From The Confessional: My MIL's Martyrdom Is Killing My Marriage

From The Confessional: My MIL’s Martyrdom Is Killing My Marriage

confessional-mother-in-law-Martyrdom
Motortion/Getty

Everyone knows a martyr, but it’s so much worse when it’s your mother-in-law

Ah, yes, the martyr. The woman who suffers the most, sacrifices the most, all in the name of self-flagellation that absolutely no one asked for. We all know one. Some of us may even love one. So what do you do when you’re not only related to one, but you’ve got a Patron Saint of Martyrdom for a mother-in-law?

Historically, a martyr is someone who chooses to sacrifice their life or face pain and suffering instead of giving up something they hold sacred. Today, the term is sometimes used to describe someone who seems to always be suffering in one way or another.

Like oh, say, mothers-in-law? Sound familiar?

They might always have a story about their latest woe or a sacrifice they’ve made for someone else. They might even exaggerate bad things that happen to get sympathy or make others feel guilty. Buckle up for these confessions, because you’re in for a wild ride.

Confessional #25776446

“Being isolated with my H during COVID-19 has made me realize he's turning into his mom, complete with the same martyr complex and passive aggressive behavior! In other news, I finally realize why I have no desire to sleep with him anymore.”

Confessional #25761493

“MIL clearly hates hosting, acts like a martyr cooking/cleaning the whole time, complains about how tired she is. I try to help + she refuses or she subtly criticizes everything I do. I suggested DH + I host this year and now she'not speaking to me.”

You simply cannot win with a martyr. They’ve always hosted the better holiday gathering, cooked the better spaghetti sauce, spent the most hours cleaning even when their kids were little, etc.

Confessional #25749227

“What I really want to say ? We haven't seen you on over a year and you have not been able to hold my sweet baby yet. You couldn't ruin this postpartum time and your son picked us over you and your martyr ways. Dont be a bitch to your DIL you'll lose”

Confessional #25372803

“Cut out toxic mil last month and it's been so nice. She still thinks we're overreacting and can't understand how's she's abusive. That's fine, play the martyr, you're away from me and my family so I'm happy.”

Confessional #25115316

“My God I'm so sick of mommy martyr culture. Yes it's hard but a lot of it is as hard as you make it.”

Martyrs are annoying, yes. But they can also be abusive. They’re good at using guilt to manipulate people into changing their ways to fit the martyr’s views. They’re classic protagonists of the “I suffered so you must suffer too” narrative.

Confessional #24131386

“Warned DH for years to distance himself from martyr mom/narc dad, because they'd only get worse with age. He wouldn't. Now at 80 they dominate his life. He's angry and exhausted, but still attached. I checked out years ago. I TOLD him. Not my problem.”

Confessional #23194064

“I hate my MIL. I hate that nobody sees how self-centered she is and how manipulative she is to all her kids. BTW - "raising adult children" isn't a thing so stop trying to be a martyr.”

Confessional #22880030

“80 year old FIL is a neurotic wimp. He cries, fakes illnesses, has tantrums. And it's not just that he's old - he's been this way since DH was a child. MIL an enabling martyr. DH the emotionally abused whipping boy who can't detach. Fuck all these losers.”

When your spouse or partner can see the act their martyr parent is putting on, it doesn’t make it any easier — oh wait, just kidding, it makes it 10x easier. Because an adult child of a martyr who has no idea they’re being treated that way is an exhausting burden for the other spouse.

Especially when that martyr MIL tries to pit her child against their spouse.

Confessional #13395569

“People need to start grasping the fact that women are actual humans with their own desires and ideas and contributions, and that their function in life is not to humbly fall on a sword for every-fucking-body else. Fuck that silent martyr shit.”

Confessional #1538530

“My MIL has the martyr role perfected. Volunteers for church activities and bitches non stop about it. If you really believe in God then you should know he sees whats in your heart”

Confessional #1479437

“My MIL is a martyr. She's had it worse than you ever will. I feed into it rather than made to feel like crap. She drives me CRAZY!”

Remember, martyrs are doing things for the benefit of everyone else — even though that’s what they’d have you believe. Nope, in fact, they’re “sacrificing” themselves repeatedly because it fulfills their own needs. Not yours. Not your family’s. THEIRS. Period.