My mother-in-law is great. Thoughtful, helpful, smart, and not the least bit annoying to hang out with--even over long periods of time. (And no, I'm not just saying this because she might stumble upon this article online!) And when I hear all the horror stories from my friends, I thank my lucky stars that I somehow managed to snag not only the perfect guy--but a great mother-in-law to boot. (Sorry, yes, I'm bragging a bit here. But, trust me, she's worth bragging about!)
So how did she become so awesome? Well, she gives all the credit to her own mother-in-law--who, she claims, was the best mother-in-law ever. And every day, she says, she tries to live by her example.
But while it's easy to learn to be a good mother-in-law by watching the generation before you (even if it's only to learn what NOT to do!), learning to be a good daughter-in-law can be a bit more daunting. After all, you don't have anyone to learn the ropes from and are basically going at on your own. In fact, I'd venture a guess that while many wives have a boatload of "suggestions" on how their mother-in-laws could improve, they've probably never thought about working to improve themselves as daughter-in-laws.
Enter Sally Shields, author of The Daughter-in-Law Rules, who literally wrote the book on becoming--and remaining--on good terms with your mother-in-law. Her number one suggestion? Follow the Golden Rule. As in treat your mother-in-law with the same respect that you hope to get in return.
Here are Sally's top five tips on becoming a daughter-in-law worth bragging about!
1. Send Your MIL Cards and Flowers on her 3 Special Days.
Mark down the three biggies – her birthday, her anniversary (if she has one) and Mother’s Day in your date book. But here’s the secret –– get your husband to pen the card or Mom might get the impression that her son has forgotten her special days (he probably has!). So consider yourself a great ghostwriter and have him sign it from the both of you.
2. Call Your MIL Regularly.
This seems like something that would be best left to your sense of spontaneity, but do not take this lightly. Pick a day of the week (such as Sunday) to call your new Mom– preferably when your husband is not around. If you are super busy, you can aim for getting her machine like when you know she’s at Bingo, but leave a message saying that you just called to say hi and to ask how she is feeling!
3. Ask Your MIL for Her Advice--Frequently!
This is great advice...but, if you prefer, keep your matters on the inconsequential side such as what color to change the shower curtain to in the guest bathroom. But then actually do it, so that when she comes over, she’ll be proud that you followed through!
4. Tell Your MIL What a Great Job She Did as Mother.
This is a proactive strategy that works like a charm. It will most likely bring her to tears-- and that is great! Just remember that someday you too will perhaps raise a son and can you think of a more wonderful compliment that that? Surely not! So, speaking of compliments …
5. Compliment Your MIL’s Looks–Often!
Remember, your MIL can be just as self-conscious as you are. So take the time to notice how pretty, thin, healthy and young she looks, occasionally asking her if you can borrow a certain item of clothing, such as a scarf or a purse. She’ll feel just great that you like her style!