Were you nervous when you had to meet your partner’s mother for the first time? It can be a challenge if you’re up against pressure to gain approval, and it can be even more taxing after marriage. Moms are naturally protective of their kids, even after they’ve reached adulthood. Some mothers-in-law are simply happy that their grown offspring found someone to love and can become a true friend and ally. Other times some people face a nightmare of meddling, criticism, or even outright hostility.
What if you can’t get along? How do you proceed? Making it work with your in-law is a two-way effort, but it’s not uncommon during a partnership or marriage for problems to come up. So here are a few tips that can help you deal with a difficult mother-in-law.
Stand Up for Yourself
This doesn’t mean you need to go looking for a fight or take out all your frustrations on her, but you don’t necessarily need to let her take advantage of you either. If you feel like your mother-in-law is treating you poorly or making you uncomfortable, letting her know can often earn you some respect. Talk about ways to handle it with your spouse (see more on that below), but don’t be afraid to set boundaries. A good way to start a conversation could be to say, "There's something I need that I don't think you're aware of..." Then go on to explain yourself. It's usually a good, non-confrontational way to begin an uncomfortable conversation.
Address Issues (Respectfully)
Letting problems sit for too long can foster bad feelings and turn little issues into bigger ones in the future. Communication is key in any relationship, so you and your mother-in-law understanding one another can help you find common ground and stay on the same page. You're always going to let some little things go without saying anything, but if you let too many of them go you build up resentment, and sooner or later you could lose your composure and lash out at your mother-in-law; that's not usually helpful. You want to have meaningful conversations long before you might "snap" or lash out.
What brings people together? Empathy! It’s the precious human capability that lets us understand one another and teaches us compassion. So, if your mother-in-law does something that gets under your skin, try taking a step back and looking at it from her perspective. If you can find out what her feelings are or what she may be dealing with on a personal level, that may help you see her and her actions from a new angle. This is a good time to ask her, "Is there anything you need from me in our relationship?"
Talk to Your Partner
Sometimes trouble with the in-laws can be just as tough on your partner as it is on you. Naturally, your partner probably wants you to get along with his/her mother and that kind of conflict can put a strain on your relationship. Talking to your partner honestly and calmly about your concerns can go a long way in helping you deal with the problem together. Remember, your partner is in the middle of this, in the middle of a "situation" between two people he/she loves dearly, and that's never a good position to be in.
Just about everyone has disagreements sometimes, but it can be especially daunting if it takes place within the family. These tips can help you turn issues into productive conversations and keep your relationships healthy and strong. Talk often. Close connections can make a happier home life for you and the in-laws!
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