We’ve all heard stories about in-laws being a headache to couples. And as much as I don’t want to generalize, we all experience bumps in the road with our in-laws at some point or another. Their motives may be pure and genuine, but their actions can be offensive and hurtful at times. Whether it’s the overprotective mother-in-law or the meddling one, in-law stories can be funny if you aren’t the one involved, but frustrating if you are.
As the saying goes: “When you marry a person, you marry his or her family too.” But just because you love your spouse or significant other, doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to love your in-laws. It’s very common for people struggle with their spouse’s family on some level. You might feel like they don’t respect or accept you — or that they are opinionated, pushy and weigh in on everything regarding your relationship. If you’re having problems with your in-laws, eventually it could impact your relationship with your significant other. But it’s important to note that even if you’re not getting along with your partner’s family, they’re still the ones who brought up the person you are in love with. Here are 5 other ways you can get along with your in-laws:
1. Team Up With Your Spouse
You don’t want your in-laws to impact your relationship, so make sure you and your partner act as a team. Establishing a good relationship with your in-laws begins with addressing your concerns with your spouse and taking it from there. Don’t ever insist that your partner choose between you and their family. This will cause unnecessary tension in your relationship. Recognize what a tough spot your partner is in and even though his or her parents may be difficult, they are still his or her parents. Compromise and come up with solutions that feel comfortable to you both. Strategize with your partner how you’re going to approach the situation as a team,
2. Set and Enforce Boundaries
If you don’t want unsolicited advice or constant “surprise” drop-bys, you need to put an end to the behavior before it becomes a regular habit. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your temper at the worst possible moment. You don’t need to attack you in-laws, though. This can be as simple as “It makes me uncomfortable when you keep asking if we are going to have kids.” And most importantly, decide in advance what you will do if they cross a line or boundary. Having a plan in place will make it easier to deal with when it occurs. Otherwise you may say something you regret and this will make the situation even worse.
3. Know when to hold your tongue.
Sometimes being blatantly honest is unnecessarily hurtful. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your baby alone with elderly grandparents, get a babysitter. And if Grandma persists, say something pleasant like “I really appreciate all your offers of help, but having a sitter who knows the routine is a lot easier for me. And I’m so frazzled at the moment, I just need to do the easiest thing I can.” Then let it go. Or compliment them first. Say something like, “The baby loves nothing more than to be with you, so let’s set something up soon so you can have some quality time with her.” You don’t want the to feel like you are shutting them out completely. Holidays and other special occasions often stress people out and bring out the worst in them, so go into the situation knowing this, and you’ll probably be able to deal with the situation with a cooler head.
4. Find a way to connect
It can be as simple talking about game shows, travel or dogs. Just don’t discuss topics that can result in heated discussions. Avoid conversation that will provoke different opinions on much-discussed heated topics. Politics or parenting methods are good examples. Have a mental list of what could cause arguments to occur and stick to the safe options. Who knows, you may learn that you have more in common than you realized and that you actually like your in-laws. These common interests can also create different activities that you can do together – with or without children.
5. Maintain a Sense of Humor
While you might not want to churn out in-law jokes with your spouse’s family, you can still have a sense of humor. Don’t take everything someone says to heart. Try to let things roll off your back and laugh about the ridiculousness of it all with your partner the next day. They key is that the person you married loves you, and that’s what really matters at the end of the day.