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How to Shut Down Your Mother-in-Law

Ever wish they made mother-in-law muzzles? (Us too.) Until that day comes, here's how to respond to those barbs she's throwin':

MIL: "Oh, you're looking so...healthy [i.e., fat]!"
What you want to say: "So do you, heifer!"
What you should say: "Thank you! I feel great." If she keeps saying it, you can take her aside and say something like, "I'm sure you don't mean to hurt my feelings, but I feel a little self-conscious now." This should end the discussion.

MIL: "Hmm...that's not the way we make chicken."
What you want to say:
"That's because yours sucks."
What you should say: "I'd love for you to try mine this time, if you don't mind." If you'd love one less thing to do and would rather end her critique than argue, say, "Would you
like to make it this time? I could use some help."


MIL: "That's his favorite. Trust me, I've known him a long time."
What you want to say:
"So have I!"
What you should say: "You're probably right. He has all kinds of secrets I haven't learned yet." This shows her that you're not trying to take over (even if you are). It should also end her bragging, since you've kindly reminded her that you're not competing.

MIL: "Is that how you're wearing your hair now?"
What you want to say:
"Don't get me started on your hairspray hive."
What you should say: "Yes, [insert name of spouse] loves it." Say it nicely and your assertiveness might nip her rude comment in the bud -- you won't sound rude either.

MIL: "You buy each other really extravagant gifts."
What you want to say:
"Of course you'd say that...you're cheap."
What you should say: "We love each other. This is one of the ways we show it." Smile with confidence, and her comment will just turn into background noise.

MIL: "Don't treat/talk to my son/daughter that way."
What you want to say:
"Um, last time I checked, you weren't his wife."
What you should say: If she's seen you in an argument, say, "I don't like fighting either, and I'm especially sorry that you had to see it." This ends the discussion and holds your spouse just as accountable for the spat as you are. Or say in a genuine manner, "What am I doing that's upsetting you?" And listen to her answer. If you discover that a behavior pushes her buttons, don't do it -- it'll spare you mucho grief.

Nestperts Tina B. Tessina, PhD, author of It Ends with You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction, and women's lifestyle expert Harriette Cole
More in-law advice:
>> Mother-in-laws uncensored
>> Weekend survival kit: Hosting the in-laws
>> 5 In-law issues solved

Check out what your MIL is saying about YOU!

-- The Nest Editors

See More: Couple Issues , Family & In-Laws , Love & Sex