The bond between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law can often be a tricky one. While some form a solid relationship from the beginning, it can take a little longer for others to get along.
One woman has taken to grandparenting forum Gransnet to seek advice for building a solid relationship with her own mother-in-law. Although she describes her as a “genuinely nice person”, she says there’s something about the 62-year-old she just doesn’t like.
On paper she sounds like the perfect mother-in-law. The woman says that her husband’s mother texts her constantly to tell her how lovely she is and constantly praises her for being a good mother.
“I just CANNOT STAND IT,” the woman wrote. “I feel like she’s trying to force a relationship unnaturally, and she frequently seems to compete with my own mum for my time and affection.”
She admits it feels “very scripted” and “insincere” and that her mother-in-law’s behaviour makes her feel awkward and want to avoid her completely. However, she’s concerned because she does have a four-month-old son and wants him to have a great relationship with all his grandparents. She also says she doesn’t want to ruin her “horribly intense” relationship with her mother-in-law.
“Is there any way I can get her to back off a bit with the suffocating affection without hurting her feelings?” she asked. “I am aware that I am lucky to have such a nice mother-in-law, but just can’t fake love for someone I don’t really feel a connection with.”
In addition to the text messages, the woman says her mother-in-law is physically affectionate. She claims her mother-in-law even strokes her hair like a dog, which she hates.
Others on the forum had plenty of advice for the woman.
One person explained the woman should try and change her own behaviour, rather than asking her mother-in-law to change.
“So, you’ve got a bit of a dappy Mil [mother-in-law] but all she is doing is trying, in her own way to be nice to you,” they wrote. “Ok! It’s not coming across very well and she’s not exactly your cup of tea but she’s pretty harmless.”
Another said the woman was lucky and implied she was reading too much into the behaviour.
“She seems a bit eccentric, but very loving,” they said. “Stroking someone’s hair is a very affectionate gesture in some cultures. You are lucky to have such a dear m.i.l. But I can understand your frustrations at what you consider her silliness.”
A third added: “Some people are just more tactile than others, just walk away if you don’t like her touching your hair etc she will soon understand. Texts, calls etc can be ignored as the more you respond the more she will carry on.”