Did you notice the title didn’t promise you that your mother-in-law would fall in love with you and think you were the best thing since sliced bread? Yea, relationships between women seldom start out as instant hits. But, I thought I was the exception.
I actually thought all I needed to do was to put on the charm and I would completely dazzle her. She entertained my carefree antics as her son’s girlfriend but all that changed once the engagement started.
For her, it was like: I was not her envisioned acceptable mate for her son. I’m a few years older than her son and I have older children from a previous marriage. I was from a different state, different religion and completely different background.
She suddenly had a different opinion about me.
Over the next several years, we took our turns being polite with one another. But, if the visits lasted a little too long, the bad attitudes found their way out. We both tried to behave for the sake of the guys but when you put two alpha females together, fireworks are sure to happen.
After the birth of our son, my hormones were in a total state of chaos. I was either super needy or grumpy. I wanted to be left alone and I begged for help all in the same breath. My hormonal behavior set my mother-in-law into micromanaging overdrive. Ack!
Just when I thought I’d have to ban her from ever visiting again because of our constant disagreements, I had an epiphany. I let her take over. Literally, she was put in charge of all the activities of every visit. I stopped resisting and embraced my mother-in-law.
My attitude improved towards my husband’s mother and grandmother to my child. I settled down and made a conscious decision to get along with my mother-in-law. All this time, I accused her of creating our rocky relationship, when I should have shouldered some of that blame myself.
I started using the old you can catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar method. It worked and here’s why. I’ve made a list of Do’s and Don’ts to get along with your mother-in-law.
First, I’m going to list 5 don’ts because, let’s face it, we’ve got to identify our own short comings too.
1. Don’t constantly interrupt
This means, when she is talking, let her finish what she has to say. Allow her to complete her thought. Even if you aren’t in agreement with whatever she’s saying, cutting her or anyone off in mid-sentence just isn’t nice. You’ll get your turn to speak and she’ll be more apt to listen to you too.
2. Don’t try to dominate her
It really isn’t a competition. So, unless y’all are in a pie eating contest together, showing her who’s boss will only make you look like a brat. In the animal world, it’s necessary, but in real life, it’s kind of a waste of energy to act silly like that.
3. Don’t undermine her
Trying to prove your mother-in-law right or wrong in anything she does or doesn’t do, means you’re being vindictive. Is this the message you want your family to receive from you, to get revenge against someone who has a different opinion?
4. Don’t character attack
Passing judgement on her personality leaves you open for a dose of the same. We would get upset if she constantly picked on us. It’s the same for mother-in-law, they’re just as qwerky as we are. We are all a little bit weird in our own little way.
5. Don’t be rude
The snide comments need to stop. The under-your-breath venom hurts. Brow beating and holier-than-thou, pompous attitudes should come to an end. This woman is your husband’s mother and deserves to be treated with kindness.
Now, here are 5 do’s that will help you get along with your mother-in-law. And most anyone else.
1. Show a genuine interest
Practice being a good listener. When she’s talking to you, show that you are listening with positive body language. Turn towards her and make eye contact so she knows you are hearing what she’s saying. Chances are that you’ll learn some valuable life lessons.
2. Be patient
Even if you have to hear her tell the same story ten times. Show her some grace and just roll with it, act like it’s the very first time you’re hearing the story. She could put a different spin on it each time she tells it. Besides, what if you start repeating yourself, you’d like the same forgiveness.
3. Be considerate
Reminding her son of important dates like Mother’s Day or her birthday is a testament to your character and compassion. You reap what you sow kind of thing. Some day, you could be in her shoes and want all the good vibes to come back to ya. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.
4. Respect her opinions
Ok, this might be the toughest one. She has a right to her’s just as you have a right to your’s. Please remember you don’t have to agree with someone to love or respect them. That’s what families are, one big melting pot of personalities and opinions. Let her be herself.
5. Compliment her
This should be the easiest of all the suggestions. Find something, anything, that you can say a compliment about to her and do it. Tell her nice things as often as you can. Does she have some new cute shoes or a new hairstyle or a yummy recipe? Just tell her out loud something nice.
I use every one of those tips to keep a great relationship with my mother-in-law. Sometimes we have a personality clash but I work through it on my end. Because, I ultimately have control over how I react and should worry about my behavior first.
I’m not the perfect daughter-in-law. It’s only by me deciding how to conduct myself that there is a peace now in our relationship. Instead of cringing at the thought of my mother-in-law visiting, I look forward to spending time with her.