Monsters-in-Law Wreak Havoc at Holidays

Women say mothers-in-law criticize, baby their sons and spoil grandchildren.

ByABC News
December 13, 2010, 3:25 PM

Dec. 14, 2010— -- Terri, a 44-year-old substitute teacher from Alabama, said her manipulative mother-in-law makes her life a living hell.

"Our son, her grandson, gets whatever he wants from her even after we tell him no," said Terri, who didn't use her last name for fear the monster-in-law would recognize her. "The holidays are spent at relatives' houses with her talking bad about me behind my back."

Worst of all, said, Terri, her mother-in-law enables her husband by undermining efforts to get him to cut back on the booze.

"I tell him he needs to slow down," Terri said, exasperated. "Then the next thing I know, she goes out and buys him a bottle of Crown Royal for Christmas."

"This has been going on for 16 years now," she said. "She has even tried to get my husband to divorce me. I do not feel comfortable around her because when she pretends that she is behaving, she is scheming."

Terri is not alone.

A recent survey published by the website Gurgle revealed that 7 in 10 women say that their mothers-in-law are the biggest problems in their lives, questioning their parenting skills, barging into their homes and spoiling their sons and grandchildren.

Top complaints were criticism of child-rearing (39 percent); interference in daily life (23 percent); babying their sons (20 percent); spoiling the grandchildren (11 percent) and turning up at the house uninvited (7 percent).

In another study published last year by British psychologist Terri Apter, two-thirds of women complained that they had suffered long-term because of frictions with their husbands' mothers.

She described her two decades of research in the 2009 book, "What Do You Want From Me?"

Other studies show living with your mother-in-law can be downright dangerous.

A 2010 study from Harvard Medical School revealed that Japanese women -- who have a lower risk for cardiovascular disease than Americans -- were three times as likely to have a heart attack if they shared quarters with their husband's mothers.

In the end, it had little effect on the men's health, but the wives suffered coronary artery disease and a large number died of heart attacks.