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Dealing with Mother-in-Law Conflicts

Plan Ahead

Okay, so maybe you don't do your Christmas/Hanukkah shopping in August and perhaps you don't have a million dollars put away for your retirement, but some of us obsessive-compulsive types have had great success by planning ahead when it comes to dealing with a meddling mother-in-law. Here's how.

Before she arrives to offer her, uh, helpful hints and otherwise run your life, review her most recent comments that rubbed you the wrong way. Was it her criticism about your cooking? Did any of her zingers at your parenting skills hit home? Were you offended at her jab at your (too successful/not successful enough) career?

Once you list the criticisms, focus on the issues that bothered you the most. At the same time, however, realize that no complaint is too small to consider if it stuck in your craw. Did your mother-in-law nail you for dirty potholders? Did you rate a sneer for a smudged window? If it bothered you enough to remember it resentfully, include it on your list.

Now, consider proper responses. Play the script over in your head, writing the ideal dialogue as you go. Anticipating the types of remarks your mother-in-law might make and how you could respond helps you in five important ways. Visualizing the encounter can…

Don't Go There

Visualizing an unpleasant scene with your mother-in-law and replaying the dialogue does not mean that you should work yourself up into a lather, however. Stay cool.

  1. show you where you're being oversensitive -- and where you're right on the mark.

  2. help you judge if your mother-in-law is genuinely trying to be helpful-or if she has some not-so-selfless motives.

  3. guide you to keep your temper in check when she next offers advice that you find hurtful.

  4. help prepare a response that acknowledges her side of the issue as well as yours.

  5. build better a relationship with your mother-in-law.

Being on red alert with a mother-in-law attack empowers you by giving you the upper hand. This may not reduce her stealth attacks but it will cut your resentment and help you deal with the issues it raises.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dealing with In-Laws © 1998 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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