Mother-in-laws come with the marriage, sort of like a pre-packaged bargain. For the cost of a wedding, the mother-in-law is thrown in as an added bonus; which is one of two ways you can perceive her. You can hold her close and learn to love her, or treat her as the ugly vase destined to set on a shelf hidden from view. She is one of many gifts you receive on your wedding day.
I am a woman whose has had the pleasure of having three mother-in-laws. Two of them came in and went out of my life. The one I have now is a rare and precious jewel. Each one has been very different in nature, with their own little quirks. The one common trait they all shared was their love for their son. Obviously my observations on dealing with mother-in-laws is the from a woman's point of view.
I think when we marry we tend to forget where this man came from. A simple fact, his mother brought him into this world. This woman not only gave him life, she evidently raised him well. At least good enough for us to fall in love with him. Should we not feel a little gratitude for her accomplishment?
My learning experiences with mother-in-laws were not always picture perfect. There were flaws and times when I felt their unwanted intrusion in my marriage. My Mother helped me define a mother-in-laws position in my marriage. Who better to have that knowledge than her. After all she also became a mother-in-law the day I married.
First and most important a mother-in-law wants acceptance in this newly created union. Have you ever heard the phrase "A daughter is a daughter all of her life, a son is a son until he takes a wife"?
All mothers of sons live in fear of that silly old wives tale. It is up to us as a wife to assure her that will never happen. We have to share our husbands with their mother. There is a wealth of information inside of her. Who knows this man better than his mother? Why not take advantage of that well honed knowledge. It can only insure your success as a wife and his partner. It also cements a common bond between his mother and you. You should respect her opinions and listen to her suggestions. There is no law stating you have to follow her every word. Treat her the same way you wish to be treated.
Through the stages of being a daughter-in-law, I discovered many times my husband's mother would side with me. In my first marriage, my husband wanted to buy a motorcycle. We had the money, but I was against it. We discussed it over and over, never coming to an agreement.
One day in the presence of his mother he made the mistake of asking her opinion. She actually sounded just like me. "You don't need a motorcycle". The look on his face was priceless. He thought she would smile and agree with him. After all she was "his" mother.
She chose sides in this battle and he lost. Two women had just bonded for a general cause, to buy or in this case, not to buy a motorcycle. A lesson well learned, never lightly dismiss the opinion of a man's mother. Life holds many surprises, and was he ever surprised at her response!
I am a mother-in-law threefold. The spouses my adult children have chosen are wonderful, unique individuals. Each one has brought their own style into our family. The result is a wonderful blend of personalities and tastes. It is truly an experience I wouldn't trade for all the money in the world.
The phrase "dealing with a mother-in-law" sounds so negative. You deal with a flat tire on a rainy day. You deal with a rude customer. Don't deal with you mother-in-law. Open your arms and your heart and accept her for what she is. She is the mother of your husband, no strings attached. Ah yes, you're thinking the those proverbial apron strings aren't you?
I will leave you with a few words of wisdom from my own mother. She explained to me there are two strings attached to every mother's apron. The day he or she marries, they let go of one so you could grab a hold of it. Be sure to hold on tight
How To Win Over Your Mother-in-Law
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at MetroSexual LA