Thursday, March 6, 2014
HOW TO BE A TERRIBLE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
I read it all the time.. Today she wrote a blog that goes right along with my last one. I think she shares some excellent wisdom. I pray she doesn't mind me copying it here:
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
HOW TO BE A TERRIBLE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
My mother-in-law and I are very thankful to have a good relationship. We've been told many times that we are blessed to have such a good relationship, and I agree. I'm blessed to respect my mother-in-law and have the privilege of being involved in biblical counseling and women's ministry opportunities at my church alongside her. I call her with theological, parenting, and domestic questions ('how exactly do I cut up this darn squash" and "why doesn't my taco meat turn out as awesome as yours??").
My mother-in-law with her famous orange sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving.
I know that there are many of you out there who have awful in-law relationships. Maybe your husband's parents are unbelievers and are involved in all sorts of behaviors you disapprove of. Maybe your mother-in-law is super critical of everything you do or clingy towards her son. Maybe you have multiple mothers-in-law as a result of remarriages in your husband's family. I get that relationships are complex and tricky sometimes. So yes, many of you have difficult mothers-in-law. However, it is also true that many of your mothers-in-law have difficult daughters-in-law.
What my mother-in-law and I don't often talk about - don't like to talk about, actually, because it's all in the past - is that our current happy situation has not always been the case. Today I'd like to share with you from some of my mistakes. Fellow DILs...you cannot control how your mother-in-law behaves or thinks about you. But as a mother of all boys who will one day "lose" my sons to girls, I am starting to realize that is it hard to be a mother-in-law of a girl and there are many things we can do to make it easier. But if you would like to persist in making it difficult, here are a few sure-fire ways to mess it up:
Stay away from them at all costs.
I understand that when you first get married, there's a period of time during which you and your husband are attempting to figure out how to establish your own new household. You need to figure out how to leave and cleave. You need to work out how you will do holidays and birthdays and celebrations. You need to work out how you are going to balance working outside the home (one or both of you) with time together. But if you want to ruin your in-law relationship, just ignore your in-laws altogether. Refuse to attend family events. Create your own competing family events and demand that everyone else in the family choose sides.
Get offended at every piece of advice your MIL offers.
I know, I know...your MIL has a constant stream of advice. She wishes you wore more skirts. She thinks you should sweep your floors more often. She hates how you decorate. She's horrified at how you don't iron your husband's shirts and occasionally order take out instead of cooking a three course meal. She rolls her eyes at your children's behavior and comments about how she would have handled difficult parenting situations differently.
I think we women tend to get a little territorial when we sense any wisp of criticism coming from our in-laws. Maybe it's true that our MILs could tone down the advice or maybe stop offering it completely. But let's stop getting our feathers ruffled all the time and consider whether or not there is anything valuable we can learn. Do you need to sweep your floors more often? Are you lazy about housekeeping and cooking? Do you need some help with your parenting that a more experienced parent could help with? Is there any truth in the criticism you hear from your MIL? No matter how it is worded, it might actually be helpful if we could be humble enough to accept it. And when the advice is impossible to accept (because it's unbiblical or irrelevant), learn to acknowledge it graciously.
Criticize their family traditions, past times, beliefs, and habits.
Insist that your family traditions are the best way to celebrate. Engage in constant debate of areas in which your beliefs differ and look down your nose at their different ways of thinking. Nit-pick about how they go grocery shopping, keep house, dress, speak and relax. Haughtily dismiss the ways in which your in-laws chose to raise their children.
I love the advice that author Glennon Melton gives to daughters-in-law. Melton describes a mother's raising of her son as a lifelong weaving of an elaborate tapestry and then says this:
And daughters-in-law, notice the beauty of the rug that your mother-in-law spent a lifetime weaving. Remember that mostly, her pattern is firmly established, no need to suggest improvements. Be kinder than necessary, being mindful that the piece of art it took her a lifetime to weave, her masterpiece, she gave to you, to keep you warm at night. One day you’ll give your masterpiece away, too.
May I suggest that the way you approach your in-laws might actually be a huge relief to your husband? Although there are obviously situations in which your husband might be glad to stay away from his parents (physical abuse, etc), we need to remember that these people aren't just "your in-laws"; they are also "his parents". They are his mom and dad. He grew up with them, made memories with them, was taught values by them, and they have known him way longer than you have (at least until you are middle-aged...then you might be even). If there is tension between you and his parents and you are constantly complaining to him about his parents, there is a burden on your husband's shoulders that should not be there. Do him a favor and do your very best to maintain a happy, healthy and peaceful relationship with his family. Don't forget that God calls us to if possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. "All" includes your in-laws.
What about you? What mistakes have you made in forming relationships with your in-laws? And what helped you to change?