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          ‘My Mother-In-Law Drives Me Crazy!’

          November 20, 2002

          “For better or for worse” includes dealing with your in-laws — which isn’t so easy for 27-year-old Kathy. “I love my husband too much to let some witchy woman ruin the good thing we have,” writes Kathy to Dr. Phil. View their story. Dr. Phil talks to Kathy and Ruthan about how they can work to keep the extended family intact:
          • Recognize that you both see things through a filter. “This stuff accumulates until it gets to the point that you are defensive about everything,” says Dr. Phil. So, for example, you may get upset about the way the other closes the door, when in fact nothing was done wrong at all. Pay attention to when you may be too sensitive.
          • Have a forgiving spirit. Forgive each other for any offenses thus far, so you can try to move forward with a clean slate.
          • Define new boundaries. The boundaries you’ve had are not working. It’s never too late to negotiate new ones. Advice For Ruthan:
          • “Sending an article to a woman about losing weight is risky business!” says Dr. Phil.
          • “You are a guest in their marriage and a guest in their home. You have to fold into their rules and their lives if you want to be welcome there,” he says.
          • You’re dismissing this as Kathy’s problem if you use “the Popeye answer” of “I am what I am.” These feelings are very real for her. Don’t dismiss them.
          • Be willing to let your daughter-in-law make some mistakes. You are not entitled to be the know-it-all on parenting. Let your daughter-in-law grow as a mother and as a wife. Let her define her own boundaries. Doing that is a gift to your son and your granddaughter. Advice For Kathy:
          • You’re the mom now. Act like it. That means being mature and getting the chip off your shoulder. Quit being so sensitive.
          • Understand that your mother-in-law does have a tremendous investment in your husband. That’s one commonality you share. You both love him.
          • Try to see things through your mother-in-law’s eyes. It is so hard as a parent to see “naive rookie mom” doing some things that don’t look right. Advice for Mark:
          • If your wife has a problem with your mother, it is your job to intervene and try to fix it.
          • There can be no divided loyalties. Your loyalty needs to be with your wife.

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