You’ve probably heard that marriage can be likened to a rose, which blossoms only when tended carefully and lovingly.
And being the tending, loving and caring gardener you are, the roses are blooming—but not without a lot of blood, sweat and tears. When you and the Hubby fight, you diligently work out your differences and learn how to communicate better.
But, what if those heated exchanges aren’t necessarily with the Hubby? But about his family and more exactly his mother?
If marriage is like a rose, then the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is surely the thorns.
I’ve recently seen my share of thorny mother-in-law/daughter-in-law stories. His mother is demanding, critical, intrusive. She mopes around and always wants his pity. His wife is cold. She excludes me from functions and minimizes my role.
What always surprises me is not how often the Hubby chooses mother over wife—but that he’s entirely clueless when doing it. Seeing his wife as the stronger and maybe even the more reasonable party, he asks that she give mother some slack. That’s my mother. That’s how she is. Just accept her. Thinking he is protecting his wife by diffusing the situation, he unfortunately leaves the wife feeling terrible for disrespecting the family matriarch. She feels abandoned and rejected without the Hubby’s support.
So if I could offer simple tips on building healthier mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships, I would say:
Hubbies, Prune baby Prune.
Encourage roses to bloom by attentively trimming those sickly shoots and letting healthier ones grow. What works beautifully in my marriage is when the Hubby listens to my concerns, complaints and hurt feelings without having to agree or endorse them. And vice-versa, delicately drawing boundaries with his mother on what is acceptable criticism and behavior.
Mother-in-laws, Lay down a THICK layer of mulch over those weeds.
Being mother-in-law sadly doesn’t include the same freedoms as being a mother. So step back, abstain from unsolicited advice, and quite simply bite your tongue.
Daughter-in laws: Offer A LOT of sunshine.
Let mama shine by upping the respect to the 1000th degree. Remember, she raised this fabulous man you call Hubby. So be (overly) attentive, gracious and inclusive.