In my previous blog (announcing Mother-in-Law Day on October 28), I suggested we all try to be a little more respectful of the women who brought our husbands into the world.

Since then I have heard from several friends who agreed with my sentiment but said they found it hard to get along with, much less be respectful of, their mothers-in-law.

When your mother-in-law is being critical, demanding, judgmental or manipulative, it can be difficult to treat her kindly or even civilly. However, she is the mother of your beloved husband. And she’s probably not going away anytime soon. So it pays to find ways to enhance the relationship, even if you’re the one doing all the work.

Here are a few suggestions for developing a more positive relationship with your mother-in-law:

Have a sense of humor. Think of it as a Reality TV and pretend that everyone is watching. Humor goes a long way toward defusing hostility in any relationship. Besides, laughing makes you feel better.

Avoid criticism. When it comes to mothers-in-law, criticism (no matter how well deserved) is not a good thing. If your mother-in-law is “old school,” giving criticism is part of her nature. Receiving it, however, is not. If she objects to the way you do something, don’t retaliate with harsh words. Instead, listen to her calmly then distract her by changing the topic. If she persists, take her hand, look her in the eyes, and tell her that her son likes it this way and you want to make him happy because he’s the best.

Turn a negative into a positive. If “mom” starts in on the way you handle the children or clean the house, ask her, “What are the qualities you do like in me?” This will get her thinking and will end the unpleasant situation. She may even surprise you and come up with several things she likes about you.

Return the compliment. There must be one or two things you like about your mother-in-law. Reinforce the qualities that you admire in her and compliment her often. You do this for your children, so why not your mother-in-law?

Schedule a “play date.” Make a date to spend some one-on-one time with her, preferably at some activity she wants to do. Ask about her life, her career, what she wants to accomplish, and how you can help.

Have realistic expectations. She’s not your mother or your best friend. She’s your husband’s mother, and she wants to be his best friend. Accepting the relationship for what it is will help you see her point of view and make your life easier.

Remember, patience is the key. It takes time to build (or rebuild) a relationship. So be patient, lower your expectations of her, and remember that you both love the same man.

Author's Bio: 

Yana Berlin is the founder and CEO of, devoted to the celebration of all things “woman,” especially the challenges and joys women face juggling their careers, children, relationships and life’s other issues. Fabulously is a social network for women that catalyzes its members to celebrate and embrace their life.