My mother-in-law Joy and I have a wonderful relationship, but I never thought about how unusual this was until I joined a Sweet Adelines group with her. Another lady in the group told Joy, “I can’t believe your daughter-in-law would sing with you! What’s more, she even seems to like you!”
I giggled when Joy later shared this conversation with me. I really do like, and even love, her. And the feeling is mutual. She treats me like a daughter, not just as the girl who happened to marry her son.
I give all glory to the Lord for my special relationship with my mother-in-law. It isn’t that I’m extra forgiving and understanding; it isn’t as though I’m doing things completely differently from most other wives. God has simply chosen to give me grace in this area. For a long time, I took for granted my good standing with Joy. I wasn’t aware of how precious the gift of a Godly mother-in-law actually is. Sadly, I’ve come to understand that this isn’t the kind of relationship that most mothers-in-law have with their daughters-in-law.
Because I would love for other wives to experience the joy of a healthy mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship, I’d like to share five things that I focus on to help perpetuate my good relationship with my husband’s mom. While implementing these things may not solve many of the deep-seeded relationship issues that you may be facing with your own mother-in-law, I do think they can go a long way toward improving your connection, whether or not you already get along well.
PRAY FOR HER
My number-one recommendation on nearly every blog post I write is to start with prayer. When it comes to improving your relationship with your mother-in-law, my advice is no different! Pray for her.
There are several ways to do this:
Thank the Lord for her. Paul constantly reminded the churches he wrote to that he thanked the Lord for them (see Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4; and Philippians 1:3). So, let’s follow his example when it comes to mothers-in-law. He has put her in your life, so thank Him for this gift.
Pray for her spiritual growth. If she’s already saved, ask the Lord to help her grow spiritually. If she’s not yet a believer, ask the Lord to soften her heart toward spiritual things.
Pray for her health. If your mother-in-law is healthy, praise the Lord for it. If she’s not, ask God to give her strength to get through the situation and to remove the “thorn in the flesh” if it be His will.
SPEND TIME WITH HER
I believe that it’s really good to get to know your mother-in-law. After all, she’s the lady who raised your husband, and she probably knows him better than anyone else. Spending time with her is a great way to get to know her better, to learn from her, and to develop an appreciation for her.
It might not be easy to do this at first, especially if she lives far away, is busy, or is difficult to be around. If she’s local, find out what her hobbies are and ask if you can join her. If she’s not, give her a call, send her a text, or hop on FaceTime. Whatever it takes, make it a habit to check in with her.
APPRECIATE HER STRENGTHS
It’s often easier to recognize a person’s weaknesses instead of his strengths. But my mom once pointed out to me that many times, a person’s weakness is actually an overabundance of strength in another area.
Even the most difficult people in our lives usually have at least one gift or ability. If we learn to appreciate others’ giftedness, it can help us overlook their shortcomings. This is a skill we need to develop for everyone, but it’s even more crucial to do with those closest to us. When it comes to your mother-in-law, you absolutely need to recognize and appreciate her strengths.
If you’re struggling to see her attributes, consider whether or not the things that bother you about her might be her core strengths in a different situation.
ASK FOR HER ADVICE
Our mothers-in-law have lived more of life than we have. Often, these ladies have gleaned some wisdom along the way. While they may have different opinions than we do, there are bound to be areas where our mothers-in-law have a wealth of knowledge. And many of them would welcome the opportunity to share that wisdom with us!
Think about the area(s) where your mother-in-law excels. Ask her for advice on that specific topic, and take to heart what she shares with you. As long as it’s Biblical, do your best to implement the ideas and suggestions she offers you. This shows her that you truly value her input and expertise!
Last of all, be yourself around your mother-in-law. While it’s good to accept and implement her advice, that doesn’t mean you can’t ever have your own ideas or opinions. You have strengths and talents of your own as well, and you don’t have to change your clothing habits simply because your mother-in-law thinks red would look better on you when you prefer to wear blue. Let your personality shine even as you seek to love on and listen to your mother-in-law.
If your relationship with your mother-in-law isn’t what you wish it were, or even if you have a good relationship with her but would like to improve it further, I highly recommend praying for her, spending time with her, appreciating her strengths, asking for her advice, and being yourself around her. If you’re willing to do all of this with a loving servant’s heart, I believe that with the Holy Spirit’s help, these five tips can help you improve your relationship at any level.