13 Things Your Mother-in-Law Won’t Tell You

Plus: More Things Your Mother-in-Law Won’t Tell You


  • 1.

    It hurts to be downsized.

    I spent a couple of decades being the leading lady; now I have a character role.  

  • 2.

    I know he's your husband now.

    But he’s still my son.

  • 3.

    You don't seem very confident about yourself.

    The littlest comment from me is taken as a criticism, so I’m very careful what I say around you.

  • 4.

    A little gratitude wouldn't hurt.

    Every year, I send you a birthday present, but you never even pick up the phone to thank me. This year, I said, “That’s it. No more.” Yet look at me: I’m about to send another present. I guess that’s how I am.

  • 5.

    I want the best for both of us.

    We mothers say to our children, “I want you to be happy.” And we mean that. What we don’t say is, “But I would like to be happy too.”

  • 6.

    I know a little something.

    I’ve bought and sold 13 houses in my life. Why won’t you ask for my advice?

  • 7.

    When I visit you, I'm just coming to see the family.

    I’m not coming for a white-glove inspection.”

  • 8.

    I've got his number.

    When I really want to talk to my son privately, I don’t call your house. I call his cell phone.

  • 9.

    I'm truly appreciative.

    I’m so happy that you allow my son—your husband—to visit me on Mother’s Day. It’s a long trip and a big expense.

  • 10.

    I have a dirty little secret.

    I’m afraid that if I don’t get this right, you’ll cut me off.

  • 11.

    I'm in competition with your mother.

      She takes you on vacations every year and buys things I can’t afford. All I can do is love you and babysit for you. I hope that’s enough and that it’s appreciated.

  • 12.

    I'm lucky to have you!

    Whenever I stay at your house, you always have my room ready, my towels, everything. You do all the right things.

  • 13.

    You know me well.

    I cherish the refrigerator magnet you gave me: “Age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill.”

  • Sources: Susan Abel Lieberman, PhD (The Mother-in-Law’s Manual), Jane Angelich (What’s a Mother [in-Law] to Do?), and anonymous mothers-in-law in four states.

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