“I wanted my boyfriend to wear the shirt I gave him last Christmas but his mom insists on him wearing the polo that she bought for him”
“I came home one afternoon and found my mother-in-law on her knees, furiously scrubbing the bathroom floor. I just finished cleaning it up earlier that day.”
“My husband’s not feeling well and I wanted to bring him to the doctor for a check-up. His mom says there’s no need for it because she’s already given him some herbal medicines she herself had concocted.”
We’ve all heard of those horror stories about girlfriends, brides, and wives going crazy because of their mothers-in-law. Though this may not be the case for all women, most of us have felt, in one way or another, the need to live up to their so-called “perfect” standards in caring for their “baby boys.” After all, they were the first women in their lives and, definitely, they probably know their sons well enough after years and years of caring for them.
But as you and your guy continue to level up in your relationship, ultimately deciding to spend the rest of your life with each other, this issue cannot just be ignored. As small as this concern may initially be, leaving it uncared for may lead to unnecessary rifts between family members.
So what should you do then? Here are a few simple tips to make it a “happily ever after” for you, your husband, and your new mom.
1. Acknowledge that what your mother-in-law is feeling is pretty normal.
She carried your husband in her womb for more or less nine months, rocked him gently on sleepless nights, and loved him dearly from Day One, so it’s pretty much normal for her to be protective of him (sometimes extremely) and care for his welfare at all times. Try to imagine yourself in her shoes, thinking about how much you love your own children and you’ll understand how she might be feeling. If you don’t have kids of your own yet, remember how doting your parents have been to you and you’ll get the picture.
2. Establish you and your husband’s own standards for managing your own household.
You and your husband grew up in two different homes, with different cultures, practices, and traditions. The moment the two of you decide to get married, on top of planning for your wedding, start listing down the new set of rules you’ll be having for your new home and family. Doing so will show not only his mother, but all of your parents that you are responsible adults who are capable of managing your own household and that there is very little, if any, need for any of them to implement their own practices.
3. Do your part.
Once you and your husband have formulated your own house rules and your corresponding respective duties and responsibilities to meet those goals, make sure that you do your part and perform all of those in timely fashion. This is very important, particularly for the “basics” of being a wife – cooking, cleaning, caring for your husband and the kids, because these are the simplest and yet the most noticeable ones. Show your mother-in-law that her son made the right choice in marrying you and that she has no reason to worry.
4. Be polite at all times.
No woman (or man!) feels comfortable being made to look incompetent inside her own home. No matter how bad your mother-in-law makes you feel, consciously or unconsciously, always be polite. NEVER EVER be rude or raise your voice at her. It will only make matters worse and tell a lot about your character, and even how your parents raised you (and she can just as easily imagine how you treat her son and raise her grandchildren!). Keep your calm, ask to be excused if you feel the need to, and walk away quietly to cool things down.
5. Befriend you mother-in-law.
Every mother has this fear of being replaced as the Number One Woman in her son’s life. Make it clear that you do not intend to do so by befriending her and treating her not just as “your husband’s mom” but as your mother too. Consult her for some housekeeping tips. Work together on a project for your home. Ask her to share some of their family’s well-loved recipes. This will make her feel that you don’t plan on taking her place in her son’s life but serve as a complement.
6. Agree to differ.
No matter how hard you work on it, there will always be things that you and your mother-in-law won’t agree on, for one reason or another. Accept these and move on. No different from you and your husband, your own parents, or even friends not agreeing on some things at certain times. Varying views and opinions are what make the world a colorful place to live in, so just enjoy them.
Photo Credit: valencia84, Flickr