This is perhaps my biggest challenge to date, second only to writing about religion. As all us ladies know, there is one person so fearsome, that the idea of upsetting her would be more terrifying even than the thought of offending a group of Christians…
But of course: the Mother-in-Law.
Recently, following a particularly irksome exchange that left me near-crazy with frustration, my husband suggested I write about it. Or to be exact, that I write a blog post about it – with the intention of which to subsequently be published.
Having been married for a while now, I have near enough perfected the art of filtering my husband’s verbal diarrhoea, weeding out that categorised as drivel from that which is deserving of my attention. My head snapped up to check whether he was joking.
And thus, my awesome husband had thrown down the gauntlet of my biggest challenge yet: to create a post that would be true to my feelings and ergo worthy of my readers’ time, whilst simultaneously avoiding upsetting the apple cart that is my (inherited) family. They say don’t sh*t on your own doorstep. Did I mention that my husband proofreads all my articles for me? I can certainly smell something, though I’m confident it’s identifiable as cold fear…
And then I hit upon a stroke of genius: an open letter to my Mother-in-Law.
How can I fail to say what needs to be said, yet maintain our relationship – and hopefully improve it, after all, that is what this is about – with a letter written directly to her? Of course, it is still infinitely possible. But I am confident that this is the only realistic approach to achieve my objective: to reach an understanding with her that is currently lacking; to make my poor husband’s life a little easier; and yes, to also make her happier too. All this without using my words as weapons and causing offence.
If I pull this off I deserve a medal…
Addendum as of 15/03/2015
So I pulled it off – kind of…
My husband approved the letter without a single revision. Which, in my opinion, makes my endeavours themselves a success of sorts: I succeeded in putting together a difficult, emotive letter. One that my husband deemed suitable and appropriate for his mum to view. Bingo.
Except that when my mother-in-law got around to reading the letter, it became apparent that I was a little too successful in treading a line between airing of grievances and poignant entreaty. I hurt her: it’s too personal and too raw for my words to be public. And despite, or because of, everything that needed to be said – I respect that.
And so the letter has been removed. It has served its purpose: we are fixing our once-affectionate bond.
Incidentally, we made an interesting discovery during this journey. It transpires that the issues between us, all along, are the inadvertent making of my husband. So resolute was he to thwart any confrontation between us (for fear of allowing irreparable damage to occur), that he not only discouraged, but actively prevented any communication of issues. He has held up his hands and accepted his part in what became a very sad and silly situation.
As of now, we are not simply papering over cracks; we are re-establishing, fostering and nurturing what has been, and will again be, a solid and affectionate rapport. Our daughter, and granddaughter, is a very lucky little girl to be surrounded by a family so full of love and support for each other. As am I.
Hubby, if you are reading this, you can present me with that medal whenever you’re ready. I don’t expect it to be made of gold or anything so extravagant. A composition of chocolate is acceptable.
Do you have a good relationship with your in-laws? How do you handle conflict? Please comment below – I’d love to hear your ideas for promoting harmony and balance in your family.