I Don’t Like my Mother-in-Law

I don’t like my mother- in-law.

Really, I don’t. After ten years of marriage, a year or so of therapy, and many choice words and tears, I can finally admit it. I don’t like my mother-in-law. I am okay with that.

My first notion of a mother-in-law was the mother of an ex-boyfriend I dated for several years. His parents were friends with my parents many years before we were even introduced to each other. There was a common ground immediately. They shared similar views of my parents and were never invasive, or even remotely nosy in our relationship. This made for an easy-going relationship with them. I thought all in-laws were accepting, tolerant, and minded their own business.

I was so wrong.

It honestly started when the husband and I first started dating. I saw the signs. They weren’t red flags, they were gigantic banners waving in front of me. Our differences on raising children, politics, religion…you name it, were the complete opposites. It didn’t take very long to realize the future mother-in-law was, literally, no match for me. But yet still, her son was.

Realizing we were so very different was a hard life lesson from someone who is a bit of a “people-pleaser.” It’s certainly a hard lesson from someone who wanted nothing more than to have a loving relationship with a new family. But this isn’t just anyone in his family, it’s his mother. His mother. The woman who rocked him to sleep at night as a babe, the woman who kissed his boo-boos, the woman who helped him learn life lessons and support himself. There are bonds there I can never replace. It’s not like I can make him choose her or me. Nor do I ever want to.

Now hear me out, I am realistic; I understand the concept of marriage. Being blindly optimistic you take two completely different families with various backgrounds, environments, and religions, throw them with another family’s dynamics and congratulations! Here’s your new family! It’s a recipe for disaster. Once you realize the logistics presented here, it is quite astounding there are so many in-law relationships that actually work.

oil-in-water-1438348_640I have always been told oil and vinegar don’t mix.

On the contrary, for a short time, they do. Oil and vinegar can be mixed long enough to form a quick tasty treat; after that, they repel each other. That’s describes us perfectly. I can tolerate her in small doses, then I must retreat. I’m quite sure the feeling is mutual.

Enter children. Of course I want the absolute best for them. I want for every being in their lives capable of loving them to be present. My grandparents passed when I was young and I cherish the few memories I do have of us together. My children are lucky to still have both sets of their grandparents alive and are old enough to spend precious time with them. I had to decide I would never allow our personality conflicts affect their views and/or relationships with them. Sometimes I’d rather pull out my teeth one by one with a pair of rusty pliers than have to deal with her; but it just isn’t beneficial for my children to pretend she doesn’t exist.

I have found, for my sanity, a few remedies to help me along the way.

for-reading-813666_1280For starters, I bite my tongue. A lot. Some things are just not worth a fight. You have to pick your battles. When I do decide I need to speak up, I am firm and direct. I do not want any blurred lines on expectations or allowances on my part. This has been tough for me, (remember I’m a people-pleaser,) but it’s been effective.

Another tried and true method is to keep contact at a minimum. I let my husband deal with her primarily, especially when issues arise. That helps keep me out of the “line of fire,” and prevents situations from being blamed on me. I am cordial when I do see her, and I find we have more to discuss if we haven’t spoken in awhile.

Lastly, I try to utilize our relationship as a guide for the bond I want to have with my children and their spouses one day. I really try to learn from each situation, no matter how big or small. After the smoke clears from us dealing with an issue, I like to sit back and reflect in order to learn the best I can from it to remind me of the type of mother -in-law I will, or won’t be, when that time comes.

If anything I guess I should thank her for our differences. I can admit our relationship has taught me patience, tolerance, and the art of controlling my emotions (and facial expressions.) I still don’t necessarily like her, but for now I’ll raise my glass of wine, send a silent shout-out, and thank her for bringing this wonderful man to be in my life.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I also do not like my MIL.
    I was like you: I thought in-laws would be like my friends’parents, accepting, tolerant, minding their own buiseness.
    So when I met her, I saw that she wasn’t friendly with me; I thought she was afraid I could take his son away from her, so I tried to make her understand that she had nothing to fear from me. But she went on despising or ignoring me. I was young, very shy, and too polite to say anything to her.
    During the first 8 years, she became more and more invasive, I was more and more silently hating her . We were in “cold war”.
    One day as my husband remained quiet as usual, I decided to react calmly to her last intrusion in my life and I told her I was old enough to discern what was good or not for me; she stood up, quickly flee the terrace where we were dinning and seek refuge at the end of the garden. I could hear she was coughing and retching. She threw my ratatouille up on my Agapanthus.
    As weird as it can seem, it as been the beginning of the Détente between her and me.
    But that is another story.

    PS: Sorry for my English, it’s not my Mother Language, it’s my MILL ^-^

  2. I also do not like my MIL.
    I was like you: I thought in-laws would be like my friends’parents, accepting, tolerant, minding their own buiseness.
    So when I met her, I saw she wasn’t friendly with me; I thought she was afraid I could take her son away from her, so I did my best to make her understand that she had nothing to fear from me. But she went on despising or ignoring me. I was young, very shy and too polite to say anything to her.
    During the first 8 years, she became more and more invasive; I became more and more full of silent hatred. We were in a “cold war”.
    One day as my husband was remaining quiet as usual, I decided to react calmly to her last intrusion in my life and I told her I was old enough to discern what was good or not for me; she stood up, quickly flee the terrace where we were dinning and seek refuge at the end of the garden. I could hear she was coughing and retching. She threw my tatatouille up on my Agapanthus.
    As weird as it could seem, it has been the beginning of the Détente between her an me.
    But that is another story.

    PS: Sorry for my English, it’s not my Mother Language, it’s my MILL ^-^

  3. Thank you for your mature way of looking at relationships. My father-in-law was married 3x
    so I learned to get a long with 3 mother-in-laws.

    You are correct liking someone has nothing to do with respect and the decision to care about them.

    Your pointers are very good. I would add that if you have a problem with your in laws and it truly affects your marriage physical distance does help.

  4. I can totally relate to this. Honestly I couldn’t have said it better my MIL and I are just two completely different people she was born and raised in a small village in India and came here when my husband was very young along with my ever so joyous sister-in-law and I come from NY born and raised. The other thing is I’m Irish/Catholic and not very religious (no disrespect) and not very traditional. My MIL on the other hand is very religious and very traditional and I just know deep in my heart she really hates me with her son. Honestly had he not had two failed marriages both of which were arranged with Indian girls he would have never been allowed to marry me. We have a great marriage great relationship have been together for about 9 years now. At first I liked her but as I got to know her I really don’t. She’s super judgmental and can’t be trusted by any means. Overall I don’t have much to do with her and also take her in small doses I’m just concerned about when I have children I really like your attitude but I just have a feeling at some point she’s going to overstep some boundaries and I’m going to blow my lid. I honestly feel sorry for my husband because he knows how I feel and although I put on a good act when I’m around her women aren’t stupid and we all know when we are not liked and vice versa

  5. This was very well written. Truly thank you. I am having my own difficulties with my MIL. I am a people pleaser and she is cold, dominant and makes everything about her. She gets very jealous of anytime I spend with my mom and wants us and my daughter to take on her hobbies (even though I think they’re dangerous). She pushes and pushes until she gets her way… and when she pushes, she repels me away.

    I’ve tried to bite my tongue and limit my contact, then they make passive aggressive statements about how I don’t come around anymore… but I do hit the big holidays/birthdays. It’s hard. It consumes me. But they love my daughter and that’s what I should be happy about. But it’s ok if I don’t like her and we don’t have to be friends. Because honestly, if I were her friend and if she liked me, she wouldn’t push against my boundaries over and over again.

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