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Your fiancé is a dream come true but his or her mom is a nightmare. That sentiment is an unfortunate but all-too-common scenario for many brides-to-be. Dealing with your mother-in-law on an ordinary day is stressful enough, but during wedding planning a monster-in-law can derail the entire process. Thankfully, you are not alone. Many women struggle to find positive ways to interact with their future mother-in-law, and you can't always rely on your fiancé to swoop in and break the tension. Here, six brides share how they handled their mother-in-laws (and didn't ruin their impending marriage in the process).
"Whenever my MIL to be tried to take control — like insisting on a separate groom's cake even though Ed and I decided one cake was enough — I would nod my head. Then when she'd realize I hadn't taken her advice, I played dumb: 'Oh, we wanted a bride's layer and groom's layer on a big cake so we'd each have a flavor we liked. Sorry to have misunderstood.' I never snapped at her, just went my own way. I didn't want to cause unnecessary tension." — Jill
"She was unbearable during the entire process. We wanted adults only and she had a fit one night, yelling, 'Children are a blessing. They should be there.' This was after demanding we have a sit down plated dinner for her entire family while not offering to help cover the cost of the plated dinner or childcare. I had my fiancé deal with her. I stayed out of it!" — Ann
"My MIL was adamant that if we invited her ex-husband to the wedding she wasn't going to come. Jim told his mother he understood the two of them didn't get along but that he wanted both parents at his wedding. She had a fit. I took her aside and said I would do everything possible to make sure the two had as little contact as possible, I understood Jim's dad had been awful to her, but we needed to do everything to make the day great for Jim. Being polite and reasonable helped and eventually she backed down. However the wedding is next month so there might yet be some drama!" — Tina
"Meditation and yoga got me through. And so did weekly shrink sessions!" — Karen
"My MIL-zilla was mad that I was getting married before her daughter so she boycotted every single thing I asked her to help with! Dress shopping? Nope, too busy. Come see the dress that was actually bought? Nope. The list goes on and on... I didn't act on my instinct to be passive-aggressive. I chose to focus my energy on the details of the wedding and the beautiful life I was going to create with her son. I never stopped inviting her and trying to include her, even though all the negative responses hurt. I couldn't always stay positive though, and in those moments, I let myself cry — a lot. There was many a time I wished voodoo dolls were real! Now, in hindsight, I should have let myself believe she really was a monster-in-law since her 'zilla' like behavior is still going on, nine years later!" — Jacqui
"My name is Justin. Being a woman with a stereotypical man's name, I faced the wrath of my MIL Julie. She constantly badgered me about having a man's name and attempted to dissuade Paul from marrying me. This resentment carried over into wedding planning, as she shot down all my ideas saying they were 'bad taste coming from a man.' It was very frustrating and strained my relationship with Paul. I dealt with my mother-in-law by sitting down and having daily coffee with her, which after a while, became a ritual we both came to love. We became closer, and eventually, the problem between us was eradicated. We had a wonderful wedding six years ago, and Paul and I have been happily married ever since. Julie is now like my second mother!" — Justin
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.