns are simply by comparison.
She'll talk about how wonderful someone else is or what a wonderful job they did on something you've also done or how highly she thinks of them.
The contrast is left up to you. She has let you know that you're no good without saying a word. She'll spoil your pleasure in something by simply congratulating you for it in an angry, envious voice that conveys how unhappy she is, again, completely deniably.That is a rather shocking thing to admit. I have none of the selfless love of my mother. I have none of the plodding, practical love…. I am, to be blunt and concise, in love only with myself, my puny being with its small inadequate breasts and meager, thin talents.
I am capable of affection for those who reflect my own world. Does your mother fail to show any genuine love for you…or empathy? The trademark of a narcissistic mother is her inability to give love or empathy to her child. One of the hallmark symptoms of a narcissist is her inability to perceive others as people with needs of their own.
Narcissistic mothers are only able to see their children as extensions of herself-little mirrors that reflect back to her. She values her children only so much as the children can benefit her; she is exceptionally self absorbed, sometimes to the point of grandiosity. A mother with narcissism may demand that her children excel in school and sports for the simple reason that it will make her look like an admirable mother to people outside of the immediate family. It is of no importance to her whether or not the children develop, or even learn, from these achievements as long as her reputation remains intact.
Characteristic signs of a narcissistic mother would also include excessive preoccupation with herself and with her self-image. She is unable to give her children even the most basic emotional support that they need to grow up to be well-adjusted adults. The typical narcissistic mother is almost impossible to please no matter what the circumstances.
A narcissistic mother does not have children for the same reasons a healthy person would. She does not look forward to their births to see what they look like or watch their personalities develop.
She has them strictly for the sake of having more mirrors to look at herself in she wants little miniatures of herself. She resents all the work that goes into child rearing and sees it as a burden. A narcissist mother may come off as a loving, caring parent because she will have an exclusive and possessively close relationship with her children in order to control and manipulate them.
Although most parents watch with pride as their child begins to learn independence, a narcissistic parent feels every step away from her is an absolute act of betrayal. Other characteristic signs of a narcissistic mother are habitual lying and constant criticism of the child under the guise of being a caring parent. She lets them know in no uncertain terms, verbally and nonverbally, that they are not as good as other people.
Her narcissistic tendencies do not end in childhood but continue on through adulthood where she continues to interfere and damage their self esteem and any relationships they might form.
Children of narcissistic parents frequently experience difficulty forming healthy relationships and are at increased risk for depression and anxiety.Clara braced herself for a long weekend with her in-laws. Yet the most revealing statement happened just after the birth of their son.
Desperate to figure out a way to survive the pending doom of the weekend, Clara stumbled on the description of a narcissistic female. It was like a light bulb went off in her head while reading about narcissism. She decided to settle on these five strategies of survival. These five strategies allowed Clara to walk away from the weekend feeling more secure, not less. Surprisingly, the more confidence Clara demonstrated, the less her mother-in-law attacked.
The temptation after such success is to believe that things are permanently changed or fixed. However, this is not the case as narcissists will patiently wait for future opportunities to attack.
How to Deal with a Narcissistic Mother in law
So Clara decided to keep repeating these techniques over and over again. Christine is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor by the State of Florida with over fifteen years of experience in counseling, teaching and ministry. She works primarily with exhausted women and their families in conflict situations to ensure peaceful resolutions at home and in the workplace. She has blogs, articles, and newsletters designed to assist in meeting your needs. You can connect with her at her website Grow with Christine at www.
Find help or get online counseling now. Psych Central Professional. About the Blog. Charm is a trap. At the beginning of their relationship, Clara thought she connected with her mother-in-law-to-be.
But just before the wedding, her husband revealed a telling conversation in which his mother encouraged him to walk away from the pending marriage. Ever since then, Clara felt displaced, uneasy, and confused. This time was going to be different. Clara vowed to not fall prey to her charm. Instead of seeing her pleasantries as an attempt to improve the relationship, Clara would view them a bait to draw her in so she can be attacked later.
Conversation is an opportunity. Looking back on their relationship, Clara realized that her mother-in-law would draw her into a conversation that quickly turned into a competition of who showed more love to her husband. It was a sick cycle that Clara tried to avoid.Lana is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor who helps women to regain their power after experiencing toxic relationships.
A toxic mother-in-law is a master of covert warfare. Her methods are tried and true, and she's had years of practice. She's so good that half the time you're not even aware you're being manipulated. But you're smart. You're catching on. Here's everything you need to know about the silent treatment: it's a form of an adult tantrum.
If someone uses this method of "communication," they are an extremely immature person who lacks emotional intelligence. It is often used as a form of punishment. And what do you know? Your mother-in-law is a queen of silent treatments. It's her favorite instrument of control. Assert yourself, get out of line, challenge her sainthood - and you're dead to her. That's why they call it a "mental murder" - a toxic MIL "kills" you in her mind, communicating that nothing you say or do matters, and that you simply don't exist to her anymore.
The worst part of it is, at some point other family members a. Let's say that you and your mother-in-law got into a fight over how you're raising a child, what you do for work, or an investment you made with your partner. Whatever the reason, a toxic mother-law-in will not attempt to make up.
She will exhibit passive-aggressive behavior by giving you the silent treatment. Just like the mean girls in middle school, your mother-in-law is doing this to have power over you. Rather than admitting any fault or compromising after a conflict, she ignores your needs altogether and expects that you will cave from guilt.
This behavior is childish and manipulative. The silent treatment is a form of punishment. The goal is to make you feel guilty enough to bend to her will.
This is technically a form of emotional abuse. The silent treatment leads to feelings of guilt and shame and causes obsessive thinking.
The silent treatment can cause people to feel trapped in unhealthy, immature relationships. Unfortunately, having a controlling mother-in-law is not like having unspoken problems with your partner. The problems you face with her are often not about shared commitments, or other domestic disagreements. What she's angry about is often vague and her logic seems chaotic. Whatever it is, the problem isn't really you.
Maybe she is afraid to lose control over her child. Maybe she is afraid of chaos, because she is not confident with who she is. Maybe she has prevailing anxiety that she's never gotten help with. Whatever it is, remember that she has her own problems that exist outside of your relationship with her. You may never change her mind, but that doesn't mean you can't stand your ground. If you disagree confidently, but with kindness, then her continued anger cannot be your fault. If she still claims it's your fault, it's because she cannot let her guard down enough to be vulnerable and trusting.
Remember, her trust issues were not caused by you.Women who marry the man they love who has a narcissistic mother need to be prepared. They have run right into the sites of the Matriarch from Hell.
Many of these narcissistic mothers are psychologically fused with their sons. This started when the child was very young. In some cases the mother substitutes her son for her husband who becomes a footnote in her life. When her darling son decides to get married the alarm goes off. The narcissistic matriarch is willful, ruthless and determined that she will forever possess her son and he cannot be shared with anyone, including his own wife.
The narcissistic mother-in-law sabotages her daughter-in-law, talking about her in highly negative tones. She seems to be superficial. I suspect that she is ultimately after our money. The NM-in-law throws the full force of her ruthlessness and treachery into her goal—the destroy this marriage. In some cases this works. The wife gives up. She has been isolated, demeaned, lied about, dragged through every texture of mud possible.
It is remarkable what these dangerous, highly disturbed narcissistic mothers are capable of doing and pulling off. Many daughter-in-laws take the showers, the oncoming mortars of abuse continuously.
They become weary, exhausted, depressed, anxious. Some of them develop PTSD as a result of this severe level of abuse. My advice to daughter-in-laws who have tried everything to keep peace and to compromise but have been chronically attacked as a result, should consider the possibility of severing the relationship with her husband.
The spouse needs to choose between his disturbed fused relationship with his mother and his wife. If the son cannot individuate from the mother, then there are no alternatives than to make the separation. In some cases the husband wakes up and realizes that his love for his wife and his become a separate individual from his pathologically possessive mother takes precedence.
The daughter-in-law should not blame herself if she has made repeated efforts to make peace and comes to the realization that she is dealing with a classic narcissistic mother-in-law.
You are not to blame. Honor and respect yourself. To learn about the narcissistic personality in-depth, visit my website: thenarcissistinyourlife. Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph. This is an interesting read. I have a mother whom I believe is a narcisist and had been tortured for years by her emotional abuse and isolation from the rest of the family.
I severed all ties which in some ways was disturbingly easy on part of my mother — she managed to find a way to make me be the bad guy and hold me as responsible for HER severing our relationship I have felt this was the best move I could have done and feel better for it.
Ironically my spouse of 10 years I believe also has a narcisistic mother — the over bearig kind. She is controlling and manipulative of him. He soon found himself defending me on what she implied was me being the problem with my mother rather than the other way around.
To the point that I no longer receive presents at Xmas or birthday acknowledgements. The husband no longer asks to talk to me — in fact they dint vene call the house anymore.
I have been abused by my own mother my whole life. And now am finding myself being abused by my mother in law in much the same way.