Today, I will answer an age-old question that has plagued mankind from time immemorial. Mothers-in-law or bad breath: which is worse?
Full disclosure: I am a mother-in-law. I’ve been one for almost a week now. Based on my personal experience, bad breath is far worse.
Why? For one thing, it can be uncomfortable to be around someone with bad breath. You want to help them, but you also don’t want to hurt their feelings.
In other words, you can’t just come right out and say, “You have halitosis. Please gargle with this Listerine. Then put this travel-size bottle I bought for you in your purse so you can use it again after you finish that garlic-infested dish you’re eating.”
At least I would never say such a thing. And that was true even before I became a mother-in-law. I mean, have you ever tasted Listerine? If anything, I’d suggest Scope.
Of course, a veteran mother-in-law might recommend the Listerine. But only because she is trying to be helpful, right? I’m asking. Is being helpful now frowned upon?
My point is, we mothers-in-law are often misunderstood.
Plus, we have to deal with the jokes. You know the kind: “I haven’t spoken to my mother-in-law for two years. We haven’t quarreled. I just don’t like to interrupt her.” Ba-da-bing.
Also, I’ve done some Googling. Here are the articles I found on this topic:
• 14 Signs You Have A Toxic Mother-in-law
• How To Deal With An Overbearing Mother-in-law
• They Don’t Call Them Monsters-in-law For Nothing
• 15 Mother-in-law Behaviors That Deserve A Punch In The Face
Read the articles, and you learn more.
For example, one study found that 60 percent of women describe their relationships with their mothers-in-law as “strained, uncomfortable, infuriating, depressing, draining and/or simply awful.” Another found that the closer a daughter-in-law lives to her mother-in-law, the greater the chance of divorce.
My daughter-in-law lives in Milwaukee. Whew.
Many of the articles provide advice on how to deal with a toxic/overbearing/monster-esque mother-in-law who deserves a punch in the face.
“Seek out her advice,” one recommends. Daughters-in-law are advised to find a pseudo-problem they can ask about, such as the correct way to fold laundry. The daughter-in-law is then advised to regularly affirm the mother-in-law’s expertise. For example:
Daughter-in-law: “That folding technique really worked! And that lesson on ironing towels! It was life-changing.”
Mother-in-law: “I just want you to be happy, dear.”
If the advice-seeking approach doesn’t work, the article suggests a friendly passive-aggressive technique called “dishing it back to her.” In other words, if a mother-in-law points out an ironing failure, the daughter-in-law is encouraged to smile and offer her the iron.
In conclusion, welcome to the family, Lydia. Your breath is great. Your creases are impeccable. And I’m going to try to be part of the 40 percent.