Woman Cheered Over Response to In-Law Walking in on Her While in Bathroom

A woman has taken to Reddit to describe an unusual situation involving her mother-in-law and a lack of boundaries. User Positive_Balance3756 describes how her mother-in-law has been staying with her and her partner for a few weeks, and is asking if she is the a****** “for doing weird/awkward poses whenever my MIL ‘accidently’ walks in on me in the bathroom?”

The original poster (OP) goes on to explain her mother-in-law’s behavior and the lack of support she has received from her partner. The OP said: “She’d barge in, then turns and says ‘oh sorry’ then close the door. I tried talking to my husband about it but he kept ignoring me then flat out said ‘so what if she accidently seen you naked? She’s faaaammmillly!!’ He seriously said that!”

So the OP has gone on to set a kind of “trap” for her mother-in-law: “I’d go inside the bathroom pretending to use it and wait for her to come… When she ‘accidently’ barges in she’d see me in a weird/awkward position. For example doing a ballet stand, standing on the toilet, or standing facing the wall with my hands up, (fully clothed of course). I could see how awkward and weird this would be for her because she’d stand there for few seconds trying to figure out what I was doing.”

This OP isn’t alone in her mother-in-law woes. According to a study from April 2022 published in the Evolutionary Psychological Science, 44 percent of men and women reported having more conflict with their mothers-in-law than their own mothers (39 percent).

mother in law
A difficult mother-in-law can strain your relationship with your partner. A Reddit user has taken to the platform to ask for advice after her mother-in-law has started invading her privacy.
Motortion/Getty Images

Newsweek spoke to Ruth Freeman, founder and president of Peace at Home Parenting Solutions, about mother-in-law relationships.

“The daughter-in-law in this story sounds desperate and clearly reached for a pretty out-of-the box solution to her problem. As with most in-law issues, the problem begins with the couple. She wasn’t able to win her partner’s support before trying to solve the problem. In response to his rejection, she failed to do the most obvious solution — speak respectfully to her MIL. It probably would have gone a lot better if DIL had talked directly to MIL in the beginning in spite of her partner’s dismissal of his partner’s needs.

“Using a clear ‘I feel’-statement, something like, ‘When you walk into the bathroom without knocking and waiting, I feel very uncomfortable, even violated. I have a frightening history related to being locked in a room as a child and hope you will be kind and respect that I feel scared about locking the door. Please knock and wait to see if I am in there before entering.’ ‘I feel’-statements include a nonjudgmental description of the person’s behavior and a description of the emotions you feel in response, without blaming or shaming the other person.

“In this case, it wouldn’t be easy, but it is the best path to understanding. I would encourage our frustrated victim (and I do consider her a victim of this mother’s disrespectful and intrusive behavior) to sit down with her partner and tell him how she feels inside when MIL walks into the bathroom without knocking and waiting. If this were me, I would feel violated, maybe even a little scared or disgusted.

“I would help my husband recognize that I am family by marriage but even blood relatives as adults don’t necessarily want to be seen naked by parents. If her partner can’t recognize the importance of her emotions and needs (and boundaries are indeed needs), there is a bigger problem here than an intrusive MIL.

“This DIL’s relationship with her partner is not based on mutual respect and if I were her, I would seek some counseling as a couple to improve their understanding of each other. Nudity may be a norm in her partner’s family and she needs to understand that from his point of view, but she also deserves him to understand her experience in this difficult circumstance.”

Most Reddit users also sided with the OP on this issue.

User My_Poor_Nerves said, “I think MIL knows how to knock. This is a weird power play.”

User Professional_Vast615 wrote, “Oh no, definitely feels more of a ‘now i’m here, you’re not the woman of this house’ type of thing.”

User Deradius commented, “It’s either dominance (your space is not yours), an issue with the door locking phobia, or nosiness about something about the DIL’s body. Not sure which. I would sit her down and ask.”

User OriginalGrannySue wrote, “Amen! MIL is an abuser and violating her privacy. I think OP’s solution is mischievously charming 😇 (“Rituals”…LOL).”

Newsweek has reached out to Positive_Balance3756 for comment.

If you have a similar family dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

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