Is your hubby’s mom driving you nuts sometimes? Here are some tips on getting along with your mother-in-law.
What can you read in this article?
- Finding a soft spot for your biyenan
- How to get along with your mother in law
“Have you ever noticed that if you arranged the letters in mother-in-law, they come out as Woman Hitler? Coincidence? I think not.”
“I saw six men kicking and punching the mother-in-law. My neighbor said ‘Are you going to help?’ I said ‘No, six should be enough.'”
“My mother-in-law fell down a wishing well. I was amazed; I never knew they worked.”
Jokes about mothers-in-law are a dime a dozen. And there are hundreds of movies and TV shows that are based on the topic. But the reality is, problematic relationships with the in-laws are far from being a laughing matter.
According to online resource Living in the Philippines, motherhood is probably the most important role a Filipina will assume in the course of her life. Mothers are in a unique and powerful position; because they are, for the most part, responsible for household matters and the children.
The Filipino is usually identified with his family and is perceived to belong to the family and its members. This ownership type of culture is the key to understanding why in-laws in the Philippines tend to be more involved in the married lives of their children. In addition, Filipino mothers also enjoy more loyalty from their children.
Tug of war between the wife and the mother
Image from Pexels
While this characteristic drives Pinoy moms to be very protective of their children, this may, later on, lead to a strenuous relationship between husband and wife as one feels caught in between his or her spouse, and his or her mother. The tension may also affect the children, particularly when it comes to having a relationship with their grandparents.
For example, children may feel like they are betraying their parents whenever they want to spend the night at their grandparents’ house.
While husbands may feel awkward around their mother-in-law or intimidated by their father-in-law, there seems to be more tension between wives and their mothers-in-law.
This is probably because Filipina women, in general, have difficulty letting go of their children because of the “intense and prolonged emotional bond.”
Because they are used to having a say about their children’s lives, Pinoy moms-in-law can sometimes overstep their boundaries and interfere in several things like how the household is run, parenting, and even their sons’ relationship with their spouses, which of course, make the latter mad.
Most relationship experts advise married couples to keep their in-laws at arm’s length, and strongly discourage co-living with the in-laws.
But in a third-world country like ours, living with in-laws is quite common. And in the co-habitation set-up, the women in the family are likely to bite each other’s heads off over, say, how the kitchen ought to be run, if measures to co-exist peacefully are not in place.
But why wait for things to boil up when you can do something about it today? Here are a few tips to help you get along with your mother-in-law.
8 tips on getting along with your mother-in-law
1. Put yourself in her shoes.
If your son, your unico hijo who you’re fiercely protective of, gets married and builds his own family, wouldn’t you be sad, even just a little? And wouldn’t you want to make sure that your child is still properly taken care of? This is probably where your mother-in-law is coming from.
Try to understand why your mother-in-law sometimes says the tactless things she says, or the times she tries to “steal” your husband away.
The fact that she loves the person you are married to should be reason enough for you to stretch your patience. More importantly, your husband loves her, too (or should anyway), so you should at least make an effort.
2. Clarify misunderstandings but never be rude.
When your mother-in-law starts being critical of you, or how you take care of her son and her grandchildren, or gets involved in your finances, keep your cool and tame your tongue. You can always defend yourself without being rude.
Be assertive and correct her when she mixes things up and makes false claims, but do it firmly and politely. If she’s not trying to stir up trouble, she’ll get the message that there are some things that you will continue to insist on regardless of her assumptions.
Being frank in addressing your mother-in-law’s complaints may not stop her from overly criticizing you, but will let her know that you will defend yourself and your family when you feel boundaries have been crossed.
But if all your efforts fail, leave the enforcement to your spouse and let him step up to the plate of defending your family.
3. Never criticize your spouse in front of her (or anyone else for that matter).
You wouldn’t want your mother-in-law’s protective side unleashed because regardless of whether your husband is right or not, she will probably take his side if she feels that you are “attacking” him.
Criticizing your spouse in front of your mother-in-law, or in front of anyone else, is a big no-no. Doing so will reflect badly on you because marital problems should be kept private. You wouldn’t want your spouse to talk about you behind your back, would you?
Besides, you and your husband should be on the same team and keep a united front so that people around you (in-laws included) wouldn’t think it’s easy to drive a wedge between the two of you.
4. Give her space.
Let her spend some alone time with your husband, who is, after all, her child. This will tell her that you are not a threat to their relationship and make it clear that she does not need to compete with you for her son’s attention.
Remind yourself that you do not have to outdo her. You each have good qualities that your spouse appreciates, so let yours shine through.
5. Give it time.
Get to know her and look for the good in her. Getting to know your mother-in-law better will help you understand why she says or does certain things. She may be giving unsolicited advice, not because she doesn’t like you personally, but because of a past experience or a past hurt that she fears you may be repeating.
Try to sit down next to her and have a chat, or ask her for the recipe of her specialty dish. Ask her about memories of her son when he was a little boy. Ask her anything and everything that will let you know her a little more. It will be easier to see the good side of a person once you know them better.
Mom Confession: “I feel guilty for hating my mother-in-law around my little one.”
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6. Let her be grandma.
Most mother-in-laws complain that they don’t get to spend as much time with their grandkids as they want, and surprise, surprise, they think that it’s your fault.
It’s not just your husband that you have to “share” with your mom-in-law, but also the apos. Unless your in-laws are really the toxic kind (but we wouldn’t be having this conversation if that’s the case), let the kids spend time with Lolo and Lola. Let them spoil them a little (just make sure that they abide by your rules when it comes to big decisions).
Isn’t it nice to know that more people love your children and want them to be happy? Trust us, your child will be better having a relationship with her grandmother.
7. Talk to your spouse.
Talk to your husband about how you feel, but do so kindly and calmly. Remember that it is his mother you are talking about. Stick to the facts. Presenting your perception and emotions will make your story less credible and make your husband defensive of his mother.
Talking to your husband eases the burden and fosters open communication in your marriage. However, never expect your husband to choose a side.
8. Leave and cleave.
So you’ve reached the point of no return. Despite all efforts to mend fences, you are certain she doesn’t like you and you despise her.
If you’re staying with your in-laws but your relationship is not getting any better as time passes by, take it as a sign to find other lodging. As the saying goes, “A castle cannot have two queens.” Continuing to live under the same roof is going to be toxic so it’s probably time to have a place of your own.
Regardless of how you may feel about your mother-in-law, never forget that she is an important person in your husband’s life and in the lives of your children.
So it is imperative that you maintain a civil relationship with her. Never be rude when she visits your home, or when she invites you over for dinner. Do not make yourself scarce. This will only make her dislike you more. Instead, try to make visits short and sweet.
Image from Pexels
Additional information by Camille Eusebio
Living in the Philippines, Psychology Today, BrideStory