This is a part of The Complete Guide to Dealing with your Mother-in-law – Chapter Seven

It is very important for a daughter-in-law to have peace with her mother-in-law as soon as possible. Otherwise, having a peaceful and a happy married life becomes a dream. So young ladies, it is time to take matters in your hands, instead of getting depressed or blaming your stars.

Be Rich

I am not talking about having pennies that fulfil your shopping needs. I am talking about “being rich”. Earn and save lots of money. Have money that is good enough for you to rent an apartment or buy a small car if you wish to. Be rich and financially independent. Don’t let anyone put you down anymore. Gone are the days where your cooking is criticized, your parenting skills are taunted. If you want respect, make sure you earn it.

When I was single, I used to dream of the day I would get married and finally resign my job and spend quality time with my husband and eventually have kids. Now I know how I regret the dream. If you are prepared to be dominated and taunted, by all means, go on. But if you do not, then get rich.

– A HomeMaker

If you are lucky enough to inherit a property from your parents, then you can be spared of the efforts you have to put in to make money. Even then, I would recommend you take up a job or start a small business to keep yourself refreshed and occupied.

Re-define yourself

Once upon a time, you were a cute and sensitive little princess, thoroughly pampered by your parents until you found your handsome prince. Now, it turns out that the handsome prince is dancing to the tunes of his mom. Don’t keep shedding tears for each and every little problem like you used to do. Don’t go running to your husband with a bunch of complaints about his mom. Instead, re-define your priorities and redesign your life.

You are now a responsible wife and a daughter-in-law. Every move of yours will be judged. Sometimes even your best actions will earn the criticism of your jealous opponents. It’s hard, but learn to ignore it. Instead define your priorities. Here are five priorities you should set for yourself if you and your in-laws don’t get along well.

THE FIRST PRIORITY: The first priority will not be your kids or in-laws or husband. Your first priority is YOU. Take care of your yourself first. You are the most important person in your life. Pursue the career you love, travel to places you like, have fun and romance with your husband for a couple of years before you plan to have kids. Take care of your health. Be mentally strong.

YOUR SECOND PRIORITY: The second priority will be your husband and kids. Remember that your husband is your soul-mate and your companion for the rest of your life. He is the one to whom you can talk almost about anything. He is the one who is worth all the trouble that married life brings. Respect him, surprise him, make him smile, keep him happy. If he’s a good and decent husband, then you can’t be more grateful. So give quality time for his needs.

If you have small kids below five years of age, then your second priority will be your kids for a few years because toddlers need extra nourishment and care. They take most of your time and physical energy. Your husband will have to take third place for a few years before he can resume back.

YOUR THIRD PRIORITY: The third priority should be your parents. Many Indian husbands disagree with me on this, I am sure. But ladies, make your parents a third priority. Don’t let your in-laws or your husband insult your parents or provoke them. Especially if you are the only child to your parents, then it’s your responsibility to take care of them as much as they took care of you as a child.

YOUR FOURTH PRIORITY: Your in-laws. I am not giving them a low-class priority, but the reason I put them in the fourth place is:

  1. They are already taken care of by your husband who protects and defends them heavily (in some cases, both financially and emotionally).
  2. They are in a house which is in their control (and they don’t let you do that).
  3. They dominate and control their son’s behaviour and try to dominate you as well.
  4. Your husband nods his head to everything they say, ultimately their word will be the rule of the house.
  5. In some Indian homes, the rule would be like this: Father-in-law: In charge of the finances of home (including your husband’s and yours, if you don’t resist). Mother-in-law: In charge of the kitchen, household stuff and of course, in charge of your husband!!

Since they are on the top of everything, it is very much alright for them to be in a fourth position for a change. Let your fourth priority be them. Respect them, be polite, but remember that they judge every word you speak, every gesture you use. So maintain your respectful distance, be peaceful and have fun.

YOUR FIFTH PRIORITY: Now this will be everyone else, like your sister-in-law, brother-in-law, co-sisters, cousins, neighbours, colleagues, guests, uncles & aunts, etc. They drop in sometimes; a few good family members give you whole-hearted blessings, a few blokes get jealous when you buy a new home or a car, some others gossip and talk behind your back, and the others forget that you exist once you are out of sight.

Set a routine

The most fight-prone place for a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law is the kitchen. If you are helping each other in the kitchen and cooking together, then there’s a big possibility that a fight may occur someday (unless one of you is too scared to open your mouth in front of the other).

So set a routine in the home. For example, you cook the breakfast and lunch, let your mother-in-law cook the dinner. While you cook, it’s your kingdom, do it your way. Don’t let any other enter the kitchen and start lecturing you about how things should be done.(Giving advice is okay, but badgering and annoying you about your ‘imperfect’ recipe is not.)

I personally feel that hiring a cook and a maid solves most of the household problems. Neither of you will have to fight about the way things are done because the maid takes care of most of the things. If it’s possible, then do yourself a favour and hire a cook. If not, set a routine and stick to it. You can make the coffee and breakfast in the morning, let her prepare the lunch, you prepare the dinner. Or, maybe you can cook every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while she does the cooking on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Sunday may be a restaurant day or something. Have some routine like that and stick to it.

Your kid, your wish

A Daughter-in-law is taunted a lot about her parenting skills. If your mother-in-law has a daughter, then comparisons between you and your sister-in-law become an everyday routine to you. Your in-laws are very protective of your child (their grandchild), so they constantly nag you with unwanted advice. Some in-laws even go an extra mile by not allowing their daughter-in-law to parent your child her own way.

But remember that it’s your kid. No matter how many rules they impose, politely ignore them. You are the mother and the child is yours, so have fun and enjoy your motherhood in the best possible way. There’s nothing wrong with an advice here and there; after all, they are much more experienced than you are. But if they are constantly nagging and behaving overly possessive about your child, then you have the right to politely resist their behaviour.

Advising you occasionally, giving good suggestions: YES.

Constant Nagging, over possessiveness with your kid: NO

Identify the root problem

Why does a Mother-in-law dominate you? It may be because of the points given below.

  1. She feels threatened. She feels that her married son might take your side. She fears that their son will leave her in her old age. Old age brings insecurities. She hides her insecurities by dominating the daughter-in-law, and to show that she has control over the house you live in and the man you married.
  2. She is jealous. Believe it or not, she hates being the second best. Your in-laws took great care of their son, saved every penny for his education, cooked the best meals for him, and gave him the best of everything. They loved him more than anything else. At the end of the day, all they got is a daughter-in-law who stole away her husband’s attention. Who wouldn’t be jealous?
  3. She is over-possessive. Her little prince had been given the best of everything since his childhood. She is afraid that you might not take care of him as much as she took care of her own son. So she tries to intervene. She puts you down by believing she alone is qualified to take care of her son. The parents have spent a good 25-30 years with their son’s best interests in their minds. Of course! They are over-possessive.

It’s just a simple task of identifying these patterns and putting yourself in their shoes. You can avoid misunderstandings. If you are empathetic, you may even understand them better than anyone. They realize they have no control anymore, so they start all thos childish tricks to grab the attention of their son. No wonder old age is like a second childhood.

Your husband’s support

Even if you have money and everything, your husband’s support will play a huge role in dealing with the in-laws. If you husband, himself, is abusive and insults you frequently, then it’s time to reconsider your relationship.

  1. Are your in-laws and husband together making your life a living hell?
  2. Is your husband taking the side of your in-laws clearly knowing that they are wrong?
  3. Are you crying at least once a day about your lifeless marriage?
  4. Is your husband disrespecting you and making fun of you in front of his parents and siblings?
  5. Are your in-laws and husband very critical of your lifestyle, opinions, hobbies, etc?
  6. Are they making you feel guilty or feel like a loser?

Did you say yes to at least 2 questions, then it’s time to make serious changes in your marriage. If you have answered yes to at least 4 questions, then please get a divorce. Saying good-bye is hard, but when you are treated like a slave and you’ve got no other option, then saying good-bye is as good as welcoming a wonderful new life.

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