Intentionally Creating a Union Based on Mutual Love and Respect
Society tells us the majority of mother and daughter in law relationships are toxic and unhealthy. We have heard of the single, bitter mother in law who finds pleasure in causing drama between her son and his wife. Remember the movie, “Monster-in-Law” or Jason’s mother in the movie, “Jumping the Broom?” To be fair, it's important to acknowledge that a daughter in law can be the difficult one in a relationship too. Poor in law relations can bring additional stress to the complexities of married life. Marriage advice is plenty in regards to getting married or staying married, but advice regarding in-laws are ignored.
Marriage is a blessing and certainly a test of one’s faith. It is the combination of two families into one. When a man and woman decide to commit to one another, he becomes a part of her family and she becomes a part of his family. The common thread that all should remember is their shared love and respect for their child and their child’s spouse. Although society wants us to believe mother and daughter in laws will always be at odds when it comes to sharing the love and attention from their son or husband, with the right intent, mutual love and respect can be developed amongst all willing parties in order to create a peaceful and harmonious relationship.
Here are a few tips for in-laws:
1. Kindness Begets Kindness
Every religion advises us of being kind to one another and to treat others the way we would like to be treated. Kindness is a genuine act that demonstrates to another that you care, love and respect them. It is a gesture that is consistently displayed through words and actions. Sporadic acts of kindness when one has a need or want from the other person is not portrayed as genuine. If someone is kind to you it is only natural to return the same act.
Open and honest communication is key in any type of relationship. But before any foundation for a new family can be laid, the couple should discuss their goals, expectations, and plans for their family unit and then share those plans with their own parents and siblings. This sets healthy boundaries, so everyone involved knows their role and the expectations. Next, in-laws should take the time to get to know one another; you ARE family now. Share your likes, dislikes, goals, hobbies and family history with each other. When people know a person it lessens the chance for misconceptions or misunderstandings to arise between the new family members. If you’re feeling uneasy about a matter, talk it over with your child and their spouse together to avoid any miscommunication and/or misunderstanding.
3. Be Respectful
All parties involved should be respectful of the boundaries that your children have put in place for their family. Don’t take it upon yourself to impose, make demands or create havoc in order to get your way. Be respectful by honoring their no and earn their respect by abiding by their wishes. You never know what one is enduring behind closed doors or it could just be bad timing. Perhaps they have other plans or just want to spend some quiet time alone. Don’t take it personal.
4. Understand that Strong Relationships Take Time to Build
Building a positive relationship is something you'll need to work on. It will not happen overnight. Involve your child in working with you to establish a relationship with your in law(s). Consider having lunch together with your in-law(s), plan a dinner for both sides of the family, give gifts on special occasions or just because that your in-law(s) may like. Send your in law(s) a special note or text to let them know you’re thinking of them. Also, consistency can go a long way in building a positive relationship.
5. Let Go of Your Stubbornness, Pride and Ego
In all relationships conflicts will arise. When a problem arises, speak with everyone involved and then work together to find a resolution. This will build mutual respect and help to maintain peace within the family. Don’t forget that a sincere apology can always ease tension in a relationship. When you are able to let your ego sit in the back seat and let love and unity drive, beautiful things can develop within family relationships.
In conclusion, no one is better than the other. Everyone has their individual struggles and hang ups. Yet, a couple who decides to join their families together is hopeful that everyone will get along. While there will always be some differences, fear God. If the intent to be kind, communicative, respectful, and understanding is always at the forefront, then mutual love and respect will be created for all.