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Therapist reveals things daughter-in-laws should avoid if they want good relationship with mother-in-law

A therapist has revealed the secrets to a good relationship with your mother-in-law - including setting boundaries and avoiding competing.

Leslyn Kantner, 62, said they must also avoid insulting their husband in front of his mother - because she will likely see it as an insult to her own parenting.

The grandmother-of-three said following her rules will increase understanding and mutual respect - which ultimately leads to a successful relationship.

Leslyn, a licensed therapist and relationship and family coach from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US, said: "The relationship between in-laws, particularly mother and daughter, is a complicated one.

"Easily once a month I'll be working with someone at one of the two ends of this relationship, who are sad or angry about how things are going.

"Ultimately, it comes as you're attempting to merge two of the greatest forces on the planet - intimate love and 'momma bear' love.

"More often than not the problem sits with the rigidity of older adults who should be open to new and different ways of doing things.

"But there are things daughter-in-laws need to remember to avoid doing if they want to relationship to work."

Leslyn shared her top five tips on TikTok - amassing an impressive 70k views.

The first point she makes is to tell daughter-in-laws to avoid trying to compete with the mother-son love - when the relationships they have are too different to compare.

She said: "It can feel like there is competition between a man's mother and his wife, for his time and attention.

"But they are different kinds of love - romantic versus family love.

"Romantic love - the wife - is the kind where you want to be close to someone and build your own family.

"But when that family structure is different to the family of origin, the man's family, it can feel threatening to the mother-in-law.

"You have to be respectful and understanding of that."

Leslyn said daughter-in-laws need to recognise that mother-in-laws might see their gain as her loss.

She explained that it can be easy for mother-in-laws to see it as a loss of a son, rather than the gaining of a daughter.

She said: "I think a lot of the responsibility lies with the man in question - his relationship with his mother is not yours to handle.

"But a certain amount of compassion can be afforded to the woman jumping in the back seat of her son's life after riding in the front for so long."

She also encourages daughter-in-laws to establish boundaries from the outset so that the degree of involvement works for everyone.

She explained this can be something like a daughter-in-law being expected to celebrate a holiday she normally wouldn't.

The daughter-in-law might be made to feel as though to say no would rock the boat - but to go along with it regardless would set a precedent that the daughter-in-law will go along with it every time.

Leslyn said: "When you're married, you and partner need to talk about what you want for your family and communicate that to both sets of parents as a unit.

"Men have a tendency not to want to disappoint their mothers, so leave the burden of communications to their wife - when they have to say no, it sets her up to be the bad guy.

"Communicating together to both parents says 'we love you guys but we’re a family now and we're going to do this'."

Leslyn also tells the daughter-in-law to ensure plans are made to include both her husband's and her own family equally - so not to just prioritise her own family.

She explained that it is often the case that women are expected to become a family's 'social director'.

In these cases, daughter-in-laws need to ensure they consider the time spent with their spouse's family as well as their own.

Leslyn said: "I 100 percent believe men should arrange for his own family - and this is a social construct which is changing.

"But traditionally it is always the woman, or the mum, who is the socialite - men traditionally weren't, because they never saw it modelled by the men in their lives."

Her final point is to avoid complaining about your husband to your mother-in-law - because the consequences can be more serious than you think.

She explained that a partner's expectations of a man are very different to his mother's expectations - meaning a mother may never have raised him to do the things you now expect him to.

Leslyn said: "If I'm complaining my partner doesn't do the dishes to a woman who never asked him to do the dishes, it might be challenging for her to understand or validate.

"It could also trigger some shame or guilt in his mother for raising a son who doesn't do the dishes.

"They might think 'are you saying I did a bad job of raising him?'."

She explained that this last point boils down to different families having different ideological structures and what is seen as the basic expectations of each member.

This means by judging your partner or spouse by the standards if your own family of origin, you could appear judgmental to your in-laws.

Leslyn said: "It really boils down to learning to respect the differences.

"Every single time I do couples counselling we spend a fair amount of time on this topic, because we learn what wives do by watching our mothers, and what husbands do by watching our fathers.

"These become silent expectations, so when we get married and suddenly, he doesn't behave like your father, you might feel confused, judgmental or even angry.

"But if you take it to your mother-in-law and complain, she'll probably think the problem is the daughter-in-law's, because in her household, that's normal."