All Things In-Law...

Dr. Deanna Brann's Blog

When was the last time you thought about your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law and thought something positive? Can’t remember the last time? Never? It’s easy to focus on the negative things. After all, it’s those things that drive you crazy, right? When you are angry with your in-law or upset with her, it is hard to find anything positive about their actions. The negative out weighs anything positive they might do.

However, when you focus on the negative you perpetuate the problem. Everything she does seems to be awful, hurtful, frustrating,- even when it isn’t. It’s hard to break the cycle. Negativity takes a lot of energy to maintain. It creates a heaviness, a cloud all around you. If you don’t believe me, think about your in-law for a moment. Can you feel the heaviness in your body – how bogged down you feel? Now, think about something positive…something that makes you feel happy. This could be anything to do with your pet, husband, kids, grandchildren – anything that brings you joy. How do you feel? Do you feel lighter, almost airy? That’s the difference I’m talking about.

How can you change these negative feelings about your in-law into something positive? How can you change that heaviness to something lighter? The key is to find something positive about your in-law – even if it’s just one thing. Start with something small if you have to, but find something positive about her. Having some trouble thinking of something? Let me give you a few things to get you started:


  • You raised your son to be bright, thoughtful, and loving – he loves this woman. Look at her through his eyes.
  • The fact that she loves your son makes him happy. Isn’t that a place to start?


  • You love your husband. His mother played a part in developing those things you love about him.
  • Create some distance – what is something your MIL does well?

Even if it seems almost impossible to find something positive, remember you don’t have to be best friends. But finding positive things about someone makes it easier to be around them…makes it easier to interact with them. It allows you to be around her with less tension in the air and makes it easier for both of you. It will also allow you to change things overall. Starting with one positive thing about your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law will lead you down the path of seeing more positive things about her. And maybe…just maybe you will start to soften; then she will start to soften. Before you know it, you may actually be OK around each other. Wow, what a difference that would be!

This is a point to start. Now it’s your turn.

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