Yesterday, we enjoyed hosting Sally Shields, author of The Daughter-in-Law Rules on our blog. Here are some of our readers' questions and Sally's responses.
When Anita asked Sally how her mother-in-law reacted to reading about herself in the book, Sally recalled how it affected their relationship:
"There are 3 parts to that... first when she found out I was writing the book she said, "I know I can be a B....tch, Sally! I'm a Leo. But we're a lot a like, you know. Now go write a best-seller, or I'll kick your butt!"
Then, she read the book. And well, I wasn't welcome at Christmas time...
Lastly, we had it out... and we didn't hold back. She told me what she thought of me. I told her what I thought of her. We screamed and laughed, and she finally said, "You know, I think this probably all happened for a reason." Now, we are close!"
Another reader asked about how her relationship with her MIL changed when Sally had children.
"Well, that was incredible. There is nothing that she wanted more in the world than to have grandchildren. Once I got that, and made sure that she always feels included in all the little steps and milestones, I have seen a tremendous change in our relationship. This is such a joy for me to facilitate!"
One of our readers, a MIL and grandmother herself who works on her relationship with her DIL, wondered what Sally meant by, "I don't mind telling people what to do or how they should do it." Sally explained:
"You sound like such a sweet MIL... it's a very, very complicated relationship, and I feel it is largely the DIL's responsibility to make sure that her husband's mother feels like she is wanted, appreciated and part of their lives. So, that is my vision, to teach brides and wives the art of making friends with their husband's mother, so that years of needless contention can be avoided! The DIL needs schooling and that is what I set out to do with the DIL Rules.
Something else I'd like to add to that... when I say I don't mind telling people what to do or how they should do it, I mean, that I think a DIL should make sure to make her MIL feel special and appreciated by doing all the little things she can like never forgetting a b-day, making sure she calls her MIL once a week to ask how she's feeling, complimenting her and letting her know what a great job she did in raising her son, etc. These might seem like the presumed obvious, but they are little things that can easily get overlooked in the course of daily life. Because the MIL DIL relationship is often fraught with tension, there are so many things a DIL can do to avert misunderstandings and hurtful miscommunications. So that is what I mean by telling someone what to do... schooling and reminding the DIL that it is her job to reach out and make friends with her MIL!"
A daughter-in-law wanted help in dealing with her MIL who had complained that she was distant because the DIL didn't want to go to her home for Sunday dinner. Sally weighed in with her advice:
"Yes, this is the kind of stuff that happens, very normal... this relationship is already poised for misunderstandings and hurtfulness... that is why, we as DIL's have to work so hard to not be defensive and air more on the side of compassionate. From her perspective, she doesn't understand all those reasons. Maybe you can start calling her once a week, just to have a little chat, ask how she's feeling, etc. Or start with once every 3 weeks, whatever you can do, but make sure your husband isn't home. Tell her how excited you are to come to Sunday dinner! Be glad that you don't have to cook. Then, go. But not always - just now and then. But strike a balance, because you have compassion and do it happily for your husband. These are part of the RULES for a happy marriage!
Consider it a blessing that you don't have to cook. Then, help her with the dishes, and watch the magic happen!"
And Janet, with an idea for a book herself, asked Sally about her marketing efforts. Sally shared her experience:
"I did everything I could to learn how to market a book, then wrote a home-study course called Publicity Secrets Revealed: What Every PR Firm Doesn't Want Your to Know! You can check it out here: www.sallyshields.com/productsandservices
I also learned how to bring a book to the top of the Amazon charts, and got to #1 in Wedding showers, which opened up a LOT of doors, and I now teach authors how to do that as well. Please get in touch with me and I'd be happy to be your coach! Basically, I got on lots of radio and TV shows, did virtual book tours, article marketing, created sponsorship proposals (1-800-flowers created a full page ad in the back of the book) and things of this nature."
Our thanks again to Sally for her generosity in sharing with us. If you are a mother-in-law and want some more insight into how to get along better with your daughter-in-law, click on the post title above. It takes you to our website, www.HerMentorCenter.com and our article, From Baby Boomer to Mother-in-Law: How to Play Your New Role.