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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

26 Things Your Mother-in-Law Is Secretly Thinking

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

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iStock/Neustockimages

It hurts to be downsized

I spent a couple of decades being the leading lady; now I have a character role. This is the secret to finally winning over your mother-in-law, according to science. Take her advice, but not on these specific topics.

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I know he’s your husband now

But he’s still my son. Try these little ways to strengthen your marriage in just one day. 

3 / 26
iStock/TatyanaGl

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. Follow these science backed tips to boost your self-confidence.

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iStock/Melpomenem

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. Read these gratitude quotes to feel inspired.

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iStock/Steve Debenport

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.” Try out these little things you can do right now to make your marriage happier.

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iStock/Drazen Lovric

I know a little something

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

7 / 26
iStock/skynesher

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

I’m not coming for a “white-glove inspection.” Follow these tips to avoid marriage counseling.

8 / 26
iStock/laflor

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 / 26
iStock/PeopleImages

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. Don’t miss these 16 heartwarming mother-son quotes.

10 / 26
iStock/kupicoo

I have a dirty little secret

I’m afraid that if I don’t get this right, you’ll cut me off. Learn the real reason so many adult siblings lose touch.

11 / 26
iStock/Susan Chiang

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.

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iStock/Dean Mitchell

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 / 26
iStock/PeopleImages

You know me well

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

14 / 26
iStock/Michal Krakowiak

You don’t have to call me Mom

But it would be nice if you did. Show your mother-in-law you appreciate her with these 29 beautiful Mother’s Day quotes.

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iStock/&#169 Giorgio Fochesato

I really want to make you happy

If you hate that green sweater I bought you, please, please tell me.

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iStock/Geber86

Thank you for making my child so happy

If I haven’t told you that very much, it’s because I’m afraid you’ll think I’m sucking up.

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iStock/tamaravidmar

I desperately want to ask you:

When are you going to have children?

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iStock/Predrag Vuckovic

I so wish I could talk to you about it

Sometimes I watch you making choices that I so fear will lead you to difficulty. But I bite my tongue. Memorize these 10 wise quotes that can stop an argument in its tracks.

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iStock/Willie B. Thomas

I’m aware that my time on this earth is growing shorter

I want to spend it positively. I don’t want to waste it by fighting. Use these tricks for making it through the holidays with your in-laws.

20 / 26
iStock/michaeljung

Talk to me

If you think I can’t give good advice because I don’t have the full picture, well… paint it for me.

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iStock/monkeybusinessimages

I really want to give my grandkids a gift now and then

But you forbid me to do it. That’s painful.

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iStock/HIghwaystarz-Photography

I want us to be closer

The last time I was at your house, you hardly even spoke to me. I can’t understand why.

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iStock/Wavebreakmedia

I thought you’d be thrilled to have me as your mother-in-law

I thought that you’d think, Wow, I’m so lucky! It kills me that you don’t. Try borrowing these 17 secrets of the happiest families.

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iStock/laflor

Some mothers-in-law will say anything

I try not to. It’s not wanted, appreciated, or believed.

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iStock/vgajic

When I call you on the phone at 8 in the morning on a Saturday…

I hope you’re not secretly saying, “Damn. Why is she calling here so early?”

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I’ve actually led a rich, interesting, complicated life

I wish you’d see me that way. I feel a little resentful that suddenly my whole life is seen through the prism of “the mother-in-law.” These are 11 more things you should never say to your family.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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