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My Wife’s Narcissistic Mother

Quentin_Matsys_-_A_Grotesque_old_womanIf you are considering a marriage to a woman who comes as a “package deal” with a “narcissistic mother” in tow, you need to read this post to understand what you are getting into. First let’s define what I mean by “narcissistic mother.” This is a “self-centered” parent, single or with a husband, who has no intention of letting go of her daughter.

Put it like this, you can marry her (the daughter), but that doesn’t mean you’ll have her. Get in line, and the first one in line in terms of who gets to influence her thoughts and feelings is, you guessed it, her mother.

Let me put it in clinical language, you are marrying a woman who has not resolved her emotional dependency on her mother before marrying you. Technically speaking, it’s always a good idea to emotionally separate a bit before getting married. It makes connecting on an intimate level with the person you are marrying a lot easier. But, that’s not the case in this particular situation.

Next, when I say “package deal” what do I mean? I mean marrying the daughter, means you get the mother too. Whether it be a living situation that includes your mother-in-law, or a “triangle” love relationship where you get the 3rd and last place in a trio of relationships that will inevitably feel like you are last.

Look at it this way, the relationship between your wife and her mother has been in existence for a lot longer than the one you have with her daughter. This “fact” will be put in your face regularly as you keep trying, in whatever way possible, to have that exclusive twosome relationship you were hoping a marriage would provide. You see, your mother-in-law never intended to give her daughter away. Usually because she secretly, or not so secretly, feels she “needs” her.

But that’s not the worse part. The worse part is, she will continue to behave like a “parent” even now that her daughter is an adult. This translates into a “power play” that usually explains the conflicts that show up between a new husband and his mother-in-law. She wants control over her daughter and sees you, the husband, as potentially interfering with that objective.

If there was a way to correct this problem and avoid the inevitable conflicts, believe me I would be the first to tell you about it. Unfortunately, with this kind of power play, the best you can hope for is she’ll (your mother-in-law) back down, back off, or at least tolerate your position as the first and last one your wife (her daughter) goes to when there’s a problem. This will, unfortunately, be a win you’ll have to fight for. If you’re a spirited fellow, go to it.

Nothing could be more noble than fighting for the one you love, despite the fact that you are doing so “after” marrying her.

Comments welcome. Dr. T. Jordan

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

7 Comments

  1. Yavara on February 15, 2016 at 9:47 am

    What happens if you’re that daughter with the narcissistic mother? What can be done to achieve an actual marriage?

    • Dr. Jordan on February 15, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Emotional separation from a dependent parent in adulthood always helps a person’s love life. I would suggest that the answer to your question is to work on becoming more emotionally and perhaps physically independent. Once the need for emotional independence is consciously understood and acknowledged, then it becomes a matter of practicing greater independence in everyday life. One big form of this is learning how to say “no” to a dependent narcissistic parent. Understanding and tolerating his or her emotional reaction to this kind of limit is always a part of the experience. Good luck, Dr. J.

  2. Lawanda on April 20, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    You’re the one with the brains here. I’m watcihng for your posts.

  3. Max on November 28, 2016 at 8:37 am

    My wife’s mother is a narcissist she has been no contact with her for a while now, but she is emotionally unstable and it affects our relationship even though the mother is now out of the picture. How do people cope in this situation? It’s seems like it would take an awful long time to feel independent from your parents, and this is a very difficult thing to ‘get over’.

  4. Frustrated Husband on April 28, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    My Wifes mother is a Narc. My wife and I married 7 years ago. at the beginning of the marriage, her mother was all lovy,dovy towards the marriage and the well being of it. when we stayed in an apartment and my wife was pregnant with our first daughter was when i started noticing her Narc ways. she always thought she knew what was best for the pregnancy of our daughter. she begin to try and order me around the apartment, mind you i am the primary bread bringer of the family, so noticing this i kicked her out of the apartment. she wouldnt leave, i had the cops called on her and she said that “she didnt have to go anywhere because it was her daughters apartment to”. So the cops showed up and told me the exact same thing she said “that we were married and she didnt have to go”. So after the cops leave she wants to play the victim role and finally leave to her own place in another city. My wife now hates me that i have called the cops on her own mother and she leaves me to be with her mother. Now she is in the process of having our daughter in the city where her mom lives and i Race to go see our child being born with her mother in the room. After birth my wife stays with her mother and i get inside of her moms apartment and i stay awhile until its night time and her mom leaves for work. after her mom leaves my wife gets a call from her mother telling her that “she doesn’t want me in the apartment”. She was basically trying to play the father role and tried to return the favor of her getting kicked out. this is when i knew that the battle was going to be over my wife’s mind. I leave and my wife cries and doesn’t want me to go, but i leave anyway, leaving wife and child behind. i am crushed at this point, my first born child does not get to come home and be apart of my life for the first 3-4 weeks after being born. A couple month’s go by and my wife decides to come back home and be a family again. at this point she doesn’t have a job. And i am taking care of the family like a man is supposed to. My wifes mother looses her job in her city and goes to live with her son in his house. A couple of years go by and wife and I get into a little argument and she goes to live with her brother also, she doesn’t have any job or anything. while living with her brother with my first born and her mom all living under the same roof her mother forces my wife to look for a job. a couple of months go by and my wife could not find a job where her brother lived making it hard to stay there. her brother’s house consist of 3 rooms and 2 bathrooms, its very big. so Mother in law gets a room, brother gets a room, and wife along with child gets a room. This is when things turn for the better with my wife. she starts calling me and telling me how her mom is being so controlling over her and how hard it was finding a job and that she was tired of sleeping on the floor with our 2 year old daughter, mind you again her mother is in a whole other room sleeping in a comfortable bed and didn’t once think about her own daughter. So my wife gets tired of being their and tells me she wants to come back to live with me and be a family. I follow suit and dont waste anytime to pick her up. As soon as she comes home and looks for a job she instantly finds a job, along with my help and get a car along with her driver license. Her life is completely changed at this point and were both bringing in money to support our family. My wife insist that we get a 3 bedroom apartment for our next child. but something doesn’t not feel right, my gut is telling me she only wants the 3 bedroom so that her mom can live with us and I tell her NO. Our lease ends finally and we actually get into a bigger place with 3 bedrooms,because my wife is pregnant at this point with our second child which is a boy. My wife gets into a car accident at her job while being pregnant. The doctors tell her that the baby has a condition because of the accident. she calls her mom to come and guess what!!? stay with us in the third bedroom. So I allow it to some extent. A week goes by and I get sick of her being there I tell her you are only here because you are looking for a meal ticket, somebody to take care of you in other words. And she is very hurt at this point and she plays the victim role again. so she leaves to go live with her own parents in another city. I am working over night shift and I get a call from my own mother that my wife just had a miscarriage and she helped deliver the baby. this was such a bad time for my wife and I, but my wifes mother the Narc doesnt even try to contact her daughter about the miscarriage. I personally think that she did this to try and teach her daughter a lesson as to why you dont let your husband kick your mother out. I mean just horrible how can a person not consult your own child after a horrible time. So for her mother being mute to her ownd daughter. My wife builds a positive relationship with my own mother. So a year goes and my wife is pregnant with our third child which is a Girl. My sister and own mother throw a huge baby shower for my wife. Some of my wifes family members come down for this baby shower including her mother. Now at the the end of the baby shower is when i get my shield down. We have a moment of silence for our son we lost a year ago by releasing balloons into the air to remember him. before we release the ballons in the air. The Narc expresses her feeling of how she feels of the loosing of our son, and she tells me That maybe in the future that her and I can come together and work our differences out. Remember this part because this is how she gets into our apartment and lives with us in the future. Now the lease ends on our place and we up and move into a more affordable living 3 bedroom apartment and my wife is months away from having our daughter, and she wants guess who? The Narc on her side while having our daughter. So her mom gets to stay in the third bedroom again. This bedroom was supposed to be for my newborn daughter not for your mom, I am thinking. So my wife has our daughter and 3 weeks go by and she has not moved to go live with her parents. The Narc took it upon herself to try and butter me up so i would forget our differences at the time we released the balloons which i did. So I don’t kick her out of our apartment, I’m expecting her to leave on her own. this is present day and when things get tense. a couple of weeks go by and she gets a job while living in our apartment, Now my alert signals go off and I realize that she, the Narc is here for a long term. after she gets a job she wants to use our vehicle to go here and there to work. at first i tell my wife that she is not on our insurance, that she cant use the vehicle. So the Narc throws and temper tantrum as to why she cant use the the vehicle and complains to her son that I am hindering her. In reality she is actually hindering us. So i see and feel like im being strict so I allow her to use the vehicle. I am thinking in my mind that she is only going to use it for a couple of months until she gathers enough money to get her own vehicle. 6 months go by and she hasnt even achieved a start of saving money for a vehicle. My wife and the Narc are living under the same roof and they go into my just born daughters room which has turned into the Narcs room to talk about me behind my back. At this point my wife and I’s communication is thin, and my wife decides that she no longer has to consult to me about spending she goes on spending sprees with our budget just so she can send a message to me that I don’t control anything and i am weak. she doesnt even talk to me about situations pertaining her mother. So I am now the odd man out in this triangle relationship,i notice that the communication between my wife and I is no longer there and my wife is now pitted against me. One of the number 1 things you need in marriage is communication with your spouse so i do what i gota do best. I tell the Narc that she has 2 months to get out of my apartment because of how she is destroying my relationship with my wife. All hell breaks loose and in a time of when i needed my wife the most she turns on me and takes her mother’s side. now both of them are yelling at me and calling me all sorts of names and the cops are called again because of the violence at hand. So the Narc does what she does best she plays the victim and leaves immediately along with my wife and our just born daughter to a nearby relative in the city. Mind you I was giving her 2 months to get her crap together and leave and she leaves immediately. So the cops escort her, my wife, and both our daughters out. I am now back at level 0 with this situation. I am at home alone while the Narc has my whole family with her. She comes back the next day with family in hand and the relative who they stayed with. The relative drops them off because she doesnt want to be apart of the situation and, my wife tells Me that her mother will be getting an apartment in 2 weeks in the same city. So she doesnt even take me on my offer of 2 months but anyways i am exstatic to get her out and have a family again quickly. So the Narc moves out and my wife and I begin getting our communication back, but my wife is still pissed that i said her mom had to get out. So as were building our relationship back to normal and the Narc has her own apartment, she constantly is calling us for rides to work and money for her cigarette habit. A couple of months after she was kicked out, my wife and I decide to get a new family vehicle soon after her mother finally gets a vehicle of her own. after her purchase i feel like i will never have to deal with her mother again, WRONG. It gets worse. See even tho i kicked her out their relationship and talking behind my back is forever. I realize that the Narc says behind my back to my wife that I am to controlling and that she needs to take control over me and our finances and that i am no good. So my wife and I decide to Save about 2 grand to go on a little vacation to SAN DIEGO. I get into a little argument with my wife. She talks to the NARC about the argument she decides that she is gona move out. So i beat my wife to the punch I made a seperate bank account and put the 2 grand in it hopin she would come to her senses. Who in there right mind would leave right before a Trip to San Diego, my wife thats who. She was some how persuaded by the Narc to pull the 2 grand out and move out. I feel deeply inside that they were going to leave me hanging and go on the trip without me. So My wife didnt like that I did that and blames it on me being controlling, Mind you my wife and I had joint bank accounts, we have the same cellphone she has a vehicle and i have one. this is nowhere near the problem of a controlling husband, but a controlling Narcissistic mother who doesnt want to see her own daughter have a successful marriage. I forgot to mention at the beginning that The Narcs own husband died from natural causes and that her daughter/my wife had a small relationship with her father before his death. So now that my wife found out that i moved the funds to another account she proceeds have me watch the kids. she text me “can you take the girls for a couple of hours i have some stuff to do”. I text her “yup”. As i come back to our apartment with kids. my wife is no where in sight. I text her that “i am dropping the kids off were are you”. She text back” Im out”. I text her ” You need to pick them up”. She text “were at”. I text “at the apartment”. then 30 min later she text “she is on her way”. she quickly comes in picks up our kids and hurries into what it looks like the Narc’s new vehicle. they burn rubber while leaving, i mean tires screeching and all! i ask myself why did they leave like that! as i turn the corner my vehicle is missing. My dam wife took my vehicle while i was inside our apartment waiting for her. and to get into her moms vehicle let me know that her mom was the mastermind of leaving me with no vehicle. so I call a relative up and we hurry to Narcs apartment, while on the way I call my wifes brother up and tell him that his mom is ruining my marriage and that i will be filing for divorce and that i just want to get my belongings out of the vehicle and take one of the vehicles because i needed transportation to work. he calls her and tells her exactly what i told him. and as i get there both vehicles are sure enough parked at the Narcs apartment. So i arrived and all of my belongings are already put into the vehicle that is the worst which is A beetle. So here i am at the computer typing this crisis up. I love my wife and hope that she will realize that our family is more important than her mom’s orders, but as time goes on I feel like she will never come out of it because of the mother and daughter bond that they have and that I will never be the one who my wife comes to it will always be her mother. I really dont want to get a divorce but I have been through hell and back numerous times and I just need some advice on what needed to be done to get this situated. right now my wife and I are seperated and she thinks that I am getting a divorce. I Just want her mother out of Our lives because she is the disease that infects my marriage. SOMEBODY HELP.

    • AnoninCnada on July 11, 2018 at 12:18 am

      Dude I feel your pain. I didn’t know my wife’s mother (and father) were narcissists until about a year into our marriage. Narc MIL wanted a servant to act as a handyman and general servant to her, and my wife wanted me to help look after her elderly father. My wife was firmly in her mother’s corner. She never had my back; she routinely threw me under the bus for her family. We were not to have date nights, movie nights or ANYTHING comparable because it would offend her precious mother. It was expected that I would look after her mother’s garden and filthy summer cottage as well as dig Narc Dad’s garden and mow his lawn, shovel his walks, and do his personal care. My wife refused to listen if I stood up to her family or expressed anger towards them. In fact, she would either ignore me or have a temper tantrum and retaliate for speaking against her parents. Now separated for 6 months and divorce is in the works.

  5. John Curry on April 25, 2018 at 11:17 am

    You can’t change a person, the only person you can change is yourself.
    If you are being treated badly you can accept it or stand up for yourself. It may be painful but in the end it is for the best. No person can give you happiness, It is already there within you, waiting for you to find it.

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