After two years of marriage, we have moved back to Tampa and I am beginning to wonder if it was a mistake. There is this unspoken strained relationship between my mother-in-law and I. I really don’t want it to be like this but I don’t know what’s wrong with her. At first, I thought she liked me but now I am not so sure. Sometimes I even feel she is competing with me. I cannot say anything or complain about my husband in the least way, without her getting mad. I don’t get that.
I don’t even know what to call her. Momma is totally out of the question because I have a momma and she is alive and well. At first, I called her Mrs. Blank, as anyone would do to show respect. Then she told me to call her by her first name and I do, but now it seems a bit disrespectful. I have seen some of my friends relationships with their mother-in-law’s and I do not want that for us. I am 6 weeks pregnant and I want to have a stress free pregnancy and a good relationship with his mom. I want my children to have the type of relationship that I had with my grandparents. How can I fix this before the baby gets here?
Dear Troubled Daughter-in-Law,
If she liked you at first, you or her son probably unknowingly did something that fell short in her eyes and of course she blames you for it, never her son (lol). It may take a moment for her to get over it, but with love and kindness she will.
First things first, you must tell her you are pregnant immediately before someone else does. If someone else tells her first, she is going to be mad as hell. She will never forget that everyone knew before her that she was having a grand baby.
You must remember, you have married her baby, her pride and joy. She feels she will always be his momma but you may not always be his wife. That’s how all mothers feel until the spouse has invested years into the relationship. So, although he is your husband, he was her son first and you cannot talk about her child without her getting a bit angry, even if he is without a doubt, wrong. She takes criticism of him personally because she raised him and feels responsible for his actions or, lack of actions. Always know that in the early years of your marriage, your complaints about him, is a complaint or an insult to her.
Now if you really want to have a great relationship with your mother-in-law, compliment her son. Just flat out brag about him. Tell her how cute he is, tell her how good he is doing on his job. Tell her how good he looked when he left for work or when you two went out on the town. Tell her how helpful he is around the house, even if it is not much at all. Tell her how good he makes you feel. Tell her something nice he said about her. Discuss your love life just a little bit. All a mother wants from anyone, especially their daughter-in-law or son-in-law, is to know that they love their child and that their child is being loved and treated fairly by their spouse.
Most importantly, when you are at her house, do not sit down like a guest. Get up and help her like a daughter! Don’t ask her if she needs help, you can see what needs to be done. Do it! If she is preparing dinner, keep the counters clean while she is working. After dinner, wash dishes or clean off the table without being asked or told. You have been around long enough to know where things belong. Help her so she can have time to sit and enjoy your company. If you will do helpful things, it will soften her heart towards you. Invite her over to your house. Every mother wants to know where her child lives and how they are living. Sometimes ask her advice, even if you do not need it. It’s good to get a second opinion. It makes her feel as if she has not lost a son but gained a daughter. Mothers need to feel loved and needed too.
All relationships take time for love to grow. I called my mother in law “Momma Johnson” and my mother called our grandmother “Mother Payne.” Just put mother in front of her first or last name. It is loving and respectful. While you are at it, thank God your baby will have a grandmother. Heeyyy!