Author Sandie Jones knows all about every woman’s worst fear.
Her new novel, The Other Woman, is a chilling tale of how a happy marriage can be destroyed from within by his mother.
We meet our partners, fall in love and hope that we’ll live happily ever after, but whilst we may get to choose the ‘love of our life’, unfortunately the same cannot be said for the in-laws that come with them.
In Sandie’s debut novel, protagonist Emily finds herself on the receiving end of her partner’s mother Pammie’s vindictive and intimidating behaviour. It’s a situation that many of us find ourselves in, but how can we tell if it’s just petty jealousy or something far more sinister?
Sandie spent time talking to women who had gone through a hard time with their mothers-in-law whilst preparing to write the book, so we asked her to give us her top six signs that you have a toxic mother-in-law…
She’ll go all out to put you down – but she’s clever with it, so that your spouse rarely sees what she’s doing. If you’re really unlucky, she’ll be dropping little hints to everyone she knows, slandering your name all over town and pretty soon, whispers will abound of your supposed bad behaviour. She’ll also drop other people’s names into conversations with you, in an effort to bring you down. She’ll say, ‘Maureen was surprised that you went to the christening – she didn’t really think it was your place to’. Poor Maureen probably never said a word – it’s your mother-in-law’s thoughts being passed off as someone else’s.
She won’t listen to a word you say – though don’t go thinking it’s just because she doesn’t think you’re worth listening to. If you say it’s day, she’ll say it’s night – no matter how right you are, she will still dismiss your opinion, because it makes her feel superior. Yet it’s when she asks if you’re hungry, you say no, and yet she still puts a huge plate of food in front of you, that it gets particularly galling. ‘Oh, do you not like my cooking?’ she’ll say, in front of everyone, making you look like the baddie.
She’s a narcissist who sees her children as an extension of her wonderful self, not as individuals.
So, when they cock-up, she takes it as a personal slight on her good standing and a reflection of her skills as a mother.
“I didn’t bring you up to marry a trollop like her,” will be what she thinks when she looks at her son. She won’t be able to believe that the little boy whose nappies she changed, and who hung on her every word, is disrespecting her by marrying you.
She’ll never admit to being wrong and don’t be waiting on an apology because it will never come.
She is the expert on everything, from making a lasagne to child-rearing, and if you don’t do it as she tells you to, you’ve got it wrong.
“‘I always put tomatoes in first”, and “Don’t rock the baby like that,” are likely to be well-worn phrases. It’s her way or no way and you’d be silly to think it’ll ever be any different.
She doesn’t respect your choices or your personal space by turning up uninvited and expecting you to welcome her with open arms. God forbid if she has her own key – she’ll be popping over every other minute and letting herself in, oblivious to what you might be doing or what you have planned. She’ll then proceed to make a snide comment about the state of the place, or even worse, start cleaning up. After all, how can anyone be unhappy with that…?
She’s at her best in front of a crowd and everyone who knows her, loves her, and so will find it difficult to understand why you’ve got a problem with her cleaning your house whenever she visits. But that’s her intention, because she wants to play ‘good cop, bad cop,’ and guess who’s the baddie? ‘I’m sure she’s harmless, she’s only trying to help,’ even your best friends will say, but they don’t know her like you do.
The Other Woman, by Sandie Jones, is out now. Pan, £7.99