How to Handle the Relationship Between Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law

Li Xiu (Thread Starter): Hello, everybody!

Wang Dan: Hello, anything to share with us?

Zhao Hui: We’re all ears.

Li Xiu: Alas! At the mention of my daughter-in-law, I feel great sadness. I should have been happy for my son’s marriage. However, I have been unhappy since my daughter-in-law married into my family. She is too lazy. In more than a decade, I helped her take care of her kid, whereas she didn’t do any housework after coming home from work. She always leaves the dishes for me to wash after meals. Moreover, she has never cleaned the toilet and kitchen. I feel annoyed at her such behaviors, and complain about my son’s marrying her. Alas, each time when I think of these things, I become angry. Anyone have a good idea to solve my problem?

Wang Dan: Alas! I understand how you feel. I’m facing the same problem as you. As the proverbs go, “Even an upright official finds it hard to settle a family quarrel,” and “Every family has its own problems.” Few mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law have been able to get along with each other since time began. Just turn a blind eye and scramble for a living.

He Jia: In my view, since you can’t get along well with each other, why not live apart from her? Out of sight, out of mind.

Zhao Hui: I don’t think to separate to live or scramble for a living is a good idea, because it can only temporarily ease the conflict, but cannot truly solve the problem. If mother-in-law and daughter-in-law can’t stand the sight of each other, then how can they be family?

Xu Qing: It’s normal that there is a generation gap between you because of different backgrounds and different education. Thread Starter, why don’t you try asking your son to speak to his wife?

Li Xiu: I’ve tried. But he is always on his wife’s side. Alas! He loves his wife more than he loves me.

Xu Qing: Maybe you can try Wang Dan’s idea. Just turn a blind eye and make do.

Zhang Hui: Will it work? They still have to stay mad every day. How tiring the life will be!

Xu Qing: Well, I have no other ideas. Anyone have a clever idea?

Zeng Ai: I have no clever idea. As to this problem, just let me share my experience and appreciation.

Li Xiu: OK!

Zeng Ai: My daughter-in-law was not domesticated, either. Every day after returning home from work, she was always playing with her cell phone and didn’t care for others at all. My son, who is a teacher, prepared lessons late every night. One day, I went to their house. At night, I was preparing for bed, when my son asked me to hang out his washing. I went through their bedroom to the balcony, and saw that my daughter-in-law had already fallen asleep. I immediately became angry. My son is so busy every day. As a wife, she should show no consideration for her husband at all; it’s a shame. The more I thought, the angrier I became, so that I really wanted to immediately throw the basin down and walk off. However, that would embarrass my son, so I smothered my anger hanging out the washing. Each time when I saw that she didn’t do housework, I felt mad. I thought, “After I got married, I had to work, take care of my kids as well as do household chores. I always kept the family in line so that my family didn’t need to bother themselves about the household affairs. Besides, I was considerate to my husband, and never left the housework to him. The neighbors often complimented me, saying I was an understanding wife. You’re too lazy.”

Afterward, I couldn’t hold back any longer, and I grumbled at my son about his wife, such a lazy woman. But he was always on his wife’s side. He said, “Her work pressure is heavy. Please don’t compare people of your generation with people of this age. Your thinking is too hidebound and you’re unable to keep up with the current trends. Compared with others of the same age, she is much better. Please don’t nitpick or make too many demands of her, or else our family would be inharmonious.” Hearing his words, I felt terrible and thought to myself, “How can it be that you don’t understand me at all? Am I not for your good, for the family’s good? Alas! …” Disappointedly, I had to keep the grievance in my heart.

relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law
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In pain, it occurred to me that I was a believer in God. So why didn’t I seek the truth on how to treat my daughter-in-law? Just then, I thought of a passage of words in “Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life,” “Since the wildly arrogant man is puffed up with conceit and looks down his nose at others, he is not friendly to others and is unable to treat others as equals, and he can never live in harmony with other people. … The man with a wildly arrogant disposition always regards himself as better than others and no one is his equal. He is unable to see the strengths and good points of others and even if he does see them, he does not accept them at all and only steps up his attacks, and denigrates them. He sees the faults and shortcomings of others with unusual clarity, and he spreads these around at will. He likes in particular to talk about his own strengths, he particularly likes to compliment himself, to exalt himself while denigrating others. The man with a wildly arrogant disposition is always extremely conceited, inclined to be self-centered, making others hold him in high esteem and gather around him. Regardless of what he says and does, others must listen to him and pay close attention to him.” From these words, I realized that it was because of my arrogant disposition that I couldn’t get on well with my daughter-in-law and always frowned upon her. At that time, I couldn’t help recalling my behavior. I all along compared my former merits—being capable, being good at managing the household, and being considerate to my husband—with my daughter-in-law’s shortcomings, and demanded that she should act like me. Seeing that she didn’t meet my requirements, I disliked and looked down upon her, and denigrated her in front of others, saying she was lazy, and I even regretted agreeing to their marriage. I always wanted to change her so that she could behave according to my own intention. Wasn’t it my arrogant nature of Satan that drove me to treat her like that? It led to the alienation between me and my daughter-in-law, which made my life very bitter and tiring, as well as my son’s life.

Li Xiu: What you said makes sense. I also have these expressions. Indeed, I always fix my gaze on my daughter-in-law’s shortcomings and compare my strengths to her weaknesses. The more I do in this way, the more faults I can find in her, and the more dissatisfied I become with her. If not for your words, I wouldn’t realize there is also a problem with me.

Wang Dan: Aunt Zeng Ai, after realizing your problem, how did you turn it around?

Zeng Ai: I saw God’s words saying, “Living habits do not represent a person’s humanity. Just because your living habits are disciplined, normal, and dignified does not mean you possess the truth. You need to get this fact through your head, and gain a positive appreciation for it. Furthermore, God has arranged such a fantastic environment for you. You have too many personal issues; you must learn to adapt, and not pick at the bad habits of others. Moreover, you have to be able to get along with them based on love, and get close to them; you need to see their strengths, learn from their strengths, and then pray to God and overcome your own problems. This is the attitude and practice of submission.” And the words of “Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life” say, “In order for people to interact normally with one another, they must possess a few principles of practice. These principles should not only include not taking advantage of others, not harming others, but having some love. They further include having a conscience and rationality, helping one another, showing tolerance to one another, caring for others, letting others benefit in all situations, considering others, not just caring about yourself, showing compassion for others’ weaknesses, and forgiving the transgressions of others. If we have these few principles, we will be able to build a normal relationship with others and we will be able to live in harmony with each other.”

These words pointed out the specific way of practice for me. Because of different backgrounds of living and different ages, we have different lifestyles. I shouldn’t always ask my daughter-in-law to adapt herself to me, nor wish to change her, but should learn to adapt myself to the environment. Moreover, in interacting with her, I should have tolerance and patience toward her, see things in her shoes, be more considerate of her, and show more empathy for her shortcomings. Only in this way can I live in harmony with her.

Li Xiu: Having heard these words, I feel brightened in my heart. Just as these words say, when we learn to be tolerant and patient, and show more empathy for others’ weaknesses, we will become open-minded. Then you must be getting on well with your daughter-in-law now.

Zeng Ai: Yes! When I practiced according to God’s words, I actually got an unexpected result. Once, I went to my son’s with some spare ribs and lotus roots. On entering the kitchen, I found that the pots and pans were piled in the sink, and that the gas cooker and the extractor fan were covered with oil. I began to blame my daughter-in-law again in my heart. But I suddenly realized that I was revealing an arrogant disposition and then hastened to pray to God. Later on, I thought of a passage of words in “Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life,” “We should not impose our preference on others, much less force others to accept what we dislike—this is not making others do things they are unwilling to do. When doing things, we should take account not only of our own interests, but also of others’. Besides, we should learn to be more considerate to others, to benefit them….” That’s true. I shouldn’t always blame my daughter-in-law, but should learn to show consideration for and concern about her. As the pace of life is speeding up, her work is stressful. In addition, she is young. So, she inevitably can’t care for the family well. I shouldn’t look at her with my old eyes. I’m a Christian, and additionally, I’m her elder, so I should bear with her. After realizing this, my complaints toward her gradually disappeared.

Then, I began to cook and wash those pots and pans. Having prepared everything well, I waited for my son and daughter-in-law to have dinner together. After a while, they came back home after work. As they entered, my sister-in-law said to me passionately, “Mom, it troubled you to prepare such a feast. That’s really nice of you. Thank you very much.” I replied smilingly, “It was nothing. You both are tired from your busy work. I should share some burden with you.” At that time, I had a tender feeling for my daughter-in-law without barriers, released and enjoyable.

As my attitude toward my daughter-in-law changed, she also changed and started to do some housework actively. One time, I went to their house with some vegetables. On my entering the door, my daughter-in-law took the vegetables and said to me, “Mom, take a rest, please. I’ll cook today.” I felt comforted at her words. From this matter, I saw that when I practiced according to God’s requirements, the circumstances also changed. Now, I can get along with my daughter-in-law and we talk about everything with each other. Although her behaviors annoy me sometimes, through praying to God and reading His words, I put aside my bias against her bit by bit and understand her. When encountering some daily chores, I let go of the arrogance of being a mother-in-law to actively communicate and talk them over with her. Now my family live together in peace. My son often says, “Mom, you have changed. You’re not officious or grouchy as before and my wife becomes industrious. We can live in harmony. How wonderful it is!” Hearing his words, I offered my praise and gratitude to God silently. I knew it was God’s words that had transformed me, allowing us to own a happy and harmonious family.

Li Xiu: After hearing what you said, I feel believing in God is truly good. For all these years, I have been living in pain owing to the conflicts between my daughter-in-law and me. Now I feel brightened in my heart. I don’t want to live in pain and be tormented anymore. I want to read God’s words with you, can I?

Zeng Ai: Certainly. When we have God’s words, there is no need to worry about how to deal with the relationship between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. All the glory be to God!

Li Xiu: That’s great! Thanks for your sharing. Keep in touch.


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