I have learnt that-
one may have differences with Ma & MIL alike but, with Ma one can open up easily and fight it out as one knows her all her life. With MIL there is a hesitation to cross the rubicon. Its upto the MIL & hubby to help out the damsel in distress. And as fights with ma go, one forgives and forgets the next moment, the same principle applies to fights with MIL . And a good argument (this is the word I like to use rather than fight) truly clears the air.
If Ma buys the same stuff that one has bought, one says our tastes are same, if MIL does the same, one says she is copying - she always wants the same thing that I have - one has the need to shine at the in-laws side in all respects - talent, tastes, attitude - if MIL posseses the same thing, one cannot show-off
If Ma messes up, one silently covers up - but MIL has to answer the son - probably because the son never believes that his Ma can go wrong. there is an urge with one to show that hubby's Ma is not all that perfect
Grass is always greener on the other side- One never likes one's MIL but friends' or relatives' MIL is usually very sweet, understanding and adjusting.
All said and done today's MIL is extremely low maintenance than those of bygone years. Am sure the next gen DIL has a lot to look forward to.
Steps to make MIL-DIL relationship better
Shop together- nothing like saying you select for me ..( even pay for it hopefully)
Gossip- women bond well at this especially if the object of gossip is universally hated by both
Cook together and praise the other's skills
Find the weak spot - more often than not it would be praise for some special skill or a favourite show/ film
Gifts - as Alice said there are more unbirthday presents (364 against 1 on b'day)- find occassions other than b'days - the surprise element adds to the pleasure