Why Your Wife Doesn’t Like Your Mother
Settle four common spats between the two most important ladies in your life
When your wife gets ticked at your mother, your own relationship with the two ladies you love most can get a little awkward.
They’re both ultimately trying to make you happy. So it’s your job to manage the tug-of-war.
And many times, that means confronting your mom—in a loving way, of course. Here’s how to handle four touchy topics. Follow the advice, and you’ll not only please your wife, but also stay a mama’s boy.
Flashpoint #1: Unannounced Visits
The scenario: Your wife was on the road all week for work and is looking forward to unwinding at home.
As she turns the corner onto your street, whose car does she spot in the driveway? Your mother’s . . .
Don’t say: “Hey mom, Trixie doesn’t like when you come over unannounced.”
Blaming her pits the two women against each other.
Say this instead: “Mom, we like when you visit, but I’d appreciate if you called first.”
Making it your wish takes your wife out of it, and sets boundaries your mom will respect, says Sylvia Mikucki-Enyart, Ph.D., an assistant professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point who studies in-law relationships.
Flashpoint #2: Family Holidays
The scenario: Your wife wants to hold Thanksgiving at your place this year. Your mom, who has handled hosting duties for decades, grudgingly gives in—but insists on arriving at dawn to help with the turkey.
Don’t say: “Mom, you and I both know you’re a better cook than Trixie. But let her handle this.”
You’re trying to flatter your mother, but you’re fooling yourself if you think this comment won’t get back to your wife. When it does, you better hope there isn’t any cutlery around.
Say this instead: “Mom, Trixie is a great cook, and although we appreciate your offer, just bring your famous mashed yams. See you at one.”
By calling out your wife’s prowess in the kitchen, you’re reassuring mom that you’re being well fed, which is vital to her (and every mother’s) peace of mind.
Flashpoint #3: Your Children
The scenario: You and your wife work hard to feed your kid nutritious, wholesome food. But after a day at Grandma’s, the little guy comes home with a chocolate milk moustache and gummy worms crawling out of his pockets.
Don’t say: “Mom, if you’re going to feed him all that sugar, just don’t let Trixie know about it.”
That opens the door for deceit in the relationship and makes you an accomplice.
Say this instead: “Mom, we’ve decided not to feed our son junk food. We feel this is important for his health, and we’d appreciate it if you didn’t work against us.”
“It’s important to communicate a united front on issues like this,” says Mikucki-Enyart. By using words like “we,” “our,” and “us,” you’re emphasising that you and your partner are just that—partners. Mom won’t go against that.
Flashpoint #4: Criticism
The scenario: Your wife got all dressed up for a family wedding. But your mother takes one look at her, and says, “I’d never be able to wear a dress that short.”
Don’t say: “Now, now, you two. Can I get anyone a whiskey sour?”
Buddy, she just (passive-aggressively) insulted your wife!
Say this instead: “Mom, I think she looks terrific. In fact, I think you owe her an apology.”
When you tied the knot, you vowed to stick by her through sickness, health, and in-law barbs.
“Let your mom know that any criticism—either or overt or passive-aggressive—won’t be tolerated, and that it hurts your feelings, too,” says Mikucki-Enyart.