“Girl, I take my bra off to you doing the MIL living with you thing. There is no way in Hades that could happen up in here! (Ebonics intended)”
That excerpt is from an email exchange I was having with my good friend, J.C. (Yes, I’m protecting her identity.)
We were discussing how busy we both were with our kids and managing (yes, managing) our husbands. We were lamenting how there are not enough hours in the day for our upkeep (e.g. workouts, pedicures, facials, massages, manicures, happy hours, etc.).
I mentioned that I had some amount of relief with my mother-in-law living with us. If I need to work late and then roll a mani/pedi into that time, that usually works. If hubby is on travel and I still want to get a morning workout in, I can still go because my mother-in-law is in the house. Sometimes I can even fit in an evening workout or quick happy hour because I can roll into the house right as it is time for dinner. (Hubby or I will do the post-dinner clean-up, so it balances out as for a as household workload.)
After I mentioned these time perks in the email exchange, J.C. wrote her “bra” statement. I howled with laughter. This prompted me to find out more – so I Googled “living with my mother-in-law”.
Just looking at the search results made my jaw drop. Where were the positive and helpful aspects of this multigenerational set-up? Why are mother-in-laws such bad news?
I decided to click through some of the articles, posts, and commentaries – so I could respond, here, at itsafullnest. Why not present another viewpoint and perspective, right? Why not offer a bit of support and advice? If nothing else, I wanted to add a bit of humor to this real and sometimes hostile dynamic.
[Note: I copied and pasted from the websites and did not edit any of the information.]
1. Women notoriously find their husband’s mother to be a destructive force, as Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda showed in the film Monster-in-Law.
Kanesha says: Oh, come on. That movie was exaggerated. If Jennifer’s character really had a problem with Jane’s monster-in-law character, Jennifer could have withheld sex from the fiancé until he regulated his mother’s behavior. What? They weren’t married yet.
2. Living in a multi-generational family was associated with a higher risk of heart disease incidence in women, probably owing to role stress.
Kanesha says: It can be stressful, but only if you let things build up. Like I’ve said before, communication is so important. Be honest, respectful, and direct. If nothing else, invest in stocking your bar with quality spirits. If your mother-in-law is a pain, the high-end cocktails will make things seem a tad bit better…at that moment.
3. What do I personally get out of it? The nicer I am to my mother-in-law, the nicer my children will be to me when I am old! I am setting the example how relationships with their elders are to be. There is no better way for me to teach my children how to treat me when I am old than to have my mother-in-law live with us.
Kanesha says: No doubt and ditto. My 11-year-old has already told me, since I behave well with my mother-in-law, I can live with her if I am willing to work in her pastry shop. I asked for a cushy job at the pastry shop since I’ll be old and all; the 11-year-old agreed.
4. Does anyone live with their mother-in-law??? how do you handle it?? I am a daughter-in-law living with her mother-in-law sometimes harmoniously, sometimes not with a husband that for the most part cannot stand up to his mother. help!!
Kanesha says: Wow, a mommy’s boy? That’s totally bad news. I think the first thing to do is to go on a sex strike to get the husband’s attention. Then after about 5-to-7 days, sit mother-in-law and husband down for a real talk discussion. Construct a Venn diagram outlining the challenges each of them presents to you (the daughter-in-law) and where the challenges overlap. Give them enough time to correct their actions (let’s say about 2 weeks). If they don’t show signs of improvement after 2 weeks, put them on punishment.
5. My future mother-in-law is always putting me down. A few months after meeting me, she started nitpicking my weight. I’m not fat you know, just a size 9. My fiancé and I go to dinner with his parents a lot, and she contests everything I say, like she is the only one well-versed on any subject.
Kanesha says: Ignore your future mother-in-law. She’s just mean and jealous that you’re stealing her baby boy away. She may never improve her behavior, so prepare yourself mentally. The next time you are out to dinner, take a large purse with you and bring a scale. When she comments on your weight pull out the scale and ask her to stand on it. When she goes into “know it all” mode, pull out your iPod and disengage.
6. I can’t stand my mother and father in laws and my husband I can’t afford another payment. We already pay for our house which they live in and don’t want to spend money on apt. If we were to finish our basement would that be freedom for me or is it not the same thing as a separate apt. I desperately need help.
Kanesha says: First, pour yourself a cocktail. Then, call or Google the senior services department in your town/city and find out about affordable housing for your in-laws. Give them about one -to-two months (or shorter if you are feeling crazed) to get their business in order, and then assist them in packing and moving.
7. I need help I live with my Mother-in-Law: at first everything seemed to be working out ok, but now all i want to do is rip out my hair. she is a clean freak. because there are 5 of us in the house she wants the whole house vacuumed 3 times a week, monday, wednesday and friday.
Kanesha says: She’s a clean freak? Let her be. Since she wants the house vacuumed 3 times a week – hand over the vacuum cleaner. Add some other chores to her cleaning list, and tell her you are honored that she’s being a role model of cleaning for you. She’ll be so exhausted she won’t’ have much else to say after that. Simple.
8. My husband and i recently bought a home, 2 yrs now n decided before we moved in that his mother could of lived in the basement till we got our feet off the ground with the mortgage, from the time she moved in she became a different individual to me, she rules n tries to control her sons mind n often tell him what to do in his marriage, him being a mamas boy doesnt quite help the situation either. every time there is n argument or discussion between us that he has a problem with he goes to her to express his feelings n thoughts she already has it in for me so im pretty sure nothing she is advising him on is something that will benefit our marriage.
Kanesha says: See #4 above.
9. Ok so my story may be a little differnet because my mother in law is not elderly. She is 54. She just has no money and has been living with my husband and I for almost 4 years and we have only been married for 5. She does not contribute to the house hold and has been told numerous time she has to move out with no follow through.
Kanesha says: Wow! 54 is definitely young and spry. She needs a job and a love interest. Collect all of her job history information and personal info. Start filling out job applications and online dating profiles for her. If she will not go to the job, or on the date – then see #6. If #6 does not work, then go to #4.
10. I have tried so hard to be kind to you, impress you, bend over backwards to get you to like me even a little. Well now I am done, I’m tired. You don’t like me? Fine. Want to talk about me behind my back? Fine. Want to treat me like garbage one minute and then have a fake smile plastered across your face when you feel it appropriate so you look good in front of others? Fine. I can be just as fake as you, trust me. Just remember, when I say game on, it’s GAME ON. I should have known when I first met you, MIL and SIL, that you were two rotten, bitchy peas in a pod. Oh, and by the way. A little Sally Hansen lip wax would do you BOTH a lot of good. Just sayin’….
Kanesha says: Yikes! I’m handing this one over to Dr. Phil.