Funny how we need to add “bad” or “good” to the first title before forming an opinion, but mother-in-law carries all sorts of negative connotations without a single adjective added.
Ironically, I think mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships are usually strengthened or damaged more by the daughter-in-law than the mother-in-law because few daughters-in-law give their husband’s mother a chance—a real chance.
We women are nurturers and home-builders. We want to protect our own—mark our territory. And we easily fall prey to the lie that our relationship will be better with our husband if we’re the only woman in his life. Sometimes we daughter-in-laws even misuse Genesis 2:24 as an excuse to distance ourselves from our in-laws, not realizing this weakens our marriage, our family, and our relationship with God. But before you say that’s not the case with you, let me tell you that I was never conscious of that attitude in myself until I began to pray about my in-law relationships.
Scripture clearly commands us to honor our parents (and this includes in-laws when we marry). But Satan knows that honoring our mother-in-law will bring us personal and marital blessings, so he works overtime to confuse us with lies, fill us with insecurities, and create barriers between us and our husband’s mother.
I’ve been a daughter-in-law for 42 years, and I’ve had lots of experience doing things the wrong way. And I’ve also seen God turn things around when I obeyed His commands and quit believing Satan’s lies.
I've written a series of posts on improving your marriage by improving your relationship with you mother-in-law. The link to each post is below. I encourage you to read each one and take time to pray about the various aspects of your relationship. I believe it will make your life and your marriage more complete. Whether your relationship is weak, strong, damaged, or just okay, I think you’ll benefit from this series.
This week’s homework: Would you make it part of your daily prayers to ask God to open your heart to new and better ways of relating to your mother-in-law? And I also encourage you to read this article from Focus on the Family writer Dr. Juli Slattery: Love Your Husband by Loving Your Mother-in-Law
The rest of the series:
Part 3: Mother-in-Laws Who Interfere
Part 5: Disinterested In-Laws
Part 6: What Ruth & Naomi Teach Us
Part 7: Six Things I Did Wrong
Another great post on this subject by Lindsey Bell: 7 Ways to Get Along With Difficult In-Laws