It is said that one of the frequent causes of break-ups is caused by the meddling of mothers-in-law in the lives of married couples. It cannot also be denied that relationship between spouses and their respective mothers-in-law become sour due to unmanageable attitudinal situations. According to Dr. Matti Gershenfeld, adjunct professor of psychology at Philadelphia's Temple University, there are eight tough kinds of mothers-in-law that a married couple may have to contend with or, for that matter, live with.
In a National Inquirer article, Gershenfeld enumerated the different types and ways of dealing with each of them "without losing your sanity or your marriage." So, for those with pentheraphobia (fear of mothers-in-law), here's how to handle them.
She continually reminds you of all the sacrifices she has made for your spouse. Her theme song is "You owe me!". To handle her, said Dr. Gershenfeld, don't let guilt influence your behavior. Put your family - not her - first when you make decisions about major purchases, money matters, vacations and holiday plans. And don't give her more than you can afford in gifts, time or money to express your gratitude. Don't give in to her every whim, especially if you really can't. Tell your spouse that it's beyond your limit and that the concern of the children and the household needs must come first.
She loves a good fight between you and your mate and she'll do everything she can to trigger one. She refuses to accept you as a member of the family. To deal with her, put your foot down. Insist that your spouse refuse to listen to putdowns or attends family functions to which you are not invited. Talk to your spouse about this to clearly settle your family's priorities. Tell your spouse that you now have a new family to take care and attend to, and will not give in to any more nagging from your in-laws. And that's with a period.
She wears you down with her constant complaining. She presents you with a laundry list of aches, pains and symptoms of every opportunity. In dealing with her, you have to realize that she's just hungry for sympathy and attention. The solution is simple: Schedule frequent phone calls and brief visits. Occasional food gifts and flowers will help ease the tension. Her grandchildren can also help remedy the longing.
The Social Snob
She doesn't think you are "good enough" to have married her child and lets you know by belittling your relatives, friends, education and taste. Try to get your spouse to tell her that this kind of attitude will not be tolerated. If that doesn't work, tell her face front yourself. Assert yourself. It takes a little courage to put the scores straight.
She's probably been separated and believes that being single is the better way to live If your marriage runs into trouble, she'll encourage separation. To deal with her, insist that your spouse keep marital problems private. Never ask her for advise or reveal intimate details of your marital relationship. Consider her a "bad influence" if she continues to persist her views. Tell your spouse that for the good of the children, you better keep away from her influence.
She views you as a competitor and jumps at every opportunity to prove she's better than you are. She's eager to find fault in your performance as spouse, parent, homemaker, breadwinner - or whatever. In this situation, Dr. Gershenfeld suggests to keep your relationship with her casual. Don't let her get close enough to zoom in on your flaws. Counteract her criticisms by blowing your own horn.
She plays her children and their spouses against each other, by telling one, then the other, how considerate or generous the other has been. Don't get trapped in her manipulative game-playing. When she tries to set you up, tell yourself, "I'm a terrific person. I don't have to compete with her children or their partners. Two words best sums up the scenario: "So what...?""
The Time Taker
She takes advantage of your eagerness to please and inability to say "no" to her by burderning you with time-consuming errands and over-bearing tasks. Here you must learn to finally decline her prodding. Just simply tell her, "I'm sorry, but I can't.. (with regards to insignificant things)." You have to be very firm and consistent. Once she gets the idea she'll respect you more for it. If she doesn't, talk it over with your spouse, again, to settle priorities.