Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mother-In-Law Trouble? SOLVE IT NOW!

A difficult Mother–In-Law Situation? 
Yes! You can Handle it!

I could hardly understand the rush of words pouring out at the other end of the phone. Renuka was furious with her mother-in-law’s admonishment, delivered in a superior tone of voice and very disapprovingly toward her.  Direction, interference, disapproval, unkindness. She couldn't take it anymore and had fought with her spouse because it was ‘his mother’. He was the cause of it all, her unreasonable anger declared.

“Are you buddies other than when you’re not getting along?” I queried. “Yes, when we’re not arguing –which is rare” she admitted grudgingly.

 Big mistake, I said, to her utter surprise. She’s not your 'buddy'. The truth is that you cannot be ‘buddies’ except in rare cases, and the sooner you begin to realize it the faster your relationship can flower into a semblance of mutual respect. 

Distance, mutual respect, space and formality is the KEY! 


The other mistake is, to confide in her and to believe that she is your parent. It is cordial formality that you must aim for, not back slapping confidant like rapport. 

She is not your mother and don't imagine you can turn her into one. She is not your friend either. She belongs to another school of thought and is bound to feel possessive when you’re cosying up to her beloved child.

I explained to Renuka that she had become too fond of her mother-in-law and that started the problems. Like an over-eager excited girlfriend she had felt her lover's mother she shared a loved one in common and had felt they could share confidences. 

“There are other friends and family you can turn to for mentoring, comfort and advise” I guided her. 
It is always better that the confidant not be your mother-in-law. The relationship has to last for the rest of her life with you. If you refuse to enter into an emotional relationship with her, it will allow you to be more objective and compassionate.  I cannot stress the wonders of keeping your distance. Whether you are in a happy situation or a state of cold war, polite formality is the best answer. Real politeness, not faked. Even if she’s being extra nice , YOU keep it formal. The trick lies in the delicate balance between warmth and formality.

You don't cook or are not interested in housekeeping, pet peeves like that are avoidable topics, keep away from them feverishly. Keep conversations to the weather. Nothing is as safe as the weather in terms of conversation. Go into great detail about the intricacies of climate and avoid personal triggers that create conflict.

 If her interests are cooking and gardening and yours are accounting, attribute it to different tastes and a different generation. Let it not become a bugbear. Conflict is avoidable, but if it comes to that stay calm, firm and walk away when tempers are heated. Bite your tongue? Give yourself and her time to reflect. To define boundaries which you consider to be bottom lines that may not be crossed and make you feel violated when they are, and make them tactfully known is beneficial to her and you. Be firm with her, yet respectful.

There are times you have felt betrayed, she has spoken about you to her family and complained bitterly. Take it with a pinch of salt. She has only vented and let me tell you that it’s better she used them to emit her angst than you. 

The mistake we make most often is to not realize that a mother-in-law is a completely different person from you, from a different generation and to go into her skin is very important to understand her behavior and to empathize than to take her every conversation personally.  She has begun to feel less important to her child and obviously has difficulty coming second to a new entrant in her child’s life. 

What you see in movies is just that- a movie, a story. And when you look at smiling pictures of Bollywood marriages, they are pictures. What goes on behind images is real life, and in real life there is always hard work that goes into making things cordial and friendly. If the images are real then remember that much respect, formality and space has gone into creating the smiling happy atmosphere of mutual respect. 

It is wiser to be pleasant, formal, friendly and allow your lover or spouse to take a lead in the relationship with his parents. Do not criticize her - remember this is his mother - but make that extra effort to win her respect. To drive a wedge between him and his family is unwise as it conflicts him, allows her to spend time with him sans you, which alienates you completely. Sometimes you have to suck it in and behave agreeably for the sake of your special man’s happiness.

Nisha JamVwal for Asian Age & Deccan Chronicle

& Tweet her on @nishjamvwal
Email Nisha at

No comments:

Nisha JamVwal Roller Coaster Called Life