Marriage Tip: Love Your In-Laws

A lot of people complain about their mother-in-laws (MIL).

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One mommy complained to her husband when her mother-in-law brought out her 3-month old baby out without asking for her permission.

It was raining!” she said in exasperation. “Do I have the right to get mad? Or call her out? I just need advice right now as I’m not thinking straight.”

Most of the mommies were very upset.

A common answer was to let the husband deal with it.

“Its understandable that you feel mad. Talk to your husband about it and let him do the talking to his parents.”

And….

“Talk to your husband so he can be the one to deal with it. Confronting you MIL is never a good idea. If you live with your MIL and you left your baby in her care, she probably felt it was ok.”

Others invoke the “I’m the Mother. It’s my baby. My baby, my rules.”

“If that would happen to me, yes I will get mad and definitely discuss it with hubby. Call me an OA mom I don’t care but I think I have the right to know where they will bring my child since I am the Mother. “

The mommy confesses that her MIL is very sensitive and can’t be told what to do. She is helpless on how to handle this problem.

I honestly think it’s a Perspective Issue.

Just to put this in context, I am actually the second wife of my husband. He was married in his mid-20s to another woman. That marriage lasted half a year, a lot shorter than the time they dated.

A point of contention was the parents-in-law.

Husband’s first wife hated her in-laws. She thought they looked down on her and was out to get her. When she was told or when she didn’t get her way, she pouted and touted my husband against his parents.

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One day, she has had enough. She felt that his parents were meddling too much in their business so she ran away from home. My husband followed her, and they rented a small dinky place in Quezon City.

The fights still continued, and the fact that they were already separated from my husband’s parents made one thing perfectly clear: It wasn’t the in-law who was the problem. She was.

Because she had an inferiority complex, she felt that her in-laws were out to get her. She never thought that she was at fault and always blamed them. In the end of the day, when she withdrew herself from their support, she fell.

When my husband went back to his parents, they facilitated the annulment. The marriage was over in less than a year. Her fears came true: When push come to shove, her support was weak, and she was cut off as soon as the husband grew tired of her.

I knew this when I married my husband. The only thing different was how I dealt with it.

For one, I tried my best to love my in-laws. Here’s my thoughts about this:

If it makes you feel better, I also get hurt and upset by something my in-laws may unconsciously do. But I always remind myself of my role within the family: Remember I entered their family, not the other way around. And I have to respect my in-laws and love them, just the way I love my husband.

Once you come from a position of love and respect, everything changes.

They are no longer your enemies. You don’t think of their actions as them trying to annoy you. Instead, you are partners in raising your child(ren) together. They become helpers, providers and counselors, instead of SOBs who are out there to purposely annoy you.

One day, when you become a MIL yourself, you too will understand. And when your daughter- or son-in-law pushes their weight around just because they’re married to your child, you will be more appreciative of your own experience right now. Will you give way just because your son or daughter-in-law says so? I seriously doubt it! 😜

Change your perspective. See your in-laws in a better light. And I promise, once you respect them better, they will fight you less and appreciate you more, even when you don’t constantly remind them to do so.

When you start with a position of love and respect, everything changes.

I don’t think marrying a guy marks an achievement. It doesn’t mean just because I married the son, the parents-in-law should accept me immediately, without any or mediocre effort in my part.

Some women don’t get it. “But I’m the wife!” they’d scream. “I bear their grandchild(ren)!”

No, you being the vessel just meant that you managed to trick their son into marrying you. You haven’t done anything yet. It doesn’t mean that they should automatically love and respect you just because you are part of the family.  IF you managed to weasel your way in, that’s great. But it doesn’t mean they’ll have to accept you. You’re the outsider… not them.

I always imagine that there’s an imaginary emotional bank account for every relationship I have.

Every time I do something nice for someone, I put a coin into that emotional bank account. I may not see any immediate returns, but such good will increases that person’s positive feelings about you if they feel that your efforts were sincere and heartfelt.

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I increase my emotional bank account to my in-laws whenever I:

  • Follow their instructions and advise
  • Force my husband to follow their instruction and advise, instead of pitting my husband against them.
  • Do them a favor without asking them for anything in return
  • Give them small tokens of appreciations once in a while
  • Among other nice little things I do without them asking for it. Just because I love and respect them a my in-laws.

When I do so, my emotional bank account with them goes up. Inevitably, their positive feelings for me go up too. When that happens, that cycle of goodwill continues, and I know that my husband’s parents are our pillars of support, especially during the bad times.

Here was my advise to the complaining mommy:

Think before you blow.

First, have you communicated to your in-laws that they should ask your permission about everything regarding your child? I know you may strongly believe that since you’re the mommy, your rules supersedes all, but the truth is, it takes a village to raise a child. And if you want people to help, you should cool it and trust them so long as they are coming from a place of love.

Remember, they raised your husband and he was FINE. Trust me, your kid will also be FINE. So before you accuse them of exposing your child to the rain, be careful first on what you’re accusing them of — The rain is not the issue here. It’s all about control and distrust. If you blow, you are accusing them of not being trusted to handle your child. How irresponsible of them to expose the child to such dangerous rain! How dare they?!

Chill a little bit. Breathe easy, mommy. There are many things that endanger a child, but your in-laws are not one. Trust your relatives especially if they love your child. Do you know the saying, “Wisdom is knowing what you can change vs. what you cannot?” You may tell your in-laws off, but you cannot change them completely. They were there before you even met your husband, so I doubt you blowing up will help, and will just make the situation worse. Hence, if you can’t stop getting upset and cannot stop picking fights with your in-laws, you will just create an environment of discomfort, awkwardness and negative energy between your families.

If it makes you feel better, calmly talk to them. Share with them your concerns. And if they brush you off, don’t feel too bad. Trust them. Chances are, they are right. A little rain won’t kill anyone, and I am sure an umbrella was used. They didn’t leave your child in the rain by herself. Relax. Your baby is only 3 months old. There are many more battles to come. And if you’re going to be upset with a little rain, it won’t be about the rain anymore. And you have no one but yourself to blame.

I think that we often misunderstand family relationships based on winning and losing. As daughter-in-laws, we want to win over our parents-in-law all the time. We demand their love and respect even though we give so little in return. We make them our enemies and pit their children against them. We try to wield our influence whenever we can, just to show that they should love and respect us just because we are married to their kids, or are mothers to their grandkids.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

They are our elders.

We need to love and respect them first.

Even when it’s hard, we have to be understanding of them.

As we love our husbands, so we should love them too.

And while that love and respect may not be reciprocated — for the rare case that our in-laws are truly psycho and bipolar — it’s fine. We have done our part and that is enough.

My in-laws love me as their own daughter. I think sometimes, I am better than their own daughter because I make an effort not to sulk or complain.

And therein lies the difference.

While my husband’s first wife tried to portray them as enemies, I saw them as allies. And I know I can count on them when shit hits the fan.

How about you? Do you enjoy a healthy relationship with your in-laws? Thoughts appreciated.

 

About Bonita

I'm a forgetful person. But I think a lot. Every day, a lot of thoughts enter my head. That's why this blog came to be: first, to keep my memories alive through the years, and two, to actually see how I and my thoughts have changed. Please note that I seldom draft or edit my posts. Sometimes, if I'm not careful, I offend some of you, my readers. And while I apologize for making you feel uncomfortable, I am not sorry for being honest or for making well-intentioned mistakes. I will however be the first to admit if I change my mind. Hence, do read and proceed with caution. My life is as colorful and as boring as you make it. I complain many days, but offer some encouragement in others. Life is fluid, it changes. So keep the positives and throw away the negatives, and I do hope that at the end of the day, you will enjoy reading the blog and leaving comments here and there if my posts touches you. Happy reading!
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