The Other Mother
Marriage is another stage of your love story; it brings you new challenges, new responsibilities and -- new family members. These new family members, called in-laws, can either be a blessing or a curse on you and also your marriage. But although relations-in-law can be harsh and difficult to tackle, you should remember that you have an important role to play in ensuring a harmonious and workable relationship. And some day, you too will be someone’s relation-in-law. Why not come to terms with that, and learn all you can now from your experience?
Who is a mother-in-law?
One formidable in-law you have to deal with is the mother of your husband – now also your mother “in” the eyes of “law”. Yes, despite any resentment you might feel about having to share him, the fact is that she is the woman who gave birth to your other half. She also nursed him, raised, fed, nurtured, taught and cared for him. She is unique and non-replaceable. At least not by your husband, anyway.
Oh, my Mama Mia!
Yes, there’s all too many stories of how a Mother-in-law can transform into Monster-in-law, seemingly overnight. Every woman it seems has a negative attitude against their daughters-in-law since she must now be below another woman – her daughter-in-law – when it comes to her son’s priorities. But consider that a daughter-in-law is just like a stranger that invaded her and her son’s life and mother-son relationship, and you won’t find it hard to understand her ‘upsetting’ attitude. But it gets worse. For example, most MILs (it seems) assume that daughters-in-law are just manipulators who wickedly control their son’s lives, because daughters-in-law affect every decision their sons make.
And we’ve all learnt from TV drama series that mothers-inlaw like to wait until no one else in the room so that she can do and say anything to hurt you without anyone knowing. Thus, you can’t seek help from witnesses and worse, your spouse may not believe you. How do you deal with the Monster-in-law who likes to constantly complain and criticize your every act – always saying that you are rude, you are stupid, that your house is dirty and messy, your cooking sucks and ultimately, insinuates that you are not her son’s Miss. Right? Well, lest the sins of your mother-in-law be visited upon your daughter-in-law, here’s what you should do.
No matter whether your mother-in-law becomes a monsterin- law or not, you should always be respectful to her. It is because she is not a stranger but your husband’s mother. Any disrespectful act implies that you are rude, and worst, you are hurting your husband’s beloved one. It is a dangerous sign for your marriage. Also, don’t treat her the way you treat your mother. Remember, she is not your parent and you are not her daughter. Be polite and careful in every moment. A true mother forgives everything. She is not your mother!
Monsters-in-law often subject their daughters-in-law to physical, mental and emotional hurt. You are probably not going to be able to change their behaviour. What you need to do is to protect yourself, your family, and the future.
To deal with your monster-in-law, firstly, you need to express your feelings to your spouse. Don’t make judgmental comments, however. Say something that lets your honey know that his mother’s acts and attitude hurt you. Do not criticize her because she is his mother, but don’t protect her either as it would become an excuse for her acts. You can describe the incident that hurt you, and suggest your spouse respectfully tell his mother that she is not being nice, and her act hurts you both.
The next step is to get his support. Since your spouse is your monster-in-law’s dear son, she will not do anything to hurt him. Thus, getting spousal support is the best way to conquer the monster. It is a power play after all, no? To get spousal support, you need to make him understand that he can help to solve this relationship problem. During pillow talk, communicate that the problem goes beyond isolated incidents. Ask him to talk to his mother and in no uncertain terms, outline clear boundaries over which she must not step. He must also be willing to follow up his statements with action and definitive consequences. If your spouse doesn’t support you, tell your spouse seriously that it will be a problem that plagues your entire marriage. Lay down clearly the deal-breakers for your marriage. Let him know before it’s too late, so that he has time to remedy the situation.
Last but not least, be kind. That’s her son you’ve taken over. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. Till death do you part. That’s a pretty tall order. Which mother will not doubt her daughter-in-law’s ability to live up to it? So sweeten the deal with sweet gifts and even sweeter words. Remember, there is just only one thing worse than turning into your mother – and that is turning into your monster-in-law.