Ten Tips for Getting Along with Your Mother-In-Law.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: 10 tips for getting along with your mother-in-law (or your in-laws, generally).

I’m extremely lucky with fate as it relates to my mother-in-law and father-in-law. We get along very well, which is fortunate, because we live right around the corner from my in-laws, and I mean right around the corner. You don’t even have to cross the street; one lone skinny townhouse separates our apartment buildings. I see my in-laws many times each month.

Obviously, though, many people aren’t in such a happy circumstance. I’ve noticed that relationship problems with in-laws are among the most common issues that people raise – whether people complaining about their spouse’s parents, or people complaining about their kids’ spouses. In-laws have a unique power to drive us crazy.

These tips apply, of course, only if your in-laws aren’t actually abusive, or dangerous, or so malicious that it’s just not possible to be around them. Assuming that they aren’t quite that horrible, here are some points to consider:

1. Remember the mere exposure effect. It turns out that familiarity breeds affection. The “mere exposure effect” means that repeated exposure makes people like music, faces–even nonsense syllables–better. The more often you see another person, the more intelligent and attractive you tend to find that person. Instead of avoiding your mother-in-law, take the time to see her and talk to her. That may ease your relationship.

2. Act the way you want to feel. Counter-intuitive as it may sound, feelings follow actions. Before an encounter with your in-laws, take the time to put yourself in a friendly, calm frame of mind, or at least try to act that way when you see them. If you go into a situation acting angry, defensive, or suspicious, you’ll invoke that emotion in yourself, and likely a negative reaction from others. If you’re feeling more light-hearted, you won’t be as quick to take offense.

3. Avoid pointless bickering. If you and your in-laws fight about something, like politics or religion, year after year, try to agree to disagree. Are you going to change the voting or eating habits of your 75-year-old father-in-law? Or your 35-year-old son-in-law? Similarly, avoid carping. In general, pointing out people’s mistakes or criticizing their choices isn’t polite, and it isn’t welcome – and it’s not effective!

4. Mindfully articulate, and act in accordance with, your own values. One of the great mysteries of human nature is that when we accept ourselves, other people tend to accept us. When we don’t accept ourselves, people tend to pester us. If you know your own values, and live according to them, people’s pointed remarks don’t sting nearly as much, and strangely, they often back off. (Yet another reason to follow my First Commandment.)

For example, although she almost never says anything about it, I know that my mother-in-law wishes my children dressed in more classic kids’ clothes. Corduroy jumpers, tasteful dresses, etc. And truth be told, that’s what I would like them to wear, too. But that’s not what my daughters like. The big one wants to be more fashionable; the little one favors sparkles, sequins, and bright colors.

A while back, I decided, “Within the boundaries of cost and age-appropriateness, I’ll let my daughters dress the way they like. This isn’t an issue where my taste needs to prevail.” (At times, it has been hard to live up to this resolution.)

Because I’m living according to my own values, it doesn’t bother me that my mother-in-law doesn’t approve. I believe in my approach. So if you’re annoyed by someone’s remarks about your household décor, your income, your cooking, your work habits, your cleaning habits, your life decisions (starting a family, where to live, buying a kitten), ask yourself, “Am I living according to my own values?” If you are, criticism slides off more easily.

5. Children, of course, can be a big source of contention. Try to keep some perspective. Samuel Johnson wrote, “All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.” In keeping with this philosophy, I decided, “If it’s not actually harmful, I’ll let others take care of my daughters in their own way.” A friend of mine – the educational, wooden toy, no TV type of parent – was furious when her mother-in-law bought her daughter a “My Little Pony” pony. They had a huge fight about it. Do you really want to have that fight?

6. Remember grandparent privilege. When I was little, my grandmother would buy us any junk food we wanted (chiefly PopTarts) and let us stay up until midnight watching TV. My sister and I loved it. Did this do us any lasting harm? No. And we didn’t expect junk food or midnight TV at home, either. Grandparents get to be indulgent, if they want. Or super-strict, or have weird rules. That’s grandparent privilege.

7. Remember parent privilege. Maybe you think it’s ridiculous for parents today to fuss so much about car seats, trans fats, violence on TV, allergies, rigidly enforced bedtimes, etc., etc. Or maybe you think your children are too permissive as parents. The fact is, most parents really want to do the right thing for their children, and if they feel that you don’t respect their rules and their approach, that will be an issue.

8. Respect others’ priorities. If you’re having trouble with someone, ask yourself, “What’s important to this person?” That we all have Thanksgiving dinner together? That we go to church together? That the grandchildren come visit for the weekend? That we dress a certain way? Unless it violates your deeply held principles, it’s generous to try to respect other people’s priorities – and it sure promotes peace. Even if you dismiss celebrating Mother’s Day as an empty, consumerist ritual, or you think it’s ridiculous to have to change into a button-down shirt for dinner, you can do it because it’s the loving thing to do.

9. Think about your spouse or your child. You’re in a relationship with this difficult in-law because of someone you love. What’s best for that person? Do you need to try to break the tension? Change the subject? Avoid difficult situations? Bite your tongue? Endure excruciating boredom? Sometimes you can behave nicely for someone else’s happiness, even if you’d be very happy to pitch a battle, if left to your own devices.

10. Focus on the positive. Find ways to be grateful for your in-laws. At the very least, your in-laws are the parents of your spouse, or the beloved of your child. Look for the good. Try to make jokes. It could probably be worse.

Wait, you might be thinking, these strategies don’t tell you how to deal with your difficult in-laws — they tell you how to behave yourself. Well, guess what! You can only change yourself.

Usually when I write about happiness, I write about issues that concern me very deeply. As I said, lucky me, I don’t have lots of in-law problems – I’m tackling this subject because so many people have asked me to do so. I’m sure I’m missing some key points or getting something wrong. What would you suggest? What strategies have helped you deal with in-laws? (Either the parents of your spouse, or the spouse of your kids.)

For some non-in-law-specific tips, here’s a list of 7 tips for getting along with difficult relatives. And although you think your in-law is difficult, consider the fact that you may be the difficult one! Take this quiz to see if others find you difficult.

* If you’re a big reader, check out this fantastic list of top book blogs. A treasure trove.

* If you’re asking, “Well, I wonder if Gretchen entered the stage of blatant book promotion yet?” you can find the answer here.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Gretchen – I haven’t seen your site in a couple weeks and I absolutely LOVE this new design.
    Renee in Tucson

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much, Renee! That makes me very HAPPY to hear.

  • charity

    BRAVO!!! Printing this one out for the family book “remember this!” book

  • mrs_helm

    Come prepared to distract. If you find your conversations always devolve into the subjects you argue about, then on your next visit come prepared with distractions. If possible, plan to get out in public and do something – such as minature golf. Or bring your newest/favorite board game or card game…and ask them if they have a favorite game to play as well. Find out about their hobbies or interests, and get them talking about those instead. Keep them busy enough with other things, and they might not get around to nagging you about your parenting. Plus, they’ll be having such a good time they might decide you aren’t so bad after all.

  • No matter how much they drive you crazy, remember that they’ve been driving your spouse crazy much longer. Don’t take out your frustrations on your spouse, they’re probably as stressed out as you are.

    Also remember that your spouse probably understands them better than you do. If he says, “Don’t tell her about the thing, it won’t go well,” trust his judgment and don’t tell her about the thing. It won’t go well.

    You and your spouse are on the same side here. Always remember that. Unless you live with them, you only have to deal with them a few hours, or maybe a few days, at a time. Your spouse is the one you come come with.

  • You are so wise…brilliant insights just when I needed it most. Our in-laws are coming for their biannual three week visit next month. I hope to share your wisdom via my page in the next week or so with a link to this.

    Now I could really use some advice on what to do with my own freaky folks who don’t seem to have the time of day for my boys. We just moved 500 kms to be closer and their days seem to be filled with golf and superficial socializing. AAAAHH! Many thanks once again,
    http://www.snickerdoodles.typepad.com

  • We are very lucky, my husband loves my parents – he and my dad get on really well as they are both computer nerds and have lots in common. My in-laws live 10 000 miles away – so we only see them every year to two years – and I can easily handle that!

  • I might have to bookmark this so future reference. Getting along with my MIL is hard stuff sometimes.

  • Funny, I decided not to read this post which came up in my feed reader:

    “Ten Tips for Getting Along with Your Mother.”

    Then I felt guilty about not wanting to improve my mother/daughter relationship so I checked it out.

    Sadly I never got to meet my mother-in-law who died when my husband was in his teens. But these tips definitely apply to getting on better with your own mother too, or indeed anyone in your family.

    Now, if only my mum could read it too!

  • Fabulous. Very helpful – it’s been bookmarked!

  • Gretchen:

    Great post. It’s nice to have a reminder on how to improve our relationships with those who are close to our significant other. I’ve added this post to my mommy blog as I think the readers will appreciate it. Thanks for writing.

    Additionally, nice blog redesign. Simple, manageable and interesting.

    Cheers,
    Margaret

  • Name

    Excellent advice. Really, the only actions you can change are your own, the only life you can live is your own, and we own all of what we are. I love your blog. It came into my life when I really needed it, and has helped me so much. I thank you for your time and insights.

  • Gretchen – this was an excellent post, but what I also loved even more was the link to the top book blogs! You opened up a whole new world to me with this one! Thank you!!

  • LuAnn

    I just became a ‘mother-in-law’ and have these fears. I’m printing this one off to keep for reference!

  • Great advice, Gretchen. A must-read for every married woman and even those of us just in relationships! Thank you for sharing.

    Cheers!

    -Dena
    Evolution

  • Hi Gretchen,

    Found your blog a few days ago and enjoying it very much.

    I’m glad you put the disclaimer about the “abusive, dangerous and malicious.” But I my experience some, who you may love dearly, sometimes vascilate between irritation and downright destructive. In those cases, I’d add one small caveat — Remember that some folks you should love from a distance. If it’s not your day to be the peacemaker stay home, go elsewhere, or just find an alternative to actually being in the same room. The world will continue to spin, and in my experience, if they were going to be upset with you anyway, you don’t need a ringside seat at every bad show.

    I’ll check in regularly!

    Stasha

    I’m also working on my version of a “happiness” project but it’s a little different than this. But the quest for happiness is a wonderful journey of discovery!

    • ARC

      I know I am way late to this party, but I agree. To say my MIL is a difficult person is the understatement of a 12 year marriage. She is like the fable with the scorpion and the frog–nice and all of a sudden she bites, just because that is what she does. There are certain times of the year (especially the-er months, which contain most holidays) when we all just have to stay an arm’s length away. As to some of the other comments, I say amen. It took me 11 years (I am a slow learner) before I finally figured out that I had to stop trying to have a close relationship with her. When she stung, it hurt even worse because I thought “we were finally getting close.” Now we all (her son included) pay attention to her seasons, her demeanor and then beat a hasty retreat (even if it is in the mind) if there is a storm brewing in her mind. Yes, it is exhausting and taxing. But it beats the hell out of getting your ass kicked emotionally and mentally (which takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to get over).

  • ToolBoxGirl

    Excellent post – so many of us with in-laws can appreciate! I don’t just have in-laws, but I also have my husband’s ex-in-laws who welcomed me into their family as a daughter and a sister. My mother-in-law (because what else do I call her?) appreciates everything I do for my stepkids in particular, my youngest stepson who lives with my husband and me (we’re custodial). Likewise, she gets GRAMMIE privileges. I don’t even ask. But if it is something important, that I know grammie can help with, I’ll let her know something specific that we’re working on with “Junior” (he’s 17, the baby, ADHD, LD, socially delayed yada yada yada) and she always steps up.

    I love my “in-laws…” couldn’t have asked for better myself!

  • Katie

    My husband and his mother have never had the typical loving parent/child realationship. In fact, it was quite the opposite: yelling, being ignored, etc. This was going on since his childhood (way before we met). He is at a point where he isvery preceptive and knows how his mom looks at the world around her and her reasoning of why she way she acts the way she does.

    Our personalities clash (she is patient or tolerates ideas that are to far from what her point of view is). I am the exact opposite (which is a good thing)in my views and personality. I would like to be able to cut through everything and get to know her, but even my husband is hesitant about us being in the same room together. (He tells me it isn’t anything that I do wrong and that it is her strong, one-sided perspective on life) He is afriad that my attempt(s) to reach out to her would be taken the wrong way or totally ignored, and he doesn’t want her to have a chance to hurt me, like that.

    There are many little grips that she has mentioned to him (not directly at me) about who I am, all of them being very minor and kind of silly. One example is that I am not a big meat eater. She has been told that, yet when she saw that I didn’t eat very much of the meat, she became offended, enough to mention it to my husband.

    Does anyone else have a similar situation with their in-laws? If so, how are some ways that you have handled a situation like this over the years? We are in our 3rd year of marriage, so I am still feeling my way through this whole thing.

    Thanks for any advice!
    Katie, (from Washington state)

    • Katie

      I am sorry, in the 2nd paragraph the word is supossed to be “isn’t” not “is”

    • Katie, my comments above could have been written just for you.

      Your husband has been dealing with his mother all his life. If he says not to try so hard, then don’t. His mother won’t like it, and you’ll be upset when you don’t get the response you want.

      But worst of all, you’ll be showing your husband that you don’t trust his judgment. If he says, “My mother doesn’t want to sit and ‘get to know each other’,” but you try anyway, you’re telling him that you know better than him how to deal with her. You don’t. Trust him.

      Your relationship with your husband is more important than your relationship with his mother. If he asks you to let it go … let it go.

      • Katie

        Thank you for those reminders. As hard as it is for me to let go of things, just because of my nature, by practicing that technique, I know over time things won’t be as stressful for me when I do see her. Just because she isn’t happy, herself, doesn’t mean I have to take full responsibilty to try and change that in some magical way.

      • Katie

        Thanks for giving a male perspective on the issue. I do trust him with everything I have, and need to put my own perspective on how I would “interact or take care of the situation,” in a side drawer to use in another situation.

    • TracyW

      My suggestion, which may not work for you, but anyway, laugh about her behind her back. Either to some people you can absolutely trust to not report back to her (perhaps online friends who don’t know your real name), or just to your husband or just laugh to yourself. “Oh my gosh, you’ll never guess what my M-I-L came up with now! She complained to my husband that I don’t eat meat! Isn’t that eccentric!”

      I come from a big family and I’ve found this is the way to deal with annoying blood relatives and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with in-laws. Odd and silly criticisms can even be turned them into family stories, for example my parents happily tell the story of one of my mother’s aunts’ snobberies, including that she thought Mum shouldn’t marry Dad because his surname was “common”. :)Particularly amusing as my mother’s side of the family is as common as muck too.

      • Katie

        Another good suggestion, which is already in practice regarding my own parents. My hubby already does that with both sides. I am starting to do that with my parents in an attempt to break the emotional I still have from my childhood. Again, I just need to get over trying to make everyone else happy and focus on myself. The core problem is that I need to come to grips with the fact that I DESERVE to be happy, also – no more of me automatically taken on the martyr role…

        All the suggestions just reafirm that the way my husband handles the dynamics in all of his parent/parent-in-law relationships, is the right and healthy way to go about it.

        A side question/comment, I assume that I really shouldn’t try to change who I am (meat or no meat) just to please her because nothing positive will come from trying, anyway. She will always find something else to complain about…

    • Empathetic

      I’ve been married 19 years and my experience is you can’t change the person just how you deal with them. Be polite and nice to your mother-in-law and accept she is a person you cannot allow to get too close emotionally. People who are hypercritical and intolerant often do not change because they are always right. If you do allow yourself to get too close it is possible you will be hurt repeatedly and become resentful. It will then make it very hard to be nice and polite. Try not to discuss her with your husband. She is after still his Mom and nobody likes to hear negative things about their parents, it may not bug him now but as she gets older it may. (It also makes you focus too much on her.) She is your mother-in-law not your mom, you do not have to have an intimate, close relationship with her but you really should be nice to her for your own sake, I don’t mean to sound all PollyAnna but it just feels a lot better to be nice to someone than not. If you plan on having kids she may become more difficult so you are best to develop an attitude that really keeps you sane before that! Gretchen’s comment on values was incredibly valuable to me.

  • Queen Lucia

    These tips are wonderful! I have a difficult m-i-l and I use all of these. I think the most important one is #4, especially as regards holidays! While it would great to be able to accomodate my m-i-l’s holiday wishes, she has so many and they are so specific (and utterly lacking in loving intent) that it’s impossible to do so. We’ve been working for YEARS to gently transition from EVERY holiday (you name the holiday, she has a tradition for it) and birthday spent captive at my in-laws’ house to making some time for other relatives and for ourselves. I’ve had to make some compromises, but I’m OK with that since I’m getting the things most important to me – and though she probably doesn’t agree with my side of it, my m-i-l is also getting the things the most important to her.

    I would second Stasha’s tip for staying away when necessary. Because the men in the family basically ignore her, my m-i-l turns the full power of her unpleasantness on my s-i-l and me, which makes visits more difficult for us than the guys. I sometimes let my husband and daughter visit without me if I think I can’t handle the stress. Additionally, I sometimes plan a free day AFTER a visit – I’ve noticed that if I don’t, I have a much shorter temper and am myself unpleasant to be around!

    Thanks again for a great post – I enjoy reading about other people’s experience with this.

    • She wants to be in charge, and she wants you to acknowledge it. The men have figured out how not to play her game. You and s-i-l should take a lesson from them.

      But talk to s-i-l before opting out of the power games.

      • Queen Lucia

        Oh, so true! She’s all about being in charge. And she’s so used to them ignoring her she doesn’t even react to it anymore.

        My challenge is to find ways to deal with her while still being true to my own personality – and I’m not comfortable ignoring someone. So in this case, it’s definitely more about me than her. I just know that when we’re together, my s-i-l and I are the ones to shoulder the load. So I accept that and am as attentive and polite as I can be. And the flip side is that I limit my time with her. Luckily, s-i-l and I are allies!

  • Laura

    Here are a couple of ways I get along with my mil.
    1. Gracefully bow out of events allowing her to spend time with her son (my husband) without me. I don’t have children but I always thought it would be weird to give birth to a child and, then, never get to spend time with them after they married. I’ll ask for an update regarding the restaurant they ate at or the art gallery they visited so they get to tell me the stories of the day.

    2. Sincerely ask for advice. My mil is an expert gardener. We’ll walk through my garden and I’ll ask for her advice regarding plant care etc.
    I stumbled on this idea when I read that older people often feel cast aside and don’t get to share their experiences. The younger folks always know better! Also, I’m sure it helps that she rarely gives unsolicited advice!

    3. Admit (and accept) my limits – I’m weird. One meal – possibly two- is the most I want to do with another person. When we stay overnight, we have dinner together and then breakfast (sometimes, I even cut out of breakfast by talking a walk and getting a bagel ) – don’t overstay and ruin the party!

  • I wish I had these tips when I was married and didn’t get along with my mother-in-law. I love your blog and have passed it along to many. Thanks for another great post.

  • supergaijin

    I generally consider myself lucky in the in-laws dept but sometimes I do let them get to me. The best advice here was that you can only change yourself.

    I used to feel like my in-laws took advantage of my vacation time and expected us to come to every family event. As a consequence I always felt like I didn’t spend enough time with my own family who isn’t as aggressive.

    This year I decided to take control and pro-actively told them I have 3 weeks of vacation time: one for my family, one for them and one for my husband and me. If something was a priority for us to attend they would have to let us know and realize it comes out of their bank of vacation time.

    I immediately felt better because I was setting my own boundaries and spent less time feeling resentful that they monopolized my vacation time.

  • travelinoma

    I was just 19 when I announced to my parents that I had found my one-and-only (he was 23.) They were unhappy about it, and found many reasons to dislike my beloved before they even met him. They let him know in no uncertain terms that they were not pleased. After we were married, my dad offered him a job, dismissing his career plan as a pipe dream. My new husband was offended, and although my parents eventually recognized what a great guy I’d married, they had doomed any close relationship. It was awkward and fake until they died.

    We now have 7 very different in-law children, and we love them all. The secret is that we decided we would love them years before we met them, as we dealt with the hurt my parents caused us.

    The only thing we had in common with them at first was our child, who we each wanted to make happy. That was enough, until we got better acquainted and discovered other things to talk about. It’s been very easy to love the in-laws. I expected that I would.

    Your suggestions on this topic are very wise. Thanks for sharing them, Gretchen!

  • Thanks for the article, Gretchen. Yes! We can only change ourselves — take a look at this article I wrote “Beware of the Mother in Law” – is it time to change the story?

    Louis

  • ten useful tips how about ten moe tips if things don’t go according to plan.

  • bitterinhou

    Drink heavily. And get the in-laws drunk too. Helps a lot.

  • D.

    This article helped me so much! Thank-you. My mother-in-law never had a relationship with her husband’s family. She has often not invited me to showers and other family functions that were for the women in the family. She is not a very good grandmother to my children yet is nurturing to her daughter’s kids. She is very competitive with me even though I have always felt my husband has plenty of room in his life for the two of us and that we fill separate roles. I was at the point of almost giving up on the relationship when I found your article. I began to look at ways to make it really work so that I could stop feeling so resentful and hurt. I am now willing to be more empathetic. I see that she does not do what she does out of malice it is who she is and her lack of experience as a daughter-in-law makes it hard for her to see things from my perspective. I can be kind and polite with her and not expect anything from her. I can also take notes on what kind of a mother-in-law I would like to be.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that this post resonated with you. It sounds like you
      really want to make the relationship work, she’s lucky!

    • Vi

      I’ve been married for a month and have already hit desperation as to how to deal with my in-laws. Your experience inspires hope that I can get along with them if I try.

    • luna

      very well said i also understand you my mother in law is very jealous of me i always feel like she is backstaping me for example we had a family get together her and her sister were talking secretly together and looking at me i just think she is jealous and ignorant to be this way thisway. I’m very good to her son i think she is very unhappy even if she trys to act like she is happy and thats why she does that its very sad when you see a mother act this way when she see her “baby” is happy but all of this will make me stronger and someday ill be a mother in law and wont want someone to feel the way i felt.

  • Cristina

    Hi Gretchen!

    You’re book was wonderful and really got me thinking about my perfectionist tendencies…..especially when you were describing blogging and the importance of not trying to do it perfectly…just do it! Still don’t know if I will blog…not sure what I can share that people will be excited about…

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Purplelin17

    Very creative ideas, worth a try…

  • Christiane

    This article was very reassuring to me because I found out that I am already trying to follow the right strategies to get along with the mother of my partner which isn’t easy when both you and your partner are children of an alcohol abusing mother. In the beginning I thought “how on earth will I cope with this?!” because I dreamt of an in-law-family that would be more harmonic and easier to handle than my own. I now acknowledge the fact that even though I will never have a really close and affectionate friendship with her that she has her competences and accepts me the way I am which is very important in having a stress-free live with your in-laws.

  • Lot of good tips for the in-laws.

  • N.D.

    Great article, helps me self reflect and try different approaches…however, some of these tips are hard to take when your in-laws live with you. I used to get along with my in-laws quite well, until they moved in with us. Now, it’s the small things that add up and upset me.

    I am willing to give in on some issues, but since they live with us, I feel like it’s a huge sacrifice on my part to have to do that all the time…not just during visits. This is especially true when it comes to children (Tips #5, 6, 7).

    Right now, I’m at the point where I feel it’s best that we live separately… close but separate. My husband was reluctant at first but is now on board, however, I can’t help but feel a little selfish about it now. Even my own mother told me to just try and work it out instead… we’re an Indian family and it’s typical for parents to live with their kids, hence my mother thinks it’s my duty to self-sacrifice. I think it’s nice notion, but having grown up in the States, I find it hard to live up to… I value my privacy and I want to raise my family according to my own values.

    So, any tips on how to deal with in-laws that live with you?

  • Amy

    Thanks for this!!!!

  • Nezzie Spinney

    In other words be a two faced

    • luna

      trust me i have a two faced mother in law! too! its annoying but i have to learn how to play her same game!

  • Nezzie Spinney

    Im sick of my inlaw who gets in the way and interferes! Control freaktoo

  • Nezzie Spinney

    Wonder what should i do

  • ADB

    Thank you for this article! I googled “how to get along with in-laws” today because I was dreading a family dinner tonight. This article calmed me down so much, I am so relieved. I can only change MY behavior!

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  • Sarah

    Hi. I know this post is super old, but I’m having an issue that I’m hoping you can give me some insight on. When it comes to #6, what if your child is very obese? My son has a thyroid issue and our doctor has asked me to give him no junk, no juice, only fat-free dairy, etc., etc. My Mother-in-law doesn’t take this condition seriously. She says that it’s cute for a five year old to be chubby. She repeatedly sneaks him junk food, which he loves. If she only sees him once a week or so, it’s not that big of a deal, but she would like to see him more frequently. I don’t know how to tell her that she can’t watch him more because she can’t mind his dietary restrictions. Am I being ridiculous?

    We have a very… weird relationship. She’s very kind to me to my face, but I know she talks about me to others in the family. That doesn’t bother me much most of the time because I figure she needs to be able to vent, but if I were to address this issue with her, it makes me uncomfortable to know that the rest of my husband’s family would all know about it.

  • Very informative and inspiring post.

  • amy

    Hi, I’m new to having to deal with my mother in law and I’m making myself crazy. My husband and I have been on our own for 13 years. We have a little boy and have only had to see family 2 or 3 times a year. My mother in law recently retired and decided to move to the same town as us. She has been here for a month and I have learnt that I am insanely jealous of her being here and basically usurping my happy life, I hate myself at the moment and really need to find a way out. Please please help!

    • Tess

      I know this is late but, is your mother in law fairly nice? Or even tolerable? I just say this because she probably just wants to be close to her grandson. It is always nice if a child has some grandparents involvement. My mother in law is mean. Mean spirited, rude and dishonest. She is still a part of our sons life. She lives close but we hardly see her as she is not a warm fuzzy type that likes kids. I just draw some boundaries and have my husband take our son over to get some “me time”. If you can do the same, it might help. If you are only friendly terms with your mother in law, you could even be honest with her and explain you are happy she is near by but you are used to a certain way of living as a family and it will take adjusting. At least you are being objective about your feelings toward to the situation. That will allow you to make good decisions in general as you move forward.

  • hot

    I know this is a old article came across it looking for some understanding, but it just let me know that I do best by myself…
    ugh, mines has said she has a problem with a order i made when the bill came, she said your drink cost $$, an i got a problem with that. Also told i am a hoarder. So to that I say fuck the marriage an Im good. He wont see a problem its his mother an I damn sure am not going to make him choose between us, she birth him not I, so they can keep the bond between then strong cuz Im gone, gone gone.

  • suryani lilik

    Hi I need some advice how to feel happy with my mother in law and father in law.
    First of all my parents in laws aren’t bad people, they are quite nice. My problem is I don’t feel like i’m living independently with my husband as a couple. My husband bought his parents house, he and his parents and his brother live together all along, my husband parents or my in laws already retired and bought their own home, and brother in law is still living with us and will move in few months, my in laws bought a new house in another country and they come to visit every summer and can stay up to 5-6 months, and when they stay especially my mother in law take over everything and making me feel like my husband and I just the children who live under his house, she will handle all the cooking, making my husband lunch box, telling me to clean here or there, she mean to teach me but hey I’m not a child I know how to be a house wife, I know how to clean and cook, parents in law used to own a restaurant and think that they cook better than me, they demand for a grandchildren from both my husband and brother in law, we are trying to have baby and things changes after my sister in law now got pregnant, I don’t know if I’m just jealous but she said one time that she will love more who can give her grandchildren. There are three couple under my husband house, us, my bro and sis in law, and parents in law in this few months, I talk with my husband about it and he is being understanding but he just said that this is also their house, I don’t know who else to complain because it make me feel like the problem is within me.

    I hope someone could help me what should I do.

    Kind Regards

    Me

  • Brigitte

    My mother in law lives with us due to her divorce she moves things hides things abd even steals from me i get so frustrated and upset She is hard headed and wont do simple things i ask she refuses to cook or even clean she drinks coffee and watches tv all day

  • Tess

    I tried being nice with my MIL. She is a huge narcissist. She treats anyone who is kind as weak and will bulldoze over them. When I first married my husband, for years she made constant nasty remarks and was rude every chance she could get. So I finally said I am done going out of my way for this woman. She hardly speaks to me and “tolerates” my presence once a month when she visits her grandson for two hours. Sometimes no matter how nice or reasonable you try to be, there is no winning with some people. You should never sacrifice your well being to appease someone who is unreasonable and unwilling to take any ownership for their “stuff”.