My fiancé is an only child and a mama’s boy. His mother is so used to doing everything for him that she’s having a hard time transitioning to me being the primary woman in his life. I struggle with how to include her while also establishing boundaries. How can I have a harmonious relationship with my future mother-in-law without having her insert herself into every aspect of our lives?
Dear Meddling Mother-in-Law,
Coping with an overbearing mother-in-law isn’t easy. You and your fiancé must be on the same page so you can establish a united front when challenges arise. To ensure that you and your significant other are on the same team, communicate with him about how you’re feeling and the expectations of the relationship.
Be sensitive to your mother-in-law’s feelings. Appreciate that she raised the man that you found love with and planned to marry. She might feel threatened by you which is understandable. Acknowledge that you appreciate her role and welcome her input into future planning. However, it’s important to be firm that although her feedback is valuable the ultimate decision will be between you and your fiancé.
Remember you don’t have to participate in every conflict. Know when to engage and when to let her win. Choosing your battles is key. Ignoring small oversights will save a lot of energy in the long run. Calm is strength.
Empathize with her. Think about how it must feel for her to transition from being the center of his world to now being on the sidelines. No one wants to feel left out or unwanted. Including her in decision-making and quality time will strengthen your bond by letting her know that you respect her status. The degree of the monster in law you’re dealing with will dictate your course of action. The last thing that you want is to make your soon-to-be husband choose between you and his mother. Many mothers unload emotional baggage on their daughter-in-law because they’re having a hard time detaching the dependency they have on their sons. Try to prevent any interference by establishing a new power dynamic.
It’s all about perspective. Is meddling necessarily a negative? Not always. It depends on how you look at it. Change your perception from viewing it as an annoyance to her way of expressing love and concern. Patience and perspective will allow you to diffuse conflict. Reassure her that she is a valued member of your family while also communicating ground rules of acceptable behavior.
Be prepared to set boundaries. Setting boundaries isn’t always easy And can be uncomfortable but necessary. The last thing you want to do is drive a divide between you and your significant other so be delicate. At the same time, your fiance needs to also set boundaries with his mother so that you’re not deemed the bad guy. If your mother-in-law gives you unsolicited advice, listen. You don’t have to internalize everything. Perhaps she’ll pass on pearls of wisdom. Pick what information you want to apply.
No one wants to deal with an overbearing mother-in-law, but if you set clear boundaries and stick firmly to your beliefs while being mindful of her feelings, you’ll be on your way to a harmonious relationship.