The Turkish Mother in Law

I don’t think there is a scary phrase than the Turkish Mother in law, well probably more scary is the Turkish Mother in Law is coming to stay!turkishmotherinlaw

They all of course vary in nature, some are very sweet and helpful and respect who you are and your wishes. Some like mine live far enough away and they don’t bother you to often but still they manage to cause trouble and then there are those that live close by or with you that drive you nearly insane.

First of all I think men who have married into a Turkish family will do much better and may perhaps suffer more with the Father in law but in general terms (and I am only guessing) it’s easier on the guys.

For us women married to a Turkish Prince, the Turkish Mother in Law can seem like a dragon protecting her precious son, who also looks at his Mum with adoring eyes and can hear no wrong about his Valide (Mother of the Sultan!)

I think some of the problems with the Turkish Mother in Laws are much the same as any Mother in Law protecting her son. I think it’s harder for women to give up their son to another woman, to watch them take care of their son, cook, clean and love their son. For none can do it better than them! Where as giving up a daughter to her husband, means she is off to looking after the man, cook, clean and love him, which is ingrained in every culture like or not it is the natural order of things.

But then we get into Turkish culture, where you may think the man is the head of the house, you most likely find they think they are but really it’s the Mother who runs the ship, she is the one who looks after the family, it is her they go to with their problems and it is her who will find the solution. She is the matriarch!

So when it’s time for her boy (and god help you if he is the only boy!) to marry his chosen lady, the fiery protective dragon and perhaps a little of the green eyed monster appears. But then she finds out this women is a Yabanci (foreigner) with different ways and speaks a different language who she can’t not communicate with and perhaps doesn’t do things as good as a Turkish Housewife should!

She thinks to herself why couldn’t he find a good Turkish girl, who knows how to cook and clean and does as she is told, why did he find this strange women who doesn’t know our ways and what about my grandchildren will she raise them in the correct way.

At first she smiles and makes you feel welcome, she is sweet and wonderful. You think what a lovely lady, I am lucky to have found such a great Mother in Law.

The wedding goes without to much drama, just the normal family problems and besides you do it the way they want and how it should be because you like the idea and tradition of a Turkish wedding.

But then reality strikes, you either live with your Turkish Mother in Law or she comes to stay……… They do say you don’t know someone till you live with them. And that really is true for the Turkish Mother in Law.

They undermine you at every stage, they rearrange your cupboards, move stuff around, tell you the house is to cold, its to hot. You don’t wear the right clothes or act the right way. They invite their friends or even your neighbours you don’t really know for endless cups of tea and food. Which you have to make.

Then comes the hardest part, they want money, constantly they ask for this and that and your husband shrugs his shoulders and gives, its his Mummy his Valide.

If your Turkish Mother in Law has done her job right, your darling husband will be an impossible Mummy’s boy, he will not and can not cut the apron strings, even if you think he has because you are living at a distance to your Mother in Law as soon as you go to visit you will see him turn straight back into a 16 year old boy being petted and fed by his Mother.

When you try to tell your darling husband and mummy’s boy the issues that you have with your Mother in law you will get one of two reactions, first is “leave her, she means well and trying to help you” or second “you can’t speak about my mother that way, she isn’t doing anything wrong, it is you that is wrong!”.

And god forbid you tackle the money and the giving of stuff to his Mum, because it is his job, he has to help and protect his poor mother and make sure she never wants for anything, after all she has done so much for him and you…..

It doesn’t really matter if you are struggling to pay the bills yourself!

Then you have a child, and you will be told a million and one things that you are doing wrong, you aren’t feeding them right, or you don’t have enough clothes on that child in 40c+!! You must shave off all the hair doesn’t matter girl or boy or it won’t grow in strong enough and so on.

And your darling husband shrugs and says she raised us up right and she knows best!

But despite all of this ladies, it is important that we cut the apron strings and release our husbands. You have to stand up for yourself and your family. It is your home, your child and your savings.

Do not back down but do not go in for the direct approach. Quietly and subtly speak with your darling husband, point out the situation and supply him with a solution to the problem. But don’t tell him what to do.

Keep smiling always, never take her head on she will beat you down with her spiky tail. Slowly and surely your husband will begin to understand he has his own family now and that he must take care of you. It takes time, but I have learned the hard way the direct approach never works.

It’s a tricky tightrope your husband walks between keeping you happy and his mother happy. In the early years of marriage he is only learning how to walk this tightrope but as the years go by he learns how to perform this trick blind folded.

Us women are tricky monsters, we are hard to please and when one women sets up against another it can be dangerous time. Whatever you do, never let your Mother in Law know she is getting to you and stick to your guns, don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ but do it with a smile.

But never let any of the problems get between you and your husband, never make him choose between you and his mother, for its an impossible thing for him to do.

Helping his mother out and giving things to her within reason, is normal and good. It is a nice thing that he cares for his mother and family, its the right and proper order of life, but he must remember he also has his own little family to care about (which often the forget)

But remember this, a true Turkish housewife will not put up with any rubbish, she knows that there has to be give and take but she knows when to put her foot down and she makes sure her husband listens.

Do not get sucked into this is the culture, this is the way it is. This is your home, your family and you will do it your way and make sure she understands that.

I have had a rocky road with my Mother in Law sweet as she is, we have grown to an understanding and a love for each other, she never questions my ways to my face anyway and understands we are not made of money. Its taken sometime and some heartache but we have a good working relationship, she knows her son is happy and her grandson is healthy. And she knows that when I say No I meant it!

I hope I will remember the lessons I have learned from my Mother in Law to be a good Mother in Law when my Son marries and to remember that his partner loves and cares for him the same way I do and to not on interfere but be there to help, when my help is needed!

Don’t be to hard on your Mother in Law she is who she is, she in her mind thinks she is doing right by her Son and by her family. We all want the best for our kids. But be firm but nice about everything and set the rules in your home and family from the early days and make sure she understands. And above all never let her know she is getting you down, keep on smiling and be pleasant, for this is the woman that raised your husband and made him who he is today and it is only normal for a child to love their mother…….

© 2014 – 2015, Kerry Arslan. All rights reserved.

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27 Responses to “The Turkish Mother in Law”

  1. 4th November 2014

    Nina Başar Reply

    Wow Kerry, this was really interesting to read, I am one LUCKY person. My mother in law lives with us (she does go to her daughters to stay also but mostly with us)…It has been this way for the last 3 years and my situation must be unique. My mother in law is the complete opposite of this…she is AWESOME. Her and I go places without my husband and I do not speak Turkish (just words I know as of right now) and she does not speak English…but we have such a fun and out of the house (we use international I am honestly proud to call her my mother in law….I love her to the moon and back!!!

  2. 4th November 2014

    Clare Clackstone Reply

    Hi Kerry once again a fab read! Little bits of it did make me giggle to myself…. Note to self….. MUST show this to Sophie! (Will be in touch soon) x

  3. 4th November 2014

    Carole Gardiner Reply

    Really good article and so true, I dreaded my mother in law coming to stay, she tried to take over etc . I’m well rid now but it certainly was an experience I’ll never forget living in a Turkish family.

  4. 5th November 2014

    Timtam Reply

    brilliant read … I related to it because of my ex mother in law who was Greek Cypriot.. My now Turkish mother in law is a little sweetie..and I love her to bits .. looks like it’s not just Turkish MILs who are the same 🙂

  5. 5th November 2014

    Danielle Duman Reply

    Kerry, this was amazing. Its like my life on a website! I have found it so hard to be strong as she is constantly there and only wanting her opinion. She smiles to my face then gosspis behind my back, but like you said first time we met she was so sweet. And it all changed when I had the twins.. The first time I put my foot down was when they were hiding bread in the boys beds and one of them went blue from chocking. After I told her and her daughter (who is just as bad) no. I get ignored.. Which is better for me!

    My husband doesn’t see what his mum does, but when his sister acts the same he goes crazy because he knows its not right. He blames his mums ignorance on the fact she is uneducated! But I know she’s a very smart lady!

    • 10th March 2018

      Ulker Reply

      Oh Danielle, I am of Turkish Cypriot ethnicity but born and raised in London and my husband is the same. My mother in law has made my life hell. I have been married for 25 years. It is the last 5 years, that I have not spoken to any of my husbands family. I gave it 20 years of trying but it was when they turned on my daughter who was 18 at the time that I felt enough was enough. My sister in laws were just as bad and my husband won’t have a word said against any of them.

      Good luck but don’t stand for any crape

  6. 5th November 2014

    hanna Reply

    You are foreign or Turkish doesn’t matter if you married with her son you always foreign for her. 😉 Most of the turkish mother in laws do every single things ( which is you wrote ) for all daughter in law believe me. I know from my mum and ground mother, the other thing mum and ground mother were relatives.

  7. 5th November 2014

    deb Reply

    Spot on

  8. 5th November 2014

    JSD Reply

    I find this quite stereotypical. I am sure you are speaking from your experience, but it is perpetuating gender and culture stereotypes; about women in constant competition, about patriarchy and women’s strength being limited to passive-aggressive means – and about unbending and rigid turkish culture. Intercultural relationships are always about compromise, on all sides. with a little open mindedness (again – on all sides), boundary setting and letting go, these complicated relationships can work, well. It wasn’t always easy for me with my turkish hanem anne, but having lost her after 20 years of cultural negotiations, I miss her every day. Persist! and good luck!

  9. 27th March 2015

    Bec Reply

    My Turkish MIL is the worst ever! She came to help me when I had my c-section and she did nothing to help me! She sat on the couch and watched me lift the laundry basket 3 days after my c-section. She never cleaned. All she did was worship my husband and play games between us. She would come sit in our bed at night and watch tv with us while rubbing his shoulders. She was always acting like she was in competition with me. I would be just fine if I never saw her again.

  10. 10th July 2015

    Jeaneth Reply

    I have the feeling that my mother-in-law will be a demon too… But come to think of it, it was my boyfriend’s father who expressed a lot more resistance to the idea of his son having a foreign wife. It’s as if it’s him who is actually willing to cause trouble for me. I’ll have to wait and see what kind of people they really are.

    • 12th July 2015

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      Don’t judge to harshly at first, they are just looking out for their son and family! Turkish Mother in Laws can be difficult but just smile and keeping breathing and you will survive.:)

  11. 17th December 2015

    Ray Reply

    I have the worst Mother in law. It’s impossible to do anything. Unfortunately for m he’s the only son. I never knew much about the culture, I didn’t realise there culture/views were so strong. So unbeknown to me I never knew I had to live with his parents. I’m English, and having a child and living in with his parents is insane. Personally if I could turn the clocks back I’d never of got with him.
    This culture living with parents is totally insane, and you can’t change his mind to move out and start your own family. HE WONT LEAVE HIS PRECIOUS MOTHER!! I’ve learnt the hard way. I’m living a lif no hate everyday with my daughter, having no control at all in my daughters life, because his mother is taking over everything I do.

    • 21st December 2015

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      Why wont he move out? It is difficult even my nephew who has a lovely wife won’t move out the home they have a small apartment below them. She is unhappy to. They are not all the same, but they are terrible mummies boys and don’t know how to cut the cord. The problem being is you cant make him choose, its not a good route to go. I can only hope for you he grows a pair.

      If you ever need to chat get in touch with me via email or the blog. Kerry x

      • 30th December 2015

        Ray Reply

        He won’t move out, because he can’t, he’s the youngest son. I never knew this until we had a child together and it all came to light. It’s the most horrible realisation, you either have to pretend to be happy about the whole situation or leave which you don’t want to because you love that person and have a baby together.
        It all got to much for him and he chucked us out because his Mum and I didn’t see eye to eye, she didn’t stop interfering and I finally spoke up about it, I was at breaking point I’d absolutely had enough of his Mum “bit**ing all the time, she was like a little girl at school in a playground bullying the younger children.
        But because his Mum and Dad control every aspect of his life, (he works with his Dad) he doesn’t realise there is anything wrong?! Which is one of the most hardest things for him to understand. There culture is so strong, but his family has a strong hold over him.
        He controlled me a lot of the relationship, and because we are no longer together, he can’t deal with not having that control over me. It’s funny how powerful Turkish culture is.

        But one of his friends that is from the City is completely opposite his views are different but whereas my ex partner was from the villages, where life is more traditional.

        All id say to myself looking back 2 years ago, is that maybe I should have looked into the culture more and had an understanding of how traditional they were. But he only told me the basics because he knew he’d have told me about living with his parents forever I wouldn’t be having this conversation now, because nothing would have happened between us.

        • 11th January 2016

          Kerry Arslan Reply

          My Husband is the youngest and is very cultural, but that is rubbish on his behalf, of course he can move out. It is normally the unmarried man looks after the family. So once they are married and have their own family its time to grow up and move out. Yes, family will always lean on each other for money, this I am very familiar with. But nearly all of my husbands family members, from nephews to cousins move out once married. All but one and he is a complete Mummies boy, its not to do with culture its just to do with they don’t want to grow up. There is something really nice about the closeness of the family culture, but it can be over bearing as in this situation. If he is telling you its because it is his culture then it its own made up beliefs not the culture that is stopping him leaving home. Its time he realised he has a family of his own to support love and care for. I am really angry on your behalf because I am sorry he sounds like he needs to grow a pair. I don’t often get angry in my replies. I feel very sorry for you but this is to do with the individual man. Yes part of it is culture, I have had to fight it with my husband at times and his mummys boy issues. It is scary how they tie their boys into them for life in an overpowering possession. I am glad you have got yourself out of that situation, it had to be miserable. Good luck and I hope you can move on and grow for this experience. His loss…

      • 9th July 2017

        Ayesha Khan Reply

        My Turkish boyfriend was head over heals for me. I am Pakistani-American and my Uncle has married a Turkish woman. Our cultures and religious traditions are very similar.

        However, he broke up with me as soon as his mother disapproved.

        Every time I’ve mentioned that she is controlling he will shut me out or cut off contact.

        We’ve managed to get back together once and he immediately cut things off when it was time for him to go home from our semester break. He is 28 and I am 30. She said that at my age I will have down syndrome kids if he ever married me.( Mind you have 2 masters degrees and I am in medical school but nothing matters to her, I met him in medical school)

        She told him that she would disown him if her were to marry me, that she would never come to the wedding, and that marrying someone my race will bring shame on their family….

        I have wrote letters to her, bought her flowers but she refuses to get to know me. She even made angry pictures on our facebook pictures. I’ve given up all hope. And am grieving the loss of the relationship … I have a very bitter taste of how arrogant, racist and non-accepting Turkish people can be. I can not control my race and that was the only reason of her disapproval. She made so much of a fuss that he now says, ” I love you but Im not ‘in love with you'” as well as, ” we don’t have the perfect relationship because my mother isn’t happy.”

        I’ve never been through so much pain and disappointment in my life

  12. 9th February 2016

    Theresa Kaplan Reply

    There is no way my mil is going to live with us. A big NO!

  13. 18th February 2016

    Selina Reply

    It’s a great article thanks for sharing.

    In my case my Turkish MIL is hard working and is helpful but she wouldn’t stop converting me into a Turkish daughter in law (I. E: showing me how to clean properly, telling me to cook for my husband everyday, ordering me around the house, etc). But to be fair she is willing to do all those with me together. But even so it is annoying. She is a woman who NEVER stops cleaning or cooking and I find her very intrusive when ever she comes and stay for weeks at times.

    I tired to politely tell her, it’s my house my rules and when I am tired I will not cook or clean. Especially since I have a toddler and pregnant. Growing up in a western society where people respect each others space and privacy I don’t think I can ever learn to accept someone else dictating my life and my schedule. So I finally told her enough is enough, she got offended especially since her son was on my side.

    I just hope she will never come visit us again. Sigh…..

  14. 22nd April 2016

    LDRgirl Reply

    Well, how to predict what will my MIL would be? Because I am not married yet, and my bf doesn’t tell me much about his mom… what can I ask to him to know how his mother is?

    • 2nd May 2016

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      There really isn’t any way to know. Mine was lovely before we married but it was because she was acting like I was a guest. Once I became part of the family then I got treated the same way.

  15. 20th November 2017

    Rachel Adams Reply

    Hi kerry
    Brilliant blog.
    Ive been dating my partner 5 weeks now. We been friends since june this year never did i think i would end up with him especially as he is 26 years younger than me.
    All a bit of a shock as he has already asked me to marry him !
    He is taking me to meet his mum in december and im so worried she will not like the age gap and the fact i speak little turkish which im trying so hard now to learn.
    Ive never been so nervous and i want to make a good first impression.
    Can you give me some idea on what a great appropriate present would be.

  16. 22nd February 2018

    Ghita Reply

    I am very shocked to read this. This is exactly what I am facing right now. Mil is breaking my family In to pieces.

  17. 30th April 2019

    Andreea Reply

    I really hope Rachel Adams did not marry that guy. After living in Morocco for many years, I know young guys proposing quickly to foreign women are a huge red flag.

    And speaking of turkish MIL, I have one myself, she is a master manipulator.
    When I first met her, I considered myself so lucky seeing how sweet, funny and cool that 72 year old lady could be. Boy, was I wrong.

    Luckily we live abroad but still, I hate those times we go and visit her.

    The subtle guilt tripping, the constant imagined illnesses and her pretending to be helpless drive me crazy.

    I see right thru her but she is so damn diplomatic compared to my straight forwardness that I always look like the bad guy.

    My husband does try to set boundaries, but she keeps finding new limits to cross while acting like she already has a foot in the grave. Funny thing, only when her sons are around, she takes the death bed face, when it is just me she is very normal and full of energy. She doesnt even care that I see her.

    As a side note, women like that should be in prison, the emotional abuse they subject their sons and the burden they put on their shoulders since they are little, have devastating consequences. They cause problems in marriages, and the vicious cycle can continue when and if the daughter in law has a son of her own.

  18. 11th October 2019

    Nori Reply

    I wish I read this article 2 years before. Many of you ladies are describing my life right now, it is incredible. I am a hard working woman with a toddler on board, a lazy a** mama’s boy and a monster in law who is here to “help” us for 3 months. She is the best acttess and smartest manipulator I have ever seen. Which honestly, with my not giving a damn personality would not even bother me anymore. But it really takes a lot of power not to nearly throw her off the balcony listening to her every morning complaining to my husband how I do not feed my child well abd how I am going to get her sick by not putting 20 layers of clothes on her in 23 celcius degrees. And what makes me go mad even more is how she talks to and handles my little daughter. I am not sure of she has some mental disorderor it is the culture (of course I cannot ask my husband) , but she is constantly screaming into my baby’s face on this unbearable tune of voice. And she cannot caress her, she pinches her and handles her like a bag of potato. I am a very calm person, but she gets me so pumped up almost every day that I have to try very hard not to yell at her or tell her to pack up and get out. Of course, our marriage is in pieces and I am seriously considering getting a divorce.
    So ladies, who are contemplating getting married to a Turkish guy, think twice or five times before you say I do… I wish I knew all these things before..

  19. A Turkish mother-in-law tries to force to take your child from you when you marry her son and give birth to a child, even though you haven’t asked (rather refused). Then she charge money your husband for child support, and you make sure you can’t live with only your husband living expenses. Not only that, it even tries to create problems between you and your child.

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