Fear of Your Mother-In-Law

It has been reported that women often find their mother-in-law to be more oppressive in their relationship with their husband. This may be due to the fact that the mother-in-law may feel the wife is seeking to take her son away from her. The result can often be a profound fear of the mother-in-law. This fear is known as Pentheraphobia.

Husbands may or may not like their mother-in-law, but are generally less anxious about their involvement in the life of the family.

That’s not to say that a man can’t fear his mother-in-law. Any mother-in-law that has a dominating personality can instill a sense of intimidation in their new son-in-law or daughter-in-law that can ultimately morph into a phobia.

What Causes Pentheraphobia?

This fear may be the result of false expectations with relation to your in-law. And individual might think that all moms are the same and that the new in-law will be cut from the same cloth as their own mom, but this is rarely the case.

The fear may develop if the husband or wife feel as though their mother-in-law has more say in how things are run in their home than they do.

Ernie K. Doe and Huey Lewis both sang the same song to different generations that can describe the way a son-in-law or daughter-in-law might feel about an interfering mother-in-law.

The worst person I know

Mother-in-law, mother-in-law

She worries me so

Mother-in-law, mother-in-law

If she leaves us alone

We could have a happy home

Sent from down below

Mother-in-law, mother-in-law

The good news is not all mothers-in-law seems to exert such fear over the lives of their child’s new spouse, but living with this fear can be problematic.

Symptoms of Pentheraphobia

A sense of panic can be present even with a  phone call. Certainly it can be troublesome with a personal visit. In some cases the individual who has this fear can revert to the role of an unsure child who doesn’t want to risk offending a parent.

Other symptoms include…

  • Dread
  • Air hunger
  • Elevated or irregular heart rates
  • Trembling
  • Intimidation
  • Anger
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

This phobia can present problems within a marriage because while there is a struggle to establish your own family there seems to be this invisible, but ever present cord that ties your response to the dictates of a mother-in-law.

How to Overcome Pentheraphobia

Interestingly it may be the mother-in-law that has the best opportunity to lessen the fear. One ritual that can help right from the start is to have the husband’s mother offer her new daughter-in-law or son-in-law an apron with the strings cut. This symbolizes the mother-in-law’s wish to demonstrate her intentions to remain hands off in her child’s new marriage. This can provide great relief to the bride who may wonder how strong that bond may continue to be.

The other relief from this phobia is to seek help and sometimes intervention with a therapist who can help you learn ways to manage your fear and skills to establish your own home apart from the undue influence of your mother-in-law.

The fear of your Mother-in-law is also referred to as:

  • Mother-in-law fear
  • Fear of your spouse’s mom
  • Pentheraphobia
  • Novercaphobia
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