14 Reasons Why You Find Your Mother-In-Law So Annoying!

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

Family conflict

Not everyone has a great relationship with their mother-in-law. In fact, some people find their mother-in-law downright annoying. If you’re experiencing mounting frustrations with your own mother-in-law, perhaps this can serve as an outlet. Let’s get it all out… let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of why some mothers-in-law are so darn annoying.

Yup, mothers-in-law can be annoying, and how you deal with it can directly impact your happiness and relationship with your spouse. While mothers-in-law can be annoying, you also need to respect them, which can take diligence and a lot of tongue-biting. If you need a bit more venting and outlet time, keep reading to find out how mothers-in-law can be annoying and how you can actually deal with it.

You probably don’t have to spend too much time creating a list of reasons why your mother-in-law annoys you. The ways probably spring to mind immediately. If you’re feeling frustrated, stifled, or annoyed, here are several reasons why that could be happening.

14 reasons why you find your mother-in-law so annoying:

1. She treats you like you stole her son/daughter.

Mothers don’t really want to take the back seat in their child’s life, and while that is understandable, it’s not something you’re willing to tolerate. If your mother-in-law quips snarky comments or implies you have taken her son away, annoyance is bound to mount up quickly. If the behavior persists, you need to approach her to talk about it, but make sure you do that in a respectful and gentle way.

2. Being set in her ways is the only norm she knows.

Mothers-in-law are typically considerably older, so you can expect them to be somewhat set in their ways. However, if your mother-in-law shows a total lack of flexibility and sticks to her guns on plans, ideas, and ways of doing things, that can get more than just a tad annoying. The reason for your annoyance is that you probably take a back seat to keep the peace. Just once or twice, mention that you understand it’s not the way she would do things, but “just this once” you are going to go ahead and do things your way. Be gentle.

3. She doesn’t accept you for who you really are.

Many people have found themselves in a position where they become acutely aware that their mother-in-law didn’t expect her child to end up with “someone like you”. Mothers-in-law have great expectations and regardless of how inferior you feel, keep in mind that it’s nothing personal. If your partner was with anyone else, she would still feel the same. 

You need to come to terms with the fact that you are never going to be all that your mother-in-law hopes and dreams of, and the best way to cope with it is to apply a good sense of humor and laugh it off. 

4. She interferes with your parenting style.

This is an annoyance that can’t really be overlooked. As a parent, you are shaping your child and guiding them to be the best version of themselves. There’s a saying that goes, “you are responsible for being more ethical than the generation before you”, and if you are trying to instill this in your child, no interference can be tolerated. Of course, there is a way to deal with it. Rather speak to your partner first so that they can approach their own mother and ask her not to interfere in the parenting

5. She manipulates or influences your partner.

Mothers have a bond with their children that will usually trump all other bonds, unfortunately. If your mother-in-law is manipulating or influencing your partner in a positive way, there’s no harm done, but if you notice that your partner is picking up negative habits or behaviors, it’s best to approach them about it instead of the mother-in-law. Mention that you have seen a change and suggest that it could be the influence of their mother. If nothing else, your partner will start to think about it, and hopefully, the manipulation and bad influence will come to an end. 

6. Often she is awkward and uptight when there’s no reason to be.

Not all mothers-in-law suffer this affliction, but some of them do, and it can be downright annoying when it happens. Someone who is awkward and uptight can cause the entire group to feel awkward and uncomfortable. Dinners might seem stilted, and conversations may be strained – that’s the unfortunate outcome of awkward and uptight attitudes. 

Perhaps she hovers while watching you prepare dinner with a scrutinizing eye. Or perhaps she insists on visiting for dinners but just seems unable to relax and enjoy herself while she judges each and every moment. Either way, there’s not much that can be done about this one. You just have to accept that this is your mother-in-law’s personality and try your hardest not to let it affect you.

7. She is sullen, disgruntled, and rarely light-hearted and happy.

It can be pretty annoying if you have the type of mother-in-law who can turn a room of laughing family members into a group of bored, sullen, and withdrawn people. Some mothers-in-law can suck the happiness out of a room – not to sound too harsh! What can you do about it? 

disapproving expression on face with crossed arms

Make the conscious decision that you won’t let someone else’s disgruntled and heavy-hearted life approach affect your family negatively. When she is around, put in the effort to maintain your family’s happy and light-hearted attitude. Hopefully, soon she will learn to lighten up, or she will start to feel excluded. 

8. She tries to change the way you do things in the home.

How you do things in your home shouldn’t change depending on who is visiting. If you don’t normally peel your veggies before cooking and eating them, you shouldn’t suddenly do it just because she thinks it’s the right way. If she prefers hand washing dishes instead of using the dishwasher, don’t suddenly start washing the dishes by hand when she is around. If you use environmentally safe washing detergent that she finds too weak in fragrance, don’t change your worldview and environmental efforts just to make her happy. 

You might think this is counter-productive to dealing with it, but it’s not. Instead of reacting and changing your ways, acquire a light-hearted and friendly teasing manner about it. You could say something like, “sorry, MIL, I know you like to get your hands dirty, but we’re using the dishwasher tonight”. Say it with a smile and a good-natured tone, and go about your life as normal. 

9. She weighs in on arguments between you and your partner.

Nothing is more annoying than a mother-in-law who gets her nose stuck into your personal arguments with your partner. However, you must first ask yourself how your mother-in-law heard of the issues in the first place. 

If you choose to argue in front of her, then you have brought it on yourself. If your partner tells their mother about your arguments and issues, you have to speak to them about it. Explain that certain issues are private between a couple and that it would make you more comfortable if you tried to solve the problems between you before he goes to your mother-in-law for advice and guidance.

10. Visits are drawn out, and she overstays her welcome.

On the annoyance scale, an over-stayed welcome scores about 10 out of 10! Unfortunately, some mothers-in-law don’t know how long is long enough when it comes to a visit. If you stay far away from your in-laws, you might find your mother-in-law visiting for weeks or months at a time. If you stay closer, you might find that a quick ‘pop in’ turns into a full day and night of visiting. 

The best way to handle this is to discuss the appropriate length of visiting time with your partner and make sure that she is aware of it before the visit or trip commences. For a long stay, perhaps say, “we are available for 10 days between the following dates” and leave the ball in her court to decide if she is willing to comply or not. For shorter visits for the day, perhaps mention that you have things to do and plans later, but a short visit before a certain time in the day will be just fine. It’s a kind way to set boundaries and hopefully obliterate this particular annoyance from your life. 

11. She sulks when things don’t go her way.

Is anything in life more annoying than a mother-in-law who sulks when things don’t go her way? Perhaps she gets grumpy and sulky because you and your partner cannot go away on a lengthy family vacation, or you say no when she invites you to join for lunch one afternoon. Perhaps she gets upset because you don’t want to make what she had in mind for dinner. 

There’s not too much you can do about a sulky mother-in-law. While giving in and letting her have her way will work from time to time, don’t make a habit of it as it will only promote that kind of behavior. Sometimes give in, but sometimes stick to your guns.

12. She talks about other family members in a derogatory way.

Something of particular annoyance is when a mother-in-law talks about other family members’ partners in a derogatory way. One can surmise that if that is how she speaks about other partners, she does something similar with you. This can be enough to let the mind run wild. How can you deal with it? 

For starters, don’t jump on the bandwagon when she speaks about other people. Try to mention a few positive aspects of the people she is discussing and then remove yourself from the situation. Don’t fall into the trap of saying anything negative or judgmental. Also, there’s a great saying that goes, “what other people think of you is none of your business”. It’s a good one to apply to the situation. 

13. She calls herself “religious” but behaves aversely. 

Something that can be of ultimate annoyance is when a person claims to be one thing and proves otherwise. If your mother-in-law piously calls herself religious but then gossips, treats you poorly, and judges others, you might feel prone to feeling annoyed. Unfortunately, it’s not your place as a son-in-law or daughter-in-law to call her out on this. How do you handle it? All you can really do is bite your tongue hard and try to overlook it without stooping to the same level of behavior. 


14. She has unrealistic expectations of you. 

Does your mother-in-law expect you to be father or mother of the year while running your own business, cleaning the house, keeping up with the neighbors, going to church, and being readily available to her at the drop of a hat, all while looking pristine and well-groomed? Many do, but that’s just an unrealistic expectation. 

If she makes comments or implies that you’re not handling these things very well, learn to bite your tongue (again). Remember that only you and your partner can set and live up to expectations and what your mother-in-law thinks essentially has no bearing on your happiness or the truth. 

To conclude

Annoying mothers-in-law can be the pits, but what must be realized is that you cannot escape them. You have to find an external outlet (perhaps exercise or a hobby) to take your mind off of it, and be as polite and respectful as possible when trying to deal with the annoyances along the way. If you’re on the road to trying to build a better relationship with your mother, best of luck with that.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.