5 Common mother-in-law problems and how to handle them

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Want to lessen conflict and get on your mother-in-law's good side? Here's some expert advice that can make things easier!

Do you think you’ve tried it all and yet you can seem to get into the good graces of your husband’s mom? You can take some comfort in the fact that mother-in-law issues aren’t exactly uncommon.

Here’s some common MIL issues along with expert advice about how to handle them!

1. Your mother-in-law meddles

Moms want what’s best for their kids; this doesn’t change once their kids get married. Your hubby’s mom wants what’s best for him and his family. And you do, too. The trouble is that you may have opposing views as to what this means.

Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright writes in Psychology Today to first consider where she is coming from. Ask yourself how you would feel if your roles were reversed. Don’t be too hard on yourself, too, and be patient with your MIL. Try your best to love her, or at the very least respect her enough not to snap at her.

2. She shows up unannounced

Though for some couples, having in-laws show up without an invitation is normal, others find it troublesome. If you’re the type who needs privacy and space, then having an MIL who shows up at any time—and does so often—can naturally be the source of tension. The solution is to be upfront, but sensitive. See why she feels the need to show up. Perhaps she craves conversation and company. Consider what it would be like if you were in her place, then you can relate and communicate better.
Relationship blogger Wendy Atterberry’s advice is to be more assertive when needed. Be frank and consistent, but don’t be mean. Just be patient until she “gets the message” that the polite thing is to schedule visits with you beforehand.

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3. She compares you to others, even your husband’s ex

Can you relate to this? If not, then perhaps you can relate to being compared to others–or even, to your MIL herself. It’s natural for those from an older generation to idealize how things were “back in the day.”

Don’t shut her down; hear her out. Why would she feel the need to do this? Is there anything that you can do to help put a stop to this? Dr. Daniel Tomasulo views this attitude as a form of disrespect, which may or may not be intentional. Reach out and make more of an effort to show her that you’re not intimidated by any comparison.

4. She criticizes your choices

If you struggle with an MIL who constantly criticizes your decisions and undermines your opinions, it can be frustrating. Psychologist Diane Barth recommends compromise. Respect the differences as well as each other’s boundaries. The generational gap can prove challenging to bridge, especially when you both have strong views. The important thing is not to react on impulse, create space if needed. Don’t engage if you feel that you’ll only end up saying hurtful things. Stay calm and be firm, showing her that though her approval is appreciated, it does not define you.

5. She has no filter

Though it may make you uncomfortable, try to look at the bright side of the situation. Is she opening up, without hesitation, because she feels comfortable with you? Maybe she’s so confident that you can take the real her, without having to censor herself. It also helps to remember that aging has been linked to an increase in bluntness. Be considerate, but honest with her. If her honesty can be offensive at times, don’t hesitate to call her out, with love. Don’t force closeness, either. Let it happen naturally.

No matter how difficult and frustrating it gets, remember your mother-in-law is family and though you may not be the closest, you should always strive for love and respect. We hope these tips help!

sources: The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, PsychCentral

READ: Don’t know how to cope with your toxic mother-in-law? Practice ‘healthy selfishness’

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