Facing Issues With Mother-In-Law | Five Ways To Handle MIL

When one of my closest friends was diagnosed with infertility issues and she called me, do you know what is the first thing she said ? She said, “All I can think about now is how my mother-in-law will blame me for this and say that it was my fault to wait so long to have a baby.”

Can you imagine? She wasn’t concerned about the uterine problems the doctor had just told her about, she wasn’t thinking about what it means for her husband and her as a couple, she wasn’t thinking about positive actions to get her health back on track…the foremost thing on her mind was what her MIL would say and make her feel ! This one example alone, and countless others, is enough to bring our attention to this sensitive area in infertility issues – the already-fragile relationship between a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. For a majority of women this one factor holds so much importance that they believe that even more than their husband, if their mother-in-law was supportive in their infertility struggles, they wouldn’t feel ’ less of a woman’ as they now do.


It’s not YOU that’s the target…it’s their image of a daughter-in-law

So, can something really be done to solve this? YES. All you need is harder resolve and a whole lot of patience. Here are some pointers to keep in mind while dealing with your MIL in your journey towards motherhood.

1.     Get Your Priorities Straight

I understand that the diagnosis of infertility problems makes you want to run to the nearest pillar for support and a listening ear; you hope to find more and more people who can tell you that it’s okay and that it happens; this is good and emotional support needs to be sought in a situation like this. BUT from the moment you find out about these issues in your gynecologist’s cabin, REMEMBER it’s about you and your desire for a baby in which your husband is also an equal partner. It’s NOT about ‘giving an heir to the family’, ‘fulfilling grandparents’ wishes before they die’, or because ‘it’s high time you had a baby’. As long you stay clear on this, nothing will be able to shake your faith in why you’re doing this.

2.     Learn Not To Take Everything Personally

Now that you’re on this path, you’ll find that everyone has an opinion on what you should, shouldn’t, should have, and shouldn’t have done. If you start giving weight to everything everyone says, you’ll exhaust yourself at the very outset, but remember you have a long way to go. Especially your MIL will give you countless advice on what to do now, and probably comments on how she is suffering because you’re going through this (may be in a nice way, may be not). When this happens, remember, it’s not YOU that’s the target…it’s their image of a daughter-in-law…if it were anyone else in your place, she would have heard the same things. So it’s actually not because you’re somehow provoking those comments, it’s because they cannot see beyond what they want to see.

3.     Prepare Fixed And Firm Responses

People who aim to goad or gossip or just taunt, cannot stand in the face of consistent patience. So get ready with set phrases like “I’m sure things will happen in their own time”, “I know this isn’t somehow my fault; it’s just how things go sometimes”, “I appreciate your concern”, “Well, thank you for all the advice”, “We’ve decided to just follow our doctor because taking advice from a lot of sources can get confusing and then we won’t know what actually worked!”. Practice delivering these phrases in front of the mirror with a calm smile (not a self-conscious apologetic one!) that conveys that you mean what you say. These few phrases cover almost every kind of comment thrown your way and if you say them enough number of times, eventually people will stop!

4. Switch Perspective - Get Into Mother-In-Law’s Shoes

I know that every time your mother-in-law makes a comment, direct or indirect, about how you’re having difficulty conceiving, it hurts like hell. But before your defences rise, try to keep in mind that for someone in her position, probably a grandchild is the only goal in her life and when that goal seems to slip, she needs to find someone to blame; it’s human nature, we have all done that to someone else in frustration, haven’t we? Maybe, putting you down is actually her own psychological defence, so how does that become your problem? It doesn’t.

5.     Keep Communication Channels Clear

In trying times like this, it’s very important that you are heard – clearly and non-aggressively. Sometimes you’ll feel your husband too ‘sides’ with your MIL. Sometimes you’ll want to tell them that you’re the real victim in all this and that you’d like some appreciation and someone to say ‘hang in there, we’re with you.’ You don’t have to use tears or aggression to convey that you’re hurt by something someone has said. You’ll make more impact if you manage to put your point across calmly and clearly. It’s not your BURDEN to make the other person understand how you feel; and if they don’t understand it’s NOT YOUR FAILURE. It’s their mental block. So stop feeling frustrated when someone doesn’t see your point. Your job is only to communicate clearly and hope that they see it one day. If they don’t, there’s not much you can do about it — accept it. But at the same time, don’t let it get to you.

We understand that it’s not enough to summarise everything in just five points, but the fundamental thought you need to keep in mind at all times is that eventually it is your fight, and those who really understand will be on your side on their own in the right way; there will be some who l need to be told and that’s okay. After that, if there are still some left who don’t get it, you don’t need that kind of negativity. Let go. You don’t have to convince everybody. Your focus right now is YOU – your physical health, your emotional wellness, and your peace of mind – and you don’t have to place any of that in someone else’s hands!

About The Author

Prachi S Vaish is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and psychotherapist with an M.Phil in Clincal Psychology. She’s the founder of India’s first psychological services portal HopeNetwork.in. She has served as a psychological consultant at various hospitals in her career. Her areas of expertise include pregnancy and childbirth issues, couples and marital issues, recovery from extramarital affairs, recovery from trauma and abuse and anxiety disorders. She regularly contributes articles as a psychological expert to the Indian editions of Child and Better Homes and Gardens magazines.For her, the well-being of her clients is foremost and privacy and confidentiality are the pillars of her practice.




1 Comment
  1. Kriya Tivari 2 years ago

    Yes.. I agree with you that “it’s not YOU that’s the target…it’s their image of a daughter-in-law”.

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