What is it that makes mothers-in-law always think they're in charge of everyone? Why are they so controlling?
You could say I'm biased, because mine was a total bitch and one of the biggest celebrations of my divorce for me, was the fact that I no longer had to deal with her ever again.
But I've observed it all over the place. Even just yesterday I was sitting in a pub, happily sipping my ale, when in comes a family group. The mother-in-law was instantly indentifiable by the fact that she was telling everyone where to sit, what they wanted to order, what the guy should drink and why he 'didn't want' to drink what he initially ordered, undercutting the mother of a small child in order to tell the kid how to behave before the mother got a chance, telling them all what 'we' want and what's most convenient and best for 'us', and just generally acting like she was the one in charge, in control there. And totally dismissing any queries or other options presented by anyone else. And everyone went along with it. I was sitting across from this guy, evidently the son-in-law, thinking "You poor, stupid bastard - why don't you tell her to get stuffed and let you decide for yourself what to order?"
But of course, I know the answer. It's because if he did, the MIL would get upset. And that in turn would make his wife upset. And that would mean at least a week of emotional snooker at home.
I've seen similar scenes and been part of them myself on many an occasion. Despite my personal bias, I know it's not completely unfounded, because the colloquial nickname for mother-in-law in the UK is 'old boilers' and it's a bedrock of many a family comedy to have a long-suffering guy whose life and relationship are made a misery by an interfering, pushy and overbearing mother in law - precisely because it's a situation many people relate to.
And I got to thinking - why do mothers in law do that? Is it fulfilling some kind of psychological need for them? Does it help them to feel 'useful' after they've lived in an empty nest for a few years? Don't they realise how much friction they cause in their children's relationships, and how much their behaviour impinges on the happiness of their families? Do they do it on purpose? What??
Anyone else have similar experiences? Explanations?
Or better yet, examples of mothers in law who are not like that - in which case, what's different?
EDIT - if you haven't been married, feel free to talk about GF/BF's parents, or even just parents of friends and their reactions to you, if they've tried to have an impact on your friendships.