Recently I posted a blog about being a mother–in-law (click here to read). It generated a lot of response, so I decided to probe a little deeper and sent a questionnaire to a number of friends, both mothers and daughters. I was after honesty and I got it!
I asked 2 questions and received a variety of answers:
If you are the mother-in-law: What do you wish your daughter-in-law knew about you?
- I wish she knew how badly I want a relationship with her and that I know I mess up sometimes.
- I wish she knew how frightened I am that she won’t love or accept me and I will be locked out of a full relationship with her, my son, and grandchildren to come.
- Sometimes I worry that our relationship will be a formality and not true love.
- It can be hard for me when they spend most of their spare time with her family. It makes me feel unwanted.
- Sometimes I don’t feel appreciated for all that I do. A thank you note, a text, an email would be wonderful. (And I wish she’d teach their kids to do this as well.)
- I wish she’d call me simply to say, “How are you and how can I be praying for you?”
- I would love it if she initiated time with me.
If you are a daughter-in-law: What do you wish your mother-in-law knew about you?
- That I felt pressured by her to leave my job when I had our first baby. Her strong views made me feel like she didn’t value what I felt in giving up my job.
- I want to trust that she will keep confidences that I share with her and not tell someone else.
- I want her to want to know me in adulthood and not always talk about her son when he was small but also about his life and mine now.
- I wish she knew how much I want a good relationship with her. I wish she’d call me by my name.
- I wish she would let me “be me” with my own history and not expect me to be like her.
- I wish she knew I am not competing with her. How she and I do things may be different but I am not competing.
- I need her appreciation and encouragement.
- I wish she’d let me help her and do things for her.
These are just a few of the responses, but what was surprising to me was how similar many of the responses were.
What I see is that both mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law long for good relationships.
With some family dysfunction this may not be possible or it may take a very long time but generally speaking it is the desire on both sides.
Unfortunately our culture assumes that this relationship is difficult, contentious and most often unpleasant. Pointed jokes produce laughter but also cause pain and create expectations for a difficult relationship. Expectations which may be false.
What if we understood that we are both sinful people in need of forgiveness? It’s not because we are in-laws that we sometimes don’t get along. It’s because we are humans.
What if we began to speak about this relationship in positive terms?
What if instead of reacting we began to grant grace?
A 32 year-old friend of mine put it this way:
I found the hardest hurdle for me was going from having a mother-in-law who felt more of “the other” to having a second mother. It took several years but somewhere along the line she stopped being my “in-law” and started to just be my family. I think the best thing you can do to have a healthy relationship with your mother-in-law is to really take the ‘what’s yours is mine’ part of marriage seriously and to really love her like you love your own mother. She is yours and that is precious. And from there we can remember that family doesn’t always agree or get along but they always love each other, fight for each other, and take care of each other with a love like none other.
Whatever your relationship is like, it’s most important to remember that God knows both of you intimately.
He knows our every thought (Psalm 139). He loves each of us unconditionally. He desires for our relationship with our in-law to be one of love and acceptance. He will use us to sharpen each other. He is in the process of growing both of us up into the women He has created us to be (Philippians 1:6). It will take time. We are impatient. He is not. Be encouraged!
“Nothing is impossible for Him.”
Join my friends at Club31Women and Kindred Grace for more on mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships!
Don’t miss my post, 10 Things I’d Love for My Daughter-in-Law to Know About Me.
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