There are few things more dreaded than a mother-in-law.
Those who have had intolerable mothers-in-law can find them overly picky, meddlesome, difficult, interfering and bothersome.
We struggle to connect with them. But they are family now, so it’s important to do so.
A difficult relationship with your mother-in-law can result in a tug-of-war with your partner as the rope. This can give rise to jealousy & negativity.
But as much as we struggle with a difficult mother-in-law, if we see beyond their frustrating behaviours then we might actually be able to start a rewarding relationship with them.
And they may even start to see beyond our frustrating qualities too.
There is a certain conversational environment that can give rise to their annoyances. Maybe they pick on how you keep the house or how you raise your kids, and this makes you defensive & resentful.
Change the conversational environment to focus on something else so that these annoyances are less likely to come in to play.
The primary thing you have in common with your mother-in-law is your partner, their child. So as a way of discussing something you are both passionate about, talk about them. Perhaps ask about what your partner was like as a child, a part of their life you don’t know about.
Ask your mother-in-law about themselves. Take them away from their position as a parent and see them as a person.
In asking them about themselves, you can be doing them a big favour. A mother-in-law will identify a large part of her identity as being a parent, and your role in your partner’s life can give the impression of watering down her role. While being a parent will always be a part of her identity, helping her see her identity outside of that could be a very important stepping stone to the next stage of her life.
And as always, try some Awkward Silence conversation starters as a way to engage your mother-in-law in meaningful discussions outside of the domestic topics that keep coming up. Again, it changes the conversation environment.
There may be inevitable times when you irritate each other, but this doesn’t need to be the sum of your interactions. Seeing beyond this and fostering a healthy relationship with your mother-in-law is not only a relief for your partner, it’s also good for you.