This time of year we talk a lot about New Year’s resolutions, and often that includes resolutions within your own relationship. It pays to reflect on ways that you can make it better many more times than once a year, but a new January is always a fresh start. One topic that can flood the holiday season is how to deal with in-laws! Let’s face it – there are things you don’t love about your spouse’s mom and/or dad, and our guess is they feel the same about yours. We’re only human! But, there are ways to make this easier on yourself – plus, a new year is a great time to start focusing on putting these into action. Here are some practical tips for getting along with your in-laws:
- Don’t blame your spouse for their actions! Just because he or she is their child, does not mean they agree with or condone their parents’ actions, nor will they act the exact same way in similar circumstances. Don’t fall into the trap of taking your frustration out on your spouse – a conversation about your concerns is one thing, but accusation is another.
- Set boundaries and limits as a team with your spouse. If one set of parents is always giving your kids too much candy, or showing up unannounced, or other things that violate boundaries, communicate this and enforce consequences for it. Just make sure you and your spouse are on the same page.
- Practice direct communication. Too often we talk “through” our spouses in an attempt to solve relationship problems, but this really just makes them bigger. Try not to ask your spouse to talk to his/her parents on your behalf in all cases; when we value our own feelings we are able to assert them ourselves.
- Don’t cave to pressure; be yourself. Some in-laws may have unrealistic expectations of you or your role in the relationship you have with their son/daughter. Try to view this as having nothing to do with you, but as inflexible thinking on their part. Remaking yourself into the person your in-law wants you to be just to please them will only cause you distress.
- Keep communicating! Healthy couples learn to process their separate feelings, differences and all, about in-laws. You might be more family-oriented than your spouse, your spouse might not mind unannounced visits, things that drive one of you nuts may not have a negative emotional effect on the other. This is life! Remember that communication and understanding MUST precede agreement on most topics.
- Remember – it’s only an opinion. There’s a very big difference between opinions and truth. Just because your in-law has a suggestion or opinion on, say, what you should feed your kids, or how you should spend your time and money, does not make it more important than anyone else’s thoughts on the topic. Feel free to listen, engage, and make your own decisions on whether to take them up on it.
Want some additional help to navigate the relationship you have with your in-laws? Call us today to set up your initial appointment