When we talk about in-laws, we're almost always talking about mothers-in-law, it seems, with sisters-in-law running a close second. What is it about the other women in our men's lives, the ones they grew up with and who, presumably, helped shape them into the guys we love? Some of us are lucky enough to become fast friends with these women, to find an additional set of shoulders to lean on, even to discover a replacement for a mother we lost or are distant from. But then there are the difficult cases -- and from the number of "Oh, you've been there, too?" responses on the boards, it seems that in-law troubles are pretty darn common. Here are four of the most common scenarios as described by members -- and advice from other iVillagers who are coping with similar situations.
Share your own problems and advice for coping with in-law troubles on the Dealing with In-Laws message board.
"We Have Very Different Lifestyles."
The problem: iVillager Jamikmc laments that her mom-in-law is a very poor housekeeper, and when she and her husband go to visit both of their families (who live close to each other), they always avoid camping at his mother's house. "She is completely able to clean if she was willing. She knows her home is a cluttered mess, and even jokes about it, but does nothing to improve it," says Jamikmc. "My problem is that our next visit will be Christmas and my now 3-month-old son will be crawling by then. I don't even want him off my lap, let alone crawling on her filthy floor. How can I tell her to either clean up or she will have to visit my son at my mother's house?"
The solution: You can't try and force your in-laws to change in this situation, advises iVillager hmmoore. We all have our own tolerance levels when it comes to tidiness, and trying to make someone else's match yours is opening a door to ongoing problems. However, since there's a young baby involved, she adds: "I would agree that telling your mother-in-law to either clean her house or for her to come and visit you and your family is probably the best thing to do." (Kids will -- and do -- pick up just about everything, after all, and are susceptible to common household germs.)
"My Mother-in-Law is Impossible!"
The problem: iVillager Mamapatti details a 20-year battle with her mother-in-law, beginning the day she got married. "My mother-in-law blocked the entrance to the church on my wedding day; pressed on my C-section incision in the hospital to see if it hurt; told me that I was fat following brain surgery -- I was on steroids, for cryin' out loud!" And the list goes on. "She rejected my kids because they are girls, is mad because we didn't name any of the girls after her as is Italian tradition, thought I was demeaning my father's memory because I wore a green suit to his funeral, has absolutely no idea of my kids' birthdays or ages, does not even remember her son's birthday...." And, sadly, the only way Mamapatti has found to deal with it is to answer spite with spite. "It gives me great pleasure in telling them about important functions in my kids' lives after the fact -- like their first granddaughter's high school graduation and prom night."