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Taming Your Future Mother-In-Law

Oh, those mother-in-law horror stories can be hilarious…until you realize that they could have been written about your own mother-in-law to be. Short of finding a different groom, there is nothing you can do about which family you marry into, which is why it is in your best interest to find a way to make the relationship work. Find out some effective ways to tame your future mother-in-law.

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries! If your fiance still lets his mother tell him how to live his life, it is time for him to set some clear boundaries, both for your sanity and his own. Note that it is your fiance who needs to do this, not you. It is his mother, after all! The occasion of his engagement is an excellent time to gently point out to his mother that he is now a grown man, and no longer a little boy.

Monster-in-Law (2005)
Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lopez
Credit: New Line Cinema/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection.

Of course, if your fiance still lets his mother do his laundry or grocery shopping, he is going to have to start acting his age before she will believe him! It is completely reasonable for a soon-to-be-married man to choose where to eat dinner, how to spend his time, and so on. It is important to establish guidelines now because the last thing you want is to spend your entire married life fighting about having to go to “the club” for dinner with his parents every single Friday night.

The wedding itself can be the cause of a lot of friction between the bride and her future mother-in-law. If you think about it, it is only natural that you will have some differences of opinion, given that you probably come from different traditions, customs, and family situations. With that in mind, it can be easier to find a middle ground that pleases everybody. No one is suggesting that the bride should not have the kind of wedding she desires, but a few nice gestures of compromise can really go a long way. Perhaps you take your fiance’s mother’s advice to wear a veil, at least for the ceremony, even if you are not really that traditional. Or maybe you let her help choose the menu for the cocktail hour – she does know what her family likes, after all. Brides often find that when they are more receptive to suggestions, their mothers-in-law will stop trying to completely take over the wedding.

Money is always tricky, and many brides will clash with their fiance’s moms overspending. Typically, the groom’s mother thinks that the bride spends way too much on everything, from her bridal gown and wedding jewelry to her haircuts and gym membership. The underlying concern in all of this is that the groom’s mom thinks that the bride will recklessly spend all of the groom’s money the moment the marriage is official. She may not realize that the bride has a good career of her own or that her parents are picking up the tab for the custom wedding jewelry and designer gown. The best thing that the bride-to-be can do is avoid feeding the impression that she is careless with money. Do not chat with your fiance’s mom about the out-of-season tulips you are having flown in from Holland for the reception or how much you covet the latest designer handbag. And whatever you do, never go shopping with her, especially if you really do love to splurge!

Finally, try to take the feelings of your fiance’s mother into account. The most overbearing mothers-in-law are usually the ones who simply adore their sons, and dread “losing” them to another woman. Try to be sensitive, and show her that she will always have a place in her son’s life, as well as in yours. While it might seem like a lot of effort, especially if you really can’t stand being in the same room with your future mother-in-law, she is going to be in your life for a long, long time, so you had might as well make the best of it!

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