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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    Your Comments

    • Tynkyr Belle

      Wow – really trying hard to prove that mothers-in-laws are harpy C**ts, huh?
      It’s official: you win. You succeeded. You get the Harpy C**t of the Year award.

    • Liz

      A few of the things I don’t say out loud to my mother-in-law:
      I know you don’t want the grandchildren to like me, but we deserve a chance to have a normal nephew/niece to aunt relationship, even though you want the kids all to yourself.
      I am grateful for your son and the years that you spent raising him, but he is now my husband, and the father of our child.
      It is not funny when your break our rules for our child. It is not funny when you keep him up so late that he is exhausted the next day. It is not funny when you rev the kids up with sugar overload, when we try to keep that to a lower level. A little is fine, but not a meal of it.
      I am a grown woman, with an education and a career. I do not need your advice on how to run my life.
      I do not need your advice on how to run my home.
      I do not need your advice on how to raise our children.
      I don’t actually respect you enough to try to do it the way you did.
      I buy you a birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s day gift, I send flowers for special occasions, but I don’t want you around all that much.
      I am trying to be pleasant, but I did not marry you.
      My own mother would never interfere in our lives as you do.
      I have never said a single bad word about you to our children, who are your grandchildren. I have tried to allow you to have your relationship with them, even when you do so many things I do not approve of.
      You are one of the sole problems in our marriage. My husband who is your son, wishes we got along better. I behave as if I like you in order to make him happy, but I don’t.
      Your husband sees how your behavior and actions impact the marriages of your children, but he can’t quite rein you in, so we are stuck with your interference and snide remarks. I would have a better relationship with him if he weren’t always feeling a need to tell me how great you are with kids, how even strangers want your advice on child-raising, etc. I don’t want your advice or input at all – your son asks me why I listen to you at all, because he doesn’t.
      I hope to be a far better mother-in-law than you have been to me, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be very possible. I will always remember how awful you have been to me, and how you intruded into our lives, so perhaps that will inspire me to do better than you have.

      • TheCatholicGirl .

        Your husband needs to tell her to knock it off or cut her out.

    • tori amri

      I just wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation to prophet salifu on bringing my husband back to me,I was married for 9 years to my husband and all of a sudden, he started seeing another lady at work.he started hailing at me and he was abusive.. and he stop careing for me, but I still loved him with all my heart .the situation made me unsettle and not to focus at work .so someone told me about trying spiritual means to get my husband back and introduced me to a spell caster? i did not listen to her . i kept on hoping that my husband will come back home . after a month it got out of hand and my husband came back home to break the news to me that he want a divorce that he is getting married to the other lady .Hmmm it was so shocking to me ,i felt sad and depressed ,so i contacted my friend again and decieded to try to use spiritual means reluctantly..although I didn’t believe in all those things? I never thought in a million years that i will get my husband back to me a again. but I was proved wrong.after 2days, my husband came back and was pleading..he had realized his mistakes..i just couldn’t believe it that we are back together. Prophet salifu remained consistent and kind throughout and made the process unbelievable I am deeply satisfied and thankful .if in doubt you should email him at prophetsalifu@yahoo.com or prophetsalifu@gmail.com

      • Tynkyr Belle

        Your husband is not only cheating on you with your best friend, but your best friend’s husband, as well.
        Prophet Salifu is getting it up his wazzoo, as well. In fact, everyone is getting it except for YOU, but that’s because you’re ugly and ignorant.

        • ca1

          waaaahhhht….. thats a little rough don’t u think tynk?

        • Czerenity

          Yeah, this is a spam ad.

    • Cooper Thompson

      This mother in law has a serious issue with communication.

    • Melisa George

      My Name is Mrs Melissa, I was married to my husband for 8years and we were both bless with three children, living together as one love, until 2010 when things was no longer the way it was [when he lost his job]. But when he later gets a new job 6 months after, he stated sleeping outside our matrimonial home. Only for me to find out that he was having an affair with the lady that gave him the job. since that day, when i called him, he don’t longer pick up my calls and nothing since to come out good. Yet my husbands just still keep on seeing the new girl friend till Dr.Aluya cast a spell for me,now is with me and me only.And i am happy with my family if you need his help contact on via email,aluyakespelltemple@live.com.or call him on +2347059498969.

    • Sharon

      Who thinks/says these kinds of things? This reads like a ‘How to Alienate Your Son and His Wife’ manual.
      Just be yourself and love your kids and their significant other. How they choose to react/interact is their issue.

    • Taliana

      A well intentioned mother in law may think these things,my mother in law is the female embodiment of Charles Manson. No she is really nutso…not mean, fake nice while she cheats, steals, and spreads rumors galore about me and her own son.A son who understandably, only speaks to his father.

    • Celticmist

      What a sad comment on our society…As a Mother-in-Law, I want to be a part of the family.. Usually, the daughter has her mother in the picture.. But for some reason society looks down on a Mother who wants to be in her son’s life..
      I only hope you remember all that you wrote and feel about your MIL, when you own children become married..

      • TheCatholicGirl .

        I would love to have a good relationship with my MIL. I would love to be her best friend and take care of her in her old age. However, she makes it impossible when she is trying to destroy my marriage. So she’s cut. This is a deal breaker for me at this point. I’ve had enough of her BS.

      • ES71

        The problem is that too many MILs want a DIL who they like and approve. If they don’t approve they try to break up the marriage. This is what mine did. and we already had a child. Is that even sane? I am not so sure.
        MIL doesn’t own her son. And to hurt his family just because she doesn’t like DIL and hurt her own grandchildren is not right. It is selfish.
        Yet, then the DIL just is supposed to pretend everything is fine, for the sake of her husband.

      • dannicalliope

        It’s all about being healthy/unhealthy. Grown women with unhealthy expectations, selfish demands and tyrannical habits will not be tolerated. Women who have identities outside of their children, don’t feel threatened by a spouse and support their grown children’s decisions are more than welcome.

    • Jane Vassal

      I’ve had a few irritations with my MIL but fortunately she is pretty nice. Now that I have a son of my own I have a greater appreciation for her. “A son is a son ’til he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter for the rest of your life” is a very true saying. Everyone keeps slamming mothers-in-law but nobody will talk about the beyotchy daughters-in-law who take control of everything. I’ve watched my sister-in-law treat my MIL so rudely for no reason. She’s in charge of everything so all holidays and vacations are spent with her parents. Gifts from my MIL (which tend to be very generous) are rarely acknowledged but her kids always know what her parents got them. Her Christmas letters only talk about her parents and family. Imagine raising your son only to have his mean wife be his “gatekeeper” to where you have to walk on eggshells if you want to maintain any type of relationship. I think some women needs to acknowledge their role in their relationships with their mothers-in-law.

      • Tynkyr Belle

        Ah, so your sister in law is the harpy, but your brother is COMPLETELY BLAMELESS, eh? Doesn’t have a pair of balls that he can lay down the law of the land with, eh?
        Ever think that maybe HE wants it the way it is, and that he’s excluded HIS side of the family FOR A REASON???

    • Annymouse

      After being in relationship with my boyfriend for six years, he broke up with me,I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone on line and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem. Contact him now for your relationship or marriage problems via this email drojukuspellhome@gmail.com. all thanks to Dr Ojuku regards
      Good Luck…