In case you haven’t heard, October 22nd is officially Mother-In-Law Day so it’s time to celebrate, right? Well, perhaps not. For many of us, the tricky and, frankly, tiring relationship we try to navigate with our partner’s mom is no cause for jubilation. Instead, it’s a minefield of continual “I told you so’s” and downcast looks across the dinner table.
The ugly truth of the matter is that many of us simply don’t have that happy family relationship we’d like with our in-laws. Sometimes, it genuinely feels as though, no matter how hard we try, we will always be left outside the inner circle; allowed to come to Christmas dinner but never allowed to carve the turkey.
Get ready for all that to change when you put these findings from a new study, published in the Spring journal Human Nature, to use. It has uncovered the ways in which we may all win our mother-in-laws over once and for all.
“Parents do not always find their children’s mate choices to comply with their own preferences and engage in manipulation in order to drive away undesirable boyfriends and girlfriends. To avoid this situation, individuals engage in counter manipulation in order to change their prospective parents-in-law’s minds to accept them as mates for their children,” explains researcher Menelaos Apostolou.
Throughout the course of the study, Apostolou and his team looked at 41 different tactics that people tried in order to win the approval of their partner’s parents. While many of the acts fell flat, there were a few striking ones that seemed to work across the board. So, how should we all be acting around our mothers-in-law from now on?
1. Prove that you’re a good partner
One of the most successful tactics, according to the study, was the “I am right for your child!” play. Despite its name, this one’s not all about screaming at your mother-in-law and telling her that she’s oh-so-very-much in the wrong. Instead, it’s about demonstrating why you are right for your current partner in a practical way. Get off on the right foot by saying these 12 things to your partner every day.
To pull this tactic off (and get away with it), you need to understand what your partner’s mother wants for her child. For example, if she holds traditional values and wants her son to be looked after, showing that you can cook a decent meal could be the key. If she’s an emotional person, supporting your partner’s feelings may do the trick. It’s all about presenting yourself as the partner your mother-in-law hopes you are.
2. Avoid confrontation at all costs
One of the most common tactics employed by participants in the study was the “No confrontation” act. That is avoiding any head-to-head arguments with your mother-in-law and generally staying out of her way. It may seem like a rather passive play (because it is) but it could be the answer you’ve been looking for. In essence, keeping your head down and just soldering on, could mean fewer arguments and less trouble.
3. Don’t ask your other half to help
The natural response when you’re feeling pushed out by your partner’s family is to appeal to them for help. There’s no shame in asking your significant other to fight your corner, but sadly, it likely won’t work. The ‘Tell them I’m good’ tactic in the study, in which participants asked their partners to talk to their parents on their behalf, was one of the least effective. The takeaway is that you need to deal with your irksome mother-in-law all by yourself! Now, find out the 13 things your mother-in-law won’t tell you.