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How to get along with you mother-in-law

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Mother-in Law‘As If and if only’ (As if - is for the possibility of getting along with her. If only – is, there have been innumerable suggestions given on perfecting the balancing act and yet there is need for more…). That’s a ‘big IF’, mind you on both counts. World over if at all there is unity among women it is about ‘the m-in-law’ factor. It is the bane of every woman who sees her macho male go putty in his mommy’s hands much to our dismay. For the mother (in law) it is her ultimate achievement, her crowning glory to be in control of her son. She knows to push his buttons and that necessarily need not be in favor to you. So how to win over this matron (some would call her the wicked witch! I wouldn’t go that far, because I too have a son!)

First and foremost, don’t get into the marriage with any preconceived notions. Bias is very often the culprit for souring relationships. Keep an open mind.

When talking to your m-i-l dear, approach her with kindness. Empathy goes a long way in softening even the strongest of hearts. After all, she too has been a d-i-l once. Having said that, this does not mean you are a door mat. You need to look after your self esteem too. 

In case of a tug of war (especially one of word clash) – being silent is your biggest weapon. By keeping quiet you are not weak rather you are smart, people savvy. By not saying anything you are giving less fodder for her verbal duel. It takes two hands to clap. So keep mum. I know the provocation would be too much to resist. You might be goaded to retaliate. Don’t do it. Clamp your lips. Clench your teeth. As a last resort, bite your tongue. Do whatever it takes to keep your mouth shut.

Trust me this will go a long way in maintaining peace at home. After all, how much can one person talk without a reaction?

By ignoring her tirade you are reinforcing the message that you are unperturbed by her ramblings. Carry on with your work as usual. Jain saint Mahavira once said, ‘Tolerance is the best form of punishment.’ That’s philosophy. On a more practical note ignorance works better to make people toe the line, especially if their behavior is unwarranted.

Nobody likes to be slighted. The need to belong and be cherished is the latent need of all relationships. So, make an effort to be amicable to your m-i-l. After all she is your hubby’s mom. For you to like him, she must have done something right.

Credit her with good upbringing if not for anything else. Every body loves a compliment. Make your m-i-l’s day by praising her skills. Keep the flattery as close to truth as possible. Anything too sugary can be seen outright as lying and seen suspiciously.

If not for anything your m-i-l has seen more in life than you have done. Accept her point of view but you don’t have to follow it. It’s all about how you say the words. Be polite yet resolute. Be kind yet firm.

This is your life and how you live it is your prerogative. But, if there is something that can enhance the quality of life through her suggestion take it. It’s for your betterment. That she might say it for the welfare of her son is secondary. By being married to her boy you are also entitled to benefit from it.

Admit it your husband is the apple of his mom’s eye. I know sometimes it does get overboard and can become your eyesore. But look on the positive side, by getting your m-i-l on your side you not only have harmony but also approval from your husband.

That his wife is getting along with his mother could actually grease the wheels of domestic life and make it more enriching and rewarding.

If you are living separately and only visiting your in-laws – hurray you don’t have the hassle of ‘m-i-l syndrome’ on daily basis except for the weekly rituals. The cardinal rule would be to go along with your husband and play the role of the dutiful daughter in law. By visiting them despite you knowing they are ignoring you and they knowing that you know it too … you will win their grudging admiration in the long run. Even if they don’t shout it off the rooftops, there will be silent acknowledgement of your efforts to be included into the family fold.

You need not famously get along with your m-i-l, at least try to have a working relationship for the sake of your husband; more importantly, for the sake of your children.

Children have these antennae to pick out ’stress signals’. Their uncanny ability to radar out strains in the relationship can be detrimental not only for their emotional well being but also hamper their bonding your m-i-l (their grandma).

The Freudian theory is that the wife and the mother are in love with the same man. It is a kind of triangular love relationship, hence there is bound to be this constant power struggle as to who has an upper hand with the guy. The tussle has nothing to do with rationale and everything to do with emotions. It is this striving for one `upmanship’ that is the root cause for the m-i-l to be called monster in law (see the movie of the same name * ing Jane Fond and Jennifer Lopez). You’ll understand what I’m talking about.

But at the end of the day, both of you love the same guy. So learn to call a truce if not able to make peace with your m-i-l. This will absolve you of later regrets and future guilt. By learning to forgive the past misgivings you not only heal faster inside but will also be able to move forward positively in your relationship with your husband. That is what marriage is all about – forgiving and moving forward as a team.

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