Rav Avigdor Miller On Mother-in-laws and Shalom Bayis 

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Q:
How does one bring peace to his family especially where in-laws are involved in the conflict?


A:
Number one, each partner should tell his or her father and mother. “Pa, Ma, stay out of it. Don’t talk to me one word against my husband or against my wife!” Lay down the law and don’t be afraid to do it. Your wife comes first. על כן יעזב איש את אביו ואת אמו, a man should forsake his father and his mother, ודבק באשתו, and he should be loyal, he should cling to his wife.

It’s a most stupid thing for a parent to talk to a child against the child’s spouse. And if the parents are so stupid, you have to tell them, “Either you stop talking about that or I won’t talk to you anymore.” Don’t be afraid! “I’ll talk about everything but not about my spouse.” It’s the first thing, to lay down the law.

Secondly, a husband and wife should never criticize each other’s parents. Don’t criticize your husband’s brothers or sisters. Never do that. That’s bad manners and it’s bad diplomacy. Now, this is elementary and very many people understand that by common sense, but some people must be told.

Now, sometimes it already has commenced, the war is on. What do you do? You must stop it. Of course, it’s not easy because they’re already angry at you. There’s a back and forth, and they want to get revenge for what you did in the past, so you have to find ways and means of making up. Start sending little gifts to your mother-in-law. Little gifts to your sisters-in-law, to your brothers-in-law. Find ways and means of being nice to them. They’ll continue to barb you, to needle you. But if you won’t react, little by little, it’ll die out, and after some time, peace will be restored.

Of course, if you start out on the right foot, it’s still better. When you get married start with wisdom. Make up your mind that you’re going to be the very best to your husband’s family or your wife’s family that you’re able to be.

Of course, don’t have your mother-in-law around too much. A mother-in-law should not settle in her daughter-in-law’s house. If she has to live with a child, she has to live with a daughter, but never with a daughter-in-law. Because a mother-in-law would have to be an angel in order to keep her mouth shut. And the daughter-in-law has to be an angel to suffer her mother-in-law.

Now there was a case. I had a member here whose mother was a widow and she lived with him. And they lived in tranquility; the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law lived peacefully. It was a remarkable story. Many years passed by and never was there a whisper of dissension. But it’s not something that should be done if it’s possible to avoid.
TAPE # 555 (June 1985)