Mother-in-law jokes are seemingly ubiquitous. And pernicious.
What is up with the pervasive and destructive cultural meme that women can’t get along with their in-laws, specifically their mothers-in-law?
For the record, I love my in-laws. It’s awesome when we see them or when they come stay with us. They are fun people and we all get along really well. I wish we could spend time with them more often!
It’s disrespectful to all parties to imply that women and their MILs don’t get along. It implies that women can’t be friends (in many versions, because they fight over a man, the husband/son). It also implies, in many versions, that the mother needs to control her adult son, which is terrible for both of them (maybe because she is trying to live vicariously through him because as an older woman, she has no life except her children and grandchildren).
It says that adult women can’t have mature, reasonable conversations about points of disagreement, instead letting resentment simmer and seethe for years, usually in a passive-aggressive way. It says the MIL does not respect her son’s wife, and that she can’t be polite about this. There is also the problem of the husband/son not having his wife’s back, not telling his mother to back off… the implication that there is a contest for affection… the implication that the MIL even needs to back off… the problem where the man puts his mom above his wife. SO MANY PROBLEMS!
It’s true that you won’t always get along with your in-laws, just like you won’t always get along with any random set of people, even if you are related. But we don’t have to degenerate into society-wide melodrama about it.
I see this relationship in media all the time and it never fails to induce hulk-y rage. My in-laws are good people and have welcomed me into the family. Let’s stop pitting women against each other over issues of control, identity, and a man in the middle. Can’t we all just get along?
#2 notes that her mom thinks #2’s partner is fantastic (and more than once has expressed surprise that #2 managed to find someone so great, thanks mom). Also, #2’s partner’s mom has helped her with research in the past! It doesn’t get that much more collegial than that.
Readers, hit us up with positive stories of your in-laws!