Every Daughter-in-Law Should Know the Signs of a Difficult Mother-in-Law

Every bride-to-be is marrying another woman's son, and he is probably the apple of his mother's eye. It's hard for many women to accept to her future daughter-in-law is good enough for her son's long-time joy. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with, soothe and even win over many mothers-in-law, even if they seem tough at first.

First, switch shoes and try viewing the situation through her eyes. Your fiancé is her son. She used to be his special woman, his mommy. He probably heaped adoration on her, as she did on him, for most of his life. She changed his first diaper, fed him his meals, kept him safe and clothed while she watched him grow into the man he is today. She deserves a lot of the responsibility for how he turned out. She has a right to feel possessive; she made him.

She could be afraid that he won't need her anymore once he has you. What if he forgets to call or stops caring? She may be afraid of getting old and having no one to take care of her. She may be intimidated by the power you have over him and the possibility that that could be used against her.

How do these feelings-which she would never admit to you, her son, or possibly even herself-manifest themselves in her behavior? Well, everyone is different, but there are general ways that she could react to those fears, all of which have become known as signs of a difficult mother-in-law:

Situation: She's cold. She may not smile, maintain a cordial disposition, or resist hugs or signs of affection.

What to do: If this happens, be nice. Be genuine. Let your behavior show her that you want to include her in your life, and that you aren't trying to take her place. Give her time and be consistent with your warmth and helpful attitude. She'll come around.

Situation: She's bossy. She may try to tell you, or you and your husband, what to do. She may offer advice all the time, or tell you how things should be done, which are of course not the manner in which you are doing them. She may look at your house, your clothing, the food you make, even your hair with a critical eye and then advise you of how it could be better. It's hard to take, and makes you feel like you'll never measure up.

What to do: Ask her for advice on occasion, which will give her an outlet for her need. Other times, when she tells you how to do something, thank her and say you've decided to try it this way right now but you'll keep that in mind for next time.

Situation: She's nagging. She may pester you about when you're going to get around to having children. She will keep this up unless you put a stop to it.

What to do: Tell her that you and your husband are discussing it; let her know that she can ask you again about it in two years. Assure her that if you have any news, you'll be sure she is the first person you and your husband tell.

The best situation is to have a mother-in-law who is loving and supportive. Sometimes it takes some work to get her on your side. Don't give up. It's worth it.

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