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What do MILs want from their DILs?

Started by Bride2Be, May 26, 2009, 07:29:39 am

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Hello Ladies!!!

This question has been eating me up on the inside.  I still for the life of me can't figure out what MILs want from their DIL.  I've tried giving my FMIL respect but that never seemed to be enough.  She wanted my time, love, friendship, companionship....way more than I expected.

Do MILs want their DIL to love them?  Do they expect their DILs to want to spend time with them?  Do MILs expect that just because they gave birth to their son, his wife is feel the same way he does or something similar?

I know there are DILs who are blatantly mean or purposely try to separate her husband from his family and that's unacceptable.  This question doesn't pertain to DILs like that. 

What if she just doesn't feel anything towards her MIL, good or bad?  I ask this because before all the negative feelings between my FMIL and myself, I was content with saying hello and goodbye, keeping visits to a minimum and just being respectful.  That wasn't enough, but when you don't feel anything more what do you do???

Thanks Ladies!!!!


Your question tears me up inside!  This non-feeling toward her is going to be what she eventually gets from her son. You get no place in our society without a relationship with his wife.  I could just break down and sob as I read your letter. She can surely feel your non-caring...surely she can. 

Why are you marrying her son?  Did she not raise him well enough to earn her some respect and caring from you.  You hold all the cards here. 

Mine has done so much damage to us that my spirit is almost gone.  Don't have a son; this will come back to you ten fold.  You will love that son just as much as you will love the daughter you might have.  However, you will lose your son if he marries someone who doesn't care for you. 


Just because a woman is with a man she is to love his mother similar to how he does??  Has there ever been anyone in your life that you had no feeling towards good, bad or indifferent??  How can I make him feel any less about his mother, maybe his mother is making his life harder with her complaints and dislike for his wife??

What does a mother raising her son have to do with his woman having anything in common with her???  Does this act of giving birth automatically mean that whoever your son deals with will like you??  Does this mean that your personalities will mesh well?? She raised him well and I'm glad for that, she has my respect and most of all I trust her with my children, how much more can she ask for???  She has unlimited time with her grandchildren, whenever she wants.  That is A LOT coming from me.  I don't trust many people and if she has my children, she has my respect.

I'm sure she can feel my non-caring just as I can feel hers.  Some MILs don't notice that while they are sizing up their DILs to see if the are "good enough" for their son, we DILs feel that and are turned off immediately.  Then you deem us "bad people" when we don't do something you want or think we should do.  How do you care for someone who can speak negatively about you to anyone who listens??  How can you care about someone who makes it clear YOU are the reason for their unhappiness??  How can you possibly care about someone who acts as if they have done nothing wrong to you but obviously feelings are hurt??

Where did this sense of entitlement come from on the MIL part??  I'm starting to think these MILs are more concerned with their own feelings and not the best interest of their children.  If a son is happy with how things are in his life, be happy for him instead trying to make his life the life YOU want. 

Prissy I hope your DIL or grandchildren never sees this site because the words and comments you use on this site towards your DIL will NEVER create a good relationship.  I'm sure she can feel the non-caring feelings you have for her.  I would probably cry if I read half of what you have written about her regardless of what the past held.  I wouldn't think you were serious about resolving any issues, I would just think you're waiting for your DIL to admit her "wrongs" while you sit and judge.

I really hope I didn't offend you Prissy, but this is a discussion forum and I am stating my opinion.  I'm just shocked at how you point fingers at your DIL for being nasty to you and you just do it behind her back on a website. 


This website is all I have to speak about what's she done to us.  How can you say what you've said? I deserve to have a place to be heard. We had a great home until she came in.  It's been beyond horrible and yes, a DIL holds all the keys. 

She has come between his siblings; no one can stand her.  To watch our son become a robot is unbelievable.  You roll that over in your head and see how that would make you feel. 

Until you have been swept off your feet by a person and charmed to the nines to get into your life and then turned on FOR NO REASON, you'll never know what it's like.

It's the only death where the grief never ends.  It's the longest goodbye on earth.   He would never act any way but caring toward your Mother, nor should he.  You would not appreciate that. 

Go back to the steps of what a DIL does to his family.  God help you. You're gonna need it.


Well, I am interested in this exchange, of course.  :)

I think we need to remember there are no actual MIL/DIL prototypes. We/they come in all sizes and shapes, attitudes and behaviors, backgrounds and life experiences. Tolerance is hard to create and even harder to maintain when the chemistry isn't favorable. What one MIL wants is not necessarily what another would value. The same goes for DILs. Terrible, unforgivable damage can be done and sometimes minor slights can be seen as terrible, unforgivable damage. We can share and learn and then we have to sort it out from our own vantage (or disadvantage) point.

I think there is something in our Forum Policy that we agree to the refers to bold type and capitalization. When the need to do that comes up, and I'm sure it will for most of us, lets agree to stop, take a deep breath and break for tea or a coke or whatever. Or what I do when smoke is coming out the top of my head is I write it but I don't send it until I tone it down a bit. Whatever works for you. OK?

This is a Forum...it wouldn't have any juice without divergent opinions and experiences. We want that and it needs to be tempered with "viva la difference." (Misspelled, I know...but poor spelling is a sign of brilliance according to Einstein.) Blessings, Luise
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


To Bride2Be:

Boy, strong feelings bouncing around!

This is my first comment to someone but I think your question is where I want to get my feet wet. I have never thought of it that way; like "What does a mother in law want in a daughter in law?" Not when I became a daughter in law and not when I became a mother in law did that cross my mind. How strange to participate in such life altering rituals as weddings and not give a thought to the collateral benefits or damage connected to an extended family. Is everybody too busy trying to impress everybody else, to take the time to think? Are you the only exception? I hope not!

It sounds like you have already been on a rocky road by being challenged like that when you got pregnant. That would sure have set me back on my heels, too. To think it is one thing, but to say it to someone you really don't even know very well is pretty dumb. I know how judgmental that sounds but I think you are getting a really dumb mother in law. By the time we get to her age we ought to know better.

Also, what she wants in a daughter in law and who you are might not be remotely related. That was an eye-opener for me. (And visa versa, of course. Wow!)

If I were asked now, my answer would be "I would like a daughter in law that would try to make my son happy. One that would stand by him no matter what. One that was willing to hang with him in whatever ways suited them both. And one that would talk to me about any family stuff that didn't seem to work, if she thought that would help."

I might make up something different tomorrow but that would be it today.



I can't believe no one commented on my remark three days ago that I think Bride2Be's future mother in law is really dumb. Is everyone asleep? SouthernBelle


ok Southern Belle.

Yeah, I too thought that was alittle over the top to say such blatantly crude and hurtful remarks to a DIL thats pregnant...but we don't know her. Some women and some cultures just have more outspoken opinions because that what their used. My mom used to embarass the pieces out of me because she would call chinese americans Chinks, indians towelheads etc right to their faces while I was with her (I never got used to it as a kid and it still made me cring after I was grown...but she was one of those loud mouthed eastern italians with broken english but a great heart who would wave big old sticks of salami at you in the airport that she had stunk up the whole plane her just because she did't trust califs salami. what I'm trying to say Sothern Belle try to understand why she does what she does not why she doesn't do. at least for awhilll


I'm really glad I found this site, I keep saying that and I mean it.

I guess I have always thought about what MILs want from their DILs and vice versa, just because I think the expectations are unreal at times.  I have never expected anything from my FH mothers except respect.  I never wanted her time, companionship, love or anything she might try to give with the intentions of being "nice". 

As my mother has always told me, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."  I didn't know what that meant until I met my FHs mother.  Now I get it.  Even though her intentions are good, doesn't mean I will perceive it the same way and things can get confusing and hurtful.  I know my intentions were good too, but appearently she didn't perceive my actions the same.

This site has opened my eyes.  I see now that my FH mother is her own person and she will be who she is.  I have also learned that just because I'm not who she wants me to be (the daughter she never had) doesn't make me a bad person.  I just don't want a relationship with her and that's ok, because I can't change her and she can't change me.

I hope my wedding goes ok, I would hate to have a falling out with her that day.  I just hope she doesn't think it's the day to talk because there's nothing to talk about and she has no discretion, lol!!!


She will probably learn over time that you don't want her and back off like we've had to do.  I do wish you well with your wedding and a happy life.  With you, goes her son and what you feel (perceive) about her, he will also feel at some point.

You hold all the cards.  Her initial comment to you was way out of line, unforgivable maybe, but if you don't want her, that's what you'll get. Eventually she will go away.


Bride2be,  You seem to be asking 2 different questions. 1 - what do MIL's want from DIL's and 2- Do you have to love your MIL.

1.  Personally, I want a DIL that wants a relationship with me.  This is someone that I hope to spend time with.  This is a person that will be an extension of our family as well as my son will be an extension of his wife's family.  Family to me is more than just being polite, and keeping visits and conversation to a minimum.  I have wonderful In-laws that make me feel at home in their home.  I understand, respect, and appreciate the fact that they had no choice in their son's wife, but they are willing to open their doors and their hearts to allow me in.  I have never faced (in 2 marriages) feeling that they were trying to interfere or judge me.  No praise has ever been more appreciated than when my MIL would compliment me and the way I treated their son and grandkids.  I also appreciate that my parents have been just as accepting of my husband.   Though I am a normally very polite person, even to strangers, does not mean I would feel comfortable with inviting them into my home.  Someone open to a relationship, someone that will appreciate that I love my son, someone that will tell me when I am crossing the line, someone that will be honest with me and willing to try to build a mutually rewarding relationship so that my son will not feel uncomfortable to come around.

2 - No "you" don't have to love your MIL, but I would hope that my DIL will love my son enough to want to try and build a loving relationship.  I was fortunate to have been married to my son's father for 17 years.  I was loved and accepted by his precious mother.  She treated me as if I was one of her own while still respecting I had my own mother.  I loved her and am so grateful that I was able to have that relationship.  Had I not loved her so, I would not have felt that comfortable leaving my children with her.  Had I not done that I would have denied my children the love of their grandparents.  My MIL once said that all she had to offer my children was time and memories and she gave them all she had.  I think not trying to have a relationship with her would have been the biggest and most selfish act of my life.  But that is just my opinion Bride2be.

Best wishes in whatever you decide


Hi, the lovely post by lostone makes me want to reprint this. Blessings, Luise

This is the story of my role model where mother in laws are concerned. She is gone now but she lived to be 102 and we remained friends my entire life.

I don't know when I met her because she spent her summers at the same place my mother did. They took their little 3 and 4 year-olds, (my future husband and me), down to the beach and visited with each other while we played there.

Fast forward...long story, we married in 1947 and she became my mother in law. She was a kindergarten teacher and she had the patience of a saint. I am absolutely sure that many of her students were more skilled and more mature than I was at the time we became related through my marriage to her son.

I had firmly withstood every attempt my own mother made to teach me to cook and clean... and be responsible. I had no concept of money management and I didn't know anything about kids. As I look back all those years, I know I had to be every mother in law's nightmare.

She was a friend. We shopped together, decorated our homes together, and even joined the same social club together in the little mid-west town where we lived.

She was never bossy or disapproving. She taught by example, and as I have mentioned, with infinite patience. Where she got her patience, I have no idea... but it was never ending. And I learned. My only skill to start out with was that I was a nurse. I didn't work outside the home but I knew how to take care of my kids when they were sick. Chalk 1 up for me and a 1000 up for her.

I learned the way most of us do, intermittently and sporadically. You know... one step forward followed by three steps backwards. A lot of what I was expected to do didn't interest me... which didn't help the process much. Yet she didn't push me or hold me back. She honored my eventual progress calmly, as through it had been a given. Ha! What were the odds?

After eighteen years of marriage, I divorced her son. End of my relationship with her, right? Wrong! She and I stayed in touch and remained friends for another 40 years.

The moral of this story is that I knew what to do and what not to do when my sons married and I became the mother in law. I had daughter in laws that related to me like I did to her and I had daughter in laws that didn't. You have to have the raw material to work with and when you are labeled as "the enemy" even before you are introduced, it can all be downhill from there. However, I also have a daughter in law who divorced one of my sons and you know what we did? We decided to not get divorced! As a result, we have been inseparable for over 25 years and only death will part us.

I was willing to learn and my mother in law was willing to teach me. The bottom line, I think, was willingness... openness... forgiveness and our constant acknowledgment of our mutual humanness. Bless her heart!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I have realized that I will never have a relationship with that woman because of her son, my fiance.  He acts as if she can do what she wants with my children, he keeps her in the loop when I have clearly stated I wouldn't tell her what I'm doing so why should he.  I tried to set up a meeting so we could discuss boundaries but he never did it.  I'm sure because he wants to spare her feelings.  I'm really considering ending this relationship with this man just to keep her out of my life. 

Regardless of what she may want from me, I have no obligation to be around her, like her, love her, or even respect her anymore.  I tried and the mommas boy I'm with is too weak to get his mother out of my business.  I'm fed up.  Screw being nice about it, I swear I want to choke her, literally.


I hear you Bride2Be and I think you are putting the blame where it belongs. Your guy is not with you on this one if the meeting never took place and no boundaries have been established. I also have to wonder if your FMIL would have paid any attention to said boundaries. Her conduct has been sanctioned for a long time, which may have given her a sense of power. Respect is so vital. He needs to respect you and together you need to deal with his mother's disrespect in a respectful way...not an easy assignment and one calling for solidarity. (I suppose Prissy will brain me for this one!)
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Hi Ladies!!!

Well what a few days can do for someone!!  I went from thinking whole heartedly about ending my relationship with a wonderful, loving caring man to feeling like I'm making some head way with him and his mother.

My FH finally talked to his wise uncle (her brother) about the situation with his mother.  He said he felt like he was in the middle and he didn't know what to do.  He also said that he didn't like hurting his mother's feelings.  His uncle said "MAN UP!!!".  He said that my FH needed to stand his ground with his mother, be loving and understanding but nonetheless be firm.  He told my FH that since he knows that his mother cries when the wind changes directions and his mother is extremely clingy and overbearing that he can't let her inability to deal with changes be his fault.  He also told him that my FH is about to be someone's husband and that is the family that comes first now.  He told him that he can't always please his mother and wife but that he needs to come to common ground with both. 

I agree with everything his uncle said.  I also had to remind my FH that his mother isn't the only grandmother or family member that wants to spend time with our kids.  It's summertime , the kids are out of school which leaves them more time for everyone.  I had to let him know it's not his mothers place to decide a time schedule for our kids when they have a right to their other family.  His mother spends a whole lot more time with my kids than any other family member because she constantly goes to their school (too often in my book - 2-3 times a week) and taking them during the school week (I disagree with that especially when I have a child who is beginning to lie and hide her homework).  I have not said much but now that summer is here she is expecting to have them 50% of the time and created a schedule for herself that accommodated her and as she said "gives others time with the kids".  Not her choice.  My mother is different than her.  My mom feels like she has raised her kids and does not want to do the school thing with them unless she is asked by me.  My mom says "I want to love them, hug them, squeeze them and kiss them and then send them home hopped up on sugar to mommy."  I think that's great.  She respects that I am the mother and she is the grandmother and wants to spoil them and not have to be like their mother because of school.

My FH called me this morning and said he was sorry for getting mad at me for wanting to change the days his mother set up (he didn't want to "hurt her feelings" but he will short my mother of her time) and for asking me to take time away from mother for his when I don't ask him to do that to his mother.  I think the kids can be shared by everyone, I have a big family.  I have 4 sisters, 2 brothers, over 20 nieces and nephews and many more and they want to spend time with my kids too. 

I know my FH's mother will freak out because of the devastating news (in a sarcastic tone) but that's her M.O.  That is how she kept him close as a child.  She would cry and say things like "But I'm your momma, how can you hurt me?" which in turn would make him feel bad.  She would him feel guilty and inturn not say things she has needed to hear over the years (even before me) because of his fear of making her cry.  He finally understands that he can't have the same relationship with her now (telling her EVERYTHING from his sexual encounters to telling him about girls who wanted to sleep with him.  Who wants to really tell their teenaged son something like that???).  He understands that he has created the relationship they have and that while they are close, it puts a pinch on ours.  We have the same outlook on life, we want better for our kids than we had for ourselves.  He was raised in a single parent home and I was raised in an a abusive, alcoholic home, we want our kids to have the both of us - happy, healthy and with connections to all their family not just his mother.  I will say that I find it utterly ridiculous that my 5 and 8 year old children can handle being told no or that plans have changed better that a 51 year old woman can.

My FH has decided to make the date for a meeting with her for all three of us after he "preps" her.  I'm thrilled!!!  I'm not asking for his mother not the be in our lives, I just want her to back off and let us grow as a family without making us feel guilty for doing so.  I love my FH and I adore my children and she is an important part in their loves, I would NEVER take that from them as I wouldn't end a close family relationship.  I just want peace.  I think I'm on the way to having that and I hope it goes smooth but I am prepared for the backlash.

Thanks for listening ladies!!!