How to Handle Your Future Mother-In-Law

23 Oct

mother-in-law-problemsAre you experiencing in-law dramas in the lead-up to your wedding day? This week we hear from bride-to-be Michelle Furtado from Little Aussie Cheerleader, who is six weeks from her big day and learning much about how to best get along with her future parents-in-law during the wedding planning process.

I want to start this off with a caveat. I love my future mother-in-law. She is such a beautiful, warm, loving person who has taken me under her wing. I believe I am lucky to have a kind, caring future mother-in-law, especially when I hear some horror stories.

But even the good mothers-in-law can present problems during wedding preparations – problems that can cause major issues between you and your partner, which is the absolute last thing you need in the lead up to your wedding. Through my wedding planning experiences I have learnt a few lessons that I believe all brides should know, and that will serve you well into your marriage.

1. Make sure you and your partner agree
I found what I believed to be the most perfect wedding venue. It was secluded, it had a funky dance floor, a great chill-out area, outdoor games… it was really unique and on a golf course! I thought someone must have intruded into my dreams and developed this venue from my musings.

My future mother-in-law didn’t have the same opinion. The tablecloths weren’t ironed, the floor was dirty (they had a vacuum out ready to clean, she must’ve missed that), the toilets were too close to the lolly buffet (I wasn’t even planning on a lolly buffet, but okay…), the list went on. And, to my horror, my future husband was agreeing with this. I couldn’t believe it, for a venue to tick so many of our boxes but to be dismissed because of tablecloths?


Bride-to-be, Michelle Furtado

Later that day, I discussed the venue with my partner privately… and it turns out that he really liked it. Liked it so much that we should have our wedding there? Yes, he said. Woo-hoo! I was ecstatic. My elation, though, was short lived. My future husband then went to speak to his mother… and changed his mind. Now, to say I was upset is an understatement – but the lesson here isn’t me versus mother.

The lesson is to make sure you and your partner agree and work as a team. It turns out, my lovely man wanted to make me happy and make his mum happy, which wasn’t going to work in this particular situation. However, the only people – really – that need to be happy on your big day are you and your partner. Take parents out of the equation, even if they are helping fund it. Your parents only want what is best for you… and if you and your partner decide together what you want, no one will argue.

2. Let your partner deal with his parents and you deal with your own
Table seatings are fun, aren’t they? Actually, when I sat down with my future husband, we managed to sort it out quite quickly and painlessly. I couldn’t believe it was so effortless! We agreed to show this to our parents for their opinion, but wouldn’t change anything unless there was a major family political reason. Apparently my future mother-in-law had quite a number of issues with our seating plan, and my fiance came home and played don’t-shoot-the-messenger. Between the two of us, we discussed the issues and I told him that he needs to sort this out with his mum; I was no longer going to go up against her.

This is a huge lesson I would love for all brides to learn. To have any semblance of a good relationship with your mother-in-law, you shouldn’t be the spokesperson for your future husband. For any issues relating to the wedding or the future, you and your partner should sort them out as a team… and then if anything needs to be sorted out further with your partner’s parents, it is up to your partner to do it.

3. Walk a hundred miles in her shoes
motherinlawImagine you are a mother. You were the first woman in your son’s life. You taught him what love meant. You were there for all of the highs and the lows, the scary nights when he was so sick and you felt helpless, the worrying moments when he went out to his very first party. You were the person he called to pick him up, who helped him to drive, encouraged him through school. Gosh, you were there for everything. And he knew it. He looked at you with such amazing devotion, as if you lit up his life. Because you do! You’re his mum!

But then along comes this girl. She’s not like the rest. He gives her those special looks of devotion and love that you thought he only gave you. Suddenly, you aren’t the first person he calls anymore. You aren’t his rock. Someone else is. This is a hard reality to face. One that cannot be understood, even if you go through it yourself, because each experience is different. Every relationship is different.

It is important as future daughters-in-laws to approach our mothers-in-law with compassion, respect and dignity. We are most likely going to be in the same position and feel that same heartache with our own children. Please don’t misunderstand; this is not a reason or an excuse for anyone to behave rudely or be mean. But before you rush off to complain to your friends about what crazy schemes your future mother-in-law has concocted this time, acknowledge how she could be feeling and where the behaviour might stem from.

Remember, mothers-in-law were daughters-in-law too. Deep down they will be able to relate with what you are going through, even if they don’t want to acknowledge it themselves.

What is your relationship with your future mother-in-law like? Do you have any horror stories? Or do you want to do a shout out for something amazing she has done? Leave your comments below.

(First image from Zawaj, third image from Mama’s Health.)

Michelle ‘The Career Whisperer’ Furtado is a passionate career coach who works with feisty, fearless females, helping them to get clear on their career and their sense of purpose so that they can fall back in love with their lives. Through her programs and one-on-one sessions she help clients get a greater sense of security and certainty about the future, worry less about their bank balance, feel more control over all aspects of their life with no more confusion, burden or overwhelm and – of course – smile a lot more! Visit, email, or follow on Facebook.

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2 Responses to “How to Handle Your Future Mother-In-Law”

  1. nikki December 4, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    Thank you. As a bride with tons of issues with my soon to be mother in law this was very helpful. It gave me much insight. But what do you do when your future mother in law wants a dress that outshines your gown?

    • reflectivebride December 8, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

      Wow, that’s an interesting one. First up, clearly she doesn’t think it’s a problem, so she’s not going to realize it’s a problem until somebody tells her. So it’s a matter of finding who is the best person to tell her in order to get the message across: is it you, your groom, her own partner? Ask nicely at first and explain your reasoning, and offer up some suggestions instead, or maybe even offer to go outfit shopping with her – could be a much-needed bonding activity!

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