7 Beautiful Ways to a Better Relationship with Your Mother-in-Law

I liked my mother-in-law from the very first.

She was strong, straight-forward, and no-nonsense.  A real pioneer woman.  Hard-working and resolute.

Then, because of dad’s heart trouble, we invited her and dad to move in with us. That was over 20 years ago.

And we went through a lot together over those years.

Birth, sickness, laughter, late-nights, and loss. Good times and tough times. Alzheimer’s and more.

But it was never easy.

Because 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.   Things that would have helped us both actually.

So maybe sharing some of these will help you too.

7 Ways to Get Along Better With Your Mother-in-Law

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 her.

2. Your mother-in-law is on the outside, looking in.

Sure, she can have input and opinions, but she’s not on the inside. That is a special privilege and responsibility reserved for you and your husband. So welcome her wisdom, but her role is limited to a supportive one.

3. Let the little things go.

For some reason, a mother-in-law 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 things.

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? Then 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 she understands.

Here’s the one we probably miss the most. We assume our mother-in-law “gets it” but is pushing against us anyway. But it’s quite likely she doesn’t understand you, or where you’re coming from. So give her the chance to track with you. Explain your perspective as best you’re able.

But even then, she might not be able to get you. She’s coming from a different generation. A different background. And a different experience. While not always easy, try to appreciate those differences.

6. Give her a chance to grow, too.

Maybe it’s because she’s older than us. Or that she’s the “parent”. But it’s easy to forget that she might have some growing yet to do. And that she might be a slow-grower. But don’t give up on her altogether. Talk to her. Pray for her!

7. Love on her.

Yes, really. “The Law of Love” applies to our mother-in-law. Maybe especially to her. 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.

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In His grace,
Lisa Jacobson


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