For a lot of Nigerian women, getting along with in-laws, especially mothers-in-law, is one of the tough challenges of married life. Here are 6 handy tips I’ve learned over the years which married women and aspiring daughters-in- law can apply to try to keep things at least civil and get some more peace of mind…
1. Work on your husband. Let him know what is going on and what your expectations are calmly without sounding rude or malicious – remember she’s his mother after all. Let him know ways you think he can put you in his mother’s good books. Ask for his own ideas as well, after all, he knows her a lot better.
A firm husband who can subtly defend you to set the records straight when need be and knows how to manipulate his tough mum to your advantage will make things a lot more bearable for you.
2. Avoid pointless bickering or carping. As with difficult toddlers, learning to see her tantrums coming by noting the typical triggers and avoiding unnecessary arguments, nagging or finding faults will save you a lot of headaches.
While you need to be firm or make your stand known sometimes, especially with major issues to avoid being taken for granted, choose your battles wisely and make your husband the ‘bad guy’ as often as you can by letting him counter those ‘wise’ suggestions she likely sincerely thinks are best for you.
3. Find out what she loves and indulge her. A lot of mothers-in-laws can’t help loving daughters-in-law who constantly indulge them. Try to give occasional treats you know will linger on in her memory at least. Your husband could even make huge surprises from him seem like you initiated them or paid part of the bill.
4. Try to treat her like you would your mum. Resorting to exchanging insults or maltreating her to put her in her place will only make things worse and perhaps make you lose your husband’s comradeship as far as trying to work things out between you too is concerned. It may be difficult to do, but try to treat her well regardless of how she treats you to keep your conscience clear.
5. Don’t force it. It’s normal to want to share that enviable mother-daughter relationship with your mother-in-law but often times, it’s only in your dreams so try to keep your expectations from her as realistic as possible. While you should try to treat her like your mum, you must realize she isn’t really your mum and may not treat you in a certain way or understand and accept certain things you do or say like your mum would. Realizing this will keep you from constantly comparing her to your mum or finding faults, as well as adapt or accept things as they are.
6. Don’t sacrifice yourself. Some women think constantly putting up hypocritical acts or grossly inconveniencing themselves always to impress their mother-in-law is the trick but often times, they only end up raising the bars too high and creating future problems.
Don’t desperately keep trying to fit into her ‘ideal daughter-in-law’ picture or do her every bidding just to impress her and then begin to feel miserable as someday, your pent-up emotions may just get the best of you and escalate issues.
As long as you keep doing what’s right and trying your best to foster a cordial relationship, give yourself some credit and let yourself be happy.