Some of us are blessed with mothers-in-law that treat us like the daughter they never had. Some women are closer to their husband’s mother than with their own. And some of us are not so lucky.
The Mother In Law
This is most often the case when your husband has no sisters. There’s a lot that a woman misses without having a daughter. Some of those things are blessedly absent, like dealing with first dates, body image issues, and a host of other difficult-to-manage scenarios. But, not having a daughter sometimes creates a lack of sympathy for the fact that you are now battling the other woman in your husband’s life: his mother. Never having a daughter means that you don’t see both sides of the coin. It means that you may not be comfortable forging a new and uncharted relationship with a woman of a similar interest: your son. And ya know what? Some MILs have daughters and are just difficult anyway.
In my own experience, it’s best to smile and nod at all times. When your mother-in-law says something biting in order to goad you, express disapproval, or make her opinion known, the best course of action is to pretend you didn’t notice. And trust me, it’s more annoying to her when nothing fazes you.
Most importantly, never mention it to your husband. If he’s smart enough, he knows what she’s doing, but he’s also probably smart enough not to say anything that might fuel bad feelings. He’s probably pretending he doesn’t notice, and that’s exactly what you should do, too.
Here are a few key tips we like from Women’s Digest, featuring B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.
1. An open-door policy can be a bad idea. Your instinct to avoid conflict might be to say, “Come over anytime, you’re always welcome,” this could lead to more conflict. If for some reason, that one moment they choose to “pop in” isn’t a good time, you’ve invited a potential conflict and now you’ve gone back on a promise. This potential situation can cause inconvenience for all of you.
2. Stay away from politics. This rule even applies to close family. Nothing divides people like politics because they are insights into your own values, ideas of morality, and ethics. Disagreeing on key issues can feel very personal. Avoid it whenever possible. If your in laws begin a conversation around politics, politely change the subject.
3. Politeness goes a long way. When an unwanted opinion is solicited, smile and say “Thank you for your advice. We’ll consider that.” Or simply, “That sounds reasonable, but we’ve decided to go with our pediatrician’s advice.”
4. Try to find some neutral common ground. Dogs, shopping, Breaking Bad. ANYTHING that might pass for polite conversation, even when it feels a little artificial.
Good luck! And remember, she did something right by raising that strapping boy you married.
Do you have trouble dealing with your mother in law?