5 Strategies to get along with your mother in law

Do you struggle to get along with your mother-in-law? If you feel that she’s overbearing, critical, and just plain interfering, you are not alone. Many of us, men and women, experience some kind of anxiety with their in-laws at least once. Let’s face it, relationships are challenging, that’s the nature of them. However, the quality of a relationship has more to do with your own attitude, then fixing the other person. Remember, you cannot change anyone in your life. You can, however, shift how you relate to them; that changes the quality of the relationship entirely.

First begin by re-framing how you think of her. Put yourself in her shoes. Think about being her, and imagine all the sacrifices you made to raise this person that you’re now married to. Think about what her intentions would be. She would want her child to be happy, and that naturally implies that both of you be happy. If you begin by re-framing who she is in your mind, that is the first, most important step taken care of.

Now that you may be seeing things slightly differently, let’s look at some practical ways to improve your relationship with your mother-in-law.

  1. Make her your ally- not a rival: Think about how you would make someone your ally at work, or socially. What would you do? You would talk to them, ask their advice, ensure that they feel needed and important. One of the best ways to make your MIL your ally is to ask her advice about things that she has more experience with. Talk to her about disciplining the children, ask her about cooking tips, whatever you feel that she is good at. Ask her advice and take it in. You may choose to follow or not, that is up to you, but be genuine in your attempt. Who knows, you may learn a few things along the way.
  2. Listen to what she has to say. You may be tempted to roll your eyes, or feel “here she goes again” but if she feels truly listened to, she will stop the nagging! If she’s saying the same things over again, it’s because she’s feeling marginalized or unheard. Offer her your ear, and your understanding.  It may be the last thing you want to do, but it will be worth it in the long run.
  3. Call her once in a while: You may prefer having your nails pulled out, but call her once or twice a week, just to check in. She will definitely appreciate feeling included in your life. Afterall, don’t we share important events with those we love?  
  4. Don’t complain to your husband about her: Yes, she may be impossible to deal with, but she is your husband’s mother. What do you want him to do? Take your side? That may be the case, but you’re putting him in an impossible situation and worsening the relationship with your mother-in-law. Think about having a peaceful home, and just practice the “in through one ear and out the other policy.”
  5. Appreciate the good things she does: Whether it’s babysitting the kids, or cooking something, appreciate the gestures that your mother-in-law makes. This is how she expresses her love. Each human being wants to feel loved and acknowledged. For this to be effective, say “thank you,” and mean it. If you give it genuinely, you may be surprised by the love that’s reciprocated.
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