Dear Dr. Smith,
My daughter recently got married to her high school sweetheart. My husband and I thought this marriage would be good for both our daughter and her new husband. They seemed to be friends and they both had the same interests. They both have good jobs and lots of close friends.
But, a problem has started and I'm not sure how to handle it. My daughter's mother-in-law has begun criticizing her regularly. The mother-in-law doesn't like the way my daughter cleans, cooks, dresses, or talks. Of course, her son is caught in between his new wife and his mother. It's a bad situation.
My husband tells me to "stay out of it," but I hate seeing my daughter this unhappy. What should I do?
Thanks for listening.
A Mom from Carbon CountyDear Mom
from Carbon County,
My husband would be telling me the same thing - "stay out of it." But, we women know that if a problem isn't addressed, it just gets bigger. And, having my daughter criticized by ANYONE would make me see red.
The best suggestion I have is this - talk to your daughter and see if she is strong enough to sit down with her mother-in-law and tell her how she feels. It would be a good idea for her to make a list of the most recent criticisms. That way, she can offer proof of the verbal comments that are made to her.
One thing you must remember - your daughter isn't perfect. Perhaps she cooks food that is different from what her new husband is used to eating? Is she a slob about her room? Does she wear clothing appropriate for her age and married status? If her mother-in-law has some complaints, maybe some of them are valid? Plus, is your daughter's new husband running home to Mommy and complaining to her? She should find out.
I think - at this point - your daughter should keep her husband out of the mix. Two women talking over a problem might work. Having a man that both of them love sitting down with them will just create a drama that doesn't need to happen.
Since your daughter and her husband have known each other since high school, I am assuming that the mother-in-law has also known your daughter for a while. The fact that she is just now starting to criticize her might mean that she is upset about 'losing' her son. Do you know the old saying - "Your daughter's your daughter all of your life, but your son's your son 'til he gets him a wife"?
Your son-in-law wants to please both of the important women in his life, but it will be hard under the current circumstances. Perhaps your husband and the groom's father can work together to help settle the difficulty? Having the two older men speak to your son-in-law might give him the courage to face his mother and let her know that he is happy with his new wife. If he tells Mom that he likes his wife's cleaning, cooking, dressing, and talking, then Mom will have no option but to back off.
Surely, your daughter's mother-in-law has to see that the kids love each other. Her interference at this early stage of the marriage can be devastating. That's why mothers-in-law get such a bad reputation. Just reference the movie "Monster-In-Law" with Jane Fonda. Luckily, Jennifer Lopez' character had enough backbone to deal with her evil-doing mother-in-law. I hope your daughter also has a steel backbone.
Let me know how everything turns out. Good luck!
IF YOU WANT TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.