Do you find your mother-in-law hard to abide? Does she rub you the wrong way sometimes? Step on your toes?
Or, maybe, you get along great! She respects boundaries, is the right amount of involved in your life, and really likes to buy thoughtful gifts.
What I’m about to suggest is based on my personal observation only. Maybe there are studies out there supporting or denying what I’ll say here, but regardless, I think it’s worth mentioning.
To put it simply: It is likely that the relationship between you and your mother-in-law is the way it is because you two share some key personality traits. Why? Because your husband chose you to be his life partner, the mother to his children. His most concrete example of what a wife and mother should be comes from her. In most cases, he lived with her, learned from her, and is attached to her because she cared for him all his young, impressionable life. (We could also explore the creepy Freudian route, and dig deep into his desire for his mother that he has now transposed onto you.) Whether consciously or not, you were selected because you were the best! Have you ever considered that his mother might be the hidden standard?
My realization came one night when my husband mentioned to me, “That’s what I like about you! You aren’t afraid to go after what you want, just like my mom.”
His statement struck something in me — a wonderful and terrifying thought: How else are we the same?
And do those similarities make us compatible, or incompatible?
It’s a crucial question to think through. No, you aren’t going to be clones of each other. It may even seem like you have nothing in common whatsoever.
But what you might label as “pushy” in her, you might label “determined” or “caring” in yourself.
She’s a “loud mouth,” but you are “extroverted.”
She is “vain.” You, however, “take care of yourself” and “like to look presentable.”
She is “judgmental;” you are “observant” and “have high standards.”
She “gossips behind your back,” but you’re just “talking about her to resolve the problem.”
Do you see what I mean?
This is not an exhaustive list of the possible idiosyncrasies you will find in the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship spectrum, but it is something to consider. And if you are having a hard time, just remember, the only person you can change is yourself!
So next time you find yourself flinching or grumbling over something SHE did, take a step back and think, “Do I do this, too?”