A man who treats his wife like a princess is proof that he was raised in the arms of a queen.
I hit the jackpot when it came to the mother-in-law acquisition. Mine loved me. She didn't have a list of dos and don'ts she expected me to keep. RB was their Crown Prince (or at least his baby announcement said he was!) and he was loved as only a late-in-life arrival is. Yet his parents accepted me unconditionally.
It doesn't always work that way though, as I'm sure many of you could testify to. I did a little survey on Facebook and asked whether it was easier to have sons-in-law or daughters-in-law. On the public page it was positive with most responders agreeing they got along with them equally. In my private messages, the tone was a bit different. Daughters-in-law -- overwhelmingly -- landed in the harder category.
Somehow the mothers-in-law usually get the blame, yet if they wanted to they could have posted publicly how they felt. The mothers-in-law who were honest, yet wanted to be anonymous, got an extra point in my book.
I only have one -- soon to be two -- sons-in-law, so I'm not an expert on this subject. But I think some of the principles my in-laws used in their relationship with me are well worth passing on.
1. Cut those apron strings. It's time. Don't baby your son after that wedding day. Your daughter-in-law should expect her wishes to trump yours. And your son-in-law shouldn't have to fight against you filling your daughters mind with how unreasonable he is. Keep in mind that your child wasn't perfect before they were married and they should be given the space to learn to live as husband and wife. They will probably make some mistakes -- just like we did when we were young.
2. Stay out of their decisions. This includes where they attend church, how they dress, and whether or not they decide to homeschool their children. Believe me, they probably know what you think -- they don't need to hear it. Wait until your opinion is requested.
3. Let them raise their children. It's so hard to see your perfect grandchildren disciplined. But it's necessary. Walk out of the room if you have a hard time with it. When my grandchildren visit, I try to keep Melanie's rules or ask if we can make an exception. She lets me spoil them in grandma ways -- like glass(es) of chocolate milk, bed-time deadlines, and cereal for breakfast.
4. Don't share opinions unless they are asked for. Don't expect your daughter-in-law to use the same brands of food you do. Does it really matter? Your daughter-in-law may be a new mother, but let her decide if her baby needs one blanket or two. And if she doesn't want to save the empty cottage cheese container, that's okay, too.
5. Use the "I'm Sorry" phrase as often as needed. I know I'm not a perfect parent or in-law. I've been mothering my daughters for a long time. Things pop out of my mouth before I remember I don't hold that position any longer. Luckily my kids -- even the ones who fall under the in-law category -- are forgiving. Just don't use the "I'm sorry" phrase as an excuse to say what you want to say.
6. Find out your daughter-in-law's faves. It was a rare occasion that I would visit my mother-in-law and not find pickled beats in the refrigerator. She was a practical gift giver, but learned all the brands I used and bought them for me.
6. Pray consistently! The one thing I miss most about my mother-in-law is her prayers. I knew she prayed daily for me. And I could ask her to pray for anything and she was quick to take my concerns to God. I suspect she took her concerns about me to God, too.
I have seen mothers-in-laws who have tried to do everything right and still the relationships with their daughters-in-law are rough. And I've seen daughters-in-law who have tried to include their mothers-in-law in their life and every effort was ignored. Ask God to fill your heart with love. You may not get it right the first time, but make that effort. You won't be sorry.