Make friends and win influence with your mother-in-law

Here’s how to manage your relationship with the other most important woman in his life…

Think outside the box

We’ve all heard the jokes, seen the Bollywood films and the never‐ending saas‐bahu television serials depicting the typical mother‐in‐law. However, to base a real life relationship on pre‐conceived ideas is to warp it from the beginning. It will be made worse if she has similar visions of a stereotypical daughter‐in‐law. Make an effort to see and understand her as a person in her own right before making up your mind.


She’s apprehensive too

Even while a son’s wedding is one of the happiest moments in any parent’s life, this is also the time when they realize that they are entering a different phase in their lives. A son’s marriage, in particular, is also a significant stage in a mother’s life and can make her feel vulnerable and hence on the defensive, even without provocation. Try to be sensitive to the unspoken emotions that she’s experiencing.

Allow time

Don’t expect complete acceptance and understanding right away. Trust takes time and it doesn’t come automatically. Be patient, in time you will be accepted as part of the family. Also, don’t force yourself to be something you’re not, most people can see through it and it is a hard act to keep up in the long‐term.

Learn self‐confidence

Often when a daughter‐in‐law appears hostile to her mother‐in‐law, it may conceal a lack of confidence. A simple offer to do the ironing or the wash‐up can be seen as a slur on her housekeeping. This may have to do with issues relating to self‐assurance and security that need to be looked at within oneself rather than the mother‐in‐law.

No one’s perfect

You trying to be perfect or someone that you aren’t, is a pressure on your mother‐in‐law too. In all probability your mother‐in‐law will appreciate that you are no superwoman. That way, she can drop her guard too and be herself. The first step for people to feel closer is to relax in each other’s company.

Deal with it

By asking your husband to take sides between the two of you, you’re putting him in a no‐win situation. The resentment caused by this, one way or another, is likely to affect your marriage adversely. It’s one issue in your married life that you may be better off dealing with on your own, so think carefully before asking your husband to get involved.

Communication is key

Most counselling techniques recommended improving communication to resolve issues. The best approach is to try and deal with an issue before it gets to a stage of hostility. This can be done in an open and non‐aggressive way and the ability of being able to laugh at oneself will go a long way in breaking the ice.

Give credit

What most of us want is appreciation and respect. Some of her ideas may seem somewhat old‐fashioned to you, but give your mother‐in‐law some credit for wisdom acquired with experience. By calling her occasionally to ask her advice or help with something in which she has expertise or experience, should help to make her feel valued and included.

Be flexible

Before reaching deep levels of resentment, ask yourself how much it really matters to you and whether it is you that need to do a bit of soul searching. Look within to find out whether your objections are reasonable, or perhaps is it you wanting to assert your authority over hers.

Common bond

The one common bond that you and your mother‐in‐law have is that you both have love for the same man. Instead of being jealous, learn to share the things about him that are endearing and perhaps some of his habits that you both find infuriating. Ask her to talk about his childhood or go through old photograph albums. While no one expects you to love her like your own mum, in time you may evolve into mutual well‐wishers and perhaps even good friends.

Look ahead

Lastly, when you’re finding the going a little tough, remind yourself of what it might feel like being in her shoes and that some day in the distant future, it might be your turn to be on the receiving end!

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