By Mona Ismaeil
They say that you ‘marry the family’; well isn’t that the truth?! Hollywood has an incredible way of showing in-laws to be these ferocious monsters who’d do everything in their power to ruin the marriages of their children. I’m sure some of you believe you should have been cast as the leading role in Jennifer Lopez’ film ‘Monster-In-Law’ and many of you will pause and hesitate before answering the dreaded question ‘what’s your mother in-law like?’ I on the other hand am one of those lucky ones who ACTUALLY get along very well with her in-laws! What?! How is that even possible?! I’ll give you some tips I learnt from my own in-laws to help give you a happily ever after.
Remember it’s not intentional
No mother in the history of mothers has purposely sabotaged her son’s marriage. Whether it’s the first son, or the 5th, mother in-laws tend to believe their wonderful, perfect son can do no wrong! Ultimately, she wants his eternal happiness and if that happiness is with you then she will not try and ruin it. She just can’t help her ‘mama bear’ instincts.
Let them in
Nothing is worse than not feeling welcome in your son’s home because his wife doesn’t want you there. Ensure your home is open and welcome to his family anytime. Of course boundaries are important but they should know that you want them to be a part of your life and the life of your kids. Make an effort to get to know them. Find ways to relate to them on a personal level. I’m sure if you look close though, you will find many common interests.
Don’t Make Him Choose
In a competition of wife vs. mother, nobody wins. Even though you believe you are his first and last love; you are not! He loved her first! Most women forget the fact that he loves you both differently, needs you both, wants you both, and can’t live without you both! Both of you play very different roles in the story of his life and each one has a leading role. Don’t ever make him choose!
Learn From Them
Although you may believe your own parents know everything and you seek advice from them, remember that your in-laws have a great wealth of knowledge and experience to draw from too. The things I ask my mother about are different than those I ask my mother in-law about. The same goes for my father vs. father in-law. There are some things only your mother in-law can answer and you should not be too proud to go to her. Actually it will make her feel great to know you value her advice.
Enjoy your growing family
Take full advantage of your growing family. One set of parents is amazing, but two families who love you, care for you and want what’s best for you? How incredible is that? How about more siblings to laugh with, joke with and seek advice from? What about more nieces and nephews to watch grow and fill your home with joy? All of this is not possible without your in-laws. Cherish it, enjoy it.
Be the daughter they never had
Yes, they may already have daughters but you can find your place in their lives. Bring to the table your strengths, your flaws, your talents, your quirks and make a place for yourself in your new family. Rather then pull your husband away, be the reason he calls home for Eid. Be the reason he goes home to visit his nieces for their birthdays. Be the reason he is a better son.
Navigating where you stand with your in-laws can be tricky. I struggled with it at first too. I didn’t know my boundaries and the expectations they had of me. Soon after we were married my father in-law sat with me and told me that I had the same rights as my sisters in-law, but I also had the same responsibilities to the family as them. This simple statement made my life so much easier and I think it improved our relationship because I knew exactly where I fit in.
I know that each and every one of you can have a wonderful relationship with your in-laws. May Allah bless your families many times over!
About the Author:
Mona Ismaeil is the Associate Editor at MuslimMoms.ca and the proud owner of Modern Hejab, an Edmonton based online hijabs store. She is a new stay-at-home mom of a sweet little girl. Mona is also a former elementary school teacher turned blogger and writer.