One of my best girlfriends is struggling with a new boyfriend’s mother in a way I’ve heard many, many times before. I’ve dealt with it myself, too. Your boyfriend’s mother is sweet enough, but she’s kinda judgmental that you’re not a 1950s housewife. She can’t believe you don’t cook every night. She’s appalled that you have a cleaning person. She thinks it’s grody to wear athleisure at home instead of dressing up for your man at all hours. Of course, she doesn’t outright say that all this means you aren’t good enough for her son, but she’s making it clear enough. If you’re facing a mother-in-law – or not even a full-blown in-law, just a mom of the dude you’re dating – who’s less than impressed with your modern woman ways, here’s how to deal.
Talk to him
As always, step one is to talk to your man. Let him know what’s going on. And yes, even if he was in the room when it happened, let him know. Men don’t see as much as we do. Tell him how his mom’s actions and words make you feel and why they make you feel that way. Then, see what he says. As long as you two are on the same team, you’re golden. If he sides with his mother, then you have bigger fish to fry than his mom. Keep talking until you two are both on one page.
Next step is to wait until his mom makes one of her comments and talk to her about it. Let her know that you don’t cook for him every night because you two actually cook together. Or tell her that you have a job that’s just as consuming as his, so you both tackle domestic issues as a team. And sometimes, you outsource. Address the issue head on – in a non-aggressive, but clearly laid out way – once or twice and you may never hear her little digs again.
Have him talk to her
Of course, that only works with some moms. Others need serious come-to-Jesus talks. Don’t worry, though. That’s not on you. Get your man to talk to his mom and lay down the law. He needs to tell her that he loves you and you two are living a different life than she lived with her husband. There’s no reason to compare the two. Then, he needs to get super clear with what she’s no longer able to comment on.
Pick your battles
Even the most well-meaning moms will slip up every now and then and say something negative. When you hear something that rubs you the wrong way, take a deep breath and decide how you want to react. You can’t fight every single battle with this woman. Pick the ones that matter most and ignore the ones that don’t. Or, pretend like you’re ignoring them and then complain about them to your man latter. Both are good solutions!
Dive in when you can
I’m a working woman to the max and I can enjoy a little old school domestication every now and then. When it makes sense for you, dive into the areas she wants you to explore and let her be your guide. For example, maybe you have always wanted to learn how to make pie crust from scratch and you have a free Sunday. Invite her over and ask her to teach you her recipe. You’ll learn and new skill and she’ll feel like she’s making a better partner for her son. Win, win! Oh, and there will be pie! So, win, win, win!
While the opportunities for women have changed tremendously over the years and will likely keep changing, one thing will always stay the same – dealing with someone else’s mom will never be easy. Good luck dealing with this mother!