When you say ‘I do’ at that altar, you sign up for the most intense relationship of your life: you and your mother-in-law. This relationship can be very difficult to navigate, so it’s best to know exactly who you’re dealing with. There are five classic categories in which most Mother-in-Laws fall. That’s where the inmates come in. The OITNB women are beacons of light, showing us the types of Mother-in-Laws (or MILs) out there.
Red – The Protector
The MIL that doesn’t speak to you the entire time you and your partner are dating. Then, on your wedding day, she hugs you tight and whispers, “Welcome to the Family.” If you’re lucky enough to have The Protector as your MIL, hold on tight and for the love of all things holy – don’t cross her. When you two are good she’s the life of the party, when you’re feuding she’s the death of all joy. The greatest thing about having The Protector is unleashing her on your greatest enemies, the mean man who wouldn’t accept your expired coupon, or maybe even her own child (your lovely spouse) when the two of you are fighting. Your choice.
Yoga Jones – Mother Earth-in-Law
If your MIL is anything like Yoga Jones, do a warrior pose, raise your hands to the sky, and yell “YASS”. There is something very comforting about having a Mother Earth-in-Law as your MIL. You can always count on something fresh from the garden, and you have open access to her essential oils drawer. And if she ever stresses you out, you can utilize the deep breathing exercises she taught you during her last full moon party.
Morello – No-Boundaries
We hope you like getting phone calls. And emails. And texts. And random house visits. The No-Boundaries MIL puts the “mother” in smother. You can take solace in the fact that you two have a very loving relationship, and she’s always available to talk! Thinking about calling her to accept her (many) invitations to Thanksgiving? No need! She’s standing at the end of your driveway.
Aleida Diaz – Tough Love
Possibly one of the most difficult MIL relationships to understand is Tough Love, which Diaz so perfectly encapsulates. This is the MIL that you spend most of your relationship wondering if she even likes you. Until you need someone to have your back, that is–she’s right there the minute you need her. Sure, she spends most holiday dinners giving you backhanded compliments, but that doesn’t mean she’ll let anyone else say one bad thing about you. The Tough Love MIL usually has a deep love for her family. So deep, in fact, that you’ll probably only see it every few years.
Norma – Strong and Silent
Sweet Norma represents a very traditional idea of what a mother figure looks like. The Strong and Silent MIL very rarely speaks up, or never in Norma’s case, but she is still a natural leader. She is looked to as the head of the family, and everyone around her tends to follow her lead. It can sometimes be a blessing to not know everything about your MIL’s past. Which may or may not have involved some cult activity. This can be one of the easiest MIL relationships to keep up, especially if you enjoy pure silence.
Sophia Burset – The Advisor
We may all want the real life Laverne Cox as our MIL, but we’ll settle for the category Sophia Burset represents: The Advisor. The Advisor has seen it all and is ready to share it all. It also doesn’t hurt that this MIL is usually well connected and willing to give the hookup to the ones she loves. Her love language is giving guidance, help, and advice. Whether or not it’s the type of advice you should be taking is for you to decide. Plus, if your MIL is anything like Sophia Burset, your hair is always going to look on point, just not quite as good as hers.
Claire Linic is a Chicago based author and comedian. Her upcoming book Our Perfect Marriage, which she bravely wrote with her husband, will be released October, 4th. Follow Claire on Twitter or her blog.