There’s a reason the phrase “Monster-In-Law” is so well known. It’s not just the punch line in a joke or silly Jennifer Lopez flick – they are real and there are too many of them to count!
Some mother-in-laws are a little more demure about their approach to being difficult while others are downright obnoxious – and one is no better than the other. Many do not even realise that they ARE ‘Monster In Laws’! These unsuspecting fiends are fiercely protective and will do just about anything to get their way. So what can you do when you are your Monster-In-Law simply do not get along? IS there hope? Will you EVER be “Friends”? Tough to say but there ARE things you can do to make time together a little more bearable.
Find Common Ground
I know, I know, what on EARTH could you and your mother-in-law have in common? Different backgrounds, different generations, different opinions. It’s true that this is a tough one – simply finding ONE thing in common may be impossible in your mind. This is why it’s your mission to scout out the family and find out what her likes and dislikes are. Did she grow up on a farm? Does she like to paint? Has she ALWAYS been a nightmare to be around? Certainly, you have something in common – at the very least, ask about her children’s upbringing? Monster-In-Laws LOVE to tell stories about their lives and give advice, so just grin and bear it – it doesn’t mean you have to use it!
Pursue Some of HER Interests
Does your MIL like to paint? Take an art class with her! Does she enjoy fine French cuisine? Take her out to lunch! The point is to make an effort, at least a few times. This will give you “ammo” in a sense if there is ever a disagreement and you need to show that you truly have tried to get along. Not that this is your ONLY reason for doing so, but it does not hurt!
Practice the Art of Biting Your Tongue
This one may hurt a little (or a lot). There is a time and place for everything as the Good Book says and expressing your opinion can certainly be included. Your Monster-in-Law may feel the need to constantly voice her thoughts about the way you dress or how many children you want – let her. Just let her get it all out and listen. In her mind, she may think that she is honestly helping you. TRY to always look for the good in her and as difficult as this may be, it will help you to stay better, instead of bitter.
Make Small Talk and Keep it that Way!
In the same vein of biting your tongue, try to “steer” the conversation into waters that you are familiar with. Topics that do not require opinions and that are light and happy. Some really talented Mother-in-Laws have the amazing gift of being able to turn ice cream into a “heart clogging, thigh widening” thing – that’s ok, let someone else call her out for being a Debbie Downer and you just smile and change the subject!
Try to keep clear of politics and any other subject that may erupt into an opinion-fest. Serious topics are off limits!
Have Back Up
Does your MIL have a special friend or relative who doesn’t take any of her crap? Become their new best friend! Waste NO time in getting to know these gems and anytime you plan to be around your other half’s mother, see if these priceless people are available as well. Surround yourself with these soldiers as often as possible and let THEM speak up FOR you! No one has to know that you are planning these secret meetings – they just HAPPEN to show up anytime you are around (wink, wink).
Bring Along YOUR Mum
That’s right – fight fire, with fire! No one is EVER going to have your back like your very own mum. Especially when it comes to her “competition”, let your mother take the heat and the brunt of your MIL’s comments. YOUR mum has nothing to lose and it truly does take the pressure off of you. Chances are very good that your mum has encountered many other MILs like this one before and watching the master at work, will help you as well.
Give Your MIL “Special” Things to do for the Wedding
Make her feel special, as if SHE were the ONLY one who could do certain things for your wedding. Whether it’s something as simple as planning the engagement party of just tying ribbons around the bubbles, let her have her very own assignments. Giving your Mother-in-Law specific chores, will not only keep her busy but make her feel helpful and needed.
Give Her Something Special
Everyone loves to receive gifts. Your MIL, while she may be one of a kind, will still appreciate the thought of the occasional gift. It lets her know that you are thinking of her and WANT to try and make things work. Is this a form of a bribe? Yes, it is. And hopefully, it will work. Will she likely degrade the gift you selected for her? It’s very possible and if she does, you just keep right on smiling and thinking about that bottle of Cabernet that is sitting at home, waiting for you to tell it ALL about your problems.
Some people are just relentless and impossible to get along with and that’s ok, you chose to marry the child of this woman, not the woman herself. Love her because your spouse loves her. Make an effort, not for her, but for your other half. Look for the good in her and do your very best to remain calm and positive.
And last, but not least, pray that she never decides to come and live with you – that’s an entire other article!