Mistake #1 –– Don’t be Objective When Your MIL Criticizes You –– You must always remember your objectivity!

Solution: If your MIL tells you your hair looks better the other way, enthusiastically thank her by solidly agreeing how difficult it is to be objective about yourself. Then style it the OTHER way while she is visiting. Of course you can change it back when she leaves, although be open to the possibility that she may actually have a point!!!

Mistake #2 –– Ask Your MIL for Professional Advice –– This is a real no-no, because if you try to get her approval, YOU WON’T! If you’re contemplating starting a home-based business, for example, try not never end a sentence with, “What do you think?” as this will give your MIL a wide-open opportunity to declare something like so: “Oh, I would never do that––what a waste of time and money!”

Solution: However, if you do try to get her endorsement for that new multi-level marketing opportunity you’ve been thinking about and she downplays your enthusiasm, simply say, “Wow, you are so right. I hadn’t thought about that side of things before––I'm not going to give this crazy scheme another thought!” Then, buy all her birthday and Christmas gifts with the 40% discount you get from the new business. Even better, wrap up all the stuff you win from your super-starter incentive bonus packages and “re-gift” ‘em to your husband’s relatives at Christmastime!

Mistake #3 --–– Expect Your MIL to Share Your Interests –– If you can begin by never expecting your MIL to appreciate the movies, music, books or TV shows you enjoy, you’re way ahead of the game! For instance, while watching a James Bond marathon on TNT during Christmastime, your MIL may distainfully decree, “How can you watch those silly movies over and over again? How incredibly boring. You've seen one, you've seen ‘em all!”

Solution: Rather than launching into a diatribe about how each film is an epic masterpiece chock full of brilliantly-casted star ensembles and jaw-dropping action scenes (not to mention the drool quotient from Roger Moore to Daniel Craig), simply respond with something to the effect of, “That is just SO true! I can't tell the difference between Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton, and all the plots are exactly the same!” (Then fluff up your pillow and hide the remote.)

Mistake #4 –– Don’t Save Gifts from Your MIL For At Least a Year –– When your MIL gives you a gift, make sure you display it prominantly in your home, or wear it a lot when you’re visiting.

Solution: If it happens not to be quite your cup of tea, don't make the mistake of getting rid of it prematurely. There is nothing more humiliating than not being able to produce whatever it may be upon inquiry due to over-hasty re-gifting!

Mistake #5 –– Pick out Presents for your MIL –– Don't take it personally if your MIL doesn't like the presents you give her. Although you may have thought yourself to be very clever and picked out a something for your MIL that you are sure anyone would have loved (who wouldn’t?!) don't be surprised if you find out that the yearly Star Magazine subscription that you've been renewing in her name for the last several years has been making it's way over to the hair salon––unread! (How unimaginable is THAT!)

Solution: Just transfer the remaining issues over to yourself. The very best way to handle gift giving is to let your husband do the buying. Even if the responsibility of holiday shopping usually ends up on your shoulders, give him the assignment of this one single thing––it'll be worth your while to make sure he follows through!

Every bit of Sally’s philosophy is designed to make a profound and positive improvement in your life, to intensify your level of happiness, help you live far more peacefully with your husband and mother-in-law.

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Author's Bio: 

Sally Shields is an award-winning pianist, composer, speaker, and author of The Daughter-in-Law Rules: 101 Surefire Ways to Manage (and Make Friends with) Your Mother-in-Law! She graduated with honors from the New England Conservatory and was a recipient of the Boston Jazz Society Award. Winner of the 17th annual Great American Jazz Piano Competition, her articles and transcriptions are featured regularly in Piano Today Magazine and her book, Modern Jazz Piano, is the standard theory manual for several music programs, including Princeton University. Her children’s song “It’s Christmastime, Once Again” was a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and her music is currently featured on the ABC TV daytime drama All My Children. When not traveling and performing around the world—most recently with bestselling author and musician James McBride—Sally (a vegetarian) lives in New York City with her husband (not a vegetarian!) and their two children.

Note: Although the relationship with her MIL was rocky at the outset, with the implementation of the devices outlined in The Daughter-in-Law Rules, the two now enjoy a special bond—which got even better, interestingly enough—after her MIL found out she was writing this book!