by Elizabeth Sagaser
You can choose your husband, but you can’t choose his family. What do you do if mother-in-law relations are stuck at the Cold War stage? Moms weigh in on what their relationship is like with his mom, how to thaw the ice a bit, and how wonderful a positive relationship with your husband’s mother can be.
The holidays are here, and along with the age old question of what to do with all the leftover turkey, women are wondering what to do about the in-laws. How do you show his mother respect while protecting your boundaries for your kids? What do you say if she comments on your cooking/housekeeping/parenting skills? Women share their experiences with their man’s mama, and some advice on how to make the most of this relationship:
“I learned very quickly that my husband's family had their own set of values, traditions and ways of communicating that I needed to accept and learn to enjoy rather than criticize,” says Julie, a wise mom of five.
“We don't put too many restrictions on their relationship with our kids. We are only sticklers on safety issues, but other than that we let them spoil our boys. As the mom of two boys, I take a lot of mental notes on what to do or not do because I know that one day I will be the mother-in-law,” says Melissa, mom of two boys and future mother-in-law.
”Once I sent my MIL flowers on my husband's birthday thanking her for the way she raised him and how that has impacted him as a father of three. It really meant a lot to her,” says thoughtful daughter-in-law and mom of three Kristine.
“I think one of the biggest things that helps a mother-in-law / daughter-in-law relationship is not to compete for who your husband favors most. He loves both women with every fiber of his being, but each play different roles in his life. Respect that! I am his wife, best friend, lover, soul-mate, etc. She is his MOM! She gave birth to him and raised him. She poured her life into raising him to be the man he is today,” says Samantha, a respectful DIL and mom of two.
“My relationship with my mother-in-law has taken years and a lot of effort, but it's been worth it,” says Cintia, mom and blogger. Check out this post about her sweet-n-sour MIL relationship.
“My mother-in-law is who I turn to when I need words of wisdom. She shares her experience, strength and hope with me. She was very honest and loving with me when my husband and I separated. my husband and me reunited and I count my blessings for her support through it all,” says Teresa – a grateful wife, mom and daughter-in-love.
“I try to respect and encourage the man she raised (my husband) in front of her. I praise her for the great influence she had in his life. I put my guard down and have a little faith in myself, her, and our relationship,” says Carmen, mom to four amazing kiddos.
“All moms like to hear good things about their children! So talking to your mother in law about your hubby's good qualities rather than venting about his less desirable traits is always a good stepping stone,” says Cami, a mom of three in North Dakota.
“We have always ‘gotten along,’ but there have been struggles. When the first grandchild came along there were more struggles... Acknowledgment that I was not the perfect parent, and different did not mean wrong, allowed me to adjust my thinking. This in turn has created a mutual trust, and my respect has deepened our love of one another – we are very close now,” says Amy, a persevering daughter-in-law and mom of two boys.
“Early in our marriage my husband and I elected that he would deal with his family and I would deal with mine. We were blessed with loving, supportive families on both sides but our early 'pact' kept the few issues that did arise from becoming divisive,” says Lynn, a mom with a plan.
“Whenever I can, I try to send her notes, or let her know how much I appreciate the son that she raised... He is an incredible husband and father and I pray daily my boys will grow up to be just like their daddy! I think it's important to remember that your husbands were once children too, and to be thankful for the incredible moms that raised them... I know I am!” says Lynn, mom of one (soon-to-be-two) boys.