Ask Laskas: “How do I get along better with my mother-in-law?”

Help this distressed daughter-in-law have a better relationship with her mother-in-law.

It seems like every word that comes out of my mother-in-law’s mouth  is either a criticism or a complaint directed toward me. My husband says that’s just her way of making conversation, but I think otherwise. How do I bring this up with her to clear the air?
—Distressed Daughter-in-Law


What’s your take? Give your best advice in the comments below, and your answer might appear in the magazine.

Have your own qualm? Send your questions about manners, parents, partners, or office politics to Sending gives us permission to edit and publish.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail

  • Your Comments

    • Laurie

      It is time for your husband to step up and talk to his Mom about this. His is the relationship that brought you together. He is the one you both love. He chose you already. Help him outline his points ahead of time. 1) Mom, I love you and always will. 2) I have chosen a wonderful wife and love her very much… 3) Your constant criticism hurts my wife and that hurts me. 4) I want you to be friendly and polite to my wife. 5)I think you could become good friends. 6). If you continue to hurt my wife, we will have to distance ourselves from you. 7) I don’t want to do that, but it is up to you. Any questions?

    • TUTU

      Proverbs says that to make a friend of an enemy, give them a gift. I am paraphrasing. So, purchase a few small gifts and when she does this, give her a gift and say ” I hope you enjoy this little token of my affection and walk away before she has time to respond.

    • TUTU

      When she begins to berate you, ask her if she is feeling well. Tell her that lately she seems to be negative and critical about everything and that you thought she may not be feeling well and that you are concerned. If that doesn’t work, when she criticizes you, say” what other nice thing do you have to say about me today?”

    • Lou, Colorado

      I had one of those MIL’s. Right out of the gate she let me know that no one was good enough for son. The one time I asked my husband to intervene, she brought that up for the next ten years or so in front of anyone who would listen. I just thought it wasn’t worth it to ask hubby to talk to her so whenever she made one of her digs, I would just look at her, smile sweetly and say, “what did you say?” It really broke her of criticizing me, because for some reason she wouldn’t repeat herself. And the funny thing is, I’ve been married to her son for over 25 years and now she tells me she loves me all the time. And, I love her too. For her, gaining a DIL was really difficult. But, over the years she’s seen me be a good wife to her son and a good mom to her grandkids. So, sometimes it just takes time. Whatever you do, do it gently. She’s always going to be in the picture and always going to be his mom.

    • Annee McHughes

      People who are highly critical usually fire off at those who most seem to reflect how they feel about themselves. In addition, She may perceive you as a threat to her relationship with her son. If she’s feeling insecure and lonely. find some positive things you have in common with this woman and begin to build comeraderie with her. Find out who her favorite actors/actresses are and invite her to a movie featuring one of them. Take her to lunch at a favorite restaurant and be sure to arm yourself with topics she’s interested in so you don’t sit with a lot of dead air or give her time natter at you off-handedly. Lastly, everyone likes to feel others are interested in them. Older people especially enjoy telling stories about their youth. Ask her about her family, her heritage, childhood hobbies and games, etc. Show genuine interest in who she is and she may well begin to show genuine interest in this young woman who’s married her son. My advice always is to try to make the best of all relationships but when it comes to in-laws, the plan is for a life-time, so it’s wise to work harder to make these connections peaceful for our own sanity and and future children’s enjoyment.


      My Dad had a great short comeback to situations like this….”Are you braggin’ or complainin’?….” It throws the situation back to the sender and usually ends there.

      She doesn’t have to touch her MIL’s statements and it can be percieved by the sender as a dismissal- once she thinks about it. Then go on to a different subject!.