Question: Dear Luise: I married into a closed family unit. I am a young daughter-in-law with a toddler son. I hate to admit it but I think I may be a bit jealous of him. I mean this…my in-laws never really included me in the family before my son was born. And now it is apparent that they prefer blood relatives over anyone else. It hurts me. I have always wanted a good relationship with my mother-in-law (like the one my mom had with hers). If you watched them together you would think my paternal grandma was my mom’s mother. Grandma accepted her as her own daughter. My MIL has often said that my son would be the one to make us closer. Why can’t I be accepted into the family? Why can’t they just accept me for me? I accept them! It has never occurred to her that just maybe she has to get through me to get to my son. And so maybe she should try to also get to know me. By getting to know me, she would have all the access she wants to him. Does this sound jealous? Maybe it is. But it is not like she doesn’t see him at all. It is just not as often as she’d like because I don’t trust her and because she hasn’t taken the time to consider me in all of this. Am I wrong for not wanting to spend my weekends twiddling my thumbs while she plays with my son? M. B.
Answer: Dear M. B. The sad truth is that she is the way she is and she’s not going to change. I suppose it’s possible to get the perfect guy and the perfect mother-in-law. It looks like your own mother succeeded in doing that but I bet it’s rare. The family dynamics were in place in both instances long before either of you put in an appearance.
Warmth and caring are spontaneous feelings that are either there or they aren’t.
Your job, now, is to find a way to enjoy yourself when you are around her. What your own mother experienced isn’t in the cards for you right now and resentment and displeasure aren’t going to make you any more appealing. To the contrary…
In all probability, your mother-in-law is going to have ready access to your husband with or without your help. You may be making things more difficult for them but you are also making them harder for yourself in the bargain. Not smart. This is not the time for retaliation or an “It’s her fault…she started it” attitude. Don’t go there. What you are seeking is a love relationship. Getting even doesn’t support that becoming a reality.
Be bigger than she is…not smaller. Be kinder and more helpful. Wear her down with willingness and cooperation. Make a private game out of it that you don’t tell a soul about. I have been there and done that and I can guarantee that she will eventually decide you are such a good fit in the family that she will think she picked you out herself. Blessings, Luise