I was seriously about to lose it. No, seriously. One more word, one more bit of advice and I might just lose it. Sure, every wife has issues with their mother-in-law. Not because there’s necessarily anything wrong with said MIL. But as a new wife, trying to do her damndest at being the best at everything, when the mother-in-law corrects you (even if it is all right and true), blowing a gasket would come after dumping pot of hot coffee onto her lap.
Honestly, she really was trying to help. Over and over again. And I just couldn’t take it. I needed space to breathe. To let me do my thing and let her do hers – just not in the same room with the same man we were potentially vying for (her son, my husband!)
But was this her fault? Heck no. She was just doing her job.
I mean it! It’s her job to be a mother- in-law and it’s my job to make sure I respect and love her, but gently and firmly remind her that her son is my husband, which means me and my feelings and wants and needs take precedence. Yes, she birthed him, raised him, and everything else. But he was mine and my responsibility now … as was the house and kids, dog, and white picket fence.
I didn’t need to fret. Or worry. Or complain one iota, though. And I wished I’d known this, years ago. What I needed was boundaries. Healthy, awesome, the-way-the-white-picket-fence-helps-us-and-our-neighbors, boundaries.
And there’s a way to set them; there is a way to set boundaries before you lose it. I know, crazy thought, huh? A way to diffuse a scenario that could literally divide a family. This diffusion doesn’t need to happen because it will never get there; because you’re smart and have boundaries from day one.
Nice, gentle, sweet but very-much-there boundaries.
Here’s a bit of advice to take note of, things you can do, that I have done, that have helped me and my familial relationships.
1. You call the shots.
This may seem like an obvious one. But, for friends and family – people you love and respect and value – it’s sometimes easy to let them take the wheel and drive for you, when you should’ve been the one driving in the first place! Passenger side seating is for when you’ve got your boundaries in place, not when you’re trying to figure out where your destination is. GET your GPS right. Call the shots.
2. Love them. But hey … you’re not a doormat.
This sort of goes with the above point. You call the shots, you love your peeps. But, you’re not here for them to do whatever they want because they know more, or seem better qualified, or that’s always how things have been done. The only way to fix the problem of friends or family taking advantage of you is to be the one pushing open (or in this case shutting) the door, rather than being the doormat. I sound harsh. I’m not trying to be. But having been there – being told what to do because they thought they knew better– what you need most is to do things the way you deem fit for your life, your family, your work situation, your love life, etc. Love them. But, it’s okay to have a backbone. It’s your life!
3. Make the boundaries before they’re made for you: Truth is, if you don’t place boundaries, your friends, co-workers (even strangers ) willmake them for you. What kind of life is that? A miserable one. A lot of people live this way and it seriously affects their quality of life. If you feel bad that you’re going to say no to your brother – that he can’t come over and be an idiot in front of your children – then get over it. Now. Your health, your family, your limits to what you want in your life and don’t want should be your first concern. Not how he’s going to react.
If you don’t like your family telling you how to act, if you don’t like your co-workers treating you a certain way, if your boyfriend thinks he can do whatever he wants when he want in the relationship without a thought for you, then take a huge step back, draw up a plan (literally, write it out) what you want to see change in your relationships. You have to clarify the problem, assess what needs to change and implement change. It’s quite simple to see the major issue when it’s out on paper. Much harder to enact, but it must be done. Or your health (and mental health) will ultimately suffer, not to mention your relationships with the people you love.
Remember, fences make great neighbors. This is no difference in real life with the people that surround us. And things won’t change if you don’t make an effort. We will be around people, by people, with people, over people, working with people for the rest of our lives.
And don’t even get me started with boundaries and your children. Children need boundaries like they need to wear a bib wherever they go … for 18 years after you birth them. They need incessant training, constant checking, and necessary, clear rules for a healthy home. Actually, boundaries should be each of your children’s middle name because without it, you will have a home lacking peace and order. And if and when you’re a mother –who works, takes care of the house, and may or may not have a spouse or significant other – there are a lot of hats to wear.
Peace with your family is the sweetest balm to a hectic, crazy life.
Boundaries create peace and stability and strengthen all of our relationships (because heck, these peeps – your family and even your friends—know where they stand with you, now).
And who couldn’t use that, right?
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