Relationships with in-laws are, uh, tricky. As a mother of two, I hope to not deal with some if the issues I've had to. In attempting to blend into my husband's family, there have been times I questioned whether or not our relationship was even worth it. I love him, but yikes. I's been lot of unnecessary stress through much of our 13 years together. If you've married into a family where there seems to be nothing but drama, there's probably things you'll want to say to your mother-in-law that'll burn the world down in the worst of ways. Sure, it might be warranted, but hear me out: don't do it. No, seriously. Don't.
Bear with me as I play devil's advocate for a second. Assume there's a girl who falls in love with a boy. They move in together and eventually marry and have children. However, from the moment girl meets boy's mother, there's an intrinsic need for the mother to protect her boy who she views as her baby, all grown up. From the girl's side, all her new mother-in-law does is nonchalantly poke and prod, somehow coming out either the hero or the victim. It causes many problems in the girl and boy's relationship because, well, obviously.
From the mother-in-law's perspective, maybe she doesn't realize the way her words and actions present themselves. Perhaps she's merely giving in to that motherly instinct to protect her offspring, no matter the cost. What she doesn't realize however, is that her son doesn't need protecting. He's an adult. He can make his own choices. He's happy. 13 years later, this girl and boy are still married with two gorgeous babies, and yet, the relationship between girl and mother-in-law has not evolved into much of anything.
You'd think the girl would stop caring about the opinion of a woman who so clearly cares nothing about her, but obviously the girl is me and I have a hard time letting things go, especially when it comes down to a relationship I always longed for. Therefore, here are some of the things I've thought over the years that maybe I wanted to say, but didn't. (If you have found yourself wanting to say these same things, well, good luck.)
"Your Way Isn't The Best Way"
This is tough for most people to hear, but when it comes to your mother-in-law, I've found it to be even more challenging. Why? Because she's been a mother longer and probably believes that because she's "lived and learned," her constant unsolicited advice is helping when, in fact, it might not be. Like, at all.
Years ago, I had more than a few experiences where my mother-in-law assumed whichever ways she cared for our daughter was the way it should be done. Whether it was feeding, swaddling, dressing, or nurturing, I always felt judged when all I was doing was my very best. It's really hard to bite your tongue when you're a new mother trying to figure it out. However, in not "overstepping," it helped facilitate our relationship (without drama) that much longer. So, I guess, it was worth keeping my mouth shut.
"Would It Kill You To Spend Time With Your Grandkids? Or Even Your Son?"
Our particular situation is frustrating, only because we moved to a small town to be closer to my husband's family. At first, we'd see them rather frequently. However, over time and now, it's next to never. My own mother drives from a state away more often then we see my in-laws, and it's infuriating. I feel for my children whose main wish is to spend time with loved ones. They don't understand (and neither do I, frankly) and while my husband won't admit it, I'm sure he (an only child) misses the time with his mother, too.
"Don't Criticize The Way I Parent"
13 years provides a lot of chances to jab at a daughter-in-law you aren't crazy about. The best ones are when they're underhanded compliments about whatever I'm doing in my child's best interest. For instance, my kids have always gone to bed early so I don't really need anyone to point it out in a condescending way.
"I Don't Want Your Advice"
I appreciate when someone more experienced offers genuine advice, like the kind that comes from a place of love and/or wanting to be helpful. I don't appreciate when the advice is meant to derail my parenting, my self-esteem, or really anything involving me in a negative way.
"Most Of Our Problems Stem From You"
I wouldn't dare say it, but it's true. From the very beginning of my relationship with my husband, we had issues stemming from the overstepping of in-law boundaries. When he didn't address them and they worsened, I almost called off the wedding. Now, all this time has passed and we're still playing these games, the only difference being the in-laws are not involved in our lives at all now. Could we just not and get on with it already?
"Mind Your Own Business"
Opinions: everyone has one. When it's from a mother-in-law to a daughter-in-law, those opinions can be hurtful or obviously inappropriate. While there's a whole internet full of negative internet trolls I'd love to scream this very sentiment at, it rings most true with my husband's family at the times I'm only looking for a shoulder to cry on (or literally just a non-snarky comment would be cool, too).
"Why Don't You Love Me?"
Most of this is said in jest, but at the very foundation of my frustration, all I've ever wanted to know is why there's such a divide. Coming from divorced parents and leaving behind my family in another state, I moved to be amongst my husband's family because I truly believed I could be one of them. Turns out, it doesn't matter what I do. When it comes to my mother-in-law, I can never be enough of anything. I guess, after over a decade of marriage with two kids whose feelings matter most of all, I've learned to be semi-OK with it. I just hope that, someday, my kids and husband will be, too.