HOW TO GET ALONG WITH YOUR MOTHER IN LAW. This topic has been the crux of many a discussion among married women in Nigeria, not to mention the moral of many a Nigerian movie. Dealing with the mother of your husband can be very tricky, exhausting and downright frustrating – for those that weren’t lucky enough to get the nice ones.
Some of you might think all you need to do is lay on the charm and dazzle her. Of course, she would entertain your carefree antics while you were her son’s girlfriend but all that changes once you get engaged.
Whether you are newly wedded or you’ve been married for 15 years, it is very easy for your happily ever after to be ruined by a hostile relationship with your mother in law.
Well, if you are one of the frustrated wives, simmer down a minute while we consider why the mothers-in-law might seem so terrible. For one, she’s feeling pretty neglected because you’ve taken over the position of “most important” in the life of her son. If you were in her shoes, wouldn’t you react the same way?
Very few married women are fortunate enough to have caring and kind mother in laws that know their own boundaries. As the wife in question, it’s either you are at war with her or at peace.
So if you are one of the countless women who are in the “war” boat, know that it is never too late to fix the relationship you have with her, especially since she isn’t going anywhere.
This might seem really tough, but you never know, she just might become the best confidante to help you in times of family crisis and in your relationship with your husband. So what do you need to do to get along?
ALLOW A CONNECTION
Unlike how it goes in some Nigerian movies, creating a wedge between your spouse and your mother in law isn’t the way to go. Instead, allow them to spend time together without butting in. Your husband is married to you, not his mother, you are his home sweet home.
If for example, your mother in law stays in another, suggest to your husband to visit her at least twice a year. If she’s in the same state, once every other month is fine too. Why? Because if you keep avoiding seeing her, both of you will become even more estranged. When you increase the amount of physical time you spend with her, this will help you both to familiarize with each other and form closer bonds.
DON’T PICK A FIGHT
Stop constantly trying to find flaws in your mother in law. No one is perfect and she didn’t raise you so your spouse will likely overlook whatever flaws she might have because they’ve gotten used to it. But in your case, it’s all new to you and it will take time for you to understand her so do just that: Give it time.
Now let’s say the mother in law herself is the one having a bone to pick with you – as is so often the case – don’t let it get to you. You will find yourself getting pissed at her tactics but focus on the positive things she might have done, whether it’s bringing you a meal that she cooked when you were sich or babysitting the children while you and your spouse were out on a date or even giving you some help with household chores.
DON’T CRITICIZE AND COMPLAIN
Never complain about your spouse to her – at least not until you’ve reached the mutual understanding phase – because no mother wants to hear that child isn’t perfect, especially not from the spouse.
Instead, appreciate your spouse by mentioning the characteristics you love about him and how you are glad she raised him to be such a responsible and caring man. This will make her respect you and feel pride for recognizing her labor.
If she happens to comment on your way of life or about one of your habits. It does not necessarily mean she’s nagging you. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from her so take it as constructive criticism and even ask for solutions or answers.
TRY TO UNDERSTAND HER
One very smart way to get along with your mother in law is to mirror her habits and body language. It’s difficult, I know since it feels like you have to become a different person but doing so indirectly indicates that you are in sync with each which reduces the tension and increases your degree of comfort in each other’s presence.
You can do it by using phrases that she uses a lot or assimilate some of the positive habits she has, even if it’s the way in which she does household chores, and so on.
MAKE HER FEEL INCLUDED
A surefire way to make your mother in law feel less alienated from her son’s life is to keep her informed of all the important or significant events going on in your lives, from your kids’ birthdays to your partner’s promotion.
Ask her for suggestions, opinions and even advice about issues in your life that you don’t mind her getting involved in. This shows that you aren’t threatened by her inclusion in your life and that you welcome her presence wholeheartedly.
Buying her gifts works like a charm too, not only on her anniversary or her birthday but even other on days when there’s no reason to. The gift doesn’t always have to be something extravagant, it could be something like a cashmere shawl or her favorite snack.
Or else, no matter what you do, your bitter relationship with your mother in law will not allow you to enjoy a nice relationship with your husband. The relationship you share with her, just like every other relationship, is built on regard and respect.
Remember that no one likes a person that does not like them so if you aren’t getting along with your mother in law right now, showing a bit of gratitude and love toward her will help to break the ice. Give your mother in law reasons to be happy about you becoming a part of her family and give her the time to trust and understand you.