The mother-in-law is a very interesting topic for women worldwide. The common trope is of her being mean, petty and impossible to please. Countless movie plots, commercials, and T.V dramas revolve around the mother-in-law being impossible to live with. A number of young women I know have openly stated that they hope their future husband’s mother dies before they meet and fall in love. It’s that bad.
After the wedding vows are said and the honeymoon is over, there is a single decision that many couples face at some point: should the mother-in-law move in? Now, this typically comes up if the woman in question is a widow or otherwise single. There is also the matter of family members in general moving in, but that’s for another day. The mother-in-law is a separate matter. After all, what mother doesn’t want to be close to her child? Some couples welcome the idea and some wouldn’t even entertain the thought. Coming to that decision is tricky and depends on a multitude of factors:
- How old is the marriage: A mother-in-law moving in with her child who’s been married 10 years is one thing, but there have been instances of them moving in right after the honeymoon! That is hardly ever advisable. After all, the marriage is still in its early stages and it makes little sense to introduce a new character when the two people in the marriage haven’t even settled in yet.
- To what end? Why is the mother-in-law moving in? Is she a widow who is feeling lonely? Is she moving in to help out with the grandchildren? Is It due to financial issues? The reason has to be well-defined and reasonable. It’s hardly appropriate for her to move in ‘because she feels like it’ (though some people are that close and cordial with their in-laws).
- The pre-existing relationship: Some women absolutely adore their mother-in-laws and look for every opportunity to spend time with them one-on-one. Some women hate their mother-in-laws beyond reason and actively look forward to the phone call announcing that she has died. Depending on the pre-existing relationship between the in-laws, the mother-in-law moving in can either be a welcome step to strengthening an already close bond or the final move that leads to an all-out war.
- Boundaries: Whether or not the mother-in-law moves in, it is important to note that she isn’t to become a third member of the marriage. Boundaries have to be respected. This includes respecting time and space that couples need to bond as well as the time that the parent and child need. Stances on parenting also need to be taken into consideration when dealing with grandchildren.
Living with a mother-in-law is a tricky decision that varies from person to person. There is no one-size-fits-all, but with proper communication and mutual respect, it can be done.