“I am not perfect. Let’s both assume that the other is doing the best she can.”
Weddings are usually such happy occasions, full of love and hope for the future of the bride and groom. As wonderful as it can be, it can also mean mother-in-law problems. Something happens the moment a bride says, “I accept him.” Not only does she get a husband, but in most cases, a mother-in-law as well.
But far too many women describe this relationship as fragile, tense, and even competitive.
It’s no secret that in-laws are the subject of many marital arguments. The rivalry between wives and their mothers-in-law is a major source of tension in many marriages. You may find it interesting that many new brides get along very well with their husband’s parents at first; it isn’t until later—sometimes years later—that friction develops.
Time-after-time, daughters-in-law say things like, “My husband’s parents welcomed me into their family immediately and treated me as their own daughter.” Likewise, “My own in-laws showered me with gifts and included me in everything”. It’s not uncommon for young women to be very fond of their husband’s family, and vice versa… in the beginning.
Later on down the marriage, dealing with in-laws can be an overwhelming challenge—whether you are dealing with an overbearing mother-in-law who believes her opinions are superior to yours—or someone who tries to make you feel guilty whenever your needs conflict with hers. It may be tempting to gossip, hold silent grudges, or cut off all communication with troublesome in-laws – but that often just adds to the problem.
Mother-in-law problems can be one of the biggest issues in an engaged or married couple’s life. In some cases, they’re really more like out-laws. Some mother-in-laws have a way of letting everyone know their displeasure with the new family member over issues big and small – and yet seem to forget their own son or daughter can think or speak for themselves, and in most cases, should.
Why is it that the mother-in-law relationship can be so difficult? When you think about it, it really shouldn’t be. You have so many meaningful things in common: love for the same person, wanting what’s best for that person, and for them to be happy. For some though, it’s these same things that make for fast adversaries.
Some mother-in-law problems arise out of a competition for the attention of the adult child. Because they are now spending all of their time with their new spouse, there may not seem to be room enough for mum, which can be seen as not loving them as much anymore. When they visit mum, of course your spouse is going to take you with them – you’re now a package deal. Mother-in-law’s can be very resentful of having to share time and space with someone else.
Who would know what’s best for their kids better than a mother? As adults, however, we know what’s best for ourselves, not our mum. Some mothers, however, feel that they should reign supreme over our lives – even when we’re 45-years-old. It can be a hard habit for parents to break and some never feel compelled to stop parenting, even adult children. What makes that more difficult is that some of us don’t know how to let our mothers know that we are now adults who think for ourselves.
No one wants or needs their mother-in-law (or future one) telling them what’s best for their partner or worse, guilt-tripping them because of some imaginary slight or that they don’t measure up to her expectations. Big or small, whatever the issue may be, if she can’t refrain from commenting or speaking out inappropriately, it’s up to our spouse to talk to her. This can be difficult for our partners since for some it can seem unthinkable to speak out “against” their mother and be independent.
Advice for mother-in-laws:
- Pray for your daughter in law, rather than prey on her. Hope and pray that the marriage of your son will be successful. Don’t sit in the background and hope for your daughter-in-law to fail. Ask Allah to show you how to love your daughter-in-law as your own daughter.
- Try to be understanding more than criticising. Ask questions to understand. Don’t tell your daughter-in-law how things should be. Don’t expect your son to do what you want him to do anymore. Expect and encourage him to consult with his wife. Rather than question or criticize your daughter-in-law, speak to her and reason with her.
- Compliment your daughter-in-law; never complain about her. Honour your daughter-in-law in the presence of your son. Compliment your daughter-in-law; never complain. Make an effort to applaud, praise, and thank your daughter-in-law. Tell her how much you appreciate her positive influence on your son and why you think she’s a good mother. Your daughter-in-law may be different from you. Accept her for who she is. Realise that your daughter-in-law wasn’t raised the same way you raised your son and maybe doesn’t have the same standards you have. Perhaps she is from a different family or caste or race…Try to understand her mind set and the way her family operated. Do not try to change her into who you would like her to be.
- Act like a family, fight like a family, not an enemy. Encourage your son to build, develop, and define his marriage role. Don’t fight for position by grasping and grabbing for your son’s time and emotions. Good mums want their kids to have good marriages. If you are a family, act like one. Families fight, they discuss their issues and that’s how they get resolved. This can be done lovingly and constructively, not destructively! It doesn’t have to be a he said/she said/you said situation. Tiptoeing around the problems and acting like they don’t exist doesn’t help anyone, it only hurts everyone in the long run. Ask your daughter-in-law to let you know if/when you offend her. Remember that Shaytan wants to destroy your relationship.
- Your son isn’t perfect, not before marriage and certainly not after. Remember that your son has always had faults. Your child was not perfect before she married him. You love your son, so does your daughter-in-law. Every change that you see in your son is not her doing. Every change that you see in your son is not her doing.
A good mother-in-law doesn’t make the wife feel like she doesn’t measure up, or give the impression that she wishes her son would have made a ‘better’ choice. A good mother-in-law encourages, accepts, and loves unconditionally. Allow your daughter-in-law to disagree and know that it isn’t something personal. Don’t be offended if a daughter-in-law does not share your tastes, dreams, and values. Tell her about decisions you faced as a mother of infants, toddlers, teenagers, young adults, etc. Talk about more than superficial things. Get to know her for the person Allah created her to be. Then, come alongside her to mentor, encourage, and build a relationship so that if/when you need to give loving input or direction, it is not taken as meddling. Express your gratitude towards her: “You truly are the wind beneath my son’s sails and I really appreciate and love you. You understand my son far better than I do, and I thank Allah for you.” “I’ve got the best daughter-in-law God could give. I am so blessed.” Finally, offer to take care of the grandkids so your daughter-in-law can have a day to herself.
Okay, mothers-in-law, there’s the list. What are we going to do about it?
The second year of my son’s marriage, he and his wife had Thanksgiving with us. My daughter-in-law made a delicious sweet potato casserole. My mother and I complemented her on it and asked for the recipe. “It’s a family recipe,” my daughter-in-law said. “So I don’t give it out.” —Anonymous mother-in-law
Whoa! I had thought that daughters-in-law were the ones with the in-law stories. Well, apparently mothers-in-law have their share of stories, too.
One mother-in-law wrote something that brought back memories. “That little boy that brought me dandelions and messy hugs,” she said, “is now a grown man with a family of his own. I need to fully release him so he is allowed to change and adapt to his wife and adult life. I don’t want to be a parent who says or does things that grate in the mind of my daughter-in-law. She is the one who knows my son best now.”
Yes, a mom relinquishes her title of “first lady” in her son’s life on his wedding day. Perhaps that’s why some have described the relationship between a mother- and daughter-in-law as fragile or tense. Allah certainly didn’t intend it to be that way.
Advice for daughter-in-laws:
- She is still his mother, she gave birth to him. Even though you are the woman in her son’s life now, be considerate of the fact that she used to be the woman in his life. The most important thing that you can do for your mother-in-law is to love her son unconditionally…You’ve now taken the spot as her son’s biggest
- Respect her for who she is, think of her as your own mother. Don’t try to change your mother -in-law. Accept her eccentricities. Realise that she may do things differently in her home, try to understand her ways. Especially, if you live with them. Bear in mind her age, think of your elderly parents.
- Do not assume things, rather ask and clarify. If I have offended you, I may not know this. You have the freedom to say to me, nicely, ‘Remember when you said ______. Did you mean _____?’ I am not perfect. Let’s both assume that the other is doing the best she can. Don’t judge, there are two sides to any story.
- Remember, you are family and not foes! Ring your mother-in-law off your phone not your son’s phone. Take her out, just the two of you. Go shopping! Discover what you have in common. Keep your in-laws informed of their grandchildren, don’t deprive them.
- Express gratitude, not a bad attitude! Post on your Facebook page: ‘I am thankful for my mother-in-law! I am so grateful for our great relationship. It is so important! And ever since I got married our relationship has become so natural and I love spending time with her!’ Please take time to express your appreciation for a gift by writing a note or calling just to say, ‘Thanks!’ If she or any of your in-laws visit you welcome them in with a smile, prepare something special for them. Show your happiness, don’t block yourself from them.
Some mothers- and daughters-in-law form close friendships very quickly. For others, this may take years. But most mothers- and daughters-in-law do want to connect with each other. They want to find common ground. They want to know each other as individual women with feelings, beliefs, and ideas. Do not fight your mother-in-law over your husband and same to the mother-in-law over your son. If the daughter-in-law cooks something or buys something for her husband, please do not compete with her for praises.