I'm BFFs With My Mother-in-Law & It Drives My Husband Crazy

mother and daughter looking out at oceanThe first time I met my mother-in-law was about a month into dating my now-husband. He had tried to keep her away from me for as long as he could, but when he threw a New Year's Eve party for friends, she conveniently managed to swing by and plant herself right in the middle of the living room with one objective only -- to check me out. She looked me up and down and said, "Helll-ooo!" in a way that made it positively clear that she had been anticipating this moment a very, very long time.

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I'd soon learn that after raising five boys, my husband's mother had not only been waiting for her shyest son to find a serious girlfriend -- but for a daughter.

Maybe because he was aware of this, my husband was thoroughly freaked out about that first meeting, admitting to me later that he was nervous his mom's eyebrow-raising quirks would make me "run away." Hence why he had tried to stall our meeting for as long as he could. Still, he knew full well that the more serious we got, the more inevitable the encounters with his mom would be.

But he probably never in a million years had anticipated that instead of being driven away by her, she and I would end up becoming BFFs! Seriously.

It didn't take long at all for me to go from a girl her son was dating to her shopping sidekick and confidant. We have similarly outgoing, sunny personalities and bonded over our love of all things bling. (I attribute it to us both having a lot of Leo in our astrological charts.)

Before I had fully made the transition from subway-taking city dweller to Jeep-driving suburbanite, she would take me to doctor's appointments or to discount department stores for steals on boots and sweaters. When I moved in with my husband, she drove me into Manhattan, parked illegally outside of the SoHo basement apartment I had shared with roommates, and helped me pack up my belongings to bring them back to New Jersey.

My own mother, who lives out of state, joked once, "How's your best friend?" referring to my mother-in-law.

And the real clincher, I'd say: We even made it through a year and a half of living together! If that's not awesome (okay, in a rare, bizarre way), I don't know what is.

You might think that my husband would be over-the-moon that the two most important women in his life get along, right? But when asked how he feels about his mom and his wife's friendship, he will either shrug or groan.

In fact, recently I've started wondering if being close to my mother-in-law could actually be problematic for our marriage.

If I've learned anything from interviewing marriage therapists about what makes for a happy, lasting union, it's that a couple always needs to present a united front. Especially when it comes to in-laws. But being so tight with my mother-in-law means that sometimes, she and I are talking about my husband without him being present. So that whole "united front" thing goes out the window ...

For instance, if she suspects he's been stressed about work, she'll ask me how he's doing. Oh, sure, she'll ask him too, but if he doesn't answer her text or even if he does (usually with something fairly vague), she shoots me over the same Q, peppered with funny emojis. I respond in kind.

If she's been home sick for a few days and hasn't had a chance to go grocery shopping, I'll swing by to visit her and deliver a rotisserie chicken (Whole Foods has a good BOGO deal!) without my husband. 

And okay, a few years back, my MIL and I may have plotted how to get her mother's diamond ring into my then-boyfriend's possession ...

That said, there have been times when I'm schmoozing up a storm with my MIL, talking about when we may go for mani-pedis, discussing dinner plans, or trading notes about rom-coms on TV, and much like back in the beginning, my husband would prefer, uh, a bit more distance. (Hey, definitely beats the alternative of being a mama's boy, right?)

I get it, and I respect it. I realize that ultimately, my loyalties need to be to my husband, not my MIL. That doesn't mean I don't feel like it's a delicate balancing act learning how to do that. To say it's a weird position to find myself in, one I'd never have imagined, is definitely an understatement.

We're learning. He reminds himself that having a wife who helps take care of his mom makes his life easier sometimes, and I need to remember he doesn't necessarily need to hear about the hilarious, TMI Facebook post his mom just put up.

Admittedly, our goofy "love triangle" is a bit dysfunctional. But if being unconventionally close with my MIL means I have an amazing friend who not only makes it more fun to shop for deals on designer duds -- but who will make it easier for my husband and me to raise a child one day, I know we'll be even better off in spite of this wacky dynamic (whether my husband will admit it or not!).

What's your relationship like with your mother-in-law? Has it ever affected your marriage?

 

Image via iStock.com/tab1962

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