Picture this: you have a great husband, the perfect family, a beautiful house with a garden, and the cutest little dog you’ve always wanted. Sounds great, doesn’t it? All this only exists in a perfect world, because if you have everything you wanted, something that you never thought about will go wrong. And in most cases, it’s constant criticism in marriage from your in-laws.
Learning how to deal with constant criticism from parents is a herculean task and a lot of women either coerce their husbands to cut ties with their parents or if they don’t want to be a ‘villain’ in the perfect mother-son relationship, things spiral and take a turn for the worse. In other words, they get a divorce.
Constant Criticism In Marriage From In-Laws
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The effects of constant criticism catch up to you quickly and soon the taunts and cheap insults become hard to ignore. Your husband may not stand up for you in front of his parents because he’s a total mama’s boy and he doesn’t want to sabotage his relationship with them over a petty falling out.
But do you know who could help you deal with this constant criticism in marriage? Your kids. Every grandparent loves their grandkid dearly and can’t get enough of them. It’s probably true that your in-laws may even criticize your parenting skills but put your annoyance aside for a moment and listen to what your kids have to say. They always have a unique way to deal with serious problems.
Related Reading: Why I became happier when I stopped trying to please my in-laws
The ‘perfect’ daughter-in-law
One day, as I sat in a coffee shop of a bookstore, I overheard two elderly ladies discussing the predictable – their daughters-in-law. Being a daughter-in-law myself and a keen observer of human nature, I shamelessly eavesdropped on their conversation.
“My daughter-in-law gets angry very fast,” said the lady wearing the blue dress. “She doesn’t like to be criticized. I am still looking for ways to deal with a jealous daughter-in-law. She will immediately answer back if I get angry with her.”
“Who wouldn’t,” I thought.
“My daughter-in-law is very sweet that way,” said the other lady in green. “Even if she feels hurt by something I say, she will keep quiet and not argue.”
I rolled my eyes.
Hearing this exchange brought back unpleasant memories of elderly aunts in my family telling me about how their in-laws would taunt them about their various ‘flaws’ but they were forced to take it like good sports because that’s what good daughters-in-law/wives do.
The expectations are unrealistic
In our society, there are many (too many!) tangible and intangible qualities that a daughter-in-law is supposed to possess. Besides the obvious ones like being from a good family and having a career, a wife or daughter-in-law should be able to cook well, do laundry, manage the household, stay within a budget and raise the children well.
In addition, there is an unspoken expectation that the girl will blend well with the husband’s family and a big part of this is being good-natured about accepting criticism – both valid and needlessly rude. She is expected to listen to the constant criticism from her husband without uttering a word.
This saintly quality supersedes all other qualities, even if nobody will openly acknowledge this fact. A daughter-in-law who will openly put critics in their place and stand up for herself is nobody’s idea of ideal, even if she might look like Jennifer Aniston and earn in seven figures.
It is emotional abuse
It took me a long time to realize that subtle and downright rude comments by relatives that are meant to cause pain are not a part of married life but actually a form of emotional abuse. Till then, I accepted them and actually felt quite proud of myself for putting up with them, thinking that it made me a strong person. It didn’t. I always felt like I lacked the qualities of an ideal wife.
Trying to learn how to deal with criticism from family made me lose my self-esteem and self-confidence. It made me lose sight of my goals and aspirations. It made me constantly value other people’s happiness over my own, a very dangerous pattern to fall into because it almost guarantees unhappiness.
Women get so used to these subtle put downs that they don’t recognize them and don’t know that their self-esteem is slowly being eroded. Slowly, a woman will begin to lose her identity and constantly question her worth. She’s made to feel like nothing she will ever do is enough.
The criticisms can get too much sometimes
A career woman will doubt herself when criticized for not paying attention to home and family. A housewife will feel inferior for not contributing financially to the household. A woman who’s great at cooking will not be appreciated but will receive constant criticism from her mother-in-law for keeping a messy house.
Men are seldom subjected to this kind of negativity. The day that I noticed that I was constantly irritable with my own children was the day I realized that I needed to make a change in my life. I didn’t want to be a critical person, but being critical seems to be an integral part of relationships, and wives and daughters-in-law get the worst of it.
Family values shouldn’t be about trying to mold people into perfection. It should be about love and acceptance. A home should be a soft place to come back to when the world is tough, not someplace to run away from!
Funnily enough, it was my children who taught me how to deal with constant criticism in marriage and random put downs. Whenever they are faced with criticism that they feel is unwarranted, they just smile and continue doing whatever they are doing.
If they dislike someone, they just ignore that person without answering back, while keeping a smile on their face so that the other person does not feel bad. This actually works. I tried it myself. People get tired of criticizing when they feel it’s having no effect. I am a much happier person now. Everything that I do today, I do because I consciously want to and not because I got brainwashed into it by constant criticism.
Remember that they are old and bitter and probably jealous that their son has a new woman in his life. Try not to take their comments to heart.
Learn where to spend your energy. If their comments are not worth your time, learn to let go.