3 Tips for Getting Along with Your New Mother-in-Law

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Mother-in-lawIf you are getting married in the near future, there’s a good chance your head is probably spinning right about now.  Between the wedding reception logistics, invitations, registry, transportation arrangements, cake, DJ, and everything else, it’s a lot to manage.  Yes, I know your plate is full, but there is one other thing that you might want to give a little thought to – the relationship you will have with your soon-to-be mother-in-law.

Being an ex-mother of the bride several times over, I have been on both sides of this equation.  I have a mother-in-law, and I am also a mother-in-law to the husbands of my 3 lovely daughters.  Of course, the dynamic between any two people is highly personal, so my experience will not necessary translate into your experience.  That said, I do have a good perspective on this thanks to my experiences as well as the increasing level of introspection I practice with each passing year.  So, I’m in a position to give you a “30,000-foot view” on this topic.

The most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind.  Remember that the traditional nightmare mother-in-law stories are extremely uncommon and certainly are not representative of the norm.  Plus, your future mother-in-law is probably a bit unsure of how the dynamic between you and her will pan out, so there might be some awkwardness initially.  Just give her a chance!  Over time you and her will gradually learn how to communicate with each other more effectively, and you’ll be more comfortable with each other as well.  So avoid judging her right out of the gate; do not let yourself get brain-locked into your first impressions.

The second tip is to focus on engaging her wherever possible in the weeks and months leading up to the wedding.  This will help you two get off on the right foot.  For example, you could ask for her input during the wedding planning activities, or you could ask for her opinion on things such as the reception menu or flower arrangements.  You could also give her minor tasks that will make her feel more involved, as opposed to a passive observer.  Another good idea is to invite her to some or all of the fun wedding-related activities, such as the bachelorette party.  Also make sure you keep her updated on things at all times.  Remember that it’s her son’s wedding too!  The simple act of doing these things will make her feel more valuable and will immediately begin to endear you to her.

The third tip is to figure out what you will call her.  In realize this might sound like a minor thing, but not knowing what to call your mother-in-law can quickly lead to awkward moments (similar to someone calling you by name, but for the life of you his/her name escapes you).  For this reason, perhaps this should be the first tip listed, but I didn’t do that because really, all 3 of these tips should be done in conjunction with one another.  So you will need to decide if you will call her mom, ma, or Mrs. X!  Then once you decide your preference, ask for your future mother-in-law’s opinion so she is comfortable with the label as well.

The bottom line is that your relationship with your future mother-in-law is dependent on the same things that make or break any relationship.  Open mindedness, good communication, lack of judgment, trust, and common courtesy will go a long way toward solidifying your relationship with your future mother-in-law.  Since you will presumably have to deal with her for many years to come, it makes sense to put a little thought and effort now into building a solid foundation for a mutually-beneficial relationship.  For a more light-hearted look at this topic, check out these interesting and funny mother-in-law stories.  Enjoy and good luck!

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