HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE A NARCISSISTIC IN-LAW?
They love bomb you at the beginning, telling you things like, “You are the daughter we always wanted”, “We hardly know you, but if our daughter loves you, then you are part of our family”.
They manufacture a false relationship which you feel loved and safe. This is an illusion of what you are seeking in your new family, not the way they really feel.
They only validate you if you make them look good. Don’t worry, theen your partners job their whole life.
They talk about you behind your spouse’s back (smear campaigns) – trying to poke a hole in the weaknesses or struggles that you are having as a couple. Once the weaknesses or differences are discovered, they build entire smear campaigns to have your spouse leave you because of these weaknesses.
They begin an isolation campaign against you and your family, or you and your friends. At first it seems so wonderful that they are getting to know you as a couple now that you are part of the family. Over time they start to make little digs at your family pulling, in nuggets of truth of your imperfections. Eventually, like a cult member, you are cut off from all support; this was the goal. Now that you are hooked and alone, they take the “break up our child’s marriage campaign” to new heights.
They become critical of you behind your back, at first planting seeds in your spouse’s head. Little things become inflated to become issues they advise your spouse to watch out for. Examples might be that: “they think you drink too much”, “you don’t take care of yourself well”, “your skills in the kitchen will never match up to Mom’s, so if you are ever starving for real food know that they are always welcome home” and “you really aren’t a good mother/dad”. Eventually once the seeds of confusion are placed in your partner’s head, they begin to verbalize things in front of you. These generally start out in a joking way to make light of it, but the core of doubt is peaked because your spouse has the inside meaning to this cruel display.
Narcissistic in-laws seek control of your relationship. They may feel entitled to your family’s time, often demanding holidays and vacations with you, dominating vacation choices or even the menu on holidays. The victim of this type of divisive abuse quickly learns to stay in their lane and not complain because it’s met on deaf ears. These arguments are just not worth the fight. The eggshell dance has just begun.
The narcissistic in-law uses denial as a tactic. They will deny that anything is happening when serious concerns are bought up to them. If they can give a perfect denial performance and get away with it, or use their age as a reason they forgot, or discount what happened by turning the whole thing into a joke, they will. Narcissists take no accountability.
To prove that you are worthy to be a part of this cray-cray family, your loyalty to them will be put to the test. Having you keep a “secret” is a great way to test you. Regardless of your ability to keep the secret, you have been set up and can never win. Dare you question their actions that warrant the need for keeping a secret or that stand up about keeping a secret and being part of the family lie to cover it up. You will be judged for keeping the secret because to them this means you are capable of keeping secrets from them and judged for not being willing to lie for them.
Creating impossible win situations, the narcissistic parent will become competitive with you. They need to show your spouse that you are “too competitive” and in that your character will be judged.
From the moment you met a narcissistic in-law, the lies were being thrown at you. You will see them tell lies even when the truth would do. Your role will be to never question their alternate reality or they will begin the smear campaign to get rid of you. They demand loyalty and silence.
They will undermine your relationship with manipulations designed to separate you as a family unit; then they get their “precious child” back.
Invade your privacy: showing up at your home uninvited, maybe insisting they have a key and then using it, calling or texting at all hours. Going through your drawers and closets to gain intel.
Isolate the second set of in-laws (your parents) and keep them away from grandchildren.
You will eventually be left out of conversations and family gatherings. This might come off that they want to maintain the bond with their own kid or grandchildren without you.
A common tactic is called triangulation. This is where they tell you one thing and tell them another to plant seeds of discord between you. If this works, the way they hoped it will, they will isolate the two of you from each other. They can also pull this tactic on your kids to pit them against each other or against you.
Narcissistic in-laws will dominate holidays and vacations, stealing attention from your children by their constant need to be in the spotlight. Holidays are all about them or if they need to all about what great grandparents they are.
In extreme cases where a narcissistic in-law is not getting their way, you can expect them to turn your kids against you. This could be done by trying to buy your children’s love.
They might dominate your children’s time (they are the grandparents after all). This is especially obvious as the children grow and want to spend time with friends. Expect them to get angry with your child and ultimately you for not making the kids stay home with grandpa or grandma.
They may feel entitled to your money and property.
They may not realize that your spouse has responsibilities in your household and that they are not always going to be able to drop everything when their TV breaks.
They torment you by using your own weaknesses against you.
They smear your name to other family members, starting with false concerns. Over time they label you not good enough or as a bad parent, alcoholic, drug addict, or gold digger.
Expect them to turn others against you. The secret part of this is that they might turn your sister-in-law against you, but then the sister-in-law pretends to be on your side. It’s like a spy coming in to gain intel. Flying monkeys is a term created from the monkeys in the Wizard of Oz that did the witch’s bidding. This sister-in-law might be coming to you to pretend she is really worried about your MIL and she needs your help. Classic Trojan Horse.
When you speak up to your narcissistic in-laws you might be shut down, simply because you have a different opinion.
Erasing you and your kids – There could be a noticeable difference in the treatment of other grandchildren and your kids compared to your spouse’s sister. The in-laws have pictures up all over the house and yet no pictures of your kids. This can also be done on Facebook and social media. They are always attending Bobby’s games and events and posting pictures. They never come to your kids’ games and there are no pictures on Facebook of your kids. The grandparents might offer to pay for Bobby’s college but never even buy your kid a toy at Christmas. This hurts so much, and yes, they do know they are doing it! These are not your battles to fight alone. Your spouse must be willing to step up for equal treatment.