Rebonding mother-in-law & daughter-in-law relationship

Rebonding mother-in-law & daughter-in-law relationship

It is always important to know what to do and especially what not to do when it comes to establishing a strong bond with one’s mother-in-law or daughter-in-law. This is not a difficult task, given below are certain tips that can provide more clarity on how to establish “The Bond”


Firstly neither of them is WRONG. Yes, that is the truth. You can ask how is that possible, well it is possible because their concerns are subjective both comes from their fears and insecurities. A mother fears she will lose touch with her son; she will be replaced by the new woman in his life. Most importantly feeling the need to include her in every minor decision that the couple wants to take together. At the end the fervor need to control everything that goes in the household not giving the daughter in law to decide few things herself.

For the daughter in law her fears stem from pleasing her husband as well as keeping the mother in law happy. She fears, how she will fit in a world that is so different from the one she is coming from. She worries about the boundaries, how to communicate her doubts and how to develop that understanding with her mother in law.

Both of them have to accept the fact that they are on the same boat of uncertainty. Each need the others help to succeed in establishing an understanding and making it work.

 Let’s not make assumption let’s try to understand why one behaves the way she does. Accept that as it is new environment for the daughter in law to fit in it is new for the mother in law to accommodate a new person.

There will be teething problems but one cannot be impatient and demand the other person to understand. It takes time, so give time.


The key to a healthy relationship is a result of a healthy communication. Sometimes it is important to keep openness in ones approach to let the person in.

For mother in law: When ones daughter in law has any idea that is different, explore that, give that some value because you never know how that may work out!

As for daughter in law remembering the fact that “mother in law” is also important, and expecting to be treated equally is not going to happen initially. She will demand your time more and might give less importance to your career, so do not be discouraged, as Terri Apter, psychologist in University of Cambridge, stated after years of research,

“But she is his mother, and her son will always come first to her. It really helps if you expect that and try to see it from her point of view.”

All such expectations can be communicated as long as the channel is kept open so it is vital for both to at least have a cup of coffee daily and discuss about their concerns and chores and how they wish to work on them.

Expecting the other to do everything is where the problem arises…..”It is a team effort not an individual responsibility.”


‘Each is the primary woman in her primary family. As each tries to establish or protect her status, each feels threatened by the other.’
This is what happens in most mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship. Controlling and then invading each other space so as to lessen the threat they feel from each other. We need to address the possibility of building healthy boundaries to encounter this concern and lessen the treat perceived.

How to build boundaries:

For Mother in law:

  • Offering to help out with housework or disciplining the children.

As Apter says “Offers to help are often perceived as criticism,” Apter said. “Walking into the house and saying, ‘Let me iron my son’s shirts for you,’ implies to the daughter-in-law that you think that’s her role, and she may bristle at that notion.”

So in this regard develop an understanding that which actions you can do and what falls under your daughter-in-law territory. As a mother role there are certain responsibilities that are yours but not mixing up ones roles with the “wife’s role” is the key to establish boundaries in the relationship.

So only give advice and help in such matters when asked, because that will develop a bond as well you will be better able to help with the daughter in law’s understanding that she needs your help.

  • Criticizing your daughter-in-law to your son.

“This should be obvious but it’s worth highlighting how damaging this is, because the son is very likely to bring up the topic with his wife,” says Apter. Not only is she likely to get mad at the mother-in-law (“Why didn’t she tell me to my face!?!”), she’ll probably feel resentful toward her husband as well (“Why are you bringing this up to me? You’re supposed to be on my side!”).

This disrupts any harmony that can be established, so if you wish to discuss things and concerns it is better always to talk to ones daughter in law about it. Not only will it strengthen the bond between the two of you but will result in better communication and clarity in the difficulties being faced.

For Daughter-in-law:

  • Letting things slide at the start.

If you find that your mother-in-law is interfering too much, or visiting too often, or offering too much advice, don’t put off talking to her about it, says Apter. “It is much better to start out by setting limits. Otherwise, bad habits become quickly ingrained”

In this aspect one can be clear what her roles are and what she is expecting her mother-in-law to participate in. Give her both the encouragement to participate in your lives in the areas that you are comfortable to you and also considering what she wants to do. There needs to be a clear understanding of each other’s roles.

  • Avoid taking confrontational stands quickly.

If your mother-in-law expresses a view that differs from yours, you don’t have to get your back up about it, Apter says. “You can just say, ‘That’s interesting, and I’m glad that worked for you, but I think I’d like to try it this way.’

Here it is all about being assertive but at the same time acknowledging her experience and suggestion, sometimes their experience can also lend a different light on the problem that you are encountering.

Sometimes the core of the problem is not the problem itself; it is the misunderstanding of the problem that creates havoc in relationships. So let’s delve a little deeper and try to develop this understanding that neither of them are wrong all it requires is a little openness and shift in perspective, rest things does fall in place.

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