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Mom with a View


The secret to making the relationship work.


"What do you do if you miss your mother-in-law?"
"Reload and shoot again."

My son-in-law (you know who you are!) told me this joke. Although I have my moments of insecurity in these relatively new relationships, I don't really believe he meant it personally!

However it got me thinking. There's a reason for all the mother-in-law jokes, a reason that actually isn't too funny. Problems with in-laws, if left unchecked, can unfortunately be destructive to a young couple's marriage. Some researchers claim that 60% of all marriages are burdened by struggles with in-laws.

And the most complicated relationship of all, the one fraught with the most potential for divisiveness, seems to be that between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.

Since all my married children so far are girls, I don't have any experience in this area, so I turned to two women I know who seem to get it right.

"What's your secret?" I asked.

"I have amazing daughters-in-law," answered one. "And they're terrific wives to my sons."

Now it could be that my friend just lucked out. It could be that she just has really exceptional daughters-in-law who never give her any reason for doubt or frustration or any of the other negative emotions that frequently poison this relationship. It could be.

Or -- and this is more likely -- it could be that my friend made a choice. "These are the women my sons picked and I will love them. I will see their good and only focus on that. I will take pleasure in the joy they bring to my son."

I think that this is the decision that wise mothers-in-law make, either consciously or subconsciously.

And it was basically what the second women I spoke to also responded.

"This is my child's choice so I'm going to blindly like them. I'm not going to look for flaws or weaknesses. I'm going to only notice their strengths. I'm going to ignore the petty and the trivial and focus on what really counts. I'm going to like them and give to them and in doing so I will them come to love them."

Some parents are more easygoing than others. Some parents aren't holding on as tightly to their children. For them there may be no struggle.

But for those who do, remember that the choice is in your hands. And that the real road to your son's continued caring and loyalty, to his ongoing desire to spend time with you is for you to love his wife, your daughter-in-law, fully and unconditionally. Just remind yourself how wonderful she really is.

September 6, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 45

(42) Autumn, November 16, 2009 6:50 AM

I am a DIL.. Sometimes it is still difficult to understand completeley what my MIL is thinking.. behaving.. and wanting. I talk to her a lot about my feelings.. and vis versa. I respect her very much. Even though we had a VERY ROCKY ROAD at the beginning.. I am thankful that we did. We were able to get to know each other and our own seperate feelings better TOGETHER.. As hard as some MIL can be... DILs can be just if NOT more difficult. I love my husband with all my heart, I'm thankful for my MIL.. without her.. I would NOT have my husband today. My MIL gives me great advise and her opion as well. Even if at times I don't agree with it.. I still respect it. Its not just up to the MIL to be willing to get along with the DIL... The DIL has to be willing to WANT to get along and be willing to get along as well. So now... the small things that would turn into a huge fight then.. I simply SMILE now.. Because my MIL will ALWAYS be my husbands MOM!!! I love you Patty.. that is my MIL!!!

(41) Anonymous, November 10, 2009 11:40 PM

Responding to the one who wrote "It can be difficult, it's someone you didn't choose; I don't mean choose for your son, I mean choose for yourself. I find young women (actually talk and behave like girls); lacking character, integrity, dignity, and are self serving. " I must say I have a future MIL who fits that description perfectly and she is not a "young" woman. Since when is the daughter in law about YOU. In most cases, the MILs we end up with we would never choose if ever given a choice because they can't let go of the surrogate husbands they call "son" and I can't imagine anything more undignified and self serving than that.

(40) Mary, October 23, 2009 2:31 AM

Giving up on daughter in law

After 15 years of walking in a mine feild, I have decided to give up and tell my son that I want him happy. And for him to be happy I have to be out of their lives. And I will stay out of their lives. I will miss my grandhcildren but it will take pressure off them as well.

Emma, March 20, 2011 10:48 PM up is not the answer..

I am so sorry and feel the emotional pain coming at you for years to come. I hope you can work on the relationship alittle longer.

Anonymous, October 29, 2011 7:59 PM

It will not make them happy.t

You are just one of many excuses that your DIL uses to be hateful. Once you are of if the picture, she will be happy but she won't be happy long. She will find reason after reason to be hateful and control her man.. She is a control freak. Husbands would like to leave women like this but for many reasons they can not leave

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