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How to Live with, and Love, Your Mother-In-Law

Erin Davis

Erin Davis | 06.01.11
Twitter: @ErinGraffiti

54 comments

I once heard someone say that the relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is the most fragile of all human relationships. If you are a MIL or a DIL, you already know this relationship can get sticky. Mothers-in-law often fulfill a role that is part mother, part friend, and part threat in the lives of their son’s wives. Daughters-in-law are not quite the same as a biological daughter, and yet they are a huge part of the make-up of the family. The result can be a lot of relational thin ice that is difficult to tread. 

Over the next two days, I will tackle this delicate human relationship with Truths from God’s Word. Today’s post is specifically for daughters-in-law, and tomorrow’s post is for mothers-in-law. I think you’ll find the Bible offers surprisingly clear guidelines on how to treat each other, and I encourage you to read both posts. Even if your relationship is great, we can all learn about loving each other better. 

We are given a picture of a healthy and holy mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship in the Bible. To be honest, the story of Ruth and Naomi has always seemed a little unrealistic to me. Ruth chose her mother-in-law over her own family (1:16). Amazingly, she even lived with her mother-in-law (2:23) for a long period of time and yet remained sweet to her. We have a lot to learn from their story! The book of Ruth contains many important themes, but one we often miss is that relationships with mothers-in-law can be amicable, and that honoring each other can lead to great blessing. 

For daughters-in-law, here are several key themes worth noting from the book of Ruth:

  • Ruth begged to stay with her MIL rather than return to her own family after her husband’s death. Ruth opened her heart and allowed herself to bond to her husband’s mom. As daughters-in-law, we’ve got to choose to be open to giving and receiving love from our MIL (Ruth 1:16).
  • Ruth was willing to serve Naomi. She chose to roll up her sleeves and do the grunt work of gleaning wheat to provide for herself and her MIL. Have you done something sacrificial lately in order to provide for the needs of your MIL? (Ruth 2:2).
  • It was because of Ruth’s kindness and faithfulness to Naomi that she found favor with Boaz. Disrespecting MILs may be socially acceptable, but it won’t earn anyone’s admiration. “But Boaz answered her, ‘All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before . . .” (Ruth 2:11).
  • Ruth followed her MIL’s advice. DIL’s, is it possible your MIL is not trying to replace your mom? Maybe her advice has some merit. Don’t buck simply because your MIL offers her two cents every now and then. When possible, adhere to her wisdom (Ruth 3:6).
  • Ruth included Naomi in the celebration of her son’s birth. The MIL/DIL relationship seems to really get slippery when the next generation arrives. Suggestions about how to burp and diaper a new baby can turn into fighting words. DIL’s, realize that your baby reminds your MIL of her own babies and that she desperately wants to be a part of the celebration (Ruth 4:17). 
Clearly, Ruth had an uncanny ability to love and respect her MIL in all circumstances. We can make all kinds of excuses why we can’t treat our MILs the same way, but the Bible writes us no such permission slip. 

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Your MIL may not be as sweet and understanding as Naomi. But honestly, does “unwholesome talk” about her help the situation? When was the last time you said something that built her up according to her needs?

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” You have no control over the behavior of others, including your MIL. But the Bible urges you to do your part to live at peace.  

The story of Ruth and Naomi is an important one. It was from the line of Ruth and Boaz that David was born. Eventually Jesus came from the same lineage. 

The story of your family is an important one, too. Ephesians 4:29 urges us to speak words of encouragement for the benefit of “those who listen.” People are watching how you interact to see what it reveals about your faith. God’s standards for how we should treat each other apply to this relationship, even if it takes extra effort. 

What can you do today to love your mother-in-law with the radical love of Christ?

Comments

  1. Great Post! A much needed topic!
    I have a great mother-in-law!
    Sometimes I do get frustrated but Holy Spirit always convicts me of many of the things mentioned in this blog. Usually whatever is frustrating me can be fixed with a little less stubborness on my end or a little more grace, wisdom, and patience on my end! :)

    I'm sure that there are those out there that have a harder situation but I encourage you that "love conquers a multitude of sins." Dig in! Ask the Lord to fill you with His love and grace for your mother-in-law. It is a relationship worth working on!
    posted by Stephanie
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 7:55 am
  2. Ours is one of those extraordinarily bad DIL/MIL relationships. Currently, we are estranged from one another due to the relationship being so unhealthy. My hearts aches when I think about it. It's so complicated and awful. It's just easier to close the door and not go there.
    posted by Amy
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 8:36 am
  3. I needed this today. I was feeling angry that I have to take my MIL to the doctor tomorrow and miss another important event. She has cancer and I don't know how much longer she will be around. Now I will willingly sacrifice my time to do this for her. She's been a wonderful MIL to me and has sacrificed many times to care for my children.
    posted by Judy
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 8:51 am
  4. I agree Erin, this is a very delicate relationship. However, it is one that God can use for our good and His glory. For you ladies who believe your relationship with your MIL is too far gone, I encourage you to listen to the second half of Revive Our Hearts from 12/15/2010.
    posted by Alison
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 9:02 am
  5. I get along better with my mother- in- law than my own mom. I can definitely see myself staying closer to my husbands family than my own as in Ruth's case. I'm so thankful to have her example set before me for the day I become someone's mil...
    posted by Brenda
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 9:08 am
  6. I too have a far better relationship with my MIL than my own mom. In fact, I feel like God gave me my MIL to take the place of my mom, who just isn't there as a mother for me as an adult. This has been a difficult thing to come to terms with, but now I see it for what it is & am grateful to God that I have someone who seems like a mom to me after years of struggling in the relationship with my own mom. I am 50 & my MIL is 80, & I think she would say she has a better relationship with me than with her own daughters as well. Sometimes we can't do anything to make a real relationship grow if the other person doesn't see how to have a healthy one. My MIL gets it, but my own mom doesn't. It's sad about my mom, but wonderful with my MIL.
    posted by LeeAnn Cheeley
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 11:09 am
  7. I've been married less than 2 years, and some of the best advice I received during engagement was about this subject! I discovered that for me the battle is one of pride vs. humility. I can pridefully choose to disregard the advice, help and role of my MIL, or I can humbly choose to accept, and reap her wisdom and friendship. I'm not perfect at this, but by God's grace I'm better at it than I would have been if no one had shared this with me! So thankful for my mother-in-law!
    posted by Kristin G.
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 11:43 am
  8. This is incredibly timely. I have been divorced for 14 years, but I just moved my ex-mother-in-law in with me, as she was living in another state and not doing very well. She has been here a month, and so far it is going very well. But, I sometimes find myself impatient, which I know is very wrong, and pray daily that God would help me to watch my tone and my words. She is a believer, and her son, my ex, is not, which is why she is with me. I know God is faithufl, and will help us to love one another if we are obedient to Him. Thanks for writing on this topic!
    posted by Jacquie
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm
  9. I've been married for 26 yrs and my MIL and I do not have the relationship that I once desired. I am pleased to read the loving comments of such beautiful relationships between MIL's and DILs and that such relationships do exist.
    posted by Carol
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm
  10. The Lord has taught me much about this in the last 10 years ... the other direction. (I'm the mother-in-law.) I wrote about this in a series on my blog (titled, "The MIL-DIL "Stew.")

    There are changing roles to deal with, plus differences as women, expectations, and needed boundaries ~ but God gives us the opportunity to bless our in-laws (which I call in-loves). It's one of the richest relationships we can have, if we allow God's grace to permeate our lives. Some relationships are tough. But in those cases, God still can work through us.

    I believe there are many ways we can bless our in-loves (see: http://heartchoicestoday.blogspot.com/2011/04/mil-dil-stew-part-6-blessing-your-in.html).
    http://heartchoicestoday.blogspot.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm
  11. i've been married ten years now. it wasn't until my husband got cancer that we both had finally had enough. when we first married my mil tried to stop the wedding because of an arguement over the length of my dress. when i saw my husband (fiance' at the time) after this arguement i calmlytold him i would not marry him without his mothers blessing. things calmed down and ammends were made and we got married - with her blessing. my relationship with my husband is as close to perfect you can have on this side of heaven. my relationship with my mil is exatly the oposite. from the first time she came to our house after our marriage and demanded i move things around because i didn't decorate right, my husband has asked me to hold my tongue. he said you can't be accused of saying the wrong thing if you never say anything. out of respect for my husband a a desire to have peace i did just that. over the years he and i have endured harsh critisim and demanding ways not only from my mil but also from my sisters-in-law because they will follow the nil so as to deflect any "arrows" shot their way. i'm notsaying that it has all been bad, it hasn't. however it seemed a shame to me that peace was only had at the giving into tyrany. when my husband got cancer things changed. two days before he was to go in for life saving surgery my mil was afflicted with a MINOR medical condition. out of respect i won't devulge what it was. she requested to come over and discuss it with me. my husband went and got her (they live 5 miles from us) and she came over to talk. after much discussion it seemed ok. we were in the kitchen the three of us and my husband had to go upstairs to check the children - we have 3 little ones. as soon as he left the room my mil started. head in her hands she began the woooos-me drama. why do bad things always happen to her, why doesn't she ever get what she wants, how come nobody cares about what she's going through....etc. finally i'd had enough, and i told her to just suck it up. none of us gets what we want all the time, but God knows what we need and thats what we get. i told her i didn't want to hear anymore complaints. the arguement escalated and by the time my husband got back down stairs she's screaming and i'm screaming and shes trying to shove me aound my kitchen and when she took ahold of my shirt front i stopped screaming and said, "God bless you..." this only served to enfuriate her all the more. she told me i wasn't alowed to bless her. i continued - every time she accused i blessed. she demanded i not use Jesus' name. and as she was leaving to "walk home" she got back in my face one more time and said "i'm gonna get you". my husband followed her out the door but she wouldn't let him drive her home. so he came back in and called his dad to come get her. while they were waiting for him in the driveway my mil told my husband she would see to it that my military pension was taken away and when he got home from the hospital his children wouldn't be here - she was going to turn me into social services for being unfit and have the children removed from our home. over the years my sweet husband has cowed to the manipulative ways of my mil because he didn't know better. then he didn't want to rock the boat. and i submitted to his wishes because i truely believe there is Godly protection for an obediant wife. but all this was the last straw for my husband. he has laid down the law and is enforcing it. his mother has made threats before a few times to try to remove the children and once she if she could get away with killing me she'd do exactly that. after we got home from johns hopkins hospital after being goe almost two weeks, he attempted to talk to his family. his mother will settle for nothing less than me appologising to her for telling her to suck it up and has again threatened to do everything to me that she said she would. our home is now for sale and we will be moving out of state as soon as it sells. pray for us. but far more importantly pray for her. i can say with a clear conscience that i have been an obedient wife, and my husband will echo this. holding your tongue is a good thing. keeping the peace is a good thing. but sometimes there is a peace that can only be had at the other end of war.
    posted by gina foore
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm
  12. I am pretty sure that I have the worlds best mother-in-law. God has blessed us with that unrealistic bond that so many people don't understand. She is coming to stay with us next week for 10 days, and I just can't wait! I always love it when she visits. The best part is that my own mother is coming today and their visits will overlap by a day. It brings tears to my eyes that God has blessed me so much. This is a beautiful post, thank you so much for writing and sharing it with us.
    http://servantwifemother.blogspot.com/
    posted by Heather
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm
  13. I think we have to remember that the MAN LEFT HIS MOTHER AND FATHER to marry. The relationship that is most important is the husband and wife. The wife needs to be able to BE THE WIFE. It goes the same for women as they leave their parents. Those relationships don't end, but they do change. Saldy, there are marriages that the parents of the married couple are still doing the same things and causing hurts and dividing the marriage. If healthy boundaries can be maintained, great. If they can not, you have to protect yourself, your husband and your children. Still be kind, but as with anyone else that is threatening and hurtful, you keep a distance.
    posted by Shannon
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm
  14. What Shannon is talking about is what I have been dealing with. Though my MIL is a believer she has not really let him leave and cleave persay. In fact, I'm constantly frustrated that at 34 they still treat my husband as if he is a child. I'm fortunate to have a wonderful husband though - in fact our relationship with his parents is virtually the only thing we ever argue about. I have found it very hard to forgive her and continue to pray that I will be filled with Christ's love for her. Thank you for this timely post. It's like God just keeps telling me to trust Him enough to show her love regardless of how she treats me....lots of times though this is not the message I'd like to hear. I'd much rather say we'll she isn't nice to me so I don't really have to go out of my way to be nice to her.
    posted by Jd's mama
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm
  15. I think respecting your mother-in-law also falls under honoring/submitting to your husband. No man wants to be in the middle of a spat between mother & wife.
    posted by Carole Vannoy
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm
  16. great topic. I have no problems with my mother-in law.
    I pray for her daily she is a Cancer survivor. 82 years old.
    amazing woman.Love her. If you have PWYMIL.
    pray for her.
    posted by Barbara
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm
  17. Today I am a heartbroken mother-in-law, for my daughter-in-law has been unfaithful many times and left my son last week; their 5th anniversary is this week. He is holding on to the Lord and says he will not harbor any bitterness. My DIL has never felt comfortable around any of her husband's family. Their visits have been "token" and they would leave after making an appearance. We never understood this until we found out about the horrible state of their marriage. Please pray for her - she is so decieved thinking this promiscuity and marijuana use will bring her happiness. "Heavenly Father, please intervene before it's too late for her. And give our son wisdom to know what You would have him do."
    posted by Julie
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm
  18. It's a blessing to hear about so many MIL/DIL relationships that are healthy and thriving! Mine,unfortunately is far from that. I think my MIL has never accepted me as part of the family.She treats me very differently than the rest of the family and no matter how far I go out of my way to bless her, she always finds fault.Early in our marriage my husband and I decided that the best way to deal with this was to have some very tight boundaries.We spend short periods of time when we visit..don't stay with them and I actually refrain from engaging in conversation around my life.This is not the type of relationship that I envisioned with my MIL!especially since she is a believer.My own mom was not a believer and I was so hoping to have a special connection with my MIL I have learned a lot about expectations over the years among other lessons and I am truly blessed to be married to my best fried for26 years now! BTW..love the book of Ruth and the rel. She had with Naomi!
    posted by Holly
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 7:46 pm
  19. I love the story of Ruth - I like to think that Ruth recognized that her husband's family worshiped the one true God and that she was drawn to that. It always grips my heart to read of how she put her mother-in-law's needs above her own - and even the story of Boaz shows such submission and integrity on Ruth's part. Oh that I would live such a God honoring life of self-sacrifice and obedience.
    posted by lk
    on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 9:45 pm
  20. oh what a great topic!!!! i always encourage my friends to love, respect and pray for their mother- in- laws. its important to take her as your mother!
    posted by ndabandaba
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 6:18 am
  21. It's all fine and good to look to Naomi and Ruth as examples of virtue in this relationships. I do this and grieve because there seems to be no hope with having any sort of peaceful relationship with my MIL. My husband wants nothing to do with her because of her abusive ways with him growing up. She denies everything or makes excuses, all the while claiming a holier than thou attitude about everything she does or says. She makes our lives miserable and for the sake of our 7 children, we choose not to be around her. This does affect our relationships with the rest of the family, of course, but we do believe that the Lord has called us to keep the distance for the sake of the Gospel in our own family.
    posted by Ivory
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 7:05 am
  22. A very excellent article. However, one point that is likely not very important is that I found the abbreviation of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law throughout rather distracting as I read.
    posted by KLS
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 7:11 am
  23. I am so thankful for my amazing MIL but I still found plenty of things in here to think about/put into action. Thanks for the great article
    posted by Angela
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 9:24 am
  24. For Gina,
    I am praying for you at this minute. A very godly lady gave me this advice when I was describing my MIL- "She may be an influence that you don't really want on your daughter." Scripture asks us to not "cast our pearls..." and my husband had wisely noted that I will probably want to limit my time with her (she was his father's second wife). There are times to just keep a "loving distance." I know that the Holy Spirit helped me to do what was right, He will help you also. We get to exercise his command to pray for our enemies even within our own family. Remember, we are all part of the family of God as Jesus noted, those who do his will are his brothers and sisters. Please be cautious about spilling too many details to new friends, even at church, but do remember to request intercession for family healing and the salvation of family members...(I wished now that when I had asked for prayer that I hadn't given so many details, even though they were true, as it tempted people to give me advice instead of pray and remind me of scriptures that would guide me...)
    posted by Jan
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 9:33 am
  25. Such a wonderful example of how we can love our extended family. I do feel it needs to be said that in all our relationships, we need to remember to treat each other as we want to be treated ("The Golden Rule"). And that while we may not agree on religious beliefs, child rearing issues, etc., we can still honor them by focusing on the fact that our husband would not be in our life if it not had been for our MIL. This "honoring" does not need to mean that we go along with poor advice, or allow unhealthy situations for our family that go against God's word. We can show love and respect to our MIL by lovingly discussing our differences and setting appropriate boundaries as needed. There is no need to have yelling matches, calling each other ugly names, etc. I find that whenever I'm about to have to address an issue with my MIL, if I stop and pray and ask for wisdom, and only to speak and have the words and thoughts that God wants, the discussion goes much better than I could have planned!
    posted by Sherry
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 9:34 am
  26. Julie, I will be praying for all of you and especially your DIL. We have been going through a very similar situation over the past 2 years with the biggiest difference that my DIL left our 2 granddaughters as well which has been very difficult for them to understand. Our son was a youth pastor and although he resigned form this ministry God blessed him with another opportunity to minister to children and teens. I am sure that his advice to your son would be to seek counseling from a Christian counselor even if his wife refuses to go. This helped our son tremendously as he worked through the many feelings he had. May God give you widsom and guidance as well. The verse that has carried me throught this situation in Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding". Even with all that has happened I dearly love my DIL and pray for her almost daily that God would open her eyes and that she would return to Him. May God bless and comfort your hearts as you go through this very difficult time.
    posted by joyfuljan
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 11:45 am
  27. For years my mother in law and I did not have a good relationship. I believed she disliked me from the time we met. She had a very difficult life and as a young woman I did not have the maturity to see that she had struggled all of her life with bad circumstances and had been affected by them. She was unhappy and took it out on me many times. I withdrew from her and avoided her as much as possible. When she was elderly and a widow her health became fragile and my husband and I started helping to care for her. She was so grateful and before she died we put all of the differences aside and had a very good relationship. I am glad that we became friends and forgave each other before she died. I know that God enabled this to happen and I thank Him. To anyone who has a bad relationship with their mother or daughter in law I advise them to pray and ask God to help. He will.
    posted by SJP
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 11:55 am
  28. I am thankful for my MIL. She is a godly woman who is kind and gracious. She is helpful to me and always willing to sacrifice to do what I ask for me or for my children. I appreciate this article in that I can see ways in which I can be more proactive in just helping her. I usually just let her daughter's do this but I could intentionally be more involved in her life. Thanks for this encouragement.

    This past Christmas I gave her an small ornate wooden box that I purchased from Hobby Lobby. I cut up strips of paper and had her family members write out notes of gratitude or special memories that had of her. She loved the gift. Perhaps some of you with tense relationships could try this on a birthday or another holiday to show love and gratefulness. I got this idea from Ann Voskamp at www.aholyexperience.com. She had used a pottery vase to hold the gratitude notes.
    http://www.momsheart48.blogspot.com/
    posted by Susan McCurdy
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 12:19 pm
  29. I am so happy for so many sisters having wonderful relationships with their mothers-in-law. I am also sad for so many sisters who do not. I am one of those. Like many who commented, my mother-in-law never accepted me, or our son who is medically dependent and on life-support. She was cruel to me from the beginning. When her abuse went to our only child, and her only grandchild, we could take it no more. (One of our nurses told us that our son SHUT DOWN as soon as she walked into the room. And believe me, our little bundle of joy is always happy and excited!) We have cut her out completely, after putting up with her sinful ways for 14 years. Our son have never asked about, nor does he miss her. And I don't have to worry about feeling sick-to-my-stomach when she comes over.
    posted by Mrs. Darr
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm
  30. This is a wonderful article! It's a topic that needs to be addressed, and I love the approach, information, Biblical references, and wisdom shared! It was something I needed to hear and will definitely share with others. Great job!
    www.foundationrestoration.org
    posted by Ashley
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm
  31. What a wonderful post... I am going to look at Ruth again, with more careful eyes!!! My mother in law is tricky and our relationship makes me deeply sad. I have just never been good enough for her - our house is open to her and she has come to stay when she needs a place to stay and she visits each week for dinner but wants the kids to be in bed and not be at the "adult meal"... not exactly how we work around here, we do everything as a family!!! I used to work really hard at humoring her and her strange ideas about what is important... kids out of sight for instance!!! Eventually I realized that we would be a much better witness to her if we just lived our life, kids and all - she doesn't like us whatever we do for her and so if we can just be there for her then that will have to be enough. I would love to have been close we have a lot in common, not least of all we both love my husband... I would love to have been close enough to find out about his childhood and so on... She has given me a lot of ideas on how to be a great mother-in-law though... and hopefully I will be a better mother-in-law to my own children's partners one day!!!
    www.se7en.org.za
    posted by se7en
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm
  32. Thank you, joyfuljan, for you prayers and comments. I'm so glad to know your son is still serving the Lord. He is worthy to be praised no matter what is happening in our lives.
    posted by Julie
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm
  33. Sometimes, what we want or feel is right, isn't what we get. After two very hard years of struggling with my MIL, whom I loved, I had to accept that she is mentally ill. Her interference and extreme inappropriate behavior cost me and my husband our marriage. We are now separated, (almost 6 months), have been in counseling, and I have had to almost completely cut my MIL out of my life to regain sanity. Her stalking and obsessive and illogical (and destructive cycles) is something I didn't cause, I can't control it, and I can't fix it. But I did change how I reacted to it to regain my life again and try to restore our very damaged marriage.

    How I grieved my lost relationship with my MIL, (or rather, what I thought was a relationship) and I had to accept reality that it is what it is, and many pieces of the puzzle became clear and many questions I had in the back of my head got answered, once I realized what was really going on.

    My husband and I are rebuilding and growing stronger and living the "leaving and cleaving" every day. It is easier now, but it was a fight and a struggle (with my MIL) when we decided that our marriage came first. My relationship with my husband, I know, comes first. But how I envy (and I know I shouldn't) the close, and honest relationships of other DILs and MILs and knowing that I will never have that.

    My MIL is just not mentally capable of that and our boundaries have to be set so extremely high or, her inappropriate behavior seriously destroys our marriage (as well as other relationships in the family). It just took me over two years to see this, because I was always justifying her behavior, giving her the benefit of the doubt, and seeing only the "good" in all situations until our marriage was almost destroyed.

    While this post is good, we need to remember that our number one relationship is with God, then our husbands, then our family. Anything that interferes with that order is not right, healthy, or moral. You are very, very blessed if you have a MIL that adds joy and wisdom to your life. Be not quick to judge a family or a DIL that puts great distance between her and her MIL. Details left untold is usually out of respect and kindness, even at the expense of looking like the guilty or dishonoring party.
    posted by Anonymous
    on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 11:25 pm
  34. I too am struggling in the relationship w/ my MIL. My MIL says that I have taken her son away from her & has said many inappropriate things about my body, my hair & the fact that we don't have children yet. Every few months she apologizes about the comments she has made saying that she knows it's hurtful. But inevitably the comments & criticism continues. My husband 't had a good relationship w/ his mother for years. However he doesn't believe that she'll change & has decided not to tell her that he has attended family functions more out of obligation than desire. Of course this is not the relationship I expected to have w/ my in-laws.

    Several months ago we sat down w/ my in-laws to discuss our relationship for the first time in almost 12 years. I had hoped that my husband & his parents would discuss their relationship & work towards building a deeper relationship beyond the surface level. The discussion only provided an opportunity for my MIL to share her discontent about my marriage & my role as a wife. My husband & his parents haven't spoken since. My heart grieves because I can't imagine being estranged from my family. I recognize that we all have faults & are imperfect. But I also know that I can't continue to be a part of a relationship that is abusive & doesn't allow for grace, mercy, love, & forgiveness.

    . I sincerely hope & pray that things will get better. I hope that my husband & I can enjoy a Christ-centered, God-honoring relationship w/ his family soon. Your prayers for our family are requested.
    posted by Allie
    on Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 11:10 am
  35. Allie…
    My heart goes out to you. In-law problems are so painful.

    I want to encourage you to be the light of Christ in your husband’s family. You don’t want to have ANY part in division between your husband and his mother or the rest of his family. As a Christian you are clothed with the robe of Christ—and His robe is woven with forgiveness, grace, compassion, longsuffering.

    When you say you “can't continue to be a part of a relationship that is abusive & doesn't allow for grace, mercy, love, & forgiveness”, I encourage you to consider the words of Christ:

    "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”

    "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “

    "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5:11-16

    Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matt. 18:21-22

    It doesn’t make your mother-in-laws behavior right; but it gives you opportunity to glorify Christ and gain heavenly reward. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18

    Watch your words about your husband’s mother and her actions when talking to your husband; be a grace bearer in the situation. Bathe the relationship in prayer; I have seen God melt hard hearts without any explanation. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone.” Rom. 12:18 This impasse of not talking to one another will bring great heartache in years to come if not worked through now. You can't change their relationship, but grace breeds grace and you can create an atmosphere for a godly relationship to follow.

    I encourage you to take the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge and live respectably in every way before your husband. The Challenge is found at this link: http://www.reviveourhearts.com/challenge/ . Let grace overflow your words and actions for these 30 days and then let the Lord work within your husband and his family to accomplish His purposes.

    You will never regret the time and effort you put into these relationships. You will regret if you dig your heels in and wait for them to work it out.

    I am praying for you.
    posted by Sarah
    on Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm
  36. I am a MIL, and from the very beginning my DIL and I were very close and good friends. Six years ago my son and daughter-in-law asked me to move in with them and their two daughters. After careful consideration and long discussions about the pros and cons I decided to do so. A year and a half ago I retired. I am sixty nine. I am in pretty good health, just fractured my ankle two weeks ago, but for the exception of Macular Degeneration my health is good. But for the past year things have not been good. I'm not sure what is wrong, and I'm sure it's partly my fault. But my DIL has changed so much, or have I changed? I'm not sure. I often feel unwanted and not part of the family, I find myself isolating myself from the rest of the family. My DIL constantly complains about work, she never did that before. She had become obsessed with a video game and books on vampires. And is so focused on money. My son works full time and goes to school full time. My job is cleaning and cooking, and being here with the girls who are now teens. I just do not know what to do anymore. I'm sure I'm not always easy to live with, but I try to keep my opinions on child raising and marriage to myself, especially marriage, getting involved in that is taboo. I have voiced concerns about the girls on occasions, but have learned to keep quiet. My youngest granddaughter has minor behavior problems, she is very immature. My DIL is very protective of her and becomes very defensive if anyone says anything negative about her. I have been so depressed lately about this whole thing that I have decided to visit my daughter in NM for a while. I think I need a break and I think they need a break from me. I have prayed about this and the visit is what has come from my prayers. It is so sad that thing have changed so much. My hope is that apart we will eventually come back together.
    posted by Marge Thompson
    on Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 11:35 pm
  37. Marge,

    Actually living with a DIL can create tensions all their own. God has clearly guided you in the answer to your prayer. I encourage you to commit to pray for your son, DIL and family while you are away. There may be things going on in their lives that you are not aware of. By taking them to the Lord and surrendering your hopes and dreams for this family, you are blessing them in ways you cannot imagine. God knows the details of the struggles in this family and He knows the solutions to them, as well. You cannot change your DIL, but you can take her to the One who can! Be sure and read Erin’s post on 6.2.11. She focuses more on the MIL’s role and what she can do to enhance the relationship with her DIL.

    While you are away, I would challenge you to take our 30-Day Choosing Gratitude Challenge (http://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf). You will be given an assignment each day with a short devotional and an assignment. You may find this to be an excellent tool for battling your depression and for encouragement to those you are living with.

    Praying for you, Marge!
    Lorree
    posted by Lorree, with the TW Team
    on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 5:02 pm
  38. I am a very blessed mother in law. I can say from my heart that I could not have hand picked and designed 2 more beautiful women for my sons. While I am Baptist and they are Catholic and we have difference in opinions I am very close to both. My oldest sons wife lost her mother to cancer when they were only married 2 years. We had already developed such a strong bond that her and I are so close I consider her my best friend. I respect her and witness to them both.
    I am so Blessed
    posted by Brenda Benton
    on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 9:19 am
  39. My name is Jodi and my mother in law has lived with us for 4 years now. We have 4 kids, two of which are grown and gone and two teen agers. I am having a very difficult time with my Mother in law, I dont know what it is but everything the woman does gets on every one of my nerves. My blood literally boils when shes around. i blame her for things my kids did and I find myself picking out her faults all the time. I am suppose to be a Christian but this is not how one would act. I ask God every day to help me with her but I see no break through. Will anyone who reads this please pray that i can rid myself of all this bitterness and replace it with love and empathy for her.
    posted by Jodi
    on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm
  40. @Jodi...Bless your heart. Perhaps God is calling you to exhibit His character--that of long-suffering. Know that I have stopped to pray for you today. I am sure God is honored by your realization that this is not how a Christian reacts, and your desire to change that. But, know that He is also aware of those things that grate on your nerves and He has grace to cover. Call on Him, memorize verses on long-suffering and quote them to yourself every time you find yourself in the agitated state. He will come to your aid.
    posted by Sarah, with the TW Team
    on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 10:14 am
  41. This is a very good post. I was actually searching net for " how to love your mother in law" and was going through certain tips.. My mother in law is a nice person. she is beautiful and caring too. but the problem with her is that she often criticizes me of my appearance, about my teeth, my colour etc.. and it hurts me a lot.. i am a nice person, very adjusting(don't think that i am flattering myself) my friends tell me the same... my parents never criticized me of my appearance.. i am not ugly, it's just that my two front teeth are a little big.(rabbit teeth) she always tells about it and criticizes.. one or two times is okay, but whenever she is frustrated, she tells about it.. and i feel sad for this.. my husband loves his mother a lot. so i dont complain to him.. what can i do for it?
    NIL
    posted by elizabeth
    on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 1:54 am
  42. @elizabeth...I can see why that hurts you. All of us feel the pain when someone attacks our appearance. I encourage you to simply respond in a kind manner when your mother-in-law says something of this manner. Could you simply respond to her with "I know you don't mean it that way, but I'm sensitive about my appearance and it hurts when something is said about my teeth, color, etc. I really love you and knew you would want to know. Thank you for hearing my heart." God's Word encourages us to go to a person when we have an offense between us so that no root of anger or bitterness builds. Pray about it, ask the Lord to give you the right words and seek His timing to respond appropriately to your mother-in-law's words. God bless you as you seek to keep the family relationship open and honest, yet loving and kind.
    posted by Sarah, with the TW Team
    on Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 5:31 am
  43. i"m about to get married to my fiance,but last week his mother called me and told me several things.first of all she said i should be aware that when i get married to her son i must also be ready to be married to all the members of their family.
    One point that made me depressed was that she said her son has changed towards her since i met him,that he doesn't confide in her again,he doesn't care for her again and so on.But i have been asking my fiance to give to his parent just like i do to mine,but he will say that his senior sisters will do that for now because he doesnt have a well paying job.
    what can i do to make my mother-in-law to change her thoughts towards me?
    posted by Doreen
    on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 10:32 am
  44. i"m about to get married to my fiance,but last week his mother called me and told me several things.first of all she said i should be aware that when i get married to her son i must also be ready to be married to all the members of their family.
    One point that made me depressed was that she said her son has changed towards her since i met him,that he doesn't confide in her again,he doesn't care for her again and so on.But i have been asking my fiance to give to his parent just like i do to mine,but he will say that his senior sisters will do that for now because he doesnt have a well paying job.
    what can i do to make my mother-in-law to change her thoughts towards me?
    posted by Doreen
    on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 11:18 am
  45. Dear Doreen,

    I’m sorry the words of your fiancé’s mom have hurt you so terribly. I encourage you to speak with your fiancé about what she has said and let him handle the situation. In the meantime, I encourage you to pray for his mother and ask God to soften her heart toward you. You can trust God to guide your fiancé and to show you the way through this situation.

    You cannot change his mother’s heart toward you. But God can. That’s why prayer is so important! You should continue to respond to her with love and respect. Romans 12:9-21 give some excellent instructions in loving those we struggle to love. Reaching out to his mother and including her in some of the decisions about your wedding may speak volumes to her heart. I’ve prayed for you and your fiancé today, Doreen, and have asked God to show you the way to walk through this difficulty in a way that will bring honor and glory to Him.

    Serving Him,
    Lorree
    posted by Lorree, with the TW Team
    on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm
  46. I've been married for a year and a half now and I actually had a loving relationship with my MIL before my husband was in the picture. She has always shown sincere affection towards me and my family of which has caused jealousy with her other two DILs.

    We recently had a baby, which is my mom's first grandchild and the third for my MIL. I have noticed that she has changed ever since the baby was born. She is very opinionated about how we should raise our child. At first she had her heart of taking care of our child while I went back to work but due to circumstances my mother is the one taking care of our baby now. She often shows up to our house unannounced and stays there for hours observing everything surrounding the baby and making sure to share her opinions. There have been times that I've expressed how we would like for our child to be held, burped or dressed and sometimes I feel she does not care to respect our wishes (I guess since she feels she's raised three kids of her own she knows best). I have told her that the grandparents role is to enjoy their grandchildren but that ultimately it our responsibility as parents to care for their upbringing.

    I expressed to my husband how I feel and that I would like for his mother to be more prudent with her comments about our son and indirect comments about the way my mother is taking care of our son. I was asking myself if maybe I may be overrating due to being a first time mom.

    I know that we are all being perfected each day. I also realize that I must be patient, respectful and loving to my MIL. I look forward to reading the blog about "how to live and love your mother-in-law" and receive some insight through the Word of God for my life and situation. I would like for our relationship to be loving on both ends, as it was before we had our baby.
    posted by Evelyn
    on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 10:22 am
  47. Evelyn,

    I can so empathize with what you are going through. Having a baby changes EVERYTHING...especially your relationships with others.

    I experienced a lot of the same emotions you described with my own MIL both times I had a baby. May I offer a possible alternate explanation?

    It's possible that your MIL is not trying to be controlling or micromanage your parenting. Perhaps she is just trying to be involved. If she was uninvolved, that would bother you in a different way. It is likely that your mom offers the same amount of advice and involvement but it doesn't bother you as much because she is your mom and you are more used to your ways.

    That is what I experienced, anyway.

    Also, may I gently remind you that your MIL is your husband's mom. Complaining to him about her is tricky. Certainly, feel free to speak your concerns but keep in mind that your MIL raised the man you love. In that respect, she does have a lot of wisdom to offer.

    In my own life I've really had to pray through this delicate relationship and ask God to show me what's really going on. It has helped tremendously.

    I know A LOT of women who find their relationship with their MIL strained after they have their kids. But it doesn't have to be that way.

    Can I just encourage you to be thankful that you have a MIL who wants to be involved. That is great news for your son! I would encourage you to evaluate your own heart and make sure you are not receiving her comments of criticism when that may not be the spirit of things.

    Grace and Peace!

    Evelyn
    posted by Erin Davis
    on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm
  48. This post was so convicting for me because earlier today I was arguing with my husband about a comment she made to her friends. She said that she was going to stay with her children for 30 days and not do anything but lounge around as payment for all she has done for her kids. I was offended by that comment however my husband was not. In fact, he said she deserved it and I said, she didn't because I hated the idea of having her live with me for a month.Ironically, I am staying in her house because I am a financial wreck. It seems selfish after I read your post.
    posted by Sally Peabody
    on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 9:26 pm
  49. My mother-in-law where talking very well, went out shopping, did a lot of things together, talked for hours. My husband is an only child and she would not let him leave her house. I have no problem with that, because her and I get along well. One huge problem that my husband has is that he argues a lot with his mom. I try to talk to him and make him understand that she is the only person she has, but the problems always continue. This past weekend the had another argument and my mother-in-law is giving him the silent treatment. She is ignoring me and my son, and when I try to ask her why she is doing it she just walks away. It hurst me for my son because he young and does not understand. It is also a very frustrating position to be in. Is there any verses from the bible you recommend to read.
    posted by Lina
    on Monday, August 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm
  50. Dear Lina,

    It sounds like you are experiencing the aftermath of the conflict between your husband and your mom-in-law. I would encourage you to pray for both of them and then encourage them to find a way to work through this and forgive each other. God gives clear guidance in Matthew 18:15-35 in how to handle conflict like this. Because this is between your husband and his mom, encouraging him to work it out in a biblical way would benefit all those in the household.

    Romans 12:9-21 also gives some great guidance in how to work through difficulties with other people. While we cannot change others, we can make the decision to respond to others in a way that pleases God. Don’t give up hope, Lina. Our God is the God of all hope (Rom. 15:13) and nothing is impossible for Him (Jer. 32:17). God can do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think in this situation (Eph. 3:20). That’s what i’m praying right now for you and your family right now.

    Serving Him,
    Lorree
    posted by Lorree, with the TW Team
    on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 5:24 pm
  51. I am a Godly MIL and an intercessor. I love my DIL as I would love my very own daughter, my son are blessed with 2 children. I seem to be struggling with communicating wit MIL. we harldy have a conversation, only speak when necessary, I feel this is very painful. I don't live with them, but I visit every fortnight. I also go when I am needed to baby sit. 2 weeks ago I baby sat my grandson for 2 weeks as the nanny was on maternity leave. my DIL is a perfectionist. When I am in the home, I respect their home, I dont interfere with anything at all, but I make sure I get them together and pray with them. I was very hurt 2 weeks agaon when I baby sat my ten month old grandson, he had a bit of loose stools one day, (he also was teething - and the neighbor's son had been ill with gastro flu) this child also came around to play with baby. I assumed he picked this up from the boy or from side effects of teething, BUT I was told by my son that I had not measured his milk formula correctly. this had cause the bay's loose stool. I wept before the Lord, as I knew this was not true, I was more than particular with the baby, I was told to even keep a journal of his eventys for the day, this I did, it was also overwhelming for me, all I did was read Gods' wordand pray over baby.
    My DIL also asked me if I could see properly, this was very hurtful, she can be very domeering at times with my son, this also hurts me, but I say nothing, My prayer for my DIL is to see JESUS in me. during my stay at their home, a friend gave her a string red which the Hindus wear, this was the only time I rebuked this in JESUS name and said to my DIL this is a demonic string and should not be worn at all. I also picked up tension around my son. Please pray with me for my DIL to have a closer walk the GOD, not be be conformed to the things of the world which are temporary. I pray the HOLY SPIRIT would minister to her, as I also remind myself to the book of Ruth, I cancel every demonic attack in our relationship in JESUS NAME AMEN
    posted by Rosalind
    on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 7:01 am
  52. Hey guys,
    These posts has been incredibly helpful. I have been married for 2 months. My husband is an only son. My mother in law lives with us because she doesn't have anybody else. I knew that she would move in with us prior to us getting married but i didnt expect it to be so difficult. She is awesome.... So sweet, helpful & respectful. I love her so much! But as a newly wed I really didnt know how much i would miss my own space! Anyways.... My husband knows how awkward is for me to have her staying with us but he can't do much about it bc he is the only family she has..... Anyways.... Pleasw pray for us..... Pray for me... I dont want to be selfish or self centered or mean..... I have a good relationship with my MIL but sometimes I get worn out of sharing space with a 3rd person..... I wish i could have the hoyse for myself for at least one weekend of the month :( is that so terrible?
    posted by Mari
    on Sunday, September 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm
  53. Dear Rosalind,

    I’m sorry there is tension between you and your daughter-in-law. I know it can be difficult to maneuver the Mother-in-law/Daughter-in-law relationship. I so appreciate your heart to love and pray for your daughter-in-law, Rosalind. Your desire honors the Lord!
    Our team has prayed for you and your family, Rosalind. We encourage you to continue to loving and building up your daughter-in-law and encouraging your son’s leadership in their family. You are kind to stay with your grandson when his parents are away. I know that is such a blessing to your heart and an opportunity to love and pray for that precious little boy.

    As you continue to pray, ask the Lord to give you creative ways to bless your daughter-in-law and to let her know that you are cheering her on as a wife and mom. You might also consider expressing your appreciation to her for the times you are able to be with your grandson. Let your son and daughter-in-law know ( together) that while you enjoying visiting them each evening, you want them to also have time together as a family. Ask them to let you know if it would be better for you to visit perhaps one or two times a week.
    Refuse to allow a root of hurt and bitterness to take root in your heart, Rosalind. Forgive quickly any offenses you might have. Decide to believe the best about both your son and his wife and allow the Lord to work in their hearts as you pray for them.

    If you've not already done so I encourage you to read this post as well, http://www.truewoman.com/?id=1714

    May the Lord give you wisdom and great patience as you seek to love your family and honor the Lord. “A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11).”

    Grace and peace,
    Carrie
    posted by Carrie Gaul
    on Monday, September 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm
  54. Dear Mari,

    Thank you for your transparency, Mari! You are indeed being stretched in ways that you may not have anticipated. I encourage you to do all you can to keep the lines of communication open between you and your MIL. She probably is struggling with the arrangement just as you are. Keep sharing your heart with your husband, too, and together see if you can get creative with working through this challenge. Brainstorm ideas for weekend getaways or date nights where your MIL goes out with friends and you have the house to yourselves for the weekend or even just an evening. You might include her in on the brainstorming session.

    I encourage you to cultivate a heart of gratitude and express your appreciation often to your MIL. Finding things to be thankful for is a great way to fight off our selfish tendencies. God has a way through this, Mari, and you can trust Him to lead you as you continue to love on your MIL with the love that you have from Jesus. It’s been my honor to pray for you and your family today.

    Serving Him,
    Lorree
    posted by Lorree, with the TW Team
    on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 5:51 pm

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