There are very few relationships more delicate than those between in-laws.
It’s an all too frequent occurrence for people to find themselves striving for the approval of their newly extended family.
Redditor daniiep had an unfortunately tense relationship with her mother-in-law, with one unusually unpleasant visit leading to her behave in an intentionally undignified manner.
But concerned she may have gone too far, the original poster, (OP) took to the subreddit “Am I The A**hole?” (AITA), asking fellow Redditors:
“AITA for being obnoxious when my mother-in-law (MIL) showed me pictures of my husband’s exes? Pretending we were playing ‘Smash or Pass’?”
The OP shared with readers how her mother-in-law took their fairly acrimonious relationship to a whole new level over the holidays.
“My MIL doesn’t like me much, I don’t think.”
“I was visiting her for the holidays and she was showing me a photo book of pictures of my husband.”
“I feel like she doesn’t care for me and purposely looks for things to make me insecure.”
“She showed me a page with a couple pictures of my husband and other girls.”
“All very coupley photos, a prom photo, a picture of him kissing a lady, and a picture of him on a boat with a different lady in his lap.”
“And she made a comment saying that his first girlfriend was so pretty and also a Christian.”
Under the impression that her mother-in-law was intentionally trying to ruffle her feathers, the OP saw it as an ideal opportunity to have a little fun of her own at her mother-in-law’s expense.
“As a joke, I said ‘smash’ pointing at one of the pictures.”
“Then at another ‘pass’ and at another ‘smash’.
“And she was like ‘what?'”
“And I was like ‘wait what was the game? Smash or pass?'”
“And she again goes ‘what’ all confused.”
“I said ‘oh were we not playing smash or pass?'”
“She asks what that is, and I said ‘Oh, it’s a game where you decide if people are hot!'”
“‘Like if you think they’re hot enough you’d sleep with them, you say ‘smash’ and otherwise you say ‘pass’.”
“‘I figured that’s what you were going for talking about how hot this chick is!'”
“She said that she didn’t understand, and I was like ‘come on, it’s fun!'”
As the OP no doubt predicted, her mother-in-law did not take particularly kindly to her antics.
“She said that it was really inappropriate of me, and I said it was just a bit of fun.”
“She got frustrated and asked if I was serious. I said ‘Oh not literally, like I’m not trying to actually sleep with anyone!'”
“‘I thought we were just talking about who’s hottest!'”
“She said that was really wrong of me and I said that I thought she was trying to gossip about which of his exes were hot and which are not, from what she said.”
“She slammed the photo book shut and called me childish.”
“Which is fair, like I’d kinda stolen the joke from a TikTok after all…”
“AITA for being obnoxious about my MIL showing me pictures of his exes?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
The Reddit community wholeheartedly took the side of the OP, in no way feeling her behavior made her the a**hole.
Many felt that the OP’s mother-in-law got what was coming to her, as she was clearly trying to provoke her.
“NTA – What a fantastic way to take the wind right out of her sails and wind her up, instead of letting her get to you.”
“Let’s be honest, she was ONLY doing this to be an absolute AH and try to make you feel like you weren’t good enough for her son.”
“LOL, seems like a super awesome response to passive aggressive behavior.”
“NTA – she tried to make you jealous and humiliate you and you turned it back on her.”
“NTA – this is actually a fantastic approach.”
“Either MIL is forced to admit to what she’s actually doing, has to come up with a BS excuse on the fly that a blind bat will be able to look through, or has to go along with you.”
“Win-win all the way for you!”- rishcast
“Petty and funny.”
“Especially for the ‘and she’s also a Christian’ comment.”
“And a much better response then just cussing her out for passively saying they were better.”-CostlessJet
“You handled her passive-aggressive BS with humor and grace, well done!”
“I’m sure you wanted to clock her— I would have.”
“But instead you played it off.”
“She feigned confusion…come on, lady!”
“She was just pissed that you didn’t take the bait.”-Usual-Ad4134.
“And a hilarious comeback to her trying to compare you to the exes.”
“If she wasn’t trying to compare she would have glossed over the photos, not pointed them out and commented on them.”
“I would think she’s trying to make you jealous and it didn’t work.”
“She was trying to be a witch and make you feel insecure and jealous over your boy friends exes.”
“What a petty and gross person.”
“Honestly what you did was pretty funny, she’s just mad that you wouldn’t play her game.”-gabbydearest91.
“That was hilarious.”-treebanshee.
“MIL is mad that you had the upper hand.”-roastedchesnut.
“NTA – MIL was trying to get under your skin.”
“Way to flip the script!”-TammyinOh.
“NTA and well done for handling that mean minded woman so well.”
“She got what she deserved.”
“She tried to undermine you.”
“Then acted all hurt when you turned the tables and her ploy didn’t work.”
“She will probably try it on again with bells on, so be ready.”-Psychological-Job254.
“You know that was hilarious and your’e NTA.”
“You just wanted to share your funny story.”
“And we appreciate it.”-emera_leigh.
“That sounded childish but also rather clever in response to her.”-Adorable-Biscotti394.
“I think that’s the best possible way to deal with someone who is trying to weaponize your husband’s romantic past against you.”
“But for the bot I’m going with NTA because I detest passive aggressive people like your MIL.”-columbospeugeot.
“She wanted to play games so guess what, your name is Xbox Game Pass now.”- vixxgod666.
“NTA – that was awesome.”
“You totally spun her.”- the_one_demiurge.
“You’re a legend for how you handled that damn.”-Emotional-Bat_.
“As if showing you a photo album of pictures of your partner’s Exes while remarking on what your MIL considers their better qualities was any less inappropriate and childish than what you did.”-Tough_Stretch.
“At the start of the post my bias was 100% ready to suggest that that was the appropriate way to deal with the situation.”
“Nah, sucks to be her.”
“Uno Reversed it on her.”- reddit_insane_inane.
“This is hilarious and such a good response to your MIL passive aggressively trying to disrespect you.”- pink-yellow-cake.
“When she said ‘what?’ I would have been like ‘we’re obviously playing a game right? You’re not really just going through this book talking about how great all his exes are…come on. That would be super rude of you’ and then laugh like of course you’re playing a game.”
“Call her out on it in a joking way LOL.”-Otherwise_Flamingo44.
“NTA, she’s definitely mad that her manipulation didn’t get to you.”
“Keep doing it, anytime she tries to make you feel insecure, come up with ways to throw it back in her face and make her uncomfortable.”- aquaphorbottle.
Other’s even went so far as to give the OP advice for more ways to irk her mother-in-law.
“NTA – Next time bring a photo album of your exes and go through them with her.”
“‘Oh here’s Mark.'”
“‘You know what was great about him? He didn’t have a mother showing me photos of his exes.’”-lumpthefoff.
A few were also struck by how the OP’s mother-in-law made a point of highlighting her son’s Christian ex-girlfriend, as her behavior didn’t seem particularly Christian.
“I also love how this hateful, mean, nasty woman, doing something hateful, mean, and nasty, tries to talk about how ‘Christian’ means so much to her.”-ThaneOfCawdorrr.
While some shared that they found themselves in similar circumstances as the OP, and applauded the way she handled the situation.
“One of my ex’s mum went through a three hour PowerPoint with me the first time I met her.”
“Every time a photo of my ex’s ex came up… she’d sigh and say ‘oh I just miss her so much’.”
“We promptly broke up but… I can’t IMAGINE that.”
“I’m glad you were able to make a joke out of it.”- Thefakeblonde.
“My mom is like this and if my wife did this I’d be so proud of her.”-Dangerous-Project672.
There were those, however, who did offer a few words of caution that this exchange did have the possibility to also cause tension between the OP and her husband.
“I’d tell your husband about this so you get your account in first, she’s at a high risk of lying to drive a wedge between you.”
“Also it ensures he considers shielding you from her a bit more.”
“It was a childish response but there’s worse things than childish.”
“Children can be cruel but an adult steeped in full awareness of what they’re doing is far worse.”-Tarquinandpaliquin.
One does hope that the OP’s relationship with her mother-in-law doesn’t remain as fraught as it currently is.
But, it’s also safe to assume that following this particular encounter, the OP’s mother-in-law will likely think twice about intentionally trying to get under her skin.