Learning how to talk to your mother-in-law is something a soon-to-be significant other needs to cultivate to have an amicable relationship with someone who matters to their partner.
When approaching the situation as a person, sort of stepping into the mom’s shoes to take over with the partner in a role that the mother-in-law has carried to this point can prove somewhat adversarial.
Some of us have played it both ways with two moms-in-law, and the first approach was so much more conducive to an amicable relationship. I was much more mature and had the first experience as a “what not to do” under my belt the second time, though.
When looking at things to do with mother-in-law as getting to know a new friend, someone you hope to become good mates with rather than seeing it as someone with whom you might be in some kind of silent competition, the relationship with your future mother-in-law develops as its own friendship.
Often the mom-in-law in the “friendship” scenario will want to speak with you on the phone or in texts instead of your partner. That’s usually because you have taken the time to establish a bond of your own that doesn’t include your mate.
What should I talk to my future mother-in-law about
It’s natural to be nervous around the mother-in-law of your mate since you feel they’ll be assessing your every movement and comment. To be honest, in most situations, they will.
The fear of judgment can make it hard to figure out how to talk to your mother-in-law. Still, it’s all about how you carry the initial conversation since you only get one chance to make that first impression.
When you take the approach of using questions to ask mother-in-law about herself as you would any person you meet for the first time, consider nice things to say to your mother-in-law in response to her comments, merely enjoy her like a new friend. Things generally will go well.
Then with each visit after that, build on that friendship. Develop a closer bond between the two of you instead of worrying how she will view you as a mate to your partner.
In this sense, she is getting to know you as an individual, and that is so much more important because that’s really all mom-in-laws want, to know with whom their child is getting involved.
After some time, please send a text to say good morning and ask how she is or give her a quick call to do the same. Like any other person, a mother-in-law doesn’t want to be the enemy.
How do you start talking to your mother-in-law for the first time?
It’s crucial when you meet a future mother-in-law to know a bit of the personality, whether you’ll be meeting a mature mother-in-law, and determine methods your mate would discern for how to talk to your mother-in-law since your partner would know best.
If your future mom-in-law is not fond of someone being forward, you don’t want to walk in and introduce yourself with a handshake. In that situation, you should wait on your mate to do the introduction and then offer your hand.
You can then progress into in-law etiquette questions from the handshake, starting with a simple, “how are you?” Generally, when considering things to say to your mother-in-law, open-ended questions requiring effort to answer will get the two of you into a deeper conversation not necessarily involving your partner.
Clinical Psychotherapist Deanna Brann, in her book ‘Reluctantly Related,’ offers solutions if you have concerns about the relationship between you and your mother-in-law not working out. She presents the combination of different personality types that are at the root of this conflict.
6 conversations to have with your future mother-in-law
No one wants to meet their mother-in-law with a script prepared in their head because the conversation will look forced and uncomfortable. It’s vital to come across as natural and genuinely interested in what this person has to say because the individual will be in your life for a long time.
That means you genuinely want to develop your separate relationship so you can spend time with mom-in-law on your own when your mate is not around. Therefore, it becomes crucial to figure out how to talk to your mother-in-law.
Plus, there may be some friction with your mother-in-law even if you do develop a close-knit relationship because moments will arise when one of you will get on the other person’s toes. Thus, boundaries need to be addressed early, perhaps before the wedding occurs.
Some conversations with your soon-to-be mother-in-law that should probably pop up at some point:
1. Security in her relationship with your mate
All mothers-in-law worry that their child will disappear once they get married, that they’ll never see them. It’s vital to assure a mom-in-law that your intention is not to pull your mate away from the family.
More so, you hope that you can become a more active participant as you grow to know them and become accepted.
When contemplating what to say to your mother-in-law, assure your mate’s mom that she will always be given priority in your partner’s life. Encourage her to express any concern that she may have so that you can address it in an open, vulnerable conversation meant to help ease her fears.
2. Holidays plans
You and your mate might want to start your own holiday traditions apart from either family. That can be tough for in-laws from both sides to accept, but it doesn’t mean excluding family from the holidays. It only means that things change a bit to allow compromise.
Figuring out how to talk to your mother-in-law and your own mom about the various holidays means taking a day with all of you, including your partner and the mom’s significant others, plus the calendar to develop a schedule for each holiday that works for everyone, hopefully without a battle.
That will mean there are things to do with your mother-in-law for a few hours on each holiday and your mom plus several hours with your mate and friends from both social circles, easy peasy.
3. A favorite dish that comforts and soothes
Everyone has a bad day where they need something to soothe and comfort them. That usually means one of mom’s favored dishes that was well-loved when living with your mother-in-law as a child.
A meaningful conversation is finding out what this meal is and then having a day to learn how to make it. It can be an important way to figure out how to talk to your mother-in-law.
Not only will this make mom-in-law feel special, but she can’t wait to get in the kitchen and teach individual techniques. All moms love to show off their cooking skills, especially when ensuring their child will be taken care of when things aren’t going so well.
Watch this video to learn more about the power of home cooking for loved ones:
4. Secrets and stories
Some methods for how to talk to your mother-in-law involve getting mom to spill the beans about your mate from the time the partner was small, whether these are funny stories, mishaps, perhaps even breaking out the photo album to see pictures from babyhood up to present day.
Then lead into what might be some secrets you should know about keeping things relatively stable for marriage with this person, how you can avoid rough patches.
Research shows that sharing secrets can impact the perception of closeness; it makes people feel closer to each other.
A mom loves to give advice and can express where triggers might be with their child and how to maneuver around those to keep things from progressing into a rocky situation.
5. The subject of babies
A mother-in-law and mom will immediately start discussing grandbabies the instant they know there’s a marriage happening. It’s essential to let them know right away where you and your mate stand on that topic.
Whether you want to start a family soon after celebrating your ceremony, wait a while before having children, or don’t intend to have kids, it’s critical to find a method to learn how to talk to your mother-in-law (and mom) about the way you honestly feel.
It can always change down the road, and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s a personal decision, and parents need to respect that. Of course, both of you will get push-back and continue to get nagged until another family member has a marriage and mom-in-law can start baby talk with them.
That doesn’t necessarily get you off the hook but gives you some reprieve.
Check out a podcast on mothers-in-law and boundaries to guide you in developing some necessary rules for mother-in-law.
6. Talk about her
It’s vital to not only talk about your mate, but when discerning how to talk to your mother-in-law, the one most important topic is your mother-in-law. The idea is to develop a bond with her as a friend and not just a mom-in-law.
Ask questions about her, including some of her interests and hobbies or things she enjoys. Mom will appreciate these questions and appreciate the conversation.
She might even share a secret or two about herself that your mate might not know. If she does, it’s vital to keep things confidential that she says to you since this is about the two of you growing closer.
When having fear about how to talk to your mother-in-law, the first thing to remember is that a mom-in-law is a person like everyone you meet in life and can become a friend like those in your social circle if you treat her in the same way.
Putting on airs doesn’t work; trust and believe, it only comes across as what it is – fake. That is the recipe for creating mother-in-law issues.
Of course, this person will be looking at you to assess whether you’re an okay candidate for their child. Still, if you behave as an authentic individual attempting to become a friend, a mother-in-law will eventually see that and relax.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.