Feel the need to improve the relationship with your mother-in-law? There are some horror stories about the relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law out there. It can be a difficult relationship for a young wife. There’s a movie in which Jane Fonda goes completely nuts trying to stop her son’s wedding to Jennifer Lopez. In one scene she throws them an engagement party, sweetly buys the bride to be a new outfit to wear, and buys it two sizes too small. When she finally gets her (amazing) butt (it’s J-Lo, you know I’m right) into a seer sucker plaid summer dress she goes downstairs to discover it’s a black tie event. Her “monster-in-law” intentionally humiliated her.
My husband loves the old TV series “Everybody Loves Raymond”. Check out these hilarious extreme mother-in-law clips. The mother-in-law sneaks in snide comments about the daughter-in-law’s cooking and cleaning capabilities. She holds no respect for the boundaries of the marriage. Any of it seem vaguely familiar?
There seems to be a tension between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. It has to do with this guy. 😉 He used to be her little boy. But now? He’s your husband. There used to be one family unit that did things a certain way. Now a woman from a different family unit has married the son and they’re learning to merge two ways of living or rather figure out their own way of doing things. Your mother-in-law may not like the way you do certain things. You may not like the way your husband was raised to do some things.
Building the Relationship
The following are tips to diffuse the tension between you and your mother-in-law and improve that difficult relationship by being an amazing daughter-in-law to her. Little disclaimer – I’m only a daughter-in-law, not a mother-in-law yet so in this post you will not find ways to change their behaviors. 😉 Habit 1 of Highly Effective People? Be proactive. You are only in charge of you. Ok, let’s go!
Little Ways to be a Good Daughter-in-Law
- Show her some respect. Respect in this relationship means being kind and helpful and will improve the relationship hands down. Why not throw out a “yes ma’am” to show her some respect and let her feel elevated? Don’t let your pride get in the way of being kind and helpful.
- Ask for advice. I’m NOT talking relationship advice LOL! Make her feel special by asking for homemaking advice. Compliment her cooking and ask her for the recipe. Ask for cooking advice. Ask for cleaning advice. Asking how she does something shows that you’re not trying to completely overturn the way she raised her son to do things.
- Call and check in. This is especially thoughtful if she lives out of town. This shows her that she’s not left behind and forgotten, that you actually thought about her, and that you give a …..that you care a little! 😉 Update her on your and your husband’s schedule but mostly just listen.
- Be her weather radar. This ties in with the last tip. If there’s severe weather in her area, give her a call and tell her you just saw or heard about the weather. You can tell her you wanted to check in if she likes to be cared for. If that would come across as trying to mother or insult her capabilities, just tell her you wanted to get the scoop LOL!
- The same tip works for doctor’s appointments. Know she’s had one? Call to check in on results and just see how she’s feeling. “Let me know if you need anything” can go a long way to build the relationship.
- Give her a pet name. I call my mother-in-law “Madre” which is mother is Spanish (she’s hispanic). My hubs calls my mom “Miss” (she was one of his middle school teachers).
- Send her pictures. This shows connectedness. Remember that she had this baby and raised him for 18ish years and now he’s gone. If you have kids you can somewhat relate. She’s feeling disconnected and would love for you to reconnect her a little bit. Text her pictures of you two together or the grandkids.
- Invite her. This one works better if she lives close by. Bite the bullet and invite her to coffee (everybody loves Starbucks, right? 🙂 ) Invite your in-laws to go out to eat for no special reason. This shows her that you’re willing to include her and foster/improve your relationship. She’s not completely cut out of your life.
- Send her flowers on your husband’s birthday. I mean, she did do quite a bit of work that day LOL! I always tell my mother-in-law thank you for raising a good son. You love him, right? Well she had something to do with that. 😉
- Say thank you. Words of affirmation mean you notice the good things that she does for you. We all know the bad things get noticed in difficult relationships. Let’s improve that relationship with the mother-in-law by noticing the good things just as often and saying thank you for them.
- Brag on her son. Don’t vent about your husband to her. You really shouldn’t be talking crap about your man to anyone anyway, but I know sometimes its hard, especially if your mother-in-law is asking or talking about him first. Speaking complimentary about your honey to his mom is a great way to be not only an amazing wife but a great daughter-in-law. It’ll definitely improve your relationship with her!
- Allow their relationship. Many sons have great relationships with their moms and for some reason that seems to intimidate many wives. Just because he has left his childhood home and family to bind to and make a new family with you doesn’t mean he’s completely lost those relationships. Squash the intimidation to improve the relationship with your mother-in-law…and your man.
The Why Behind the How
It can be hard to love her. I mean, rewatch those Everybody Loves Raymond moments. Everyone knows that the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship can be a challenging one. It’s hard when you take two different women with two completely different backgrounds, different ways of doing things, different perspectives…YOU’RE DIFFERENT! LOL! She spent years of her life pouring into this child. Now you are spending the rest of your life living life with him. He’s yours now. But is that really the best perspective?
You both love the same man! If nothing else, this connects you. He is your why behind the how. He is the reason you’re going to be a great daughter-in-law. Next time you interact with her remind yourself that when you do things to be an amazing daughter-in-law not only are you loving your mother-in-law you’re showing love to your husband by being good to his family. Do it for him if nothing else. Now go have a glass of wine! 😉