And Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelt there about ten years. Ruth 1:3-4.
If any mother-in-law could have complained about a foreign daughter-in-law, one raised in an idolatrous culture, Naomi could have—and she had not one, but two of them. Instead she seems to have accepted them with open arms and without judgment. In fact she seems to have taught them. How easy would that have been if they had sensed resentment and suspicion? I am sure her sons taught their wives as well, but those girls stayed with Naomi even after the death of their husbands, even before she decided to go back to Israel, and then they both wanted to go with her, not just Ruth. Here is a mother-in-law who knew how to cultivate a loving relationship with those of another culture, with the women who came into her boys’ lives and became more important to them than she was. That is hard for a mother, but her example says it can be done and is important in establishing a lasting and loving relationship with a daughter-in-law.
Mothers-in-law today have the same obligation. If your daughter-in-law is a Christian, count your blessings. That should take care of any reservations you may have about her. Now treat that new daughter like an especially beloved sister in Christ. You would be surprised how many times people forget to treat family that way—“that’s church stuff,” I’ve heard. Yes, and you are a member of the Lord’s church even in your home. Act like it.
But if she isn’t a Christian, cultivate that relationship for the thing that matters most—her soul. You owe her that. Paul said that as a Christian he was a debtor to everyone else to tell them the good news (Rom 1:14). So are you. Be kind, be patient, do not give her any reason to look down on Christianity or the church if you ever hope to gain her soul.
No matter what her background, accept her whole-heartedly. Trust me, she will always be able to tell if you do not like her, no matter how hard you try to hide it. Do not talk about “my son.” He is now her husband, a relationship that supersedes the parent-child relationship. A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh, Gen 2:24. That’s what God said about it. In your mind, their two names should always be attached.
If you want a continuing relationship with your son, then do not come between them in any way. Do not allow him to disparage her to you, and certainly do not revel in it if he does! Do not ever allow him to say to her in your presence, “That’s not how Mom does it.” Do not expect him to visit without her. Do not expect him to drop everything and leave her and his family for anything less than an emergency. From now on it is not “him,” it is “them.” They are “one flesh.” If it is wrong for man to put it asunder, it’s wrong for a mother-in-law to amputate it.
Welcome your new daughter into the family with open arms. You are the one with the obligation here, not her.
And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Will you go with this man? And she said, I will go…And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife…Genesis 24:58,67