When you gazed into your spouse’s eyes at the altar and said, “I do,” you might not have realized you were also saying, “And I take your mother and father to be in my life forever, too.” Well, guess what? Your in-laws come with the package!
Developing a good relationship with your in-laws is critical to the overall harmony in your relationship, since your in-laws will most likely be an ongoing part of your life. Unfortunately, many individuals find themselves dodging emotional landmines when it comes to issues involving their in-laws, even when they’ve brought their “best self” forward. Some of these landmines include:
- Holidays, visits, family events, and phone calls
- Your partner taking his or her parent’s side instead of yours
- Feeling disrespected by your in-laws regarding your role as a parent
- Avoiding asserting yourself with your in-laws for fear of creating a “scene”
- Being treated like the “odd man out” when your in-laws visit
- Feeling like your home is invaded by your in-laws upon their arrival
- Spending more time with, or favoring, one set of parents over the other
If your relationship with your in-laws is interfering with your happiness, here are 5 simple, yet powerful steps to help get you headed back to harmony:
1) Don’t choose sides between your partner and his or her parents. Choosing sides will create more tension and rifts within the family.
2) Don’t insert yourself into an argument between your partner and their parents. Inserting yourself into an argument will put an even greater strain on your relationship.
3) Let your partner know that you are there to help them sort out their feelings and that you will help them come up with a strategy to deal with their parents, but that they must discuss difficult subjects with their parents on their own. Slow things down when you are discussing this so that each of you can understand just what the disagreement means to each of you and what feelings are below the surface
4) Discover your mother- or father-in-law’s likes and dislikes. Take the time to get to know them and you might even find that you have some things in common!
5) You don’t have to like your in-laws but treat them with respect. After all, they are your spouse’s parents and are a part of your family
There is no reason why you and your partner can’t have a wonderful relationship with each set of parents. In-law relationships can bring much joy and wisdom to your family if boundaries are established, and everyone’s feelings and viewpoint are understood and kept in mind.