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Yes, It Is Possible to Get Along With Your Mother-in-Law

Real women share what they love about theirs.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: James Moes

There's so much negativity in the world, and a lot of it is directed toward our extended families. Take a moment to love and appreciate the woman who gave life to the man you want to spend the rest of your life with, your mother-in-law. Some of us focus on the bad in that relationship but for many women, their mother-in-law is an incredible valuable force in their life, maybe even someone they love. She may never be your best friend, but, at the very least, she is someone who deserves your respect and consideration, and you deserve the same from her. Here, some women break the mold and share the reason behind the special relationship each has with her own mother-in-law.

 

WAYS TO BOND WITH YOUR FUTURE MOTHER-IN-LAW

 

She has a sense of humor.

"My mother-in-law, Chris, has an amazing sense of humor. The first time I called my (future) husband, she answered and sang a funny song on the phone. The woman had never met me and she was hysterical. This sense of humor has lasted through our whole relationship," says Margarita Miranda-Abate.

 

She appreciates what I bring to the relationship.

"My husband is an only child and he has been spoiled his entire life. He is the type that in everyone's eyes can do no wrong, especially to his mom. Being the new woman in his life, I was super nervous that I wouldn't measure up and his mom would think that he somehow settled for me," says Blaire Kessler. "But from the moment we met she has treated me like HE is the lucky one. My mother-in-law is hilarious and so fun to be around that when she tells us she is coming to visit, I get super excited. We love hanging out watching movies. Sometimes I kid my husband and say that I married him for his mom, not his money!"

 

She helped fill a void.

"Sadly, my own mother passed away before my husband and I got engaged. My in-laws not only planned and hosted the rehearsal dinner, but they helped us immensely with the wedding. During wedding planning, she was careful to give advice when asked but never pushed her opinion on anything," says Meagan Shaffer. "She invited me onto the dance floor during her dance with my husband, to Louis Armstrong's 'What a Wonderful World' because she wanted to 'dance with both of you that day.' It is one of my most treasured memories. She is incredibly successful in her career and she once invited me to a conference she hosted. I was blown away not only by per poise, but how she knew the name and story of every individual in the room. She has given me a friend to share my own successes with. She celebrates them with me, like my own mother would have. She let's me know she's proud of me and it makes me feel so, so loved. My mother-in-law has always gone out of her way to make me feel like a part of her family. She throws a birthday party for me just like one of her own children. I'm vegan, and her family is not—and she always has something especially prepared for me when we're there. She always lets me know how much she loves spending time with me, and I feel the same way about her."

 

She treats me like more than a daughter-in-law.

"I really think it has to go both ways: I do a lot for mother-in-law, whose health has declined in the recent years," says Miranda-Abate. "But has always done so much for me and my family. She was there for me when my son was born and she has always been warm, loving, and open with me. She was a rock during some tough times in my life. We've had wine drinking sessions in the middle of crazy storms. Argued over family insanity. Yelled at my husband (her son) together. Bonded over shoes. Had countless lunches, dinners, shopping trips and laughter—lots of laughter. I have always felt her love as a mother and as a daughter."

 

YOUR MOTHER-OF-THE-BRIDE (AND GROOM!) QUESTIONS, ANSWERED!

 

She made me an instant part of the family.

"I am very lucky to have such an inclusive, thoughtful mother-in-law," says Marisa McWilliams. "She embraced me as a family member right away. While she lives a bit far away (we are in NYC and she lives in Massachusetts), when we do all get together we never fail to have an adventure. She has this infectious, almost giddy energy, so we are always active. When I visit, we're hiking, biking, cooking, hanging in the hot tub, playing board games, taking the grand kids for a long walk, and laughing. There is a lot of laughter. She's light-hearted and loves to laugh, just like my husband. It also doesn't hurt that we share a love for champagne and for her son. I really do love her like she's my second mom. My advice would be to not be afraid to try new and different things. I tried clamming, an activity their family loves, on Cape Cod once and gained a lot of respect. We also come from different religious backgrounds—I'm Jewish and she is Christian. My husband and I really respected her and my mom's wishes at our wedding by having both a pastor and a rabbi officiate together. I think this is an example of how rewarding it can be to really listen to and try to empathize with your mother-in-law. It is important for your relationship. You won't always agree, but you can and should try to understand where she is coming from and why she feels the way she does. You can learn a lot from her!"

 

She wants to be involved.

"A relationship goes both ways. I am super involved with my husbands family and I spend time with them," says Miranda-Abate. "His family is mine and I think that goes a long way with mother-in-law. I have no walls to put up—I never saw it as his family, it's always been "ours"—we argue, we laugh, we share, we intrude—everything a family should be. With no walls and a genuine openness, that leaves no room for anything antagonistic."

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