All Things In-Law...

Dr. Deanna Brann's Blog

Do you feel like you’re the only one who is struggling with a particular issue with your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law? It seems as though MILs and DILs struggle for all kinds of reasons – and they do! It feels as though the issue you’re struggling with is unique and specific to your relationship and that no one else is dealing with it, because after all, they are not dealing with your in-law.

As much as this may be how it feels, many times these “specific” problems arise because of a more general or common reason. When these issues present themselves they hit a nerve in you. It can hit you so deep that it makes it difficult to react in a way that would address this more general/common reason and nip it once and for all. Instead you react to the feeling it stirs in you. You hold on to how your in-law made you feel at that moment. You don’t let go because she hurt you so deeply that it feels unforgivable, and so here you sit bubbling with hurt, anger…or even worse. Each incident that occurs after this just builds on what is now there.

One of the ways to begin to break free of this pattern – this vicious, painful cycle – is to understand what is really going on – to allow yourself to understand the bigger picture. When you know what is behind the “specifics” you are in a better position to handle the situation and your in-law differently. You are in a position to change the relationship in a positive way. Here are a few general things that MILs and DILs struggle with that often come out through specific words and actions.

MILs fear:

  • losing my son
  • Not being allowed contact with my grandchildren
  • Being left out
  • Not being allowed to be “family” too

DILs feel:

  • Disrespected
  • Not seen as an individual
  • Not seen as “good enough”
  • Not seen as an adult

Before there is a chance to have another “incident” with your MIL or DIL, think about what your in-law may be feeling overall (from the list above). How could you possibly be contributing to her feeling that way? How can you change this for her?

Remember, we all play our part – in every relationships we are in. Do something different – even if you don’t think you’re part of the problem – help to create a solution

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