A debate has opened up online over a mother-in-law’s behavior as house-guest. Some wrote that she has overstepped the mark, but others commented that her daughter-in-law is just being a bad host.
Mumsnet user Newbiehelp posted on the advice forum on January 31, asking if she was right to think her mother-in-law was being an “inconsiderate guest” during her stay recently.
The original poster explained that, during a trip to the supermarket, the mother-in-law came along and began putting items in the cart, expecting her daughter-in-law to pay for her items too.
The poster wrote that the mother-in-law has been staying in their spare room, which would usually be her office. While tolerating the impact of her stay, the poster criticized the items being put in the cart. “I have cooked extra with each meal so she can eat. But I personally would not have put anything extra in her trolley, especially expensive food just for me,” she wrote.
In-law relationships can often be a source of negativity for couples. Christine E. Rittenour of West Virginia University and Jody Koenig Kellas of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln looked at this in great depth for a study in 2015. The pair examined the communication between mothers- and daughters-in-law and what messages the latter might perceive negatively.
Results of their study showed that women were most offended and annoyed when their mothers-in-law got too involved in their marital lives. They also found that controlling messages from their in-laws were a common annoyance. Women felt compelled to do a specific task because of unwanted actions or advice from their partner’s mothers.
As the original poster was so aggrieved by having to pay for the extra items, she might have seen this as her mother-in-law trying to assert control or instruct her on what to buy. But frustrating in-laws don’t have to provoke such anger and resentment, as therapist and counselor Jordyn Mastrodomenico told Newsweek.
“In-laws are famous for overstepping boundaries, but not every action may be backed up by an evil intention,” Mastrodomenico said. “The best way to demonstrate your feelings is by reciprocating the actions of your in-laws. It may not be easy, but most of the time, it gets the message across.”
However, addressing every issue might not be plausible, so Mastrodomenico suggested being more accepting of in-laws to avoid confrontation at times. “Understand they are a package. The best thing is just to ignore and bite your cheek because, sometimes, to keep the peace between two families, it’s better to stay quiet for a while. It can be better just to keep following your own rules and let them do whatever.”
Despite the original poster having to buy a few extra items during her shopping trip, she went on to mention that, when they went out for lunch, she forgot her purse, so her mother-in-law kindly paid the check.
Many commenters wrote that the original poster should be more accommodating since her partner’s mom is her guest; adding a few extra items or cooking extra is usual etiquette for a host.
One person posted: “A bed and sharing meals with you is the basic level of accommodation you should offer, you’re hardly pushing the boat out! She bought you lunch without a grudge but you’re begrudging her some trolley items.”
Another Mumsnet user wrote: “Saying you cook extra so she can eat with you? Would you really cook and serve food for your family and leave a guest with no food?”
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