Happy Mother-In-Law Day

   Written by on May 11, 2017 at 3:12 pm
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Have you seen the movie Monster-in-Law? The plot is about Kevin and Charlie who fall in love and Kevin’s mom, Viola Fields, who does everything in her power to break up their relationship. Do you laugh at the interactions between Marie and Debra on the TV program Everyone Loves Raymond? Does James Frazer, a Scottish anthropologist, comment that the dread with which the untutored contemplates her mother-in-law is among the most familiar facts of anthropology describe your relationship with your mother-in-law? The relationship between a mother-in-law (MIL) and her daughter-in-law (DIL) has been described as the most fragile of all human relationships. Mothers-inlaw often fulfill a role that is part mother, part friend, and part threat in the lives of their sons’ wives. Daughters-in-law are a major part of the family without knowing all the traditions of the family. The result can be a relationship that is operating on thin ice. The Bible offers a great example of a healthy DILMIL relationship in Naomi and Ruth. In looking at this relationship, we can see clear guidelines on how a DIL and a MIL should treat each other. So let’s look more closely at how each, Ruth the DIL and Naomi the MIL, treated each other. For daughters-in-law, here are several key themes. Choose to be open to giving and receiving love from your MIL. Ruth begged to stay with her MIL rather than return to her own family. Ruth opened her heart and allowed herself to bond to Naomi. Find a way to sacrificially provide for the needs of your MIL. Ruth was willing to serve Naomi. She chose to roll up her sleeves, to do the grunt work of gleaning wheat with the purpose of providing for herself and her MIL. Show respect for your MIL. Disrespecting MILs may be socially acceptable; however, disrespect is not the basis for a healthy relationship. It was because of Ruth’s kindness and faithfulness to Naomi that Boaz, the man of her dreams, noticed her. Everything Ruth did for her MIL impressed Boaz. Listen to your MIL’s wisdom. Ruth followed Naomi’s advice. DILs, it is possible your MIL is not trying to replace your mom. Her advice may have some merit. Don’t resist simply because your MIL offers her two cents every now and then. Mothers-in-law, Naomi provides you with several specific guidelines on how to have a healthy relationship with your daughter-in-law. Recognize that your DIL is an adult, capable of making decisions. When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she accepted Ruth’s decision. Treat your DIL as a welcome daughter not as an outsider. Naomi considered Ruth a daughter. Naomi called Ruth her daughter and helped Ruth understand the traditions of Naomi’s world. MILs, it’s okay to be a part of your DIL’s daily life, but be slow to criticize and quick to praise her for raising your grandbabies and caring for your son. Naomi asked Ruth about her day, but also complimented Ruth. Naomi gave Ruth exact instructions and Ruth responded favorably to her MIL’s advice. Why? Maybe because Naomi held her tongue until it really mattered. There is no recounting of Naomi offering unsolicited advice about the color to paint the living room, how to cook a meal, or how to shed a few pounds. Naomi did not respond to Ruth out of jealousy, bitterness, or resentment. Part of the reason why the MIL-DIL relationship can be so tricky is because it is hard for us to see our own faults. As a MIL or a DIL, you may be too defensive. DILs, do the traditions or forms of communication of your new family frustrate you? MILs, do you feel like you are walking a tightrope trying to be helpful without being critical? All of these layers contribute to the MILDIL relationship being the most fragile of all human relationships. However, Ruth and Naomi offer an example and proof that this relation can work. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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