From time immemorial one of the most delicate relationships in a marriage is that of a mother with her daughter-in-law. And just as a wife has to make adjustments, the same applies to mothers-in-law. And though it may not come easlity to them, it is essential for a healthy and fruitful marriage. Part of letting go involves understanding boundaries, and that is where moms often falter. “I can’t understand why my mom-in-law doesn’t just let us know she is coming over,” says Ruchi, a media professional whose mother-in-law often stops by without prior notice. “We only get Sunday to relax, and we are happy to entertain if we know she is coming over, otherwise we have to keep cancelling our plans to go for movies or get away for an afternoon,” she says as her husband works late hours too.
This is one of the biggest mistakes according to the lead researcher Terry Orbuch, a psychologist and research professor at the University of Michigan, “Daughters-in-law need autonomy and independence, and when you come by unannounced, you undermine that,” she says. “And it’s not just inconvenient, but also presumptuousness,” agrees Terry Apter, author of What Do You Want From Me? Learning to Get Along With In-Laws. It’s a lack of regard for the younger woman’s power and control of the family space, Apter adds. To make it better, simply tell your daughter-in-law ahead of time that you would love to visit, Orbuch suggested.
“Essentially for a mother, it is a power struggle — to loosen her hold on a son who is now sharing his life with a someone,” says Rita, a school teacher and new mother-in-law. “Whenever I want to say something, I stop and try to think of whether I would have appreciated it if my sasuma had said something similar thing to me,” she says adding saying that it’s crucial to voice her opinion or sentiment in an appropriate manner.