Marriage is not just about two individuals. It is about the union of two families. It is an alliance. Depending on the arrangement, you might have perks, or you might have tax deductions. A family is the basic unit of our society and mothers are the building blocks of the setup.
The bond you share with your mother-in-law (MIL) goes a long way in building your marriage. The primary conflict in a household begins when the daughter-in-law does not understand the mindset of her mom-in-law and vice-versa. If you are lucky, you might be blessed with a replacement of your blood mother else things can get complicated to manage.
I felt hurt when my toddler preferred going out to play than by hanging out with me. It might sound insane, but it does happen at times, if not always. When I realise the depth of this emotion, I wonder how my MIL would have felt when suddenly her son preferred taking me out for dates rather than staying at home with family. Though there is a situational difference, the underlying element is same. Parting away and sharing.
Mommies get engulfed by separation anxiety to quite a certain extent when their sons get married. The feeling of possessiveness sweeps in. There is an overpowering sense of loss of control.
Unless your mom-in-law is an exception to a composed, understanding and good human being, maintain your cool girls and try to be at peace and keep your efforts going to build up a harmonious relationship with your second mother.
She is the one who blessed you with your soul mate.
Be grateful to her, no matter what. She has a profound knowledge of running a household, raising a family, and creating sync between everything in and out. Respect her for all the goodness you see in your better half.
Tip: Do not fall into the trap of linking your partner's negatives to his mother's temperament.
The idea is to make her feel important. Talk through. Take her down the memory lane. Revisit her childhood, her youth, her relationship with her son, the perks are while getting to know more of her you would also end up learning about the rest of your family which would, in turn, help you bond better.
Tip: Do not recall anything that she is not comfortable to disclose.
Are you 'Mrs Know it all'? Are you always Mrs Right? Look within before you point the finger at her. I believe, she deserves at least these small perks and privileges of investing her entire life into a household. Doesn't she?
Tip: Silence is the best strategy here.
Your mother-in-law had ruled her territory much before you started. She would be better at stuff that she has been doing ever since. Don't feel jealous if she makes yummy sweets. Ask her to teach you as well or try my trick. Leave the province and flatter her when you feel like having a feast. She would be more than happy to treat you.
Tip: Seek her help in learning the art.
The family and the home you now are a part of is a canvass painted by your mother-in-law. Just like any artist would prefer his colour tone to be followed, same applies to your lady love. She might for instance, prefer apples to be kept out while you might prefer them in the fridge. Go for a mid way. Make it a rule - apples would stay out for a maximum of 3 days. After that in the refrigerator.
Tip: The best way is to work as a team. Create some ground rules and mutually agreed upon boundaries.
Avoid competition. Your female personality would provoke you to do better than the other lead. But pause, control! It is great to feel sheltered. At time organising stuff on your own becomes a pain. So, why not enjoy a guided tour?
Tip: Treat her as a blessing in disguise. Cherish her!
She has been carrying out stuff based on a particular methodology. When you are on board, she expects you to follow the same traditions. Her asking you to get up early has nothing to do with your late rising habit. She just wants you to follow the same routine. Ideally, it's good to start your day soon. But if you cannot, try these:
Tip 1: Either make her hit the bed late, the wake-up time would gradually get a little flexible :)
Tip 2: Act like a smart kid and butter her to grant you a little relaxation :)
Never close your communication lines. It is always good to express your emotion than to keep it contained. You need to express your feelings if you don't like the idea of being pointed out in public.
Tip: Treat her like your mom, she would justify it sooner or later.
Hangout. Have fun. Trust me girls, a woman irrespective of her age, always remains a girl at heart. She would love to do girly stuff, roam around, go shopping. Make her feel needed. Look for the friend in her. You would discover sooner or later for sure.
Tip: Spend time with her. Who doesn't need a friend?
She would miss no chance of pointing out your mistakes. If she is too liberal she won't put it on your face, may restrict it to her mind, but she will spot it anyhow. That is her way of dealing with the new threat to her existence. When she points out a messy cupboard, jump up saying, "why do you always catch me redhanded? It's a quarterly project n tomorrow was the d day."
Tip: Adding a fun element to your flaws make them acceptable.
Admire the way she has carried her legacy. Do not refrain from appreciating the little stuff she does with perfection. Reward her with feelings she never won despite putting her life into something which the world considers typical.
Tip: Women love compliments. Age no bar.
Why do you turn deaf when your mom scolds? Almost all you girls out there think mother-in-law's do not share the same sentiment for you like your mother. Check yourself, how much do you try being a daughter. If you keep a foot back and proceed, there is no point in expecting something different.
Tip: Treat her as your family and give due respect to everyone in her family.
Playing the blame game never helps.
I remember once my mother-in-law had called her friends for high tea. One of them had diabetes and refrained from sugar. I was neither aware of the fact nor was I informed. I served the tea and snacks and left for an appointment. Apparently, my MIL wasn't happy about it. I could sense the disappointment in her tone when she told me to be careful the next time. I could have blamed her, but I preferred staying quiet. Next morning when things seemed lighter, I explained my point, and she readily took it. We were at peace. I wouldn't have made things better by blaming her.
Tip: Blaming hurts. Explaining clarifies misunderstandings.
You need not be over submissive, but master the art of doing things the right way. Channelise. Be polite. Respect her age and experience.
Tip: Humble statements work better than sarcasm.
Grant her the grandparent privilege. Believe me; you would do the same for your grandchildren. You might be concerned about the sugar intake of your child and limit their chocolates. But she would just want to see your kid smiling. When they grow old, they witness a second childhood.
Tip: Kids share a special bond with their grandparents. Do not interfere.
No soul in the world can take the place of your mother. But you can always try having a foster mother. That is a big bonus. If you keep comparing your mom to your mom-in-law, you would never be satisfied. Moreover, you will unknowingly be sending her vibes of non-acceptance which again would not be lucrative.
So enjoy, girls, work hard to have a lovely bond for life. I am sure it is worth it.
NOTE: This is a voice of an experienced daughter-in-law who makes a point to keep working on these ways.
Do share your stories and tips on how you connect with your extended family at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover image courtesy: JFW