Thursday, November 24, 2005

How to Make Peace with Your Mother-in-Law

WHILE OUT TO LUNCH at a restaurant, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation at the table next to me. There sat three women, each complaining about her mother-in-law. "My husband's mother started criticizing me at my wedding 20 years ago and she never stopped," one woman said. "My mother-in-law thinks my husband is her personal handy man--she'll call at least once a week, insisting he come over right away and do this and that," said another. "My mother-in-law stops by all the time, expecting us to drop what we're doing and entertain her," said the third woman.

How sad, I thought to myself, that these women had such difficult times with their mothers-in-law. Yet I knew they weren't alone in how they feel. Getting along with your in-laws can be one of the biggest challenges of married life. According to researchers at Utah State University, nearly 60 percent of all marriages suffer from tension with mothers-in-law, normally between the daughter-in-law and her husband's mother. Somehow the stereotype of the nagging, meddling mother-in-law can seem like a normal part of life.

Why so many misunderstandings? Dr. Peter A. Wish, former nationally syndicated columnist of The Family Experience, says that "often it's a matter of mothers not wanting to let go. The mother may not recognize her son as being an adult, and so she continues to treat him like a kid, even after he gets married and has a family of his own."

Clashes with your mother-in-law may actually intensify as you get older. "A 20-year-old woman may not be very confident about her own opinions, and if she has a mother-in-law who's been through 40 years of life and she says things ought to be done this way, it's harder to challenge her," says Dr. Everett Worthington, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University with a special interest in the role of in-laws. "But by the time a woman is middle-aged, she's normally a well-established adult who has her own strong opinions and feels more confident to confront her mother-in-law head-on."

Obviously, in-law clashes are far from ideal. When you and your mother-in-law are on bad terms, the tension takes a big toll. Your spouse and children may feel they are caught in the middle and resent being forced to choose sides. Family get-togethers are strained. Your physical health and spiritual life may suffer.

"Mother-in-law battles can poison family life," Dr. Judith Sills, a family counselor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a special interest in the role of in-laws. "It may start out as a feud between you and your mother-in-law, but before you know it, your husband, kids, father-in-law and other relatives are also drawn into the conflict."

Although it is not necessary to become best friends with your mother-in-law, it is important to be on good terms with her. Romans 12:18 tells us we should live peaceably with everyone, and in-laws are no exception. What follows are five of the most common complaints about mothers-in-law and suggestions for making peace.

"She's always telling me what to do"

RAMONA ADDRESSES A COMMON PROBLEM when she says, "I can't do anything without my mother-in-law second-guessing me. She sees me wearing a white dress and tells me I would look thinner in black. I put a jacket on my child and she insists he needs his winter coat. She notices me using butter in my cooking and gives me a lecture about cholesterol. I'm 37 and she treats me like I'm a child."

Even if you don't appreciate her choice of words, you can still thank your mother-in-law for her concern.

How can you discourage unwanted suggestions without having a big confrontation? One woman I know prepares ahead of time for encounters with her mother-in-law. Prior to an anticipated visit, she mentally reviews the most recent comments that rubbed her the wrong way and thinks about what would be proper responses. "Anticipating the types of remarks my mother-in-law might make and how I could respond shows me where I'm being oversensitive and helps me not overreact when she does say something offensive," she says.

Even if you don't appreciate her choice of words, you can still thank your mother-in-law for her concern. Reassure her that you will ask for her input if and when you feel you are at a dead end. You might say, "Mom, I love you and I appreciate your concern. But the best way for us to be close is for you to let me do things my own way." Make it clear that you still want her to be involved with your family, but it has to be on your terms.

"She keeps meddling"

PHIL'S MOTHER-IN-LAW went beyond giving unsolicited advice and actually interfered. "Our two daughters spent the weekend with my mother-in-law while my wife and I went out of town," he explains. "Grandma has the tendency to spoil our kids, and they already have plenty of toys, so we specifically told her to not buy anything for them that weekend. When we got back Sunday night, the first thing our daughters did was show us the new doll house Grandma bought them. I was so mad I could barely speak."

The best way to handle this type of conflict is to communicate. "You and your spouse should talk to your mother-in-law, as a couple, and make it clear that this is a concern you both have," Dr. Wish says. Set aside a time and place to talk when both you and your mother-in-law feel relaxed and stress-free. Talk in a neutral setting: at the park, in a restaurant, during a walk around the neighborhood--while you're doing something enjoyable.

Fight the urge to run down a list of your mother-in-law's annoying traits. Instead, start with something positive, such as, "Mom, I know you mean well, but it really bothered me when you ignored my instructions for the children." Go into the talk with an open mind and give your mother-in-law a chance to explain herself. You may be surprised at her reasons for doing what she did.

"She wants constant companionship"

ONE OF THE MOST DELICATE mother-in-law situations is when she wants more companionship from you than you are willing or able to give. "I adore my mother-in-law," says Amy. "The problem is, she's retired and lives alone and has lots of free time on her hands. I've got two teens, a husband and house to take care of, as well as a full-time job. A few minutes after I'm home from work, she'll stop over, wanting to sit and chat. But I need to get dinner going, the kids want attention, I haven't seen my husband all day. If I tell her I don't have time to talk, I feel so guilty."

If your mother-in-law is making too many demands on your time, be honest with her about how you feel.

If your mother-in-law is making too many demands on your time, be honest with her about how you feel. Tell her what you'd like to see in the relationship, and try to establish the right level of involvement for both of you. How often should you get together? Do you want her to call once a week? How much privacy do you need? Can she stop over uninvited? Set clear boundaries you both can agree on.

Frame your words positively. Saying, "We enjoy being with you, however it's unsettling for us to have you just stop by without calling first," is better than announcing, "We don't like it when you come over uninvited." Tell her that you definitely want to spend time together, but that you need to be able to plan when and how often.

Your mother-in-law may be widowed or suffering from poor health and genuinely need a lot of your time. Check out your other options. Are there other relatives who could be do more to help? Does your mother-in-law have friends she could be calling instead of you? Don't feel guilty if you can't fill all your mother-in-law's needs. Knowing your own limits is the key to giving sincerely.

"She competes with me for my husband"

IRENE SUMS UP THE FEELINGS of many women when she says, "I feel like an outsider when I'm around my mother-in-law. Even though my husband and I have been married 15 years, she still treats me as though I'm a threat, someone who wants to take her son away from her. I'm not usually a competitive person, but when I'm with my mother-in-law, I find myself comparing, keeping score and being unsure of my status in the family."

Unfortunately, there's a built-in sense of rivalry in every daughter-in-law/mother-in-law relationship. "A woman and her mother-in-law are in a triangular relationship with the same man," says Dr. Sills. "The daughter-in-law's gain is frequently the mother-in-law's loss. And when another woman has caused you a loss, no matter how intellectually understandable it is, it's hard to take."

An effective strategy for dealing with competitive feelings is to realize that part of your mother-in-law's possessiveness is natural aspect of being a mother. "Your mother-in-law may never stop feeling it's her job to be a caretaker to your husband," Dr. Sills says. "Asking her to give up control completely and let you be the only influential woman in your husband's life is asking the impossible."

Stop comparing yourself to your mother-in-law. "A common feeling is for a woman to feel that she's not measuring up to her husband's mother," says Dr. Wish. "Remind yourself that you are not your mother-in-law. You don't have to live your life according to her terms. The earlier you establish this as a framework for your marriage, the happier you will be."

"She won't admit her mistakes"

YOU MAY HAVE TRIED talking to your mother-in-law about something she's done to hurt you and be getting nowhere. That is the situation for Brent. "My mother-in-law is totally oblivious to her faults," he says. "When I try to tell her about something she did that upset us, she either acts like she doesn't know what I'm talking about or spends an hour defending her actions. But until she starts apologizing, I don't care to be around her."

Remind yourself that having a good relationship with your mother-in-law is part of having a strong family.

Even if your mother-in-law can't see or refuses to acknowledge how she's hurt you, you still can, and should, forgive her. Forgiveness is not a matter of you insisting your mother-in-law says she's sorry, but of you letting go of the anger you have for her. Until you bury the past, you will not be able to move onto the future.

The first step to forgiveness is to try to understand your mother-in-law's perspective. "You may come to see that she wasn't being as malicious as you once thought," Dr. Worthington says. "The second step is to realize that you may not have done the same thing to her but you've probably hurt other people. And just as you would like to have forgiveness for the times you've hurt others, you should willing to forgive your mother-in-law."

Although it is never too late to make peace, it will take time to reconcile with your mother-in-law. "You have to rebuild trust, and you don't just do that by saying 'I forgive you,' even if you mean it 100 percent," Dr. Worthington says. "Whereas forgiveness is granted, trust is earned, and that doesn't happen overnight."

While progress may be slow, a healthy relationship can be achieved with your mother-in-law. The more you understand what motivates her when she does things to get on your nerves, the less likely you will be to overreact or turn every little incident into a major one. Remind yourself that having a good relationship with your mother-in-law is part of having a strong family. It may take a lot of patience, love and commitment on your part to have a peaceful relationship with your mother-in-law. But it's definitely worth the effort.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Love Your Mother-in-Law

Enquirer Contributor

The joke: What's the definition of mixed emotions?

The punch line: Watching your mother-in-law back off a cliff in your new Mercedes.

Mother-in-laws have been the brunt of jokes since the beginning of, well, since the beginning of marriage. And some of them deserve a little ribbing (backing off a cliff is a bit harsh, however).

All jokes aside, becoming a mother-in-law is no easy task. In her book How to Be the Perfect Mother-in-Law (Andrews McMeel), Camille Russo likens the transition to “feeling as if you've been strapped to a chair with a sock stuck in your mouth.”

• Joan Maier, mother-in-law, Park Hills. “Never give any advice twice.”
• Agnes Cronin, mother-in-law, Springfield Township. “Don't interfere or tell them how to raise their children.”
• Joan Harpring, mother-in-law, Anderson Township. “Don't just drop in. Call first.”
• Denise Harpring, daughter-in-law, Anderson Township. “If you're not getting along, stay open for an opportunity to make amends. Never give up, persevere and pray a lot.”
• Melinda Maier, daughter-in-law, Lakeside Park. “Treat all of your grandchildren equally. Don't favor one or two over the others.”
• Mike Scholl, son-in-law, Fairfield. “Be ready to adapt old traditions, like holiday dinners, to accommodate the traditions of the spouse and the new couple. Religion and finances are touchy subjects. Best leave the new couple to find their own path. Offer support but don't push.”
Suddenly, your well-meaning advice is no longer accepted as well-meaning. The child you so lovingly nurtured into adulthood suddenly has a spouse ready to scrutinize your every word and action.

Mike Scholl's relationship with the woman he now describes as “the perfect mother-in-law,” had a sour beginning. Before Mike married Kathleen Cronin, her parents invited Mike and his parents to dinner. Here's where things turned sour. As mother-in-law- to-be Agnes Cronin describes it, “we always drink skim milk at our house. But Mike only likes whole milk.”

Wanting to accommodate her future son-in-law, Agnes bought whole milk especially for Mike. Unfortunately, the milk was sour. Not wanting to offend Agnes' kind gesture, Mike drank it anyway without saying a word.

Today, 24 years later, Mike and Agnes get along famously. “She's always there when we need her, but never in the way or interfering,” the Fairfield man says. “She's just a neat lady.” And, according to Mike, she's a great cook. But, he brings his own milk.

Joan Maier of Park Hills knew that giving advice to the newly-married couple was something to be avoided. So when she became a mother-in-law for the first time she decided she would never give advice. It sounded like a good idea, “but I couldn't do it,” she admits. “It's hard to keep quiet!”

Instead she decided she would never give the same advice twice. Today, with six daughters and sons-in-laws, she's found the rule works well. Do they heed her advice? “They hear it, but they don't necessarily follow it,” she admits.

Apparently her tactic is working. Her daughter-in-law, Melinda Maier of Lakeside Park, reports, “She only gives advice when asked or when it will really help, but not all the time. She lets us discover the best ways to do things on our own, like burp babies and potty train them, but will gladly tell us how she did it if we want to know.”

Like many newly formed relationships, Joan Harpring had an uncomfortable start with new daughter-in-law, Denise. For nearly a year the two did not communicate, although neither can remember why. Denise guesses it had something to do with the fact that she married Joan's only son. “It was tough for me and tough for her. Joan wanted to know that her son was going to be happy. And even though he was, time had to prove that to her.

“Sometimes people say things meant to be taken one way, and the other person takes it completely different,” Denise adds.

Both women persevered in their desire to make amends.

“I didn't want to have children that couldn't have a close relationship with their grandparents. And it was difficult for my husband, too,” Denise says.

Today, Joan and Denise have a close relationship based on mutual respect. And while some would shudder at the thought of living close to their in-laws, Denise is happy hers decided to move just a mile and a half away.

For the mother-in-law who refuses to make amends with her daughter-in-law, author Camille Russo shares this important reminder: Your daughter-in-law may have the final say on which nursing home you'll be sent to!


Top 10 Reasons You're the Best Mother-in-Law

10. Call before you visit
9. Don't nag
8. Aren't a mother-in-law joke

7. Cook good

6. Nice little surprises

5. Tell people you like me

4. Always on call to help

3. Don't expect me to be perfect

2. Raised a great kid for me to marry

And the #1 reason you're the best "mother-in-law" is you treat me like family!

So That's Where Mother-In-Law Jokes Come From!

Study of German peasants in 18th and 19th centuries claims they could be deadly

By Jennifer Thomas
HealthScoutNews Reporter

SUNDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthScoutNews) You think you've got mother-in-law problems?

She can't be as bad as German mother-in-laws in the 18th and 19th centuries.

For young women back then, having their mother-in-law around increased the chances of their child dying, says a recent study in New Scientist .

Researchers say their study gives some insight into the origins of the "evil mother-in-law" stereotype, an image that cuts across cultures and centuries.

The researchers, from Giessen University in Germany, studied church birth and death registries for low-income families from the Krummhs region of northern Germany.

They found that if a mother's mother was alive when the child was 6 months to 1 year old, that child was 79 percent more likely to survive than if the grandmother was dead. In contrast, the babies of women whose mother-in-law was still living at that tender age were half as likely to survive than if the mother-in-law was dead.

Lead researcher Eckart Voland says in the study that mother-in-laws in the strict religious society prevalent in that region during that time might have been overly suspicious of a baby's paternity. As a result, they may have harassed the mother, which would have had a detrimental effect on her ability to care for the child and the family's interest in the baby.

Harold Euler, an expert in the evolution of family relationships at Kassel University in Germany, says another factor could be at play. The mother-in-law might have had an interest in destabilizing the relationship between her son and his wife, Euler says.

Strife in the relationship could encourage the father of the child to explore sexual relationships with other women, thereby resulting in more grandchildren for her, he says.

However, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, says both explanations are simplistic and putting too much emphasis on biological determinism.

"They are stupid biological arguments," says Scheper-Hughes, an expert in maternal behavior and infant mortality whose research includes studying a nearby region of Germany during the same time period.

At that time in Germany, infant mortality was about 40 percent during the first year of life.

While she is not surprised by the German researchers' findings, she believes their interpretation of the data is off. Instead of seeing the mother-in-law as a culprit in the baby's death, she believes the reverse is true: the mother's mother played a very important role in ensuring the newborn's survival.

Without her mother around, the young mother would have had a more difficult time keeping a child alive in impoverished conditions.

"Worldwide, one of the most enduring bonds in the world is a mother-daughter relationship," Scheper-Hughes says. "Even with all the tensions that exist between mothers and daughters, if you really look at family composition, especially in areas that are subjected to poverty and scarcity, you'll find one of the primary measures of support is going to be a mother-daughter relationship."

In areas where men move in and out of a household and take minimal responsibility for their children, the mother's mother is often one of the primary caretakers of the child.

So, it's not that the mother-in-law is hurting the child's chances of surviving, but that the mother's mother really helps the child's chances of surviving," Scheper-Hughes says.

"Rather than say the mother-in-laws are bad, what they are finding is the mother-daughter relationship is so strong. That's what extraordinary," she says. "The daughter's child is another version of mother's child, pure and simple."


Take my mother-in-law, please!

It's not just a punch line:
true-life tales of monster moms

The upcoming 'Monster in Law' (starring Jane Fonda, l., as 'monster,' and Jennifer Lopez as her son's fiancee) show how M.I.L.s get a bad rap.

Doris Roberts as 'Everybody Loves Raymond's' manipulative matriarch

Even former librarian Laura Bush couldn't resist poking fun at her 'sweet, grandmother-ly' mother-in-law, Barbara. At last weekend's White House Correspondents' Association dinner, she joked that Barb's as tough as mob boss Don Corleone in 'The Godfather.'

While many are planning to commemorate moms with flowers and showers of love this Sunday, mothers - especially mothers-in-law - are taking a hit on the public stage. We all know the archetype: the critical, meddling, demanding, even evil matriarch who never quite got over the loss of her son to another woman. So she terrorizes his wife by interfering in their marriage or, worse, by trying to prevent it. We've seen it played out on television shows like "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Huff," and in books like Jane Green's super-popular "The Other Woman." It's even coming to the big screen in "Monster-in-Law," starring Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda.

Even sweet old Barbara Bush was battered, jokingly of course, at the hands of daughter-in-law Laura, who compared the other Mrs. Bush to "Godfather" Don Corleone.

But if you think the character is merely a funny stereotype, think again. There are more than a few women who will be able to relate to Lopez's experience with her fiancé's nightmare mother, played by Fonda - a role based on screenwriter Anya Kochoff's real-life ex-mother-in-law - when the movie hits theaters May 13.

"My mother-in-law is one of the biggest reasons my husband and I got divorced," said Jeanette, a 40-year-old Queens woman (all the women in this story requested their names be changed).

"The woman drove me crazy for six years. She kept a picture of my husband and his ex-girlfriend on display in her living room. She changed our bridal registry so that we would get the china pattern she wanted us to have rather than the one we wanted. Then she changed the menu for my wedding without even talking to us. She was always causing problems like that."

Familial love triangle

And though it's a story as old as time, the nightmare mother-in-law is a recurring punch line. "It seems like something out of old comedy routines, but in real life, it is still very common for mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law to have friction," said Susan Shapiro Barash, author of "Mothers in Law and Daughters in Law: Love, Hate, Rivalry and Reconciliation," who runs ongoing psychological studies on the subject.

"The relationship between them and the husband/son is a triangle," said Barash. "These two women love the same man in different ways, and they're very territorial. It's a rivalry. They're also from different generations, so they each have their own ways of doing things, which they each think are right."

She added that in her most recent study, only 8% of daughters-in-law said they got along "very well" with their mothers-in-law.

Sasha, 35, clashed with her mother-in-law on the topic of breast-feeding. "She hadn't done it, so she just didn't understand why I would do it - it wasn't her thing," Sasha recalled.

"I made Thanksgiving last year, when my son was only 2 months old. I needed to feed him in the middle of making dinner for 14 people from scratch, and my mother-in-law kept saying, 'Just give him a bottle, just give him a bottle.' I sat down and nursed him for a while and then when I stood up, she shouted at me, 'You're starving him!' "

That isn't the only time Sasha and her husband's mother haven't seen eye to eye.

"She was angry that we bought a house in Westchester instead of New Jersey, where she lives," she said. "She saw it as me trying to get away from her, but Westchester just made more sense for us. We took her on vacation to the Hamptons, and we argued over where to go and what to do.

Manipulative mama

"I told my husband I didn't want her to come with us on vacation anymore, but he pointed out that we need her help, now that we have a baby. And that she has been alone since her husband died.

"My poor husband tries to be Switzerland," Sasha continued. "He tries not to take sides, but I get mad at him for not standing up for me."

According to Barash, husbands need to take a side - their wives'. "The sovereignty of the marriage is really important, and the son/husband needs to let that be known," she explained. "A mother-in-law needs to recognize this, and realize that she can't have the same impact on her son as she did before he was married."

Of course, this becomes less of an issue when a man has long ago cut loose of his mother's apron strings. "This is all so much easier when you have a guy who has cleared his issues with his family of origin so he's free to give his loyalty to you," Barash said. "If you're with a guy who calls his mother first before he calls you - when he gets a promotion, or sees a great apartment - you're in trouble."

But all hope is not lost - depending on whom you're dealing with. Barash recommends trying to ease the situation.

"In my research, I'm finding that more and more brides are looking to reconcile their differences with their mothers-in-law early on, because they realize they're in it for the long haul," she said. "If you do things like invite your mother-in-law to lunch or to a movie - any kind of gesture like that - she might respond well. That doesn't mean you have to do everything she suggests. You can say, 'No, this is the way I want it,' very nicely, and still be independent."

Jeanette made an effort to connect with her mother-in-law, to no avail. "When her husband had open-heart surgery, I took off six months from work to go and live with them and help out," she remembered. "Well, nothing I could do was right. I couldn't win her over no matter how hard I tried. One day, I thought she was complimenting me. She told me I was brilliant at cooking chazerai. Then I looked it up in a Yiddish dictionary - she was saying my food was pig's slop. When your son marries a shiksa and you have your Jewish best friend's daughter in mind, I guess you never give up."


Standing Up to a Critical Mother-in-Law

Dear Dr. Bill:
As I approach my 40th birthday, I'm starting to feel like I want more respect from my mother-in-law, who's been mistreating me for the last 15 years. I could give you numerous examples of how she's been rude, critical and outright hostile to me — often right in front of my husband and our 4 kids. When I've asked my husband why he doesn't stand up for me or confront his mother about her behavior, he says, "I know my mom is mean, but that's just the way she is. Try to ignore it." He doesn't feel like anything can be done to change his mother. I'm wondering what you think — should I just accept this treatment? Or do I or my husband need to confront her? And how should we do it?


Dear Wendy:

I received an e-mail very similar to yours about a year ago, and my advice is pretty much the same. God provides us with a model for successful marriage relationships in the Bible. In Genesis 2, He tells us that a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife. Jesus repeats this command in the Gospel of Matthew.

The word "cleave" means to be united as one flesh and to establish a new family unit, separate from the family of origin. In order for a marriage to be successful, that new family unit needs to take priority over the husband's family and the wife's family.

Your mother-in-law has no right to treat you with such disrespect. Your husband has a responsibility to you and your children to step up to the plate and defend you. But from your description, either he's afraid of his mom or simply doesn't want to rock the boat. I suggest you make a date with your husband, and tell him you have some important things to discuss, away from the kids. Lovingly and patiently explain that you've had it with your mother-in-law's mean-spirited attacks and criticism, and that it's time for both of you to start setting some firm boundaries with her. Explain that you can't do this alone and that you are counting on his support.

If he agrees, the two of you should sit down with his mom and let her know that things are going to be different in your relationship from this point forward. Your husband should take the lead in this conversation, and tell his mom that her constant criticism of you hurts him deeply and that he is no longer going to accept it. He should make it clear that unless she can make a genuine effort to change her attitude and behavior, she will no longer be welcome in your home.

Based on your e-mail, I'm guessing that your mother-in-law may react in anger, or she may play the martyr role and attempt to make you and your husband feel guilty for confronting her. Stand your ground and refuse to be manipulated.

Unless your mother-in-law is willing to admit her faults and make some significant changes in her behavior, I believe you may also want to consider limiting the amount of time she spends with your children. Ask yourself this: Is it truly in their best interest to be spending time with a woman who is so hostile and demeaning? Perhaps her desire to see her grandchildren will motivate her to examine her attitude and her behavior, but based on your description, I'm not holding my breath.

If your husband doesn't have the courage to back you up and confront his mom, I suggest that you seek the assistance of a family therapist. That will send a strong signal to your husband that you are dead serious about this issue.


Mother-in-law: be careful!

Got married we obtain the relatives of our partner whether we want it or not. In our rash century relationships between family members are getting more and more distant. But we should still admit that we have mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and brothers-in-law. It is up to the person what kind of relationship she/he will build with them.

If you live far away from each other, and visit each other once or twice a year, you have less objections. Relations are limited with phone calls on some occasions, postcards, and e-mails.
But the situation is different when you live close to each other and often communicate.

It goes deep into the years that mother-in-law is considered to be the most “difficult” relative-in-law. She has become a character of funny and sad stories and fairytales, sarcastic poems and songs. For example, “Mother-in-Law” by Huey Lewis& The News from album “For Cords and Several Years Ago”:

Mother in law, mother in law
mother in law, mother in law

The worst person I know
mother in law, mother in law
she worries me so
mother in law, mother in law
if she leaves us alone
we could have a happy home
sent from down below
mother in law, mother in law
mother in law, mother in law

Satan should be her name
mother in law, mother in law
to me they're about the same
mother in law, mother in law
everytime I open my mouth
steps in trying to put me out
how could you stood so low
mother in law, mother in law
mother in law, mother in law

Come home with my pay
mother in law, mother in law
she asks me what I made
mother in law, mother in law
she thinks her advice is a contribution
if she would leave that would be the solution
don't come back no more
mother in law, mother in law
mother in law, mother in law...

What relations to make with that “lady in black”? It is definitely better to have positive relations with any person, especially with her. At least there is one fact in her favor: she is the mother of your loving one. Moreover, with bad relations we ruin ourselves and lose our strength. As a result we have a headache and problems with our health. Do you need it? Definitely, NO.

So, how to establish and maintain friendly relations with mother-in-law and to enjoy friendly family life?

• Make first impression good. In order to reach it, perform some preliminary work. Ask your partner about his/her mother, what she likes, what hobbies she has, what people she is eager to communicate with, what her preferences in food are, etc.

• If you have not met yet, but heard a lot of each other, send your future mother-in-law a small present, e.g. a bouquet of flowers or a basket of fruits, on her birthday or some other occasion. She will appreciate your good taste and will be well-disposed to you.

• Remember that she will always be his/her mother, as yours will be yours. Children, not matter how old they are, are likely to listen to their parents’ advice and consider their opinion. Respect your mother-in-law.

• Try to be cooperators, not competitors. You both wish happiness and love to your wife/husband and her son/daughter. It is easier to reach the aim when there are two of you.

• Bear in mind that your mother-in-law is a woman. You may always find some common topics to discuss (e.g. TV shows, soap operas, flowers, fashion, at least weather). The overwhelming majority of women have the same household chores, such as home decoration, cooking, and shopping. Ask her, a sophisticated person, for a piece of advice. She will appreciate it.

To sum up, try to be friends with your mother–in-law, not enemies.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Oleh Leila Ch. Budiman

PERILAKU ayah dan ibu dari suami atau istri tidak selamanya nyaman. Banyak pasangan menderita karena mereka.

Semua "dibetulkan" mertua -- "Serita" di rumah. (Juga buat "Ms Scorpio" yang selalu dicela nyentrik dan tomboy oleh kubu ipar dan mertua serta dikucilkan).

"Bu Lei, saya hampir putus asa menghadapi ibu mertua saya. Mungkin di matanya saya selalu serba salah, ya Bu. Apa saja yang saya lakukan atau kenakan, tidak ada yang betul. Pakaian saya selalu disebut kuno, terlalu tidak modis, seperti orang tua. "Masih muda kok pilih warna gelap." Dandanan saya terlalu sederhana. "Nanti kalah dari sekretaris suamimu, atau kalah dari pembantu."

Makanan yang saya masak juga terasa tidak enak. Kalau tidak kurang garam, maka kebanyakan garam. Merebus kurang hijau, membuat kopi kurang manis, tertawa saya juga terdengar aneh. Saya sudah jenuh. Anehnya suami saya diam saja, bahkan dia membela ibunya. Dia bilang ibunya memang pandai memasak, bumbunya pas. Dalam hati saya marah, "Pergilah sana ke ibumu. Kenapa menikah dengan saya?" Kalau sudah begini rasanya saya malas mau melakukan apa saja. tak ada yang beres pada saya. Saya betul-betul sudah jenuh. Kalau begini terus, saya bisa jadi gila Bu ..."

Anak gagal, mantu dimaki -- Ny S di Bdg

" ... Kami sudah menikah lima tahun Bu, dan dikaruniai dua anak. Kami sama-sama bekerja. Saya mengajar di perguruan tinggi dan suami saya berwiraswasta. Meskipun dua-duanya bekerja, hidup kami pas-pasan saja.

Jika ingin berterus terang, sebenarnya sayalah yang membiayai rumah tangga kami. Sampai sekarang usaha suami sering gagal, sebab ia terlalu sering berganti-ganti usaha. Anehnya mertua saya (terutama ibu) senantiasa mempersalahkan saya dalam kegagalan anaknya. Saya dikatakan tidak bisa mendidik suami sampai berhasil. Lho, suami kan hasil didikan mereka, mengapa saya yang dipersalahkan? Saya sudah cukup tertekan karena ketidakberhasilannya, sehingga saya harus bekerja ekstra keras untuk rumah tangga kami. Saya juga sangat ingin ia berhasil seperti saudara-saudaranya yang lain. Lebih tidak enak lagi, anak kami pun tidak diperhatikan, sampai sakit pun tidak ditengok.

Orangtua saya tentu tidak terima dengan sikap mereka. saya pun tidak rela dipersalahkan terus, sehingga keadaan tegang dan sering terjadi clash. Suami saya sebenarnya tahu orangtuanya tidak benar, tetapi dia diam saja. Saya sangat tertekan oleh sikapnya Bu ..."


Ny "Derita" dan S yang sedang sedih,

Tentu tidak enak jika pakaian kita, tutur kata serta masakan yang telah kita siapkan dengan susah payah senantiasa dicela. Apalagi sampai kegagalan anak mereka pun ditimpakan kepada diri kita. padahal saya yakin sebagai ibu dan istri Anda telah berusaha keras membina kebahagiaan perkawinan. Siapa sih yang mau perkawinannya gagal?

Terus terang, sebenarnya tiap orangtua yang sudah bersedia menikahkan anaknya seharusnya siap pula menerima 1001 perbedaan menantunya. Kebesaran hatinya diminta untuk menerima cara berdandan, tutur kata dan cara tertawanya yang agak aneh. Idem dito bagi sang menantu. Mereka pun harus menerima dengan lega hati kebiasaan dan pribadi mertuanya, alias tidka usah goncang ketika dapat yang agak cerewet.

Untungnya ada satu kesamaan tujuan, kedua kubu (anak maupun ortu) mendambakan kebahagiaan perkawinan itu. Namun peranan ortu tidak lagi jadi "kapten kapal" dalam perkawinan putranya, dia hanya penumpang saja. Bukankah gilirannya sebagai kapten sudah dilaksanakan dalam perkawinannya sendiri? Jika sedang berkunjung, jadilah penumpang yang sopan, jangan terlalu banyak mengatur. Bukankah Anda pun tidak rela diatur mertua dulu, juga tidak rela jika besan merajalela dalam perkawinan anaknya?

Perjuangkanlah kebersamaan pasutri (pasangan suami-istri). Pasangan muda belum terbiasa membela dirinya sebagai pasutri. Masing-masing masih merasa lebih dekat dengan orangtua dan kakak-adiknya sendiri. Pasangan baru perlu belajar saling bela dan mendidik keluarganya untuk menerima pasangannya. Sudah tentu dengan tidak ikut mencela atau mengucilkan pasangannya, tapi bersikaplah arif dan luwes.

Misalnya ketika Ny S dipersalahkan mertuanya dalam kegagalan suaminya, sang suami patut membela istrinya di hadapan ortunya. "Sayalah yang salah Bu, bukan "Dinda". Dia sudah mendorong saya untuk maju, justru "Dinda" telah menyelamatkan kehidupan keluarga dengan bekerja keras."

Sedang suami Ny Derita wajib membela istrinya ketika pakaian dan cara dandan istrinya dicela, dianggap kuno (tomboy, aneh dsb). "Dia memang lugu (tomboy, nyentrik dsb). Itulah yang menarik hati saya."

Jika hanya dirinya yang diminta datang ke pesta keluarga dan pasangannya tidak diundang, pasutri berhak menolak dengan alasan, "Saya tidak sampai hati meninggalkannya sendirian saja."

Sebaliknya pasutri pun perlu mengusahakan agar pasangannya lunak, mau menerima ortunya, bagai "stabilisator" yang mengatur voltase tinggi untuk dapat diterima oleh hati yang gundah. Suami Ny Derita yang istrinya sering dicela tidak dandan, dapat menyodorkan apologi untuk orangtuanya. "Maafkan orangtua saya Dik. Tampaknya mereka tidak mau kehilangan engkau. Mereka minta adik lebih berdandan agar saya tidak disambar orang lain. Hanya caranya tidak taktis. Semakin tua mereka, semakin seperti anak kecil, jadi egosentris. Kita pun akan begitu kelak."

Kiat lain yang dapat berguna adalah bersahabatlah dengan mereka. Bukan hanya menantu pada mertuanya, juga sebaliknya. Jika kita mengenal mereka lebih dalam, mengetahui suka-duka dan perjuangannya, dapat menghayati cita-citanya, kita dapat lebih mengerti dan bersimpati. Syukur jika ada kegemarannya yang cocok. Ini melicinkan jalan simpati.

Akhirnya jika orangtua dan keluarga besar sadar bahwa pasangan suami-istri anak-anak mereka ternyata saling mencintai dan saling membahagiakan, mereka pun senang pula. Bukankah itu yang didambakan setiap orangtua?


My Mother-in-Law Hates Me

Q. I have a terrible relationship with my mother-in-law and I don't have a clue how to make it better. The woman hates me. I think she's angry because my husband married me instead of a family friend she adored. She is constantly finding ways to pull us apart, and she's made it clear that I'm not welcome in her house. We have a 4-year-old daughter, and when my husband takes her to visit his family, I stay home. So far, my daughter is too young to put all the pieces together. What do I say when she starts asking why I'm not going with them to visit?

Joann Paley Galst, Ph.D., an individual and couples therapist in New York City, answers:

A: You're right to be concerned. Children are very perceptive and do pick up on tension within families, even if it is not directly expressed. However, they don't know the causes of the tension, and because of their inherent egocentrism, they tend to blame themselves. Often, they think: "My bad behavior has caused all these problems among the grownups."

As you've discovered, secret feelings are almost impossible to keep secret. An undercurrent of whispers, facial gestures, body language, overheard bits of conversation, or hesitant and evasive answers to questions combine to drive children to come up with their own explanation, which in many cases can be more disturbing than the reality. To ensure that your daughter has a happy, healthy relationship with members of her family, you should try to settle your disputes if possible.

That said, you're in a tough position. Cease-fires can't occur unless all parties sign on. Since it sounds as if your problems have been going on a long time, it may take awhile to repair the damage. Yes, she's been horrible to you, but can you try to understand her as a person, with her own anxieties, fears, and emotional baggage? If you can, you might be more open to seeing what, if anything, you may have done or be doing to exacerbate tensions. If you recognize that you have hurt her in the past, apologize and try to clear the air.

If you've made all the reparations you can, then it's time for your husband to step in. In fact, he can be pivotal in healing the breach. It's his job to stand up for you when his mother criticizes or insults you. He needs to explain to her, in private, that you are his choice and that if she loves him she at least needs to respect his choice of a wife. If tensions do eventually ease, you should try to set up a three-way meeting to talk about what has gone wrong and why. Consider consulting a clergyman or family therapist, who can help all of you decipher patterns in the way you are acting and reacting to each other, and, in time, perhaps heal wounds.

However, if after all your efforts, you still feel unwelcome in your mother-in-law's home, avoid open warfare for your daughter's sake. Accept the fact that you may never be able to change her view of you but that your child should have the opportunity to develop her own relationship with her grandmother. To that end, encourage your daughter to visit and allow her to love her grandmother. Of course, pretending that you like someone you detest will come across as disingenuous and will be confusing to your child. Instead, tell her that you and your mother-in-law have a tough time getting along, but she loves her very much -- and you're glad she has a good relationship with her. Be open in answering her questions, but spare her the dirty details and don't use her inquiries as an opportunity to vent your anger. Needless to say, you should be careful not to use your daughter as a pawn in any ongoing battles: Don't ask her to convey messages to your mother-in-law and don't pump her for information about what she may have said about you during her visits. On the other hand, if she hears something that makes her uncomfortable, then you and your husband must step in and tell your mother-in-law that your daughter will not be allowed to spend time with her if that continues.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Menjadi Tempat Curhat Mertua

Jadi tempat curhat mertua asyik juga lho. Tapi, sebaiknya jadi pendengar setia atau penasehat yah?

Ingin rasanya Wanti menutup gagang telepon yang sudah setengah jam lalu ia genggam. Tapi celotehan ibu mertuanya di ujung sana tak kunjung usai. Wanti pun tak kuasa untuk menghentikannya. Ibu mertuanya sedang asyik curhat padanya. Padahal, Wanti punya setumpuk pekerjaan yang sudah menanti. Jadi, meski gelisah Wanti tetap menjadi pendengar setia.

Menjadi tempat curahan hati mertua memang tidak mudah. Seringkali kita dituntut mengesampingkan kegiatan lain dan harus siap mendengarkan keluh kesahnya. Bila tidak, perasaan tidak enak akan muncul. Belum lagi, bila saran atau masukan yang kita berikan kurang jitu. Sementara itu, menjadi pendengar saja, membuat mertua bosan
Meski begitu, menjadi tempat curhat mertua ada asyiknya juga lho.Kita bisa lebih dekat dengan mertua dan menjalin hubungan yang harmonis. Apalagi, bila mertua pun siap menjadi sahabat dikala kita ingin berbagi dengannya.

Bersikap Tegas

Tidak setiap mantu terpilih menjadi tempat curhat mertua. Patut disyukuri bila mertua mempercayai kita menjadi tempat curahan hatinya. Bahkan, psikolog keluarga Anggraeni Leimena, mengatakan bila seorang mantu bisa menjadi tempat curhat mertua, ia dianggap punya nilai lebih di mata mertuanya. Meskipun, anggapan ini tidak selamanya benar tapi setidaknya si mantu mendapat kepercayaan khusus dari mertuanya.

Yang menjadi masalah adalah apabila kepercayaan itu memberatkan posisi mantu. Misal; bila mertua selalu curhat pada saat yang kurang tepat. Seperti pada jam kantor. Selalu meminta perhatian lebih atau memaksa kita memberi solusi yang sebenarnya tidak dapat kita lakukan.

Keadaan ini menurut Anggraeni mungkin saja terjadi, terutama bila mertua sangat menggantungkan diri pada menantunya. Supaya kondisi di atas tidak terlalu sering terjadi, Anggraeni menyarankan agar kita bersikap bijaksana saat menanggapi curhat mertua. "Bersikpaklah tegas dan santun, saat menanggapi curhat mertua. Sikap ini akan mengesankan anda menghargai mertua, tapi juga tidak melalaikan pekerjaan lain," jelas dosen psikolog Universitas Indoensia ini.

Bila mertua curhat pada saat yang kurang tepat, sebaiknya katakan dengan sopan bahwa pada saat ini anda sangat sibuk dan buatlah janji sesegera mungkin. Tindakan ini memang memerlukan keberanian. Tapi dengan bersikap tegas anda justru akan lebih mudah memberikan waktu yang tepat bagi mertua anda.

Mertua pun jadi tahu kapan waktu yang tepat untuk mencurahkan isi hatinya pada anda tanpa merasa tersinggung karena dinomorduakan. Selain itu, anda bisa mengikis perasaan serba salah saat harus menolak telepon dari mertua tanpa harus berbohong.

Tempat Curhat Bijak

Bila anda sudah mampu bersikap tegas, tepatilah janji yang sudah anda ucapkan dan berikan perhatian penuh saat mertua mengungkapkan semua keluh kesahnya pada waktu itu. Sebaiknya dengarkan seluruh ceritanya dan jangan memotong pembicaraannya. Berikan komentar yang tulus jangan seadanya. Kata-kata 'oh' saja akan membuat mertua merasa tidak ditanggapi dengan baik. Bisa-bisa anda dicap sebagai menantu tak berguna.

Tapi, hindarkan pula komentar yang dapat membuat masalah menjadi lebih rumit. Misal, bila mertua punya masalah dengan menantu atau kerabat lain sementara anda tak tahu pasti permasalah tersebut. Komentar dan masukan anda mungkin tidak akan menyelesaikan masalah. Bahkan bisa jadi anda akan terseret ke dalam masalah tersebut.

Sebelum mertua meminta pandangan anda, sebaiknya tidak perlu memberikan saran apapun.Bisa jadi, mertua hanya butuh teman yang mau mendengarkan dan tak membutuhkan masukan anda. Tapi bila mertua meminta anda membantu memecahkan masalahnya, sebaiknya anda memberikan saran yang masuk akal, wajar, dan dapat dilakukan oleh mertua.

Jangan pernah menjanjika saran anda akan berhasil. Bila anda merasa mampu dan sanggup membantu menyelesaikan masalah mertua dengan keikutsertaan anda, anda boleh menawarkan bantuan. Tapi saran Anggraeni, mintalah ijin pasangan terlebih dahulu. "Sebaliknya bila anda tak sanggup memberikan saran yang baik dan bantuan langsung berterus teranglah. Katakan dengan jujur dan ungkapkan alasan mengapa anda tak bisa membantu mertua,"jelas Anggraeni.

Simpanlah apa yang diungkapkan mertua anda dan jangan menyebarkan masalah itu pada siapapun. Sebagai tempat curhat mertua anda adalah orang kepercayaannya. Jangan terpancing untuk mengemukakan masalah itu, apalagi pada keluarga yang lain. Bisa-bisa tindakan anda menimbulkan masalah yang lebih serius.

Tidak setiap menantu bisa jadi tempat curhat mertua. Bila anda selalu menjadi tempat curhat mertua mungkin saja ada menantu lain yang iri dengan kedekatan anda dan mertua. Bisa jadi, anda dicap sebagai penjilat. Hal ini memang menyakitkan karena membuat hubungan anda dengan kerabat lain jadi tidak enak.

Untuk menghindarkan keadaan ini, Anggraeni menyarakan beberapa sikap yang sebaiknya anda hindari. Misal; memberikan komentar negatif tentang keluarga lain yang tengah dibicarakan mertua. Sebaiknya tidak ikut memandang negatif pada keluarga atau kerabat lain yang tidak disukai mertua.

Mila Meiliasari
Sumber: Tabloid Ibu & Anak

Konflik Tinggal di Rumah Mertua Indah

Rasanya hidup berumah tangga memang lebih sempurna ketika kita memiliki rumah sendiri sehingga kitapun dapat mengatur rumah dan keluarga sesuai dengan keinginan kita, tanpa ada campur tangan pihak lain.

Tak jarang banyak pasangan-pasangan baru yang tinggal dirumah mertuanya. Hal ini banyak menyebabkan rasa kecewa khususnya wanita, karena keinginan yang telah menjadi syarat di awal pernikahan tersebut ternyata tidak juga dikabulkan oleh suami. Kenginan untuk segera keluar dari rumah mertua juga tak kalah besarnya. Tetapi bagaimanapun juga dengan kesabaran tentu semuanya akan menjadi lebih baik.

Mungkin memang tidak mudah untuk melakukan hal itu karena kesabaran memang bukan sesuatu yang mudah dijalani. Jika kita merasa keberatan tinggal bersama mertua karena beliau terlalu banyak ikut campur atau bahkan cerewet, maka diskusikanlah hal tersebut dengan suami. Mungkin suami dapat mencari jalan keluar untuk berbicara secara baik-baik dengan ibunya agar bisa memahami kemandirian yang ingin dibangun dalam keluarga.

Namun pernikahan memang bukan sesuatu yang bisa selalu diukur dengan sebuah hitungan atau sebuah kepastian. Seperti yang telah banyak terjadi, bahwa sebelum menikah banyak wanita sudah lebih dulu mengajukan syarat untuk tinggal terpisah dengan mertua. Namun kenyataannya karena kondisi, keuangan atau bahkan karena permintaan dari mertua, maka mau tak mau harus tinggal di rumah mertua indah.

Pastikan adanya ikatan yang baik dari semula

Ada baiknya jika kita sudah dari jauh-jauh hari membina hubungan antara menantu dengan mertua dengan baik. Mencoba memahami keinginan dari ibu mertua kita, toh tidak ada salahnya. Jangan mudah marah karena hal-hal remeh. Tunjukkan kepada ibu mertua penghormatan Anda melalui hal-hal kecil seperti memuji masakannya, dan sebagianya. Manfaatkan waktu dengan ibu mertua, untuk belajar hal-hal yang berguna yang patut kita ketahui dan pelajari setelah membina rumah tangga nantinya.

Untuk memastikan adanya ikatan yang baik sejak awalnya, ada baiknya kita untuk mencari tahu sebanyak mungkin tentang keluarga suami dan peraturan-peraturan mereka yang tidak tertulis. Sebaiknya, sebelum menikah, dibahas dahulu dengan calon suami mengenai peranan-peranan nanti sebagai menantu. Tentukanlah rencana atau strategi yang masuk akal untuk menangani konflik-konflik itu bersama suami. Saling menghormati, penting adanya

Menantu perempuan

Menjadi menantu perempuan bisa penuh dengan kesulitan yang tersembunyi. Berikut tips untuk menjalin hubungan yang harmonis dengan mertua.

Mintalah pertolongan suami Anda dalam memahami ibunya. Sensitiflah terhadap posisi sang ibu.

Cobalah membangun kesenangan yang sama dengan ibu mertua Anda, sesuatu yang dapat dinikmati berdua.
Doronglah terjadinya hubungan yang baik antara suami Anda dengan ibunya, walaupun hal itu berarti Anda tidak termasuk di dalamnya.
Bila ibu mertua tidak pernah diberitahu bahwa sesuatu yang dia lakukan tidak menyenangkan Anda, bagaimana dia bisa tahu ada yang salah? Katakanlah terus terang tapi tidak menyakitkan caranya.
Bijaksanalah terhadap tuntutan mertua. Mungkin dia ada benarnya.
Dalam saat-saat konflik, tenangkan diri dahulu sebelum Anda menghampiri ibu mertua.
Perlihatkan kepadanya bahwa Anda dan suami adalah tim yang kompak.
Ingatlah bahwa dia adalah ibunya suami Anda. Tidak mungkin segala hal seburuk yang Anda duga.

Bagi sebagian pasangan, permasalahan hubungan antara menantu dengan mertua seringkali menjadi pemicu timbulnya konflik antara suami dengan istri atau sebaliknya. Meksipun di masa kini sudah banyak pasangan yang tidak lagi tinggal serumah dengan mertua, namun hal tersebut bukan berarti bahwa masalah menantu mertua tidak lagi terjadi. Dalam menyikapi masalah menantu dengan mertua, mungkin banyak wanita yang tak mau ambil pusing atau bahkan tidak peduli. Awalnya sikap-sikap tersebut mungkin bisa berhasil atau mungkin dianggap sebagai hal yang biasa, tetapi jika tidak segera disadari dan diambil tindakan nyata, maka cepat atau lambat permasalahan ini tentu akan memiliki dampak yang tidak menyenangkan baik bagi mertua dan menantu maupun bagi seluruh anggota keluarga besar.

Interospeksi diri

Lakukan introspeksi diri secara mendalam. Ingatlah bahwa setiap perselisihan pasti melibatkan lebih dari satu orang dan dalam hal ini tidak ada yang tidak bersalah. Oleh karena itu, jika sebelumnya Anda cenderung memikirkan setiap hal secara negatif dan selalu menyalahkan orang lain, cobalah sekarang belajar sedikit demi sedikit melihat permasalahan secara obyektif. Mulailah dengan mengubah pola pikir anda. Selain itu cobalah belajar untuk tidak menghakimi atau menilai orang lain dengan nilai-nilai yang ada dalam diri sendiri. Sebab jika cara seperti itu yang anda gunakan maka akan sulit bagi anda untuk memulai inisiatif penyelesaian masalah dengan mertua dan menantu. (

Hubungan Baik Menantu-Mertua

Jika mendapat pengaduan pihak ketiga mengenai sang mertua atau menantu - terlepas dari kepentingan si pihak ketiga - ingatlah bahwa besar kemungkinan ada kata-kata yang hilang atau ditambahkan, yang menyebabkan sebuah informasi jadi melenceng dari maksud aslinya.

Bagi sebagian pasangan, hubungan antara menantu dengan mertua sering kali menjadi pemicu timbulnya konflik kehidupan rumah tangga. Meski demikian, tak jarang juga, mertua menjadi sahabat yang mengasyikkan dan sangat membantu kehidupan rumah tangga. Mengapa?

Secara psikologis, konflik atau hubungan yang tidak harmonis antara mertua dan menantu sangat rentan terjadi. Apalagi bila sang calon menantu tidak mampu menjalin hubungan yang cukup akrab sebelumnya, seakrab jalinan yang ia rajut dengan pasangannya. Konon, hal itu adalah kesalahan utama dan paling sering terjadi yang biasa dilakukan setiap calon menantu terhadap calon mertuanya.

Karena kesalahan yang sering tidak diperhatikan tersebut, pernikahan pun tidak jarang menjadi pemicu timbulnya bom waktu bernama konflik keluarga. Di samping itu, penyebab lain timbulnya konflik di keluarga pada umunya adalah, pertama, diam-diam orang tua belum sepenuhnya percaya bahwa anak-anak mereka sudah bisa mengurus keluarga mereka sendiri.

Kedua, dari pihak keluarga muda itu sendiri, kadang ada perasaan "resah" karena keterlibatan berlebihan orang tua, sehingga menimbulkan reaksi balik yang kadang agak keras atau bahkan terlalu cepat.

Ketiga, karakter-karakter orang tua atau anak yang sama-sama keras. Buktinya, dalam setiap perselisihan yang terjadi, sering kali yang mereka kedepankan adalah persepsi dan ego masing-masing. Padahal, ketika kedua hal itu bermain, masalah kecil pun tak jarang menjadi besar.

Pada dasarnya, tidak ada perselisihan yang tidak ada penyelesaian. Namun, penyelesaian sebuah masalah sangat tergantung pada setiap individu. Dialah yang bertanggung jawab menyelesaikan masalah yang dihadapinya. Berikut adalah beberapa trik menyelesaikan konflik keluarga yang barangkali bisa dilakukan menantu atau mertua.

1. Berdamailah dengan diri sendiri. Artinya, menciptakan suasana tenang dalam diri sendiri dan membuang berbagai pikiran negatif yang muncul.

Adapun cara-cara yang bisa dilakukan adalah:
  1. Ambil jarak dengan cara mengurangi jumlah pertemuan, atau bila perlu tidak bertemu sama sekali untuk sementara waktu,
  2. Introspeksi diri. Tanyakan pada diri kita sendiri, apakah selama ini kita selalu mencari pembenaran atas segala tindakan yang kita lakukan terhadap mertua atau menantu? Ingatlah! Setiap perselisihan pasti melibatkan lebih dari satu orang, dan dalam hal ini tidak ada yang tidak bersalah.
2. Sadari bahwa setiap keluarga mempunyai budayanya sendiri-sendiri. Begitu juga antara menantu dan mertua, masing-masing memiliki budaya keluarga yang berbeda.

3. Ingatlah bahwa ketika seorang menantu menikah dengan anak kita misalnya, sesungguhnya ia telah menjadi anak kita sendiri. Pun sebaliknya dengan menantu, sehingga keduanya bisa menjalin kasih sayang seperti halnya orang tua dan anak.

4. Saling menyesuaikan diri dan saling memahami. Sadarilah bahwa sebagai individu tentu memiliki berbagai kekurangan. Seorang menantu atau mertua tentu pernah melakukan kekhilafan atau kesalahan dalam proses berinteraksi.

5. Jangan mudah terpancing dengan informasi atau gosip yang diberikan oleh pihak ketiga. Tidak selamanya pihak ketiga menjadi orang yang bisa kita percaya.

Jika mendapat pengaduan dari pihak ketiga mengenai sang mertua atau menantu terlepas dari kepentingan si pihak ketiga ingatlah bahwa besar kemungkinan ada kata-kata yang hilang atau ditambahkan yang menyebabkan sebuah informasi jadi melenceng dari maksud aslinya.

6. Jika kita membutuhkan orang lain untuk curhat, pastikan orang tersebut benar-benar dapat dipercaya. Untuk hal ini, carilah orang-orang yang memang memiliki kompetensi dalam membantu penyelesaian masalah, seperti psikolog, keluarga, atau sahabat terdekat yang bijak serta berpengalaman dalam hal di atas. (Kris/MQ)

Sumber : Manajemen Qolbu

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Kenali Karakter Mertua

Banyak menantu perempuan yang mengeluh soal perangai mertua perempuannya. Terlalu cerewet-lah, selalu mau ikut campur, dan sebagainya. Bagaimana mengenali dan mengatasi beragam tipe mertua?

Akhir-akhir ini, hubungan Mega dan ibu mertuanya agak merenggang. Masalahnya sebetulnya sepele, saat makan, Mega lupa mengajak mertuanya. Namun, akibatnya ternyata tak sepele. Ibu mertuanya merasa tidak dihargai. Berminggu-minggu lamanya, Mega tidak disapa. Bila sudah demikian, ia jadi serba salah. Semakin didekati, sang mertua semakin bertingkah. Pasang aksi tutup mulut. Mega hanya bisa mengelus dada, sambil menunggu suasana tenang. Ia juga sudah mengadukan persoalan ini kepada Rudi, suaminya dan diminta bersikap menunggu saja.

Ya, menghadapi mertua memang susah-susah gampang. Sebagai menantu, Anda harus tahu trik-triknya.

Nah, dibawah ini ada beberapa karakter mertua berikut trik menghadapinya:

Mertua tipe ini seringkali membuat pusing kepala. Setiap hari, ada saja yang dikomentari. Mulai dari masalah pengasuhan anak, penataan rumah sampai persoalan keuangan rumahtangga, semua ia urusi. Umumnya semburan kata-kata mertua belum berhenti sebelum Anda menuruti apa yang diinginkannya.

Menghadapi mertua yang cerewet memang harus berkepala dingin. Kendalikan emosi. Karena bila tidak, bisa muncul keributan. Dan bila terjadi pertengkaran dengan mertua, bisa-bisa membuat hubungan Anda dengan suami menjadi terganggu. Jadi, bila mertua banyak memberikan kritik, dengarkan saja. Pasalnya, jika Anda memotong kalimatnya saat ia tengah bersemangat, bisa-bisa ia malah tambah emosi.

Baru setelah ia selesai dengan nasihatnya, baru Anda boleh memberikan argumen, bahkan pembelaan diri. Apalagi bila yang dikatakannya tidak benar dan tidak sesuai dengan fakta atau hati nurani Anda. Tetapi, tentu ini disampaikan dengan kata-kata sopan, supaya tidak menyinggung perasaannya.

Nah, tipe satu ini kebalikan dari tipe di atas. Sifat pendiam terkadang justru membingungkan. Sulit menebak isi hatinya. Apakah ia sedang marah, sedih, bahagia atau kecewa. Seseorang yang memiliki sifat pendiam jarang sekali berbicara untuk mengungkapkan perasaan hatinya. Semuanya tertutup dan ia pendam seorang sendiri. Kalaupun ia berbicara, maka yang ia sampaikan hanyalah hal-hal yang memang perlu saja, itu pun singkat. Selain itu, mertua pendiam biasanya juga serius. Jadi, sebagai menantu, Anda harus berhati-hati dalam berbicara. Hal yang Anda anggap sebagai "canda" bisa jadi dianggapnya serius. Akibatnya, bisa-bisa ia sakit hati.

Menghadapi mertua pendiam gampang-gampang susah. Sebagai menantu yang baik, Anda harus aktif bertanya dan peka pada keadaan dirinya. Sekali Anda tahu sifatnya, maka Anda akan tahu bahasa tubuhnya, kapan ia marah, kapan ia senang, sedih, dan sebagainya.

Sifatnya persis anak kecil. Selalu ingin mendapat perhatian, terutama oleh anak lelakinya. Bila ada anggota keluarga yang kurang memperhatikan, maka ia akan merajuk bahkan menangis. Bahkan sengaja melakukan aksi tutup mulut. Keadaan seperti ini jelas saja membuat bingung dan panik banyak orang.

Memanjakan mertua memang baik. Itu pertanda bakti Anda dan suami kepadanya. Tapi, bila Anda dan pasangan memanjakan secara berlebihan, hasilnya justru kurang bagus.

Mertua tipe ini merasa bahwa ia memiliki hak yang sama dengan Anda terhadap anak lelakinya yang kini jadi suami Anda. Ia akan begitu cemburu bila suami memberikan perhatian yang lebih pada Anda. Yang ia inginkan, suami memberikan perhatian dan kasih sayang yang sama terhadap Anda maupun dia. Bila tidak, ia akan cemburu, marah, bahkan tak segan merajuk seperti anak kecil. Seorang yang memiliki perasaan cemburu biasanya berfikir negatif dan curiga.

Jalan yang tepat menghadapi mertua pencemburu adalah sabar dan jangan emosi. Beri pengertian pada mertua bahwa kasih sayang yang diberikan anaknya pada Anda dan dirinya adalah sama. Tidak ada yang dibedakan. Peran serta suami sangat penting dalam memberikan penjelasan padanya. Jika tidak, suasana akan terus berlarut-larut, dan ia pun akan terus diliputi perasaan cemburu dan curiga. Usahakan untuk selalu menciptakan kebersamaan antara Anda, suami, anak-anak dan dirinya. Misalnya mengajaknya berlibur atau pergi jalan-jalan bersama. Dengan begitu, mertua merasa tak ada yang dibedakan.

Sifat yang satu ini banyak dimiliki kaum wanita. Rasanya tidak enak kalau dalam sehari tidak ngomongin orang lain, menceritakan keburukan ataupun kekurangan seseorang kepada orang lain yang belum tentu kebenarannya. Biasanya, gosip selalu penuh dengan bumbu-bumbu. Terkadang, sadar atau tidak, gosip berkembang menjadi ajang menjelek-jelekkan anggota keluarga atau orang lain.

Memiliki mertua yang hobi bergosip memang kadangkala membuat perasaan gerah dan panas. Apalagi jika yang menjadi bahan gosip adalah Anda. Inginnya sih menegur mertua, tapi apa daya Anda tidak punya nyali. Kiat yang tepat adalah menghadapinya dengan kepala dingin, tahan emosi, dan hindari agar tidak keceplosan kata-kata kasar.

Telusuri akar permasalahannya. Bila sudah jelas, ajaklah mertua, beserta suami sebagai penengah, untuk berbicara kenapa goisp itu bisa muncul. Di saat inilah, Anda punya kesempatan untuk menyampaikan unek-unek/isi hati Anda pada mertua. Bersikaplah seperti halnya Anda menyampaikan keluh-kesah pada orangtua sendiri, dengan kata-kata sopan dan tidak menyinggung perasaan.

Wah, ini dia sifat yang bisa membuat seseorang menjadi nervous dan salah tingkah. Bagaimana tidak, segala sesuatunya ia amati, dari soal cara berbusana hingga kiprah di dapur. Seakan-akan ia menjadi dewan juri yang berhak memberikan nilai pada penampilan diri Anda. Kalau semua dinilai dari sisi negatif, bisa-bisa malah repot.

Bila selama ini Anda merasa sang mertua selalu mengawasi dan memberikan penilaian pada Anda, cobalah untuk bersikap wajar dan jangan dibuat-buat. Menjadi diri sendiri jauh lebih baik ketimbang Anda berpura-pura menjadi orang lain. Berpikir positif. Mungkin saja mertua bersikap demikian karena ingin tahu bagaimana sosok pribadi menantunya. Bagaimana Anda menjadi seorang istri, ibu, dan menantu yang baik.

Ingat, jangan jadikan ini sebagai beban, apalagi jika sikap mertua tidak sampai mengganggu kenyamanan Anda. Bila Anda menanggapinya dengan enjoy, hidup bersama mertua pun akan terasa lebih nyaman.

Namanya juga sempurna, segala sesuatunya harus serba sempurna, tak boleh ada yang kurang. Padahal, mana ada sih di dunia ini manusia yang sempurna. Semua pasti ada kekurangannya. Seorang perfeksionis umumnya egois karena maunya hanya mementingkan kehendaknya sendiri, tanpa memikirkan perasaan atau akibatnya pada orang lain.

Sama seperti menghadapi tipe mertua yang lain, kiat menghadapi mertua perfeksionis adalah sabar dan tidak emosi. Carilah waktu dan suasana yang santai sebelum sebelum Anda melontarkan isi hati Anda padanya. Lihatlah suasana hatinya, apakah sedang bahagia atau emosi. Bila bahagia, inilah saat yang tepat.

Cobalah berbicara dari hati ke hati. Katakan bahwa Anda sudah berusaha berbuat yang terbaik dalam kehidupan berumahtangga Anda dengan anak lelakinya. Namun, jelaskan bahwa Anda pun memiliki keterbatasan. Tak ada salahnya Anda meminta masukan darinya, apa yang harus Anda perbaiki. Siapa tahu, itu justru akan mebuat mertua terbuka hatinya dan membawa perubahan yang positif pada diri Anda.

Nah, mertua tipe inilah yang dicari oleh semua menantu. Memiliki mertua yang demokratis, tidak usil dan memberikan kebebasan dalam bersikap dan berbicara, sungguh enak. Biasanya, seorang demokratis selalu berpikir positif dan tidak mau mencari kesalahan orang lain.

Walaupun Anda memiliki seorang mertua yang demokratis, tapi jangan sampai terlena. Justru Anda harus senantiasa menjaga sikap dan perkataan Anda, sehingga tidak sampai menyinggung perasaannya. Juga, bersikap hormat dan santunlah, karena mertua adalah juga orang tua Anda yang harus dihormati dan disayangi. (Tabloid Nova)

Monday, October 31, 2005


Pentheraphobia is fear of mother-in-law. The symptoms: breathlessness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly, a fear of dying, becoming mad or losing control, a sensation of detachment from reality or a full blown anxiety attack.

Most sufferers are surprised to learn that they are far from alone in this surprisingly common, although often unspoken, phobia. Pentheraphobia is an intense fear of something that poses no actual danger. While adults with Pentheraphobia realize that these fears are irrational, they often find that facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.

Like all fears and phobias, pentheraphobia is created by the unconscious mind as a protective mechanism. At some point in your past, there was likely an event linking mother-in-law and emotional trauma. Whilst the original catalyst may have been a real-life scare of some kind, the condition can also be triggered by myriad, benign events like movies, TV, or perhaps seeing someone else experience trauma.

But so long as the negative association is powerful enough, the unconscious mind thinks: "Ahh, this whole thing is very dangerous. How do I keep myself from getting in this kind of situation again? I know, I'll attach terrible feelings to mother-in-law, that way I'll steer clear in future and so be safe." Just like that pentheraphobia is born. Attaching emotions to situations is one of the primary ways that humans learn.

Sometimes we just get the wiring wrong.The actual phobia manifests itself in different ways. Some sufferers experience it almost all the time, others just in response to direct stimuli. Everyone has their own unique formula for when and how to feel bad.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Still an out-law?

Is the New Age mom-in law in tune with the changing times? Jessina Aboobacker assesses the infamous 'saas-bahu' relationship.

WINSOME TWOSOME: A relationship that has stood the test of changing times.

WITH JOINT households giving way to nuclear families, the mother-in-law, daughter-in-law friction points have reduced to almost nil. But the mother-in-law continues to be a bogeyman for new brides. A most infamous of relationships, it is often said that "If broken by mother-in-law, its an earthen pot, if by daughter-in-law, it's a golden vessel." Why does the very utterance of the word "Mother-in-Law" bring a scowl on every unattached and married woman's face? This notorious rapport has been written down in history as a one of reciprocal abhorrence. Even the media is lending a helping hand, by portraying episodes on the sliver screen that further promotes the deterioration of the relationship.


The wedding jitters and glitters have drawn to a close, and all the reminiscence are neatly assembled in your wedding folder; the honeymoon has been meandered through and the number of visits and parties are slowly diminishing. Now, its time to get into the serious business of accepting, and being accepted into the connubial family. " Before I was married I was advised by all and sundry to ingratiate myself with all the members of the in-laws amicably. Everybody had a spoonful of advice to contribute to my conjugal dish. But I was bedevilled with internal conflicts when faced with reality and the answer to it was millennia away. Each family is different. We should unearth our own solutions to tackle the circumstances," says Geetha Manoj, a bank official.

The onus of this fragile assignment is primarily positioned on the shoulder of the daughter-in-law, to make the silky transition from her biological family to her nuptial family. And she is ever enthusiastic to make this smooth conversion in a harmonious manner, than all her other current and former acquaintances. But this glossy operation is tedious exclusive of apposite support. "Paradoxical as it may sound, his family is always his. Do not try to trade it for yours. Be yourself and try to bust the `ideal daughter-in-law' image. It's your marriage that should be the epicentre of your life; all the other relationships will follow. But this job will be deficient without the aid of all the family members," advises Gopinathan, a counsellor.

Kitchen mystique

Women consider themselves the sovereign of the kitchen. "Relationship administration, in a joint family revolves around understanding, what in management jargons are called decontrolled and empowerments. The aptitude to acknowledge the reality as a changed circumstance, and the ability to become accustomed to this change, is the triumphant anecdote of decontrol."

Says Saradha Menon, a retired professor and mother-in-law of Geetha Manoj. " Giving away is painful, be it the love of your son or the household responsibilities. But we ought to give away, make this sacrifice gradually and whole heartedly to maintain family truce." She adds.


Tolerance is the only tonic for this infection. There is difference in generation and this fact has to be acknowledged by both the generations in question. It may not be easy for the mother-in-law to recognise a non-interventionist member from the current generation, who has her own liberal views on various aspects of life. Similarly, it may not be easy for the daughter-in-law to accept a conservative and opinionated member from the older generation. "It is here that the two generations should strike a tactful balance. Both the people can take a couple of steps forward or backward and meet at a common platform. This could crack a lot of marital discord for the couple as well." Says Mr. Gopinath.

Give and take

Every relationship thrives on this beam balance of give and take. Give more than you take and take only as much as you give. Do not pin too much expectations, as each is an individual and they have limitations. Try to make a smooth sailing in the troubled waters of marriage. " The first question my friends in college threw on me after my marriage was - how is the mother-in-law? By that time we did not even get a chance to talk to each other in length. I think we ought to communicate all our thoughts to our mothers- in-law as we do to our mothers and then we'll find them opening up

to us as they do to their daughters. This could also begin from the other end if you are fortunate enough." Says Dr. Shijeena Ahmed.

Vicious cycle

"Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law are like the tempest and the hailstorm", goes another maxim. This relationship is like any other relationship and needs maintenance. But due to the hype imparted to this relationship it is always misunderstood as a step motherly one. Todays daughter-in-law is tomorrows mother-in-law. History will repeat. But this bitterness should be done away with. That is why a day of the year, October 24, is dedicated as Mother-in-law's day. " I was not aware that such a day existed until my friend told me. This mother-in-law's day I have decided to treat my mother-in-law at the most unsurpassed restaurant in the city, just the two of us, to commemorate our relationship. Without her support and timely helping hands I would still be a novice in the game of marriage," says an overwhelmed Ms. Aarthy Kumar.

The balancing act

The men in the family can play an important role in this relationship. " When I become a father-in-law and my wife a mother-in-law, we will very willingly give the reigns of the household to the next generation and lead a very peaceful and carefree retired life. This way we can live in a happy ambiance. I have saved for my retired life so I will not burden my son with the responsibility of taking care of us, " says Mr. Jacob, a bank employee. So, do not leave a gap for trouble to be sandwiched between relationships. Fill the gap, and play a fair game in the name of love. More hard work after a hard day's work!