48 Questions to Ask Your Mother-In-Law to Get to Know Her Better

Strengthen your connection and set the stage for a meaningful relationship.
Woman laughing with mother-in-law on walk
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images
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by
Wendy Rose Gould
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Wendy Rose Gould
The Knot Contributor
  • Wendy Rose Gould is a freelance reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Along with The Knot, she contributes to Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Insider, Verywell Mind and others.
  • Wendy has a degree in editorial journalism and a second degree in philosophy.
Updated Jan 25, 2024

The relationship you build with your mother-in-law is an incredibly important one. Not only did she play a huge role in your spouse's upbringing (giving you insights into who they are), but she's an integral component of your family moving forward. Knowing the right questions to ask your mother-in-law—and carving out intentional time to connect on these subjects—can help bring you two closer, provide a greater understanding of your partner's background and create a solid foundation to propel your relationship forward.

To help get the wheels turning, we've compiled a helpful list of topics to talk about with your MIL, along with some specific questions to ask your mother-in-law that range from funny and lighthearted to more serious in nature. (These are also questions to ask your future mother-in-law if you haven't yet tied the knot.)

In this article:

Things to Talk About With Your Mother-in-Law

As is the case with anyone you meet for the first time, there's a process of getting to know your mother-in-law so you can build a relationship together. Depending on the dynamics and your personal preferences, you two can become very close with one another. Here are some topics that are good to discuss.

  • Family history
  • Rituals and traditions
  • Your spouse
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Advice
  • Goals

Family History Questions to Ask Your Mother-in-Law

Your mother-in-law has a ton of knowledge on your partner's family history, making them the ideal point person for questions about everything from recent family dynamics to ancestral stories from the vault.

  • How did you and my father-in-law meet? I'd love to hear your love story.
  • How about your parents' meeting story? How did they find each other and what was that relationship like?
  • What role do extended family members play during important life moments and transitions?
  • What are some juicy or fascinating family legends, tales or stories about ancestors that have been passed down?
  • How have family dynamics evolved over the years and can you pinpoint any of the reasons behind those shifts?
  • Are there any family businesses or events that played a significant role in your family's history?
  • What values and principles would you say were strongly emphasized in your family?
  • Are there any complicated family dynamics I should be aware of?

Questions About Rituals & Traditions to Ask Your Mother-in-Law

This topic to discuss with your mother-in-law goes hand-in-hand with family history and your spouse. Get a feel for what sort of rituals and traditions are important to your partner's family and how they celebrate holidays and events.

  • What are some of your favorite memories from your own family traditions or holidays?
  • What's a ritual that you brought from your own childhood?
  • How does your family usually celebrate big holidays?
  • How does your family usually celebrate smaller events, like birthdays or milestones?
  • Are there any unique or quirky family traditions that you grew up with or started for your family?
  • Are there interesting stories behind family heirlooms or keepsakes?
  • What's a tradition that you'd like me to pass on in our family?
  • Are there any cultural events that are significant for your family?

Questions About Your Spouse to Ask Your Mother-in-Law

Another topic your mother-in-law is incredibly familiar with: your spouse. From lovable quirks you can bond over to questions about your partner's childhood, your mother-in-law is a great go-to.

  • What was my partner like as a child and teenager?
  • Can you recall any funny or memorable stories from my partner's childhood?
  • What is my partner's relationship like with their siblings?
  • What about their relationship to more extended family, like aunts, uncles and grandparents?
  • Were there any notable challenges or experiences that shaped my partner's character?
  • What were the bedtime routines or bedtime stories like for my spouse?
  • What's something quirky about my partner that makes them who they are?
  • What's something that's always made you really proud of my partner?

Questions About Interests & Hobbies to Ask Your Mother-in-Law

Initiating some lighthearted conversations with your mother-in-law is always a good idea, especially early on in developing your relationship or on days when you want to keep things low-key. These answers can provide insights for gifts, future conversations, and time spent together.

  • What's a book that you've read several times over because you loved it so much?
  • Is there a particular place you've always wanted to visit, whether it's local or far away?
  • What's a travel experience that left a lasting impression on you?
  • What's your favorite way to exercise?
  • What outlets or hobbies would you say contribute most to your overall well-being and happiness?
  • Are there any hobbies or activities you've picked up later in life that have become significant to you?
  • Let's say you have an entire weekend all to yourself. How are you spending it?
  • What's your favorite way to unwind and relax after a busy day or week?

Another way to create a deep bond with your mother-in-law is to ask her for advice. This shows two things: that you value her opinions and that you trust her to give you guidance.

  • What's your best advice for a successful and happy marriage based on your own experiences?
  • Can you share stories or insights about how you navigated the challenges of parenthood?
  • What role has gratitude played in your life and do you have any advice on cultivating a grateful mindset?
  • What are some of the key principles or values that have guided you throughout life?
  • Can you share any guidance on embracing change and/or rolling with the punches?
  • Are there any rituals or beliefs that you feel contribute to a strong family bond? Would you recommend them to others?
  • How did you build and maintain a sense of community in your life, and what advice do you have on fostering community connections?
  • How do you usually handle major life transitions and what advice would you offer to others facing similar changes?

Talk to your mother-in-law about your vision for your relationship and how you can support each other. Discussing shared values and expectations can create a sturdy foundation for your relationship moving forward.

  • What's your vision for our relationship as we move through life?
  • Would you be open to me coming to you for help with certain challenges in my life and relationship with your son/daughter?
  • What's something that I could do for you that can help lighten your load?
  • How do you envision our families evolving in the coming years?
  • What's your preferred way to communicate or stay in touch?
  • What do you consider an ideal frequency for spending time together?
  • How much of a notice do you prefer before someone stops by your home?
  • What sort of gifts or gestures resonate most with you?
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