It's a sad fact of life, not everyone gets along with their mothers-in-law. Sometimes, it can be because of different views or personalities. Which, unfortunately, can lead to some pretty epic fights.
People on Quora share the reasoning behind the biggest argument they've had with their mother-in-law. Content has been edited for clarity.
It Really Was None Of Her Business
“I was going over to my mother-in-law’s to break the news to her and one of the daughters I was separating from my ex-husband (their son/brother), and moving back to my home country with a son. I wanted them to hear it from me personally and be respectful. The entire family knew my ex-husband and I have had relationship problems for about five months, and actually split up already earlier in the year but tried to make it work, so it wasn’t a big shock. Nether-less, I was showing my respects we gave it a good go but we couldn’t work out our issues, our son and I would be returning to Australia in less than a month while he stayed in the Netherlands which they all live.
My sister-in-law was very sad, and said, ‘Thank you for coming over, I appreciate it.’
I can’t remember if or what my mother-in-law said anything at first, but her daughter asked her or said, ‘Wasn’t it good Ashley came over to tell us personally, or are you, ok Mum?’
My mother-in-law replied, ‘she already knew this, her son was over this morning and told her.’
In my head I was like, ‘of course ex ran over to mummy dearest to tell her straight away.’
Then somehow, my mother-in-law started a rant at me saying where I went wrong in the relationship, how I wanted all these things (expensive holidays) you want to go to Croatia, Germany, and Australia but you don’t understand those things cost money.
I couldn’t believe this woman was lecturing about my relationship. I immediately saw red; I wanted to keep cool and collected to show grace, but I do regret losing my cool, but I couldn’t believe it I was in so much pain with the break-up of my relationship. I was moving back to my home country, now facing new challenges as a single mum/parent, and here is a woman kicking me while I’m down as they say!
I told her if she thinks I broke up my relationship with the father of my child because it was about money and holidays, she was absolutely out of her mind.
My mother-in-law continued to lecture me about where I went wrong and how my relationship was, yelling at me her son never wanted to move back to Australia and I knew this when I started dating him (Dutch citizen).
I turned to her and said, ‘Listen I am going to talk in very simple terms for you so you can understand, my relationship has/had nothing to do with you, a relationship is between two people. Your son and I discussed many things between the both of us, as that is what couples do. We do not need to discuss them with you. We discussed marriage, more children, living in Europe for a few years then moving back to Australia.’
My mother-in-law was silent for a moment, then said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know these things.’
My sister-in-law told me to leave, as I was upsetting my mother-in-law her heart was breaking, she doesn’t understand this, she’s a old woman and she needs to protect her mum, I couldn’t believe it.
I snapped back, ‘Her heart is breaking ?! What about mine? Nobody is protecting me, I am alone with no family/money in a foreign country. I said ok then I came over to tell you the news, so this IS my goodbye!’
I stormed out of the house. I’m not proud of losing my temper, but I was not going to let an 80-something-year-old lecture me about my relationship with her son. I think it was absolutely out of line.
Three weeks later my son and I returned to Australia. Since that argument, I have not seen or spoken to my mother-in-law; she has not contacted me at all in regard to her grandson (my son) it’s been about 15 months now.”
This Was A Very Reasonable Request
“The biggest and worst argument I had with my mother-in-law, unfortunately, ended our relationship. We argued about whether I had the right to dictate or demand how she treated me while she was a guest in my home. My mother-in-law’s Eastern European culture allowed, and some would even say, expected, a mother-in-law to be able to say anything she wished to her daughter-in-law, and treat her any way she wished. At the time of our argument, I had been married almost 15 years and had been with my husband for over 16 years. During this entire time, she had repeatedly criticized me, demeaned me, humiliated me, embarrassed me, harassed me, and corrected me, nearly every time she was in my presence. She also tried to tell me how to parent my children, tried to make medical decisions for them, and even interfered in their education, going so far as to tell one of their teachers she didn’t know what she was doing.
She even told a contractor I had hired to redesign my home, not to listen to me, and instead tried to give him directions she preferred over my choices. And nearly every single time she behaved badly, I would either politely and respectfully disagree with her, or else ignore her. More than anything, I just wanted to keep the peace, for the sake of my kids and husband.
However, her behavior began to escalate around when my oldest son turned 10 years old. The last time she visited, she became extremely impatient with me over my inability to wait on her as she liked. She threw a tantrum, yelled at me, called me names, and even threw a bag of coffee at me. Her behavior shocked and dismayed my son. My husband did not treat me this way, and previously I had brought my son to work with me and he had witnessed how I managed my staff. He saw how they spoke to me, respected me, listened to me, and took direction from me. After my mother-in-law left, he came to me said he didn’t understand why I didn’t allow anyone else in my life to treat me badly, but I did allow my mother-in-law to constantly disrespect me. He said it hurt him to see his mother being hurt. His opinion of her treatment of me hit me like a ton of bricks. It made me realize her behavior was deeply affecting my child, even worse than it was affecting me.
Therefore, I wrote her letter and confronted her. I detailed her treatment of me over the course of my entire marriage. I told her I loved her as the mother of my husband and the grandmother of my children, but she would no longer treat me badly or disrespectfully if she wanted to be allowed to come to our home. I laid out clearly and respectfully how I expected her to behave while she was visiting, and agreed I would behave in the same way. I told her I wanted her to only say kind, nice things to me, to restrain herself from criticizing me, humiliating and demeaning me. I told her she could not ever again treat me badly in front of my children, and I reminded her I had never treated her with anything other than love and respect, and kindness every time I was a guest in her home. I explained to her if she felt she could not adhere to the rules and boundaries I had requested then it would be best if she stayed in a hotel when she came to Denver or else stayed home in Pittsburgh.
It did not go over well. The next time I saw her, my mother-in-law yelled at me for nearly four hours. She told me she was a ‘hot-head’ who didn’t have a ‘filter,’ and who ‘calls it as I see it.’ She said she was very confident in her opinions and feelings and assessment of situations, and she would never change. She said she didn’t see anything wrong with the way she had treated me. She also said she was deeply offended by my requests and accused me of being mean and just trying to hurt her. She denied ever saying anything meant to be mean or hurtful toward me. She said she could never forgive me, she couldn’t trust me, and we wouldn’t ever be able to have a relationship again.
As a result, my mother-in-law is not welcome in our home and she has a very limited relationship with two of our three grandchildren. This is her choice and her decision.”
“I had married her son when I was 18 years old and he was 26 years old. I was a senior in high school. We had eloped in Los Vegas, NV. He was in the Marines. We had met on the Oceanside, California pier. I thought that he was very handsome, very muscular, as well as very smart. After we had been married for four years, he had gotten medically retired from the Marines. Because California is very expensive to live in, we decided to move to his home state of Illinois.
I was very excited, because I am a native of southern California. I wanted to experience living somewhere else than California.
His mother is a very unstable person, but can be a very sweet person. She is a hoarder to the max.
After 10 years of being married to her son, I finally divorced him. Because he changed dramatically after he was, as he says, ‘kicked out of the Marines.’ Because he wanted to retire from the Marines.
During my divorce and the custody battle of our son, she had gotten involved in the custody battle. One night, my to-be ex-husband had stolen my car from the bar I happened to be at. Because his name was on the title, they couldn’t arrest him for grand theft. But they did arrest him for violation of my order of protection. Because it was on a Friday night, he had to spend the weekend in jail. I knew that his mother had our son, so I went over there with the police to try to retrieve him. Because it was two a.m., they failed to retrieve him, because she showed them the wrong kid. Because she had his cousins there, as well.
The next morning, I had gone to our house to pick up some of my things. While I was exiting the house, I noticed she was there. I told her, ‘That was very sneaky of you to show the police the wrong kid.’
She denied it. I told her I would find out where she had brought our son and retrieve him then.
She replied, ‘The person where I had left him will never let you take him.’
After I had found out where she had brought our son, which was at my sister-in-laws house. She wouldn’t let me take him. Then my mother-in-law had shown up and showed the police the temporary custody I didn’t know that my ex-husband had filed for. I told the police it wasn’t legal because I wasn’t notified of that until now.
While handing me the paper, the officer said to me, ‘Here you’ve been notified.’
I told her that I will never forget what she did that day from one mother to another.”
Yeah, I Kind Saw This One Coming
“I’d heard tales, from my sister-in-law, about how my mother-in-law pretended she didn’t recognize her grandkids if they saw each other in public, or just ignored them. But I thought they were exaggerating. I honestly couldn’t believe anyone would do the things they described.
I thought, ‘I can get along with anyone. My job trained me to solve the problems for the most demanding and difficult people.’
But I had no idea that I wasn’t dealing with a regular kind of difficult person.
Before I got married, I wanted to spend some bonding time with my soon-to-be stepdaughter. She was five, and I decided to take her to see the Grinch at the Old Globe.
I tried to get tickets all morning before they sold out but I was on the phone at work. I would get on the line for ticket master, but would be on hold then had to hang up when a client would call or come in.
Later that day, my soon-to-be mother-in-law stopped by my work to ask to use an office to take some tests. We were talking and I told her of my plans. I was really excited. When she heard of my problem she said, ‘Well I’m headed home, and I’m not doing anything, I can call for you.’ I thought, ‘Wow, she’s not mean, she’s so sweet.’
I was thrilled and said thank you, my stepdaughter would be spending the night over at her house so I could get the confirmation the next day after we picked her up. I’d researched and known the date time and seats we wanted, and I thanked her and sent her off with my credit card info. I didn’t hear from her, so I assumed it went fine. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. Later, she did message me saying ‘I got them,’ but nothing else.
The next evening, my fiancé and I drove to a park to meet her halfway to pick up the child. It was raining so I stayed in the car and when I saw my mother-in-law, I smiled and waved and she just looked away.
My fiancé and my stepdaughter came running and she jumped in the car. The child was smiling and excited.
As she was getting buckled in, she said excitedly, ‘Guess what! Guess what?!’
Before I can respond, she announced, ‘Nana is taking me to see the Grinch!’
Call me stupid, but I honestly never saw it coming! I’d never dealt with anyone that would do something like that. I saw it in movies but didn’t think people like that were real.
It wasn’t even something you could resolve. It wasn’t like we could talk and clear the air. It wasn’t just a difference of opinion, or hurt feelings, or anything that an apology would fix. She knew what she did. She planned it, it was not an accident, and it was clear she didn’t think she’d done anything wrong. My ex just rolled his eyes as if to say, ‘You should have seen this coming.’ He never intervened but had excuses as to why.
I’d never seen anything like that from my fiancé before. But then he hadn’t gotten everything he needed from me by that time, so I’d get to see just how close that apple fell to the tree, a few years later.”
Why Was This So Difficult To Understand?
“My in-laws had a family business and two sons. My husband is the younger son.
What my in-laws wanted to do with their business is none of my business, so to speak. I have done my best to stay out of it over the years.
However, there was one time when something was happening with the business that related to how much work each son was doing, and how much they were being compensated. I felt it was unfair to my husband but, again, I was doing everything in my power to stay the heck out of it.
We went to visit my in-laws and I think my mother-in-law knew it wasn’t really fair, but she was trying to talk herself and everyone around her into believing it was fair. She just kept talking about it. No matter how many times I tried to change the subject or tried to distract her, she just kept talking about it. I think she wanted me to say I agreed with her, but I didn’t agree, so I kept giving noncommittal answers. This went on for a couple of hours, and my temper was getting closer and closer to snapping.
I finally lost it. I yelled something about how I knew they were hurting my husband.
She looked shocked and stopped talking.
After I had calmed down, I felt bad for yelling at her. I shouldn’t have, but she just wouldn’t leave it alone, and I got so frustrated from repeatedly trying unsuccessfully to change the subject to something else. Now that I am older, I know I should have walked away, even if it was rude.
I saw her again a week later at a large dinner. She said something about changing what they were doing with the business in my husband’s favor. I just pretended I hadn’t heard her and started talking to someone else because I really didn’t want to be involved.
They needed to discuss these things with my husband and not with me. After a while, that became the rule. Both my husband and I would tell them they needed to discuss business issues with my husband and not to involve me every single time they tried to talk to me about it. We probably had to repeat that mantra for years, but eventually they got it.
That is still the rule to this day.”
Janet Was Definitely Thankful
“My mother-in-law was a fine woman, but she thought that she was only doing her job if she constantly told her daughter what to do. My wife did not share her views – on much of anything, really. This was the 1970s, and mother-daughter friction was even worse than it is today.
So, Janet’s mother would call her bright and early every Sunday morning. She would then explain to her everything she was doing wrong with her life. She did this to the point Janet was often in tears by the end of the call.
This disturbed me greatly, but it was not my place to interfere. Now, I am a very nice guy, but when riled I do tend to the ‘macho male’ attitude.
Having set the scene, there was one Sunday where mother-in-law was both cruel and unrelenting. I’d had enough, and popped a (figurative) gasket. I grabbed the phone from Janet’s hands, and returned fire:
‘I don’t know who the heck you think you are, lady, but nobody speaks to my wife that way. She is a grown woman and deserves to be treated with respect. Which you are not doing. I swore an oath to protect her, and I will hold to it. If you ever talk to her like that again, you will never again be allowed to talk to her without going through me first. I do not allow people to treat my wife that way.’
I think I put the fear of life in the poor woman. Life changed that day.”
No, She Was Being The Rude One
“My mother-in-law was always known for her notorious cooking skills. I think she could mess up a glass of water if you let her.
At the time, my then-husband (her eldest) already left us and moved to London, and in her household were living my two brothers-in-law and my sister-in-law.
My son (one-year-old at the time) and I were invited for a Friday night meal, which included a sleepover (I didn’t have a car at the time, so I didn’t have much of a choice).
I arrive at my mother-in-law’s that Friday night, only to discover she laid out all the ingredients for dinner, and told her youngest to tell me to start cooking.
I didn’t mind much, I like cooking, although she did invite me to dinner at her house. So I found it a bit awkward, especially because I also had to make sure my son doesn’t make a mess or endanger himself.
We sit down to eat, and everything is standard, after dinner I help clear the dishes when I heard my mother-in-law tell her daughter-in-law to ‘hide the food so I won’t finish it all.’
I was livid. You made me stand around and cook, then behave as if I am about to steal the food out of your mouth!
I decided to go out for a run and cool off, thinking about what I should do. As I was running, I noticed something on the ground and discovered it was a nice sum of cash. There was no one around, being after eleven at night, and it didn’t seem as though anyone was there to look for it. I saw this as a sign, went back to the flat, grabbed my son, called a cab, and went home.
I didn’t hear from her until four the next day when she accused me of being rude, and a few other far-fetched things. She also said that that’s why everyone hates me.
I stayed away from her ever since.”
She Expressed Her True Feelings
“My mother-in-law was a simple woman from the old country. She had a lot of very old views. She thought she knew the best way to raise children. I did not agree with her parenting methods. She felt out of respect for her, I should parent the way I was instructed by her. I did not agree with that opinion either. She would get very angry and frustrated when I would discipline my children.
When I had firm boundaries with them and didn’t nag at them and repeat myself multiple times, hoping for their behavior to improve, that really upset her. As a grandmother, she did not want to see them have consequences or be unhappy in any way. We frequently had arguments about this. We had a major showdown, where she criticized my parenting again, and I stormed out of the house. I was so angry, I did not speak to her for a few days. I’m not proud of that, it was childish, but I did not trust myself.
When we finally did talk about it, she reasserted her opinion of everything I was doing wrong and how she had always listened to her in-laws and done what they said when she was my age and a young bride. I told her the very last thing I wanted for my life was to end up being old and bitter and angry at everyone. Like she was. It was a hurtful thing to say, but it was my real feelings.
She kept her views to herself from that point on.”
But She Did Know What She Was Talking About
“When my mother-in-law was in an assisted living apartment, she became very paranoid and combative. It got to the point my kids didn’t want to visit because they could do nothing right. One day, after a huge storm that had affected the building’s electrical system, we visited. She told us the power on the outside wall wouldn’t work. I took a look at the wall and asked if she knew where the fuse box was.
She took her keychain out and went to the panel I hadn’t noticed before and opened it. Then started poking the metal key into any openings she saw. Alarmed, I suggested she not do that since she could get shocked and maybe she should let her son, my husband, take a look.
She whipped around, stomped over to me, got in my face, and yelled, ‘Stop telling me what to do! You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ and went back to poking.
My husband had been sleeping on the couch and it woke him up. Why was he sleeping? He has an autoimmune disorder with extreme fatigue, and we had traveled an hour to see her. At the same time, my sister-in-law and her husband arrived. They lived five minutes away and my sister-in-law was my mother-in-law’s caregiver.
I was done after that. Each visit was full of this kind of behavior, and it was obvious she didn’t want us there. I told my husband it was time to go and let my sister-in-law know what was happening.”
The Nerve Of Some People
“My biggest and only argument with my mother-in-law took place after she said some ugly things about me to my children. They came home and told me what she said. My marriage to her son ended because he became an addict. I had to put him out of our home because he was stealing things from the home to support his habit. Anyway, he was not reliable at all.
She had the audacity to tell my kids I’m not perfect. Well I never claimed to be, but I was definitely always there for my children when he wasn’t. So my argument to her plainly was I have never disrespected you, so why would you say something like that to my children. To make a long story short. I told her she was dead to me, and she still is. You can’t argue with the dead.”