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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

The Best Advice I Ever Got from My Mother-in-Law

Mothers-in-law often get a bad rap in pop culture, but these heartfelt, hopeful, and hilarious pearls of wisdom passed on by grateful spouses show mothers-in-law are more than a stereotype.

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Young couple relaxing and watching movie at home. family conceptViktor Gladkov/Shutterstock

Sunday schooled

“My mother-in-law once told me not to make the mistake of prioritizing parents over spouses. Don’t start a tradition where it is expected that you see your parents every weekend because it takes away from the important quality time and traditions you’re trying to build with your own nuclear family. It stuck with me.” — June Tobin. Spend more quality time with your teen doing these 23 activities they’ll actually love.

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Young sick woman blowing her nose while in bedStokkete/Shutterstock

Priority #1

“My mother-in-law advised me was to take care of myself before I take care of others. This applies in all aspects of life: when I get sick, I take a few days off of work and when someone asks me for a favor, I make sure it doesn’t cause me any negative repercussions, etc. By focusing on taking care of myself, I don’t make unhealthy decisions like to stay up all night to meet deadlines or work through a cold. Her advice also applies well to my family, as any choice I make is for the betterment of their lives.”— Akiva Leyton. 

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top view of hundred-dollar bills pack in open drawer of nightstandvvoe/Shutterstock

Freedom fund

“‘Always have a secret bank account.’ That’s what my husband’s mother told me right after we were married. She showed me her bank ledger, hidden under clothing in a drawer. She had a wonderful marriage.” — Ramona DiBartolo Manginelli. Don’t miss these 12 strategies to make fighting about money in your marriage a thing of the past.

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Pieces of butter in the hot pan top view.Marian Weyo/Shutterstock

Churn, baby, churn

“‘You can never use enough butter. Butter makes everything taste so much better. Add some more butter.’ Butter was her thing. I was always thinking, ‘ew,’ but as it turns out, everything is better with butter!” — Marcia Friedman

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Rear view of girl with grandmother and mother sitting together on bedsirtravelalot/Shutterstock

Permission to play favorites

“As the mother of five children, with a 12-year age difference from the oldest to the youngest and two with special needs, I always felt guilty about having ‘favorites.’ I always tried to give them all equal time, experiences, and gifts. My mother-in-law pulled me to the side one day and said, ‘You are doing a great job, and it’s OK to love your children differently.’

When I asked what she meant she said, ‘Well, I’m the mom of three and they always accuse me of having one my favorite.’ She said, ‘That’s not true. I love them all the same, but one is different. He is more like his father, so I admire all his traits.’ She said, ‘Another is more like me, so we have conflict. I don’t love one more than either of the others; I just love them different.’ Ever since then I quit trying to make all my kids fit in the same box.”— Donna Richards. 

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Mother talking to her daughter while having tea at homeMartin Novak/Shutterstock

The simple things

“After a particularly explosive conversation where I used the term ‘your son’ with great frequency, my mother-in-law advised me to forgive faster, love harder, and laugh a little more. I reflect back on that moment often and remember her sweet phrase.” — Kristen Skiles. 

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robotic vacuum cleaner on the floor esp2k/Shutterstock

Finally came a-round

“‘Get a Roomba.’ She actually gave me one years ago. I was very insulted and returned it. Then my husband gave me one for Valentine’s Day, and you’d think he’d given me diamonds. I called her to tell her she was right, almost a decade and a half later.”— Rebecca Merritt 

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The best laundry hack of all time

She told me to get multiples of whatever ‘lovie’ (comfort blankie, etc.) our child gets. I’ve heard this one before so our son already had a few ‘tiggies’ (a Winnie the Pooh-inspired soft toy/blanket combo) so I went and added one more to make a trio.

But then she told me to not make the mistake of using one at a time. The trick she said is that they must all be used ‘equally’ and stink equally bad. My goodness. Brilliant! It is true that you can’t swap a new when you lose an old. Kids don’t sleep so well with a ‘fresher, newer one’ while you try and sneak the favorite out to wash it once in a while. I am so thankful because I can swap ‘lovies’ out for my children so they can actually get washed without drama.”— René Serbon. These are 21 things parents wish they knew before having kids.

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Wedding Invitation Cards Papers Laying on Table Decorate With

Goodness graciousness

“My 94-year-old mother-in-law, then 74, gave me the best advice ever when I was planning my wedding that to this day I use and share with others struggling in their decision making. She said, ‘It’s always better to invite. Let it be their decision if they will come or not.'”— Dawn Schwartz

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Gold wedding ringsKazin Sergey/Shutterstock

MIL’s prenup

“My ex-mother-in-law is a fount of wisdom. She once told me, ‘You may divorce him, but you’ll never divorce me.'” — Ariel Zeitlin. Learn the things your mother-in-law is secretly thinking. 

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Couple hugging on a

Timeless wisdom

“‘Never go to bed angry’ is the best advice my mother-in-law gave me. This has helped me set my priorities and has contributed to my happiness level.” — Lynda O’Connor

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Newborn baby in his baby coat in Hospital after deliveryKarkacheva Anna/Shutterstock

Special delivery

“When I had my first baby, my mother-in-law encouraged me to send him to the nursery so I could sleep right after giving birth. The hospital will try and convince you to room in with him, but you’re so mentally and physically exhausted, you’re not really in a position to care for a newborn overnight, she told me. I took her advice and now preach it to all of my pregnant friends! It was one of the best nights of sleep ever.” — Ashleigh Morley. 

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Mother Lying On Sofa At Home Playing Clapping Game With Baby DaughterMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Ages and stages

“She talked about infancy and toddlerhood as ‘stage 1, 2, 3, etc,’ which reminded me not to take anything too seriously when the kids were young and to remember, this too shall pass.” — Debbie Warman. 

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Funny figurines suite at a luxury wedding white cake decorated with fresh flowers.IVASHstudio/Shutterstock

At least she was honest

“The best advice that my mother-in-law gave me (actually before we got married) that I didn’t listen to is, ‘Run for the hills.’ Now more than ever do I understand the meaning of 20/20 hindsight.” — Steven Peisner. Discover the expert-backed relationship tips to get the love you want.

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Couple managing the

Not all sunshine and rainbows

“Life isn’t easy. Neither is love. That’s the point one mother-in-law wanted to get across when she uttered this timeless phrase that was never forgotten: ‘Love is work.'” — Matthew Podwoski. Next, read on for 28 relationship tips from grandmas.