Rebellious Mothers-In-Law

“What the soul knows is often  unknown to the man who has a soul. We are infinitely more than we think.” Kahlil Gibran

“I realized that all the trouble I ever had about you came from some smallness or fear in myself.”    Mary Haskell

“All cruelty springs from weakness.”    Seneca

“We are expression of earth, and of life – not separate individuals only. We cannot get enough away from the earth to see the earth and ourselves as separates. We move with its great movements and our growth is part of its great growth.”    Kahlil Gibran

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”    Seneca

There has been a tremendous amount of talk about mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. The fascinating part is that nothing ever changes. I wrote a book on the mother-in-law daughter-in-law dilemma which took  over fifteen years of research. I interviewed people at the beginning of those years and at the end and I got the same results. To be honest, I was shocked.Today’s young people appear to be more computer literate, independent and outspoken. Yet when you mention a mother-in-law, their complaints and issues sound  the same throughout the ages. They are no less confident around their mothers-in-law than any other generation. Perhaps they are even less secure, given the confusion regarding one insignificant person, who appears to make them nervous. The mystery is they can’t figure out why.

The  typical answers, which have some truth in them, are jealousy, fear, and their own insecurity towards their relationship with their husbands. Their possessive feelings towards their husbands, causes a resistance in them to accept their mother-in-law. Regardless of how any of us feel, mothers are mothers and they will likely always hold a connected bond with their daughters as well as their sons. Most women like to believe that only daughters stay close to their mothers. I call this surface bonds.

Mothers keep their bonds of affection for all of their kids, and young or old the love does not diminish.  The belief is that women stay bonded  to mom, but men somehow evolve into a new creature that stops caring about his beginnings. Many men likely under duress, leave a lot of space between themselves and their mothers, so as to alleviate any trouble with their wives.

Of course it is silly because if we looked into the future, or at life itself, we would realize that we will perhaps one day be at the other end of the stick. None of us think of that. We  assume we will  have our tiny babies, toddlers and young children under our spell forever. As most older women will attest, time passes quietly but swiftly and things turn around. I have heard the same  rhetoric of  “how much better I would do things than my mother-n-law did.” Probably you won’t make the same mistakes, but you will forge ahead with your own errors, unwittingly unaware that you have done anything wrong.

Nobody plans on making problems for anyone least of all your son or daughter-in-law. The trouble is, if one has made trouble already, forgiveness is the only route that allows them on the track again. Of course we can skip the forgiveness, and rattle onward with confusion, distrust, uneasiness, fights, horrible interactions, and free time spent on rehashing everything that was said and done. Humans are great at overlooking their own transgressions. We give ourselves plenty of slack in reference to pain and blame. In the end we all are delivered fair amounts of stress, anxiety and worry.

Mothers-in-law need time to adjust. When a woman becomes a new mother, she frets and wants to be left alone so she can learn all the ways to take care of her baby. She doesn’t want a lot of advice, at least not from the older generation. She gains her independence and eventually steers her own wheel. Likewise, a new mother-in-law must learn how to switch up  her own way of doing things. She no longer can interfere with her sons choices, nor stop by when she feels like it. Yes her son probably wouldn’t care any more than her daughter-in-law worries if her own mother stops by. The trouble is the daughter-in-law wants her privacy, and deserves her privacy. Mothers-in-law need to respect the lines that are drawn.

This is easier said than done. If a mother has freely spoken to her child for over twenty years, it is difficult to expect her to suddenly learn how to keep her mouth quiet. Of course she needs to learn this, but give her some time and space to fall back, make mistakes and then learn to adjust. It is the changes and fear of the transformations that are likely taking place. The love is always solid but the alterations in the relationship are numerous. Changes require a lot of adjustments in action, words and emotional acceptance.

Calling men mommies boys, only makes the men put up a facade of separation from the mother. That in turn hurts the mother. We haven’t changed the son’s love for his mother. We have only caused him to hide his feeling and keep them undercover. That is silly as well as sad, when we don’t place the same parameters on our own heartfelt associations. Just as we can’t be forced to love someone, likewise we can’t be forced to stop loving someone. The heart rebels.

How much time, effort, pain, fear and stress we needlessly place on our shoulders. There is room for one more person to love in this big world. We must have confidence in ourselves, trust in our own worth and not feel jealousy in the mother son relationship. Perhaps if we could get beyond  that, we would all learn to have serenity. Mothers-in-law are just as guilty of jealousy, as well as insecurity. But trusting they have a place in their son’s heart, should give them peace.  Why do we want to spend our happy times, assessing what another says or does. In the end it is futile and pointless. The evaluation results always depend on the person doing the assessment more than what is the truth.

Mothers-in-law have a new playing field. They need to refrain from overstepping boundaries, respect rules that are set, even if they don’t agree with them, or even if they think they are ridiculous. Respect and tolerance is key. Understanding how much your son loves this person is essential. They are his family now, and although you will always be a part  of his family, stepping back a bit and recognizing the importance of his union and the onward cycle of his life is crucial.

Most if not all mothers do not want to keep their sons locked away or stagnant. Allowing them to live the life they choose is not our decision to make, but it does necessitate that  we accept his decisions. Daughters-in-law who want peace, and honesty, must accept some of the fault in a failing relationship with their mothers-in-law. By understanding their role in the crises, they can alter their opinions, as well as stretch their thinking. By coming to realize that they can’t just pretend their husband never had a mother, or that he can easily walk away from having her in his life, will afford a deeper revelation about life itself.

A daughter-in -law’s fear and stress might be her own nervousness at taking the helm. Of course the daughter-in-law is up to it but she must have some faith in herself. None of us can control another, or not forever. If we wrap our treasure and hide it, how can we enjoy it ourselves. Bringing it into the light gives others the chance to experience some of the joy. By having our husband’s interests in mind, we might offer a truce in any difficult situation.

Judging the mother-in-law too early in the game causes misconceptions. It would be like judging a child’s temperament after the mother is leaving the child in your care. The screaming yelling and misbehaving child is under duress at the moment. It is not a good time to be judging him or her. I would suggest the mother-in-law may be at that same point in time, as the toddler.  She is under fire to accept so many changes that are definitely attuned with life and natural, but not easy. Perhaps a mothers slight temper tantrum is also quite natural. Give her time to adjust and make it as easy and as acceptable as possible because in the end she will come to understand, there are no other options.

Mothers-in-law should understand that their daughters-in-law are young, and have a lot to learn about the progression of life. Attempting to give them the fast pass doesn’t work. They are vulnerable, are excited about their new beginning and want independence and freedom, to make their own choices. A mother-in-law has to allow her son and his wife to make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. Interfering is out of the question. Perhaps their ridiculous idea might pan out better than you thought.Everyone is breaking new ground. We all react poorly at moments. Acting like  children is probably very common in adults of all temperaments. Whether we behave aggressively,  or passive aggressively, everyone needs forgiveness and kindness at times.

We all want to be understood regarding our feelings, which are not easy to express. How many mothers-in-law want to believe they are expressing a temper tantrum, and showing signs of jealousy. How many daughters-in-law want to believe they are possessive and jealous of their mothers-in-law. Both parties will get over the newness of it all, and release their own fears in time. When that future time comes, it would be nice to still have a worthwhile relationship. Trust me, it is an awesome treasure to have and well worth waiting for, or working towards. Tolerance, forgiveness, understanding and love will open the chrysalis to a new adventure that all will love and enjoy, if we will simply have faith that it is possible.

A man can be free without being great, but no man can be great without being free.”     Kahlil Gibran

“Imagination sees the complete reality, – it is where past, present and future meet… Imagination is limited neither to the reality which is apparent – nor to one place. It lives everywhere. It is at a center and feels the vibrations of all the circles within which east and west are virtually included. Imagination is the life of mental freedom. It realizes what everything is in its many aspects … Imagination does not uplift: we don’t want to be uplifted, we want to be more completely aware.”    Kahlil Gibran

“When the hand of Life is heavy and night song-less, it is the time for love and trust. And how light the hand life becomes and how song-ful the night, when one is loving and trusting all.” Anonymous

“He suffers more than necessary, who suffers before it is necessary.”    Seneca

 

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