“This whole issue of expectations seems to cause a good deal of conflict between MILs and DILs.”
I offered this as an opening to my conversation with Bonnie as we sat together on a warm summer day in a very busy diner. We hadn’t known each other very long, but were both involved in a weekly Friday morning group. I was curious to hear her story as she had written about her MIL/DIL relationship that “We have come a looong way in 32+ yrs.” She was enthusiastic to share. I followed her lead and ordered a bowl of fruit and iced tea.
“I’m all for full disclosure” she stated. “Get it all out on the table.” The waitress placed our food and drinks in front of us.
Even though Bonnie and I hadn’t spent much time together, I wasn’t surprised by this. She is a “straight-shooter”, one who rarely minces words.
“I want to know what your expectations are and I want to respect them. Tell me. There’s no right or wrong. I wish my MIL had done that with me.”
Isn’t that a great attitude? She wants to respect her MIL. But, what about this: Is it true – that there are no “right” or “wrong” expectations? Expectations are … conjecture. We suppose that something or someone will be a certain way. Let’s check out the definition: expectation – a strong belief that something will happen or be the case.
“So” I ventured, “do you remember what your expectations were when you married?”
“I think the term ‘mother’ has enough connotations in itself for one to expect … umm… love. Not mushy, gushy love, but love and respect. And because Matthew chose badly, she was kind of ‘standoffish.'”
I was confused. “She felt that your husband chose badly when he chose you?”
“Yeah” she replied. “Below him.”
Around us customers came and went. The blender whirred. The dishes were cleared off the table next to us. And I didn’t know what to say. Does this kind of thing still happen? Seriously? I took a sip of the cold tea and wondered “Why would she feel that way?” .
“Umm, I was rough around the edges. Very independent. I didn’t need anybody. I don’t need you. I’m a Christian and at that point I was three years in the Lord and God had done a lot of work in me before she met me. She should know that!”
We both erupted in laughter. Some of us just know that we have come a long way and still have a long way to go.
Bonnie continued. “But I was … She paused, thinking. “They were upper middle class … and I wasn’t. I was …. I can imagine his mom having sleepless nights thinking about Matthew marrying me. She didn’t know me … all she knew was what she saw – tomboy …. bold-speaking … aggressive … and it was hard for her.”
Hard for her? Yes. Because her expectations for her son were not being met. Where did these expectations come from? Did she even know she had them? What were yours when you married or added a DIL to your family?
Stay tuned for Part 2!