Changing the Stereotype: Why I Appreciate My Mother-In-Law

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When my husband and I got married, we moved into the house beside his parents. We were excited and anxious to begin our lives, and little by little, as we moved furniture and painted walls, it all started to sink in: I’m living next door to my in-laws.

I don’t know why I was nervous. Maybe it was the countless times people commented, “Oh wow, good luck with that! I could never live next to mine!” Or perhaps it was the sitcoms on popular television shows that get their comedic relief from unstable and ridiculous mother-in-law relationships.
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I understand that some in-laws are crazy and seemingly impossible to build a relationship with, but I still hate the stereotype. I don’t like how society groups all of these women into a category. I’m sure we can all think of some annoying stereotypes that don’t apply to us: The nagging wife. The lazy husband. The clueless father.

The reality is that those stereotypes are perpetuated throughout our culture. They come through our TV screens and creep into our child’s DVD collection. At some point, they probably even come out of our own mouths. Could it be that we have a pre-conceived idea of what our mother-in-law will be like before we ever have one?

My mother-in-law and I have very different personalities but we show each other mutual respect and love. She’s made several impressions on my life that I’ll never forget:

She took me shopping to buy me things for our new house a few weeks before I married her son.

She took care of our daughter every single day while I worked. She followed our nap and feeding schedule without question.

She took me shopping and told me I looked beautiful when I was crying in the dressing room over my post-partum body. She helped me buy clothes that made me feel better.

Most importantly, she gave me something invaluable: She raised my husband to be an involved parent, a faithful husband, and a hard worker.

I’m sure I’ll be someone’s mother-in-law someday. Will my daughter or son-in-law already have ideas about me before I meet them? Will they be defensive from the beginning? Will they think I’m old-school, rude, and nosy? I hope that as a society, we can break free from these stereotypes and that we can all try a little harder to be the exception. Those of you with truly toxic family members, my heart breaks for you. I know it isn’t easy to go through those struggles. I hope you strive to break the cycle and become an exceptional and inspiring mother-in-law to the spouse of your sons and daughters someday.

What is your relationship like with your mother-in-law? Which family stereotypes bug you? Comment below!

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27 Responses to Changing the Stereotype: Why I Appreciate My Mother-In-Law

  1. Knoxville Website Design July 15, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    The old YMMV applies here! 🙂 Generally speaking, some people are easy to get along with and some are hard to get along with. I think everyone has to try to get along, and if you don’t live in the same household, it’s easy to set boundaries.

    • Autumn Longmire
      Autumn Longmire July 30, 2016 at 8:53 am #

      Absolutely! Everyone has a different family dynamic.

  2. Carm July 15, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    Wow! I could only dream of a mother-in-law like that. You guys are very blessed to have such a wonderful relationship. I definitely won’t go into my woes, as they would be pages but this story was nice to hear. The women in my family have always had wonderful relationships with their MILs so I was blessed to see positive examples. However, as was stated above, some people are just difficult to get along with. I’m with you. I hope to be a likable MIL one day. I can only imagine how much it would mean to the kids. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

    • Autumn Longmire
      Autumn Longmire July 30, 2016 at 8:55 am #

      I am very blessed in the MIL department.. but I know it’s not that way for everyone. I love that you have your heart set on being a great MIL, and you’re right- that will be a priceless treasure for the kids 🙂

  3. JShears July 15, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    My MIL is a wonderful, loving, caring woman! She loves me as her own….she gives selflessly and she genuinely loves and gives love in everything she does. I am so blessed to have someone that I can consider as a mother to me as well. Our children’s lives are enriched and blessed to have her as their Nana. My in laws have raised a loving, kind, caring, Godly man. He has been taught the value of family. I see everyday in how he treats me and our children how he was raised. Love shows!!

    • Autumn Longmire
      Autumn Longmire July 30, 2016 at 8:57 am #

      We call my MIL “Nana” too! 🙂 I love when they are taught the value of family, and bring it into the marriage and household. That truly is the best part.

  4. brynn greene July 15, 2016 at 10:18 pm #

    Thanks for your words! My husband always says,they won’t be with us forever. And about two years ago, unfortunately, that came true as my MIL passed away from cancer. We had our differences but she always tried to treat me like the daughter she never had. As scary as it is to think about, we always need to remember that our parents or in-laws will not always be with us. My only wish now is that she had more time with her grandkids.

    • Autumn Longmire
      Autumn Longmire July 30, 2016 at 8:59 am #

      I am so sorry for your loss. Though she was here for a short time, she made a lasting impression on her children and grandchildren.. her legacy lives on- A mark of a truly good woman. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Jean July 23, 2016 at 11:10 am #

    I have had two MOL’s. My ex husband and I were estranged from his family for most of our marriage (I won’t go into the crazy here).

    My second husband and I are early in our marriage – I am hoping for a better relationship with his mom. I put alot of pressure on myself to have things be different this time that and as a result I was a little neurotic around her at first. Things are improving slowly (we aren’t geographically close, so there is a while between visits).

    Stories like yours give me hope that there are other options.

    • Autumn Longmire
      Autumn Longmire July 30, 2016 at 9:01 am #

      Early marriage is really tough with family.. it gets better! Sometimes a little distance between extended family is a good thing lol. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  6. Sylvia July 23, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

    I think going into a marriage eiththese stereotypes makes a woman defensive when it is not even necessary. It’s like being so ready for battle that if you don’t find an enemy you create one. I was so blessed to have a wonderful MIL. She used to remind me that she was my Mother In Love. I miss her!

    • Susan C. July 28, 2016 at 11:27 pm #

      Very insightful — the stereotypes could be a self-fulfilling prophecy in some cases. I’m so fortunate that I have had two darling mothers-in-law, and have a d-i-l that I love like a daughter.

    • Autumn Longmire
      Autumn Longmire July 30, 2016 at 9:14 am #

      I think there’s a quote.. “You create what you fear” (or something like that). It makes me think of this. Stereotypes can definitely make people defensive when they don’t need to be, and that goes for all the other stereotypes as well

  7. Neo July 23, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

    Yes, some people are lucky to have wonderful in-laws. Some, on the other hand, end up with the ones that are toxic and you can’t build a relationship with them if they disrespect and hate you and try to put you down every time they see you. I can only wish to have a good one but after 20 years of marriage I gave up that dream. She is who she is and she will never change. She doesn’t care about me or my kids (her grandkids) and nothing can change that.

  8. Jenny July 24, 2016 at 10:42 am #

    MIL tells my husband I do not love him and my purpose in life was to make him leave her, the proceeds to tell my parents how mean I am (while they are driving her home from a function at my home). Please don’t try to make people feel bad for not having a relationship with their MIL. My husband doesn’t even want one with her! I have taken abuse from this woman for 24 years, even during the 2 months she lived with us. By the way, was my idea, when I found out her husband was abusing her.
    You bet I’ll be a much better MIL.

    • Autumn Longmire
      Autumn Longmire July 30, 2016 at 9:04 am #

      Jenny, I would never make people feel bad for not having a relationship with their MIL- or rather, that wasn’t my intent. Like I said, some people just have truly toxic personalities.. nothing you can do there unfortunately. I love that you’re determined to be a great MIL.. women like you can break the cycle!

  9. Me July 28, 2016 at 8:33 am #

    I can most definitely relate to your story. I never lived next to my in laws, but while my fiancée at the time was at basic training for the Marine Corps, I lived with them. Yes, we have disagreed, but what 2 adults always agree on everything? Mainly the time my son was standing up through the sunroof of her vehicle as she pulled up to my house. She has answered the phone in the middle of the night when my newborn was sick and I needed help. She has watched my kids for many date nights. She has supported her son and I when we had the opportunity to move closer to her, but chose a different direction and ended up 5 minutes closer but still almost 2 hours away. I have told her many times thank you for raising her son to be the man that he is today multiple times over our almost 13 years of marriage. I don’t know if she will read this, but if she does, I love you to the moon and back!!!

    • Autumn Longmire
      Autumn Longmire July 30, 2016 at 9:17 am #

      I lived next door to my in-laws when my husband was in his Army basic training at Fort Benning. They made life so much easier and the days so much better. Your story is so sweet.. I love it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. K July 28, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    Oh I could only dream of a MIL like that. Without going into detail, let’s just say that mine harnesses a strong dislike of me because she thinks I took her baby boy from her. She is also a pretty crappy grandparent to my kids.

  11. Susan C. July 28, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

    My son and daughter-in-law live across the street from us and we couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t love my wonderful daughter-in-law more. I am aware of the meddling M-I-L stereotype, so I am careful to give them their space…. but am always pleased when they call me over to look at their garden or just to have a cup of coffee. I will admit that there are times when I catch myself starting to give advice and then stop and wait to see if advice is requested. If not, I try not to give it. I will ask my D-I-L for her advice on gardening and even cooking, as she is very creative and knowledgeable about nutrition – and i have no problem admitting to her that she knows more about such things than I do!
    I was fortunate myself, to have had not just one – but TWO great mothers-in-law. I still visit with my M-I-L from my first marriage and have always maintained a good relationship with her – even when her son and I were going through a divorce. My M-I-L from my current marriage is also a sweetheart. My own daughter speaks highly of her M-I-L, as well. I guess we’ve all been so lucky!

  12. nancy padalecki July 29, 2016 at 1:02 am #

    My mother-in-law was a beautiful God loving woman who had a sweet, loving heart. She was a wonderful baker and always shared with her family….think about her often & miss spending time ith her. I ill see her again God willing.

  13. Gina Brown July 30, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

    I don’t have a mother-in-law, I have a monster in-law!! I hope one day when my boys get married that I can be the mother-in-law I always dreamed to have!! You ladies have very lucky to have such a wonderful MIL!

  14. Callie August 1, 2016 at 11:36 am #

    I was so happy to read this! My MIL is wonderful to me (and our boys). The stereotype is hard to let go of, but if you can, a great relationship can come from it!

  15. Stephanie August 5, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    I learned to love my MIL. It took time and an open heart and mind, but I loved what she brought to the family-mix. I could magnify her weaknesses, differences, and personality, but what did mine look like to her as the woman her son chose as his wife. This hit me and made me realize I really could treat her with love because she loved her son like I did. WE HAD SOMETHING ON COMMON!! And that’s when everything changed for the good.

  16. candace August 12, 2016 at 8:03 am #

    I am very blessed with my in laws. My family and my husband’s all get along. My parents don’t live where we do (yet) but when they visit my in laws always plan big get togethers so my parents can be part of what we fo when they arnt here. Heck, my parents and in laws call and talk just because. I’m so grateful and blessed that we all get along so well.

  17. Hannah January 15, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    I truly see my MIL as a second mother! She has done SO MUCH for me and my husband that it would take pages to explain, and we are forever grateful. What’s even more perfect about my situation is we live in the same town as both sets of parents, and they have all become wonderful friends over the years! It’s amazing!

  18. Pam February 28, 2017 at 7:26 pm #

    I am the ML. I love my daughter in law. I try to be the best because I know of the stereotype. But no matter what I do she holds me at arms length. She loves her mom and everything revolves around making her mother happy. I’m very sad and was hoping for a relationship with her when my son married her 5 years ago.

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