Ever since the book came out, I've received feedback about how it's made women think about friendships throughout their lives, as well as who is in their lives now. The goal of this blog is to open up and create a dialogue about friendships: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Each week I will post my thoughts, experiences, as well as various articles, topics or quotes that I feel are important when examining female friendships. Please feel free to leave comments; I look forward to hearing from you!

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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Mother-in-Law Dilemma

Not too long ago, I wrote about the significance of our family relationships (mother/daughter, sister/sister, etc.) and how we tend to forget they are also our friends.  Another relationship we tend to forget about is the one with our mother-in-law.  Some of you may intentionally overlook this relationship, so I will dive into these shark-infested waters…  

A friend was telling me about her complicated relationship with her soon to be mother-in-law (which is a nice way of putting it).  My friend wanted to know if she had to have a relationship with her mother-in-law?

I was stumped with how to answer her question.  My friend realizes that she’s not only marrying her fiancĂ©, but she’s also marrying into his family, for the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Unfortunately, she’s not had an easy time building a relationship due to reasons I shall not go into – let’s just say that it’s been difficult for her fiancĂ©'s mother to accept that her son is getting married.  My friend is in the midst of planning her wedding and wants to enjoy her “big day” yet is wondering how this dynamic with her mother-in-law will play out long-term.  Does she need to have a relationship with her?

Here are my thoughts: it would probably be easier to have a civil relationship so that holidays and family get-togethers are tolerable.  At some point, my friend may want to attempt an amicable conversation with her mother-in-law to talk through their issues – even if they cannot come to an agreement, they can at least try to work on how to get along despite their differences.  The process will not be easy, but at least if you can agree to disagree, it’s better than just plain disagreeing.  

This female relationship is quite horrendous if it’s not a positive one, and I’m sure we’ve all heard stories about our friends’ mother-in-law who seems like the devil.  However, this relationship is important due to all the parties involved, most specifically, your husband/her son.  If he’s feeling as though he’s put in the middle, it won’t help your marriage and it won’t help his relationship with his mother.  It’s a lose/lose situation.

I feel empathy for my friend and wish things were different, but as my mother always tells me, “It is what it is.”  Thus, my friend has to learn how to manage her mother-in-law without going insane, as well as without letting it negatively impact her marriage.  Thus, to answer her question, it’s more of how she defines this relationship for herself.

For those of you who have a strong, positive relationship with your mother-in-law, it can be a beautiful thing – it can provide another female support system for you.  Not that it needs to be perfect, as every relationship has its ups and downs, but this one in particular can be valuable.

Can you relate with my friend’s predicament?  What is your relationship like with your mother-in-law?  Did you ever have to work on your relationship?

1 comment:

  1. Great post Nicole and definitely an important "friendship" to be considered. I am very, very lucky in that I absolutely love my mother in law and we get along really well. I do have friends who have been in this situation and it seems to make a huge difference whether the husband agrees/can see the issues with his mom vs. just tries to ignore them. Regardless, I think if it was me I'd probably try to just kill them with kindness and go from there. Like you said there are just way too many events with family to be hating each other. I am bad at confrontation but there may be some benefit in talking about it and getting feelings out on the table.