by Deb DeArmond
- Marie Barrone, the ever present, always critical across-the-street MIL to Ray and Debra on Everybody Loves Raymond.
- Jane Fonda, the beautiful but wicked MIL in the movie, Monster-in-Law, with Jennifer Lopez as the fiance to Jane’s only child.
- Maybe you recall the famous song (and only hit) by Ernie K. Doe entitled, Mother-in-Law. It was so popular, it singlehandedly made his career, and it was his signature song for nearly 50 years,
- How about the email by Carolyn Bourne of the UK that went viral on the web? The email was sent to bride-to-be, Heidi Withers, 29, after she spent a weekend at the Bourne family home in Devon. In the email, Bourne wrote, “It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you,” reports the Daily Mail.
Bourne went on to say that it was unfortunate that her son Freddie had fallen for Withers, but that if Withers wanted to be accepted by the Bourne family, she should run to the nearest finishing school. She goes on to accuse her future DIL of being a gold digger, and certainly not good enough for “our dear Freddie.” Heidi had the last laugh. She posted it on the web for the world to see. I’ll bet that Christmas dinner is going to be a tad uncomfortable this year.
What’s the common theme here? Mother-in-Laws are horrible, manipulative, and overbearing. Leno, Johnny Carson, Jimmy Fallon, and all the rest get in their jab. Comic Henny Youngman’s signature line was, “Take my Mother-in-Law. Please.”
While we know that much of it is exaggerated and funny, it has become an urban legend. The translation is: don’t expect much from these relationships. Prepare yourself, girls, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
When we expect it to be bad – we are usually not disappointed. We get what we believed was inevitable – a bad relationship. Every little twitch of the eyelid or slight frown becomes a message to the DIL, “She hates my cooking.” Or worse, “She hates me.”
In all urban legend, there is often some truth. These are not easy relationships. And DILs can be every bit as difficult. But we have been conditioned to expect the worst. The music, movie and television industries have helped that along, as have the experiences of friends or relatives who have shared their in-law horror stories.
It’s time to challenge the legend. This week we will examine the role of expectation and experience in determining the quality of this relationship. Stay tuned!