If a so-so relationship with your mother-in-law is reaching the point where 'Happy Easter' is a faraway memory tucked into your former glorious singleton days, then you might want to try a different tactic. In most cases talking about it with your partner and friends didn't work, diligently going through what was said and why didn't work either, and holding onto anger and frustration failed miserably. What now, fake a smile for 3 whole days? Pretend to you have to work? Say that you are sick?
We have heard a zillion times that trying to change other people is akin to jumping off a cliff and expecting to fly, that is to say - it just doesn't work. That said, I have written the following for this Easter Special with you in mind. Give it a go...it just might work!
DEALING WITH A NEGATIVE MOTHER IN LAW (and any other in-law for that matter)
1. Try to see the best in her -Your mother in laws intentions are probably positive but these may be heavily disguised in negative comments, actions and judgements. Maybe she is a little jealous of you and her son, maybe she is jealous of your youth or anxious for you to like her. When you choose to look beyond behaviour and think about her positive intention, it usually opens up the space to explore how things can be improved and whilst you can't control how others think, act or feel, you do have the choice to decide how you react to it.
2. Communicate - There is likely to be a lot you don't know about each other and you cannot be friends until you aim for mutual understanding and respect. Be yourself, and then try accept and get to know your mother-in-law as an individual person, not a 'label'. Consider talking through your difficulties directly with the her rather than your partner. Be curious, what is her positive intention in all of this? What is she driven by, fear or love? What needs for both of you are not being met? What can you both do to actively build the bridge?
3. Find common ground - Think about things you do have in common. Perhaps, right now the only bridge between you is your partner and your children. What else can you introduce to this relationship which will bring you both on common ground and closer together. For example, do you both like the same kind of movies, food or hobbies? Is there a possibility of doing something together once in a while woman to woman - to help bond?
4. Get some fresh perspective - Think about how you come across in this relationship. What behaviour are you demonstrating? What judgements about her are you bringing to the table? For example, do you think she has it in for you? Do you feel anxious, angry or frustrated prior to meeting her? Do you remember the long list of things that she said about you? Many people are in reactive mindset waiting for scenarios in the outside world to determine how they feel for the day. Try setting an intention to be a little more open and positive towards her and genuinly think of her in a better light before you meet her. In doing so, you are more likely to break the ice and elicit a different response from her.
5. Chill out - Bring in a daily practice to restore calm and sense of balance within your mind, meditation, yoga, affirmations are good for this. If you are feeling calmer before you meet up then her negative comments will be less likely to affect you and may not seem such a huge deal.
A little exercise you might want to try:
If a negative comment has already been made and you are unable to stop yourself from thinking about it, try the following. Close your eyes, take a few deep breathes, place your hands on your head and imagine you are grabbing this negative comment with your hands and pulling it out of your head and in front of you. Now that the negative comment is in your hands in front of you, start to slowly bring your hands together whilst imagining that this comment is becoming quieter and smaller. Make it really small and silent then open up your hands and the blow what is left away.