They can be critical, stifling, or just plain annoying but life-threatening? This is a whole new level of contentious in-law stereotyping we're not prepared for.
In a letter posted to The Cut's Ask Polly column, a married woman shares her in-law nightmare that could easily be mistaken for a "pitch for a dark comedy on premium cable" and sadly, that's not an exaggeration.
The woman dubbed Disrespected Daughter-in-Law says that she suffers from a deadly allergy to mushrooms, one that makes carrying an EpiPen necessary, and yet has lived in constant fear of death whenever over at her in-laws'.
Deadly mushroom powder
"My husband politely explained this to his parents when we started dating... Since then, most meals we have shared at my in-laws' house have had very limited options for me," she writes.
"Somehow, they manage to find a way to add mushrooms to almost everything. One time, they made a point to make a special plate of mushrooms and pass it around. My mother-in-law said, very rudely, "I would've liked to add mushrooms directly to the salad, but somebody has problems with it!"
Disrespected Daughter-in-Law says that despite full knowledge of her allergy, her in-laws have chosen to disregard the health risk as a mere distaste for the food - one that the family hardly ever served before she joined the family!
"What's worse is my husband told me that mushrooms were not a common dish served by his parents before he started dating me," DDIL explained, adding that the family now even started adding mushroom powder to mashed potatoes.
The issue has caused such a rift that the woman says all ties have now been cut, and it's left her feeling guilty.
"This has caused a huge wedge between my husband's family and us. We no longer spend holidays with them and rarely speak. They don't get to see their grandkids, even though they live very close by... at times I feel terrible that I am the cause of this rift, and I just want a happy family."
Thank God for Polly
Sometimes all we need is an outside voice to confirm just how intense our circumstances really are, and instead of feeling guilty for some seriously misplaced blame, Polly advised the poor woman to "stay the f*#k away," attend a few sessions of therapy and award her relatives by marriage the "Worst In-Laws Anywhere, Ever award."
"I don't think I've ever felt more shocked by the awfulness of anyone... They are the worst, the absolute worst. Send a doctor's letter and tell your husband to write down his feelings in a letter to them, if it will bring you both closure. But after that, put them behind you and don't look back."
Feeling better about your own in-laws now?
Do your in-laws deserve the "Worst [or best] In-Laws Anywhere, Ever award"? Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.