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We all know that the relationship between a mother and her daughter-in-law can be complicated. The potential for a strain and disagreement is as old as time.
It makes sense. A mother raises her son and cares for him for years and years. She only wants what is very best for him. Then at some point along the way, another woman moves in and they start a life together. That’s stressful on both ends.
I’m in a few various “mom groups” on social media, and on a daily basis there are threads of moms complaining, commiserating, or looking for advice on an issue involving their mother-in-law.
I feel pretty lucky to have a happy relationship with my in-laws, and my husband does with my parents, too. My kids are especially lucky to have two sets of loving grandparents. I didn’t really think too much about the MIL/DIL relationship until I had kids of my own, because I started imaging what it will be like when my own children get married someday. How would I want my children’s spouses to see me? What would I want them to know? How would I want to be treated?
It’s so easy to get caught up in how someone else’s actions affect us, and what we think they should do or change to make our lives more pleasant. The much harder (and more important) thing to do is to look at what we can do to make our situation better.
I don’t know what your relationship is like with your mother-in-law. That dynamic can certainly be difficult and complicated. I’m not downplaying your situation at all. Regardless, there are some pretty important reasons to show her kindness and compassion.
We only have control over ourselves and how we respond to our lives and the people in them. I hope there is some room somewhere in your relationship with your mother-in-law to squeeze in some kindness, and here are 5 reasons why you should be nice to your mother-in-law:
1 – Your Hearts Are In The Same Place
I’d be willing to bet that the most important thing to you is your family. Their well-being, their safety, their happiness. Guess what? That’s what your MIL wants, too. She wants to see you all thriving and healthy and enjoying life to the fullest. She wants your family to be stable. She wants her son to be loved and cared for, and she wants her son to love and care for you.
You may have different ways of going about things, but the big, important, overarching goals in your lives are very similar, if not exactly the same. Even in areas where you might disagree, remember that your end goal is the same.
2 – She Could Teach You A Thing Or Two
It’s true! Your mother-in-law has been around longer than you, and she’s seen a thing or two. She obviously raised her own children and has lived more life than you have, so it’s healthy to see her as a resource of information and advice. Even if you don’t agree on every single thing, I guarantee there are all kinds of things you could learn from her.
And not only could you learn something from her, you could strengthen your relationship along the way. Is she a great cook? Have her teach you to make her favorite recipe. Does she sew or paint or teach martial arts? Let her teach you a new skill. Wondering about potty training or writing a great resume or balancing work and family life? Seriously, ask for her advice. You’ll learn about her, she’ll learn about you, and you’ll most likely walk away with a new perspective or a new skill.
3 – She’s Really Important To The People You Love
Showing kindness and love to your mother-in-law equates to kindness and love to the rest of your family, too. Not just doing your best to get along, but actually taking action in your kindness. Sending a note in the mail, reaching out to set aside time to spend together…it’s all important.
Your MIL is your husband’s mom. (Obviously). She’s Grandma to your kids. The people that you love most also love her very much. She plays an important role in their lives. When you let your differences interfere with your relationship, you open the door to hurt feelings, guilt, and animosity in your family unit. Finding a way to make your relationship work is a gift to her, to yourself, and especially to your spouse and your kids.
4 – Kindness Can Open The Door To Communication
A lack of communication is likely the biggest culprit in an unhealthy relationship with your mother-in-law. Asking her opinion, spending time together, showing her kindness and love…it all equates to better communication. When you get to a place where you can talk about your differences, you can start understanding each other. It doesn’t mean you have to agree all the time. But it does mean that you can know each other’s intentions, understand their perspective, and respect one another’s differences.
5 – She Loves You
I bet there are some of you that are thinking, “yeah right, you don’t know my mother-in-law.” But think about it, she loves her son. I would bet that her main goal in life is to make sure her kids are happy. It’s true, your hearts really are in the same place.
If there is a wedge between you two, I would be willing to bet that it grew out of misunderstanding and lack of communication. If you are struggling to find common ground, remember that your actions both come from a place of love for the same person. You want the same thing. I bet if you start to recognize the similarities in what’s important to you both, you may start to realize that she loves you, too.
If you’re reading this article and you are in a place of frustration in your relationship with your mother-in-law, it might be time to swallow your resentment or your anger or whatever it might be, and show her some kindness. No matter what your situation looks like.
Do you feel like she should show you kindness first? Too bad. Life isn’t about waiting around for other people to do something. It’s up to you to put out your hand, open the lines of communication, and put in the effort. Do it now, because your family matters. Your relationship with your spouse matters, and so does his relationship with his mom. Try showing her some kindness, you might even make a new friend.