How to be a great mother-in-law
First published on KSL.COM
I have a really difficult mother-in-law, who continually disrespects my wife and I and our ability to parent our children. She often manipulates us with guilt to get us to do what she wants us to do, yet nothing we ever do is good enough either. When my wife has tried to talk to her mom about her behavior it blows up and she ends up mad at us. Whenever my wife and I fight my wife also runs to her mom with all the details, which is making the situation even worse. I am hoping you have some advice on the in-law topic that would be helpful to me and many others who have in-law challenges.
I think it might serve us all to get some clarity on the problem and define some rules of engagement for everyone to follow.
Most of these mother-in-law relationship problems are created because the mother-in-law is suffering from a fear of loss. This is the fear of losing out, missing out, being mistreated or being taken from at some level. Many women feel like they are literally losing their child (a child who has the been the focus of their attention for many years) when the child marries. The mother-in-law may get controlling, needy and selfish in an effort to hold on, stay involved and feel a sense of importance in your life. They may subconsciously see the spouse as a threat and try to undermine the relationship (this could be a conscious effort, but it could also happen subconsciously.) Most of these women are trying to be good, loving people, but their fear is making them needy and selfish and they are missing your needs.
The problem with trying to talk to a person (who is suffering from this much fear) about their behavior, is they will only see it as an attack. If you can’t talk to her about the issues, then you must work on the tips below for you (including enforcing strong boundaries) and hope she gets it after a while. Or you could share this article with her and ask her for some other specific ways you could treat her better. Focus on how you can treat her better because you want to improve your relationship, and hope that she sees the wisdom in treating you better too.
Your mother-in-law is not a bad person though, she is just a scared person. What she needs is reassurance, validation, appreciation and to know that she is important and valued, and the good news is, you can give her these things without letting her control your life. You must enforce strong, resolute, but loving, boundaries with her and then let her process through any anger or drama she choses to experience about your boundaries on her own. You cannot feel guilty about it. The less you join in the drama, the more pointless the drama will become for her.
Here are some simple relationship rules for all married people and mothers-in-law to live by.
For all mothers-in-law:
How to be a great son-in-law or daughter-in-law:
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach and speaker.
Working for a Difficult Boss
First published on KSL.COM
I am so unhappy with my current job. I have a boss who blames things on me when problems are his fault. I am hesitant to leave though, because I know there are always problems wherever you work. No job is perfect. Why leave this position if there is going to be another kind of problem at a new job. I think I have issues with not being content anywhere and I always want things to be perfect, which they never are. How can I be more content where I am?
Most of us think what we want in life is peace and security, the elimination of all problems, pains or worries. If we could just get rid of the problems, pains and worries then we would be happy. Because of this belief we are constantly trying to solve the problems, eliminate the pains and head off the worries. In the process of doing those three things, we learn, stretch and grow. Our greatest accomplishments and most important growth happens because of the problems we are trying to eliminate.
Kay Redfield Jamison, a clinical psychologist and writer, said, “I believe that restlessness and discontent are vital things; and that intense experiences and suffering instruct us in ways that less intense emotions can never do.” In the book Moral Knowledge it reads, “Some degree of discontent is necessary to encourage us to engage in the activities of self-realization through which we flourish”
I want you to understand this because life is not about being content and secure. You cannot grow there. You would not discover who you are.
Life is about growth and growth only happens through discontent and problems. You will find challenges wherever you work because that is the nature of life, but you can feel more content in your times of discontent if you see them accurately. If you feel bothered, unhappy or stressed by a situation, these feelings are telling you that it’s time to grow. It is time for some stretching, learning or changing. Pain is a signal that something needs to change.
If you find the same type of problems wherever you go or you keep suffering with discontent over the same types of issues again and again, there are a couple of reasons this may be happening:
You can try to avoid all pains and challenges, but you will find two problems with this. First, it is impossible and second, you will get bored pretty fast. The truth is that we are hard-wired to want challenges in life and to some extent we even seek them out. This is why we willingly participate in sports, push ourselves to run marathons, seek out games of chance and challenge, play with puzzles, mind twisters and video games (the more challenging the better). At a core level we like discontent, challenge and difficulty.
My grandfather is in his 90’s, and he still reads books to keep learning, pushes himself to run and spends time on difficult suduko or other puzzles. Human beings are bored without challenges.
Thomas Edison said, “Restlessness is discontent, and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”
Really successful people are never content for long. As soon as they find themselves content they look for another challenge. Some of you may attract challenging situations into your lives because you really subconsciously desire progress. Maybe you have challenges wherever you work because you are subconsciously desiring growth. Could this be you? Maybe you don’t want peace as much as you want improvement?
Buddha said life is suffering and we suffer because we are discontent with "what is." He encouraged men to stop craving and resisting "what is" and become equanimous with life (this means with equal emotion towards the bad and the good). He encouraged us to understand the real nature of life and embrace periods of discontent with the same emotion that we do periods of peace because they are both here to serve us and they will both pass because no state is permanent. To some this may sound like being content no matter what you get, but it’s more than that. It’s understanding discontent and content are both there to serve you. You must greet all experiences with gratitude and curiosity for the positive they will bring.
What I am suggesting is that you adopt a more positive attitude towards your pains, problems and worries. I realize this is not easy to do, but it is a worthy goal. When you see the classroom of life accurately, you will see that the universe is conspiring to serve you, educate you and bless you, and every experience is facilitating something positive in your life at some level.
I am battling chronic pain right now that isn't particularly fun, but it really is easier to handle when I focus on what this experience is teaching me and work to learn something from it I can use to serve others. I have an amazing friend who is battling Parkinson's disease with an amazingly happy attitude because he sees it as a grand opponent to battle and win.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not a goal...it's a by-product of a life well lived.” Real happiness does not come through peace, security or easy living. It comes as a by-product of service, love, achievement, growth and other virtuous activities. We are happy when we are doing things, accomplishing things, growing, learning, creating, building and living. Yet all these activities are wrought with challenges to overcome and obstacles to navigate. So, I think we could accurately say - happiness comes from problems, pains and worries. Do you follow my logic?
You think that you are seeking contentment, peace, freedom from danger, risk, anxiety and doubt. You think that you want a state of tranquillity all the time, but seeking this may actually push happiness away.
Happiness comes from embracing the whole journey, especially the challenges, because you understand they are all part of the achievement. You will be happy when you focus on growing, becoming, giving and loving God, life, yourself and other people. You will be happy when you see the universe as a wise teacher and trust that every experience is here to serve you. You will experience the whole thing in a more positive way and suffer less.
You will be happier at work if you step back from the problems and focus on what you can learn from them and turn them into achievements. How could this experience make you better, stronger or more loving? If you can get more content with your discontent, you will find joy wherever you are.
You can do this.
First published on KSL.COM
I just read your article on Spouses Who Can’t Forgive, but when the same problem happens again after your spouse has promised that it has ended. What do you do? Trust is a huge issue, how do you ever gain trust back after the continued lies and deception? Each time, I get upset, we fight, I forgive and try to forget. But then it happens again. I'm really struggling with continuing to be a forgiving spouse, when he seems determined to repeat this pattern. How should I handle this? Continue forgiving?
This is a tricky question to answer, because everyone’s situation is very different. Some marriages are struggling because of one spouse’s bad behavior, while the other spouse is doing their part to support and love. Others have an unsupportive or unaffectionate spouse, whose unloving behavior is part of the problem. I have no idea which situation you are in, but I believe that each person must check their own behavior first.
Make sure that you have honestly asked what you can do different to help your spouse to change. Are you showing them they are wanted, appreciated, admired and respected by you? I know it is difficult when they are behaving badly, but your ability to see their intrinsic value, despite their challenges, makes a HUGE difference. You can make the process of changing much easier if you are encouraging and loving. Having said that, if you have done all these things and the bad behavior continues without much effort to change it, it may be time to get realistic.
There is nothing heroic about staying with someone who is behaving badly and making no effort to change. Also remember, you are teaching your spouse how to behave by what you allow. If you continue to allow bad behavior with no real effort to change, you are going to get more of it. You are also teaching your children, by example, how to treat you and how to treat their future spouse. So if your relationship is setting a bad example and making everyone miserable, you may want to rethink staying in it.
I strongly believe you alone, though, are the only one entitled to know if you should stay with your spouse and keep fighting to make the relationship work or get out. If you listen to your heart, you will know if your perfect classroom journey is in this marriage, or if your perfect journey is elsewhere. Listen to your heart and act on it. Don’t let me or anyone else tell you what you should do.
You will know what is right for you.
If you can’t tell what your heart is saying because there is too much fear is in the way, you may need some professional help to work through the issues. If you decide to keep working on your marriage, remember that trust is like a building, which can be completely destroyed in a minute, but takes a long time to rebuild. Rebuilding takes courage, perseverance and patience. There is no quick fix.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for this process:
f you decide melted chocolate isn’t for you and your heart says it’s time to move on, don’t be afraid to make that decision. Sometimes it's better for everyone.
Follow your heart and you will know what to do.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach and speaker.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.