Perhaps you have heard of the saying: “For every married man, the other woman is his mother. ”
At a glance, these words seem to carry a negative connotation, especially if you’re a wife. It’s as if a daughter-in-law is expected to be in a perpetual tug-of-war, vying for attention from the same man. But think of it this way: If you’re a woman, you’re likely to play the role of mother-in-law to another, younger woman in time to come.
Thinking ahead, if your experience with your mother-in-law is less than pleasant, you would have learnt a few things not to do to your future daughter-in-law. At the very least, the less-than-warm experience brings out a more mature and wiser you.
By the way, some experts will tell you not to pull in your spouse to mediate if things come to a head between you and your in-laws. But if your spouse happens to be a level-headed and mature person who thinks and behaves beyond his years, why not?
Letting go can be hard for some parents, especially those whose lives have revolved around their children from the moment the latter were born. All they think and talk about is their children. Apart from that, some parents are so used to being consulted by their adult children so much so when their children are married, they need a longer time to accept that things have changed.
Elderly parents might be unprepared for a sudden void in their lives when they are no longer consulted about holidays, meals, purchases big and small and all the things that make up life every day. It might spark a level of uneasiness which, in turn, cause them to behave differently, not quite themselves.
Best thing to remember if you find yourself caught in this situation is not to take their criticisms personally. Manage your sensitivity. It’s not you. It’s them. A kind word or gesture every now and then may help put their hearts at ease.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
One word best describes your in-laws’ state of mind in the crucial early years: Curiosity. Naturally they want to know if your spouse made the right choice by marrying you. If you come across as easy to get along with and are considerate, it would help them adjust and win you points.
Take the time to get to know them better, especially in the first few months. Get out of your way to discover their likes and dislikes.
If you can’t accommodate what they want, at least acknowledge their views. Show interest in what they have to say. It makes them feel respected and it will earn you their respect. People want to be heard, regardless of whether their ideas make sense to you or not. That’s a basic human need. Whether you accept them or not is a totally different matter.
It’s All In The Family
Despite trying to be positive, what do you do if you often find yourself noticing the negatives among your in-laws? A quick remedy is to reflect on your own relatives. Recall someone, perhaps a brother or a sister, a parent, an uncle or aunt, who has such a trait.
Trust me, you won’t have to spend hours for this exercise. It’s likely to put a smile on your face, especially if the trait happens to belong to a favourite relative of yours! It’s a quirk of human weakness. We tend to see faults in someone who doesn’t belong to our family circle. Everyone of us is biased in some way.
Excerpt from The Kindness Miracle