You love your partner. You and your partner have committed to each other, through the good times and the bad. But you didn’t commit to their family. Dealing with in-laws can be difficult. Especially, a mother-in-law. Your partner’s mother was their first caretaker, their first protector, and their biggest fan. When you then step into these roles in your partnership, it can cause tension, friction, or misunderstanding with your partner’s mother.
If you find yourself saying “I don’t like my mother-in-law”, you’re not alone. Difficulties with in-laws are common. When you’re merging together two separate families with different backgrounds it can be tough to be on the same page.
Read on for a few suggestions on how to manage the stress that comes when you just don’t like your mother-in-law.
Take some space.
You have a choice to interact with your mother-in-law or not. Talk with your partner about how important a specific event or interaction is for them- if it’s not of high value, don’t go. You don’t have to do everything your partner does with their family- you just have to present a united front. It’s important to remember that you have a choice. Choice helps to reduce the helplessness and hopelessness that can arise when you have in-laws you aren’t too fond of.
Dig deep for some compassion.
This part may be hard because we might find ourselves in a place of being angry, frustrated, or annoyed- and compassion isn’t a feeling that we can access easily. Remember that when you and your partner got together you gained a spouse, but your mother-in-law lost their child as they once knew them. Having compassion for your mother-in-law can help you reduce how much you internalize or personalize her words or behavior. It can help you to see her as a grieving person, doing the best she can with what she has.
The space between our expectations and reality is filled with disappointment, frustration, and sometimes even resentment. When you can learn to accept your mother-in-law as she is and expect her to show up in the way that she has always shown up- instead of the way you want her to- you can reduce the intensity of the above-named space fillers. Acceptance does not mean we condone or agree. it just means that we are taking what is being presented in the moment and acting accordingly. Remember, acceptance is for you, not her. Acceptance helps you to reduce the uncomfortable feelings that arise when reality doesn’t meet our expectations.
We need to normalize having thoughts like, ‘I don’t like my mother-in-law’.
Reality is, we’re not going to like everyone, and not everyone is going to like us. However, there are situations in life where we have to interact with those people that we aren’t always fond of. They may not always be pleasurable situations, but they are inevitable and with a little work, we can make them manageable.
If you’d like some help sorting out the strong feelings surrounding your in-laws, a relationship coach may be able to help. Reach out today – you don’t have to navigate this alone.