Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Do You Get Along with Your Mother-In-Law? 5 Tips to Help

distress womanIn a few weeks, I will become the mother-in-law. For years, I have helped people in therapy deal with their  in-laws. In-laws can easily become out-laws in families.

In fact, researcher, Sylvia Mikucki-Enyart at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point polled mothers whose child was about to marry. She overwhelming found that moms were more worried when their sons married than their daughters.


Moms felt more uncertainty and insecurity with the daughter-in-laws to be, wondering how they might influence their sons when it comes to family relationships. Mothers also worried that the wife may change their sons in ways that would create distance. And daughter-in-laws wondered about their mother-in-laws, are they talking about me, going to be too involved, etc.


When the two women dance around each other and don’t work out their relationship, distance can occur. The key is to work through the uncertainty of the relationship, defining it as you go. Sons need their mothers and new wives to work out their relationships. Mothers-in-laws can be strong advocates, helpers and supports to a couple.

So here are a few tips to help make those relationships positive:

1) Mothers do better when requests come from their sons. If something has upset his wife, a son should ask his mom to behave in a way that doesn’t upset her, not just tell her that she upsets his wife. Talk through strategies as to how to approach and solve problems quickly. But make sure those strategies are healthy. For example, a son can’t ask his mom to avoid problems. Relationships don’t grow that way.


2) Daughters-in-laws should keep their mother-in-laws involved in the family. Spend time together and pick their battles. Like any relationship, spending time together and working through issues strengthens relationships. This relationship is too important to ignore or be a battle. Working through conflict is essential. Don’t keep problems inside and don’t avoid.

3) Both should avoid seeing their relationship with the son/husband as a competition. It’s not and both love differently.

4) The couple should be a team and present as a united front. This means couples need to work through the issues and decide how to deal with them together.

5) Two women come from two different family systems. Both need to learn to accommodate the other but work on healthy strategies for relationships. For example, if one woman doesn’t hold boundaries, that is an area of work. If the other avoids conflict, that needs to be worked on too. Dysfunctional family patterns should be addressed to improve the relationship. After all, feminist say we marry our mothers. When both women have worked on healthy patterns in their own families, the relationship between them will go better.

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