Tag Archives: relationships

My Mother-In-Law, Myself

Here’s a multiple choice question for you. My mother-in-law is A) meddling B) critical C) not understanding D) none of the above. If you answered D, you are correct.

Logan, Me and my MIL

My mother-in-law lives in Norway, but we’re quite close. She’s very nice, yet also very strong-willed and opinionated. I’m also strong-willed and not shy on sharing my opinion, but what makes our relationship work so well is that we have a healthy dose of respect for each other.

Relationships with mother-in-laws can be tricky. It’s like a tale of two queens in one kingdom. They’re the mother, they’ve watched your partner grow up, guiding them along the way. When you come into the picture it’s like there’s a new queen in the castle, new rules and now your partner is listening to someone else’s guidance: yours. (Well, at least we hope our partners are listening to us…)

I remember the first defining moment between me and my MIL. It was shortly after Hubby and I married and she and I were hanging out in her kitchen. She turned to me in her sweet accent and eagerly asked if we were going to start having kids. I told her no, we were going to wait a bit.

She frowned and asked if I was sure, because it would be nice to start a family. I paused to ponder how to phrase my answer. One of the great things about Norwegians is their brutal honesty, so I told the truth. We wanted to have kids, but I wanted to spend time working on my career first, so babies had to wait. She frowned again and then said: “Well that makes sense. I tell (my daughter) to wait to have kids, so why shouldn’t it be the same for you?”

And just like that we moved on to something else. She never asked me about having grandchildren again. That’s how we work, we have starkly honest conversations and we can agree to disagree with no hard feelings. It all comes down to respect and over the years it’s created a very close bond.

When she stayed with us for three weeks for Ethan’s birth, it was great to have such unconditional support. When Hubby was in Florida on business a week after the birth, my MIL and I had an efficient rhythm in running the household together. And each evening we’d empty a bottle of red wine over a girlie movie that took twice as long to watch because we’d pause it and talk about all kinds of random things.

I’ll always be  thankful for those days we spent as just us, together. Her unconditional love. Her compliments on how I handled my cantankerous 3-year-old. Even listening objectively to my gripes about my husband, her firstborn son. I’ll be eternally grateful for our relationship and I wish that kind of blessing for others. I know most folks don’t have this type of relationship with their MIL, which makes me all the more appreciative of mine.

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Hi, Have We Met? I’m Your Wife…

You work all day, come home, get dinner together, put your kid to bed, eat dinner yourself, often in front of the TV, all the while exchanging a few words here and there with your spouse. It’s not until you’ve both decompressed, which is usually about bedtime, that you can turn to each other and mean it when you say: “How are you?” But before your partner can finish the answer, you’ve drifted off to sleep.

And repeat.

Couples with kids and demanding jobs have it hard. You get so caught up in the day-to-day that it becomes a chore to try to stay connected. You know you need to have Date Nights but then there’s getting the babysitter, finding time in your schedule, staying awake, spending the money… All of that. I get it, believe me. It’s tough, we just have to be tougher.

BC (Before Child) hubby and I used go and to all kinds of interesting things, now… not so much. Though simply because we’re parents doesn’t mean our life as a couple is over, we just have to work harder to attain it. We used to have Kid Free time by going out with other couples or to parties, then slowly realized even though we had Kid Free time it wasn’t Our Time. We weren’t reconnecting because we were always surrounded by other people.

What we started doing is having our Date Night sometime during the week. Twice a month on a Tuesday or a Wednesday and it’s just a few hours. Not the usual dinner and a movie, I fall asleep before the opening credits are over. But just a quiet dinner where we talk about our day. And each time, it sounds hokey, but I fall in love with him just a little bit more. When we’re just chit-chatting over pasta I see that charming boy who wooed me in college instead of the man who forgot to take out the trash. It’s good stuff.

I know it’s hard to carve out time for each other, but I encourage you to do so because you owe it to yourselves. Also when mommy and daddy are on the same page and happy, it makes a happy home. I never want to be one of those couples who wake up after their kids leave the nest and wonder who is this stranger they’re living with.

Connecting with your spouse, we all need to do it. Here’s a few ideas to help make the magic happen:

  • After the kids are down sit out on the porch with a glass of wine, a beer, light a candle and just talk. Not about anything on a To Do list, just shoot the breeze.
  • Find a mommy friend who can come over and look after your kids while you have Date Night, then do the same for her. 
  • Make it a priority. Schedule a date one month from now and treat it as a doctor appointment that cannot be rescheduled.
  • Change it up. There’s a lot you can do in two hours, dinner, bowling, a long walk, shoot, even a high-school syle smooch fest.
  • Just do it.