Difficult daughters-in-law: how to build a better relationship

Oct 26, 2021
Some relationships can be built (or rebuilt) in a positive light. Source: Getty

Married women and their mothers-in-law. It’s a relationship that’s potentially littered with landmines. But trouble is a two-way street, with many MIL of a certain age struggling to cope, it seems, with difficult and demanding daughters-in-law.

As the heightened pressure cooker demands of the silly season loom closer, internet forum Gransnet has wheeled out some of its sagest advice to grans all around the world about how to rein in their high-maintenance — or just plain unreasonable — DIL.

For years, frustrated mothers-in-law have been taking to Gransnet to ask for advice and vent their frustrations. Some of the threads hark all the way back to 2016. A thread titled, ‘Controlling DIL – how to protect DS’ posted by Gransnet user, ‘Aquafish,’ explains how her DIL is controlling her son (DS).

Aquafish wrote: … “My DS & DIL have been married for three years and we’ve been blessed with a beautiful baby grandson. My son is a gentle soul like his dad and does anything for a quiet life, but I can see DIL taking things way too far especially since DGS’s arrival.

She is a very strong character with OCD traits, is highly organised, and totally controlling, which I originally thought was what my DS needed in a wife. However, this is now becoming a constant pick, even in front of his close family and I’m finding it so hard to watch. I’m close to saying something to her but daren’t risk incurring her wrath … How do I support DS without risking losing contact with them? Thanks.”

Another user from a separate Gransnet forum in 2018 faced similar challenges with their DIL.

Gransnet user, ‘Gigi27’ explained that she was dealing with a hurtful DIL, when she wrote: “[When our DIL] gave birth, she told us that only her family would be allowed to see the baby … We were very hurt by this but understand that girls gravitate to their own families, so we let it go. We went up to see the baby on the second day, only to be confronted by some dreadful relative asking us ‘who the hell are you visiting my niece.'”

With all the upsetting DIL experiences sloshing around the internet, there must be a way to put the bickering behind you and build a better relationship. Or even take a much-needed time-out over the festive season. The good news is, there is more than one way to build these positive relationships, says Gransnet, including:

  1. Treating her like you would a daughter
  2. Accepting her flaws and respecting her opinions
  3. Avoiding any conflict
  4. Find solutions for conflict
  5. Most importantly, understand that a strong bond takes time to build

If you still find yourself not getting along with your DIL, the last thing you should do is keep conversations civil and brief. Try not to add fuel to the fire or burn bridges. Remember that by creating more conflict, you will most likely be hurting your own son or daughter.

Have you had an issue with your daughter-in-law? How did you overcome it?

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