I liked her from the very first.
She was strong, straight-forward, and no-nonsense. A real pioneer woman. Hard-working and resolute. My husband’s mother welcomed me into the family with few questions asked.
We got along just fine, she and I.
Because of dad’s heart trouble, we invited her and dad to move in with us. That would be nearly 15 years ago now. And we’ve been through a lot together since then. Birth, sickness, laughter, late-nights, and loss. Good times and tough times. Two strong women living in the same house.
And, yes, I still like her.
But there’s no denying that getting along with your in-laws can be one of the more challenging aspects of your married life. Can’t it.
Will you believe me when I say I know? ‘Cause I do.
Yet I’ve learned a few things over our years together. Things I wish I would have understood better before. At least 15 years ago. Because I think it would’ve helped. Would probably have helped us both actually.
So maybe sharing some of these will help you too.
Learning to Love Your In-Laws
1. Remain one with your husband. Remind each other that you’re both on the same team. Talk through issues together beforehand and form a united front. Make it your priority to go along with him – rather than to go against them.
2. Your in-laws are on the outside, looking in. Sure, they can have input and opinions, but they are not on the inside. That is a special privilege and responsibility reserved for you and your husband. So welcome their wisdom, but their role is limited to a supportive one.
3. Let the little things go. For some reason, a mother-in-law (or father) can say or do things that trigger a reaction like no one else can. But you just can’t let it get under your skin. She wants to give your children candy when you’ve stipulated “no sugar, please”? Disappointing, perhaps. Irritating, yes. BUT. Not the end of the world. Don’t let it have power over you.
4. Don’t budge on the big ones. Stay true to your convictions. These fall in a different category than preferences (“no sugar”). You don’t want your children watching certain programs? Or, talking about certain subjects? Than draw the line and stick to it (the line that you and your husband agreed to). Be kind and gracious – but unbending.
5. Don’t assume they understand. Here’s the one we probably miss the most. We assume our in-laws “get it” but are pushing against us anyway. But it’s quite likely they don’t understand you, or where you’re coming from. So give them the chance to track with you. Explain your perspective as best you’re able.
But even then, they might not be able to get you. They’re coming from a different generation. A different background. And a different experience. While not always easy, try to appreciate those differences.
6. Give them a chance to grow too. Maybe it’s because they’re older than us. Or that they’re the “parents”. But it’s easy to forget that they might have some growing yet to do. And that they might be slow-growers. But don’t give up on them altogether. Talk to them. Pray for them!
7. Love on them. Yes, really. “The Law of Love” applies to our in-laws. Maybe especially to our in-laws. I’ll confess that there’ve been moments when I became too engaged in the battle and left off with the love part. And I’m sorry for it.
Because love always wins.
So what’s it like now? Between Mom and me? Well, in some ways it’s the same. She’s still strong. Resolute. A pioneer woman.
But it some ways it’s different. She gets disoriented. Doesn’t always know what day it is or who people are. Alzheimer’s has changed a few things for her. We’re walking through times that neither of us ever anticipated. Good times and tough times.
Here’s something that hasn’t changed, however: I still like her.
In fact, it’s more than that. I’ve learned to love her.
And her, me.
Love you Mom. Always.
In His grace,
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