How to Deal with Your Rude In-Laws

How to Deal with Your Rude In-Laws

No one enjoys dealing with in-laws when they're insensitive, intrusive, and rude. Your mother-in-law gripes about the way you wear your hair or your father-in-law just gripes in general.

Dealing with your rude in-laws is something you must adjust to. Because you didn't just marry your spouse, you married—or got stuck with—their entire family.

This is your albatross to bear, unless you walk away and cut them out of your life. (Disengagement is no great fix either.)

You have other options…

Coping with your toxic in-laws

When grappling with dear ole mother-in-law, you need a thick skin. Put on your faux Cheshire Cat smile (even though it pains you) and get ready to deploy your battle plan.

You may salivate at the prospect of telling her off. Putting her in her place. But going berserk without a strategy is a risky trek through alligator-infested swampland.

Courageous woman wades through a fairytale swamp during a torrential downpour, with water up to her collarbone, surrounded by alligators devoid of menace
Arguing with your mother-in-law vs. gator diving? Tough choice.

Remember the old saying:

Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.

Adage of unknown origin.

But you shouldn't absorb verbal and emotional abuse in perpetual silence either, like a weathered punching bag.

Woman wears an absurdist, avant-garde, full-body ensemble resembling a bulbous, puffy punching bag
You're not your in-laws' proverbial punching bag.

And the problem isn't just relegated to your mother-in-law; any member of the in-law family circle can cause trouble, including your father-, sister-, brother-in-law, and their spouses.

For the sake of this article, we'll use mother-in-law as the chief antagonist. But you can swap out this in-law with any hostile, manipulative, patronizing bully.

Don't take the bait

Shall we give a minor example: going home for the holidays? The first thing darling mother-in-law does when you walk through the door is brush past you and kiss her "baby."

The disrespect begins early…

You've become the peripheral. The invisible.

Her passive aggressive remarks—"You're so thin" or "Isn't your wife feeding you?"—strike a nerve. This is manipulation. This is baiting. She's trying to get you to react.

Ghoulish Baba Yaga, a ghostly witch, sits beside a raven and flickering candles at a mysterious dinner table, her pale visage marked with faint inscriptions
Mother-in-law taunting you at the dinner table.

You've entered the time-honored game of "Who Will Embarrass Themselves the Least?" A winner-take-all battle of wit, snark, and spite, where bets get placed on your dignity.

Nothing would please her more than to have you return a snide remark. Or just get combative. She's betting that only you will look awful in that exchange.

But this isn't a fair fight…

She has her immediate and extended family there for moral support. You just have your spouse (of conflicted loyalty) and maybe your kids (who can't help much).

The smart play, for now, is to kill her with kindness.

Rain-drenched woman with an unsettling, villainous smile, plotting something dangerous as she stares upward
Brandish a fake smile and bide your time.

Compliment her on something and try to mean it. If you turn everything into a massive battle, both your life and your partner's will become nothing short of miserable.

Disparaging you over your married name

Since we focus this website on name change after marriage, we would be remiss to not cover a source of daughter-in-law to mother-in-law tension: not carrying on their family name.

Older woman and her daughter-in-law in a near-dark room, mouths wide open, locked in a heated argument, expressing intense frustration and a palpable sense of danger
Don't succumb to bullying over your married name.

If your mother-in-law criticizes you for not taking her son's last name after marriage, explain why you kept your maiden name or hyphenated your name as a middle ground.

Tensions may erupt among in-laws for men who opt to take their wives' names, as though the wives were plotting to erase their husbands' family history.

Changing your name is a personal choice with lifelong ramifications. Your in-laws—and even your spouse—may disapprove of your decision. But hold the line.

Now, back to the family get-together…

Be patient and keep your cool

You've been at their house for a couple of hours now. The comments and offhanded remarks just keep coming. Your nerves are wearing thin and your patience thinner.

Take deep breaths. Tap into your inner Zen. Picking a fight right now is a dangerous maneuver. Especially with relatives arriving soon, if not there already.

Serene woman with closed eyes amid surreal mushrooms in an enchanted forest
When angry, aim for a calm, harmonious frame of mind.

Adhere to a self-imposed peace agreement, while remaining respectful of her home. But prepare to make it known that you won't tolerate being walked over.

Try your hardest to pacify her until you have time to talk to her one-on-one. Go help her in the kitchen. This may be a disaster, but here's your chance to speak your mind.

Keep the conflict between you and her

You should have raised this issue with your spouse by now. Remember, this is their parent. Respect that. Would you want anyone belittling or badmouthing your mother or father?

Instead of trying to decipher your partner's mother, why not consult the expert? Ask your spouse for their opinion on how best to manage and mollify their mother.

Couple in a dimly lit diner, backs turned and heads bowed, crafting a plan in hushed tones, overlooking urban street life at dusk through towering glass walls
Devise an in-law rebuttal script with your spouse.

When asking your spouse to opine on their mother's toxic behavior, avoid putting them in a position where they feel forced to choose a side.

As one of the two most important people in your spouse's life, asking them to choose between you and their mother is a harsh ultimatum which could rupture your relationship.

Consider the possibility your spouse's own family has bullied them into submission. Too browbeaten to suggest a response that doesn't involve appeasement.

Isolated man sits in a broken chair in an abandoned, dark, dilapidated room, the atmosphere misty and haunting, with foggy daylight piercing through a large window
Your spouse may be too conflicted to offer useful input.

Open yourself up to a range of opinions. Ask your friends, family members, and therapist for advice. They may have constructive in-law horror stories to tell: disputes and solutions.

Now is the time to speak your mind

So dinner is over. Everyone is gone. Now is the time to approach her.

Determined woman dressed as a superhero, wearing a mask over her eyes, gazes straight ahead with unwavering focus
Steel yourself and get ready to say your piece.

Pull her to the side, just the two of you, with no one else nearby. Perhaps, go into the kitchen for a glass of wine or iced tea. Or offer to help clean up the mess.

Don't get defensive in your tone or body language. Defensiveness heading into the discussion will start and end in an ugly place.

Start the conversation light, simple, and direct: "I'd like to talk to you about something that's been bothering me." (Gird yourself; there's no turning back now.)

Approach the matter without attacking. Keep a calm and respectful demeanor. Focus on the goal: ending the conflict.

Don't sugarcoat it, but stay mindful of her feelings. Explain how you feel disrespected, diminished, insulted, or ignored.

Articulate your expectations:

  1. Hostilities must end.
  2. And everyone must end it together.

Stopping this rampant aggression is a must:

  1. For the sake of the family.
  2. For the sake of your wellbeing.
  3. To stop someone from going overboard.

She may appreciate your candor if you're upfront and honest from the outset. But if you try to deceive, obfuscate, or embellish, she'll see through insincerity and call you out.

Time to go on offense (get your armor)

Trying to keep the peace is admirable, but you can't let gross behavior run amok unchecked. The longer you wait, the more emboldened and obnoxious vicious in-laws become.

Defiant woman in medieval body armor commands attention at an extravagant feast, her steely-eyed gaze simmering with contempt
With armor on, rise up with courage and assert yourself.

Here's a forceful yet restrained way to respond to a bullying in-law:

I'm sorry, but I can't allow you to keep disrespecting me with your hurtful words and actions. I treat you and everyone with respect, and I expect the same in return.

I want us to have a good relationship, but there needs to be a change. If you can't do this, we need to limit how much we're around each other moving forward.

Example of a measured response to a menacing in-law.

Speak your truth without hesitation or apology, and then leave the door open for the antagonist to return from the brink and accept a truce, peace, or ceasefire.

Taming your in-laws key takeaways

Your in-laws deserve your respect (when merited). But always remember that you deserve respect as well. Finding common ground and mutual respect is in everyone's best interest.

Fearless woman shares a serene, ethereal banquet with a pride of lions at a table adorned with pumpkins
Enter the lion's den and walk out intact, respected, and stronger.

Mending a broken relationship takes hard work and grace.

You can start with a private discussion, separate from family gatherings. Take a gentle but firm approach. (Go assertive, not aggressive.)

There might always be periodic conflicts between you and your in-laws. But aiming for understanding instead of upstaging can lower the heat and hurt long-term.

Good luck traversing the tricky ties between you and your in-laws. Remember to show your appreciation despite their foolish conduct. Until calm prevails, stay poised and unruffled.

Do you agree, disagree, have your own in-law story to report, or advice to share among those struggling with this problem? Express them in the comments section.

Our name change kit helps you change your name, either before or after marriage.

View Packages


  1. I don't like my in-laws and they don't like me. I'm never trying to pick a fight, but I will get loud if I have to. Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. Same with my coworkers or neighbors or strangers.

  2. Please I need help my mother's in-law used to baggage into my bed room anytime she feels like and my husband said is her right. Please someone should help a sister. I'm dying.

  3. My father in law was a pompous ass, self made and full of shit, obese af and they were all privileged spoiled B's.

    When they decided to stick it to me with their honesty on the eve of the wedding. I told them straight and stood my ground, up until that time I had simply endured and ignored their vicious snark, but that night they were the privileged ones to get to see a side of me that they didn't think existed.

    I was never again harassed or spoken down to, to my face that is LOL!

  4. I agree with Amy. You can't just ignore a Monster-in law. It makes them get more feisty with you. I know from experience. I ignored my brother's new wife for years, all of her lovely, vile comments, to me. And she upped her bad behavior, because she was not getting that negative reaction, she was craving.

    I think if someone belittles you, you need to put them in their place, right away. And with her, you can't be nice. My sister-in-law's tiny brain, can't handle niceness! lol!

  5. I do not take sh** from my inlaws. I cuss them out publicly and openly. Do not tolerate disrespect from anyone in this life.

    Just because someone is a parent does not mean they are perfect. They are still human beings that make mistakes. If they are being disrespectful tell them that exactly to their face . Stand up for yourself. Even avoid them completely.

    You need to let rude people know that they are not in control of your life. You are in control of your own life. You were existing before you met them. You do not need them. Demand respect and cut them off if they do not change.

    At the end of your life you will be happy you kept it real and did not put up a fake face just to keep peace. A fake friend keeps quiet. Real friends speak the truth. Put them in their place. Let them clearly know that God runs your life and not them.

    Do not take s*** from anyone in this life. A lot of toxic people become parents and subsequently inlaws. You should have zero tolerance for disrespect in this life.

  6. My mother in law’s boyfriend takes it upon himself to make sarcastic comments about how “perfect” I am and mock my education and job. I never bring up these topics. When I do not respond to his comments he starts staying my name over and over until I acknowledge him. He also makes explicit sexual jokes about my mother in law in front of me and the other children. I just leave the table when the meal is over and stay in my room for the rest of the visit. I want to confront him but with someone as immature as this, is there any point? I clearly bring out some insecurities in him just be existing.

  7. The best advice given here is to walk away after confrontation. It's the only way, and if your spouse won't support you, I guess you have married the wrong person….
    Simple as that-

    • I agree; walking away is the best solution after many attempts of trying to make it work & even a one on one talk with them. When in-laws constantly belittle you & talk badly of you to the rest of the family. It makes it hard on you, you feel “ ganged up on” especially when your spouse can’t defend you.

      Often times the situation makes you question your spouse’s strength & love for you. In order to protect yourself you choose the painful solution to avoid all family gatherings. You don’t give them the power to continually hurt & disrespect you. It may not be ideal for many, but it works for me.

      Every family dynamics is different. My in-laws are incredibly cruel, judgmental & hurtful people. Although they claim to be educated & Christians; they have never apologized to me……( too educated to say their sorry). Walking away is the only solution for me.

    • Walking away is not a solution. That is like burying something under the carpet. I walked away for 40 years, it just got worse. It got so bad that a sister-in-law thought it was acceptable to put her hands on me & kicked me out of my own house for a weekend. By not standing up you give them permission to bully you & you get less capable of defending yourself because you feel beaten. Bullies will not stop until you take away their right to bully you. Most times your spouse has also been bullied by the same family members & has no clue how to deal with it. I sent my husband to a psychologist, she told him that he needed to set boundaries with his family. That in turn reinforced the fact that I was finally standing up for myself. It almost destroyed our marriage because he did not stand up for me, ends up he just didn't know how.

  8. When you marry someone you don't marry their family any more than you copulate with their family. Such a stupid way to think.

  9. I was searching for a similar situation. My daughter in law is the most evil person on this planet. She manipulates people to get her way. She’s condescending (told me my niece was fatter than me! And that’s just one example) and has zero filter. She says mean things about my mom (her grandmother in law 🤷‍♀️). They live near me and if I go over to their house, she will stay in their bedroom.

    I’ve cried more about her toxicity than anything I’ve ever been through.

    My son doesn’t see any of her issues, is blinded by her beauty I guess, and unfortunately is in the middle all the time.

    And she’s pregnant so I can’t talk to her to avoid stressing her out.

    • It sounds like your son isn’t the mama’s boy you expected and you’re jealous of his beautiful pregnant wife. No sympathy for toxic monster in laws.

  10. @Goodguys comment. Thats the only way disrespecful inlaws can get to hear because their intention are to work you up for them to convince all the scheming others pretending to be ok that you are a terribleb#%@$. So I need guards and please I do need a coach to attend to such cos its not fair at all to respect people who dont respect and even recognise you

  11. What to do when you have jealous, violent, drunk, catty, miserable in-laws? They don't have a spouse and hates the fact that their sibling does. They tell anything personal about you or others to make you look worse than there situations.

    They are always sick or extremely needy and happy when you are not doing well. Hates the idea of anyone in the family getting along with you and always make you the outsider. My spouse does not even know how to deal with his own siblings and their attitudes and if he does deal with it, it turns out violent. He will always care about his family and go to the rescue for anything they need.

    It is a terrible relationship with the family mess! I think they would outcast anyone who will not give in to their idiotic mess.

  12. The best defense IS always a strong offense. When in laws are passive aggressive or make snide remarks, bide your time. Ignore those, because you are waiting for them to get direct with their insults, and they will eventually go there. That's what bully's do, and when they do it's time to get in their face. Stop them in their tracks.

    Stay sober for this. Refuse to drink alcohol or eat food at these family gatherings. You will send a strong message. When the direct insults come, and they will, stop the person mid comment if you can. Motion and ask the offending relative to step aside with you somewhere private in the home. Place your hand on their back and encourage them to come with you. Then simply look them square in the eye, and say, "Never say that to me (or about me) again. If you do I will leave and take my spouse and/or kids with me." When you say that they will likely smirk.

    Tell them, "And you had better wipe that smirk off your face." Then walk away from them. If they say anything else sarcastic or rude, and the worst ones likely will, then leave the gathering and don't come back. Never attend another gathering of the family when that person will or may be present, and tell the family why. That's how you handle disrespectful in-laws.

    • Your solution is a Dream for each and everyone who is harassed verbally by in-laws/ relatives/ etc, but in many cultures, a woman reacting this way may bring upon warth of her husband or it could result in a terrible reaction from him. Many in Laws take the liberty of making snide comments at the person because they know their Son would always take their side.

      I believe, Being Smart will help. from experience, i would say, Talking one-on-one and making your POINT crystal clear in a very FIRM way works wonders. because noone expects you to speak that way ". and one-on-one takes more courage .

    • That makes good sense. I'm about to go do exactly that. Number one, if you are not priority number 1. (as his queen). Only an option when it suits. Then why the hell would you continue to treat him like a fcin king.

      I'm no longer putting up with any of it. Exes paraded at my house in front of my nose. No. Then his father told my husband to get rid of me and walked past me. I just lol in his face and told him. Mind ur own fc-in business. Now that's a whole different issue.

      They are all toxic, backstabbing, interfering, narcissistic, nasty family that I now have released myself from. Including my pathetic, ballless, gutless, so called husband.

      Gosh, it feels good to be moving on from this chain of unhappiness.

      Best advice. Move on. I have. I've shipped up and shipped out. Don't put up with sh*t like that.

    • How in the world can you do that when they live with you and we take care of them. I have stood up and the results is always turned against me. I get ignored when trying to talk to them.

  13. Whoever wrote this is either not married or has never dealt with rude in-laws. (1) you never put your self reapect second to anyone. (2) you actually DID marry just your husband/wife and NOT their families as well (3) the spouse is never put in the middle! You are MARRIED! There is NO middle! (4) If it is worth a talk with an inlaw you absolutely bring your spouse into it to support YOU and the marriage. Good Luck! This advice from 1902!!

    • Amen, Amy! I tried this stupid approach for years!!!🙄😤. You are SO right and I’m so glad I learned to take up for myself, albeit way late!

    • Nice one Amy, Totally agree but what if you also work for your inlaws ? I am married to their son am also an employee for them . I have it from both ends and I think I am screwed. ha lol

    • Go Amy!! I was mortified reading this article. You took the words right out of my mouth, great advice!

      I can’t believe how this article is basically saying that you should let yourself be disrespected!! No way!!

    • Oh my gosh, I came here for the comments to see what others were thinking/feeling….holy crap do I feel some relief! Amy, thank you. I was about to resign from ever wanting to me married with the advice coming from this article haha.

    • Totally Agree!! Whoever wrote this is seriously clueless and under no circumstances should be giving such appalling advice!

    • Your spouse is the MOST important person in your life. Yes, even over children which is very difficult for some people to accept.

      My family made some comments about my wife which precipitated immediate and very direct guidance – game/set/match. Discussion concluded and everyone knew they would stand in line behind my wife.

      Reciprocity hasn’t come through though. I have a controlling narcissistic sister-in-law who has done everything she can to sabotage my marriage. My wife’s ex-husband is this sister-in-law’s husband’s “best friend” and still hunts with my other brother-in-law regularly. Her family has told me several times how much they appreciated my wife’s ex-husband and on and on.

      My parents-in-law keep my wife’s previous marriage pictures up in the house. After they spent years bearing their souls to my wife about me I bared my soul about them to them all. Now I’m the bad guy. No kidding. The ex-husband is also remarried.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *