• Doc Dave

Oh No...It's the Mother-in-law

When you get married you are instantly propelled into a relationship that can sometimes be wonderful, but for many brides is horrible. What is it? It’s the mother-in-law relationship. Over and over people don’t seem to understand why this relationship can be one of the most difficult relationships you will have in your married life. Like many things in life the better informed you are the better you can handle things. There are things you need to know about a mother-in-law.

  1. He was hers first

She raised that guy you’re marrying. She changed his diapers…kissed his booboos…cleaned up his puke at night when he was sick. What have you done for him? She has done it all and you are often seen as an interloper. You may even be seen as not having earned what her son is giving you. So when you treat him poorly in her eyes, she is not going to be happy with you. She will question what he sees in you and even ask him this directly. He stupidly tells you and then it’s game on. This is where many mother-in-law relationships start poorly.

  1. She had dreams

When she was holding your guy in her arms she had hopes and dreams for him. Even though he is grown up and out of the house she still wants the best for him. She may believe right now that you aren’t the best for him. So she is struggling with how to let him be a grown man while also wanting him to possibly make different choices in his life. It’s not a personal vendetta against you. It could be any woman that he chooses to involve in his life.

  1. Fear

She was the one from the beginning that he would listen to. Now he is listening to you. There is a possible a loss of connection which can be fearful to a mother. She doesn’t know who you are or where you will move to. Will she get to have grandkids? Will they live near her? Will she always be in competition with the other grandparents? These are some fears that race through her mind among others. Being able to control things in her favor is something she might do which causes obvious problems.

Perhaps you like numerous others want a great relationship with your Mother-in-law. It’s not that hard to do. It may take a bit of work and also some self-reflection on what things matter to you in life. Here are some ideas on how to make it work.

  1. Limit Info

A strained relationship with in-laws is often created when too much information is shared about your relationship. This could be because of you or your spouse. When your MIL knows how much you make, spend or what you constantly fight over this probably means you are sharing too much information with them. The less they know the less they have to throw in your face. The more they know the more they will stay involved in your business. I have not run across any couple that really values the in-laws knowing everything about them and their relationship.

  1. Be respectful

Hopefully your parents taught you at a young age to be respectful. They also hopefully taught you the importance of being really respectful to potential in-laws. Now here is a small hint. They don’t need to be respectful for you to be respectful back. I often hear a dumb phrase “I only respect people who respect me.” People that believe this tend to have poor relationships in general. My STRONG suggestion to you is that you be respectful to your in-laws for two reasons. Firstly, you spouse will love you for it and secondly, it’s the right thing to do.

  1. Bite your tongue

There are going to be times in your relationship with your in-laws that you will feel justified to say something that makes perfect sense about an issue. You may even want to say “I told you so.” Let me strongly suggest you build up the scar tissue on your tongue by biting it. Your goal in your relationship with your husband is to do things to strengthen that relationship. Sometimes that may mean just being quiet even when everything inside of you wants to scream out. Obviously this doesn’t apply to dangerous and inappropriate behavior you don’t agree with. It does apply to interior design choices, politics or best way to camp.

What you will find that these issues your mother-in-law has with you isn’t really about you. It is more about the transition of relationship with her son from her to you. As difficult as it is for you, remember it can be just as difficult for her.

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