Having a good, strong relationship with your mother-in-law can often be difficult, and we all know someone who struggles to form a bond with their partner’s/husband’s mum.
To help those in need of creating a comfortable relationship with ‘the other woman’ in your partner’s life we’ve enlisted the expert knowledge of Dr. Deanna Brann. An award-winning international psychotherapist and relationship expert, she shares some terrific tips for forging ahead while avoiding most of the drama and power struggles:
Don’t miss her new book too, Reluctantly Related Revisited: Breaking Free of the Mother-in-Law/Daughter-in-Law Conflicts where she gives practical and very useful advice.
Table of Contents
How to have a good relationship with your mother-in-law
1. Decide what you want this new relationship with your mother-in-law to look like.
Try to visualize what you want in as much detail as possible. Do you see yourself going to lunch with her sometimes? Chatting on the phone once a week or once every few weeks? Asking her opinion about things? Or do you see that you will need to be clear and firm about your boundaries so that the relationship can be smooth and drama free? Defining exactly what you want will put you in a much better situation to create it. (Don’t worry—you can always adjust the picture, but start with something.)
2. Get to know who your mother-in-law is.
No two mothers-in-law are exactly alike. However, there are often common patterns or behaviors that you find in people that can help you determine with whom you are dealing. Does she tend to mother you more than you are comfortable? Ignore your boundaries and do whatever she wants? Seem to behave differently every time you are around her, which makes her unpredictable? Or maybe she seems to make it easy for you to be the woman you are and thus, makes it easy to be around her?
When you have a better understanding who your mother-in-law is you will know more clearly how to relate to her, anticipating and preparing for the potential pitfalls you may have along the way.
3. Slowly build your own relationship with your mother-in-law.
Let your husband have his own relationship with his mother—forge a relationship with this woman that is separate from his. Get to know her as an individual, not just as your husband’s mom, so you can start to see her as more than just a mother figure. After all, you’re more than a wife and a daughter-in-law, aren’t you?
4. Be proactive.
Remember that your mother-in-law is probably struggling to define her new role in your husband’s life. She wants to remain a part of things, but chances are she doesn’t yet know the best way to make that happen. Help her out by taking the first steps toward defining this relationship. This will also show her that you do want her to be a part of your new life together, and that will undoubtedly allow her to relax a little, easing much of the initial tension and awkwardness.
5. Determine what you can do to make this transition easier for both of you.
Take the steps you would want someone to take with you, and do it with compassion and respect. She’s as uncertain as you are, so she’ll probably welcome your lead. If tensions start to pop up, think about the future and how you’d want your future daughter-in-law to handle the same sort of situation if it were to come up between the two of you.