Dealing with in-laws is a struggle in the best of marriages. But when your husband and your mother disagree, getting him to forgive her can be a challenge. Hurt feelings combined with unresolved conflicts may make for potentially explosive situations when your husband and mother are together. Understand how your partner and your parent got to this place to help heal the relationship.
1. Show Your Support
Showing your husband that you support him is an important step in convincing him to forgive your mother. In “When In-laws Don’t Accept You,” in the Focus on the Family book, "The Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage," the authors point out that husbands and wives often assume that they will be loved and accepted by their in-laws. If your mother makes your husband feel unloved, he may have difficulty forgiving her. Letting him know that you understand how he feels and that you support him without taking sides gives him permission to process his emotions and work toward forgiveness.
2. Change Your Approach
Changing how you approach the tension between your mother and your husband can help diffuse potentially hurtful situations and move him toward forgiveness. Communicating respectfully but clearly to your mother how her words and actions affect your husband puts the issue in her corner. Insist that she own situations by repeating her words back to her, using phrases like, “It sounds like you are disappointed with us because of…” or “You seem unhappy with the fact that he…” suggests Dr. Daniel J. Tomasulo in “Unable to Forgive Mother-in-Law.” Don't take the bait when she makes inflammatory comments to gain control and help keep your husband from being a target.
3. Confirm Your Loyalty
Making sure your husband knows your first loyalty is to him may motivate him to forgive your mother. Although your relationship with your mother is one of the most important in your life, it is not more important than your marriage. Dr. Phil reminds couples that if their spouse has a problem with an in-law, it is their job to step in and help fix it. At the end of the day, your loyalty is to your husband. Once he is sure of this and the competitive spirit between him and your mother is removed, he may feel that forgiving her is possible.
4. Build Bridges
Help your husband build bridges of communication with your mother so he can understand her better and forgive her. Whether his feelings were hurt by her directly or he is angry because of how she treats you, learning to communicate with them both in positive ways opens doors for communication. The article “Resolving Differences with Your Son- or Daughter-in-Law” recommends finding a time to talk when you, your husband and your mother will not be rushed and where your full attention can be focused on resolving the problem. Practice good listening without making assumptions or interrupting while each person takes time to share his or her feelings. Once communication starts, encourage your husband and your mother to apologize, forgive and work out a compromise when they are both ready.