10 Tips on How to Deal With a Difficult Mother-in-law

Ah! The term “mother-in-law” when mentioned, usually sends shivers down the spine. Mothers-in-law are stereotyped as wicked, intrusive, difficult, manipulative and harsh. Yeah, Nollywood has given us a clear picture of how mothers-in-law behave. Mothers-in-law are often portrayed as women who give their daughters-in-law a hard time. 

Every woman prays for a peaceful marriage where a man’s family accepts and loves her especially his mother. It is obvious that when the mother of your husband loves you, you will enjoy an almost conflict-free marriage. When your mother-in-law cherishes you, she will treat you like her daughter and you will have a peaceful marriage.

Unfortunately, not every woman is lucky enough to win the heart of her mother-in-law. Some women dread marrying their husbands because of their mothers. They enter into a marriage with a notion that their mother-in-law is on the hunt. In fact, they assume that their husband’s mother wants their head on a platter. Yeah, it is that bad for some women.

Well, I guess one cannot blame these over protective mothers. They find it difficult letting go of their beloved sons whom they have nurtured for years. It is not as if they are not happy for their sons having found wives. I am sure they know that when a man finds a wife, he finds a good thing. I guess a mother finds it difficult to adjust to the loss of her son. 

Of course, the loss referred to does not mean that the son is physically dead; it just means that he is out of her grasp. She no longer has control over what he eats, drinks or even what he wears. She is no longer in a position to ask where he has been all day and what he has been doing all day.

A mother has to hand over her son to another woman forcefully! This is so scary for mothers that they become watchdogs. They excessively worry about the welfare of their sons and this explains why they often visit their children. A mother wants to make sure that her son still eats his favourite meal and that his house is spotlessly clean just the way he wants it.

Many mothers visit often just to enquire about the welfare of their sons and to maintain peace in their marriage.  While others come mainly to investigate the activities of their daughter in law and report them to their son. This type of mother-in-law is simply out for destruction and war. She just wants her son to obey every word she utters and ignore the advice of the wife. 

Whenever she comes to visit, she is armed to her teeth to destroy anything that prevents her from having her way. The daughter in law of course becomes an enemy simply because she has a few flaws and cannot please the mother in law. Her mother-in-law automatically criticizes everything she does.

When the couple has trouble in conceiving a child, the wife is the first person to blame. If you are among those who are currently struggling with the stress of having a mother in law, this post is relevant to you. Even if you are still single and hope to get married someday, you have to prepare for the future.

Well, I hope you did not expect me to advise you to go to the nearest artillery and grab a few nuclear weapons to use on your mother in law on her next visit. Wouldn’t it be much easier to blast her right away with a bomb? At least, then you will have one less worry in your life *laughs*. No sweetie, I am a peacemaker and I cannot advise that. Therefore, here is my own advice on dealing with a difficult mother in law:

1) Put her in your prayers:

If you have not started doing this already, you had better. Praying for your mother-in-law will help a great deal even if you might not notice. It may take a little time but it will surely work. Pray for her every time you remember her. Ask God to put love in her heart so that she can share it to others. Remember to pray for other women who are experiencing similar issues.

2) Avoid quarrelling or fighting with her:

This is easier said than done. However, if you really want peace, you can do it. Avoid unnecessary exchange of words with your mother-in-law. It only shows how idle you are. Learn to give her the silence treatment whenever she is out for a fight. I know you want to show her what you are made up of but quarrelling or fighting with her will not get you anywhere. 

It will not bring peace either. If you have anything to say to her, say it in a polite manner. However, if you feel you are too angry to talk to her calmly, please leave her presence quietly. You can talk to her when you feel less angry or you can tell your husband about it later.

3) Don’t talk bad about her:

It is normally very tempting to criticize your mother-in-law behind her back. However, doing that would only cause more trouble if she or your husband gets to know. Do not try to bring her down by bad mouthing her to others. Keep your thoughts or criticisms to yourself. Seek the advice of a mature friend if you really need to talk to someone.

4) Show her you love her son:

A mother would always be concerned about the welfare of her son. She needs to be reassured that her son is safe. She wants to know if you actually married him because of love and not money. Give her that assurance with your actions. Show her you genuinely love her son and with time, she will be off your neck.

5) Treat her like your mother:

No one can replace our own mothers but you can treat her the way you treat your own mother. If you cannot show her love, give her respect. Giving her respect does not mean using your dress to clean the floor she walks on. Talk to her politely, remember to greet her, attend to her basic needs and make sure she is quite comfortable whenever she visits.

6) Allow her to cook/clean for her son:

Occasionally, she could offer to cook her son’s favourite meal. Let her do it. Do not become jealous or offensive by her offer. Do not think she has plans to poison your husband’s mind through food. If you feel suspicious about her plans, assist her in the cooking and hang around while she is serving. Don’t just stand there in the kitchen like a bodyguard; assist her in preparing the meal. If she has the urge to clean the house or wash your husband’s clothes, allow her to do it. However, try to give her all the assistance you can offer.

7) Get close to her:

This one sounds tricky and hard to achieve but it is feasible. Try to get to know and understand her. Most times, communication is all we need to bridge the gap. You can try asking her about how she feels or how her other children are faring or even how her business or work is going. If she feels sad or moody, ask what the problem is and find a solution for it if you can. Find activities for her to do when she is bored. Buy her a nice movie to watch or even take her out once in awhile. When you start getting close to her, you both can become good friends.

8) Play your part as a good wife:

If you are a working mum or a housewife, don’t forget to play your part as a wife. I don’t need to stress this point; you know what your duties are in your home. Just try your best to maintain peace and love in the family.

9) Don’t be overly nice:

Be nice but not too nice. You cannot do everything to please your mother-in-law. Don’t let her notice how hard you are trying to make her happy. Be yourself but don’t forget to give her due respect.

10) Learn to be patient and tolerant:

This is a very vital key to maintain peace in your home. Patience and tolerance are the main ingredients needed to keep sanity in your marriage. Your mother-in-law might try to break you into pieces but you have to be tolerant and understand that she only wants what’s best for her son. Every mother would. Be patient with her and try to tolerate her inadequacies.
Every marriage encounters difficulties along the way but how you handle these challenges is what really matters at the end. Accept the fact that your mother-in-law is not your enemy; she is just one of those challenges you need to overcome. See her as a person whom God has brought into your life to teach you a few lessons. 

I hope these few tips will help you deal with your difficult or manipulative mother-in-law.