How Can I Learn to Like my Mother-in-law

Question: Dear Luise: My in-laws have a motor home. They travel south for the winter and then in the summer they park at their kid’s places…several weeks with each family. The one close to us doesn’t have room for their big rig, so we get them for a double visit, now. I have tried to like her and to be kind to her but she is loud, opinionated and tries to interfere with how I’m raising my kids. I know she’s had a hard life and raised her family alone and yet that fails to make her any more appealing to be around. They are talking about giving up their winter trips and I’m shaking in my boots. Is there anything I can do to be more charitable and still be honest? I feel really guilty that I’m glad I have a demanding job and can get away from her during the day. Thanks, Magda

Answer: Dear Magda: What you are describing involves some really tough family dynamics.

First of all there is absolutely nothing you can do to change this woman. She probably put up some walls and thickened her skin many years ago, unless she arrived on the planet “as is”. What doesn’t work at all for you, works for her.

If your husband understands the issues and is willing to lay down the law, you might try together to pull her nose out of your child-rearing business. You didn’t mention how he looks at the situation. Unfortunately, many husbands choose to take a head-in-sand attitude with difficult mothers. Does yours? And I have to tell you that taking a firm line with an overpowering person is often just declaring war. It seldom works.

My only suggestion is to look within and notice that her conduct is causing a conflict for you. When you study your feelings more deeply you may find that your own values are being highlighted. I would be willing to bet that you are not overbearing, do not believe in interfering with others and would never consider intruding into their lives. It’s an easy step from there to get that it may not be very comfortable being her. The last step of that exercise is compassion. It comes quite naturally.

If all else fails…sell your place and get one like the other family member did, that (unfortunately) has no room to park their big rig. Your peace of mind matters and your children are your business.
Blessings, Luise

3 Responses to How Can I Learn to Like my Mother-in-law

  1. Magda August 24, 2007 at 7:37 am #

    Hey Luise,
    You are just too cool for words…Thanks for the good advice. Now as I try to look at her with compassion, the situation seems more bearable, and I now feel that I am in control. Wow, what a difference!
    God’s timing is wonderful Thanks again Luise,
    Love, Magda

  2. Mike Paahana September 15, 2007 at 4:23 pm #

    my ex and I are trying to work things out but his mother was the cause of our break up too. Would like any advice how to make this work the second time around.

  3. Luise September 24, 2007 at 8:26 am #

    Answer: Dear Mike: Look back very carefully at where things went wrong and why. You have a history that can be of great help to you. Allowing interference is something young, newlyweds often do because of inexperience and trust. Trust each other this time and set boundaries. Blessings, Luise

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