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5 Suggestions for Dealing with a Narcissistic Mother-in-Law

Every family is exclusive and has its own set of challenges. Part of our Christian journey is learning how one can interact with different people. When it involves families, there is no such thing as a perfect family.

This article deals with the precise challenge of interacting with a narcissistic mother-in-law. When we marry our spouse, we now have the privilege of joining another person’s family. There will likely be good times and obstacles with every family. Facing the challenges will likely be a growth opportunity. We can set boundaries and expectations, but ultimately it’s God who can change them. Let’s take a look at how we will best interact with a narcissist mother-in-law.

How Do Narcissistic People Act?

The Mayo Clinic describes narcissistic personality disorder as a “condition wherein people have an inflated sense of their very own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a scarcity of empathy for others. But behind this mask of utmost confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that is vulnerable to the slightest criticism. People with narcissistic personality disorder could also be generally unhappy and disenchanted when they don’t seem to be given the special favors or admiration they consider they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.”

A narcissist will struggle to have deep relationships of their life, family, work, friends. Psychology Today states a narcissist has “a hunger for appreciation or admiration, a desire to be the focal point, and an expectation of special treatment reflecting perceived higher status.” The severity of the symptoms can vary from individual to individual but often involves extreme self-focus, an inflated sense of self, and a powerful desire for recognition and praise. A narcissist could have a consistent pattern of those behaviors that impact the relationships of those around them, including you.

Awareness of this condition will assist you to higher understand your mother-in-law. While you’ll be able to still have a relationship together with her, it’s essential to acknowledge and are available to terms with the constraints of your relationship. You might have to reorient your expectations to set yourself up for fulfillment. Part of this could be grieving the connection you hoped to have and being more prepared for the journey ahead.

1. Communicate with Your Spouse about Your Mother-in-Law

If your mother-in-law is a narcissist, certainly one of the important thing strategies in managing your relationship together with her will likely be strong, healthy communication along with your husband. Your husband will all the time love his mother, as he should. His actions and words may at times be defensive if you happen to attempt to call his attention to her grandiose self-importance. When you grow up in an environment, it’s hard to identify negative patterns until someone from the skin points them out to you. Be gentle as you navigate these conversations. “A mild answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

If you and your husband are on the identical page, it can make for a less stressful situation when dealing along with your mother-in-law. If your husband sees her unhealthy patterns and the way they impact her relationships, you’ll be able to work together to cope with the situation as a pair. You is usually a team, a united front. If you are usually not on the identical page about your mother-in-law’s narcissism, it can be more difficult but much more critical for you and your husband to speak on the matter. Discuss how the connection together with her impacts your marriage or family, then consider seeing a Christian counselor together if it’s consistently causing conflict between you.

Prayer is amazingly impactful. If the 2 of you’ll be able to pray together for the connection, that is a ravishing solution to bring you closer and switch the issue over to God. Knowing our limitations is an excellent thing and draws us closer to God.

2. Set Boundaries with Your Narcissistic Mother-in-Law

“Made within the image of God, we were created to take responsibility for certain tasks. Part of taking responsibility, or ownership, is knowing what’s our job, and what is not. Workers who continually tackle duties that are not theirs will eventually burn out. It takes wisdom to know what we must always be doing and what we shouldn’t. We cannot do every part. Any confusion of responsibilities and ownership in our lives is an issue of boundaries” This exert is taken from the Boundaries book by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend.

Understanding boundaries and the way they work takes time and practice but is well definitely worth the effort. You must learn where you stop and where another person begins. Lack of healthy boundaries can impact your work life, your private home life, friends, and on this case, your clan. If your mother-in-law is a narcissist, she probably doesn’t understand, nor respect, healthy boundaries. This means you could study them and how one can set them together with her. She will resist and get offended whenever you first implement them. Expect pushback; that is a component of the method.

Learning how one can set healthy boundaries with unhealthy people is critical. As discussed above, it is also extremely vital for you and your spouse to be on the identical page concerning the boundaries you might be setting individually and to your family. You are allowed to set the invisible property lines in your life, especially for unhealthy individuals. If you might be struggling on this area, I highly recommend the Boundaries book so you’ll be able to research this topic further.

3. Set Realistic Expectations for Your Relationship with Your Mother-in-Law

Sometimes we get grandiose ideas of how we’re going to change someone. Our intentions are good, and our heart is in the precise place; we now have just forgotten one key component. It is God who changes hearts and folks, not us. We can pray, we now have control over our reactions and decisions, but we cannot change another person. That is as much as God.

While this will sound like disappointing news, it’s actually very freeing. You are usually not liable for changing other people. You can love and support them, however the actual change comes from God and them. If they select not to vary their ways or habits, you’ll be able to’t force them. They must desire change in themselves and make an effort towards that motion.

Research shows that narcissists don’t change unless they need to. They must seek skilled help with counseling or turn to God for help. This condition won’t dissolve overnight. Set realistic expectations for you and your spouse; otherwise, you’ll consistently be frustrated and emotionally exhausted. If you expect your mother-in-law to get up a special person the subsequent day, this isn’t setting you up for fulfillment. If you expect her to vary her selfish ways because you’ve got set a boundary or had a chat together with her, you’ll remain frustrated.

Most narcissists don’t see their behavior as an issue. Unless she becomes aware of how her narcissism is affecting others and desires to vary, you is not going to see much change.

4. Know Who You Are Before Dealing with Your Mother-in-Law

When coping with a narcissist, or any difficult relationship in your life, it helps to be confident in who you might be in Christ. Otherwise, you’ve got an important likelihood of being manipulated or consistently being on an emotional rollercoaster. Knowing who you might be in Christ can assist you to deal along with your narcissist mother-in-law. If your confidence and self-esteem depend on her approval, you’ll consistently feel inadequate.

Matthew 22:37 says, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind.” Your first and most vital relationship must be with the Lord, praising him, loving him, repenting to Him, and learning about Him. “In all of your ways undergo him, and he’ll make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)

Proper fear within the Lord brings knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7) Fearing the Lord and never your mother-in-law will assist you to stay focused on Him. The more you give attention to Him, the less you’ll allow the turbulent waves of your mother-in-law to affect you.

We often use a saying in our home, “water off a duck’s back.” Let the things other people say which may be hurtful or immature roll off our backs. We mainly use it with our youngsters, but adults can hear this recommendation as well. Brant Hansen, in his book Unoffendable, discusses this very topic. We are those that lose after we allow others’ comments to penetrate us deeply. We are higher off if we may be unoffendable and let things roll off our backs. The healthier we’re, the higher equipped we’re to cope with the unhealthy relationships in our life.

5. Only God Can Change Your Narcissistic Mother-in-Law

While this example may feel all-consuming at times, remember everyone has difficult relationships of their life. The secret’s to face the challenge head-on, be honest concerning the issues, and learn the way best to reply to each situation that comes your way.

We have a tremendous redeeming God who can create probably the most beautiful redemption stories. Don’t lose hope but remember the change in your mother-in-law is beyond your doing. Keep specializing in your relationship with God, and He will strengthen you.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore we don’t lose heart. Though outwardly we’re wasting away, yet inwardly we’re being renewed daily. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an everlasting glory that far outweighs all of them. So we fix our eyes not on what’s seen, but on what’s unseen, since what’s seen is temporary, but what’s unseen is everlasting.”

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes

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