There are a few key things that you need to be aware of before going over to your mother-in-law’s place. First of all, know in advance that you will be making mistakes, but this is actually good, because you will take specific and copious notes that will provide you with plenty of material for your Daughter-in-Law Solutions Worksheet, and you will be able to prevent many-a-future D.I.L.Z (Daughter-in-Law Zings) by simply filling in your I.N.C.S. template! (Identify the problem, Note what was done and said, Create a rule title, and Set up a solution!) I always get a kick out of how great the rules actually work, once I put ‘em into practice! Now remember, a lot of these rules are universal in nature, but some of them are quite specific. The key is to remember that I.N.C.S. for D.I.L.Z. will work like a charm! Okay, so here are a few tips to get you started, from my personal files. Compliment the Way Your MIL Keeps Her House
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1. Advice This is something that all parents give, regardless of in-law status or not. However, when our mother-in-law offers us advice (particularly of the unsolicited persuasion), there is a specific formula that we must adhere to in order to preserve our sanity. And that is to thank her profusely! In fact, we can take it a step further and actually beat her to the punch and solicit her council, which accomplishes two things simultaneously: one—it will make her feel like her guidance is special, and two—makes it easy for us to be gracious and thankful. A word of warning, however: make sure that you keep your subject matter on the simple and inconsequential side, and although it may seem contradictory, avoid all topics pertaining to professional advice or you will likely get D.I.LZ.ed (Daughter-In-Law Zinged)! 2. Interests
Never complain about your mother-in-law to your husband. I did this for a few years and this simply does not work! As tempting as it may be, strive to never put your husband in the middle – he will not appreciate being asked to take sides, may or may not defend you, and you will end up feeling far worse than before. Daughter-in-law tip: Call your best girlfriend or your own mother, but make sure that your husband is not within earshot. He does not like the thought of you talking about his mother (or any family arguments) in a derogatory way to anyone. It may not seem fair, but this is how he feels so it’s best to not let him overhear you discussing anything to do with his mother’s latest interesting take on the state of your domain! Never let your husband catch you imitating your Mother-in-law’s voice.
Ahh, dining with your mother-in-law! If it wasn’t already fraught with tension because you are a vegetarian and she has never heard of tofu, well, then, you must be prepared to follow a certain protocol to help smooth mealtime over, and make the experience an overall pleasant one at best! Here we go: Top Tip #1) Be prepared to be enticed by lots of sugary temptations! Even though you have recently committed to losing that last ten pounds, and removed all treats from your pantry, and have implemented an exercise program that you are sure to stick with THIS time, once and for all, your MIL will undoubtedly sabotage you with phrases such as, “I made TWO chocolate pies last night,” and, “There’s a couple of Collacchi on the counter!” several times a day. Who can maintain a healthy regimen in a war-zone such as this? So you don’t. Strategy?
Q: My mother-in-law thinks that she is the one having the baby here—what do I do? A: Allow your MIL to Share in your pregnancy joy. As soon as you announce your pregnancy, your MIL may jump up and down, run around the house, eyes welling up with tears, hollering, “Yippie! We’re finally pregnant! I hope it’s a boy!” and proceed to call all her buddies on the phone telling them the wonderful news that she is finally pregnant! Go along with the game and frequently ask her how she’s feeling. Offer to bring her water and crackers, slippers, and other comforts of home, especially during her first trimester. Q: My MIL thinks we should give up our cats for adoption because she thinks they will sleep on the baby’s head and smother her to death.
After eight years of sweaty hands and heart palpitations before packing up a car for a visit to my mother-in-law’s house at holiday time, I figured enough was enough. How could this sweet, little old lady with the rheumatoid arthritis and wig cause such fear and trepidation? Coming up with some strategies was an essential move. What was the most surprising part of the trip that year? The approach actually worked wonders! Note: The bottom line while you’re implementing these tips is to really and truly learn to appreciate your MIL. After all, she did give birth to your husband and you are forever thankful to her for that! So, although there will always be problems because of a general lack of commonalities, goals and cultural pursuits, we just sort of have to give up that fantasy and let our MIL be herself. Top Tip #1) Be aware that your MIL’s mood may be directly affected by the weather and act accordingly.
Ladies! There are a few more simple things you can avoid that will save you from repeat D.I.L.Z. (Daughter-in-Law Zings) that we all experience from time to time. The bottom line while you’re correcting these “mistakes” is to let your mother-in-law be herself, don’t expect her to change or be anything other than who she is, and try to focus on the positive. As well, do not, for heaven’s sake, take anything she says personally! We must try to always give her the benefit of the doubt, and put our stubborn natures aside. Here goes: Mistake #6) Don’t be objective when your MIL criticizes you.You must always remember your objectivity! Solution: If your MIL tells you your hair looks better the other way, enthusiastically thank her by solidly agreeing how difficult it is to be objective about yourself. Then style it the OTHER way while she is visiting. Of course you can change it back when she leaves, although be open to the possibility that she may actually have a point! Mistake #7)
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!
The Daughter-in-Law Newlywed: What to Do When the Honeymoon Is Over (Literally!)
... or how to achieve a lifetime of smooth sailing with your husband and MIL and save yourself years of frustration, anger, and anti-depressants!