A homeowner’s response to their mother-in-law repeatedly asking for a key to her son’s marital home has been backed online.

In a post that racked up over 15,600 upvotes, Reddit user Throwwwwyr546 explained they recently bought a new home with their husband.

They wrote: “His mom started pestering us for a copy of the key in case of an emergency. I told her about the rule we have and that is ‘only residents get to have a copy of the key.’ She kept complaining and even got the family involved.”

Demanding mother in law
A stock image of a mother-in-law arguing with a woman and a file pic of exchanging keys. A spouse has been praised for refusing to give mother-in-law a copy of their house key.
TatyanaGl / Jose Manuel Perez/Getty

Newsweek reached out to Naheed Taj, the head of family law at a London-based law firm Lawrence Stephens.

“Marriage is a balancing act at the best of times but even more so when there might be a third wheel attached in the frame of a dominant family member, such as the mother–in–law who has always had significant control over their children’s lives. Unfortunately, where the control extends into a child’s life post-marriage this will impact their spouse,” Taj told Newsweek.

She added: “Over the years I have seen many cases where the mother-in-law has significant control over the family and acts as a gatekeeper for the significant decisions made by the family. Or where the in-laws have provided significant financial control to the couple during the marriage and then seek to intervene in the divorce proceedings to recover their money.

“Boundaries from the outset are important to manage the expectations of everyone involved.”

In this case, the spouse attempted to set boundaries but the mother-in-law “demanded” a copy of the key.

The Redditor wrote: “I decided to grab the copy of the key to HER HOUSE that my husband was keeping for years and sent it to her with a note saying ‘only residents get a copy so this copy is for the home YOU reside in.’

“She was beyond livid about it. She told the family and I was called names. Now hubby is complaining about how I escalated and made a mistake by upsetting her further instead of just sticking to ‘no.'”

A January 2022 study published in the Evolutionary Psychological Science journal found that both men and women in the U.S. “reported more conflict with mothers-in-law than with mothers, and mothers reported more conflict with their daughters-in-law than with their daughters.”

Over 2,500 people have commented on the post since it was shared on January 19. Some of them have shared their experiences and stated their mother-in-law violated their right to have a key by using it for non-emergencies.

One user said: “My justnoMiL used her ’emergency’ key to drop off nearly rotten strawberries because ‘they were going to go bad!”

Another comment racked up 18,800 upvotes, it said: “When I read the title I thought you were going to pretend it was the correct key, and see how long it would take for her to try it. Absolutely SHE is the AH [a******] for pestering you about this when it is clearly your choice. But yeah, your husband has a point about you stirring the pot.”

“NTA but I think the stunt made the situation worse. She seems exhausting but I’m more concerned about why your husband isn’t stepping in and telling her to stop asking,” said another.

If you have a family dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

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