Q. My new mother in law hates me. She never thought I was good enough for her son I guess because my family is not middle-class like them. When we visit his family, she loudly asks him if he’s getting enough to eat or if he has clean clothes. She loves to hint that I’m not taking care of him and his son. My husband defends me but she waits until he leaves the room to say something rude. As we were leaving her house one day, she ran to the car with a box of food and said “at least you’ll have something edible for the next few days.” Last week she sent a formal invite for their family reunion and noted that she only had room for one more at her table. Our only choices are to not visit and deny his son from seeing that side of the family or to continue tolerating her stupidity. What do you think?
A. As we age, we are supposed to get better, wiser, smarter and more Christ-like. But, unfortunately, the only thing that’s required to get older is to keep living. You don’t have to mature. In some ways, I feel sorry for her, more than I do for you. It’s really sad to see a full-grown woman with adult children still behaving this way. Something is not clicking inside of brain or her heart. Even if she doesn’t like you, she should respect you as her son’s wife and the mother of her grandson.
One of my closest friends, AJ, actually experienced something similar with her mother-in-law. Her MIL treated her like an enemy from day one. For whatever reason, AJ was never invited to family events or family pictures. She wanted her son to show up alone and when he didn’t, AJ received the cold shoulder treatment from everyone in the family. One day the MIL was in a bad car accident and AJ was the only family member to step up to the plate and nurture her back to health. She slept by her MIL’s bedside day and night, accommodating her every need. I don’t know if the MIL ever apologized but she definitely heaped coals of fire on this lady’s head. As a result, their relationship was never the same. She had finally earned her MIL’s respect and friendship.
Another one of my friends, TW, experienced the same torture from her fiance’s mother. He had no sisters. So when his mother got sick, TW was the only one who could bathe her and change her until her last breath. Again, I don’t know if she ever got the chance to apologize, but it had to have been an humbling experience to hate the hand that is feeding you.
My advice to you is to remain a class act. Never stoop to anyone else’s level because you never know when God will cause them to have to eat every mean, foul, nasty word they’ve ever said about you.
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire (guilt, shame, embarrassment) on his head.” Romans 12:20 (NKJV)
But having said all of that, I don’t think it’s a bad idea for her to miss you and your family. Your husband should make it clear that the three of you will stay away until she’s ready to welcome the whole family with open arms.
In the meantime, pray for God to plant his word in her heart. Pray that she will humble herself before an accident or illness does it for her.