My Narcissistic Mother-in-law and my Husband Who Doesn't See it

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My Narcissistic Mother-in-law and my Husband Who Doesn't See it

Post by labarrett » Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:16 am


I am new to this forum. I have been doing a lot of research lately about NPD. Firstly, my mother is the adult child of a mother with NPD. She was the scapegoat in her family growing up and as a result suffered at the hands of my grandmother. My mom always knew there was something that wasn't quite right and after a lot of therapy she came to the realization of her mother's disorder and finally accepted that it was not her fault. It took nearly 50 years.

I have been with my husband going on 8 years; we have been married nearly 4 years and we have an adorable 4 month old baby boy. I didn't have any problems with my MIL until I became engaged to my husband. That's when her sense of over entitlement and control over my husband became very evident to me. My MIL doesn't recognize boundaries - whether they be material, emotional, physical, etc. She guilt trips my husband, is very heavily emotionaly dependent on him and seems to place the weight of her happiness on his shoulders. It is probably good to note that my husband is an only child of divorced parents and grew up with his mother. It has not been until recently, with the birth of my son, that I finally noticed the pattern of behaviour and thought that this goes deeper than her just being difficult.

My husband is British and moved to Canada to be with me. His parents live in England. I have always told my husband that his parents are welcome anytime. It is not my right to tell him they can't come cause otherwise he will not see them much as we cannot afford to go there very often. With the pending arrival of our son my husband and I mutually agreed that we wanted a few weeks of family time before having house guests. His mother did not like this AT ALL. Even our midwife said it was in the best interest of our sons health to let his immune system mature a little before having someone fresh off a plane in our home. The midwife recommended 6 weeks. My MIL argued with my husband that this was in violation of her rights as a grandparent and that she would come when she wanted. Thankfully my husband stuck to his guns but when she finally came she was here for 4 whole weeks. My husband got to go to work and I was home 24/7 with my MIL. By the end of it my husband and I were arguing on a regular basis and I was in a deep depression. I relative short oeriod of time my MIL had me believing that i wasnt a good mother, that i didnt know my husband (not nearly as well as she did) and that i was not good enough for him. She would always be polite and tell me she loved around my husband and others. But alone she would drop subtle insults and plant doubt. My husband feels obligated to give in to her demands even if she is not entitled to them. He will sacrifice his wants, needs and rights in order to make her happy. If he tries to resist she will rage and smear him to everyone until he gives in. I constantly feel that there are three people in my marriage and that I am the expendable one. Mother always comes first. I recently tried to get my husband to notice the callous disregard she has for his feelings and how relentless she is to get what she deems herself entitled to. I doesn't seem to matter how nicely I try to address it - I always come out as the bad guy. As far as I am concerned his mother's love is very superficial - it is based on words and lavish gifts. She is incapable of empathy, respect and understanding.

It wasn't until a recent conversation with mother that it was brought to my attention that my MIL may have NPD. After reading up on it i felt a huge sense of relief because it fits so perfectly. The problem is that my husband isn't even open to discussing it let alone looking into it further. His mother has conditioned him that she is number one and that blood is thicker than any marriage licence. In her eyes he can always divorce me but she will always be his mother. She has him brainwashed into thinking her warped reality with her at the centre is true and fair. I'm scared if I don't bring this up with my husband that we will continue down this road and his mother will come between us. If I do bring this up he will not see it - he will see it as me attacking his mother and again, she will come between us. I feel like I have hit the gold mine of knowledge and can't use it. I'm desparate to keep my family together and don't know what to do. Any suggestions would be warmly welcomed.

Beth McHugh
Posts: 206
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 9:47 am

Re: My Narcissistic Mother-in-law and my Husband Who Doesn't See it

Post by Beth McHugh » Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:30 pm

Hi labarrett,

Thanks for commenting and welcome to the forum.

From what you describe, you are in a situation of emotional isolation because your husband cannot see what is happening due to his lifetime training by his mother, and the failure of his father (if he is/was around during his formation years) to intervene in this situation. It can only be a good thing that your MIL is in another country. Your husband has been trained to see this behaviour as normal, and for some reason he has never questioned it. It must feel awful to be a new mother and to need support whilst being undermined during these visits and not heard by your husband. The behaviour of your MIL immediately after the birth is not healthy. Yes, she wants to see her grandchild, but she is not the parent anymore.

I would suggest getting a diagnosis by proxy of your MIL. There are other disorders that mimic NPD, so it is important to be certain that this is what you are dealing with because it will affect the approach you will use toward your MIL and most importantly, your husband.
If you would like a diagnosis by proxy, which would be completed by you, please contact me at the address below.

You can also access this link by clicking on the link to the main page above. Having a formal diagnosis of NPD and /or other co-morbidities will allow for better ways to communicate with your husband, and also ways to protect yourself from the treatment of your MIL.

If you have any further questions, please contact me at

Best wishes,

ImageBeth McHugh
B.Sc (Hons). B.Psych. Dip.Sc.
Principal, Your Online Counselor

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