Often just the word Mother-in-law sends chills down spines and gives tension headaches. Most people just endure or avoid times with her and are relieved to get away alive. So how did Mothers-in-law get that reputation? In the first place, you must realize that a fearful woman will be a controlling woman. She doesn’t believe anyone will rescue her or her child from pain so it is up to her and if she can control others then her child will be safe and she won’t experience pain herself.
Understanding their need is the first line of defense for the in-law adult. Ask yourself what can I do to assure her that I am taking excellent care of her child and making them very happy? Try calling her and chatting dropping information on what you are doing together and how happy her child is about it.
Another line of defense is to actually ask for her advice and follow at least some of it. Report back to her how “well” it worked and thank her for her input. This gives you a foundation to later tell her “you know I treasure your advice but your child and I have agreed to do this instead. If it doesn’t work, I’ll be man/woman enough to admit it.”
If your mother-in-law is a praying woman try doing what I did with mine. When Lew and I would hit what Lew calls a gristle spot (you chew and chew but can’t get it down) I learned to go to his mother and say, “You know Lew so much better than I do, I want to get along with him and make him happy but I just can’t understand why he is being so stubborn about this issue. Would you pray with me for our marriage and this issue we are having?” Now you must realize that Mother and I were nearly complete opposites in personality and spiritual gifting so we had every potential to fight each other. Lew was her “baby” and represented her beloved, deceased husband in much of his personality. And though she was quiet she was also a force to be reckoned with in her whole family. So, I had the deck stacked against me.
Humbling myself and asking for her understanding of her child and her prayer support for my relationship with him won her over, completely and she became a real support to me. She would often go back to her journals and copy out her thoughts when some similar issue had happened with her and Lew’s father. Can you imagine that? It really worked! And all it cost me was a little consistent humility and I gained my Mother-in-law as a strong supporter of me as well as greater insights into how to get along with my husband!
I know, I know, you have all kinds of reasons and excuses why it won’t work for you but really isn’t the biggest reason that you just don’t want to get off of your defensive high horse and humble yourself? You just want her to humble herself while you get to hold onto your pride. How about setting a standard and example that she can follow of loving humility? Have you tried that?
Getting your Mother-in-law on your side is a powerful statement about your ability to build quality relationships. This character will affect your marriage long term.
And a final word to the Mothers-in-law that are reading this. I know your in-law is a foolish child but so is your child or he/she wouldn’t have been attracted to your in-law. So, swallow that and put your energy into really studying and getting to know your in-law, reaching out with love and an understanding attitude even if you disapprove. Pray daily and with fervor for their maturity and protection from their foolishness. I know mothers-in-law who did this for years consistently but eventually won the love and loyalty of their in-law making their child extremely happy and gaining more trust and more time with their grandchildren. Remember don’t fight for your grandchildren. Win the love and trust of your in-law by showing loving understanding and therefore winning time with your grandchildren. I know it’s tough but your humble spirit and trust in God’s ability to change people will have a strong and positive effect in the long run if you are grown-up enough yourself to be consistent and wait for results.