Wives pre-programmed to dislike their mother-in-law?

On this forum, we often hear from ladies who have some differences with their mother-in-law.

Well, apparently this British doctor thinks it is because that is how women are. Pre-wired to dislike their mother-in-law/daughter-in-law because each woman is vying to be the matriarch of the family.

Could this be true? :shrug: Who knows? But it is a bit interesting to consider.

It is the butt of jokes at dinner tables, the source of arguments at family gatherings and has even been grounds for divorce.

Now, the reason behind the age-old problem of feuding between mothers-in-law and their sons’ wives has been answered. Wives are programmed to dislike their partner’s mom.

A new book by a British relationship expert, Dr. Terri Apter suggests that even if a wife or girlfriend wanted to like her in-law, she already has an expectation they won’t get along, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Follow the link below for the full story.

And here is another source.

I must be an anomaly because I have a great relationship with my m-i-l. Not only do we see each other once a week, but we talk every day on the phone :D.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I’m not as close as my own mom, but we have different personalities and a long history of not being able to talk about serious topics :o . The good news is that the openness I have with my m-i-l has translated into a greater openness with my mom :thumbsup:


I have to agree with MB… I adore my MIL!.. and in some ways I get along with her better than I do with my own mom.

I think there’s some truth to the theory that men often marry someone very similar to their mother - I have a lot in common with my MIL - and I’ve seen that reflected in many other marriage relationships as well.

Sure there is the concept of being competitive for the husband/son’s attention, but IMO the husband/son may be part of the problem if there is a major conflict - he’s not balancing out his roles as well as he could. It doesn’t have to be wife OR mom… he could manage BOTH relationships in their own unique ways so that conflict doesn’t stir up. :shrug:

My DH likes to mock my MIL and I a lot (okay, okay, we’re ditzy :D) - so it’s nice to have some backup when he goes on one of his teasing tirades! :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

I get along great with my mil also. I can see that sometimes the problem is competition for the son’s affection and I wonder how other relationships are for those women. In my experience wives who have really bad relationships with their mils also have problems in other major relationships (and I’m assuming the same for the mil but my friends aren’t mil’s yet :p).

I had a terrific relationship with both my mom and my MIL. I feel twice blessed.

*I love my MIL very much, and have always respected her. She’s always been so kind and loving to me and the kids. I don’t think that wives are preprogrammed to dislike their MIL’s…I think that there are some MIL’s who compete for their son’s attention, and thus cause a lot of heartache on their DIL’s. But, I don’t think that is the average. *

I think that the reasons why women tend not to get along well with their mothers-in-law is that sons have a tendency to marry women that are like their mothers. While opposites attract, two women with similar personalities tend to clash.

My sister is a more dominant, controlling, get-stuff-done, ultra-organized type. Her husband is very relaxed and passive, probably because he had a mom who was more the dominant, controlling, get-stuff-done ultra-organized type. So, that is what he was used to and that is why he picked my sister. Well, now my sister and her mother-in-law are in constant competition to be in control of everything, and even though they are both really kind really exceptional people, they drive each other absolutely crazy. I am more the type that goes with the flow, so I get along just great with both of them.

Now, having learned from my mistakes, I was positive that I did not want to end up with a controlling type A kind of a person, because I am just way too comfortable with the whole being a doormat thing. So, I purposely picked someone with a personality type similar to mine. He had a controlling domineering ex, so he was not looking to repeat that mistake himself. His and ex and his mom were like two cats in a bag and did not get along at all from day one. The really nice thing is that his mom and I get along GREAT. I totally follow her lead and give her lots of respect. She in turn looks out for me. My boyfriend said for his whole life, she has never allowed anyone to cook in her kitchen, because it is HER kitchen. He was left speechless one night when she asked me to come in and help cook dinner. It was so nice working in the kitchen together, and she is a wonderful cook (she is Italian, so that goes without saying :slight_smile: ) I love the chance to learn from her.

So, to men, I would say fight your instincts to marry your mother and you will have a peaceful life.

I love my MIL too, and the idea that I’m like her (why my husband married me) makes me happy, but I don’t think it’s true. We share similiar values, but she way more mild mannered and calm than I am! . My mom is deceased, but she was a mentally ill alcoholic and we never got along.

I agree that a lot of problems women have w/ mil’s is they want to continue to control their sons even after marriage. I don’t have that problem. My il’s live over 2 hours away, but even if they were down the street (which I wish they were!) I don’t think it’d be a problem, as she’s a very conservative, old fashioned Christian (S. Baptist), who takes seriously the Scripture that states “a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife”. That’s how she was raised, and how she raised her kids. She never critisizes my parenting, even though it’s vastly different from how she raised her kids (I’m more of the crunchy-AP type; she was very “traditional”), and has never said a word about our getting married in the Catholic Church and our kids being raised Catholic (and my dh didn’t convert until we’d been married 5 years and had 3 kids). Long story short (too late ;)), she’s a wonderful lady, and I’m very blessed to have in my life. I feel very bad for for all the women who have such conflict w/ their mil’s, and they’re all in my prayers.

In Christ,


No this is “rubbish,” for a lack of a better British term, a MIL can be a great relationship. I have heard so many stories on here and other sites as well. Those were all still simple control and power issues, not much difference from the spouse control/power issues.

I think first impressions are crucial in establishing long well formed relationships in family. So it is a good idea of letting a potential spouse get a leg up on tendencies and irritations (if there even is any), and also help guide them through that.

For example, my mother is partially hearing impaired, so when she listens to someone, she nods her head and smiles…, different people read into that in different ways, so I have to explain that she is not rude, or she never thought that was funny. She just cannot hear well and is being polite. Or sometimes it seems as though she is being ignorant and ignoring what you are saying, when it is not the case at all.

I do not know if you are headed in this direction, or you have issues yourself so far, but just in case. If situations do not start off well, either or both people involved may carry more resentment as time goes on, so it is important to establish it well and maintain the good attitudes.

Best Wishes!

I think it all depends on the MIL or DIL. My relationship with my MIL ebbs and flows. My main issue with her is her overall selfishness. She acts like she’s 16 and from my perspective does things simply to annoy me. Of course, I have stooped to her level more times than I care to admit and have made the situation worse. Now I just try to rise above it all, but it’s not always the easiest thing. Overall, my FIL and his girlfriend are the only immediate family ILs that I have a decent relationship with and even there this is some tension. MIL and her husband essentially don’t like me and my BIL and SIL both have personalities that clash with mine. How my dh turned out the way that he did given his immediate family I’ll never understand. He’s so unlike them that it is unreal. On the whole, I get on much better with dh’s extended family. They treat me like I’m part of the family, unlike my in-laws.

Thank you. I only posted this because I was interested in the reactions for people on this forum. As for me, well, I have no opinion one way or another and generally prefer to think of people as individuals rather than paint relationships among an extended family like a herd of orangutans (which is probably where this researcher got the idea.)

In general, while I think there are clear differences between the genders, I am pretty uncomfortable with the rather dehumanizing notion proposed by this researcher. It is almost like he rejects the idea that people have free will and behave more like primates than people - a very anti-Christian notion.

I am pleased to see on this thread that nearly all here have healthy and good relationship with their in-laws.

I have not read the article but this is my opinion.

I have known some women who look at their household as their regency or their business and assume the responsibility for pretty much for the way family members live and behave. These women “run” their homes and expect the respect that comes from their role. While they may have the utmost respect for their husbands role in the marriage, it is clearly the woman who controls the home. I have known other women who see their household as a retreat or as a shared environment.

I think the first kind of woman is most likely to have trouble with a daughter-in-law, especially if the DIL is similar to the MIL.

Lol, yup, I can see a lot of similarities between me and my mil. Lol, now I feel a little narcissistic saying I love my MIL :p. My inlaws live really close, about a minute away by car, and when we have traveled for work we have lived in the same house before, so I usually see her a lot. I feel lucky to have them so close and involved in our lives. Sure, we have disagreed before, lol, and come to think about it I wouldn’t be surprised if our similarities might have led to it at times, but heck, I disagree with dh sometimes and am still madly in love with him and wouldn’t change him for the world. You know, I think the whole disliking MIL’s may also have to do with the way “society” treats that relationship. Many times I have received comments of sympathy etc when I mention we live close to my inlaws, or are going to be spending an extended period of time with them (people who don’t know my inlaws). Its like people just assume that having to be with inlaws is annoying or something.

Clearly it’s nonsense. Women are NOT pre-programmed to dislike their mother-in-laws.

Count me in as another who loves my MIL, too. She’s wonderful and we get along very well. My mom got along with her MIL (my grandmother) as well. She treats her and loves her like her own mother and my grandmother is the same for her.

I really think that’s hogwash.

I really started out calling my MIL mom and trying to be another daughter to her … now I know that would have never worked out because of how she treats her real daughter…

My MIL is horrible. She hates me. Well, she hates everyone to be honest and thinks the world should revolve around her, she really has some mental issues that only God can cure at this point.


I can’t wait to have DILs, so that I can finally have daughters! I have all boys! :thumbsup:

I love and respect my mother-in-law. She has been lovely and sweet, helpful and kind, welcoming and truly a dear since the first day I met her years ago. She remains so to this day as she deals with dementia. I could not have been blessed with a more lovely mother-in-law than the one God graced me with when I married my husband.

While I get along well with my MIL I certainly don’t love everything she does. For instance, she gives my kids tons of sweets and spoils them with toys when they ask (and often when they don’t ask). But I don’t like anyone who would do this whether it would be my husband, sister, or own mother.

For the most part, I really like my MIL. She is a loving, caring grandmother and that is enough for me.

I’m glad that many of you have great relationships with your MILs. I don’t. I highly doubt that our differences were entirely “pre-programmed” as the article says they were, but I do agree with something mentioned in the second article. The second article pointed out the role of men, (which the first article neglected to mention.)

… But Australian experts believe it is the men who are to blame.

Relationships Australia NSW chief executive officer Anne Hollons Anne said men needed to take charge.

“It can be a great source of conflict and part of the problem sometimes stems from issues between the mother and son. The (issues) have not been resolved when he starts a new relationship,” she said. “Instead of the husband sorting out the relationship with the mother and his wife, he will stand aside and let the women fight it out.”

An anectodotal story from my own experience to support this. This past year I decided to step back significantly and let my husband deal with his mother. Dynamics changed. My husband (and other family members) have far more issues with his mom than I ever had. Rather than me being the one who set the problems off, I may have diffused the bigger issues or shifted the focus. When I stepped back, the other problems became more obvious.

I have a great relationship with my MIL, and do even have a lot in common with her - it’s probably easier to list our differences. She is very supportive of our life choices, and very encouraging to be around. She doesn’t give too much advice, and when she does give advice she is very gentle, so I don’t feel like I have to take it or I’m a bad mother.

My own parents, on the other hand, seemed to have a little trouble letting go. They were really scared about me wanting to work and not being able to because of getting married and having children too young. They crossed the line a couple of times, but then relaxed finally and are back to being great people to be around again.

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