Here are six tips for having a good relationship with your mother-in-law.
Doris wasn’t just a mother-in-law, but a fabulous friend. Personally, I feel she had quite a bit more to overlook in me in the beginning as I was selfish, opinionated, and just plain stupid. Example – I had my second child and was not up to par. It was spring and, of course, flower planting time. I being the perfectionist (and this is where stupid and selfish comes in) did the unthinkable… To be nice she planted a peachy/pink bed of petunias in an area where I would usually put, I think, red. Would you believe that when I felt up to it, I actually replaced her petunias with my preferred color? When I think of that today I just cringe. She never said a word, but I’ll bet she was not impressed with me.
Tip 1 – Be thankful for the little things they do for you and be gracious
When my husband and I started going together we were of different religions. I was with a girlfriend that was Lutheran, the same as my mother-in-law, and she said to me. “Why doesn’t Art find a nice Lutheran girl to date?” At the time I was appalled. Today I think it is pretty funny as later in life I turned to Lutheran and she turned to the religion that I had been for her second husband.
Tip 2 – Don’t sweat the small stuff. There is always tomorrow and things change
The two of us came from entirely different backgrounds. She was a farm girl and I was a city brat. Her taste was totally different than mine and we had a good time teasing about my exotic, or just plain different taste than hers. One time after putting up a half-moon mirror in my family room I asked her what she thought and she replied, “I think it looks totally stupid.” O.K. then!!! I had grown up enough by this time to actually laugh it off and I still have that totally stupid mirror still hanging in my family room.
Tip 3 – Appreciate true honesty and don’t take it personally
She was always there when I needed her, or just a phone call away. She actually got a warning ticket for speeding on Center Street to come and wash my kitchen floor. I was getting ready for one of the girl’s weddings and she thought I could use some help. The officer asked her where she was going in such a hurry, 50 in a 25-speed zone, and she said to wash my daughter-in-law’s floor. He gave her a warning, but I’ll bet there were a few laughs down at the station after that. I hope none of them knew me so as to judge me, expecting this poor older lady to wash my kitchen floor?.
Tip 4 – Appreciate the things they do for you even if it is not necessary
When I planted my perennial garden I worked during the day and had to get my plants in after dark for some reason. My mother and mother-in-law sat on logs in my backyard with flashlights to help me see what I was doing. My backyard neighbor had to hang over the fence in the morning to see what the hell was going on.
Tip 5 – Appreciate the big things they do for you
I could go on and on. She has since passed on and I miss her terribly. I miss our late evening gab sessions on the phone. Her stories that went on and on, and her being there for me was so enjoyable. Sure, she made me a little crazy sometimes, but I learned to overlook her differences and she overlooked mine. When she told me that I was more like a daughter to her than a daughter-in-law that was the ultimate compliment.
Tip 6 – Enjoy their differences and learn from them
They seem to have a book of knowledge that they love to share. Remember that they also compete with your own mother on most occasions and also learn how not to tread on toes.