I live with such a person. Every example there is something she has done to me or mine or someone else in the family. And there are more and more. Worse yet, my husband (her son), gaslights by proxy. But there's not a lot of literature out there on the topic that is helpful and I'm left feeling more confused by what is out there than I was before.
Between the pair pf them, I've been by degrees made a prisoner. Myself, my two grown kids who have issues of their own, and my two grandchildren. We can't leave because we have nowhere to go. No friends but theirs. No family but theirs. No car. No money to spare. He won't admit that they are tag-team abusers. He won't go to counseling. He won't even get a job.
He wasn't always like this. We had to move in with her for financial reasons. It was supposed to be temporary. But the longer he was there, the less motivated he became to leave. A man who once would not sneeze at working graveyards in a convenience store if it was what was immediately available, now won't even reach out to contacts ion his field to help him get back to work. He's beloved by the little ones and sees to their care, but does little to no housework. I ask him to fold a load of laundry and it sits for days until I take care of it. But, his mother or sister ask him -- or demand without so much a please or thank you -- to do this or that and he is Johnny-on-the-spot. Then he is angry that I resent his lack of help.
He says I'm reactionary. Overprotective. Hypersentive. Exaggerating. I'm the instigator when I assert my "claim" to cook dinner when I want, take a shower when I want, do laundry when I want, buy whatever groceries I want. I suffer from persistent daily headache and severe herniated and bulging discs in my neck, with nerve pressure. But I'm a brat for not wanting the TV up at 78 deibels (I metered it). I'm rotten because I prefer my grandchildren's laughter or conversations with my kids to reruns of the Family Feud. If I'm asked to do a chore, I suck if I don't drop everything and do it right at that moment, even if I really really have to pee. But I'm the abuser. It's all in my head.
What has started out as a problem with your MIL is really about the problems you are having with your husband. It's difficult without actually knowing more about your problem to know if either of these significant people are actually narcissists, but your principal problem is the lack of respect your husband is showing you. It wouldn't matter if your MIL was rude and obnoxious, if your husband defended you and preferably got you both out of this toxic situation. It sounds like he has aligned himself with his mother, and she then has free rein to say whatever she likes knowing that he won't caution her. It's important for you to learn to set boundaries against this behaviour - that's hard to do but made harder because you have two adversaries.
Your MIL is controlling your husband, and he clearly doesn't mind. I don't know what your early relationship together was like, but it seems that your husband has settled into this way of life. Perhaps he is depressed with his life, and he takes it out on you, aided and abetted by his mother -- his biggest fan.
My suggestion is to have your husband assessed for narcissism, since it can have a genetic basis. Contact me through the main website if you would like this done. If he turns out to have NPD, then this is important knowledge for your future. Your MIL is really not the problem here, it's the marriage. If it turns out that your husband does not have NPD, then the next step would be to have couples counseling to try to get your relationship back on track.However if he has NPD, then he will likely continue to side with his mother as the status quo remains. But knowledge is power, I would encourage you to look into this, and in the meantime learn how to set boundaries because this sort of behavior will be severely eroding your self esteem and you don't need that. You are a person who deserves respect and if you need counseling to re-establish your sense of self then I would encourage you to do so. At least you are speaking out about this problem and not remaining silent. You already know you are being treated badly and are resisting, so that suggests your self of self is still intact.
Contact me if you feel you need extra assistance in dealing with this situation. However, your best bet is to target your husband, since he is your partner -- MIL just came along for the ride.
B.Sc (Hons). B.Psych. Dip.Sc.
Principal, Your Online Counselor
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