I see you over there--hiding behind the couch with your glass of wine feverishly sipping, hoping that your mother-in-law won't leave the kitchen before you can down the glass...hoping that her opinion of how your wedding should be planned will quiet as you do so...
Just kidding. But seriously.
Handling your mother-in-law (MIL) during the planning process can be a tricky thing, and like most tricky things, you need some tools for the job. As simple as they seem, the five suggestions listed below can be very helpful tools for you to use as you navigate your relationship with your new MIL--as well as other relationships close to you.
1) Stand firm.
Just like you know you're not going to take all of the advice and every suggestion you receive from friends and family during your engagement, be willing to stand up for your own opinion when your MIL tries to convince you that orange, blue, and white are much better wedding colors than your purple, green and grey. Keep in mind that by remaining enthusiastic about your own ideas, rather than hesitant to tell her and everyone else that you don't like their ideas, you're much less likely to deal with conflict.
Is your MIL hurting your feelings by pushing too hard? Do you think you've accidentally offended her by shooting down her ideas? These are things that should be communicated in a mature conversation that can start something like this, "MIL, do you think we could sit down and talk about some things involving our relationship? I want to include you in my wedding planning, but I think we might have hurt each others' feelings, and I want to clear things up." Try hard to understand why she wants to be so involved in your wedding planning. Ask yourself: is she really acting this way because she's a control freak who wants to redo her own wedding vicariously through you? Is she trying to ruin your wedding because she's furious you're stealing her child from her? Maybe not. Maybe her desire to be involved stems from an emotional need to feel needed, helpful, loved, important, or included. Maybe she sees wedding planning as a chance to bond with you. Having a conversation about how she feels and how you feel is a good opportunity to be transparent and compassionate with one another in an effort to strengthen your relationship.
3) Keep her involved.
This doesn't mean she gets to choose your dress and the reception decor...just keep her busy. Give her things to put together--DIY favors, invitations, photo-booth props...anything you've already designed and simply need done can be handed to her to execute, giving her the feeling that she's involved and needed, without giving her too much control.
When wedding planning, it's important to see the bigger picture: your relationship with your MIL is going to exist after the wedding. Preferably not in shambles. With this in mind, it's worth mentioning that some sacrifices may need to be made for the betterment of your family relationships. Sometimes, even after having conversations about how you feel, you and your MIL will not see eye-to-eye; to ensure that minimal resentment exists post-wedding, it might be necessary to let her make some decisions.
5) Seek counseling.
Of course, bringing a family counselor in is a risky business, depending on family dynamics and skeletons-in-the-closet. It's certainly something to ask permission of involved family members before taking action toward it, and finding a professional neutral third-party is key. It has the potential to go both ways, though. Sometimes family counseling in the midst of wedding-planning is a good idea, and can improve relationships and communication. Sometimes, however, it can be seen as an offensive rout, so be considerate and wary if you pursue this.
Do you have a recommendation on how to handle MIL's? Leave it in the comments down below!