Have you been dreaming of the moment you'll officially become Mr. and Mrs.? You're not alone. But before you get to that big announcement, it's important to take a moment to acknowledge the original Mrs.—your soon-to-be husband's mother. Marrying the love of your life also means you're joining another family, which comes with its own set of dramas, disagreements, and circumstances. Being in the good graces of your mother-in-law and making sure she understands and respects your perspective will help keep tensions low. Before you say "I do," set aside time for a lunch, a dinner, or maybe even both, and get these important conversations out of the way.
The one where you thank her.
For what, you ask? For bringing your husband into the world! You want to make sure your MIL knows how thankful you are that she raised a wonderful man from the get-go. Making her feel appreciated and loved will help her warm up to you (if she isn't already!), allowing room for your friendship to blossom. Starting off on the foot of gratitude is not only respectful toward the woman who raised your spouse-to-be, but it's a kind gesture that definitely won't go unnoticed.
The one about how she envisions the future.
Psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez, PsyD., says that just like you've dreamt about your wedding day since you were a little girl, your MIL has had visions of her son's future wife and family for decades, too. The only issue is that sometimes your ideas for how you'll raise your family won't match up with hers. To get on the same page, Dr. Martinez suggests "clearing the air" and asking her opinion. "See how involved she sees herself being in your lives, how often she plans to see you, how she will be able to shift from taking care of her child to her child being married and having a partner to help with their needs," she explains. Some mothers may struggle with letting go, but if you reassure her that her son's happiness is your top priority, she will be more likely to loosen the heartstrings.
The one about ground rules.
If you feel uncomfortable approaching this topic, consider asking your partner to join in on the discussion, especially if your MIL has already been crossing the line. "It's good to set boundaries, like asking her to call before coming by. Setting these standards is an essential framework for years to come, and will avoid animosity and frustration with the potential issues that not having these conversations will create," Dr. Martinez says.
The one where you ask her advice.
Who knows your partner nearly as well as you do? His mother, so asking for her candid advice on how to handle her son will help strengthen your bond. Dr. Martinez says that many men go straight from their childhood home, college, or a roommate situation to living with their wife. They may need some time to adjust to these new responsibilities. Understanding the quirks of your partner, straight from the mom who raised him, is helpful. "Making this shift can be tough, and to help them become the adult they can be, you need the support of your MIL."