5 Simple tactics for handling in-law overload

You’ve had years to get used to her, but still there are the occasional comments that tie you into knots. Whether she lives around the corner or halfway around the world, few things are as challenging as your relationship with your mother-in-law. Hopefully you are not living the life of Debra Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond fame and maybe, instead, you’re one of the lucky ones with a perfectly delightful mother-in-law. Whatever the case, during the holidays we’re thrown closer together, often in larger groups, little nuisances are bound to arise with finely honed points.

You love and respect your mother-in-law, after all she did raise the man of your dreams, right? Over the years you’ve learned to accept your differences. You know in your heart that she says and does what she does with the best of intentions. And we’re all grownups here; we know that cursing, yelling and tantrums are not appropriate behaviours, right?

You also know that you cannot change her, so here are a few little things that may help ease any momentary tensions.

  1. Don’t take it personally – Protect yourself with a new way of thinking. Understand and believe that what’s driving her is an inherent need to give advice; once a mother, always a mother. It’s really more about her, than you. She has to give advice to the young, whether you need it or not.
  2. Agree to disagree – You have a limited amount of energy and patience, don’t waste it on a battle. If a conflict arises, simply acknowledge what she’s said and take the high road saying that you’ll both just have to agree to disagree.
  3. Adapt – You may just have to take a few for the team. If you’re hosting Christmas dinner and her family tradition is mincemeat pie and yours is pumpkin, why not make one of each.
  4. Release your expectations –Take a page from Buddhism and forget how you think your relationship with your mother-in-law should go. Let it go. It ain’t going to happen, so there’s no point in hanging on. Maybe just go for a pleasant and cool relationship rather than Norman Rockwell.
  5. Keep your sense of humour – Above all use your wonderful sense of humour. If she says something that smacks of passive aggression, just chuckle kindly as if she said something funny and change the subject.

Following these few tips won’t change your mother-in-law’s behaviour, but it should cool down the fleeting hot spots. Good advice during the holidays and all the rest of the year, too.

What’s your story? What are your go-to tactics for dealing with in-law tensions? Share some thoughts in the comments below.

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