Mother in law problems are a classic issue in family dynamics. Both you and your mother in law have a common need for respect, appreciation, and connectedness, but how do you make that happen? You are from different families, and now need to become one. It can be a challenge to set boundaries and maintain appropriate personal power in the relationship. Read on for some steps you can take to avoid mother in law problems.
Know Your Spouse
Talk to your spouse about how you want your life together. When it comes to family traditions and practices, children, and home, make sure your spouse thoroughly understands the way you want things to be, and your reasons. Listen to your spouse's ideas too. Make sure you know what is most important to your spouse and what he or she values. This way, you are ready to make the important decisions about your life together with your spouse and children. Now, you are prepared to deal with your mother in law.
Actively Listen and Decide
Listen respectfully, make sure you understand, and then go ahead and do what you think is best anyway, even if it is not what she recommends. Since you have the responsibility for your own life and your family, you get the final word on how things happen.
Find common ground. Embrace the things you and your mother in law have in common. Include her in things, so she feels she's connected with your family. Listen to your mother in law's ideas with an open mind. Listen carefully and actively, and repeat back her ideas in different words, to make sure you've understood. Ask her to clarify as needed. This way, she feels validated and important. Appreciate her experience and point of view. Take any advice that sounds good and helpful. Ignore any advice that you don't like.
Be assertive. Once you and your spouse together are clear about what you want, calmly and politely thank your mother in law for her ideas, and clearly say no when needed. It is not only your mother in law's responsibility to create a balance of influence in this relationship. It is your responsibility too. You and your spouse need to back each other up. A united front of husband and wife makes for a strong marriage and family.
Be polite. Honor the wisdom and personal strengths of your mother in law. Thank her for her help. Send thank you notes and birthday cards. Plan ahead for a thoughtful Mother's Day gesture for her. When in doubt, remain polite.
Scroll down for tips and hints on avoiding mother in law problems.
Tips & Warnings
If you are upset or irritated by your mother in law's actions, remain polite. If things get emotional and heated, remember to take a time out and to be polite. You can't take back words once you've said them.
If you and your mother in law have problems, consider going to counseling with your spouse first. A lot of mother in law problems actually reflect a problem with the way you and your significant other are interacting. Be proactive, and do this sooner rather than later. Through counseling, you can gain excellent perspective on your situation, and can learn tools to navigate a positive relationship together.
Don't vent to everyone about how horrible your mother in law is. That kind of selfish immaturity is harmful gossip that can destroy both your reputations. Instead, have courage, be proactive, and follow the steps in this article.