We interview Dr. Deanna Brann, author of “Reluctantly Related Revisited; Breaking Free of the mother-in-law daughter-in-law conflicts.”
Coming to you this time from the Hollywood Professional Wrestler’s Ring.
Deanne works with both mother-in-laws and daughters-in-laws but not together.
A mother-in-law who will do or say anything, no matter what is a big problem for a young wife. The husband, who has dealt with his mother his entire life avoids the problem. If the mother-in-law, for example, is dropping by unannounced or exhibiting other irritating behavior, it’s important for the wife to set boundaries. The couple needs to be a united front when confronting her.
There are also times when you can use humor, especially if both women have stark differences such as religion.
It’s important on both sides to get to know each other and develop a relationship independent of the son/husband. That way both women see each other as real people. However, boundaries still need to be put into place. The mother-in-law is not the daughter-in-law’s daughter. She has her own mom.
To some extent, it depends on each woman’s personality. Deanna says women, more often than men, take things too personally and don’t see the situation the way it really is.
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When children are involved
Once the couple has children the in-law situation becomes more complex. Both women have their own style of child raising and they don’t always mesh.
Many Baby Boomers are taking care of their parents as they age, which can cause more problems. The wife often ends up taking care of her mother-in-law because that’s the way it works out. This changes their roles. When they are taking care of both children and parents, it’s even more complicated.
Marital vs In-law issues
Sometimes a couple can’t differentiate between an in-law issue and a marital one. You can’t fix a mother-in-law problem if you’re having difficulties in your marriage. A wife will want her husband to fix the problem (or fix his mother) but that’s not his job. He can help his wife understand his mom better or ways to deal with her, but can’t fix the problem itself.
The same issues may keep coming up and never get resolved. When the words “you always do that,” or “you never do that” are shouted out that usually means it’s a marital issue.
A mother-in-law has to learn to let go of her son. She has to move on from her mom role and let her son be the man he’s supposed to be. Each side needs to be respectful of each other. Both women have an important role in the family. The mother-in-law is the son’s mother and can’t be shut completely out.
Weddings are usually where the problems start. It’s important that both mother-in-law and wife find a commonality. The husband needs to stay out of the middle and let the two women work it out themselves.
In-laws who are besties
Both women may become such good friends, the husband feels left out or picked on. Or, the couple gets divorced and the old in-laws show up at the parties of the new husband and wife.
No matter what, it’s important to learn to make the relationship between mother-in-law, daughter-in-law and husband work for the grandkids.
You can visit Deanna’s website at www.inlawSOS.com