The conflicts between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws is still going on it has raged throughout all of history. Nearly 2000 B.C. Rebekah complained to her husband, Isaac, that her daughters-in-law were making her life so miserable that she would rather not even be alive. Read Genesis 27:46).
Today, some 4,000 years later, women are still complaining to their husbands about these women! Mother-in-laws are still wondering why out of all the human relationships, the one between them and their daughter-in-laws is the most complicated? Second only to step relationships of course.
There is a built-in-conflict before the relationship even begins: two radically different views of the same man. The daughter in law will see him first as a man; while the mother in law will always see him first as her child.The mother in law comes into the relationship lugging a suitcase bulging with memories. From the sweetness of babyhood through the tyranny of the teen years into adulthood, these memories have indelibly imprinted her heart. She enters into this life phase acutely aware of a door closing in her life as a mother.
The daughter in law comes waltzing in with a suite case empty of everything but confidence and anticipation. She’s eager to swing open the new door and march in and there lies the basis for struggle. Both the mother in law and the daughter in law are naturally territorial when it comes to their family. Standing in the middle of these two overlapping territories is a man who is the son of one and husband to the other. It’s in everyone’s interest for the son to step out of the overlapping territory and fully into his wife’s territory and the sooner he does this the better.
The parental relationship is secondary to the spousal relationship, yet the bond between a mother and her child is visceral. The phase “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” refers to husband and wife, yet there is little doubt a mother holding her child in her arms feels more “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” toward her child than she does toward her husband. Again, the basis for conflict between a man’s mother and his wife.
This motherly feeling of “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh” had been the source of much marital conflict: a mother consciously or unconsciously placing her child before her husband, magnifying her connection to their child. Even the court system typically give more value to the mother-child relationship.
The undeniable connection can easily cause a mother to overstep her territory and interfere with the process of her adult son transferring thus-far primary relationship, the one he has with her to the one needs to form with his wife. If you are a mother of a son, you fully understand this tendency, because there is a powerful bond between mother and son. A man’s first significant relationship is with his mother. That bond, forged at birth, leaves a permanent imprint on both mother and son. Even if the relationship is broken, it continues to significantly impact both lives. This powerful attachment between mother and son needs to be and must be reassigned when the son introduces another woman into the picture.
Here is a scenario to consider “Suppose your son, yourself and your daughter in law were in a boat together. If the boat capsized and you and your daughter in law were both drowning, who should he save? You might be saying to yourself, ” A man can always get another wife, but he has only one mother.” or a daughter in law might be thinking to herself,” well his mother is old any way.” Now, now is that anyway to be thinking?
As a mother you should want your son to have a strong and healthy relationship with his wife. A mother who wants to maintain a close relationship with her son, who truly has his best interests in mind, must willingly step back and fully acknowledge and respect the relationship he is forming with his wife.
Whether she likes the woman or not. There is nothing to be gained, and much to be lost, by allowing competition to into the in law relationship. While the mother may not view her behavior as being competitive, the truth is that anything she does to maintain her status as the first woman,” whether consciously or unconsciously, will be viewed by the daughter in law as competition.
Sometimes completely innocent behavior on the mother’s part will be wrongly interpreted this way. Knowing, this the wise mother will refuse to take offense and will carefully watch her behavior until he daughter-in-law is secure in her position.
Five years ago my friend Jane’s son David married a terrific gal named Liz and on the day of their wedding Jane’s mother in law shared some advice with Jane. She said, that she chose to forget everything she had ever knew about her son and let her daughter in law discover him for herself. As any mother can image that is not easy to do. Is it? Jane and her mother in law are truly friends and enjoy each others company.
Jane, decided she wanted to have the same kind of relationship with her daughter in law so she decided to take her mother in laws advice and chose to forget everything she ever knew about her son David and let Liz discover him for herself.” It was a choice that has richly rewarded Jane over and over and over again. She said ,she loves how excited Liz gets when she learns something knew about David and Jane enjoys Liz’s excitement,friendship plus she completely understands why her son loves his wife as much as he does.
A successful relationship with your in-law does not necessarily mean you become best friends. It doesn’t necessarily mean enjoying lunch dates or shopping together like Jane and Liz do. Success is simply determining to live peaceably with her by any means. Success is getting up every morning and determining to leave the past in the past. Whatever your history is with your in-law find a way to make admins and move on.
Success is recognizing that at the center of your conflict is a man you both love, children you both love, and finding a way to make room for each of you to benefit from and express that shared love.
Success is consistently acting in love and letting go of the negative emotions you may have toward your in-law,start refusing to let those emotions color the quality of your life for one more minute.
Your love is like a garden, and unless you tend to it, you’ll never reap the full rewards that love can bring.