As I channel surfed last Friday night (Yes, I was at home, channel surfing on a Friday night. Something happens when you get married…or is it old? Either way. You suddenly find great joy in staying in. But I digress… ) I stumbled across the movie “Monster-in-law” with Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda. After Charlotte (JLo) gets engaged to Viola’s (Jane Fonda) son Kevin (Michael Vartan), insanity ensues. Viola can’t imagine that the lowly Charlotte, a simple dog-walker and temp, could ever be good enough for Kevin. From invading their privacy to hiding peanuts in Charlotte’s food to trigger her allergy the night before the wedding, she’ll stop at nothing to ensure she remains number one in her darling son’s life. But Charlotte isn’t spineless, and does her best to fight back.
Although this is an extreme (albeit hilarious!) example of the relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, it actually is not as far-fetched as it may seem. This unique relationship has been chronicled for years, with self-help books and TV shows galore aimed at solving the age-long mystery of exactly why this female-to-female relationship can be so rocky. I never believed the hype until I myself got married. Somewhere between the new daughter-in-law taking first place in her husband’s life and the mother-in-law feeling like she’s losing a son, a lot of resentment and dare I say, even jealousy, develops.
The question is, how do you stop this from happening when you enter a new relationship? How do you keep it from getting worse over the years? I know there are plenty of people out there who are lucky enough to be as close to their in-laws as they are to their own parents. I’d love to hear from anyone out there–what is your relationship with your mother-in-law like? Is she a monster-in-law or a second mother to you?