The strife with your mother-in-law can be as good as a cold-war or a real sword-laid battle. Not that you don’t have an amiable relation, but across the cultures the rift with mother-in-law is too familiar to be hilarious. But there are also the undercurrents of respect, subtle admiration and growing affections in your relationship with her. However, you will be confronted not on one, but several occasions, and here’s what you might want to do about it:
I. What You Need To Understand About Her:
1. Your Mom-in-Law Is Insecure:
Women don’t like to see ‘another woman’ in their man’s life. In this case, a mother doesn’t like to see a woman other than the God-figure that she is in her son’s life. While she has given him birth, reared him and made the man that he is, you are an invariable better-half of him. She finds it difficult to deal with this reality. She will worry whether she will become unimportant in his life.
2. You May Not Like Her Lifestyle And Ideologies:
So you both have different backgrounds, different roots, different upbringing, and perhaps different cultures too. It might be hard for each of you to come terms with each other’s attitudes and ideologies. You may also not like each other’s methodologies right from handling a pin to major tasks at home. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will change her. She won’t because she has spent 50 or 60 plus years of her life that way already.
3. Your Mom-in-Law Might Have Intense Emotions:
Remember, she is a middle-aged woman – gone through much in life, has had loads of experience, plus there is the menopause factor. The hormonal changes can make her intense, emotional, erratic and at times depressed.
4. Imaginary Complexes:
Your mom-in-law might want to prove her superiority over you. It’s likely that she believes that she had a great past, she might be proud of herself and her achievements, and as a result, she is highly self-conceited. The flip-side could be that she holds you in a great regard and suffers from an inferiority complex. The ego-clashes that arise from these temperaments lead to dozens of behavioral problems.
5. Your Mom-In-Law Is Possessive:
There is a likelihood that she is possessive not only of her son but also of her assets. You being in her son’s life entails that your he shares with you just about everything in the household.
6. Your Mom-In-Law Is Critical About Everything:
It is especially true about mothers-in-law who are highly disciplined and expect discipline of their daughters-in-law. She might expect you to be impeccable and immaculate on just about everything. Even if you turn out to be one, it’s likely she will not recognize that. She believes that her ways are the best.
7. She Still Sees The Little Boy In Her Son:
She can’t get over the image of the little boy she has carried of her son all her life. She still believes that she is the boss of the household and her ‘naive’ son needs to be safeguarded on just about any issue.
8. She Could Be Suspicious:
She might be prying over your affairs. You can’t rule out that she is suspicious. But it’s natural for a woman to harbor negative thoughts around someone whom she hasn’t known.
9. She Can’t Deal With The Fact That She Is Not Young Anymore:
She might be missing her youthful days, days when she was young and beautiful, and certainly more energetic. Somehow it could get her envious.
10. She Comes To Think That She Is The Only Perfect Mother And Wife:
Again – don’t forget her hormonal changes as she is aging. It’s likely for women to undergo intense emotions, boastfulness and the fear of losing authority.
II. How You Could Deal With Your Mom-in-Law:
1. Listen But Don’t Take Her Words To Your Heart:
Being a good listener is a sign of patience and compassion. Listen to whatever she says – good or bad, praise or criticism, opinions or just random blabber. You might not agree with her, but you don’t have to criticize her either.
2. Consider Her Interests When You Express An Opinion:
If you are asked for an opinion, speak your mind, but also consider what she has to say. Ask for her ‘piece of advice’ as well. You might not like her opinions, but she will feel important that way. And you don’t necessarily have to adopt her advice if it doesn’t seem to work for you.
3. Keep Emotions At Bay:
You may not love her as you love your mother. But you shouldn’t dislike her either. Don’t let your emotions betray you when she has dealt with you in a way unimaginable – may be she backstabbed you or may be she humiliated you. But staying detached is one way to deal with such a situation.
4. Don’t Be Too Much In Her Vicinity:
In few cultures, mothers-in-law live with their sons and daughters-in-law. In a setting like this, it might be hard to stay away from your mom-in-law. But it shouldn’t make it difficult to avoid an argument or scuffle. Make sure you are busy with your tasks, you don’t spend too much time around her, and you carry out with your office load or domestic chores while being polite and nice, and yet you have drawn a fine barrier that either of you doesn’t encroach upon.
5. Avoid Situations That Will Have Both Of You Blurt Out Things You Don’t Like:
Identify the triggers that make you go red with rage. Register the topics, the words, the incidents or the subjects that she could go on about, and that can get you mad at her. Ignoring will help you get over such situations. Likewise, identify what you blurt out that can hurt her or her ego and avoid talking on such lines.
6. You Don’t Have To Use Sugar-Coated Words:
At the same time, you don’t have to acerbic. Just get the point straight. It’s likely that sweet words have not gone into her head – perhaps she never realized what you meant by it, and she has gotten on you again. Being harsh, on the other hand, will also turn the emotional temperatures on. Either explain to her while you don’t lose your cool or simply pretend that you have to go to do better things.
7. Maker Her Feel Important:
Address her and involve her in important events at home. Reserve ‘Mom’s Day Out’ with her. Or reserve a date to have dinner together as a family while she takes the seat as the ‘family-head’. Send her greeting cards. Surprise her with presents. Deliver a dessert of her favorite savory at her place. Dedicate a song to her. Raise a toast to her. But don’t overdo it in a way that makes it all seem too pretentious!
8. Be Transparent With Her:
If there are issues that are common to her and your husband, or issues that are directly pertinent to her, choose to discuss them at one time and a common meet with her and your husband. Never say a thing without the knowledge of each other to either of them.
9. Win Your Spouse’s Confidence:
It’s important that your spouse is on your side. It doesn’t mean that he must not be supportive of his mother. But don’t allow yourself falling prey to ill-effects or negative influences due to blind faith in her. It’s important that you behave well with your mother-in-law, but should there be any issues, you first discuss them with your spouse rather than retaliating with her directly. Tell your spouse that you have great regard for his mother, but there are certain issues which he should try to resolve with her.
10. Draw Your Boundaries:
It’s important to let her know what her limits are. Don’t entertain unannounced visits. Make it clear to her, “Had you phoned us, we could have planned a fine time for us at home. But for now, we are on a night-out.’ Let her know what her limitations are if she is staying over. Make sure that she doesn’t encroach upon your privacy or your personal documents or belongings especially if they are official.
11. Enforce And Recall The Hints:
If she fails at getting the cues, tell her that you had tried to send her the message of what was expected of her. But she failed to get the hint, so you have to be blatant in what you want her to know. Also, ensure that your husband is around, you have discussed the situation with him, and have him tell her so.
12. Prioritize Your Marriage Over Childhood And Parentage:
As a couple, it’s important that you keep your marriage in place. It’s alright to cherish once childhood, the growing up days under the shadow of parents, but as a married couple, it’s also important to brush aside teeny-weeny issues that can impair your marriage.
13. Make A Conducive Environment For Children:
If you have children, it is of utmost importance that you create a healthy environment at home to make it conducive while they are growing. Avoid any tiffs at home. Give your mother-in-law her ‘granny’ time with your children. That way she will be involved with them and be less interfering in your affairs. Moreover, your children will find a wonderful comrade in her as she will narrate to her stories – some from her life and some of the fairies!
Dealing with a mom-in-law might be hard, but it is not impossible. By applying little wisdom that we all are blessed with, you can even out any differences between you two.