How to cope with an overbearing mother-in-law
How I deal with an over bearing MIL. Hmm..My MIL is very passive aggressive, if you don't do things as she would, you're doing them wrong. My husband and I are both in our 50's, our children are grown with families of their own so she doesn't tell us how to raise children obviously, (we have a his/hers children situation and were married when the kids were teens- we have no children together but they are all considered ‘ours') yet everything else is fair game for the MIL...or used to be.
I believe you need to set boundaries, firm boundaries. An overbearing MIL will always push or challenge those boundaries, but it's important to stick to them. It's important for both husband and wife to be on the same page with those boundaries, otherwise the MIL will play one against the other. My overbearing MIL still tries to do that and there are times where my husband is oblivious to his mother's intent and I use caution when/if I point it out to him, as she's still his Mother.
However, the Bible does say that a husband is to leave his parents and cleave to his wife. I finally had a blow out..well I've had several with my MIL...which usually consisted of me setting boundaries and her being offended, that I would dare ‘treat her like that' because she ‘would never have thought to treat her MIL that way!' I have set boundaries such as asking her not to enter our bedroom, to knock before entering our home, to not constantly feed my cats just because they're begging, to not gossip about our farm business, to not rearrange my kitchen when she visits and that if she needs something from my pantry to just ask (instead of going ‘shopping' when I'm not around). I've also asked her to basically not interfere with caring for my husband by telling her she is taking away the blessing I receive in caring for my own household. (She likes to pretend he's still 5 instead of 50)
Boundaries. She bucked those boundaries a lot and as a consequence the relationship she and I had or would have had, disintegrated after 15 years of this..she finally told me to stay out of ‘her' life. Apparently she felt I was the overbearing one in her world. She and my husband still have a good relationship, which I encourage. Yet he has also realized how meddling and overbearing his mother was in our relationship and supports me. (After the last blow out he actually avoided her for a while) But I still remind him of her birthday, Mother's Day, and to do little things for no reason at all for her...I still respect the fact that this is his mother and he loves her very much...so while it's important to set and have boundaries, how the MIL reacts to those boundaries is not something you can shoulder nor be responsible for (as long as your boundaries are requested in a respectful manner). There is no controlling someone else's reactions, we can only control what we do or say. And we can set respectful boundaries. If the MIL chooses not to respect those boundaries, well then distance is a good option.