Dear Massi, Please advise. My mother-in-law is a living nightmare. I have had so many clashes with her.

She doesn’t understand the meaning of personal space.

She wants to know where I am going, what I am doing, who I am talking to.

The woman had a go at me for speaking to my husband in English and says we should only converse with each other in Punjabi.

I have caught her eavesdropping on so many occasions when I am on the phone to my family.

She even eavesdrops when I talk to my father-in-law. She has made it really obvious that she doesn’t like me talking to him. Because she dislikes me, she expects him to dislike me too. When I sit with him and chat about the news or whatever, I can hear her footsteps even though she thinks she is being subtle.

I don’t know how to handle her. Can you try and help me?

Massi says, It can be challenging when living in someone else’s home.

It is difficult trying to find a balance when dealing with new family dynamics. 

It is your right to have privacy and to be able to speak to your family without the fear of being overheard.   

Your relationship with your mother-in-law seems to be very strained and her actions appear to be fuelled by a sense of insecurity.

Try and include her in your discussions with other family members so she doesn’t feel left out. 

Perhaps suggest to your mother-in-law that you spend some time together on a day out where she can spend time getting to know you, which may serve to allay any concerns she has.