Whether you are newly married or in a long term relationship, creating a link between you and his parents is a challenge. Especially, with the mother-in-law.
There isn't a rule, that between mother-in-law and daughter- in-law is always a conflict, but, in most cases, the relationship is not a friendly one. Mostly if the two, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, live under the same roof.
Why does your mother-in-law always has to argue with you?
Most of the times, the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law live a real drama, plunging into an obscure universe of fears, intolerance and, in some cases, intrigues or hatred.
The proverbial mother-in-law / daughter-in-law conflict appears as an eternal tragedy in literature and the arts, but also as a topic of broad scientific interest, extensively studied in the last decades.
Psycho-sociology and ethology (the science about behavior) finds that this proverbial conflict is the result of many complex biological and social factors.
5 Conflict Theories With The Mother-in-Law
1. The female complex theory
German psychologists have issued a hypothesis according to which accentuated feminine complexes, both of the mother-in-law and the daughter-in–law, would greatly contribute to the generation of conflict.
Thus, in the space controlled by her (the mother-in-law), she will have a more powerful perception of her own complexes, due to a younger female presence. As a result, the psychic tension of the mother-in-law grows, whether she recognizes this or not. In this situation, mother-in-law shows a hostile attitude.
Often, the daughter-in-law reacts in an appropriate behavior, which is the premise of a real conflict.
2. The beloved son that has been kidnapped by the daughter-in-law theory
Austrian psychologists believe that, subconsciously, the mother-in-law believes that the daughter-in-law a rival, who has kidnapped her son and took him by force. Here, besides the jealousy, there is an aggression triggered by the female spirit to protect the partner of the opposite sex.
Like any woman, she defends her child by any intruders. Thus, unconsciously, some mothers-in-law may adopt a hostile attitude that leads to conflict.
3. The jealousy theory
Freud's followers believe that the mother who became a mother-in-law can leave a sense of jealousy towards her son's relationship with his wife. The mother feels, subconsciously, that the son is replacing the love towards her, with love for his partner.
Although she doesn't oppose to this love, however, there is a conflict in terms of psychic, and this can lead to the hostile attitude towards the daughter-in-law.
4. The overprotective mom theory
It should be recalled that the woman, in comparison with other female mammals, has a highly developed maternal behavior, which is often exaggerated. This is due to the need for greater protection of the child, requiring protection sometimes after adolescence.
This maternal behavior makes some mother-in-laws to be reticent when their child has a relationship. The instinct to protect the child, even if the child is a grown man, makes the mother-in-law to be more aggressive. As a result, any word, any unusual gesture, is interpreted as an aggression. This makes the mother-in-law a barrel of powder ready to explode.
5. The control dispute theory
As a rule, in the family before the son’s marriage, the mother occupies a dominant position, regardless of the son’s age. She was the dominant one, but that's about to end. She fears, in her subconscious, that his son will get out of control, and the daughter-in-law will be the next boss of the entire family.
This situation creates an increase in aggressive tension. All these aspects are found in 80% of mother-in-law / daughter-in-law relationships. The psychic tension on both sides grows and any little problem is a pretext for starting the conflict.
All Mother-in-Law / Daughter-in-Law Relationships Are Destined To Be Strained?
Either the mother-in-law doesn't consider your good enough for "her baby”, either she finds that you don't love him enough, or she is simply jealous, problems can arise. Before you declare war, remember that every mother-in-law it’s just a mother who wishes to defend her child.
Everything can be solved with a little patience and understanding.
Here are some tips that can help you to have a great start in relation with the mother-in-law:
- Do you want respect? Then, give respect in return. The respect should underpin all relationships. That means to listen and be polite.
- Don’t ask her for tips to improve your relationship with your spouse (her son). Even if she knows him better, and some tips can be helpful, calling for her help is like opening the Pandora's box.
- Compliment her qualities
- Keep your couple issues for discussions with girlfriends. Like any mother, her son is the family pride. Don't criticize him in front of her. Consider that she was responsible for raising and educating him.
- Don't get angry when she’s around.
- Divide the visit time for parents equally. So there will be no discussions because you spend more time with your parents than with his parents.
- Do different pleasant surprises for her, at least every one or two months.
- Show that you care for her son. Your mother-in-law will be satisfied if she sees that her boy is in good hands and that he’s loved.
- Do not intervene in the mother - son relationship. Even if he’s with you now, he will not cease to be the mother's boy. Try to understand and don't criticize his mom in front of him.
- Find a common topic of conversation
- Set up a visit schedule. If you don’t live with his parents, set up together a visitation. program, so you don’t have any surprises. Ask them to call before they come to visit, arguing that because your program is loaded, you might not be at home.
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- Help her with household chores. Any woman appreciates a little help, even in minor chores
- Approve her always, even if you think otherwise. It's a necessary compromise.
- Spend more time together. Go shopping together or get involved in other activities that are fun for both of you. In the end, you have something in common: the love for the same man.
Can you share other tips on how to avoid mother-in-law problems?
peachy from Home Sweet Home on June 21, 2020:
the best way is to stay away from mother in law. I mean, literally, living apart. Thanks for your tips
Nicole K on October 21, 2018:
Great article. Thanks for sharing. I feel blessed to have a good relationship with my mother-in-law. Mutual respect is a great point.
psystudent19 from US on March 17, 2018:
Enjoyed reading this article. I have been married for 16 years,and while my husband confessed that his mother did not want us to marry, we got married and it has been great. Most of our problems are about the way she treats not just myself,but our kids . As a mother this hurt, but after much observance on her behaviors that is just the way she is. She thinks that we are not aware of the things that she does. I have decided to be respectful, but keep my distance from her as she has hurt me by saying mean things to me in front of my children on topics that have to do with her and my husband. I have boundaries, and while I have explained to my husband that I support him, I will not tolerate that type of behavior, and after he saw his children cry about the harsh treatment he wont allow it either.
Catherine Worcester from California on March 06, 2018:
Really enjoyed your article. As a Mum of two men with long term girlfriends, I am really conscious of not being the interfering mother in law. My own mother in law was very opinionated and I knew I would never be good enough for her. It was her way or no way so unfortunately we never established a strong relationship. I have a basic theory that if my kids are happy with their partners, then so am I. I don’t live with them and they are grown men who I’ve raised to make good choices for themselves.
Destany Dillon from cedar hill on March 02, 2018:
I met my fiance's mother one time she talked to me for literally 2 minutes and left the house. And then later that night told him she could do better than me. i dont even know what i did wrong.
RTalloni on April 13, 2016:
You offer some good tips. Whether a person is a MIL or DIL, determining to truly love everyone involved is the key.
Some things to remember as a DIL are that, first and foremost, not to truly love his mother, no matter what kind of person she is, is to not love him. For some, the character of the MIL allows real freedom in expressing the love, but for others, the MILs character may require watchfulness from the DIL. However, if the DILs husband sees her loving his mother with honest sincerity, she will endear herself to her husband in many ways that will tighten their bond. If she is just putting on a show for selfish reasons, he will know it, though he may not express it, and that will chip away at their bond.
The same is true for the MIL. He will know if his mother truly loves his wife or not and that knowledge will greatly determine the kind of ongoing relationship the mother and son will have. The mother may have to deal with one of those DILs who believe that her husband should no longer have a relationship with his mother. Those are very sad cases, but if the mother will truly love the DIL anyway, the son will know it, and he will know that if things get really bad for him in the relationship she will try to help and not make things worse.
Suzie from Carson City on April 12, 2016:
Interesting article about a touchy subject. I can appreciate the advice & suggestions you offer. Young couples should definitely learn from this information.
I haven't had a MIL in many many years, but when I did, she was just fine. We had no issues.
I AM a MIL at this point and apparently quite a successful one because all 4 wives to my 4 sons give me love, respect & thoughtfulness and it's quite sincere. Of course, I'm a cautious and smart MIL. I trust my sons have chosen lovely women who are special people & great Moms. When I see that my sons are happy & have solid relationships, I couldn't ask for more than this. Mostly, I mind my own business & just love them all. That's really all it takes to get along.
What women need to understand is, once your son marries, MOM is no longer the #1 woman in his life. Time to step aside Mom and oh yeah......Keep your mouth shut! LOL
Sanju on June 22, 2015:
I always hurted by my nother in law.she always against me and she always oppose my speech
Red on May 12, 2015:
its not always the mil. Think forward to when your son marries. What do u want from your future dil? Give that to your mil and I bet your relationships would improve. Be kind and loving. She did raise the man you chose so she can't be that bad!!! All she wants is to be loved too. Include her. She is not perfect. No one is... Including you. Extend grace.
nehs on April 17, 2015:
I always tried to help and maitain a peaceful relationship with my mother in law but she always manipulates the things against me my husband also supports her.
Wayne on December 11, 2014:
It's great to find an expert who can expailn things so well
ShirleyJCJohnson on November 19, 2014:
Even after trying everything, I do not appreciate my mother-in-law. She has made more promises to our children and broke them for selfish reasons. But, I appreciate this article. Through love, we can win anyone.