This past week, one of my customers called me because she had her bridal shower and EEEK – she complained about her soon-to-be Mother-In-Law. So, with my incredible sense of wisdom that comes with this business (LOL), I told her how when I was first married, my mother-in-law was such a strange thing to me. I didn’t really know how to handle her. She was an awesome person and in fact, I knew her for years though my husband and I only dated for 5 months before getting married, but yet, being on the “inside” of their family traditions was very different indeed. It took a bit of getting used to her ways and finding that learning those traditions they held dear to them were likely pretty important to my new husband as well. Looking back on it however, I find she was a great role model for making my new memories with my new daughter-in-law. Sadly, we live almost 2000 miles from my son so our interactions are less frequent but I remember so many of the things Marion would do to include me in decisions.
But this new bride to be was really struggling, and crying as her shower ended up being a hot mess with the MIL really giving her a hard time about EVERYTHING. So, I put on my newly acquired “hat” of a MIL and gave her the best advice I could give her: Someday, she won’t be there and chances are, you will wish everyday she was. Most importantly, I told her that it will take a bit of time to get into the groove of a relationship and know what makes her laugh, and their family traditions and so forth, but most importantly, to get along with her because after all, pleasing her will ultimately make your husband happy. I also cautioned her however that leading up to the wedding will be hard for her because (and knowing this from experiencing the same myself) she will be losing her son. It even goes deeper than that as well – especially when a baby is in the picture – because as sexist as this is going to sound, it’s you that usually goes to your mom about things such as where pots and pans go in the cabinet (beside the stove) and not the sink (because that’s what he thinks). So, there won’t be the interfering as much with some of the traditional (and non-traditional) roles that you and your husband will have but experiencing what makes for good bonding is to use her as a way to learn more about your husband and family traditions as those will become important as you start your family of your own.
My mother-in-law sadly got ill while we were in our 40’s and for me, that was hard seeing my husband go through such a profound sense of loss, one which I would experience the following decade when my mother passed. But I often think of the kindness she showed me those first few years of marriage as I try to relate to my new “daughter” which Marion was so good at making me feel like one of her own. She showed me a deep sense of patience and kindness and acceptance although I am sure there were times she rolled her eyes about me. So, with her wisdom, I chart a course for my future relationship and hope with patience, I develop that same with mine.