It is never too late to set boundaries, or to re-set them if they aren’t being respected. Assuming you do have to spend time with your Mother-In-Law, what is an acceptable time commitment and frequency for you and for your husband? The first step is to sit down with him (when he is not watching the Final Four of college basketball) and have an open and frank conversation (bite your tongue alot!)
After agreeing on your new boundaries (I know, this is a big assumption), you have to communicate them to your Mother-In-Law either together or your husband can do it alone (if you trust him not to sell you out!) Some of our regular readers have sent in some of the most common Mother-In-Law boundaries.
- Call before dropping by. “We want you to come over, but we’d like you always to call first. We need our privacy, and we like to get ready for company and clean up and change our clothes"
- Local Mother-In-Law visits. “We’d love to see you more, but with our busy work and school schedules, we almost never have time to see friends or have a date night. Therefore we’d like to schedule a dinner with you once a (month, week, etc.)”
- Frequency of phone calls. “We are so busy in the evenings, we don’t have time to speak on the phone during dinner, homework and baths. We’d prefer to set aside a time to call you once a week and have a real conversation, rather than have distracted conversations”
- Long distance Mother-In-Law visits. “We only have X weeks of vacation per year, and the holidays eat most of that up. With our busy work and school schedules, we have almost no time to ourselves. Therefore, we are going to have to (alternate holidays, come for a long-weekend, skip this year, etc.)”
Ultimately, if you are stuck with the Mother-In-Law from hell, give yourself permission to say no. You don’t have to spend time with her or talk to her. Send your husband and the kids without you. Alternate holidays with your family. You need to protect your emotional wellbeing and do what works for you.
Please send us your Mother-In-Law boundaries to firstname.lastname@example.org