Are you married? About to marry? Are you terrified at the mere mention of the name ‘mother-in-law’? Do you feel a few drops of hot urine stream down your panties when you hear your mother-in-law knocking at the door? Well, I grew up in West Africa and I know that some mothers-in-law are actually monsters-in-law (but that is not to say that all daughters-in-law are angels). So, how do you become best of friends with the mother of your husband and lover? Let’s roll!
As a wife, it is a great fear lurking in your heart, and you wonder: Will my mother-in-law tear us apart? Will she hate me with passion? Or love me like a daughter? What can I do? What will I do? Will he support her and tell me to go to hell? Get a glass of chilled pineapple juice and relax! I can feel your heart thumping already, and yeah, get a handkerchief and wipe off the steamy sweat! The legendary war between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law has been there from the beginning of time but with wisdom, you will not only survive it, you will be a darling daughter to your mama-in-law. Memorize these tips, girl!
1. Never See Your Mother-In-Law As Your Rival:
Actions start from thoughts and you nursing such dangerous ideas will only lead you astray. See her as who she is: your mother-in-law and the mother of your husband, and hopefully, your newest female friend. She is NOT your rival. Some ladies enter marriage with a nuclear arsenal and the mindset of ‘demolishing’ their ‘enemy’. Don’t create problems for yourself. As a woman thinketh in her heart, so she is. Yelz ke.
2. Do Not Put Him In A Tight Corner:
Some ladies go to the silly extent of giving the guy an ultimatum or asking that nauseating question to choose between you and his mother (like who does that?) If you cannot differentiate between maternal love and spousal love, then you are not ready to become a wife. Your roles are different, distinct AND separate. It is also an idiotic or kpalasa husband who will ask you to choose between him or your own mother. Water and oil are both liquids, but they just don’t mix. Hope you get that, sweetheart? Next!
3. Become A Detective:
Huh? I don’t mean you have to take up a job with the FBI or the SSS, but hell yes, get as much information as possible about your mother-in-law. Know her preferences, understand her thinking, comprehend what she likes (especially what will make her laugh no matter how angry she is) and those things that really makes her go gaga with fury. Such CIA job should not be too much for you to do for a woman you will be stuck with for years. I said be a detective and not a spy….lol! Your hubby will surely help you with that.
4. Be Respectful And Courteous:
According to the Yorubas, ile oko, ile eko ni. What that means is that marriage is a place to learn (especially manners, etiquette and good behaviour). If you really love and respect your husband in the first place, you will have no problem with this. If you are too pompous, arrogant or downright disrespectful, you may as well stop reading here. In virtually all the societies of the world, respecting your in-laws is very crucial to having a warm relationship with them and stabilizing your own marriage. However, I must mention something very important here: to be respectful does not mean you should become a slave or servant. You are a wife and you must always maintain your dignity. Do not be rude but be firm. A daughter-in-law does not have the same spelling as a housemaid. Hope you get my English?
5. Never Make The Mistake:
Of what? Of pointing out a mistake, flaw or error of your mother-in-law in front of your hubby. You are his wife and as a lady, there are much more subtle and cunny ways to draw his attention. Do not criticize your mother-in-law. Ridicule her, you ridicule your lover, and of course, the granny of your kids. According to Shimon Peres, the Israeli President, there are two things in life that you cannot achieve without closing a bit of your eyes: peace and love. Let me rephrase that: the personal lifestyle of your MIL is not your business.
6. Do Not Be Too Forward:
Inasmuch as you are to be proactive when relating with your mother-in-law, do not try too hard to impress. Do not go to her place everyday (familiarity breeds contempt) but see her on special occasions or when she requests to see your lovely face (with or without your husband and kids). According to one of the 48 Laws of Power, scarcity will always create value. If you don’t believe that, why are diamonds much more valued than stones and rocks? You will come out as fake and you may even be suspected of having a hidden agenda if you are always trying too hard. Remember how that girlfriend of yours irritates you with her fake life? Be yourself, be natural and genuine. She will appreciate that.
7. Let Her Know You Love Him:
Yes, forget the superficial jealousy, a mother-in-law will love you to pieces when she knows that her son is in safe hands. But, that has to be done with maturity. Every mother wants a good wife for her son but their maternal instincts makes it difficult for them to just let go. Blame the hormones. Prove to her (by your actions) that you are caring enough and you will over-ride her instincts.
8. Appreciate Her Gestures Of Kindness:
Not all mother-in-laws are devils. Some are really really very nice and will love you immensely even before they meet you. Appreciate them and not take them for granted.
9. Discuss With Him:
In a case where your duties as a wife are being encroached by an overbearing mother-in-law who will dictate what he eats or what he wears, register your displeasure with him (but relate well with her). A loving husband will come back to his senses, and a sensible hubby will not even allow such a scenario in the first place.
10. Place Yourself In Her Shoes:
Know that it hurts her and is a patch of mixed feelings. Yes, he is your husband but it’s still her son, even though she now knows that another lady (YOU!) will now get all the attention and devotion that she has received UNCHALLENGED for decades. She will subconsciously see you as a coup-plotter ovethrowing her ‘government’, and displacing her from power. Once you understand this, you should be smart enough to sympathize with her by reacting with wisdom. In short, do not take everything personal.
11. Detach Yourself When It Gets Too Hot:
If she is still determined to give you a tough time and make life hell for you, detach yourself emotionally and discuss with your husband. Just know that some mother-in-laws are incorrigible and can never be satisfied. Do not kill yourself over that. Maintain your distance but never disrespect her or worsen the condition. At this point, your hubby will do the rest of the healing.
12. Gauge Yourself:
Are you wicked yourself? Yes, you. Stop rolling your eyes…lol! Is there anything evil or indecent about you that is always pissing off your mother-in-law? For the sake of your marriage and peace in your home, assess yourself and make sure that there is no fault from your own side.
13. Draw The Lines:
You married her son, and not her. Let her know when she is crossing the boundaries. Do this compassionately and very subtly. Get clues from your spouse. In the African setting, many mother-in-laws find it very easy to intimidate wives who do not seem firm or do not even know the basic responsibilities of a wife. But remember, in asserting your rights as a wife, do it with the tact and skills of a diplomat. Don’t get him irritated.
14. Sync Her Up With Your Own Mother:
Mothers-in-law suffer from the same ‘son absence syndrome’ and always understand themselves better. Also, being of the same generation, age and mentality, your MIL is more likely to get along better with your mother than you, a ‘flashy’ babe of the 21st century. Let your mother handle that aspect. A good relationship between the two women will only tip the table in your favour, okay? Good.
15. Communicate With Her:
Did your heart just skip a beat?! I hear some of the ladies saying ‘Over my dead body! I can’t have anything to do with my mother-in-law’. Remember, loving the honey and hating the bees is not only hypocritical, it does not make sense. Choose your time very well, when she is in high spirits and have a deep, mother-daughter discussion with her. Do not avoid your MIL. You will only succeed in making yourself more of a stranger (which was your status before).
16. Be kind and compassionate:
Especially if she is of frail health. You’ve got a mother too and one day, you will also become a mother-in-law. Remember the Golden Rule, and yeah, the Law of Karma.
Most of the time, mothers-in-law do not have any evil behind even the most mischievous of their actions. They are only a bit insecure thinking that no person is good enough for their child, or a woman has come to spoil the existing mother-son relationship. Such a reaction is perfectly normal and natural. Do not give yourself sleepless nights over that. Studies have show that most of the time, they mean no harm.
18. Prod Him On If Need Be:
Make sure your husband performs his roles and fulfills his responsibilities as a child to parents. Apart from the fact that you will be laying a very good foundation for your own kids, no one will accuse you of being a callous wife who made him turn his back on his siblings and parents. Be very firm and insistent on this. That he is madly in love with you does not mean he should forget his source. Remind him if he drifts off, it will be to your benefit.
19. Do Not Let Your Ego Get In The Way:
Do not think twice before apologizing and making amends if you have offended her. But do not degrade yourself for something you’ve never done. Do not allow anyone to blackmail you into submission or surrender. Funnily enough, she may find it difficult to apologize to you because of many reasons. Do not take that to heart. It is the pride of a mother-in-law.
20. Avoid Arguments With Her:
Oh, you prefer to cook meat by boiling it and she prefers steaks? Do not drag the issue needlessly. Calmly agree. Remember arguments with even your own Mom do not always come out nicely. It is better to lose an argument to your mother-in-law than for you to lose your mother-in-law to an argument. Use your head and keep your debating skills for your girlfriends (especially if you are a lawyer…lmao!)
21. Always See The Good Side Of Your MIL:
Positivity helps. Avoid being judgmental. You cannot form that bond of love if you are always judging her.
22. Let Her Mingle With Her Grandchildren Freely.
Studies have shown that mother-in-laws actually see your own kids as 100% theirs! If she wants to pamper them to high heavens and take them out and have them to herself all day long at the beach, just let them go. You will even have the whole house to yourself and your husband! And what can be better than that? #winks!
23. Pray, pray and PRAY!
For those who think MILs are overbearing, you need to realize that she actually made him who he is. She fed him, suffered for him, was hurt because of him, kept him safe and warm, watched him grow…all these understandably makes her possessive (she has the right to), and that is normal (are you not jealously possessive of your hubby even without all these, yes, you now gerrit). She may also be afraid or insecure that she will grow old and the son she has laboured for all her life will forget and abandon her. As a daughter-in-law, ease all these fears, see things through her lenses and you become best of friends!
Remember that even the strongest of marriages can be destroyed with inlaw troubles. Be smart, diplomatic and calm in all your dealings. A friendly disposition will go a long way to helping you and making friends out of your enemies. Atimes, you may need to work very hard to make it work but do not give up because it is worth it.
This post is specially dedicated to our readers who are married or planning to marry .Very best of wishes and warm regards to your mother-in-law!