In her book What Do You Want From Me?, Dr. Terri Apter writes, "The conflict often arises from an assumption that each is criticizing or undermining the other woman. But this mutual unease may have less to do with actual attitudes and far more to do with persistent female stereotypes that few of us manage to shake off completely."
"I can never get along with my mother-in-law, no matter how hard I try!" Have you heard this often? I am sure you have. But what about things like, "Our daughter-in-law simply doesn't treat us like her family"? You don't get to hear this that often, do you? But the problems of getting along are there at both the ends, and it is as much difficult for the mother-in-law to get along with her daughter-in-law, as it is for the daughter-in-law to do so. For a mother, accepting someone to become the most important person in her son's life is difficult, and calming at the same time. She is happy that her daughter-in-law will take care of her son, but at the same time, her insecurity of losing the penultimate position in her son's life makes the situation dicey. Buzzle has tried to provide assistance in making this acceptance an easier one.
Dealing With a Difficult Daughter-in-Law
Your daughter-in-law is the new addition to your family, and it is your responsibility to welcome her. Your first impression will leave a long-lasting effect on your daughter-in-law. So, try to be nice to her, even if she may not be your choice of a daughter-in-law. You can stick around with her, and introduce her to all the relatives whenever a family gathering comes up. Give her the warmth and love she deserves, so that she feels comfortable in her new family.
Treat Her Like an Adult
It is a universally known fact that one will find their kids to be little children, no matter how old they are! The same goes with your son. But your daughter-in-law is not the same. She is an adult who has taken the decision of marrying your son. Respect this decision, and support her through everything. While talking to her, don't go on telling what is good for her and your son. They are mature people who can take care of themselves.
The best way to understand someone is to spend time with them. You cannot simply expect your daughter-in-law to gel with you, like your girlfriends do. Find out her hobbies or the stuff she enjoys doing, like shopping, watching plays, etc. If you share similar interests, do these things together. You can go for shopping together. This way, the both of you will get to know each other better, and your differences can be resolved, if any.
Give Her Time to Adjust
Many mothers-in-law expect their daughters-in-law to start gelling with the family right from the word go. The girl is new to the family, and may take time to adjust to the situation. Leave her on her own until she settles down in her new life with your son. Once she is settled in her personal life, she will be more comfortable to talk to you and her father-in-law.
Avoid Criticism in Public
You may have not liked the dress your daughter-in-law wore for the recent family gathering. However, you should avoid taunting her or passing comments in public. Such behavior of yours will make the situation worse, and you will end up losing a chance to get along with your daughter-in-law. Instead, you can confront her when you both are alone. You can talk to her about the family etiquette, and can ask her to follow the same, the next time around.
Your daughter might be happily married, and may be taking care of the entire family, but that doesn't mean your daughter-in-law can do the same. Such comparisons will only push her further away from you. Give your suggestions on how she can improvise on her daily activities, that will save her time and efforts. But don't be too pushy about the same. Every person is different, and has their own way of doing things.
Recognize Her Role
She is in-charge of her household-related decisions, and you should recognize this role of hers. It may be difficult for you to accept that you no longer call the shots at your son's place, but that's how it is supposed to be. She is the co-leader of her household, and you cannot question her role there. Accept the situation, and try to get along with her, for your son's sake at least.
Leave Aside the Expectations
You expect your daughter-in-law to visit you every weekend, attend all family gatherings, remember all birthdays and anniversaries. Phew! And she is the kind who will not fulfill your expectations, whatever the reason be. The result, conflicts in the family that will spoil relationships. Instead, just let go of all the expectations that you have for her. Let her decide for herself how she will maintain her relationship with you and the others.
Well-defined boundaries are very important in relationships. You simply cannot drop-in at your son's place and take away their privacy. The same holds true for her as well. You can sit with her and tell her the things that are acceptable and the ones that fall out of the permissible limits. You need to put your foot down at some point of time, but for things that make sense.
Talk It Out
Communication is the best solution for most problems. You have a problem with your daughter-in-law's attitude, and have given her enough time to adjust to the new surroundings. Despite this, she has just not taken efforts to get along with you or the rest of the family members. In such a situation, it is better to have a clear, face-to-face talk with her. Avoid dragging your son in this mess, else you will put him in a difficult situation, where he will have to choose between you and his soul-mate.
Your daughter-in-law is your son's love, and someone who brings a smile on his face. Take your time to adjust with her, and give her time too. If nothing seems to work out, it is better to simply stick around for the sake of your son and grandkids. I would suggest you go along with the flow, and keep your cool in difficult situations.