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Is it necessary to befriend your mother in law?

Updated on January 1, 2012

For daughter in laws who feel pressure to get along with their mother in laws

When a woman starts dating her future husband, the woman feels that she needs to be liked by everyone in his family especially his mother. Women will go out of their way to be extra nice and polite around their boyfriend’s mother, being so careful almost to the point of walking on eggshells to get in "good" with his mother. Then when the couple get married, the wife starts to notice that the mother in law seems to be interfering, trying to monopolize or being pushy in certain situations to her benefit like suggesting how to do something her way or trying to impose her time with your time. The wife would like to say no but she wants to make her husband happy by having his two favorite ladies getting along. So the wife bites her tongue and goes with flow. When children enter the picture; the dynamics of the relationship changes in the daughter in law and mother in law for the wife but not the mother in law. The mother in law may seem more aggressive and imposing herself into the relationship and trying to put her influence on the children maybe to the point in telling you how to raise your children or not obeying the rules when it comes to babysitting the children. That's when the wife has enough and tries to set boundaries in the relationship but the mother in law doesn't comply. Why? The reason is because boundaries weren't established in the beginning.

Women need to realize that they don’t have to befriend there mother in law for the sake of her husband. If the wife wants to befriend her on her own terms that find but with any relationship boundaries need to be set in the beginning or an explosive feud can break out. There are articles on the web that tell you ways to get along better with your mother in law but not many articles that say that it’s ok not to get along with her. Let’s do a reality check shall we:

Myth: Your husband’s mother will love you and treat you like one of the family.

Fact: Your husband’s mother has an obligation to love HER son only not to you. She doesn't have to do anything for you or treat you like family. She is only concerned about her son’s happiness not yours. She is happy as long as you make him happy.

Myth: You must agree with her everything she says and does even if she is wrong.

Fact: You have a mind of your own and you need to speak it. If you don’t agree or you feel she is wrong, you have every right to speak your mind. You are entitled to your opinion. If she gets offended or upset, that’s her issue not yours.

Myth: Your mother in law will step back once you are married and let you live your life

Fact: She is still a mother. You can’t expect her to leave you and your husband alone especially if he’s is a mama’s boy. Even the son who doesn’t allow their mother access to their marriage, the mother in law may become very pushy to try to gain access especially if you have grandchildren. She doesn’t want to be shut out.

Myth: You must respect her no matter what she says or does to offend you.

Fact: Yes, you show her respect as long as she shows you respect too. Don’t be a doormat. If your own mother doesn’t talk to you in a certain way or disrespect you, why should you accept that from your mother in law? Let her know that her behavior is inappropriate and you will not be treated that way.

Myth: You have to go to every event that your mother in law has even if you don’t want to.

Fact: You had a life before the mother in law right? You have a life after her too. Don’t feel pressured in going to every holiday or event that your mother in law has especially if your husband doesn’t go to every event that your family has. Sometimes mother in laws think that you have to take on every activity that their family does because you are part of the “family”. If you have other things to do or if you are tired say so and if she gets mad or upset oh well.

Remember she is NOT your mother she is your mother in law. You don’t have to feel obligated to be her friend. You have no loyalty to her either. You can be friendly and civil without the pressure to become her friend. Establish boundaries early on in the relationship before it enter into marriage and talk to your husband about them. Don't bad mouth his mother because after all she is still his mother no matter how wrong or intrusive she is. Just tell him your concerns when it comes to boundaries with you and your growing family. Although it’s your husband mother, he has to put you first and make it clear to his mother what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior when it comes to you and your family. It's ok not to be her friend. Be civil and polite but also put her in her place when need be in order for her to respect you. The only thing you two have in common is that you both love her son and that's all that matters.

And that is my two cents.

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      Audrey 4 years ago

      I completely agree. I've combed the web and it took me a while to find something that actually made sense. I'm getting married in a few months and my mother in law told my fiancé that I don't like her. Her expectations of how I should interact with her are different than mine and that caused tension while my fiancé was away. I'm very independent and am trying to set boundaries. Help find our new house? No. Invite her over when we move in? Yes. Talk to her on the phone just to chit chat? No. Email her to make plans for lunch with my fiancé? Yes. Have lunch by ourselves? Right now no, maybe yes down the road. My fiancé has been great but it's been a struggle for him too and I do feel bad about that. She helped raise an amazing son but if she wasn't his mother, we would not be friends. I can find love for her but we don't have to agree on everything and it's even okay to be annoyed with one another. Actually, THAT's being family. It's about being real and dealing with the immediate issues as they arise both openly and honestly... just as in ANY relationship.

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      MOM 4 years ago

      This article is COMPLETELY wrong and disturbing. I have been on both ends of this and it is wrong!

      It is wrong to be fake while dating to please his mother, and then completely change once the wedding is over. Being honest is most important for any relationship! The Mom is also excited for her son to be married and hope that he has found the girl of his dreams. MIL's expectation is that her son's new wife will love his family as she loves her own. It is very hurtful for the MIL to feel that her DIL wants nothing to do with her. The inlaws should give their kids the respect and space they need and not pry into personal matters. Should the DIL treat her MIL as her very close friend? I don't think so, but she should treat her as a friend with the same courtesy and appreciation. YES!Should they call each other and chit chat? YES! But not everyday, but once or twice a month would be nice. Because as his parents we want to know what fun things you are doing, how is work going, how are the kids, what can we help you with, how are your latest projects going? We are interested and want to connect. We want your opinion when asked, but are like you, and don't want to be told we are wrong or don't know anything. We want to love you and see you be successful too! Email, SURE, Facebook? SURE, but isn't it nicer to talk in person? If the son is so amazing, then don't you think he got those traits for somewhere special? I came to love my MIL and so perhaps you can too. :)

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      ladyscorpio 3 years ago

      I completely agree with this article people say when you marry the man you marry the family but I don't agree with this completely. Reason being is the family's loyalty to you depends on the relationship between you and your husband. If you betray him, cheat for example the loyalty if the family will leave you but with your own family they will be there regardless. I think your husband's family calling you family is nice but you shouldn't take it and run. You can go to the occasional gathering to appease your husband but you owe the in laws nothing. This doesn't mean you have to be unfriendly but nit obligated

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      Chica 3 years ago

      I agree with this article. Mil and I aren't friends and never will be. I have no desire to get to know her even though she is my husbands mother. I don't expect my husband to be friends with my family. We are polite and civil but that's that. I have my family and he has his. I am not marrying his family!!

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      ladyscorpio 2 years ago

      Chica you're right just be friendly and polite my boyfriend and I have been together a couple of years and we are headed towards marriage therefore we have discussed what is important to us regarding the others family. I am not not the but kissing type and I don't feel that I should have to kiss up to his family to be with him. The family will always be in your lives true especially if you have a child. However that doesn't mean that you have to let them run over your marriage. I think I have been setting clear boundaries to my future mil from the beginning she only recently got my phone number and that was to arrange a surprise party for her son. Since then she calls and text as if we are besties, I do not respond. She tries prying constantly I repeatedly tell her I don't go into our affairs and then I will tell her son who then enforces that being nosy is unacceptable. Don't be a victim ladies families think because you are being introduced that you are going to be timid, frail, and eager for them to like you. Well some of us aren't very interested in you at all just want to please their lover and if that means going to visit here and there then that's fine but you're doing it for the person you're with not because of them. Don't get me wrong some in laws may turn out great and you want to be around them but if the interest is not genuinely there your not a bad person for not keeping up with them except when it concerns your husband.

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      candy 2 years ago

      Im in a situation where my boyfriends mom doesn't like me at all and I don't care, Im with him and not with her so there is absolutely no reason to impress her. He knows I am a good woman and I have everything together so as long as hes happy that's all that matters. She tries and pretends to like me but I see right thro her and the way she treats me is what I throw right back at her. Black woman feel threatened when they come into contact with another black beautiful girl and find all sorts of reasons not to like you especially when all I do is be kind and friendly she is overly nosey and wants her son to tell her everything. She should realize her job is done and hes ready to move on I wish she would just cut the cord already.

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      ladyscorpio 2 years ago

      Candy I hear you loud and clear on the black women being intimidated of other black women thing. And I want to point out how hard it is to find another article that says hey you don't have to kiss future in laws a**. In fact if your man expects you to then reevaluate your man. Candy she does not have to like you and you don't have to like her but there should always be a mutual respect but if she steps out of line then respectfully put her back in line. Your right her job is done now it's time she back up and learn her place. Bad mother in laws or future mother in laws act like an ex wife who isn't over the marriage they had. Like I said before I've been setting clear boundaries to future in laws and to future husband. We have set a date to be married I'm so excited I love this man and I know he can't choose his family so I just ask that he supports me if I need to correct them, however I will pick and choose my battles to try to keep from putting him in the middle.

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      Niki 2 years ago

      We've been together less than a year and we're already engaged so our relationship progressed pretty quickly. His mother was difficult from the very beginning with calling him 3-5 times a day (before work, breaks lunch, and after work) and trying to dominate all his free time. I couldn't talk to my own man throughout the day because she was constantly on the phone.

      There was a big incident in which his sister was extremely rude to me and from that point he ended all communication with his entire family for about 3 months.

      Honestly that incident was the greatest thing that could have happened to us because through that he was able to see that a choice needed to be made and now they know that if they get out of line he has no problem cutting them off.

      This is going to sound so cliché, but nothing will change until your partner decides to establish a boundary. My fiancé now has his mothers phone number blocked which means she can't text and her phone calls goes straight to voice mail. He now calls her once a week just to check in but now he controls when they talk as opposed to her calling 3-5 times a day and him feeling like he has to answer every call or address all her daily "emergencies".

      One additional point to make and this is very tough to do. Gently point out when the Mother in Law is intruding but really let her hang herself. If your man has any sense eventually he will grow tired of her trying to ruin the love that brings him so much joy. From there encourage him to determine when they talk.

      And I definitely agree that black women especially if they are single have a really tough time when their sons fall in love which is sad.

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      pat 23 months ago

      "Myth: You must respect her no matter what she says or does to offend you."

      This is actually the worse thing that can be done. It's just an invitation for her to go further and further.

      That myth must come from our education, especially religious education, where children have to respect their parents whatever the parents do to them.

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      ladyscorpio 21 months ago

      Hey Ladies its been a while I've been reading your post. Since my last one I've gotten married as planned he's a complete joy. The in law situation has not been a problem mainly because I do not communicate with her unless it is a big holiday and even those are brief. My husband being military makes life easier too because we don't live in the same city as his family. I hope everything is going well for you guys venting on this site has done wonders for me.

      I still have concerns though. I feel like me ignoring her will only last for so long when he and I have kids and they visit I will have to communicate with her to check on my kids. I guess I could keep it short. I'd really like to not deal with her at all she so needy and lacks respect for the home her son is making.

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      Tracy007 20 months ago

      My mother inlaw is very supportive, perhaps too much as she gives to the point I feel guilty.

      When I talk to her she keeps me at arms reach, never being real, always keeping our conversations short and at bay.

      I wanted family with her

      Then one day I had to leave her son for awhile to heal myself .

      I've always been very independent, a home maker, and bread winner.

      I do it all.

      I wanted to find me-

      my truth is 2 people walk further side by side rather than carrying each other & the more my cup overflows, the more every thing around me receaves, especially my husband.

      Life is contagious & I want to be my best for every thing around me.

      This is my life.

      I prepare myself, knowing, one day one of us will pass. we both must be self confident and indipendent enough to keep going without falling apart.

      My mother in law was cheated on by my husbands father, spending 10 years alone. Torn as his family denyed her.

      She comes across as a person who has a hard time doing things on her own. For example she was very nervice about me simply driving across the country on my own, something I've done many of times, feeling like what's the big deal.

      I have compassion for her and I'm super sweet. Many woman I know need someone to go with then in life.

      I exspected she would embrace me even more due to her past. She did till I left and then started texting me about when I would return to him. I don't want to be fully co dependent nor do I want him to be.

      I absolutely love him, even more now, & I'm not going any where, but she makes me feel like there is no "I" in a marriage.

      I knew after her tex Her worries were I'm not going back to him. Not concerned at all about my health.

      I Feel she keeps me at arms leanth just in case our marriage doesn't work like hers didnt.

      Our marriage is solid but this made me realize she is only supportive and devoted to him, not me, so I withdrew from our relations feeling I deserve more respect as a individual person irregardless of where my husband and I end up.

      Knowing she could embrace a stranger not married to her husband as a daughter easier than she could me.

      It hurts my feelings.

      How can I have respect for someone that doesn't respect me.

      How can I get her to stop trying to buy us with gifts & money that I don't want to be real without manipulation of trying to buy us.

      I did tex and call her back explaining I will go home when I'm ready, in a good way explaining because I know she doesn't understand me and she cut me off by stating she will give me my space. I need support not space.

      Now I don't even want to give any of my energy to any of his family because I feel like there only truly devoted to him.

      I know my true gift is the opportunity to love and in return I become that loving

      As I set her in her place & I know her heart is loving and kind - I will not try to make things right.

      One day she will call again and I will simply love while being true to my truth - if she doesn't like it too bad.

      I will be me, & be my best, no one will get in my way.

      Seems like anything I have to try so hard to attain never works out.

      No push no pull, just being and she is just another person no more valuable than the next.

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      dsaha 13 months ago

      Brilliantly written. Every independent married woman will relate to it

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