Is it really possible to just have ten things that should never be said to the mother-in-law? Just ten things? You’d know if you read this…
My wife said: ‘Can my mother come down for the weekend?’, so I said: ‘Why?’ and she said: ‘Well, she’s been up on the roof two weeks already’.
– Bob Monkhouse
Mother-in-law, monster-in-law, whatever you wish to call her, you have to admit that it is one of the trickiest relationships to handle. Having said that, many of us share cordial and warm ties with our spouse’s mother, leading us to wonder if all the fuss around this particular relationship is mere hype.
Then there are others who would rather go swimming in shark-infested waters, than spend an evening with the in-laws. A sterling episode of the sitcom Two and a Half Men comes to mind, when Charlie Sheen’s character schedules a colonoscopy to avoid visiting his fiancée’s parents… and you get the drift.
So, however your equation with your mother-in-law may be like, there are a few things that you should never, ever, say to her. That is, if you wish to spend a blissful life with your better half. The next time these lines come to your mind, zip your mouth, picture her as a tadpole, or whatever works for you, and laugh it off.
Never Say These 10 Things to Your Mother-in-law
You’re coming over this weekend? Why?????
Oh no, no, no, no! I do concede that we have very little control over spontaneity, but blurting out your inner feelings will only land you in a bowl of hot soup. You may harbor a strong dislike for your mother-in-law, and the number of visits she makes to your place, but it is downright rude to be so blasé about it.
So, the next time you’re seething with anger as your ma-in-law announces her impending arrival, just take a deep breath and think of your partner. More importantly, dwell on the fact that she is your partner’s mother. And remember that you owe it to your partner to be civil with his/her mother.
I wish you’d taught your son/daughter that!
Okay, newsflash! Your partner is an entity that is independent of his/her parents. Squarely blaming a parent for their adult son’s/daughter’s misbehavior is silly on your part. Why? Because your partner is (hopefully) grown up enough to discern right from wrong, and you (hopefully) made sure of that before your marriage.
Holding your mother-in-law responsible for your partner’s shortcomings or follies is simply a waste of time. Especially when you can slug it out with your partner, why bring the mother-in-law into the picture and be outnumbered in a fight?
I don’t remember asking for your opinion.
For those who have been a part of couple-dom for a considerable length of time, understand that in-laws are an unending source of (unsolicited) advice. The newlyweds, of course, have to travel a gravelly road before they calmly accept this fact and move forward with their lives.
So, unless your mother-in-law is crossing that fine line that divides concern from cockiness, there is no need to be so incensed about whatever comes out of her mouth. If she thinks it is her right to dispense free advise, you are free to decide whether you wish to follow it or not. Just remember not to let rudeness take over you.
I am inheriting all of your vintage furniture, right?
Ah! It’s always a little tricky to handle a mother-in-law who’s seriously loaded. You’re bound to have an eye on what you may or may not inherit, but do not forget that you are not her offspring. Your partner is. Which still doesn’t mean that you will inherit her fortunes by transitive relation.
By all means, do fantasize about the inheritance if that makes you happy. But don’t show her your creepy, desperate side by asking her about it, or worse, force her into doing it.
That’s where my partner gets all that meanness from…
There are times when you simply can’t rein in the rudeness, and you end up saying something like this to your mother-in-law, when you should actually be saving this verbal volley for your partner.
A simple reason why saying this to your mother-in-law will backfire, is that she will get meaner by the day, and so will your partner, as he/she would have no clue about having inherited this quality. This is how a right message can go horribly wrong when it is relayed to the wrong person.
Can I get the receipt of the birthday present you gave me?
What is it with mothers-in-law and their tendency to give hideous gifts to their son’s/daughter’s partners? Is it deliberate? Is it some kind of a test? We’d never know for sure, but what we do know is that it’s just an object. Your mother-in-law’s tastes may not match with yours, and this hardly matters, doesn’t it?
But if you think you’re being singled out to receive monstrosities in the name of gifts, it opens up a field of opportunities to get even. Use your creative juices to return her favor in kind, by topping her idea instead.
Since you’re visiting us, I booked you a hotel room.
This would really seem outrageous, unless you live in a shack with six kids and three dogs. Which would then mean that you’re too poor to even book a hotel room. Your mother-in-law may be a pain in an unmentionable body part, but if she is visiting, you have to throw open your doors to her. Not your arms, just your door.
If your tolerance limits are being tested, the best thing to do is to discuss it with your partner and reason it out. Who knows, your partner may even side with you and plan a vacation to coincide with his/her mother’s next visit!
Your one meal gave me a month’s supply of calories.
Now, you’re crossing the line here, pal. Social convention leads us to believe that mothers-in-law, or mothers in general, think of themselves as domestic goddesses or queens of the hearth who can do no wrong. Criticizing her cooking wanders into the below-the-belt territory, and you’d never want to venture there, no matter what your equation with her may be.
Since it is just a matter of a meal or two, the right thing would be to let it go. Especially when the other option is to plan an elaborate charade, that involves feigning a digestive disorder, to escape her cooking. But remember that when you do this, she invariable charts a last-minute plan to eat at your favorite restaurant. At her expense.
Actually, it would be better if we hire a babysitter.
There are a few mothers-in-law who would secretly be thrilled to hear this line. But, do notice that the key word here is secretly. So, even if you are doubting her skills as a caregiver to your children, do not forget that she is, after all, their grandmother.
You may have the reasons to think of her as a batty, old cow, but this does not bestow you with the right to keep her grandchildren away from her. She may not sue you for this, but you’d actually end up being the batty, old cow here.
Things are different than what they were back in your time.
This may really seem like a harmless thing to say, and it is. The only problem with this line is that it will be dismissed as a harmless thing by your mother-in-law as well. So, if you’re planning to use this line to politely tell her to mind her own business, it’s not going to work.
You’d rather pull up your socks and come straight to the point, instead of saying something as airy and vague as this. Things would definitely be clearer if you are direct in addressing her, and you’ll end up saving yourself the trouble of dealing with this issue at a later date.
Love them or loathe them, you can’t really imagine a life without the mother-in-law, if you happen to be in a committed relationship. It is always recommended to keep things cordial in this area, unless you actually want hell to freeze over.