Top tips for having a successful relationship with the other leading lady …
Some of you know my story. I became a mom at age 27 when my honey and I (over-night) got full custody of his five kids (4 boys and a girl) from his first marriage. It was a whirlwind, and I can honestly tell you that I didn’t even think about what my relationship might be like with my kids’ future spouses until my second oldest, Stephen, started dating his now-wife, Chelsey.
I loved her from the beginning … like reeeeeally loved her … and was thrilled at the thought of having another daughter to love as my own. She was creative and quiet and seemed to be very nervous around us, but she started opening up more and more as our relationship deepened. Stephen deployed for a year, and that helped our bond grow even stronger. Stephen is now set to deploy again here soon for another year. This time, they are married and have a baby boy, Jude, about to turn one-year-old. This is an amazing new season for all of us, and I’m excited and expectant to see what this will look like in the hopes that, once again, it will bring us even closer together.
To celebrate Mother-in-Law Day, Chelsey and I thought it would be fun to share a little glimpse into our special relationship and give you a few tips (from both of our perspectives) on how to have a healthy and thriving relationship … together!
WHAT MAKES THE RELATIONSHIP HEALTHY?
- Understanding that your husband’s relationship with his mother is not your relationship with his mother. The relationship is what you both make of it!
- Taking time to get to know one another without your spouse. Go on a coffee date, get lunch, have fun together.
- Knowing each other’s love languages and intentionally loving each other with them in mind.
- Being respectful to one another, even if it’s hard for you to get along.
- Leave space for open and honest communication.
- If you feel like your relationship is beyond repair, going to therapy can be so helpful and is a wonderful thing!
WHAT MAKES THE RELATIONSHIP UNHEALTHY?
- Assuming how your mother-in-law/daughter-in-law thinks or feels about you. I feel like women in general struggle with “assumicide.” We hold ourselves back from having great relationships by doing this.
- Jealousy. I have had friends in the past fight with their mother-in-law over their husband. You two are the most important women in his life for very different reasons. There is no reason to compete.
- Not having harder conversations in person. Voicing your feelings on certain issues should never be done over text. It is hard to hear the tone and easy to take things the wrong way. If it’s important to you, make time to talk about it over the phone or in person.
When Meg messaged me about contributing to this blog post, I wasn’t planning on sharing this, but here goes! I’m still super embarrassed by the fact that I did it. But in the spirit of authenticity, I want to share that I *could have* really screwed up my relationship with Megan back when I started dating her son.
Stephen and I were very young when we started dating (I was 16 and he was 19), and as his Mom, she voiced some concerns she had about our relationship. Out of my own insecurity, I lashed out at her out of my own insecurity and said some pretty hurtful things over Facebook messenger (cringe). I felt at the time that I was doing what I needed to, but as an adult, I know that it was not kind and very immature. She was right about her concerns and was only trying to help me see some unhealthy things in our relationship. In all honesty, I wanted to have a relationship with Megan. I truly admired her and always will. We are both so very different, but we love each other a whole lot. I’m so grateful that she forgave me for that time and could see past hurt feelings to cultivate a relationship with me. That is what love does.
Having a son of my own has changed my perspective even more. It’s opened my eyes to how important we are, not only to each other, but as family. As women, we hold such important roles in our families. We have the power to build up or to tear down. I am blessed beyond what I deserve to have Megan as my mother-in-law. I’m so thankful for her. She has played such a big role in the wife, mother, and woman I am today. The relationship we have is a gift, and I never want to take that for granted.
I’m not sure what else I can add to what my amazing daughter-in-love just mentioned. Our bond is so very special, and I think that has everything to do with the fact that we love each other right where we’re at, always. We don’t assume; we don’t want the other person to be any different or any more than they are. We laugh A LOT, and we cry a lot…. We share our dreams, hopes, and challenges together, even though we live a few states apart.
We keep up with each other via social media and wonderful apps like Marco Polo, Skype, and Facetime. We send each other photos and videos very often of things we know will make the other person smile, or even just to let each other know we care and *see* them. In the end, that’s what every healthy relationship is all about, and this one should be no different.
We all crave being seen and heard and valued just as we are and that’s how I want to encourage you, dear friend, as you continue to love and pray for this special “in-law” relationship to be in your life someday.