Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mother-in-law

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Many thanks for all your kind wishes for the engaged couple. They are very happy and young and in love. What could be better than that?

The Farmer and I have been married for almost 30 years and I've spent the entire time studying what type of mother-in-law I would like to be. I'm sure you get my drift. I've made plenty of mental proclamations, now let's see if I can live up to them.

It seems to me that the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is a dynamic that is fraught with difficulties. Perhaps like some computers we have different operating systems.

What are the pitfalls that you've experienced? What have you vowed to do differently in your MIL/DIL relationship?

I'm guaranteeing that this discussion will be livelier than any political debate.

This is one HOT TOPIC!!!!

35 comments:

Heidi said...

OH the mother-in-law.... I honesty my mother in law and I get along fairly well, yet there are times she is like Marie from Everybody Loves Raymond and I am SO Deborah at times - in the sense of wanting to choke the living crap out of her. I married the baby of the family... her baby... :)
But dear Suzanne, you will probably be a fun, caring but not nosey caring, mother in law. She will be lucky to have you! :) NOW, when is the road trip?!?!?! Next spring or fall?!?! As soon as I get the address from the Historical forum, Milk Dud and I are going to do a 'drive by' to assess the area, ya know, to see what else is around that would be fun to see!! :)

chocolatechic said...

I've got a great mother in law.

She leaves us alone, she doesn't tell me how to treat her son, and she is kind.

On the flip side, she doesn't purchase birthday gifts for us or the children, she also doesn't invite us over just to hang out.

My X MIL was a nightmare. I horror. She talked about me behind my back, she downed me to my X husband, all the while smiling and being nice to my face.

Just be there, be fun, be kind, and don't offer advice unless asked.

Sarah said...

I am a daughter in law to a wonderful fabulous mother in law. She loves us unconditionally, doesn't ask any questions that she really shouldn't as far as our personal lives, finacial situation, etc. However she is always there to make sure we are okay if she heres we are sick or calls to see how the childrens doctor's appt. went. She truly cares and to be honest I love her and my father in law so much that we go to see them every weekend! I say just be there when they need you!

Jenni said...

I have a great mother-in-law, too. Sure, there are things she does that drive me batty, but they aren't particularly mother-in-law specific things. They're things that would drive me nuts if anyone did them. We just have very different personalities. Very different. Same with SIL (her dd). Mostly I've had trouble with SIL, but that continues to get better as she gets older and matures. She is 13 years younger than dh and I.

It's funny that Heidi mentioned Marie and Deborah. I think I'm very Deborah and MIL is just a little Marie once in a while. I give her a lot of credit even when she's a little Marie because her mother (full-blooded Italian) is *totally* Marie and then some. Suffice it to say I try to stay away from dh's Italian grandma. The other grandma is her complete opposite and a near perfect angel.

Mainly a midwife said...

Oh man. I think about this a lot. I do have more empathy for my MIL now that I have a son. For instance...when we first got married I used to arrange to send flowers etc.. for Mother's day (because my husband was too busy). Once I gave birth to my son I told my husband that what I had been doing was a huge mistake and I would be crushed if my son's wife did all of the card-writing/shopping for my gifts. However.. my MIL is a challenge. It is her considerable opinion that at her age she may say whatever she wants to anyone. And she does so. When I first got married 15 years ago I was really looking forward to the MIL/DIL relationship b/c at the time I didn't have the best relationship with my mom. It never materialized. It has gone up and down since the day I met her. It's a major disappointment to me but we don't have to face it everyday as we live 3000 miles away. But I have to say that as long as the MIL situation is what it is we will always be 3000 miles away. I also have to say that she's not just like that with me but she's like that with everyone (including my husband). My advice? Never tell your DIL that they should never have done IVF, which is in-vitro fertilization (even though you have a beautiful grandson as a result). Never refer to your son as "not bright but he works hard" while in the presence of your DIL.And never, ever play favorites with grandchildren, even if you have one. Oh..and one more thing..never ask your granddaughter if she's chubby (which..if you've seen my blog you'll know my daughter is nowhere near chubby). The DIL might deck you. OK..I'd better stop. I need to go make an appointment to see my therapist.. I'm mad all over again. heehee. just kidding. But seriously.. I would win the freaking prize for most antagonistic MIL.

Lucy said...

This is advice I learned very soon for myself. Not saying this is for everybody. But I have to sit back, watch, and keep my mouth shut. Very hard. It's easier to have a married daughter than a married son. What's that saying... a daughter is a daughter all of her life; a son is a son till he takes him a wife. So completly true. Just....so true. Love both inlaw children dearly, but....I'm just sayin'.

lifeinredshoes said...

Oh Suzanne, you will be a wonderful MIL, I have no doubts. What a lucky girl.

Chris said...

My husband's mother had already passed away when we married, so I've never had a mother-in-law. My daughter isn't married yet, so I am not a mother-n-law. But I did watch my mother, and that is who I would like to emulate. She loved her "in-laws" like her own kids, and treated them the same. They got praise, they got unbiased correction when she deemed it necessary and they got lots of love! They all loved her, so I guess she did something right.

Chris

Mama Koch said...

I told my DIL's that I wanted to be the MIL that my DH had and not the MIL that I had! They didn't know my mother but my MIL is still around and they definitely understand.
You just have to stand back and watch and learn to bite your tongue once in awhile!

Nice to meet another farmer's wife!

Jill said...

My MIL and I have a fabulous relationship now - but it took a humongous blow out fight and not talking (with both me and her son) for 1.5 years to get there.

Things I disliked...

* being too nosy and asking questions that made me feel uncomfortable... ie - questions about when we would start "trying" for our 2nd child.

* derogatory remarks made to my husband. If she had a concern she should have come to me. Don't put him in the middle - he shouldn't have to choose between his wife and his mother.

* not understanding that as the wife, my opinion is frankly the only one that mattered now.

* understanding that he's not going to go to his mom for his problems.

* ask before you do... whatever it may be.

Once we dealt with these issues head on, we've had a rock solid relationship and I look to her now as a mother figure and not a MIL anymore.

Lisa said...

You are very brave to bring up the subject of MIL's - Ha! I'm almost afraid to begin about my own, but I think I'll manage somehow ;-)
On one hand, my MIL can be very sweet and helps out with the children when she can. On the other, she has been known to try all kinds of manipulation to get her own way. She spoils my kids rotten and will not listen when either my husband or I tell her not to do certain things (regarding the kids). I think there has always been an underlying control issue when it comes to my kids. Another pet peeve is that she calls my husband often (like every other night) asking him to bring something to her house or do something for her. I know he should help his mom, and he does alot, but she is only 52 and in perfectly good health. She also has a husband and 2 grown sons living at home w/ her. She has plenty of help!!
Okay, enough!!! I will never stop talking about this if I don't quit. I think the Marie and Deborah analogy is perfect in my case and I love the show!
I think you will make a wonderful MIL. You have a sense of humor and don't seem to take things too seriously. Just love the kids and don't interfere....

Becky said...

The day our son was married, I told his darling wife that I didn't think of her as my daughter-in-law, she was simply now one of my kids, for better or worse. I decided based on a 30 year tenuous relationship with my own MIL that I was going to make her feel loved and accepted right from the very beginning. We have a wonderful relationship, one filled with mutual respect and love. My son is a blessed young man indeed!

arlene said...

Last year I lost my mother-in-law of 40 years. We pretty much always got along, but in the last 15 years we became very close friends. She often said that she loved me like a daughter and I truly loved her. I have two children-in-law. I try to use her example and be friendly, caring, and supporting, without being nosy and bossy. I think it probably is a GOOD thing that one of them lives 2,000 miles away. If I saw that couple more often we probably wouldn't be on as good of terms because I don't feel that they respect dh and myself (especially dh). If I saw them more often I would have to have a candid talk with them. I don't ask to be put on a pedestal, just that common courtesy be used. Sorry, putting away my soapbox now.

Anyway, just be yourself and allow them to be themselves. I don't think that will be a problem for you since you are already conscious of the 'role' you will be playing. Congratulations on gaining a new family member. Remember, the more the merrier!

FarmHouse Style said...

I think that a MIL and DIL relationship is one that has to grow and develop over time. True you both bring different sets of experiences and expectations to the table, but it is often said that men choose to marry women who remind them in some way of their mother. With this in mind, you may have more common ground than you realize.

My own MIL is a truly warm and loving woman whom I have come to respect and cherish over the last 16 years. We went through a period of adjustment at first but like all relationships, time has taught me to value her for who she is.

Rhonda

PatQ said...

I have always been very lucky in the in-law dept. My first marriage ended in divorce 20 yrs ago but to this day I still have my ex in-laws over for the holidays. And my current in-laws I love to death also. For me, I just try to be there for my SIL. He knows he's always welcome at my house and often comes over by himself. But I do try to stay away from thier fights and tell them it's up to them to resolve. It's worked so far.

MeadowLark said...

I only wish I had a great MIL. We started off on the wrong foot and it has never improved. Sigh....

anyway, now that YoungSon and girlfriend seem to be getting serious and we're meeting her for the first time, a good friend gave me this advice: If your son is the sort of man you raised him to be, he will side with his wife in an argument. So never put him in a position of having to take sides.

That is what I HOPE I can do. And from the little bit I know on your blog, I don't think you'll have a problem! Just look at it as another adventure.

Kendra said...

Fun topic! :-)

I'll be one of the few here (so far) that posts about a negative relationship with my MIL. She and I do NOT get along at all. We're civil when we have to be, but that's about it. I could write PAGES on the situation!

The main problem with my MIL is that she's a sneaky, passive-aggressive whiner who wants her way all the time and is a pro at laying on the guilt trips. Everyone else in the family kow-tows to her but I don't play that game. She *really* doesn't like that.

She complains that she never sees our girls, but expects us to make the 4-hour drive all the time. I say the road runs both ways! But they're always "just too busy" to come see us. And when we do go see them, MIL spends hours in her room watching TV while we sit out in the living room. WTH?

The main thing that really bothers me is that she totally undermines what I have to say, especially with the girls. If I say no to something, like a snack, she'll be sneaky and give it anyway. And if I mention it, I get the "well all I was trying to do was let them have a snack" line, then I have to be firm, and the next thing I know, she's off in her room crying about how I won't let her do anything for her only grandchildren and blah blah blah. *rolling eyes*

I went into it wanting a good relationship with her. But it didn't take long for her to show her true self. I knew that I would never have a good relationship with her, so I pretty much gave up at trying. The only way she'll ever really "like" me is if I give in and let her have her way with everything...and I just will not do that. I'm resigned to it all, but it still presents A LOT of difficult situations when we're around them.

MeadowLark said...

Kendra, I think we have the same MIL. :(

It can't get much worse than when Husband and I were there visiting and I upset her and the next morning she and her mother (81 and ill) who lived with her were packed and waiting for her husband to "take us to a hotel. We don't want to get in the way. We'll just stay there until you guys are done visiting". Um, just how passive agressive can one person be.

Oh wait, and there was the time she said that I wasn't welcome in her home and I said she needed to be careful, because where I go, my kids go... and she replied "See, she's trying to keep me from seeing my grandbabies".. or the time... well, you get the point.

Willow Witch said...

Well, lets see I have vowed to do everything diffrently than my mother-out-law. I will show whom ever my children "choose" to fall in love with, respect for whom they are and not whom I think they should be. NO, preconceived notions are allowed. I am not saying that it wont be hard (it could be very easy, too), but my mother has set a good example for me to follow (my husband is lucky). I know there are good mother-in-laws out there, unfortunatly I didn't get one and what's sad is my sweet husband agree's. I feel bad for him but I feel worse for my mother-out-law because I would have been the best daughter-in-law if she had let me.

Anonymous said...

Show up and shut up. That is the advice my sister with six daughter in laws advised. It has worked well. Arlene

Margaret Cloud said...

My daughter-in-law does not like to get along with anyone, so I tried all these years to be the one to give in. So all I can say is if you have some what of a good relationship going when they are going together it probably will be okay. When grandchildren come along that is a different story all together.

FarmHouse Style said...

Aren't you glad you asked? ;-)

Rhonda

Lori said...

My MIL and I have had a very up and down relationship. It really didn't help when we had to live with her for 6 months when we built our home.

My DIL's and I have a pretty decent relationship. One a little better than the other. I have learned, and trust me it has been a learned process to listen alot but advise very little unless asked. If they ask then it's free game to give an opinion. That they have "learned." They know I'll be honest. I like what the one poster said about "show up and shut up." That's the best advice I can give.

Jocelyn said...

Well, my current MIL is a wench.
Mean, heartless and opinonated. My first MIL ws a saint and I loved her dearly and now is in late stages Alzhmrs, and doesnt know me anymore. I am just heartbroken.
My best advice is, give little or no opinion about the marriage, kids,home, cooking unless ASKED.
I WISH I had a MIL this time like the first one, but I got a better husband out of this deal , so it all evens out!

Kaye said...

My mom was a great MIL to both my DH and my SIL. When my brother got married, my mom said, "We will love this girl! We will never say one bad thing about her - ever!" And we didn't. That was 35 years ago! She always treated all of us the same. She made it clear that we were all "her" children. Mom was sick for four years before her death earlier this year. Both my DH and my SIL helped Daddy and my brother and me care for her during her illness. I know DH loved her as much as he does his own mother and I'm pretty sure SIL feels the same. I hope I'm as good a MIL as she was.

Anonymous said...

WHOA, I could not stand my EX-mil. She went out of her way to undermine the breastfeeding schedule of my 4 month old by giving him food behind my back. She talked about me and all the other daughter in laws behind our backs. The best part was when she would re-gift us the really crappy X-mas gifts that she received from her 1st grade students, you know, things like vinyl kleenex box covers and rock hard chocolate candies. She seemed to go out of her way to insult and demean the wives of her 3 sons.
Oh, and when she voiced her narrow opinions, she always repeated her words twice, as though that somehow made it reasonable.
Thanks for letting me vent, I moved on 21 years ago but I still have bad memories about that woman.
You will be great as a mil I think.

nanatrish said...

The happy couple looks so sweet. You will be a great mother in law. My son in law is a neat, easy going guy. He has to be to put up with my daughter. :) Her ring looks gorgeous! I'll be anxious to hear about the wedding planning.

Tiffany said...

Well girl,

As the the mother of FIVE boys, I pray we are raising them well enough to recognize a moody, rebellious, conniving, manipulative woman easy enough to know to stay away, FSAAAAAARRRR away, from her. And I hope I can recognize those traits in myself if they are there when it comes time for them to choose!

bv said...

i learned everything i know of how not to be a MIL from my mil. we went through many prospects and when childs pick, i loved. i just loved the choices no matter what. we raised the kid and we trusted them. and they love us. you have a open heart. and lots of room in it. i love to watch my kids as grownups. lucky you, a new member to the family!
bv

Holly Tree Primitives said...

I love my mother in law. She is wonderful to me, her son and our children. She can always see the good in any situation. Even if she has a different opinion than I do on something, she is always able to see my point of view AND point out the validity of my stance. She also encourages the kids in everything they do. If they say they are going to be a watermelon when they grow up, she tells them that is wonderful and explains all the fun parts of being a watermelon. She is hands on,which means she reads them scads of books, digs in the dirt with them, and will do just about any crazy thing they come up with within reason.

Upon our first meeting, I was very nervous, and she AND my father in law made me a part of the family instantly. No trial periods, no getting to know me. If their son loved me, they did too, it was that simple.

I call them mom and dad. I really do see them as second parents to me. I feel completely comfortable calling them mom and dad, but to tell you the truth, I bet most of you all would feel pretty comfortable calling them mom and dad as well, they are those kinds of people.

I love my MIL dearly, I am the luckiest DIL in the world.

corine @ hidden in france said...

I have 2 boys and I only hope to become the kind of mother in law mine is. She's wonderful and far more supportive and nurturing to me than my own mother.

LibraryGirl said...

Where do I begin...My MIL is the kind that pretends to "stay out of our business" but not really. When asked for advise or her opinion on a subject her answer is "Whatever you think is best..." but then when the decision is made she has something negative to say about it. My suggestion: stay out of their business until you're asked, then keep your opinions to yourself when they make a decision - even if its not the one you would have chosen.

Karen said...

I have a DIL and a SIL. so far.

I have a great relationship with both of them.

I've told them right from the start, that I'm there for them if they need to talk or whatever and that they are to tell me if I ever step over any of their boundries.

So far, they've never had to call me to task :-)

The best of advice that I can offer is ...

To keep your mouth shut even if there are times when you want to open it !!

Never offer unsolicited advice, even though there will, again , be times when you're just itching too !!

Never take sides ...

Make friends with the in-laws if you possibly can. That makes things so much easier, especially when the kiddos start arriving :-)

Be kind, loving and supportive ... never critical. That is sooooo important.

It sounds like you are already off to a good start, if your soon to be DIL was the other part of that cake disaster you wrote about awhile back :-)

You'll do fine :-)

Louise said...

From what I see of you on this blog, I do not think you'll have problems. The fact that you didn't tell anyone until it was time shows that you are not going to be interfering in their lives. That is the worst things mother-in-laws do.

I had a mother-in-law for only about 4 years. I feel kind of jipped. What I WISH I had (in a mother or mother-in-law, because I have neither), is someone to be supportive, but not sticking her nose in my business. (While all parents were alive, no one was the interfering type; it was wonderful.) I wished that when I had my children, I would have had a mother and mother-in-law to come help me a week each. Not really for the help, but for the bonding. I wish my children had grandparents that would take them places special. (We're jumping the gun on grandkids, here.)

If I had one complaint about my mother-in-law while she was living, it was that I think she loved me because I was her son's husband. It is better than not loving me at all, I suppose, but I never felt like it had anything to do with me or what kind of person I was. So maybe advice DID come out of this long comment. Get to know her for who she is inside and appreciate the wonderful things you find. And they probably won't all be wonderful, but they aren't in anyone, so we all have to get past those things.

Dusty and Amanda said...
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