You have seen those mother-in-law relationships in movies. You have seen them amongst your married friends. And you have longed for the easy-going nature of a pleasant relationship with your own mother-in-law. For the ability to pick up the phone and chat for hours. To go on shopping sprees and brunch dates. To ask for advice about your children. But most importantly—to lean on when motherhood and marriage get hard. 

But sadly—you don’t have that.

Instead, you have a strained relationship with your mother-in-law. Maybe you’ve never been close to her. Maybe she’s emotionally distant or doesn’t make much of an effort to get to know you. Maybe you walk on eggshells around her, having no idea how to open up to her or get her to open up to you.

Related: Why I love and appreciate my mother-in-law

Maybe you’re trying to navigate your way through a previously tense-filled relationship. Or maybe your family has had to go no-contact, completely removing her from your lives.

This is the woman whose child you love so much—the woman who raised your life partner.

Whatever your experience may be, I know the pain is heavy—and sometimes unbearable. And you wish that things could be different. Easier. Better.

Because this is the grandmother of your children—the one who is supposed to have a monumental bond with her grandchildren. 

This is the woman whose child you love so much—the woman who raised your life partner.

This is the woman who you have yearned to be another mother figure in your life—one you can lean on and look up to.

But instead, this is the woman who has overstepped boundaries. This is the woman who has dismissed your feelings. This is the woman who has overlooked your wishes for your children and your family and instead has tried to implement her own. 

Related: This viral TikTok explains why it’s OK to set boundaries with your kids’ grandparents

This is the woman who is a codependent parent and demands a lot of your partner’s time and attention. This is the woman who has been the root cause of much of the tension in your marriage. 

This is the woman who has not welcomed you into the family with open arms—and it is a different kind of grief to carry.

It is frustrating and draining. It is complicated and complex.

You sometimes blame yourself—thinking that maybe if you were a certain type of woman, she’d be more accepting of you.

Perhaps your family loves and adores your partner, but when it comes to your mother-in-law, you feel like you’re constantly trying to prove that you’re a good enough wife and the mother of his children—her grandchildren.

And sometimes, it takes reminding yourself that you are a great mama, a great wife and you are doing the best you can.

It takes a lot of energy for you to interact with her—and sometimes you wish you just didn’t have to.

But for the sake of your children and for the sake of your partner, you try. And maybe your partner understands your struggle. Maybe your partner doesn’t even see it at all or thinks you’re being irrational—adding to the grief that you carry. 

But mama, you are not alone.

Related: All the reasons why I love my mother-in-law

Many mothers share this experience and it is disheartening—but it shouldn’t have to be this way.

There are things that you can do—for yourself and for your family.

Sometimes, it does take removing your mother-in-law from your life because the trauma she has caused is just too much for your family to handle or tolerate. And that’s OK.

Sometimes, it’s not completely cutting off contact, but limiting it. And that’s OK, too. It doesn’t make you or your partner bad people or bad parents.

But sometimes, before the trauma has gotten to the point of no return, you can make an effort to mend the strained relationship and build a healthier connection. And as unfair as this may seem—sometimes it takes putting yourself aside to try and understand why your mother-in-law is the way she is

Related: Dear mother-in-law, thank you for raising an incredible man

Sometimes, it takes extending unconditional grace, forgiveness and understanding—even if you don’t receive that in return.

Sometimes it takes being vulnerable with your partner about how you feel and setting boundaries as a couple—because the support from your partner in a situation like this is vital and can make a huge difference. 

And sometimes, it takes reminding yourself that you are a great mama and a great wife—and you are doing the best you can.

Whatever you and your family decide mama, I hope that it is the best decision for your collective peace.

And if nothing else, this is just to say that I see you—and you are not alone.