The Dreaded & Not-So-Dreaded Mother-in-Law

Whenever we decide to marry someone we will have to deal with some sort of in-laws. They can be your worst nightmare or your best advocate. It took me some practice (hahaha for real though 😂) to realize that the bigger families seem to understand how to keep the peace or recover from upheaval much better than the single mom & one child families. There are some statistics that show large families and/or religion can work together to lower divorce rates.

I mean…that makes sense. My brothers & I beat the crap out of each other. But, now we talk about our families & work on solutions together for our problems. I wonder if that works for in-laws too…

***Also – a random caveat – it’s never okay to hit on your in-laws. That right there is the nastiest thing I ever had to witness.***

I’ve had my share of mothers-in-law and mothers of boyfriends. I’ve learned that at the end of the day they want what they think is best for their son, not actually what is best for their son or their (future) grandchildren. I’ve developed close bonds with women, just to be ridiculed behind my back because I stood up for myself. Or, what was even worse, I was accused of an affair because an ex didn’t believe our son was his & she believed it. I’ve learned that as soon as your marriage is going downhill they will withdraw from you to make sure they have room to love the next partner.

I remember the first time I met one of these ladies I was pregnant and alone in Germany. I had learned her son was pretty much sleeping with anything that said hello to him. He was accusing me of everything under the sun while I was pregnant. It was exhausting. She was convinced I was going to have the baby early & came & spent time with me. She was loving, sweet, and caring. She had such a sweet southern accent. She loved her son more than anyone else in her life. It was usually just them against the world. She was excited to hear her grand baby’s heartbeat and was longing to be a Grandmom….only to never meet her grandson. To this day she still believes her son, not realizing the damage & pain she caused another young man who just wonders why wasn’t he good enough?

I was cautious for years and was very careful about who I dated. I made sure that I didn’t grow close to the family again, as that pain was even worse than breaking up with someone. I started seeing someone and now, looking back, I realized my insecurities had me push myself into their life. They didn’t want me. They never wanted me. Yet, for some reason, I wanted them. His mother said all of the right things to me. I would visit her without him and we would go places and do things. They were amazing together. Funny, cheerful, almost too close. I realize now it was only a matter of time before I wasn’t going to be good enough anymore. I wasn’t the first to go through this discard. We would talk about our families & upbringing as she helped me understand his issues. I felt like I really was her daughter. It was amazing.

But then, her beautiful, amazing, perfect, never-does-wrong son cheated on me. Any of the abuse was because she felt I deserved it & he was biologically made to do it, so that wasn’t even talked about. He convinced me to call her the night I found out about affair #1 because she had been through it. Sure enough, she was loving & caring & sweet. One of our agreements was that accounts had to be changed, not deleted. Just changed. Within a couple of months I was told by his aunt that I needed to let him have social media back & that I was controlling him. I was accused of not tagging his mother on social media posts (to the point of her telling me, the woman who had been in counseling for PTSD for years yet her son denied having a problem himself, that I needed mental help). It was such a crazy flip! To make matters worse within a few months there was another longer affair that I wasn’t even going to talk to them about. What was the use? It was clear where their allegiance lied & it was time for me to make amends with that.

There are the rare mothers-in-law who can actually communicate with both sides, even after a divorce. There are the ones that make sure there are family events that include your whole family, even if they’re not really close to them. They’re those people who take in the grand babies and include them in everything. They light up when they see the happiness that comes from just letting your children work out their relationship issues as they shower the family in love without choosing sides.

Sometimes kids are involved when couples divorce & at the end of the day they don’t need the drama that some bring to a divorce or breakup. They need stability. Tearing up passport papers for the children to visit cousins & sending photos to the child’s mom? You might have a problem. Calling the mother of your grandkids names behind her back (but never apologizing for things you did wrong)…you might have a problem. Visiting something within an hour of your grandkids & not visiting with them? You might have a problem. They need those parents & grandparents who will come to them and be there for them, not just do what’s convenient for the parent/grandparent. They don’t need the ones who just appease those around them. I have yet to meet a grandparent who actually is remorseful for spending more time with their grand babies.

There are some major issues we face with our in-laws, and many of the time the older party is so set in their ways they refuse to try something new. They refuse to see the truth in the situation. Pettiness is a given in relationships. There is not a single soul who is perfect. But, if you’re the type of person to tell someone they have to get over something quickly that blindsided them (and let’s face it, something you probably aren’t even over after it happened to you) then humility might be good for you. Sometimes it’s as simple as looking at someone’s culture & upbringing. I know I will say exactly what I think…not to make you cry…but to make sure you understand how I truly feel. I would still bend over backwards to help you. Welcome to a woman from the northeast!!

There are many women who marry a man hoping and praying their mother-in-law will be the things she misses from her own mother. She wishes for that connection. Sometimes, she feels the connection is there and she makes the daily phone calls or visits whenever possible. Don’t be that mother-in-law that crushes the mother of your grandbabies, or this “daughter” who is left alone to heal from your son, over problems she’s having with your son that can be fixed. If it’s too late to fix the relationship then figure out a way to mend what you broke, so you don’t miss out on your grandbabies. The last thing you can do is just label the relationship as toxic but enable the toxic behaviors to continue.

Every relationship is salvageable. If you put in the effort. It’s a new year. Reach out to your in-laws if you have a problem…and talk it out. Added bonus – with quarantine you can’t really get too close!!

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