No one likes having drama and disagreements with an in-law, but for one reason or another, it sometimes just can’t be avoided. Of course, when it comes to keeping the family dynamic happy, it’s in everyone’s best interest to resolve tensions as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Read these simple tips and keep them in mind for when you need to work out any of your basic Mother-in-Law disagreements.
Understand Her Perspective
Nothing takes the edge out of a fight as quickly as an acknowledgement of the other party’s feelings. Showing a little bit of sensitivity to your MIL’s concerns can do wonders for her opinion of you and her sensitivity to you in turn. Take a moment away to sit down and coolly consider everyone’s behavior. Try and figure out repeating themes and patterns in your arguments. Are you always disagreeing over the same thing? Is it a cultural problem that is causing you to clash? For example, maybe you come from a liberal family and she is conservative. In these kinds of situations, it’s important to remember that no one’s perspective is necessarily wrong or right. They are simply not compatible. Set some ground rules, such as agreeing to avoid discussing certain topics that seem to tear you two apart.
Understand the Complicating Factors
Before working out your problems with your MIL, it’s important that you have expressed yourself to journal about the problems or write a letter to your husband or your MIL (that you will absolutely NOT send to anyone!). It might sound silly, but this is your opportunity to vent your frustrations so that you will be calm and collected by the time you talk to your husband, and you can reflect on what the real underlying problems are. Maybe it’s not your MIL that you have a problem with, but the fact that you feel like he always takes her side. Come up with a plan of action with him. Get his perspective on which of your behaviors or actions might be causing his mother exasperation. Figure out everyone’s boundaries and help him understand how he could help you in future situations.
your husband and you’ve heard his concerns and feelings. However, this is a situation where you need to tread very lightly. People can be sensitive about their mothers, even when they know mom is in the wrong. Take your time to consider your words and know which battles are unwinnable. One helpful tip: take a minute to
Have a Conversation (or Don’t!)
If you’ve had a significantly problematic fight, it may be a good idea to sit down with your MIL (with or without your husband, depending on the issue), and have a civil conversation. If you do feel that you need to follow this course, be sure you do not go on the attack. Start out with something positive. For example, if the cause of your fight is that you felt she said or did something inappropriate at your wedding, start out by telling her how much you appreciate all the help she gave you in planning and organizing the wedding in the first place. A little bit of appreciation can go a really long way.
Be empathetic. Maybe your husband is an only child, or maybe he’s the baby of the family. Mothers are extra protective in these cases. You need to make it known that you understand where she is coming from, but also that you both need to work out your differences for his sake.
You should probably only have an actual sit-down conversation with your MIL if you need to discuss some very bad behavior or some large problem that has been going on for some time. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that, with all of your good reflection in mind, you can start fixing your relationship with your MIL in more indirect ways:
• At your next meeting with her, come prepared to be very helpful and attentive to her. If she’s throwing a party, offer to come early to help set up or to stay late to help clean up. Be attentive to her and make her feel admired and appreciated by asking her questions about things she likes to discuss, like her recent projects or hobbies. Take it a step further and get her something to complement her hobby. For example, if she loves to paint, get her a set of nice oil paints. Tell her you came across them and thought of her immediately.
• If you need to, come prepared with a mental list of good and bad topics of discussion. Know what subjects trigger fights with your MIL, and think of some clever ways to divert conversations that are straying close to sensitive topics. If you feel that you can’t stop the conversation subtly, it will be entirely okay to say, politely, “I would actually prefer it if we could talk about something else.” Try to make light of it, but be firm: “I remember how loud we all got last time we talked about that. I wouldn’t want to ruin everyone’s good time with a bad conversation!”
• Think of subtle ways to show appreciation. Compliment her on things that matter to her, like her cooking, her eye for decorating, or her recent promotion. When she invites you and your husband over to her home, consider bringing a little gift like a nice bottle of wine. Afterwards, think of a creative way to say thank you, like sending her some sweet treats with a nice card. Small gestures like this will show her that you are setting your differences aside and that you are appreciative of her.
It’s never too late to work on developing a better relationship with your MIL, and it can do wonders for your family life. Help everyone out by being the bigger woman and taking the first towards a relationship repair.