You Don’t Get Along With Your Mother-In-Law Because You Watched Too Many Sitcoms

Getting Along With Mother In LawPart of being a mother (If you are in a partnered relationship) is sometimes dealing with your spouse’s mother (unless she is dead, sorry, my condolences) and you probably don’t get along with her because you have watched too many sitcoms and movies that depict mother-in-laws as being evil harpies who are angry with you because you stole their baby. At least this is what the gist of this article from The Wall Street Journal feels like to me:

Few family relationships are more fraught than the ones between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law, and the man caught between them. It has been fodder for comedy in movies and on TV forever, yet each generation seems to have to learn for itself how to make this triangle work.

Mothers really do worry more when sons marry than when daughters marry, according to unpublished research conducted by Sylvia L. Mikucki-Enyart, assistant professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She asked 89 mothers-in-law what they worried about most when a child married. Overwhelmingly, when a son married these women reported more uncertainty and insecurity. The insecurity centered on the son’s relationship with his parents and nuclear family. Will he visit or call less often? Will he spend holidays with the family?

The mothers also reported worrying about their son’s well-being and whether marriage and his wife would change him. Some of their specific concerns: “He’s no longer reliable, due to his wife’s interference.” “His interests have changed dramatically.” “Is he eating enough? My daughter-in-law is a bad cook.” “Is he happy?”

This is all scary to me because if my sons ever marry I so totally do not want to worry about any of these things, especially if he is eating enough. I hope that by the time my boys leave the nest they know how to prepare a decent meal for themselves. And as far as seeing them a lot, well, I guess that would be nice but I hope I feel as I do now, which is I cannot wait for them to get married and move the hell out of my house. This may just be the piles of laundry talking.

“We expect a daughter-in-law not to like a mother-in-law and to expect her to be meddlesome,” says Dr. Mikucki-Enyart. As a result, the two women may tread carefully around each other from the start, reacting defensively and eventually becoming distant. “It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” she says.


I think the only solution to this dilemma is to move as far away as possible and to never answer the phone if you see your mother-in-laws number on the caller ID. Problem solved. I guess I don’t think about this topic much because my mother-in-law doesn’t really interfere in our lives because I am not a cat, and that is pretty much all she is interested in Cats. When she visits I make sure that my cat is always around because I can be assured that if he is she will pay little attention to me or my relationship with her son or how good of a mom I am.

I think this is all a lot worse than having your own mother interfere in your parenting or wife-y business, because with your own mother you can just tell her to mind your biz and hopefully she backs off. But I do realize a lot of how have fantastic mothers-in-law who you are very close to and who you get along great with, and maybe even have a better relationship with than you do your own mother. All I know is that if your MIL is getting in your face about stuff, your husband needs to take our side at all times and tell her to back off and possibly buy you fantastic prizes to make up for this.

(Photo: : ollyy/shutterstock)

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