We all find it so easy to blame others when a relationship fails. If we could read our daughter-in-law’s mind, we would likely find she is blaming us for the uneasy atmosphere.

The truth is, both parties sabotage the relationship when they assume, judge and expect certain things to happen. Getting off to a bad start makes everyone uneasy.

Both women discover their confidence wanes, and the relationship situation is eroding, but no one tries to fix it. The tension is strong, and both women are lost in their own thoughts. Before the night is over, they speak cordially but make brief contact with each other.

 
 

It is easy to get caught up in the drama which serves nobody and adds to the confusion. Here are 5 ways to deal with the mother- and daughter-in-law “elephant in the room.”

Transform Emotional Distance into Positive Interactions

At times, both women can simply be misguided in their thoughts and judgements of a situation. That is the best kept secret. Neither woman wants to upset the elephant in the room, so neither discusses any real issues or problems they have. Mothers- and daughters-in-law have individual fears, as well as desires.

Daughters-in-law want to control their lives and their children. Mothers-in-law feel the same way, but their son is grown up. Control becomes impossible, so the mother-in-law must see the changed playing field.

The mother-in-law fears losing her relationship with her son and grandchildren. She sometimes pushes for what she perceives as her rights, and she makes matters worse.

The daughter-in-law feels threatened and fights back with refusals to visit. Both women dig in their heels and ignore the man-in-the-middle’s suffering. Even when there are visits, if there is emotional distancing, little love is displayed.

Be open, honest and communicate with your daughter-in-law without assuming or judging. Don’t expect to gain all you want, but instead, appreciate what you get and more will flow to you.

Don’t Count the Time You Share with Your Grandchildren but Do Count the Love!

Nobody wants to make children unhappy, and kids want and deserve love from everyone. As much as we give and love our children, adding more love to their lives through other people is important.

We should understand that grandchildren lose the most when grandparents are not allowed to engage with them. Remember that we can’t forever control who our kids like or resonate with. When they are grown they may question our reasons for keeping grandma and papa at a distance from them.

Children ask many questions when they are young, but they ask more questions when they are older. They will not be deceived. Kids deserve all the love and attention they can get. Refuse to put them in the middle of your fights and arguments by keeping in mind that kids thrive on love and attention.

Let Parents Set the Boundaries

Parents should set boundaries and rules as well as times people can visit. Grandparents must be flexible about the restrictions and accept what they receive. With three daughters-in-law and one son-in-law, I have found that the more I accept the conditions the parents set, the more lenient the parents become.

That is a fact. The grandchildren tell me about their visits with their other grandmas and papas, and I cherish the conversation. I am sure they do the same about their visits with me.

Children are open and carefree, and they hold nothing back. They thrive in their open happy environment. The parents and grandparents have peace and are surrounded by the loving atmosphere.

This is the result of open communication, which we all strive to achieve, and the ability to share without jealousy. It turns gossip into discussions, judgements into tolerance and assumptions into trust. It is never perfect and has its flaws, but it is positive, honest and worth the effort.

Always Offer Praise in Some Form

Gossip hurts, demeans and causes unending hardships. Most of gossip is hearsay or half-truths. Even gossip that is true serves only to bring pain and misunderstanding. If you want people to speak kindly of you, you should speak gently of others. Muster the courage to stop gossip as soon as it begins.

You won’t have to eat your words or be embarrassed when someone repeats your indiscretion. Recall the adage that what we see in others may be rampant in us. I have often learned this lesson by committing the same mistake I criticized another for. It is unnerving to find the fault within one’s self – but very enlightening.

Work on Creating a Harmonious Relationship

In any harmonious relationship the interactions are easy, unguarded and contain more humor. The conversation is relaxed, the stress and anxiety are not present, and the subjects of conversation are varied and interesting. When the visit is over we are filled with a sense of joy. Maintaining a good relationship is for the benefit of all.

We can focus on what is good about each other, and learn to tolerate what we don’t like. Mothers-in-law can help with babysitting, cleaning the dishes after enjoying a meal or shopping with their daughter-in-law to again help with the children. Offering to drive or pick something up is also helpful.

The daughter-in-law may offer to help with dishes, visit or spend a day or evening in an outing with the mother-in-law. In both situations, the women are enjoying and helping each other. Even if it is tense in the beginning of a relationship, put the effort into creating magic and forming a devoted bond. It is so beneficial for both women and therapeutic in so many ways.

The Changes Are Never What We Imagine

Don’t measure or imagine. Imagining is like assuming. There is only one you and nobody else like you. Your experiences, ideas, jobs and talents are unique, and your grandchildren benefit from this.

If you can admit that you love all your children the same, then you can trust that your grandchildren love all their grandparents. If you compare and measure then you will always distrust and feel loss. If you unconditionally love and are grateful for the love you have in your life, then you will never be disappointed.

Do you have a good relationship with your daughter-in-law? Do you feel that your daughter-in-law judges everything you say and do? Is there jealousy between you and your daughter-in-law?

Pamela ReynoldsPamela Reynolds is a Connecticut-certified teacher in elementary and Special Education. She taught for over 20 years in public and private schools and is now retired. The author of The Princess and the Queen, Pamela also writes about relationships on her website. She is married and has four children, three daughters-in-law, one son-in-law and nine grandchildren.

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