"So what is it about mothers-in-law, anyway?" asks a Huffington Post column by the Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway.
Clark University Sociology Professor Deborah Merrill provides some answers. She is the author of "Mothers-in-Law and Daughters-in-Law: Understanding the Relationship and What Makes Them Friends or Foe"; "When Your Children Marry: How Marriage Changes Relationships with Adult Children"; and, most recently, "When Your Gay or Lesbian Child Marries: A Guide for Parents." Her research focuses on relationships between parents and adult children in later life as well as marriage.
Here, an excerpt:
"Brockway: Can you explain the classic mother in law/daughter in law struggle?
"Merrill: The classic struggle is that the mother-in-law is not able to step back and allow her daughter-in-law to become the most important person in her son’s life. She has difficulty sharing her son with his wife and new in-laws. Coupled with that, the daughter-in-law may not recognize that her mother-in-law is still her husband’s mother and will perceive of her involvement as interference. ...
"How can brides/spouses get on the right foot with mom-in-law and still stand their ground about the wedding they want?
"Include your mother-in-law in the decision-making where you can without sacrificing what is most important to you. Try to compromise in areas that are less important to you. Let your mother-in-law see that you recognize her as still being your spouse’s mother and reassure her that you will include her in your lives."