This is a part of The Complete Guide to Dealing with your Mother-in-law – Chapter Four
Being subjected to criticism by your mother-in-law can be an extremely painful experience. As this carries on, it not only damages your marriage but also your self-esteem. If her criticism is constructive, then the ball’s in your court. Taking it positively and thanking her would be the most sensible thing to do. However, if she criticizes you unreasonably, don’t let her get you. Here are some tips on how you can respond to your mother-in-law.
Responding to Criticism
Using verbal defense:
One of the most important things you should learn is “how to talk smart”. Whenever her criticism goes over the edge, defend yourself. There’s no need to stay calm all the time, but also make sure that she doesn’t get the satisfaction of making you “go nuts”. Stay cool and tell her that you are not as bad as she thinks.
Directly ask her the reason why she criticizes so much. Let her know that it hurts you when you hear your parents or your lifestyle being criticized. Also talk to your husband and let him know that you are not going to put your self-respect at stake. Your mother-in-law and husband may have their own reasons but don’t stay polite outside while suffering inside. Be stern and confront her directly.
Sometimes you can use humour to lighten the situation. If she criticizes you, you can snap back at her with a laugh and walk out of the room. Trust me, it works. Whenever you are expecting guests or in a hurry, you respond with the same light humour.
No matter how you respond, remember that you have to keep a cool mind. Words do hurt, but the bitterness should not stay on. You should be able to ignore it and continue your work. Practise acceptance, meditation and yoga. Remember that she’s only a part of your life and her words don’t mean anything. Weak people revenge, strong people forgive and intelligent people ignore.
Even as children, we all hated comparison. Some MIL’s compare their DIL’s with their daughter or maybe with a co-sister. This is one of the most annoying things a mother-in-law does and it can make you feel really low. Your confidence can drop to a low level and so can your self-esteem. Things like cooking, parenting, beauty can be points of comparison.
Improve your Self-esteem:
Firstly, work on your confidence levels. You cannot fight on each and everything. You have got to ignore things sometimes. Otherwise you end up ruining your marriage for petty issues. Some mothers-in-law find savage pleasure in finding faults in their daughters-in-law. If your response is like “who cares!!” Then she’s lost.
Don’t strangle yourself to be better than your sister-in-law, or co-sister or whoever your MIL is comparing you with. You are unique. Each human being is unique. We’ve all got perfections and imperfections.
Accept her as immature:
It’s a shame that she acts so childishly, but do realise that this may be unintentional sometimes. There’s nothing you can do even if she does it with a purpose. Whenever she compares you to someone give her an airy laugh and ignore her. Be happy with your husband and children. Stop useless gossiping with her and don’t stay too long in the same room with her. Be formal.
If things are driving you nuts, take a break, meet your best friend and vent out your feelings. If you feel like crying, cry. Sharing lessens your burden and you are bound to feel better at the end of your day. Let your emotions out. Finally, take a few deep breaths.