Life & Love

I’m Fed Up With My Controlling Mother-in-Law I Live With


Dear E. Jean:I’m a 25-year-old newlywed with a mother-in-law who goes through my stuff, tries to control what my husband and I do, and cries crocodile tears if things don’t go her way. She wrangles to get in between us and cause fights. When we’re dining with friends, she calls us and fakes being sick. She treats my husband and me like slaves—making us do chores for her and drive her around.

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I’ve had enough! True, my husband and I are living with her (and my father-in-law) while we finish our last year in law school, but even my husband is fed up. However, we’re afraid to move because we’ll feel bad. They’re both nearing their late fifties and will soon be needing a lot of our help. I feel like we’re abandoning them! —Helpless Daughter-in-Law

Helpless, My Heliotrope: Somehow I can’t get excited about in-laws who are a decade and a half younger than myself reaching such a state of decrepitude that they “will soon” be needing help. Phoo! Let the buggers fend for themselves. Take them out to dinner and tell them that you’ll be moving. When they start weeping and fainting, explain that they are so young and fit, now that you think of it, they are probably much more competent to drive you around. Tell them that it’s absurd to impose upon them any longer, that you must concentrate on your studies and the upcoming bar exam, and that you look forward to seeing them once every two weeks.

PS: And be so good as to ask your mother-in-law never to appear within my sight.

This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at


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