Coping With a Difficult Mother-in-Law

Mothers-in-law aren't necessarily the Wicked Witch of the West, but you're bound to have some awkward moments once you marry into a family. After all, you have married her child; she's bound to feel left out, or you might think she's snoopy or bossy. If you are prepared for bumps in the road and do your best to avoid or coast over them, you can avoid major fights with your mother-in-law and maybe even forge a friendship.

Incorporate Her Into the Family
While your mother-in-law shouldn't be around every second, you can prevent relationship issues by making her feel that she is a significant part of your and her son's lives. By inviting her over for dinner once a week, calling to say hello, acknowledging important dates and asking for advice, you will make her feel valued and helpful.

In particular, a weekly dinner date lets her become a piece of your family, but she isn't always barging in on you and your partner. If your mother-in-law lives farther away or if she can't always physically come to visit, schedule a regular time when she can talk to you and your partner. This way, she will feel less threatened and may react better when things don't go her way.

Whenever you deal with your mother-in-law, keep it positive. If you smile, ask questions, and genuinely seem to care about your mother-in-law and her thoughts, it can only improve your relationship with her and with your partner.

Listen to Her Advice
Although it may hurt your soul to admit it, your mother-in-law will have some valuable advice to give. Though you may feel as if she's butting in or bossing you around, be aware that she is only trying to help the situation. Mothers-in-law are not only older than you, but they also have more experience.

If your mother-in-law plays like a broken record and gives the same advice all the time, learn the art of distraction. Acknowledge that you heard her words, and then change the subject by asking about her life, history and future plans.

Try not to let small slights become bigger problems. If your mother-in-law says something that upsets you, think about her reasons for what she said and your reasons for your reaction. Is a past slight affecting your judgment? Or hers? Did a joke go too far? Did she mean well but touch a sore subject? Ask your partner for advice before dealing with your mother-in-law, and be sure to keep a level and logical tone when talking with her.

Dealing With the Holidays
Holidays can be difficult because you and your loved one may want to spend the holiday alone, but your families may want to see you, too. Think about how you will split up the holidays in advance so no one feels neglected.

For example, before a big holiday arises, talk with your partner well beforehand to work out a plan. You might take turns with your families, or you might even decide to spend the holiday alone as a couple. Give your mother-in-law time to cope with the fact that you may not visit during a holiday and also to make can make alternate plans, such as mailing presents or visiting at a different time of the year.

Make time to talk to your mother-in-law and get to know her. Spend time together one on one so that you can get to know each other away from your partner and the rest of the family. Think about what she likes to do, and do it with her, which will give you a chance to talk and bond.

Instead of focusing on the negatives of a situation, think of the positives. If your mother-in-law gives you a valuable piece of advice, was especially helpful or even just looks nice one day, be sure to compliment her.

Additionally, any situation can be improved by a smile or by careful phrasing. If you have a suggestion or problem, explain the positives of the situation and what you need in the future. Avoid placing blame or talking down to your mother-in-law.

When it comes to your mother-in-law, be patient. Don't expect the two of you to be the best of friends right away. Ultimately, all she wants is for you to respect her.

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