"A daughter is a daughter for life. A son is a son until he takes a wife."
I remember the first time I held my son just moments after he was born. I stared at his perfect little face, counted his tiny fingers, kissed his head and thought of this saying. I realized at that moment the count down clock had started. I only have a few years as the primary woman in his life, and those years are flying by.
When your son gets married your role in his life drastically changes. While you are still a very important person in your son's life, your role does change and you do have to take a step back. There is just no getting around that fact. This right here is I believe one of the main things that can cause friction between mothers-in law and daughters-in-law. You now have two women competing for the primary role in one mans life, and since there can of course only be one, problems arise.
I have spent some time looking around online at different books and writings that address mothers-in-law and how they should handle the relationship with their daughters-in-law. Most of them sound a lot alike! There seems to be a lot of "Just butt out" conversations going on, but that just doesn't seem very helpful to me. So I decided to try coming at this from a bit of a different angle. It's always helpful to know where someone is coming from when you are in conflict with them but chances are, your daughter-in-law would have a very hard time telling you some of these things. So for all you mothers-in-law out there, here are a few things it seems that many daughters-in-law would like for you to know...
1. By marrying me, your son has taken on a new family focus.
While I fully understand that you and your family are still very important to your son, I am now his primary family and therefore his focus does need to be on us and our family. I need you to respect my role as his wife and honor his focus on our family.
2. I do things different than you. Not wrong, just different.
We are two different women with two different backgrounds so of course we handle things differently. There is nothing wrong with the fact that I do things different and I would rather you not point it out every time. I appreciate how you clean your home and cook your food, but please understand that I may do a lot of it different. It is ok! While I do appreciate your concern, I feel that the best way for us to be close is for you to let me do things my way in my own home.
3. I have different traditions.
I do have different traditions when it comes to holidays and birthdays, and your son and I will take on some of those traditions. Please give us the freedom to do that. Understand that we do want to be with you and your family on those important days but we do also want to have our own traditions and they may clash with some of your traditions. Again, it is ok. We are forming a new family and with that comes new traditions. Please allow us that freedom.
4. Your son does make his own decisions and opinions.
I know that it may seem like I make all of his decisions for him but trust me, I don't! He is a grown man and does a great job of leading our family and making decisions that he feels are best for us. Please don't be so quick to brush it off simply because it is a different decision than you expected him to make.
5. How you raised your children is not necessarily how I want to raise my children.
We do come from different backgrounds and because of that I am going to raise our children different than you raised yours. You had the freedom to raise your children how you felt best, so please, please give me that same freedom. Please respect the fact that I am their mother and am doing the very best that I can. As much as you may think you are helping by offering advice regularly, please try to hold back on the advice unless it is asked for. That may sound harsh but the truth is, the constant advice only makes it seem like you think i'm not doing a good enough job.
6. Honor my rules and instructions with my children.
I will at some point make rules for my children that you may not agree with but it is so important for you to honor them anyways! I am not asking you to agree with me, but when you are around them I have to be able to trust you to honor me as their mother and respect my instructions for them. If I can't trust you it will be difficult to have them around you.
7. Remember how it felt when you were a new daughter-in-law.
I'm sure that at some point you had conflict with your mother-in-law. Please try to see where I am coming from in these situations! Instead of pointing out what I need to change, please take that time to simply pray for me and your son. We are both doing the very best we can at building our family. While I may not always do a perfect job, I do love your son more than I love any other person in this world and am always doing the very best I can in this role of his wife.
I have just a couple of things to say to both mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and then i'll be done with this subject. At times it may feel like the two of you are in a war over this one man, but you need to remember something. You are fighting over the very thing that brought you together! You both love this man in a very unique way and you both want the very best for him. Both of you need to learn to respect the role you each have in his life and in your family.
Also, I don't care how bad the problem is, it was not caused by one person and can therefore not be fixed by one person. It is not possible for one person in a relationship involving at least three people to fix things all by themselves. It will take all of you working and sacrificing your way and opinions to make it work.