10 Ways to Cope with Your In-Laws

Does your mother-in-law really get under your skin? Does your father-in-law drive you absolutely crazy? Or maybe it’s your spouse who has some friction with your parents. Either way, if you plan on staying in a happy marriage, you’ll have to learn how to deal with your in-laws effectively.

Most couples struggle with in-law issues, and it’s common to feel as if your in-laws disapprove of you in some way or don’t accept you. This doesn’t mean that your marriage is unhealthy in any way. Conflict is common. What matters is how you handle the conflict.

If you misstep too much, your marriage will end up paying the price. Get control over it now. Here’s how:

1. Keep Loyal to Your Marriage – When you got married and started your own family, your primary loyalty shifted from your parents to your spouse. Even if you are angry at your spouse, stand together rather than against each other. Agree that you will stand by each other through difficulties and disagreements, even if you disagree. If you take the side of your parents, you’ll only create a divisive relationship with your partner.

2. Don’t Talk about Marriage Problems with Parents – One of the biggest mistakes you can make is sharing your marriage issues with your parents and other family members. Focus on fixing your problems within your marriage with your spouse. If you need outside help, seek professional relationship help or talk to a close friend who is pro-marriage to vent from time to time. You can still have a close relationship with your parents and family without involving them in your relationship troubles. You don’t want your family to build a case against your partner, after all. That’s what happens when you consistently bring marriage woes to family members. If you already have some in-law issues, why make things worse for you and your spouse?

3. Set Good Boundaries – Talk to your spouse about the involvement you want your parents and in-laws to have and come to a mutual agreement. Then set boundaries for when they come in and out of your lives. If one of you aren’t comfortable with mom popping over out of the blue, you need to discuss it, agree to a negotiation, and set the boundary with mom. If your in-laws are irritating you or your spouse, your marriage will suffer from fatigue and resentment. Make some space, but reassure them that they are still an important part of your lives.

4. Know your Role – If you have a problem with your mother-in-law, it’s your spouse’s job to step in and help you solve it. Likewise, if your spouse is grating with your parents, you need to help your partner resolve. Basically, your parents, your responsibility.

5. Be Respectful – Know that you may not know all of the developmental issues your spouse has with his or her parents. Respect that your spouse may do some things that you don’t agree with and may not handle things the same way you would with your parents. When you reach a breaking point, take a deep breath, find a quiet and solitary spot (bathrooms are great for this!), and focus on the positives of your in-laws (“they really love my children” or “they mean well” or “my spouse loves them dearly”). When you have a concern about how your spouse is trying to solve a problem with your in-laws, talk about it without judging. You’ll come to a compromise much easier that way.

6. You Don’t Have to Be Right – Would you rather be right or have a happy marriage? Even if your in-laws are clearly wrong about something, your reaction will make the difference between making it better or making it worse. You can change the way others treat you (get the free videos to find out how), but it’s not about being right. Compromise and finesse are key when it comes to navigating difficult relationships.

7. Understand that your In-Laws are People Too – It’s important to remember that your in-laws are different people with different approaches and views. They have their own culture and although it may not be your new family’s culture, it isn’t necessarily wrong. Understand they need some understanding and kindness as they adjust to your different ways and as you set proper boundaries.

8. Make an Effort – If you understand the importance of your in-laws in your spouse’s life and your children’s lives, it is easier to treat them with respect. While you may not always agree with or understand your in-laws’ family dynamics, rituals, or views, make an effort to include them in your life with appropriate boundaries.

9. Protect your Children – Don’t involve your children in any conflict with your in-laws. They should never be in the middle. While your in-laws are your kids’ grandparents, they also need to understand their roles. They should accept their relationships with their grandchildren as privileges rather than rights. Strive to make your children’s relationship with their grandparents a positive one. They shouldn’t fall victim to any strife among adults.

10. Keep Communicating – Processing the challenges with your in-laws in words is one of the most important tools you and your spouse have as a married couple. Listen to one another with respect and without judgment. Sympathize with one another’s feelings, and come to agreements mutually as new challenges come up.

In the end, your in-laws are an important part of your family dynamic. In most cases, they are also very important to your spouse. The fact is that they will be in your life for as long as you are married to your spouse so you have to find a way to make your extended family work. Otherwise, your marriage will suffer.

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