By Deb DeArmond

When I travel, I take my seat on the plane and quickly bury my face in a book or magazine. It’s my “I’m not interested in conversation” signal. When you talk for a living, striking up a 3 hour discussion between Dallas and Omaha is not really very appealing. I will usually sneak in a quick “hello” or a smile over the top of my book, just to assure that I’m not creepy. Just choosing silence.

I broke that rule recently. Turned out to be an aggravating choice.

The young woman who sat down in the center seat beside me smiled as she settled in. In her hand, she clutched a book whose author was familiar. I had attended a conference the previous three days for Christian writers. Could be, I thought. So I broke my self-imposed, no conversation regulation.

“Did you attend a writer’s conference here this weekend by any chance?” I inquired.

“Yes. I did,” her reply. Another question or two confirmed my guess that we had indeed been at the same gathering.

“What do you write?” she asked.

We talked about recently released book about the relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.

She sat forward a bit. “I don’t have a bad relationship with my mother-in-law, but it’s not close. It’s okay, though. My husband’s not close to her either,” she added quickly. “We’re both really close to my mom and dad. We live about a mile apart, so that’s really great.”

Uh huh, I thought. For your folks it’s great.

She went on to explain that her husband’s parents were older than hers by about 10 years. “And my mother-in-law is just not very, uh, smart. She doesn’t enjoy reading so she just knows what other people tell her or what she sees in the headlines of the Enquirer at the grocery store.”

I began wishing I hadn’t opened this particular can of worms. I could feel my teeth grind a bit.

“She always acts as though she knows everything, but she doesn’t, cause you know, she just watches TV. And she’s such a worrier, she’s always got something new to be anxious about.”

“It must be difficult for her,” I offered. “To live with so much fear.”

“Yeah, I guess. But it’s her own choice.”

Ugh. Is it too late to change my seat? I thought. Where is the compassion? The mercy?

There seemed to be no awareness of the pain her MIL might be experiencing. Or the loneliness of a son who has made the choice to join his wife’s family and never look back. They live only 2 hours apart. “We don’t see them often,” she informed me. “It takes them at least 4 hours to make the drive. They’re just so slow.”

Without. A. Single. Clue. One of the  ten commandments given to Moses is to honor your parents. And when you marry, you inherit a second set. Lucky girl!

I picked up my book and settled back into my seat. But I wasn’t reading. I was thinking about the principle in God’s Word that the world knows as “what goes around, comes around.”

Is she aware that she’s sowing a garden that will produce bitter fruit? She’ll be a mother one day. I wonder if she’s ready to reap the garden she’s planting?

Probably not.


  1. 3-10-2014

    Reading this post and your book has made me think differently about my MIL. We live 3,000plus miles away from her and I know she misses having us close by. -Hope this young gal will realize the error of her ways with her MIL. I am still working on mine. :0

    • 3-10-2014

      It’s all about holding the mirror up to ourselves. It’s so easy what SHE should do. God works on our hearts when we are wiling to own our stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  2. 3-10-2014

    I love your message to all women, young and old, and how important these relationships are. I love this story, because it could easily be mine or my daughter’s or daughter in law’s. It is a great reminder. Thanks Deb for all you do!

  3. 3-10-2014

    I read this and this is exactly how I am feeling now from my daughter in law..I have tried so hard to show love but nothing works and it hurts . My son doesnt see it. So I am just praying.

    • 3-10-2014

      Deborah – I’m so sorry you are feeling such pain. Love does work – God says it never fails. The tough part is having patience and let God choose the time and the approach. Keep praying for her and trust God for the results.

  4. 3-10-2014

    Deb, you make it so women can discuss the most difficult of all relationships. Love.

    • 3-10-2014

      Karen – it was one of my greatest desires when I wrote the book. We typically do not discuss these things. It’s a great starting point!

  5. 1-17-2015

    I just want to thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling as I would love to be closer to my daughter-in-law but there has always been a distance between us. I continue to pray that I may be an example of love, grace and respect to her and an encouragement to their marriage. She is a lover of the Lord Jesus Christ and this is all I ever prayed for my son, but I guess it hurts my heart that she has no desire to know me. I thank you for this topic because it is painful for me and I have shed many tears over our lack of relationship. I know God works all things out for our good so I continue to trust Him through all the changes!
    Again, thank you for addressing a topic that is rarely discussed.

Leave a Comment