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

Build a better relationship with his mother by remembering these things she'd like to say but won't (you hope!)

By Maureen Mackey from from Reader's Digest | May 2009
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    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.

    Your Comments

    • Diana Egielski

      Hmm, you know, I’ve always gotten along remarkably well with the parents of anyone I’ve ever dated. Yet if the lady who wrote that was my mother-in-law, I’d be a little creeped out.

    • Jessie Kasten

      I think it all falls under mutual respect. BOTH parties need to respect one another. I feel very lucky and blessed to have a MIL who loves and respects me (She met me when I was a young girl – and I appreciate that she has never once held my early 20′s against me!) I love and respect her back, after all she raised the man I fell in love with, what’s not to love about that? But if she didn’t respect me, I can see where that would be very hard to handle. Thank you for making me realize how much I appreciate her.

    • RavynG

      this is BS to the nth degree. A successful mother raises a child to be a successful adult which means they are not loaded down with the mother’s baggage that they drag into their own relationships. Atleast from reading these comments I realize I am not alone. I have to say I agree with the poster who said “the greatest generation” are a bunch of spoiled brats. Needy soul-sucking narcissists. Grow up–your child did!

    • Lewis Cheney

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    • Tynkyr Belle

      Wow – lots of “spellcasters” on this board. I’m quite shocked, I thought Readers Digest was for CHRISTIAN households, not Satanists!