Do you find it difficult to get along with your mother-in-law? Do you wish you could have less stress over your relationship with her?
In-laws can be the cause of a great deal of stress to a young mother if she isn’t equipped to juggle the demands of child-caring, house-cleaning, working and nurturing the relationships of her loved ones.
Both working women and stay-at-home-mums face different, yet equally painful issues with in laws, especially if there if a communication gap.
Mothers-in-law may be harder to manage as some may benchmark you against their high standards, pick on everything you do (especially if you stay with them) and interfere when you discipline your kids.
Here are some ways to help resolve disputes with your mother-in-law.
1. Pick your battles
Not everything is worth quarrelling over. If your mother-in-law prefers you to follow a certain pattern when you keep your stuff (especially if you live in her place), give yourself space and time to accommodate her preferences.
When it comes to disputes over issues which are really important (like choice of school for your child), you can at least remind her gently that you listened to her for X other things, and can she let you have your way for this one thing?
2. Woo her at regular intervals
You must be thinking: “Crazy ah?”
But give this a second thought.
Every woman likes to be loved and appreciated, not just from their husbands, but even their daughters-in-law. Swallow your pride, and ask her out for her favourite activity once in a while.
Set aside time and a reasonable budget (don’t need to go for broke) to take her to eat her favourite cuisine, shop for clothes, travel on an affordable holiday or treat her to a movie.
Buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers once in a while and let her parade it in front of her friends.
Even a small act of love, like buying her lunch when she’s sick, will help to warm her heart towards you.
3. Don’t out-argue her, especially in front of others
As Asians, we value respect towards our elders. Even if she’s wrong, unless it’s a life threatening event, let her have the last say and swallow your words. When she’s cooled down (and you too), try talking to her nicely, and ask her to consider your point of view.
Yes it means you have to eat humble pie, but if you value your relationship with her, someone needs to take a step back first. After some time, when she sees you’re not a threatening daughter-in-law, she may change how she responds to you.
4. Find allies
If you can ally with anyone else to intervene on your behalf, like your husband, children or siblings-in-laws, do it in advance. Build goodwill with them so they can vouch you’re not an evil daughter-in-law when you get into a dispute with your mother-in-law.
5. Voice your concerns
There are many external factors that throw a spanner into your relationship with your mother-in-law. These could include stresses in finding a job, managing demands of work and family, health issues of yourself or family members, or major changes (new religion, diet, going back to school etc).
If you do face external issues, share them with your mother-in-law. Let her understand what’s going on in your life and how you’re trying your best to figure things out. She may just give you that little bit of extra space you need at the moment.
Here’s to better MIL-DIL relationships in the year of the Fire Rooster!
Navigating relationships, especially with our mothers-in-law, can be tricky and emotionally-draining. If what you are doing now does not improve the relationship, take a step back and put yourself in her shoes. Envision what she really wants, and see if there is a realistic way to give her her heart’s desire.
Sometimes, change has to come from within us, the daughters-in-law. This change can be the spark to start the turning point in our relationships with our mothers-in-law. Not all mothers-in-law are demons, neither are all daughters-in-law angels.