Emotional incest, often referred to as covert incest, is a mode of abuse involving oldsters treating their kids like a romantic spouse.
Despite the negative connotations, however, this woman felt she had no choice but to highlight what she saw as emotionally incestuous behaviour from her mother-in-law, sparking conflict among the family.
On Reddit, the 30-year-old explained that her husband’s mum has never been ‘weird’ towards him throughout their six-year relationship, and ‘she doesn’t act like this’ with her two other children.
She noticed things changing when she announced she was pregnant in December last year and her mother-in-law began ‘showering’ her husband with gifts, talking about the couple’s bedroom life in relation to the conception (including saying ‘well clearly you like bending people over’) and calling her son babe, baby, and daddy.
‘It was never an excitement over her being a grandmother,’ said the woman on Reddit, adding that her mother-in-law told people she was ‘indifferent’ about the pregnancy and showed up unannounced while she was in labour.
‘She tried making my husband sit on the couch with her while I was having contractions because she “needed to make sure he was good” and I watched her rub/squeeze his inner thighs multiple times,’ said the post.
‘Every time she did, he immediately moved away from her and you could tell it was bothering him but he didn’t say anything.’
The situation came to a head recently when the mother-in-law once again arrived at the couple’s home uninvited and ‘immediately’ slapped her son’s bum after walking in ‘which is completely out of character for her’ and tried to laugh it off when he questioned it.
The woman’s post continued: ‘Then he was sitting and holding the baby and she came up behind him and started hugging him from behind with her full body pressed to him and said “she looks just like us” (him and his mum look nothing alike).
‘He just kind of looked at her and then looked at me and without thinking, I said “hey, have you ever heard of emotional incest? If not, maybe look it up and correct your behaviour because if this continues you won’t be allowed back here”.’
At this, her husband gave her a stern look but otherwise ‘played dumb’ until his mother left and is refusing to talk about the issue further, yet the woman is keen to reiterate that her mother-in-law makes her ‘uncomfortable’ and she doesn’t want her child around her if she continued ‘acting this weird’.
‘At the end of the day, she’s being weirdly sexual toward my husband and if he won’t defend himself, I will,’ she added, but questioned whether her accusation was out of line.
Redditors largely felt she was in the right with what she said, including one person who said: ‘That’s seriously gross and she should not be allowed back until she apologises and stops the behaviour.’
‘Her actions are disturbing enough that I wouldn’t let her anywhere near my child, ever,’ said another, while a third added: ‘You should talk with your husband and set boundaries. He needs therapy If he doesn’t see her behaviour is disgusting.’
Some suggested that the mother-in-law’s drastic change could signal a neurological issue or dementia, while others saw the husband’s reluctance to confront the problem as a potential marker of abuse in childhood.
Either way, professional help will be required to unpick what’s going on and stop it from happening again – and calling it out is the first step towards that.
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