Tia Juana will cheerfully provide advice for anyone that asks. Just mail your questions to “Ask Tia Juana” at PO Box 8, Van Horn, Texas 79855. All questions will remain anonymous unless there is a chance for extortion. Disclaimer: Tia Juana is not a licensed counselor or therapist and none of the advice should be considered professional.
My husband and I have been married for 7 years, and I actually like my in-laws! However, my mother-in-law considers herself Martha Stewart, and every birthday, Christmas or anniversary, she shows up with the ugliest painting, lamp, statue, or other item of “décor” that she thinks would be perfect for our home. Of course, she expects us to display the hideous thing immediately, even if it clashes horribly with the rest of our décor, which it usually does. How do we break it to our tasteless mother-in-law that we would prefer to pick out our own décor without hurting her feelings or causing a war?
Tasteless in Van Horn
Your predicament is more common than you would think. Many mother-in-laws truly believe that no other woman could possibly cook as well, clean as well, decorate as well, or in general, take care of their son, as well as they can. It is a lifelong competition with the “other woman,” whom they will never accept can take care of their son. Don’t start a war you won’t win by demeaning her tastes or not appreciating her contributions to your décor. If you do, you will not only alienate your mother-in-law, but you will also force your husband to pick between his wife and his mother…never a good idea. Be gracious about her gifts, and have a special storage place to put them when she leaves, that you can remember so that you can put them out for display when you know she will visit. If she is a frequent visitor, find a place for them in a little used bedroom, which you can decorate around her tastes—it will pay big dividends even if you gag every time you’re in the room. Good luck!