How To Cope with Mother-In-Law Problems

How To Deal with Mother-in-law problems

Dear Selfless Esteem,
God calls us to care for widows & honor mom. We bought a home we can barely afford for my widowed mother-in-law to have a basement apt. Right away & for 7 yrs, I can’t stand her. I begged for my husband to move and ask her to get an apt or stay with her other 3 adult children. I want to homestead and he wants this life. I cook, clean, work full time, do the bills/budget, go to school full time, take care of our kids, etc…he works. I feel unheard, unappreciated.

7 Year Glitch

Dear 7 Year Glitch,

Wow, you’re a such a hardworking, dedicated wife and mother! ᕙ(`▿´)ᕗ And on top of that, you’ve been helping your mother-in-law a long time.

But it sounds like it’s not been an ideal situation for you, and it seems that it may remain the same because the other adult children haven’t stepped up in the past 7 years. So, let’s review your letter through the lens of Selfless Esteem.

God’s Calling

Your first statement was “God calls us to care for widows and honor mom.” You’re correct. Honoring our parents is the fifth commandment and the only one tied directly to a blessing (Exodus 20:12).

Jesus set an example of this. Right before He died, He chose His beloved disciple to take care of His mother (John 19:26-27).

In the same way Jesus chose his disciple, perhaps God has specifically chosen you to help your mother-in-law. If so, following through with God’s calling isn’t easy; however, God equips us with the resources we need for whatever He has called us to do. Regardless, I recommend that you ask Him for guidance.

Dealing with Mother-In-Law Problems

You stated that you can’t stand your mother-in-law. Consider finding a competent therapist to express your frustration freely, discuss the details of why you can’t stand her, determine how to best handle your differences, and identify coping skills. See the posts, “What is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?” and “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.”

Mother-in-law issues
In addition to therapy, journaling is a possible outlet for your emotions.

Is there anything at all that’s endearing about your mother-in-law? Has there been anything you’re grateful for–if not currently, then the fact that she raised your husband? Any positive sentiment can provide a balance and help keep you going.

God’s Reward

You stated you feel unheard and unappreciated. You can discuss with your therapist what feeling heard and appreciated would look like and the possibility of making that a reality.

Still, you can’t control others’ behaviors. But God is not a fallible human being, and He’s noticed every sacrifice you’ve made the past 7 years. He promises to recompense good deeds (Revelation 22:12). “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).

You expressed that you don’t have the living situation you want right now, but you seemingly don’t have any way to change it. The good news is that Jesus stated He’s preparing the perfect place in Heaven for those, who love and serve Him (John 14:2). It’ll be worth the wait. In the meantime, you may be interested in the post, “Finding Hope in Difficult Times.”


As you care for your family, be sure to take care of yourself. Even a small break with a cup of tea in the midst of your busy day could provide some relief. For more details, see the post “6 Effective Ways To Manage Stress.”

Spending time with God and receiving His unconditional love is a good way to refresh your spirit. For more details about focusing on God, see the posts, “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem,”The Real Truth About God,” and “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps.”

Whether or not your circumstance changes, I close with some encouragement. God specifically regards those, who care for their mothers-in-law, with high esteem as noted in Ruth 2:12. Commending Ruth for all she’s done for her mother-in-law, Boaz said, “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (Ruth 2:12). (─‿─)

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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  1. TC

    Thanks for the encouraging reminder that the Lord sees our sacrifices and rewards us for them. 😊

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, this life is so short compared to eternity.

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