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
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine 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.

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