Do you try to be a good daughter-in-law?

It's just that my mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is tricky and difficult to navigate, and the burden of keeping this connection peaceful and happy (sadly) usually falls on me. If only I could be like Jennifer Aniston, who seems like the kind of girl who wants a person's mom to like her, and less like Angelina Jolie, who well, seems not like that kind of girl.

I know I work on my relationship with my mother-in-law, I'm on my best behavior when I'm around her. I'm considerate, attentive, and thoughtful. I remember birthdays and holidays, send thank-you notes and I help clean up after big family meals. (I do not, however, speak with her on the phone or set up visits, this is my husband responsibility). I do this because it's important to me to have things between us(MIL and myself) be pleasant and peaceful for many, many years to come. AND, because I want my children to see that I am a loving person to their grandmother and in turn they will treat her (and other people) in the same manner.

I respect her and, more, I respect my husband, and I don't ever want him to deal with the extra stress that a conflict between me and and his mother would cause. This was not always the case though. My MIL is a very pushy, demanding, loud German woman who knows what she wants and will not let up until she gets what she wants. She told me so when I was 9 months pregnant with my son and I told her she could not come to the hospital when I went into labor. She did not come and things went grossly wrong and bad and all kinds of terrible after that. Honestly when we engage in really ugly arguments about our in-laws, I think these are fights no one can win. And no one did in my case.

She and I engaged in not talking to each other for a couple of years. There was a huge strain on my marriage due to this as my husband felt he needed to play the mediator. My MIL & FIL spoke many, many unkind words about me behind my back (it always does get back to the person-who in this case was me). Frankly, it got to the point where I refused to let the women in my house more than an obligatory visit once a month for two hours. Then we moved to China and my husband refused to speak to her for 6 months. When we returned from our expat-year in China, dear MIL attempted to pick up where she left off. My husband and I put an instant stop to her antics and let me tell you, the relationship is pleasant now.

Is the relationship between my MIL and myself perfect. Not by a mile, but it is something that I can deal with. Are there numerous issues that I have with my MIL? Absolutely! But I have learned over the years that it is best to just ignore her and her ways. She is old and she is not going to change. I am young and I can just smile at her knowing full well that I am not going to do one little thing that she thinks I am going to do. Is there something wrong with this? I don't know, but the nice, friendly Jennifer Aniston version of a daughter-in-law has always seemed to me like the smartest--not to mention the most polite--way to go.

How do you manage your mother-in-law?