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Mother-in-law Woes- How to Make Amends with His Mom

Make sure your relationship with your future mother-in-law is a healthy one with these tips…

There’s another woman on the scene.

Your mother-in-law. You bonded with her instantly; the two of you now do everything together – just like true mother and daughter. You are close. You respect each other. You share intimate secrets and confidences as if you’ve been best friends for years.

Um, yeah right.

Now for the reality check. While it’s possible for a woman to bond instantly with her future mother-in-law, the relationship is often a tad rockier. Let’s face it: You may have little in common beyond your love for the same man. You are two individual women, essentially strangers, yet expected to hit it off instantaneously. Hmmm, and the last time that happened was…

OK, so you started out on the wrong foot. Relax; you’re not necessarily doomed to a life of mother-in-law misery. If you’re having issues, consider what behavioral characteristics or instances are at the root of the trouble, then work to find solutions.

Repair Your Relationship with Your Mother-in-Law

Could It Be Me?
Before you start playing the blame game, assess yourself. If you take time to self reflect, chances are, you’ll realize your behavior may not always be exemplary. Remember the time you persuaded your man to leave Mother’s Day brunch a little early because you were tired from a late evening the night before? The stereotype is of the possessive, manipulative mother and the sweet, angelic bride-to-be. But that bride-to-be isn’t always so innocent. We’re not saying you’re solely to blame. But at least be intelligent and grown-up enough to consider how your actions may have affected the relationship.

Know Her…Really Know Her

One of the main problems with the mother-/daughter-in-law relationship is that neither woman really sees the other as a whole person. Each is understood in the simplest of terms: “my fiancé’s mother” or “my son’s wife.” But who is this woman? What was she like before she became a mother? What was her wedding like? Ask these questions and listen to their answers – just as you would with any other woman with whom you hope to develop a friendship. She will appreciate your interest, and these intimate “getting to know each other” conversations will lay the foundation for a relationship built on mutual understanding and respect.

Involve Her in the Wedding
Perhaps the plotting, meddling, and manipulative behavior of the mother-in-law stereotype is born from frustration of being relegated to the sidelines of wedding planning. Traditionally, she plans the rehearsal dinner and dances with her son – and that’s where her duties and, more importantly, her input, ends. Nip this in the bud by inviting her into the dialogue from the beginning. You don’t have to let her plan your wedding, but at least involve her in the discussion. Make her feel included, and listen to her opinions – really listen to them. If she feels informed and involved throughout the wedding planning process, she’ll understand when you don’t necessarily comply with her every idea.

Enter Groom
If your honest attempts to form a positive relationship can’t eliminate the friction, and the dialogue between you remains strained – consider enlisting your man. We say this with caution because you should avoid at all costs turning him into a referee. That said, the groom can help pave rocky roads with expressed opinions that (should be) respected by both his mother and his future wife. What you may not be able to say to your future mother-in-law without a potential backlash, perhaps your fiancé can discuss with her to better results. Combining loyalty to his wife with respect for his parents, the groom can help create diplomatic compromises.

Be Realistic
So you’re not going to be the best of friends right away – that’s fine. As with any relationship with another woman, it takes time to build trust and friendship. Remember: This woman is going to play a significant role in your life for a long time, so that bond may naturally develop over the years as life experiences bring you two together. And even if you never achieve that level of closeness, that’s OK too. As long as a mutual respect exists and you can remain civil, your mother-in-law can play a positive role in your family life.