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Here are some actionable steps to improving your relationship with your mother-in-law PHOTO: 123RF

Butting Heads With Your Mother-In-Law? 5 Steps To Smoothing Things Over

Being at loggerheads with your ‘monster-in-law’ can be a very distressing emotional rollercoaster ride for both you and your husband. After all, you’re two women fighting over what’s best for the same man. Having a good relationship with your MIL will not only help make your marriage stronger, but it will also help you have a healthier and a more honest relationship with her.

Here’s some advice that may help smoothen that rough road:

1. Be the bigger person

Sometimes it’s easier to take the high road and be the more mature person in the relationship for the sake of peace. Maybe she’s not all that bad as general reputations go, so there’s no harm in giving her the benefit of doubt when you don’t like something she said. Avoid misconstruing it in the worst possible way. Instead, think about it maturely and ask yourself honestly if you would be as offended if your own mum had made the same remark. Judge her by her intentions, and not necessarily by her words.


2. Accept her flaws

We all have our flaws and no one is perfect. Instead of judging and dissecting every little detail, focus your time and energy on seeing the positive attributes that your MIL has. Compare the good with the less positive, and hopefully you’ll be able to see that on balance, her good side comes out on top. As Dr. Phil says, “If you plan on sticking with your spouse, then you're also stuck with your in-laws.”

3. Encourage family time together

Even if this is truly the last thing you want to do, there will be many occasions where you will have to involve your MIL in an upcoming event or celebration. Instead of waiting to be asked over (or told to show up), take the initiative and be the first to plan a family gathering together. As soon as your MIL feels that you aren’t ‘taking her son away from her’, but trying to create moments of togetherness, she’ll hopefully feel less threatened by you and will appreciate you more.


4. Compromise, compromise, compromise

Sometimes you have to pick your battles – you can’t fight and win everything. Every successful relationship takes some level of compromise, even when you know the other person is wrong and you are doing it out of respect. If possible, try and stop being so sensitive that everything seems like a power struggle because you'll only end up getting hurt each time. Let her have the final word if it’s something that’s not really a big deal to you. Maybe next time she might be more willing to let you have your way.

5. Find common ground

Don’t make your husband the centre of each argument with your MIL – he won’t like it and you won’t win. Your mother-in-law isn't just an antagonist, she is a person with her own interests, hobbies, and life experiences. Take the time to get to know her and show interest in what she cares about. Ask her questions about her life and listen actively. You may be surprised at how much you have in common. Whether it's a shared love of cooking, a shared love for a Korean dramas, or even shared travel experiences, finding things you both feel passionate about can help you build a stronger relationship. Take the time to find out what you have in common and use it as a starting point for building a closer relationship with your mother-in-law.


Finally, it's important to have boundaries in any relationship, and your relationship with your mother-in-law is no exception. Be clear about your expectations and limitations, and don't be afraid to say "no" when necessary. Respect your mother-in-law's boundaries as well, and work together to find a balance that works for both of you.

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