Conflict between wife and mother getting out of hand
This is my first post here, but I'm afraid I have to introduce myself with a heavy topic... I've read many related posts on this forum about wife-mother conflicts, but still could really use some advice for my own situation.
My wife and I have been married for 4 years, and during that time she and my mother have never really gotten along. But recently it's gotten worse, as family visits are constantly tense and quickly reach the point where everything one person says is interpreted as an insult by the other. Until now my wife and I have gotten along very well, but this is starting to affect our marriage. We also now have a one-year-old child with a second on the way, so that makes me even more worried about how this will turn out.
My wife's biggest compliant is that my mother is constantly talking. She comes from a culture where people wear their emotions on their sleeves, while my wife is from Asia and more reserved. On top of that, my mother has a habit of offering opinions on whatever my wife does. In her view it's friendly advice, but my wife feels like she is frequently being criticized/nagged. Before long she snaps and says something that my mother considers rude.
On my parent's side, part of their problem with my wife is that they don't completely trust her. When my wife talks about her family and culture, it often contradicts my parents' (largely inaccurate) stereotypes. The biggest issue was that for a long time my wife's parents were mad that she was dating me (a non-Asian), but my parents couldn't understand or fully believe this. To make things worse, my mother talked to an Asian co-worker (from a different country) who said my wife was not being honest. In the end my wife was proven right, but still she can't seem to get the benefit of the doubt.
The other part of the problem is that recently my parents have become very sensitive to any criticism. When I explain that my wife is upset about something, they react as if I'm attacking them. I'm starting to think that deep down they're scared about possibly losing access to their grandchildren.
During the last visit, my wife and mother had another fight, and afterward my parents called me to a meeting to explain why they're upset. I tried to defend my wife and told my parents they must stop criticizing her. Yet, my wife is furious because she feels they were complaining to me behind her back.
Now my wife and I disagree on how to proceed. I really want to find a way for everyone to tolerate each other, for my children's sake. My proposal is that wife treat my mother politely, and otherwise avoid interaction as much as possible. But my wife feels I'm asking her to act submissive. Instead, she wants me to confront my mother and tell her to stop nagging. She also said that unless my mother changes (which seems unlikely to me), then it will be too stressful for her to have my parents around after the new baby is born. I really want to support my wife, but I'm also worried about where this approach might lead. At the same time, she feels that I'm spending too much time trying to manage both sides, and should instead just support her.
By the way, in our case keeping visits short isn't an option; we currently live overseas so it's not feasible for my parents to come for just a few days.