You know it’s coming.
Have you even recovered from the last time you visited your mother-in-law?
As we found out in 10 Things A Mother-in-law Should Never Say to Her Daughter-in-law, spending time with your hubby’s mother — and holiday visits in particular — set the scene for horrifying MIL comments and taunts.
While you may not be able to pick and choose your MIL or turn your monster-in-law into a reasonable being, there are definite things you can do to make the dreaded visit more bearable.
Here are 10 ideas to help you cope:
1. BE CONFIDENT
Like all bullies, bully MILs will enjoy watching you cower so don’t give her the chance. Be unapologetic and confident. Yes, your child just had a tantrum; she’s learning to express her anger. No, you’re not going to cook every single night because your husband is fully capable of pitching in. That’s just the way things are, period.
I’m not advocating alcoholism by any means, but a glass of wine will take the edge off in many circumstances and loosen you up so insinuations (and possibly even accusations) might slip right off your back.
Was that a sarcastic tone you just heard when she remarked that your cooking was … unique? Maybe it was, but if you ignore it, her nasty remark can be left “unheard” it doesn’t stir you up — because wasn’t that the underlying intention after all?
4. BE PRESENT …
… But avoid personal contact as much as humanly possible. There is no rule that says you need to stay in every room with her the entire visit. Ask if she needs help and pitch in, but when you aren’t helping or sitting down at the dinner table, go outside, play in the yard with the kids, or get some air on the back porch. If she’s in the living room, make conversation with someone in the kitchen or vice versa.
5. FORGET THE PAST
Yes, she really did say you looked terrible that day she dropped in unexpectedly after you’d been up all night with your sick child (while your husband — her son — slept like a baby!), BUT recalling each and every grievance will do nothing but reiterate negativity. Let it go. Like Rafiki said to Simba in the The Lion King after bumping him over the head with a stick, “It’s in the past!”
6. BE HAPPY NO MATTER WHAT
Sure, there are a million things you could be doing on this beautiful Saturday other than spending it cooped up in your mother-in-law’s living room (like scrub your bathroom toilets), but being miserable will only make the day go more slowly.
7. COULD SHE HAVE A POINT?
Is there something (anything) useful about what she’s saying? Maybe she isn’t trying to point out your inadequacies as a new mom, but simply trying to tell a story of what she learned so you don’t repeat her mistakes. Some MILs, especially those that are very traditional or from another culture, don’t always speak as gingerly as they should. Try your best to hear the heart of the message and not the criticism.
8. DON’T GO
This should be reserved for extreme circumstances. For example, if you have done everything you possibly can to form a relationship with your MIL, but you and your hubby still end up in a fight every single visit, consider staying home. Encourage your husband to visit her alone, and use the time for yourself to catch up on sleep, surf the web, or do nothing at all.
9. REWARD YOURSELF ON A JOB WELL DONE …
… And another visit under the belt once it’s all over. Pamper yourself; you’ve earned it. Knowing that when you get home, you will have a long bath and your favorite movie waiting for you will help you focus on looking forward to something positive at the end of the long day. Even better, have hubby take over child duty that night and pamper yourself with a long, hot bubble bath and a good book.
10. REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE THERE
It’s for your husband (whom you presumably love). Or else why would you put yourself through this torture at all? She IS his mom and the woman who raised him. At the very least, you can CHOOSE to be thankful for her bringing him into this world, if nothing else.