It seems every husband has a story about a meddling mother-in-law. But a new study reveals that it's the wives that have the most contentious relationships with their beloved mothers-in-law.
Why? Husband's mothers often feel territorial about their son, and wives often feel as if they are being watched and constantly judged.
Matt Titus, author of "Why Hasn't He Called" and Caroline Schaefer, features editor of Self Magazine give us the he said/she said perspective on what husbands and wives can do to ease the tension of his mother's influence.
Matt Titus' Advice For Husbands: Keeping The Peace Between Your Wife and Mom
1. Address the problem immediately and do not let it fester.
The issue of a mother's son and his new wife is a sensitive one, to say the least. Titus says the more the unspoken tension remains unaddressed, the worse it will become. The longer the tension continues, the more issues will pile up, the more angry the resentment becomes and the eventual inevitable confrontations will be uglier. When problems come up, address them - and fast.
2. Ask your mother and your wife to talk, directly.
Titus feels that the husband is put in a very difficult position here. It would be a total disaster to use your husband as a buffer zone or as a translator. It is really the toughest position for him to be in. So getting in a room and letting the two of you hash it out would ease his burden tremendously.
3. Isolate the problem-do not let other family members get involved.
The more tension there is, the more others will get involved. But dragging in other family members and children will make it much worse. Do not let gossip and side taking make a bad situation more horrible.
Caroline Schaefer's Advice For Wives: Keeping the Peace With Your Mother-In-Law
1. Ask your spouse to set the boundaries with your mother.
Schaefer argues that it can be seen as extremely impolite to tell your mother-in-law what's what when you are offended. The news can be less offensive coming from her son. These boundaries will be important before you get married, so talk about it then. But the boundaries will shift throughout your marriage, especially with the arrival of kids, so be prepared for this to be a topic you will need to revisit, perhaps often depending on the circumstances.
2. Be polite and courteous when being assertive.
Treat your mother-in-law as you would a co-worker. Temper all of your potential criticism with compliments, always think about what you say before you say it. Do not be rude or pushy, as this will cause a tense situation to become untenable.
3. Do not bad mouth your mother-in-law to anyone, especially your spouse.
It might be OK for your husband to say something bad about your mother, but it is never OK for you to hop on the bandwagon. Complaining to your husband about his mother puts him a tough position, and it brings your tension with your mother-in-law into your marriage. And if you complain to a wide range of people, chances are he will hear about it or sense it. If you can do it, keep it to yourself.
Copyright 2008 CBS. All rights reserved.