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The importance of establishing rapport

I worry too that my sons might bring home, girls that I deem most unsuitable. I really would like to be a good mother-in-law but I fear that if I think someone is inappropriate for any one of my children, my big mouth will just find itself travelling a very embarrassing and evil route. I doubt very much that I will be able to count to 10 and hold my comments.

The reality is that no one will ever be good enough for any of my three children. My only saving grace as a future mother-in-law would be a sudden ability to exercise all the patience in the world and allow myself time to get to know my children’s life partners.

In church last Sunday, during a women’s interactive session, one woman shared with us the wonderful things her in-laws do for her and her family. It was refreshing to listen to a woman speak so glowingly of her in-laws.

In the past, I have heard many women whining about how cruel and insensitive their in-laws especially the mothers-in-law are.

I have rarely come across women who genuinely appreciate the little things their mothers-in-law do for them.

There are several evil mothers-in-law but we should also acknowledge that there are some amazing mothers-in-law out there. Good mothers-in-law are women who have allowed themselves the opportunity to understand their daughters-in-law. They  respect their “new daughters” and give them the space to grow and be invaluable members of their new family.

When we the future mothers-in-law and our prospective daughters-in-law are introduced to each other, sometimes we create very superficial relations. We take each other at face value and do not really make an effort to get to know each other. At times our first assumptions about each other are the ones that will prevail for the better part of our later relationships.

During first meetings both parties have several questions but these rarely get asked. We skirt around issues and deny ourselves the opportunity to find out more about each other. We fail to establish a proper foundation for a stronger future relationship. We do not seem to realise that it takes two to destroy or create an amicable relationship.

Years ago a colleague bragged about how wonderful her lover’s mum was. Six months after they got married she was singing a different tune. The mother-in-law was now being described as selfish, interfering and plain evil. The mother-in-law had also finally seen the true colours of her new daughter and called her manipulative and loose.

These two played the pretend game at the beginning of their relationship instead of seriously getting to know each other. Doubts in your mind about someone do not suddenly disappear. In fact doubts create fertile ground for unpalatable suspicious thoughts.

If your son’s girlfriend comes across as a young woman of loose morals, your overactive imagination will see several things around the young woman pointing to a bad character.

A friend recently told me of some wonderful daughters-in-law she had come across. She said the young women had a very difficult mother-in-law but they had found a way of conducting an almost harmonious relationship with their husbands’ mother.

Do not get frustrated. Give yourself time to know the other woman. Accept that you are both different but you both love the same man and you both want him happy. You do not have to be head over heels in love with each other but learn to respect each other. Give each other space. Do not let your differences stand in the way of a possible fulfilling relationship.

Avoid creating unnecessary battle zones. Daughters have disagreements with their mothers and the same should be expected of mothers-in-law and their new daughters.

At times we fail because we try too hard for someone to like us. It is important to give your relationship time. Forcing your affections on someone will not make them love you so go easy on yourself and at the end of the day if all fails tell yourself you tried. Some relationships are just never meant to be. If at the end of the day you can still curl up in the arms of your loved one, with the full knowledge that your husband loves you and will stand by you then count your blessings.

If your relationship with your mother-in-law is poisoned, do not try to turn your husband against his mother. His mother is an important part of his life just like yours is to you.

*Feel free to send your questions and contributions knowing your identity will be protected.

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