Uncle Tng’s Tricks To Deal With Troublesome In-Laws

Uncle Tng’s Tricks To Deal With Troublesome In-Laws

5 min read

Uncle Tng’s tips on tackling troublesome in-laws.


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Ahhh, mothers-in-law or MIL. Only those who are married will know why I said “Ahhh”. But hor, don’t get me wrong. This is not an article poking fun at them. And, no offense to all mothers-in-law also. But, let Uncle Tng give all the tips on how to handle sensitive issues regarding mothers-in-law. Of course, some couples have no problems. But for those who have, faster read now.

1. Accept the reality

mother-in-law standing behind newly wedded couple

You marry your wife, you gain her mother lor. Simple reality. Now, you have to deal with more than one woman. Umommy always jokes: “No man is good enough for my Cathy”. In some sense, it is true. You will be seen as the person who is taking her precious daughter away from your mother-in-law. Furthermore, your mother-in-law does not know you well, so there are bound to be reservations about you. She will not be your  friend instantly,  and everything you say or do will be viewed under the microscope— you have to accept that!

2. Team up with your spouse

teaming up with spouse

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You married your spouse, so work with him or her to help you deal with difficult issues with your MIL. Dealing with your MIL starts with the two of you being in sync. Never put your spouse in a tight spot where he or she has to choose between you and their mother. Support your spouse over your own mother, no matter what. Your spouse has a bond with their own mother. So when dealing with your MIL, you stand a better chance.

3. Set boundaries

Your child: “Grandma, I want candies!”
You: “No candies before dinner!”
Your MIL: “Aiyah, never mind lah. Come, Mama give you.”

sweets from grandma

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Sounds familiar right, this scenario? So what do you do? Again, team up with your spouse to politely tell your MIL that you have certain rules. Never say: “Don’t interfere with my children’s diet”. Not only is it rude, but conflicts will arise. Understand that your children have become their precious grandchildren, elevating their social status – they have been “promoted” to grandparents. So, politely tell her your reasons why. Set a few boundaries on some do’s and don’ts. Give and take lah. For example, candies before dinner should not be a cause of conflict in the family.

4. Communicate your feelings directly.

Scary right, I know. But imagine, if you do so, you may gain some respect from your MIL. Talking to her directly about some issues shows your sincerity. It also shows that you value her opinion and her friendship. You will also learn first-hand her reasons for doing things the way she does them. But of course, have your spouse nearby for support!

5. Be yourself

laughing and horsing around

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Don't try to mould yourself into the person your MIL wants or expects you to be. You are who you are and your spouse married you for that. For example, if they expect you to always stay at home, but you can’t because you are an outdoors person. Or that you must be a good handyman when you can’t even change a light bulb (actually if you can’t change light bulb, you also useless Hahaha!). Be sure to let her know you are your own man and have your particular set of skills that may not meet her expectations.

6. Accept her quirks

Just as your MIL has to accept yours. Older generations will always have their die-hard habits and superstitions. If your MIL tells you and your children not to go out at night during the Hungry Ghost month, just let it slide lah. Just nod your head out of respect. And if her thriftiness gets on your nerves, look the other way. You don’t have to correct her, but at least pretend to listen and yes, nod your head again and again.

7. Learn to cool off 

cooling off after heated convo with mother-in-law

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Accept your MIL for who she is. Vent your frustrations away from her. Never show your anger or disrespect. It will only make things worse. Yes, of course, in your head, you might want to slap her. But learn to play nice and cool off whenever she makes your blood boil. If you hear another insult or sarcasm, bite your tongue, bite your lips, bite anything, and smile…

8. Always be kind

Remember, she is someone else’s mother too. And you love your own mother, and you will always be kind to your own mother. Your parents will love you from the start. But your MIL will not show the same love. But be kind to her anyway. Buy her favourite food once in a while, or take her out shopping. Your wife will appreciate it. Remember: “Happy wife, happy life”. 

Yes, they have been the butt of many mother-in-law jokes (My favourite is “Monster-in-law. Got movie also!). But jokes aside, they ARE your mother, by law. So give a little respect, tolerance, compromise, and understand where she is coming from. Then, you will live in peace and harmony, sometimes. 

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