It’s Mother-in-law Day today! Have you treated your mother-in-law to flowers and a nice lunch? Has your spouse treated your mother to a nice lunch and a suprise gift? Or do you think that the creation of this day is just an attempt by Hallmark and other businesses to get money out of us so you’re going to ignore it? If you’re doing your job well as dutiful husband and son, you will be able to have a lovely family day out if you’ve done your homework and ensured your wife and mother get on well. So how do you do that? After all, while they will do their best to get on well, the only thing they may have in common is their love for you.
#1. Never Choose Favourites
Don’t give your wife and mother any reason to be jealous of each other. This means never showing that you prefer the cooking of one over the other. If both have made a chocolate cake for a family event, you need to have equal sized slices of each cake.
#2. Prove You’re Well Looked After
Lots of mums spoil their sons by cooking all their meals, washing and ironing their clothes, making them cups of tea and a ready supply of fresh brown bread, scones and cream sponge cakes. Therefore, you need to keep the side up and look well nourished but not overfed! Do make it clear too when she sees you cooking that you enjoy it.
#3. Iron Shirts & Stack the Dishwasher
Okay, you may not be the most domesticated husband within your community but if you can’t cook a meal, you should be able to stack the dishwasher, iron some clothes and bring in the washing if it’s going to rain. Otherwise, you are letting your mother down as your wife will wonder how on earth she didn’t train you to do something within the house. You see, as far back as 1944, there was an article in the Sunday Independent warning women that if they have criticisms about their husbands (and are blaming their mother-in-law), that they must make sure their own daughters-in-law won’t have the same grievances. Yes, warnings have been going on that long.
#4. Build a Berlin Wall
Choose your living accommodation carefully. It’s typical that farm families live close to each other and if your parents are living close to the farmyard, then they might be noting the extent of your wife’s work on the farm or if they can see into your back garden, whether she manages to get clothes dry on the line or not. It’s important to set some boundaries from day one, otherwise you might as well build a Berlin wall. Well, that’s extreme but there may be days when it will feel that it would be handy. Oh, and never ever think that sharing a clothes line is a good idea.
#5. Be Loyal
Never ever criticise your wife’s cooking especially if you were late for your dinner. So what if it’s a bit dried up – hunger is a good sauce! You were brought up on your mum’s cooking so you’ll have your favourite meals, you just have to adjust your tastes.
It’s unlikely your mum and wife will have the same standards of cleanliness. What is a bit of dust to your wife might be extreme to your mother. Rather than nagging, either accept your wife’s housekeeping and explain that you prefer living in a house that’s more of a home or give her a hand to clean before your mum arrives to do the white glove test.
#6. Spend Time with Them Separately
They both want to spend time with you so call to see your mum or have dinner with her occasionally. If your wife feels that she is number one, she won’t mind in the least. If your mum feels that you call in regularly and she can feed you your favourite meals, she’ll be happy too.
#7. Never Say
There are certain things you must never ever say in your wife’s hearing. They may be something like this:
My mum always polished all the shoes on a Saturday night.
My mum used to feed any salesmen that called at dinner time.
My mum never left any dirty dishes in the kitchen at night.
Your wife doesn’t want to turn into your mum so saying any sentence that starts with “my mum always / used to / never …” may put pressure on her feeling she ought to conform but doesn’t want to (or doesn’t have time) and will certainly enrage her. Either way, they won’t have the effect you want so never say them.Wondering how to ensure your mum and wife get on well? Rule no. 1: Never ever have favourites! There's 6 more tips... Click To Tweet
These points have been adapted from the “how to ensure your wife and mother get on” in my An Ideal Farm Husband book. The illustrations are from the book too.