Daughter in law

Are you a daughter in law (DIL)? Do you have a difficult relationship with your mother in law (MIL)?

It’s weird. This animosity between women. For some reason MILs hate their DILs. There are exceptions. But I find the animosity common. Worse if you’re marrying/married to an only child.

I have some hypotheses to explain this strained relationship.

  1. The son has been the MIL’s pride and joy. The DIL, she feels, is here to steal her son away. Hatred is explained away by MIL being territorial. And insecure.
  2. MIL finds that the DIL is everything that she isn’t. She wasn’t the pretty bride. She didn’t have the nice marriage. She didn’t love her husband. Her son is married to the DIL who now has all these things. MIL being jealous.
  3. MIL disciplines her son. Maybe she still calls him everyday. Love has been expressed by way of control. MIL not able to let go. DIL will either endure this over-the-top controlling behaviour, and become part of the controlled. Accept that MIL will continue to hover over husband, herself as well. Or rebel, and severe ties forever, imprisoning her husband between two women at odds.

Whatever the reason, it’s human nature and an observable phenomenon that MILs and DILs dislike each other. It’s nature. Almost as intuitive as a lion hunting a deer. Those that honestly get along are very lucky, or they work extremely hard at building a meaningful relationship. Tell me – what’s your secret?

I don’t like my MIL. I try to love her. It was good at the beginning. But the more we spend time with each other the tougher it gets. She’s into gossip. I’m not. She’s superstitious. I’m not. She’s bitter. I hope I don’t go there. She’s controlling. I’m a freebird. We have this in common – we love her son.

She tightens her grip on him but doesn’t mean she controls me. She’s fearful of the future. Of her son abandoning her in old age. He won’t. He’s a good person. She manipulates him. Tells him that she bore him. Bled for him. Fed him. Sacrificed her whole life for him. He owes her. He owes her respect. Lifelong support. Love. His life is hers. Because she gave it to him.

Yes, we should love, respect and take care of our parents. But that ain’t love – having to blackmail your child into taking care of you because you bore him. Desperation, yes. Self-serving, perhaps. Not love.

I hope one day, when I have children, I will prepare them for a fulfilling life. One where they make their own destinies. I pray I won’t have to guilt-trip them into loving me and caring for me. I pray I will be self-sufficient till the end. And that I will have given them life because I want them to experience this world. No strings attached.

Not to serve as my retirement plan.

What’s your MIL relationship like? Any tips on building a good relationship? Are you an MIL reading this and finding it unrepesentative?

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23 thoughts on “Daughter in law

  1. I can’t go so far as to say that my MIL hates me, but it has been a tense relationship for sure. I married her baby, the youngest son of four children. She wanted to maintain control of his life and be the #1 woman even after I came along. We had a power struggle for a long, long time (when I say long I mean like ten years). When she finally realized I wasn’t going away she relented a bit. The funny thing is that she talks wonderfully about me to other people. You hit the most important thing when you said that both of you love her son/ your husband. Hopefully with time and effort it will be better. Best, Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing, Karen. It’s kind of her to speak nicely about you to other people. I’m sure you’re awesome. The tension is very true. Does your husband speak up for you if you face any negative comments from MIL? I read self-help marriage books that as long as husband and wife stand together and set healthy boundaries, MIL will eventually ease up. The fact that you’re not going anywhere – once it sinks in – helps too.
      Are you able to love her? That’s my toughest challenge. I see the character flaws so much more than the redeeming traits. No one’s perfect, but I may be guilty of villainizing her in my mind.

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      • My husband did not come to my defense for the first several years. He is a passive person by nature, and everyone in the family has always taken the stance that it is easier to let her have her way. I don’t play that game, and after years he finally started to defend me (not that I NEEDED him to, but I WANTED him to). I cannot say love, no, but I have learned to be more accepting purely out of respect for my husband. His parents are older, and the time he has with them may be limited. Like you, though, I have trouble overlooking some of her faults as they are things I would not overlook in others. I just choose my battles wisely. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wise wise words. I don’t need mine to defend me either but once I start speaking an argument will follow. I can be articulate and critical – and knowing her self-righteous character – I don’t want our meals to descend into a battlefield.
          You’re right about choosing the right battles. For small things (such as comments about my appearance) which I can bear, I’ll take it and remain silent.

          I wonder why it isn’t the same case between fathers and sons-in-laws. There doesn’t seem to be as much animosity yet the idea of ‘snatching dad’s baby daughter’ is the same.

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  2. My MIL is painfully obnoxious. She is manipulative and pessimistic and an alcoholic. But she can also pull herself together and be a decent human being and a good grandmother at times. I don’t really enjoy her company, but I can tolerate it for short periods of time.

    So I can relate… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow that’s a lot of things in one person … great that she can be a good grandma – there’s a nexus. I’ll try to overlook the bad and focus on the good. Hoping that helps!

      Glad to know someone who gets it 🙂

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  3. My relationship with my Mother in law was ok since my husband’s loyalty was to me. She was never able to split us. I make a point to fuss over my in-law children and treated them as children from the day of the wedding. They both say they love me, and I love them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love your blog! love the conversation going on in the comments! My MIL is not yet my MIL lol. However, at this point we are very close regardless of when the big question comes up! I love my MIL but my FIL (Father In-Law) I could shoot! He is so obnoxious and belligerent! He cares about himself and only himself… Mind you it’s not like MIL put up with that for long so THANKFULLY I only ever communicate with MIL 🙂 She is awesome and takes me under her wing like the daughter she never had! I find it difficult to get on a MIL’s good side when she only has boys however in the long run it pays off! You become her new daughter and she will she’d tons of life and lessons your way!
    -Jasmine

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s super encouraging, thanks for sharing your experience! That’s a great point – for a mother who only has boys it may be the case that she doesn’t know how to get along with another woman, let alone know how to get along with a new daughter. I guess if I try to nurture our relationship from that perspective – her having a new daughter and treating her like my own mom – there’s a glimmer of hope.

      Sorry to hear about your FIL – but at least you can channel everything through your awesome MIL 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting thought! I’m curious – if the marriage is arranged wouldn’t the MIL problem potentially be worse? Because you don’t get to choose your spouse and you have virtually no choice to ‘choose’ your MIL..?

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