Rarely do we have an opportunity to hear both sides of the mother-in-law problem. Here, two candid women lament their relationship. Mindy, the daughter-in-law, and her mother-in-law, who remains unnamed as mother-in-laws often do, describe their fantasy.
When I go to Luke and Mindy's house, it's always so chaotic. The kids are running around half- naked, even in winter. It's all she can do to get clothes on them. They're usually filthy after an hour or two. And she never changes them. She doesn't even bathe them every day.
Why isn't my mother-in-law more loving to the kids? She's only interested in them when they're sweet. If they say something naughty or have a tantrum, she doesn't want to have anything to do with them. She says that we're too lenient with them and that's why they misbehave. Well maybe we are but it's not so easy when you're pregnant and have two little ones. I don't have the energy to discipline them. She makes me feel guilty, like I'm a terrible mother. She should help or shut up.
It may be painful to accept but it's true nevertheless: You don't marry a person --you marry a system. One of the challenges of marriage is learning how to master an essential part of that system--in- laws.
Let's turn to each member of the in-law triangle: Luke says nothing but disappears to his workplace when his mother visits. Luke, you are crucial to improving the in-law tensions. Reassure Mindy that she is your top priority, above children, work, mother, and money. Mindy will hopefully respond with a similar declaration.
Most newlyweds have similar difficulties regarding the holidays. In a bad marriage, the couple argues about the issue. In a good marriage the couple argue, discuss, and compromise. It's good that you cleared the air about what bothers you about the other's family.
It may be painful to accept but it's true nevertheless: You don't marry a person --you marry a system. One of the challenges of marriage is learning how to master an essential part of that system--in- laws. In-laws come in different types: Some are supportive and respect the marital boundaries. Others act like your job is to serve their needs. A couple must act from the awareness that their primary loyalty is to each other and their new family. It takes courage to make that stand. On the other hand, the partners must make great efforts to develop and maintain positive relations with their respective in-laws.
Join the Austen-Kutchinskys as they struggle to make their new blended family work.
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