Angry Feelings Toward MIL

I am stewing and not sure why I feel angry and what I should do about it. My very sweet MIL is staying with us for an extended stay until a couple of months after I have our next baby. She is very generous and a sweet natured lady. HOWEVER, she is a charismatic evangelical Christian and I find myself very annoyed and even angry when she speaks of her religious feelings and beliefs. I was raised an evangelical Protestant Christian and I used to think the way she does. She left the Catholic church to become Protestant. I think I wouldn’t be angry if she had never been Catholic. Isn’t anger a weird feeling to have about this?

A couple of examples… I believe she is disrespectful of Mary. She was participating in our family advent devotions and when my 6 year old spontaneously decided to say a Hail Mary prayer after reading the scripture passage in Luke where this prayer came from, my MIL walked away from the table. She didn’t have to say anything… I know that she walked away because she thinks praying to Mary is wrong. This offended me and blew my mind… there it was right there in scripture! She professes to believe what scripture says, yet the Hail Mary offends her. Also, she is very focused on who is a “true” Christian and who is not (if somebody hasn’t said the formulaic “sinner’s prayer” they are not a Christian and they are going to hell). To me, that is very presumptuous that she is judging other people’s souls.

I have kept my mouth shut. My husband thinks I should keep my mouth shut because saying something wouldn’t change her mind. I just wish I didn’t feel so darn angry. Should I speak to my priest? Should I find another convert to speak with who might be able to identify with me ? I feel like I need to get this off my chest before I say something to MIL that I regret.

Ironically, you are probably “feeling” the same exact way that SHE is.

Each of you has converted from one side to the other and is convinced that the theological perspective of the other side is full of distortions and misunderstandings at best.

The fact that you actually ARE on the right side of this doesn’t make it any different for how she feels. If she hasn’t actually tried to actively convert your kids, then try to cool down. She’s just trying to live her own convictions in a hard situation. Imagine how you’ll feel some day if your kids grow up, become Mormons, have kids and invite you over during their holidays. :eek:

Again, she’s wrong, but she doesn’t know it. Cut her some slack if you can.

the CCC says this about your MIL’s religious freedom:

1747 The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in religious and moral matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of man. But the exercise of freedom does not entail the putative right to say or do anything.

the devil wants your MIL to NOT return to the fullness of the Faith. your annoyances will prevent you from praying for her sincerely and generously.

the devil will work to keep you annoyed.

Anger is probably not the best way to handle this. Walking away during the Hail Mary isn’t as disrespectful as some in her shoes would be. :wink:

I would suggest trying to limit the conversation to less upsetting subjects. As long as she isn’t trying to convert your kids right under your nose, then there isn’t a reason really to cause a rift.

It sounds trite, but what would Jesus do? Try to be the most loving example of the Church you can possibly be.

And try not to be angry. By all means talk to your priest if you are having trouble with these feelings.

And pray! I will pray for you.

All good advice. I don’t WANT to feel angry, but feelings can’t be helped. I’ve stayed silent, I will do my best to continue to stay silent. But I wish I could get rid of my unpleasant feelings! One problem is that I wish she wouldn’t comment so much about her beliefs. I think the reason she sprinkles her conversation with faith references is because she believes she is “witnessing” to us (been there, done that). I just wish she wouldn’t bring up faith matters, because not only do I not agree, I find some of her positions offensive (such as believing innocent people are going to hell).

but feelings can’t be helped.

unaided will can’t help feelings, but God’s grace can. let Him change your heart.

but… BUT… in your home, you are free-- not only free, but responsible to be clear on Faith matters. (oftentimes I feel angry at a person when i allow them to breach boundaries I should be defending. that’s not their fault-- it’s MINE.)

you might say, “MIL, i love you beyond reason. you’re kind and good and sweet. but your faith is often inconsistent with mine. please tell me what you want me to do: i can either ask you to curb all interjections of your belief, or i can engage with you in a charitable debate. what i cannot do is simply let all these inconsistent beliefs be spoken, unchallenged for the next several months.”

if she chooses debate, set aside an evening every week, gather her complaints, pray for God’s help and the help of the Blessed Mother, and come to CAF apologetics board for good responses!

an STILL ask God for charitable sentiments toward her. ask God to put HIS love for her into your heart. don’t let the devil let MIL get under your skin.

It would be a good idea to take it to confession, not because feeling angry is a terrible sin, but because you receive such great graces from confession to help you with what you confess.

My mother had a great way of dealing with things she disagreed with but could not change. She smiled sweetly and said, “Oh, that’s niiiiiice.” Simultaneously polite and dismissive, it was the perfect comeback. Maybe something similar would help you.


You have the advantage of being able to speak “evangelical” language. Use it. Next time she’s obviously “witnessing” call her on it. Politely explain that you recognize that she believes differently and that she feels it is her call to evangelize those who “haven’t fully committed to a biblical faith.” But remind her, that you have been convinced that the catholic church IS the “biblical faith” and that things might be hard to keep pleasant if you match her “witnessing” with equal 'testimony" of your own.

I think she’d get the point, especially if you drag out the proper evangelical terminology to explain it. They get a bit mystified when confronted with people who clearly understand their theology and STILL see holes in it.

Where does your husband stand in all this? Perhaps if you asked him to speak to her, he could make her understand that as much as you love and respect her, you need for her to respect your faith too. Even if he doesn’t share your beliefs, he should stand up for you, and be the one to deal with his mother.

I felt alot better after reading many of your responses and had a degree of peace for awhile. However, I am having problems again. I have come to a place where I can just accept her and her beliefs most of the time. HOWEVER her presence at our evening family devotions is really starting to upset me. She usually comments on whatever we are reading and it is never directly contradictory to what we are teaching our children, but I hear her evangelical spin in her comments. My husband doesn’t notice it because he has never been an evangelical. Also, her prayers are sprinkled with comments like “we pray this because scripture says”. I don’t agree with her interpretation of what scripture says. (More importantly the Church doesn’t agree with it). If I or my husband kicks her out of family devotions, she will be heart broken. She is a fragile woman. Help! What do I do?

My MIL is leaving today after a stay of several weeks so I can sympathize heartily on at least one level, since her own spirituality has been a 24/7 presence in the house virtually excluding any possibility of my own private prayer, reading or devotion (it is a very small house). However she is 90 and the only mother I have. I think rule #1 about MILs is keep your mouth shut, as nothing you say will have any effect coming from you. Her son might have influence but don’t force him to speak, it has to come from him.

You are right, at least, speaking from my POV trying not to layer my feelings over yours, the issue is not your MIL it is your own anger. If you find the answer PM me before I have a stroke. Are you still in touch with the people such as your sponsor who helped you into the Church? Do definitely speak to priest, hopefully before the anger gets to be matter for confession. Pray for her. In fact, pray the rosary for her every day. That will be what Paul calls heaping coals of kindness on her. I truly think Mary is the key to problems between generations of women in the family.

I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling so much. MIL’s can, undoubtedly, often be painful to deal with.

I’m a convert, too! And my Beloved Husband is a cradle Catholic. His Mother is still a Catholic and we have very different approaches to the same faith but polar opposite approaches to interpersonal relationships. So . . . I can’t empathize completely, but I kind of understand.

I’ve found the best way, for me, to deal with my MIL is to bring it to BH and ask him to help me deal with it. Sometimes that means he helps me deal with her, more often it means he helps me deal with me. It’s not fair, but most of the time, as he rightfully points out, we’re not going to change the way she behaves and can only address how I respond.

I do tend to be a little more confrontational than most and, in this situation, might ask her directly to either a) be respectful of the faith tradition she once held and that you and your husband have chosen for your family, or b) hold her tongue. But that’s just me. :wink:

Get a copy of the DVD “Common Ground” ( and ask her to watch it with you.

Bad news. She and I just had an hour long argument/discussion that basically started with me asking her to hold her tongue. She said that if the Holy Spirit wants her to say something, she has to say it. I feel terrible right now.

Oh I 'm so sorry that didn’t go well. Praying…:signofcross:
(I don’t know it this helps but sometimes I reflect that Mary, as the Mother of Jesus, is the Mother-in-law of the Church.)

“Then you had better be very certain it is indeed the Holy Spirit who wants you to say something, and not your pride, because it is driving a wedge between you and our family.”

If she continuues to be disrepectful of your spiritual authority in your own home, then you have the right . . . you have the obligation . . . to take a stand. You may need to ask her to remove herself from the devotions or call her on statements that are made which you believe are negating your spiritual teachings to your children. It does not have to be done in anger or recrimination. And, having said your peace, she may think it over and try to be quiet; or she may pray and the Holy Spirit will tell her NOT to say something the next time.


holy spirit? oye vey.

if your MIL is such a scriptural gal, why hasn’t she shaken the dust of your town from her sandals and been on her way?

First, I think you are being too hard on yourself. Your anger is totally understandable and there is no reason to feel guilty about it. As long as you manage it in a mature manner, there is nothing wrong with anger.

Perhaps when she is asleep, write how you feel in your diary, be as cruel as you want about her to get it out. Then rip everything you wrote down so she doesn’t find it.

I think you have the right to set boundaries in your home. I would simply tell her ‘This is how we do adoration. (insert your procedure). I realize you have a very different opinion about religion than me. I will respect your opinion however, I insist you respect mine as well. You are more than welcome to participate in my family adoration if you refrain from saying (insert what drives you nuts).’

Perhaps limiting when she can make her annoying comments might be a good compromise. If asking her not to participate in adoration because she will not obey your rules will crush her. Let it crush her. You are NOT responsible for her feelings especially if they are coming from her poor choices


I think it might be more than just the religious power struggle. I’ve heard it said before:

No house is big enough for two women.

Could be.

YOUR HUSBAND needs to lovingly tell his mother to respect the faith of the house.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit