How Not to Entertain Your In-Laws

When Can We Come Over?

Recently, I had the opportunity to entertain my in-laws at my house. My partner and I usually visit them at their house, but my mother-in-law had been practically begging for an invitation for weeks. Every time we saw her, she would ask, “When are you going to invite us to your place?” or “We’d really love to see your place, when can we come over?” She even went so far as to write this nagging question in a thank-you note after Christmas! Finally, I relented and we invited them to have dinner at our place.

Entertaining the In-Laws

You could say that the first thing I did wrong was to invite them over at all, but at the time I felt that it really couldn’t be avoided. If I didn’t entertain the in-laws, they would just keep on asking until it gradually became awkward, and then I would have a situation on my hands that I really didn’t want. And now, I’m glad it’s all over with, but on the whole the night will go down in history as one of the more irritating evenings I’ve hosted. Of course, any good host or hostess knows that if an evening isn’t fun, it’s her or his fault, because she or he was responsible for showing the guests a good time. I feel that way in this case, too, but believe me, they aren’t the easiest people in the world to please.

My Tacky Mother-in-Law

My mother-in-law in particular is known for being extremely judgmental. Although she is a woman of pedestrian tastes, she thinks that she is the height of fashion, so anyone who doesn’t share her fondness for the banal and tacky, she takes for an underdeveloped cave-dweller. Even worse, she’s from the backwaters of a Midwest state, so she knows (or thinks she knows) that anyone who doesn’t agree with her is simply uninformed, and she adopts a very patronizing tone when she gives people instructions on how to dress, live, and behave. In other words, inviting her over was a lot of pressure, and I wanted to serve something really delicious.

The Dinner

My father-in-law is on a gluten-free diet, and I’m a vegetarian, so my cooking options were limited. Ultimately I settled on a recipe that I made once, several years ago, and that was a big hit. It was a recipe for Scalloped Potatoes and Fennel, and I thought it would go over really well. I followed the recipe meticulously, but for some reason it just didn’t turn out very well. It was sort of bland. To make matters worse, the Olive Tapenade that I made for the occasion was overly strong, on account of the fact that I had never made it before. Suffice it to say that I would have had much better results if, instead of trying to wow them, I had gone with something I knew would turn out well.

After Dinner

The after-dinner portion of the evening didn’t go much better. The in-laws didn’t seem to like the music I had chosen, my mother- and father-in-law took turns monopolizing the conversation, and by the end of the night we were all struggling to stay awake in each other’s company. I should have prepared some conversation topics or activities in advance (not that my in-laws like to have fun), or at least instructed a friend to fake an emergency at an opportune moment.

The biggest lesson I learned from all this is never, under any circumstances, to invite my in-laws over for dinner. If I had to do it again, though, I would try to be a little better prepared. I only hope someone can learn something from my mistakes.

Read more at Buzzle:

How to Get Along with Your Mother-in-Law

Obviously, she is feeling neglected because you took over the position of the most important person in her child’s life. Yes, I am talking about your mother-in-law. Would you react any differently? If you haven’t shared the best mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship, you are one among the countless women who are sailing in the same boat. There are very few who are actually lucky enough to have kind and caring mothers-in-law who know their boundaries. You can either be at war with your better half’s mother or be at peace with her. However, I always say that it is never too late to mend a relationship, especially the one that you are legally obliged to have. At least you can ensure that for the rest of your relationship, you can get along nicely with your mom-in-law. It is really not that tough and most of it is just in your head. A little tweaking in your attitude towards her could go a long way. You never know, she may just become your best confidante and help you out with family life and your relationship with your spouse.

Getting Along With Your Mother-in-Law
Don’t try to create a wedge between your partner and your mother-in-law. In fact, you should allow them to spend more time together without interfering between them.
Suggest your partner to visit your mother-in-law at least twice every year if she stays in another state or once every other month if you stay in the same town. The more you avoid seeing your mother-in-law, the more both of you will be estranged. Increasing face time will familiarize both of you with each other and make a better bond.
You would make your mother feel special any day and you know she would absolutely love it if your husband did it for her too. So, why not show a gesture of affection/generosity towards your mother-in-law once in a while?
Quit trying to pick out flaws in her. Nobody is perfect and she did not bring you up. So, your husband or wife is likely to overlook her flaws because they are so used to it. It’s new for you and it will take time to settle down in your relationship with your relatives in-law. Give each other time.
If you often find yourself being annoyed with your mother-in-law’s tactics, focus on the positive things that she has done like not forgetting your birthday, bringing you a dish that she cooked when you were unwell, babysitting your children, giving you her support during tough times or helping you around the house.
Don’t complain about her child. No mother wants to hear it from anyone that her child is not perfect, especially the spouse. Instead, you should appreciate your partner by saying, “I am so glad that you brought him up to be the man he is because he is so responsible/takes care of everything/makes me feel secure”, or mention any particular characteristic you love. She will feel proud and will respect you for acknowledging her toil.
If she comments on any of your habits or way of life, take it as constructive criticism and ask her to help you out with better tips or solutions. She is not necessarily nagging you. She has been in your shoes and you will be surprised how much you can learn from her years of experience and how she dealt with life.
But, refrain from criticizing any of your in-laws even if one of them indulges in the same. You will only be perceived to be trying to alienate them from each other. Also, avoid getting into arguments, taunting, making sly comments or bickering with them.
A smart way to get along is to start mirroring her body language and habits. It indirectly suggests that both of you are in sync, reducing the tension and will make you feel more comfortable in each other’s presence. Use the phrases she commonly does or mirror anything unique about her body language. You should also try to imbibe a few of her positive habits like the way she finishes household chores, etc.
Make her feel that she is a part of you, your spouse and child’s life by keeping her informed about all the important events taking place in your lives; the time your baby got his first tooth, your child’s school recitals, his/her birthday, your spouse’s promotion or any other significant news.
Ask your mother-in-law for her opinions, suggestions and advice to solve some issues in your life that you wouldn’t mind her getting involved into. It will show that you are not threatened by her presence in your life and you welcome it wholeheartedly.
Don’t forget to buy your mother-in-law gifts, not just on her birthday or anniversary, but for all festivities, especially mother’s day and even days when there is no reason to gift her. It could be a fresh batch of her favorite cookies you baked, a cashmere shawl, a pamper-yourself bath set or delicate cutlery.
Praising your mother-in-law to others will someday end up being the music to her ears. Secondhand praise is even better than praising someone directly. Moral of the story, always speak good about your mother-in-law.
If you do not have much in common to talk about, a never-a-miss subject is her children! Ask her about your husband/wife’s childhood, every mother likes to talk about her children and you will end up learning something new about your partner.
Every mother is concerned about her child’s happiness, health and prosperity. You need to assure your mother-in-law that you are taking good care of these. Getting along with your mother-in-law is not a ‘herculean task’. Give her a reason to feel glad about you being a part of her family and give her time to trust you. Don’t be prejudiced towards your mother-in-law. Else, no matter how hard you try, your bitterness towards her will never let you share a nice relationship. Every relationship is built on respect, faith and regard for emotions. If you are keen on building a healthy relationship with her, you need to first make changes in your outlook towards her. Remember, nobody likes someone who doesn’t like them. If right now, you do not get along, showing a gesture of love and gratitude will help break the ice between both of you. No matter what you do, don’t ever put your partner in a tough spot to choose between the either of you. He/she may take a stand but you should avoid your relationship with your mother-in-law from affecting that with your partner.