How to Annoy a Narcissistic Mother-in-Law?

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Dealing with a narcissistic mother-in-law can be exhausting and potentially damaging to your marriage and mental health. 

Any mother-in-law can be difficult, but a narcissistic one can be downright destructive.

She’ll manipulate, gaslight, bully, and take advantage of you. She’ll also undermine you, taking every opportunity to make you look bad in your spouse’s eyes. (read all the signs of a Narcissistic MIL)

How do you annoy a Narcissistic mother-in-law? You’ll never beat a narcissistic mother-in-law at her own game, but you can reduce her impact on your life and infuriate her at the same time.

How to Annoy a Narcissistic Mother-in-Law?

In this article, I’ll focus on how to annoy a narcissistic mother-in-law and explore some of the tactics you can use to limit her power and survive the relationship with your marriage and mental health still intact. 

10 Things That Will Annoy Your Narcissistic Mother-in-Law

#1 Set boundaries 

Many narcissistic mothers-in-law are overbearing and lack empathy. They only think about themselves and will do whatever they want without considering the feelings of those around them. 

Setting clear boundaries is the best way to deal with a narcissistic mother-in-law and stop things from spiraling out of control.

set boundaries with your narcissistic mother in law

A patient of mine once told me how her narcissistic mother-in-law went out and replaced all her living room furniture without asking! 

Admittedly, their original furniture looked a little tired, but my patient had been looking forward to shopping around with her partner and making her own choices. 

The moral of this story is: if you give a narcissistic mother-in-law an inch, she’ll take a mile, so set clear, firm boundaries early on. 

My patient’s first mistake was giving her mother-in-law a key to their home. This immediately gave her access and power, which she soon took advantage of. 

To prevent this from happening to you, tell your mother-in-law she can’t make decisions that impact you without consulting you and your spouse. 

By all means, ask her for advice, but only when it feels appropriate. That way, she’ll remain involved without being in control, which will irritate her no end! 

Tell her when she oversteps the boundaries and remains firm and consistent about how far you’ll allow her into your life. 

#2 Don’t let her manipulate you 

Narcissists want everyone around them to feel as miserable as they do, so any positive energy you can bring to your relationship with your mother-in-law will protect you against this and cause her a great deal of irritation.

Narcissists want to put people down to make themselves feel better, so if you keep strong and remain upbeat, you’ll stop your mother-in-law from gaining the upper hand. 

don't let your narcissistic mother in law manipulate you

Instead of letting her influence your emotions and make you miserable, take control of your feelings and choose to be happy and positive. 

When she sees that her efforts to manipulate you and make you feel bad are failing, she’ll become increasingly annoyed, giving you the upper hand. 

#3 Strengthen your relationship with your spouse 

One of the quickest ways to annoy your narcissistic mother-in-law is by creating an impenetrable bond with your partner and showing them that you can provide the love and security they never received from their mother. 

As your relationship strengthens, your mother-in-law’s ability to influence and manipulate you and your spouse will deteriorate. 

The more you and your spouse are on the same page, the less power she’ll have over either of you, leaving her grasping at straws. 

Don’t forget – narcissists have very low self-esteem, so the more you disempower your mother-in-law, the more irritated she’ll become.

Better still, by succeeding in your relationship, you’ll expose her shortcomings and prove that she’s not as great as she thinks she is.

You can read more about this and other tactics in my article How To Piss Off A Narcissist In 12 Surprisingly Easy Ways.

#4 Don’t divulge too much information 

The more your mother-in-law knows about your life and relationship, the more ammunition she has to undermine and criticize you. 

Keep the details of your relationship to yourself, and she won’t have a leg to stand on. The less she knows, the less power she has, making it easier for you to live your life the way you want. 

You are entitled to privacy and allowed to protect it. If your mother-in-law wants to know what your spouse says about her behind her back, tell her you don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss such things without your spouse present. 

Instead, suggest having coffee together when your spouse is also there, telling her it will be more constructive to get these things out in the open.

That way, you can strategize with your partner before the time comes, ensuring you’re both on the same page and leaving her out in the cold. I promise you – she’ll hate it!

#5 Create an escape strategy

Eventually, a narcissistic mother-in-law will try to cause trouble by manipulating a situation to create the drama she craves.

Rather than fueling her fire, find a way to stop such scenarios from getting out of control by having an escape strategy you and your spouse agree on. 

Before seeing your mother-in-law, tell your spouse how much bullying and manipulation you’re willing to put up with and agree on a signal that means it’s time to leave or take a break. This could be as simple as squeezing their hand.

Create an escape strategy

While I don’t condone lying, telling your mother-in-law a little white lie to stop the situation from escalating is necessary to protect yourself and your relationship. 

Say you need to walk the dog or that you’re expecting an important call – do whatever it takes to get out before the going gets too harsh.

When you withdraw from a situation in this manner, you take away the attention your narcissistic mother-in-law craves, which will get on her nerves. 

#6 Learn to say no 

Narcissists can’t handle rejection of any kind, and saying no to their requests or suggestions can send them into a narcissistic rage.

Setting boundaries for your narcissistic mother-in-law is crucial, but you must also learn how to say no

Let’s say your mother-in-law wants you to help make a birthday lunch for your spouse, but you’ve already arranged to go out for the day.

Rather than giving in to her request and changing your plans, calmly tell her that, while you appreciate her involving you in her plans, you’ve already made alternative arrangements.

Learn to say NO to your narcissistic mother in law

If she becomes hostile or defensive, stay calm but consistent. Be respectful and don’t argue or let her guilt trip you into changing your mind. 

Narcissists hate being told no and find it extremely annoying as it undermines their belief that they’re superior and know better than anyone else. 

#7 Address passive-aggressive comments 

Many narcissists use passive aggression to make themselves look better than you and undermine you simultaneously. 

Your mother-in-law may make comments that appear helpful or complimentary but are intended to hurt you and make you look bad. 

For instance, she might say something like, “You’re so lucky your husband supports you going back to work so soon after having a baby.”

While she appears to compliment your husband, she means that she disagrees with your decision and is trying to make you feel guilty. 

Instead of getting defensive and being drawn into an argument about your decision, expose the underlining criticism.

Respond calmly, saying, “I think you might feel I’ve returned to work too soon, and I can understand that. Fortunately, we’ve figured out a work-life balance that suits the whole family.”

By translating her comment, you’ll force her to acknowledge her true feelings and address the problem simultaneously. This will anger her as it interrupts the passive-aggressiveness she relies on to make herself feel superior to you.  

For more tips of this nature, please read my article on How to Annoy a Passive-Aggressive Person

#8 Spend more time with your own family

If you want to annoy your narcissistic mother-in-law, start spending the weekends with your family instead of hers. 

Reignite your family ties and remind yourself how it feels to be in a loving environment. When you see your mother-in-law, give her a detailed account of how your family interacts, emphasizing how much you love spending time with them. 

Not only will this annoy your mother-in-law, but it will also give you more control over the situation. Giving your attention to your family means taking it away from her – something narcissists can’t stand.

#9 Choose your battles 

While you need to stand up to your mother-in-law, you don’t need to win every battle – that would be too exhausting. Allow your mother-in-law some small victories and acknowledge her strong points. 

If she’s a great cook, tell her so and ask her to cook dinner for you occasionally. Just don’t let her overstep the boundaries and start criticizing your cooking or planning your menu for the next year! 

choose your battles with your narcissistic mother in law

Remember where you set your boundaries earlier and protect them, but don’t engage in petty squabbles or bickering – that will only fuel her narcissistic fire. Even when you stand up to your mother-in-law, do so calmly and don’t react to her need for drama. 

Most importantly, choose your battles according to what is best for you and your family, and don’t waste time trying to justify it to your mother-in-law. 

#10 Ignore her 

Despite behaving like they’re better than everyone else, narcissists have incredibly fragile egos and need constant attention and admiration to feel good about themselves. 

As a last resort, you can use that weakness to your advantage. Simply ignoring a narcissist is one of the quickest ways to annoy them. 

Ignore your mother in law

If you’ve tried communicating with her and she won’t listen, stop all contact with her. Take away her power by refusing to give her the attention she craves. 

While your mother-in-law seethes, focus your energies on your family and yourself for a change. 

Reduce phone calls and house visits, or even stop them altogether. Use the time you’ve saved to enjoy some family days out or go on a date night with your spouse instead. 

Direct your energy into relationships within your family and cement them without your mother-in-law’s negative influence. 

Why isn’t it Smart to Annoy your Mother in Law?

A narcissistic mother-in-law is tough to beat, and annoying her will probably only worsen the matter. If she goes into a narcissistic rage, she could say even more hurtful things or even use your children and spouse against you. 

You should be very careful about annoying a narcissistic mother-in-law, especially if your spouse is close to her. If she retaliates, things might not go your way.

Rather than annoying your mother-in-law, a more practical approach would be to set your boundaries and stay calm. 

You have every right to protect yourself against her toxicity, but you don’t have to stoop to her level and start looking for ways to annoy her. 

Instead, focus on strengthening your relationship with your spouse and turning your attention to those that treat you with respect. 

How to Handle Your Narcissistic Mother-in-Law The Right Way?

Even though the above tactics will annoy your narcissistic mother-in-law, they’ll also give you a coping strategy that will make dealing with her more accessible. 

Chances are, she’s never going to change, but she’s always going to be a part of your life, so learning how to handle her is critical. 

If things have gotten so bad that you feel anxious about seeing her or have negative thoughts about yourself because of things she’s said, you might benefit from seeking professional advice. 

If it hasn’t got to that level yet, use the tips above to develop a clear strategy for dealing with your mother-in-law. This should involve:

  • Setting and holding your boundaries
  • Strengthening your relationship with your spouse 
  • Exposing your mother-in-law’s passive-aggressive comments 
  • Limiting the amount of personal information, you share with your mother-in-law 
  • Putting your time and energy into your own family 

FAQ

How do you beat a narcissistic mother-in-law?

A narcissistic mother-in-law is tough to beat, but if you can learn how to handle her, you can take the wind out of her sails and make the situation more tolerable for everyone. 

Don’t let her dominate you, and try not to react to her manipulative ways. Set your boundaries firmly and protect them at all costs, preferably without any unnecessary drama she thrives on.

Put your family’s priorities first and make it clear to your mother-in-law that you are in control of your life and won’t tolerate bullying or manipulation from her. 

The easiest way to beat a narcissistic mother-in-law is to strengthen your relationship with your spouse and present a united front. 

What annoys a narcissistic mother-in-law the most?

If you ignore your mother-in-law, disregard her advice, and stop taking any notice of her, you’ll quickly annoy her enough for her to erupt into a narcissistic rage.

Unfortunately, that will have repercussions and could even jeopardize your marriage.

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