Who Says You Have to Like Your Mother-in-Law?


A woman who doesn't like her mother-in-law.The relationship between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law is one of the most complex. Not to be confused with the mother and son-in-law scenario, there is no comparison! It’s just a mother/son thing. All boy moms out there know it well. 

Consider the facts. Two women are adoring the same man. One is bringing him into the world, raising him as her precious, perfect little boy, and instilling admirable values (or at least trying to). And the other woman falls in love with all his faults, attempting to embrace him the way he is but secretly hoping to flip the switch on those little flaws once the wedding bands are safely secured.   

We’ve all been there. You are young and stupid and newly married. You think somehow you’re going to undo years of your mother-in-law’s mothering of your hubby. It just doesn’t work that way.

The first real bump in the road is the wedding planning. Everyone’s true colors come out. Reality creeps up, first in ripples, and then a total tsunami hits. Mother-in-laws, please let it go! Ride with the wave.

My motto always was if the bride’s customs and decisions don’t mortally offend the groom’s side, don’t sweat it, unless, of course, the bride and groom’s guest list is excluding great Aunt Mary’s kids (your beloved cousins that you grew up with!). Then if hint-dropping all the way to pleading doesn’t work, go directly to Plan B. Bargain or guilt trip your way through. Offer to pay for a raw fish station at the cocktail hour if you can secure a seat for Aunt Mary and fam; after all, that’s who you are really trying to impress anyway. All joking aside, a little restraint and consideration goes a long way. A mother might be marrying off her son, but the love of his life is marrying him. 

It’s funny how the expression, “You are not losing a daughter, you are gaining a son,” is heard a lot more often than, “You are not losing a son, you are gaining a daughter.” Well, ,you really are losing a son when he gets married. A married daughter usually hangs out more often with her mom.  

But a son is busy working hard, helping to run a household, and trying to keep his wife content. He doesn’t need your advice that much because chances are his wife is making the decisions about the topics he might’ve needed to ask you about anyway. 

And then this great big love, if you’re lucky enough, produces your biggest loves ever, the grandchildren! And then the real fun begins. There’s tons of congratulations, baby showers, gender reveal parties, the countdown to the due date. Finally, the baby is here, be it a boy or a girl; it doesn’t matter. The point is this beautiful creature has made you and your husband grandparents and your son a dad. Nothing beats that euphoria. It’s all good until you might be asked to babysit a few days a week. 

So much has changed when it comes to child-rearing since you have raised your own kids. Babies are supposed to be feeding themselves these days, according to one practice of baby-led weaning, chasing broccoli florets on their high chair trays! I’m still a traditional spoon feeder, and if the baby doesn’t cooperate, there’s always playing with water at the kitchen sink to ensure a full tummy!

But compromising is the right thing to do to keep everyone happy. A mother’s prerogative is always right and appropriate when it comes to how she’ll nourish her baby, and Grandma needs to respect that. However, mom needs to remember that grandma adores her grandbaby with all her being too, and will protect and keep her safe and happy no matter what!  

And all of this sets the stage for disagreements between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. But the secret to maintaining civility between both is not to allow resentment to build, getting to the point of no return, where hate overpowers the love between both, and the “monkey” in the middle is looking to run away from both mother and wife. A recipe for disaster! 

You’ve all guessed by now…this is a mother-in-law’s viewpoint, but not completely because I was once the daughter-in-law too. We are all together, spiraling, suffocating but occasionally shining as the perfect duo everyone admires in this whirlwind relationship with the in-laws. It happens to the best of us. You learn to tolerate, not to tattle, forgive and forget, or maybe speak your mind occasionally if you cannot look the other way.  

Humor and honesty can bring you to your knees, but sometimes it’s the only means of survival. Not to mention an occasional fit of hysterical laughter works wonders in lowering your blood pressure and restoring your sanity! 

I heard a funny story once about a mother-in-law who asked her daughter-in-law to name one thing she didn’t like about her, and her answer was she asked too many questions. How could a mother-in-law ask too many questions if nobody ever tells her anything? Said my “friend,” the Italian MIL.

Perhaps the secret of this infamous struggle that inevitably seems to happen when our children find their significant other is that we can’t accept that person finding fault with our near-perfect children. 

Hopefully, despite everything, respect and love for the in-laws reign and is reciprocated, and we all live harmoniously ever after. At least until someone has the nerve to compare mom’s lasagna to the in-law’s next holiday season, but until then, sport a fake smile, don’t say a word, and above all, keep the peace. It’s so worth it!