Interfering Mom-in-Laws

when your mother-in-law interferes, loving your mother-in-law
In a previous post I wrote about ways to deal with a mom-in-law who mocks the beliefs of her daughter-in-law (see Mocking MIL), but there’s also the problem of a mil who’s opinionated and too involved in her married son’s life. How does a godly dil handle this situation? 

Again, I think it’s best to let you hear from a dil who dealt with this problem biblically. This comes from Elizabeth Spence who has a great blog called Warrior Wives:
“I'm thankful to have a mother-in-law whom I really respect, but it wasn't always that way. Early in our marriage, we struggled. I pulled away from her, criticized her opinions, and perceived every comment as a personal attack.”
“I know that I hurt her feelings many times by not attempting to form a relationship with her and by allowing hurtful words to flow off my tongue. I didn't realize that she was the person responsible for the man my husband was, the man I had fallen in love with.”

“My mother-in-law also struggled to consider our home as ‘our home’ rather than an extension of her own.”

“In my immaturity, I was easily offended by things she said until one day it occurred to me that she's not a mean person! Nothing she said came from a mean spirit! Once I learned that, I started to appreciate her much more.”

“I've come to learn that we are actually very similar in many ways. She's offered wisdom in difficult situations, and I can always rely on her to point me back to Scripture for answers. Currently, we're both involved in women's ministry and biblical counseling at our church. She calls me her "Personal Research Assistant" (for finding good counseling resources) and she's my Titus 2-style "Personal Blog Consultant" for when I come across issues that I have no idea how to handle on my marriage blog.”
Elizabeth discovered some of the same things I did with my mil: so much has to do with our perspective. I believe dils have more power than mils to build bridges or walls. And those who build walls are doing so at their own loss. It’s not honoring to God because He tells us to honor our parents. And placing our mil behind a wall will not make her more understanding, generous or flexible.




Homework this week: Ask God to show you if you’ve built any walls in your relationship with your mil, and ask Him to help you tear them down with His love.  
Til next week, Gail 

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15 comments:

  1. Thanks for the link! Changing our perspective to fall in line with Scripture is so key to many situations in life.

    Elizabeth@Warrior Wives

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth, for these great thoughts practically applied to your life. I know they will be a blessing to my readers.

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  2. Gail and Elizabeth....wonderful advice! So blessed that the two of you share your posts at The Alabaster Jar!

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    1. I'm grateful for your blog, Jolene, and the way you bless others with your wisdom about marriage. Thanks!

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  3. New to your blog... visiting here from A Holy Experience... it is so hard, especially when young, to look at things from anything other than one's own perspective. Wonderful advice and something to give God thanks for. :)

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    1. Thanks so much for these kind words and godly reminders.

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  4. Great post. I was just dealing with some of these same things this week. It's always good to remember that she has good intentions.

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    1. yes, Jamie, our perspective can make all the difference in the world! Thanks for commenting.

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  5. Still appreciating this series very much. In fact, it became a source of conversation this week with my soon-to-be sister-in-law. Ha! Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement. And thank you for linking this up to Titus 2 Tuesdays. Hope to see you again this week.

    Kathy

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    1. So good to hear this, Kathy. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Bless you,
      Gail

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  6. What wonderful words of wisdom shared from both you and Elizabeth. I have been blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my mil, rather it has been my husband and my parents who have had to learn some of these same lessons. Thank you so much for sharing on NOBH!
    Love and God Bless,
    Christy

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  7. Hi Gail, my mil lives with us and has for the last few months now. She is friendly, funniest and super helpful. She raised two amazing sons and I respect her for that but she just annoys me so much since moving in!!! She comes into my bedroom and in her attempt to connect and be loving I find that she invades my space, especially when she comes into my bedroom and sits on my bed or opens the curtains while I'm still in bed. It's gotten so bad that everytime I hear my back door open I run into my room to get away from her or leave home with my 5 month old for hours at atime(sometimes to sit in a parking lot) just so that I can have some space and privacy. I know she's noticed from my behavior that I don't prefer her around so she doesn't really come inside much, but just the fact that she's on my property I often feel I can't relax in my own home. We had a really great relationship for the about 6 years before she moved in but it's all too close for comfort I just want her to leave. How can I deal with this?

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    1. Hi Kim,
      From my experience, it's usually best to try to talk things through in situations like this. I would encourage you to sit down with your husband and really discuss all of the things that have been bothering you, and together take them to the Lord in prayer. I am amazed how God provides clarity and solutions when we do this.

      You didn't say why your mil moved in with you. Was it out of need or other reasons? If she needs to live with you for some reason, your options will be different than if she is fine living on her own.

      I encourage you to put yourself in your mil's place and think very carefully how you would want to be treated in the same situation. Let everything you say or do come from that perspective (Mt.7:12) because you may be in a similar situation yourself someday.

      Living with your mil will require compromises on all sides, but these compromises are not without benefits in your character development. Working through this situation and learning to get along with make you a better wife and mother.

      Every healthy relationship requires give and take. After you and your husband have talked and prayed, it would be nice if all three of you could do the same, respectfully expressing your concerns and discussing how you can handle your differing priorities.

      I think it is understandable that you would not want her coming into your bedroom like she does, and that would be one thing you could discuss with her. However, I think your feelings about simply having her on your property are coming from Satan, who wishes to damage all of our relationships through fear, selfishness, or misunderstandings.

      I'm not a counselor, but you have access to the Wonderful Counselor, and He has a solution for you, I'm sure.

      As I write this, I'm praying you will find God's way in your situation.
      God bless you,
      Gail
      P.S. The positive words you spoke about your mil at the beginning of your comment are very hopeful to me. God has already given you the wisdom to see her benefits.

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    2. My mil lives with me as well and has for the past six months. I knew it would be an adjustment and I've tried so hard to be gracious and to open my home, family, friends, church, every part of my life is now shared with her. For me the most difficult adjustment is sharing my husband with her. Our quiet evenings when the kids are to bed are now shared with her. She helps out and watches the kids now and then so we can get a date night in every so often. Most of the time I am okay and I just avoid her if I find myself in a funky mood so that way I won't say or do anything I will later regret. However she recently corrected a me in front of my children for a statement I had made that she perceived to be wrong. I wanted my husband to back me up and be on "my side" and he just said nothing in his effort to avoid conflict. I talked with him privately about how hurtful that was to me. I understand why he didn't say anything, I want to forgive. I want to move on. She will never see anything she does as wrong. The best apology she can give is "I'm sorry that I've upset you" she can't admit that she was wrong for what she did, just say she's sorry I'm upset and that is all. Like you I've reached a place that the very sound of her "cheerful voice" sets me on edge. I don't feel at home in my own home anymore. Does she have benefits, yes, but if she does, they don't seem to outweigh the turmoil she brings to my life. I know it is wrong to give in to bitterness, but how can I continue to forgive her when she can not seek forgiveness? I'm struggling and its hard to have empathy for her when she can't return the favor.

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    3. Dear Unknown,
      My first question would be to ask if it's necessary for your mother-in-law to live with you. If it is not a need due to health or finances, I think it would be wise to start praying about making other arrangements.

      To be honest, the best of friends living together can cause problems, so that would be my first area to address.

      But, if it is a necessity, I think it would be wise to kindly and respectfully set some boundaries. Perhaps you and your husband can go back to your bedroom and visit before bedtime. My husband and I don't have anyone living with us, but each evening before bed, we shut off all technology and go back to our bedroom and take some time to pray and reflect on our day.

      I also think it would be a good thing if your husband might talk to his mother about correcting you in front of the children. If his mother is going to live with you long term, it would be good upfront to set some ground rules - ask her what things are especially important to her and share what things are especially important to you.

      Then, even though she doesn't apologize, I would explain each time she's offended you. I would wait until you are calm, even wait a day or two. Then, compliment her in some area if you can and follow it by respectfully explaining that she hurt your feelings. If she makes excuses or seems not to care, you might respectfully explain that hurts you as well.

      I am not a counselor, but I encourage you to work through these things and not let them simmer. Respecting our mil doesn't mean letting her rule our home.

      I have said a prayer for you.

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