Girl’s Guide to Dealing with Difficult Mother-in-Law
A man’s mother will always have a special place in his heart, but his wife always takes the first chair. With that premise in mind, it’s easier to deal with the emotional stress that comes when dealing with difficult in-laws, especially vindictive and controlling mother-in-laws. For couples who are in a healthy marriage, a difficult in-law shouldn’t pose any real threat. The best way to deal with the situation is to establish clear and healthy boundaries from the very beginning. A man can get the ball rolling by communicating effectively with his mother and girlfriend even during the dating process.
- Bringing a girl home to mum
The first step to preventing future problems with in-laws is to get off on the right foot while dating. A man should never take a girl home to meet his parents with the intention of letting his parents decide if the girl is good enough for him or the family. If a man doesn’t know what he wants or who is right for him, he already has his answer without needing to check with mum or dad. Instead of seeking his mum’s approval, a man should seek out the approval of his prospective in-laws. Asking a father for permission to marry his daughter is a tradition based on the idea that it’s a privilege to marry a woman for love. If a man asks a woman to meet his mum on the first few dates, she should say that she already has other plans. He should get the message that the woman isn’t interested in trying out for a role in family.
- Preventing conflicts with in-laws
It’s always easier to prevent problems with the in-laws as opposed to trying to fix it after the fact. A woman can prevent problems with her mother-in-law by maintaining her personal boundaries of privacy. A lot of in-laws in today’s society fall under the category of the baby boomer generation. Baby boomers tend to be more open about their personal lives. Generation X, Y and Z people didn’t grow up during the hippie era. A lot of younger people don’t treat their work colleagues and in-laws as therapists. Confiding in a mother-in-law isn’t wise as it’s giving her ammunition that could be used against the daughter-in-law if her feathers are ever ruffled. Be friendly, but talk about generic topics instead of religion, politics or sexuality.
- Emasculating the man
Some mums emasculate their sons by taking charge of the family as the matriarch. In today’s society, it’s not the eldest woman in a family who makes decisions but a husband and wife together. Most men will become annoyed if their mothers try to overstep their bounds by telling a couple how they should raise their children or undermining a wife’s efforts. A daughter-in-law can make it clear to her husband what makes her happy and then let her husband resolve any conflicts with his parents.
- Dealing with competition
Some mother-in-laws view their daughter-in-laws as competition. They may share how much weight they lost on a recent diet and suggest the daughter-in-law join a weight-loss support group. She may be passive-aggressive by buying clothes that are several sizes too big and suggesting the daughter-in-law “see if it fits.” To counteract a competitive mother-in-law remain cool and collected. Do what needs to be done to show with actions and results who is the alpha female instead of making negative comments.
Ultimately a mother-in-law who can’t behave ends up losing out on the family relationships. Make a mother-in-law feel valued by giving her flowers and presents for her birthdays and holidays. Cut off interaction with in-laws only if they continue to be nasty after several chances. Make it clear the window will be left open for them when they learn proper boundaries and respect for the married couple and family unit. Giving birth to a man doesn’t give a woman the sacred right to emotionally or verbally abuse his spouse. Most men know when their mothers have crossed the line. It’s up to them to communicate to their mothers that they expect them to treat their wives with utmost respect.