Mother-in-law (MIL) and daughter-in-law (DIL) relationship is the most critical relationship in any family system. If MIL and DIL do not get along, the resulting tension affects everyone in the family. People in the family often feel the need to take sides- openly or in a quieter, more subtle way. Regardless, no one is immune to what goes on. Just like all relationships, this relationship too, works both ways. It, however, requires a little more effort, more understanding and a lot of maturity.
Pushpa Gadre, a mother-in-law, an avid reader, who also works closely with paraplegic girls in Nagpur, a septuagenarian, opines, “I had devised a very trichotomic approach and laid down some very basic principles with my DIL. We had discussed that, if ever there is a conflict between the son and the DIL, they should be resolving their differences amongst themselves like adults. I, (MIL) should be kept out of it. And when there’s a situation involving the DIL and the MIL, the husband/ son will stay out of it. MIL and DIL would address the situation in the best way possible. And the third one, if ever, there are any differences between the son and the mom (MIL), the DIL would stay out of it”.
These principles, she emphasizes “have helped me build a strong and a steady foundation with my DIL and our relationship has only fortified over the years”. My DIL, she states emphatically, “is my pride, my counsellor and my best friend. I am very fortunate to have her in my life”. She further states that, “the DIL should accept the new home as her own and just like the matriarch of the house has preserved the sanctity of the home in all these years, the DIL should carry the baton further and preserve the honor of her new home with the same tenacity and grace.” Ms. Gadre firmly believes that “more and more mothers-in-law should encourage their daughters-in-law to create their own identities and be independent.
They should be known by their own name and by their own achievements and less by their husband’s or father’s.” We need more matriarchs and mothers-in-law like you Ms. Gadre. We are sure; everybody would take a leaf out of your book.
When Bulls Fight, Crops Suffer
- The father-in-law (FIL) sees his wife hurt and in pain.
- The sister-in-law (SIL) has more than likely heard or seen this struggle with her own MIL.
- This may not only have an impact on her relationship with her SIL, but it also has an impact on her brother and her equation with him.
- The other DILs and SILs often begin to sympathize because when one DIL gets along with her MIL, she tends to bond with other DILs over the issue.
- The brothers-in-law (BIL) may try to stay out of the mess but they often end up getting involved because in the end, they want to shield their wives from any pain or hurt.
- The husband/son is right in the centre of this conflict between his mother and his wife. He gets grief from both, about either not taking sides or not taking the “right” side. It’s a no-win situation for him.
- Kids/grandkids are impacted because they love their mom and grandma both. (Remember, kids see their grandparents in a different light than you do). Their relationship with their grandma is nothing like the relationship you have with her. Kids/grandkids don’t understand the issues being played out; they only notice the behavior both their mom and grandma display. They are also learning- from both the pivotal women around them and in the process; they learn how to treat people who matter to them.
It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
Let’s fix this now:
- Recognize what’s happening and recognize that actions have consequences- as does NOT taking action.
- Take a step back, breathe, and take an honest look at the bigger picture. Most times, it’s our ego which prevents us from admitting our flaws and shortcomings and accepting them.
- Ask yourself, is this really how I want things to be in my family? Do I really want my family to see or project me as either the villain or the victim?
- No one wants to believe that they are directly or indirectly hurting other people, especially people they care about. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what they are doing when they perpetuate tension between themselves and their in-laws. As unintentional as it may be, they do end up hurting people in their family.
Let’s be each other’s Cheerleaders
It is not easy to love and accept your MIL as your own mother right from day one. It is a bond that grows over a period of time and both MIL and DIL have to nurture it so that it flourishes. Shweta Charde, Event Planner and founder of Yellow Circle Events, Nagpur, believes that “her bond with her mother-in-law has gotten stronger because both have tremendous respect for each other as a person. Shweta, who grew up in a different culture, made efforts to learn her new home’s way of functioning, new traditions and her MIL supported and encouraged her to do so.” She is a working woman, yet she makes sure that she helps her MIL with basic chores if need be, lend a hand in the kitchen every day and organize things around the house. All this, is not because of any expectations, but out of love and sheer respect for her home and her MIL.
Women… always remember…that you are the one who has the power to turn things around!