No matter how liberated we like to think we are, mention the mother-in-law and most of us probably think of the late Les Dawson and his endless supply of hilarious, but vicious, jokes at her expense.
While most of us wouldn't go so far as to describe her as a fearsome, interfering dragon, chances are our relationship, even if amicable, still needs careful handling.
Chartered psychologist Dr Sheila Rossan thinks the key to this lies in the intensity of our feelings for our own mothers.
'As women, our relationship with our mums is quite distinct from any other relationship we'll ever have,' she says. 'Even if we fight, we can't avoid being close: it is our first relationship and we're so similar, yet different.
'Women who have the most problems with their mother-in-laws tend to be the same women who don't get on with their own mothers. They may resent mother figures and how they behave. If you want to get on better with your mother-in-law, it might help to first work on what's causing the problems between yourself and your own mum.'
Jealousy puts up barriers in these relationships. 'Daughters-in-law often envy the relationship between mother and son and want to replace that relationship with themselves. Meanwhile, mother-in-law wants her son looked after in the way only she can, which is of course impossible, unless the daughter in law is her clone.'
These differences can soon cause a bitter stalemate. As Relate's Denise Knowles explains: 'The main problem with the mother and daughter-in-law relationship is the feeling of inferiority it causes. If Mum won't give up mothering her son even though he's married, daughter-in-law is made to feel she's the second, not the first, woman in his life.
'Learning to get on better with your mother-in-law is about learning how to feel less of a victim, and deflecting her difficult behaviour.'
A blessing in disguise
Denise says it's worth reminding yourself that your mother-in-law can be a blessing, and it really is worth putting in some work to improve your relationship. 'Mothers-in-law can be a real source of support. Daughters-in-law need to recognise that and not automatically assume things will be difficult, which often may alienate the mother in law unnecessarily.
'If you start off with a bad relationship, and let her get away with making you feel inadequate, the less likely things are to change. The more confident you are about your position in her son's life, the easier you'll get on.
'If you let things lie, and never tackle her, it will cause problems not just between you and her, but also between you and her son.'
5 ways to stop in-law wars:
- Keep talking. Don't clam up and simmer in silence when she says something that upsets you. It's possible to let her know what you don't like, and why, without causing major offence.
For example: 'I realize you're only trying to help, but it makes me feel immature when you give me advice I haven't asked for. There are lots of things I'd really value your advice on, but I'd find it much more helpful if I could ask you first.'
- Appreciate her good points. Come on, even dragons have their pleasant side! Instead of fuming when she's cleaned your kitchen from top to bottom, why not thank her for being so helpful and feel pleased that you didn't have to do it for once? It's amazing how much gentler she'll be if she sees, every so often, that you do value her.
- Ask her advice.She never approves of your cooking? Turn the situation around by asking her: 'I'd like to cook Fred a special meal. Is there anything you can think of that he'd really enjoy?' That way she'll still feel involved, by being given the chance to contribute, but you haven't let her take over.
- Visit her.If she's in the habit of turning up at your house unannounced, it's a sign she probably feels excluded from your life, which can make her want to interfere more. It's often easily solved by calling on her instead. Pop in for a coffee every so often, which shows her you're thinking of her but takes away her need to drop in on you unexpectedly.
- Keep it light.So what if she runs her finger through the quarter-inch of dust gathering on the windowsill? By turning it into a joke: ('Hey - I keep that there to write 'I love you' to Fred!') you're telling her that you don't have the same priorities as she does...and you're happy with that. You're making an important point in a fun way, without causing offence.
Credits and Source: SHARON BEXLEY, - http://www.dailymail.co.uk
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the (others) author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of StickeeBra, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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