WHAT is there to do when your mother-in-law is ruling the roost? Love doctor Gabrielle Morrissey shares her advice.
Q: I have a mother-in-law from hell. She can't leave her son (a grown man over 40 by the way) be for a single day.
She visits every weekend and often during the week.
She takes charge of my kitchen without even asking, and even our children.
If my husband and I argue, if she hears about it, she telephones me to tell me off.
How do I contain this woman? I feel like the visitor in my own home here!
A: This situation is outrageous and your mother-in-law is over the top.
But you've got to take responsibility for your part in allowing this situation to get to this ridiculous stage.
Yes you should be sensitive and polite to your mother-in-law, but no, you should not let her take over your house, your life and your husband!
You've got to take a stand. What is your husband's role in all this?
I suspect he feels caught in the middle between two strong women, whom he both loves.
You and he need to have a serious conversation about the state of your union.
When you get married, you never stop loving your parents, but you do transition from that primary home, to create a home and family of your own.
He promised to love and cherish you, so he's got to be a man, a loyal husband, and ask his mother to back off because you are his wife, and the number one woman in his life.
It doesn't mean he doesn't love his mother any less, but he's got to make it clear that her place is not number one in your home.
She's the visitor, yes, a special and loved one, but still the guest, not the boss.
You run your home, you are in charge of your own children - so start acting like it!
Talk to your husband very seriously about how this situation is unbearable for you and ensure that you both sit down with his mother to explain what her role can and cannot be.
Make sure you do this in a sensitive but straightforward and clear manner.
Making your home a continuing battle zone for control and power won't work.
Take the upper hand by sitting down with her, with you and your husband as a united front, and both of you tell her what you will and won't accept.
For example, she is not to boss you around. She is to come over when invited, a few days a week, not every day. Set the rules, but also make sure she still feels welcome and loved.
Stress how it is inappropriate to have her so very involved in your lives, but equally emphasise that you still want her around, within respected agreed upon boundaries.
You are in a very difficult situation, and she is important to your children, and very important to your husband.
But that doesn't mean she can take over your life.
Stand up and defend yourself and your family.
A few hard truths may help your mother-in-law find more appropriate, respectful ways to show her love and care for her son, your husband.
If not, it's time to call in the big guns and get a counsellor involved with the specifics of your situation.
As a mother and wife, your family comes first and you've got to defend it - even when the threat comes in the form of your husband's own mother.
Do what mothers do - put your foot down!