In-Laws! I can hear a collective groan… And in some cases, all of the air was sucked out of the room. But, in-laws do not have to be a major problem in your marriage. Follow a few common sense guidelines and you can live in peace with your in-laws.
No one ever said it was easy to balance your needs with the needs of others, especially the needs of your entire new family. But creating family harmony is possible. It’s worth the effort and critical to your marital bliss.
- For every other relationship in your lives there can be no one more important than your spouse. When you get married and start your own family, that’s where your loyalty needs to be.
- Never put your spouse in a situation where he or she has to choose between you and a relative. If you do so, you’re putting your spouse in a nearly impossible bind.
- Set Boundaries. Decide what’s important with your spouse about the interactions with the in-laws. Communicate them to your in-laws. They’re grown-ups. Be direct but not rude. Some areas may need more finesse than others.
- Enforce the boundaries. Without being totally inflexible, stick to your guns. For example, if you don’t want unexpected drop-ins tell your in-laws. Remember, if you allow them to continue they may expect to stop by on your next intimate celebration of your anniversary! Really!
- If a wife has a problem with her mother-in-law, it’s the husband who needs to step in and fix it. Likewise, if a husband doesn’t see eye-to-eye with his in-laws, his wife needs to step in. The person with the primary relationship (the son or daughter, not the in-law) needs to be the messenger. Do not have a third party, i.e. your sister-in-law, tell your mother-in-law that she giving the kids too much sugar. You can just put a picture where we were with our with my parents a
- Negotiate with your own partner the role that you want your in-laws to have. Don’t assume you’re on the same page until you talk about it. Don’t criticize your spouse for his/her relationship with his/her parents.
- Adjust your expectations of your in-laws. Not every father-in-law lives to snake out your kitchen sink; not every mother-in-law dreams of baking cookies with her grandchildren. Don’t expect what people can’t deliver.
- Be yourself. Your in-laws have to adjust their expectations as well. You probably aren’t exactly what they envisioned. You are what your spouse wants.
- Do not run to your own parents when you have a disagreement with your spouse or his family. You love and were loyal to them all your life. But any time that you rely on them to resolve a problem that’s a bad thing. You need to resolve it together.
- If you complain to your parents about your spouse or his family they will begin to distrust and resent him/her. They do not see you make-up. You will be “over-it” but your mom is still steaming over what he/she said to “her baby”.
- If something bothers you about how your in-laws treat you, address it as soon as possible. You feel slighted by your mother-in-law because she seems to be unimpressed with your cooking, so what. Maybe it’s a cultural difference. They may feel insulted by something you did. Open the lines of communication.
- Learn to wait and see. You may tend react fast and furious to some episode when really the better course of action is to just calm down. Maybe, your initial understanding was incorrect or maybe you spouse’s cousin had the gossip wrong. You could really damage a relationship for no real reason.
- Your families each have their own traditions, functions and dis-functions. Learn to appreciate the differences. The Thanksgiving Turkey does not have to be stuffed the way your grandmother did it.
- Be nice, they raised your wonderful spouse.
- Find your “we” identity. You, as a couple, have authority. You have the right to make your own adult decisions without interference.
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