There are a lot of websites dedicated to bashing mother in laws. In my research I stumbled across tons of them, browsed through them and was left unsatisfied with the written word that most mother in law relationships are doomed to fail from the beginning.
Every single relationship you have in your life can be enjoyed and if not enjoyed it can be tolerated. Tolerated sounds awful but it’s all in how you look at it. I have people in my life I tolerate because it’s for the greater good. I’ve discovered that in understanding that I control only my behavior, my attitude and my reaction things in those tolerated relationships are beginning to shift. After all tolerate means the same thing as accept.
Are you beginning to cringe at the thought of me blogging about my mother in law? I promise you that I have discussed much of what I am writing with her beforehand. She’s on board with this new discovery and while she may have a knot in her stomach right now reading this I think putting our efforts in writing will hold us to our commitment to change.
She has been my mother in law for almost 7 years but I have known her for 10. Up until now our relationship has always been undefined, not really friends, not really enemies, not really close, not really stand offish. It is what it is. I spent a lot of those 10 years trying to figure her out, trying to get her to see the real me, trying to make nice, giving the benefit of the doubt, being un-confrontational, being too abrasive. You name it and I probably did it. We haven't been very consistent with any thing other then riding an emotional roller coaster.
When I say our relationship is what it is I'm not trying to be mean. That is how I have chosen to accept it. As It. Is. There's no question that our relationship needs "T.L.C - tender loving care" and that it causes both of us the crazies - way more then it should. I set out to find the tools I needed to make myself behave better towards her.
I examined this relationship from every angle I could think of. I searched it on Google, read magazine articles, books and even became a lurker on a mother in laws unite website.
I learned a lot and immediately implemented several things right away and shortly after emailing my mother in law with my thoughts she replied that she agreed and would be trying a new approach as well.
I began to understand that we will not like everything about the other nor will we like everything the other does. The key here is to respect our differences.
In most instances, the mother/daughter in law relationship is a sensitive one. Most feel it needs to be treaded on lightly. I don’t necessarily agree. In my opinion, respect and honesty is better then any sugar coated over done compliment. We need to stop taking things so personally. We were both thrown into this relationship. We need to stop trying to make it something it isn’t and focus on what it is. The most we can do is voice our opinion but not expect it to be taken into consideration, it is after all just our opinion.
I need to stop fearing being honest and expect my wishes to be respected. I need to stick to my guns and not waiver because her feelings could get hurt. While she may control the type of relationship she has with my sons and husband she is not in control of my home, my sons or my husband. Honesty needs to happen with us because besides the foundation of loving the same people we don’t have much else to build on.
I need to increase my respect for her as my husband’s mother and my children's grandmother. Ultimately the relationship she has with them is not of my concern unless it affects their well being. I need to work on not becoming defensive when I see missed opportunities between her and them because fulfilling her promises to them is her responsibility and not mine.
I have taken a step back from her. Darren needs to re-establish better communication with her and needs to re-assume responsibility for his mother. I happily assumed a lot of it when we got married but he got too comfortable with me doing it all, all the time. This doesn't mean I won't be doing it at all but just not as much.
In stepping back I noticed an instant change in myself.
I have to stop trying so hard to get her to understand me and trying to convince her that I want her here for the boys and to visit and to feel welcomed. I can't do it anymore because after 10 years of knowing me either she knows it and believes it or she doesn’t. I can't keep wasting the energy focused on the wrong things.
We will be alright. We agree to try approaching our relationship and each other differently. We will figure it out.
Life is too short to be focused on the wrong things. We owe it to ourselves and those that surround us to be better.