I was going to wait until tomorrow to hash this out but I’m feeling very convicted right now. Maybe I should have posted this one first but in true daughter in law fashion, I threw mothers in laws under the bus before us!
Daughter in laws of all ages, pay attention.
I was a true pain in the butt when Stuart and I got married. Stuart calls it feisty. To date, I am still feisty but more alert of others feelings. Don’t get me wrong, alertness doesn’t mean I always act as I should. I am ashamed to say, I have been very aware of others feelings and continued on being feisty as ever.
Here are a few things that I wish I would’ve had on my radar twenty something years ago. These are all from my experiences. Don’t judge, you do them too!
#1 Not Nippin’ it in the bud! Unfortunately, it’s too late for me but you youngsters, take heed. Establish boundaries early on. Yep, it’s awkward but such an easier conversation in those early years than twenty years later through hurt feelings and years of superficial communication. Don’t let things slide. If something is said or done that makes you uncomfortable or hurts you, respectfully let her know. You both will be better for it in the end. If you don’t nip it, don’t complain.
#2 Stop being hypersensitive! I don’t think mother in laws are always trying to solicit an argument or feelings of inadequacy in us. They can’t be, can they? At some point, we have to recognize our defense mode is on full blast where they’re concerned and needs to be turned down a notch or two. It does no one any good to be on the defensive about everything. Pick your battles but more importantly do some self evaluation. Simply ask yourself, am I being over sensitive? You won’t always be overreacting but I can guarantee you, a lot of the time you are. I do.
#3 Don’t complain about her son to her! This my friend never ends well. Those boys they birthed can do no wrong. It’s pointless. Also, if we want them to butt out and let us learn from our mistakes, blaze our own trail, yadayadayada, we have to keep our mouths shut and pull up our big girl panties. Complain to your best friend about your spouse.
#3 Don’t expect a pat on the head for every good deed! Your mother in law is a person with feelings. She is not the enemy. Do special things for her. Spend some one on one time with her. The kicker here is to do this without expecting anything in return. This is something that I struggle with to date. If I’m doing things for her out of obligation or wanting a pat on the head, what does that say about me? Tisk, tisk.
#4 Not biting your tongue and giving it to God. If you don’t have the courage to nip things in the bud, walk away. Bite that tongue and walk away. The biggest mistake that you can make as a daughter in law is holding it in. I say walk away and give it to God because that is what I have had to do lately. I am good at walking away but letting go is my downfall. I remember things from 2002 that bring tears to my eyes and 2004 that make my blood boil. I won’t even get into the Great Pork Chop Episode of 2016! Those are just the ones that popped into my head. I didn’t respectfully confront them, heck I didn’t comfort them at all. Well, the pork chop incident was confronted with a “screw it I tried.” Not my finest moment! Seriously though, how will they know they hurt us if we aren’t communicating with them? I am truly the one to blame.
#5 Not being sensitive to their situation! I have put in the work with my son for 24 years. Blood, sweat, tears and prayers. When he does find that special someone I imagine that I will have a hard time letting go. In fact, I can’t imagine how that is going to feel. I won’t be that mother in law, I just won’t. Ladies, put yourself in their shoes. They too have put much blood, sweat, tears and prayer into your husband. Apparently they did an ok job because he is the man of your dreams. Be empathetic. That man you love was and will always be her little boy. Let her tell you stories of his childhood. Even if you have heard the story a hundred times. Keep some of her traditions. Accept those favorite recipes of his from her. Make sure that you actually make them! Just try to think how it must feel to watch another women fill your shoes. Remember she is doing the best she knows how in this relationship, just like you.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. I am sure I will get slammed by mother in laws who notice that there are ten on their list and only five on ours and that’s ok. Biting my lip and walking away. Truth is it’s common sense folks. Any relationship has multiple layers. Peeling back those layers and getting to the nitty gritty is laborious. I think the mother and daughter in law relationship is truly the most complicated dance to learn. Put in the time, learn the steps and develop your own moves. She isn’t going anywhere. You aren’t either. Dance my friends! Dance!