PLEASE HELP: My mother-in-law hates me, and my husband won’t take sides.

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Dear Duchess,

 

My mother-in-law and I have had a shakey relationship from the beginning. My husband and I dated for 3 years, and we’ve been married for an additional 5. We have no children. In the beginning, when his mother and I would butt heads, I was completely open to my husband remaining neutral. After all, how is a man to choose between his mother and his wife? I always thought it unfair to make him choose. Also, his mother and I are both adults; we should be able to handle our own conflicts, right?

I always thought that my mother-in-law and I would learn to get along over time, but it’s really only gotten worse. The more fights we have, the more I see a pattern. I am usually strutting along, minding my own business, and she comes out of nowhere and accuses me of whatever crazy thing it is that she’s cooked up in her head. Without even saying a word to her, I offend her in some crazy way (“You’re ignoring me!”, “I know you have a problem with me, but you don’t have enough respect for me to tell me!”, “Sometimes I think you wish he had no mother at all!!”) She becomes overly sensitive about everything I say or do, and she is constantly making issues out of nothing. I’m a very non-confrontational person, so I try to ignore her, but she takes my silence as an act of passive aggression towards her, and it only makes her more angry.

Over the years, I’ve become pretty desperate for this reoccurring conflict to stop. My husband fully agrees that his mother is overly sensitive and overly reactive toward me for some reason, but he still refuses to get involved, stating that it’s unfair of me to ask him to choose. I’ve read books and articles, and I’ve talked to many other daughters-in-laws and mothers-in-laws on this issue. They all say that the only way to resolve this problem is for my husband to step in and mediate. Should he step in, and if so, how can I convince him to do so?

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