My husband recently took over the family business, for which my mother-in-law takes care of the books. But now that she knows all about our finances, she thinks she can tell us how to spend our money. I'm fed up. Help!
Criticism by a mother-in-law cuts deep. And in your situation, when she has "inside information," the cut is even more likely to burn. However, you have a few options to curtail the unwelcome critique of your financial decisions.
First, because this is a new working dynamic, your husband might still have a window of opportunity to find a new position for your mother-in-law that removes her from the bookkeeping without hurting her feelings. Take your mother-in-law's personality and abilities into consideration when determining whether she would respond well to a job change.
If such a move would create a larger problem than the one you currently deal with, the second option is to set clear boundaries. When your mother-in-law offers her opinion about a financial decision you've made, speak up. Be polite but assertive. Don't feel obligated to explain or apologize for your choices; simply say something non-defensive like, "You think so, huh?" Even better is to deflate her critique completely by agreeing with her. Say something like, "You're probably right. Thanks for the input." You may cringe at this, but it works. Soon she'll back off.
Another option is to create a diversion by asking her questions: How was money handled in her home as a child? How about in her early marriage? Explore how and why she handles money the way she does. You have to do this with a genuine heart, however, and only to understand her, not to argue a point. The bottom line is, you have to do something before you get even more fed up and say something you regret.1