We all know the traditional, stereotypical relationship expected between mother and daughter in-laws. (Cue snarky, drama-filled movies … should I get the popcorn and tissues?) 😉
And, honestly, developing an awesome relationship with your mother-in-law can be difficult.
But I believe it is totally worth it.
I’m not naïve in believing all in-laws relationships will be perfect; far from it! But I am a big believer in loving people through their (and our) imperfections and letting the love of Christ work relationships even in the most prickly situations.
Over the course of our marriage I’ve discovered a few ways to purposefully build a relationship with my mother-in-law (whose an awesome lady, by the way). These simple, every day opportunities have helped me build a great relationship with the woman who has loved my husband a lot longer then I. 😉
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”] Pursue Relationship[/pullquote]
There’s the saying “You can either be right or act right” and it’s incredibly true. As Christian women we have the opportunity to choose between being right or acting right and sometimes it’s a hard choice!
Pursuing a relationship with your mother-in-law means pursuing acting right instead of being right. When we pursue a relationship with our husbands we choose to love even when he’s being unloveable. We choose to see the best in him, choose to overlook irritations, and when we have to address issues we do it lovingly.
It’s the same way with your mother-in-law. If you want an awesome relationship with your mother-in-law (and you do!) practice pursuing a relationship with her over pursuing being right.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Expect Differences[/pullquote]
There is no way around it — your mother-in-law and you will have differences. She has a lifetime of experience, insight, mistakes and victories. You have a lifetime of the same. Most likely you’ll be two totally different personalities (she’s an early riser who runs her own business and you’re a stay-at-home, late-riser busy with home things; at least that’s my story). 😉
Maybe the only common thing between you is the love you both have for her son.
When we learn to expect and appreciate the differences in our mother-in-laws personality we begin to build relationship and foster friendship.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Communicate with Your Spouse[/pullquote]
So. So. So important.
Be open with your spouse about the struggles (or amazingness) of your relationship with your mother-in-law; after all, your man will probably have some insight into the woman he grew up with. 😉
However, this is not the place to nag, complain or belittle. Please, just don’t. Nothing is accomplished through complaining about your in-laws except alienating your spouse and providing bitterness a place to grow.
Instead, pray together over the difficulties you’re experiencing. Be constructive and purposeful in your discussions. Be honest without being mean.
Do this behind the scenes and you’re one step closer to developing a relationship with your mother-in-law.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Set Boundaries[/pullquote]
In every good relationship boundaries exist. This can be difficult and, thankfully, I have a great mom-in-law who is proactive in this area. With your spouse decide what boundaries are necessary for you and your marriage.
There will be days when saying no to your mother-in-law (and even mom!) will be necessary; learn to be okay with this! Graciously and lovingly stand unified with your spouse and hold to the boundaries you’ve set.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Discover Her Love Language[/pullquote]
Whether you know it or not, your mother-in-law is a human being; she has fears, dreams and preferred ways of loving and being loved. Take the time to uncover the treasure she is meant to be.
One way to do that is to discover what her love language is. Is she quality time? Then don’t lather her with gifts. Does she love her people through acts of service? Then pursue loving her the same way.
While loving people according to their love language isn’t a fix all it is one way to build friendship and understanding — two necessary elements of having an awesome relationship with your mom-in-law.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Love Humbly[/pullquote]
At the end of the day having a relationship with your mother-in-law simply means loving her humbly. Remember what love is: love is patient, kind, not proud and full of goodwill.
And you’re going to get a lot of practice loving.
Your mother-in-law may be prickly, absent, or obsessive; she may also be elegant, gentle and Christ-filled. No matter how she acts she is your opportunity to let Christ work through you and in you. Allow your Lord to work proactive, grace-filled, powerful love in you toward your mother-in-law.
And enjoy the benefits that grow.
How have you purposefully developed a relationship with someone the world tells you you’ll oppose? Share your ideas and heart with us. Let’s grow together in grace and community!
With love, blessings and alotta coffee (lately 😉 )