(Look, I don’t know who this guy is, but he totally takes over my blog from time to time. He’s WAY less tactful than I’d like, but I can’t stop him. Don’t bother complaining; I’m already drafting a strongly worded letter. To his credit, he DOES have an awesome chair, and his hat is boss. – Brant)
Maybe you should listen to yourself.
You’re an adult, and you “can’t believe” your mother-in-law said that? You’re stunned. You’re amazed. The gall! The audacity! You’re “amazed” someone could act that way!
So, a question: Um… how long has she been saying stuff like that?
Oh: Her “entire life”? Or, say, just the last thirty years?
Here’s a thought: Maybe quit being shocked and amazed and stunned when Person A – a person who always says stuff like that – you know, says stuff like that.
The Krusty Sage has a dog that barks its fool head off every time someone comes to the door. It’s annoying. Yes. It’s loud. Yes. But is the Krusty Sage SHOCKED AND AMAZED the 4,000th time it happens? No. No, he’s not.
The Krusty Sage is an alumnus of the University of Illinois. Is he SHOCKED AND STUNNED when the football team loses to Ohio State? No. No, he’s not. Is he constantly “amazed” to hear MSNBC simply echo White House talking points? No. Is he in disbelief every time he learns someone is jealous of his awesome wooden chair? Nope. And, lo and behold, he’s not repeatedly surprised by gravity.
“But my husband’s mom just puts me down when she comes over, and this weekend, my husband and I just couldn’t believe it when she said I didn’t cook the fish right, and…”
So you can’t believe that a woman who always does that… did that.
“Okay, maybe I should believe it, but it doesn’t make it right!”
Duh. Of course it doesn’t “make it right”. But maybe if you adjust your expectations to fit the actual world, as it actually is, you could spend less time being shocked and upset, and more time laughing about it. I’m serious.
You can’t change her. If you’re going to keep the relationship (usually a very good idea) have realistic expectations, and a sense of humor.
Use her behavior as a reason for – dare I say it? – JOY. How? Be gleefully thankful that you’re out of the house, that you don’t have to replicate that behavior in your new family. You’ve started a new thing. Whether parents are sweet and encouraging, or bitter and discouraging, you didn’t pick ‘em, and you sure as heck don’t have to be them, thank the Lord.
You’re not a child anymore, even if insecure parents wish you were. They don’t define you. They may have defined your childhood, but that’s over. Like a friend of the Sage said, “You know what? Childhood was a relatively short time, a relatively long time ago.”
Yes, love them, and God bless ’em. But no, don’t expect them to be anything other than what they are. If you know it’s going to be rough, brace yourself, decide you’re not going to be offendable, no matter what, and weather the storm with humor.
And when she leaves: Have a glass of wine or wine-equivalent with your husband, thank the Lord that you’re doing your own thing now, and – this is important: Clink your glasses together, nod, and smile.
Because that’s her life.